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.
"Master Bruce? Master Bruce, I have the mail here and I say!"
Alfred Pennyworth was a hard man to surprise. As a matter of fact, given the unique nature of his employment, he had thought that he'd seen every possible sight under the sun while serving Bruce Wayne; the man the world was sometimes more acquainted with as the Dark Knight, the Caped Crusader
What Alfred saw before him was a tall man (though not quite as tall as Master Bruce) wearing a variation of the Batman uniform it was solid black, with no exposed flesh, a large red bat on the chest and red fins on the gauntlets. This man had a different posture from Master Bruce that made him immediately stand out not to mention the fact that this Batman was in the middle of using a hula hoop.
"What do you say? How about hello, I like it when people say hello. Pleased t'meetcha. I'm Batman, nice to make your acquaintance. And by the way, since we're old buddies and all now, HOW THE HELL DID YOU GET IN HERE?"
"Master Dick, is that you?" Alfred asked the man in black; unable to stop staring at the giant red Bat proudly emblazoned on the proxy Batman's chest.
"Master Dick? Crude jokes are coming to mind, friend but that doesn't help me any. Alfred! I could use a hand here, if you feel like it." The Batman replied, casting the hoop aside.
"Excuse me sir, but do I know you?" Alfred replied.
"Oy," the man in black exhaled, dropping his head. "Let's try this again. Me: Batman. Dark Knight, champion of justice on the mean streets of Gotham, poster boy for the fun lovin' superhero set. Now YOU are "
"Certain that you are playing an elaborate practical joke, Master Dick, please now, if you would, what happened to Master Bruce?"
"Excuse me? My name isn't Dick. Bruce isn't exactly here anymore, and Oh, no. Alfred, we don't have another one of the time-lost folks here, do we? Alfred?"
"Not you, I'm trying to talk to Oh. Oh, I think I just had me an epiphany."
"Your name is Alfred."
"Of course, sir, whomever else could you mean?"
The Batman sat down and rubbed his masked eyes.
"What's the date today, Alfred?"
"You're late," Bruce Wayne said, staring unerringly at the screen of the gigantic computer system that dominated the Batcave. "Anything important in the mail?"
"Nothing for you, Bruce." The voice of Clark Kent replied from behind. Bruce turned slowly.
"Clark. What are you doing here?" Bruce spoke in even, unfriendly tones as though highly offended by this impromptu visit. "And what's with your hair?"
"I should imagine he's at school. Why?"
"Bruce, what are you doing here?"
Bruce Wayne had an urge to laugh. It was rare that he felt the genuine desire to do so. He suppressed it anyway.
"I belong here. I " A closer look at Clark revealed volumes to the detective in Bruce. The subtle wrinkles on the man's face. The spits of gray in his hair
Clark was older, and genuinely surprised to see him in the Batcave. Bruce tripped a button and the date was revealed to him.
"How did I get here?"
"When you ascertain the methods behind your arrival, Master Bruce, let us know. We'd be happy to put it in the scrapbook."
"Not now, Alfred." Clark said to the specter that had managed the impossible -- surprising Bruce Wayne.
"But Master Clark, he's the fourth member of the time- lost "
"Not NOW, Alfred. Go make some coffee for Bruce; I'm sure he could use some right about now."
"Yes sir. And for you?"
"Just a beer, thanks."
"Things have changed, Clark." Bruce said, arching an eyebrow.
"More than you'd be comfortable with."
BATMAN: DCF #35
Written and directed by: Erik Burnham (firstname.lastname@example.org)
With special thanks to Schuyler Bush.
BATMAN created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger
"Wish They Were Here" (Timequake -- Part One)
"You have to understand, Alfred, I have NO idea what I'm doing here." Tim Drake said through the confines of his mask. "I was horsing around one minute, just getting warmed up to take off on patrol, forgetting my troubles, embracing the moment next thing I know, I'm standing here talking to you. I just blinked and I was here. Same spot, same cave, embracing the wrong moment."
"I see, sir." Alfred said, nodding. He did not entirely believe this young man. In fact, he was still positive that Master Dick was attempting some clever ruse.
"I see, said the blind man " Tim sighed. "But you don't believe me, do you?"
"You have to understand this is rather, well hard to " Alfred started.
I have to prove it if I ever wanna get home what's the worst that could happen, I end up finding out about this when I read the records before I become Batman in the first place? I have to prove it, just take a deep breath. This is Alfred Pennyworth, the man took Bruce's secrets to the grave, he's not going to sell you out, not if he trusts you and if you trust him and to do that you have to
"I say!" Alfred exclaimed as Tim removed the mask and stared at the older man.
"So does this help my story?"
Clark left the kitchen of Wayne Manor holding a silver tray. On the tray was what Alfred swore to him was Bruce's favorite lunch according to the mansion's database. As Clark descended into the dark caverns beneath the mansion, he admitted to himself that he was worried about Bruce. Oh, the Dark Knight seemed to accept the situation that he'd been dropped into readily enough. In fact, he seemed to be facing it with the same obsessive determination that practically defined him. And it wasn't as if he'd never dealt with time travel before; that came with the job.
However, for the last several days, the man who had built the Batcave seemed determined not to leave it.
As Clark entered the monitor room, he saw Bruce seated before the computer screen, in almost the exact same position that he'd been found in just days before.
The screen was displaying visual historical accounts of the last several years, most of the stories dealing with Gotham City itself. Bruce didn't even glance up as Clark set the tray before him.
"I hate chili," was all he managed, in a barely perceptible tone. Barely perceptible to a human, anyway.
"Alfred " Clark grumbled.
"My apologies, Master Clark, there must be an error in the logs. Honest and for true, cross my er other body and hope to die." the AI responded in a voice full of contrived innocence.
"This is a quite a world you've got here Clark. Is there anything left that hasn't been perverted in some form or another?" Bruce asked, bitterness filling his voice. Clark perched on a nearby counter and regarded his friend carefully.
"Why don't you go out there and see for yourself? You've been sitting here for days, devouring all this information, now why not see what the reality looks like?"
"I don't think so."
"What about your work, Bruce?"
"I thought Batman watched over Gotham City?"
"And I WILL watch over Gotham City! MY Gotham City, in MY time, when I find a way to get back to it! This Gotham is meant for whoever the hell's pretending to care! And apparently for you, as well."
Bruce whirled around to glare at Clark, his dark eyes blazing with anger. Clark held his gaze, his own eyes filled with an unwavering intensity all their own.
"Damn it, Bruce. This isn't like you at all. There are still people out there that need you, no different from any other. You've never been one to sit back and take a passive role. No matter the circumstances." Some of the fire seemed to drain out of Batman's eyes, and his shoulders slumped slightly, as if all the life had gone out of him suddenly. Turning back to the computer screen, he called up a file.
Clark looked over Bruce's shoulder and saw that it was a news article from the year 2028. An article about the death of Dick Grayson, the first hero known as Nightwing.
An article that clearly blamed Batman, this Batman, for that death.
Clark drew in a ragged breath. The article was rather farfetched in its assumptions but he couldn't tell Bruce that. Not now probably not ever.
"My God, Clark. What the hell happened to everything? This can't possibly be the REAL future. It can't." Clark walked over to his friend and silently clasped the other man's shoulder. He was more than a little surprised when Bruce didn't knock his hand away.
"Is this what it's been like for you? Almost everyone and everything you knew gone? Everything we worked for everyone we I can't imagine what it's been like. Cut off from the world we knew, no connection to this one "
"It hasn't been easy Bruce I don't even have a picture of Lois or Ma and Pa, just some old computer files I dug up." The man formerly known as Superman heaved a heartfelt sigh. "But I get by. I occupy myself." Clark paused, unsure whether to finish his thought. "Maybe you should consider the possibility that you're stuck here."
"Maybe," Bruce answered, his voice returning to its customary harsh baritone as he sat up straighter in his chair. "If so, I guess I'd better start getting my house in order. One thing, though, Clark."
"What's that Bruce?"
"Who installed that hologram of Batgirl dancing so badly?"
"That's the Bat-tusi, sir," Alfred corrected. "And it was Master Tim's idea. It helps him think."
Tim Drake had always had a penchant for getting a reaction. It was one of his specialties; and he did not leave Alfred Pennyworth wanting.
The older man was in fact, quite shocked. Who was this young man wearing a Batman costume, and what was he doing in the Batcave? How did he get there, and how did he know so much? These were just a few of the questions the butler was able to spit out as soon as he regained his composure.
"My name is Tim Drake. I was born in 2088 to Richard and Mary Drake. I was willed my grandfather's journal when my pop died; and from that point I just fell into all of this. There was, well, just a little bit of a conspiracy involved, but "
Tim could see that he had lost Alfred. No, wait. He hadn't lost the old man Alfred was staring behind Tim at something. At
Tim Drake. Sixteen year old Tim Drake. Tim Drake, AKA Robin the Boy Wonder. Tim Drake, Grandpa.
It was Tim's turn to be surprised. And embarrassed.
"Um, Hello," Tim said to his young grandfather-to-be. "I don't suppose you heard what it was that I was saying, just now didja?"
The younger Tim didn't speak, looking over the tall man in the black suit.
"Who are you?" He finally asked. "Really?"
"Oh, this is going to be a very, very long day "
"Excuse me, sirs as much as it pains me to break up this Kodak moment "
"What's on your mind Alfred?" Clark asked.
"I'm monitoring an alarm in the downtown area."
"What is it?" Bruce barked, standing up and pulling his cowl into place. Clark smiled grimly as the slumped figure of Bruce Wayne was quickly replaced by the confident shadow known as the Batman.
"An alarm -- a signal of distress, sir. I'm sure that you recall distress from your times as "
"Alfred." Clark said in a warning tone.
"Apologies, Master Clark. Its Mercy Haven Hospital, sirs. According to the police reports, it has been taken over by a terrorist faction."
"Details, Alfred." Bruce's voice dropped even lower as his disgust deepened.
"Right away, sir. The terrorist group has been identified as 'Patriot.'"
"A group that violently opposes the current political leanings of the United Nations, sir. A delegate to said body has just successfully emerged from heart surgery. His name: Alexander Hazcook. His importance: he is the head of a committee that is looking into the possible replacement of Justice."
"Do we have any useful information on Justice, Alfred?"
"Nothing you could use here, Bruce." Clark spoke up. He was in his costume now, the silver of the shield on his chest sparkling under the overhead lights.
"I didn't know masks were your style."
"I told you things had changed."
It was like a wake-up call, reminding one of their own mortality. Tim Drake -- the first Tim Drake -- couldn't believe the story he was hearing from this stranger's lips. It was his grandson, from the future, he had no idea how he got there, and he was also that time's Batman.
"Look, pal. I'll admit you have me at a loss. I can't do anything to disprove what you're saying, and I don't know how you know some of the things you know, but if you expect me to trust you on such a flimsy story "
"Hey, 'Gramps,' do you think I like this? All I want to do is go home. I didn't want to drag you into this, and I can't even tell you everything -- I mean, you've been to the movies. I don't want to screw up and impart some bit of wisdom that changes everything and messes up my life, y'know? Like if I told you about your girlfr-- Skip that thought. If I told you about who won the World Series or something, I don't know. Look, maybe I can get help from some of the big boys."
"Big boys, sir?" Alfred asked, pouring a soothing cup of tea for the man that claimed to be from the future.
"Big boys, Alfred. The JLA. Superman. Somebody."
"How are you going to convince them if you can't convince me?" the younger Tim asked.
"Look -- if I can get to Metropolis, I can find Superman. He's still got himself a secret identity, right? What am I doing asking " Tim sighed. "Can you drive yet?"
"If you get me to Metropolis, I'll make it worth your while."
"How are you going to do that? I'm already rich. Something you'd know if you were my " the word stuck in Tim's throat. "Grandson. Why don't you drive yourself?"
"Because I don't know how, okay? Not these old-time cars, anyway " Tim blushed in pseudo-embarrassment. Walking over to a mirror to survey himself in the scene, wearing a charcoal pinstriped suit Alfred had dug up for him. It wasn't a Keravin, but it was nice. Behind him, the old man, clearing away his half-drank cup of tea, and his grandfather Tim the first, eight years his junior and wasn't that a trip.
"Look, kid" was he so insecure with the situation that he had to refer to his grandfather by youthful designation? Yes, he was. "When I say I'll make it worth your while, I mean it. I'll answer a question about the future, I'll charm some girl for you, give the Joker a wedgie something. Look, I know it's not much, but I need your help and this is all I have to bargain with."
"I thought you said that was dangerous. You've seen those movies, and so forth."
"That I did. But how else can I get you to help me?"
Snow wound its way towards the rooftops near Mercy Haven Hospital as a sleek black hovercar gracefully landed on top of a dark building near a cross-armed Clark.
The Batmobile's internal stealth systems prevented the air traffic control from detecting and tracking the vehicle, but Batman still felt uncomfortable in the thing paranoid, even. There was something unsettling about using the automated piloting system, rather than operating it himself. Not that he was foolhardy enough to try and pilot a sophisticated craft that he was unfamiliar with in a populated area. Why couldn't the new Batman have driven something a bit more terrestrial?
Bruce supposed Alfred -- the REAL Alfred -- would be lecturing him on his impatience. A pang of loss shot through him at the thought of his friend. Shoving the feeling away into the dark corner of his mind where he kept such things, Batman stepped out of the hovercar into the crisp winter night. Snow crunched under his boots as he breathed in deeply, drawing the night into him, making it a part of him.
"You were right," Bruce admitted as he neared Clark. "This is exactly what I needed."
"I'm glad," Clark muttered.
"Problems?" Bruce asked, noting his colleague's furrowed brow.
"Yes. There's a lot of lead in Gotham."
"I told you that you were too reliant on those powers of yours."
"I've made do with less recently."
"Good for you," Bruce acknowledged, not completely comprehending the full impact of Clark's statement. "What can you hear?"
"Whimpering. There are at least thirty distinctive voices in the 'hostage' category. And I'd put the terrorist group at about ten."
"That's your best guess?"
"Unless there are a lot more hanging around some 'white noise,' that's what I hear at the moment."
"Where are the cops?"
"You can see them from here." Clark pointed first to the ground around Mercy Haven and then pointed out the snipers in nearby buildings."
"There's a lot of things that require their attention at the moment, Bruce."
"There always are, Clark."
Tim Drake had never driven to Metropolis alone before. As such, he wasn't going to go in one of Bruce's cars, and he certainly wasn't going to take one of his father's.
That meant that it was Robin driving the fully equipped Redbird down back roads and shortcuts out of Gotham and toward the city of hopes and dreams.
To deliver a Batman that was unlike any Tim had ever known.
Mostly because this Batman refused to shut up.
"Are you sure you know how to handle this thing?" the nervous voice did not match the dark image the faceless Bat-costume was supposed to conjure.
"Yes. Relax. And don't grip the seat so hard; you may accidentally set something off." Tim smiled. It was kind of funny to have someone this neurotic around.
"So what is the future like?" Robin asked, as momentary images of 'Robin and his sidekick Batman' flashed through his mind.
"Rough on some, easy on others."
"That almost answers my question."
"Don't know how much to tell you, 'Lefty.'"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Um never mind. It's just a nickname you'll get one day."
"Gee, thanks. How do I get it?"
"I forgot." [But YOU can find out! Just read BATMAN DCF: HERITAGE!]
Robin sighed and clicked on his bright beams, flooring the Redbird's accelerator as he pulled onto the highway towards Metropolis.
"I can tell you this much," Tim the second started through his mask. "You grow up to be a good and decent man. Pop had plenty of great stories about you, and I'm glad I finally got to meet the man I was named after. Honored, really."
There was a pause. Robin didn't know what to say.
"No, I'm not!" Robin grimaced and decided to change the subject. Despite himself, he was starting to like this strange man. He reminded him a little of Nightwing.
On a bad day.
"So, have you been to Metropolis before?"
Tim -- the Bat-Tim -- sighed in frustration. "Yes."
"What? You don't like Metropolis?"
"Not my kind of town, to be honest."
"You ask a lot of questions, y'know that?"
"I'm a detective; it's what I do."
"Lack of reason, I guess. Things usually fall in my lap it's almost as if my life were being charted by some easily-amused- yet-impatient neurotic."
"You can't always depend on chance," Robin smiled. "All you really have to do is pay attention."
"If you say so."
"Now why is it you don't like Metropolis?"
Bat-Tim took a long moment to think on that before finally responding: "Something in the air just doesn't taste right."
"I need to know what they're saying, Clark," Bruce muttered.
"The terrorists are discussing immediate dissolution of the United Nations."
"They feel that the whole world should be set completely free and build its way back up from scratch."
"Welcome to the future."
"What are their plans for the hostages?"
"Some of the terrorists feel that what they're doing on this particular mission is ridiculous. Some don't. All are prepared to kill to make their statement. Everyone in the hospital -- the staff, the patients, and themselves."
Bruce Wayne closed his eyes and imagined the possibilities in that statement. He would not allow that to happen. He would never allow that to happen. In fact, he could think of only one thing to say to Clark: "No."
"Are you sure you can get around on your own?" Robin asked the older man as he somersaulted out of the Redbird and shot a hidden grappling line into the air to scale a building.
"Without a doubt." Batman replied, a smile beneath his mask. "Just remember what I said. If you need anything, let me know." And with that, Tim tossed a mini-transmitter to his youthful grandfather, the boy wonder.
"Thanks, I will." Robin couldn't see the Batman anymore.
Apparently, some things never change.
The light was all he could remember. Not much else, but the light was fresh in his mind.
Caleb Marion stood up, wheezing. He felt wrong. Where was he?
He heard cars, too. Actual automobiles. WHEN was he?
Clark flew towards Mercy Haven Hospital in the hopes of getting some quality reconnaissance to aid himself and Bruce -- the Dinosaurs of the Heroic Age -- in ending this without loss of life.
As Clark neared the building, though, he felt weaker. It wasn't the same type of weakness he got from Kryptonite, but it was close.
No, scratch that, Clark thought as he began to black out. This is a little bit
Clark Kent sat with his feet up on the coffee table, relieved for a few seconds alone with his wife, Lois.
They needed that free time, the quiet time away from the hectic pace that they kept as hot-shot action journalists, as the premiere superhero of earth, as citizens of this insane planet.
Everything was perfect. The lights were low, the mood was right, and Clark's enhanced hearing hadn't picked up anything vital in at least five minutes.
It was their version of Shangri-La.
And then, came a knock at the door.
"Don't answer it," Lois warned. "Don't do it, Clark!"
But the knocking continued. And continued. And continued, varying in pace and intensity, rallying rumba beats, a little calypso, 'wipeout,' and finally, the theme from 'the Brady Bunch.'
That was the straw that broke the camel's back. Clark sighed loudly and stood up, throwing his glasses on as he strode across the room, annoyed accompanied by the beat from the banging door.
"Figures," Lois sighed. "There's always something."
Clark opened the door to see a younger man in a sharp Armani suit, leaning in his doorway.
"Clark!" the younger man said. "You look great."
"Thank you," Clark said automatically, searching his mind for a name to match with this face. He couldn't come up with one. That disturbed him.
"Look, I need your help with something--" the young man started. Clark could hear Lois humming softly in the living room and knew where he'd rather be.
"Call me Monday at the Planet, we'll talk," Clark said, closing the door as he spoke.
Tim Drake wasn't used to doors being slammed in his face like that. How rude. Time for Plan B.
Clark had Lois in his arms faster than she was able to realize he was holding her. They kissed a kiss of deep love and affection. A kiss of
What was that tapping? Screen it out; focus on the situation at hand. Focus on Lois. Focus on
'It's a story of a man named Brady '
Clark Kent moved to the window, flinging open the curtains to be faced with a giant red Bat. It startled him. Gradually, he saw around the bat -- a shield that spread out across the chest of a man who was hanging upside down outside his window. A Batman. In a full mask.
"What are you doing here?" Clark breathed. "And what's with the new costume?"
"Clark, babe. I've had this costume for eons, but that's another story. Like I said, I need your help, why don't you take a listen and hello! Who's the babe?"
The Batman had flipped into the apartment while Clark stood there, stunned. A quick glance beyond the mask revealed the young man who had just interrupted him in the hallway.
Who was he? What was he doing here, in that outfit? And how does he know me? Even as Clark tossed off these questions to himself, he could hear Lois rattling off a third degree of her own. And more politely then he'd have expected.
"So, I'm assuming by now you've used the x-ray eyes," The Batman said. "Right? Oh, geez " He corrected himself quietly, embarrassed. "Does she not know?"
"No," Clark said. "She knows. Who are you?"
"I'm Batman." The younger man growled in that familiar style that Bruce always had before flashing a grin that stretched, and somehow showed through, his mask.
"Really. Who are you?"
"Exactly who I said, Clark although I am more of an updated model, to be sure. I'll be born in a few decades. And you're an old friend of mine. Look -- if you want more answers, I don't have them. I don't know how I got here, I want very much to get home, and believe me, the irony of my situation is not lost on me."
"Yeah. After all the time-lost folk I've had to deal with already " the Batman's voice trailed off. "That's another story. I need your help, big guy. Break out the cape, throw the thinking cap on and please, please, please tell your wife to stop asking questions like I don't know what I'm wearing."
Clark felt, at that point, it would be in this man's own best interests to get him out of there before Lois added to the Metropolitan murder rate. So before Tim knew it, he was floating above the skies of Metropolis with Superman.
"Wow. You're a lot faster than I remember."
"No comment. Pop down on top of that building over there."
"Clark, you look terrible." Bruce said as the larger man finally regained consciousness, back on the rooftop where he and Bruce had started from in the first place.
"What what happened?"
"We're about to find out. Computer," Bruce growled to the Batmobile's onboard computer systems. "Analysis of the Mercy Haven Hospital -- details on anything beyond standard."
"Acknowledged," the computer responded. "Accessing " After a moment of whirring, the computer had its answer prepared. "Analysis complete. Mercy Haven Hospital is encapsulated by a force field of the Betaschuy class, WayneTech, patented 2009. Field emits a radioactive field safe to organics, low-levels of the elements nitrogen, oxygen, krypton, and "
"Stop analysis. Krypton?"
"Suspiciously included, however that element is harmless. Even for you."
"I know," Clark countered. "I remember that much from my high school science classes."
"It appears we have ourselves a mystery, then."
"It appears so," Clark acknowledged. "Bruce? Bruce?"
Caleb looked at the newspaper before him. "Nineteen-ninety nine?" He whispered. "This is wrong! ALL WRONG!" The newspaper in his hands burned up, and it was soon followed by everything within ten feet of Caleb as his anger exploded in all directions.
"Now, then " Clark said, staring at the moon over Metropolis. "Do you mind telling me who you are again? Slowly this time."
"Okay," the ebon-clad youth nodded. "My name is Tim Drake. I'd say 'nice to meet you,' if we hadn't already met once before. I hail from the year 2113 where I have a lot of money, a lot of women, a lot of free time, and a lot of desire to put on a black-and-red outfit to scare and beat the living pajogins out of your basic criminal element. The usual playboy-with-a-secret type."
"I see. And how is it you came to be here?"
"That I don't know, and I resent being in this position, to be perfectly honest. I was doing some pre-patrol warm-ups, and then decided to have a little fun, get my mind off of some things. I was playing with a hula-hoop, Clark, and then I blinked. The next thing I saw was an old man holding mail addressed to Bruce Wayne. Not the kind of thing that happens every day."
"Just like that?"
"Just like that. Shocking, yes, but at least as conceivable as some guy that flies around in a cape, no?"
Superman was about to continue in his inquisition when a low beep went off. "Oh, no." The Man of Steel moaned.
"What is it?" Tim asked, interested.
"JLA alert. I need to be there, and "
"So take me with you."
"Are you kidding? I'm not going to take you up there to "
" Find a way to get me home? Gee whiz. I know I'm endearing and everything, but I figured you'd be a little less selfish and a little more helpful."
Clark paused. What harm could this man possibly be? "Let's go."
TO BE CONTINUED!
NEXT ISSUE: Like I even need to tell you! Will Bruce and Tim get back to where they need to be? Will they be stuck in the wrong times? Will the face of the DCF be changed forever? Come back next issue and find out!
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.
This DC Futures story is © 1999 by Erik Burnham.