Neo Gotham, 2 weeks later 11:47AM. Hill High School...
It was a typical day at Hill High School, granted it was a bit more animated with excitement than usual. And Terry had the newest transfer and fellow hybrid hero Rex Stewart to thank for that. He's been at the school for a little over two weeks now and he's still the talk of the school. All of the girls, and some of the boys, swooned over the hunky green-eyed Alpha every time he walked in the room. Meanwhile the boys who weren't fawning Rex were jealousy pissed that he was stealing their thunder and all the eligible girls and Omega boys. Basically it was either folks wanted to hang the half-Thanagarian or they wanted to hug him. Not that Rex cared either way since he made it clear both to Terry and the student body that he only had eyes for the Wayne-Kent son, whom he was bound and determined to court and win over.
Of course just because that was his goal it didn't mean Terry was going to make it easy for him...
"Boy, he's sure gotten real popular real fast. Now I can finally get some peace." Terry said, sitting on the patio outside of the school during their break hour and looking over to see Rex making his way through his new admirers.
"Don't get too used to it, Terr. You know the girls and boys Rex turned down are going to come at you with less than happy faces." Dana teased to her friend with a grin.
"Yeah. If anything you're going to have folks bug ya even more. So, what can you tell us about Mr. Stewart? You said you knew him as a kid." Max said.
"Knew is right. We played together years ago, back when I was two and he was four. But sometimes after that him and his folks moved. I haven't seen him since then, until he popped into town two weeks ago." Terry explained.
"Wow, that sounds like a set up for one of those old time romance movies my parents have. Two childhood friends get separated and then meet each other again years later. After that they start to see each other in a whole new different way." Dana explained with a dreamy look in her eyes.
"It seems to me like you've been watching a few of those old time romance movies, Miss Tan." Max said with a knowing grin.
"I refuse to answer on the grounds that I have no lawyer present." Dana replied and cheekily stuck her tongue out. "Seriously though, it's pretty surreal how you guys met each other again after more than ten years. You both must have been emotional."
"We had a rather...touching reunion, yeah." Terry said with a slightly nervous look in the opposite direction, recalling that night on the rooftop where he and Rex did touch in a way. Though the 'touching' part had more to do with physical confrontation than emotions he supposed it still counted.
"I'm sure. So are you going going to reconnect, or just do your own thing with the occasional hello?" Max asked.
"I actually planned to go with the second option, but his guardian is a close friend of my folks. And now that he's transferred here I gotta play nice and reacquaint myself him all over again." Terry explained.
"And I'm looking forward to reacquainting myself with you, also." Said a new voice behind Terry and he turned around to see Rex giving his trademark lopsided grin. It was hard to say whether he got it from Aunt Shayera or Uncle John since they both grinned that way.
"Are you sure you'll have time though? Your new fan club seems to keep you busy." Terry said with a smug, knowing look.
"Eh, I'm not worried about them. Actually you'd help keep them away from me. I've already been catching hell from the guys who hate me. Particularly that asshole captain of the hockey team." Rex said.
"Oh no..." Terry groaned, face palming himself in frustration.
"I take it that's not your most favorite person in the world?" Rex asked.
"Not hardly. That 'asshole captain of the hockey team' is Nelson Nash, and he's been after Terry for a since last year to date him." Dana explained.
At this, Rex's features immediately changed. His posture stiffened, his face contorted into a tight scowl and the pupil of his green eyes narrowed into slits like a hawk's would. Terry knew then and there that this wasn't going to be good.
"...Is that so? He sounds like a pretty persistent guy. I suppose that's why he's been giving me a hard time since I've been here." Rex said with a seemingly nonchalant expression, but Terry knew that his blood was starting to boil. Before he could tell him anything to calm his fellow hybrid a new voice spoke up. Rather loudly too.
"Hey, Stewart!" Shouted the voice of the one and only, thank God for that, Nelson. The two young men and two ladies looked in the direction of the voice and saw the red head storming up to them. Or more specifically storming up to Rex.
"Nelson, we were just chatting about you." Rex spoke with a calm tone but his expression was filled with smug mocking.
"Don't start with me, Stewart. I came here for answers and I want them right now." Nelson demanded.
"Pretending that I'll actually given in to your demands, what is it that you want answers about?" Rex asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Is it true that you actually knew Terry from when you were kids?" Nelson asked back, expression half threatening and half doubtful.
"Yes, I did. And we met each other again recently." Rex confirmed.
"Tch, no way. Wayne-Kent doesn't keep any Alphas for friends." Nelson stated in disbelief.
"That's where you're wrong, Nash. I have quite a few Alpha friends. It's just you and the rest of your knot-head bunch I don't hang with." Terry stated, standing up and giving Nelson a look that clearly said 'Don't even start'.
But as we all know Nelson isn't good at taking hints.
"Well I don't see how you would rather be friends with this guy and not me, of all people." Nelson said with an incredulous look.
"From what I've been told about you, Nash, it's not so hard to guess why Terry wouldn't want to be your friend." Rex inputted.
"I don't care what you've heard. What's between me and Terry is none of your damn business." Nelson replied defiantly.
"Wrong. When I came to Gotham anything and everything about Terry became my business. And believe me when I tell you that I'm the last person you want in your business." Rex stated, being none to subtle in his threat.
"Tch, please mac. You'll have to do a lot better than that before you can even try to scare me off." Nelson said cockily.
"Frankly Nelson, I would be less worried about Rex will do trying to scare you and more worried what I will do to make you scared." Terry stated as he got very close to Nelson, glaring straight at him.
Being taller than most Omega males he was able to face down Alphas with more confidence. And once again he used that famous 'Bat Glare' he inherited from his panjo to get his point across. Like before it worked on the jock and he immediately backed up, showing some signs of fear even though he tried not to.
"Sheesh, chill Wayne. I won't hurt your...buddy here, so long as he doesn't cross the wrong people." Nelson said.
"Funny. I was about to tell you the same thing, Nash." Rex said. The two Alphas stared each other down for a while before Nelson gave a 'hmph' and walked off in another direction.
"Well...that was a rather testosterone charged situation. No offense, Terry." Dana said.
"None taken. At least he won't be bothering me for the rest of today. But as usual with Nelson, there's always tomorrow." Terry said.
"If he values his health at all, he'll stay far away tomorrow." Rex stated with an underlining tone of anger.
"Why Rex, if I didn't know any better I'd say you were jealous." Terry said with an amused yet indifferent look. He was amused of the idea of such a confident Alpha as Rex to be jealous of someone like Nelson, and indifferent because he wasn't the first Alpha to be jealous over him.
"Che, please. I don't get jealous. I make other guys jealous. However I don't like seeing a pushy Alpha try to move in on an Omega obviously not interested. It gives real Alphas like me a bad name, and I won't stand for that." Rex said.
"Wow, cute and chivalrous. All Rex needs is elbow patches on his jacket and he'll be as old fashioned as you, Terr." Max said teasingly.
"Ha, ha. Elbow patches are still in, thank you very much." Terry replied.
"Yeah. They were in by the time 1955 was out. Anyway, let's get on to class." Dana said and the group headed back into the school.
The day progressed with not much fan fair, except for Rex getting cornered by several determined girls and Terry watching on in amusement. The half Thanagarian asked why Terry didn't step in to help like he did for him with Nelson. And the half Kryptonian replied by saying he always found in cute when a big bird get's their feathers ruffled. The following imitation of a drum rim shot from Max was not appreciated. Finally the school day came to an end and all of the students began to leave. Rex and Terry bid goodbye to Dana and Max after Dana's older sister came to pick them up. Then as Terry headed to his hover Cord he realized that Rex was following him.
"And just what do you think you're doing?" Terry asked as he turned around to face the other hybrid.
"I'm going with you, of course." Rex said.
"Don't you have to head home and do homework, like normal high school students?" Terry asked again.
"Now you ought to know by now that I'm about as normal as you, and that isn't much." Rex replied with a grin.
"...Alright Stewart, I gotta admit that was a checkmate. But you're still not going. I'm going to meet some family of mine." Terry said as he turned to his car.
"But aren't I like family? I mean, our folks did work close together. Besides, I was serious about courting you." Rex said.
"What's that got to do with anything?" Terry asked.
"If an Alpha wants to be with an Omega, he has to get to know that Omega's family to show he's worthy. And that means the entire family, immediate and extended alike." Rex said with a smug grin.
"Boy you just have to cross the t's and dot those i's, don't you?" Terry asked defiantly, but his look showed obvious defeat and he let out a sigh that held the same emotion. "Fine, you can tag along. But no talk about courtship! I'm still trying to wrap my head around it and tell my folks led alone my other relatives."
"Sure, sure. My lips are sealed. But question; if your Omega dad is called 'the World's Greatest Detective' and your Alpha old man can hear your heart rate to tell when you're lying, how are you going to keep that a secret from either of them?" Rex asked.
"I don't know, but whatever happens panjo isn't the only one who has contingency plans up his sleeve. Anyway, get in." Terry said and walked around to the driver's side of his car while Rex just blinked in shocked confusion at the reply before shrugging and getting into the car.
Terry drove them from the school grounds towards the heart of Gotham where most of the suburbs were. They passed by a few different residential districts but Terry was driving to a particular one. And after they passed the fifth one Rex was starting to get curious.
"So who are these relatives that you're going to meet?" Rex asked.
"Well I guess you could say they're like my step family, because I'm visiting my aunt, uncle and half brother." Terry replied.
"Half brother!? But I...I thought you were an only child?" Rex asked in confusion.
"Well officially yeah, I am. However my half brother Matt is the son of Warren and Mary McGinnis." Terry replied.
"I'm afraid I'm lost here, fruit bat. You mind explaining this in more detail for me?" Rex asked.
"Well, I guess you'd learn about it sooner or later anyway. See ten years ago panjo and pops were holding a charity event to help less fortunate families, and one of the couples attending was Warren and Mary McGinnis. But their less fortunate situation wasn't one involving financial straits. It was something more personal." Terry explained.
"Personal how?" Rex asked.
"They had some fertility problems, and asked my folks if they could help. They couldn't afford regular artificial insemination treatments and candidate screenings and thought they might be able to help." Terry said.
"Wow. Talk about a charity case. But wait, if Matt is your half brother then that would mean..." Rex trailed in slight surprise and Terry grinned at him.
"Yep. Panjo was the candidate who offered his sperm for the insemination. Then Mary had Matt a few months later and now I have a nine year old little brother." Terry said.
"That's pretty...bizarre. But I guess if you're going to get a kid any kind of way it may as well be through charity. Though I hope Mr. Wayne-Kent made a new rule saying that his charitable work don't include sperm donating." Rex said with a grin.
"Actually, that was a rule that Grandfather Thomas Wayne added when he started Wayne Enterprises. You'd be surprised what folks will ask from a rich person." Terry said as he turned into the neighborhood where the McGinnis family lived." Terry asked.
"Maybe you should do a report on that for your next family studies assignment." Rex said.
"I actually did once. Got a B+ for it, too." Terry said as he parked the car right in front of a medium sized suburban home. "Well, we're here. Now before we get in you'll want to physically brace yourself. Matt likes to tackle when he hugs."
"Really? Is that because he wants to practice to become a football player or something?" Rex asked.
"Nah. He just likes to catch people off guard." Terry said as they exited the car.
"Is that so? Sounds to me that the makings of another crime fighter to join you on patrols. Guess the apple doesn't fall far after all." Rex said.
"Tch, don't even joke. Panjo would kill me if I even thought of becoming a Dynamic Duo with dear little Mattie." Terry said as he rang the doorbell. After a moment the door opened and revealed Mary McGinnis.
Rex's sharp eyes gave Mary McGinnis a quick yet observant look over. She was old, but not that old. It was evident by the fact that her hair, which was red in color and sort in length, only had a few strands of grey it. So she was a young mother for her age. She had dark eyes that added contrast to her fair appearance and had a fit shape to her body. She wore a knee length blue dress and black flat shoes. From the looks of her demeanor Rex could also tell that she was a Beta. Mary blinked for a moment before smiling brightly at Terry.
"Terry, it's go great to see you again. It's been too long." Mary said as she reached out and hugged Terry who gladly returned the hug.
"Hi, Aunt Mary. I'm happy to see you too. I was able to steal away some time to visit and thought I would surprise you and Matt." Terry said with a smile of his own.
"Well I'm glad they finally let you go. That night job of yours is so demanding. You certainly have more commitment than I would, Terry. I would've quit after the first month." Mary said with a sympathetic look.
"Yeah, it can be pretty...harsh, to say the least. But even still I find it very fulfilling." Terry said spoke truthfully. Well he was truthful in his feelings anyway. He wasn't about to tell her the truth of what his 'night job' really was.
"I can understand that, I suppose. I feel the same about my interior decorating work. Oh, but where are my manors? I didn't even say hello to your friend. And who might you be?" Mary asked, turning to look directly at Rex.
"Hello, Mrs. McGinnis. I'm Rex Stewart. I just moved to Gotham but Terry and I knew each other when we were kids through our folks." Rex said, giving a nod of respect to the older woman.
"Well then it's very nice to meet you, Rex. And please, call me Mary. Mrs. McGinnis is my mother, who fortunately lives all the way in Star City." Mary said, mumbling the last part to herself with an annoyed expression before her beaming smile returned. "Anyway, come on in! I made cookie dough stuffed chocolate cups, and I was worried they'd go to waste because I made so much. But I'm glad you boys showed up."
"When it comes to your treats, Aunt Mary, I make it my duty to ensure no bite ever goes to waste." Terry said with a smile as he walked in, followed by Rex and then Mary closed the door.
As soon the teenagers walked inside and made their way into the living room Terry's ears caught onto a sound. It was the sound of familiar thumping coming from a pair of small charging feet. And they were headed right his way. Grinning knowingly he stopped for a minute in the hallway. Rex stopped as well, confused by Terry's sudden pause in movement. He was about to ask what was wrong when a sudden shout of "AAHHH!" made him look ahead in shock to see who was screaming. Before he even knew it Terry had stepped aside and the source of the shout rammed into Rex. Hard. So hard in fact that it knocked the wind out of him as well as knock him down. After a moment of his eyes going from black-out to vision he finally regained enough mental awareness to speak.
"Ugh...What the...?" Rex asked in confusion as he slowly lifted his head to see who or what just tackled him like a meteorite. And it turns out it was a who. A black haired, nine-year old mischievously grinning little who.
"Ha! I finally gotcha at last, Terry!" Exclaimed the little boy in victory. However when he got a good look at who he just knocked down and realized it wasn't Terry the boy made an overly dramatic gasp. "Hey, you're not Terry!"
"No, and if I was I'd be standing up on my feet with a smug look on my face." Rex said, looking up at Terry with an accusing glare to which the Omega returned with a grin.
"Well you said you wanted to meet my relatives. And this is the best way you can meet Matt. Besides, I told you to brace yourself before I rang the doorbell." Terry said.
"Yeah. But you didn't say how much I had to brace myself. Felt like someone threw a tire at me!" Rex stated as he leaned up into a sitting position, then looked Matt directly in the face. "So, you're Terry's little brother? He told me a lot about you."
"Oh yeah? Well whatever he said it's not true. I was at home all night when my math teacher's car got painted with all those funny faces." Matt stated with a serious look. At least as serious as a nine-year old can manage.
"The jury's still out on that, twip. But I just told Rex how we're related. And how you're a regular handful." Terry said, ruffling Matt's hair in a semi-rough, fully affectionate manner.
"Ha! You're more of a handful than me. You always go around acting like you're the toughest guy there ever was." Matt said, getting off Rex in favor of going over to Terry and giving him a hug.
"That's because I am, Mattie. And don't you ever forget it." Terry said, hugging back his little brother.
Rex looked at the two brothers and couldn't help but smile. It was clear that Terry and Matt cared for each other even though they busted their chops. Of course he could tell it was all in good fun. He and Kai-Ro act just like a brother pair, though in their case it's actually the small Green Lantern who is older than the half Thanagarian by two years. Which makes Rex more the "only looks older" meddlesome younger sibling while Kai-Ro was the "only looks younger" calm older sibling.
"From the way you're sitting on the floor, Rex, I take it you met my son." Said the voice of Mary and the boys looked up to see her walk into the living with a tray of cookie dough chocolate cups with cups of milk on the side.
"Oh yeah. We had a close encounter, if you know what I mean." Rex said as he pushed himself onto his feet.
"Sorry about that. Matt tends to be full frontal when he greets new people." Mary said as she sat the goodies down on the table.
"Heh, I guess all boys can be that way starting out. Anyway let's have a bite of these epic looking treats." Rex said.
And so the small company of four sat down and enjoyed the cookie dough chocolate cups. They chatted, laughed and spent a long time enjoying one another's company. So long in fact that Terry realized it was time that he should head home.
"Wow, time really does pass by you. I'm sorry we kept you and your friend here for so long, Terry." Mary said apologetically.
"Don't worry, Aunt Mary. I don't get to visit that often so I really enjoyed spending as long as I could here." Terry said with a smile.
"Yeah, and I enjoyed myself too Mrs. McGinnis. So it's no big deal." Rex added.
"Well that's good to hear. Matthew, you get started on your homework while I walk Terry and Rex to the door and I'll come up to help you." Mary said as she stood up.
"Okay, mom. Bye Terry! Bye Mr. Giant!" Matt exclaimed as he waved off the teens and ran off upstairs, most likely to get his homework.
"Mr. Giant?" Rex asked, looking both confused and a tad peeved.
"Well you gotta admit, Stewart, you are kinda huge. I mean you make our full grown teachers look like midgets." Terry said with a grin as they walked to the door with Mary.
"Whatever. It's not my fault they didn't take their vitamins as kids." Rex stated with a proud look.
"Of course not. But anyway, we really enjoyed ourselves Aunt Mary. We should do this again soon." Terry said and stepped aside to allow Mary to open the door for them.
"I'd love that, Terry. And maybe you could bring your parents along. Oh, but could you stay for a moment? I wanted to ask you something privately." Mary said.
"Sure. I'll see you in the car in a moment, Rex." Terry said, giving the Alpha the car keys for the hover Cord.
"Got it. I'll just listen to my tunes in the mean time." Rex said and walked over to the car.
"So what did you want to talk to me about, Aunt Mary?" Terry asked.
"Well, that Rex Stewart boy is a very interesting person." Mary said.
"Rex? Oh yeah he's quite the wild card." Terry said. That was probably the best possible way to describe Rex, since the fact that he knew him in the past along with many other facts about him was pretty wild.
"And he's an Alpha, too." Mary pointed out.
"Yes. So...?" Terry trailed off in confusion.
"Terry, ever since you hit puberty the only Alpha that's ever been around you is your father Clark. And maybe some business associates of your father Bruce that he introduces you to. Yet here you are bringing an Alpha boy when you come to visit me and Matthew." Mary explained.
"I'm sorry but I'm still not getting it, Aunt Mary." Terry said.
"Well, it makes a woman wonder if she's looking at her sort-of nephew's friend...or someone who's a great deal more precious, if you know what I mean." Mary said with a wink.
Someone who's more precious? What did she mean by that, Terry wondered...Oh...OH! When the realization hit him Terry blushed madly and did a double take. Then he gestured at himself and to Rex, who was sitting in the car unknowingly as he listened to music on his phone.
"WHAT!? Rex and me?! You...He...I...! How could you possibly think that, Aunt Mary!?" Terry asked in a scandalized tone.
"Oh Terry, a mother always knows. Even when the child isn't her's. You two act just like a couple who don't yet realize they're going in that direction." Mary said with a motherly yet also mischievous smile. And for the first time Terry could see who Max got his own similar grin from.
"Aunt Mary, that's crazy talk! Rex only just calm to town two weeks ago! We're hardly even friends! I mean I didn't even want him tagging along but he insisted!" Terry stated in an attempt to defend himself.
"That's how it all starts out as 'hardly friends' before it becomes something more, Terry. You'll see." Mary said with a little laugh.
"A-As if! Anyway, since you asked me something there was something I wanted to ask you." Terry said.
"Go ahead. It's only fair." Mary said.
"Where's Uncle Warren? I haven't seen him around the whole time Rex and I were visiting." Terry said.
At this, Mary's face changed drastically. Once happy and full of mirth it flipped to a melancholy and despondent expression. This obviously told Terry that he struck a nerve. And right then his trained detective sense activated as his mind went through a dozen possible scenarios for why Mary would look the way she does at the mention of her husband. Finally after a minute and a half of silence she spoke.
"Warren...isn't with us." Mary spoke sadly.
"What? Aunt Mary, I'm so sorry. Why didn't you tell me or my parents? How did he die?" Terry asked as he took his sort-of aunt's hands into his for comfort.
"Oh no, nothing like that Terry! I'm sorry for worrying you like that. Warren is plenty alive. It's just that he's not with us in the house right now. He actually hasn't been for some time." Mary clarified.
"Well thank God. You really scared me there. But, why hasn't Uncle Warren been living with you guys? Are you divorcing?" Terry asked.
"No. At least, I don't think so..." Mary trailed off, sounding unsure.
"I'm afraid you lost me again, Aunt Mary. What's going on exactly?" Terry asked. After another moment silence Mary gave Terry the most pitiable expression and sighed before she spoke.
"Well, it all began nine months ago right after Matt's ninth birthday. Warren got a phone call from his old friend that he went to Gotham University with. I can't remember the name though. Something with the initials H.T. Anyway after that phone call Warren was on edge and stressed for the longest time. Then three weeks later he said that he needed to move out of the house." Mary explained.
"Did he say why? Did it have something to with this friend of his?" Terry asked.
"Honestly I don't think so, because as he was leaving he said that his boss needed a lot of his time for a major project. And it would involve a lot of industrial material that he didn't want Matt to touch and risk hurting himself. I still thought it was strange but I agreed to it. And it's not as though he's doesn't get involved with us. He'll have video chats with me and Matt once in a while, send money, toys to Matt and flowers to me." Mary spoke further and the Omega gave a thoughtful hum.
"That is pretty strange. Even when panjo did business he never had his employees move out to a new house just to keep them focused on a project. So what has you thinking that you may be divorcing? Do you think Uncle Warren is having an affair or something?" Terry asked.
"No, we never had troubles like that. And Warren is very devoted to being a family man. It's just that...I can't help but wonder if moving out was his way of saying he wants to be married to his work. That's why I'm unsure. I just wish there was a way to find out but I don't want to risk upsetting him." Mary said, looking away with a deep frown on her lips and tears welling up in her black eyes.
"I understand, auntie. Maybe I can find out somehow. I don't know how but I will. And when I do I'll let you know. Promise." Terry assured.
"Really? Oh Terry, thank you. I can't tell you how much that means to me." Mary said and hugged the raven haired teen tenderly who hugged her back.
"Don't worry about it. That's what family does for each other. Anyway, I shouldn't keep Rex waiting too long. And Matt's probably waiting on you too." Terry said as he pulled back.
"Yes, and if I don't help him with his homework he'll write something silly for answer. I'll see you later Terry. And thanks again." Mary said and with a motherly peck to Terry's forehead she walked back into her house and closed the door. Terry meanwhile turned around and headed to the hover cord then got inside.
"Well that sure took a long time. What did you two talk about?" Rex asked as he pulled out his earbuds to listen to Terry and gave him the keys.
"There's something going on with my Uncle Warren, Aunt Mary's husband. He hasn't been living at the house for nine months and the reason why seems to involve some kind of project at his job." Terry explained as he buckled up and started the car.
"Really? Well I don't know how big businesses work but I do know that employees don't go moving out of their own homes just to work on a project." Rex said.
"That's what I was thinking. So we're going to head to Uncle Warren's job tomorrow and hopefully learn what's going on so I can get some answers for Aunt Mary." Terry replied as he drove down the road.
"We? Thought this was a family thing." Rex teased with a grin.
"I know, but my gut is telling me that this is going to turn out to be way more than a family thing." Terry said, then turned to look at the half Thanagarian with a grin. "Besides, you'd just tag along anyway. Wouldn't you?"
"True that. Plus I've had my share of gut feelings warning me of small situations potentially growing into something worse. So I'll go with you on this." Rex said.
"Good. I'll tell panjo and pops about this after I drop you off." Terry said.
"And I'll do the same with Kyle. So where exactly does Mr. Warren McGinnis work?" Rex asked.
"At the only other company nearly as large as Wayne Enterprises – the new age conglomerate known as FoxTeca. And it's owned by my cousin, Lucas Fox." Terry explained.
Neo Gotham, the next day 3:55PM. En route to FoxTeca HQ...
Even though Terry was at a halfway distance from the new age company, he and Rex could still see the large chrome building that served the headquarters for the FoxTeca company. Terry has been there only a few times but even still he knows the lay of the company grounds pretty well. Still it always seems like the building itself changes somehow or another. A new tower is in place where he doesn't remember it being. Or the building itself seemed to grow in some kind of way. Whether it really changed or not didn't matter though because the principles of the company never changed. And if Terry was right the CEO never changed either.
"So, what can you tell me about this Lucas Fox guy? My folks vaguely knew your older brothers and Barbra Gordon from the bat side and only knew Supergirl and Superboy from your dad's side." Rex said.
"Well Lucas is pretty much like a first cousin to me. See he's the son of Lucius Fox, an old friend of panjo's." Terry explained.
"Now him my folks knew very well. He made quite a few of your panjo's toys from what I heard. And he even made a few gadgets for the rest of the team." Rex said.
"That's right. And when panjo was underground for that long period of time it was Uncle Lucius who ran Wayne Enterprises. Then after he came back and started running the company again Lucius made his own company. Hence FoxTeca. Uncle Lucius was a kind, wonderful man. It was really sad to see him pass away like he did." Terry explained.
"I can imagine. But it makes me wonder, if Lucas has even half of his father's personality why would he go so far as to have Warren move out just so he could focus on a project?" Rex asked.
"I don't know. Hopefully Lucas will have some answers for us." Terry said as he parked into a free space then exited the car along with Rex. As they walked to the entrance the guard on duty, an African American Beta male, seemed to recognize Terry and smiled at him and gave a salute.
"Good day, Mr. Wayne-Kent. It's good to see you after so long. How's the second Mr. Wayne-Kent and Mr. Kent?" The guard asked.
"Hello, Roderick. Both of my folks are fine, thanks. And you know it's just Terry between you and me. There's only one Mr. Wayne-Kent in the world." Terry said modestly.
"Of course, Terry. No problem. So what can I do for you?" The guard, Roderick, asked.
"I was wondering if Lucas was in today. I need to talk to him about something important." Terry said.
"Well I can tell you, but uh..." Roderick trailed off as he used his eyes to gesture at the tall Alpha teen standing behind the raven haired teen.
"Don't worry, he's with me. You might say he's a new business partner, of sorts." Terry replied. Granted the business he and Rex are partners in is breaking bones and kicking asses of criminals, but Roderick didn't have to know that.
"Ah. In that case then Mr. Fox is on the conference floor in room twelve. He's having the last few minutes of an important merger meeting. If you take the first two flights of stairs and then ride the elevator the rest of the way you'll get there when it's all wrapped up." Roderick explained.
"Schway. Thanks a lot, Roderick." Terry said with a nod to Roderick and shook the man's hand before walking into the building with Rex.
As soon as they entered Rex was greeted to a whole new sight. It was a fancy lobby with luxurious lounges and chairs to sit in, a crystal chandelier, video screens showing off new products set to be available for sale later in the year and much more. Now he's seen company buildings before and inside they all looked the same. But this place was in a league all of it's own. He craned his neck almost like the way owl-wing Thanagarians do as he looked around. He knew that he might have tripped since he was walking but he didn't think about it much. Rex wanted to soak up every detail of this building and burn every nook and cranny into his sharp hawk eyes.
"Whoa...This place is unbelievable." Rex said.
"Considering that Lucas strives to do to do things beyond the narrow idea of belief, he'd take that as a compliment." Terry said as they walked up the last step of the first flight of stairs then headed up the second.
"You said that this FoxTeca is almost as large as Wayne Enterprises. I can only imagine how that looks compared to this. It's almost too much to think about. And the building itself looks like it could touch the sky." Rex said.
"I know, but I wouldn't say that around Lucas's receptionist. Poor guy get's real spooked by heights. And maybe some day I'll show you around Wayne Enterprises." Terry said.
"Sure. Just leave breadcrumbs or something on the ground so I don't get lost. And if I wasn't following you I'm pretty I'd get lost here too." Rex said as they climbed the second flight of stairs, then turned the corner to the elevator.
"Ha, ha. Don't worry, I won't let you get lost. I'd feel bad about it." Terry said as he pressed the button for the conference floor on the elevator's keypad and waited for the shaft to come down.
"Oh yeah? Does that mean you're starting to see me as mate potential?" Rex asked with a grin.
"No. It means Kyle will all beat my ass for losing track of his precious bird boy. And as such I'll feel bad." Terry replied with a teasing grin just as the elevator came down and the doors opened with a 'whooshing' sound.
"Hmph. You say that for now but you'll change your mind before you know it." Rex said smugly as he entered the elevator with Terry.
The two stood still as the elevator sent them higher and higher through the building floors until they reached the conference floor, which was smack-dab in the middle of FoxTeca. The doors opened automatically and the teens walked out and Terry scanned the numbers on the doors until his eyes found a marble, white plaque that said in black print "Conference Room #12". Sure enough inside he could see a side angle of Lucas Fox and shaking hands with several men and women as they all stood up and the group gathered up their items. Terry and Rex waited for the group of people to leave the room before going over themselves. Terry walked inside first and Lucas had his head down, looking at some papers he was sorting. He smiled at his focused cousin before knocking on the open door to get his attention.
"I see you've made yet another merger. Keep being this successful and you'll need a clone to help you, Lucas." Terry joked.
Lucas looked up from his papers that he was sorting and gave a small gasp when he saw who it was. He blinked a few times in surprise and then that surprise turned into a big smile. Lucas moved from around the head seat of the long meeting table as he walked towards Terry with open arms.
"Terry, it's been too long! I'm so glad to see you!" Lucas exclaimed happily as both he and Terry hugged each other immediately.
"It's great seeing you, too, Lucas! I really missed you!" Terry exclaimed then took a step back. "Man, just look at you. The face of FoxTeca Corporation. You sure do look great."
Indeed, Lucas Fox was a very handsome example of Alpha. He had skin like dark chocolate just as his late father did, and his eyes were of equal rich brown color. His dark hair had grown grey highlights along the sides and led up to one bang that was also grey. Lucas was wearing a dark red suit with a cream colored dress shirt, a black bowtie and matching black dress shoes. Pinned on his lapel and shining brightly was a silver fox head shaped badge which is the symbol of his company.
"And you're already shaping up to look like the perfect image for Wayne Enterprises. I'm more than sure you'll take the corporate world by storm, Terry." Lucas said.
"Ahem, don't mind me. I was just leaving." Rex spoke up sarcastically.
"Oh right, sorry about that. Lucas, this is Rex Stewart." Terry said, gesturing to his fellow hybrid standing at the doorway.
"Stewart? Now you wouldn't happen to be related to John Stewart and Shayera Hol-Stewart, would you?" Lucas asked.
"Yeah, I'm their son. And considering that your old man and Terry's used to do 'late night work' I won't ask how you knew. But damn, does everyone of you eat pages from Sherlock Holmes novels or do I just have a tattoo on my forehead?" Rex asked as he walked over and held out his hand to the CEO.
"Neither one, Rex. It's just that old training from my 'late night work' doesn't go away." Lucas replied and shook Rex's hand.
"I can imagine. So were you a Boy Wonder back in the day and wore the red and green tights?" Rex asked.
"Oh no. I was a too old for that particular role back then." Lucas said with a chuckle.
"Lucas made up his own identity, Batwing, and joined up with us after he was discharged from his service in the Navy. I wasn't born at the time but I when I was we got to know each other." Terry spoke fondly.
"We sure did. As busy as dad and I were bringing FoxTeca together, we always found time for Terrance." Lucas said, wrapping an arm around Terry's shoulders. "So what brings you two here anyway, Terry?"
"Well Lucas, we wanted to ask you about an employee here that we both mutually know." Terry said.
"And who would that be?" Lucas asked.
"A man named Warren McGinnis. He's my surrogate uncle, and married to Mary McGinnis." Terry replied.
At the mention of the name Lucas's face shifted. Not a whole lot, but just enough for Terry to see the reaction happen. Lucas's face then quickly changed back to it's previous calm expression.
"Warren? Yes, he was a valued associate at FoxTeca. Well on his way to becoming an executive, in fact. And I like to think that we were close friends." Lucas spoke.
"Was? Were? Why all the past tense, Mr. Fox?" Rex asked.
"Yeah. I mean you make it sound as though Warren doesn't work for you anyway." Terry said.
"Well in all honesty, Terry, he doesn't anymore. Warren went on to work for a new company nine months ago. However he does act as a sort of liaison and comes here often to do business with me." Lucas explained as he took a seat down in the chair at the head of the table.
"And as for the part about how you'd like to think you're still friends?" Terry inquired.
"As for that, ever since Warren joined this new company he has been pretty distant. I always saw him as more than an employee when we worked for me. I considered us good friends. And now it seems like we just barely meet the threshold of acquaintances." Lucas explained, looking down sadly at his folded hands.
"We're sorry to hear that, Mr. Fox. I guess if you haven't been that close with Warren lately you wouldn't know exactly what he's doing with this new company." Rex said.
"No, I'm afraid not Rex. But whatever it is he's being run ragged. In the times Warren does come here as a liaison or calls just to say hi he looks and sounds like he swam the English Channel. I can only assume that he's performing a very taxing job." Lucas said.
"I see. Well that certainly explains a few things. I knew that you wouldn't work my uncle and your own friend over to the point that he moved from his own home to another place to focus on some project." Terry said.
"Warren did that? Hmph, I'm not surprised. He would push his employees like that for the sake of production in his company." Lucas said as his face changed into an irritated expression.
"He? Who are you talking about?" Rex asked.
"The man who owns the company that Warren transferred to. Derek Powers, founder and CEO of Powers Industries." Lucas replied.
Before Rex could even speak up to inquire about this Derek person, Terry spoke up. And he spoke in a very angry tone.
"What!? That bastard Powers is doing this to Uncle Warren!?" Terry asked in a loud shout, slamming his hands on the table. Rex was slightly taken aback at this since the Omega is normally so stoic. And while he has seen him angry, this was a whole new level. Obviously whoever this Derek Powers was the very mention of his name left Terry pissed.
"As much as I would like to mutually share in this moment of shock and anger, I'm afraid I'm lost. Who is Derek Powers?" Rex asked.
"Derek is the second top ranking CEO here in Gotham City. He has branches all over the USA and even down in South America and some parts of Europe. He's easily one of the most powerful Alphas you can encounter, but if you can help it I would avoid him. Powers is a real nasty character." Lucas explained.
"Nasty is too nice for him. He's been suspected of corruption and dealing with criminals in cases involving industrial espionage. But Barbra could never pin anything on him. Like Lucas said, it's not really surprising that he would push one of his employees like he's doing to Uncle Warren." Terry said, looking at the floor angrily as if it were to blame.
"The way you're talking about this guy, I can't help but wonder if there's a personal reason why you don't like 'em." Rex said.
"Well like I said, Derek is number two on the top list of CEOs. And of course Bruce and his company comes in first. You can probably guess from that alone why Derek and Bruce aren't the best of friends." Lucas said.
"Oh yeah, I get the picture. And somehow I feel that another reason has to do with the esteemed Mr. Wayne-Kent being an Omega. If Powers is the kind of guy I think he is then I'll bet it burns knowing that the fairer faction has a bigger company than a big, tough Alpha." Rex said.
"Exactly. And I have had the displeasure of meeting the bastard in person last year. He actually had the nerve to offer to take up Wayne Enterprises for panjo since I was an Omega too. Like I couldn't lead the company fine on my own! Never have I wished so much to have pops' heat vision and fry someone." Terry said.
"Well I thank biology that you don't, Terry, because that's a corporate incident we don't need. Anyway I wish I could help you boys out but I have to prepare for the upcoming World Trade Conference. But I'll keep my ear to the ground and see what I learn." Lucas said as he grabbed all of his papers and walked to the door with both teens at either side of him.
"Thanks, Lucas. We appreciate the help anyway. Say, did Warren ever tell you why he left for Powers Industries?" Rex asked.
"Hm, now that you mention it I do recall asking him the reason why. And he said that he wanted to work closer with a friend of his that he knew from Gotham University. He actually tried to get his friend to transfer here but he was in poor health and couldn't. So Warren decided to transfer to Powers Industries for his friend's sake." Lucas explained as he opened the door and walked out.
"You said Mr. McGinnis knew this friend from Gotham University. Would his initials be H.T by any chance?" Terry asked.
"Yes as a matter of fact they are. They stand for the name Harry Tully. Anyway I really need to get going and give these papers to my executives. It was nice seeing you boys, though." Lucas said.
"Nice seeing you too, Lucas. Take care." Terry said and he walked away with Rex in the direction they came from while Lucas walked away in the other.
"Well I don't know about you Terry, but I think we just learned something very important." Rex said.
"I think so too. Let's head to the Cave and ask panjo what he knows. I have a strong feeling there's more to this." Terry said.
And so the teens made the long trek to Wayne Manor, but as Terry started to park his car in the usual spot he noticed another car was there. However it wasn't the usual car that Bruce or Clark drive. It was a hover Mustang with an overly bright tacky gold color.
"Let me guess, your folks business associates don't make house calls." Rex said rather than ask.
"No, they sure don't. Let's see who this is." Terry said and parked the hover Cord in another spot before exiting along with Rex. He walked over to the car to inspect it and as he looked over the car's front he saw something he wish he didn't. "Oh damn it."
"What's wrong?" Rex asked.
"I know who this car belongs to, that's what's wrong. Look at the front license plate." The raven haired teen said and stepped aside so Rex could get a good look. When he did he saw that the plate had the logo of Powers Industries.
"Uh oh. That can't be a sign of something good." Rex said.
"It sure isn't looking like one. Come on, let's go inside." Terry said and practically flew to the door of his house and opened it up with his key. Soon after entering he was greeted by Justin.
"Little master, thank God you came home! I don't know how long I'll be able to keep the tension from rising here." Justin said as he lead the way to the drawing room.
"Justin what the hell's going on? Why is Powers here and why didn't anyone call me?" Terry asked.
"That's my fault. I tried to call you and so did Master C, but he had to play gracious host with Master B while I had to keep anyone from throwing my favorite silver serving platter." Justin said.
"Geeze, it's really that bad?" Rex asked.
"Oh yes. Master B may not lash out like a lot of people would at someone they hate or show it that doesn't mean he isn't livid as hell." Justin said.
The three made it to the drawing and there Terry saw his parents sitting close to each other on the couch while a man was seated in a chair across from them and a red headed woman in a dual black/white revealing suit. The woman standing was Eloise Winston an the man sitting down was none other than Derek Powers. He had alabaster toned skin, natural white hair and was wearing a brown suit with a yellow dress shirt. Derek practically exhausted his Alpha essence in an attempt to flaunt his secondary gender and command the room. However Clark's own Alpha essence was much more dominant and quashed the meager aura of the businessman. Before he announced himself Terry stopped to listen to what the adults were saying.
"Come now, Bruce, listen to reason here. I'm only looking out for your best interests." Derek said.
"You'll pardon me if I don't find much truth in that statement, Powers. And reason tells me not to listen to you. You can give a pie chart saying otherwise and my answer will always be the same; I'm supporting Lucas and FoxTeca at that conference." Bruce stated with a stern expression.
"But I can't understand why you would bother though. After all Mr. Fox and his company are hardly that esteemed. It wouldn't enhance the reputation of Wayne Enterprises whatsoever by supporting him and his company." Derek said.
"I'm not doing this for the sake of promotion. I'm doing this because Lucas is the son of a dear late friend of mine, and I'm more than happy to give him my help. For everything Lucius Fox did for me in the past the least I can do is show my support for his son." Bruce replied.
"Yes well, I'm sure that the Omega in you has that maternal instinct to help children and all. But surely you can understand that when it comes to business we can't coddle one another." Derek said, tone every bit as condescending as his expression.
Looking at the retired heroes Rex could easily see that Bruce's face hardened like liquid nitrogen to water. It was a clear sign that while he wouldn't say anything or show any emotion, as Justin said, he was in fact pissed. And looking at Clark the country alien didn't look anymore pleased by the low-key snide remark. He could see the white surrounding his sky blue eyes slowly turn pink. It seemed like he was going to do what Terry said he wanted to do just a while ago in Lucas's meeting room, and fry the other Alpha. Fortunately Justin interceded by clearing his voice to get everyone's attention.
"Pardon me, gentleman, but Terry came back home along with his friend." Justin announced and stepped aside to let the teens enter the drawing him. At seeing their son the boiling anger Bruce and Clark previously had came down considerably as they smiled in greeting at him.
"Terry, it's good to see you back home." Bruce said in a much more light hearted tone of voice than the short, peeved one he used when speaking to Derek.
"Yes. It's always good to see our dear son." Clark said, leaving out the reason why it was good to see Terry because it prevented him from committing murder.
"Hey panjo, pops. I'm glad I could bring smiles on your faces." Terry spoke with a happy expression, then his face changed as he regarded Derek with a look of barely disguised contempt. "So I see we have guests here."
"Yes. Derek made a surprise visit and invited himself in to talk about the upcoming World Trade Conference." Bruce explained.
"Your daddy is rather unmoving in his choice of who he will support at the conference, Terrance. Perhaps you can get him to listen to reason." Derek said. Terry didn't like the way the man said his full name, it made his skin feel like an itchy layer of some worn material. But he didn't say that to the man's face. Instead he spoke civilly...and savagely.
"And is there a problem with supporting Lucas Fox and his company, Mr. Powers? After all he and his father are close to my panjo and me as well. We're practically family. And family support each other. I would hardly consider that coddling. Especially since Lucas got to this point in his career on his own hard work." Terry replied in his professional tone.
"Ah, so you heard me before. I suppose family like loyalty do hold some significance, but Terrance..." However Derek didn't get a word in edgewise as Terry cut him off and spoke further.
"And it's not just Omegas who feel the same way, Alphas and Betas have the same sentiment as well. As far as reason goes, the fact that Lucas is not only a close friend but also an excellent CEO of his company is amble reason to support him at the World Trade Conference." Terry stated with absolute conviction, and while he appeared stoic he took great pleasure in Derek's shocked face. Obviously the man didn't think that a teenager, certainly not an Omega one, would be able to speak so intelligently and hold their ground.
"...Well, you certainly make a strong argument." Derek forcefully admitted through a false, tight smile.
"As the future CEO of my family's company, it's only natural that I learn to state facts to those who have a hard time understanding them." Terry replied with a smug grin he just couldn't contain. He again took relish in Derek's face, this one looking quite irritated at tactfully disguised yet still obvious insult.
Around him the secretary of the Alpha businessman, Eloise, regarded her boss with a sympathetic look. Clark and Bruce were practically beaming with pride at how Terry handled the older man so well. And from his peripheral vision he could see Justin give a little smirk, and heard Rex stifle a chuckle.
"You certainly do seem rather prepared in the debate department, yes. I suppose it would be a waste of time to ask you to support my company at the conference instead then, Bruce?" Derek asked to the older Wayne-Kent Omega.
"Yes, it could be a considerable waste of time Derek. Especially considering that we hardly have a good history together. And turning around to support you definitely won't do any good to the reputation of Wayne Enterprises. So you wasted half a tank of gas for nothing." Bruce replied calmly and left no room for the other man to try and wriggle his way in for persuasion.
"So it seems. It is a shame, though. We could have made great partners." Derek said as he pretended to sound heartbroken.
"You know what there say, Powers, there are other chances around the corner." Clark said.
"True indeed. At any rate Miss Winston and my other associate will see ourselves out." Derek said.
"Other associate?" Rex asked, speaking up after having kept quiet for so long.
"That would be me, honey." Said a new voice and the teens looked towards a shadowy corner in the room, and out from it stepped a shapely feminine figure.
Terry couldn't make out the woman completely but he did see that she was wearing a long length, light brown pea coat and a matching light brown hat. She seemed to be wearing black boots that went up to her knees and had shoulder length, wavy black hair. The odd thing was that her skin, from what he could see past the turned up coat collar, was an odd hue. It almost seemed as though it was...grey.
"This is my personal bodyguard who I have recently employed. I never travel anywhere without her." Derek said, gesturing to the woman.
"Odd, I don't recall noticing you come in along with Derek and Eloise." Bruce said with an eyebrow raised in suspicion.
"That's pretty much the point, Mr. Wayne-Kent, otherwise I wouldn't be good at my job. I protect Mr. Powers best by sticking to him like an ink stain on skin. And you'd be surprised how little pay attention to ink stains." The mysterious woman in the pea coat, said, grinning widely from under her hat.
"Huh?" Terry asked in confusion at this.
"You'll have to forgive my bodyguard. She likes to talk in riddles. Let us be on our way, ladies. Good day Bruce, Mr. Kent." Derek said, giving a small wave at the couple before walking out with Eloise and the mysterious woman left the drawing room with Justin showing them out.
"Boy is he some piece of work. I think I'm starting understand why you don't like this guy, Terry." Rex said, crossing his arms as he watched the other Alpha leave.
"Glad we're on the same page. I can't believe he had the nerve to just walk in here like he owned the place." Terry said with a peeved expression and hands on his hips.
"Don't worry about it, son. At least gave Derek a few choice words. I'm really proud of you." Clark said, walking over to give Terry an affectionate squeeze on the shoulder.
"So am I. You will definitely be a great head of Wayne Enterprises one of these days." Bruce added as he came over and ruffled his son's hair.
"Thanks, panjo. But as much as I would like to brag about how I owned Powers there was something Rex and I wanted to tell you guys." Terry said.
"And it actually seems to be connected to Derek Powers in some kind of way." Rex inputted.
"Is that so? Well then let's go to the Bat Cave and talk it over. Justin, can you hold down the fort up here?" Clark asked as the paprika-pepper haired butler walked into the drawing room.
"No problem, Master C. If we get anymore surprise guests like Powers I'll just tell them you're all busy." Justin said.
"Thank you, Justin. Let's head down below then." Bruce said and the group of four went to the private study.
Meanwhile, as Eloise Winston drove down the road in the gold hover Mustang car Derek Powers was speaking with his bodyguard.
"That was a rather foolish move you made, my dear." Derek said to the woman seated next to him.
"Whatever do you mean, Mr. Powers?" Asked the lady.
"That comment you made about ink. That could have given you away if you carried on." Derek said as he looked at the woman with a disapproving look. In response the mystery woman just scoffed in amusement.
"Relax, Mr. Powers. I seriously doubt they would have guessed that ink is part of my actual name and learn that I'm not your new bodyguard." Said the woman and she removed her coat and hat to reveal slick, tar like body of blue and black coloring while her face was ash grey.
"Regardless I wasn't about to take that chance. I didn't hire you for this job just to get caught early into it because of a slip of the tongue, Inque. There is no margin for error." Derek stated.
"So you have been telling me. But what you haven't told me is what exactly this job is. After all I won't be able to charge you accordingly to my set prices if I don't know what brand of industrial espionage I'm to perform." Inque said as she leaned back and crossed her legs.
"Set prices? From what I've been told the only set prices you have are expensive and more expensive." Derek said with a deadpan look.
"They're still set prices though. So what's the job?" Inque asked. Derek leaned down and grabbed a suitcase then opened it and pulled out a manila folder.
"Your job is to arrange a demonstration for a product I intend to sell to a special client at the World Trade Conference." Derek explained as he handed Inque the folder. She opened it and scanned her marble black eyes over it before letting out a whistle.
"Well, well. This sounds like a rather special job that has a 'more expensive' price tag." Inque said.
"If your success rate is as good as you claim, my dear, it will be well worth the credits." Derek said with a sinister grin.
At the same time Terry and Rex were down in the Cave with Bruce and Clark. The teenagers told the retired heroes everything they have discovered from what Mary said about Warren to the connection that seems to involve him, Derek Powers and Warren's friend Harry Tully. After getting the full story Clark started calling some reporter contacts he had in Gotham City while Bruce did a little hacking into the private employee files of Powers Industries. Meanwhile Rex and Terry were going over their notes on this odd domestic case at the table while using a hard-light chart to connect the series of events.
"Alright, so we know that nine months ago Warren left FoxTeca to work at Powers Industries. This was the same time that he moved out of the house with Mary and your half brother Matt." Rex said as he used a stylus to draw a digital blue line going from the label 'left FoxTeca Corporation' to 'transferred to Powers Industries' and stopped it at 'moved out of family home'.
"Yes. And he gave two different stories to cousin Lucas and Aunt Mary as to why he was leaving. Uncle Warren told Aunt Mary that he was moving out because his boss wanted him to focus on a big project. But he told Lucas that he wanted to transfer so he could be closer to his sick friend Harry Tully." Terry said and used a stylus to draw a digital line from a picture of Mary McGinnis to the story Warren told her, then drew another line from a picture of Lucas Fox to the story Warren told him.
"Looking at the story Warren told Mary, it sounds like she didn't even know he transferred to Powers Industries. That could also explain why she didn't question it further since she knew Lucas. Why would he give two completely different stories to his former boss and his wife?" Rex asked.
"In terms of Aunt Mary, he probably lied to her so she wouldn't worry about what he was doing. I think whatever is going on has to do with this friend of his, Harry Tully." Terry said, using the stylus to draw a circle around the name in question.
"I think you got a point, fruit bat. But so far we only have a name and no face to this friend." Rex said.
"You have a face now! Come over and look at this!" Called out Bruce. The teens got up from the table and walked over to the Bat Computer where the former Dark Knight was sitting.
"What did you find, panjo?" Terry asked as he looked up at the large super computer.
"It took a while longer than anticipated, but I found the employee file on Harry Tully." Bruce said as he pulled up the file.
With a digital ping the complete file came up on one Harry Tully. Looking at him Terry and Rex saw that he was an average looking man with red hair and brown eyes. The looked over the basics of his file, like his place of birth and secondary gender, when their eyes saw something odd. In a part of the file where it would normally show an employee's activity throughout their time working with the company, there was a large timeline of activity missing. Almost as if it was removed by someone. What made this go from odd to suspicious is the length of time that was taken out of this activity log; nine months. And after that it lists Harry as having been discharged from Powers Industries.
"Nine whole months of Harry's activity in the company is completely gone. That can't just be a coincidence." Terry said in a tone of suspicion.
"And it says that he was fired from Powers' company, too. Why would Warren go to work for a company that let go of his best friend? He wasn't there at the time he transferred so it couldn't have been to reconnect with him like he told Lucas." Rex said.
"Hm...Maybe he wasn't transferring to reconnect with Harry, but to find out why he was fired." Terry surmised.
"That would explain a great deal of things, yes." Bruce said in agreement. Just then Clark came over to the group at the Bat Computer.
"Alright, thanks Jeanette. I owe you big time for this." Clark spoke to the person on the phone and hung up.
"You got something too, pops?" Terry asked.
"Yes. An anchor friend of mine just told me that she did an interview with Warren about a secret project he's supposed to be helping Powers with." Clark explained.
"So there was some truth to the story Warren told Mary. Did she say what the project was about?" Rex asked.
"Unfortunately no. However she did learn that the project was for the development of a product that Derek Powers plans to sell to a VIP client. And here's the kicker; he's meeting this client at the World Trade Conference this weekend." Clark explained.
"World Trade Conference? Terry, didn't you say Lucas mentioned the WTC when you and Rex went to talk to him?" Bruce asked.
"Yes he did. And now that you mention it, Derek did mention it when he popped up here too." Terry said as he stroked his chin in thought.
"I'm no great detective but my inner senses are telling me this is shaping up into one big case." Rex said.
"I think you're right, Rex. Panjo is there anyway you can find out either who this VIP client is or what this product Derek is trying to sell is about?" Terry asked.
"I'm afraid not, son. I was only able to get to Harry's employee file because that's a matter of public record. If Derek is keeping secrets like I think he is, anything having to do with this VIP client and this product he's selling will be on his private computer in his office. And though we have come a long way in technology I wouldn't be able to get access to files like that from here without being directly linked into the data hubs at Powers Industries." Bruce explained.
"However, if a bat and a bird managed to make their way into the office after hours and link into the data hub that could help." Clark added with a hinting tone and a wink.
"Say no more, pops. Me and Rex will get into the data hub to figure out just what Derek is up to. And since the World Trade Conference is coming up this weekend we should probably do this on Friday." Terry said.
"Fine by me. I don't have any plans for this Friday night anyway." Rex said.
"And we'll be here to help you both out in the mean time." Bruce spoke with a smile.
"Thanks, panjo. I just hope that we can find out what's going on soon. I have a very bad feeling that whatever is going on isn't something good...and there may already be a casualty." Terry said as he looked at the picture of Harry in the employee file, an unpleasant feeling of dread pooling in his stomach.
Neo Gotham, Friday night 1:50AM. Powers Industries Headquarters...
After waiting for the week to progress further Friday finally came. Batman and Warhawk waited until the dead of night when they were sure that no one would be at the corporate building. They flew side by side on the winds of a somewhat humid night as they made their way to the large building. Once they got within a few yards of it Batman used the Detective Mode of his cowl to scan for any heat signatures. Thankfully only five came up on the scan, most likely the janitor and a few security guards, and he nodded to Warhawk that it was clear to proceed. The heroes flew to the rooftop of the building and landed down on quietly right underneath the sign. Once they tucked in their respective wings Batman contacted Justin.
"Alright, Justin, we're at Powers Industries. Are you and panjo ready?" Batman asked.
"Ready and able, little master. I'm about to hack into the security feed and sync it to you're cowl so you can see where the guards are coming. Last thing we need is for the protector of Gotham to explain why he's visiting a business after hours." Justin said over the comm-link.
"And I'm on standby to hack into Derek's files when you get access to the data hubs." Bruce added.
"Great. Now let's make our way inside." Batman said to Warhawk.
"And not going to be that old 'crawl through the vent' bit. I'm kinda hard to fit in small spaces on my own. And the wings just make it harder." Warhawk said, flexing his wings to show emphasis.
"Don't worry, that's not what we're going to do. We're going to enter through the sign." Batman said, pointing up at the building's sign.
"Enter through the sign? Sounds to me like you've been hanging upside down for too long, Batman." Warhawk said.
"I mean through the maintenance door in the sign that leads into the building, turkey vulture." Batman replied with a glare.
"Ah. Well that makes more sense. I was worried you lost it for a second." Warhawk replied with a grin, then scaled up the giant letters of the sign along with the Knight of Tomorrow.
After reaching the middle between the illuminated 'Powers' and 'Industries' words of the sign the pair nimbly made their way across until they reached the maintenance door. Batman studied the locking mechanism for a moment and realized he was facing an unexpected obstacle. What he was hoping to be a standard electronic lock to hack was a more traditional lock. As he was about to use a Batarang to pick the lock Warhawk stepped in and offered his help. Using his metallic manipulation he morphed the tip of the nth metal armor surrounding his index finger into a skeleton key shape. Warhawk then thrust the makeshift key into the keyhole and after a single twist the door opened. Acting like a gentleman the half Thanagarian bowed and gestured for Batman to go first, who grinned and rolled his eyes but went ahead anyway.
From there it was a matter of reaching linking the Bat Computer to the data hubs. With four hubs in total the heroes split up, taking two each. Justin made sure to keep them in the know whenever a guard was coming their way so they could hide. While both teens were more than capable of subduing a few middle aged Beta male guards it would only expose their infiltration. Though Warhawk was a little disappointed that he wouldn't be able to bash any skulls Batman assured him he would get his chance. Finally they connected the hacking devices into all four data hubs on the different floors of the large building and met up at their rendezvous point on the top floor.
"Panjo, Warhawk and I placed the hacking devices into the data hubs." Batman said over the comm-link.
"Great work. I'm in Derek's files now. The both of you should be able to access everything on his computer." Bruce said.
"Got it. Warhawk, keep watch while I hack the lock." Batman said as he went to work on opening the digital security door that kept them from Derek's office.
Warhawk nodded and stood on alert, scanning the area from left to right with his night vision he inherited from his mother's side. After a moment Batman finally hacked the lock and they quickly scurried into the office. Luckily the blinds were down so no one could look into the office through the clear glass. But while this added to their cover they still couldn't idle with the job. A guard could come in for a rounds check at any given moment, so the stakes couldn't be higher at this point. Batman immediately went over to Derek's desk, his computer already turned on after Bruce hacked into the system, and immediately started tapping away at the keyboard to open up the secret files.
"Alrighty, let's see what Mr. Powers is hiding." Warhawk said as he looked over the Omega hero's shoulder.
"Well among the fact that he's been taking bribes from other companies he's merged with, he's been hiding Harry Tully's real employee activity log. The one panjo found was probably a fake for public record purposes." Batman said.
"So what does the real one say?" Warhawk asked.
"Hm...It's mostly a log on his health and not his actual performance in the company. And it looks like he was experiencing different ailment symptoms. Excessive sweating, chronic tiredness, loss of appetite, osteoarthritis, skin outbreaks and so on. I guess Uncle Warren wasn't lying when he told Lucas he was concerned about Harry's health." Batman explained as he read the file.
"And look at this. Every time Harry was too sick to perform his shift someone else would cover for him and take him to the hospital. Look at the name of the kind co-worker." Warhawk said, pointing at a part in the hidden file on the screen.
"Warren McGinnis. And if he took Mr. Tully to the hospital he probably learned what was wrong with him." Batman said.
"You think his medical files are here, too? If Powers would hide the fact that his employee was majorly ill he'd most likely hide the reason why he was sick." Warhawk said.
"I think you're right. Let's see..." Batman said and searched through the files for a moment before finding medical files from Gotham General Hospital. "Aha! Says that the doctors diagnosed Harry with a toxin related disease of some kind after having been exposed constantly to hazardous chemicals. And Powers Industries could be at fault for the exposure because Harry worked in their biochemistry branch."
"So Powers went through all this trouble to hide evidence of a slam dunk workman's compensation suit?" Warhawk asked.
"Sounds like something he would do, but I don't think that's it. Let's find out if there's anything about this secret project Uncle Warren was working on for that product Derek is planning on selling." Batman said and searched through the files again. After a moment he found one folder that seem to contain what he was looking for.
"The file name is...'The Demonstration'? What does that mean?" Warhawk asked.
"I'll tell you what I know it isn't, a file about a regular company demonstration. Let's see." Batman said and clicked on the file.
And when he did, he hit pay dirt. Almost immediately tens of hundreds of file documents popped up about the secret project. With every word the heroes read from each file the blood drained from their faces and their hearts thumped with dread. According to the files, Derek Powers has been working on a viral nerve gas he intends to sell. The gas itself has been in it's final stages of development to make it lethally perfect and has been continuously tested on Harry Tully, which accounts for the odd ailment symptoms he's been having for the last nine months. And to avoid suspicion he's been kept in a private laboratory, the location of which wasn't listed in the files, for observation and study. Also in the files were formulas that Warren created for Powers under the assumption that they were going to be used for industrial purposes. But in reality those formulas were going into the creation of the nerve gas. In addition to all this the name of the VIP client was mentioned in a copied email correspondence. A man named Vilmos Egans, who serves as the finance minister of the small yet powerful European country known as Kaznia.
"Good God...I don't believe this. That bastard is making a nerve gas." Warhawk spoke in horrified shock.
"And then he made up the fake employee activity log so no one would be any the wiser while he perfected the gas at Harry's expense to sell to this VIP client." Batman said.
"You say no one was any the wiser, but what about Warren? I mean he did get the phone call from Harry nine months ago, which was when he transferred to Powers Industries. And he was the one who would take Harry to the hospital whenever he got real sick. He had to have found out somehow." Warhawk said.
Just then, before Batman could give any further opinion on it, the door of the office opened up. And then the light switched on with a 'click'. The heroes felt their hearts stop and their blood run cold. They looked up to see who it was and Batman gasped. It was none other than Warren McGinnis, dressed in a plain brown suit and wearing those square-framed glasses that he remembered fondly playing with when he was a kid and would visit his surrogate uncle. However this wasn't a happy family reunion. As far as Warren knew he wasn't even looking at the boy who he called a nephew. He was looking at the new generation of nightly vigilante with another new generation of hero at his side, hacking into his boss's computer. Warren's face was filled with stunned surprise as his eyes bulged behind his spectacles. There was nothing but silence in that span of a minute that felt more like the span of an eternity. Then finally Warren spoke up.
"Batman?" Warren asked, then looked over to Warhawk. "...And an extremely tall metal bird man."
"I'm a hawk, damn it! And it's Warhawk!" The young Alpha hero angrily corrected.
"Mr. McGinnis, I this must be an immense surprise for you but please stay calm. We're only here to learn the truth about what Derek Powers is up to before anyone get's hurt." Batman explained, raising his hands up in a show of peace to keep the man calm. Warren, who's shock had dwindled down by now, took in a deep breath before exhaling. Then he gave a small laugh.
"That's just fantastic." Warren said.
"Um...Excuse me?" Batman asked, looking a tad bewildered at the statement.
"Don't look so surprised, Dark Knight. I've been waiting for you to catch onto Powers for a very long time." Warren replied.
"You have? But why?" Warhawk asked.
"I'd like to explain, but here isn't good. Let's meet at the office of my real boss." Warren said, piquing the interest of the duo.
"Your real boss?" Batman asked in surprise.
"Yes. But like I said it isn't safe here. So let's get out of here and just follow my car." Warren said and left the office quickly.
At this both Warhawk and Batman looked at each other in surprise. But as shocked as they were they couldn't stay here any longer, both because they wanted answers from Warren and because they knew that the guards are most likely still doing rounds. So after collecting the hacking devices from the data hubs they immediately vacated from the building and followed after Warren. They saw the man enter his car and he drove off soon after. Without a moment's hesitation they flew off and copied the same directions he was taking. After minutes of following Warren the pair started to wonder where he was leading them to. And finally they got their answer when they looked ahead to see the one and only FoxTeca Corporation building.
"What!? We're back at FoxTeca? What does this mean?" Batman asked.
"I think it means that your uncle told your cousin a lot more than a cover story, little master." Justin said over the comm-link.
"Looks like it. I wonder what Lucas will have to say about this." Batman said as he flew up to the windows to look for Lucas and found him in the same meeting room on the conference floor where they met earlier yesterday. And as they entered through an open window on the floor and walked towards the meeting room they were met by Warren as he walked up the stairs.
"Ah, glad to see you've made it. I'm sorry for being so secretive back at Powers Industries, but as you can guess this is a sensitive situation." Warren said and walked the rest of the way to the door of the meeting room and pushed it open. Lucas was standing at the head of the table like before with his back turned as he looked over some papers. Then he turned around to look at Warren and gave a friendly smile.
"Warren, I was afraid that you wouldn't make it here for a moment." Lucas siad.
"No worries Lucas, everything went well. I just had met a surprise encounter with two potential allies." Warren said and stepped aside so that Batman and Warhawk could enter. Lucas looked surprised for a moment at the mere sight but then relaxed and gave a knowing smile.
"Well, if it isn't the fabled protector of the night and his metal winged ally. I suppose it was only a matter of time before you found out." Lucas said.
"I'm not called the World's Greatest Detective for show, Mr. Fox. However I have to say I wasn't expecting to find you at the heart of this investigation." Batman said.
"So what's the deal here? Why is Warren at Powers Industries if he's working for you still?" Warhawk asked.
"Well to put it very simply, Warhawk, I'm a mole. And Lucas had me infiltrate Powers Industries by working there." Warren started.
"Yes. For the last three years I've been working alongside the government in order to nail Derek's ass to the wall for all of his connections with the criminal underground. And we got word that he was developing a certain brand of product to sell at the World Trade Conference." Lucas explained further.
"The nerve gas meant to be sold to the Kaznia finance minister." Batman inputted.
"Right. Vilmos Egans has been suspected of using his position in the Kaznian government for years to provide small banana republics with major grade chemical weapons. But no one has ever been able to prove anything." Warren said.
"And when we found out that Egans was looking to do business with Derek Powers, my associate Mr. McGinnis and I got the idea to use him as a form of bait. With Warren's extensive training in biochemistry we knew that Powers wouldn't turn down his transfer and gave him an executive position right on the spot." Lucas explained.
"Originally the plan was for me to do this a little later around the time the World Trade Center was a week away from starting. But then...I got a phone call from Harry Tully. And when he explained the symptoms...I knew what Powers was doing to him." Warren said, his voice cracking with emotion as he recounted the call he had with his friend.
"I'm very sorry, Mr. McGinnis. I know this must be hard for you. But you have to tell us where Mr. Tully is so we can ask him some question about this." Warhawk spoke in a rare gentle tone.
"I'm afraid that won't be possible, Warhawk. You see over the past nine months that Harry was kept and used to further test the effectiveness of the gas his body took a considerable turn for the worse." Lucas said and pulled out two photos from the inside pocket of his suit, handing them to Batman. "Take a look for yourself. Warren managed to get these photos from a camera's SD card before Powers had it destroyed. This is what that nerve gas is capable of in it's perfected state."
Batman took the pictures and gave them both a look. And instantly he felt horror strike him in the heart and bile shooting up to his throat with the threat to spew forth. In one picture it showed Harry laying on a metal gurney and dark red blotches covered his entire body and his head was left bald, most likely a side effect from the chemicals. He looked like he was in so much pain to the point where he could almost imagine him screaming prior to this picture being taken. The second photograph was even worse as it showed a pile of ash-like skin. And there was no doubt in his mind that this pile of skin was Harry Tully.
"This is horrible...Does his family know?" Batman asked to Warren who solemnly shook his head.
"No. Harry had no family and was a loner. The perfect employee to use as a test subject, the one no body would ask about." Warren said with a hateful look on his face.
"So is that why you transferred to Powers Industries to work as a mole sooner?" Warhawk asked.
"Yes. I thought that maybe I could talk Harry into quitting Powers Industries so he could go away somewhere and get treatment. But Harry...he was never a strong man. He was so easily manipulated and controlled by Powers that I couldn't do anything to convince him to leave. Even still I should have pushed harder and made him leave that God awful place." Warren said, now looking depressed.
"Don't beat yourself up, Warren. It wasn't your fault. After the World Trade Conference the days were Mr. Powers manipulates and uses people will be over." Lucas assured.
"And Warhawk and I certainly won't let this stand, Mr. McGinnis. We'll help you and see to it personally that Derek is put behind bars." Batman said, resting a comforting hand on Warren's shoulder. The man blinked in surprise before giving a smile.
"Thank you, Batman. I truly appreciate that." Warren said gratefully.
"Well now that we're all on the same side and have compared notes, our next order of business is to learn where Derek is going to use the nerve gas for it's grand scale test." Lucas said.
"We didn't see any mention of something like that in the files we hacked. So he's probably keeping that part a secret in his head." Warhawk said.
"I'll keep an eye on him at work then. Listen to his phone calls and observe who he talks to. It may lead us to the location." Warren suggested.
"Good idea, Warren. We'll all need our A-game though and stay on alert. Derek Powers will most likely perform the final big test of the gas the day of the World Trade Conference just so that the news can report on it's effectiveness at the cost of many lives." Lucas said.
"We'll keep ourselves on stand by as well, Mr. Fox." Batman said.
"I guess that settles everything then. I better heard home and get what few hours of sleep I can. So long." Warren said and waved off the heroes and Lucas then left.
"Well, this was definitely how I was planning to visit you again Lucas." Batman said looking at the colored Alpha.
"Sorry for the secrecy Terry, but this was a high priority mission that I had to keep secret. For what it's worth though I had a feeling you would have learned the truth at some point." Lucas said.
"Heh, charming your way out of trouble won't work. Still I forgive you." Batman said.
"At least now we're prepared for whatever Derek Powers is up to." Warhawk said.
However, the men were not as prepared as they thought. Outside in the parking lot Warren was getting into his car and was totally unaware that he was being watched. Then after he drove off the shapely tar-like figure of Inque literally slip out of the shadow she melded into for camouflage. After watching the man leave she pulled out her phone and called Derek.
"Oh Mr. Powers? I have some interesting news to share about your favorite executive." Inque said over the phone.
Neo Gotham, day of the World Trade Conference 6:38PM. The Bat Cave...
Ever since the early morning Terry and Rex have been in the Bat Cave pacing around. They were dressed almost completely in their suits with only their heads left uncovered, both anxiously holding on to their respective mask and helmet. The teens were very anxious as they waited for Lucas to call them. He said that he would let them know where the nerve gas was going to be tested as soon as Warren came to his office and told them. But it was already past six thirty and the World Trade Conference starts at eight PM. What if something happened to Warren, and Derek had him killed before he could tell them anything? Terry wanted so badly to Warren and check on him but it would be very difficult to explain how Batman had Warren McGinnis's personal phone that he gave to family and friends. Then suddenly, after twelve more minutes of waiting, Justin came down the stairs.
"Little master, you have a guest who wishes to see you urgently." Justin said.
"I'm sorry Justin, but I don't have time to play host. Tell them to come back tomorrow." Terry said.
"With all due respect I think you'll want to see this guest. It's Warren McGinnis." Justin said. At this Terry turned his head up to look at the paprika-pepper haired butler in shock.
"Uncle Warren? He's here?" Terry asked in shock.
"Yes. And he wishes to see you as soon as possible." Justin said.
"Oh man. We better change out of our suits before we go up to meet him." Rex said.
"That won't be necessary, Rex." Said the voice of Bruce and everyone looked up the stairs to see him and Clark coming down...with Warren behind them.
"Panjo! Pops! What are you!?...Uncle Warren is...!" Terry stuttered in shock as he pointed at Warren in shock.
"It's alright, Terry. Warren said that Lucas told him everything." Clark said.
"He gave him an envelope, saying to read it in case something bad ever happened before they could finish the mission tonight. And just recently something very bad happened." Bruce explained.
"Let me guess, Powers." Rex said with a knowing glare.
"Yes...A few hours ago, I got a call from some woman. She said that...she was an associate of Derek. It didn't sound like his secretary Eloise Winston or any of the other women at the company though." Warren struggled to say.
"That must be the new lady bodyguard Powers had with him a few days ago when he came here." Terry said, now over his previous shock to focus on the situation at hand.
"What did the woman say, Warren?" Clark asked gently. Warren looked down as he tried to find the will to speak, then after a particularly painful sigh he spoke again.
"She said that...She followed me from Powers Industries. And that she saw me go to meet Lucas. Then she...called Derek, and told him what I did. And then she said that...Matt...and Mary would get to see how...the nerve gas works." Warren said and finally he broke down into tears. "When I went to the house...it was a complete wreck! They're gone! And it's all my fault!"
"No, Warren. It's not your fault. You couldn't have seen this coming. And if anyone is to blame it's Derek Powers." Bruce said as he kept Warren steady as he literally quaked from his sobbing.
"We promise Warren, we'll get them back for you." Clark added determinedly.
"And what of Mr. Fox? You said that he gave you a letter to open in case things were to get bad." Justin said.
"Yes...He gave it to me a week prior to the time the WTC was about to start. But as of this moment, I'm afraid...that Lucas is in the same amount of danger as Mary and Matt." Warren spoke as he tried to regain his composure.
"What do you mean by that?" Rex asked, desperately hoping the man wouldn't say what he felt he was going to say.
"The woman on the phone told me that the effectiveness of the gas would be displayed...at the FoxTeca Corporation building. With Lucas and some employees still inside." Warren replied in an ominous tone.
The room practically froze as everyone looked at the mustached Beta male in horror. Terry and Rex looked especially petrified. They saw the pictures of what this gas was capable of. And the thought of Lucas, Matt, Mary and all of those innocent people being reduced to piles of skin...it was a terrible thought. One they would not let come to pass.
"Uncle Warren, I promise you personally that this test demonstration is not going to take anymore lives. Not like it took your friend Harry's. I won't allow it." Terry stated with a sure look.
"Yeah! We'll storm FoxTeca Corporation and catch them by surprise." Rex said.
"That won't work. The security force field that we used to protect the building against severe weather conditions is up. And the system controlling it was created by Lucas so it's practically hack proof. So a frontal assault is impossible." Warren said, then looked down as he stroked his chin in thought. "Although..."
"Although what?" Clark urged on.
"There may still be a way we can surprise them. As you can expect the woman on the phone gave me a ransom. She said to bring all of the evidence Lucas and I had collected on Powers. Now for that moment the force field will be down. And that'll be your chance." Warren explained.
"A regular Trojan Horse infiltration. I like it. Justin, let's get the Bat Mobile ready. I have a feeling it'll be needed." Bruce said.
"Right away, Master B." Justin said and hurried off to prep the car along with Bruce.
"And I'll call a friend of mine in the government to have officers of the Kaznian government pick up Mr. Egans later at the World Trade Center." Clark said and took out his cellphone then proceeded to call a certain phone number.
"Wow...All these years I thought I was friends with a regular pair of jet-setting soccer dads. And the kid who I always saw as a nephew was just a regular boy." Warren paused as he looked over Terry. "But all this time, you all have been fighting the good fight."
"Yeah. I know this is pretty shocking, Uncle Warren, but I don't regret doing what I do. Not ever." Terry said.
"I know, Terry. And I'm glad that you find this all worthwhile. But when this is all over, and if we come out of this alive, can you..." Warren paused and whispered the last part in Terry's ear. The Omega hero blinked in surprise but then smiled and nodded.
"Of course. Well you better get ready for the trade off." Terry said.
"Right. I'll be waiting in my car. And Terry...Batman...Thank you." Warren said and headed back upstairs.
"What did he say to you?" Rex asked to Terry.
"You'll find out when this is over." Terry said, then slipped on his mask.
Less than half an hour later, Warren was driving to the FoxTeca Corporation building. He had a steely determined look on his face as he got closer and closer to the corporate headquarters that was now keeping his family and boss prisoner along with several other people. But today he was going to put an end to that. Even though it would cost him the solid case he helped to develop against Powers, he had to do it in order to save his family. Once close to the building of FoxTeca the mustached Beta male drove to the underground warehouse where all of the important materials were kept. As he drove up to the entrance of the underground facility one of Powers' goons gave him a look over, especially checking his car, before letting him inside. Warren drove further into the warehouse that was beneath the great modern building before he stopped when he saw Derek Powers and his cronies standing in the middle of the room waiting. The man stepped out of the car as calmly as possible and walked over, looking to the place to see where everything was. To the right he saw ten canisters that were possibly twenty gallons each huddled together with a time release device on one of them. To the left to see several FoxTeca employees tied up. And so were Lucas, Matt and Mary. Before he could talk to them Derek spoke up.
"Well, dear Mr. McGinnis. I was beginning to think you wouldn't show up." Derek said in a mock sweet tone.
"Spare me. You knew that I wouldn't risk the life of my family and not show, Powers." Warren stated with a glare.
"Warren?!" Mary asked in shock at the sight of her husband.
"Dad?!" Matt asked, equally shocked. The man looked over at his family and gave an assuring smile.
"Don't worry, you two. I promise this will all turn out okay." Warren said.
"I would hold off on making promises, Warren, until I see that incriminating file you made about me." Derek said.
"It's right here." Warren said, pulling out a rigid diskette from his pocket then looking to Lucas with an apologetic expression. "I'm sorry Mr. Fox. But I had no choice."
"There's no need to explain, Warren. I understand. You made the right choice and I would've done the same." Lucas said.
"Indeed, Mr. McGinnis, you have made the right choice. Now if you'll just kick the diskette over to me this can all end." Derek said.
Warren glared at the man before setting the diskette on the ground then pushing it all the way over to Derek. The man knelt down to pick it up then looked it over. Afterwards he gave a nod of approval.
"Very good. And I trust this is the only copy, and you don't have any others stashed away." The white haired Alpha said.
"It is. Unlike you Derek I really am a man of my word. Now let everyone go." Warren ordered.
"Hm...No, I'm afraid not. You see I still need to display how my nerve gas works before the finance minister of Kaznia buys it. And it's no good to let the gas off in an empty building. Then of course there's the matter of you knowing all this." Derek said.
"So what, you'll knock me out and I'll be one of the guinea pigs for this twisted experiment? Like how Harry was?" Warren asked and though he looked and sounded calm for the most part his eyes were full of hatred.
"Oh no, Mr. McGinnis. You did bring the files to use so your death will be a relatively quick one. Plus you won't have to see your family suffer." A woman in a light brown pea coat and matching hat said as she pulled out a gun and aimed it directly at Warren.
"Hmph. Even to the very end you have someone else finish off people who beat you at your own game. You're one poor loser, Derek." Warren said.
"Perhaps I'm a poor loser in spirit, yes. But I'll be a rich loser after the sale of this nerve gas. For what it's worth though I'll make a little commemorative marble and gold plaque for you in the office to highlight your outstanding service to me." Derek replied with a heartless grin.
"Actually Derek, you'll want to make that plaque in commemoration for something else." The mustached Beta male said.
"Oh? And what would that be?" Derek asked.
"A plaque in commemoration of when the manipulator got manipulated. NOW!" Warren shouted and ducked out of the way, covering his head with as he laid on his stomach.
At first everyone was confused as to why he would do this, until they got their answer when a car suddenly materialized right where Warren once stood. But it wasn't just any car. It was the Bat Mobile. Before any of Derek's goons could react three metallic whip like cables shot out of the vehicle and unhinged grappling claws. The cables latched onto three goons and shocked them with an intense but not lethal pulse of electricity that brought them down immediately. Then the car itself opened and out came Warhawk and Batman like bullets being shot out of a gun. Warhawk gave a battle shout as he tackled two goons hard into the ground then picked up two more and tossed them into a wall while also using his nth metal wings to deflect gun shots and make them ricochet to the shooters and knick them in the legs. Batman meanwhile bombarded a group of five more goons a flurry of fast kicks and punches, gracefully flipping and performing splits to evade their attempts to attack him. In a matter of moments all of the goons were taken out and the heroes stood side by side, still in battle ready positions.
"Well, Derek Powers I presume. Batman and Warhawk. Pleased to beat you." The Knight of Tomorrow greeted with witty sarcasm.
"And from us taking down your goons and having you cornered, you're beaten in every way." Warhawk said.
"Ha! I'll admit, this was a surprise I wasn't expecting. And I am legitimately impressed that you pulled this off Warren. However I'm not without a trump card of my own." Derek said, gesturing to the woman in the light brown pea coat and hat.
"Some trump card. No offense lady but you don't look like you can fight a kitten." Batman said.
"Oh, no offense taken. But you of all people should know Batman, that looks can be deceiving." The woman said and raised her hand up...then a stream of black tar shot forward and smacked the dark hero right across the face.
"Ugh!" Batman exclaimed in pain as his body flew across the warehouse floor.
"Batman!" Warhawk exclaimed in shock and rushed to his aid. As he helped his fellow hybrid up the two looked at the woman and saw her take off her coat and hat to reveal a black and blue tar like humanoid figure and her beautiful ash grey face slowly morphed to match the rest of her body with a large, white oval shaped dot where her face was.
"The name's Inque, gentlemen. And in my case I don't need a pen's help to be mighty. But I can make my own swords." Inque said and her tendril arms hardened and formed into the shapes of cutlass blades, then with a shout she charged at them.
While Warhawk and Batman were busy tangling with Inque Derek rushed over to the ten gas canisters and worked to turn on the timer to release the nerve gas. Thankfully, just before he could turn it on, Warren rushed at him and tackled the Alpha businessman to the ground. The two men tussled on the ground but Warren got the upper hand and pinned Derek to the ground, first headbutting to disorient him and then giving him a hard punch.
"This doesn't begin to cover the pain you put Harry through with your experiment, but it's a damn good down payment!" Warren stated as he kept punching Derek. As the mustached Beta male continuously assaulted him Derek pulled out a small caliber gun from his pocket and shot Warren right in his shoulder. Warren howled in pain as he clutched his shoulder.
"Dad!" Matt shouted in horror.
"Warren, no!" Mary shouted as well.
Lucas, who was watching on with an anxious look, worked faster to pick the lock of the chains that had his wrists bound behind his back. He was thankful he remembered Bruce's number one lesson – never leave home without a Bat Lockpick. And as Derek kicked Warren off him and pointed the gun directly at his head he was finally able to free his wrists. Immediately Lucas rose to his feet and rushed over.
"You know what, Warren? You were right before. I am indeed a very sore loser. So much so that I won't allow a man who has twice tricked me to live any longer." Derek said as he cocked the gun.
"Tch, you're so arrogant that you think you can decide how long people get to live like their lives don't matter." Warren said with an expression mixed with disgust at the man standing over him and pain at the gunshot wound in his should.
"Well there is a natural order to things. Only the strong survive in this cutthroat world." Derek said.
"You couldn't be more right, Powers!" Warren exclaimed as he kicked the gun out of Derek's hand and then made a two punch combo, one to Derek's face and another to his side, then grabbed the man by the collar and tossed him several feet away. He immediately bent down to Warren and helped him up. "You alright, Warren?"
"Ugh...Don't worry, sir. It's just a little wound. But I gotta say that was really amazing. Now I know why you're never afraid of muggers when you go out at night." Warren said as she slowly got to his feet.
"Hey, just because I retired from kicking ass as a Bat Family member doesn't mean I forgot how to kick ass." Lucas said with a grin. But immediately that grin dropped into a look of shock when a Batarang suddenly flew right between him and Warren and embedded itself into the wall. The men looked over and saw that Batman and Warhawk were still fighting intensely with Inque and it didn't seem like the fight was tipping in their favor.
"Well you better use that kick ass know how to help Warhawk and Batman." Warren said.
"Let me see. Inque's body seems to have a clay like consistency. And if that's true then we should be able to melt her down with water..." Lucas trailed off as his eyes looked around for a hose, but then they landed on something better. A canister of liquid nitrogen with a power nozzle. Then he grinned at the sight. "...or freeze her up."
"That'll work. I'll make a distraction." Warren said and hurriedly hobbled further towards where Inque, Batman and Warhawk were fighting then shouted at the bio-hybrid. "Hey, Inque! How do you manage to get a date, tempting guys on a diet by pretending to be black licorice because they're desperate for something sweet?"
"Grr...I'll tear you to shred for that, old man!" Inque growled as she dropped the two heroes she was holding up with her tendrils then hurled herself straight at Warren.
Once the bio-hybrid was close enough Warren ducked to the side and Lucas held up the nozzle straight at Inque. Before she could react in defense or move away the colored Alpha shot a heavy blast of liquid nitrogen. Inque screamed in agony as the chilling liquid spread over her entire body and a cloud of white smoke covered up most of the area. After ten seconds of spraying Lucas stopped and waved his hand to clear up the smoke. And once it was all clear he saw a frozen statue of Inque, who grumbled angrily from inside her frigid confinement.
"You think she'll be mad when she thaws out?" Warren asked as he slowly got up.
"Nope. In fact I think she'll be very appreciate. That woman needed to chill." Lucas said as he sat the half empty canister down.
"Thanks for the assist, Mr. Fox. And you too, Mr. McGinnis. We really appreciate it." Batman said as he walked over.
"No problem, Terr-...Oh! Sorry. I mean, all in a day's work to help a righteous crime fighter like you Batman." Warren said, quickly covering up his near slip.
"Ha, ha. No need to lay it on that thick, sir." Batman said with an amused grin.
"I got the hostages loose. Everyone is safe. Including Mary." Warhawk said, looking over to the group of FoxTeca employees.
"Oh Warren! Thank God you're alright!" Mary exclaimed happily and rushed to her husband and embraced him.
"Mary, I'm so sorry I lied to you before. I swear I was only trying to protect you and Matthew." Warren said as he hugged his wife with his good arm.
"I know, darling. I understand. Matt and I are just glad you're...Wait, where's Matthew?" Mary asked, looking among the group and realizing that her son wasn't with them.
"Warhawk, wasn't Matt with the group when you went to free everyone?" Batman asked with a panicked look.
"No. When I went to cut everyone loose Matt was already gone. I thought he wiggled free and went to hide somewhere." Warhawk said.
"Not quite the case, my flying friend." Said another voice and everyone looked up to see Derek Powers at the exit leading out of the underground warehouse. And he had a gun to Matt's head.
"Matthew!" Mary exclaimed in worried horror.
"Powers, you bastard! Let go of my son right now!" Warren ordered.
"Relax, old chum. I'll let the boy go. As soon as I have the word of your hero buddies saying that they won't attempt to follow me once my get away gets here." Derek said.
"Fine. We won't follow you. Now let go of the kid." Warhawk said.
"You know, I really do believe that you mean that...But then what's to stop you from tackling me as soon as I turn my back? Maybe I should give you something else to focus on to prevent that. Like a fatally wounded woman." Derek said as he aimed the gun at Mary.
"Don't you shoot at my mom!" Matt shouted and stomped hard on the white haired Alpha's foot.
"Ow!" Derek exclaimed painfully and let go of the little boy in favor of nursing his sore foot, which allowed Matt the chance to run towards the others. "Why you little bastard! You'll pay for that!"
At seeing Derek cock the gun and aim it at his half brother, Batman panicked and looked around for something to toss at him. He saw one of the canisters of nerve gas and in a moment of desperation decided to use that. With all of the strength he had Batman lifted the canister up and yelled at Derek.
"Hey Powers! You want to see how your gas works? Then see for yourself!" And with that Batman tossed the canister straight at Derek.
The businessman stopped short of shooting Matt when he saw the canister filled with his nerve gas hurtling towards him. Immediately Derek turned around and ran off, but it made no difference. The canister landed on the ground and cracked open which unleashed a thick green fog. And the deadly fog quickly caught up to Derek and consumed him. He screamed in pain as the gas penetrated every nerve his body had. He became so weak that he fell to his knees on the way up to the exit of the warehouse. Derek looked at his hands and saw dark red blotches form, and around him his impeccably styled white hair was falling off and began to rain down into his hands. Just then his get away car drove up and stopped right in front of him. A goon in the passenger seat opened the door and with what little strength he had Derek wobbled into the car. But just before he closed the door he looked over to Batman and the group with the most hateful stare he could muster.
"Don't think this is over, Batman! I will end you for this! And that goes for the rest of you! No one crosses Derek Powers and lives to tell about it!" Derek shouted and then slammed the passenger car door, and the car itself then drove away.
"Oh Matthew, are you alright?" Mary asked as she held her son.
"It's cool, mom. I'm okay. That loser was no match for me. Besides, Batman had my back so I knew I'd be alright!" Matt said, looking up at the Omega hero with a bright shine in his eyes. Batman smiled down tenderly at Matt and ruffled his hair.
"You got that right, kid. I always have my partner's back." Batman said.
"As much as I'd like to enjoy this sweet moment, we should all get out of here before the gas spreads." Warhawk spoke up.
"He's right. We can all leave through the elevator and I'll lock down the warehouse until toxic unit can clean things up. And of course, we'll get you a doctor Warren." Lucas said.
"Thanks. Because this little wound is starting to feel not so little anymore." Warren spoke with a weak grin and everyone headed for the elevator leading to the higher floors.
Neo Gotham, the next day 2:15PM. Wayne Manor...
"Although the World Trade Conference started a little late, it was none the less a successful event that brought together many businesses and independent entrepreneurs. And the highlight of the WTC was when the CEO of Wayne Enterprises, Bruce Wayne-Kent, officially announced himself as a public supporter of the CEO of FoxTeca Corporation one Lucas Fox. The two even announced plans for a special collaboration project that will bring an estimated $35.8 million credits in new jobs within the next two years. In addition to this Lucas has promoted his most trusted executive, Warren McGinnis, to vice president of his company." Spoke the virtual anchorman on the large plasma TV as the TV footage from last night's World Trade Conference played out, showing clips of Bruce and Lucas shaking hands at the podium and Warren stepping up to stage and waving at everyone with his good arm while the other was in a sling.
"Now that's what I call a happy ending." Rex said with a smile as he leaned back into the couch.
"Yeah. Even though Lucas and Uncle Warren had to give up the evidence for their case against Powers, I'd say this is a pretty good consolation prize." Terry said as he petted Ace, who was sitting loyally at his side while he was in the chair.
"And the good news keeps on coming, little master." Spoke the voice of Justin as he walked in with Krypto, the former holding several envelopes while the latter had a newspaper in his mouth. "Among the many congratulatory letters folks sent to your father, Jimmy Olsen came personally to deliver an advanced copy of the news on Mr. Egans."
"Oh right, I almost forgot about him. Let's have a look." Terry said and took the paper from Krypto's mouth and petted the white Kryptonian Labrador's head while Rex came over to see as well. On the front page was a snapshot of Vilmos Egans getting dragged away by uniformed officers of the Kaznian government. Above the picture read "Ex-Finance Minister Arrested at World Trace Conference for Supplying Chemical Weapons! Taken Back To Kaznia to Face Harsh Punishment!" by Clark Kent.
"Well even though we lost our shot at Powers, we win one by busting Egans. What kind of contacts does your old Man of Steel have that he was able to blow the whistle on a guy this powerful?" Rex asked.
"I'll tell you the same thing pops told me; you're too young to ask." Terry said with a grin.
"Well can I ask this; what was it that Warren asked you to do back in the Bat Cave?" Rex asked.
"Now that's an okay question. Matt is a big Batman fan and said it would be a dream come true if Gotham's protector would pick him up after school. So he asked me if I could pick up Matt tomorrow and I said I would." Terry said.
"Aww, ain't you the sweet big brother. Just the kind of nurturing personality an Alpha wants in his little Omega." Rex said as he wrapped an arm around Terry, only to have it grabbed and twisted behind his back. "Ow, ow, ow!"
"I'm not your little anything, turkey vulture. You may not have wings of your own but I can still make a nice roast out of you." Terry said with a dark expression on his and a grin to match.
"Ouch, okay! I take it back! I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Rex exclaimed in pain, then paused when he looked up at the TV again. "Hey, stop. They're talking about Powers on the news now."
"What?" Terry asked in surprise and let go of Rex then went over to grab the remote control and turned up the volume to hear the virtual anchorwoman that was now speaking.
"In related news, CEO of Powers Industries Derek Powers was unable to attend the World Trade Conference. His spokesperson said that Mr. Powers has caught a fever and will not be able to attend any public functions for a while. The staff here at Gotham Channel 12 News hope that Mr. Powers makes a speedy recovery." The virtual anchorwoman said.
"I guess that means Powers is alive and survived the exposure to the nerve gas." Rex said.
"Lucas did say he had a good chance of survival since his exposure was minor. But Harry didn't survive from the dozens of times he was exposed. I hope that bastard has to deal with some kind of permanent side-effect and suffer." Terry spoke angrily.
Little did Terry know, however, that Derek did indeed get a permanent side-effect. But it wasn't anything like organ failure or even osteoarthritis. It was something else. Something that could be used to make others suffer...
"And you say that the polymer solution can be used to create new skin and hair for me when I'm out and about?" Derek asked as he dressed behind a medical curtain.
"Yes, sir. It'll last for a good five months before you need to come in to be pressed for a new skin. Or if you burn through it sooner than that, we can also press you for a new skin." Replied the doctor the hazmat suit.
"Good. And you told me to stay away from water, yes?" Derek asked as he held out his hand to his secretary Eloise who gave him his brown suit jacket.
"That's right, Mr. Powers. Now that you're, well, the way you are the water could literally melt you down if exposed to massive bodies of it. It's a risk you have to avoid at all times." The doctor said.
"Thank you, doctor. That will be all for now." Derek said in a rarely calm voice.
"Yes Mr. Powers." The man said and started to turn around.
"Oh, and one more thing doctor." Derek said.
"Sir?" The man asked as he turned back around.
"Derek Powers...I don't want you or the staff to use that name when I'm like this. I have a different name in mind." Derek said.
"Oh...Okay. And what name would that be?" The doctor asked nervously. And then Derek Powers stepped out from behind the curtains, his body glowing a toxic shade of green while his skeleton showed. He wore only a pair of slacks, dress shoes and his brown suit jacket and the ends of the sleeves were burned and jagged.
"From now on...Call me Blight!" Derek, now Blight, spoke and gave a mad laugh that echoed throughout the lab.