Farscape/Batman: Dark Knight, Rising Son, Pt. 3

By: Spacelord

<< Continued from part 2

 

Part 7: Her Mother's Daughter

Scorpius remained expressionless. "So, how close are you?"

Kanor swallowed, unsure of how to respond. He did not want to say the wrong thing to his leader, especially after the incident above the arboretum. Paranoia was a habit that developed among Peacekeeper's scientists working for Scorpius. He kept his hands his back, with his thumbs held out straight and twirling over each other in circles, something he did when he was nervous. Nowadays, that was frequent.

"Very close, sir. We've corrected over ninety percent of the phase stabilization adjustments. There were minor indications of tissue degradation, but the pilots return without being liquefied."

He paused for a moment, remembering to breathe. "And so, I predict we'll have the final corrections within thirty-six arns."

He must have said the right thing. The holo image of Scorpius began to smile. "You and your people have done well, Dr. Kanor. Leave your notes with Captain Braca. I have other matters to attend to at the moment. Resume with your task." Scorpius' image quickly faded away.

His pride swelled as he held up the palm-sized data recorder that contained all the current wormhole data. For once, he felt some absolution in winning favor with Scorpius. Success beckoned, and its means lay in his hand. No longer would Peacekeepers endure long cycles of travel to police the worlds under their power or prolong endless conflicts with the likes of the Scarrans or the Nebari. And he held the key to all of it!

He walked anxiously down the corridor to the captain's office, oblivious to the mass of techs, soldiers and other personnel who flowed past him. His mind was too busy racing with the possibilities of potential rewards for his accomplishments to notice any of them.

A position in Peacekeeper High Command would be a good start. Maybe even a chance to leave Earth, which he never ceased regarding as a sewer of a planet He had been stuck there for far too many cycles. A fresh assignment would be the perfect thing he needed. He might even thank Crichton for making it all possible, even the late DK, since their work had contributed even more to the project than his own. Not that he ever cared what a lowly human thought about helping to develop the means to their own servitude.

The glass doors to Captain Braca's office slid open quietly and he detoured around the reception area, ignoring the secretary and walking straight to the captain's desk. Braca remained oblivious, and sat focused listening to a message from an unseen Peacekeeper over his monitor. Kanor waited impatiently, since he relished the opportunity to brag about his good fortune.

Finished, Braca finally looked up to meet his gaze. "All right, Kanor, what will we do with you this time?"

"There is little more that needs to be done, Captain." He proudly placed the data recorder down on Braca's desk. "I just had a conversation with Scorpius, and he's quite pleased with our progress. You yourself have no reasons to cast doubt."

"Don't I?" Braca's fingers lightly tapped the data recorder.

"None at all, we're proceeding with the final testing as soon as we receive the next shipment of radium isotope the displacement deployment. The wormhole device will be operational within the weeken."

Braca smiled sarcastically. "And you didn't foresee any problem?"

"Such as what?"

"You really don't know what I'm talking about, do you?"

"I don't understand, captain," Kanor said. He could tell when Braca was patronizing him, which was always a sign that something had happened. "What problem do you foresee?"

"The shipment of isotope never reached us because it was intercepted and taken by the Batman." Braca turned his video monitor to Kanor, showing the footage of the shipment's hijacking.

Rewards stopped playing in his mind. Kanor felt himself turn white as a sheet.

***

John watched from the shadows where he crouched down as the transport burned, long tongues of flame licking upward at the night sky, setting off an orange glow.

He spent the past week turning the Peacekeeper installations into smoldering infernos. Aerial patrols swarmed the area, hopelessly attempting to locate his position. He smiled wryly, as it was satisfying to watch. It was unfortunate that other humans were not around to witness it. Peacekeeper news broadcasts worldwide continued to deny any reports of rampant destruction, particularly any performed by him.

"I think that should get their attention, Bruce." He glanced over at the insulated container that held the isotope he had liberated from the transport. It might come in handy in the near future, but for now, it was bait.

"I hope this gamble of yours works, John. You're taking an awfully big risk. If you're wrong about her·"

"I'm not, just wait and see. I'm sure that if Dick were here, he'd want you to meet her." He paused. "Why do you keep saying John? I'm in bat-mode right now. Why don't you refer to me as Batman?"

Bruce grunted. John had not meant it as a joke, but it was amusing to hear, even if his sense of humor had died with his body. "You have to earn that, John. You've done well, but I'm still not completely convinced that you have what it takes."

"What, after all this time? What do you expect from me, a-"

He stopped abruptly. The dark forms of two females landed on a rooftop two buildings over from where he hid. They paused, silently conversing and then separated. One disappeared towards the glow of the burning transport, while the other fired a cable from her gauntlet and swung towards him.

"We'll talk later, Bruce. The moment of truth has arrived." John stood up and shifted his position along the wall where he remained hidden. Shadows fluctuated on the wall where the light from the fire still danced, covering his movement.

The female had not seen him. She landed noiselessly on the roof of the building and began to run across its width to the other side.

"Aeryn Sun."

She stopped dead in her tracks, abruptly turning to the sound of the voice. She made no sudden moves as John walked out of the shadows to face her. Her hands stayed at her sides, free of any weapons. The crossbow/pulse rifle remained sheathed on her back.

"Well, good evening Batman," Aeryn said emphatically. "Or, should I say Dr. Crichton?" She watched his face for a reaction. "I'd say that's a correct assumption. Your costume doesn't hide the lower part of your face, nor does it disguise your voice. That's a serious design flaw on your part. And I, for one, never forget a face, especially from the one that got away."

"Well, I did tell you at the dance I don't rush into things with a lady," he said with a smirk. That was not what she had meant, but it was hard to resist an opportunity to be coy. "But, never mind. I have a proposition for you."

"Oh? You're turning yourself in? I think that would be the smart thing for you to do."

John frowned. "I don't think so. They would give me about as much of a chance as they gave your parents."

Aeryn's mouth dropped open. "What the frell is that supposed to mean?"

"It means this." He held up a Peacekeeper standard issue data chip. "There is information on here I want you to see. It may open your eyes to certain things. Come back here in three days after you've watched it, if you want to learn more." He tossed the chip towards her and she instinctively snatched it from the air.

"What is this? Why is it important?" She looked closely at the chip in her open hand. There were no unusual markings or modifications. It was a standard Peacekeeper data chip.

She looked up. "I said why is this·"

He was gone. In the space of a microt he had disappeared- without a sound or any movement. She scanned the area with all visual spectrum settings on her goggles- nothing.

"Did you see him?"

Aeryn blinked, momentarily startled. Turning around, Jenavian stood behind her, waiting for her to answer. Instincts failed her again- she had let her guard down a second time, not hearing her partner's approach.

"Are you listening? I said did you see him?"

"No," she said quietly. "All scans come up negative." The encounter had shaken her, but she suppressed the reaction. She held the chip in her closed hand, not acknowledging it to her hunting partner.

"The hunt continues then," Jenavian said.

Aeryn sighed. She did not bother responding. Falling in behind Jenavian, they skimmed across the rooftops, ignoring the searchlight beams from Marauder patrols and the mounted cameras scanning the corners and streets for any sign of the Batman. Her mind shifted back and forth between the chip in her pocket and then back to him.

What was happening to her? She took the chip and let him leave without even trying to stop him. He was a fascinating being, like no one she had ever pursued before. She was becoming infatuated with a human renegade, and one who named himself after a flying rodent, no less.

***

The giant pyramid that rose up in the distance was one of the main attractions to watch from the observation tiers of the Gammak base. Its sheer size dominated the view through the round windows. The thing was ancient. Whatever civilization had constructed it disappeared long before the humans had ceased living in caves. Even the Peacekeepers could appreciate the complexity it took to build such a structure. It was aesthetically primitive in appearance but massively intricate in its engineering. Off-duty personnel frequently stood and stared in awe- it could hold an entire city in its interior.

Only the face that stared upward, carved from the rock several metras away was a more extraordinary monument. Peacekeeper scientists were not sure what it was meant to symbolize. Was it a navigation marker, a replica of some elder god, or maybe even a warning to stay away? What they did know it was as old as the pyramid- and that soldier and pilot alike had a superstitious fear of it. Prowler and transport patrols hated flying in its immediate vicinity. Its blank expression staring up at them made them alter their flight paths more than once.

Scorpius looked on. He regarded the structures with only passive interest. They were only made of rock, after all, just like the rest of Mars.

He turned away from the windows of the observation port and walked through the polished black corridors, moving downward through the lower tiers. The structure was laid out to contain holding cells for prisoners in its lower levels. The base served a dual purpose for research and for the particular type of information gathering the Peacekeepers were known for. Neural interrogation was a common practice inside its chambers.

Approaching the main cellblock, a tall redheaded woman clad in tight black leather stood silently at the entrance, holding a large black handbag, and awaiting orders.

"Accompany me."

She nodded, and moved to his side without question. They passed a pair of guards without acknowledgment and walked down the corridor along a row of metal doors, each framing barred windows with light glowing dimly through each one. Moaning and sobbing, audible throughout the entire block, was met with cold indifference.

At the far end of the corridor, two heavily armed guards flanked either side of a black door. The prisoner locked inside was an aberration that Scorpius warranted special treatment to. During his twelve cycles of incarceration, he had killed a dozen guards. He remained alive at Scorpius' personal whim on the basis of his uniqueness. Most Peacekeeper officers protested, but were too afraid to take action, let alone approach his cell. One female guard had her face torn off just from peering into the door's opening.

"Open it." Scorpius said.

The taller guard nodded and moved to the side to press a sequence of buttons. The heavy door swung open silently. Scorpius walked in with his nurse following closely behind, while the tall guard brought up the back with his rifle ready.

The room was dark, save for the light that illuminated a small table to the left. A tall thin man sat in a chair before the table, slowly shuffling out a deck of cards methodically, indulging in an old Earth game. He did not get up or acknowledge the visitors.

Scorpius walked over to the table. "I wish to speak with you now."

He continued shuffling the cards, not responding.

Squinting at the brightness from the light, Scorpius sat down in the other chair that faced the man directly. His hands, translucent and skeletal under the overhanging lamp, continued their process, dealing out the cards.

"We are within completion of our project. Have you given any thought to my proposal?"

The man paused, holding a card in his right hand. "Did you bring me what I asked for?"

Scorpius exhaled, and then smiled. Reaching into his cloak, he pulled out several small packs of cigarettes, wrapped in plastic and placed them on the table. The man's hand reached out to them, his skin gnarled and deathly pale. He picked up one of the packs and turned it over, examining the label.

"Djarum Black, my favorite." He pulled the wrapper off, opened the end and placed a black cigarette to his lips. "Got a light?"

Pressing the button on a slim metal lighter, Scorpius held out the flickering blue flame for him. He leaned forward and lit the tip of the clove. The overhead bulb momentarily illuminated his features. The nurse shuddered at the sight of him. For a human, he was unnaturally grotesque.

A cloud of aromatic smoke billowed upward, turning the light into a haze. "Mmm· Thanks. That tastes like a steak and potato dinner nowadays. Not that I don't eat well here, but a guard's flesh isn't quite as appetizing- much too chewy." A cracked burst of laughter sounded out from a set of damaged vocal chords. Scorpius did not flinch.

"Within this very week, we will have the means to defeat our enemies, as well as the ability to continue our mastery of Earth. I can create an equitable arrangement for you, if you'll help us?"

"What sort of arrangement?"

"I will let you roam freely on the Earth again. If you like, I will even give you a city of your choice to be your prey. Show your fealty to the Peacekeepers, and you can do with your fellow humans as you wish. Or, we will allow you the chance to see the stars. Imagine the worlds you have never been to, that have never been touched by you. All of this you could have."

The man puffed deep on the cigarette and exhaled more smoke. "Interesting proposal, Scorpy. Other worlds, eh? The stars at my fingertips, whole worlds for me to taste and the universe as my bitch, are you offering me that?"

Scorpius frowned.

"I'd rather you were my bitch. It's hard to squeeze other planets into black leather gimp suits."

His frown turned into a scowl. A white blindness abruptly filled his field of vision. He lifted a gloved hand to touch his throbbing temple.

"Excuse me, please."

Scorpius signals his nurse, and the redhead approached to press a button on the side of his black headpiece. There was a painful grin and a flash of bad teeth as a cylinder spun out of the side of his head followed by a thin curl of smoke. She removed a rod, glowing bright red, and tossed it aside.

Removing a glowing blue rod from the black case hanging off her shoulder, she inserted it into the cylinder and pressed the same button again. The cylinder spun back into Scorpius' head.

"Much better." He sighed in relief.

"You really are hot under the collar, aren't you?" The man said. He had watched the whole scene with complete fascination.

Scorpius grunted. "Perhaps, and I now grow impatient with your games. Now will you tell me your secrets? How do you resist the Aurora chair? Will you give us the formula for the poison you use on your victims?"

"Why do you want it?"

"It will be another weapon we can utilize against our enemies. If we could bond it with the intellant virus we are developing, think of the havoc we would wreak against our enemies" Scorpius leaned forward. "Let us be candid. We are very much alike; you and I. Our desires are the same, if only our goals are different. Can't you see that? You have a brilliant mind. Help us, we need an ally, not an enemy."

"You need an enema," the man said, taking another drag on his clove. "But, I imagine Bats is giving you a hard enough time in that area. If you put me in the mix, you'll give yourself an aneurysm." He looked at Scorpius' head from an angle. "Then again, I'm not sure you got enough room in there for that."

"How do you know about the Batman?"

"Oh! He and I go way back. A little bird told me he returned, before I went Hannibal Lector on him with some fava beans and a nice Chianti." The man chuckled again. "Boy, I could tell you some stories."

"Would you tell me?"

There was a long pause. "Frell you."

Scorpius growled in rage and slammed his fist down on the table, splitting it in half. "Have it your way!" His voice descended into the low growl of his Scarran half. "When we've finished purging your world, your head will be a conversation piece at Peacekeeper High Command! Just remember, I offered you a choice!"

The man crushed his cigarette out in a rusted ashtray on the table. "Oh, dear boy, you still don't get it do you? I had already made my choice. I already made my own plans. I was orchestrating them, and it would have been so beautiful. Don't you see? I was doing it for years. I was the architect for murder, mayhem and complete and udder madness. You know· the good stuff?"

He picked up the cards that lay scattered in front on the floor and began to shuffle them again. "But, you came along and ruined it. You ruined my perfect plan. It would have been the greatest joke of all time it had the perfect punch line- life and death, good and evil, right and wrong. One man's trash is another man's treasure. Why didn't you ever laugh with me? You should have understood- we have a hard-on for death, you and I." His expression began to sag.

Scorpius smiled. "But you amassed such an impressive body count."

"I never kept score."

"You impress us. Why do you think I still want you around?"

The man's eyes narrowed. "I don't take requests, either."

They stared at each other for a long time. "I will give you one last opportunity to concede. I do not wish to see you die, before you could help us."

"Oh, Scorp-meister, I'm going to start crying in a second." The man held up the deck of cards in a fan shape. "Tell you what, how a decision is made can be determined by the turn of a friendly card. You pull out the right one, and you have my help."

Scorpius stared at the deck. He was unfamiliar with the rules of the Earth game, but if selecting a card could procure the man's cooperation- it would be worth it. The man was at his mercy anyway; he could humor him for once.

He reached down and pulled out a card. He turned it over for the man to see it- it was the Ace of Spades, the death card.

But, it was not the right card.

"LOSER!"

The man threw back his head into a fit of maniacal laughter that echoed through the entire prison block. Scorpius hissed with fury and stormed out the door, his nurse following behind at a safe distance.

"Hey Scorpy, I just remembered a joke. A bear walks up to a rabbit and asks the rabbit if he ever had trouble with his poop sticking to his fur. ÎNo,' says the rabbit. ÎOh, good,' says the bear. So he picks up the rabbit and wipes his ass with him!" The man continued his insane laughter, unabated.

The guards watched Scorpius and his nurse march promptly down the corridor and disappear through the hatch. Silence fell over the block again as the man's laughter subsided. Both men breathed a sigh of relief, grateful for the quiet.

"Hey guys," the man said, sticking his face through the small window with another cigarette between his lips, "you got a light?"

***

Aeryn sat back in her favorite chair and stared at the chip on the table in front of her, where it had remained for several arns.

She decided against viewing its contents at headquarters since they might be monitoring all the vid-screens, something they were apt to do. After getting home and showering, she still hesitated to view it. Even after dinner and resting for an arn, she continued to look at the chip, but did not insert it into her monitor. She was curious what was on it, but she never accepted potential information at face value if it came from a criminal she was pursuing- it was not in the lines of common sense with the Peacekeeper way of thinking. Besides, she felt what the humans called Îa sense of foreboding' about it.

What could be so important on it that the Batman would give it to her? What could be motivating him? If he was in fact John Crichton, and she was sure he was, then maybe it was an attempt at some misplaced affection felt from their night at the banquet. He might have been handsome, but he was still a renegade, a criminal. She never allowed emotions to cloud her sense of duty; she was a Peacekeeper, after all.

She was a Peacekeeper who was in serious denial.

He had mentioned her parents. No one in the cycles since she began her training had ever mentioned them. The only memory she had was of her mother coming to her one night as she lay in her bunk and speaking to her about love, about why she was born· and about a father she never knew. She cherished the memory- they were the one thing training had not drilled out of her, but she gave up believing it happened. Time convinced her it must have been a child's dream- wishful thinking on her part.

Sighing, she picked up the chip and inserted it into her monitor. It was better to get it over with, and see what the fuss was about.

A warning flashed on the screen: Decca seven- the highest level of security for a file. She blinked, momentarily surprised. How did the Batman get hold of this? She leaned forward in her chair, her curiosity growing.

Images of a child flashed on the screen. It was her. A man and woman's image reappeared from time to time. He was dark haired and handsome with a strong jaw and high cheekbones, while she an attractive blonde with full lips and soft, gentle eyes. The images cut to footage of the man being brutally interrogated. He was held in place by a pair of security grunts while a large soldier struck him in the face. It was hard to watch without flinching. Training taught her to be desensitized to violence, but the images were sickening all the same.

Dimly lit footage appeared of children's barracks that matched the one she grew up in as a child. The video panned to a bunk at the far end where a blonde woman in a tech's uniform was leaning over.

"Aeryn, wake up."

Saying nothing, a small child with dark hair sat up and looked at the woman. The one side of the woman's face was scarred from a pulse weapon's blast. She had been injured fleeing from the interrogators.

"Aeryn, we've never met. My name is Gilina Renaez. I'm your mother."

Aeryn watched the monitor- her expression froze.

"I'm not supposed to be here, but I'm taking this opportunity to see you before I lose any chance."

On the screen, the child Aeryn gazed on, unresponsive. A mind so young and conditioned by the Peacekeepers was not trained to react to familial declaration.

"Your father and I loved each other very much. And we had you out of love, even though the Peacekeepers ordered me to have you to suit their purposes." She paused for a moment. "Aeryn· You are not an accident, or a body destined to fill the ranks. You're our special little girl." The image skipped slightly, some of the footage had a grainy texture to it. But she could she the woman running her hand through the little girl's hair.

"Your father's name is Dick Grayson, he's not like you or I, but he loves you very much, just as I do. There's something very different about you. One day you will come to know what it is."

Tears began to stream down the woman's face. "I also wanted to say how sorry I am neither of us will be around to take care of you. We tried to hide you from them, but·." She trailed off. "They took him from me, Aeryn. They'll take me soon, as well. But I wanted you to know you're always in our heart, and we'll always love you." She gently stroked the young girl's cheek.

"Go back to sleep now." She laid the small child back onto the bunk and tucked her in. She turned and quietly walked out of range of the video monitors.

Aeryn began trembling as the last pieces of information flashed on the screen. Images of Gilina Renaez and Dick Grayson appeared with standard log entry data:

SUBJECT: PROJECT BIOGENESIS 29579844 -X SEBACEAN INTERBREEDING WITH LIKE SPECIES - Y HUMAN - CAUSE ABILITY TO BREED SOLDIER W/ IMMUNITY TO HEAT DELERIUM/LIVING DEATH

FEMALE: GILINA RENAEZ - 24 CYCLES -TECH - MAINTENANCE PROVOST -SCHEDULED FOR BREEDING

MALE: RICHARD "DICK" GRAYSON - 26 CYCLES (APPROX.) - TEST SUBJECT *** WARNING*** (SUSPECTED EARTH RESISTANCE/VIGILANTE: KNOWN ALIASES INCLUDE NIGHTWING, ROBIN, ETC.) UNDER OBSERVATION/ TECH RENAEZ'S RELATIONSHIP WITH MALE SUBJECT PERMISSIBLE DURING EXPERIMENTATION PERIOD

SUBJECT

RESULT OF BIOGENESIS 29579844 X - Y INTERBREEDING****************

BORN: FEMALE - SUCCESSFUL SEBACEAN/HUMAN HYBRID

NAME: AERYN - HAIR: BLACK - EYES: BLUE/GRAY - LENGTH: 20.45 HENTAS - WEIGHT: 7.1 UNITS - NO NEGATIVE EFFECTS IN TEMPERATURE CHANGE, BODY SELF- REGULATES INTERNAL TEMPERATURE FROM BIRTH

RESULTS

SUCCESSFUL BIRTH - CHILD SCHEDULED FOR STANDARD PEACEKEEPER INDOCTRINATION UPON FIVES CYCLES BEING REACHED - GUARDIANSHIP REGISTERED TO XHALAX SUN: **48577i88** SENIOR OFFICER~

488600/998

TECH RENAEZ, GILINA- EXCEEDED PARAMETERS FOR IRREVERSIBLE CONTAMINATION

GRAYSON, RICHARD- SUSPECTED OF VIGILANTE ACTS AGAINST PEACEKEEPERS - APPREHENDED ATTEMPTING TO TAKE SUBJECT AERYN OUTSIDE PEACEKEEPER JURISDICTIONS

POST NOTE:

BOTH FEMALE AND MALE SUBJECTS GUILTY OF NUMEROUS VIOLATIONS, AND ARE SCHEDULED FOR TERMINATION, PER ORDERS OF Ld SCORPIUS~

NOTHING FOLLOWS

Aeryn tried to stand up, but her legs buckled and she collapsed to the floor. Holding her hand to her mouth, she struggled not to cry, as she was taught it was a weakness. The image of her parents remained frozen on the monitor screen.

Her training failed; the tears came hard.

***

Part 8: Serendipity

The doors slid open and Lieutenant Teeg walked into Crais' office with the files he had been waiting for. Crais himself stood in front of the window looking over the Gotham skyline, brooding.

"Excuse me, sir? The techs have completed their work." Teeg said excitedly. "And you were right about the video from gate forty four. It had been tampered with. The techs found that the image was considerably altered."

Crais stepped over to the monitor where she was preparing the video chip. "Show me."

The video showed the footage of a man resembling John Crichton assaulting two guards at the gate checkpoint and driving away. Teeg froze the image momentarily. "This footage is unaltered sir, and I think it's obvious that was the real John Crichton, and not a look-alike."

She scrolled the footage forward to clips of John Crichton tied to a chair with several of the supposed terrorists surrounding him, including the look-alike. Except for Crichton, all the other figures were surrounded in a bright blue outline. "As you can see here sir, the image of the terrorists was digitally superimposed over a real image. This particular footage was actually taken from a human terrorist kidnapping of a Peacekeeper officer over ten cycles ago. John Crichton's face was electronically placed onto the face of the one terrorist, but we didn't detect it at first because there were so many coding levels to decrypt to peel the image back."

"Nicely done," Crais said, thoughtfully placing a finger to his lips. "Whoever altered this was brilliant. It's some of the best work I've ever looked at. We were fooled for quite a while, weren't we?"

"Yes, sir, we were. But, have a look at this."

The image continued on to show the real scene as it happened. Through the grainy images of the video camera on the site, an enraged John Crichton lashes out at the two Peacekeeper guards, knocking them out. The human scientist then opens the gate and speeds away in his car. Scrolling forward, Crais looked over a series of photos of a damaged car identical to the one John Crichton had been driving.

"Those were taken by a Marauder patrol that pursued an unauthorized pedestrian on the road and through the woods about forty metras north of Gotham's perimeter on the same day. Marauder patrol found it. Intact at first, but later someone burned it. It's John Crichtons, for certain. The patrol followed a man through the woods but lost him in the remnants of a castle or manor somewhere."

"Can we pinpoint the location of this manor?" Crais asked.

"We have a patrol searching now, sir."

"Perfect. This may be the key we're looking for. Has anyone been able to locate Crichton?"

Teeg smiled slightly. "He's not been at his apartment for several days now, and he hasn't reported for work, either."

"What exactly was the nature of his work for the Peacekeepers?"

"He was one of the top scientists working on the wormhole weapon being developed. Before he disappeared, he made some of the most significant breakthroughs. But each part of the whole project was assigned in parts to different teams. If he somehow managed to get hold of all the information·"

"That seals it then. He knows we're onto him. I want you to Contact Officers Chatto and Sun. I want him bought in immediately."

The lieutenant's smile faded. "We already did, sir. Officer Chatto responded, but Officer Sun has not responded to our hails, nor is she at home."

***

As John swung around the edge of the building, he could already see her sitting on the top of a factory across the street. As he landed on the roof, dawn was beginning to break over the horizon, with streaks of pink touching the cool gray of the sky. She was alone.

"How did you know?"

She had not looked up to acknowledge him, but he could tell she wanted a straight answer. He hesitated, trying to find the words. Even under the dim morning light she looked beautiful, as well as vulnerable.

He was forgetting himself again. Bruce would be chewing him out in disgust had he kept the comm link open.

"How did you know?" She repeated.

"I know someone who knew your father. They were very close."

Aeryn nodded slightly. "You know, for years I've dreamed about my mother coming to me while I slept. I was never really sure if it happened- until now." She held up the chip. "I'd wake up wishing it had, but then wishing it didn't, because it hurt that she wasn't there. So I tried to forget." There was a long pause. "My relationships since have always been painful." She laughed slightly. "I imagine you don't know what I'm talking about."

He paused, looking at her sadly. "You have no idea how much."

She stood up, brushing the dust off her uniform. "Where are we going with all this?"

"I want you to come with me. I want to introduce you to the man who knew your father. I want you to help us to win the war we're fighting. Earth is part of your heritage. We felt it was important that you know these things."

"John·"

He tapped his headpiece. An emergency transmission from Bruce was coming through.

"John. Get out of there, it's a trap!"

The loud whine of an engine alerted him to it. Turning around, a Marauder rose up from below the building's ledge and trained its lights and pulse weapons on him. Four commandoes jumped from the back onto the roof and trained their weapons on him as well. Aeryn stared on in wide-eyed distress.

"ATTENTION, BATMAN! YOU ARE UNDER ARREST. DO NOT RESIST OR WE WILL USE DEADLY FORCE. HUNTRESS SUN, YOU WILL ASSIST AND RESTRAIN HIM IMMEDIATELY!"

He turned angrily towards Aeryn. "Why?"

She said nothing. Her face still looked surprised.

"Why are you a part of this? Open your eyes, can't you see how they are?"

She finally found her voice. "Crichton, I - I had nothing to do with this, I promise you. They must have followed me."

John extended his arm and fired concussion bolts from his Tavlek gauntlet. The first commando flew back from the impact as the remaining three advanced quickly, preparing to fire. He took on his standard defensive posture. If he would be taken here, it would not be without a fight.

"No!"

Aeryn screamed, and ran past him, sending a hard kick into the next commando's jaw. He went down hard.

"Take me with you and I'll help you," she called back to him. She ducked down fast to allow the batarang he threw to sail over her and right into the head of the third commando.

"Commissioner Crais!" The Marauder pilot shouted into his headset. "Huntress Sun has turned traitor. She's working with the Batman and taking down our commandoes!" He watched the battle scene unfold from his cockpit.

"Subdue them by all means necessary. Call in reinforcements if you have to," Crais responded. "I already have my hands full right now heading to the landing site at Arkham. I want no excuses."

The pilot watched as the fourth commando put up a brief defense but went down in an instant from a right hook by the Batman. True to his training, he armed the pulse weapons and prepared to lock onto the pair of two-legged targets directly in front of him. He grinned sadistically. He often wondered how much damage would occur to a flesh and blood body from a single shot from a Marauder's cannons. He now had the chance to find out.

"Crichton!" Aeryn cried out. "They're about to fire!"

John grabbed her by the hand and proceeded to run to the far end of the roof, moving in a zigzag pattern as they went. There were bright flashes of light, and an explosion as the pulse cannons incinerated mortar and brick. Debris flew wildly and scattered around them, but still they dodged the blasts without harm.

For a brief moment, the Marauder halted its assault. Reaching the buildings edge, they quickly looked down at the ground far below. It was at least twenty stories up. A fall would all but leave a bomb crater.

"Put your arms around my neck and hold on."

Obeying, she wrapped her arms around the thick cowl that covered his head and held firmly as he jumped off the roof, another pulse blast screaming past his head. As they plummeted downward, the wings in his cloak opened up. They glided down the chasm between buildings, as the sting of the cold air rushed against their faces.

Down below, people in the morning crowds began looking up at the disturbance that was going on above them. Was it yet another Peacekeeper pursuit? Onlookers pointed and shouted excitedly about the giant bird- or what looked like a bat- flying overhead:

"What the hell is that?"

"Hey! You don't think·"

"Can't be..."

"Christ, I don't believe it·"

"Batman..."

"Come to kick the Peacekeepers ass·"

Aeryn held tightly as their speed of descent increased, putting distance between them and the Marauder up above. He turned a hard left through canyons of concrete and steel, causing her to swing wildly, but she held on, sailing with him. Her heart beat wildly in her chest. She pressed her nose in against the nape of his neck. The Marauder continued shooting, and he continued evading. He was outgunned but surrender was not an option to him. She knew then he would fight on until he succeeded. That was all she needed to know to realize just how magnificent the man was.

"Come to me."

"What?" She said, turning up to look up at him.

John lowered his eyes to the sight below him. Aeryn followed his gaze, and she saw the shape of a strange-looking ship hovering below, rising up to meet them. It was jet black, with swept forward wings and sharp angles- an abstract representation of a bat in aircraft form.

He called it the Batscape, named after the Farscape, his father's legendary ship. He had been using it to fly between Gotham city and the Bat Cave. They landed gently on its portside wing and climbed into the waiting cockpit. Bruce had designed it to seat two people, and not by chance, either.

As they strapped themselves in, the Marauder appeared from behind the building, having swept over the width of it to follow the escaping pair. Sighting them, it began to dive in its standard attack pattern.

"It's time to even the odds a little," John said, grabbing the throttle.

Re-activating the manual controls, he gunned the engines to gain some altitude. The Batscape's jets screamed as it climbed upward. The Marauder followed right behind, firing its weapons, still missing them with every shot.

"Does this thing have armament?" Aeryn asked, glancing at the Peacekeeper ship behind them.

John handled the controls with confidence. "We're prepared for any contingency."

They flew up into a swirling white mist of clouds for cover. A whirring noise caught Aeryns attention, and she watched as doors on the side of the craft unfold. A pair of core cannons and missile pods came into view. The Batscape was a flying fortress, and it was being put to the test and found wanting.

John increased speed and pulled the nose up hard, going far above the clouds. Suddenly, the craft stopped in mid air, pitched, rolled over and plummeted downward. White tufts streaked by the canopy as the targeting systems locked on to the Marauder. It appeared just above the cloud line and flew directly into a barrage of energy bursts from the Batscape that tore the pods off the Marauder's sides and sent the ship careening downward in a fireball. The pilot ejected in his chair and John and Aeryn watched the soft glow of its braking jets activate from a distance.

"Holy dren, Batman," Aeryn said. He could not help but laugh- it must have been the Zen moment he had hoped for.

"So, now what?"

"We're going to the Bat Cave," John said. "You're going to meet Bruce."

***

Jenavian watched the Batscape disappear into the clouds from the rooftop where she had witnessed the clash between the Batman and her former partner against the Marauder and its crew. She held up the tracking device that now calibrated itself to track Officer Sun's location. During their flight from the building, she hurled a small tracer at Aeryn's back that delicately locked on, avoiding detection.

"Officer Chatto to Crais. I've managed to lock onto Officer Sun's movements via tracer plant. I'm afraid she's turned traitor and is cooperating with the renegade Batman."

"Well done, Officer Chatto," Crais responded. "I will have Prowler patrols scrambled to the Batman's home base."

"Further orders, sir?"

"Yes, report to the receiving launch pad at Arkham Asylum. You have a new assignment you're due for."

Jenavian smiled. "Now who has a greater claim to the Batman, or to you, Officer Sun?"

***

Barbara stared at the scene through her oculars. The activity milling about on the distant launch assembly in front of Arkham Asylum's decaying veneer was slight, at best. The ocean fog lifted, revealing an empty gray landing pad surrounded by blinking guide lights, Peacekeeper techs, a pair of stray seagulls and not much else. The transport had not yet arrived.

She shifted her weight and slid quietly down the slope to Lowell and the others waiting below in the rocks. Over a hundred other fully armed members of the resistance lay in wait, the largest gathering in years. Word had spread quickly about a mission to stop deployment of the Peacekeeper weapon. Every available combatant answered the call, male and female, heroic and cowardly, saboteurs and errand boys.

"Soon?" Lowell asked.

Barbara stooped down beside him. "Has to be. Kanor and his cronies were in one hell of a hurry to get it to their base for a demonstration launch. I've never known him to slack on something, especially this."

He nodded. "Then it's now or never. We either stop it here or it's over." He checked the settings on the pulse rifle that was Îliberated' from a Peacekeeper warehouse a year before. It was in perfect working order, and with one full cartridge of Chakran oil.

"Are you ready? I know you're new to this, but-"

"I'm ready." Her tone had finality to it. Since meeting Lowell, he had gradually eased the subject of the resistance in their conversations until he decided she was a safe candidate to join them, and to aid in the mission. Someone with first hand knowledge of the Maelstrom project might make all the difference. She joined willingly, not because of some heartfelt obligation to DK, but because the day he died she resolved she would never again lose loved ones to the Peacekeepers. If that meant a fight; then so be it. DK would've been proud, she thought.

If only John were there to see her.

Lowell signaled the man at the far end of the column they formed. Nodding, he signaled the group behind him and they streamed past the others toward Arkham's farthest wall. Lowell's group planned to storm the landing platform and engage the Peacekeepers, destroying the weapon due to be transported. Jake, the square-jawed man heading the other group, would take the asylum and free the human prisoners within, gaining reinforcements for the fight against the Peacekeepers. The plan looked easy when it was being orchestrated.

Barbara remained stooped over, moving quietly with Lowell as their column moved single file behind the sea wall towards the landing platform. The muffled crash of the ocean waves against the rocks covered the sound of sand crunching under combat boots, the muffled coughs of sick riflemen and the creak of contraband leather gear stolen from the Peacekeepers. Earth tone camouflage concealed them from aerial observation. If the Peacekeeper security force was a small one, they could overwhelm them with numbers.

"Scared?" Lowell asked.

Barbara swallowed hard, before she could answer him. "Hell yes. Aren't you?"

"I'd be wetting myself if I'd actually drank anything today. Better to focus on the job, not think of it in terms of Îif' but Îwhen.' We'll feel more confident."

"Says you, a lot of people are going to die, and we might be first."

He nodded. "I know. But remember the alternative. It's a small sacrifice compared to a whole planet enslaved and drained of everything. Don't you think?"

Barbara cocked her head to the distant whine of an engine. Coming below the clouds, the dark hulk of a Peacekeeper transport escorted by two Prowlers slowed its approach to the landing pad in the distance. A large formation of soldiers and techs began to mass on the edge of the platform.

"I think," she said, "we're going to need a lot more help."

***

"He ran across a giant what?" Aeryn said, her eyes widening.

Bruce laughed at her reaction. Clearly she had never fought a villain of the Batman's. "That's right. The Penguin built this giant typewriter as part of some criminal plan, who knows what for- he had eccentric tastes. But Dick chased him across it and nailed him with his batarang from about sixty feet away. Considering it was one of his first capers as Robin, I was highly impressed."

John looked up from his work. "He had a good teacher, Bruce. I should know."

Their laughter echoed through the Bat Cave, vibrating the stalactites above them. For the first time in years, joy filled the cavern. Bruce could not help but join in showing Aeryn the world he and John shared. Even if he was no longer flesh and blood he still felt the pride and the happiness he would have knowing that Dick's daughter had come home at last.

"Coffee, Madam Aeryn?"

ALFRED glided up to Aeryn and John with a platter of cups and saucers and a pot of steaming coffee. She regarded him with curious fascination. Despite their technology, Peacekeepers seldom utilized robots for work.

"Thank you, Alfred. But, I have to tell you I've never drunk coffee before. Peacekeeper policy always frowned on us drinking native beverages."

"It's all right," John said, assuring her, "it's time to live a little."

ALFRED's eye lights blinked. "I assure you, Madam Aeryn, that I only use the finest coffee beans ground fresh with every pot. Master Bruce and I kept a healthy supply in storage for a time when those who could appreciate it would occupy the Bat Cave. I am sure you will relish it as much as Master John."

She smiled at the robot. Holding the cup to her nose, she inhaled the full-bodied aroma. She sipped it carefully, letting the taste roll on her tongue to savor the flavor. There were so many new things to experience, so many things to learn about being human- part human anyway. Coffee was a small way to start; John was even better.

"It's wonderful. Thank you, Alfred."

"I am glad to be of service, Madam Aeryn."

"And thank you, Bruce." Aeryn turned back to the monitor with Bruce's image. "Thank you for telling me about my father."

Bruce smiled. "He was a good man, Aeryn. I'm glad we had this opportunity. Now if you and John will excuse me, there is some info coming in on the wire I want to check. John, why don't you show our guest around?"

John put down his cup and offered his hand to her. They walked around the cave, showing her the vehicles in dock, told stories about the odd curios in the cave and showed off the plush living quarters were he had slept during his training. She listened affectionately, absorbing all the details.

John could feel himself blushing. Despite his age and experience He felt like a schoolboy on a first date. Batman had butterflies in his stomach, all because of a Peacekeeper huntress.

"Was this always your intention?"

He blinked, dazed by her question. "What's that?"

"Was this always your intention? I mean, hoping to win me over, showing me my parents, my half-human side and whatnot. I know you don't do this with every Peacekeeper female you come across. If you did, I'd seriously question your mental state."

He laughed. "No, not everyone, just you, you seemed different. I don't really know the reason, I could just tell. Call it serendipity."

"All right, a fortunate accident, then."

"No," he shook his head. It's more than that. It feels more like fate."

Her smile grew. She could not argue the point. "I can actually believe that, even if the Peacekeepers don't. But you, do you think we've become products of fate?"

He said nothing. He lifted an ungloved hand to touch her cheek, but he hesitated. Bruce's mental training had no preparation for this. He was lost in the moment. There was no Batman, no great battle, no Peacekeepers- just her.

Personal indulgences can interfere with your ability to fight, Bruce had once said.

Still, she was so beautiful- passion mixed with human vulnerability. It was the trait that caused him to fall for Alex and other girls in his youth. But that felt so long ago, and he had been alone for too long.

"Aeryn·"

The loud wail of the Bat Cave's perimeter alarms abruptly jolted him back to reality. They ran back to the main console to view the source of the commotion.

"John, Aeryn, I've good news, bad news and really bad news," Bruce said as they stood before him. "We now know the weapon in question is designed to create a wormhole. They just completed the device in its entirety."

John felt a sudden clarity. "That would explain the stories about shortening the distance between Earth and the systems under Peacekeeper jurisdiction."

"With the ability to navigate wormholes, the Peacekeepers could easily send reinforcements and keep Earth under their grip permanently," Aeryn added.

"Correct Aeryn, and a lot of other worlds, too. The bad news is they're putting the weapon aboard a transport ship now and taking it to the command carrier Zelbinion orbiting above us. The loading site is the launch assembly right on the shores of Arkham Asylum."

"Then we have to leave now," John said. "They're using the Zelbinion to make the test jump."

Bruce shook his head. "No they're not, John. They need to go to where a potential wormhole could form. They're taking it to a Gammak base in our system, where specifically, I'm not sure. But you do have to leave now, because the really bad news is that there's a fleet of Prowlers and Marauders on their way here to blast us into dust."

"Then, we have to get you out of here, Bruce. We can't let them capture you, you're too important-"

Bruce cut him off. "I've made my decision, John. I'm activating the self-destruct sequence to the Bat Cave. I'm denying them the opportunity to get anything from us. Take Aeryn and go immediately. She can help you. My work with you is finished. You have to stop that weapon from ever being used."

He knew that one day this might end, but he would never have predicted it would be this soon. Bruce told him he had to earn the right to be called Batman, and the moment to do it was now. He looked at Aeryn, then back at Bruce's image. The turning point already beckoned to him, and he had to leave his home again- and Bruce. He had already lost one father.

"You know what you have to do."

John nodded.

They seated themselves into the Batscape's cockpit as the launch trolley positioned it into the open doors above them. John looked back one last time at his mentor's face.

He was only an electronic image on a screen, but now he looked older. His sadness was plain- this was the last time.

"Goodbye, Bruce."

The Batscape came to life and the ship propelled upward, weapons systems arming to face the coming storm of Peacekeeper fighters.

***

"Eustar leader to squadron, target is now in sight. Lock weapons and prepare to fire."

The fleet of Prowlers and Marauders converged into standard columns of three, which they used when bombing ground targets. The manor ruins were now appearing below them. Satellite tracking had confirmed it as the area the unidentified craft had landed near. Above or below ground, there would be nothing but a large crater in a matter of microts.

"First formation, prepare to dive."

"Eustar leader, this is Eustar three. Unidentified craft approaching, not appearing on radar tracking, I have a visual confirmation!"

"Eustar three, give location, over."

"Eustar leader, it's the ship! It's firing, it's-"

A series of fireballs erupted in front of the Prowler leaders ship. A swept wing, black craft had fired a volley of missiles that took out the first column with a Marauder bringing up the rear taking a direct hit as well. The unknown craft shot past in a blur, ignoring the remaining ships.

"Eustar five, six and seven, pursue enemy craft. All remaining ships converge and fire upon intended target."

The three Prowlers never made the pursuit. Three dark shapes swept into their line of sight and lasers neatly sliced each one in two. The remote-controlled Bat Sentinels swiftly rolled and engaged the remaining fleet.

***

There was so much to do and no time to do it.

Bruce looked around as stalactites, steel beams and other debris fell from the Bat Caves ceiling. The Bat Sentinels could delay the attack staged above them, but they were hopelessly outnumbered. It would all be finished in a matter of minutes.

"ALFRED, prepare evacuation tube, code name Lazarus, zero-zero-two-six-one."

"Master Bruce? Please do not make me leave."

"You have to, ALFRED. It's time for our back up plan. If· when John gets back, he'll need your assistance. Take the prearranged equipment that was set aside. Hurry now, there isn't much time."

Saying nothing, the robot turned and glided away. A tube was set in the wall at the south end of the cave. Bruce watched as ALFRED disappeared through the large hatch, which closed behind it. With a hiss and a rush of air, the tube disappeared. He was now alone.

Back up systems flashed to life momentarily as an emergency broadcast transmission streamed upwards to a long deserted communications satellite, ignored as junk by the Peacekeepers, but put to good use by Bruce Wayne. Data unloaded itself until a green light flashed- transmission was complete.

An earth-shattering explosion rattled the equipment loose around him. Before his image faded out for good, Bruce watched the flames, the sparks and the ceiling falling in. Still, he remained hopeful.

"Good luck, John." A tear fell from his eye- digitally created. Darkness followed.

***

"Are they following us?" Aeryn asked, checking the radar.

John gave a quick glance at the screen. "No. The Bat Sentinels are keeping them occupied. I have stealth mode on as well. They can't track us."

She sucked in her breath. "Something's happened. We're almost there, but it looks like the ships already left, and there's fighting on the launch assembly."

Looking out the forward canopy, they could see yellow and orange flashes of explosions as they came under the clouds. As the ship grew closer, figures were clamoring and falling all around the front of the asylum. Yellow bolts of light streamed back and forth. Dead bodies were laying everywhere.

"Resistance fighters," John said. "They must have gotten word of the weapons transport and tried to stop them."

"The Peacekeepers would have used Black Ghosts to guard that weapon, important as it is." Aeryn added.

"Black Ghosts?"

"Special Ops. Those resistance fighters are being cut to pieces by them."

A lone Prowler flew into view in front of them, unaware it was being trailed. The fighter remained behind to deal with the resistance members and it drained its pulse cannons, gunning down as many of the humans on the ground as it could.

"No more," John said.

The Batscape's targeting system activated and locked onto the Prowlers rear. Pressing a button on the throttle, a missile streaked into the craft, blowing it apart and sending it crashing into the sea. The pilot's ejection chair carried him into the shoreline alongside the asylum.

Barbara looked up, just in time to see a Prowler fall into the water, a trail of flame coming out its back end. Behind it, a black craft swooped past and pulled up to engage the Peacekeepers on the ground. A snare net from out its front, tying down an entire Peacekeeper platoon.

"Who the hell is that?"

Her voice strained from shouting over the noise of battle. She and Lowell remained pinned down by enemy fire. Lowell's' shoulder suffered from a gaping wound that she covered with a bandage from her pouch, hoping to stem the bleeding. They had been trapped behind the sand dune for only twenty minutes, but it felt more like a day. In that space of time, they had watched their frontal assault fall to pieces against the Special Ops that were guarding the ship. Far better trained than Peacekeeper regulars, they cut down the resistance fighters like wheat. With the arrival of more Peacekeeper reinforcements, the operation deteriorated into a fight for survival. Half of Lowell's team lay bleeding or dead on the platform, while Jake's team waged a desperate battle deep in Arkham's chambers. Only the subsequent explosions of rocket- propelled grenades reminded her the fight pressed on.

Then the mystery ship appeared, spurring on her hope. Whoever he was, he was mopping up the Peacekeeper's elite.

"What's going on?" Lowell said, as he began to stir.

"We've got help. Whoever he is, he's kicking serious ass."

A raven-haired female with the uniform of a hunter jumped down first and proceeded to take down several guards. She was spectacular enough with her speed- but it was the man who followed that caught her attention. He was large and powerful, cloaked in black and wearing a cape. The symbol of a bat against an oval, yellow field was emblazoned on his chest. Her eyes widened, she had seen pictures of him before.

"Batman?"

Lowell looked up. "What did you say?"

"The rumors were true, Lowell! It's him! It's Batman!"

John jumped onto the deck and joined the bloody fray. With Aeryn at his back, he took down the Peacekeepers to his front; gauntlet bursts from one hand, batarangs and throwing stars from the other. The remaining Peacekeepers, now routed, beat a hasty retreat into the asylum, while the remaining resistance fighters regrouped and chased them inside.

Barbara walked up to John with Lowell limping alongside her; still not believing her eyes. "Thank God you came, Batman. I still can't believe it's really you."

John hesitated, he wanted to hide any surprise he felt from seeing her. He never imagined her to be a fighter, but here she was and part of him was pleased all the same. "Where is the Peacekeeper transport, Miss?"

"Already departed. No doubt heading for the Zelbinion. They're going to test their wormhole weapon up there."

"Where up there?"

"Not sure," she said regretfully. "But I'll bet the Commissioner does. He's holed up in the Asylum. Jake's team has been fighting him from room to room in there." She pointed to the walls of Arkham, now a cauldron on its insides.

"Get your friend some medical assistance and find cover, Barbara. The Huntress and I need to finish this before any more lives are lost."

"Thank you. We have a medic here who- Hey! How did you know my name?"

He offered no answer as he ran towards the entrance. An explosion that rocked the top of the building took his full attention.

***

Crais laid his pulse pistol down on the windowsill and leaned against the thick glass. He could see the fighting in Arkham's levels from the warden's office where he now stood. His forces were losing ground fast, and he was tired.

Earth had ceased being his dream assignment. Unlike other officers, who dreaded the distance and the culture shock, Crais looked forward to being stationed on the blue planet. The green forests and rolling fields reminded him of his boyhood home, a home he was taken from when he was too young by Peacekeeper recruiters. Fortunate was the officer who could get an assignment on a world like Earth, and he relished the opportunity- or he once did.

Looking down, all he saw was death. For the past cycle it dominated his job. There was supposed to be law and order on this world, which was the principle reason the Peacekeepers were created to begin with. He carried on his job, and yet so many humans and Peacekeepers still lay dead- and for what? For the ability to continue harvesting the ore, lumber and fossil fuels of the planet until it was barren? Earth was a paradise compared to some worlds; it deserved much better treatment, as did its people. To say it was mere coincidence that humans resembled Sebaceans was preposterous and insulting, even to an unschooled child. On this planet, the Peacekeepers made war with their brothers and sisters.

Now, he longed to throw down his weapon and walk away. A quiet life on a farm would be preferable, like the one he lived on with his family. But they were gone, dead and buried for many cycles. Only his brother Tauvo, assigned to a Gammak base, remained as his last trace of family. What would he think if he were here?

Commissioner Crais!"

Crais turned to see a soldier in a dirty uniform with blood caked on the side of his face and his eyes wide with fear. "Sir, the humans have secured the platform. They're freeing many of the prisoners in the cells below and they've quickly outnumbered us!"

An explosion rocked the whole floor, knocking them off balance. Two more soldiers, both female, entered the room as he got back up. "Sir, the humans have secured the bottom level. The Batman is helping them, and that traitor huntress!"

Crais groaned his displeasure at the news. "All right, I want a box formation in the corridor. You will lay down suppressing fire to-"

A massive second explosion cut him off abruptly. All he sensed was a blinding flash, a crash of thunder and the floor disappeared right out from underneath him. The other three soldiers vanished in the smoke. He felt himself flying free through the air. The human gunners had targeted the walls around him, but used too much explosive. The entire corner of the building came loose, and he began plummeting to the ground with the decaying steel and masonry falling with him.

So this was death, he thought to himself. It was not a violent abrupt emotion, as he once believed, but a more peaceful transition. He closed his eyes and waited for the end.

It never came. He felt himself jolted from freefall and carried gently towards the ground. His hands and knees slapped against solid rock once again. Looking up, he saw the Batman looking down on him. The huntress Aeryn Sun walked up to his side with him.

"Why?" Crais said, clearing his throat. It was all he could think of to say.

The Batman looked sternly at Crais through his black cowl. "My war is against tyranny, not people. We don't have to be enemies. Remember that."

He looked at the human for a moment, and nodded, understanding. Not enemies.

"Help us," Aeryn said. "Where are they taking the wormhole device?"

Crais began to open his mouth, then paused. It would be treason to do what he was about to. But the man had spared his life. He had his honor, after all. Besides, even he knew an epiphany when it grabbed him from mid air.

"I owe you my life until I can repay my debt to you, that is my word as a Peacekeeper. The wormhole device is being delivered on the Zelbinion to Scorpius himself, on an isolated Gammak base. It's anchored on the surface of the planet Mars, in the region that you call Cydonia. I can tell you no more."

The Batman nodded slightly, then turned and ran towards his ship. Nothing further was said.

Crais watched the pair quickly climb into the hovering black craft and accelerate out over the water and above the clouds. Peace settled over the area again. The humans were evacuating the building with the freed prisoners and their wounded comrades. The wail of sirens in the distance meant Peacekeeper reinforcements were arriving. The remaining guards and soldiers scrambled to secure the area. He stood there, oblivious to all of it. He watched the ocean waves crash against the shore- the foam covered the rocks then receded back into the water. He had forgotten how calming the sea could be for him.

"Much fortune," He said.

***

The altitude readings on the Batscapes console registered above the stratosphere. The sound of its jets began to die down, replaced by the thrust of the hetch drive. Blue skies faded, replaced by the expansive blackness of space. Stars appeared overhead. They could feel the release of gravity as the Batscape climbed into low orbit.

"I know I haven't asked this yet," Aeryn said. "But, can this craft actually fly the distance to Mars?"

John stared straight ahead, not looking at her. "Yes, but not fast enough, we wouldn't make it in time. So we're going to hitch a ride with someone who can."

"Hitch a ride?"

"Check the scanner for any potential transports we can use. There should be several in orbit right now, for any supply trips that are on a regular schedule."

Aeryn adjusted a knob on the scanners tracking screen. The computer's software could access information on all ships in orbit and their crew compliments. "At least the Zelbinion isn't in orbit at the moment. But we're going to need something fast if we want to catch a command carrier."

She paused, and then smiled at her finding. "I have it!"

"What is it?"

There's a leviathan prison ship just ahead of us on the evening side. It has a skeleton crew at the moment. It's the Moya."

To be continued·

Part 4 >>

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Farscape/Batman: Dark Knight, Rising Son, Pt. 3

By: Spacelord

Rating: PG-13 (Adult situations, profanity and violence).

Summary: With their secrets revealed, Batman and the Huntress Aeryn Sun race to stop the Peacekeepers from deploying their newest weapon. Meanwhile, Scorpius attempts an alliance with an old adversary of Bruce Wayne's.

Spoilers: None, this is AU. I have placed the characters of Farscape into the world of Batman.

Disclaimers: See part 1 for details.

 
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