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.
Dr. Mid-Nite: DCF #1
"Darkness is My Ally - Part 1"
Written by Schuyler Bush (Zenreaper@yahoo.com)
Edited by Jason Tippitt
Dr. Mid-Nite created by Charles Reizenstein & Stanley Asch.
In 2112, Japan is known simply as the Nippon District. Most of the population lives in the urban sprawl that covers all of Honshu Island. Flickering neon, pools of toxic waste, rusting metal and crumbling cement decorate the land. At the heart of this garbage heap is the capital, Kyoto, a closed corporate city that hides behind towering walls and lethal force fields.
This is the home of UniGen, considered by many to be the world's foremost authority on Metagenetics. As one could well imagine, one of their number one customers is the Justice League. Outside of Kyoto, the rest of Nippon is broken up into territories ruled by self-styled "Daimyos", patterning themselves after the rulers of feudal Japan. They in turn are served by hand picked warriors, known as "Bushi", who ruthlessly enforce their employers' every whim.
The people of Nippon live in constant fear of the "flesh gangs" that prowl the streets looking for unwary victims. Those unfortunate enough to fall into their clutches are sold to UniGen for their experiments. Black market "Chop Docs" offer low-grade bio-enhancements and "battle drugs" to those who can afford it, and those who live in the gleaming towers of Kyoto City grow rich and powerful off of the suffering of others. Finally, someone has stepped forward to fight the monsters that rule in Nippon.
Flight 23, NorAm to Kyoto City Suborbital Express Shuttle Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean
The sleek metallic craft soared majestically through the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere. Navigational information bounced from satellites told the bored pilots when to begin their graceful descent. The only sound that reached the passenger's ears inside the shuttle was the subliminal hum of powerful gravometric engines. The interior was tastefully decorated with plastic paneling textured and colored to look like mahogany. Brass fittings and railings complemented the plush carpeting and faux leather flight couches. Presently the holowindows were displaying tranquil scenery from around the globe.
One of the passengers, a tall man dressed in a wrinkled, off the rack Keravin business suit leaned back in his seat, blowing smoke-rings at the "No Smoking" sign above his head. A middle- aged woman across the aisle from him, wearing an appallingly loud dress that screamed "tourist", glared at him and opened her mouth to complain. The man seated next to her, obviously her husband, quickly intervened and whispered something in her ear. The color drained from her face, and her expression changed from one of disdain to one of fear.
Oh yeah, posing as a Justice Leaguer had its perks all right. Like travelling first class and having everyone too scared to ask you to put out your smoke. Chuckling to himself, the man adjusted the fake Justice League badge pinned to his lapel and made a half-hearted attempt to smooth the wrinkles out of his jacket. With the other hand he waved his empty glass at a passing flight attendant. "Would you care for another drink sir?" the attendant's nametag helpfully blinked the name 'Fred' in cheerful bright letters.
"Sure thing 'Fred'. Make it a Hob's Porter okay? And in a real glass, not one of these plastic jobs alright? I hate drinking good beer out of plastic."
"Oh, of course sir!" the young boy answered, scurrying away. With a sigh the "alleged" Justice Leaguer opened his datacom and began studying the screen. He'd already R.E.M. scanned most of the information displayed on it while sleeping the night before, but he believed that nothing beat good old fashioned reading to REALLY learn something.
His pale gray eyes narrowed in concentration. Not really a lot of facts to work with, just a haphazard collection of data fragments, classified memos, intelligence reports, and project proposals. There was a pattern there somewhere, and the Zen Reaper was being paid to find it. He switched the screen off as the flight attendant returned with his drink.
"Excuse me, now correct me if I'm wrong, but that does NOT look like a Hob's Porter."
"Uhm, uh, no sir, I, that is, I mean, it's a Sapporo Silverale. You see, Nippon Airways owns the brewery, so it's the only beer we carry, and I hope, uhm, well, is that okay? I mean you're not "
"Take it easy, what's your name? Fred? Now Fred, you're shaking like a leaf. Don't sweat it. It's not your fault after all. We'll just put it down to karma. You DO know what karma is don't you?" Obvious relief filled young Fred's eyes.
"I think so, it's like peace and being nice to people so nice stuff happens to you right?"
"*Sigh* Well, that's about the saddest statement on the condition of modern education that I've ever heard Fred. I'm afraid you've been misinformed. Allow me to enlighten you."
Iga Province, Nippon The Hole in the Wall Bar & Grill
The so-called "door" to the Hole in the Wall was really nothing more than a tarpaulin hung over a large hole that gaped in the ancient concrete wall of an abandoned warehouse. It was pulled aside to admit a young man dressed in a dark green greatcoat. He was about 5'10" or so, with dark hair that kept falling in front of his wrap-around mirrorshades.
The club was packed with the evening party crowd, so his entrance went unnoticed by everyone but the bouncers, bodyguards and thieves who were working that night. He stopped just inside the door and took in his surroundings.
A giant holo-screen took up the entire length of one wall, displaying random scenes of destruction and mayhem. At the moment it was showing a metallic metahuman destroying some statue in what appeared to be New York harbor. In front of the screen was a stage, where a band was churning out covers of classic Industrial Psychobilly Dub songs. Dancers writhed and gyrated to the discordant music. Flesh gangers tried to look tough and impressive, displaying their various bio-enhancements to each other. Bushi warriors stayed close to their rich employers, eyes constantly moving over the crowd, looking for potential threats.
Across the room from the stage was a bar, offering a mind- boggling array of chemical diversions, from traditional drinks to designer memory molecules. Nearby food was cooking on spits hung over several steel drums with fires blazing in them. The flames added lurid lighting and cloying smoke to the surreal atmosphere. Apparently satisfied with what he saw, the newcomer made his way through the crowd and up to the bar. "Sapporo Silverale please," he ordered, plunking a cash card down on the bar.
"Please? Wow, I don't get a lot of that around here. Want anything to eat with that kind sir?" Friendly sarcasm dripped from the bartender's voice. He was a burly man in what appeared to be his forties or fifties. Of course, in this day and age of Ambrosia and other youth treatments, age estimates were inaccurate at best. His greasy black hair was pulled up into a topknot, and his craggy face was decorated with a network of scars. Both of his arms were completely tattooed with lines of 'ones' and 'zeroes'. They crawled and spiraled like around his muscles like binary code spider-webs. "Yeah sure, let me see now, I'll take one of your Soyshi deluxe platters."
In short order a plate of pseudo-salmon and rice rolled in seaweed was placed before him, along with his drink. He ate in silence for several minutes, enjoying the bite of wasabi, the almost buttery taste of the soy-fish, and the salty, smoky tang of tamari. If he hadn't known better, he would've thought it was real sushi.
A bizarrely dressed figure sat on the stool next to him, and ordered a shot of whiskey from the bartender.
"This seat taken pardner? Hey my name's Dick. Deadeye Dick. Couldn't help noticing you come in. Yup, 'Dick' I says to myself, 'Dick, there is a young man with a mission. Purpose in his stride, looking for something or someone if ya take my meaning. Maybe someone oughta mosey over and say hello, and tell him how things work here afore he does something stupid.' Yup that's what I said to myself when I saw you walk in. Walk like a military man, or a hunter. Predator, that's it. Now I know you figure you're being subtle and all, but Dick sees things that others don't. And that's the blessed truth. Say, I didn't catch your name son," with that, the newcomer downed his whiskey, signaled for another, and grinned.
'Deadeye Dick' was dressed like a colorblind holovid cowboy. A huge purple hat, green snake skin boots, red vest, yellow shirt and blue chaps all competed for attention. Across his eyes he wore a simple black bandana that apparently didn't interfere with his vision somehow. In the center of the bandana, right between his eyes, was a red and white 'bullseye'. At his waist was a gun belt with what looked like two Croft .95 Automags, the kind with magnetic firing chambers.
"That's quite a mouthful friend. And I'm afraid you've gotten the wrong impression about me. I just came in for food and drink, check out the nightlife a little."
"Sure son, whatever you say. Don't take offense now, I was just being neighborly. Ya see, even the scum of the universe need a safe place to unwind. So there's this unwritten law here. No 'working' if ya take my meaning. So don't be plugging anyone. A brawl's one thing, everyone's gotta let off steam, but no killing. That is, unless you want a whole passle of us regulars to come gunning for ya."
"Okay, consider me warned. You won't get have any trouble out of me."
"That's what I like to hear. Now, just to prove I'm only trying to be friendly, what sat I buy you a drink?"
"Yeah sure Dick. Why not?" After all, it didn't look like his targets were going anywhere at the moment. The flesh gangers he was carefully watching in the mirror behind the bar didn't seem to be in a hurry to leave.
"Say, can't help but notice how you're admiring my 'Wilson'."
"I beg your pardon your 'Wilson'?"
"My hat! Just got it today, supposed to be the latest thing. Ain't it a kick in the teeth?"
"My thoughts exactly Dick."
Iga Province, Nippon A dark alley, several hours later
"Jus keep cool folks, an' me and the boys won't haffta zip no one." Jimmy Zoom, leader of the Freezer Boys, gestured with his Yamabishi KFA-57 assault rifle. His blood roared in his ears, its pulse raging with the exultant rush of recently ingested battle drugs. His muscles bulged with black market bio enhancements, and his skin glistened with the plastic sheen of dermal armor. Behind him, another five Freezer Boys stood in a rough semi-circle, blocking off the alley's entrance. Two more were in the hovervan parked just outside the alley, waiting to load up their cargo.
The 'cargo' was a family of six, huddled against the back wall of the alley. They'd erected a crude shelter there from plastic shipping crates and durafoam packing. The mother and father were shielding the children with their bodies, tears streaming down their faces.
"Please, no, not my babies, you can't take our babies to those butchers. Please, take us, you don't need them too."
"Ahhh, shut up already. UniGen pays real good for the kiddies. Helps 'em grow big an' strong they do. Or sends 'em to the knackers to be chopped up for the organ banks," Jimmy Zoom barked out a harsh laugh, the battle drugs making his voice thick and harsh. "Now start moving towards the van, or my boys'll just have to harsh on you for a bit. And they likes doing that "
Jimmy's next statement was never spoken. Something smashed into him from above, knocking him to the ground with a sickening wet sound. The KFA rifle clattered across the alley, coming to a rest near the astonished father, who could only stare at the weapon in mute shock.
A strange figure stood over Jimmy Zoom's moaning body. It wore a voluminous dark green coat, and a dark cowl with mirrored goggles that hid the figure's eyes. A proud golden crescent moon was emblazoned on the forehead of the mask. It smiled at the stunned flesh gangers, one of whom was staring up at the buildings surrounding the alley. The lowest was easily fifteen stories high. Surely this person hadn't JUMPED from all the way up there?
Before they could recover their senses, the flesh gangers were startled by loud 'popping' noises all around them. Huge roiling clouds of black smoke began to envelop them.
"Scrag him!" someone yelled, just before they were completely hidden by the stygian darkness. But Dr. Mid-Nite was already in motion. With inhuman speed he slammed into the hapless flesh gangers, a tornado of graceful violence. Apparently unhampered by the blackness he moved in, Dr. Mid- Nite methodically began to disarm and disable the Freezer Boys.
Bones shattered under precisely delivered blows, bodies flew across the length of the alley, colliding against unyielding brick with frightening force. Vilarium alloy weapons and armor were bent and twisted into so much junk. Hands reached out of the black clouds to grasp nerves and pressure points with a surgeon's deftness.
It was over before the flesh gangers had even fully realized what was happening. As the black cloud of smoke began to dissipate, Dr. Mid-Nite stepped over the unconscious thugs and approached the still shocked family.
"Is everyone okay? Anyone hurt?" They could only stare for a few moments before the mother found her voice.
"No..no..we're fine. I, we're fine. Thank you," she got out breathlessly. Now the tears on the parents' faces were those of joy as it dawned on them that they were safe. Someone had done the unheard of, the impossible. Someone had saved them.
"Good, glad to hear it. Still, you should go over to the Honshu Free Clinic on Sterling Street and get everyone checked out. Grab a hot meal and sleep indoors for a night," the grin on his face was infectious, and the two younger children shyly smiled back at this strange man.
Then the sound of a hover engine's turbines cut through the night. Dr. Mid-Nite whirled around to see the Freezer Boy's hovervan shoot off into the evening sky.
"Damn! Forgot about those two! Hooty, follow that van!" A black, bird-like shape dropped out of the air above the alley and wheeled off after the escaping hovervan. Dr. Mid-Nite pulled an oddly shaped bulky gun from under his coat. A thin cable attached to a miniature harpoon shot out of the end of the gun, and towards a nearby rooftop.
"Do me a favor folks, call the Metro Police and have 'em pick up this garbage. And take care of those kids!" With a final reassuring smile, he began pulling himself up the cable, scaling the wall with lightning speed. When he reached a ledge about ten stories below the roof, he reeled in the cable, and cleared the remaining distance to the top in a single leap.
Now far below him, the family he'd saved continued waving goodbye. *****
Dr. Mid-Nite scrambled onto the rooftop where he'd left his hoverbike. Glancing at the chronometer on of his wristcom, he saw that time was running out, his clock was ticking. Gritting his teeth in frustration, he hit a button on the wristcom unit and brought in front of his mouth. He continued sprinting towards the hidden hoverbike the whole time.
"Mid-Nite to Hooty, status and location!" There was a moment of silence before he heard a response. The voice that came over his wristcom was artificial sounding, almost like an automated greeting program for a home vidphone.
"Hooty to Mid-Nite, status: operational. Quarry in visual range, unit still recording. Location: eastbound over sector G- 7, altitude 300 meters." Finally reaching the hoverbike, Dr. Mid-Nite leapt on, kicked the engines to life, and roared off in pursuit.
After several long, agonizing minutes, he had the fleeing Freezer Boys in sight. Again he glanced at the chronometer, seething at the thought of how little time he had left. With grim determination, he opened the throttle and shot towards the slower moving hovervan. The flesh ganger who was driving must have spotted the pursuing hoverbike, because he began to swerve and veer erratically.
Cursing under his breath, Dr. Mid-Nite pulled out his strange gun again. Taking careful aim, he shot a wirepoon into the back of the hovervan. Without a moment's hesitation, he jumped off the bike and into the void. As he did so, a sensor in the hoverbike's seat noted the absence of a driver. A standard anti-crash safety feature for newer hover vehicles kicked in, and the bike stopped in mid-air, hovering in place, waiting patiently to be collected at a later time.
Hurricane force winds shrieked past him as he was pulled through the air at incredible speeds. He tenaciously dragged himself up the length of cable, hand over hand, slowly drawing closer to his goal. Far beneath him the lights of the Iga District streaked by, an insane psychedelic blur. After a brief but harrowing eternity, he reached the hovervan. Pausing for a moment to catch his breath, he peeked through the rear windshield.
The two flesh gangers seemed visibly relaxed, since according to their onboard sensors, the hoverbike had broken of the chase. Grinning to himself, Dr. Mid-Nite knocked on the rear windshield. The whole evening had been worth it just to see the look on their faces when they whirled around to saw him waving. Still clinging on to the van with one hand, he smashed the other through the window, and stuck his head inside.
"Hey boys! You left before I had a chance to say goodbye! Nice van by the way. Let's see what's under the hood." With huge grin on his face, Dr. Mid-Nite tore one of the armored steel doors completely of its hinges.
"Oops. My mistake. That's not the hood!"
The flesh ganger who was driving hunched over the controls and screamed at his partner in the passenger seat.
"Damn it Booz! What are you waiting for? Waste 'im already!"
"Shut up and drive Rafe!" came the almost hysterical reply. Booz pulled out his gun and began firing. The magnetically propelled high velocity slugs slammed into Dr. Mid-Nite, an involuntary grunt escaping his lips. The Freezer Boy's eyes actually managed to grow wider than they were before.
"No way! I shot you! You're " the rest of his sentence was cut off as the hovervan's rear door sailed through the front windshield, showering him with shards of impact plastic. A dark blur surged forward, and Dr. Mid-Nite was in the front of the van. He effortlessly disarmed the two men, and then slapped them a few times with teeth rattling force for good measure. Then he tore away their crash webs as if they were made of paper. Scooping them up, he grasped one under each of his arms, then ran out the back of the hovervan, and leapt back out into the air.
The sound of their screams was music to his ears. Plummeting to the ground, an acrid odor reached Dr. Mid-Nite's nostrils. One of the flesh gangers had soiled himself in fear. With a bone jarring impact, they landed on a pedestrian walkway, still a hundred meters or so above street level. Another grunt escaped his lips as Dr. Mid-Nite bent his knees, absorbing the impact of the fall. Crouching down, he tensed his leg muscles, and sprang back into the air.
With that single bound, he made it to the top of the rooftop of a nearby apartment building. This time Booz began to vomit violently all over himself. Dr. Mid-Nite dropped them roughly to the ground, and pulled an extra spool of wirepoon cable from a large pouch at his belt. Slowly Rafe recovered enough to question his masked tormentor.
"So whadda ya gonna do now? Kill us?"
"Nope, I'll tie you up, call the authorities, and have them deal with you." The flash ganger began to laugh hysterically at that unexpected answer.
"You ARE crazy man! The cops won't hold us! We'll be out in a couple of days." Dr. Mid-Nite was silent for a few moments while he used the cable to tie up his two captives. After making sure they were securely bound, he stood up and smiled at them.
"That's right. You'll be back out on the streets again. Here. With me. Think about it," with that he turned, and leapt of the roof, back into the night.
After retrieving his hoverbike and the robotic owl 'Hooty', Dr. Mid-Nite settled down on an isolated rooftop to watch the sun rise over Honshu Island. The swirling polluted clouds on the horizon exploded with color and fire as he contemplated his night's work. A faint beeping sound roused him from his introspection. Checking the chronometer on his wristcom, he saw that he'd finally run out of time. His hour was almost up. 10 seconds, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1,
Excruciating pain shot through his entire body like red-hot glass splinters. His stomach churned and his heart constricted, as if a demon's fist was closing around it. Bile and vomit spewed out of his mouth a he doubled over, racked with violent cramps and spasms. His body, every nerve ablaze with agony, cried out against this torture. Organs seemed to twist and writhe inside him while muscles convulsed. A cold sweat broke out all over, only to be replaced by blazing fever, then chills.
For five long tortuous minutes this hellish suffering lasted, then finally, mercifully, it ended. Internal cleansing systems rid his bloodstream of the last lingering toxins. Bodily functions slowly began to resume. Crawling like a newborn, Dr. Mid-Nite weakly pulled himself a few feet, only to collapse again. He laid there panting, nearly unconscious for several long minutes. After half an hour or so, he regained enough strength to get on the hoverbike again, and slowly made his way home.
He paid a high price for that one short hour of strength, speed and might. But he would do it again the next night and the night after that, and the night after that,
The DCFuture Underground Fan Fiction group acknowledges that DC Comics owns the concepts behind Dr. Mid-Nite and all other DC Comics characters that may be used here and ALL related characters and retains complete rights to said characters. These concepts are used WITHOUT permission for NO PROFIT, but rather a strong desire to peer into the future of the DC Universe. This also acknowledges that the concepts and original characters introduced here are the intellectual property of the author. So Nyah Nyah!
This DC Futures story is © 1999 by Schuyler Bush.