He chose them because he could use them. He chose them because he had grown tired of listening and patience is no longer useful to him, but then he was not the first man of science to manipulate others.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - which is exactly what he had in the palm of his hand - literally.
He smiles broadly from behind the mask of his disguise and as this identity he becomes more than just a man of science.
His services would no longer be free of charge - the price this time would be more than his patients could imagine in this reality.
"You're sure you don't want me to walk you home?" asks Rick.
"It's only 3 houses away Rick," reminds Chelsea.
Chelsea looks to be giving her latest boy toy a good night kiss.
"Besides Daddy's probably home from gun practice by now," Chelsea adds.
"Uh, you're probably right. Nothing ever happens around here anyway," continues Rick.
The neighborhood is one of the newer, trendier, luxuriant boroughs of modern decadent Gotham City, a far cry from the Gotham that was under the watchful glare of the Batman who unofficially retired decades ago. However another had risen in his place in recent months and made quite a name for him self though he hardly had the reputation yet to rival his namesake in the mind of this observer. It would be interesting to say the least to do a mind job on the new Batman at an early stage of the vigilante's 'career'.
Chelsea and Rick kiss – another typical teenage ritual – it dates back to the last century though before that the rituals were different – every generation likes to invent its own twist to the way things were done by people their age in the past - adolescent rebellion or self-expression. Either way the observer didn't care, he just interprets what he sees as he prepares to test his technology on an unwitting subject that happens to be Chelsea Cunningham – a spoiled brat in his opinion.
She would be the trial run for the latest modifications and her mind is fresh from time spent with her latest boyfriend though he could expect little else of her after spending all that time listening to her prattle on about popularity. He closes in on her as she starts on her way home.
"Don't be afraid – I don't bite," he assures her.
Her attention is immediately drawn to the eye ball shaped orb in his hand and then it happens just as he thought it would, she continues home.
"What is that?" she asks.
"An adventure," he replies.
Her body enters her house yet her mind swathes its way through a jungle scene reminiscent of one of those 20th Century adventure films, but of course he went to lengths to base the illusions on dreams and fears of his subjects. She passes her father who is more mindful of the papers in his hands than the fact that his daughter is entering his den and barely catches sight of her making off with a statuette that is worth a considerable sum. He races outside to see her dropping into the cove within walking distance of the front steps to their house.
"Chelsea, what are you doing?" shouts Mr. Cunningham.
Chelsea starts to come out of the state though clearly the amnesia effect of the exposure is doing its work so she'll only retain memory to the time prior to the illusion.
"Dad?" mumbles Chelsea.
"What's wrong with you? That was Foley original – cost me 80 grand," groans Mr. Cunningham.
"What happen? What did I do?" asks Chelsea defensively.
"Don't play games with me young lady," snaps Cunningham.
She could describe him though it is unlikely that she's going to be believed at all. He holds the statuette while listening to the Cunninghams trade words for a few minutes. Mr. Cunningham goes on about how much the lost statuette is worth and Chelsea has little more to defend herself than something that happen on the way home from Rick's. She like the boy who cries wolf has done this sort of thing too often to be believed and even so Cunningham had resources to investigate the validity of his daughter's claims.
The next morning he is back to what he considers to be the mediocrity of his life – being a high school counselor at Hamilton High – named after one of the most inept mayors in Gotham City history in his opinion, but the man was liked enough to be reelected a few times. He could hear Terry McGinnis talking to his friend out in the hall – about the friend's mother getting married again. At the least boy seem to have his priorities straight unlike others he dealt with around here and as for McGinnis – that one had more direction to him after his father was murdered as a part of corporate cover up exposed by the new Batman.
"You don't seem very excited. Your mom's wedding?" says Terry.
Terry is definitely more upbeat and definitely more responsible though not all of his less than liked qualities had left him – all that could be said is the boy is trying to push forward despite what he had done in the past – plus he seems to be trying to extol positives.
"Big bash – lots of food and then you get the house to yourself for three weeks."
There is an almost envy in Terry's words unless he reads too deeply into though as a counselor he is paid to help students even the helpless ones – which he already had his fill of in his mind.
The other boy is quite indifferent – as the boy's counselor he knows why – lack of a constant father figure had made the boy practically raise himself in many areas.
"You don't like the guy?" queries Terry.
"My mom goes through husbands like popcorn. I don't bother to get attached."
On the one hand, McGinnis is painfully aware that he wasted his chance to be on better with his own father so whenever his friends or his girlfriend face parental difficulties he in a minor way is pushing them to make use of all the time they have with said parent. As oppose to distancing themselves because parental mortality is something all must face at some point, but some delude themselves thinking it won't happen until they are much older than Terry is now. After all Terry had a history of arguing with both parents though especially with his father so what difference would one argument make – it made all the difference in the world for Terry McGinnis.
He'll always believe he could have done that night differently yet nobody can change the past no matter how much they would like to do so – as a result McGinnis lives daily with the consequences of that night.
At the same time until anyone close to him ever loses someone in such a way they'll never understand the depth of his concern for how lives are so fragile in the way that they interconnect and how it feels when the connections are fully broken.
He expects a consultation visit from the police and already had an explanation for Chelsea's behavior.
"What's that about?" Terry wonders.
"It's gotta be Chels."
Someone is knocking at his office door – he had been expecting them for hours.
"You didn't hear about her zoning out on her old man last night?"
He already knows the rest of the story so he turns his attention towards his office door.
However the only surprise is Commissioner Gordon herself makes an appearance though she buys his explanation of Chelsea's behavior as symptomatic of an adolescent committing various acts for paternal attention.
McGinnis is eavesdropping on them – if he suspects then Gordon suspects it too – she is a cop after all – on the force a lot longer than this rookie who had come with her.
"We wouldn't even look into this mysterious man story, but the girl's father has influence and he asked that we check it out."
It looks as if the likes of Cunningham and the other elites still have too much pull with the GCPD.
"I wanted your opinion first."
There is an unexpected elation in having his opinion matter to the Commissioner even though he is the man she is looking for – not that he'd be stupid enough to tell her this.
"To be frank, this is Chelsea's pattern. She commits these destructive acts for attention…"
He slides back in his chair to look Gordon in the eye to be sure she believes what he is saying and that he appears that he believes more than she does because that's the only way he could pull one over on the older policewoman.
"Then claims they weren't her fault."
He separates his hands to maintain his emphatic and eccentric gestures.
"Unfortunately by humoring her stories, her father encourages her behavior."
Gordon stands up from the chair and looks ready to leave him to the dullness that is this office with the belief that she got a professional explanation to a wild goose chase.
"In other words, she made the whole thing up."
"That would be my opinion."
He starts to stand up as he offers an apology for having 'wasted' the Commissioner's time today. They shake hands, she leaves, and McGinnis would have to find some way to duck explaining his presence in the corridor to Gordon undoubtedly. Now he would consider his next session for tonight.
He already had someone in mind by the time he left his office, but then working as a high school counselor was not where he thought he find himself after applying his talents through his years at medical school.
As Spellbinder he is free to be using others to commit crimes. It is about to pay off even more as his next target is an auction house manager named Elias Deakins who had recently come into the possession of the late Queen Audrey's wardrobe, specifically her dress collection.
Deakins' daughter is the one who had told him all about her father's profession and the valuables that pass through his auction house.
Chelsea is an attention seeker whereas Deakins is an obsessive compulsive, but like before he need only apply the 'eye' to make Deakins do the footwork. Deakins believes he is in the middle of a battle zone and that the auction house is now instead a jungle. Enemy troops have him and his fellow soldiers outnumbered yet Deakins ever the obsessive preserver attacks the enemy with vigor uncommon to his physical age as well as his usual behavior.
One guard is downed by several well aimed blows from Deakins and the other clutches his face in pain from being hit square in the face. The GCPD make the scene quickly because one of the two guards with Deakins is still conscious. It would complicate things though this could still go off without a hitch.
Deakins believes he is taking 'Louie' to a rescue copter, which is actually something else.
It is a hovercraft that this mind-bender is using for transportation. Deakins places one of Audrey's most expensive dresses on the hovercraft.
"What the heck are you?" Batman shouts.
It appears as if this situation had gotten the new Batman's attention besides already having the GCPD scouring the building in search of Deakins.
"Behind you!" says Spellbinder to Deakins.
Deakins is quick to turnabout thinking an enemy soldier is closing in on him and preventing the airlift of 'Louie.' Spellbinder tosses a gun to Deakins.
"I'll hold them off as long as I can," shouts Deakins.
Batman disarms Deakins by knocking the gun out of his hands with a self-guiding batarang. He tries to close in on him again and Deakins tackles him before trying to strangle him.
"I don't want to hurt you."
He throws Deakins towards a nearby wall though the toss is not enough to hurt the man.
"What's going on?" asks Deakins groggily.
"You tell me," instructs Batman flatly.
Deakins looks zoned out – like he had no idea what just happen and only that the Batman he read about is now looking down at him as if he had done something wrong.
"Who was your partner in the spooky getup?" demands Batman sharply.
Deakins puts his hand over his chest as if feeling exhausted by something he can't recall in the least.
"I have no idea."
He had gotten even with the new Batman on the scene - the elation on his part is unexpected, but welcomed whereas confusion and frustration belong to those who were foiled in their attempt to stop him including the Batman.
"This is the second report of a 'Spellbinder' hypnotizing citizens. The police have reopened the case involving Chelsea Cunningham."
So much for going completely unnoticed – though there is the added thrill of eluding the cops and more importantly confusing a Batman – now onto a third target – though who to do it to this time around. The next news item deals with the upcoming wedding of Jim Tate – the one marrying Jared's mother. He would wreak havoc for Lorraine Tate by showing just how clueless she is to her son's misgivings about her inability to cope without disposable husbands.
"Ladies and Gentleman – I give you your hosts for the evening – Mr. and Mrs. Jim Tate."
It is a resplendent yet gaudy party typical of Lorraine so who is to say how long this marriage would last and it is definite that Jared resents his mother regularly jumping from one man to another throughout the years so far. It would be sensible to end this farce of a marriage before it begins if only to spare Jared another round of well so much for that husband who is not really going to be a father to me.
"Hear, Hear," toasts Jared.
What could possibly make the boy happy about this now?
"I thought you were against this wedding," comments Terry.
So whose side are either of you boys really on?
"I was until my new step-dad bought me a new car."
"Those rocks from the groom too?"
Spellbinder takes notice of Terry's observation about Lorraine's wedding gift of jewels. Time for a third steal to get underway courtesy of Lorraine Tate by way of her insect phobia.
"Guy must be loaded."
"Way to go Mom."
Just when you think you had somebody pegged they switch – so like teenagers – all the same I'm still taking the 'rocks' as the side shifting Terry McGinnis called them.
All everyone sees next is Lorraine Tate throwing the bouquet at Jim and running away from the crowd because she thinks herself now stuck in some freakish bug hive – so much more than second thoughts.
Spellbinder slips back and realizes that Terry had seen him. It is too much of a coincidence that McGinnis overheard his chat with Gordon and happen to see him now – no bother he could still make use of McGinnis because of who he works – now that would be the heist to remember for years. He races down the stairs figuring McGinnis will follow as far as he can, but there's no way for the boy to catch him.
Jim and Jared continue to try to catch Lorraine before she does harm to herself at worst.
Spellbinder moves to intercept Lorraine on her attempt to jump off the cross bridge above the monorail overpass that runs beneath it. Batman beats him to her yet she tears away at her gown attempting to break free from she perceives to be a giant flying bug looking to devour her. Spellbinder smashes into Batman separating the Tomorrow Knight from another broken mind that will pay him back for years wasted on the families they couldn't fix on their own.
She falls to the overpass tracks then tears off the necklace and the earrings only to spot the 'enormous' crawler coming towards – its actually the scheduled monorail passing through this section of Gotham. Lorraine runs the other way still terrified. Batman instead of continuing on Spellbinder for the moment goes after her to get her out of the way.
She pummels him while Spellbinder goes to gather his 'reward' after the monorail passes except now the Batman is giving chase. He lands on the hovercraft and smashes the top part of the backside. It is not beyond fixing so long as he can escape this 'hero' before he can disable the vehicle.
He aims the Eye-Palm at Batman's cowl lenses then Batman dives off only somehow he comes to his senses only seconds before he could have become road kill – either the new Batman had similar mental resilience to the old one or maybe something else. Either way he could deceive this one temporarily, which is enough for now unless he gets better at breaking it off before Spellbinder is ready to cease playing with him.
Whatever happens from now on – soon the Batman would have to die because otherwise he could not continue to borrow from the hapless for their stupid issues and paltry compensations.
As to his next victim – it would be the one who saw him at the Tates' Wedding – Terry McGinnis.
The next day at his office – Terry McGinnis – exceedingly punctual arrives at his doorway on time. His behavior according to the rest of the faculty is quite the turnaround from the two and half years before his father's murder. It is an odd turn for a wake-up call though it is the perfect cover to lure McGinnis here under false pretenses just as he had done with Carrie and Jared weeks earlier.
"You wanted to see me?" Terry comments.
"Mr. McGinnis, come in," advises Billings.
Terry doesn't move from the doorway – so how to put him at ease – make him cross the threshold.
"No big deal – I know the past few months have been rough, with your father passing and moving back in with your mom. I wanted to see how you were doing," Billings assures Terry.
Terry turns to go after responding that he is fine.
"I don't bite Terry – have a seat."
His smile appears to convince Terry to come inside and talk about the past few months. Billings or rather Spellbinder recalls the last person he said I don't bite, which happens to be ditsy Chelsea.
"I hear you're working part-time for an actual billionaire – must be exciting – tell me all about it."
Spellbinder sent Terry to 'borrow' from Bruce Wayne and waits for him just outside the manor grounds. It would be child's play given Wayne's age and McGinnis' youth. The hovercraft rocks for a moment and Batman is back for round two.
"Expecting someone?" Batman cracks.
He mentally commands the craft to swerve hard throwing Batman at the gates in front of the pathway to the manor. The throw works, but Batman's self-guiding batarang damages the hovercraft. Spellbinder is thrown from it into the nearby woods while it crashes then explodes off in the distance. He runs off into the thicket of oaks while Batman gives chases on foot.
"It's over Billings – I know who you are," Batman warns.
If only for the moment, Batman can't see him.
"I'm glad that makes you feel superior, but you haven't caught me yet," Spellbinder rebukes.
Batman starts scanning for him, but that will take time, time enough to flash him with the Eye-Palm.
"I don't get you Doctor. You're supposed to be helping kids. How could you take advantage of them?"
Spellbinder moves above Batman figuring a verbal mind game might give him the opening to elude and escape Batman.
"Ah, you wanna be my therapist?" chuckles Spellbinder.
He is behind Batman so as he turns to follow the sound of Spellbinder's voice – he gets a flash of the Eye.
"Then get to know me."
Spellbinder is still close by except Batman can't 'see' him. Batman is soon to get another dose of Spellbinder's 'therapy' as to face the Batman with one of his many fears, which had to include death presumably or maybe failing to protect others that he believes he is meant to protect from harm.
"Nothing – He got me again, I think but I think I am fine," Batman assures.
He is talking to someone who isn't there and not part of the illusion. So this new Batman is not solo like his predecessor is often shown to be except when he had young partners and that means if the old one still lives then this one is not a partner. This new Batman is the old one's protégé – well he'll just have to break in another by the time Spellbinder is done with him thinks Billings to himself.
Batman taps something on his cowl – perhaps that is how he broke out of the mind warp the other day because the old one – the voice that talks to him had told him something to snap him out of it. Spellbinder had to prevent that from happening again if only to ensure this Batman's downfall.
"Everything looks normal."
It won't 'look' normal for much longer. He thinks he is under attack by the undead – by supernatural creatures – like the mental incarnations of Billings' patients' 'issues'.
"For years I have fought the demons in the heads of those ungrateful little snots while their coddling parents paid their garbage men more than me," fumes Spellbinder.
Batman cowers to his knees – so much for the mental stamina that's to be expected of someone taking up the legacy of the legendary and supposedly fearless Batman that was once the watchmen of Gotham.
"Now I'm only taking what I've earned!" Spellbinder claims.
He punches the backside of Batman's cowl knocking him into the dirt. His face hits the ground hard and he is unmoving – so just a little more and this one would cease to be a problem – some patients can't be 'saved' – some die from the inability to cope with their mental issues.
Batman struggles to regain his footing – well maybe – it'll take more than just a backhand punch – Spellbinder didn't want an easy kill so he hefts a fallen branch to crack the Batman's skull with yet even that only causes Batman to stagger in reaction to the blow.
"That sure felt real," Batman groans.
It could only mean the voice is trying to get him to see pass the mind warp – Spellbinder had to end this before Batman breaks the illusion that is helping Spellbinder kill the frustrating pest.
He goes to swing again except Batman on one knee raises both his arms into the path of the blow. Batman disarms him then sends him flying backwards. Spellbinder grabs a sizable rock and throws it at Batman. It does nothing to slow his movement – the illusion is gone so Spellbinder runs knowing Batman is on his tail – for the first time since this experiment of had begun – he is now afraid of being caught especially by the Batman.
This must be how others felt in recent months and decades before when facing the first Batman. The first one stood up to the likes of the Joker, Two-Face, Mister Freeze, Clayface, Bane, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, and even the demented psychiatrist that inspired Billings' mind warping Eye-Palm.
The late Doctor Jonathan Crane aka the Scarecrow who had utilized all manner of fears, phobias, psychoses, and every other possible mental condition to wage his battles with Batman as well as the Dark Knight's allies – all for naught. It appears like Scarecrow he had underestimated a Batman's mental stamina. The first Batman outlasted virtually all his enemies.
Some died in battle with Batman and others simply wasted away in the past several decades. As for the rest, Billings did not know because those who did not die long ago or recently had simply gone into obscurity never to be heard from again.
Together the two of them stand beneath the moonlight and Spellbinder feigns defeat so that he might ensnare the Batman with the power of the Eye Palm a third time. Only this Spellbinder is an illusion, which Batman realizes in the nick of time. He stops short of falling off into the watery shoals below.
The real Spellbinder fumes from elsewhere and sneaks up carrying an even larger rock to crack Batman's cowl. He intends to knock him out and watch him drop into the water before drowning. A twig snaps when he steps on it and in a single swift motion he feels himself being pulled upward by Batman. He had been behind him, nearly silent, and the misstep of cracking that twig undid this attack. He couldn't believe how fast the Batman found him this time.
The Eye Palm shorts out in Batman's grip and Batman yanks off his mask revealing the stunned face of Ira Billings. Batman left him tied up knowing the police would handle the rest and disappears from sight.
The GCPD arrive not long after. Billings' career as a high school counselor is over and his medical license is being revoked due to criminal charges of coercing several patients to commit criminal activities against their will.
Billings notices McGinnis, Wayne, and Commissioner Gordon chatting presumably about how Batman finally took him down – he'd get even someday with that agile Tomorrow Knight – one way or another – both Terry and Batman would pay for this turn of events.
As for the old Mr. Wayne, he is a lesser concern except when it comes to the Batman.
He might not be a doctor anymore, but like his indirect predecessor he still knows how to play mind games with his adversaries and targets. This new Batman is sure to have personal weaknesses of some kind and Ira already knows a few soft spots for McGinnis including those who are dear to his heart.
She would be perfect bait for McGinnis though would the same work for Batman?
As the police cruiser departs he begins his revenge plotting for the future.?
I have plenty of time to think on it with no more impudent snots to trouble me.
A/N 1: Set during the episode Spellbound - Batman's newest rogue is a lot closer than he realizes and Terry starts to show more detective qualities as he searches for the truth behind the strange behavior in others caused by this Spellbinder until he himself becomes a victim.
A/N 2: Ultimately it is a combination of his own abilities and Bruce's mental prodding that saves Terry's life thus enabling him to defeat Billings as Spellbinder.
A/N 3: A slight modification to the episode is that Audrey is now a Queen instead of a Princess - it also supposed that she is Audrey of Kaznia as seen in JL Maid of Honor - I'm inclined to agree if only to throw another minor nod to the relationship between Bruce and Diana during JL and JLU.
A/N 4: Like previous chapters its character oriented perspective in this case - the perspective of Ira Billings and Spellbinder. Towards the end he ponders the history of the first Batman and that Batman's Rogues gallery as well as plots his eventual retaliation against Batman and Terry.
A/N 5: Its only recently that I have read of the Beyond Era Batman being referred to as the Tomorrow Knight so I slipped that in there too.