Batman/Command & Conquer: Red Gotham
By Christopher W. Blaine
DISCLAIMER: Batman and related characters and situations are ©2003 by DC Comics Inc./Yuri and related characters and situations are ©2003 by Westwood Games. All are used here without permission for fan-related entertainment purposes only. All original content is ©2003 by Christopher W. Blaine.
He kept running, leaping over the burned out hulks of automobiles and racing past the multitude of corpses that now littered the streets of Bludhaven. He had come to this town years before and had sworn to protect it from all enemies, just as he had been taught. In Gotham City, just down the river, he had cut his teeth in the super-hero game as Robin, the junior partner to Batman.
But Gotham City could not handle both of them once he had reached adulthood and so the boy that had become a man changed his name to Nightwing and went somewhere else to roost. He had actually started making a difference, he was sure, because it seemed that the crime rate was finaly going down.
Then the war started and all of his efforts were moot. The Soviet invaders did not distinguish between criminal and hero, civilian and combatant. Overnight it seemed that they had established one of their bases just outside the city limits and when the Bludhaven police tried to investigate, they had been cut down by the conscripted troops imported from Mother Russia.
The army never arrived because they were too busy fighting in other cities all around the country. Even America's allies had been attacked as the massive blanket of the Soviet war machine tried to cover the globe. The Justice League, led by Superman, had gone to Moscow and never returned. The rumors were that a new Soviet weapon, called the Iron Curtain, had been used on him. Other said that stolen American chronal technology had simply wiped the Man of Steel from existence.
Nightwing didn't really know and at that moment, did not really care. He had been waging a non-stop guerilla war against the invaders for months, living by hope and prayers mostly. His once robust physique was scarred from battles with guard dogs and one particularly close strike by a Tesla coil defense system. As it stood, he would probably never been in the shape he had been before the war ever again.
The slight limp he had, the result of a savage dog bite he had not treated properly, was slowing him down he could tell. Two years before, he would have lost his pursuers by simply going up high to the rooftops, where the hero had once been master of the sky.
"We almost have him," one soldier called out in Russian. Nightwing was trained in over twelve languages. "Be ready to spring the trap!"
It was his command of the Russian language that had so far kept Nightwing from capture and internment in a re-education camp. Because the Second Soviet War was spread out all over the country, he had been unable to turn to any of hero friends that were still alive. There was simply too much going on.
Nightwing turned a corner and then jumped into a shadowed doorway. Two conscripts, dressed in the thick, heavy uniforms of the Soviet military ran by, both of them brandishing AK-47's. Nightwing stepped out behind them and drew out two of his last three shuriken. The urge to use them lethally was almost overwhelming, but then he remembered that it was unwillingness to kill that separated him from the conquerors.
Two tosses and both soldiers went down with wounds behind the kneecaps. They cried out but that was all. It would take a few minutes for them to get help and that would be enough time for him to get to one of his secret hideaways. He needed to contact Batman and get into Gotham City. He hated to admit it, but Bludhaven was a lost cause.
The younger sister city to Gotham, Bludhaven never enjoyed the urban mystique that was attached to the home of Batman. Instead, Bludhaven was mostly referred to as what you shouldn't do with a major metropolitan area. Crime and corruption had been rampant in Bludhaven since the Civil War. It was a town that most women were introduced to sex through rape and men learned about drugs before they hit puberty. Nobody, especially President Luthor Nightwing was sure, was willing to expend Allied soldier lives liberating a city that was nothing more than an annex of hell.
Nightwing cut through some alleyways, staying away from the main streets. His stomach rumbled slightly and he realized it had been nearly four days since he last ate. The pickings were getting very slim since the main troops had pulled out of the city to be replaced by mechanized forces. The tanks and such were pretty easy to avoid, though the hero did think he saw a couple of Apocalypse MBT's parked on his old street. Twin-cannoned and remarkably resilient, Nightwing had been forced to choose between fighting another day and walking into an ambush.
It was no secret that General Vladimir, Premier Romanov's military leader in U.S operations, had a special hatred for any super-hero, freak or mutant. The word was it simmered from a power struggle between Vladimir, a career officer, and Yuri, a metahuman that served as Romanov's primary advisor. Yuri was a telepath and he had helped perfect the technology that allowed clones of himself to wander through streets of America cities, overtaking the minds of innocent people and forcing them to do whatever the Yuri-Clones wished.
Nightwing turned a corner and stopped as floodlights came on, blinding him. Had he been properly rested and fed and not so damaged, he would have hopped back into the shadows and slinked away. He saw someone approaching him, a skinny half-naked man with a chilling laugh.
Crazy Ivan! Nightwing threw the last shuriken and took the mad bomber out with a groin strike. The man exploded as his dynamite charge went off. Nightwing shieled his face from the debris and said a silent prayer for the man. It was unfortunate and he had not meant for it to happen, but the men picked to be a Crazy Ivan were normally looking for any excuse to blow themselves up. Nightwing had gotten over feeling remorse about them a long time ago.
A dog jumped at him and got a good grip on his arm. The animal bit down hard and Nightwing felt the blood starting to pour out of his arm and soak his thread-bare costume. Again, had this been two years earlier when he still had a Kevlar-weave uniform, he could have shaken the beast off without problem.
The dog's attack had him off balance and it made him and easy target for the slowly approaching Tesla Troopers. Three of them, clad in large insulated suits, stalked towards the hero as he fought with the dog. Nightwing did not have the strength to resist and with that realization came clarity. One of the Tesla Troopers fired his weapon and an electrical arc caught Nightwing in the shoulder.
He cried out, more out of a need to let Heaven know he was coming than in actual pain. He went over his life briefly and decided that despite the bad times and tragedy, it had been a good one to live. The dog, shaken by the electrical attack, slinked off with its tail between its legs and Nightwing found himself looking at three pairs of metallic boots.
"I see you have met Comrades Alexander, Nicholas and Sebastian, as well as poor Comrade Lassie," a voice said. It was voice of the dead, rough and hoarse with a thick Russian accent. A new pair of boots came into Nightwing's vision; brown and highly polished, the boots of an officer.
Nightwing rolled over and was shocked to see the bulging blue eyes of Yuri staring back at him. He was dressed in his formal brown and red Soviet uniform and had his bald head wrapped with the metal amplifier that strengthened his already-impressive powers. "I see that you are surprised, my friend, but you should not be. You have led our forces on a merry chase for many months now."
Yuri started to walked around Nightwing and one of the Tesla Trooper put a heavy boot on the hero's chest to keep him from moving or attacking. "You are to be commended; if the rest of the heroes of your Justice League had been so difficult to deal with, then perhaps America would have won this war. As it is, you caused a certain amount of embarrassment to the officer in charge of securing Bludhaven." Yuri stopped and put his hands behind his back and scowled, the small tattoo on his forehead wrinkling with his brow. Nightwing did not recognize it.
"I'm sorry to have been a bother," Nightwing shot back. He felt his arm getting cold and realized that the dog had bitten much deeper than he had first imagined.
"Oh, it is no bother at all," Yuri said with a devil-may-care smile. "You see, you provided me a convenient excuse to come here, otherwise the Premier would never have allowed me to interfere with Vladimir's operations." Yuri's smile told Nightwing that he wasn't being told the truth. Then it dawned on the hero; Yuri was a telepath! He was controlling Premier Romanov!
Nightwing felt Yuri's powerful mind stab at his own will and the need to announce his revelation to the world simply faded away. His mind was still his own, but Yuri was going through it and picking out items seemingly at random and tossing them away. "I will take away all of the memories that give you pain if you willingly join with me. There, your parent's deaths is now unknown to you…"
Nightwing screamed in rage. He could no longer remember his parents at all or the circumstances surrounding their murders. He knew it had happened because it was the reason why Bruce Wayne had taken him in when he was a young boy. It was the reason he had wanted to become Batman's partner.
"And there, I have removed the heartache from your failed relationship with Batgirl," Yuri announced even as Nightwing cursed at him. The hero was starting to cry. It was one thing to accept death, it was something else entirely to have your life stripped away.
"It makes you angry, I know, but if you surrender…"
Yuri pursed his lips and then gave a curt nod. "I respect your choice but am also amused by your foolishness." He stepped back and a large man stepped forward. He wore the uniform of the Soviet special forces. His face was familiar, but the thick black beard, typical of Russian officers, blurred most of his features. "I would like you to meet Comrade William, an expert on inflicting pain. He will be the one to send you to the afterlife; consider it an honor."
Comrade William looked down at the prone and bleeding Nightwing and smiled. He had perfect teeth, too perfect and when Nightwing realized exactly who this person was and what they were going to do to him, he was already dead.
"Comrade General," Yuri started as he faced the video monitor within his private quarters. Outside he could here the soldiers training around the barracks. The man he was talking to, General Vladimir's military rival, was in the field, moving his forces towards Keystone City. "You performed well in Midway City, my compliments to you."
The General nodded his head. "All in the service of Mother Russia."
"Indeed, comrade," Yuri remarked. The General was fast becoming a Hero of the People with his swift victories against the Allies. Soon it would be time for Yuri to decide whom he wanted to have as an ally, this man or Vladimir, when he made his bid for power. "I will be unavailable for our weekly conference for the next month or so, I have a rabbit to skin in Gotham City."
The General seemed intrigued but did not question. Yuri admired the man for being able to hold back his own curiosity. "Gotham City is the home of the Batman, one of the last hold-outs from the Justice League. So long as one America super-hero remains alive, then they serve as a beacon of hope for the people. They must be made to see that the way of the costumed vigilante is not the path to social equality."
Nodding, the General remarked that Yuri had been very successful so far in his personal campaign to destroy the American heroes and that he had no doubt a statue of the telepath would soon be erected in Red Square. "You are very perceptive and shrewd, Comrade General, and I will not forget you when I next speak to our Premier. Now, while General Vladimir deals with the Allied counter-attack in Chicago, you will deal the Americans a blow by capturing President Luthor in Keystone City. I will provide you with several of my Yuri-clones to assist you in this endeavor."
Yuri continued his briefing with the young officer for another fifteen minutes before wishing him luck. It was an honest enough send-off as Yuri did see the benefit of capturing Luthor alive. Still, he reasoned with a shrug, if Luthor died, then Vice-President Dugan would take over and the conquest of the United States would go along much easier. The problem with Luthor was despite all of the baby-kissing and promises of making America "great" again, he was as power-hungry as Yuri.
There was knock at his door and Yuri swiveled his chair to face the person coming in. It was a young female captain, dressed in the tight-fitting leather uniform of the communications sector. He eyed her hungrily and could feel her unease being in his presence. He wished he had the liaison that the General used; she was efficient and afraid of nothing. "Yes?" he asked.
"Comrade Yuri, our field agents report success in placing the Psychic Beacons throughout Gotham City. They estimate it is only a matter time before this Batman falls under our control," she reported. She pushed back a lock of blonde hair just before Yuri possessed her mind.
"You desire what I command," he whispered.
"Must serve Yuri," she said, staring blankly into space. He wondered if maybe he should leave just a hint of their encounters at the back of her mind, just so he could watch her nervousness whenever he was around.
He chuckled and then directed her into the sleeping area of his quarters, all the time filling her mind with his depravity.