Fallen Knight, Rising Son
If we succeed this version of you would never have existed.
Nothing would make me happier.
Superman and AU Batman, JL: Savage Time
An elderly Brit led two blue-eyed boys down a faintly lit street, the kids exchanging exuberant comments on the latest Gray Ghost feature. Turning a corner into Park Row, they froze in their tracks, their happiness giving way to confusion and worry. Noise of riffles cocking rattled off the building walls as a dozen or more armored and armed men aimed at the trio. In utter silence a towering black silhouette emerged from the alley mouth, passing two enforcers with aerie grace. The giant demon pulled an old fashioned revolver, holding its barrel inches from a child's head.
x x x x x
Wayne jolted awake, the imagined gunshot ringing in his ears. Panicked heaving turned to shuddered breaths before fading altogether as shock gave way to a numb sorrow. Restless like any nocturnal creature, he left the comfortable bed. Bare feet dragged through a fuzzy carpet, to the window beyond which heavy clouds hung over the city. A city stilled in it's the curfew, which made his nightly rounds unnecessary.
No mugger robed a child of its parents in this society, the law enforcers were doing that now, hauling dissidents away for conditioning. Nausea took over at the bitter admission that he personally equipped, trained and instructed the oppressors, becoming no better than the man in the alley all those years ago.
Wayne sauntered to the bathroom in a rush, propping over the basin to puke bile between choked sobs. Blue eyes glanced up, facing their hollow reflection in the mirror, an echo of his sons' void eyes after Kal El murdered them.
Oh, they called it rehabilitation, for only criminals killed, and the Lords ordained over a civilized society where not even traitors were executed. They were heroes saving people, even from themselves.
Eyes shut tight could not fend off the vision of Superman's laser sight erase Tim's fear and Dick's defiance. All that his boys were, everything that made them unique, priceless, precious, it was all gone in a flash of red, no different than if someone put a gun to their heads and pulled the trigger.
When he rationalized Luthor's death, out of a need to avenge Wally, innocent Wally who would be the first to balk at the terror they dealled out.
When he justified the method used to pacify Doomsdays, ignoring the fact it left the victim only technically alive.
When he approved the same to maniacs like the Joker.
When he gave silent consent as less and less murderous inmates received the treatment.
When he allowed the choke hold on freedom inch tighter, too slow for people to notice until it was far too late.
When he listened to corrupt colleagues, ignoring the pleas of his own family. Family which left one person at a time, unable to watch his descent into darkness.
To have their own father chose his comrades over them. To have him suffer an emotional shutdown when he was supposed to go bresker at their captors, saving them or at least dying to protect them …
Shaky hands splashed lukewarm water over a bloated face, washing away budding tears before they could spill. He refused to allow crying out of fear of falling apart in an empty manor with no one left to pick up the pieces. Fists clenched the basin in a desperate effort to stifle the emotion. Porcelain shattered in his grip, shards breaking skin in a shock of pain.
The physical pain freed him of the emotional one, paralyzing sorrow flowing out of him as trickles of blood were washed down the drain. As his mind surfaced from the fog of emotions, it occurred to Wayne that he was the best suited, if not the only one able, to take down the Lords. Only his estate was shielded from automated neural scans, Only the cave was not monitored from anywhere outside. Only he had the inside knowledge on the Lords weaknesses and the skill to deceive the Manhunter's probing.
Yet there was an even better option. He remembered Superman's retelling of the incredulous events regarding Vandal's fascist regime. And if he fought one tyranny, he would fight another. If a time machine could undo one horrible reality, it could undo another. He would erase the League from time, prevent is creation, undo even the damage already done.
Just as the idea occurred to him, a plan began to form. Wayne would contact their younger selves, from a time when they were still a League, and warn them, but not directly. Spilling the beans outright would cause his younger counterpart to suspect a trap. He will play the traumatized children card to turn the League's bat to the Lord's cause, than fake being brought to reason himself. Once back in their time, warned of the wrong choices, the League could work on avoiding the path that lead to Lordship. They only had to return safe, especially Flash.
But he would have to hide the time portal's true purpose, perhaps behind a scientific experiment to test the multiverese side of string theory. And he would have no problem selling a story of needing a new occupation now that the mission goal was finally achieved. An excuse was no problem at all.
Wayne stood up tall and straight, his conscience at peace after who knows how long. With serenity in his gait he walked to the library, standing under the portrait from which he shied away for far too long. A fact that should have warned him in itself.
But it was never too late for redemption.