It's been a long time coming. But it's finally here. AND I'M STARTING IT ON MY BIRTHDAY! WOOHOO!
Welcome to "Iridescent", my friends! In case anyone didn't know, yes, the title is absolutely in tribute to the song by Linkin Park. They are one of my favorite bands and that is one of my favorite songs.
So, a little background on everything. First of all, this story and the following story may truly be the end of the "Unpack Your Heart" series. Maybe. I honestly can no longer say for sure. But we'll see. Second, this story will be more detective and action heavy than character driven. Now, don't get me wrong: there will be PLENTY of character stuff. Some of you might want to fight with me with what happens. With the action and detective stuff in mind, this story will focus more on the Batman side of things, so not as much Max and Sally in this story, but they will be in the story plenty, as snarky and sassy as ever. Third, I want to shoutout to the Bloody Red Lantern because his stories gave me the ideas for the Moirai and the new vigilante in the first place. Also, Watership's Nightwish Rat because her great stories ideas are also great inspirations. And, as always, thank you to Kyoko Kasshu Minamino (Kyoko M) and RyokoMist for energizing me into being the writer I am. And to chocolate1 for the suggestion years ago! Alright! I've kept you all waiting long enough! Let's go it!
DISCLAIMER: Of course, I do not own the rights of Batman Beyond. DUH! Though, I do suggest you go back and watch it. And I hope Terry and Max becomes canon someday. Wishful thinking, I know.
It had been 18 months since Grace McGinnis was born and six months since Basem and Sally's wedding, with the birth of their son, Stephen "Stevie" Faris Asselah, taking place a couple of months before. After the war with the Graves, life in Gotham had somewhat settled back into a certain degree of normalcy. One key difference was Koutetsu made the decision to remain in Gotham for the foreseeable future. A choice no one had a problem with; Terry and Basem were beyond grateful for the decision, though they weren't sure as to the reasons why yet. They suspected Bruce knew but, as usual, he wouldn't tell them. Terry and Basem figured they'd learn Hayate's reasons in time.
As Batman and Nightrunner were on patrol, a call came through on their scanners about a murder nearby. They flew to an apartment complex and, through the window of the penthouse, they saw a body hanging inside, strung up by the wrists.
"Well, it's been a while since we've seen something like that," Runner said.
"I mean, really, have we ever seen something like that?" Batman asked, causing Runner to shrug. Batman got on his communicator, "You seeing this?"
"Yes," Bruce said.
"Where's Koutetsu?" Runner asked.
"Does he need us?" Batman asked. "'Cause this might take a bit."
"No," Bruce replied. "Take your time. If something happens, I'll let you know."
Batman and Runner entered the apartment, meeting one of the detectives on the scene, Detective Valerie Bancroft. Valerie was dressed in a brown coat, grey pants and a black shirt. She had brown eyes and her short brown hair was tied into a ponytail. She was a recent detective, personally appointed by Commissioner Gordon after mass gang fight known as the Madison Street War. She was also Fiend's near-victim after his transformation when he was hunting Max. After both incidents, Valerie became a trusted ally for the Gotham knights in GCPD, alongside Barbara.
"Detective," Batman greeted.
Valerie turned around and nodded, "Batman, Nightrunner. Good to see you."
"You, as well, Detective," Runner replied. "But… the circumstances…"
"Right," Valerie looked back at the body. "Meet Elvis Graham, former board member of Stagg Enterprises."
"They don't have a property in Gotham," Batman mused. "What was he doing here?"
"That 'former' part, I mentioned," Valerie said. She pulled her phone out of her pocket, reading the information, "He was fired a year ago. Breach of contract and unethical conduct. There was a court case that was set to start in a week."
"Why so long?"
"Legal red tape on both ends."
"What the hell did this guy do so unethical they bloodied him up like this?" Runner asked.
"Don't know," Valerie put her phone away. "But whatever he did…" She pointed at his knuckles, "…he went down swinging."
Batman and Runner examined Graham's bloody knuckles and the bruises on his body aside where clear evidence of torture took place.
Batman winced. "Ow."
"Yeah," Valerie agreed. "Here's where it gets weird: aside from the torture, the bruises for the injuries? Are nowhere near as severe as they should be for a man of his age."
Batman examined at the body a second longer. He looked at Runner then back at the body, "You get the feeling that… something's going on?"
"Damn," Runner said. "I was hoping I was wrong, but yeah."
"I'll keep you guys updated with what I find," Valerie said.
"Thanks, Detective," Batman said. "We'll do the same. As much as we can."
Batman and Runner left the scene, going back to the rooftop they first viewed the scene from. "Well, that was weird," Runner said.
"Yeah," Batman said. He got his comm, "Where's Koutetsu?"
"He ran into some of the Yellowjackets in Treeline," Bruce explained. "He can probably handle it but start making your way there."
"And Graham?" Runner asked.
"I'll start digging."
In Treeline Park, Koutetsu took down several members of the Yellowjackets gang. One of the gang members was about to jump Koutetsu when she was suddenly electrocuted. Koutetsu stared at the fallen Yellowjacket as she dropped. Koutetsu saw two more Yellowjackets being taken down by another assailant. After the gang members were down, the new attacker ran after a couple of Yellowjackets running to a nearby alley.
Following after them, Koutetsu rushed into the alley and saw the attacker defeating the Yellowjackets. Koutetsu approached the new attacker, who was still obstructed by the shadows of the alley, just as the person knocked out the last Yellowjacket. When Koutetsu was close, the attacker swung an electrified-Eskrima stick, which Koutetsu just managed to dodge.
Koutetsu brought up his bokuto in preparation for the next attack.
"Whoa, whoa!" the attacker said, via a digitally-distorted, male-sounding voice said. "Easy. I'm sorry. I thought you were one of them."
"I am not," Koutetsu said. "And you'll forgive me if I don't lower my guard for a person I do not know."
"That's fair. So, why don't I introduce myself?"
The attacker stepped out of the shadows of the alley. He was wearing an all-black, high-tech suit, similar to Batman's that covered his entire body. The suit was adorned with a black long coat and thick black cloth draped around his chest in a Middle Eastern fashion; Koutetsu could barely make out some designs stitched in all black on the cloth, but he couldn't tell what the designs were. The most distinguishing item about the uniform was an all-red helmet that seemed to have lines of light and data in the area about the face and two white slits for the eyes.
"Who are you?" Koutetsu asked.
The man chuckled. "Call me Red Hood."
Batman, Runner, and Bruce were listening over the comms. When Bruce heard the name, his eyes widened. "What did he just say?"
"Sounded like Red Hood," Batman said.
"Both of you get over there, now!" Bruce ordered. "Koutetsu, keep him talking until backup arrives."
"So," Koutetsu said, giving nothing away, "Red Hood?"
"Yeah," Hood replied. "Relax, Koutetsu. I'm not here to step on anyone's toes. I'm just here to help."
"Perhaps we should discuss this further."
"We will. Another time. Until then…" Hood threw a small silver ball on the ground, which exploded into smoke grenade, creating a thick grey cloud. "See you later."
"Wait!" Koutetsu channeled his chi and swung his bokuto, throwing a gust of wind to clear the smoke.
But Red Hood was already gone.
Koutetsu examined the area, even listening to see if he could hear any footsteps. But there was nothing.
"Oh, dear," Koutetsu whispered.
A couple of hours later, the team met back in the Cave. They studied the footage of Red Hood from nearby security cameras.
"The Red Hood," Terry said. "Wasn't that a thief back in your day?"
"There were several." Bruce hit a few keys on the computer to bring up other data. "A lot of criminals used that name, but it was always just a cover. The real crooks would get a low-level criminal to wear the hood, posing as the leader of the gang. I eventually caught them, but, despite not being extremely popular, the 'Red Hood' moniker… spun into something of a Gotham legend after that."
"Gee, what a unique trend," Basem said. "A legend in Gotham City."
Bruce gave Basem a hard glare.
"Let's save you two arguing for, literally, any other day that'll happen," Terry said. "Do we think he killed Graham?"
"Body was dead for five hours," Bruce said. "And given the fighting the prowess Red Hood displayed, it's possible."
"Let's find him."
Basem's phone rang. He answered, "Yes, Sally?"
"Buy diapers after you're done saving the world," Sally replied.
"I'll take care of it."
"They're all staring at you, aren't they?"
Basem looked at his allies as they all smiled at him. He sighed, "Yes."
"Hmm." Sally clicked her tongue. "When you get here, wanna see if we can make baby number two?"
Basem did his best not to smile and blush. "I'll… be home soon."
"I won't be wearing underwear. Just come in. I mean that in every sense of the phrase."
"See you soon."
"Love you," Sally declared.
"Love you, too." Basem ended the call.
"You think her and Max schedule when they do that to us?" Terry asked.
"Oh, absolutely, yes."
"As far as Red Hood's possible connection with the murder?" Hayate asked.
"We stay open to all possibilities until proven otherwise," Bruce answered.
"Of course, sir."
"Stop calling him 'sir'," Terry said. "I never do."
"Or me," Basem shrugged.
"And, yet, you wonder why I like Hayate more than both of you," Bruce replied. "Get some rest, all of you. We'll double our efforts on both issues tomorrow."
"Got it," Terry nodded. They changed into their regular clothes then headed up the stairs, leaving the Cave. After the trio made it to the living room, Terry looked at Hayate. "Hey, Hayate, can I ask you something?" Terry asked.
Hayate looked at Terry, "Of course."
Terry stopped, causing Hayate and Basem to do the same. "Why are you still in Gotham? I mean, believe me, I'm not complaining at all. You being here is great! Having someone else we can trust out there? Man. I can't tell how great it is."
"I can imagine."
"But… I'm just curious. I thought you'd leave not too long after B and Sal's wedding."
Hayate smiled, putting his hands in his pockets. "A fair question." He looked at Basem, "Alex and Ari didn't tell you?"
"They said it was your decision," Basem replied. "Nothing else."
"Wouldn't even talk about it."
"Hm." Hayate exhaled. "He's still angry with my decision, then."
Basem rolled his eyes, "Oh, he's a drama king! I'll talk to him."
"It's fine." Hayate looked at Terry, "But, to answer your question… I felt myself being drawn here. I just decided that my talents were far more necessary in Gotham. You both have families. You both have other things to concern yourselves with. I take it as fate that I found my way to Gotham during our struggle against the Graves. And… as close as I am with Ari, Alex, Lance, and everyone… I feel… my skills have grown greatly here and can continue to do so. Plus…" he gave a small shrug, "I like Gotham."
Terry smiled. "Alright."
"Now, for my query: how long have you been waiting to ask that?"
"15 minutes after Sal and B said 'I do'," Terry answered.
All three men laughed and left the mansion, heading for their own homes.
Terry got home and found Max in bed. He smiled, got in bed, and kissed her cheek.
Max smiled and woke up. She looked at him, "Hey."
"Hey," Terry replied.
"How was tonight?"
"And its dark when the sun goes down."
He shot her a droll look.
"Stop saying obvious stuff and I won't have a sarcastic response," she replied.
"Yes, you will."
She sneered. "You're right."
He sighed and laid down on the mattress. "Anyway… we came across a murder. Pretty weird one. And Hayate ran into a guy calling himself Red Hood."
Max turned and stared at Terry, "Red Hood?"
She thought back, "That's… like, an old Gotham name."
"Yeah, that's what Bruce said."
"You think the two are connected?"
"I don't see any reason for them to be."
"But…" she said.
"But…" he replied, "I can't shake this feeling. Something about… the timing or whatever."
"I thought we agreed to stop calling it that."
"We did," she shrugged. "Stop having it, then."
"Can't," he said. "Blame Bruce."
"I do for a lot."
He scoffed, then stared blankly at the ceiling.
"Baby, listen," she said, "if you really think something's going on, then just be careful. This look you've got… I haven't seen it since that Rene/Tumulus event."
"I just hate it when I have this feeling. Because… it's usually right."
"Well, then… don't sulk and sour. Get your ass out there and kick ass."
He looked at her, "You're so encouraging."
"I am," she agreed. She climbed on top of him. "I'm so… very… encouraging. Wanna find out how much?"
He stared at her, lovingly. "I have an idea but remind me."
"Happy to. Especially since Grace is at my sister's and we've got the house. All. To. Our. Selves."
"God bless Mel and Eddy," Terry said, gratefully.
"And how." Max leaned down and kissed him.
The Pantheon. Location RESTRICTED.
Astraea walked into the conference room, followed by Menodora and two more attendants. Already seated at the conference table was Minos, the sword-wielder; Phlegyas, the bald-headed strong man; and the glasses-wearing Daedalus. Dozens of Moirai acolytes were standing, stoically and reverently, around the table. Astraea sat down, Menodora sat down next to her, and Astraea's attendants joined the rest of the spectators.
Astraea pressed her fingers together. "What news of the heretics?"
"They're being dealt with, your majesty," Minos replied. "Viciously. They will soon be eradicated."
"Very good. Status on the Fate Machine?"
"We have most of the components, despite the interference," Daedalus answered. "The rest will arrive within a few days, barring any further opposition. It won't take long to put it together."
"Good. Then, all we lack are the necessary participants. Have we located Persephone?"
"Yes, my queen. She is hiding somewhere in Gotham City."
Astraea let out a low growl. "Of course, she is. The protectorate of Batman. Destiny, indeed."
"He cannot be such a threat," Minos declared.
"Do not underestimate him," Astraea replied. "Batman… can make all of the difference. It has been proven, time and time and time again. Even our previous effort to kill him failed. We will not underestimate his influence. Find Persephone. Get her out of Gotham, quietly."
"We have other news, Your Majesty," Daedalus said.
"What is it?"
"We have reason to believe Perseus is in Gotham, as well."
Astraea's eyes widened. "We found him."
"We suspect," Daedalus said. "We have to be sure."
Astraea sat back.
"What shall we do, my queen?" Menodora asked.
Astraea took a breath and leaned forward. "It is fate that both Perseus and Persephone are in Gotham."
"You said we're not ready to face Batman."
"Perhaps, but this is our test. They are in Gotham. We must risk it. We cannot ascend to our true destiny without Persephone and Perseus. And we certainly cannot ascend to our true destiny if we fear Batman."
"Maybe we can take them without alerting Batman," Daedalus pondered.
"Perhaps." Astraea stood up. "But we must capture Persephone and Perseus. If we must face Batman, then we must. The achievement of our destiny is the true goal and we must not allow anything to get in our way. This is my word."
"Yes, my queen."
"Praise to the Moirai."
"Praise to you, Queen Astraea," everyone else declared. "May you live forever."
"Forever, the Moirai shall reign," everyone said simultaneously.
A/N: So, how was that for a start? One more note: in the DCAU (where all of this is set), the Red Hood persona was hardly every used, if at all, making it PERFECT for this story.
So. What's coming next? You'll see! See you next time, Dreamers!