Author's Note: - Things you may need to know if this is your first visit to the Trust AU. I've brought back some characters from the Smallville TV show and attempted to bridge the continuity of the first five years of Smallville, the two Richard Donner Superman movies and Superman Returns. I've also added in a composite Batman and reinterprted some other Justice League heroes. Chloe Sullivan-with the Amazons while Kal-El was gone to Krypton and back-gained Amazon powers.
Disclaimer: Harry Dresden appears without permission of Jim Butcher who nevertheless agrees not turn me into a salamander and since I'm not making any money, yet, Warner Bros., DC Comics, et. al. agree not to sue.
Prolog: Premonitions and Preparations
The Past. Apokolips.
On a distant, scorched, post industrial, post apocalyptic planet, The Mighty Darkseid, god-Emperor of Apokolips, stormed about his Throne Chamber. Boiling clouds of gray energy gathered from all parts of the immense room and swirled near the high, arched ceiling as well as along the floor. The clouds began to rotate slowly in opposite directions. Bolts of static electricity leaped from one to the other and back. The spinning clouds picked up speed and twin vortexes formed at the ceiling and the floor. Each vortex reached toward the center of the room. As the points of the vortexes approached within a meter of each other they held position and then moved away as though they were magnets of like charge. Soon the two vortexes spun about each other forming a third gigantic vortex sucking all of the cloud in together and in a huge burst of indigo lightening, the shape a man flashed over the throne.
Seated upon the Throne, his craggy gray skin looked like it had been chipped from the face of a granite cliff appeared all the more menacing in his dark purple and midnight blue uniform. Red light smouldered like coals in his eyes.
The old gods, the Archangels, the mages and the Amazons had banished him and his kind from the realm of Earth 10,000 years ago close to the dawn of human history, locking them beyond the Outer Gates. But over ten millennia his powers had grown again. His Empire of Darkness now spanned two star systems.
Soon he would wreak his revenge upon the realm of Earth and whatever pitiful defenders remained to it. The spread of mono-theism over the last 2,000 years had dethroned the old gods and apparently the Archangels weren't paying to much attention either. [If the serial killers and genocidal maniacs running rough-shod over the planet since their year 1937 were an indication of Divine inattention] The military forces of the freedom loving nations stood over-committed in their fight with religious extremists "in love with martyrdom." And Earth's self-appointed Supernatural Protectors, the White Council of Wizards, were taking heavy losses thanks to his agents' carefully engineered war with the Vampire Courts and the treachery of the Black Council. The time to launch his strike force grew short.
It was all unfolding as he had foreseen.
Great Darkseid rose and entered his command center. Desaad stood to attention, resplendent in his blood red robe with its gold trim. Desaad's command center crew looked somewhat less than resplendent in their own uniforms.
Darkseid received the report from his Chief of Planning and Torture, Desaad. "Events proceed apace as you have foreseen, my Master. Even perhaps a bit ahead of schedule. The last flyby of Earth, nine months ago, confirmed that The Son of Krypton had abandoned Earth truly and for good. Sinestro's Fear Corps engages the minions of Your enemies, The Guardians. Your agents in Earth's Middle East and Indonesia report two successful field tests of Your short range verbally delivered solution to the Anti-life Equation."
Desaad neglected to mention that the current fly by showed new heroes: Neo and Trinity took Missions in cooperation with a group of heroes the earthlings called Super Friends. It wasn't Superman and his League. Great Darkseid wouldn't want to be troubled with it.
::Excellent. With the Guardians' dogs thrown into chaos by the Fear Corps, we must swoop down upon the Earth and crush it and its pathetic Titans before their precious Superman can return and form his League. Quickly Desaad! Prepare my Armada! We shall leave at Dusk.::
Forty thousand light years, was no small distance even a being who had gone toe to toe with an Archangel. Admittedly Darkseid and his kind had lost. But it had taken more than just one Archangel to defeat him. That was what this whole new project was about, settling the score. A travel time of many hours' ship time and a few days in the outside Universe was a small matter next to settling the score with earth.
Darkseid did not like to be indebted to anyone. However, he had to admit that if the someone in The Black Council on earth hadn't opened the Outer Gates, the ability to travel the 40,000 light years would have still left Earth inaccessible. Even a being as great and powerful as Mighty Darkseid was bound by the Natural and Supernatural Laws of the Cosmos.
Present. Earth. Metropolis. Kal-El.
Superman flew over Metropolis. Warm sun smiled down upon him and all was right with the world. He felt his crimson cape rustling in the wind. The cape flowed through the wind differently than the trench coat he'd used in the aftermath of the Bizarro Incidents. He could feel the difference without even listening for it or turning his head to look at it. He opened his eyes and saw the cerulean blue sleeves of his uniform. Looking down to scan the city below him, his peripheral vision caught the crimson and gold Kryptonian crest in the center of his chest.
The Man of Steel had enjoyed his brief stint as Neo. But back in his crimson cape and light blue suit, he felt like himself again. It felt...comfortable.
Clouds rolled in.
The mid morning sun faded to a gloom like dusk. Kal-El continued to scan the city. His city.
Superman heard her scream before he saw the young woman falling. She had leaped from a building behind him. Knowing that he only had seconds before a heart attack would kill the falling girl, Kal-El reversed course and arc'd over the city at just under the speed of sound.
As he spotted his falling woman, he swooped down to a lower altitude and slowed to match velocities with her. Then he edged up next to her and caught her in his arms. "It's alright miss; I've got you now."
"NO! I don't want to live!" Dressed in tennis whites, she had clear skin and good teeth. But her eyes looked possessed by shear, pure terror. She convulsed her body and thrashed around, wresting herself from the Metropolis Marvel's grip. Tumbling again through the air, she righted herself. She brought her hands together in the center of her chest and put her legs together as well. The falling girl spread her arms wide palms facing out. As her chin reached for the ground, she arched her back. Keeping her arms straight, she slowly moved her palms through an arc to bring them together over head.
Like an upside down swan dive, thought Superman. Her face looks so serene now.
The Last Son of Krypton floated down next to the tennis lass and began to bring her into his arms again. Her face contorted into a snarl. Strands of her wavy hair twisted themselves together became greasy and began squirm around. All the blood drained from the girls face and her lips, nails and clothes turned black. All the way from her waist, she leaned back and then threw her whole torso forward smashing her forehead into Superman's in a massive head-but.
Clark woke from his dream with a start. As he took several deep breaths, he thought he could hear the girl whispering, "Something dark and awful is coming Kal-El. I can't bear to face it."
The Present. Earth. Gotham. Batman.
In the Computer Room of the Cave, Batman played the video of the death scene forwards and backwards several times without sound. The scene in an open air market in Djacarta, Indonesia unfolded again and again. He watched at normal playback speed and in slow motion. He counted the time in tenths of a second from when the speaker finished mouthing his words and dropped dead himself to when the nearest shopper keeled over. The Dark Knight Detective deduced that they had fallen over as soon as their minds had processed the speaker's monolog. Apparently whatever words the speaker had called out had caused himself and everyone around him to drop dead. Strike monologue, Batman thought. that was some kind of incantation.
I'm going to need a consultant on this one. Not Zatanna either. She's good, but she hadn't faced down insidious, destructive Evil like this. I'm going to need a Knight of the Cross on this one, or...hmmm.
Batman put on his cape, cowl and gloves and reached for the phone. It was not red, nor was it kept under glass. It was an ordinary, state of the art, Cisco Systems VoIP video teleconferencing phone, if such a device could be called ordinary. The only thing extraordinary about the phone was the size of the buttons. They were four times normal size, to be easily pushed with the gloves and gauntlets. It wouldn't do for Batman to be seen on a video call with out his gloves on any more than it would for him to be seen without cape and cowl.
He dialed a number from memory. "James, it's me. No, I didn't realize it was dinner time." He looked over at the teak wood cart with the silver service on it as though seeing it for the first time. Alfred had naturally delivered his dinner on time. And Batman had naturally not noticed it until now. "Yes, it's important. What was the name of the guy you said Lieutenant Karrin Murphy used to call in on the freaky cases in Chicago, before you came back to Gotham. She's not a Lieutenant any more? What happened? Right. Later. Thanks." Harry Dresden. That was his name, not Bern or Munich, but Dresden. Batman reached up but the line was already dead. He removed the cape, cowl and gloves and ate Alfred's stir fry. Salmon with mushrooms and Chinese vegetables over wild rice. Delicious.
Then he picked up the phone and keyed for paging up in the Manor. "Alfred, let's fuel up the jet. I'm going to Chicago."
"Which one, Master Wayne, the Gulfstream or the really big one?"
"Neither. The Harrier."
"Very good, sir. Shall I summon Master Richard as well?"
Silence was Alfred's only reply. Batman still wasn't sure how he felt about sending Grayson away. The lad was the closest thing to family he had besides Alfred.
The Present. Earth. Chicago. Dresden
Two and a half hours later, halfway across the continent from Gotham, Wizard Harry Dresden surveyed his subbasement lab wearing his dark blue robe. It was cold down there. Winter had come early to Chicagoland and it was down right frigid in the underground lab. The robe kept him warm. It wasn't decorated with stars and he didn't wear one of those pointy overgrown dunce hats either. A black watch cap like soldiers or sailors wore kept his head warm.
Dresden only wore the Grey Cloak of his Office when on Official Business for the White Council of Wizards or when carrying out the duties of Commander of Wardens of the Council for North America. He fondly recalled his promotion from Regional Commander to Continental Commander. Even Warden Ramirez (his sometime rival and consistent supporter) and Elena, his estranged first love, had stood proudly at his side when he was promoted.
The concrete patch where he'd dug up Lasciel's coin to turn it over for destruction had nearly faded to the same color as the rest of the lab's floor. Or was it just that the whole floor was now covered with an even layer of obscuring dust. Little Chicago was crammed in next to his summoning circle. He'd filed his researches into a cure for Linda, his ex-girlfriend the reporter. The files and samples filled and entire cabinet. She was doing fine work with her new confederates to support the White Council in its decade long war with the Vampires and the Black Council.
He looked at his left hand and noted the scar tissue had completely regenerated. He had long since regained full muscle control and range of motion. His apprentice was nearly ready to take the Trials.
It was time to fashion a new Blasting Rod. He removed the wood from a pocket within his robe.
Bob the Skull clattered on his shelf. His eyes glowed. "Yo, Harry, d'you hear all that racket outside?"
"No. I was preparing to fashion a new Blasting Rod."
"Well, check it out man! It's disturbing my beauty rest."
Harry stepped over next to Little Chicago. He picked up the model of the tree outside his basement apartment. With the end of his Staff, Harry sketched a circle in the dust on the floor of his lab. He infused it with a drop of his own blood and closed it with his will, creating a protective barrier against external magic. His awareness shifted down into the model then projected outside to the tree.
Dresden heard the screaming whine of jet engines. It sounded like he was on the taxiway at Midway airport. Looking over at the boarding house under which lay his basement apartment, he confirmed that he was in his neighborhood. Harry looked up and saw a midnight black Harrier JumpJet hovering just above the treetops.
The jet began to settle down and toward Harry's basement apartment. The cockpit canopy slid back and a shadow within hurled three objects toward the wooden pole at the top of Harry's stair. Harry dropped his awareness back into the board and then back up into his body.
Harry climbed back up out of the lab and threw the skins and rugs back across the trap door. He walked two paces past his fireplace and his couch, chair and end table to his steel reinforced doors. Disarming his defensive wards, the wizard opened one door.
He walked up the stairs and found a bola wrapped around the pole with a Greyhound Bus Lines envelope underneath it. Piercing the center of the envelope was bat shaped ninja-style throwing star.
"Stars and stones!" There is a Batman; always thought he was just an urban legend. Guess the Batarang is his calling card. Dresden removed the surkien from the envelope and pulled it out from under the bola. He opened the envelope, Ticket to Gotham. I'm not sure if this is a step up or down.
If he's asking for my help, it can't be a run of the mill supernatural threat. The Capes usually call in Zatanna. She's good, but limited. She doesn't have the experience in Combat Wizardry necessary to be even a Warden Recruit. Don't guess it matters. I'm the Wardens' U.S. Commander now. If it's a supernatural threat, I'll be knee deep in it sooner or later anyway. Better sooner...
On the other hand, I've only read conflicting reports on Batman: some, that he's a kind of vigilante; others, that he's some kind of blood drinking supernatural creature. I must go prepared.