DC Futures Fan Fiction focuses on the future of the DC Universe. Characters in DCF are often the descendents and proteges of the modern-day DC characters, but they are original creations of the authors.
Such a Herculean task had never been successfully attempted in all the history of mankind, Alucard Holmes thought as he took his daily run around Justice Island, mopping the sweat from his brow as he mentally checked off the tenth mile.
Nearly thirty years before, Justice had charged Alucard with the creation of a new Batman. And not just anyone would do; this dark knight had to be at least equal to the original.
A smile crept upon Alucard's face. "Equal to the original," he mused. The concept was so completely absurd in its difficulty, it should never even have been attempted. Yet it had been. Several times, in fact. Some of the men lasted a few weeks on the street. Some were never fit for the mantle in the first place.
But Justice demanded a Batman for Gotham City. It was, as Justice put it, a necessity. A heart for the city with no soul life to the dead.
And so Alucard had set in motion events that led, at last, to the Batman the world had come to learn of a mere few months back.
It had not been easy to do. The tragedy, the motivations, the instincts and abilities of the original dark knight were difficult to manufacture, at best and at worst, impossible. But the fruits of a generation's worth of work were nearly ready for the harvest.
And that was the biggest problem of all.
The Batman's hyper-accented skills and abilities had come to maturity on schedule. But with their emergence, the mind of Timothy Drake began to waver, and the skills Alucard had hoped would appear had not.
Drake was a brilliant businessman, a literal genius of the highest caliber, charming and witty. His physical skills had grown, as Drake picked up abilities and prowess through instinct, if nothing else, thinking them merely a way to pass his time, a diversion to the boring rich-boy lifestyle but his mind, his mind was becoming dangerously unbalanced, in the wrong sort of way.
Drake was beginning to split into two very separate people. His playful immaturity spilling over into the Batman, his take-charge seriousness slowly but surely claiming more of his unmasked identity. A reversed image of Wayne's identity crisis, hence the irony of the situation. Drake's only appropriate actions as the Bat were taken under influence of anger, times when he had let his instincts completely override his learned inclinations and that was unacceptable. The Batman had to be cool under pressure; the Batman had to be a thing of terror, feared. This one was fairly evenly split between buffoon and madman while masked, with flashes of behaving the way he was supposed to. And while unmasked, Drake's affability had begun to wane.
At least, that was the road he had started to journey down.
But what to do about it?
BATMAN: DCF #19
"Squad Run, Part 3"
Written and Directed by Erik Burnham
BATMAN created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger
"You shouldn't have been able to do what you did, Tim." Clark was trying not to insult the friend who had given him so much in this world -- support, friendship, hospitality -- but the fact of the matter was this Tim Drake could not have, SHOULD not have, been able to beat the members of the Suicide Squad in such short order, if at all. It was impossible, according to the research Clark had done.
It had to be impossible.
But there Tim was, shadowboxing before Clark with confidence and a wide smile on his face.
"Psychology, chief. I made the boys mad, they didn't take the time to think, and they lost. No big thing, it's something I've been reading up on. According to the research, that Captain Atom really hates to be egged on by someone he perceives as a staring buffoon. Apparently, it's a condition stemming from his time with the Justice League, but "
"Tim, that's not the point. Take Mercury, for example. From what I've read, he's nearly as fast as the Flash -- the Flash I knew, anyw--"
"Not even close," Tim interrupted. "He couldn't be. I mean, how would I have tripped him if he were?"
That's the question, isn't it, Clark thought with his journalist's mind; how did Tim do what no man could have done?
"Clark, it's nice that you worry about me, but c'mon! I'm Batman! No one can beat me it's in the rule books somewhere."
"If you say so, Tim," Clark sighed as he headed back to his Nook. "If you say so."
Eve Tresser lingered in her bath for what seemed like hours. In point of fact, it was only forty-five minutes. But she felt like hell nonetheless, and the warm caress of the soapy water was helping Eve to deal with it, so leave her alone, for the love of Pete.
Batman refused her, point blank. No maybe, no grace period. A blunt refusal. Something Eve could never remember having to deal with in such a way. Failure it was a bitter pill indeed.
Captain Atom was unconscious, still stuck in his flesh form. Mercury was suffering from shock quite literally. His reactions had been slowed to almost that of a normal human -- they were rapidly recovering, of course, but the lack of speed was beginning to grate on the man's nerves.
Eve merely had to deal with a bruised ego. How many times had she told those in her command to not underestimate their opponents? How many? Never second guess. That was another point. And the mighty Squad had fallen. To a normal human being?
Eve wasn't so sure of that.
She sighed, realizing that she would not be able to sway this man into her court. But there was another mark in Gotham City; one more famous, and almost as important as the Batman Timothy Drake, uber-riche aristocrat. He was surely in bed with the government, or possibly the League. That made him a priority. Not a terribly high priority, but what the hell -- they were in town, after all. They knew where he lived. A visit was in order, as soon as Mercury was up to it. Speedsters always came in handy, no matter what anyone says. Eve was beginning to feel better already.
Justice knew the status of Timothy Drake. He always had. Tim, the blood of the third Robin, had been intended to become the Batman before he had even known how to speak.
Mark Grayson. Richard Drake. Jace Kyle. And Thomas all of these men had been imperfect in one way or another, unequal to the task, unworthy of the mantle. Alucard had cheated a bit when preparing Tim; he strayed from the methods Justice had initially devised and surpassed all expectations. He had recreated history, and Justice knew this. Justice knew also that Drake had no real focus for his crusade beyond his hatred for those who would violate women. Justice knew that Drake was beginning to suffer from mental instability struggling with what he was, tempering the shadow when he should be allowing it to envelop him, protect him become him, like Wayne had done.
But Drake had too much spirit to just bend into the role provided for him; that was part of the reason he was the most successful attempt at resuscitating the legend. His will was stronger than the others' were; it was on a par with Wayne's, allowing Drake to withstand all the attempts at conditioning in spite of himself.
But Justice would break that will, and it would be the greatest accomplishment of his career, of his life. He would midwife the true Dark Knight back into existence.
And none would stand in his way. Not Kent. Not Drake. No one.
"So you think Tuesday has another shipment coming in?" Jon Isaacs asked without turning around, finding something fascinating within the designs on his wallpaper.
"I know it. And it's coming soon," Kylie replied. "All the designer flavors, too. The Baskin-Robbins of the narcotics set."
Isaacs smiled. "You got an idea when it's coming into town?"
"I have it on good authority that it's scheduled for next week, down at Twosmith's Harbor. Shipping in from Frisco, possibly part of Zorro's operation -- we're still looking into that -- but the main point is that it'll be here."
"When?" Isaacs asked, still fascinated with the wall, and the optical illusions emerging from the patterned paper.
"When do you think, sir? It's in the name."
"It can't still be that obvious."
"Colorful criminal element, sir. They're in vogue and Tuesday has always been quite flamboyant in his activities, regardless almost as if he's daring us to try and stop him."
"Yeah. Same way the cops over in the Met tried to stop one of his deals. What happened to them, again?"
"They were gutted, skinned, and hung from the overlamps in Planet Plaza," Kylie sighed.
"Exactly. This Tuesday guy gets his jollies by spreading misinformation. So he always makes his move on a Tuesday; so what? We don't know exactly what he's up to. Could be that this shipment at Twosmith's is the right one. Could be it's disinformation set to bring in more cops to make examples of. Could be a combination of the two, or neither one at all. We don't have anything concrete on this guy except to expect the unexpected."
"And that the unexpected happens on Tuesday."
"Yeah," Issacs allowed, turning his head away from the wall, its hold over him depleted. "There is that. Okay, see what else you can turn up; but if this is all you got left come Tuesday morning, we axe this. We got too many troubles in this town to waste officers on a kamikaze caller."
"Yes, sir," Kylie said as she left the room.
"And enough with the sir, already, huh?" Isaacs hollered as he tossed his half-smoked cigarette out the window and past a man garbed all in black, a man that smirked as he packed his highly sophisticated surveillance gear into a pouch.
"Tuesday," the man whispered before launching himself into the night, a glider-pack saving him from the ten-story drop.
"Now remember," Eve said to Mercury as she appropriated her psychoactive contact lenses, "I want you to keep it clean and calm. Don't make a move until I give you the word. Understand?"
"Sure thing, boss," Mercury replied with a flash of his hands before stepping out of the hoverlim and taking his first look at 'stately Wayne Manor.' It was big gargantuan, in fact. And in surprisingly good condition for a building that was over two hundred years old especially considering all it had been through.
"Rich folks really know how to live, eh?" Mercury signed over his shoulder as he and Eve made their way to the front door and rang the bell.
In the Manor, Alfred groaned. "If only hover-vehicular technology was a little bit less available to the types of people who come asking for money!" Alfred sighed as he prepared to will the door open. "Tragic waste of a perfectly good gate and electrified 12-foot fence. Ah, well."
The camera positioned above the outer door revealed to Alfred a dark-haired woman with startling green eyes, as well as a blonde man who was unable to keep still. A quick referral to the records in the Batcomputer confirmed Alfred's suspicion: Master Tim had unwittingly brought his work home with him. Still, he had handled them once; their primary objective was to recruit Batman into their midst, and no reason had been given to suggest they suspected Master Tim was the caped crusader the callers were out-of-costume, after all.
Curiosity is a terrible habit, Alfred thought as he opened an audio channel to the outside.
"May I help you?"
"Yes," the woman said, speaking clearly and audibly. "We're here to see Mr. Drake about an important matter involving his companies. We are expected," she finished.
Are you, Alfred thought to himself while pondering his next course of action his two options were denying them access, which could force them to attempt hostile entry. Option two was welcoming them into Wayne Manor with no idea of their agenda; whatever it was, a social call was definitely out of the question.
Well, Alfred concluded. Master Tim has stated the desire to test himself in situations of an unpredictable nature. This surely qualifies And with that, Alfred allowed the door to open.
"Welcome to Wayne Manor, sir and madam," Alfred enunciated in his perfectly digitized British accent, his words echoing through the foyer. "Master Tim will be with you directly. If you'll turn to your immediate left, you will find yourselves in the study, where he will be most happy to receive you. May I get you anything while you wait?"
"No, thank you," Eve answered pleasantly. Mercury signed frantically for a shot of scotch, which Eve ignored. "We're fine."
Angel Tuscotti, the head of organized crime in Gotham, New York, Boston and several other cities he didn't even bother mentioning anymore, sat before a raging holo-fire in the penthouse suite of his corporate building, Endyces Inc. A gentle breeze wafted through the window, causing the holo-fire to flicker as a real fire would, but putting it into no danger of being extinguished.
Angel looked out the window that the breeze had stolen through, looking to the stars.
"It's amazing, isn't it?" Angel asked the stars. "How much we can do with so little in such a short amount of time."
"It is indeed, Angel."
The reply startled the normally unflappable Tuscotti. The voice was familiar -- strained, yes. And slightly broken, but familiar. It was a voice Tuscotti had been assured would never speak again. Anger burned inside him that matched the holo-fire for intensity.
"Welcome back," Angel said, turning his chair to view his guest. "When did you get in?"
"Not long ago, Angel. I took some time to see --cough-- the sights before making my way back to the big city." The man coughed again, dropping a thick wad of phlegm on Tuscotti's multimillion-dollar marble floor. "Sorry," the man continued, his face still obscured by shadow. "Should squeegee right up."
"Get to the point," Angel said, his voice straining. "What do you want here?"
"That's a beautiful question, Angel. And I want to answer it, but it's a long story, and I'm quite tired. So," the man said, pulling out a gun, "suffice it to say I want it all, and leave it at that."
Angel felt the first bullet eat through the flesh near his heart, but the second hit its mark, bringing the most powerful man in Gotham's underworld to his death, once and for all.
"Sorry about that, Angel,." the man coughed. "My aim's not what it used to be."
Mercury's mind and body were back up to snuff God bless speedster recuperative powers. The only problem was he was bored, no, really bored. Drake had made his way down not long after Eve and Mercury had shown up, almost as if he really had been expecting him. And then Eve started to work that voodoo that she do on rich-boy.
And Mercury had had to sit still for over a half an hour, trying to keep from vibrating through the couch. Damn disc Batman had zapped him with gave him the shakes, worse than usual. Worse than lotsa coffee. Coffee with sugar. Coffee was good.
Jake had never been to Brazil; although he had heard that they had great coffee down there. Coffee that made the NorAm kind, the instant kind, taste like the proverbial piss in a cup. Europe had good coffee, too. How come Mercury never got good coffee? He always got a buzz, though. That should be enough. And speaking of enough, is that what Drake had? Enough? He had a lot, that was for sure. Rich-boys always did. And Mercury wouldn't mind at least looking at it. He wouldn't take anything. Didn't have enough room in his pockets.
Time to be impulsive and up and ask. Nemesister wasn't gonna rag him out while she was working on Drake and being charming and sexy.
"Mind if I take a look around the house?" Mercury signed as slowly as possible.
"No," Nemesis said quickly, noting the blood rushing to Mercury's face, contrasting his hair beautifully; making him look just like one of Santa's elves, or an off-Broadway musical understudy.
"Why not?" Tim said, to the mutual surprise of Mercury and Nemesis. "What's the worst thing that could happen? Alfred, take Mr Rankin, wasn't it? Please take Mr. Rankin on the nickel tour, would you?"
"I'd be delighted to, sir," Alfred replied. "Where is he?"
Tim looked over to the couch, noting that Mercury was gone.
"Probably in the bathroom, Alfred. He looked like he was in the midst of a crisis." Tim smiled at his own joke. Eve blushed. Alfred harrumphed, transferring his consciousness to the Cave below.
"Master Clark," Alfred started. "We have a bit of a situation upstairs "
"So let's get straight to the point, Ms. Halligan "
"Please, call me Tessa," Eve said, flashing the psychoactive contacts in Drake's direction for good measure. He didn't seem to be reacting to them, but that had never happened before. It was beyond the realm of possibility.
"Very well, Tessa. We've been talking for a good, long while. And while not entirely unpleasant, you have made several quite unsubtle accusations. You're curious, Tessa, as to whether or not I allow my companies to participate in government-sponsored programs, right?"
Eve was floored by Tim's direct question. This trip to Gotham was shattering her faith in her abilities to size people up.
"Well," Eve started, unsure how to proceed. "I'm not sure that that's the way I'd put it, but "
"Tessa, let me make something plain. I don't discriminate against the government; I've no reason to. But I do not allow my technology or my money into some of their more dubious programs. The Justice League's enhancement program, for example. The Armed Forces Offensive Division. And the contingent that wants to send JL forces into space for a little hostile colonization has been calling repeatedly, but needless to say, they won't be getting my checks, either. Does any of this help you with your prodding?"
"I " Eve started. "It helps, but I, I mean " What had gone wrong with the lenses? Were they causing a heretofore unseen reaction? No one had ever had a strong enough will to resist their effects before
"I'm a direct kind of guy, Tessa. I like straightforward questions, to which I prefer answering just as honestly, when I can. So I thank you for your concern in my business dealings and the welfare of my conscience. But rule number one 'round these parts: don't ever jerk me around with half-questions. Now, then -- now that that's out of the way would you care for a drink?"
"Yes," Eve said, without a moment of hesitation, lost in the net of Drake's surprisingly powerful charisma.
Mercury had made it through the house in a relatively short order. The ground floor was nothing much; it looked like a museum lots of art, lots of plants, lots of stuffy atmosphere. Boooooring! So Jake did what any sensible speedster would do he went up the stairs. All of the rooms looked the same -- EconoLodge for the privileged, a billionaire's Holiday Inn. But one door one door was locked. That made it conspicuous. And conspicuous made it interesting. And interesting made it intolerably seductive.
Good thing super-speed vibration made walking through walls a reality. It was so much easier than jimmying locks and peeking through keyholes and whoah. It was it was Booster Gold.
"Where is he, Alfred?" Clark asked as he blurred into Wayne Manor as fast as his body would take him.
"I lost him, Master Clark. He moves too fast for me to keep a lock on him using any conventional means and unconventional means haven't cut it so far."
"So I'm going to have to search the whole place, anyway," Clark said. "Not that fast, he said."
Mercury recognized him right away. The former Justice Leaguer had appeared often in many of the old Justice Logs Cliff had dug up when he and Jake were looking into Captain Atom. Booster had been a member of the NorAm er American branch of the JL back when some guy had made it into a UN-sanctioned super-team of misfits a couple of whom had made their way into the present day, ironically enough. Atom, Guy Gardner, and apparently Booster, as well.
Wow, he looked terrible. What was wrong with him? Why was Drake keeping him cooped up like this? Relax. Relaxrelaxrelax, Mercury told himself. Look at the set-up, Jake. It's a med facility, not a torture chamber. Drake's keeping Booster alive. But why? Is this some League thing? Or is it
"Who who's there?" a weak voiced asked, filling the air. "Tim?"
Mercury was by the man's side in fractions of a second, grasping the elder hero's hand. It was something Jake couldn't explain, not even to himself. He was just compelled to do it.
Booster's eyes focused as best they could upon the blurry visage of the man above him. "Ted?" he asked, tentatively. "Is that you, ol' ol' buddy?"
Mercury wasn't sure what to do. Booster sounded like this 'Ted' put him at peace, and his vital signs weren't great, according to the instruments. Who was Jake to steal a man's hope? He just nodded and prayed he wouldn't have to answer any questions.
"I'm tired, Ted. It's eating me alive," Booster sighed. "I know I should fight it, but I can't anymore. I just I just can't. Is that wrong?"
Mercury's blood chilled at the direct question, but was put somewhat at ease when Booster started again.
"I never thought I'd get NSR, pal. Never ever. I mean, I was in the past! It didn't exist! But I got it anyway. And all I wanna do is go home. I want to see my family again, Ted. I can see them again, right?"
Jake nodded, clasping Booster's shaking hand with both of his.
"I know Tim meant well with all of this all of this stuff," Booster said, glancing at the bright lights of the medical instruments. "But he doesn't know. He can't know, not with who he is nothing can hurt who he is Nothing ever."
Delirium, Jake thought. Bad sign.
"Ted, please. Help me," Booster said, his voice slipping into whisper. "While I can still ask, before I go to sleep again and can't do anything please, let me go home."
Mercury stiffened at the request. A hero lost in time, desiring the soft sting of death over the harsh truth of reality. How could Jake refuse so sacred a request? How could anyone? Jake saw his finger hover near the power supply.
So did Booster. He watched and waited, waited to be sent home, waited to be set free from the prisons of his own body and the wrong era. Waited to end the pain.
"HELP ME!" Booster screamed with all the power left in his body. The scream, Michael "Booster" Carter's last act in this world, provided two simultaneous reactions.
The first was Mercury's finger rushing forward and tripping the button that ended the ICUnit's functions on behalf of Booster.
The second, nanoseconds later, was the door to the room exploding in a shower of splinters, allowing a tall, fit man access to the room.
This man had a presence like none Mercury had ever encountered; the tall man's sparkling eyes stabbed him with an accusation even before the words were spoken:
"What have you done?"
Tim Drake and Eve Tresser were truly enjoying each other's company, kissing each other with a passion neither was expecting. They could see fireworks, cliched as it was to them both. And accompanying the fireworks was a ringing bell, a bell that sounded more and more like an alarm until Tim and Eve realized that's exactly what it was.
Snapped back to reality, Tim asked:
"Master Tim! Thank Heaven you've rejoined us. Please get to Mr. Carter's room as soon as you're able!" Alfred sounded worried. It was an unusual tone for the droid. Tim made his way up the stairs with a speed and grace any Olympian would envy, with Eve close behind. What he saw when he got to Booster's room was enough to give even Nemesis pause.
Clark stood above an unconscious -- but alive -- Mercury, whose shirt the taller man was clenching in his left hand. His right fist was clenched, and tears were running down his face.
"He killed him," Clark said quietly, his tears loud enough for all. "He killed him."
TO BE CONCLUDED IN THE NEXT ISSUE OF SUICIDE SQUAD: DCF!
The DCFutures FanFiction Group recognizes that Batman and all related characters are property of DC Comics. These stories are written for no profit, but rather a strong desire to peer into the future of the DCU. The stories and concepts presented herein, however, are property of the author. So there.
All characters are DC Comics
This DC Futures story is © 1998 by Erik Burnham.
All artwork is © 1998 by their respective artists.