Batman: Part I
"What are you doing?" Wayne asked.
Terry jerked up in his seat in front of the Batcomputer. Several decades past his prime and he still knows how to sneak around unnoticed, he thought. "Just surfing around the Net," he answered.
Wayne grumbled. "The Batcomputer shouldn't be used for 'just surfing around'," he said.
Terry got out of the chair and let Wayne sit down. "How did the meeting with the stockholders go?" Terry asked.
More grumbling. "I think I'm losing my touch," Wayne commented.
Terry shrugged. "No one can stay young forever," he offered.
Wayne made more low unintelligible noises. He's really in a bad mood tonight, Terry thought. He examined Wayne's face, as he sometimes did. An age's worth of wrinkles creased his face. Slicked back white hair, now slightly unkempt, did more to strengthen the feeling of oldness about the man. However, his eyes still held a sense of vitality to them, and his voice was as sharp as ever. Perhaps it was what could be expected from a life of being Batman. Terry wondered if he'd look the same when he grew old.
But it was too early to think of old age. He still had a full life ahead of him. Now Bruce, on the other hand...
He had insisted on driving himself this evening. Terry wasn't sure if that was to impress the stockholders or to reassure himself that he wasn't too old. Sometimes it seemed like Wayne felt his age and needed to do something to prove that he was still useful.
Wayne had finally looked up at what Terry was doing on the Net. "What is this?" he asked.
"I stumbled across it," Terry replied.
Wayne clicked around the web site. It was completely devoted to the old Batman. There were a few slightly blurred photos of him, records of Batman sightings, a listing of his foes, as well as links to other similar sites.
"You would not believe the number of Batman sites I found," Terry said. "One claimed to have a complete listing of all the weapons and gadgets you used. You've got quite the following."
"Shouldn't you start patrolling soon?" Wayne asked.
Terry took the hint. He knew Wayne's usual response when he didn't want to talk about something. Leaving to don the batsuit, he took a quick glance back and saw Wayne still looking at the Batman site.
It was a pretty dull night. A couple robberies, a suicide bomber, a cat up a tree, but nothing exciting or challenging. Nights like this sometimes made Terry long for some supervillain to show up.
There was just one thing that was bothering him. He turned away from where he had left the bank robbers tied up. There it was again! A dark shadow was watching him from a rooftop across the street. He had seen it several times tonight, but it would always back out of sight before he could get a good look at it.
This time, the shadow was illuminated against the moon. Terry's breath caught as it watched him for a couple more seconds and slipped out of view. Had he seen it correctly?
It had ears just like the old batsuit!
Terry decided that this was enough. He was going to find out why this shadow was following him. He activated his boot-thrusters and soared up to the rooftop.
The person was running away across the building. Terry quickly caught up, grabbed the man by the shoulder, and turned him around. Then he gasped in astonishment as he saw the man clearly in the moonlight.
He was dressed exactly as the old Batman! His face was concealed by the pointy-eared cowl. The long black cape flowed behind him. On his chest was the black bat symbol. Around his waist was the identical tool belt. In every aspect, he looked exactly like Bruce Wayne dressed in his days!
"Don't touch me, fraud," the man ordered. To emphasize the point, he swung his fist and caught Terry right in the mouth.
Terry backed off, his mind reeling. The man had sounded exactly like the old Batman, too! What was going on here?
"See you soon," the Batman look-alike said, still sounding eerily familiar. Then he pulled a batrope from his belt and swung out of sight, leaving a very confused Terry standing on the rooftop.
"I'm telling you, he was exactly like the old Batman!" Terry whispered excitedly, leaning over his lunch tray.
Max shook her head. "But how? Is it a robot clone or something?"
"We tested the batsuit recording," Terry answered. "He's a human. And the voice ID match was identical to Wayne's." He gave a little laugh. "He must have performed a thousand tests last night trying to figure out who it was. I think this really upset him."
"If you found a person who looked just like you, you'd be upset, too," Max said. "Do you suppose it's a clone?"
Terry thoughtful chewed his food. "A forty-some-year-younger clone?"
"They could have taken the cells back when Batman was in his prime and then waited for the right technology to come along," Max offered.
Terry frowned. It was possible. But something didn't seem quite right. Why would anyone wait that long? And what would somebody have to gain by making a clone of the old Batman?
That night, the bat signal was on.
"I thought the police put that in storage," Terry said as he drove the Batmobile towards the source of the signal.
"They did," Wayne responded. "Somebody broke in and stole it."
"So, this is probably a trap," Terry said.
"Undoubtedly," Wayne answered.
"Any idea what I'm going to go up against?" Terry asked.
"Sometimes the best way to find out who's behind a trap is to jump right into it," Wayne said. "Just be careful."
Terry circled around the Spencer Building. He could see the bat signal sitting on top of it. He brought the Batmobile down and got out.
"This signal used to call the great protector of the city to work," the voice exactly like Wayne's said. "But now it only draws the scum."
Terry couldn't get a fix on where the voice was coming from. I've got to keep him talking, he thought. "I protect the city as well," he said.
"But under the name of a dead man!" the voice answered.
"He's not dead!" Terry said in bewilderment.
"The real Batman has come and gone," the voice said. "He is no more."
"You're wrong," Terry said. "He's-"
"I am wrong?" the voice said incredulously. "How can I be wrong? Do you know how much time I spent studying him? How long I've toiled and labored to understand him? I bet you never did any research at all. What did you think, that you could just put on the suit and, voila, you're Batman? There's more to it than that!"
This guy's a maniac, Terry thought. He's a genuine nutcase out on some personal vendetta. But why does he sound exactly like Bruce?
By now, Terry knew where the voice was coming from. He edged his way towards the stairs. He got a batarang ready and jumped behind them. To his surprise, he saw no one there. Instead, he bent down and picked up a speaker.
He heard footsteps behind him and threw the batarang. The Batman look-alike dodged and pushed Terry to the ground. He held Terry's arms down and glared into his face. "I seek to defend the honor of an idol of mine," he growled.
"That's nice," Terry replied. He kicked up and flung the look-alike off him. They both leapt to their feet and stared at the other.
"Who are you?" Terry asked.
"I am Batman come back from the grave," the look-alike said. "I will avenge the wrongs you have caused him."
The look-alike threw a batarang--old style, Terry realized--but Terry was able to easily dodge. He fired a batrope and swiftly tied the look-alike up. But he just smiled, took a pocket knife from his glove, and cut the rope.
"It'll take more than that to defeat the legendary Batman," the look-alike said.
"Good thing I've got more," Terry replied. He fired his boot-thrusters and launched at the look-alike. But the man jumped up at the last moment and kicked down hard, driving Terry into the roof.
Terry groaned and turned over. The look-alike grabbed his throat, pulled him up, and gave him a few punches. Terry pulled out a flash-bomb and blinded the look-alike. He let go of Terry and stumbled back, allowing Terry to get in a few hits of his own.
The Batman look-alike regained his vision soon enough to block the next couple of punches and swiftly kick Terry in the side. As Terry reacted to the blow, the look-alike punched upwards and caught Terry right under the chin. Terry slumped to the ground in a daze.
"I've been examining your fighting style," the look-alike said. "The computer program I wrote showed all of your weaknesses."
Terry said nothing, but instead activated his camouflage. He admired the old Batman's look of surprise to see him disappear.
"So," the look-alike said as Terry moved unseen behind him, "you're going to run away. The real Batman would never have done that!"
"You don't know the real Batman," Terry said, and pulled off the old Batman's mask.
The look-alike cried out and swung his fist behind him, catching Terry in the side of the head. He whacked into the stairway building, his camouflage turning off. The look-alike moved quickly to replace his mask, but Terry was able to get a quick glance of the look-alike's red hair.
He didn't have much time to think. The old Batman had recovered and was heading swiftly towards him. Terry launched up, wings spread wide, and got a batarang right in the face. It made him pause long enough for the look-alike to jump up and grab onto his legs.
Terry struggled to pull away, but the look-alike held on tight. He reached down to knock the old Batman away, but he grabbed Terry's arm and brought up his other arm with tranquilizer gun in hand. Terry had little time to react as the gun pierced his suit and administered its contents.
The world grew darker and drifted away. Terry crashed to the ground, the old Batman landing softly a short distance away. The last thing Terry saw before blacking out was the Batman look-alike slowly approaching.
Consciousness returned slowly. Terry groaned and looked around. He was still on top of the Spencer Building. There was no sign of the Batman look-alike. He looked at his wrist chronometer and saw that he had been out a couple hours. What had happened? Why did the look-alike leave?
Terry hopped back in the Batmobile. It was right where he'd left it, and a brief diagnostics check showed that nothing was wrong with it. The look-alike knocks me out and then leaves, Terry thought, doing no damage whatsoever. Where was the logic behind that?
But then again, the look-alike didn't seem like the most logical person. Still, Terry couldn't help feeling like he'd missed something.
The day in school went by slowly. Terry couldn't concentrate on his work. The Batman look-alike was occupying his thoughts. He talked to Max about it during lunch, but she couldn't think of an explanation.
After school, his mother told him that she was having an out of town meeting that night and he'd have to watch Matt until she got back. She said she was sorry to interfere with his after-school job with Mr. Wayne, but she had just found out about this meeting today and hadn't been able to get a sitter on such short notice. Therefore, Terry had been stuck at home until almost midnight.
Terry impatiently waited for the bus to arrive at the stop. He had lost a lot of time tonight that could have been used tracking down this Batman look-alike. He ran up the road to Wayne Manor and rushed through the door.
"Sorry I'm late," he called. "I had to babysit my brother." He quickly moved from room to room, making his way to the Batcave. "The Batman look-alike problem has been bugging me all day. Have there been any new leads?"
There was no answer. The house was strangely quiet. In fact, it was too quiet. Terry froze when he realized that he hadn't heard Ace. The dog usually barked his head off when someone arrived. But Terry hadn't heard a sound.
Something was wrong here.
Terry rushed to the Batcave. The clock door was untouched, so no one had broken into the Batcave. Or had they? Terry leapt down the steps and took a quick survey of the room. He saw no sign of Wayne and was about to leave when he spotted a small dark shape lying next to the Batcomputer. He rushed over and saw Ace, muzzled and tied up on the floor.
Terry quickly freed the dog. He whimpered and got to his feet. "Where's Bruce, boy?" Terry asked. "Where is he?"
The dog looked towards the Batmobile access tunnel and barked. Terry walked out to the sea, but he found nothing. "Wayne!" he called, but there was no answer.
A quick search of the house revealed nothing. Terry looked in every room, every closet, anywhere that he could think the old man might be. But he came up with nothing.
Bruce Wayne was gone.