Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. They are the property of DC, and I'm not making any money off this, et cetera, et cetera.
A/N: I promised myself I wasn't going to do this...but this is the new one! It's an alternate take on The Savage Time, and basically chronicles what could have happened if they couldn't change history back, so the Nazis still won WWII. Also, I thought it didn't make sense that Bats (any version of him) was away from Gotham, so for this story, they land in Gotham, and most of the story takes place there. Thank you to Angel Queen, as always.
Chapter One – You Must Have Me Confused With Someone Else
Diana stretched as she watched Saturn fly by the window. It would be good to get out of the Javelin – they weren't uncomfortable craft as such, but there could be no doubting that Batman had designed them for function rather than relaxation. Not to mention that cooping five (sometimes six) people up in one for any extended period of time was not the best idea, especially when one of those people was the Flash. The younger man's energy seemed inexhaustible, and she could tell he was straining to release that pent-up liveliness.
They'd just returned from a rather tiring mission in the centre of the galaxy; a civil war was ripping the planet of Mastaria in two, and they were needed to help keep the ceasefire while a peace treaty was negotiated – nothing that the six of them couldn't handle, naturally, but it would be nice to have a hot shower and a decent nights' sleep.
Ahead of the ship, Green Lantern's pace slowed a little. Though he'd kept them going back into the solar system, she knew he must be getting tired by now. A component of the hyperdrive had broken just as they were leaving Mastaria, so it had been up to John to get them back to Earth.
"You think we'll make it?" Superman asked from the pilot's seat.
"I should have enough juice to get us home, but my ring's going to need some serious recharging after towing you clowns halfway across the galaxy," GL retorted.
Diana smirked. It appeared that the lack of sleep had been getting to Lantern as well.
One person whose optimism had not run out was Flash. She wasn't sure anything could dampen his cheerful spirit. "Hey, at least we won the battle," he pointed out brightly.
That was true – and it really had been a battle to get the two sides to agree on anything. Looking down on the planet below, the princess smiled.
It's good to be home.
Superman pressed a button of the communications array. "Javelin Seven to Watchtower, come in."
Batman's voice came back. "Watchtower here."
"Prepare the landing bay, we're coming in," Superman told him.
"Just when I was starting to enjoy the peace and quiet," Batman said dryly.
Superman smirked. "Same old Bats."
GL slowed as they got closer to the Watchtower, waiting for the landing bay doors to be opened fully before he guided the Javelin in.
Suddenly there was a huge flash of light from Earth, blinding in its intensity. They all recoiled from it, shielding their eyes. "Great Hera!" Diana gasped.
As swiftly as it had come, it was gone again, leaving the planet's surface... rippling? The ripples didn't stop, but radiated outward in all directions – including up toward them. It wasn't long until they hit, and it was as though the Javelin had come up against a tidal wave; it pitched and rolled as though they were on a rough sea. They were all thrown out of their seats, slamming against each other, doors, panels and the walls of the Javelin. Diana had no idea if the ship was about to be torn apart, or crushed, or–
With another flash of white light, the disturbance was gone, and the Javelin steadied. They all picked themselves up gingerly. "What was that?" Hawkgirl demanded.
Superman's answer was alarmed. "I don't know. But look!" He pointed – and where there had been a billion-dollar space station, there was now only empty space.
Flash asked the obvious question as Superman moved quickly back to the comm. "Hey, where'd the Watchtower go?"
"Batman, come in! Do you read me? Batman!"
"He's gone..." J'onn's voice interrupted. They all turned, shocked, to look at him. His eyes glowed, then faded as he took his hands from his head, "...and so is the Watchtower."
Jaws dropped open. "What...?" Diana whispered.
They floated there for another thirty seconds before John spoke, the strain clearly showing on his face now. "I need to land somewhere, so we're going down," he said. Soon enough they began to move toward Earth, entering the atmosphere within a few minutes.
Flash moved to stand behind J'onn, seated at the ship's computer. "I don't get it – there was no wreckage, no debris, zippo," he complained.
Diana agreed. "How could the entire Watchtower disappear without a trace?"
Onscreen, an area of the US was throbbing yellow and red, the computer beeping to highlight the anomaly. "Perhaps we'll find an answer when we locate the source of that mysterious pulse," J'onn suggested.
John found a piece of open ground in the middle of an unfamiliar city and set the Javelin down carefully. The ramp lowered, and Flash was the first one to step onto the earth. "Where the heck are we?" he asked blankly, looking up at the glass and steel building on all sides, and the lampposts with those strange red banners. Diana had no idea either – she'd never seen the symbol that was stamped upon them before. They'd definitely headed for America. Could it be that they'd somehow landed in another country?
An absurdly clean one if that is the case, she thought.
Superman's frown was both worried and puzzled as he pointed at the banners. "Those look almost like... but that's impossible." He did not sound at all convinced, though the symbols meant nothing to Diana.
He turned his attention to a sight they all were familiar with. Nowhere outside of Gotham had a cathedral that looked quite that menacing. "Looks like we're home," he said unsurely.
They all fanned out slightly, looking around for signs they might be wrong, but Diana quickly became convinced they weren't. Apart from the cathedral, she was fairly certain there was a park here, and this looked like it was designed to be a park... even if it was people-free. "Gotham...?" she asked wonderingly. They all watched a sleek monorail hum past. "It's so... bright."
"But how?" Hawkgirl asked.
Flash looked around. "Either the city fathers did some high-speed urban renewal while we were away or..."
"Or what?" GL asked ominously.
The youngest Leaguer didn't have an answer for that. "I don't know. Wait..." he said suddenly, zooming to about a hundred yards away. They watched as he grabbed a posted from a billboard, then zipped back to them, holding it up. On it was a full-length profile of a dark, swarthy-looking man. He looked to be about in his late forties, but Diana didn't recognise him. The word 'LEADER' glared from the bottom of the poster.
"This dude's picture is everywhere; who is he?" Flash asked.
"You there!" an unfriendly voice called.
They turned to see two people who were possibly police walking toward them; one with a gun already trained on them. But they weren't wearing any police uniform Diana had ever seen, and certainly not the one the GCPD used. Their expressions were hostile and disapproving. "Show me your papers!" the first one barked.
"What?" John asked in confusion. The princess was with him - since when had they needed papers in order to move about?
"You heard me!" the man snapped. He strode toward them and ripped the poster from Flash's grasp. "Let's see your identity papers, now!" he demanded.
Flash reverted to his usual defense when he was uncomfortable – sarcasm. "Sorry, but my identity's a secret. Chicks dig that whole 'man of mystery' thing."
The man facing him was not amused. "You think this is a joke? You're under arrest!"
He took out a pair of handcuffs to restrain Flash, but Hawkgirl stepped in front of him, her expression outraged. "On what charge?"
"Out of the way," the man snapped, shoving her aside, which was his first – and last – mistake. Hawkgirl grabbed his wrist and bent it backward with a nasty crunch, then chucked him ten feet into the air. He landed on a park bench with a cry of pain.
The other man backed away with a hand to his earpiece. "Unit 295, we need backup!" he said. Lifting his gun into the air, he fired three flares. At least they looked like flares; but exploded with light rather than smoke and flame. They had the desired effect, however, as the two men began shooting at the League. Again technology that seemed far too advanced for Earth – police were supposed to use guns that shot bullets, not energy blasts. The League had access to that kind of technology, but no one else did – if every country had them then there would be nothing to stop countries from becoming police states.
John moved to the front of the group and created a shield to ward off the fire. Suddenly from around a skyscraper, two vehicles appeared, both firing larger energy blasts at he group. John's ring failed. "Scatter!" he yelled.
Diana had her bracers up and ready; whatever these energy bolts were made of, they were still being repelled, at least. She saw Superman and Hawkgirl both take to the air, each smashing one of the hovers respectively, with Flash disarming the two police on the ground. There was no time to rest – there were now twelve more hovers bearing down upon them.
"Uh-oh," she heard Flash let out.
Diana and J'onn lifted into the air too, ready to help take them out… when suddenly there was another voice; one that was familiar and brought a rush of relief. "Over here!"
"Bats?!" Flash asked, squinting at the dark shape beckoning them from the shadows of an alleyway. They all copied Flash, squinting. It was Batman, and yet it wasn't. The cape was missing, the cowl wasn't right – and there wasn't a Bat insignia in sight. But there could be no mistaking that voice.
"Hurry!" he called, turning to run back into the alleyway.
They didn't hesitate, all following him as fast as they could, still under heavy fire. He disappeared into a manhole, Flash and Diana after him first with the rest of the League close behind. She touched down lightly inside a... subway train? What was going on here?
"Nice wheels," Flash commented. Diana couldn't tell if he was being sarcastic or not; to her it looked like an ordinary subway.
"Hang on!" The not-Batman yelled, sitting in the driver's seat. Outside, more police were running into the station and firing at the train. Not-Batman didn't give them any time to hold onto anything before he gunned the engines – and Diana realised her mistake. There was no way ordinary subway trains travelled at these speeds. For the second time in less than half an hour, the six of them found themselves being shunted backward to collide against the walls of the vehicle. J'onn, Diana, Hawkgirl and Flash all found themselves in a tangle of limbs in a corner.
The Thanagarian paused just before she regained her feet. "Whose hand is that?" she asked dangerously.
Flash's hand was retracted quickly and he grinned sheepishly. "Sorry!"
Hawkgirl didn't have time to say anything else, because they seemed to be going very fast toward an alarmingly solid barrier and wall just beyond that. They all gasped and braced themselves for impact, but their driver remained completely calm. With good reason; a second before they crashed into it, the barrier retracted down as the wall slid upward, revealing a tunnel. They sped through it at breakneck speed, and it closed behind them.
Soon enough, the train began to slow as well, then stopped in an apparently abandoned subway station. There were crates everywhere, with the only illumination coming from the train's headlights. Ignoring them completely, not-Batman got up and stalked out of the train, leaving them all staring after him.
"This is too weird, even for him!" Flash said quietly. He streaked after their rescuer, stopping him with a hand on his shoulder. "Hey, wait up, I've got some questions!"
As soon as he touched the armour plating on his shoulder, about twenty heavily armed soldiers popped up from nowhere, all aiming guns at them, fingers primed on triggers. Diana's sense of unease increased. Batman would never work with people who used guns – she didn't know exactly why, but the man had an anathema toward them.
The man in front of Flash turned to glare at him. "No; I'll ask the questions. Who are you?" he demanded.
Flash's eyes were wide. "Bats, you're starting to scare me."
"I scare a lot of people," he said flatly. He looked up from Flash at Superman, giving him an assessing glance. He repeated it for all of them. "The Resistance might be able to use you, but you're going to have to prove we can trust you," he finally announced.
"Are you kidding?" GL protested. "You've known us for years!" he said, coming forward.
Not-Batman reached behind him to the nearest soldier and took his weapon – then shoved the barrel in John's face. Diana shivered; whoever this man was, he wouldn't hesitate to use it, of that she was sure. "You must have me confused with someone else," he said.
Flash finally cottoned on. "I don't think he's kidding."
Quickly, Superman moved to stand in front of not-Batman, whipping the gun out of his hands. "Listen; if we wanted to hurt you, we would have," he told him. The soldiers around them all ran forward to defend their leader while the two men squared up to each other. Not-Batman put a hand up, gestured, and they all relaxed. Superman handed him back the balled-up weapon with a smile.
It wasn't returned. "Let's talk."
He led them upstairs to the huge computer array on the second level. It was the Batcave all over again, just less dank. His first question was, "What did you do to piss off the storm-troopers?"
"Nothing," Flash complained. "All I did was rip some guy's picture off a billboard –"
"Defacing public property; vandalism," he said. "Then what?"
"They attacked us for no good reason," John said. "After we refused to show them identity papers. You saw the rest."
"You're not exactly inconspicuous," not-Batman commented. "Were you looking for a fight?"
"Of course not," Superman said. "But what about you? What is this place?"
He shot Superman an incredulous look. "The Resistance." At their blank faces, he shook his head slightly. "Against the Savage regime?"
Diana opened her mouth to ask what the Savage regime was, but Hawkgirl beat her to it. "Well who are you then?"
"Just 'the general'?" she asked.
"Yes. Have a problem with that?"
"No. Why are you fighting this 'regime'?"
He was quiet for a moment. "The storm-troopers came to our house. I was eight years old –"
"And they murdered your parents," Superman completed. Diana wondered how he knew that. "Why?"
"For speaking out against the regime," he said bitterly.
"Incredible," Superman breathed.
Not-Batman turned around to regard him questioningly. "Not really; it happens every day. That's why I started the Resistance," he told them, getting up and looking around at the other Resistance fighters.
None of them looked as though they were depressed or in any immediate peril, but Diana could tell there was still something wrong. There was a sense of... desperation. Of living on the edge of a blade every single day. She looked at a young couple as they shared a passionate embrace, and found herself thinking, yes. That's how you would have to live here. Passionately, because tomorrow it could all be over.
The general's hands gripped the railing. "We're all orphans and outsiders, fighting the good fight," he explained.
"How long has this regime been in power?" GL asked.
"Since World War Two," the general answered calmly.
Flash, like the others, looked confused. "But we won that war, didn't we?"
"No," the general bit out. He walked back over to the computer, pulled up a black and white photograph – Nazis marching through a town. "They did."
Mouth dropped open as eyes widened. John looked completely disgusted. "You're telling us we lost World War Two?!" he demanded, moving up to the general. "That's insane! The Allies invaded Europe on D-Day, and–"
He interrupted. "And it was a disaster. D-Day was the beginning of the end for the Allies."
"I can't believe I'm hearing this!" GL exclaimed.
"Something's obviously happened to the time-space continuum," J'onn said.
Superman nodded. "Probably caused by the disturbance we saw."
"But why weren't we affected?" Diana questioned.
"Perhaps the aura from Green Lantern's ring protected us," J'onn suggested.
The general stepped closer, breaking into their discussion. "Want to share?"
Superman looked at him. "Have you detected any large electrical or magnetic disturbances recently?" he asked urgently.
"We experienced some interference on our com-links... why?"
"Because whatever's gone wrong happened recently," Superman said, folding his arms.
"The war," John said. "We shouldn't have lost it. We didn't lose it."
"You do realise that the war's been over for sixty years?" the general said bluntly. "What's recent about that?"
"The change is recent," J'onn explained, "up until an hour ago the Allies had won the Second World War."
"I don't- You... an hour ago?" It was the first time Diana had ever seen Batman – any version of him – less than composed. "My entire life – all our lives – have always been like this. Decades, not hours!"
"For you, yes," she agreed, "but for us it hasn't been. I know this doesn't make sense to you, but it's important we know how this has happened. Can you tell us where the interference came from?"
He stared at her for a moment, nodded and walked away, pushing past Superman to stand at the railing. From the back, it was difficult to tell he wasn't Batman; his helmet had the same basic shape to it as his cowl did; covered roughly the same amount of skin. His manner was very much the same as Batman's – just as gruff.
The redheaded girl she'd seen kissing her boyfriend looked up. "General?"
He strode down the stairs and spoke quietly to her for a moment. Diana looked around at her team-mates. Their faces all revealed varying degrees of shock – only J'onn looked calm. Next to her, Flash looked as though he were about to cry. Diana put a hand on his shoulder. "Are you okay?"
He shook his head. "I just can't believe this... I mean... my grandfather was a soldier in the war. My hero. He... he'd have died if they'd lost. Maybe even executed."
Superman looked equally devastated. "My dad's dad got a Purple Heart," he said.
"Would you listen to yourself?" John angrily interrupted. "Stop talking like this is irreversible! Whatever happened, we know this isn't the way things are supposed to be, and someone deliberately did it. That means we can change it back, end of story!"
Hawkgirl frowned. "And if we can't?"
"We will," he emphasised.
Diana met J'onn's eyes, mentally repeating Hawkgirl's question. And if we can't?
I believe we will have no choice but to join this 'Resistance', he told her.
She nodded. Will Bat– the general accept us?
He is like Batman is some respects – we will have to prove ourselves and it will be some time before he trusts us, but yes, he will. We are a group of extremely powerful individuals, after all, and he would much prefer to have us as allies than enemies.
I cannot ever imagine myself his enemy, she thought. Truthfully, though she would prefer to get back to their time, she did not think it would be impossible to adapt to this world. With her other hand, she squeezed Superman's shoulder. She could not see that it would be as easy for him, GL or Flash.
The general came back up the stairs with the girl, 'Oracle', following him. "Come with me."
There seemed to be innumerable ways in and out of the Resistance, which made good tactical sense, but she wondered how the soldiers remembered where all the different tunnels led. As well as the subway, there were tunnels that went further underground – to the sewers, she assumed – as well as a few that apparently emerged at street-level. They took one now climbing up a ladder and pulling themselves up underneath the moon. Another alleyway; she supposed it did make sense to conceal themselves as much as possible.
The general paused at the beginning of the alleyway, dropping into a crouch. He indicated the huge, angular building opposite. "According to my sources, the pulse emanated from here," he told them. "Vandal Savage's Research Centre."
"Who's Vandal Savage?" GL asked.
"You're joking," the other man replied. He looked around at the others – they looked just as blank as John. "He's everything I've been fighting against: the undisputed dictator of this repressive regime," he explained, looking at the fifty foot picture of Savage that adorned the Reseach Centre's walls. "The 'father' of the world," he snarled.
"Let's see what's inside," J'onn said, phasing through the ground.
Diana, Superman and the others all moved toward the building, the general following close behind. She watched him from the air. He certainly moved like Batman too.
Though well-defended, it was not difficult to gain access to the building, and within a few minutes they'd caught up to where J'onn had told them telepathically he would be. He'd found a huge room containing a wormhole of some kind, along with four scientists analysing it. He relayed to the others what he was hearing.
"It's too unstable to stay open for long; even I can't believe how rapidly it deteriorated," one woman remarked to her colleague. "It'll be open less than a minute or so; just as Savage predicted."
He nodded. "If only we could have controlled the wave fluctuations... practical time travel would be a reality." Hearing what J'onn was, Diana blinked. Time travel?
Hawkgirl took that as he cue to smash the doors down. It took three good whacks of her mace before the huge steel doors gave way and smashed down the door, then flew in with the intention of hitting things in her usual less-than-subtle Thanagarian manner. She didn't get the opportunity, however, since as soon as they entered, the scientists turned tail and ran. Happily, however, some kind of silent alarm had been triggered, and they were soon being fired upon by guards.
John created a shield in front of them while Diana unhooked her lasso, spinning it above her head and then letting it fly. It wrapped around the weapon of one, and she yanked it back, out of his hands. While they were distracted, Flash ran past them, helpfully preventing them from being too overwhelmed by knocking them out. They took care of the other guards with relative ease, Superman hefting one of the huge consoles and chucking it toward them.
When Diana saw a cloud of nerve gas envelop the ones running away, she couldn't help herself, and smiled.
It faded as J'onn called them. "Over here!"
Whatever it was he wanted to show them was already closing; the portal was crackling with lightning, swelling and then shrinking again. The edges lost all coherency, and then it exploding into a rapidly expanding cloud of blue light. The sound was terrible; the high pitched cry of dying jet engines. With another few pulses, it flared toward them, then was sucked in, finally vanishing completely.
"What was that?" Superman asked, walking forward to join J'onn.
"Heavy matter," he answered. "Like a black hole. They used it as a tunnel into the past."
"And altered history to change the outcome of the war," Hawkgirl finished.
J'onn nodded. Flash looked nervously at the place where the portal had been. "Can we get it back?" he asked.
"Wait." They turned to see the general looking between them. "Are you saying that my world, my whole life is like this because someone went back in time, and changed the past?"
"That appears to be the case," J'onn confirmed. "However, I don't see how we can reopen the portal; not without days of studying this machinery to learn how it operates. It may even take weeks."
"We can't stay here," Diana pointed out. "More storm-troopers could well by on the way."
"I agree – they probably are," the general said. "We need to get out of here now."
She nodded, took a few steps after him before she realised no one was following. She turned to see them all staring at her. Well, most were staring. John was glaring. "We can't just leave!" he protested.
"What do you propose we do?" she asked. "You heard J'onn – there's no way for us to reopen the portal now, and we can't hold this building against all the storm-troopers in the city with the seven of us, not for all the time we'd need. Not for another ten minutes at this rate," she added.
She looked at Superman, knowing that if he left, the others would probably follow. Of course, if Batman was still himself then it wouldn't be a problem, but for now the public – rather than the practical – leader of the League would have to do. Finally he nodded and followed the general, who was watching impatiently from the doorway.
Wally, however, didn't move. Diana walked over to him. "Wally?" she prompted softly.
He looked startled at the use of his name, and she remembered that he hadn't actually told her – she'd seen it on a file that Batman was working on a few weeks ago. As soon as his almost superhuman perception had altered him to her presence, the file had been closed down.
Deciding apparently that Diana knowing his name wasn't worrying, Wally looked away. "I just... what if we don't ever get it open again, Wondy?"
She squeezed his shoulder. "Come on, Flash. We should catch up to the others."
He stopped her. "Seriously, Diana. Don't sugarcoat it. We're stuck here, aren't we?"
Diana could only tell the truth, however much she didn't want to. And all her instincts were telling her one thing. She nodded. "Yes, Wally. I think we are."
A/N: Review please!