Hey everyone, it's acw28 back with another chapter of The Bat and the Cat!
So yeah, it's been awhile. It feels like I type this a lot, but I'm sorry for having such a large gap between updates. Unfortunately real life keeps eating up what little spare time I have. Another complication to this matter is that a few other stories have held my attention. In total I've published around twelve or so chapters of content spread across eleven different stories in the past year or so. I recognize there's probably very little overlap between fandoms, but if you're a fan of RWBY, Soulcalibur, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Naruto, Mortal Kombat, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, My Hero Academia, X-Men: Evolution, Enter the Gungeon or the webcomic Erma, feel free to check them out.
Now with that self-plug out of the way, let's move onto the new chapter. Fair warning, this chapter is probably going to be a bit different than the rest of the story, but it's something I've been itching to write for the past few months. As always, I hope everyone enjoys it.
Disclaimer: I do not own Batman Beyond, or any other franchise.
It was a rarity in Neo-Gotham, a quiet night. The Dark Knight had long since finished his patrol and had retreated into his cave. The Feline Thief hadn't been sighted since her success against the Yakuza holdouts weeks ago. The Jokers and the T's were staying in their respective hideouts, neither wanting to make a big move and draw attention to themselves since the Scarecrone incidents. No doubt each gang was in the midst of planning something, but for now the city enjoyed the peace.
That wasn't to say that the entire city was asleep. A lone man causally wandered down the sidewalk, lifting a glass bottle to his lips every now and again. As the wind began to pickup, he pulled his coat tighter against his body, mentally cursing the weather bots for once more glitching out and not getting the forecast right. Soon the gale began growing in strength, from tossing a few stray papers around to posing a challenge to the man to continue walking. With it feeling increasingly like a tornado forming in the middle of the city, the man couldn't help but think that things were going to reach a breaking point. He was right, as he was blinded by a flash of white a literal second before feeling something slam into him and take him to the ground.
Once he regained his vision, the man found himself pinned beneath a warm body. With a quick shove he was able to free himself and ask, "Hey buddy, you alright?" When he did receive a reply from the stranger, the man took a glance over to find a younger man, maybe in his mid-twenties with shaggy red hair that reached his shoulders. As far as clothing went, the stranger was only covered by a pair of ripped red pants that looked more like tights. Wandering aloud, the man asked, "Just where did you come from?" He then eyed his bottle before quickly tossing it away. That was enough drinking for now, right now the man needed to call an ambulance.
Barbara was beginning to think she should request the city install a second office for her in Neo-Gotham General, it was almost sad how much time she'd had to spend in the hospital while working cases. While they were held for a few weeks for additional testing, both Jefferson and Tan would make a full recovery. The Scarecrone, as the media dubbed her, wasn't as fortunate. The broken arm wasn't too bad, but with the contraption she wore on it the break resulted in some complications and lasting nerve damage. Her broken nose also hadn't healed right either, now looking rather crooked. Despite herself, Barbara smiled at that, while Bruce was right that the case didn't feel completely right, the girl had certainly been a willing participant in the scheme and got what she deserved from the universe, especially for emulating someone like the Scarecrow.
But that case was over with, now the Commissioner had to deal with a new headache. A John Doe, about 23 from the doctor's estimates. Usually this kind of assignment was something that would be pushed onto a beat cop, but when the doctor's took a blood sample their systems immediately hit upon a very special list, one that mandated the doctors look no further into the man's identity and contact her immediately. Given how territorial Bruce was in his last years under the mask, and with the League on the other side of the world, that meant one thing, a legacy that decided to stretch their legs and picked the worst city to do so. Arriving at the man's room, the woman knocked, hearing a garbled reply that she took to mean she could come in.
Having already read the preliminary report, Commissioner Gordon didn't find any surprises when she saw a man wearing a hospital gown sitting in the bed. She wasn't surprised at his red hair, which had been cut to a more manageable length. She did raise an eyebrow at seeing the three empty trays siting on the table while the stranger worked his way through the fourth, despite the IV stuck in his arm. However what made her stop in her tracks, if only for a split second, was the man's green eyes.
Afterall, it wasn't every day Barbara met a dead man.
Quickly regaining her composure, Barbara began by stating, "I'm sure you have a lot of questions, but I have a few for you as well."
"Actually, I'm just happy to be alive." The man replied with a smile before joking, "And I think I should get a lawyer before answering any questions."
Barbara answered with a glare, saying, "This isn't a laughing matter. Your blood tripped the alert in the system, you might be powered but that doesn't give you license to screw around in my city."
"Woah, woah, woah," the red head tried to interrupt, waving his hands, "who said anything about powers?"
Barbara ignored him as she finished, "It's like clockwork with you legacies. Every five years you come to Neo-Gotham not understanding how things work or the danger, creating more work for my men to sweep your mistakes under the rug. Although you're not a typical legacy, are you Mr. West?" At seeing the man pale, the commissioner finished by asking, "Perhaps I should have introduced myself first, I'm Commissioner Gordon, and you would be Wally West."
The room was silent for several tense moments as the man digested everything. Finally, in a small voice, Wally asked, "Barbara?" when the woman nodded, the man laid back, his face growing paler as he stated, "I'd really like that lawyer now."
In reply Barbara gave a small nod before leaving the room. As she closed the door, she could guess the series of events that was soon to happen, and honestly she was fine with that. The kid was Bruce's responsibility now, she'd long ago left that life behind.
It felt like an eternity, but Wally patiently waited for five minutes once he'd been left alone. After yanking the IV out of his arm, the man quietly opened the door and stepped out into the hallway, nobody giving any extra mind to yet another person walking around in a hospital gown, yet these clothes certainly weren't going to cut it on the street. Soon Wally found the room he was looking for, the staff locker room. If he had the patience, he could probably pick the lock, but then again shaking the handle up and down at incredible speed tended to set, or break, the tumblers as well. After a quick peak to make sure the coast was clear, the speedster slipped into the locker room unnoticed.
While still nowhere near Dick's level of disguise, Wally still felt pretty proud of himself. The gown was soon replaced with some red scrubs. The nurse shoes were a little uncomfortable, but he wasn't exactly planning on running any time soon. Lastly was the part the hero felt a little guilty about as he searched through a few wallets. He wasn't proud, but he needed at least some money for bus fare. He did try to minimize his impact, only taking a few cards, which apparently had replaced paper money, from the wallet with the fattest stack.
With everything accounted for, Wally was now ready to get home, no one stopping him as he walked out the front doors of the hospital.
After an extremely long wait for the bus, seriously why was everything slower than usual, Wally was able to board the vehicle and began to plan as he rode it to the end of the line. It had felt like he'd been running constantly for the last two years, but apparently it had been much longer for everyone else. Wally did have a stray thought, curious if Barbara was still in the life, but quickly refocused himself. Time moved linearly, meaning if he found a way home he'd create a time loop. Someone would tell him what needed to be done so he could return to his own time, then when he got home he'd share his discovery with them so they could share it with him in the future. Honestly it was fairly theoretical and gave Wally a headache if he thought too much about it, but right now he just wanted to go home.
Soon the bus came to the last stop outside what people referred to as "old Gotham", from there Wally began walking to the person most likely to have the answer. Barbara had dropped some big hints he was in Gotham, and that Batman was still around. So, it seemed rather obvious that the speedster needed to visit the world's greatest detective.
With the low amount of traffic in the area, Wally soon found the "service road" Nightwing had shared with him the second year of their friendship. As he walked up the dirt path, he couldn't help but think if Wayne was still kickin' he'd be much too old to be wearing the suit. So then who was Batman? Did Bruce actually manage to settle down and have some kids, or did Dick get promoted to the legendary role of Caped Crusader? As he came to the waterfall, Wally banished those thoughts from his head. Running through the water fast enough to stay dry? Child's play. Knowing about the solid mountain behind it? Well Wally's powerset didn't include being a psychic. A quick look up revealed the hidden entrance to the Batcave to be a few hundred feet above him. Now running up a vertical surface? Again, child's play.
Walking down what could only be described as a runway, Wally couldn't help but whistle at seeing the new Batmobile. "Now that is certainly a nice ride." When he didn't hear a reply, the speedster strolled over to the main area of the cave, calling out, "Hey, if it's alright for me to use the super computer, don't say anything!" When he was met with silence, the young man grinned at pulled up a seat, commenting to himself, "Is it just me, or did Bruce decide to redecorate with a retro finish?"
As the Batcomputer began booting up, Wally began tapping his finger against the arm rest as he waited impatiently. With how distracted the hero was, Wally didn't realize he wasn't alone until he heard the vicious barking. Turning to his left, Wally could admit he was slightly fearful at seeing the large Great Dane and Doberman mix growling at the red head, displaying some rather sharp teeth. Quickly holding up his hands to show he wasn't a threat, Wally tried to further calm down the dog by saying, "Easy now Bat-hound, there's no need for anyone to get hurt."
"I'll have to disagree with you." A voice from Wally's other side stated. Before he realized what had happened, Wally was sucker punched out of the chair, rolling along the floor past the dog. Getting back to his feet, Wally regarded the figure in front of him. With the ears and the symbol, it could be no one other than Batman, even if the bat was red. Still, the crimefighter's voice and physical statue just weren't what the speedster expected.
Rubbing away the pain in his jaw, Wally asked, "Who gave you permission to play dress up? You're what, sixteen? Why don't you go grab Dick or Tim and let the adults talk?"
"Those two don't live here," the teen replied, "the only person you need to be talking to is me. You can start by telling me how you got in here." As he began the interrogation, Batman launched three bataranges at the intruder.
Sighing, Wally sidestepped the weapons. Was he seriously this bad when he was a teenager? If so, he owes his parents, Uncle Berry, and especially Artemis a lifetime of apologies. Idly plucking the last batarange out of the air, Wally looked it over as he commented, "Interesting change in design." He then threw the projectile with such speed that it whizzed past Batman's ear, imbedding itself into the cave wall. "Now I'll ask one more time before I school you. Where are Dick and Tim?"
As Bat Jr. and his mutt settled into fighting stances, Wally prepared to do the same thing, only for an intimidating voice from the top of the stairs to call out, "Both of you, stop this right now!" Immediately Batman stood straight, Wally copying his actions as the dog finally relaxed and started walking to the stairs. For a few moments a soft click echoed throughout the cave as the figure descended the staircase. When the old man finally reached the bottom of the steps, Wally easily recognized him as Bruce Wayne, even if he was hunched over with a cane and had a lot more wrinkles.
Still, the hero was just glad to see a familiar face as he called out, "Hi Mister Wayne, I guess you weren't expecting visitors."
"No, I wasn't." Bruce sharply replied as he moved towards the Batcomputer, shoving Wally out of the way as he said, "It's not every day a dead man walks into my cave like he owns it."
Shocked, Wally could only mumble, "What?"
Bruce didn't even look at the speedster as he took his seat, "Wally West died in his sleep five years ago."
Time stopped for Wally as those word began to repeat themselves in his mind. As their full effect began to sink in, Wally panicked, and then he ran.
Once left alone, Batman commented, "He's going to be back."
"Of course he will be."
Knowing he'd get nothing else out of the old man, Batman said, "Well, I guess I should go through the old rogues files if we're going to beat him."
"Take a break on the files. Take off the suit and work on your physical conditioning." Bruce ordered from his chair, pulling up a series of complicated number Batman couldn't make sense of. "And we're not going to be fighting the kid, we're going to help him."
'Alright, just got to get home and get my head together.' Wally told himself as he ran out of Gotham. He could have turned West and gone to Palo Alto, but while he had a house with Artemis in that city, his heart only belonged in one place. So, Wally kept running East, back to Central City.
Believing himself to be alone, the speedster was shocked to hear someone call out to him, "Hey kid! If you don't slow down, you're going to trip!" A glance to his left, and Wally saw himself, but also not himself. The man had a few decades on Wally, his red hair was the same shade and length and the pair shared the same eyes. But Wally didn't have as prominent a chin, and he'd never warn the Flash's suit.
As Wally's brain tried to make sense of everything, the stranger's prediction came true as the younger speedster felt something graze against his toes before his momentum sent him stumbling. He could hear the older man yell out "told ya!" as he began skidding to a stop.
Rubbing his sore head, Wally propped himself up as he wondered aloud, "Okay, just what is going on?" He then looked around, seeing a vaguely familiar skyline the prompted him to add, "Central City? There's no way I got here already." He then shifted his attention to that which was closer around him. "A graveyard? Just wonderful." With how the day was going, Wally really shouldn't have been surprised at seeing just who's grave his stood in front of. Still, as he read the words out loud, he felt his heart speed up. "Wally West, Husband and Father, Hero."
The world slowed down for Wally as he just stood there. It looked like his time loop hypothesis was wrong. So then just how could he get home? The young man found himself distracted from these thoughts when a feminine voice called out from behind him, "Now this is something I have not seen in five years." Turning to get a look at who was talking to him, Wally felt his heart rate drop dangerously low, "You don't look completely like my Wally, but you certainly have his eyes."
It wasn't what the woman said that made the speedster agitated. Even though she wore regular clothes, he recognized her red hair and green tinged skin. As a million thoughts went through Wally's head, one stood out from the rest.
'Just what was my alternate self thinking when he married Poison Ivy?'
The walk to the West household was uneventful, but that didn't make Wally feel any better. Once past the front door the villainess had steered the young man to the dining room before mixing something in the kitchen. Shortly, the woman set down a cup of what Wally could only assume to be tea mixed with several types of poisons and pheromones. But before the speedster could ask what was in the blend, the house phone rang, leading to Ivy having a rather long and personal conversation.
"You know I love you, and I support all your decisions, but I can't get you those compounds. Alright, I wish you luck and I hope you'll remember to visit." Hanging up the phone, the woman explained, "My grandson, he's trying to make his own way in life but is going about it with an overcomplicated plan." At noticing Wally had yet to touch his drink, the woman rolled her eyes and stated, "I'm not trying to kill you, and even if I did poison it your metabolism would burn it out of your body before any lasting damage happened."
"Right, and just how do you know this?" Wally asked, slowly brining the cup up for a sip.
"Well my husband was always exposing himself to something much more toxic, and he always came out of it with a smile on his face." And now Wally fought not to spit out the admittedly good drink.
After ensuring that he'd swallowed all of the drink, Wally asked the first thing that popped into his head, "How did that even work? No offense but where I'm from you and Harley Quinn…" Quickly recognizing this wasn't an appropriate conversation, Wally let the sentence drop.
Only for Ivy to finish it, "Are something between friends with benefits and lovers?" She then shrugged her shoulders as she answered, "I honestly can't explain it. I had a connection to her, but I also had a connection to Wally. We both knew the other would be there for them, so we really don't see the need to be jealous if the other had someone else as well."
"Interesting, but not really my cup of tea." Wally commented before asking, "So I'm just going to say it, how did you even meet, well, me?"
"It must have been either the fifth or sixth time the world was invaded by aliens." Ivy began, "After my plan in Dakota failed, I was locked in Arkham once more. I was tending to the garden when the invasion started and several of Darkseid's minions crashed into the greenhouse. Naturally I disposed of them."
"Naturally." Wally sarcastically agreed.
Ignoring the man, Ivy continued, "Seeing as I had technically helped in the fight I was granted a pardon for my past crimes. Of course no one in Gotham had forgotten just what I was capable of, so my paperwork had the stipulation that I couldn't reside in the city." Looking down at her hands, Wally noted that the woman shuttered just slightly, as if recalling some bad memories, "I was actually alright with that, some events had occurred that made living in the city less bearable. So I took the first bus out of the city and ended up here."
"So then where does Wally West fit into the story?" Wally asked, now wishing for a second cup of whatever he'd been given.
"At the time the only place that would hire me was the park to be the landscaper. Wally worked in the crime lab nearby and often had his lunch in the park. One day he noticed me and made it his mission to become my friend. I was fine with my isolation, but decided to humor the man, and I'm glad I did." The woman smiled as she finished her recollection, "Of course later I learned about his trip to an alternate dimension and meeting a lobotomized version of me. I guess he remembered her and didn't want to see me alone. He truly wanted to be my friend with no ulterior motive, but the fool ended up falling for me."
Despite the tone of the story, Wally couldn't help but snort and comment, "Something tells me it wasn't all sunshine and roses when you learned about him being the Flash."
"I was a little angry." Ivy admitted, "mostly I was just relieved he wouldn't die every time I kissed him. Are you finished with your drink?" Surprised by the sudden shift in the conversation, Wally held up his long empty cup, prompting the woman to nod her head and say, "Then you should have enough energy for this."
"For what?" Wally ask, confused once more.
"To talk to my husband and find your way home."
As Ivy refused to answer any more questions, Wally was left in the dark once more as he was led around the house. Down the basement stairs and through three doors, and the speedster could say he felt a little underwhelmed at seeing a treadmill that looked like it had come from the Jetsons. Speaking up, the man said, "I'm not expert, but don't we need something else to contact the spirits? I don't know, maybe a crystal ball or Ouija Board?"
"I take it this was your first time in the Speed Force?" Ivy asked. When she received a blank look, the lady continued, "Of course it is." She then began her explanation as she led Wally towards the treadmill, "As you've noticed there are multiple universes, some with small changes while others are drastic. A few men are smart enough to create artificial bridges between universes, meanwhile natural connections exist. The Speed Force is once such connection."
"And what is that exactly?" Wally asked as he was helped into some sort of harness.
"In essence, it's what allows you and all other Speedsters to run so fast." Wally was about to explain his lab accident, only for Ivy to cut him off, "Yes, I know. You got your powers in a lab explosion, but others got their powers due to being struck by lightening or because of genetics. The beginning doesn't matter, it's only the catalyst that allows you to access the Speed Force."
"Given that you were married to, well me, I'll assume all of that's correct, but how does that help with talking to the dead?" Wally asked as he tightened a strap across his chest.
As she inspected Wally's work, Ivy said, "Speedsters are special, for lack of a better term. You all spend so much of your life connected to the Speed Force that once you die some of you return to it, for a time at least." For some reason this kind of talk reminded Wally a lot about Kent Nelson and the headache that Nabu caused.
Satisfied with the straps, the woman walked to the other side of the room, grabbing an extremely thick cable that she promptly hooked onto the harness, "If a speedster is able to enter the Speed Force, they are able to talk to the spirits that inhabit it."
"Alright, so how do I get there?" Wally asked before he joked, "Do I have to go fast?"
"Yes." Ivy answered in complete seriousness. "While he was alive, my husband always pushed himself to go faster. Before he met me, he'd entered the Speed Force once. Evidently he'd saved the world but almost didn't survive. The second time he'd entered the Speed Force I didn't see him for a month, but eventually he found a reliable way to return." Ivy then started heading back towards the exit as she finished, "He'll be able to explain things better, just be sure to keep the cable taunt so you can pull yourself out."
Now left alone, Wally debated what to do. He accepted science couldn't explain everything, but even this seemed a little out there, not to mention dangerous. "Well nothing ventured, nothing gained." the man told himself as he stepped onto the treadmill. A few steps forward and the device began to move. As Wally began a light jog he could see a few sparks as the parts of the machine really began to get moving. Now he began to run, legs moving as fast as they did two years ago, then he pushed himself further.
Suddenly Wally's vision turned white. A quick look down revealed his hands, meaning he wasn't blind. "Guess the Speed Force does exist after all." Wally commented to no one in particular.
"Of course it does, would me or the Mrs. ever lie to you?" Wally's doubleganger asked as he ran alongside the man.
"Well I didn't exactly expect Poison Ivy to be the most truthful person." Wally defended himself.
"Oh come on," the older Wally exclaimed, "practically every Wally West has a relationship with a villainess, or villain, at some point in time. And about half of us end up marrying them."
After a few seconds, Wally admitted, "My girlfriend wasn't exactly squeaky clean when I first met her, and she was working undercover as Tigress for a while."
"Ha ha, knew it!" Older Wally laughed as he raised a fist in victory, "Earth-52 Wally's taking 20 years of my service!" The phantom then asked, "So what else is your world like? Does Roy Harper call himself Speedy, Red Arrow, or Arsenal?"
"Roy was Speedy, but then he started going by Red Arrow. Then it turns out he's always been a clone and the real Roy goes by Arsenal." Wally explained.
"Clones, glad I never had to deal with them in my time, although there was that one time Bat's almost got replaced by a robot..." Older Wally commented before shaking his head, "We're getting off track, we should be focusing on getting you home."
"Right," Wally agreed before gesturing to the harness and asking, "So if I understand everything, shouldn't I just take off this harness and run home?"
"And do you know how to navigate a near infinite amount of realities?" the older Wally asked. When the still living Wally didn't answer, the man smirked and said, "Again, knew it. Your best bet is to head back to Neo-Gotham and have Bruce help you out, he's probably nearly found your home dimension."
"Of course he has, because he's Batman." Wally commented before asking, "So, any last minute tips? And just how do I get out of here?"
"I mentioned the parallels earlier didn't I? Old Bruce should know what to share with you without ripping apart the space time continuum. To get out of here, you'll need to pull yourself out. Once you get back home you'll need an anchor, not a physical one mind you but just someone important to you that lets you pull yourself back." The phantom Wally quickly explained, adding, "Other than that, just have fun."
His wisdom shared, the older Wally speed off, leaving the young man to pull himself out of the Speed Force. Hopefully when he gets out of here Ivy will have some more tea ready, he'd like a drink before heading back to Gotham, he'd been away from home for far too long.
As Terry was running through the gymnastics course again, Bruce kept his focus on the Bat Computer. Still, unlike his apprentice he wasn't caught unaware when Wally West raced back into the Batcave. Not bothering to look up, the elderly man stated, "About time you came back."
"Needed to do some soul searching." Wally answered, "Older me says hi by the way." The Speedster then looked at the super computer and asked, "So, found my Yellow Brick Road yet?"
"Just about." Bruce confirmed, "Just have to let the machine warm up." He then heard Terry finish up the course and called over his shoulder, "Pack up McGinnis, you're taking a trip."
"What? How come?" the teen asked as he walked towards the pair, Wally taking note of his black hair and blue eyes.
"Wally's adventure here was unexpected, but in the end he asked for our help. It's our responsibility to see this through." Bruce explained as he opened up another window on the Batcomputer. "I'll inform your school I've arranged for you to attend a leadership conference, you'll need to inform your mother and girlfriend."
"Gee, and things were starting to get back to normal with Dana." Terry commented as he collected his stuff, knowing better than to try and argue with Bruce.
Once left alone in the cave, Wally commented aloud, "I know I'm in an alternate universe and everything, but I've seen quite a few photos of my universe's Bruce. Funny thing, you actually look quite alike, and you two certainly looked a lot like your father."
Knowing what the Speedster was hinting at, Bruce asked, "Do you have Cadmus in your universe?"
"Yeah, gave us quite a few headaches but some good friends." Wally answered, not seeing why the old man tried to sidetrack the conversation.
"Then you have your answer." Bruce replied simply before glaring at the man and stating, "And you know better than to bring it up with the kid."
"Right." Wally shakily answered as he gulped in fear. Seriously, how could old Bruce Wayne be more terrifying than Batman? Trying to get the conversation back to a safe area, Wally mentioned, "So, ghost me mentioned something about parallels?"
In reply, Bruce hit a few keys on the Batcomputer, causing a flash drive to eject from the main console. Throwing the device toward the Speedster, the man explained, "Here's a list of everything you can know without causing a paradox or destroying your universe. The main ones are that Terra will betray you. If you run into dimensional doublegangers calling themselves Justice Lords, fight them. Also if I'm still sleeping with Talia I need to stop and get Damian away from the woman." The man then stopped typing, his head dropping down as he finished, "On a more personal note, keep Tim Drake safe."
"Something happen to Robin?" Wally asked.
"One of my greatest failures." Bruce admitted, "One that I do not wish to see repeated."
Wally could only nod at that, hoping he'd be able to meet the old man's expectations.
It was about an hour later when Terry walked back into the cave, wearing his casual clothes with the Batsuit no doubt stored in his duffle bag. As he walked down the stairs he called over to duo, "My mom's excited about all the opportunities my job's creating. Dana's pissed that I have to reschedule a date so soon after getting back together." He paused to throw a bundle of clothes at Wally, no doubt some jeans, shirt and a hoodie that would not be missed, "At least Melanie swooped in to cheer her up with a girl's night."
"I'm not sure if I'd trust a former thief around those close to me." Bruce commented as he stood up from the Batcomputer and started walking towards his vault.
"Hey, didn't you date Catwoman, repeatedly?" Terry asked, defending his new friend.
Bruce stopped so suddenly Terry was afraid he'd given the man a heart attack. His fear doubled as Bruce gave a brief chuckled. Just as Terry was about to order Wally to check for a Joker Gas leak, Bruce regained his composure and replied, "I guess you have me there." He then opened up a drawer and stated, "Back to the mater at hand, you'll need this for your trip to Wally's universe."
At seeing the small, rectangular object, Terry asked in disbelief, "Is that a…?"
"It is." Bruce confirmed.
Greatly annoyed, Wally called out, "Hey, why don't you two explain what you're so amazed at to the one guy who doesn't know a thing?"
"It's a Mother Box." Bruce explained, "A living computer that is capable of just about everything from opening Boom Tubes to serving as a translator."
"Oh yeah, Connor might have mentioned something like that before." Wally said, trying to save himself from further embarrassment.
"Must not have had much interaction with New Genesis or Apokolips yet." Bruce mumbled to himself as he walked back to the Batcomputer. He then addressed the other two heroes as he activated the portal and said, "I'll monitor things on this end, you two get moving."
With a nod Wally and Terry started walking towards the portal. As they neared the device, Terry asked, "So, you ready for this?"
"Yeah," Wally replied, "I think it's about time for me to go home."
Terry knew he'd be walking into a technologically ancient world as soon as he stepped through the portal. Still, he wasn't expecting to find himself standing beside a two lane road with cornfields on either side. "It's almost like I'm in Smallville." The teen commented to himself before he turned to his traveling companion, the Speedster having already changed into the borrowed clothes with the hood hiding his face. "So where to first?"
"I probably should let me parents know I'm alive." Wally began, "But there's someone I need to talk to before that." He finished with a smirk.
"I figured as much." Terry stated with a smile of his own. Pulling out the Mother Box, the teen asked the computer, "Hey Mother Box," when the machine's lights blinked twice, the boy asked, "Could we get a portal to Artemis Crock's house?" As the portal opened up, Wally was going to ask how Terry knew that name but figured Old Bruce had already briefed him on everything.
Stepping out of the portal revealed a much more developed neighborhood. As the two stood in front of the house, Terry commented, "Nice place she got for herself, maybe a little big."
"Yeah, it is." Wally agreed, not exactly liking the implication.
When neither one made a move, Terry asked, "Well? Aren't you going to knock on the door?"
"I guess I should." Wally agreed as he slowly walked forward. He seemed to slow down as he walked up the steps and onto the porch. As he stood in front of the door, the Speedster froze with his hand near the door before he suddenly turned around and started walking away.
Terry was quick to intercept the man before Wally left the porch, "What are you doing?"
"Do the math." Wally said, "It's been two years and she lives in a house bigger than what she needs. She's moved on, I don't have the right to insert myself back into her life."
"I didn't cancel on my girlfriend and travel to a different dimension just for you to get cold feet." Terry hissed, "Let's double check your math." Before Wally could stop him, Terry had already shoved past the man and knocked loudly on the door.
A few moments later the door opened. Despite what he said, Wally felt some anger when he saw a tired, breaded and slightly older Roy Harper, the clone not the original, ask, "Do you have any idea what time it is?"
Terry didn't miss a beat as he said, "Late. We're looking for Artemis Crock."
Wally had to give it to Roy, he hardly reacted save for a raised eyebrow as he replied, "She's not in right now, try again in the morning."
Evidently Terry had learned a lot from Bruce. The teen quickly shoved his foot in the doorway before Roy could close the door. "See, something tells me that's not exactly the truth." Pushing all his weight against the door, Terry was able to force it open as Roy stumbled back. "So I'll ask again, could you please get Ms. Crock?"
From the way Roy's eyes were darting around, Wally could tell a fight was about to happen. Before anyone could make a move, the group heard loud barking before a white pit bull charged out the door and pounced on Wally. As the dog started to lick Wally's face, his hood fell off. The red head didn't pay this any mind as he started scratching the dog's ears while saying, "Hi Brucely, I missed you too."
As much as he would have enjoyed a few more moments with his dog, Wally was brought back to reality when Roy called out and asked, "Wally?"
The smile never left the Speedster's face as he answered, "Hi Roy, it's been awhile, hasn't it?"
The stunned man just looked at his friend for a moment before stepping aside, "Get inside, both of you. I can already tell this is going to take some time to explain." He then started walking into the house as he called over his shoulder, "And it's Will now."
Once everyone had settled back in the living room, Brucely refusing to leave Wally's side, Will started, "I swear if you turn out to be a clone,"
Wally was quick to interrupt his friend, "Relax Roy, sorry, Will. I'm me."
"Then how are you here?" the archer questioned. "The world knows that Kid Flash died two years ago stopping the Reach."
"Best I can tell the energy supercharged the cells of my body, forced me into a space between dimensions that had me running for two years straight." Wally explained.
"Yeah, that's what the Old Man came up with as well." Terry supplied, earning him a look from Will.
"I'm sorry, who are you again?" the older man asked.
Not exactly sure what was safe to share, and not trusting the teen to not accidently spill something, Wally quickly answered, "The Bruce in the dimension I ended up in is long retired. This is his successor." Wanting to quickly change subjects, Wally's eyes wondered around the room until he noticed a photo of Will wearing an interesting uniform. "Bowhunter Security? What's that about?"
"That's kinda Jade's doing." Will confessed. "After finding Roy I wanted to focus on being a good father, but I didn't exactly have many markable skills. She suggested if I couldn't find a job, I should make one. Some startup money from Oliver, and here I am."
"So Cheshire still around then?" Wally asked, not realizing he'd said something wrong until Will looked down.
Thankfully the men were saved from trying to salvage the awkward conversation when they heard someone walking down the stairs. As he was expected another archer, Wally was slightly shocked as a young girl with auburn hair wearing pink pajamas walking into the living room while rubbing her eyes.
Will was seemingly used to it as he said, "Lian it's late, let's get you back to bed."
"Can't sleep, heard voices." The girl replied before looking at Wally and Terry and sleepily asked, "Who you?"
"Lian, this is Wally, from your aunt's stories. This is a friend of his." Will explained as he gently tried to steer his daughter back to the stairs.
Lian stayed rooted as she looked at Wally and asked, "Auntie Mouse's boyfriend?" Believing he'd make some smart ass comment, Wally just nodded his head. This prompted the girl to ask, "You came back to be with Auntie Mouse?" When Wally again nodded, the Lian turned to her father and asked, "Mommy come back soon?"
"Maybe one day." Will replied as he picked his daughter up in his arms. As he walked towards the stairs, he stated, "But right now you need to get back to bed."
"Can Uncle Wally come?" the girl asked, shocking the room.
Wally quickly recovered and answered, "Sure, just remember I'm the best uncle." The comment earned a laugh from the girl, getting everyone in the room to smile.
As he watched from the doorway Wally couldn't help but wonder if the world hadn't come close to ending if he'd have something similar to this with Artemis. Trying to distract himself from such thoughts, the Speedster wondered the second floor, eventually finding another bedroom. This one was sparsely decorated, containing only a bed, a bookshelf with a number of textbooks, and an old but familiar photo. As he sat on the bed to reminisce, Wally was soon joined by Brucely, the dog carrying an odd toy.
"Hey, you found me." Wally noted as he tried to take the Kid Flash toy away, only for the pit bull to refuse to let go.
"His favorite toy, tends to sleep with it most nights. Artemis got it for him after." Will quickly stopped what he was about to say, instead he walked into the room and said, "Looks like you found Artemis' room."
"Yeah. Where is she anyway, hot date tonight?" Wally attempted to joke, and felt himself die a little.
In response, Will shook his head. "She hasn't been on a date in a long time Wally." Will explained, "A year ago, Paula tried to get her to go out but Artemis refused. She hasn't gotten over you Wally, I don't know if she's able to." At hearing this, Wally huffed as he threw himself onto the bed, prompting his host to ask, "You alright there? I thought you'd be happy to know that."
"Part of me is," Wally confessed, "which makes me feel guilty. It's been two years, there was no way of knowing I could ever comeback. If I were gone for good, I don't want her holding onto a ghost from the past, I'd want her to be happy." Trying to shift to a topic that caused less conflicting feelings, Wally asked, "If she doesn't have a date, just where is the love of my life?"
"Dick's been recruiting." Will stated, which actually answered a lot. "I didn't think he'd form a new team after Antarctica, but he, Artemis and Connor have been mentoring some new comers to the life. They have a mission tonight, but no one shared the details or how they got the intel."
That last bit didn't sit right with Wally. Despite being Batman's protégé, Dick had a tendency to overshare. Sure he kept some secrets, but never anything mission related. Rushing back downstairs, he saw Terry trying to figure out how to use the tv remote. As entertaining as the sight may be, the man now had a mission of his own. As such he ordered the teen, "Suit up, we've got some intelligence to gather."
The teenage Batman didn't even question the Speedster as he grabbed his Batsuit.
Mother Box had opened a portal near an airport tarmac, behind the group Nightwing and Tigress were leading. Thankfully the other heroes were too distracted as the red head in the green jumpsuit raised his arms, causing spikes to erupt from the ground and stop the plane from taking off. As Wally and the future Batman watched the other group charge into the hanger, the teenage crime fighter asked, "This normal?"
"Not really." Wally admitted, "I have no clue about the alien, the girl, or the new guy, but Black Lightening should be with the Justice League. Tigress should be with the rest of the Team, and Nightwing's backup should be either Superboy or Miss Martian, maybe Robin or Beast Boy if things are stretched thin." Trying to think of an answer, he asked, "Can you tell who they're fighting?"
"Let's see." Batman said as he switched between his optic lens options to zoom into the hanger, "Black Lightening is up against Livewire, Nightwing is up against someone who can turn their body to vapor, the newbies look to be up against Shade judging by those shadows." He then switched to X-Ray vision as he said, "Inside the plane, which your girlfriend is trying to break into, is a doctor and a woman holding a Sai."
'As weird as it is, Cheshire is probably my best bet for answers.' Wally thought to himself before ordering Batman, "Keep Tigress busy for a few minutes, I need to have a chat with someone." Not waiting for a response, Wally ran forward. Using the spike as a ramp, the man launched himself upward towards the cockpit. 'I really hope this works!' Wally yelled to himself as he began vibrating his molecules. To his surprise, he actually passed harmlessly through the glass and metal. Landing crouched on the floor, Wally quickly wiped under his nose, smiling as his hand came back clean, mentally cheering, 'Yes! No more nosebleeds!'
Batman watched all of this happen in the span of five seconds. After giving a low whistle, the crimefighter commented, "Okay, that was pretty schway." He then noticed Tigress was close to breaking the lock on the plane's door and told himself, "Guess it's time for me get to work." as he switched the suit to stealth mode and disappeared into the night.
Cheshire thought nothing much could surprise her anymore. Her little sister becoming a hero? Weird but relatively normal for her family. Falling in love with a clone and starting a family? Unexpected but not unwelcome. And yet she didn't know what to make of the swirl of colors that encapsulated Doctor Moon. Even with her training the strange phenomenon had snuck up on the assassin, she'll just blame the fatigue from having the bullet taken out of her shoulder with only local anesthetics.
Soon enough the color's stopped, revealing Doctor Moon unconscious on the floor and a dead man waving at her. As if things couldn't get worse, the Wally West look-a-like called out, "Hey future sister-in-law, miss me?"
Seeing that the Speedster wasn't about to fight her, Jade relaxed and leaned against the operating table as she said, "So this is the Light's next big play? Cloning again? Because that worked out so well last time."
Wally pouted as he asked, "Why does everyone assume I'm a clone? Just ask your husband when you get home, assuming you actually go home after this."
Looking down, Jade stated, "Will and Lian deserve better than me. Not to mention if I turn back up one of your friends will be along shortly to turn me in."
Wally fired back by stating, "I'm pretty sure that's up to them to decide. One of the first things Lian asked me was if you were coming back. As for the criminal part," her the man jerked his thumb towards the outside, "how much you want to bet Nightwing will arrange some sort of special program for those three? Plus I'm fairly certain the League still has it's open pardon policy."
While Jade could see the sense in the argument she fired back, "It's not just the heroes I have to worry about. I burned enough bridges the first time I left the Shadows, they won't be happy if I try to do it again."
Again, Wally had a rebuttal, "If two archers and a Speedster backing up an assassin doesn't make you feel safe than what will? Monitoring by Batman? Babysitting with Superman?" As he gave Jade time to process his question, Wally added, "Life can be dangerous, but it's easier to deal with things together." He then heard the door begin to open, "Speaking of which, do you mind distracting your sister for half a minute? Thanks." The Speedster didn't wait for a response as he zoomed back to the cockpit, literally running through the door.
Moments later Tigress walked into view. At seeing her sister relaxing against the operating table and Doctor Moon knocked unconscious on the ground, the young woman took off her mask and declared, "I've got two questions and one statement. Who is running the Shadows? And from where?"
Holding her shoulder as the pain flared up, Jade answered with a smirk, "You know, I always saw myself as a freelancer. I didn't have to follow as many rules, but I wasn't told everything. I honestly don't know who runs the shadows, but I do know they're based on Santa Prisca. Happy?"
"Ecstatic." Artemis deadpanned.
Knowing she'd have to take the lead in the conversation, Jade asked, "How is Lian doing?"
"And that brings me to my statement." Artemis replied before yelling, "Go see your kid!"
Jade chuckled at that, "Funny, you're the second person to tell me that tonight." She noticed the shadows on the floor begin to act strangely. Standing away from the operating table, she walked over to a small table to collect her mask. "You know, I would ask you to hug my daughter for me, but something tells me you're going to be too busy."
Artemis was going to ask what her sister meant, only to see a blur rush through the cockpit door and behind her. Expecting danger, she quickly turned on her heel and was greeted by one smirking Wally West. "Hello beautiful. Did you miss me?"
"Wally," the young woman barely whispered before tucking her head down, almost collapsing in on herself as she said, "If some psychic is messing with my head, you will be sorry."
Gently putting his hands on Artemis' shoulders, Wally calmly said, "It's me babe. No psychics, no tricks, no clones." Wally expect many reactions, the knuckle sandwich he got ranked about as likely as a kiss. "Yeah, I probably deserved that."
"That was for leaving two years ago. This is for coming back." Wally mentally smirked as he got his welcome home kiss.
Jade just watched the exchange in amusement, some things just never changed. As Shade stepped through his portal, the assassin could tell he was about to attack the reunited couple. She stopped the metahuman with an arm across his chest and a commanding glare as she said, "Leave them alone, they're too distracted to do anything right now."
"Alright then." The man said before asking, "Time to go?"
Jade just gave a wordless nod before turning back to the young couple, still too engrossed in each other to notice anything amiss. 'True some things stay the same,' she then looked down at her mask, finishing the though as she stepped through the portal, 'but some things need to.'
Artemis didn't even notice her sister leaving, instead it was Nightwing's voice on her commlink that brought her back to reality. "Tigress, we've got everything wrapped up here. Livewire and Mist are secure, although there's no sign of Shade or the invisible person you fought. Status?"
"I have Doctor Moon." Artemis replied. After a quick glance around, she was able to quickly surmise what happened while she was distracted. "Shade helped Cheshire escape, and," she was about let her friend know about Wally's return only for some quick movements from the young man clued her in to let it remain a secret, "I have some intel on the Shadows. It seems they've set up camp on Santa Prisca."
"Copy." Nightwing reported back, "Sweep the plane for any additional leads your sister might have left then meet us out here."
"Will do." Artemis stated before turning her commlink off. Focusing back to Wally, she said, "You're going to have to tell me why you didn't want Dick to know you're alive."
"Just confirming a hunch real quick." Wally answered before zooming forward and kissing Artemis' cheek. "I'll see you back at Roy's, Will's!, place later but right now I've got to run."
As she watched her boyfriend run out the back of the plane, and was mildly impressed he could now vibrate his body's molecules without getting nosebleeds, Artemis just grinned and shook her head. The world may still need saving, but at least she had her preferred partner back with her.
Wally didn't have to run far, just out of the back of the hanger, before he saw the Bat from the future decloak himself. "So, get all your answers?"
"Almost." Wally stated, "I think I know what's going on, but we've got to make one more stop to confirm it."
"Alright." Batman Beyond said as he grabbed the Mother Box off his belt, "Where to?"
"Ever been to Wayne Manor?" Wally asked with a grin.
"Somehow when you mentioned breaking into Mr. Wayne's home, I didn't expect that you would be ringing the doorbell." Terry commented as he stood beside Wally on the front porch of the mansion. Wally had gotten him to change into street clothes for the time, citing it would look suspicious if a vaguely bat-themed person was seen on the billionaire's property.
"Please, as if anyone could break into this house." Wally retorted as he rang the doorbell, "They'd never make it past Alfred."
Just as he finished speaking, said balding, mustached butler answered the door. At seeing the supposedly dead Wally West standing outside alongside a blue eyed, dark haired young man, the butler merely raised an eyebrow as he said, "Good evening Mister West. I'm afraid your visit is rather unexpected, but after such a long journey I would not be one to turn you away. Would you and your guest like to come in?"
"Thanks Alfred." Wally said as he walked inside, Terry following behind. "Is Dick downstairs?"
"He is." Alfred stated as he closed the door. He then reached out and grabbed Terry's shoulder as he asked, "I presume you are from the future?"
"An alternate dimension's at least." Terry replied, not sure why Alfred would ask something like that.
"Right, please forgive me for the assumption." Alfred then noticed Wally walking towards the library and called over, "While Master Bruce is entertaining downstairs, Miss Cassandra currently has Miss Stephanie and Miss Cissie staying the night in the upper floors. If you would wish not to be noticed just yet, I would suggest using one of the alternate entrances. Perhaps the stairs in the study?"
Although he saw the sense in the man's wisdom, Wally still groaned. As he turned and started walking down a different hallway, the Speedster mumbled, "That bookcase moves so slow, and half the time the trigger in the fish tank isn't even connected."
Not sure what else to do, Terry just followed after Wally. He honestly didn't know how slow the alternate entrance was, from his talks with the Old Man it seemed Speedsters had a skewed sense of time. Hopefully it would give him enough time to change into his Batsuit, just didn't feel right walking into the Batcave without it, even if it was in an alternate dimension.
As it turned out the study entrance really did take forever to open up, and then the pair had to walked down several flights of stairs. If there was a bright side it was that they managed to stay in the shadows of the upper deck. As Nightwing began recounting his skirmish at the airport, the Speedster was able to note some subtle changes, such as Tim now having a hood attached to his cape while M'gann ditched the hair and had a white skin tone. He also noticed some major changes. The good, Kaldur seemingly being promoted not only to Aquaman but also leader of the Justice League. The bad, Barbara in a wheelchair.
From there he listened as Tim recounted his fight against Clayface and the Mad Hatter, the Speedster would need to get the details on the newbies later. Finally there was Kaldur's story of stopping Sportsmaster from breaking Brickhouse out of jail, although the mercenary had gotten away with a different prisoner, Shade. With the rest of the story was laid out for them, Wally and Terry easily connected the dots, three teams unknowingly fighting the same fight. As Wonder Woman finished up her questions, Wally decided it was time to make his entrance. A quick look to Terry had the teen cloak himself before Wally started clapping.
As all seven people stared at him Wally announced, "Wow, real A+ teamwork there guys. Although Dick, didn't you learn how dangerous secrets can be about two years ago?"
Believing he'd seen a ghost, Nightwing barely managed to get out, "Wally.."
"Yep, that's me." The redhead stated, zooming down the stairs to prove the point, "Seemingly back from the dead and not a clone." Shifting his attention to his other friends, the young man said, "Hey M'gann, I dig the new look. Congrats on the promotion Kaldur. Tim what would Cassie say about you spending alone time with three young ladies? Barb," he actually paused, not sure what to say. His legs were literally tied to his identity, he couldn't imagine them suddenly being snatched away.
Thankfully his fellow redhead seemed to sense his discomfort as she wheeled herself over to him. Pulling Wally down for a hug, she explained, "It happened a few months after Antarctica. I might not be able to walk anymore, but I still help where I can. At least we got you back." She then realized something, straightened up and demanded, "Wait, do your parents know you're back? What about Artemis? Who exactly, aside from us and Alfred, knows about this?"
Scratching his head, the man answered, "Well I actually ended up at Roy, Wills! I swear I'll remember it next time. Anyway, I ended up at his house while Dickie Bird took my girlfriend out for his mission. Ran over and caught up with Jade and Artemis."
While somethings that nagged Nightwing about the night were beginning to make sense, it was Batman who spoke up. "So if you didn't die like previously assumed, just where have you been for the past two years?"
"Straight to business, huh Bats?" Wally asked, getting the patented Bat-glare in return. "Kinda hard to explain but I was in a space between dimensions, alternate me and his wife called it the Speed Force. I ran straight for two years until I'd built up enough speed and kinetic energy to break out. There I got some help."
"From who?" Wonder Woman asked.
"That would be me and the Old Man." Terry declared as he uncloaked next to Robin. The teen was understandable alarmed and reached for his collapsed staff, only for Terry to react faster and grab the boy's wrist and pull the limb away from his body. Eyeing the sidekick, the hero stated, "We've both been trained by the Old Man, difference is mine has about fifty years more experience and I've got access to tech that's just as advanced." He then released Robin and walked over to Wally.
Trying to lighten the mood, the young man asked, "Boy, you bats sure know how to make an entrance." He then addressed the room, "Everyone meet Batman Beyond."
"Really?" the newly nicknamed hero asked.
"What? You're from a future and it'll help distinguish you from Mr. broody over there." Wally explained, earning an eye roll.
"Whatever, at least you wasted enough time for the suit to connect to the Batcomputer and finish downloading."
"What?" Barbara demanded as she faced the Dark Knight of Tomorrow. "There's no way you hacked the Batcomputer. I've tried and never made it past the third firewall."
"The password is Martha39#Thomas66." Batman Beyond explained. Seeing the look of disbelief, he huffed before bringing two fingers to his cowl and opening a text window on his display. "Let's see. Spoiler, aka Stephanie Brown. Inspired by her rescue during the Reach occupation, she fashioned homemade imitations of well known Bat Gadgets to stop her father, the Cluemaster. Brought under Bruce Wayne's guidance to ensure she won't hurt herself. Arrowette, aka Cissie King-Jones. Took a shine to archery after seeing Green Arrow and Artemis save her father from Black Spider. Sought out by Oliver a year and a half ago after stopping several robberies. And finally there's Orphan, aka Cassandra Cain. She's…" the crime fighter's eyes widened as he read the last bit, "…now that is interesting." Turning back to Barbara, he asked, "Are you convinced?"
As the woman slowly nodded, the group could hear Batman mumble, "Now I have to rest all the passwords." The man then took charge of the conversation as he stated, "As helpful as it is to have Wally back, I'm afraid there are still issues that need to be dealt with tonight."
"Right," Nightwing agreed as he brought up two holographic profiles, "Cheshire and Shade are in the wind, no doubt about to cause more trouble."
"Yeah, somehow I doubt that." Wally spoke up.
While Oracle laughed and Miss Martian giggled, Aquaman rolled his eyes as Nightwing closed his and pinched the bridge of his nose as he asked, "Just what did you say to her Wally?"
After teleporting the pair to a safehouse, Shade had waited patiently as his handler changed. While the woman couldn't be rushed with only one useable arm, the metahuman didn't have much of a choice due to the nanites in his system. Finally his overseer walked back into the living room, only this time she wasn't in her combat gear. Instead Jade wore some tennis shoes, sweats, and a brownie hoodie; her right arm was in a sling while a backpack was slung over her left shoulder. She also had her hair pulled pack into a ponytail while a baseball cap covered her head.
Knowing the woman wasn't going to start the conversation, Shade asked, "Am I to assume we're going after the girls?"
He was surprised when Jade stated, "No, I don't think we need to." Knowing the man raised a nonexistent eyebrow, she explained, "Those two are minors, the league isn't going to charge them with anything serious. With the nanites the heroes are going to make a case that they weren't in control of their actions, which is more so true for Mist. By now they've already been released from the nanites while someone is scrambling to set up counseling sessions." She then smirked as she added, "Getting caught is probably the best thing to happen to those two."
"So then am I to assume we'll be going back to your boss?" Shade questioned.
"We could do that, or we could do something else." Jade stated as she dug around in the backpack before pulling out a rectangular device, something Shade recognized as the control box for the nanites. "Now then," Jade's grin returned as she asked, "how would you like that same level of freedom?"
"What's the catch?" the metahuman asked, warry of the deal.
"Harper, Crock, West, Allen and Nguyen." The woman answered, "You don't look into those families, you don't move against those families and if you hear of someone who will, you find some way to let me know. Deal?"
"Deal." Shade instantly agreed.
With a smile, Jade pressed the button on the control box and said, "Then I release you from Stagg's control, now and forever." Handing the box to her ex-subordinate, the woman stated, "Nice doing business with you."
"The pleasure was all mine." Shade replied as he crushed the box in his hands. Giving one more bow to his former boss, Shade disappeared into the shadow of the floor.
Jade watched the man disappear before heading out herself. It was a long bus ride to Star City.
"Nothing really," Wally answered, "just reminded her of what's important."
"And really? You're worried about a reforming supervillain when you have bigger problems?" Batman Beyond asked, gaining everyone's attention as he questioned, "Seriously, why haven't any of you done anything about the Apokoliptian using their business to help kidnap meta-humans?"
Not sure what the teen meant, Wonder Woman asked, "Could you elaborate on that?"
Seeing the blank looks around him, the Dark Knight of Tomorrow questioned, "Have none of you had to fight against Darkseid yet?"
"We've heard a bit about him from some of the New Gods," Miss Martian supplied, "but we haven't had an intergalactic problem since the Reach invasion."
Now knowing what he was dealing with, Batman Beyond used his connection with the Batcomputer to bring up the image of an old woman with white hair wearing a blue business suit. "This is Gretchen Goode, you know her as the CEO of Goode World Studios," he then hit a few buttons on his forearm that caused the image to shift, showing the woman now wearing blue armor with a golden breastplate, a red cape, and a face shield with the omega symbol engraved on the forehead, "in reality she is Granny Goodness, one of Darkseid's highest ranking, and curliest, generals. From what I can gather she'd been using her company's new VR goggles to scan for meta-humans before brainwashing them."
This information shocked everyone, but Batman kept his poker face as he commented, "While that is highly interesting, it will need to be something we confirm before we make any moves against Goode."
"Even then we'd need UN approval. No chance of that happening with Luthor as the Secretary-General, especially with the Light wrapped up in this." Robin commented.
"Is this Luthor like the one from my dimension was? A power hungry business man that thinks he's untouchable?" Batman Beyond asked.
"Pretty much described him to a t." Barbara confirmed, but was curious why Batman Beyond was referring to the man in the past-tense.
"Alright then." The Dark Knight of Tomorrow stated as he started walking out of the Batcave. "It'll take Wally a few days to let everyone important know he's alive, after that we can build the teleporter to take me back home. I can at least find something to make Luthor resign while I wait."
Left alone with his friends and mentors, Wally began to scold them all as he said, "Now, I hope you all realize the dangers of keeping secrets from your friends, and that it's alright to ask for help." He then smirked as he finished, "Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to get to Star City and start making things up with a certain someone." The Speedster ran out of the Batcave before anyone could stop him.
As she stepped on the gas, Dana decided that Terry had a lot of making up to do. He'd been fairly good about their dates in the past few weeks, but then he suddenly has to leave town for who knows how long. At least Miss Kyle was back from Japan, and she had someone else to share in her misery.
"I recognize the irony," Melanie stated before she asked, "but shouldn't we try to be a bit more inconspicuous?
"Terry and I had a date planned for this weekend. With him cancelling so suddenly I really need a run. Besides," Dana questioned as she cut in front of a truck and took the offramp past Old Gotham, "I thought you were eager to meet the original Catwoman?"
Melanie stayed silent for the rest of the ride, which with Dana's driving only took a few minutes. Arriving at the Kyle estate, the pair of teens were meet by the older woman, who was dressed exceptionally well for a night in. Seeing Melanie, the woman asked her protégé, "And just who is this? I don't think I gave you permission to bring your friends around here."
"This is Melanie Walker," Dana said as she introduced the blonde, "she's a friend who has been a big help to me."
"It's nice to meet you Miss Kyle," Melanie said as she shyly waved, "you were the type of thief I wanted to be growing up."
Now that got Selina's attention as she questioned, "Random inspiration, or do you come from an established family?"
"Royal Flush Gang," Melanie admitted before adding, "although I'd like to think I'm not such a pompous asshole like the rest of my family."
The comment caused Selina to crack a grin as she told Dana, "You certainly know how to make some good friends." She then addressed both the teens as she said, "Well feel free to show Ms. Walker around and showoff your toys. Unfortunately I'm due in the city for an appearance at a few charity functions. And please," she told Dana, "try not to stay out so late this time."
Dana smiled and nodded as she led Melanie further into the mansion. Arriving at the equipment room, Dana opened the secret locker as Melanie admired the headlines. "So that's Catwoman, got to say I expected something a little different."
"Well not all of Gotham's old baddies were crazy maniacs." Dana supplied as she began putting on her suit. At seeing her friend's questioning gaze, Dana asked, "What? I told you I was going for a run."
"Do you even have a target researched? I though you said your boss was out of town until just recently." Melanie challenged.
"Well not exactly," Dana admitted, "I just figured it was about time for my boyfriend to have a bit of a bonus."
"You're going to rob Bruce Wayne?" Melanie almost screamed, "The guy is ancient, I though you said you wanted to be better than that."
"Please, the Wayne's were old money before the first stone of Old Gotham was laid." Dana stated as she pulled on her gloves. "He's not going to miss a few hundred credits. Besides, it's better I go someplace I halfway know about through my boyfriend's complaining than charging in blind to some crime family hangout."
Seeing the logic in the statement, Melanie huffed as she took the seat at the command console, but made one important cavoite. "You're going to donate everything you take tonight."
"Already planned on it." Catwoman stated as she pulled her helmet on, opened a window, and jumped into the night.
As Wayne Manor was closer than the city, Catwoman didn't have to run quite as far as usual. Still, it was rather creepy walking among the property's dead trees, and she was thankful when the mansion came within sight. The windows also proved to be unlocked, Mister Wayne probably not expecting thieves to journey all the way out of the city to target him, and low enough that the thief opened them easily and silently. As she stepped into an office, Catwoman quickly decided anything valuable would be too personal to the old man to take. As such, she walked further into the mansion.
It was a little disconcerting to hear her steps echo throughout the house. The fact that most of the furniture was covered with white sheets just gave the place an even creepier vibe. Eventually she came to a something resembling a living room. Thinking she could find some loose valuables in the coffee table, the thief entered the room but found herself drawn to some old photos.
"Wow, Mister Wayne was handsome back in the day, and he got around a lot." The woman pictured with the younger billionaire were some that Catwoman recognized from Gotham's history. Kathleen Duquesne, Andrea Beaumont, even the stage magician Zatanna, how did that woman maintain such good looks? However, Catwoman's attention was drawn to two photos.
The first was of a blue eyed woman with long black hair. She looked vaguely familiar, but it wasn't anyone the thief could immediately place. The second woman was someone Catwoman instantly recognized, even without the wrinkles and with the dyed blond hair. Picking up the photo, the teen asked the image of her boss, "What did you see in Wayne to go after him?"
Instead of getting an answer, the teen heard barking. Quickly putting the photo back before she dropped it, Catwoman turned on her heel to see Ace, Bruce Wayne's large mutt, growling at her. Holding up her hands, but ready to grab her laser whip despite how much she didn't want to hurt the old man's companion, the thief slowly said, "Easy boy, you don't want to hurt me."
"You really need to watch your back." Bruce Wayne stated from behind Catwoman. Before the thief could turn tail and run, she felt a sharp pain against her neck before the world turned black.
Bruce Wayne regarded the unconscious Catwoman on his living room floor. A quick once over of the suit revealed Selina had done a good job on its construction, seemingly basing much of it on the current Batsuit, but the neck had always been a weak point no matter how many designs he tried. There were a few external mechanisms, such as the claws, but nothing too severe. The old man wondered if he should "leak" some blueprints on how to reconfigure the components to something internally, no doubt McGinnis would throw a fit about Catwoman improving her gear and copying his.
But that was a concern for a different day, right now the retired hero needed to solve his current problem. It was much too soon for this, last he heard his old flame had McGinnis' girlfriend going after the last bit of the Yakuza in Gotham. She was still inexperienced in an actual fight and far too easily distracted.
There was something to be said of having a constant adversary, someone to keep one's skills sharp. At seeing the news of the new Catwoman, Bruce had hoped that she would prove to be his apprentice's foil. He already knew that the thief wouldn't directly risk McGinnis' life, due to who her trainer was and based on what he had read in that old Cadmus file. In time Gotham's Bat and Cat could dance again, but that time was not now. Right now it would probably be better to try and scare the girl off of this path.
Bending down was more of a chore than it should have been, but with Ace's help the old man was able to shoulder the weight of the unconscious body. A few minutes later and he had managed to hobble back down into the Batcave. After making sure the thief was secured, the old man hesitated. No doubt this was the last favor he'd be able to call in, but if he could help this girl, and by extension his protégé, it would be worth it. He wasn't surprised when the call was answered on the second ring. Not even saying hello, the old man simply stated, "I need you in the Cave, no questions asked," before hanging up.
Now he just needed to wait and hope he made the right choice.
As she woke up, Catwoman suppressed the urge to groan. Surprisingly she still had her costume on, which probably meant that Mister Wayne or the cops couldn't figure out how to get her helmet off. That thought left her head as she regarded the large space before her. She could see her boyfriend's boss typing away at the large super computer. To the left she could see an empty platform, and just beyond that a garage housing several out of date, but iconic, automobiles. To the right she could see several glass cases housing costumes that were immediately recognizable.
Suddenly something her boss said came back into Catwoman's head, 'Honey, the old Batman is as old as I am.'
'Bruce Wayne was Batman!' Catwoman screamed in her head. She supposed it made sense, who else had the money to manufacture all the gear? Not to mention before the merger, Wayne Enterprises contributed to a lot of the infrastructure for the Justice League. 'Wait, if Mister Wayne is the old Batman, does that mean Terry…'
That line of questioning stopped as Bruce turned his chair around, grabbed his cane, and started walking towards her, Ace following after him. Standing before the thief, the man stated, "I know you're awake, and I know who you are."
"So then why don't you just get my helmet off and be done with it?" Catwoman challenged, causing Ace to growl.
Easily calming his dog down with a few strokes along its back, Bruce replied, "My aim is to stop crime, that does not necessarily mean the best course is to arrest every criminal. Sometimes it is best to give someone the option to walk away."
"So what? Is this where I'm scared straight by you? You tell me about all the horrible things that happen to girls like me that you wish you could have stopped?" As she spoke, Catwoman tried to get her arms free so that she could escape.
The answer didn't come from Bruce, but rather behind her, "Actually, that's what he called me for." At this point Catwoman shouldn't really be surprised that the Police Commissioner walked down the stairs into the Batcave like she owned the place. What was next, was the mayor Robin in their youth? The commissioner regarded Catwoman before turning to Bruce and asking, "So who is she anyway?"
"That's not why I called you Barbara." Bruce pointedly stated.
"What? It's not like you to be preventative rather than reactive." The woman stated before she started fishing, "So then what? Did you actually have a kid with Kyle and this is you're granddaughter? I figure you would try to talk her into turning from a cat to a bat, not scare her out of the life."
"Wrong, and you're not going to get any answers." Bruce calmly stated, although Catwoman could hear an edge to his voice.
"Fine, but if I arrest her a week later, I don't want to hear you complaining." Barbara then turned to the thief and asked, "So how did you get into this anyhow? Why do you keep doing it?"
"Not saying why I started." Catwoman answered, "But once I started, I found I was quite good and enjoyed myself. Besides, it's not like I'm not stealing from people who don't deserve it."
"True, but you're in over your head. You came here expecting Bruce to be an easy score, didn't you?" The silence was enough confirmation. "And now look where you are."
"I made one mistake," Catwoman shot back, "and I'm not going to make it again."
"That's what anyone who wears a mask thinks, but I can tell you from personal experience we're always wrong." Before Catwoman could speak again, the Commissioner stated, "I'm going to assume you have a general knowledge of Gotham's history. So let me ask you this, why do you think Robin and Batgirl suddenly disappeared?"
"I don't know. Did you get too scared?" Catwoman challenged, hoping she could get the older woman within striking range and then force Mister Wayne to let her go.
Instead of rising to the bait, Barbara calmly stated, "Robin got hurt, and I'm not just talking physically. The boy I saw as an annoying little brother couldn't function in society for years, I doubt he's a hundred percent even today. That led to certain other, events," here the woman glared at Bruce, making Catwoman wonder just what exactly happened between the two, "that made me realize it was better I left."
"But you couldn't stop fighting crime, now could you Commissioner?" Catwoman questioned, not seeing the point of the story.
"You're right, I couldn't stop. But I was a cop's kid, so I did things the right way. Went to the academy, top of my class." Suddenly the woman looked to the ground, appearing for the first time vulnerable. "But I'm sure you've felt it, that itch to put on the mask and just run wild. Even after I was on the force that itch remained. It got to the point where I couldn't ignore it, so I found my old homemade Batgirl outfit and went onto the roof tops. I told myself that I was just going to run around a bit, but then I saw a mugging. Without thinking I leapt into action. The victim got away but before I could close the distance the mugger shot at me." Here the Commissioner paused as she rolled up her shirt, "It's funny what the brain and the body does. My brain said to dodge to the side like I'd done countless times, but my body was used to the police training that said I was wearing a bullet proof vest." Catwoman watched as Barabara shoved the clothing aside, revealing a large scar crossing over the woman's stomach.
As the teen could only look in shock, Barbara continued her story, "You kids are lucky today. You get hit with a laser as long as it's non-lethal the wound gets cauterized. I almost bled out in that ally, but by some luck someone called an ambulance and I was saved. My luck continued to hold, the shot went through so the surgeon didn't have to hunt for the bullet, but I was half an inch from never walking again." She then moved her vest back into place and rolled her shirt down as she continued, "Amazingly my dad didn't lose his job, despite his daughter being found near death in a Batgirl outfit, I'm still not sure what strings were pulled to make that happen. But despite all that I was still struck by one misfortune. That bullet stole a piece of my future, I can't have kids."
As she let that bit of information absorb into Catwoman's head, Barabara finished her lecture. "The choices you make now are going to affect you in the long run. Don't ruin your life for a bit of fun while you're young." She then began walking up the stairs but called over her shoulder, "Bruce, do not call me for anything ever again."
Now left alone, Catwoman watched as Bruce walked back to his chair, "I hope I've given you something to think about, but you should probably leave before the kid gets back." As he talked, the man hit a button, releasing the thief's restraints. As she rubbed her wrists, the teen began to walk towards the stairs but paused when Bruce called out, "As wonderful as it would to catch up with Selina, I think it's best we kept this little meeting to ourselves." Catwoman didn't give an answer, but once more her silence was confirmation enough.
Now left alone in the Batcave, Bruce went back to monitoring the situation. It had been two days since Terry and Wally had left, hopefully the kid wouldn't be done for too much longer.
The past two days had been interesting for Will. Wally coming back was certainly a plus, especially where Artemis was concerned. The clone couldn't remember seeing his sister-in-law with such a big smile when the Speedster returned to his house later that night and swept the young woman into his arms before disappearing upstairs.
The second shock came with the second unannounced visitor that night, his wife Jade. Although he was curious about the sling, he shelved that question while they had a long talk that lasted until the sun rose. Ultimately they weren't back to where they used to be and still had some issues to work out, but going to Black Canary's counseling sessions together would be an immense help. Mostly he was just thankful that Lian had her mother back, as helpful as Artemis was there's just some people that couldn't be replaced.
That was yesterday, which the couple spent talking with Kaldur about arranging a full pardon for Jade. It took a little doing, and several interrogations/debriefings, before the Atlantean was confident he had enough information for the UN for Jade to continue her life without being harassed by Superheroes. He also mentioned a possible job opportunity in the near future.
Which brought the family to today, the scheduled family get together/playdate. He could tell that Jade was still a little uncomfortable with the way some of the mothers looked at her, particularly Iris and Mera. Surprisingly it was Raquel and Karen who were the most welcoming of his wife, possibly remembering the few times Cheshire had subtly helped out the Team. At least Jade seemed to fully endear herself with the rest of the ladies when Will joked with Red Tornado about not being the only guy present. Still, if sleeping on the couch, a threat he no doubt his loving wife would actually enforce, was the price for his wife's happiness he certainly wasn't going to complain.
As Lois brought in baby Jonathan, Will noticed a suspicious SUV pull up to the house. For a moment the Archer was afraid the meeting had been compromised, but relaxed when he recognized who stepped out of the car. Hopefully there wasn't any paparazzi around, it would be hard to miss that green skin.
"Are you sure I'm not intruding?" Queen Perdita once again asked her boyfriend as the car stopped in front of the West family home.
"I'm sure." Garfield instantly answered, taking a moment to appreciate that his long time girlfriend wasn't wearing her formal dress, instead opting for some skinny jeans, a dark blue tank top, and some flip flops. She still insisted on wearing the diamond necklace, but when it was part of the crown jewels who was he to object to tradition? Getting back to the conversation, the former hero stated, "You always say you want to meet some of my friends, and trust me when I say this is one of the less chaotic gatherings."
"If you say so." Perdita replied as they walked to the front door, which was soon answered by grinning Bart Allen.
"Hey Hollywood," the teenager greeted the pair, "if I knew you and the royal were coming I'd get the red carpet."
Returning the grin, Garfield introduced the pair, "Perdita, meet Bart Allen, Speedster from the future."
"Dude, you can't just speak of time travel where anyone can hear you!" Bart lectured his friend before turning to Perdita, taking her hand as he said, "And we meet before, at the funeral."
Growing somber, Perdita reflected, "That was a hard day for everyone," she then smiled as she said, "still I believe the first Kid Flash is somewhere, looking out for us."
"At least when he's not cleaning out the buffet." Bart joked, earning a laugh from everyone. "Well come on in and meet everyone, although there might be a few surprises."
Walking into the living room, Garfield was sure Bart meant Perdita would be surprised at how domestic the life could be, but the shape shifter saw a rather different surprise. Glaring, the teen had venom in his voice as he asked, "Just what is she doing here?"
"Relax brat," Jade reprimanded the former hero, "I'm going straight, again. Even got myself a full pardon this time around."
"And you all are really okay with this?" Garfield asked the room, only mildly shocked when Karen spoke up.
"Look Gar, we don't fully trust her, but Will and Artemis asked us to give her a chance." Noticing that most of the older children were preoccupied in a different room, the women added, "And honestly it's more so for Lian than anyone else."
A quick glance at Jade showed the former assassin nod in understanding. Garfield was about agree to be civil and make the rest of the introductions when his advanced hearing heard something unexpected, the backdoor opening and closing. Turning to Iris, the teen asked the matriarch of the Allen family, "Who was out back?"
The answer came when the unexpected visitor walked in from the kitchen, carrying a plate and fork, "Hey Aunt Iris. Sorry for finishing off the chocolate cake, but I just couldn't stop myself."
"Wally West! That cake was for everybody! I can't believe you would…" Iris began to scold her nephew, only to realize who she was talking to. Her gasp of shock was mirrored by nearly the entire room. All the while Wally just kept grinning.
"What's the matter everyone? You act like you've seen a ghost." Recognizing Perdita, the speedster commented, "Come on and breath your majesty, I don't want to have to run out and get you another heart." He then turned to Bart and asked, "How have you been doing Bart? You treating the old uniform alright?"
That comment shocked everyone into action as the adults started crowding around the speedster. Iris was the one who managed to be heard above the chaos as she said, "You were dead. Barry and Bart saw you disintegrate." She then noticed that neither Will or Jade seemed surprised by the recent events. Quickly putting everything together, Iris pointed at the pair and stated, "You two knew about this, and you didn't tell us?" She then turned back to Wally and asked, "Does Artemis know you're back? Do your parents?"
"Hey, no need to get mad at the power couple." Wally stated as everyone began to calm down. "Anyway, Ro..Will found out the night I got back since I ended up at his house looking for Artemis. Jade found out when I had to talk some sense into her. I meet up with my better half later that night, and I was with mom and dad yesterday."
"Okay, that's great and all," Bart spoke up, "but dude! You've been gone for two years and you don't tell us when you get back!"
Wally just shrugged his shoulders, "I was trapped in an alternate plane of existence and forced to run for two years straight. I'm probably the fastest person on Earth right now, but that doesn't mean I didn't want to take it easy while I wait for Bats to make me legally alive again."
Although he was happy his friend and mentor was alive once more, Bart couldn't let go of a point of pride, "Gee, not even back for five minutes and already overexaggerating. I seem to remember you being pretty slow against me and Grandpa."
Knowing a challenge was coming, Wally just grinned as he said, "Okay pint-sized, let's settle this out back."
Bart just grinned back as the adults in the room began making friendly wagers. Today was already a great day, now it was getting better.
This was certainly making Lady Shiva's day. With the disgraced Ocean Master set upon the nuclear option, it gave the Light an excuse to tie up a loose end. Still, while the organization's new enforcer had proven herself, there was something else nagging her. Speaking to the seemingly empty room, the assassin declared, "Step into the light, you do not want to make me drag you into it."
"Wow, you're just as good as your file says." A dark haired, blue eyed teen commented as he stepped into the room. In the back of her head, Lady Shiva had seen that combination of features before, but couldn't place them. She also noted that while the teen calmly walked into the room their movements betrayed the fact they had training.
Quickly forgetting those thoughts, the women stated, "You aren't a shadow, but someone's trained you. You could have attempted to stop me, but didn't. Why?"
As the teen carefully walked further into the room, avoiding the growing pool of blood, he explained, "Something the Old Man learned was that while he could try to save everyone, sometimes he couldn't save people from themselves." Looking down at the cooling corpse, the teen finished his thought by saying, "It's something I've had to learn much sooner."
"So you're a hero then, but a much more pragmatic one then what I usually deal with." Lady Shiva stated.
"Just one with different experiences." The teen countered, "So let me be the one to give you this advice; that nuclear option you mentioned, take it off the table for good. I've talked to people who have seen what that does, it doesn't end well for anyone."
Noticing that the teen was now standing by the surveillance equipment, Lady Shiva raised her sword as she stated, "I'll be sure to deliver your suggestion to my superiors, along with your head."
The teen seemed unfazed as he replied, "You're free to try, but can I ask one question first? What do you hope happens when you reunite with your daughter? That you're able to defeat her and prove yourself the strongest, or that she defeats you and take your place?" Those words caused Lady Shiva to pause just long for the teen just enough time to reach into their pocket and throw a smoke pellet against the floor. Once the room was clear, Lady Shiva was unsurprised to find the mysterious teen gone, along with the memory card from the camera and the hard drive from the laptop.
Despite the partial failure, Lady Shiva still retrieved what was left of the surveillance and disposed of Ocean Master's corpse. She would share the warning with Deathstroke, the assassin may face some punishment but it was a better fate then knowingly hiding information from her masters.
After all, in the fight between The Light and The League, information was key.
For the past two days Barbara had kept herself sequestered in her apartment. While Wally's return from the dead was welcome news, that brought about a number of complications. Working with Bruce the pair had developed a cover story that Wally needed be placed in protective custody due to being a key witness in an important case, unfortunately the suspect meet a rather grim fate while being held in Belle Reve, allowing Wally to return to his normal life. Now Barbara just had to hack into the appropriate databases before forging and deleting the appropriate documents.
Honestly the work was easy for her, but lately she'd been distracted. Wonder Woman brought up a good question of whether their recent methods, while effective, were morally right. At the start of this, fighting against The Light as splintered teams seemed like a good idea, but now? Thankfully the genius was distracted from her mental debate when someone rang her doorbell. Knowing any of her friends were more than capable of coming directly in, the women glanced at her security monitor, not recognizing the teen standing at the door. Ordinarily he wouldn't seem like much of a threat, but the duffle bag he carried made the former Batgirl cautious. Grasping one of the batons hidden in her wheelchair, Barbara pressed the call button and asked, "Yes?"
"Um, hi?" the teen began, not inspiring much confidence in Barbara, "We meet the other day, along with Dick and Wally. I have some things that you might be interested in seeing." Barbara couldn't buzz him in fast enough.
Without the suit, Batman Beyond wasn't nearly as intimidating, it didn't help he looked eternally lost as he glanced around the apartment. Upon seeing the crush remains of Barbara's Goode Goggles, he commented, "Got frustrated hacking it?"
"Oh, no that was easy. I just got angry when I found out the GPS and mics were constantly sending out signals." Barbara admitted, "Although honestly I shouldn't have been too surprised." Switching focus, the woman asked, "You said you had something to show me?"
Taking his cue, the teen stepped towards Barbara's main computer as he unzipped his duffle bag. Eventually he pulled out part of his suit, the arm to be specific. Shortly the teen grasped a connection wire from the wrist and plugged it into Barbara's main computer. As the data began to transfer, the boy smirked and said, "I believe this should work just fine."
Almost instantly a video popped up on Barbara's monitor, just viewing it once was enough to make Barbara smile. "Oh yes, this will do nicely." Barbara agreed as she copied the file and began to comprise emails to facilitate the spread of the damning information.
Watching over her shoulder, the teen asked, "You're sending it to the entertainment sites? Wouldn't a standard newspaper have more credibility?"
"Too straightforward." Barbara replied, "It's likely Luthor has people blackmailed or bribed to keep unfavorable stories from seeing the light of day." Going through a proxy server for one of her fake accounts, the hacker then posted the video directly on the social media feed of a small political watchdog group, "The entertainment sites will rush to publish the story, the regular news will have no choice but to report on the speculation and then verify its authenticity." Barbara, satisfied with her work so far, wheeled herself away from her workstation before asking, "So what am I like in your time?"
"Tough as nails, someone who doesn't take bullshit, probably one of Neo-Gotham's best Police Commissioners." The teen replied immediately.
"Following in dad's footsteps, and here I thought I'd be wearing a cowl forever." The young women lamented before looking at her feet, "I guess your Barbara never had the incident occur."
"I couldn't tell you." The teen stated, "All I know is something happened to drive her and the Old Man apart." He then dug in her backpack once more before tossing Barbara something. As she easily caught the object, the woman gave the boy a look to which he explained, "Well my work here is just about done, I might not be around much longer but that should help you out some more."
Seeing the object was a flash drive, Barbara asked, "What's on here, more dirt on The Light?"
"Unfortunately even I'm not that good." The teen joked as he started for the door, "That's just some information on some experimental surgeries going through medical trails that I thought looked interesting, they seem pretty similar to some back home that are done routinely. I figured it would do for some light reading."
Intrigued, the women plugged the flash drive in and opened the first file. She almost felt her heart drop stop beating as she read the words "spinal restoration cord and rehabilitation." As she turned to thank the teen, Barbara saw she was once more alone in her apartment.
"I cannot believe I'm seeing this." Jaime Reyes, otherwise known as the hero Blue Beetle, said as he and the remainder of The Team watched the live broadcast in the main hall of the Watchtower, the Justice Leagues satellite headquarters.
"It just feels unreal," Cassandra Sandsmark, Cassie to her friends and the heroine Wonder Girl to the world, agreed as the new station repeated the clip compilation for the fifth time that hour, "I mean we've tried to get surveillance this good in years and nothing ever came of it."
"Who knows," Traci Thurston, the magical heroine Thirteen, commented, "perhaps he was just unlucky."
What transfixed the group of teenage heroes was recorded evidence of Lex Luthor, noted businessmen and current U.N. Secretary General, calling his finance broker to arrange the buying and selling of certain stocks, followed by calls to various world leaders with promises of payments and kickbacks if they voted in desirable ways on key programs or fast tracking permits for certain LexCorp back businesses.
While the Team began to enjoy their surprise victory, the Watchtower Zeta-tube began to activate.
"Recognized, Beast Boy: B19," The mechanical voice called out before continuing, "Robin: B20, Arrowette: B27, Spoiler: B28."
As everyone walked out of the Zeta-tube, Wonder Girl called out, "Hey Gar, I didn't know you'd be stopping by." She then glared at the three other teens and challenged, "And just what are you three doing here? You quit, remember?"
"Easy Cassie, I invited them." Garfield stated as he walked over to the rest of the group. "I figured everyone should be together for such a momentous occasion."
"He's right." Kid Flash agreed as he put an arm on Wonder Girl's shoulders, "look we still have our hang ups about each other, but can't we all come together and enjoy watching Luthor loose publicly for once?"
Before anyone could give an answer, the projection once more grabbed the group's attention as the reporter announced, "We have just received word Lux Luthor will be making a statement regarding the allegations. We now go live to the U.N. General Assembly."
The picture switched to the infamous businessman standing behind a large podium. "While I detest to even address such slanderous accusations, the simple fact is that these charges are fake news." Luthor briefly adjusted his tie as he continued, "Through advanced CGI and voice sampling some individual with a vendetta against me created this deep fake to discredit my character. That is all there is to it."
As expected the noise of the broadcast grew loud as each ambassador began shouting. Somehow one voice was heard above the rest. As the camera switched focus to the Atlantean representative, Kaldur's friend Garth, the man cried out, "The only falsehoods are your lies! Atlantis may only know of some of your misdeeds, but we are still aware that you would not allow someone else to run your business. I call for an immediate vote of no confidence!"
While that brought some cheering, what shocked many was that the next to speak was the ambassador from the United Rhelasia, Kaizen Gamorra, a bald man with a goatee who wore a red shirt with gold buttons, a blue sash with a gold chain on top of it. "My fellow ambassadors, I do not believe we need to take such a drastic action." The camera switched back to Luthor, who's smirk fell as the man continued speaking, "But this video does bring up many questions. It is true that Lex Luthor was instrumental in helping to unite Rhelasia after years of conflict, and it is also true LexCorp made millions assisting in modernizing our northern provinces." The room grew silent as each ambassador waited to hear how Gamorra would vote, "I am not ready to condemn Secretary General Luthor, but I do wish to find the truth of this matter." The ambassador finished as he stated, "I propose that a full investigation into the dealings mentioned in the video occurs, that the Secretary General be removed until this body is certain as to the validity of these charges, and that an interim Secretary General be appointed until the investigation concludes."
As the General Assembly was filled with low murmuring as the ambassadors began to discuss such a proposal, another voice rose above them. "I second Ambassador Gamorra's proposal." Troia, the Themyscira ambassador dressed in her people's traditional attire, stated. "I have made no secret of my personal animosity against Luthor, or my feelings regarding some of my fellow ambassadors, Gamorra included." The man glared at Troia, but stayed quit as he allowed her to continue, "Yet even one of my biggest political rivals has questioned Luthor's ethics. This investigation must happen, so that the public may witness just what kind of man Lex Luthor is, one who serves himself rather than the people."
Once more the camera switched to a clearly unhappy Luthor, "Very well, as the proposal has been seconded, protocol dictates I move forward with this farce. Let the General Assembly now vote on whether or not to waste resources to disprove the obvious fake claims against my character."
"Wow, Luthor must be really backed into a corner with how badly he tried to spin that." Virgil Hawkins, aka Static, commented as the vote commenced. Surprisingly a decision was reached quickly as save for a few outliers, such as Greater Bialya, nearly all pro-Justice League countries and a few neutral nations voted in favor of the investigation.
"Gotta admit, that felt pretty good," Kid Flash said as Luthor stepped down from the podium and began walking out of the room, the news switching back to the reporter who began to speculate the impact the meeting would have on future events. Turning to address the trio of late arrivals, the speedster asked, "So where does that leave you three now?"
"I guess ideally the investigation reveals Luthor's less than ethical dealings and Batman releases a statement explaining his distrust of Luthor and petitions for himself and the others to rejoin the Justice League." Robin stated before shifting his focus to Wonder Girl and saying, "And then maybe we can rejoin The Team."
"Well talk about it, and other things, at a later date." Wonder Girl flatly stated. "But for now, I believe it's time…" Before she could finish her sentence, the Watchtower alarm sounded. Quickly turning to her team, Wonder Girl asked, "Where's that coming from?"
"Level 16." Thirteen said as she brought up a holoscreen. "I don't see what someone could steal from there, the only thing on that level,"
"Is the Memorial Gardens." everyone answered before racing off to apprehend the intruder, their previous animosity forgotten.
Three seconds later, Wally came running from the other direction, carrying a large amount of electronic parts, "Geez, those kids, always rushing off."
"I'd be more concern about the fact they were distracted enough by the news to allow us to boom tube in here and not get caught until you purposefully set off the alarm." Batman Beyond stated as he uncloaked himself and deposited his own supplies.
"To be fair, do you ever expect an intruder in the Watchtower?" Wally questioned.
"One, not part of the League. Two, there hasn't been a Watchtower in my universe for years. And Three it did happen, Task Force X." The Dark Knight of Tomorrow paused as he pulled out the Mother Box, "Which reminds me, you might want to keep a close eye on Amanda Waller." The hero then addressed the organic machine and asked, "Mother Box, could you please show us the schematics?" After a short chime went off, the device projected the desired blueprints. "Looks complicated, think we can get it done on time?"
"Just who do you think you're talking to?" Wally questioned, having already constructed the internal skeleton of the structure.
"I can't believe this!" Blue Beetle raged as The Team and company rushed back to the central command of the Watchtower, "What villain is dumb enough to break in here and trash Wally's memorial?"
"I don't know," Spoiler replied as the group boarded the central elevator, "but they won't get far. Aquaman, Nightwing, Tigress, Miss Martian and Superboy have all been contacted. They aren't getting away."
"Especially if we find them first." Wonder Girl stated as the elevator doors opened, revealing a new addition to the room.
"So I'm not the only one who sees that giant machine, right?" Static asked.
"Whatever it is it can't be good. Time to dismantle it." Blue Beetle stated as blasters morphed over his hands. Before either Garfield or Robin could speak up, a familiar voice beat them to it.
"Hey, could you not blast apart the machine I spent the past twenty minutes building?" Wally asked as he speed from around the other side of the room and stood in front of the machine. The speedster then had to dodge an arrow, concussion blast pellets, a bolt of electricity, an energy blast and a magical lasso, "Geese, a guy's been gone for two years and this is the reception he gets?" At that point the man's previously tied shoes somehow became untied, causing him to trip and fall. As he rubbed his head, Wally asked, "Okay, who's the newbie with the bad luck powers?"
"That'd be me." Thirteen said before demanding, "Now talk, are you a clone or a shapeshifter?"
"None, I'm the real Wally West." At seeing the unconvinced looks he received, the man grabbed Wonder Girl's lasso and looped it around his wrist, "I'm the real Wally West, I've been trapped in an alternate universe for the past two years before I broke into a different timeline. I got some help, now I'm home and I owe BB twenty bucks because he bet you guys would attack me."
Wonder Girl was unconvinced as she replied, "My lasso isn't like Wonder Woman's, it can't make you tell the truth."
"But these three didn't attack him." Spoiler pointed out as she gestured to Garfield, Robin and Kid Flash. "Talk."
"So, we kinda ran into Wally during the playdate." Kid Flash explained.
"We were going to tell you guys, but with everything happening with Luthor we never really found a good time to bring it up." Garfield finished.
"And you?" Arrowette asked Robin.
It was at that moment the Zeta-tube powered up once again, "Recognized, Nightwing: B01, Aquaman: B02, Superboy: B04, Miss Martian: B05, Tigress: B07."
As the older heroes walked into the room, Tigress didn't miss a step as she walked up to Wally, gave him a quick peck before asking, "So, what kind of trouble did you cause this time?"
While Wally tried to laugh away the question, Connor immediately said, "So it is true, you're back."
Hearing this, Nightwing immediately turned to Miss Martian and said, "You already told him?"
"Luthor's direct political power is done, the U.N. is probably going to overcorrect and give the League more freedom, we might be separated on different teams but in the end we're fighting the same enemies, the time for secrets between friends is done." The alien explained, "Plus I was tired of lying to my fiancé." She then walked closer to the machine Wally built and asked, "So this is what's going to get your friend home?"
"Yep," Wally stated as he slapped his hand against the machine which resembled a slightly scaled down Zeta-tube. "Bats is probably going to want to move it later, but the main hall was the best place to build this interdimensional teleporter."
As the rest of the heroes became interested in the conversation, Robin asked. "And just where is your friend?"
"I'm right behind you." Terry stated, dressed in his street clothes, the suit stored in his duffle bag. Hearing the voice behind him, Robin, much like everyone else unprepared, jumped back and quickly got ready for an attack. Still, Terry focused on the Boy Wonder and shook his head while commenting, "That's the second time I've gotten the drop on you, the Old Man would be training you into the ground if he was your teacher."
Luckily before any other comments could be made, Wally called Terry over to the machine, "Come on buddy, I need Mother Box's help setting the co-ordinates."
As he weaved through the members of The Team, some awed someone their age was already a hero, Terry pulled out the living computer before handing it to Wally. As the speedster began talking to the technology, Miss Martian asked, "So is what Wally said about you being from the future true? Any tips you can share with us?"
"I'm from a possible future, so events might not line up right." Terry explained, pointing over to The Team and saying, "The only heroes I recognize from that bunch are Beast Boy and Static, not to mention J'onn J'onzz is the last Martian but he's been missing for years." He then thought about it before adding, "Although I'm sure there are going to be a few constants. I'm just glad the Old Man and the League took care of Cadmus before my time."
Here Connor questioned aloud, "If your world didn't have M'gann, I wonder who it was that got through to me."
Terry shrugged his shoulders as he answered, "I couldn't tell you, I don't even think Cadmus made a Superboy in my universe. All they had was the production line of genetically engineered heroes and Supergirl's aged up clone."
The pair took a moment to digest the information before Miss Martian asked, "Super…girl?"
Terry opened his mouth to reply but saw Wally waving him over, so instead he patted the two on the shoulders and stated, "I think I'll just leave that a surprise for the future."
As the teen walked away, Miss Martian commented, "Terry's world sounds pretty strange."
"That's something we can agree on." Connor agreed with his fiancé, while mentally wondering if he should be happy about or fear the possibility of another Kryptonian hidden away from the rest of the world.
As Terry approached Wally and Tigress, the heroine pulled him into a quick hug and said, "Thank you again for bringing my idiot back to me."
Terry returned the gesture as he said, "I'm sure you guys would do the same if the roles were reversed, I'm just happy the heroes of this universe didn't turn into totalitarian dictators when a speedster died."
Overhearing the conversation, Wally asked, "Justice Lords?"
"Justice Lords." Terry confirmed, "Bruce showed me recorded proof that he can win an argument against himself." The teen then grew serious as he asked, "Now can we please speed this up? I've really got to make up for canceling date night."
"Sure thing." Wally stated as he turned on the machine, the opening filled with a bright light. As he handed the Mother Box back to the teenager, the speedster began, "So about the bet…"
"Keep your money." Terry said as he pulled out a tennis ball from his duffle bag and tossed it into the portal. As the ball came back through the portal, Terry finished, "It's probably no good in my time anyway, just call the next time you're in town."
Terry didn't wait for a response, just gave the assembled group a quick grin before walking into the portal. Soon after the teleporter turned itself off and with the spectacle over the younger heroes walked off to either Zeta-tube back home or start their training, Nightwing and Miss Martian went to update reports while Connor tagged along to be filled in on the entire truth of the League's secret operation.
Now left alone, Tigress playfully asked Wally, "So what are the chances Terry's girlfriend is the replacement of some villainess?"
Wally laughed at the question, but then thought about it. Old Bruce mentioned parallels existing, and Batman certainly flirted with many femme fatales, not to mention learning his counterpart had married a former villain, and technically Tigress was considered a 'bad guy' for a time. Quickly doing the math, Wally answered in complete seriousness, "Actually pretty high, I'd give it an eighty to twenty shot he's dating Catwomen without realizing it."
By now, Dana had killing time down to a science. After her disastrous break in at Wayne Manor, the teen quickly fled back to her boss' house. There Melanie had asked what had happened, to which Dana made up a quick story of the security system being better than expected, Mr. Wayne's dog surprising her, and the old man himself walking in on the thief. Thankfully the former Royal Club Gang member bought the story, but that still left Dana with a lot on her mind. What Commissioner Gordon told her stuck with Dana. She knew there were consequences to her actions, she just didn't realize how long term they could be. Still when her boss called her up for a run, Dana couldn't suit up fast enough.
As it was Catwoman stole more then credits, gems and antiques from the Yakuza, she also stole a list of safe deposit boxes that held even more goods. While Selina sold most of the information through her usual people, the 'retired' thief kept the ones in Neo-Gotham for her protégée. The banks of Neo-Gotham had better security than what Catwoman had encountered before, Melanie proved to be a good friend in instructing which wired to cut and where to weld the doors together to keep security out. Once those trivial tasks were complete it was just a matter of using the blank digi-keys, obtained by Selina through her usual fence, to open the safe deposit boxes. The reward for all this effort, a few data drives, no doubt loaded with black mail, and numerous uncut gems.
In all Catwoman hit five banks in a single night, remaining undetected until she purposefully set off the alarm on her way out of the last heist. She did need to give the news a good photo after running around for so long. Of course the police showed up and gave chase, Catwoman was sure the Commissioner had even joined in to try and stop her, but with some guidance the thief was able to evade the authorities, heading down to the lower levels and using the tight ally ways to her advantage. Eventually she got far enough away from the cops that she could turn on stealth mode and escape back to the upper levels, hitching a ride on a bus to the city limits before running back to the Kyle estate.
That was yesterday. As usual Selina took most of the haul, although she'd given Melanie a few gems for her assistance. For her part Dana was content with the small emerald that she had set on a nondescript platinum band. As she sat in the library to do research for a school assignment, she couldn't help but admire her latest trophy. As such, Dana was caught unaware when a certain someone slid into the seat next to her and asked, "What do you have there beautiful?"
"Terry!" Dana nearly yelled, just able to keep her voice down enough so as not to be kicked out. Remembering his question, the teen replied, "Just a little something I bought with part of my paycheck. How was your leadership conference?"
"It was alright. Meet some interesting people, made a few interesting contacts for possible future work." Terry replied with a shrug before smirking, "I was able to guilt the Old Man about missing date night, he got us a reservation at Dini's."
"Wow." Dana gasped. She might not know what Bruce Wayne's plan was, but she could appreciate him pulling strings to get the two a table at one of Neo-Gotham's most exclusive restaurants. "That's a pretty big step up from our usual burger joint, do you have appropriate attire?"
"Hey, I have a suit." Terry shot back, grumbling under his breath, "Mr. Wayne insisted I get a fitting when I started working for him." He then turned back to his girlfriend and asked, "So, you free tonight?"
Dana gave a grin as she said, "Sure, just let me run home and change. Come pick me up in a few hours, and be ready to be out for a long night." Dana could tell be her boyfriend's matching grin he knew exactly what she was implying.
As she watched Terry walk away, Dana could admit that she was playing a dangerous game. Terry was Batman, if he ever found out she was Catwoman it'd be worse than when she was fear gassed. Still, Terry was a great guy, someone who'd she'd been with for a long time, who listened and helped when she had a problem. Sure they had their little lover's quarrels but they always made up in the end and Dana was unwilling to throw away the relationship because of something that might not happen.
Plus if she worked hard, Dana might just be able to steal a treasure not even the original Catwoman could, the heart of a hero.
Wow, 40 pages. Although it was fun to write, I don't think this will be the norm going forward. Nevertheless, I hope everyone enjoyed reading it. Just a quick note, if you do leave a review, please check your PM box for a response; lately the site admins have turned off email notifications for PM messages.
So yeah, there was a bit of Young Justice sprinkled into this chapter. I do have a general idea of a "Wally lives" rewrite of season 3, no doubt some readers picked up on plot lines I'd use in such a story, but it's not something I'm going to start any time soon, there's a few other projects I need/want to start/update before I do that.
Bruce's inner monologue about Dana showing up too soon is actually a little joke for myself. I'd always planned for something like that scene to occur, just much later in the story. However, as I was writing out this chapter I realized that I had nothing for Dana to do during Terry's time helping Wally. Even when I have a chapter focus on one of the leads, I like to have a mention of what the other is doing just to showcase no one is being idle. The more I thought about it, I realized if I had this scene this early in the story it would give Dana more motivation for future plot points aside from just being curious about what is going on. It also sets up a, at least in my opinion, neat dynamic where Dana is in the know and can use that knowledge to her advantage.
Admittedly while this chapter was fun to write, it was mostly setting up for future chapters. As such there are many unanswered questions, questions such as…
What is Ivy's grandson up to?
How does Bruce know about Dana being Catwoman?
Will Terry ever learn the truth?
For the answers to these questions and more, keeping reading The Bat and The Cat, but until then, here's acw28 saying, "Until next update."