Justice League: Past Imperfect 9
A note: This is the third in my Justice League DCAU series. The first two: Justice League New Beginning and Justice League Second Strike precede this story chronologically. Be warned! Events and relationships from these stories will be liberally mentioned without much explanation.
Another note: These stories take place after the JLU timeframe. Also referenced are Silver Age and early Modern Age comics and cartoon shows such as Challenge of the Super Friends and Plastic Man.
Disclaimer: I do not own, pretend to own, or want to own any of the characters portrayed in these stories (okay, maybe I'd like to own them but that ain't gonna happen). They are the property of DC Comics and Warner Bros Animation, all of which are owned by Time Warner. I have not intended to infringe upon any copyrights or offend the company in any way since they can squash me like a bug. Besides, it's all for fun!
Fifty-two years in the future…
"It's very nice of you to let us live here." Dana Tan McGuiness said, "I also can't believe this cave!"
"Terry is my heir. My wards have trust funds of their own and Barbara didn't want anything. Terry inherits the estate and the company. There's no reason that you shouldn't enjoy it now rather than waiting for an old man to die." Bruce Wayne explained, "Besides, Batman needs his cave."
"I'm just surprised you showed it to me. I've known about Terry's other life for ten years now but I was never allowed to see this." Dana then smirked, "And I'm especially glad that the twip finally married me. Unrequited love is a drag."
"I'm just pleased you agreed to head up the Wayne Foundation." Wayne admitted, "I've been looking for someone for several years and your qualifications are hard to come by."
"The fact that I'm related or that I'll work for free?" Dana asked.
"Your professional qualifications are exemplary." Wayne clarified, "Everything else is a bonus."
Dana kissed him on the cheek, "I knew that. I was only teasing."
She received one of his rare smiles as a reward, "I know. I'm just not very good with that sort of thing."
"So Terry's told me." Dana grinned, "You'll find I'm just what you need around here."
Wayne cast a dubious glance Terry McGuiness's way. Terry had his own grin, "There's no resisting her."
"So what kind of schway stuff are you up to today?" Dana asked.
"That reminds me." Wayne said and he turned to Terry, "Get suited up. Batman has work to do."
"But we just got back from the honeymoon." Terry protested.
"Too bad." Wayne replied, "You've made a commitment to Dana but first you made a commitment to this city. Barb and the GPD have been covering for you while you were gone but that's over."
"But," Wayne softened his tone, "for now you'll be staying here in the cave."
A strange throbbing alarm sound began to hum in and out. Terry went on guard but Wayne restrained him, "I know what this is."
Dana ran to Terry's side as a Legion of Super Heroes' time bubble appeared. Through its transparent walls Cosmic Boy could be seen working the controls. The throbbing alarm stopped and the bubble's door opened.
Cosmic Boy stepped out of the bubble and faced the Bat family, "Mr. Wayne, Batman, come with me if you want Earth to live."
"Whoa!" Terry protested, "That sounds like a line from a movie."
"It's no movie." Wayne replied, "He's deathly serious."
"You know what this is about?" Terry asked.
Wayne nodded, "Cosmic Boy here is from the 31st Century but the reason of why he's here happened just fifty-two years ago. I never remembered it until now."
"You weren't supposed to." Cosmic Boy revealed, "No one on Earth was to know what transpired. Only the alien and mystical members of the League retained the knowledge of what happened. They've been the guardians of it ever since. And of course, the same was true of the Legion of Doom and Vandal Savage."
"I remember." Wayne said darkly, "I also remember Terry and I being there…and so were you."
"Exactly." Cosmic Boy replied, "So, what are you waiting for? We have a world to save."
Wayne stepped forward but Terry hesitated for a second. Drawing Dana into his arms, he tenderly kissed her, "I'll be back."
She wore a wry expression as she dryly asked, "Now who's quoting old movies?"
"Just wait for me." He requested, "This is a time machine. We'll probably be back in ten seconds."
The strange alarm sounded and the bubble disappeared. Dana counted down ten seconds but there was nothing. She slumped into Wayne's chair and proceeded to wait,
"This is preposterous!" General Wade Eiling thundered at Amanda Waller, Sue Dibney, and J'onn Jonzz, the Martian Manhunter. They were meeting in the newly reorganized administrative center inside of the Hall of Justice. The space included areas for Waller, Dibney, Eiling, and J'onn. It was also located next to the Monitor and Communications Room.
This especially came in handy for J'onn when he was summoned to the monitoring station or the comm center. As the League's team leader he had to stay abreast of everything. The current crisis in the office was one of those moments.
"It's bad enough Sue here was drafted into becoming the League's administrative officer because of her featherbrained husband," Eiling unflinchingly said, "But for Plastic Man to bring in his girlfriend and that walking menace of a friend of his is intolerable."
"Penny and Hula Hula are here at the request of the Chief of the ISA." Sue coldly informed him, "You do remember that the International Security Agency is our principle partner in fighting threats to the world community, don't you?"
"But Plastic Man is supposed to be their liaison." Eiling didn't flinch at her words but he did quiet down.
"We keep him too busy for that." Sue reminded him, "Penny and Hula Hula were Plas's working partners. They're used to the eccentricities of superheroes. Frankly, I think they're perfect for the job."
"Of course you do." Eiling retorted, "You're married to one of the eccentrics."
"I was Max Lord's Chief of Operations while he was fronting the Unimen and working for CADMUS. I know how to run a multinational and I know how to run a super team. My experience matches yours, General." Sue shot back, "Except I've never injected myself with an unstable mutagenic in order to continue a mad campaign against costumed heroes that had proven themselves. Can you say the same?"
Eiling looked gut shot, "No. I can't."
"In that case," J'onn intervened, "please remember that yours is an advisory position. You're our liaison with the UN Security Council. You do not make decisions for the League, General. Your services are greatly appreciated and I'd hate to lose you but if you're unhappy with your post, perhaps it's time to leave it."
"And leave the world completely at your mercy?" Eiling retorted, "I don't think so!"
"And we're happy to have you stay in your self-appointed role as a conscience for the League." J'onn assured him, "But the appointing of or receiving liaisons from the ISA is an internal matter. I appreciate your advice but I will ignore it for now."
Eiling had one last card to play, "You'll blindly accept that Hawaiian has-been even though he has that bad luck jinx?"
"It wasn't Hula Hula's fault that the curse was bestowed upon him." J'onn said, "The Agency and then the ISA made allowances for him. So can we."
"We'll see how long your fortitude lasts, J'onn. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm late for a briefing with the Security Council." Eiling turned an about face and left.
"Well, at least that's over." Sue sighed.
"For now." Waller wearily warned her, "If Wade is anything, it's stubborn."
"How did he end up working with the League anyway?" Sue wondered.
"Call it an act of penance." J'onn replied.
Waller rolled her eyes at the Manhunter's brevity, "Wade felt guilty about endangering all of those people at the parade. His almost killing Stargirl also weighed heavily on him. When Mr. Terrific and Batman found an antidote to his mutation, he publicly recanted his anti-superhero stance."
Waller continued, "When the JLU broke up to be reformulated as the newest incarnation of the Justice League, a Justice League International if you will, Wade signed on to his current post. His unofficial mission is to keep a rein on the League and to make certain they are living up to their professed ideals."
"And how is he going to do that?" Sue had to ask.
"Never count Wade Eiling out." Waller warned, "He'll find a way."
Silence reigned for a minute before J'onn spoke; "I must check on Nemesis. He has monitor duty. I must see to him."
"Speaking of duties…" Waller said, "Where's L-Ron?"
The diminutive alien mechanoid was in the main lounge playing games on Stargirl's X-Box. He found most of them to be boring but he liked Batman: Arkham Asylum2, so he was playing it again. He was about to reach the final level when Sue walked in.
"Aha!" she cried, "I thought I'd find you here."
L-Ron hid the controller behind his back and shuffled his feet, "I was on break."
Sue's smile was a warm one, "I understand but we need you now."
L-Ron saved the game and shut everything down, "Coming!"
"That's what I love about you, L-Ron. You enjoy your job." She admitted.
"Manga Khan always used to say, 'Serve them with a smile…and then pad the bill.'" L-Ron explained.
Sue hesitated for a moment. L-Ron didn't draw a salary. He served for the sheer sake of serving. Other than gathering gossip, watching TV and DVD's, surfing the Internet, and playing Stargirl's games, L-Ron didn't ask for much.
"How could you pad the bill?" she asked, "You don't get paid."
"But If Manga Khan ever brings the Galactic Emporium back this way; I'll have everyone's shopping lists made out for them." He answered with a chipper voice.
We might have a problem, Sue realized.
Diana, Princess of the Amazons and better known in Man's World as Wonder Woman, landed on one of the beautifully pristine beaches of the island of Maraca. It was a tiny island in the Caribbean but it virtually untouched by man. There was a villa, a gatehouse for the caretakers, and a dock for the boat, which was the only way off of the island unless you could fly.
That included Diana and the object of her hunt. Clark Kent had spent the last two and a half months on this island and the Amazonian Princess was determined to get him off of it. The world needed its Superman…and so did she.
Diana respected dominate men. While Superman was far more laid back than Batman, he was a charismatic leader. If he hadn't declined the role, he would have been the League's current leader. He didn't seek power but it came as naturally to him as breathing.
At first she'd been enamored with Batman but he wouldn't, or couldn't, drop his guard long enough to let her in. But apparently he could with Batgirl, she wryly thought. Having met Barbara Gordon, both in and out of costume, she could honestly say that the couple was happy and Bruce was a lucky man.
Batman was still aloof and devoid of any outward attachments. Bruce Wayne, however, was still filled with that vibrant spark of life that first attracted her. It was just sad that he had to have two competing lives and that the misery of Batman seemed to win every time. She could only pray that Barbara could handle that.
Clark's fascination, and engagement, to Lois had blocked Diana's intention to try and pursue anything more meaningful than a working relationship. That dam had been burst. Still, she had to proceed cautiously. Clark's heart had just been rent in two and there was no room for anyone else yet.
She wandered around the beachfront until she came to him. He was dressed in cut-offs and that was it. Diana had rarely seen Clark's full physique openly displayed. She had to admit, the sight was quite yummy! As she resettled her duffel, she scolded herself and mentally told herself that she'd spent too much time around Fire lately.
Clark opened his eyes as she approached, "Hello Diana. Just dropping by?"
"Sort of." Diana confessed.
A wry grin spread across Clark's face, "If this is about going back, I'm leaving next Saturday. That gives me eight more days. Would you like to join me? You could stay here."
Diana blinked in surprise and Clark mistook her meaning, "Don't worry, they're plenty of rooms."
Diana was both relieved and disappointed, "That sounds nice. This place reminds me of home."
"Then let's get you to a room. You can change and then we can go swimming." Clark suggested.
"All right." Diana decided, "Lead on."
The Penguin was overseeing operations at the Antarctic Souvenirs production plant. Penguins were big this year in decorating and Oswald Cobblepot, Inc supplied fifty percent of the domestic market. This was one of the Penguin's legitimate enterprises. The only nefarious thing that had ever happened there was the Legion of Doom had slept in the warehouse for a week.
Nevertheless, the Penguin was less than surprised when Batman came calling. As the Dark Knight emerged from the shadows Penguin frowned, "You do realize that this is a respectable business. Honest people work here. They're nothing like my ne'er-do-well Legion compatriots."
"Like all the ex-cons you employ at your nightclub?" Batman asked humorlessly.
"Someone has to give them a break." The Penguin retorted, "I understand all too well what it's like after getting out of prison. If I hadn't been aided by a benefactor I'd still be out on the street."
"Spare me the melodrama. I'm in no mood for it." Batman warned, "Your cash was stolen throughout your career and placed in some very legitimate off seas holdings. Those banks wouldn't cooperate with Gotham's D.A. so you got to walk with the money."
"You put it so crudely." The Penguin defensively replied, "It was just a matter of economic foresight."
"Was it foresight that lost you your arms deal with the Kaznians?" Batman asked, voice still devoid of emotion.
"No." The Penguin retorted, "As you know, Kaznia has been in turmoil since Audrey was removed from her throne. Their disastrous civil war almost pushed the country into anarchy. As I'm sure you're aware, Vandal Savage stepped in and unified the country. Savage cancelled the deal saying that he'd found a better source."
"Which is preposterous." Penguin bitterly complained, "You of all people should know my plasma munitions are first rate."
"Especially now that you're licensed to manufacture them." Batman dryly observed, "You just can't seem to comply with international embargoes."
"Piffle." The Penguin replied dismissively, "I'm an honest entrepreneur seeking his fortune in this weary world. If nations like Kaznia and Bailya turn to me for their self defense, who am I to argue?"
"I need to know what you know about Savage." Batman cut to the chase, "What did he order and in what quantity?"
"I can't give you that." The Penguin protested, "It would violate the implicit client confidentiality arrangement."
Batman put a hole in the sheetrock wall next to Penguin's head, "Next time that's you."
"Well, since you beat it out of me…or were going to…I guess this once will be permissible." The Penguin decided. He sat down at his desk and accessed his client files. Then he pulled up order histories. He used up half a ream of paper printing it.
"Is that everything?" Batman asked as he collected the order history.
"Isn't that enough?" Penguin huffed, "I made good faith payments and produced over a third of the order when he cancelled. Until I find other buyers I'm out of several million dollars."
"I'm sure you'll find other buyers." Batman said distastefully, "You always do."
"Not to be rude…all right, to be rude, do you have any other business? I have an inspection to perform and we're going over the books today." Penguin shared, "And none of that concerns you."
"One other thing," Batman said, "I haven't been able to track down your connection with the Riddler's tax scheme but I will make the connection. Until then, I'll be watching you."
The Penguin sighed as he logged out of the computer. When he'd finished, he turned, "You always do. I… Drat! I hate it when he disappears like that."