(11/30/1955 - 11/10/2022)
You will always forever be our Dark Knight
March 11, 12:22 pm EDT
"You sure this is a good plan?" Whispered Dinah.
"I voted against it," John answered. In front of them, an entire conference gathered before the Hall of Justice. News crews and reporters gathered around as the Justice League announced a new member being inducted into the Justice League. The announcement excited everyone and brought major headlines to come to the Hall. Standing in front of the press, Superman stood upon the podium while members of the Justice League stood side by side as paragons of the Law. And behind the two heroes - John and Dinah - Doom Slayer stood by the sidelines, impatiently wanting to get this whole farce to be done with.
"Thank you all for coming to the Hall of Justice!" Superman announced. "It is with great honor to induct a new member of the Justice League. After hours of careful review and examination, we the Justice League hereby welcome the newest hero to the team: Doom Marine!"
On cue, the Doom Slayer - now Doom Marine - approached the podium. John and Dinah made room for him to move, the former patting him on the shoulder. As Doom Slayer approached, many onlookers gave wary glances and slow applauses as they saw the hulking man walk up.
"This is a bad idea..." Whispered Oliver to his wife and John.
"It wasn't us who decided on this." His wife said, putting up a fake smile as the press snapped photos. As the couple mildly argued about the event, Dinah shut off the outside world briefly and recalled the last hours.
Waiting outside, the four heroes stood around patiently for John to get the results. The favorable kind. Superman and Dinah felt a bit of uncertainty brewing within them, yet, their trust in John held their hopes. Batman, on the other hand, had no trust whatsoever. His first-hand experience was enough. Wonder Woman was somewhere in between. Despite voting for John, she couldn't quite say that she was trusting of him going solo, nor was she quite as paranoid as the Dark Knight. For now, though, time will tell.
"I hope John is doing alright." Superman hoped. "Because I don't see any other way except possibly detaining the marine."
"John has always been an invaluable friend to us, Clark." Dinah placated a hand on his shoulder. "I know he'll get through to him."
"But expect the worse of it." Interrupted Batman. His distrust was quite apparent with everyone present.
"Bruce, you could at least give the guy a chance." Superman chided. Batman argued, "Except we had a close call. It seems we have severely underestimated the Slayer. Both you and Diana were barely able to get him to stand down. We all saw him go through you both like a tank."
The assessment was as uncomforting as it was accurate. The Slayer was far stronger than they had anticipated. Perhaps beyond a metahuman - let alone a Kryptonian - than Batman had assessed. Dinah, however, countered the detective's analysis.
"While you are right in that regard, you forget one thing: he stopped when he needed to and never laid even a finger on any of them." Dinah finished. "He seems to be quite capable of when to draw the line and he doesn't seem at all interested in fighting us."
"I don't need to remind you about our first encounter." Batman reminded.
"That is valid but you were escalating." Dinah countered. "And we have had heroes with similar behavior. And I am considering perhaps evaluating his psyche, going through some therapy sessions."
Superman quirked an eyebrow. "You... want to become his therapist, Dinah?"
"If it means getting to him on a deeper level and making sure he doesn't go unhinged, then yes. And I'm quite happy to volunteer."
"I sincerely doubt that would work, Dinah." Diana spoke up. "I've looked into his eyes and all I've seen is war and death reflected on them. The qualities that would inspire even Ares."
"Do you not approve, Diana?" Asked a concerned Dinah. Wonder Woman shook her head and answered, "I never said I disapprove. My only issue is that for him to make recovery would mean a lengthy amount of time. And that would go way beyond your passing. I've seen my fair share of warriors and veterans who have never truly let go of their past. The Slayer treats his own like it would never stop."
Clark and Dinah frowned in dismay, issuing Diana to clarify. "However, it is clear to us that he is firmly on the side of Humanity. But for him to readjust would take extra measures... and keeping Batman away from a good distance is one."
Batman crossed his arms disapprovingly, his stern glare directed toward the Amazon with little effect. Dinah and Clark smirked at their friend's growing pettiness. Their numbers grew with the addition of Green Arrow, Hal Jordan, Flash and Captain Marvel. Oliver wrapped his hands around Dinah's waist and kissed her cheek.
"So how'd it go?" Oliver asked. "Guessing Batman won this time?"
"Not quite." Clark answered. "John's in there with the Slayer. Alone."
"Wait, what?!" Flash exclaimed, followed by surprised looks from Marvel and Oliver. "You left him alone with the Incredible Punisher?!"
"He requested that he reason with him." Replied Diana. "Better than allowing Batman to do it himself."
"Okay, yeah but John?" Oliver inquired. It was Hal Jordan who spoke up. "Ollie, don't get any wrong ideas but I've known John long enough to know he can handle stuff like this. He is a Green Lantern like me, and we are known for being cool under stress."
"And since John used to be in the Marine Corps., it's practically a convenient good source of help." Dinah remarked.
"I mean he's cool and all but... are we even sure he'll be able to keep this Doom Slayer on a, well, leash?" Marvel asked. Neither Dinah, Clark nor Diana had a good response. Batman moved the topic elsewhere and checked his time. "Seven minutes have passed going in."
Superman was about to speak up and protest until John came out of the room with Doom Slayer in tow. Oliver, Flash, and Marvel were standing nervously as they saw the bulk of a man tower over the heroes while the rest remained calm and expected results.
"John." Superman waited. "Any luck?"
"He says he'll agree." John replied. "It took a bit of convincing but I got him to consider minimizing the damage a bit."
Everyone looked at the Slayer, who gave a non-committal shrug. It was something at least. Batman was the one to speak. "Did he agree to relinquish his weapons?"
"I haven't gotten arou-"
"Then he'll have to agree that as well." Batman interrupted John, causing Doom Slayer to say, "Piss...off."
John stretched his hand out to stop the Slayer from moving forward. Superman and Diana stood in front of Batman for extra protection while the others backed. Barring Dinah, the others were shocked to hear the Slayer's voice.
"Bats, you're not helping if you keep acting aggressively." John criticized. Batman remained silent, making the confrontation less easing. Superman spoke up and said, "Bats, why don't you just walk it off and let us handle it? I'm sure we can get this through from here."
Batman glared one last time before walking away. Marvel broke out of his shocked trance and asked, "H-He can... talk?"
"Oh, right. You guys weren't here." Dinah realized. "He does actually. And is also surprisingly strong."
"H-How strong?" Oliver asked.
"Strong enough to beat Superman and Wonder Woman together in a tug of war." John specified, which caused quite an alarm for the arrivals. Before any could ask, John turned to the Slayer. "Say, I know Bats can be quite a hardass and all but... he kinda does have a point about your weapons. Certain ones, at least. Think you can drop the BFG from your arsenal?"
"No." Said the Slayer, earning some uneased looks from the group.
"Look, it's not like we're gonna use the damn thing anyway." John argued. "We just don't want the public to think you have a WMD in your pocket his whole time. Oh, speaking of WMDs, you might wanna switch out those bullets for something else. They're all uranium coated and we sincerely do not want allegations of nuclear weapons involved."
"Lead." The marine bluntly said, implying the alternative. John leaned elsewhere. "There's also rubber."
"Pass." Refused Doom Slayer, causing no end of frustration on John's part, letting out a frustrated sigh. Dinah walked up to John and whispered into his ear, "He is not going to budge..."
"Hang on..." John replied. "Gotta word it out a little better..."
Doom Slayer was looking expectantly at John, not even bothered by the hushed conversation between him and Canary. "God, I'm gonna hate what I'm about to say but... as long as you don't kill anyone, we'll turn an eye if you simply go for the non-vital areas. Or better yet, simply detain with non-lethal methods."
Upon hearing this, everyone had shocked expressions and Marvel was the first to express it.
"WHAT?!" Exclaimed Marvel. The statement itself provoked a lot of anger in the god-like superhero. "Are you serious?! You're gonna allow him to use real bullets?! That's insane!"
"Why don't you try and convince him not to? It took me enough to try and get him to think our way. So I'm all ears." John countered. Marvel tried to form an argument. "Well, no offense for you trying but don't we all look down on killing?!"
"I've already explained it to him." John mentioned. "And for the record, I have killed before. When I was in the Marine Corps. And so did Hal and Wonder Woman when they were in the Air Force and fought in WWII respectively."
Doom Slayer was surprised upon hearing the latter having participated in the Second World War. He wondered if his ancestor was still alive by this time. His pondering broke when another voice came.
"And they were a necessity for a time." Wonder Woman supported John. "We follow those rules not just for moral reasons but to also avoid public outrage. The truth is far more complicated, Captain."
Captain Marvel struggled to bear the thought of a superhero committing murder. It went against everything he believed in. Superman sensed his companion's internal struggle and reassured him. "Cap, don't overthink it. The Justice League has always committed itself to the sanctity of life. And like our namesake, we make certain that the criminals get the justice they deserve in court."
Captain Marvel, still feeling uncertain, scratched his head in thought. "Well, I guess that makes sense. I think. But... can we trust this guy to...y'know...apprehend the bad guys?"
"It's not like they're demons…" Oliver pointed out, pausing before adding, "Most of them. I hope."
Everyone looked at the Slayer. Again, another shrug. Better than a refusal.
"And that you won't use any guns like the BFG or any of the more heavy weapons?" Dinah inquired.
"Keep...not use...wasteful." Muttered the Slayer. Everyone sort of had an idea of what he meant.
"But you will still aid us in the defence of Earth when the Hell Invasion comes, Slayer?" Diana asked, receiving a firm nod from the marine himself. Not that he would not have declined to begin with.
"Good. Not that we didn't expect it." John cleared his throat. "Anyway, since we got most of the issue cleared, we're gonna have to find you a new identity and place to stay. It might take a couple of days to have everything in order but it won't take too much time. Otherwise, you, uh, have a name besides 'Doom Slayer'?"
The Slayer stared silently before reaching into his pocket. The group watched as he pulled out a dog tag. He threw it to John and he caught it in his hands. The tag looked old and damaged, almost eroding from the passage of time. Much of what was written on it had looked scratched and unreadable, save for the name inscribed onto it: TAGGART, FLYNN
"So... Flynn Taggart?" John said out loud for everyone to hear. "That should work."
"Fake. Good enough." Slayer admitted, now identified as Flynn, surprising everyone a bit.
"Fake or not, we can work with that." John accepted. Flash followed after, "Wait, since we got the name down, how about his superhero identity? I don't think 'Doom Slayer' is going to run well with the public."
"I remember 'Doom Marine' was mentioned by VEGA." Hal countered. "That one is pretty tame compared to the others. Plus, it's marketable enough."
"I don't know, it doesn't roll off the tongue quite a bit." Oliver complained. "Sgt. Doom sounds badass. Or how about Lt. Doom? No wait, Captain Doom?"
"Hey!" Whined Captain Marvel. "I should be the one with 'Captain' in the name! Plus that's pretty stupid. Captain Doom. Pffft!"
"Inane." Flynn agreed, catching Marvel off-guard. Diana interrupted the entire conversation, "Perhaps Flynn would like to have a say in this? Mayhaps he has a name he could go by?"
Everyone stared at Flynn expectantly if he had any word.
"...Doom...guy?" Flynn suggested. That raised a few eyebrows considering the simplicity of the name.
"Doomguy?" Superman repeated, rather amused by it. "Hmm. Not a bad one. Sounds nice, even. But I think 'Doom Marine' should do."
"Not to mention, a much mature name." Diana added. "To be the paragon in the eye of the public, a name should not only inspire hope and remembrance but show character and restraint. Though, 'Doom' as a name to inspire hope is certainly ambiguous in regards to context."
"I think we have done enough speculating and questioning." Dinah said. "We can get started with getting the big guy comfortable on Earth. For once, Flynn deserves a welcome party."
"Wait!" Flash blurted, causing everyone else to freeze. "One question to ask... can we see the figurines?"
The hall was in complete silence upon the speedster's odd request. Flynn briefly stared with some consideration, finally pulling out a miniature of him with the identical armor color. Many were in awe and adored the cute design. Marvel was the one most floored and yelled, "Wait! He had a figurine this whole time?!"
"Figurines." Oliver corrected.
"What?! When was this?!"
"Oh, he was collecting a lot of them in the recordings. You were gone by then." Hal recapped.
"Aww man!" Whined Marvel.
"We could produce more of these models and sell it for a good profit. Probably a good start for Flynn once we get down to Earth. Also, would you be alright with donating some of the money towards charity?" Superman inquired, receiving another nod from Flynn.
After that, conversations devolved into simple planning and trivial matters. Discussions about VEGA also came to mind, with the group working to activate and integrate the UAC AI into the Watchtower, with some protest from Flynn to only keep him temporarily.
"When I said a 'welcome party', I never meant this." Dinah thought before she was snapped out of it as she remained present to the Slayer's - well, Flynn's - inauguration. The crowd had quieted down as Flynn made his presence. There was a level of nervousness going through everyone's mind as Flynn spoke.
"Hello." He said. A simple word to start. Not impressive but easy enough to get the press going. A reporter raised her hand and Flynn pointed in response.
"Vicki Vale from the Gotham Gazette. Doom Marine, in the events of last night in Gotham, were you responsible for the destruction of the cargo ship in Gotham's docks? In which at least fourteen casualties were confirmed and all of whom are now seeking medical attention?"
"No." Flynn answered, prompting the reporter to ask, "If not you, then who?"
Flynn turned away from the audience and looked back at the League. Many looked confused before the Marine pointed at Batman without hesitation. The Dark Knight grumbled though not so loudly to voice displeasure. Wonder Woman placated a hand over his shoulder. This seemed to stir up a bit of controversy amongst the crowd and the reporter went further.
"And how did he do that?"
"He kicked me." Flynn bluntly answered. Despite the simplicity, it was a rather cryptic answer to boot with little hint as to how that came about. In fact, it was more perplexing and seemed more like a childish response than anything.
Another raised a hand, prompting Flynn to move on. Superman, with his enhanced eyesight, noticed it belonged to his co-worker and significant partner Lois Lane. It was expected that she'd come for a big scoop but nothing that the Man of Steel would complain about.
"Doom Marine, I'm Lois Lane from the Daily Planet. Apologies for the ignorance but do you consider yourself a military man? Your name indicates a military background and your suit seems to be reminiscent of that of camo uniforms worn by the US Armed Forces." Asked the reporter.
"None taken." Flynn answered. "And yes. Formerly."
"And said branch would obviously be the Marine Corps.?"
"Yes." Said Flynn. From the back, John Stewart nodded privately in respect and admiration. The answer stirred interest once more.
"So that means that the Justice League is now accepting more military figures. I'm referring to both John Stewart and Hal Jordan of the Green Lantern Corps., as well as Wonder Woman who served in World War II and Captain Atom in the Vietnam War, who are now present here, correct?"
"I guess...?" Flynn replied, not sure what to make of that question.
"I see." Noted Lane. "Then going on an unrelated topic, why 'Doom' in the name? What does it refer to? Doom would mean differently for everyone. Especially given its negative connotations."
Superman felt a drop of sweat go down his face as Lois was going for the kill with her questions. Flynn, however, was not one to be moved by her bravado. Like Batman, Flynn had faced tougher opponents before. Lane was no exception.
"Classified." Flynn answered. Lane took it in strides. By instinct, she knew the Marine would be as impenetrable as his armor. A tough nut to crack.
"No further questions." Lane ended, the other reporters jumping at the chances. At the back, Dinah and John sighed in relief.
"So far, so good." John commented. "Needs to work on the vocabulary but we can fix that."
"Let's hope it goes smooth just a bit more." Dinah added. Oliver dampened their conversation and said, "Wait for it..."
The next person to come had an unpleasant temper about him. Some of the heroes groaned as soon as the man upstaged himself on the spot. Even when it was just a first-time meeting, Flynn could already feel disgusted just by staring at this plain-looking, baldy with a crooked nose.
"Bart Annis from The Super-Zeroes Show." The reporter stated, speaking with a vaguely Irish accent. "Just gotta ask: when are Microsoft and Bungie gonna start suing you?"
"What?" Flynn replied, disdain slowly creeping into his voice. There was an almost smarmy grin on this ballsack of garbage as Flynn observed.
"I asked: when are Microsoft and Bungie gonna sue you for taking their costume? Because this homage to Halo may seem cool and all, but don't you think it's going too far with the gimmick?"
Drops of sweat were beginning to run down on Superman's face, and there were plenty of nervous glances from the heroes. To their surprise, Flynn seemed to be in a cooler head when he responded with, "When they have proof."
"Alright…" Said Bart, an almost disappointed look reflected on his face. "Next question, and related to Lois Lane's early question? How do we even know you were in the army? Is there any proof of records that you served? Or are we talking "stolen valor" here?"
That caught the interest of every reporter near him, and the displeasure of the League; most especially those who served in the Armed Forces.
"Sir, please refrain from using unnecessary vitriol." Is what Clark would have said were it not for Doom Slayer raising his hand.
"Talk to John." Said Flynn, much to everyone's relief and surprise. Stewart, in particular, nodded in approval with Flynn putting his trust in him. But it seemed it was not enough for the sleazy reporter to stop in his tracks. Instead of taking a far more nuanced approach - subjectively speaking -, Bart went for the jugular.
"So you're just gonna keep deflecting the questions and rely on others? Why all the secrecy?"
Indignation and disappointment were running through every superhero's mind. It was not the first time they received slander and libel for their approach to crime, with Bart just being one of many critics, professional or not. Unfortunately, critics like Bart were far less reserved and more direct in their approach to journalism.
Yet as if it were the final straw, it seemed the Doom Slayer had one more trick up his sleeve.
"Perhaps I can speak up for the Doom Marine's stead."
"Who said that?" Asked a perplexed Bart. Likewise, everyone was surprised to hear a foreign voice come out of nowhere. Doom Slayer smirked behind his obscuring visor when VEGA answered. To the League, everyone was surprised as they had not thought the AI would be activated so suddenly. Green Arrow was the first to voice their thoughts. "Wha-? How did he get back on?"
Both Dinah and Stewart simply looked to one another before the archer a shrug, clearly just as clueless as him and the rest of the League.
"Greetings. I am VEGA. Sentient Intelligence and personal companion to the Doom Marine. Apologies for the interruption, but I had just managed to reroute myself into the Doom Marine's Praetor suit. Due to occurrences from a previous mission, I am limited to simply speaking through the sound systems. In regards to your question, I am afraid Doom Marine has issues with verbal communication. I, on the other hand, will more than take on your questions."
"O-Okay." Bart said, stumped by VEGA's presence. "Then tell me, what were you doing in Gotham City's Docks? Stealing Batman's turf?"
"Not quite. Our arrival to your Earth was completely accidental."
"My Earth? What do you mean my Earth? Are you saying you're both from a different universe?"
"Correct, Mr. Annis. Though, the Marine has been through more dimensions than I have." Answered VEGA, which resulted in quite an uproar of massive interest in the Doom Slayer's history. Some raised their mics to get clear answers while some furiously wrote in their notes detailing new developments. Superman moved forward and said, "Please! One question at a time! I'm sure there is enough answers for everybody to gather. But please, one at a time!"
"Thank you, Superman." Said VEGA once the crowd calmed down. "As I was saying, I will not share the exact details of Doom Marine's mission. However, I will say that it was successfully contained, though it has left us stranded in your world."
"And just what exactly did this mission entail?" Bart asked. The continued hint of perpetual cynicism not lowering in his voice. VEGA continued and answered.
"A transdimensional alien invasion spreading through countless worlds. Both known and unknown. The invasion, however, was successfully halted by the efforts of the Doom Marine. However long it will last is certainly up to the question."
"So Half-Life, is it? Hah!" Bart laughed, passing himself off as a canny intellectual. "How original! Guess Gabe Newell has got the right material to sue you!"
Upon hearing the disparaging statement, a majority of the Justice League felt nothing but disgust and disapproval for the reporter's childish remark.
"God, every time this guy shows up, he always goes for the low-blows. Makes me want to bring out the boxing glove." Whispered Green Arrow.
"Stop it, Ollie." Dinah admonished.
"I'm only suggesting." He assured his wife. "All I'm saying is the dude's a total prick."
"Better we don't act upon those feelings." Replied John. "Besides, that guy's the least of our concerns. It's him I'm worried about."
Both Dinah and Oliver traded glances as they understood who the Green Lantern meant, glancing back at Doom Slayer. Even when mocked, the space marine never once moved nor reacted to the distasteful reaction. Instead, he seemed idle and more content with allowing VEGA to speak.
"Mr. Annis, while it may seem implausible to you, the accounts of the Doom Marine's exploits are very much true."
"Yeah? And where's the footage?"
"That, I will not provide. Due to the sensitivity of the subject matter, any evidence will be disclosed from the public."
"Right. So I guess this means we all have to believe your word for it?"
"Gotcha. So I guess I'll have to also believe you're not some guy behind a microphone? Speaking into discount Master Chief's speakers or something while you're elsewhere in the city?" Bart insinuated. Though, while the public may have not heard it, Superman's super hearing managed to catch on the sound of the podium cracking in Doom Slayer's grip. The Man of Steel was very concerned and signaled the others through Martian Manhunter's telepathy.
"Standby, League. I can already hear Flynn going full nuclear."
"Roger that, Superman. I'll handle this." John responded, his ring slightly glowing as he prepared to restrain the space marine. That was not to be, however, as VEGA provided an interesting response.
"I completely understand your skepticism, Mr. Annis. There is no credibility for me to provide you with evidence besides my current presence. Though, you are welcome to speculate. I could say the same about you by taking your job as a journalist seriously."
Upon hearing VEGA's statement, most of the attendants - both reporters and Justice League - had their jaws dropping, not expecting the comeback by the AI. A few like Oliver and Barry began to either snicker or laugh out loud. While others like John and Dinah simply smirked or smiled in amusement. Doom Marine, who had been standing motionless, was shaking in inaudible laughter at the expense of Bart Annis, who had previously been acting smug throughout the entire interview, now turning red with anger at the comment.
"So this is how it's gonna be? You're gonna resort to insulting a professional?"
"Incorrect. I am not insulting a professional. Merely responding to an amateur's questions."
VEGA said, dealing another blow to Bart's fragile ego, further riling him into a defensive mode as the crowd laughed.
"T-This is an insult to my integrity! I have done news coverage for the past decade!"
"That, I do not doubt. Your coverage, though, leaves a lot to be desired. In your report on Superman facing off Metallo in Metropolis last month, you went on a complete condemnation against Superman for property damage and endangerment of civilians before he disabled the cyborg. Yet, video evidence has shown that much of it is the result of Metallo endangering said civilians as well as using them as bargaining chips, provoking the Man of Steel to intervene and confront him while Justice League members, Martian Manhunter, John Stewart and Batman, have managed to secure the hostages with zero fatalities. A fact that was later confirmed by the Daily Planet's very own Lois Lane, who was among the hostages at the time."
Bart blinked in surprise at VEGA's quick rundown of his last month's report. Still, he remains composed to explain his reasons for it. Not far from him, Lois Lane had a look of gratification as she crossed her arms upon hearing VEGA's analysis.
"That's because Lois Lane is known for being rescued by Superman. And it's well-known that she and Superman are kind of a thing. I mean, come on, why else does she keep falling into his arms every time she's in danger?" Bart excused. Superman felt irritable disgust upon hearing Bart's comment. Lois didn't seem at all affected by the sleazy reporter's words, though whether she was good at hiding her emotions or merely used to it was anyone's guess. The rest, however, regarded the man with a lack of respect and disdain for his unprofessionalism.
VEGA continued and replied, "While it is certainly an odd series of coincidences that she has appeared in every incident and catastrophe involving Superman, the fact that she puts her life on the line and is uncompromising in the face of danger is commended with respect. Whereas, all of your journal reports were written at a chain cafe you frequent in Manhattan. So please, Mr. Annis, trying to elevate one's station through libel is hardly merit in itself. And as a - and I quote - 'professional', you should know better."
Bart was now clenching his fists in annoyance, with Lois Lane smiling on.
"In another report, dating back to September 14th of last year, you wrote an article accusing Wonder Woman of racial profiling after she had subdued two suspects engaging in armed robbery at a convenience store in Washington, D.C. in broad daylight. The two suspects, however, had a history of domestic battery, assault with a loaded weapom, and attempted murder charges based on their criminal records known to the public."
"Tsk." Bart tried to pass off. "Well, it's a fact that violence on black people by crooks with badges has been documented over the ages. No matter how you see it, victims of police brutality will always be ignored in favor of the blue boys."
"Fuck. You." Said John, his voice raised enough within earshot of his comrades to listen in, clearly showing contempt at this asshat's poor excuse.
"While it is indeed unfortunate that the injustice against the black community is often overlooked and perhaps treated unfavorably, the person of interest we are discussing, however, is a superhero. Not an officer of the law. Coupled with eyewitness accounts and testimonies, Wonder Woman handled the situation in a lawful manner and avoided as much escalation as she did disarming and detaining with police nearby. And she, like all other heroes - both in and out of the Justice League - has done more for the community than you have ever done behind a laptop screen."
The crowd laughed at Bart's expense, causing no further than bouts of infuriated contempt and resentment towards the artificial intelligence. As if it's doing just as much work to undermine his dedication just as it does to insult him at every chance.
"So you're saying that superheroes are above the Law? Above cops and the government?"
"No, Mr. Annis. Though, you have brought up an interesting topic. On the surface, it may seem as though the Justice League are working outside the law, doing things that are beyond what the police and the government can do through their feats. In reality, however, they work within the Justice system just as much as any government body would. And by following the Law, not only have they gained recognition and popularity as peacekeepers, and paragons of Earth by the common people, but this also gave the League leeway for the UN to officially allow them to operate beyond US borders to other parts of the world with total jurisdiction. And in the seven years since their inception, the Justice League has solved more humanitarian work and peacekeeping as it does crime fighting and defending Earth from hostile invasions. Whereas, during those same years, you have spent more time denouncing the Justice League with libel and spreading misinformation all for the sake of sensationalism and infamy through a laptop than you have bothered supporting any local charity."
Bart was at his limit. He will not stand by as this self-proclaimed AI beat him down with falsehood that he lovingly preached in the past ten minutes that he had sat through. But before he could say another word, VEGA had more than one thing to say.
"And in regards to your comment on race, I will say this to you: crime does not see color. Nor sex. Nor status. And neither orientation. It sees victims. Victims who are vulnerable and have no way of defending themselves from danger. And who just so happened to be preyed upon by others who they themselves believe are superior and stronger to take advantage of. But so can Justice. And in many respects, any hero, whether they are a part of the Justice League, the Police Force, or those working outside of the Law in the name of protecting their community, can do just as much good in the world as they do leading by example. And by upholding criminals in the face of the Law."
Upon hearing VEGA's statement, both the crowd and the Justice League gave applause for a commendable speech. Even Batman was a tad bit touched by the AI's sincere speech.
"Still doesn't mean I won't be giving the Slayer some lack." Batman stated, clapping his fellow heroes, causing Diana to roll her eyes and say, "Let's drop the topic for now and give him a warm welcome to the League."
Back in the crowd, Bart felt his entire confidence brought down to a peg by an artifici-no, a phony speaking somewhere in this jolly green jackass' suit, all while hiding somewhere in his God-forsaken Earth. But now, he lost any sort of pride to continue his report crusade.
"Mr. Annis, is there anything you have to say?" Asked VEGA. Bart, with nothing to say nor react, simply walked away in a huff, moving past the shifting crowd of other hard-hitting journalists and reporters. Finally disappearing, VEGA continued on and commented, "That's a shame. I had figured he would have blown a vein if we were to discuss further into his reports. Next?"
Upon hearing the question, reporters began to raise their hands and mics, eager to get an answer to quench the burning enigma that was the Doom Marine and his AI companion. Flynn was carefully deciding on who to pick next before settling on the blonde woman closest to the front.
"Cat Grant from GBS." She stated, with slight enthusiasm. "With your arrival to our Earth, tell us what do you bring to the table as a superhero?"
"Guns." Flynn answered without hesitation, prompting looks of shock on every reporter's faces and winces on most of the heroes.
"I b-beg your pardon?" Asked a very bewildered Cat. Before Flynn could pull out a gun from his suit, VEGA spoke up and said, "What the Doom Marine meant to say was that he has a vast collection of arsenals at his disposal, Ms. Grant. And due to the situation of the aforementioned invasion, the methods used to combat the aliens were dealt with extreme prejudice."
The crowd began to murmur amongst themselves in regard to the last statement, causing suspicion and wariness about the Doom Marine's method. And then the questions began to pop up.
"Does this mean the Justice League is now allowing lethal force?"
"Is Doom Marine a supporter of the Second Amendm-?"
"How do you approach crimin-?"
"Are we expecting a judge, jur-"
"I'll be taking over from here." Superman excused as he stepped in, with Flynn stepping aside.
"I understand everyone's concerns in regard to Doom Marine's arsenal. However, upon further discussion and agreement, the Doom Marine has agreed to follow Justice League protocols and will lead by example like many of my colleagues. In the meantime, we will gather data and share it with the public regarding other abilities."
Doom Slayer crossed his arms with vague annoyance. While humans were far from the demonic forces of Hell, it was not as if they were any more innocent. He had recalled the times when he saw the worst of humanity even before the Hell invasions. Combine with his recent knowledge of the UAC's vile cult personality, he would certainly take matters into his own hands if it means protecting Earth from itself.
For now, he had to bide his time and do what was necessary for the sake of a better future. While the Man of Steel was calming the crowd with his inspirational speeches, VEGA popped up on his screen.
"Hello, Slayer. While Superman is taking much of the attention, I had taken the time to run through your suit's diagnostics and discovered your previous fight with Olivia Pierce had fully repaired the suit's functions. Even after your fight with the mercenary known as Deathstroke, no damage to the suit has been made. Due note, however, that there is no source of Hell energy nor Argent energy to recharge upon damage. Meaning you will have to find other means of retrieving ammo and - whether there are any known threats comparative to that of a demon - repairing the suit. But with Hell's absence, the Praetor suit is immune to all forms of conventional weaponry."
Flynn nodded. On the one hand, Hell had not yet come. Meaning he'll use his time on Earth to prepare for another invasion. On the other hand, he was absolutely screwed. With nothing but the suit on his back and battling the forces of Hell for God knows how long, he'll need to adapt and find allies to his cause. The Justice League was already backing him, but he'll need people far more willing to take drastic measures.
He hadn't bothered listening to Superman's speech until he heard his name called.
"-adies and gentlemen, let's give it to Doom Marine as the newest member of the Justice League!" Superman clamored, raising his hand to which Flynn shook in kind. Both look into the flashing cameras for pictures while reporters gave heaps of praises for the welcoming ceremony.
"Once this is all over, then we'll put you through the initiation," Superman whispered. "Nothing complicated. Just need to scan your prints and issue your membership."
"Hmm." Grunted Flynn. With cameras dying out and the crowd dispersing, the first to greet his invitation would be John, Black Canary, Diana and then the rest of the League.
"Welcome to the League, big guy."
LexCorp. Tower, Metropolis
March 11, 11:52 am
"And there you have it, folks." The blonde GBS reporter stated in that familiar chipper tone. "The newest member of the Justice League, known only as the Doom Marine - along with his AI partner, VEGA - revealed to the world. And surely the finest addition to the League! I'm sure as excited to see what he will bring to the table! This is Cat Grant, signing off!"
The monitor quickly shut off as soon as the man took his eye off it. Lex sighed in disappointment just as placed the remote down on his table. The Justice League had now gained a new ally to their cause. Meaning the Boy Scout was waving more power and divinity in everyone's face. And that concerned the brilliant billionaire even more now. At least it wasn't another Kryptonian. Already bad enough to have two on Earth. Still, Lex gathered what little intel he can get from that news report.
It seems there was more than meets the eyes with what he presumed from the so-called Doom Marine. And based on Deathstroke's accounts, the description was more or less accurate. The new hero was a literal fortress from his stature and appearance alone. Not only that, but this Doom Marine also had an AI companion to help him and possibly gather information in a short amount of time. Amusing as it was to see that one journalist getting humbled by VEGA, it did concern Lex how fast the AI can collect intel at such an incredible speed. The only other artificial intelligence he had known in the world was the League's own Red Tornado. Even then, that android was limited to his own suit as far as he could observe.
But interesting as VEGA was, his primary concern was the space marine. Even by looking at him, Lex couldn't help but feel… fear. A curious feeling, he thought. This didn't extend to the rest of the heroes, like Batman and the alien. No. No, this was built differently than the others. Perhaps Vandal had every right to order the rest of the group to take zero action for the time being. Indeed, it was best to wait it out until the ripe opportunity shows itself.
However, one thing that didn't show in the mercenary's accounts was the weapons. Of course, it was not hard to assume that, coming from a different dimension, the marine might have some form of advanced tech to pocket all of his weapons and gear somewhere safely. Whether the Doom Marine will ever show them off, time will probably speed up eventually.
A knock on his door was brought to his attention and Lex called, "You may come in."
The door to his office opened as his assistant came into full view. A tall brunette carrying an ordinary but unknown suitcase.
"Ah, Mercy." He greeted kindly. "I take it this is a gift for me?"
His assistant only gave a silent nod - her voice stolen from a previous injury - and set the suitcase down. But not before giving her boss a small note to read.
Call me - V.S.
Lex raised an eyebrow but shrugged indifferently. Under-the-table dealings were not exactly a surprise when it comes to his business partners. And when you have the resources and finances to keep it that way, crime gets a little easier to get away with.
"Thank you, Mercy. You may leave."
His assistant took her leave, closing the door behind. Immediately, Lex went for the case and opened it. It was the sword belonging to Mr. Wilson, still coated in the Marine's blood. Intrigued, Lex went for his phone and contacted his partner, the phone ringing on the other line.
"Van Sage." Lex greeted Vandal in his alias. "I received your package. I presume this has something to do with last night, yes?"
"Indeed." Vandal answered. "You could say this will provide an ample opportunity to use for the Project. How far are you in it?"
"Just about prepared to put in my samples. I take it this will yield better results?"
"With absolute certainty." Vandal firmly said. "You can forgo the original setup."
"I see. Can't say I'm disappointed. Then again, I'm not exactly up to sharing samples with the… other." Luthor confessed, being slightly upfront about his disdain.
"Undoubtedly." Vandal understood. "Regardless, take this as another testing field. If all things fail, we can always go for a backup plan. Still, this will likely do even better compared to Match."
"Yes… Match." Luthor groaned, remembering how painful that one went. "Thank you again, Mr. Sage. I'll be sure to send in the reports in the following months."
"Understood. Take care." The call ended immediately. Lex set the phone aside and looked at the case. The man that would bring the Man of Steel to rust and ruin smirked to himself, intrigued as to see what would come about in this experiment.
"One way or another, you'll come into the Light just fine."
Well there goes another chapter of nothing happening as of now. Jeez, I really need to get this story moving forward.
Moving on, I'm back everyone! Or at least with this one. I actually came back last month with my Warhammer fic (and on its second anniversary, no less!).
For those unaware, I was battling cancer in the form of a Stage IV Hodgkin's Lymphoma. And won. Right now, I'm waiting for my next test next month for confirmation and waiting on standby. Until then, I got this chapter done and getting the next one completed. But I promise, the next one will have actual action. Just gonna need some time to plan out the fight in that one. With all that said in done, I suppose there's a lot to discuss about the elephant in the room: power-scaling.
Look, I'm not gonna walk around this so I'll just be upfront. Yes, I screwed it up with Batman taking the shotgun. Yes, I'm fully aware of how stupidly strong he was against Supe an WW. And will that affect the story and conflicts altogether? Probably. But I won't be tipping the scales for neither Doom Slayer nor the Justice League. That being said, that won't mean I'll be having Doom Slayer keep the kiddie gloves on. Most of the time. Expect a lot of crippling, maiming, and paralysis. And when he does let loose... well, I won't say much.
Really, I had this discussion with a reviewer on my PMs and, while having no idea what I was saying at the time, I've come to conclusion to simply write as just a "power fantasy". Not power-scaling. Power fantasy. Similar words that are ultimately different in context. Yes, it's mainly a DOOM fic, first. But that doesn't mean I'm going to make the DC elements underpowered. Still, I'll be sure to make things balanced out as the story progresses.
Speaking of which, for those worried about Doom Slayer being on the leash, this chapter cleared up things for you. Doom Slayer will keep his weapons but will limit to a few of them for pragmatic reasons. As for dealing with criminals? I'm gonna have to get the next chapter in fast then.
And in regards to the League, there's a lot of gray areas that they need to be careful with. As you can see, certain heroes like Batman and Marvel are staunch about no-killing, but few like WW and Stewart - both of whom are canonically veterans in DC lore - will use lethal force if it's absolutely necessary.
So yes, that's as far as I will tell you as of this chapter. And for all of your criticisms, I still respect them nonetheless. Passion is a human thing for all of us. If I have I missed any points, let me know in the comments or PM me about it.
Moving on, I'll be answering some reviews now. Unlike the first two, I've been itching to respond to some good ones here. Maybe some in the second chapter even. Anyways, here we go:
EndofDaysBitches: Scribbles down even though he's already gotten half of that objective fulfilled.
Guest (10-16-2021): Well, I definitely wanted to differentiate it from my other DOOM fic involving Warhammer Fantasy. Planned to connect the two even.
HaloZealotDemon: Too late, I some ideas of who to ship. *evil laughter ensues*
And no. It's not Wonder Woman. Hope you can cope with that.
shadowmvg4: Thanks for the kind words. I hope this QA answers all your questions here
TheEschaton: Man, you have some really good points. Can't believe I didn't respond to this sooner.
First off, that's fine. You have a valid reason in regards to DKoJ and that's understandable. As for myself, I do enjoy that story along with its other iterations such as the Inquisitor and The Justice of a Tech Priest. Hell, I'm even friends with The Inquisitor author as we speak.
With all that being said, you do make a good point in regards to the depiction of the Justice League. Especially Batman. I'll be honest, I had a bit of a hateboner when it came to Bats. Mostly stemming from only ever understanding his Injustice depiction, and less from other better mediums.
But that's all in the past now. Now, I'm a lot more open-minded and trying to get my research better handled. While I do have some negative opinion, I'm a bit more understanding of the character, especially after watching his final confrontation with Jason Todd in Under the Red Hood. Still, I'm a lot more respective of the characters and I plan to keep it that way. Unlike that jackass Garth Anus.
And the Joker quote: will definitely rework it into the story. I will give credit, though.
p6lishb6kser: Shit. I wish I had respond sooner. Thing is, you're always free to PM me as I sometimes get a little busy. Thanks again.
edboy4926: Maybe. But the character will completely separated in a one-shot omake/chapter. Maybe.
Angel lara451: Well, I hope my response to TheEschaton answers your burning questions. And I definitely to plan to work that in his character development. Gonna take quite a while to get there, though.
Spartan-666: It was actually in the Inquisitor where Victor Zsasz was paralyzed. And yeah, we'll get to the Joker
at some point.
Dontus: Good guess but no. Not at all, actually.
And no, I don't plan on having an evil version of him in the Injustice Gang.
Austin: There'll definitely be situations called upon. I won't spoil the, but he'll definitely loopholes, exceptions, and will eventually be at his breaking point.
In regards to John Stewart, it seemed like a natural addition at the time. And I don't regret it whatsoever.
Thaliak: Yep, I wish had known about that sooner. Goddammit. Guess I'll have to re-edit the chapter again.
Adryn Nighthunter: And here's my due payment.
Anyways, thanks y'all for reading. I'll be back for more soon.
Edit (25-11-2022): Alright, that fucking does it. Not only have I removed the Rune Systems thing entirely, I have also changed up the bit about the damage to the Praetor Suit. Because some of y'all are very salty and seem to not get the point. No, I'm not nerfing Doomguy. I just don't want the superheroes look like absolute chumps in comparison. So quit the fucking talks about power-scaling and leave it be. It'll always be a Doom-centric story but I'm not neglecting the other half nor am I treating the other heroes as stupid. That's all I have to say.