Greg Senger's Justice League Anthology

Justice, Revisited

By Greg Senger

Chapter 1: Tokyo

The darkness that is Gotham City gave way to sunny skies and cherry blossoms as Batman and his new apprentice Bobby Alton arrived in Japan. The Riddler's penchant for his namesake had led the caped crusader and Bobby here. The criminal mastermind had carried out his most devious scheme, the theft of a cache of Kelly Clarkson merchandise, with threats against the American Idol herself, forcing Batman and Bobby to leave Gotham to protect Ms. Clarkson, who was on tour in Japan.

"What a sunrise," Bobby commented, spying the red sun from the window of the Batwing. The sky glowed red, and the land of the rising sun lived up to its moniker. "Didn't you study in Japan, Batman?"

"Yes; martial arts. I was second in my class only to Kyodai Ken. But he chose an honorable death in Japan," Batman explained, "Something rare for a ninja."

"A master of the dark arts, eh? I'm sure Batman handled him with ease," Bobby spoke.

"My fiercest battle, well, perhaps second fiercest. Joker gets that title."

"Didn't the Joker just escape from Arkham Asylum?" Bobby asked his mentor. Bobby knew the answer to the question, but for some reason, making small talk made him feel better. "Should we be worried leaving Gotham with the Joker on the loose?"

"No. Joker's changed. I have sneaking suspicion he's after me… for vengeance." Batman's gaze was cold and unmoving.

"Oh boy," Bobby commented.

"Right now we have to protect Ms. Clarkson at all costs. She's too valuable to be left to the Riddler."

Bobby nodded in agreement. The Batwing streaked across the sky. Touchdown occurred in Tokyo, 7:15 AM.

The heroes disembarked their Bat-conveyance on a privately owned Wayne Enterprises runway, and traded it for the new Bat-cycle. It was a Honda CBR based crime fighting machine. Just the ticket for getting around congested Tokyo with speed and grace. The champions headed off for Tokyo Tower, where Kelly was set to perform a special free concert for the Emperor of Japan.

The city seemed to envelope Batman and Bobby as they rode at top speed to save the American Idol. Crowds intensified and cars seemed to spring from nowhere as Tokyo Tower approached. The stage was set up. Members of Kelly's Band were doing sound checks and the security guards began to let patrons in. The CBRs screeched to a halt as the heroes disembarked at a sprint towards the stage.

The Riddler's last ominous message rang through Bobby's ears; silver, gold and platinum are hers; from the land of cowboys, steers and spurs; the last emperor she'll entertain, in Tokyo she will be horribly slain.

The seriousness chilled Bobby's soul. He hasn't gotten used to the death bits of the superhero gig. This one was even worse. He hated it when young cute girls would get killed; such a waste. That's part of the reason he got into the superhero scene with Batman.

Bobby worked as the assistant manager of a grocery store in a Gotham suburb. One rather uneventful night, his store was robbed by three armed gunmen. The surviving crook made it out with $758. Bobby got a broken heart.

Bobby put up a valiant fight, disarming one robber and shooting the second, but it was a case of too little too late. Seeing his cohorts defeated the third gunman, who was lookout, fired wildly with his handgun. The Coke machine, one of the cash registers and Bobby's girlfriend, who worked in the store's bakery, all caught bullets. He was heartbroken. He loved her more than anything, and had in fact hoped that she'd accept an engagement proposal. The bullet pierced her chest next to the love knot necklace he'd given her on their three month anniversary.

That was a year ago. Since then, he appealed to Batman to teach him to stop crime so that he could keep the people he loved from dying. Batman accepted and together they've challenged and defeated Gotham's most notorious criminals. Two-Face, Penguin, Killer Croc, Catwoman, Man-Bat… one by one they all fell to the Bat and Bobby.

"Tell Ms. Clarkson that she cannot perform today. Her life is in danger here," Batman told the stage director.

"Yes, Mr. Batman," the director spoke with a snide grin. The director tipped his green bowler hat.

Batman's fist rocked the director's face.

"Such overt violence," Riddler criticized, favoring his face. "I would be careful if I were you. Ms. Clarkson might not survive if you do that again," he warned. He removed a remote from his jacket and pressed a button, no doubt starting some diabolical device.

"Where is she, Nygma?" Batman's strength showed as he picked the Riddler up by the collar. The remote fell to the ground.

"Now, now Batman," he warned. "I will tell you, but only if you put me down."

"No chance," Batman told him.

"It's really your only option, you see. Ms. Clarkson has about five minutes before her death." Batman ran down the scenarios in his head.


"Isn't it obvious; she's where a flower as delicate as she belongs. Soon enough she'll be enshrined in fire…"

Batman tossed Riddler to the ground, hearing the only clue he needed. Riddler scrambled and ran off. "Let's go Bobby!" Bobby followed his mentor's lead, not sure where he was going. Their Bat-cycles whined and took off away from downtown Tokyo.

"Do you mind telling me where we're going?" Bobby asked Batman over the helmet intercom.

"Hikawa Shrine; Cherry Hill Temple in English. The cherry trees blossom for one day at that shrine. That's where he's hidden her," Batman informed his apprentice.

The bikes weaved in and out of traffic, dodging cars and pedestrians. Large skyscrapers gave way to small schools, video arcades, Juuban Hospital and soon enough, Hikawa Shrine. The heroes paid no attention to the cute, dark haired girl sweeping the steps.

The sliding door of the shrine opened and revealed the sacred fire pit. There she was, the first American Idol, Kelly Clarkson. She was bound and gagged, tied to the floor where the fire would be built. Above her were a timer, can of kerosene, and an ignition striker. The timer had three minutes on it when Batman pulled her out of harm's way.

Batman undid the gag. "It's a trap!" Kelly screamed.

From the dark corner of the shrine, out stepped a figure. White face paint, a bright red smile and green hair meant only one thing; The Joker. "Hello Batman," he spoke with his jovial psychoticness. "I'm so glad to see that you rescued the lovely Ms. Clarkson. I've only got one bit of bad news. She wasn't the one going to die. You were…"

The door slammed shut. A noxious gas filled the room. Slowly, Bobby, Batman and Kelly began to choke to death. The Joker's smile shaped gasmask kept him from inhaling the deadly poison.

"Jupiter Supreme Thunder!" Bolts of lightning struck the door, ripping it from its sliders and letting fresh air into the sacred room. A tall girl with brown hair up in a ponytail and a green sailor outfit rocketed through the fog and drove a kick into the Joker. Bobby was instantly infatuated. "Hey Clown, no one attacks my friend's temple." She used unparalleled strength and tossed the Joker outside.

Batman, Bobby and Kelly stumbled outside to find the Joker flat on his ass, staring down with four pretty soldiers, who were soon joined by the one who saved Gotham's heroes.

"I don't know who you are, but it's obvious that anyone pursued by the Caped Crusader is evil. Evil also happens to be our specialty. I am Sailor Moon; I will right wrongs and triumph over evil. In the name of the Moon, I will punish you!" She struck a rather cocky pose with the rest of the Sailor Scouts behind her.

"Sailor Moon? Never heard of you," Joker said, getting to his feet. "My quarrel isn't with you girls, it's with that overgrown rat with wings," Joker spoke, turning away from the Sailors and facing Batman.

Batman's fist collided with Joker's jaw. "It's time for a trip back to Arkham, Joker," Batman told him. Joker dodged a left jab, squeezing the flower on his lapel. Batman took in a lungful of the knockout gas. Stumbling out of the way, Batman left the Joker open for Bobby.

Bobby readied himself and launched a barrage of fists at Joker. Like something from a kung fu movie, every one missed. Joker, after the assault, took aim and leveled Bobby with one punch to the throat.

"We've gotta help him!" Jupiter exclaimed. She jumped into action, leaping and landing behind Joker. As he turned to face her, she drove a kick into his stomach, forcing him backwards. Sailor Venus, whose beauty masked a good fighter, performed a leg sweep, knocking Joker down.

The Scouts eased off, letting Joker get back to his feet. By this time, Bobby and Batman had rejoined the fight. Soon enough, Joker found himself surrounded; Venus, Jupiter, Batman and Bobby on one side, Sailor Moon, Mars and Mercury on the other.

"I know when I'm beaten," Joker commented. He raised both hands in surrender.

Batman slapped the Bat-cuffs on Joker, one to his right hand the other to a rather sturdy stone statue, anchored to the ground.

"Thanks for the help Sailor Scouts!" Bobby thanked their saviors.

"Actually, it was all Sailor Jupiter and her supreme thunder," Sailor Moon informed.

Jupiter stepped forward. "It was nothing; you guys needed help and we just did what we had to."

Jupiter's brown eyes pierced Bobby's soul. He was immediately lost in them. Bobby found them kind and forgiving, yet strong and defiant. Her eyes gave way to more things that Bobby found attractive. She was tall; nearly four inches taller than the rest of the Sailors and a smile that could melt and iceberg.

The feeling was mutual on the part of Sailor Jupiter, but she knew that her senshi persona would make a relationship impossible… unless she approached him as her normal self, Lita Kino. In her normal self, she could even use her excellent cooking skills, which no one can resist.

"Well Scouts, shall we leave Bobby and the Dark Knight to their own devices with Joker?" Sailor Mercury asked.

"Good Idea Mercury," Venus agreed, "Let's get out of here."

"Not so fast Sailor Scouts!" a voice from the heavens shouted. The voice had a familiar quality to it, not a voice of evil, but one of a good soul that'd lost its way. "Now I have you all in one place. The perfect opportunity to kill you! And with you out of the way, all of earth's garbage can be launched to the moon!" A horrible cackle filled the day air.

A flying blue figure swooped down from the heavens and knocked the Sailors to the ground. "We gotta help them, Batman!" Bobby urged. The figure returned to among the clouds.

"We have to get Joker back to Arkham," Batman corrected, grabbing his apprentice's arm as Bobby tried to rush off.

"Going somewhere Batman?" the blue man asked. The flying figure swooped down and knocked Batman down. A blast of fire from the man's finger melted the chain of the bat-cuffs that held Joker. Bobby was the only one left standing.

What could he do? Help Jupiter and the scouts, re-apprehend Joker who was making a hasty retreat towards the stairway down to the road, or maybe try to stop whoever this blue flying man is. He knew Batman would want him to catch the Joker. His heart told him to help Jupiter. Mentor vs. Heart…

"Who are you?" Bobby shouted to the blue man. He had since disappeared into the clouds.

"Everyone wants the power to control, the power to rule mankind. Only I can steward that power. The Power is MINE! I am Captain Planet!" He flew down with great ferocity and knocked Bobby into a cherry tree with a mighty fist.

"Hey!" Jupiter shouted, "I like him. He's not your enemy. Leave him alone." She stood, and struck a fighting stance.

"So cute," Planet mocked. "Seeing your agony over his death will be exquisite." Planet's right arm morphed into an axe and he was ready to deliver the death blow to Bobby.

"Not if I have anything to say about it, pal… Jupiter Thunder…" the small lightning rod from Jupiter's tiara extended, ready to deliver, but before Sailor Jupiter could fire her thunderbolts, a flash of blue accompanied by an odd hum sliced off Captain Planet's arms at the elbow.

"AHH!" Planet screamed. "How can this be?"

"Thanks, Jupiter!" Bobby shouted, getting back to his feet.

"It wasn't me," she admitted.

"Then who?" Bobby asked, prying Planet's dead lifeless arm from around his neck.

"The dark side flows through you, Captain Planet. I will do what I must." A robed figure stepped out from the shadows of one of the cherry trees.

"Who's this guy?" Sailor Mars asked, as she and the rest of the scouts got upright.

Captain Planet let out a yell, and two new arms sprouted from the stumps left by the Heroes' new ally. "You will pay for that," he told the figure. "Who are you?"

"My name is Obi-Wan Kenobi. Jedi Master and defender of the galactic republic," Obi-Wan's lightsaber ignited with the odd hum heard before and glowed a bright blue. "Clearly an evil such as you must be a Sith lord."

"Sith? What the hell's a Sith?" Anger grew inside Captain Planet, flying off towards Obi-Wan, who readied his saber for a fight.

"Venus Love-me Chain encircle!" A golden chain of hearts left Sailor Venus' fingertips and snared Captain Planet, halting his flight. "Now Sailor Moon!" Venus shouted.

"Right!" Sailor Moon acknowledged. A crescent moon shaped wand with a silver crystal in it appeared in Sailor Moon's hand. "Moon healing activation!" Sailor Moon shouted after some fancy wand twirling. A golden glitter filled the air and drifted over the now immobile Captain Planet. Planet screamed as the healing power of the Imperium Silver Crystal drove the evil from his body.

He collapsed in a heap to the ground as Venus' chain disappeared.

"Is he healed?" Mars asked.

"I sure hope so. He's one tough enemy," Mercury commented.

"Captain Planet?" Sailor Moon asked, approaching her fallen enemy. "Are you okay?"

"Yes," Planet spoke with a relieved voice. "Thank you for driving the evil from me, Sailor Moon. The Power… is yours." He collapsed, unconscious.

"Very touching," Obi-Wan commented. "What is the source of your power to heal wayward souls?"

"It's here," Sailor Moon said, retrieving her wand again, "The Imperium Silver Crystal."

"Such power…" an evil voice spoke silently from the shadowy trees.

Obi-Wan felt a rift in the Force. He took a battle stance, and his lightsaber ignited to its blue hue. "Something evil approaches…" he checked the trees. "Or is here already. That is what I sensed earlier. Not Planet; this... elusive."

The next few seconds seemed to last a lifetime. A robed figure in all black descended from the trees. A second hum, like Obi-Wan's, was heard. Two red blades appeared and Obi-Wan leapt into action. Obi-Wan's blade deflected one end of the aggressor's, but the second side cut through the Dark Knight.

"NO!" Bobby screamed. He rushed to his mentor's side and cradled Batman's head. "Batman… Bruce? Speak to me."

"You're the best apprentice I've ever had, Bobby," Batman struggled to say with dying breath. "You must defend Gotham now. The Batsuit is yours. Be sure to say goodbye to Alfred, Dick, Barbara and Commissioner Gordon for me. Most of all… get the Joker." Batman's closed his eyes, and left to meet his parents.

By this time, the Sailor Scouts had gathered around Gotham's defender, in shock and disbelief. No one had defeated Batman. Every criminal in Gotham had tried and they all failed. No one had been able to do what this stranger had done in a fraction of a second.

The anger in Bobby's heart grew. Soon it glowed as fierce as the Sith Lightsaber that did Batman in. Bobby rose in anger and defiance. "Scouts, we need to help Obi-Wan." He began a slow walk to where Obi-Wan was fighting.

"Right," they agreed. "Mercury, how about some fog?" Sailor Jupiter asked.

"Excellent idea. Mercury Bubbles Blast!" A chill filled the air as Mercury's bubbles settled over the yard at Hikawa Shrine. The sun wasn't even able to penetrate. The glow of blue vs. red showed where Obi-Wan and the attacker we're facing off.

"Sailor Venus, you still have your Venus Wink Sword?" Sailor Mars asked.

"Way ahead of you Sailor Mars," spoke Venus, removing her sword.

"Mars Fire Ignite!" Sailor Mars yelled as fireballs left her fingers and ignited the end of Sailor Venus' sword. It glowed as bright and as hot as their lightsabers.

Obi-Wan and the aggressor reached an impasse. They found themselves circling a rather old cherry tree that'd been there as long as the temple had been.

"Darth Maul. It's been a while. I didn't think anyone could survive being cut in half and that fall down the reactor shaft on Naboo," Obi-Wan taunted.

"The Sith are powerful, Master Kenobi. With the crystal in Sailor Moon's wand, we shall become more powerful than all the Jedi of all millennia… you know, Darth Vader knows the true nature of the force. I suspect his turning to the dark side was most painful for you… You'll wish for that pain when I'm finished with you." Darth Maul leapt towards the Jedi master. Obi-Wan met him blow for blow.

Obi-Wan grappled with the sorrow he felt over losing Anakin Skywalker to the dark side as the Force masters battled around the tree. Blue clashed against red, double blade versus single. On the defensive, Obi-Wan leapt up onto the roof of the temple, Darth Maul matching him move for move. Ceramic roof tiles crumbed as they were walked across. A rather old tanuki statue met Maul's blade and slid off the roof and crashed onto the ground. The adversaries left the roof, finding more stable ground, lightsabers clashing in front of the sacramental bell at the front of the temple.

Bobby was still walking towards the fight, unarmed. The anger that consumed him was more than enough to defeat Maul, but in a lightsaber vs. anger fight, lightsaber won every time. Sailor Venus joined Bobby on his walk.

"You'll need this," Sailor Venus told him, handing him the flaming sword.

"Thank you Sailor Venus," Bobby somberly acknowledged. Bobby kept walking towards the fight, neither Jedi or Sith paying attention to him. Drawing on the martial arts training taught to him by his late teacher, Bobby took the glowing red sword and heaved it at Darth Maul. Maul sensed the sword approaching. He turned, saw Bobby and used the power of the dark side to stop the blade. Then, using the Force, he shoved Bobby back to the Sailor Scouts.

A flash of blue sliced through Darth Maul. "Twice in one lifetime…" he commented, slowly turning toward Obi-Wan, who was again victorious over his Sith adversary. Maul's body separated at the waist and fell to the ground.

"Bobby, Obi-Wan beat him!" Sailor Jupiter reported. Bobby was still lying down on the ground, the wind thoroughly knocked out of him from the Force push. "You're so brave," she commented, making eyes at him.

"That was really stupid," Bobby commented, raising his head off the ground to see Sailor Jupiter holding his hand. "You ever get a feeling it's going to be one of those days?" Bobby asked, looking skyward.

"What do you mean?" Jupiter asked. Bobby's finger pointed towards the sky. "A comet… nothing good ever came from a comet."

"We had better find out where that comet is going. It's awfully low," Sailor Mercury commented. She removed a small computer and began to calculate its trajectory.

"Well Mercury?" Sailor Moon asked.

"This doesn't look good. According to my computer that comet is headed out to the Atlantic Ocean. And what's worse, it's not a comet, it's metal," Mercury reported.

"Metal?" Obi-Wan asked, joining the group.

"It's some kind of UFO. I'm not sure what kind of UFO," Mercury reported.

"You don't think the Black Moon could be back, do you?" Sailor Mars asked.

"I don't think so, Mars," Sailor Moon reported. "I don't sense any evil."

"Nor do I," remarked Obi-Wan.

"Do you think we should check it out?" Bobby asked, fully grasping Jupiter's hand as their eyes met.

Part 2: The Big Shell

Lobo cruised his favorite section of solar system. It was pretty easy being the biggest badass in the galaxy, riding around on a flying motorcycle, beating up Santa Claus, disemboweling nerds and looking at porn whenever he felt like suited him. Until he heard of another. One of unimaginable power and strength, one who would not die; an immortal fowl.

It was on his cruise to earth that Lobo was crossed by two powerhouses, both emitting massive energy pulses. They seemed like they'd be good in a fight, which was right up Lobo's alley. His new opponent would have to wait for his beatdown.

He turned his sky bound motorcycle towards the shooting stars headed for earth. One was small, shaped of a triangle with three round windows and a good looking blonde woman at the controls.

'Not bad,' Lobo thought to himself.

The second object was smaller but had a larger power output. It looked like a small jet fighter, similar to one used by Earth's military. Lobo knew that in no way was this a normal military jet. It had to be something in disguise.

The trio streaked towards earth with inconceivable speed. The atmosphere made things hot, but not hot enough to bother Lobo, who is so badass he can eat rocks and shit gunpowder. He's so badass he can rip a NYC phonebook with his eyelids.

Lobo cracked open a mega can of beer, but the heat from the atmosphere heated it and made it boil into vapor, which pissed Lobo off. He accelerated and readied his biker chain to deliver some hurt to whoever made him lose a beer.

The jet and other craft streaked out of the upper atmosphere and crashed into the ocean. 'To hell with this,' Lobo thought. He stopped his bike in midflight, hovering over the oil platform known as the Big Shell. He took off towards his destination of Quahog, Rhode Island, while beneath the platform not one but two battles raged.

At the bottom of one of the Big Shell's struts, a gigantic robot resembling something from one of the Alien movies fired a compression wave of water at one man; a Legendary Mercenary. His rubber sneaking suit squeaked and squealed as he ducked behind pillars and fuel drums, rolling from one to another.

'Damn, can't get a clear shot,' he thought, checking his Stinger missile launcher.

"Come out Snake!" a voice from the robot taunted. "This won't hurt near as much as my torture rack on Shadow Moses."

Snake checked his options. He had one more pillar before he was out of room and the barrels he was behind couldn't take much more punishment.

"You know, this compression beam on maximum can cut through the Big Shell like a tin can. I should just flood the place and let you drown. You pulled it off the last time we met on that tanker, can you do it again?"

Snake popped up from behind the barrels and unloaded one missile into Metal Gear Ray. The stinger struck the robot in the knee, disorienting it. Snake took the opportunity to run between its feet and to the elevator at the back. Ray turned; slicing the strut of the Big Shell open as Snake safely rode to the top.

"Damn," Ocelot spoke under his breath. The strut filled with water and Ray went into its amphibious mode. Ocelot guided the massive bi-pedal tank into the open ocean. "What's that?" Ocelot wondered, spying the crashed jet that Lobo chased into the ocean changing into something. From the F22 Raptor, the thing transformed into a metallic man. It noticed Ocelot in Metal Gear Ray as an energy beam struck the metallic man in the back.

"Surrender Megatron!" The second ship delivered an ultimatum, firing more energy beams. Ocelot watched as Megatron exchanged shots with the other ship. Missiles, and more energy beams streaked through the water. It was a pretty even match, Ocelot figured, however, having a large metallic man called Megatron under the influence of the Patriots would be most beneficial. Ocelot turned his compression cannon on the second ship.

"Damn," the pilot spoke. She pressed controls on the keypad to her left. Behind her a metallic yellow suit with built in energy cannon dropped down from a rack. She set her ship, which was doomed from Ocelot's beam, to autopilot. She clicked on her armor, piece by piece, lastly covering her long blonde hair with a red helmet with a green face shield.

Her suit powered up as the barrages of fire from Ocelot and Megatron destroyed the ship around her. Her beam cannon, which was built into the arm of her suit, charged, ready to deliver one shot to send her to safety. Her ship disintegrated around her and her cannon discharged. With great speed, she rocketed towards the surface of the water, breaking it with ferocity. She maneuvered in open air, with one more blast to slow her to a halt on the roof of one of the Big Shell's struts. There, she met Snake.

"Who the hell are you?" he asked, raising his SOCOM pistol at her.

"Samus Aran," she replied, pointing her energy cannon at him simultaneously. "And you are?"

"Solid Snake. Are you with the Patriots? … No. This kind of technology is way too advanced for the Patriots. Where do you come from?" He relaxed his grip on the pistol.

"A planet called Zebes. I'm here to…" Before Samus could finish her sentence, Megatron broke the surface of the water and landed atop a roof strut adjacent to where Snake and Samus were.

"What is that?" he asked her.

"The reason I'm here," she spoke, taking off toward Megatron. She fired pulses of blue energy from her cannon, into Megatron.

While he was watching the battle unfold on Strut H of Big Shell, Snake found himself under fire from Ocelot, who maneuvered Metal Gear Ray onto Strut F. He ducked and rolled and readied his Stinger. One missile left the muzzle and streaked toward Ray. It did no damage, just as Snake planned.

In a fit of gloating, Ocelot opened the cockpit to Ray, which dropped out of what could be called its head, to see Snake finished off with his own eyes.

"Hey Ocelot!" Snake shouted, "You still have your six-gun?"

Ocelot removed the Colt Single Action Army from his belt and twirled it around, like when he met Snake for the first time on Shadow Moses Island. "Always do, Snake."

"You might need it!" Snake tapped the codec send button in his ear. "Now Otacon!"

At the other end of the radio, Otacon, Snake's friend and partner in the anti-Metal Gear group Philanthropy, furiously typed away on a keyboard, inputting instructions into an old Soviet satellite called Mischa. The satellite detonated, sending an EMF pulse towards Metal Gear Ray.

All at one time, Ray's circuits burnt out, causing Ray to fall onto Strut F's roof under its own weight. "Damn you Snake," Ocelot cursed, climbing out of the smoky, spark filled cockpit. He readied his gun, and began a slow walk towards Snake.

Snake dropped his Stinger and readied his SOCOM, walking towards Ocelot, a battle raging between Samus and Megatron behind him. Snake and Ocelot reached the connecting bridge simultaneously, and had they started the fight, it would have resembled a gentleman's duel from the 19th Century.

Snake opened fire, jumping to the left side of the platform behind an electrical transformer. His .45 bullets streaked past Ocelot who found refuge behind the retaining wall that surrounded the ends of walkway between Struts. Ocelot fired two bullets from his Colt at Snake. Sparks flew from behind Snake's head.

"Just like on Shadow Moses, Snake!" Ocelot taunted. "Remember. That ninja showed up and sliced my hand off."

"What's your point?" Snake asked, shooting two more times at Ocelot.

Ocelot returned the favor. "There is no ninja this time. It's only us and our guns. You know I'll win…" Ocelot took aim and fired one bullet. It ripped past the small bit of chain link and went into Snake's shoulder.

Snake let out a loud grunt. The SOCOM became heavy in his hand. Snake removed a bandage from his belt and applied pressure to the wound. He took his gun and fired again at Ocelot, not even aiming.

"Problem, Snake?"

"Go to hell, Ocelot. When you get there, say hello to Liquid for me." Snake turned out, ready to either finish Ocelot or be finished off himself, when a flash of bright light blinded them both.

"How did you do that?" Bobby asked.

"The Sailor Teleport? Oh it's nothing really. Just magic I guess," Sailor Moon told him.

"Who the hell are you?" Ocelot asked.

Snake took the opportunity and fired. His bullet hit Ocelot, peiercing his lung, exiting his chest. Bobby, the Scouts and Obi-Wan hit the dirt.

"Damn you Snake," Ocelot cursed. The door leading to the interior of Strut F opened and Ocelot made a hasty retreat.

Obi-Wan ignited his lightsaber and leapt across the bridge, to just behind Snake. The blue blade singed the hair on Snake's chin.

"Wait Obi-Wan!" Bobby cried out. "Don't kill him!"

"I'd listen to the kid," Snake taunted, taking one of his Lucky Strikes and lighting it with Obi-Wan's saber.

"The famous Solid Snake!" Bobby exclaimed, dropping down from the roof and crossing the connecting bridge. "A legend in the flesh! I can't believe it. I've read all about you! From Outer Heaven to Shadow Moses! Everything!" Bobby seemed to become an over-posessed fanboy at meeting Snake. The Scouts joined the group on Strut G.

"Can we trust him?" Obi-Wan asked, his saber still at Snake's throat.

"Yes you can," Bobby reassured him. "This man has saved the world more times than I can count. If it wasn't for him, every paramilitary and small nation in the world would have a nuclear arms program."

"I remember seeing something about him on the news once," Sailor Mercury commented. "Shadow Moses Island in Alaska's Fox Archipelago was seized about five years ago by a rogue military group called Foxhound. Snake single handedly defeated Foxhound and dismantled whatever secret project they were trying to capture."

"That's right," Snake confirmed, walking towards Mercury. "Say, you're pretty cute. How old are you?"

"Even his libido is like the reports said!" Bobby informed.

"Too young for you," Mercury told him. "Now Snake, what is that gigantic metallic thing two struts over?"

"I'm not sure. I met someone, not sure if it was a man or woman, called Samus, who was fighting it. Ocelot jumped me when it appeared. I think it's working with the Patriots."

"The who?" Venus asked.

"The Patriots are a secret society who pretty much controls every aspect of life through media manipulation and genetic tampering. Ocelot, the guy who ran off after I shot him, is the last known agent of the Patriots," Snake reported, pressing on his shoulder.

"Speaking of being shot, you're really bleeding," Bobby told him.

"It's nothing, just in the shoulder. Really, it'll be fine in a while," Snake assured.

Sailor Mercury had climbed to the roof of Strut G and began to scan both Samus and Megatron with her computer. "Master Kenobi?" Mercury asked. "Do you sense good and evil in people?"

"Yes I can," he reported, joining her on the roof.

"Can you tell among those two who is good and evil? My computer can't get a reading on either of them, except for huge power outputs."

Obi-Wan's eyes closed and he found peace in the Force. He used his skills and abilities and searched the life-forces around him for good. Bobby, the Scouts and Snake he perceived as good people. Samus is a good person. Megatron is evil.

"Samus is our ally," he told them, opening his eyes.

"How do you know that?" Snake asked, in disbelief of the supernatural.

"The Force tells me many things; things which may or may not be known to non-force using people."

"So should we help Samus?" Sailor Mars asked.

"Perhaps we should see how she does by herself against, whatever that is," Obi-Wan suggested. Bobby, the Scouts and Snake joined Obi-Wan on the roof and watched the battle unfold.

Blasts of blue energy discharged from Samus' arm cannon, striking Megatron all over his body. He retaliated by punching with his massive robot arms at Samus, who dodged and evaded like she was playing a game of dodgeball. A large blast of blue, followed by a reddish missile struck Megatron in what would be his head. The explosion was massive. Everyone's eyes opened wide, even Samus herself stopping, hoping she'd won the fight. The fireball cleared and showed that no damage had been done to Megatron.

"Is that the best you can do? You must have really fooled Prime to make him believe you could destroy me." Megatron grabbed Samus and began to squeeze, bits of her power suit falling off from pressure.

"Perhaps we should help her now," Obi-Wan suggested. He ignited his lightsaber and ran off towards Samus.

"About time," Snake commented, firing two stinger missiles at Megatron. His missiles struck Megatron in the chest, knocking him backward, allowing Obi-Wan to slice Samus free of his grip.

"Nine on one is hardly fair," Megatron commented, reeling from the attack.

Obi-Wan retreated, with Samus over his shoulder, back to Bobby.

"Scouts, help us attack him, Bobby can tend to Samus," Obi-Wan informed.

"Right!" the scouts agreed. The collective went on the offensive, Snake unloading missile after missile into Megatron.

"Mars Burning Mandala!" Sailor Mars yelled, firing flaming rings from her hands at Megatron. Megatron evaded and Mars' fire missed.

"My turn! Sparkling Wide Pressure!" Jupiter cried out. A bolt of lightning came from the heavens and formed into a ball in her hand. She threw the ball with all her might at Megatron. It produced a small fizzle as it bounced off him. "What? That always works!" Jupiter spoke in disbelief.

"Maybe he's not waterproof! Shine Aqua Illusion!" A stream of water left Sailor Mercury and hit Megatron square in the chest. Mercury called on her power to freeze the water, thus stopping Megatron. Her attack succeeded.

"Great job Mercury!" Everyone congratulated.

"He's not done yet," Samus warned, removing her helmet. Long blonde hair fell down the back of her power suit as she got back up to fight. "Hit him with it again. Maybe if we get him cold enough, we can crack the superstructure."

"Shine Aqua Illusion!" Mercury called out again. Her jet of water froze Megatron, almost wholly.

"I need to hit him with a massive energy surge. My beam cannon isn't strong enough to do it. Can any of you provide 1.21 Gigawatts of energy?" Samus asked, fiddling with the settings on her cannon.

"I can," Obi-Wan spoke, removing the power cell from his Lightsaber.

Samus plugged the cell into her suit. The power level of her cannon rose 1600%, well past the 1.21 Gigawatts required. An excited hum filled the air and energy began to spew out the front of her cannon in sparks. Samus' suit shook from the sheer power, bits and pieces falling to the ground, revealing quite an attractive woman. A massive orb of blue filled the cannon barrel, and discharged. It was easily half the size of Megatron. It struck him, square in the chest.

Megatron didn't utter one word as his frozen body was ripped apart, atom by atom. His stone cold gaze at Samus was unwavering, and he knew that even in death, Optimus Prime had beaten him. Bits of metal and ice intermingled as his body smashed into bits on the roof of the Big Shell.

"Thank you for your help, everyone," Samus spoke, dropping the smoldering energy cannon to the ground.

"It was nothing," Sailor Venus spoke up.

"Saving the day is kinda our thing," boasted Jupiter.

"What on Cato Nemoidia was that?" Obi-Wan asked.

"That was Megatron. He comes from a planet called Cybertron, home of the worker Autobots and evil soldier Decepticons. Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots fought a pitched battle against Megatron and his second in command, Starscream. Prime defeated Starscream but was so weakened, Megatron easily beat him. In his last moments alive, Optimus Prime hired me to track down and destroy Megatron. Megatron fled, and that's what brought me here," Samus explained.

Snake spoke up. "So lemme get this straight. He was from outer space," referring to Megatron. "You're from outer space," pointing at Samus, "You're from outer space," pointing to Obi-Wan, "You are five magical Japanese school girls, and some plain lookin' white guy who tagged along for the ride? Am I in some kind of goddamn comic book?"

"There are things in the universe far beyond your comprehension," Obi-Wan told him. "Such as the Force."

"Or the Silver Millennium on the moon," Sailor Moon spoke.

"Or the ancient race called the Chozo that created my power suit and Cybertron where the Allspark, something only a meter squared, can create life out of machines." Samus added.

"Well that's all well and good, but I've lost Ocelot. So long as he's alive, The Patriots will continue." Snake began to do an ammo check on all his weapons.

"We can help you," Samus offered.

"Normally, I don't condone killing without provocation…" Obi-Wan added.

"You don't call manipulation of millions of people provocation?" Snake asked.

"But in this instance, this Ocelot character seems to be the key to oppression and suffering. I certainly know what that is like," Obi-Wan told.

"Well, thanks but no thanks. I work alone."

"Snake," Bobby started. "Do what you want, but if you need our help, just call Wayne Manor in Gotham City."

"Thanks," Snake added. He lit another cigarette and walked off into the setting sun, just like something out of a movie.

"Well Samus, how long will you be staying here?" Bobby asked.

"A while. Ocelot shot up my ship. I'm stranded."

"How about you Obi-Wan?"

"I'm in the same predicament as Samus. My ship is without a hyperdrive motivator, and this planet is too primitive to have it repaired," he reported.

"Well, why don't we all go back to Gotham? Lucius Fox is the head of Wayne Enterprises and former head of the Applied Sciences division. Chances are, he would have whatever you two need," Bobby suggested.

"Can we come too," Sailor Venus asked.

"I've never been to Gotham City!" Mars cried out.

"I'd really like to see Wayne Manor," Jupiter added.

"I hear Gotham has the largest library in North America," spoke Mercury.

The four scouts looked at Sailor Moon. "Well, I suppose. I was supposed to have dinner with Darien…" Sailor Moon started, "But I guess I can cancel."

All the scouts let out a girlish cheer.

Part 3: From Quahog with Love

"Alfred, it's still a little tight in the midsection" Bobby informed Alfred, who not only was an excellent cook, mechanic and dry cleaner, but he could alter a Bat-suit in no time at all.

"Apologies Master Alton, I'll make the appropriate adjustments."

"Thank you Alfred," Bobby said.

The Batcave felt empty. Everything was in its place; the Batmobile, Bat-cycles, rows upon rows of Batsuits, but the big chair in front of the giant computer screen was empty.

"Al, I would completely understand if you want to retire. I can't imagine what you're feeling inside," Bobby spoke to Alfred, who'd become one of his closest confidants.

"Master Alton, when Master Bruce left you in charge of the Batcave and all that entails, it only seems natural that I continue on. In a way, helping you as the Batman is a continuation of my servitude to Master Bruce. But I will miss him," Alfred began to tear up and cry. Bobby reached out and extended his arms. "He was like a son to me," Alfred confessed.

"I know Al, I know. Don't worry. All the things that Bruce fought for, I will fight for. And depending on what transpires tonight, I might have some help."

"Thank you, Master Alton."

"Call me Bobby." The door at the head of the stairway down to the Batcave opened, letting light flood in. "Close the door!" Bobby cried out.

"Sorry!" Lita cried out from the top of the stairs. "Which room had all the ladies clothes in it?" she asked.

"Top of the stairs, second door past the third left," Bobby told her. "Alfred, why don't you go see if they're settling in and make sure Lita gets the right room.

"Yes Mast… Bobby," he replied, grinning at the future Batman. Alfred left, and the Batcave felt really empty.

"I'll get him Bruce. I'll stop Joker, and Riddler and whoever else I need to so that Gotham is safe. I'll create a Justice League, one to protect the entire planet. Crime and evil and hatred won't survive so long as I'm the Batman," he pledged, "But first, I have a dinner date."

Bobby took the one altered Batsuit that fit him and put it in the trunk of his BMW. He checked over all the cars in the garage, followed by check of the motorbikes in the adjacent garage. All was well. He returned to the foyer and up to his room to get ready for the night.

This was his first date since taking up the mantle of crime fighting; since the loss of his beloved. He was nervous, as he always was, but ever since she blasted the door open and tossed Joker outside, Lita seemed… right for him.

He donned a casual, yet nice pullover sweater, black slacks and a pair of Church shoes. It looked like something that James Bond would wear on his day off. He paired it with his favorite Omega watch, further amping up the Bond-ness. He combed back his reasonably long dark blonde hair and spritzed on a few squirts of Floris No. 89. Now, Bond was ready.

Pages upon pages fluttered as Amy (Sailor Mercury) read through tome after tome in the Wayne Library. Amy usually liked to study in quiet, but with her friends it wasn't exactly possible.

"I can't believe Lita has a date. Save a guys life and they're all gaga for each other," Raye (Sailor Mars) commented, paging through the latest Redbook.

"I know what you mean, I can't even get guys at home to notice me, now she's got some amazingly hunky foreign guy after her," Mina (Sailor Venus) spoke up.

"Oh duh Mina, what about Asai? Remember, you we're on that volleyball team together. You can't tell me there wasn't something?" Raye came back with.

The remark caught Mina off guard. "Uh… hey we're supposed to be talking about Lita and Bobby."

"Why can't you just be happy for her?" Amy asked, putting down A Heart of Darkness. "I mean, suppose their meeting was fate, like Darien and Serena. You can't hate her for it."

"We don't hate her," Mina explained, "It's just a bit of envy. I mean, Serena has Darien, whether you like it or not, you and your old study buddy Greg are a couple. Even Raye has Chad, even though she won't own up to it."

"For the eight-millionth time, me and Chad are not a couple!" Raye scolded.

"Yes you are, you just don't realize it," Serena chimed in, entering the library in tennis garb.

"Shove it Serena," Raye spoke, getting combative like she does with Serena (Sailor Moon). Despite being at odds most of the time, Raye and Serena are quite fond of one another. Some people even think that they're sisters because of their mannerisms.

"Oh whatever Raye; I'm not going to argue. I've got a better idea," Serena added. "Since Lita and Bobby will be out tonight, why don't we all hit the indoor tennis court? Alfred showed me the equipment room and there's enough for all of us."

"Sounds fun," Amy spoke up, putting Joseph Conrad down for good.

"I'm in," Mina added. "No one can stop my serves."

"Well, I guess I'm out numbered," Raye spoke, putting down Redbook. All four girls left the library and went down the marvelous cedar staircase, into the foyer. Just like a princess, Lita appeared at the top of the staircase in her ensemble for the night. A black long dress with long sleeves and a high neck, accented with a section of green down the front.

"Well guys, how do I look?" she asked.

"Amazing!" Serena cried out.

"You look really good," Mina commented.

"Much more feminine than you usually do," Raye spoke out.

"I'm sure you'll be the prettiest girl in the restaurant," Amy assured.

"Really?" Lita asked. "I gotta admit. All this money… kinda makes me nervous." She joined them in the foyer.

"Relax. Bobby is really nice and I don't think the money's gone to his head. He seems like a real genuine guy," Raye added.

"You really think so? I'm sure he is," Lita responded. "I bet he looks amazing in a tuxedo."

"My ears are burning," Bobby told them, entering from the opposite side of the foyer. "What are your ladies plans for the evening?"

After a fit of blushing, Serena took the lead. "We we're going to go play some tennis, then probably head to bed."

"After I read more in the Library," Amy added.

"Well if you need anything, don't be afraid to ask Al," Bobby told them. He maneuvered past them to his date for the evening. He gave her the once over, and then the once over again. "You look amazing, Lita."

"Thanks," she told him, blushing. "Should we get going?"

"Yea, probably a good idea," he confirmed. "Alfred's stocked the kitchen with all manner of junk food in case you girls get hungry," he informed the other scouts. He extended his arm, and Lita took it. They walked arm in arm out to his BMW and drove off.

"Are we really going to just stay in while Lita goes out on her first date in ages?" Mina asked.

"Heck no," Serena asked. "The tennis thing was a total fib. C'mon I found a way cool Porsche in the garage we can use to tail them."

"What? None of us can drive," Raye spoke.

"Actually, I can," Amy added. They glared at her. "I suppose I've been appointed, huh?" All the other girls nodded 'yes.' "Let's go."

The BMW's cabin was excellently insulated, ensuring not one sound got in. None needed to. "So tell me a little about you," Bobby insisted, over the sound of the radio.

"Well, my name's Lita Kino. I'm in my first year in college, I've lived alone since I was 12, and I'm a great cook…"

"Why have you lived alone for so long?" Bobby asked, cutting her off.

"Well my parents died when I was ten. They were killed in a plane crash. Neither of them had any relatives, so I just drifted around, fending for myself until I was 12. Then I found a nice landlady who was partially blind, so I told her I was 21, and she let me rent an apartment from her. Then I met Serena and became a Sailor Scout. That's pretty much my life up until now."

"Impressive. You're very strong, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally to be able to fend for yourself for so long," Bobby spoke, sort of in awe that she could do all that.

"How about you?" Lita asked. "What's the life story of Bobby Alton?"

"Well I finished College last year. I watch Food Network religiously. I've lived in Gotham my whole life, except for a stint in Rhode Island. About a year ago, I foiled a robbery at the store where I worked…"

"So is that how you got in with Batman? Foiling robberies?"

"Well, kind of. My girlfriend worked there, and despite my efforts, she… she didn't make it. So I found Batman and appealed to his conscious. He agreed to teach me the superhero biz so that I can make sure no one else comes to harm."

"I'm sorry Bobby," Lita spoke, taking his hand from the shift lever and into hers. "What was her name?"

"Her name? Her name was Natalie."

"Well, I'm sure Natalie is glad she got to spend her last days with someone as wonderful as you." A silence filed the car, and a general good feeling befell both its occupants. "Now, where are you taking me for dinner?" Lita asked, Gotham City going by the wayside for the Atlantic coast of the US.

"Well, Gotham's great, but I know this amazing place up the coast in Rhode Island, where I used to live. They have the best meatloaf I've ever had."

"Meatloaf is my favorite meal!" Lita cried out. "What else do they have?"

"Well, Pawtucket Patriot Ale is always cold and on tap, standard bar food and damn fine cherry pie."

"I love cherry pie! What's the place called?"

The BMW arrived in downtown Quahog. A neon sign flashed the name of the establishment in the silver paint of Bobby's car. From miles around, most of Rhode Island could read 'The Drunken Clam.' It was local hotspot. Every Sunday, locals would come in, enjoy a Pawtucket Patriot and watch the Pats game on TV.

"Hey Horace," Bobby greeted, walking in the old style New England pub.

"Bobby Alton! Holy cow it's been too long. Mr. Gotham City never comes around to ol' Quahog anymore. What's goin' on?" he responded polishing a beer mug.

"Well, this is Lita," Bobby spoke, introducing his date for the evening, "And we're here for meatloaf."

"Take a booth, I'll have it right out," he told them.

Bobby and Lita took a seat in one of the Clam's booths. They soaked in the ambience of the Clam; stone walls, wood booths with red padding, multicolored lights… it was the perfect example of a classic pub. Behind them, three locals were engaged in a game of 'I never,' one clearly losing by all the empty bottles of Pawtucket Patriot with numerous references to taking home migrant workers from Home Depot and JoAnn Fabrics. At the bar, a giant chicken was enjoying a beer… that's when the shit hit the fan.

A muscle-bound, pasty man who could clearly rip a NYC phonebook with his eyelids kicked the door open. Lobo found his target. The chicken's stare narrowed, focused on Lobo. Lobo leapt, knocking the chicken from his stool and they began to throwdown. Lobo's fist met Ernie's beak, colliding with great ferocity several times. Ernie countered, using his legs and throwing Lobo off and over him. Lobo landed right in Bobby and Lita's table.

Ernie went on the offensive, throwing fists into Lobo's body. Ernie picked Lobo up and tossed him into through the wall and into the street. Cars swerved as the combatants threw fists. They fought all the way down the street.

"Do you suppose we should stop them?" Lita asked.

"I suppose. I gotta go get my suit," Bobby told her, leaving the gaping hole in the wall.

Lita made a quick exit as well. By this time the bar gathered at the hole and started watching Lobo and Ernie slug it out. She disappeared in the alley behind the Clam. "Jupiter Star Power!" she yelled out, raising a green stick with a star and the symbol of Jupiter on it. From the stick shot electrical bolts, covering her body and transforming her into Sailor Jupiter.

The leather seats of the BMW squeaked as Bobby slid the Batman suit on. His first official action as Batman. It felt odd putting on the Batsuit, but at the same time, it was needed. It's what Bruce wanted.

"Are you ready Batman?" Sailor Jupiter asked, running down the street to the fight where Lobo and Ernie we're slugging down.

"As I'll ever be," he told her. The heroes made strides towards the battle. Lobo and Ernie fought down the street, through a huge pane of glass and into a crowded mall. Shards of broken glass, spattered with blood were crushed underfoot as Batman and Sailor Jupiter burst on the scene. Lobo was pummeling Ernie with a mannequin arm. Ernie countered, throwing Lobo into the department store dressing room. The combatants battled past the racks of clothes and into the mall walkway. Pedestrians fled.

"How do you wanna do this? Divide and conquer?" Jupiter asked.

"Yea. Which one do you want?"

She kicked around the options. "Just like at senior prom, I'll have the chicken." She left Batman, who readied a high tensile wire to capture Lobo. He fired the wire to above the rafters and down to Lobo. He rearmed and fired again, catching Lobo by his feet. With a yank and some quick tying, a brand new Ford pickup being given away by ther mall held Lobo in mid air.

Ernie took the opportunity and began to beat up on Lobo like a punching bag. "Sparkling Wide Pressure!" Jupiter called out. Lightning rained down into her hand. She threw it at Ernie. The ball of energy hit him, scorching feathers and causing him to shake and fall to the ground.

"Gentlemen, we'd appreciate it if you'd knock it off," Batman told them.

"Such a waste to see so many good clothes destroyed," Jupiter commented, "I won't stand for it!"

Lobo delivered an ultimatum, "Cut me down or I kill you next."

"I don't like your tone," Batman told him.

"Okay, I'll kill your girl then… after I'm done with her," he said, eying Jupiter. Lobo's face deformed as Batman gave him a right hook.

"You want down? Fine, but on one condition; take the fight off my planet."

"Fine by me," Lobo told him. "Wake the fowl up."

Jupiter picked Ernie up and tossed him in the wishing fountain as Batman cut the wire suspending Lobo in midair. Ernie awoke and saw his aggressor heading towards him. He broke off the statue of David on the fountain and smashed Lobo in the face with it. The statue shattered and Lobo was temporarily fazed. Ernie took the opportunity and pecked at his eyes. He pecked out Lobo's left eye, but couldn't get to the right before Lobo's hand grabbed him by the neck.

Lobo delivered fist after fist into Ernie's face. With his thumb, Lobo removed one of Ernie's eyes and replaced his own. His badass-ness made such things possible. He continued to deliver blows to Ernie's body.

Ernie's only hope was that of many a prison inmate seeking to preserve ass-virginity. He formed his chicken toes into a ball and kicked Lobo in the happy sac. Lobo wasn't even stunned.

"I've got balls of steel," he told him. Lobo carried Ernie out of the mall and onto his flying motorcycle. Batman and Sailor Jupiter made sure the invaders were well off the planet before even thinking of letting them out of sight. The motorcycle made a twinkle in the sky as it sped out of the atmosphere.

"What do you suppose that was all about?" Jupiter asked him.

"I don't know. Some people just go around looking for a fight."

"Who do you think will win?"

"Something tells me that fight will continue until the cosmos flare out of existence," Batman told her.

"Excuse me, Mr. Batman?" two small kids, one boy and one girl dressed in blue and pink parkas respectively, tugged at his cape. They spoke in unison, which was a bit creepy.

"What?" Batman asked.

"I'm Popo," the boy told him.

"and I'm Nana," the girl told him.

"We need your help," they spoke.

"With what?" he asked them.

"We'll show you!" they cried out. The each grabbed a hand and lead Batman off.

"Where are you going?" Sailor Jupiter asked.

"I'm not sure," Batman told her.

"To Pakistan!" the Ice Climbers cried out.

Part 4: Paris, Pakistan

"How far do we have to go before we get to the top?" Sailor Moon asked. "I'm freezing!" The wind blew ferociously as snow and ice pelted Batman, the Scouts and the Ice Climbers.

"Perhaps an hour more!" Popo and Nana exclaimed, very much excited. There was nothing they loved more than climbing. Climbing, clubbing seals with their hammers and finding random vegetables on the mountainside was the ideal day for Popo and Nana.

"By my calculations, we should be at the top of K2 in forty seven minutes and 17 seconds," Sailor Mercury reported.

"By my calculations, I have the nosiest friends on the face of the planet!" Jupiter added. "You couldn't just let it go could you? My first date in ages and you have the nerve to follow us."

"Hey, it wasn't our fault, it was Sailor Moon's idea!" Sailor Mars spoke up.

"That's true," Mercury confirmed. "I was just appointed to drive since I'm the only one who can."

"Well, Sailor Venus had the idea too," Sailor Moon said, shifting the blame.

"Knock it off, all of you," Batman warned. "Discuss it when we're back to Gotham. We need to get to the top of this mountain."

"Right!" the scouts agreed. The kept climbing. The Ice Climbers would clear the path and then Batman and the scouts would follow. The snow fell harder, until they reached the tops of the clouds. The sky immediately cleared and temperature dropped another 10°. The air became thinner and thinner. It was a welcome challenge for Popo and Nana, but for the others it became very hard to climb. With labored breath, Batman and the scouts finally reached the tip of K2, the second highest mountain in the world.

"Why did you bring us here?" Batman asked, dropping to his knees for a rest and some extremely thin air.

"For her!" they Ice Climbers spoke in unison. They pointed at a female figure in the snow. She was clad in chinchilla fur, oversize sunglasses and furry hooker boots. "She has the mystical golden eggplant."

"That's hot…" the figure spoke.

"My god," Batman spoke. Before him, was none other than socialite and parasitic leech, Paris Hilton.

"We want our eggplant back!" Nana demanded.

"Like no way," Paris told them.

"We found it. It belongs to us!" Popo argued.

"Like no. My family owns this mountain. It belongs to me," she reasoned.

"There is no reasoning," Popo told Batman. "She doesn't realize that the mountain belongs to the government of Pakistan, and by their law, anything on it is fair game for whoever finds it."

"Well, that's fine, but she's not evil. What can we do?"

"Not evil?" the Ice Climbers spoke.

"Cheap Barbie doll hair?" said Nana.

"Man hands?" reminded Popo.

"Being so self absorbed?" added Nana.

"Embracing stupidity without even trying to self-improve?" said Popo.

"And let's not forget she stole our eggplant!" Nana added for good measure.

"Well, I can make her return the eggplant, but that's about all I can do," Batman told them.

"Well, then look away," Popo and Nana told him. They trudged through the snow and circled Paris. They each removed their wooden hammers.

"No longer will you make bad night vision sex tapes!" Popo told her.

"There will be no more Simple Life!" Nana added.

"The ninth level of hell is reserved for traitors, mutineers and retarded heiresses!" they told her in unison.

The each reeled back and swung, crushing Paris Hilton's skull with amazing force. Nana searched and removed to eggplant from the corpse.

"Well that's not very nice," Sailor Moon commented.

"So cold hearted… why?" Sailor Venus asked.

"Apparently you don't know what she's like," Popo told the scouts.

"C'mon, let's go back to Gotham," Batman told them.

Part 5: A Vicious attack in Gotham City Park

Keys on the Bat-computer clicked furiously. Obi-Wan sensed a rift in the Force. He checked the Bat-computer to see if his suspicion was correct.

"What are you doing?" Samus asked him.

"There's trouble here. Very close. We should see what it is," Obi-Wan explained.

"Well what is it?" Samus asked him.

"I'm not sure. It looks like some kind of spacecraft," he told her, examining the computer. "I believe we should go investigate."

"Are you sure?" Samus questioned. "This planet is foreign to us. Perhaps we should wait for Bobby?"

"I think we can handle it," Obi-Wan told her. "Did you find a suitable replacement for your power suit?"

"Well, the technology here is primitive, but improving for such a young race. I estimate they'll have technology similar to mine in ten years," Samus told him, "But until then, nothing."

"Until that time, we'll have to blend in and help Bobby in his mission. So why not take the opportunity to handle this incident and learn more about this small planet?" Obi-Wan suggested.

"I suppose," Samus agreed. "But I need something to wear for protection." She searched through the Batcave, coming into a room that housed the more experimental technologies. A suit still underdevelopment struck her fancy, and was exactly fitted to her thanks to the memory alloy it was made of. It wrapped around every curve of her body. She then found a Japanese Katana from the weapons locker and strapped it to her back. "Ready," she reported.

"Let's go," Obi-Wan suggested. The heroes went upstairs to the motorbike garage. A black Honda was mounted and whined to life. Obi-Wan worked the controls, easily figuring out how to pilot the Blackbird. Obi-Wan's abilities in the Force guided him through Gotham City to Central Park.

Samus and Obi-Wan parked the mighty Honda at the curb of the park. The disembarked and found a spaceship. It was very long, resembling a crane in flight, and red in color. Next to it was a rather generic looking craft. Obi-Wan checked one of the craft, Samus checking the crane one.

"Find anything?" Obi- Wan asked, removing his head from the cockpit of the craft.

"Blood," Samus reported. "Whoever flew this is very badly hurt." Through a grove of oak trees, a gunshot was heard. Samus and Obi-Wan ran to investigate. His saber ignited to its blue hue as Samus' katana caught the moonlight.

Past the oak trees, in the middle of the park, Samus and Obi-Wan arrived mid-battle. A tall skinny man with puffy hair and a rather buxom and blonde police officer were showing down with one man. He was lanky, with long dark hair that hung in his face. He wielded a katana, not unlike Samus'. The busty cop had a nightstick and a Jericho handgun was being wielded by the pilot of the crane ship; blood stains and a hunched stance were evidence enough of who he was.

"Damn cops," the sword wielding man spoke out.

"You shouldn't have killed all those people in the Neo-Tokyo dome! Now you've got to deal with Team Warrior!" the cop cried out. She launched at him, engaging her nightstick versus his sword. Every blow that she made was countered. The man was obviously a master with his weapon. The tall lanky man raised his gun, waiting for a clear shot.

"I wouldn't fire if I were you Spike!" the assailant told the bloody man. "You might hit Ms. Rio." He used his sword and removed the nightstick from Rio's hand. The cold steel of the sword met her neck as he swung her around.

"Vicious!" Spike cried out. "You know the police have nothing to do with this. It's between you and me! Let her go!"

"I understand Spike. No one can kill me but you, and vice versa. But as an insurance policy…" Blood spurted as Vicious' sword cut through Rio's midsection. She dropped to the ground as Spike and Vicious began their fight.

Obi-Wan and Samus holstered their weapons and went to aid Rio. "Are you hurt anywhere else?" Obi-Wan asked.

"No," Rio struggled to say. Obi-Wan placed his hand on her head and used his powers of the force to aid her healing.

"What's going on here?" Samus asked her.

"That bastard with the swords name is Vicious. He's the head of a crime syndicate based on Mars. He murdered the Prime Minister of China during a peace conference in the Tokyo dome, hoping to spark an incident between China and Japan. My unit was guarding the Prime Minister and the only way that China won't go to open conflict with my people is if we apprehend the criminal responsible. My name is…"

"Rio Kinezono," Obi-Wan interrupted.

"Yea. How did you do that?" Rio asked.

"The Force," Obi-Wan reported. "Who is the other person?"

"That is Spike. He's a bounty hunter or some damn thing. They have some kind of grudge against one another."

Spike and Vicious were really getting into the fight. Adrenaline flowed and kept Spike going, despite massive blood loss. Handgun deflected sword blow after blow, getting a shot in every once in a while. The third shot Spike fired struck Vicious in the arm, grazing him. He reeled, but came back. Spike's next shot shattered Vicious' blade. Victory was Spike's… had it not been for an empty magazine. The handgun hit the ground next to the pieces of the Vicious' blade. Spike's Jeet Kun Do glided gracefully through the air as Vicious sought to defend against Spike.

It'd been a while since Vicious had to use his martial arts. He himself was a Judo master and quite well defended against Spike. Kicks and fists were exchanged, each attacker landing hits, no one winning over the other. Soon enough, Spike began to gain the upper hand. Blow after blow landed, knocking out teeth and dislocating Vicious' jaw.

"This is it Spike," Vicious spoke, spitting teeth out. "One of us isn't going to walk away from here."

"Kinda glad it's finally over," Spike remarked. "Now I can dream peacefully."

Vicious produced a knife, hidden in his black overcoat and drove it into Spike's heart. Spike, running on pure adrenaline, snapped Vicious' neck in one swift motion.

Both men dropped to the ground.

Obi-Wan, Samus and Rio were silent. A cold wind fell on the park. "Should we try to help?" Samus asked.

"No," Obi-Wan spoke, drawing on all of his wisdom. "They represent balance; one cannot exist without the other. There cannot be Spike without Vicious. No Vicious without Spike. They can both dream forever, as they wanted to."

"And I lose out on that reward from Maki for not bringing Vicious back alive!" Rio cried out. "I'll be laughed out of Policetown."

"Was money the only motivation?" Obi- Wan asked her.

"Well, erm, no. But I do like expensive shiny things," she reported.

"I sense much good in you. Would you accompany us back to Wayne Manor?"

"I suppose…" Rio spoke out.

Part 6: Powers Converge!

"So good to be home," Bobby remarked, removing his cape and cowl. "Scouts, can we meet in the Observatory in 20 minutes?"

"We'll be there," Sailor Moon spoke up.

"Popo, Nana, would you join us too?" Bobby asked the Eskimo kids.

"Yes, Mr. Batman!" they exclaimed.

Obi-Wan, Samus and Rio returned to Wayne Manor. Rio parked the Honda in the Garage, while Samus and Obi-Wan piloted the two space craft of Spike and Vicious'.

"Who are you?" Bobby asked Rio, stopping her in the garage.

"This is Rio Kinezono," Obi-Wan introduced. "She's with the Tokyo Police Force. She possesses a very pure spirit and she helped to diffuse a serious situation in Gotham City Park while you were away."

"Really? Well, Obi-Wan, can you get Samus and meet in the observatory in ten minutes?" he asked.

"I shall," Obi-Wan complied. He gave a small bow to Bobby and Rio and let them be.

'Oh boy! He lives here? This guy must be worth major bucks! If I married him I could quit being a cop and come live here and still get all those fabulous materiel goods that I need to survive. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!" Rio thought. "Hi, as you already know, my name is Rio. You are?"

"Bobby Alton. I live here."

'Cha-ching!' Rio thought.

"Why are you here?" Bobby asked.

"Well, I pursued a criminal here from Tokyo. I tracked him to Gotham…"

"Okay, well, are you tired of being a cop?"

"What?" Rio asked. "Not really. I could use a job that pays a little better, but…"

"Follow me to the Observatory."

Stars glistened in the glass ceiling of the Wayne Manor observatory. Serena, Raye, Amy, Lita and Mina occupied a couch. Obi-Wan and Samus waited patiently next to a bust of Galileo. Popo and Nana stared at the globe and counted how many mountains they'd climbed. The group was then joined by Rio, who sat next to the Scouts and Bobby, who called everyone there.

"Good evening all," he addressed them. "Normally, I don't believe in fate, but today I think I participated in it firsthand; the good that fate can bring and the bad. Today, I lost my mentor, my hero, a man who I considered a brother. Nothing can bring him back. But I know that Bruce Wayne stood for justice in an unjust world. There are many dangers on this planet. We've all faced our share of them. And we've all triumphed. I have to admit though that sometimes the cost of victory isn't worth the price we pay. Like me losing Bruce. I'm sure you all have lost someone or something very dear to you in your fight for your ideals. That is the burden we carry." He stopped and moved around the room. "Before we left for Japan to apprehend the Riddler, Bruce was working on something he called the Justice League. It is a confederation of heroes, all allied for the common good. He was struggling to find suitable candidates, but on his death, I believe that fate supplied me with everything we need to make the Justice League. I believe fate is what caused Sailor Jupiter to blow that door open to save our lives, and for Obi-Wan to save my life from Captain Planet. Fate carried us to the Big Shell where we met Samus and her fight against Megatron. Fate carried us to the top of K2 and the destruction of evil in Paris Hilton. And fate brought us Ms. Rio, of the Tokyo Police Force. I think that fate has thrust us together to fight to secure this planet. I was used to it being just Bruce and myself, but in the past day I've learned the value of teamwork and friendship. Would you all help me to secure this planet and make it safe?"

The room was quiet after the eloquent speech.

"What's the job pay?" Rio asked. "Ah, who cares? I'm in."

"You can count on us!" Popo and Nana spoke.

"The Force has guided me here. This is where I can do the most good," Obi-Wan replied.

"I don't know," Samus spoke up. "This isn't my home, and it's a very backwards planet. I've been alone for as long as I can remember."

"But that doesn't mean you have to be anymore!" Serena told her. Serena changed focus. "Bobby, you can count on the Sailor Scouts. Ridding the world of evil's always been our game, and I think that this Justice League can easily handle anything that threatens the world."

"So naïve," Samus commented. "But perhaps your naivety means that together we'd be unstoppable. I've certainly been impressed by Obi-Wan. And Sailor Mercury's power is what defeated Megatron. Okay, count me in!" Samus agreed.

"Okay. So we're all in agreement to join forces and stop evil? Well, everyone settle in. There's plenty of room in the house. I'll see you all in the morning."

"Where are you going?" Lita asked him.

"I told Bruce that I'd get the Joker. I'm going to live up to that promise," he told them. He left, heading back to the Batcave.

"Not without me," Lita spoke up.

Part 7: Promises Fulfilled

"Jupiter, I have to do this alone," Batman told her, getting into the driver's seat of the Batmobile. He fiddled with the knobs, starting the turbine engine.

"Please let me help you," she pleaded. "Not for Bruce, but for you." The Batmobile turned on its turntable and faced the exit. "Bobby, I really care about you. I don't want you to get hurt."

"Jupiter… Lita, this is what we we're born to do. Promise me that you'll stay out of it."

"Only if you promise to come back unharmed," she replied. He nodded in agreement. "Okay fine," she agreed. She stood up, looked around then bent down and kissed him. "You'd better come back."

"You better believe I will," he assured her. "Stand back." The back end of the Batmobile flamed up as Batman pressed down on the gas. It accelerated out the Batcave towards Gotham. She stared out the door as the Batmobile became just a speck in the distance.

Lita put her street clothes back on and went and joined her friends again. Everyone was mingling, getting to know each other a little better. She didn't like to eavesdrop, but she couldn't help overhear Rio talking to Obi-Wan and Samus.

"So this thing called the black diamond turns any metal it touches into a superconductive processor. My squad, Team Warrior, fought these things called the Mecha-cops back in Tokyo which was the first time we found out about black diamonds. Then we learned that this Vicious guy and his syndicate was smuggling them to some criminal in Gotham," she explained.

"So why did Vicious kill the Prime Minister of China?" Samus asked her.

"Well, the Prime Minister is a major opponent of black diamond research. He saw them as too costly for anyone to produce and the only ones in existence are because of syndicate development. Japan and China are closely allied in the struggle against organized crime and Vicious saw this as a way to spark an international incident and make marketing his black diamonds easier," Rio told them.

"Just out of curiosity," Lita interrupted, "What criminal was Vicious delivering them to?"

"I don't have a profile on the guy. Something about a clown…" Rio mentioned.

"And, what makes this black diamond so dangerous?" Lita asked, her heart growing with worry.

"Well, the US Army has created battlefield robots with AI but they're all upwards of 20 feet tall. This black diamond makes the job easier, allowing for much more compact robots."

"Oh no!" Lita exclaimed.

"What's wrong?" Obi-Wan asked.

"Bobby just left to go apprehend the Joker," she told them. "If he's got some kind of indestructible robot, it might be too much for him!"

"Did he say where he was going?" Samus asked.


"Let's check the Bat-Computer," Obi-Wan suggested. The group of heroes descended on the Batcave. Obi-Wan took the big chair and began to type in commands. Jupiter grew worried; her friends could sense it.

"Don't worry Lita," Serena told her. "I'm sure he won't run into any trouble, and if he does, we'll go back him up."

"Yea, we're the Justice League," Raye added.

"Here it is," Obi-Wan commented. The computer blipped a map of Gotham City on the screen. "It's on the docks. Should we go?"

"I'm going," Lita spoke up.

"Then we go too," Serena commented, "Scouts stick together."

"I'm in," Rio spoke up. "No one knows the black diamond case like me."

"We should all go. If the Joker has one an intelligent and deadly robot, it might take all of our power to defeat it," Obi-Wan suggested.

The cave shook and numerous bats were disturbed when from out of the experimental technology area, Samus emerged wearing a large metallic exoskeleton. "We might need some heavy metal for this one…"

The Batmobile stopped outside what Batman had on file as the Jokers hide out. It was a rather dank warehouse, not at all different from any of the other warehouses that lined the Gotham City docks. The sea was unusually calm and a full moon illuminated the area. Batman launched his grappling hook onto the roof. The warehouse's skylights provided him a good vantage point to oversee Joker's activity.

Indeed Joker did have a black diamond, but Batman wasn't exactly sure what it was. Three goons in clown masks were loading case after case of black diamonds into the back of a truck. Joker left his comfy oversized chair and placed the black diamond into a special holding tray.

"You know, I'm not even sure I want to be in the criminal business with Batman gone," Joker told his goons. "It just won't be the same. No thrill of the chase. No Alpha to my Omega. It'll just be… boring."

"I wouldn't consider a change in career just yet," Batman told him, breaking though the window.

"What? How? I saw you die! Oh never mind then! Boys… handle the Bat!" he commanded, joyful that his nemesis wasn't dead. Two of the goons produced machine guns from their coats and raised them at Batman. A Batarang to the hands disarmed them. The third goon removed a knife lunged at Batman from behind. Batman side stepped and caught the guy with a backhand to the face. The knife dropped to the ground. Joker found a delight in seeing Batman fighting. It was like the magical spark that makes a relationship work was alive and well.

Despite an aching hand, the other thugs circled Batman, ready for a fight. The first goon made his move; a rather straightforward jab at Batman. Batman ducked to the right and met the goon with a fist of his own. The second guy took the opportunity to jump Batman, but on recognizing the threat, Batman delivered a high kick right to the chin of the attacker. Batman regained his vertical base, and threw fists at the two goons, knocking them down.

The third crook, who was now without a knife, rose ready to challenge Batman. Batman stared him down. The crook, realizing he wasn't being paid well enough ran off.

"Just you and me Joker," Batman told his nemesis. "Shall we do this the hard way or the easy way?"

"Not so fast Batman! No 'It's good to see you? How's the family?" Joker asked with his usual psychotic-ness ringing in. "Well you haven't met everyone yet!" The Clown prince of crime did a crazy clown dance and sauntered a few feet behind him in a series of twirls. "Meet Cousin Dirty Wiggles!" A beam of light fell on an 8 foot tall clown painted robot. "You two should get acquainted!"

Wiggles came to life, puffing smoke out of his oversized white ears. His painted eyes glowed red and beneath a sinister metal smile was a black diamond CPU. Intimidation didn't work on 8 foot tall robots. Neither did Batarangs or bolas.

Dirty Wiggles was unaffected by Batman's attacks. The clown leapt, with more ferocity than a leopard on a gazelle, at Batman. The Clown was so quick that Batman didn't even have time to react before the clown had him suspended in the air by his neck.

"Now now, Cousin Wiggles, don't kill Batman!" Joker commanded. The robot lessened the grip on Batman's neck. "Put him somewhere, oh, out of the way." Wiggles complied and carried Batman to the rafters. "Remember, bats sleep upside down!" Joker reminded. Wiggles took the hint and turned Batman upside down. A steel wire bound Batman's feet, and he hung from the rafters of the warehouse like a ham in a butcher shop window.

"Good help is so hard to find," Joker commented, kicking his goons in the side. "Get up. We've got a truck to finish loading!"

"Jupiter Supreme Thunder!" A cackle filled the air and once again, lightning tore the door from its moorings. Moonlight filtered in and five figures filled the doorway.

"Stop right there!" Sailor Moon cried out. "Batman is an invaluable asset to Gotham City and a friend of ours. We won't stand for it! We fight for Love! We fight for Justice! I am Sailor Moon and in the name of the Moon, I'll punish you!" She again struck the same cocky stance.

"Oh not you again... Damn silly girls," Joker commented. Joker nodded and Cousin Wiggles descended upon them. A loud crash filled the night air, and Cousin Dirty Wiggles was knocked back a few feet.

"Damn ugly oversized clown," Rio spoke up. She intercepted the robot before it got to the Sailor Scouts and struck it with her Team Warrior issue nightstick. She leapt at it and whacked it again. "You're a lot tougher than the Mecha-cop."

"Of course he is. And you didn't have to call him ugly!" Joker told her. The clown robot became possessed and began to chase Rio. "I don't think Cousin Wiggles likes you!"

The moment was right and Obi-Wan leapt in from the open skylight and cut Batman down from the rafters with his Lightsaber. Sailor Jupiter was waiting to on the ground to catch Batman.

"You don't know how to keep a promise do you?" Batman asked her.

"You weren't going to come home hanging from the rafters," she told him. "Don't worry. We'll get them!" She left and rejoined the fight against Cousin Wiggles.

"Where's Samus?" Batman asked.

"She's piloting your exosuit," Obi-Wan informed.

"What? How? That suit was tuned specifically to my brainwaves!" Batman told him.

"Perhaps that's why she isn't here yet," Obi-Wan surmised. They both looked up. The scouts and Rio were in a bad way against Cousin Wiggles. Even the Ice Climbers, who made an entrance in the melee, were having trouble against the clown. Joker delighted in his droid decimating the determined defenders.

The ground began to shake and all the windows in the place shattered as Samus finally arrived. "Who wants some?" she asked. Dirty Wiggles took notice of the increased presence, and moved against Samus.

"Get out of it!" Batman told her. He got to his feet and replaced Samus in the suits control center. The neural interface connected with Batman's brain and the suit became as mobile and natural moving as a regular person.

Batman rocked Dirty Wiggles with a metal fist to the clown face. One red eye flashed off and on and the painted on smile disappeared. Straight blows worked well against Wiggles, but the clown outmaneuvered and soon, Batman's robot arms we're being smashed by Wiggles strength.

"He needs more power!" Sailor Mars cried out.

Obi-Wan removed the power cell from his lightsaber and plugged it into the suit. He used the power of the force and pushed as hard as he could to separate Batman and the clown.

"Here!" Samus cried, tossing her katana. The exosuit caught it and it molded with the right arm.

"Try this!" Rio added, tossing her nightstick in similar fashion.

The stick collided with Wiggle's face, followed by the katana to the midsection. All the power Obi-Wan provided, the same power that destroyed Megatron, was nothing to Cousin Wiggles.

"He needs more!" Jupiter cried out. "This is us guys!" she told her friends.

"Moon Cosmic Power!"

"Mercury Star Power!"

"Mars Star Power!"

"Jupiter Star Power!"

"Venus Star Power!"

"SCOUT POWER!" All the power of the Sailor Scouts had to offer. The sum of all the strength and love that they had was channeled into Batman's suit. Like it had an aura, the suit glowed pink, then blue, red, green and finally orange before turning a pure white color.

Batman once again swung his weapons. The nightstick struck the head and the Katana went to the middle, but this time, Mr. Wiggles folded like a tin can. The clown's lower half walked around like a chicken missing a head and the head of the clown dropped to the ground, half of a demented smile staring up at Batman.

"Well, time to make an exit!" Joker cried, heading for the door.

It was Nana's time to shine. She caught Joker in the face with her mallet. He dropped to the ground flat on his back. She then jumped on his stomach, another mountain conquered.

Batman exited the suit, congratulated Nana and slapped the Bat cuffs on Joker. No Captain Planet to free him this time. His limp body was picked up and placed in the hand of the exosuit.

The heroes shared a sigh of relief. They had passed their first test as a team, and they passed with flying colors. No one was more relieved than Sailor Jupiter.

"You scared me," she told Batman, putting her arms around him. "Is this how it's going to be all the time? Me worried about you?"

"So long as I've got you to back me up, nothing can stop me," he told her, getting lost in her eyes. Their lips met again.

The kiss resulted in cat calls from The Scouts, Popo and Nana blushing and turning away, and various dopey grins from Obi-Wan and Samus. Rio was dumbfounded; confused why the rich guy with the huge house and loads of money was interested in someone other than her.

'Guess I'll always be broke,' she reason.

"Oh would you knock it off," Joker requested, regaining consciousness. "I rather miss my bed at Arkham."

'Got him, Bruce,' Batman thought, fulfilling his promise.



"So where do we go from here?" Samus asked, staring at the sunrise from her room in Wayne Manor.

"Isn't it obvious?" Rio asked. "We head back to Tokyo to help Team Warrior dismantle the Red Dragon syndicate."

Red Dragon

By Greg Senger Chapter 1: Team Warrior

Policetown seemed huge from the stool at the Ramen shop down the street. Rio burned up her last yen on discount ramen day, knowing full well that Maki wouldn't have a reward for her for the death of Vicious. Bounties only paid on living bounty heads. That was the law of the land. Sure, the leader of the Red Dragon syndicate was dead, but that didn't pay Rio's bills. She banked on bringing Vicious back alive. Her splurging on a Coco Chanel handbag and Gucci boots almost meant she had to. One million yen for the capture of Vicious… and she blew it.

'Well, Rio, time to own up to it,' she thought. She paid the shop owner all in coins for her kimchee and dumplings. It came to a total of 458 yen; a pretty cheap meal, by anyone's standards… anyone who doesn't own a Chanel handbag and Gucci boots.

She began the long lonely walk towards Policetown. It was odd. She wasn't used to eating alone. Usually Lilica or Maya would come eat with her. Not today. Not even Yuji with his video camera followed Rio. It was like a black cloud hung over her. None of her friends were around, and truthfully, Rio didn't feel like having them around.

'I really hope I don't have to sell my underwear again to pay this month's rent…' Rio thought. 'Oh duh, I'm living in Gotham now… Can I really leave Tokyo? I love this city. I grew up here. I've been a cop here for almost five years. Can I throw that all away? I did make a pledge to Batman. Maybe after I solve this Black Diamond thing. That'd make me feel better.'

Maki's office was very nondescript. It was supposed to be. Team Warrior didn't even exist. Not officially anyway. The office was dark, like it always was except for sunlight filtering in through the blinds behind Maki's desk.

Maki Kawasaki was the team leader of Warrior. Her husband Masato was the first officer to uncover the Black Diamond plot. He was killed. Her uniform was green, indicating a special commander status, and with the light behind her, no one could see her eyes behind the glare on her big round frame glasses.

"Welcome back, Rio," Maki greeted. "How did the case go?"

"Vicious is dead," she reported. "A bounty hunter killed him."

"And so goes the million," Maki told her.

"But I'd like permission to go after the rest of the Red Dragons."

"Really?" Maki asked. Rio wasn't exactly an overachiever, unless she needed quick cash. "There's no complete case file against the entire Red Dragon syndicate. I can't authorize Team Warrior to go into action and pay you with police funds."

"It's okay. I won't need Warrior," Rio told her.

"You're going to take down an entire crime syndicate by yourself?"

"She's got help," Batman told her, blocking out the sun behind Maki's desk. He clearly caught Maki by surprise, her gasping for air. "We know the Red Dragons smuggled a large number of Black Diamonds to the Joker in Gotham City. International smuggling of illegal goods. Isn't that worth Team Warrior's time?"

"I don't appreciate being sneaked up on," Maki told him. "And no, I still can't authorize Warrior to move in. Budget constraints."

"What if I paid them?" Batman asked.

"Well, then it would be up to each member of the Warrior squad. It wouldn't be official, but you'd still get access to all the Warrior equipment."

"Then I'll go find everyone," Rio told them.

Maki turned, "So who…" Batman was gone.

The ball was in Rio's court. She knew Batman had the dough, and it was only a matter of convincing the team members to sign on. Rio boarded the elevator, down to the Motor pool.

"RIO!" a voice cried out from underneath a car.

"Yuji?" she asked.

In a split second, a man, covered in motor oil had his arms wrapped around Rio's legs. "I'd know that pair of legs anywhere! What brings you down to the motor pool? Finally coming to confess your true feelings for me?"

"Yea, nausea," she told him. "Get off me!" Rio's foot collided with Yuji's face. That was typical for Yuji. A self-proclaimed pervert, Yuji made no effort to hide his leg fetish, especially towards Rio. If ever there was a girl that Yuji wanted to settle down with, it was her. Beneath the veil of perverseness and nosebleeds, Yuji really cared for Rio in a way no one else did. Some might call it love.

"So what's up, Rio?" he asked, favoring the heel mark in his face.

"How would you like to make some quick cash?" she asked.

"You want to buy back all your underwear you sold me?" The other side of his face ached. "Well doing what?" he asked.

Rio went on to explain the details of the case to him. He wasn't all that thrilled until he learned that the Sailor Scouts and Samus and her shape memory suit would be involved. The news of the payout sealed it. Yuji was on board.

'One down,' Rio thought, 'Off to find Maya.'

Maya Jingu was the team's gunner. Green haired and large breasted, she was born to a crime syndicate in Osaka, but longed to be a police officer. She became proficient in every weapon in the Tokyo Police arsenal, and there was nothing she loved more than to shoot. She would, even on days off, park on top of a roof and snipe at guys who robbed convenience stores. Whenever Warrior was called into action, and Maya didn't get to shoot enough, she'd become very frustrated, something bordering on sexual frustration; the kind that would lead to a rape.

Large caliber rounds headed downrange in the basement shooting range of Policetown. Maya was doing what she does best. Shoot.

"Maya!" Rio yelled over the 4 gauge shotgun blasts.

"What's up Rio!"

"Wanna make some money?"

"Doing what?"


Maya was onboard. One simple word was all it took. Nanvel was next, further down in the basement.

"Hi Rio!" Nanvel exclaimed. She wasn't used to having visitors. Nanvel's specialty was robotics with a minor in computers. She worked, almost in exile, in the deepest depths of Policetown. Her skin was very tan; an odd occurrence since she mostly works underground. Despite being alone she was very robust and personable... well, Nanvel wasn't totally alone; she had her inventions to keep her company. There was El Heggunte, a giant robot built with black diamond-less artificial intelligence, Pinel Deluxe, a pink elephant who can make people invisible, and her pink cockroach, designed to sneak into inaccessible locations and transmit audio and video back to the team. "What brings you down here?"

"Well, how would you like to make some quick cash?" she asked.

"Hmm… no thanks. I need to keep working so my pink rabbit personal armor suit gets finished."

"You can use the money to give El Heggunte a top notch AI system," Rio baited her.

"The job pays 10 million yen?" Nanvel asked. "What do we have to do?"

Rio explained the case and how Batman and the other heroes were onboard and Nanvel signed on immediately. Nanvel saw this as an opportunity to offer herself and her talents to interested parties. Fighting crime in Gotham City would be much easier if Batman had a pink rabbit personal armor system, after all.

Rio headed out of the depths and back to what one would call 'normal' Policetown. The elevator dinged when it arrived on the 7th floor; Information Analysis. Lilica was busy typing away on her computer, inputting traffic stop after traffic stop. Lilica was the last member of Team Warrior. Her specialty was computers. She had a wealthy upbringing as her father once offered to buy her a satellite in orbit and her own private island. Lilica liked police service as it made her feel like an average citizen. The money argument of Rio's wouldn't work.

"Hey Lilica!" Rio spoke.

"Hi Rio. What's going on? You never come to the 7th floor." Lilica spoke, pushing her pink hair out of her face.

"How would you like to go on an adventure?" Rio asked her.

"What kind of adventure?"

"Well, a Warrior type adventure…"

"I'm in!" Lilica spoke, excitedly.

Team Warrior was a go… unofficially. Everyone on the team was pretty good friends. Rio didn't really doubt that they'd sign on for bringing down the Red Dragons. Rio boarded the elevator to the roof and her report to Batman. 'How can this Caped Crusader be mega wealthy and not want me? I'm gorgeous. Everyone wants me… that's how I manipulate them. Like Yuji… what a pushover… but sweet. Maybe I should change my ways? Nah. The titty-fairy helped me to get this far in life. Why change a winning plan?'

"How did it go?" Batman asked, staring at Tokyo in the midday sun.

"Well, everyone signed on. Yuji, Maya, Nanvel and Lilica are all on board. Just out of curiosity, what are you going to pay them?" Rio spoke.

"Nanvel's robot needs an AI, so probably enough to finance that for her, a new HD camera for Yuji so he can film you in high definition, a fake audit form for Lilica, so she can feel even more like a normal person and any kind of gun and ammo for Maya that she wants… plus 10 million yen apiece."

"Do I get the 10 million too?" Rio asked, licking her chops.

"Is that your only motivation?" Batman asked her.

"Yes…" she told him, hiding a secret.

"Then you'll get the 10 million." A silence grew and nothing but the wind from 40 stories up was heard. "Meet in the Juuban district, 7 PM," Batman instructed.

Chapter 2: Personal Time

"There's so much stuff here, I have no idea what to pack," Lita exclaimed. Box upon box was stacked in the middle of her living room floor.

"Take it all," Bobby suggested. "I do have plenty of room."

"You know, since you brought it up… is this a good idea? I mean, us living together. We've known each other for like a day. It's a bit sudden. What if I hate you?" she asked. The sofa gave way as she sat down on it.

"I really doubt you will," Bobby told her, looking at Lita's figure skating medals on the wall. "I'm very nice to be around."

"And also very modest," she spoke. He smiled at her and sat down next to her on the couch. "Okay, next question. Is everyone going to live at Wayne Manor? I mean, suppose you and I are getting frisky. Do we have to worry about waking Obi-Wan or Popo and Nana walking in on us?"

"That'd be temporary. We've got penthouses and apartments all over Gotham. They could live wherever they wanted to," he told her, sitting down next to her.

"Okay, so could I live in one of those apartments?" she asked, hoping it wouldn't hurt his feelings.

"Yea, that'd be okay," he told her. "You can live wherever you want to. I just thought it might be an easier transition from Tokyo to Gotham if you hung out at my place, got to know the city well. That's why I'm having everyone move to Wayne Manor."

"Oh, then you'll cut us loose?" she asked. Her arms wrapped around him and she fell into his chest.

"Pretty much," he spoke, holding her.

"So, can I ask you a question?"

"Sure," he told her.

"What do you think of Rio?" Her heart beat rapidly upon asking this.

"Well, I really don't know her that well. She got team Warrior assembled to help us crack down on the Red Dragons. I think her motivations for a lot of things is money, but I think she's a good person. Why?"

"She looks at you funny. I don't know if I trust her," Lita reported.

"Are you scared?" he asked.

"Well, look at it through my eyes. For once, I got the guy. I never get the guy. I've played second fiddle to Serena and Raye and Mina forever. Not once has a guy taken interest in me. And let's face it, Rio is a very attractive girl, and I don't wanna have to fight someone who looks better than I do for you. I mean, I could kick her ass all over the place…"

"Lita, you have nothing to worry about. I know her type. She's the kind that uses her beauty to manipulate. You're the type whose beauty is twofold, outside and in. She might be a nice person, but I'd much rather be with you."

"You really mean it?" she asked, her brown eyes softening their gaze.

"Absolutely," he told her. She leaned in and kissed him.

"So, how does the whole plan of going against this syndicate work?" she asked.

"Well, I'll reveal my master plan tonight at seven. We're meeting at the Temple," he told her.

Chapter 3: Red Dragon Assault

The sun was setting on the Juuban District. Hikawa Shrine was the gathering of the Sailor Scouts for years, and now it served as its first meeting place for the newly assembled Justice League. Serena, Amy, Raye, Lita and Mina were gathered by the sacred bell. The first member of Warrior to show up was Rio. Pleasantries were exchanged and they were then joined by Lilica, Nanvel, Yuji and Maya.

"So why are we all here? What's this great plan?" Maya asked.

"Do we get to meet Batman? Is he here?" Nanvel asked. She was a Batman fan from way back.

"He'll be here," Raye told everyone.

Phobos and Deimos, Raye's crows, cawed as Batman whooshed down from the heavens. "So this is Team Warrior," he spoke, "Nice to meet you."

"What's the master plan?" Nanvel asked.

"Yeah, how much do I get to shoot?" added Maya.

"Am I late?" a voice asked, approaching. It was none other than Maki. "Team Warrior is my baby and I'm not letting anyone use them without my involvement." She leaned up against the bell, seemingly willing to go along with whatever Batman had planned.

"We start by inserting one of our people inside the organization to gather intelligence and build a case file against the Red Dragons," Batman told them.

"Who's that?" Rio asked.

"That part is already underway. Obi-Wan should be reporting in soon. After he gets the information needed, Warrior will move in and make the arrests."

"So I don't get to shoot? Count me out!" Maya spoke up.

"Chances are they're using Black Diamond powered androids. Someone's got to shoot them…" Batman spoke.

"Ha ha… never mind."

"So did Obi-Wan go in alone?" Amy asked. She and Obi-Wan became friends over the course of the past day. He had the wisdom to match her knowledge.

"No. Samus went too. They're a good team," Batman spoke. "Anyway, they're gathering info, Warrior moves in and handles any resistance. While the most of the Red Dragons are occupied with Warrior, I'll enter from the top, meet up with Obi-Wan and Samus and the three of us will capture the new leader of the syndicate," Batman told them. "Do we have the info on the new leader, Amy?"

"No, nothing yet," she told the group. "He might have had trouble getting into the Red Dragon's computers."

"Uh, Batman?" Serena spoke up. "What are we going to do?"

"Who are you anyway? What could five college girls have to do with this?" Maya asked.

"I don't know, but I like it," Yuji commented, full on in his perverseness.

"Moon Cosmic Power!" Serena cried out. The Imperium Silver Crystal in her brooch glowed and pink ribbons wrapped around her body. She transformed into Sailor Moon.

"Mercury Star Power!" Amy called, raising her power stick into the air. Flashes of blue, ending with a shimmer of bubbles transformed her into Sailor Mercury.

"Mars Star Power!" Flames shot from the Mars power stick and covered Raye's body. The power of flame changed her into Sailor Mars.

Lita raised her stick into the air and called out, "Jupiter Star Power!" Bolts of lightning shot from the pen and turned her into Sailor Jupiter.

"Venus Star Power!" Mina cried. Showers of golden hearts blanketed her and transformed her into the soldier of love, Sailor Venus.

"We're the Sailor Scouts!" They in unison told Team Warrior. Warrior was dumbfounded that they'd been in the presence of a group of girls who saved the world at no older than age 14.

"So yea, what are we going to do?" Sailor Moon asked again.

"I was hoping that you'd provide backup for me when Obi-Wan and Samus and I apprehend the leader…"

"Something coming in, Batman," Mercury reported. Her computer blipped and beeped. "Obi-Wan reports that he has the information needed and awaits us to move in."

"Did he include the name of the leader of the group?" Batman asked her.

"Yes. A man named Shalashaska. He's Russian… That's all."

"A Russian?" Maki asked.

"Let's go," Batman told them.

"Showtime Warrior!" Maki told them, as she always did before a Warrior mission. Warrior assembled in Yuji's patrol car, then down the road to the Team Warrior helicopter.

"See you at the Kagome Plaza," Batman told the scouts. He fired his grappling hook and was off.

The scouts held hands in a circle. Their power consumed and illuminated them. "Sailor Teleport," they spoke, vanishing.

Obi-Wan's lightsaber cut through machine gun after machine gun. The power of the force was too much for the Red Dragons. Samus was having equal success, using her katana. "We need to open the front door so Warrior can get in," Obi-Wan told his partner.

Gunshots ripped through the door and Rio, Maya and Nanvel in her pink rabbit armor system burst through. The helicopter ascended and delivered Lilica to the roof. Rio's ripped through thug after thug, her nightstick doing the talking for her, letting them know they were under arrest. Maya was extremely happy, opening up on the few droids they had with her anti-tank gun. Nanvel's armor worked flawlessly, delivering big pink punches to crook after crook. Team Warrior was doing what they did best; kick ass.

"I think they're okay," Samus told Obi-Wan, seeing how they made their entrance.

"We have to get to the roof and confront the leader. Batman and the Scouts will meet us." Obi-Wan pushed down the goons that he and Samus we're fighting with the Force. They then headed off, climbing aboard an elevator headed to the top of Kagome Plaza. Jazzy elevator music overshadowed the fact that the building was really in a state of war at the moment. The elevator dinged and Obi-Wan's saber ignited.

The Red Dragons on this floor we're different than the others they had fought. Whereas the low level guys were all Japanese or perhaps Korean in descent, these men we're all clearly Slavic. P90 machine gun fire ripped into the elevator. Obi-Wan grabbed Samus and leapt onto the top of the elevator. The criminals were dumbfounded, as the Force made Obi-Wan incredibly fast. They slowly approached and entered the elevator. The blue lightsaber cut through the ceiling and Samus and Obi-Wan dropped onto their attackers. The ones who were wise enough not to enter the elevator soon met cold steel and the hot blade of a lightsaber.

The hallways grew darker as the heroes worked towards Shalashaska. The room was bathed in darkness except for moonlight entering through the large window at the back. Silver flashes caught the moonlight; it was a Colt handgun being twirled on his fingers. He twirled around and fired one bullet at each hero.

"I'd really hoped you would have killed Snake for me… I guess I'll have to do it later… after I'm done with you." He threw off his duster, and turned.

"Ocelot," Obi-Wan spoke.

"I don't know who either of you are, but you should know you're in over your head. All of what transpires here is much bigger than you or I or even Snake. The fate of the world rests with my actions, and no group of heroes or any legendary mercenaries can change that," he told them.

"What is going on here?" Samus asked.

"Well, since I'm going to have to kill you anyway, you might as well know. This syndicate produces a drug called Red Eye. Vicious used it to bribe officials and make marketing his black diamonds easier. I was sent here to gather the black diamonds so we can use them in our information manipulation AI's. It was just a stroke of luck that the bounty hunter killed Vicious. It made my job that much easier. And now you and Team Warrior are going to haul in all the Red Dragons and make it look like the Patriots had no involvement with this…"

"A nice story…" a voice spoke from the shadows. "But too bad you won't be leaving with those diamonds." Smoke rose and a lit cigarette glowed.

"Shouldn't FOXDIE have killed by now?" Ocelot asked.

"Snake!" Samus exclaimed.

"You die first, Ocelot." He produced his SOCOM and fired. Ocelot fired back. The bullet missed Snake but the ricochet struck Samus in the arm. She let out a grunt and dropped her katana. Snake and Ocelot continued firing, taking cover behind various objects.

Obi-Wan left his cover and checked on Samus. "You'll be fine," he told her. "Let's leave this to Snake. I'm going to get you out of here."

"No," Samus told him. "Stop him."

Batman crashed through the picture window behind Ocelot. The Sailor Scouts perched themselves at the site of the broken glass. "Surrender, Ocelot!" Batman told him.

In the commotion, one of Snake's bullets found its mark, striking Ocelot in the leg. He rolled under Batman's cape, and despite a bullet in the leg, took one of the Scouts hostage.

"Wait!" Batman spoke. Cold steel pressed against Jupiter's face. Obi-Wan was helpless. Snake couldn't get a clear shot. The Scouts readied, but held back fearing Ocelot might do the worst.

"All right. Let's all stay calm. I really don't like killing young cute girls and I won't if you cooperate," Ocelot spoke, inching back towards the open window.

'Damn, can't get a clear shot,' Snake thought. 'If the Bat would move, Ocelot would be dead. Time to make a hard decision…' Snake's finger gently began to squeeze the trigger.

The power of the Force ripped the gun from Snake's grasp and into Obi-Wan's hand. Everyone's attention shifted from Ocelot and Jupiter to Obi-Wan disarming Snake. Ocelot pushed Jupiter into Batman and leapt out the window.

"You asshole!" Snake told Obi-Wan, "I could have killed him. This would all have ended right here!"

"You cannot guarantee that. If you had fired, Batman would have been killed and Ocelot would have killed Sailor Jupiter. We're not going to sacrifice innocent lives so that you complete your mission," Obi-Wan came back with.

"What'd we miss?" Rio asked, leading Nanvel and Maya to the roof. "Did you get him?"

"Are you okay?" Batman asked, cradling Sailor Jupiter. Batman looked out the window as a Harrier with Ocelot at the controls took off and flew out of sight.

"Better now," she told him, finding solace in his grip.


The two broke contact, so not to give the impression that harm to one would invariably do more harm to the other. Batman walked over to Snake. "You almost killed me," he said.

"It had to be done," Snake reasoned. "Ocelot can't be allowed to continue. As bad as you think things might be now, if the Patriots get those black diamonds, it'll make life a lot harder."

"Then it looks like you've got an ally," Batman told him.

"I told you before, I work alone," Snake replied, drawing heavy on his cigarette.

"You seem to forget," Maki said, entering from the hallway. "That man, though a Patriot agent is the leader of the Red Dragons. That makes it Team Warrior's problem. Like it or not, you've got partners."

"And you can bet that I'm going to be there when we bring him in," Batman added.

Snake weighed his options. 'Seven targets for Ocelot,' he thought of Warrior and Batman. 'That's one more than he has bullets.' "Fine," he agreed.

"Maki, come in, this is Lilica," Maki's radio squawked.

"Go ahead, Lilica."

"I slapped a transponder on that Harrier. Yuji can track it from the helicopter," Lilica reported.

"Don't bother," Snake told them. "I know where he's going."

Chapter 4: The Big Shell (Act 2)

Yuji was a skilled pilot and it showed. It took serious skills to guide a Sikorsky helicopter full of people over the Arctic Circle and arrive in the North Atlantic before a fully fueled Harrier attack jet. The landing pad on Strut A of the Big Shell held the helicopter as Snake, Batman and Team Warrior moved into the 'oil cleanup facility.'

"What is this place really?" Batman asked Snake.

"The Big Shell? Despite what you saw in the news, The Big Shell is actually a disguise built right on top of a new Metal Gear, known as Arsenal Gear. It houses a powerful AI supercomputer, "GW", capable of controlling information transmitted digitally. It's gigantic, easily the size of five aircraft carriers. That's why Ocelot is after the Black Diamonds."

"To create smaller versions of Arsenal Gear…" Batman surmised.

"Exactly. This one requires a whole fleet of Metal Gear RAYs for defense alone. Imagine an internet filter that can shape news stories and influence elections in something the size of a desktop computer. He needs to be stopped."

Resistance was light. No guards or anything barred the way for Snake, Batman and Team Warrior. The group worked through the Struts to Strut F. It was the only access from the outside to the guts of Arsenal Gear. From here, the going got rougher as they entered Arsenal.

"Who are these guys?" Maya asked. The group was in hiding, as Snake often did, behind crates and under cardboard boxes.

"Arsenal Tengu Commandos," Snake told them. "PMCs armed with high frequency blades, P90 Machine guns and power suits."

"Can we shoot them?" she asked.

"Go ahead," Snake told her. "But they're damn fast."

Maya's eyes lit up. Rio, Lilica, Maki and Nanvel readied their pistols. Batman was unarmed. Maya rose from beneath her cardboard box, machine gun at the ready. She opened fire, catching the Tengus off guard. Maki, Lilica and Nanvel opened up with their handguns. Batman left his cover and began to fight them hand-to-hand. Rio took the opportunity to ready her nightstick and fight side by side with Batman.

The Tengus approached Batman and Rio, who were now back to back. The melee started and each hero held their own against the exo-powered Tengus. Batman found a challenge in fighting off Tengu after Tengu. It really tested the skills that Bruce had taught him. Roundhouse kicks and wild punches flew, defeating soldier after soldier.

Seeing Batman in action only seemed to heighten this unspeakable feeling that Rio had. 'Gorgeous, rich, fights like Muhammad Ali… calm Rio,' she thought. Her nightstick smashed through face after face. She flew through the air like a woman possessed by the devil, delivering kicks to whoever would get in her path. Yet despite the ferocity of her fight, she was rendered weak in the knees by the thought of the man behind the Bat.

Rio and Batman found themselves back to back, the onslaught of Tengus almost overwhelming at one point. Rio launched herself over Batman and the two dropped to the ground as the Tengus opened fire with their P90's. Bullets intended for Rio and Batman ripped into the very soldiers that fired them. Rio couldn't help but stare into Batman's hazel eyes as they lay on the ground, looking at each other.

Gunshots stopped and the last of Rio and Batman's targets dropped to the ground. They'd defeated a group of powerful Arsenal Tengus and the only casualty was Maya's loss of ammunition.

"Good Job," Snake congratulated, lighting another cigarette. "That would have taken me a lot longer by myself."

"Why weren't you fighting?" Rio asked him.

"I want you to understand what you're getting into. This isn't fighting some dumb robots or hogtying a guy in clown makeup. This is real people, real death. The world has been founded on the backs of dead soldiers. These guys are no different. These guys are no different than Patrick Henry or Samuel Adams, except for a differing point of view." Snake's message was sobering. "Luckily, killing is one of those things that gets easier to do the more often you do it."

"We should find Ocelot and end this," Batman suggested. The group reassembled and worked from room to room. The interior of Arsenal was impressive to say the least. High vaulted ceilings, large open areas to assemble lots of troops. The third room they entered had row after row of Metal Gear RAY suspended from hooks on the walls. These were smaller than the one that Ocelot used fighting Snake earlier.

"Mass produced Metal Gear RAYs. AI Controlled. Imagine a Black Diamond in each one…" Snake hinted. The seriousness grew. Hangar after Hangar full of RAYs lay on the path to Ocelot.

"Snake?" Maki spoke. "Who exactly are the Patriots?"

"The Patriots… the real Patriots all died about a hundred years ago. They were the American branch of a group called the Philosophers. The Philosophers were a secret group of the wealthiest and powerful minds from the United States, Russia, and China formed after the First World War. In theory, these three groups were already driving political forces in their respective countries. This first group of members was named the Wisemen's Committee. They pooled their wealth and, for several decades, established an unseen union between the three nations.

Through World War II, the power and reach of the Philosophers grew exponentially. They were now the unquestioned force behind each government. They ran independent political forces, had their own agents, and trained schools of operatives that would undermine seats of power throughout other governments. When the last members of the original Wisemen's Committee died after World War II, the enormous wealth generated by their unions was broken apart and scattered to accounts and other hiding places throughout the three nations. An estimated total of one hundred billion dollars was spread across the nation, completely known only by a select few. This wealth became known as The Philosophers' Legacy.

A Russian Colonel, named Volgin, through some illegitimate means, was able to secure the legacy almost in entirety. It was the Legacy that enabled him to build a fortress, Groznyj Grad, and many projects, including the Shagohod, precursor to the modern Metal Gear. His resources were practically unlimited.

With the death of the Wisemen's Committee, tensions rose between the nations and among the Philosophers. Which was cause and which was effect is unclear; either discord among the Philosophers caused the Cold War between the nations, or the Cold War between the nations caused discord among the Philosophers. Either way, the loss of the legacy and breakdown of allegiance disbanded the Philosophers in most respects. Each nation retained its own remaining 'Philosophers.' The American Philosophers became known as The Patriots, and they continued their omnipotence over the American government and way of life, eventually gaining worldwide influence with the fall of the Soviet Union.

Ocelot is the last living member of the Patriots. The others, well, this is where it gets weird. The collective consciousness of the other eleven members was absorbed and digitized, and released into several AI's: GW, TJ, TR, AL, JFK…"

"US Presidents," Batman said, in reference to the list of AI's.

"Each one hand selected by the Patriots. Imagine a world where every aspect of life is governed by dead men living inside computer constructs. The republic that was founded 'of the people, by the people and for the people' never existed. The existence of the Patriots… and Ocelot… renders everything in the Constitution null and void. There is no freedom… only what the Patriots allow."

"So that's why we need to kill Ocelot?" Rio spoke. "To give Americans the freedom that they really think they have."

The group progressed deeper and deeper into Arsenal. Footsteps at a brisk pace we're fast approaching the heroes. They readied their weapons, in case more soldiers tried to stop them. As they neared, one could make out the beat of several sets of footsteps. Warrior took flanking positions and Batman and Snake stood in the open, ready to engage the enemy. Rio was ready to leap into action when unknowns burst through the door. Rio's nightstick met a blue lightsaber and a kick from Maya was deflected by Sailor Mars.

"What are you doing here?" Batman asked. The Scouts and Obi-Wan had joined them.

"Strength in numbers," Obi-Wan told them. "We've been monitoring Snake's Codec activity."

"What? I haven't used the codec," Snake told them. Rack upon rack of Metal Gear RAY activated and dropped down onto the ground. "Shit."

"Hello Snake!" Ocelot spoke. At the head of the room was a platform and one the platform stood Ocelot, twirling his Colt handgun. "Not to sound like a playground bully, but my friends can beat up your friends."

"Maybe so, but I don't think you can stop me…" Snake told him.

"Let's find out," he said, extending an invitation for Snake to join him on the platform. The RAYs came to life and approached Batman, Obi-Wan, Warrior and the Scouts. They ignored Snake, allowing him to make it to the platform where he'd duel with Ocelot.

A RAY approached Obi-Wan. He readied his saber. The Mecha fired bullets, all successfully dodged by Obi-Wan. Growing frustrated, RAY readied his laser cannon and fired at Obi-Wan. The lightsaber deflected the beam back into RAY, damaging its circuitry. It roared, as if in anger and pain when the laser hit it. Now, more resolute than ever, RAY leapt at Obi-Wan, hoping to crush him. The power of the Force flowed through Obi-Wan. He leapt as RAY did and drove his lightsaber into the head of the beast. RAY crashed to the ground in a heap of twisted, burnt metal. Obi-Wan was victorious.

"Venus Crescent Beam Smash!" Sailor Venus cried out. A blast of power shot from her finger tips, crippling the RAY that was assaulting her.

"Mars Burning Mandala!" Mars shouted. Rings of fire left Sailor Mars hands, incinerating two RAYs with one blast.

"Shine Aqua Illusion!" yelled Sailor Mercury. The RAY that took her on met the same fate as Megatron… frozen solid.

"Jupiter Supreme Thunder!" Jupiter wailed. The forces of nature blast through Arsenal Gear and at Sailor Jupiter's command, blasted through the RAY she was fighting.

Sailor Moon twirled her Moon Scepter around. "Moon Spiral Heart Attack!" In what would be called the girliest of the Scout attacks, pink hearts left the Scepter. The shower of hearts, for some reason, defeated RAY. Sailor Moon's power wasn't elemental, but mirrored the power of love in her heart that she had for her friends. The Scouts seemed victorious, but Metal Gear RAY is extremely versatile.

One approached Batman and five RAYs approached Warrior.

"Nanvel, do you still have Pinel Deluxe?" Rio asked.

"Sure do Rio," Nanvel reported. She stuck the flower receiver on top of Rio's head. Fiddling with the back of Pinel, Nanvel input instructions into her creation. The machine works by altering the genetic makeup of whoever has the receiver on. Not only can it make people invisible, but it can also make them like giants. Soon Rio towered over all the Metal Gear RAYs, defeating them with a single kick. They lay smashed and broken as Rio drove her foot into their mangled bodies.

Snake faced off with Ocelot on the platform. It was too close quarters for handguns. "This is where it ends, Snake," Ocelot spoke, throwing off his western-style duster.

"For one of us…" Snake raised his hands, ready for a fistfight.

Ocelot came at Snake. Snake caught his attack and flipped him to the ground by his wrists. Ocelot nipped up and caught Snake with a punch to the face. Snake dropped back and readied himself. Punch after punch flew from Ocelot's arms, with a kick thrown in for good measure. Snake deflected all of them.

Ocelot fell back and waited for Snake to start his onslaught. Snake leapt off his rear foot and drove a kick at Ocelot. It met him in his stomach. Fists flew amongst Snake and Ocelot. Forty years ago, the man who could be called Snake's father, Big Boss, squared off with a much younger Ocelot on the way out of Tselinoyarsk. The fight of the father mirrored that of the son. Snake's hand to hand skills were much better than the aged Ocelot, who was still a good fighter despite being into his 70's. Snake landed hit after hit, but the ever resilient Ocelot refused to yield. It was going to be a fight to the death.

The last fight that Obi-Wan saw like this ended with no winner, only two corpses in the park. "We should help Snake," he suggested to Batman.

"I don't think this is one we shouldn't interfere with," Batman told him.

"The last fight I saw like this ended with both combatants dead," he reasoned. "Ocelot won't surrender until Snake succumbs. I sense this."

"Oh, let me help!" Sailor Jupiter spoke. "That bastard held a gun to my face. I think I deserve it!"

"Just don't kill him," Batman told him. "That's not the game we're in. If anyone does, it should be Snake."

"Okay I won't." She stepped forward, her little lightning rod extending from her tiara. "Jupiter Supreme Thunder!" Lightning bolts fired at Ocelot.

It clearly caught him off guard. The electricity rocked his body, forcing him to the ground. Snake seized the moment and stood over Ocelot, gun drawn.

Ocelot laid there, Snake over him, SOCOM barrel in his face. He cracked a smile. "You're pretty good, Snake."

A gunshot thundered through the air. Jupiter found Batman, the other scouts cringed, Obi-Wan and Warrior just looked on. Snake breathed heavy, triumphant over his opponent. He stood tall, looking at his compatriots.

"Finally over…" Snake commented. He drew another cigarette out of his pack. "Time to scuttle this thing, and destroy those AI's."

"What do we have to do?" Obi-Wan asked.

"You all need to get out of here. I'm going to sink Arsenal," Snake told them.

"Where should we rendezvous afterwards?" Maki asked, perhaps wanting to lure an agent like Snake to Warrior's employ.

"… I'm going down with the ship."

"What!" everyone spoke.

"Ocelot is dead. The AI's will soon be destroyed. The only evidence of the Patriots existence will be me. I learned all about self sacrifice a long time ago. I'm not a tool of the government or anyone else. I fight because it's the only thing I'm good at and I fight for what I believe in."

"What does that mean?" Sailor Moon asked.

"I'm a clone of Big Boss, the Greatest Soldier of all time. The Patriots, not wanting to lose such genetic material, created the Les Enfants Terribles. There we're two of us, Solid and Liquid. Big Boss died in Outer Heaven twenty years ago. Liquid died on Shadow Moses. My genetic material cannot continue on. The last of the Terrible Children is going to make sure no one repeats the atrocities of the Patriots. It's my mission."

"Snake! Don't lose faith. There must be another way. We care about you. We don't want you to die! We'll find some other way!" Sailor Moon tried to reason. Caring unconditionally was her greatest strength.

"There is more than one path, Snake. For many years I shaped a young boy in my image into the greatest Jedi of all time, but he chose another path, the path of darkness. Learn from Anakin's mistake. Choose the path of light. There is much good to be done here. You are a good person. You fight for noble and honest reasons. Don't be blinded by a foolish mission!" Obi-Wan told him.

"Thanks for the concern," Snake told them, "But I have to do this." Snake drew his gun and fired at their feet. During the confusion, he took off down the corridor.

"Obi-Wan, find Snake and reason with him. He can't die here," Batman told the Jedi Master.

An inkling of dissident was planted in Snake's ear by Obi-Wan. He chased after Snake, to the heart of Arsenal Gear. Corridors narrowed, and the slight fog that filled the rooms dissipated. The end of the assembly chambers led to rows upon rows of elevators. Obi-Wan closed his eyes and became lost in the Force. The mysterious power led him to the third elevator, seventh floor down. There, Obi-Wan found Snake, row after row of computer before him.

"Snake," Obi-Wan started. Snake didn't look up from his task. "Come back to Gotham City with us. We can scuttle Arsenal, and leave before it sinks fully."

"You don't seem to understand. My death means the end of the Patriots. True freedom for the United States can only come from my death. Self sacrifice."

Obi-Wan approached cautiously. "Only if you believe that you are only the sum of your parts. What about those that you've affected? Friends, comrades in arms, the group that stood and watched you defeat Ocelot. You've had an impact on more people than you know. Your genetic makeup might be the result of the Patriots, but all that you've done, is the result of you the individual. If my old master believed in someone being only the sum of their parts, we would have left a small boy on a desert world, and he would have never learned the ways of the Force. Despite Anakin's turning to the dark side, I still think that Anakin will bring balance to the Force."

"What does that have to do with me?" Snake asked him.

"You are more than your genetic makeup. At first glance, Anakin was nothing more than a slave who raced pods. You might be the creation of the Patriots, but the person you are is because that is who you chose to be. Choose your own legacy. It's for you to decide."

Snake stopped typing on the keypads. 'Maybe he's right. I'm not a tool of the Patriots the way Ocelot was… maybe I can do more good. Still, Arsenal needs to go down.'

"Maybe you're right," Snake confessed. "Big Boss' genes might be mine, but I'm not Big Boss."

"Do you regret what you've done?" Obi-Wan asked.

"I don't like the fact that I've killed more men than I can count…"

"But think of the lives that you've saved. Countless millions, innocent men, women and children… owe their lives to you."

"They don't owe me anything."

"… Would Big Boss have done what you have done?"

"Big Boss would have carried out his mission… Like I have to," Snake started typing again.

"I cannot let you commit suicide," Obi-Wan informed. He removed his lightsaber from his hip and ignited it.

"Who said I was going to kill myself?" Snake made one last pronounced tap on the keys. "Let's get out of here. We've got five minutes before the virus I planted orders Arsenal to flood."

"But earlier, you said…"

"The freedom to choose my own destiny… that's something Big Boss never had the opportunity to do. I'll show the world I'm NOT Big Boss."

Obi-Wan smiled. He hadn't lost Snake to the dark side the way he did Anakin. "The transport is ready to leave."

Chapter 5: Dragons on Mars

"Welcome to Wayne Manor, Snake," Bobby greeted.

"So plain lookin' white guy with the five Japanese school girls was really Batman? Gotta admit, I didn't see that one coming," Snake admitted. He was taken aback by the opulence of Wayne Manor. "So what is all this?" he asked. Popo and Nana had appeared and started to hug Snake's legs, climbing up his body. "What the hell?"

"That's Popo and Nana," Samus said, her arm wrapped in gauze.

"I don't believe we've been properly introduced," Snake spoke, approaching her. "Well, the last time we met you had on that power suit. I must say," he said, looking her over, "This is much more flattering."

"Riiight," Samus told him, raising her eyebrow.

"Well, that was fun," Rio commented. "When do we get paid?"

"Yea, I'd like to pick out my new gun," Maya told them.

"Relax Warrior," Maki told them. "The Job's only half done."

"After we kicked all that ass?" Rio asked.

"The Red Dragons still have a base on Mars," Bobby told them.

"So when do we take off?" Raye asked. Mars was her home planet during the Silver Millennium after all.

"You don't," Batman told them. "This one is up to Warrior. It's their case. And it's costing me 50 million yen."

"Well, I don't know if you know this, but intergalactic travel isn't cheap. How do we get to Mars?" Rio piped up.

"Simple," Bobby told them. "Get a hold of Spike's comrades."

"I'll begin work on contacting them," Obi-Wan spoke.

"I'll meet you in the Batcave in a few minutes Obi-Wan," Bobby told him. Obi-Wan left the group. Samus walked off, Snake right behind her, him still having the Ice Climbers in tow.

"That's kinda cute," Lita spoke, watching Snake, the ultimate badass, tow two little kids to try to impress a girl.

"I think I see something cuter," Bobby said, walking over to her.

"Oh gag me," Raye said.

"So what's up," Lita asked, falling into his arms.

"Just wanted to say that you look amazing. I must admit, it scared the hell out of me when Ocelot had the gun to your face. Maybe a relationship isn't a good idea," he told her.

"It's too late for that," she reciprocated. "The feelings are already there. Whether we declare it or not, it won't matter."

"I guess we'll just need to be really careful then," he told her. He planted one on her forehead. "I need to see Obi-Wan. I'll talk to you later."

"Bye," she told him.

Bobby disappeared into the Library and down the staircase behind the grandfather clock. The thought of Ocelot holding that gun to Lita's face really did scare the hell out of him. He'd lost Natalie to a bullet. He hoped it wouldn't be the fate of all his love interested. But that is why he became a superhero.

"Have you made contact?" he asked Obi-Wan.

"I'm still searching for the ship. It's called the Bebop. Registry number 268170." He typed away at the computer, using Wayne Enterprises satellites as buoys to find the ship.

"Obi-Wan, I'd like to take this opportunity to say thank you," Bobby told him.

"For what?" he asked.

"If you hadn't taken Snake's gun away, Lita would be dead. That girl means more to mean than anything and you saved her. Will you accept my offer to be the second-in-command in the Justice League?"

"I would be honored, Bobby, and I didn't do it to save her, I did it to save you."

"It's really one in the same," Bobby told him. "Found it," Bobby declared, pointing at the screen.

"I'm opening a channel," Obi-Wan spoke. "This Obi-Wan Kenobi of the Earth Justice League to the Bebop. Come in Bebop."

"Go ahead," a bald man on the other end of the video call answered. He had a cybernetic arm and a beard that grew in spikes on the sides of his face.

"Who the hell is that Jet?" a voluptuous female clad in yellow hot pants and matching vinyl top asked.

"Obi-Wan something or other. From earth," he told her.

"Earth? What do they want?" she asked.

"Well if you'd quit interrupting I'm trying to find out!" he barked. "Sorry about that. I swear Faye is a thorn in my side for no other fact than she likes to be. What can we do for you?"

"What do you know about the Red Dragon Syndicate?" Obi-Wan asked.

"We, uh, typically stay away from Syndicate types. It makes life a lot easier. That one's probably the most dangerous of all the syndicates." Jet readjusted back in his chair. "Why are you looking for them?"

"To bring them to Justice," Bobby spoke up.

"Good luck, you'd need a crack commando unit, superhero knowhow and something bordering on wizardry to pull that off."

"Lucky we have all that in one convenient package," Bobby reported. "Can you take us to the Red Dragons?"

"Well, that depends, I guess," Jet told them. "Depends on the cash you're willing to part with."

"What's your price, cowboy?" Bobby asked.

"Hmm, a trip to Mars is only 7500 Woolongs, but since we're dealing with the Red Dragons, the price goes up to 5 million."

"Sold," Bobby spoke without a second thought.

"Oh, before we pick you up, you have in your possession a red mono-racer. We'd like it back."

"Of course," Bobby agreed. "Be here in two hours to pick us up."

"We'll be there," Jet agreed.

"What's a woolong?" Bobby asked Obi-Wan.

"I've never heard of such a thing."

The Bebop splashed down in Gotham Harbor at 9 PM on the nose. Obi-Wan landed the red spacecraft from the battle in the park while Batman, Warrior and Snake boarded. The ship was a wreck. Nothing spectacular, they could hardly believe it flew in outer space. It was converted from an old fishing ship and somehow still held together. The inside was dark and dank and everything was coated in the same shade of brown.

"What a piece of junk," Rio commented.

"This piece of junk is your only hope to get to Mars," Jet told her. "Everyone in?"

"Just waiting on Obi-Wan," Batman told him. Obi-Wan entered, joining the group. "Let's go."

"Jet, what's going on?" Rio and Obi-Wan were shocked. "Who are you?" Spike asked the group.

"They're 5 million woolongs," Jet told his partner with fluffy brown hair.

"Five million for all of them? Did I miss a bounty notice?" Spike asked. Rio and Obi-Wan were still dumbfounded.

"They're not bounty heads, they're passengers," Jet told him.

"By the Force," Obi-Wan commented.

"We saw you die!" spoke Rio.

"Saw him die?" Snake spoke, disbelieving. "There are no such things as ghosts."

"Jet, I'm not dead, am I?" Spike asked. He poked himself in the chest. "Nope, not a ghost."

"But the fight in the park with Vicious," Rio spoke.

Spike's eyes softened. "That was second time I died. The part of me that mirrored him is what you saw die. Sometimes, your past, your history needs to be let go of. It's very liberating." He lit up a cigarette.

'Amen,' Snake thought.

"I'm gunna take off," Jet told them. "Turn on the TV. Big Shot is on."

Spike turned on the TV and sat down in the middle of the group. They still acted like they'd seen a ghost. Campy western music filled the room and a badly drawn western town set the tone for Big Shot. It was a show for Bounty Hunters… Cowboys as they were known. A black man called Punch and a busty cowgirl called Judy hosted.

"Hi Amigos! To all the 300,000 Bounty Hunters in the Solar System, How y'all doin?" Punch started the show with.

"And now it's time for Big Shot, the show that tells all about fugitives!" Judy followed up with. The screen flashed and there was none other than Obi-Wan and Batman's pictures.

"On the menu today, mystery man Obi-Wan Kenobi and the ever vigilant, Batman from Gotham City. Together there bounty adds to 10 million woolongs. So go get 'em buckaroos." Punch urged the crowd. Spike couldn't help but feel his fortunes increase.

"Someone just doubled your worth," Spike told them. "And how convenient, we've got cops onboard to pay the bounty."

"What?" Batman asked in disbelief.

"Well, if you're going to take us in to the police, can you at least extend us the courtesy of finding out who posted the bounty?" Obi-Wan asked.

"Edward will check!" exclaimed a young girl with wild orange hair and hacker's goggles.

"Who are you? Rio asked.

"Edward is Edward," she told them. She sat down at a computer, which was conveniently hidden in an old cardboard box. Snake appreciated the cardboard box.

"What? What does that mean?" Maya added, confused.

"Meet Radical Edward," Spike told them.

"Is Edward a boy or a girl?" Maki asked, trying to figure out the young hacker.

"Ed is a little girl," she reported. A Welsh corgi joined the group at Edward's side. 'Aarf!' Edward made odd motions with her arms as she hacked the police networks, trying to find the bounty poster. "Kobe-Nairobi-Obi-Wan Kenobi-Obi…"

"Is she always like that?" Maki asked Spike.


"Edward found it!" she reported. "Bounty posted by Mao Yenrai on Mars!"

"What?" Spike asked. "Mao's dead. No way could he have posted the bounty."

"Who's Mao?" Obi-Wan asked.

"Mao Yenrai was the former leader of the Red Dragons on Mars," Maki told them. "He was killed in a coup d'état by one of his former lieutenants."

"Vicious," Spike told them. "Well, I guess we won't be turning you into the police."

"Who are all these people?" Faye asked, entering from the hangar.

"Whoa!" Yuji cried out. The pervert came out and he wrapped his arms around Faye's long, milky white legs.

"What the hell?" she asked, confused why a strange police officer with a severe nosebleed was hugging her legs.

"This is the best set of legs I've ever seen!" Yuji cried out. Faye drew one from Rio's playbook and kicked Yuji in the face. "Why does that always happen?"

"If Mao didn't post the bounty, chances are someone in the Syndicate did," Batman surmised. "Maybe we can use that to our advantage."

"What are you thinking?" Snake asked.

"We have Spike and Jet turn us into the Red Dragons. They get paid for delivering the bounties, then we break loose and apprehend them," Batman told them. "Edward, can you hack the Red Dragon's computers and find out who their new leader is?"

"Ed will try," she told them. Her goggles flashed as screen after screen was displayed on them. Several attempts of Edwards's password cracking skills failed. On the tenth time, she was successful. She navigated her browser into the Dragon's personnel files. "Mary, Mary quite contrary, Dragon leader is Harry Mary!"

"Harry Mary?" Snake asked.

"Just Harry," Batman told them, pushing the computer so he could see the small monitor on top of it. "No biography. No picture. Just Harry."

"Well, that's helpful," Spike told them. Snake took the opportunity and sat down next to Spike. They both lit up new cigarettes. "Whatever you faced on earth with the Red Dragons, I guarantee it'll be ten times worse on Mars. They're based on Mars. Anyone with money owes it to the Red Dragons. They won't like you messing with it."

"Perhaps Harry is a politician of some kind," Maki offered. "It'd be easier to distribute money to the populace if they were in public office."

"That's not likely," Spike told them. "The Government is in the back pocket of the syndicate, but they don't just give out money. It's all corruption."

"So why are we going to Mars?" Faye asked, finally peeling Yuji off her.

"These guys are going to take down a syndicate," Spike told her. "And we're gunna help them."

"What? Count me out. I'm not risking my neck for people I don't even know," she told them.

"Well, I guess you won't want a part of the ten million woolong reward. Remind me again, how much did you lose at the track this time?" Spike commented.

"Ten million?" Faye asked. "That'd keep me at the track for at least an afternoon!" Faye exclaimed.

"Everybody calm down," Jet called out from the cockpit of the Bebop. "We're coming up on Mars."

"Well that was fast," spoke Rio. She'd never been in space before.

"Hyperspace gates make interplanetary travel extremely fast," Nanvel told her, "If you have a ship." The Bebop entered orbit around Mars and descended into one of the terraformed craters that served as a city on the Red Planet. The landscape was a sea of red Martian soil, with green in the crater and oxygen being artificially generated, filling the Martian atmosphere.

The Bebop moored at one of the orbital stations above the city of Tharsis. "Here's how it goes down," Batman started, everyone getting on the elevator down to the surface. "Spike, Jet and Faye will turn us in to the Red Dragons. They'll collect the 10 million woolongs, and get back to the Bebop. Obi-Wan and I will break free and hack the Red Dragon computers, with Edward's and Lilica's assistance, and use that information to build a complete case file for Maki to use to get convictions. After Obi-Wan and I stir up the hornets' nest, Warrior will move in and kick ass."

"What about the leader, this Harry?" Maki asked.

"If you're up to the task, I think that you and Snake should try to capture him," Batman told her. "I'm placing a transponder on my utility belt. Snake's Soliton Radar will be able to pick up on it and you can locate our position."

"I think we can handle that," Maki agreed.

"One man? Might be too easy," Snake commented. He worked the action on his SOCOM pistol. "Let's do it."

The Red Dragon Headquarters on Mars was huge. Kagome Plaza, their headquarters on Earth, was a 15 story building. The Mars office was much larger, easily 75 stories. Maki, Snake and the rest of Warrior hung out across the street in an abandoned slum building. Obi-Wan removed his lightsaber and handed it to Spike. Batman followed suit, taking off his utility belt and giving it to Jet. Faye handcuffed them both and so as to keep up appearances, the trio drew their guns and had them to the heroes' backs.

"We're here to claim a bounty," Jet told the guard working the front gate. The guard looked up and immediately recognized Obi-Wan and Batman. The door clicked open and the first step in the plan was underway.

"I hate this building," Spike told them.

"Relax partner," Jet told him, "Everyone that knew you were in the syndicate is dead now. No worries."

"You were in the syndicate?" Batman asked Spike, under his breath.

"In a past life," Spike informed.

The group was led by a machine gun toting Dragon down a corridor, through a large set of wooden doors and into what seemed to be a gigantic office. The room was bathed in darkness, save for flickers of candlelight. A huge skylight hung over a large gothic desk and oversized chair. It slowly turned and the mysterious leader of the Red Dragons revealed himself. Harry had finally appeared.

"So these are the two individuals that cost me the entire base of operations on Earth?" Harry asked. He was grizzled, middle aged with a scar over his right eye.

"That depends," Jet told him. "Where's our money?" The gun toting Dragon who led them to Harry's office presented them a case full of bills. Ten million woolongs on the dot.

"Enjoy spending it," Harry told them, "If you can make it out alive." Two more Dragons with machine guns burst through the door and opened fire. Obi-Wan drew upon the power of the Force and called for his lightsaber. It cut through his and Batman's cuffs. The group of heroes leapt behind Harry's desk, knocking down the syndicate leader. Faye and Spike exchanged rounds with the Dragons, the bounty hunter's bullets hitting their mark. Batman retrieved his utility belt and put it around his waist.

Ten more Dragons entered the gunplay, firing their MP5s at the large oak desk.

"I'm almost out of ammo," Spike told them, making sure every shot counted.

"Me too," Faye agreed.

Like a savior from above, machine gun fire rained down as Snake descended from the skylight. His FA-MAS rounds hit their mark. Like the amazing soldier that he is, he defeated every foe in the room. Spike and Jet took their hiding place and pressed the heavy desk up against the door. No Dragon would be able to enter.

"We have to get to the server room," Batman told them. Obi-Wan cut a hole in the floor and he and Batman were off to the basement to hack the syndicate's computers. Maki then descended from the same rope that Snake entered from.

Maki was speechless when she laid eyes upon the Red Dragon leader. "Masato?" she spoke in disbelief. "What? How?" She broke down into tears.

"Hello Maki," he told her.

"You two know each other?" Spike asked.

"Maki was, in another life, my wife." It was true. The man who helped Maki get through Police Academy and fell in love with her was the leader of the Syndicate who now peddled drugs and high end electronics. "So, Warrior was the ones who caught the Syndicate on earth? Now you've come for us on Mars?"

"How?" she asked again. "I saw you die. On our honeymoon… the cruise ship… no one survived. It can't be you. You're not Masato."

"Yes I am Maki." He moved closer to her. Snake raised his gun at him. "Remember the day we met, when I saved you from the gun toting maniac in front of the convenience store? Or the day when you graduated from the Police Academy and I gave you Petrache."

"That is how we met," Maki told him. "And Petrache was only a pup when you gave him to me." She looked into his eyes. They were the same blue eyes that Maki fell for so long ago. "Why didn't you ever come find me?"

"What did I tell you before Spike?" Jet asked, "Tough chicks are always the first ones to go soft when an old boyfriend is involved."

"I just couldn't come back," he told her. "I suppose it was the allure of the money the Red Dragon's offered to keep me off them."

"Was it only money then?" Maki asked.

"No. I was thinking of you. With me gone, it gave you the nerve to ask the commissioner to create Team Warrior, and I know that you were better off with them than you could ever be with me."

"Don't make it sound like you're considerate. All I wanted was your love. That was all. I became a cop because of you and I would have quit because of you. I would have been completely happy as long as we had each other."

A explosion rocked the door from the hinges. "Time to go!" Faye told them, grabbing the case of the ten million woolongs. Spike, Jet and Faye dropped down Obi-Wan's hole in the ground.

"Talk about it later," Snake told Maki and Masato. He grabbed Maki and shoved her down the hole. Masato followed via a kick in the ass. Snake tossed a grenade to cover their exit.

"We got our money, let's get out of here," Faye said.

"You have no sense of compassion or helping do you Faye?" Jet asked her.

"I have plenty. What I don't have is bullets. Can't fight a war with no ammo." Indeed she was right. She and Spike both emptied their guns. Jet was down to two rounds in his Walther.

"I'm empty too," Snake told them, pulling the magazine from his FA-MAS. His holstered SOCOM still was loaded, but not ready for action.

The crafty criminal mastermind seized the moment. In the confusion of landing in the first floor basement, he knocked Jet to the ground, seized his Walther pistol and pressed it to Faye's face.

"This seems a little familiar," Snake told them. He stealthily reached for his SOCOM.

"Don't move Snake or she dies," Harry told them. He maneuvered himself and the hostage Faye to where everyone was in view. He slowly backed towards Maki, inching closer and closer. "I always hoped you'd find your way back to me."

Her glare was cold and unfeeling. Faye seized the moment and broke free via a kick to the balls. Harry doubled over and Maki kicked the gun from his hand, snatching it for herself.

Masato laid on the ground as his former wife took control of the situation. "Come away with me, Maki. I've built an entire empire on Mars, an empire that can be yours as much as mine. We can rule Mars together!"

"I've still got my sense of Justice, Masato. No amount of money, or even the love I once felt for you can take it away." She cocked the hammer back on her pistol.

Masato grinned. He got up, still favoring his balls. "You can't kill me, Maki. I mean too much to you."

"The Masato I loved died on that cruise ship. You have his face, but you're not my Masato." Jet found himself down to one round as Harry's body hit the ground.

Snake inched up and kicked the body. "You can't kill someone who's already dead anyway," he told her.

Upstairs, Rio and Maya we're having a heyday engaging Red Dragon after Red Dragon. Nanvel's pink rabbit personal armor suit proved an invaluable tool for the second time today. Yuji had found a panel van parked down the road and backed it to the door. With Nanvel's, Rio's and Maya's help, each goon was loaded into the van, body upon unconscious body. Team Warrior then fanned out and began to search room after room, but most of the mobsters had found their way to the lobby to partake in the fight.

Downstairs, Obi-Wan and Batman succeeded in hacking the Red Dragon computers. Lilica and Radical Edward back on the Bebop routed all the information into a hard disk.

The operation was a success. Batman's original goal of bringing down the Red Dragons was realized. Nanvel's armor field tested excellent. Maya got to shoot to her heart's content. Lilica got her audit a week later. Yuji met Faye, whose legs he'd probably see in his dreams for the next year to come. Rio got the money to pay off her Gucci boots and Chanel handbag, in addition to fighting side by side with Batman. Obi-Wan fulfilled his general Jedi duty to do good in the galaxy. Spike, Jet, Faye and Edward got a ten million Woolong reward and Maki, who was once heartbroken over the loss of her Masato, cried no more tears for the man he'd become. Perhaps most importantly, Snake realized that he was more than the sum of his parts. He learned that no matter what his past was, it was more important to try and shape the future with positive actions. It was a good jumping off point to start with Batman and his group, the so called Justice League. Luckily, there was always a spot open in the League for a Legendary Mercenary.

A Short Samus Special

By Greg Senger Chapter 1: Birds on Mars

"Hey, Jet," Spike spoke from the toilet on the Bebop. Times were good, still living on the ten million woolong bounty from the Red Dragons, but Spike found himself facing a crisis. "Jet! We're out of toilet paper." Spike allowed the momentary pause while Jet should have responded. "JET!"

"Spike, quit fooling around! I'm getting some weird readings from the planet, get up here."

It wasn't the reply Spike was looking for, but it was something. Spike breathed heavy, "Be there in a minute."

"So what is it?" Faye asked, leaning over Jet's console.

"Not quite sure. The scanners on the Bebop aren't precise enough to get a decent picture. Take off in your Redtail," he told her, "We can get a better picture of it that way."

"Hold on just a second buster," Faye protested. "Why should I risk my life and my ship? We have no idea what that thing is."

"What's up?" Spike asked, joining Faye and Jet on the bridge of the Bebop.

"Something on Mars… huge power output," Jet told him. "Can't get a reading."

"So someone needs to check it out," Spike surmised. "I'll go. Open the hangar for me, will ya?" Spike left the bridge of the Bebop, and descended down into the Hangar. His ship, the red Monoracer known as the Swordfish was retrofitted by the finest minds at Wayne Tech while it was out of Spike's hands. He climbed into the cockpit pod, straddling the seat, taking the handlebars and settling into the foot pedals. The Bebop's hangar door opened. Spike had the look on his face he always did; one of being uninterested.

Swordfish streaked through the Martian sky. Miles upon miles of red soil provided a contrast to the blackness of space. It was lonely, being in a ship for days at a time; the lifestyle that they had chosen. Bounty hunting may seem glamorous, but if there's no one wanted, there's no money. All Bounty Hunting means is that you're self-employed.

'Not much we can do about it,' Spike thought. The Swordfish neared the site of the power source. He descended into the red. Mountains and plateaus gave way to flat plains of rusty soil. Then there, in the middle of it all it was.

"What the hell is it?" Spike asked himself. He flipped on his onboard camera and transmitted images back to the Bebop. "Any ideas, Jet?"

"I have no idea," Jet told him. He and Faye leaned in over the console, looking at the images. It was a statue of some type. It was gray and very tall, upwards of fifty feet. It was an odd looking thing, possessing a bird's beak, humanlike eyes and a headdress that looked like the rising sun. The round head sat on broad gray shoulders that were clothed in a simple robe. The robe went all the way to the ground, providing a large base for the head.

"Do you think anyone in the system knows what it is?" Spike asked, making several passes around the statue.

"Maybe," Jet told him. "I'm going to try to contact that guy on Earth, what was his name? Obi-Wan. He seemed to have a good grasp about odd things."

"Well, I'm coming back," Spike told them.

"Right," Jet acknowledged. "I'm gunna send these off to Obi-Wan on Earth. Maybe he knows what it is." Jet set about backtracking to get the right routing number for the Bat-computer, which Obi-Wan used to contact the Bebop.

Everyone at Wayne Manor was occupied. Popo and Nana we're asleep for the night. Bobby and Lita had gone out to a movie. The other Scouts and Rio had gone out to Gotham's newest club for the evening, and Obi-Wan had ventured to the library to read the classical works of Earth's finest minds.

This left Snake and Samus at home… alone. It was no mistake that Snake had a sexual appetite that would make Michael Douglas seem gay. During the operation on Shadow Moses, he'd hit on every woman that contacted him via codec, but he couldn't get any play. It'd been a long time since Snake found himself in the loving embrace of a good woman. They don't call it getting lucky for no reason.

Samus, conversely, really didn't seem to care too much for companionship. Or sex. It wasn't anything to her. She'd lived alone her whole life, except for the Chozo who'd taken care of her when she was a small girl. The only contact she had with others was limited to abandoned research facilities or space pirates, whom she soon killed. Her lack of trust showed when the opportunity to join the Justice League came up. But ever since his arrival, she found herself pursued by Snake. And it was about to pay dividends.

Their bodies pressed against one another, his hot breath falling on the back of her neck as she settled into her neck massage. Foreplay was wasted on Samus, but the massage did feel good. Despite her past, she found herself attracted to Snake. He was exactly the type of man she would want, if she wanted one. Someone tough, rugged, handsome, a guy who faced death on a regular basis; someone just like her.

They'd started in Samus' room, but since Popo and Nana were asleep next door, they figured it might be a good idea to relocate. Alfred almost patrolled the rest of the house, so the Batcave was the only available choice. At first, it seemed like it was going to be a slam dance; nothing special, just a swapping of body fluids, but Snake, being a gentleman, was going to do it right.

They'd held hands coming from the upstairs down to the Batcave and upon closing the door behind them, he began to kiss her. That led to clothes being removed as they worked down the wide staircase to the main platform of the Batcave. Samus and Snake we're both down to their skivvies when the Bat-Computer flipped on.

"Is anyone there?" Jet asked. The camera on the Batcave side initialized and Snake's massage techniques became known to the entire world. "Whoa, sorry," Jet told them, "I'll call back later."

The mood was thoroughly ruined for Samus. The tough-girl attitude she worked so hard to maintain was ruined by a sense of bad timing. "Wait," she told Jet, "What do you need."

"Well, since you're willing to talk, I'm looking for Obi-Wan. Is he available?"

"No," Samus told him. "He's gone to the library."

"Well, that certainly puts a hitch in the process…" Jet tapped his keypads and sent the pictures of the statue to the Bat-Computer. "I'm sending you pictures of some kind of statue on Mars. It's putting out massive energy. We thought Obi-Wan might be able to identify it."

Samus covered herself and leaned up to the keyboard.

"Your timing is shit," Snake told him. Once again, he was denied.

Samus' eyes widened upon opening the images. "Where did you find this?" she asked Jet.

"It's about 1500 miles from Tharsis on Mars," he told her. "Why, do you know what it is?"

"It's a Chozo statue. They're the ones who saved my life from the Space Pirates when I was a little girl. I need to get to that statue." She leapt off Snake's lap and began to re-dress from the piles of clothes scattered on the staircase. She ran back to her room, leaving Snake in his boxers in front of Jet.

"She'll call you," Snake told him, shutting down the connection.

Samus put on her shape-memory suit and strapped her katana to her back. Snake got redressed and met her in the garage. "So you're going off to Mars, huh?" he asked. "Be careful."

"I will," she assured him. A smile broke her lips. She climbed into the white spacecraft that she and Obi-Wan recovered from when Vicious was fighting Spike in the park. Snake's bandanna blew in the gusts as the exhaust gases from the spaceship vented out the engines. It took off with a roar and soon Samus was into orbit. She tracked the Bebop's position through the hyperspace gate and decelerated into the Martian atmosphere.

The brown hulk of a ship hovered in a stationary orbit. "Samus, we'll send you the coordinates." Jet told her over the radio. Samus found herself preoccupied with the thought of a Chozo site on a planet in the Sol System.

She received the coordinates and followed her ship's onboard computer. It delivered her to the statue. At the base of the Chozo's robe, there was what seemed to be a hangar opening. Samus guided her craft inside and landed. Her instruments showed a breathable atmosphere and Samus exited, not sure what she'd find.

The interior of the statue was, well, immaculate. One would expect something like an Aztec temple or something; dirty, made of stone, pictographs on the walls. The Chozo figure was nothing like that. The interior featured clean, white walls made of some kind of stone and super bright white lights. She proceeded to the interior of the statue, getting a grasp on her katana if she needed it.

The exterior chambers gave way to interior ones; white walls and lights being changed for those of a green persuasion. The statue was devoid of life. There weren't even any signs of past refugees that would have taken shelter in it. It was as if the statue was there specifically for Samus.

The green lights gave way for a soft blue one as she started up a long staircase to the head of the Chozo warrior. The stairs spiral nature led Samus through a multitude of colored lights, starting with blue, then into a yellowish orange color, then into red until she got to the top.

The staircase led to the center of the warrior's sun-like headdress. Sunlight filtered in through a large elliptical window at the front of the head. The room had a high arced ceiling. Various bits of cables and wires hung down from the ceiling, leading to massive banks of computers on each side of the room. In the middle, there appeared to be an examination table. The table glowed green… it was obviously the source of power that the Bebop had picked up on.

Samus went about accessing the computers. It'd been almost 25 years since she'd interacted with the Chozo, but the language of their keyboards was still fresh in her mind. Upon accessing the storage buffers of the matter transporter, Samus found a pleasant surprise. She lay down on the examination table and tapped the controls with her hand. From out of the storage buffer, a new Varia suit appeared over her body. At last, Samus had her power suit back.

She rose, looking out the green visor of her helmet. She checked the power systems of this suit and found that this suit was exactly the same as her last one. It was like settling into an old recliner; it just felt right.

She walked around in the suit and then transformed into her power ball mode. Everything worked flawlessly. She untransformed and scanned various bits of the room. The suit was perfect. She plugged her arm cannon into the socket, linking her brain directly with the computer in the statue. She sent a power down command. The statue complied, but not before sending its entire memory to Samus' brain.

Memories and images flashed in Samus mind. The entire history of the Chozo had been made known to her. She remembered everything… the space pirate attack on the Earth Colony that she lived on, her parents, the Chozo warrior that rescued her and trained her to fight. She tried to think back to find out how this statue wound up in this system.

A flashbulb went off in her mind and the answer became clear. Fifteen hundred years ago, Chozo space was invaded by a group of aliens. These aliens began to infect the ancient Chozo with a disease that would turn the Chozo into carriers of the aliens that infected them. They were a galactic parasite known as the Flood. Upon fleeing from their space, the Chozo encountered another race facing a similar plague caused by the Flood. This race was known as the Forerunners. The Chozo chose to flee space, whereas the Forerunners killed themselves and all other sentient life within 100,000 light years in an effort to starve the Flood.

The Forerunners activated their weapons, destroying themselves and any food that might have been available for the Flood to feast on. The Chozo escaped the blast radius, settling on various planets around Zebes.

Later, a group of races collectively calling themselves the Covenant discovered the weapons built by the Forerunners. The Covenant called them 'Halos' and the Forerunners became gods in the eyes of the Covenant. Upon accessing the computers in what was known as Alpha Halo, the Covenant believed that the Chozo destroyed the Forerunners and thus declared war on the Chozo. The Covenant onslaught was too much for the Chozo, and their race, with the exception of a few survivors, became extinct. The victorious Covenant retreated back to the Halos, the mortal enemy of their gods vanquished.

'I owe my life to the Chozo,' Samus thought. 'The Covenant must be destroyed.'

She left the statue of her protector race and returned to her ship. It took off and disappeared into the blackness of space.

"Where are you going?" Jet asked, chiming in on the radio.

"Back to earth," Samus told him. "I need to get to Kenya."

Chapter 2: The Ark and High Charity

"You're going to Kenya?" Snake asked Samus upon her arrival back at Wayne Manor. "Why? What did you find on Mars?"

"Before you say anything, let me go on record as saying what I'm about to do is a personal mission only. No one needs to go with me." Snake didn't waver in his staring at her. "Well, the race that protected and raised me placed a guardian tower on Mars, because of Mars close proximity to Earth. A long time ago, a group called the Covenant destroyed the Chozo that protected me. There is, in Kenya, a portal to get to the heart of Covenant territory."

"What the hell does that mean?" Snake asked her.

"It means that the people who killed my caretakers are going to meet their makers," Samus told him. "I'm going to activate the Halos and destroy the Covenant."

Snake raised an eyebrow at her. "Right… have fun with that," he spoke. He drew out a Lucky Strike and lit it. "I'll tell everyone where you've gone when they come back."

"Thanks Snake," she told him.

"Uh, remember my real name?" he asked.

"Dave…" she turned away and left, fearing becoming attached. She once again fled to Vicious' ship and took off. Samus arrived in Kenya, between Mount Kilimanjaro, Voi and Mombasa. The Portal to the Ark stood in silence. It had 14 upright arms, looking like the long lost brother to Stonehenge. The entire thing resembled a large satellite dish sunken into the ground. Samus walked to the center of it, configuring her cannon to start the portal. Her cannon plugged in and discharged, starting the portal to parts unknown.

A storm appeared over the portal, lightning striking each of the 14 upward facing spires. A flash of blue filled the sky in Africa, and Samus ascended into the cloud.

In a matter of seconds, she found herself rocketed 218,000 light-years across the galaxy to Installation 00, known to the Covenant as the Ark. The Ark itself was a massive structure, encompassing a planet so that the Forerunners could strip mine the planet and use its resources to manufacture Halos. It was purple in color, very organic looking and resembling an octopus.

The portal had taken Samus to the heart of the Ark; a place known to the Covenant as the Silent Cartographer. It was from this place that she could activate the Halos, destroying the Covenant in one fell swoop. Her arm cannon plugged into the center socket. The information flooded her brain, but ever vigilant Samus never lost sight of her goal, activation of the Halos.

She had stumbled upon the activation code when her arm was ripped out of the socket. "Stop right there," a green colored armor clad man commanded. Samus looked up and found the barrel of an assault rifle pointed at her head.

"Who are you?" she asked, slowly raising her hands.

"John-117…" Samus tried to knock the rifle away, but John countered, driving a knee into her stomach. She again found herself at the barrel of his gun as she lay on the floor. "But you can call me Master Chief."

She got to her feet, thoroughly convinced that the Master Chief was at least an equal in combat if not better than she. She stared him down. The face shield on his armor was reflective orange in color and didn't allow her to see his face. His armor was integrated with a small shield generator, exterior lights and was a very dark green color.

"Why were you trying to activate the Halos?" he asked her.

"To destroy the Covenant," she told him.

"What's your beef with the Covenant?"

"Years ago, the Covenant slaughtered the people that saved my life when I was a child. I'm going to make them pay for the atrocities they committed against the Chozo."

"That's well and good, but you can't use the Halos to achieve your goals," he told her. "Earth would be destroyed if the Halos are activated. It's not outside the blast radius."

"How do you know about earth?" Samus asked him.

"I'm from earth. I used the portal to get here like you did," he informed. "Right now, the Covenant is breaking apart. The Elites have been cast out of the Covenant hierarchy, as per the commands of the Prophets. If you want to dismantle the Covenant, that's how you do it."

"Who are these Prophets?" she asked.

"Officially they're San 'Shyuum," Chief told her. "They represent the leadership caste within the Covenant and one of the more mysterious member races of the organization. Prophets exert complete control over religious and political affairs, fulfilling the role of religious and political leaders. They enforce this misguided theology based on the false belief that firing the Halo array will start some sort of Great Journey transcending them into a God-like status. I suppose that they'd make you some kind of hero if you fired off the array…"

"I just want them dead," Samus told him.

"What's worse? Mass extinction or loss of faith and the suffering that ensues?" Chief asked her.

"Means to the same end if you ask me."

"C'mon." Chief lowered his gun. "Let's find the Arbiter and take down the prophets."

"Who is the Arbiter?" Samus asked, following Chief down the narrow walkway and to the outside of the Silent Cartographer.

"The Arbiter is the leader of the Elites, who are now fighting with the other races in the Covenant. If you don't rush it, they'd probably kill each other, but I'm inclined to help the process along."

Samus and the Chief had the same goal apparently.

They left the dark confines of the Silent Cartographer and emerged on the surface of the Ark. The surface was so massive it held its own gravity and possessed a nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere. The landscape was that of a rainforest on earth, but not 50km away was a snowy wasteland. The Ark was in the least an amazing architectural achievement.

Master Chief led the way, Samus close behind. They wandered through the forest, over corpses of dead human marines and small Covenant warriors, who Samus recognized as Jackals. In the sky above them was a massive ship, something more similar to a flying city. It was the same odd color purple as everything the Covenant used, but this was very organic looking, almost like a large purple mushroom in the sky.

A female voice echoed from the voice system that the Chief used to communicate. "Echo 419. Come in Foe Hammer, we need immediate dust off and transport to High Charity."

"Who is that?" Samus asked the Chief, who seemed to have multiple personalities.

"That's Cortana," Master Chief told her. "She's the AI construct from our old ship, the Pillar of Autumn."

"Why is she in your head?"

"Captain Keyes woke me from hibernation so that Cortana wouldn't fall into the hands of the Covenant," the Master Chief explained. "She's kinda stuck with me ever since."

"What is High Charity?" Samus inquired, still kind of lost in everything that was going on.

"High Charity is that," Chief pointed at the large purple mushroom. "It's the Covenant high command and where the Prophets reside. The Arbiter is already up there."

"So will they all stop fighting when the prophets are killed?" Samus asked.

"That's the idea. Without their leaders and no one to guide them the Covenant should fall apart. The Prophets aren't strong, but they're heavily guarded." A large drop ship with its back end open for transporting marines arrived. "Get in," Chief told her, climbing in back.

Samus got on and Foe Hammer lifted off into the clouds. It was a definite change for her. She was used to piloting her ship after some bounty head or space pirate, not sitting in the back like a common soldier. Rows of seats lined the passenger area of Foe Hammer. Master Chief seemed right at home, like fighting was the only thing he was bred for…

'His voice does seem familiar,' Samus thought to herself. "So how long have you been doing this?" Samus asked.

"Soldiering? All my life really. It's not something I really talk about. Bad childhood and all that," he explained. "You said that you were here to avenge the people that raised you when you were a child. Why did the Covenant kill them?"

"The Covenant thought the Chozo killed these people called the Forerunners, and hunted them down. I'm going to make them pay," Samus told him.

"As good as vengeance might be, it's not the worst way to hurt someone. They won't feel anything if they're dead. It's much more demoralizing to kill the Prophets and completely take the wind out of their sails." Chief checked his ammo and grenades.

'Man, his voice is eerily familiar,' Samus kept thinking. The Ark faded into the distance out the back of the Pelican class drop ship. High Charity was soon approaching. Plasma fire from the Covenant capital city befell Foe Hammer.

"Hang tight everyone, the LZ's going to be hot," Foe Hammer informed over the radio. Chief readied his Assault rifle and Samus checked her cannon. The rear end of Foe Hammer swung around, exposing the Chief and Samus to the Brutes and Jackals that defended High Charity's hangar bay.

Samus and the Chief came out swinging. Blue particle energy from Samus' cannon burned the hair off the ape-like Brutes that she set out to destroy. Chief was having equal success, his bullets finding their mark. Ape-ish brutes and bird like Jackals fell to the Chief's awesome might.

"Behind you!" Samus cried out. She knocked the Master Chief to the ground and charged her cannon. A Jackal was ripped to shreds by Samus as her shot collided with him. Wave after wave of Covenant soldier piled into the landing bay to confront Samus and the Chief and one by one, each one went down.

The Covenant sought to elevate the threat against High Charity's invaders. The rear of the hangar bay had one set of massive doors. They opened revealing two large aliens. They stood nearly ten feet tall, had fibrous flesh of orange worms and were clad in heavy armor with a large metal shield. Long spikes came out of their heads and a large cannon with green energy shells was attached to their arm.

"Hunters!" the Chief exclaimed, finishing off the last of the Jackals that confronted them. He removed the pistol from his belt and reloaded it.

This seemed like an odd move to Samus, going to a small caliber weapon against a large foe. She charged her cannon and let one blast fly at the first Hunter. He deflected it with his shield. In anger, the Hunter let out a large grunt and fired its cannon at Samus. She ducked out of the path of the green energy bolt, but the second hunter charged at her and attempted to smash her with his shield. Samus charged her cannon and fired a shot that sent her across the hangar bay, out of the way of the marauding Hunter.

The Chief, on Samus' distraction, leapt onto the back of the first hunter and attached a glowing plasma grenade to his head. Leaping off its back, the Hunter fell to the ground. Pistol shots rang out from the Chief's handgun, striking the other Hunter in the flesh of its exposed back. It grunted in pain as Chief's bullets hit their mark.

The plasma grenade exploded and served to anger the hunter. The savage alien swung its large shield around, hoping to hit Master Chief. Chief ducked and rolled, evading the attack. In between rolls and dodges, bullets ripped into the hunter from the Chief's gun.

Samus found herself preoccupied and the second hunter seized the moment. It struck her in the back with its shield. She was thrust across the hangar. As soon as the shock wore off, Samus charged her cannon and fired to stop her momentum. She performed the maneuver again and rocketed off toward the Hunter. She collided with it, and pushed it out of the High Charity's hangar door. Samus watched as it fell thousands of meters into the Ark's atmosphere.

She left the hangar door to help the Chief. The pistol had been emptied and he was back firing his AR into the Hunter. Before Samus could rejoin the fight, enough armor had fallen off, exposing the Hunter's worm-like flesh. Rifle bullets ripped into it, destroying the life-force of the Hunter. It collapsed and died.

"Get down!" Chief yelled out, leaving behind a parked Covenant Banshee-class fighter. Samus dropped to the ground. The Hunter's rail gun overloaded and exploded. The Hangar was now clear of Covenant aliens.

"I'm receiving a signal from the Arbiter," Cortana informed. "He's lowered High Charity's defenses."

"Signal Commander Keyes to begin landing her troops," the Chief told Cortana. "You okay?" Master Chief asked Samus, who was getting back up from the blast.

"Just fine," she told him. Pelican drop ships began to fill the hangar bay, dropping off load after load of Marines. Squad upon squad of marines assembled, waiting the Chief's orders.

"Filter down through the lower decks," the Chief ordered them. "We're heading to the command center to destroy the Prophets."

"Yes sir," the Marine Commander's responded.

"Let's go," Chief commanded Samus, "the Arbiter will be waiting." He lead off, Samus right behind him. Chief led the way though the very organic looking passages of High Charity. They'd occasionally meet a few brutes or jackals, but they'd soon fall to assault rifle bullets, grenades and an energy blast from Samus' cannon.

The control room of the High Charity served as an antechamber to the Prophet's temple. It was a known fact that the Prophets were quite frail, especially when compared to other races of the Covenant, but the wise and all knowing Prophets surrounded themselves with the mightiest warriors the Covenant had.

Out from the sunken control panels in the floor of the control room flooded swarm upon swarm of Brute Chieftains, clad in heavy armor. They really were a fierce enemy, the Master Chief himself barely surviving hand to hand combat with one. They were strong, angry and looked like Dr. Zaius from Planet of the Apes, only on steroids.

The Chief didn't waste time and opened fire on any Brute that came near him. Samus followed suit, hitting them with rapid fire energy blasts from her arm cannon. Slowly, the Brutes fell, but numbers outweighed bullets and Chief and Samus were backed into a corner.

The brutes had abandoned their weapons as they advanced closer to Chief and Samus. They enjoyed the primal elation of ripping their prey's head off with bare hands.

"Any great ideas?" Samus asked, firing desperately.

"Ever read Joseph Conrad?" Chief asked. Samus nodded 'no.' "Exterminate the brutes…" He pulled a shotgun off his back, and with it in one hand and the assault rifle in the other, began firing like their life depended on it. It did.

Slowly but surely, the brutes began to fall faster. Chief and Samus were more effective, but what was astonishing was the fact that the brutes seemed to be dying faster at the back of the pack, furthest away from the heroes.

The pack leaders didn't notice the brutes at the back being cut down, then flying off into the air. A blue energy sword, like Obi-Wan's, sliced through brute after brute, and they were subsequently flung off into the air to remove them from the blade.

"Drop!" Chief commanded, with the last two brutes on them. He and Samus ducked down and the blue blade sliced through the last of the brutes. Blood spurted from their bodies as they collapsed to the floor. Where they stood now was a large alien. He had a reptilian-like body structure, quadruple hinged mandibles, elongated head, sharp teeth, and silver armor over his long head and appendages.

"Nice to see you made it," he told Chief, helping him up. "And you travel with a maiden."

"Just in time," Master Chief commented. "Meet the Arbiter. Arbiter, this is..."

"Samus Aran," she introduced herself. "Enough with introductions, let's destroy the prophets…"

"Not so fast. There's only one prophet left, and he is mine," The Arbiter declared.

"Why is there only one left?" Chief asked, unaware the situation had changed from what he thought.

"The High Prophets of Regret and Mercy were killed by the Flood in the lower decks. Truth left them to die and fled."

"The Flood?" Samus asked. She recognized the Flood from the flashbacks of the Chozo that she had on the statue on Mars. The Chozo escaped the Flood when the Forerunners activated Halo.

"Oh no," Chief spoke. "Cortana, call off the marines. If High Charity's defenses contained the Flood in lower decks, we…" High Charity was rocked by a violent explosion. Lights flickered and went dim. "Too late." Chief and The Arbiter went to the controls, now abandoned by the dead Brutes.

"Fire Team Charlie successfully breached High Charity's defense grid… the same ones that kept the Flood at bay." Chief furiously typed away at the keypads. "Maybe we can crash High Charity onto the Ark…"

"Just like when we overloaded the Pillar of Autumn's reactors on the first Halo," Cortana surmised, "We can destroy the prophets, High Charity and the Ark and the Flood in one swoop."

"Cortana, signal the marines to evacuate and tell Commander Keyes to get In Amber Clad ready to get out of here." Chief ordered. "Arbiter…" The Arbiter was gone.

"He went in there," Samus told the Chief, pointing to the High Prophet of Truth's antechamber. Chief typed commands into the keypads in the control room. The image of the Prophet of Truth was broadcast to every Covenant Ship. The same system that the Prophets used to preach about the Forerunners was now being used to disband them.

Loud scratching and violent sounds emanated from the room, almost sounding like jungle beasts attacking each other. Behind that door, the Arbiter was having it out with the High Prophet of Truth; the last leader of the Covenant. The Prophet was no match for an Elite solder such as the Arbiter. The energy sword wielded expertly by the Arbiter sliced through the Prophet, sealing the fate of the Covenant.

"What happened?" The Chief asked Arbiter, returning from saving his people and humanity from a long, costly and bloody war.

"I sent him to meet the Forerunners…" Arbiter explained. "I'll evacuate my soldiers. Tell Commander Keyes that humanity has earned a friend in the Sangheili. From now on, our peoples will live in peace."

"Good luck," Chief told him. "Now, we have to get you back to earth," he told Samus as the Arbiter left.

"I may be able to help with that," Cortana added. "There's a matter transporter two decks down… the only problem is that there's thousands of Flood infection forms down there."

"If my armor can handle it, I'm sure that yours can," Chief told her. "Let's get going."

Once again, Chief led the way and Samus followed over the corpses of dead aliens. The organic, clean looking structures of High Charity gave way to something that looked like varicose veins. The walls had veiny formations all over the walls and the light purple hue disappeared, giving way to a brownish gray color. One deck down, Samus and the Chief met the first of the Flood.

Infected marines and brutes, now taken over by the Flood attacked. They had no use of weapons, relying instead on melee attacks with long tentacle-like arms. A shotgun shell and a partial charged cannon shot was plenty to handle this type of Flood attacker.

Room by room, Chief and Samus worked their way to the transporter. On the next floor down, they encountered for the first time, the small but insidious infection form that assimilated the marines and brutes. They were small, almost looking like a cross between a spider and a mushroom. The infection form moved very fast and could leap great distances. As if one infection form was bad enough, the landing bay that Chief and Samus were in held thousands.

"Start shooting," Chief advised. He pulled out his shotgun and began firing to whatever got close to them.

Samus acted, charging her cannon and firing at whatever was out of reach of the shotgun. The infection forms burst like an overinflated balloon and left green goo where they died. The method worked well, until one of Samus' blasts hit several host carriers. They burst, like the small ones did, but the concussive force blew hundreds of small infection forms at Samus and the Chief.

The Master Chief reacted and ducked down, firing his shotgun over his head. Any that came near him met with 10-gauge 00 buckshot. Samus, however, found three or four infection forms latching onto her armor. The Chief swung his shotgun around and knocked the infection forms from her body, all the while using his AR to attack any that advanced.

"Can you stay alone for a few seconds?" Chief asked her. She resumed firing at the little insectoids and nodded in agreement. "Get behind something," Chief warned her.

Samus began to work backwards, to behind a barrier of some type. Chief fired shell after shell as he progressed to the other side of the landing bay. The purple force fields that held an atmosphere in the landing bay disappeared, depressurizing the entire room. All the infection forms and their host carriers were sucked out into space. The pillar that Samus was behind kept her from being sucked out and burning up in the atmosphere of the Ark, as the Flood and the hunter that she fought earlier did.

The room emptied and the purple force field came back online. "Good idea," Samus told the Chief, joining him on the other side of the room.

"I saw it on Star Trek once," the Chief told her. "If it worked for Dr. Crusher and Geordi, I figured it'd work for us too." Again, Chief led the way, Samus right behind him. The Flood wasn't as strong in the corridors leading to the transporter as it was in the landing bay.

Like a pro, Chief worked the controls as Samus got onto the transported pad. "Ready to go?"

"Send me back to Gotham City," she instructed him. He input the commands to send Samus back to her adoptive home. "Aren't you coming with me?" She asked.

"I leave with my Marines and my ship," Chief told her. The transporter pad glowed that unmistakable Covenant purple.

"Well, can I at least see the face of the man who saved my life?" she asked.

His head lifted up to look at her. He lifted his helmet off as the transporter activated.

Samus' eyes widened at what she saw. Chiseled jaw with faint whiskers, piercing brown eyes, long brown hair held back by a headband. The only thing missing was a cigarette…

Samus found herself back in Gotham. The Covenant transported delivered her safely home, right on the front door of Wayne Manor. She entered, finding everyone at a large table.

"Welcome back," Snake greeted her.

She didn't say anything.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Nothing," she told him. "Just happy to see your face again…"

Semi-Return of the Jedi

By Greg Senger Chapter 1: Power of the Force

"I'm sorry," Obi-Wan spoke, going up the staircase leaving the Batcave.

"Why exactly won't you take me as an apprentice?" Bobby asked. Moonlight bathed the den of Wayne Manor through the large picture window.

"I lost one apprentice to the dark side because of attachment to someone. I will not lose another," the Jedi Master explained. Obi-Wan was still pretty shaken up about the loss of Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side of the force.

"So it's because that I'm in a relationship with Lita? That's why you won't take me?" Bobby asked, not knowing the Anakin angle of the story. "But what about the Midi-Chlorian thing? You said I have a very high content!"

"Indeed you do. Much of what you've done here I think is partially because of the help of the Midi-Chlorians. Quick reflexes, ESP like premonitions… you are a very talented person, Bobby, but you cannot become a Jedi." The Jedi's mind was made up. No more apprentices for Obi-Wan. "I'll help you hone skills, but the abilities of the Force that I use will not be available to you."

"What about a lightsaber?" Bobby asked. Indeed the Jedi weapon was revered by Bobby to say the least.

"If you wish, I will provide materials required to build a lightsaber. But you must construct it on your own. I cannot help you," Obi-Wan explained. "If your attunement to the Force is strong enough, your intuition should enable you to build your own lightsaber."

"I want to, Master Kenobi. I wish to learn as much as I can about the Jedi arts." Bobby's heart was still stuck on that sunny day in Japan when he'd first met Obi-Wan. He felt that if he had wielded a lightsaber, he and Obi-Wan could have stopped Darth Maul, and Bruce Wayne would still be alive. He'd be able to become a Jedi Knight, and Gotham would still have Batman… the Real Batman.

"Your enthusiasm is good," Obi-Wan told him. "You're a very wise and brave man, and I will teach you what I can. I have a feeling that you know most of what I would have to teach you."

"Mold me, Obi-Wan. I look forward to anything that you can teach me." He looked out the window onto Gotham City. The Bat-signal illuminated the sky. "That's my cue," he told Obi-Wan. Bobby descended the stairs, put on his Batsuit and hopped into the turbine powered Batmobile. Wayne Manor was a speck in the rearview mirror as he sped towards whatever crime was in progress.

"What's going on, Commissioner?" Batman asked Commissioner Gordon who could communicate directly to the Batmobile.

"Mr. Freeze is back. He's looting the downtown shopping district; diamonds again," Gordon reported.


"Right now my boys have him cornered in Ellery's Jewelry."

"Next to Brown's Department Store?"

"That's the one," Gordon confirmed.

Batman now had his destination and a hint of worry in the mind of Bobby Alton. 'Lita had better be safe,' he thought. She and Amy had gone downtown to do some shopping before college midterms. He stopped a block short of Ellery's Jewelry and launched a grappling hook into the sky. He zipped to the top of the seven story building, opting for a roof entrance to gain the upper hand.

None of Freeze's goons made their way into the upper floors and Batman had no problem getting down to the main floor. It was a light force, four guys in cold weather gear and Mr. Freeze. Bobby had never faced him in person. Two Batarangs dispatched a couple of the goons and a flying fist caught the other two.

"Batman! It's been so long!" Freeze exclaimed, almost happy to see his nemesis.

"How many of Gotham's own did you put on ice tonight?" Batman asked. He walked around trying to see if Lita was among one of the frozen bodies.

"Chill out, Batman, they'll thaw in an hour. I'm only after this kind of ice!" he spoke, clutching a handful of diamond necklaces.

"Out on good behavior and right back to petty theft; you're so much better than that Victor." Anger bloomed in Batman's soul as he discovered Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Mercury frozen in a block of ice.

"I need them, to save my wife," Freeze explained. Batman circled behind Mercury and Jupiter, surveying them. The anger grew inside Bobby and it soon became pure hatred.

"At what cost?" He leapt at Freeze, knocking the freeze gun from his hand and driving fists into his face. Freeze was helpless. Rage consumed Batman. Every punch was a symbol of the evil power that consumed him. Every heartbeat intensified the hatred that consumed him.

"Let him go," a familiar voice commanded. "Batman, you cannot give in to hatred." Obi-Wan had arrived.

Bobby heeded Obi-Wan's warning. At this moment, he could have ended Freeze's life… Anger and hatred had given him the power to overtake his adversary. This was the power of the dark side. He raised his head and saw Lita, frozen in ice, and then looked to Obi-Wan. Sorrow filled his soul.

Batman rose from off of Freeze's body, who was now unconscious. "I'm sorry, Master," he spoke, joining Obi-Wan.

"And now you understand why a Jedi cannot have affairs of a personal nature. It's a conflict of interest with our mission. Master Yoda once told me that Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Fear of losing her is what caused this," he spoke, thumbing towards Sailor Jupiter's frozen body.

Bobby looked inward. Indeed he did want to be a Jedi. It was a path to something that no earthling had ever done, and would elevate him to greatness, but that is not what a Jedi craves. His Jedi training would be for the betterment of the Planet. "It will not happen again. I swear that I will do everything to forget the ways of evil and anger. Please, mold me into a Jedi…" Bobby pleaded from behind the Bat.

Obi-Wan weighed the request. "Very well," Obi-Wan agreed, "But first, let's get them out of this ice and let the police in, shall we?" Obi-Wan's lightsaber thawed Sailor Mercury and Jupiter, freeing them of the icy grasp. Obi-Wan thawed the other occupant's while Batman rigged the door to open as soon as they were out.

The police burst through the door, finding Mr. Freeze unconscious and the occupants of Ellery's Jewelry Store thawing nicely. Batman carried Sailor Jupiter up the second floor while Obi-Wan lugged Sailor Mercury on his shoulders.

The Scouts were wrapped in blankets and put into the newly added backseat of the Batmobile. Batman guided himself and his new Jedi Master back to Wayne Manor.

Bobby spent the time in quiet reflection. Would becoming a Jedi mean having to give up with Lita? He could honestly say that he was falling in love. It was the first time since his Natalie died. Is it a sacrifice he could make? Or could he have his cake and eat it too? Perhaps, be a Jedi, but take a wife and maintain allegiance to the Light Side of the Force. He hoped whatever path he took, Lita would still be with him.

Bobby removed the cumbersome Batsuit and carried Lita, now untransformed up to her room. He placed her in bed, not wanting to wake her. 'She looks so peaceful,' he thought, gazing at her beautiful face.

"Hey you," she spoke, barely opening her eye to see Bobby starting to walk out.

"Oh, I didn't want to wake you," he told her, sitting back down on the edge of the bed. "How do you feel?"

"Great since my Caped Crusader saved me," she explained, placing a hand on his. "I suppose we're even," she spoke.

"What do you mean?" he asked her.

"Well, I saved you from Joker's mechanical clown, and now you've saved me from Mr. Freeze. It's all even up." She found solace in his presence.

"Well, count on me to save you anytime you need saving." He leaned in and kissed her on the forehead. She was still cold from being frozen. "Get some rest," he advised, "I'll make you a pot of soup or something." Lita was already back asleep. He exited quietly, only to find loudmouth Serena outside.

"How is she?"

"Asleep," Bobby, told her in a hushed voice. "Keep it down, she needs to rest."

"Sorry," Serena explained. "What can I do to help?"

"Well, I'm going to make a pot of soup for her and Amy, you can help me with that," he told her.

"Great! We'll have them back to fighting strength in no time," Serena added. She truly was the best type of friend that you could have. She was always there when you needed her, even if you didn't want her.

Serena and Bobby made for the kitchen. Bobby started a pot of water with chicken breasts in it, while Serena stood around and watched.

"You're not letting her cook are you?" Raye asked, her and Mina entering from a jog in Gotham City Park. "I mean really, Serena means well, but the girl could burn water."

"Shove it Raye. My cooking isn't that bad," Serena spoke, defending herself.

"Yea, remember that time you tried to cook dinner for Darien?" Mina asked. "It's a good thing Lita's such a good cook. She bailed you out hardcore."

"Well, now it's time to return the favor," Serena told them. "Lita and Amy were attacked." Serena's usually happy voice now echoed with a sound of seriousness.

"What? Are they okay?" Raye asked.

"Yea they're fine," Serena told them. "They got frozen, so we're making them soup."

"You mean, Bobby's making them soup. You're just kinda sitting there," Mina spoke.

"Uh, it's called morale support," Serena told them.

"Hush, all of you," Bobby spoke. He was digging through tins with spices in them. "I can't find the thyme."

"It's 10:30," Serena told him, checking her watch.

"T-H-Y-M-E. It's an herb from the Lamiaceae, or mint family. It's widely used in French, Greek, Italian, Lebanese, Persian, Spanish, Syrian, and Turkish cooking because it possesses a strong flavor but melds well with other herbs, such examples being bay leaves, rosemary and basil to form the classic French Herbés de Provence." Serena, Raye and Mina were dumbfounded by the sheer culinary knowledge displayed by the de facto leader of the Justice League. "I like Food Network, okay."

"Impressive," Obi-Wan spoke, entering the kitchen. "Perhaps you are an excellent candidate for Jedi training." He laid out an array of metal on the table. "You may begin construction of your lightsaber."

"Want me to watch the soup, Bobby?" Mina asked.

"Go ahead. Just make sure it doesn't boil over," he warned. Bobby surrendered his wooden spoon to the Pretty Soldier of Love and Justice and joined Obi-Wan at the table. "Instruct master."

"Clear your mind. Feel the Force flowing through you body. Feel the Force in everything. The dead chicken, the soup pot, in Serena, Raye, Mina and myself." The girls surrounded the table, soon joined by Popo and Nana. "Let go of the conscious self and let the Force guide your actions."

His mind cleared and there was no one in existence but him and these metal bits in front of him. He began to assemble what was laid out. A tube became the handle. The power cell slid into place, with the focusing crystal on top of it, the refractory crystal on top of that and a sheath over the two to house it. Bobby ceased moving. "I'm confused master," he spoke.

"About what?" Obi-Wan asked.

"There are two crystals, but I can only see in my vision room for one," he explained.

"Trust your instincts," Obi-Wan encouraged. "They will not lead you astray."

Bobby cleared his mind again. The void was empty again, except for him and his saber… and a thought of Lita. His thoughts dwelled on her as he chose the crystal to place inside. He opened his eyes and pressed the igniter button. A green blade shot out of the handle. Bobby smiled, knowing that Sailor Jupiter's primary color was green. She didn't lead him wrong, like Obi-Wan said.

"Impressive, young Padawan," the Master congratulated. "Many students don't complete their lightsaber on the first try."

"What else do you have to teach me master?" Bobby asked.

"That is enough for now," Obi-Wan advised. "You have soup to make and a dear friend to care for," he said, rising from the table.

"That was pretty cool, Bobby," Mina told him.

"Yea, way cool!" said Serena.

"Who's watching the pot?"

"Huh?" Water sizzled as it boiled over the sides of the soup pot. Serena and Mina rushed to its side to lower the heat and remove the lid. Bobby cleared his mind and tried to feel the Force again. He reached out and twisted his hand. Surprisingly, it turned the burner down.

"Most impressive," Obi-Wan told him. "Maybe you're more gifted than I thought. Think of what you desire most," his master urged. "What is it?"

"Lita's awake," he told them, closing his eyes and drawing on the Force.

Bobby's premonition was correct and Lita joined the group, still wrapped in her blanket. "Hi everyone," she greeted them.

"Hey girl, how are ya?" Mina asked, going to meet her once frozen friend. She put her arm around her.

"Better now," Lita informed everyone. Rosy color came to her cheeks, a welcomed change from the pasty white that befell her while frozen. "Is Amy awake?" Lita asked, worried about her frozen cohort.

Bobby again closed his eyes and channeled the Force. He took off at speed up the stairs, almost knocking his girlfriend down. Everyone was dumbfounded for a moment, and then took off after him. They found Bobby in the Master bathroom, running a tub of hot water. "Bring Amy in here," he told Serena and Mina.

They hurried and went and retrieved their friend. Amy's body was cold to the touch, the color leaving her face and appendages. The crowd left while Mina and Serena removed her clothes and placed Amy in the tub.

Her life force slowly came back. Mina dumped some bubbles into the bath, making Amy decent for company. Slowly, everyone else came back in, led by the Padawan who sensed she was in danger.

"If discipline matches your intuition, you will become a great Jedi," Obi-Wan told Bobby.

Bobby didn't pay much attention to his master. He was worried about Amy. He placed his hand on Amy's forehead, sitting on the edge of the tub. The power of the Force was channeled into his body, and intensified, before discharging into Amy, helping to revive her. Warmth came back into her body, and her eyes slowly opened.

"Amy, how do you feel?" Bobby asked her.

"Embarrassed," she spoke. Despite being near death, she still knew that she was naked in a room full of people.

"Well, if you're well enough to know that, you're probably on the track to recovery," Bobby surmised. "We'll leave you alone." Bobby rose from the edge of the tub and motioned for everyone to leave. Obi-Wan, Serena, Mina and Raye were first out, then Popo and Nana, and then Bobby and Lita.

"That was amazing," Lita told him. "I didn't know you were psychic."

"I didn't until a little while ago," he confessed. "It's really something." He was still trying to wrap his head around this power that was now available to him. The allure was incredible, almost godlike. But embracing it might mean giving up on one person he really cared for… the same person whose scent of strawberries was getting to him. "I don't know if I can go on with the training. Sacrifices would have to be made."

"Like you lose all personality," Lita spoke. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I like Obi-Wan, but he's kinda dry in the friendship department."

"Well, what I was referring to is much worse than that," Bobby spoke. "These Jedi powers come with a great price, and the consequences of it all could be a fate worse than death."

"Like what?" she asked.

"Well, I'd have to give you up," he told her. Lita's face seemed to stare into him, not sure of what he was saying. "Seeing you in that block of ice, I became enraged. I was so angry, when I went to defeat Mr. Freeze, I was almost tempted to kill him. Obi-Wan stopped me. My attachment to you almost led me to the dark side. Imagine if I had powers like Obi-Wan. Who knows where it would have ended…"

Lita was silent for a few moments. "So, are we over or what? Because I'd really like to know…" her voice cracked, almost on the verge of crying.

He raised his glance from the floor board that gave him strength to tell her and looked at her soft face, tears running down her cheeks. He let out a soft smile, and raised his arms. She fell into them, crying. "We're not over, not by a long shot. I love you, Lita. I never want us to be apart."

Her sobs fell silent, her grasp around him growing tighter. "I love you too, Bobby," she spoke, her voice soft and feminine. "I suppose these are the trials faced by all Sailor Scout and superhero relationships…"

"And we'll overcome them," he told her. "No matter what, we'll overcome them."

Chapter 2: In a Galaxy far, far away…

An Imperial Star Destroyer raced through the Sepan system, with a special guest aboard. Commander Namurra Din was used to high ranking Imperial officials aboard his ship, but this one was of utmost importance. He'd shuttled dignitaries from one system to another, but this time, speed was of utmost importance and there was no capital ship in the Imperial Navy faster than Din's ISD Garrett.

Commander Din was required to report in to his passenger, which was a bit unusual, but then again, he'd never transported anyone of such importance. "We will be arriving at the Kessel System in approximately twenty minutes, Lord Vader."

"Excellent Commander Din," Vader spoke through the intimidating and ominous black helmet. His audible breathing added to the intimidating presence. "Start the gravity well generator," Vader commanded, "We will need it so we aren't sucked into one of Kessel's black holes… prematurely."

"At once, Lord Vader," Din snapped. He turned and exited, quite glad that Vader hadn't found a flimsy excuse to kill him. The Garrett arrived in Kessel, and as Lord Vader commanded, the ship's gravity well generator was activated. The device was typically used to keep enemy ships from escaping into Hyperspace, but today its use was much more important; important more than trapping a Rebel cruiser or anything of the sort.

The bulbous gravity well generators on the hull of the Garrett glowed an iridescent blue and began to encompass the Garrett. Where the Millennium Falcon passed within 12 parsecs of these black holes during the infamous Kessel Run, the Garrett could approach them with impunity.

Lord Vader left his chamber and ventured to the hangar bay. "Are you ready, Captain Steele?" Vader asked. Maarek Stele was a TIE fighter pilot of the highest order, skilled in every aspect of space combat. He survived numerous battles in plain unshielded TIE Fighters, and helped Vader and the Emperor to track down traitorous Navy Admirals wanting to defect to the Rebellion.

"Yes Lord Vader," Steele replied, snapping to attention. Not only was Vader his commander in the Navy, but as a member of the Secret Order of the Emperor, Stele was Vader's subordinate in the ways of the Dark Side of the Force. In the previous months, Vader came to admire Steele and his combat ability, which reminded him of his own. Later it was discovered that Stele possessed a high Midi-Chlorian count, and his quick reflexes required for space combat was at least in part because of the Force. Now Vader and Stele were heading off to secure an object of great power, one to ensure that the Sith would rule the galaxy forever.

"Board your craft," Vader ordered. Stele turned and climbed into the cockpit of the new TIE Defender. Vader did the same. The Defender was a magnificent craft. Shields, hyperdrive, ion cannon and warhead launchers… it was like no TIE Fighter ever produced. The Garrett's starfighter deployment arm grabbed the two Defenders by the stanchions that connected the cockpit to its three wings. The hangar door opened and deposited them outside, into the Black Hole that the Garrett was now almost on top of.

The TIE Defenders were sucked into the Black Hole. Where normal physics would have argued that the immense gravitational pull of the black hole would have destroyed the two fighters, this black hole was special. At its center was a wormhole, allowing instantaneous travel to another part of the universe. Commander Din's piloting of the Garrett was excellent and Stele and Vader dropped almost exactly in the center of the wormhole.

Thousands of galaxies flashed past the octagonal windows of the TIE Defenders. Millions of stars, billions of planets and thousands of gas clouds and nebulae were bypassed almost instantaneously. The TIE Defenders halted abruptly, exiting the wormhole and into a familiar galaxy; The Sol System of Earth. "Set a course for the third planet," Vader commanded over the radio.

Stele complied and the two Imperials flew in formation towards the third rock from the Sun.

Chapter 3: Normalcy… sort of

The sun rose in Gotham City as it always did. It was a new day. Amy was recovered fully from being frozen at the hands of Mr. Freeze. It seemed like it was going to be a normal day. Bobby was up making breakfast, Serena and the Scouts were gathered to eat it, Snake and Samus had left for the weekend to engage in a nonlethal game of paintball (or that's what they told everyone), Popo and Nana had spent the night climbing to the top of Wayne Tower and Obi-Wan retrieved the small droid that he had used for lightsaber training, known as a remote.

"Excellent eggs, Bobby," Mina spoke, between bites and gulps of orange juice.

"Yea, you're almost as good a cook as Lita," Raye told him.

"Well, they are good, but I don't know if they're that good," Serena spoke.

"It's a tough call," added Amy, "But I'd say it's very close."

Lita was silent while she ate. It was almost typical that if one of the girls said something, this time Bobby's cooking was under review, that all of them would chime in. "Nothing to add, Lita?" Serena asked.

Lita finished off her eggs and OJ. "Nope," she replied, oddly complacent for someone who's typically combative. "It was very good," she added, smiling at the cook. Bobby took a small bow, rinsing the frying pan under the faucet.

"Have I missed breakfast?" Obi-Wan asked, joining the group.

"What would you like, Master?" Bobby asked him, fully throwing himself onto the whole Jedi bit.

"I must admit I am quite fond of those little meat strip things. What do you call them?"

Bobby raised an eyebrow. "Bacon?"

"Yes, I'd like some bacon," Obi-Wan confirmed, sitting down with the girls. "And what is that steamy black drink?"


"Yes thank you," he said, raising his mug with the power of the Force.

Bobby poured his new master a drink and set about cooking a pound of bacon. "What are you ladies doing today?" he said over the frying spatter of bacon grease.

"Since our shop-a-thon was ruined yesterday, I think we're going to go finish it," Lita told him.

"Only this time, we're all going," Serena added. "I'd be a horrible leader if I didn't share in the dangers with my team," she spoke, winking.

"Always up for a day of shopping," Obi-Wan surmised. "Are you ready to begin your training, young Padawan?" he asked, turning towards his bacon provider. Smoky strips of cooked pork belly fell onto Obi-Wan's plate.

"Whenever you are, Master," he confirmed.

Obi-Wan started in on his porcine bits and produced the remote from his tunic. "It will shoot at you," he warned. "I suggest you defend yourself."

Bobby's new silver lightsaber was drawn from his hip and ignited. The remote fired a low intensity bolt at him and zapped him. "Ouch!" he cried out.

"Unless you like the feeling I suggest you don't let it happen again," Obi-Wan told him between sips of coffee.

"But it moves so quickly," Bobby spoke of the remotes zippy nature as it moved through the air, "How can I even fight it?"

"Don't look for it," Obi-Wan suggested, "Let the power of the Force guide you. It will never lead you astray."

Bobby concentrated. On his lightsaber, the remote, everyone at the table… the remote fired, and the ability that was now available to him deflected the shot… deflected right into a priceless vase from the Ming Dynasty. "Perhaps we should take this outside," Bobby suggested.

"An excellent idea," Obi-Wan agreed, removing his plate and coffee from the table and into the gardens.

"Be along in a moment," Bobby told him. The scouts piled their dishes into the sink and Bobby deactivated his Jedi weapon.

"Can I have the keys to the car?" Lita asked him, approaching with one of the silly/ cute girly looks.

"Which car?" he asked.

"Well, probably the Land Rover," she told him. She set her eyes on him and didn't stop.

"I suppose," Bobby agreed, pretending to be reluctant. He removed his keys and handed them to her.

"Thanks," she said, leaning in for a kiss. Bobby checked for Obi-Wan, and when he was sure the coast was clear, he laid one on her. "I'll see you in a while," she told him. They all piled out into the garage and into Bobby's Land Rover.

Bobby went outside and joined Obi-Wan who was silently meditating. "What would you like me to do, Master?"

"Since you've studied with Bruce before, I think we can skip the physical aspect of training. We'll concentrate mostly on the Force aspects of the Jedi Lifestyle." A loud crash was heard at the edge of the driveway. Lita had hit the garbage cans.

"Never let a woman drive your car," Bobby spoke.

"Why are you driving? You've had your license for like a week," Raye argued from the backseat. "Amy would be a better candidate."

"Hey, I'm a great driver. This gas pedal's just a little touchy, that's all," Lita reasoned.

"Just get us downtown in one piece," Mina urged. "I've got five hundred dollars burning a hole in my pocket."

Lita corrected her habits and got used to driving the British import. They lumbered through town to the downtown Gotham City Mall. Lita's driving was much improved and she didn't hit one car in the parking lot at the mall, a first since she got her license. "The Eagle has landed," Amy joked; quoting the old days of space exploration… of course she was the only one who knew that.

"So who's going where?" Serena asked.

"Well, I'm shoe shopping," Mina told her.

"Me too. I need new running shoes," Raye added.

"I think I'll hit the bookstore," Amy spoke. Everyone looked at her as if she had four heads for going to the bookstore instead of chasing the latest fashions. "After I'm done shoe shopping with Mina and Raye," she covered. "What about you, Lita?"

"Well," Lita started, and then hesitated, "I think I'm going to go look at rings."

"Any particular reason, Lita?" Serena asked, obviously probing for some bit of juiciness.

"No reason," she told them, "Just thought I'd go look."

"Then you won't mind if I come along," Serena told her.

"Why would I mind," Lita told her, not letting on that she was actually going to go and find a suitable engagement ring should she be asked for her hand in marriage by a certain Jedi in training.

"Great, let's go!" Serena cried out. They were the first of the five into the mall and immediately flocked to a rather upscale jewelry store.

"Okay, spill Lita," Serena started, "I know when my friends are lying. What's going on?"

"Nothing gets past you, does it?" Lita asked, looking over single diamond rings. "Well, after we put Amy in the tub last night, Bobby told me something." She smiled, looking up from the rings. There was a momentary pause. "He told me that he loved me."

"Oh Lita, that's so great!" Serena exclaimed. "It's about time you got a quality man. It always seems like you're playing second fiddle to either me or Raye or Mina. Good for you."

"There's more," Lita told him. "I think that he's very serious about us."

"How do you know that?" Serena asked.

"Well, we we're talking about how he's going to get powers like Obi-Wan and he told me about how Jedi's can't have relationship, but he's pretty much going to try to do both, because he cares about me that much," Lita told him.

"You're so lucky," Serena told him. She looked at their surroundings in the mall, eyeing one guy in particular. "I think this guy notices you too," she told him.

Lita turned and found that there was a guy, giving both her and Serena the once over. He smiled and approached. The he was a good looking guy, fit and athletic, who definitely took care of himself. He had a large tattoo on his forearm, which should have served as a warning. Playing coy, Lita walked behind Serena and began looking at rings again.

The guy smiled again. His tattooed arm disappeared behind his back, and retrieved a blaster pistol. "Surrender the Crystal," he demanded of Serena. Without hesitation, Lita, defending the Moon Princess as she was supposed to do, threw Serena behind the jewelry counter. Blaster fire rang out as she ducked behind the counter herself.

"Ready Lita?" Serena asked. "Moon Cosmic Power!" she cried. Pink ribbons surrounded her body, transforming her into the pretty soldier Sailor Moon.

"Jupiter Star Power!" Lita called out. Her power stick shot out bolts of lightning and bathed her body in the emerald green outfit of Sailor Jupiter. "Jupiter Supreme Thunder!" she called out.

Bolts of lightning descended from the sky and discharged towards their attacker. He exchanged the blaster for a red lightsaber, similar in construction to Obi-Wan's. The lightsaber blade deflected Jupiter's thunder attack. "Stele to Lord Vader," he said producing a comlink with his other hand, "I've found it."

"Moon Spiral Heart Attack!" Sailor Moon cried out. She twirled her Moon Scepter around, pointing the tip at their attacker. Pink hearts knocked him backwards, allowing them to escape.

"Guys, we need help!" Jupiter called out into her scout communicator. She dropped the communicator as she ran into a giant asthmatic man in dark armor and a helmet. He raised his hand and the power of the Dark Side began to choke Sailor Jupiter.

"Surrender the Imperium Silver Crystal, Princess," he commanded, sounding eerily reminiscent of James Earl Jones.

"Stop!" Sailor Moon pleaded with the Dark Lord of the Sith. "You can have it, just let Sailor Jupiter go!" Sailor Moon produced the Imperium Silver Crystal from her brooch, handing it towards Vader.

"Mars Fire Ignite!" Sailor Mars called out. Fireballs left her finger tips and singed Vader's cape. "Don't give him the Crystal!" Sailor Mars, Mercury and Venus had arrived on the scene.

"Impudent fools," Vader spoke, dropping Sailor Jupiter. He ignited his lightsaber and began to walk towards his new adversaries.

"Mercury Bubbles Blast!" Sailor Mercury called out. Her bubbles filled the mall, making it impossible to see. "Everyone okay?" she asked.

"Fine," Jupiter struggled to say. Sailor Moon, who still had her Crystal, was at her side, being the good friend that she was. "Let's show this guy not to mess with the Sailor Scouts! Jupiter Thunder Dragon!" A large dragon made of pure electricity, fired from Sailor Jupiter's tiara, streaking towards Darth Vader. His quick Sith reflexes, like those that Obi-Wan had, allowed him to duck out of the way of the attack.

"Captain, stun them!" Vader commanded. Stele, who was sort of lost in the fog and ensuing melee fired his blaster again at Sailor Moon. Jupiter, defending the Princess, knocked Sailor Moon out of the way, taking the blast herself.

"Sailor Jupiter!" Moon cried out, catching her ardent defender. "Just hold on, I'll contact Obi-Wan…"

"Did you say Obi-Wan?" Vader asked, turning back towards Sailor Moon. "Where is he?" he raised his hand and began to choke the life out of her with the power of the Dark Side. "I want Obi-Wan Kenobi delivered to me. Do this or die."

"You needn't strangle the poor girl anymore," Obi-Wan spoke, Sailor Mercury's bubbles disappearing. "You've certainly changed since the last time I saw you, Anakin."

"That name longer means anything to me," he warned, dropping Sailor Moon to the floor. "Finally come to meet your end, Master?"

"Not before the Sith," Obi-Wan spoke, igniting his lightsaber. Vader followed suit. Bobby took the opportunity and went to the aid of his fallen Sailor soldier.

"Lita," he whispered to her. "Are you okay?" She smiled seeing Bobby, but too much of her was gone. She closed her eyes surrendering to unconsciousness.

"Freeze," Stele spoke, pointing the blaster to the back of Bobby's head. Bobby slowly rose. When the opportunity presented itself, he used his newly acquired power and called his green lightsaber from his belt. It sliced through the Imperial issue blaster pistol like a hot knife through butter. Stele reeled from the attack, knocked back and onto the ground.

Bobby went to his master's aid and confronted Vader. "I see you have taken on a new apprentice," Vader spoke, taunting Obi-Wan. "Are you looking to add to our ranks?"

"That really is a low blow, Anakin," Obi-Wan told him. He lunged at his former student who'd gone to the Dark Side, Obi-Wan's blue lightsaber colliding with Vader's red one. They dueled past the Orange Julius and Pretzel Maker, and into a Champs Sports.

Bobby deactivated his lightsaber, electing to stay behind and help Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Moon recover. Mercury, Mars and Venus soon joined them. "What happened?"

"They're after the Silver Crystal," Sailor Mars told him. "Jupiter was so brave."

"Get Sailor Moon out of here," Bobby told the other scouts. "I'll handle Lita." Sailor Venus bared the brunt of Sailor Moon's dead weight as the three carried the unconscious body of the Moon Princess outside.

"C'mon Lita," Bobby spoke, picking up his beloved. He scooped her up into his arms, and started to walk out to join the other scouts.

"Going somewhere?" Stele asked, a Sith lightsaber to Bobby's neck. "Give me the crystal," he commanded.

"You'll never get it," Bobby told him.

"I think we will," he spoke. The lightsaber drew closer to Bobby's face, and instinctively, Bobby ducked down. Lita left his arms in the process and was retrieved by Captain Stele. "The Princess's compassion for her friends will be her undoing," he warned. He threw the body of Sailor Jupiter over his shoulder and exited.

Enraged, Bobby rose and set off to find Obi-Wan battling Vader. His green lightsaber entered the fray at the outskirts of Hollister. The stores fake front end was destroyed by wild lightsaber swings and that fake musky scent was soon replaced by the scent of burned clothing. Bobby's dueling skills were natural, having studied fencing with Bruce Wayne and now relying on the power of the Force to help him.

"I sense great anger in your apprentice, Master," Vader taunted Obi-Wan. "Perhaps you are trying to help us."

"I would never join you," Bobby told him, swinging fiercely.

"Then you will die like the rest of the Jedi," Vader told him. Vader's next swing caught Bobby in the arm. The force of the blow wasn't enough to remove the limb, but it did burn him pretty badly, removing him from the fight.

Obi-Wan redoubled his efforts. He fought with ferocity against Vader, who was clearly a foot taller than he. Parries and thrusts were countered, combined with some aerobatics on the part of the Jedi Master. Vader knew Obi-Wan's style, and Obi-Wan knew Anakin's. It was a draw with no clear winner.

"Lord Vader," Stele spoke over the comlink. "We have what we need."

Vader force pushed Obi-Wan into the wall of shopping mall and began to leave. "Until we meet again, Master." Vader and Stele left, the screech of their TIE Defenders wailing through the sky. People began to filter in from hiding in stores and Obi-Wan and Bobby got to their feet.

"It is time to make an exit, master?" Bobby asked.

"How's your arm?" the kind Jedi spoke, checking the condition of his new apprentice. "You did well," Obi-Wan told Bobby, "You survived your first and probably last encounter with a Dark Lord of the Sith."

"Not the last Master," Bobby told him, grimacing as Obi-Wan cleaned his cut. "Definitely not the last."

Chapter 3: A Brief Moment with Lord Vader

"Tell me where to find the Moon Princess," Vader boomed. "Resistance is Futile."

Sailor Jupiter wasn't quite sure of her surroundings. She was restrained and unable to move. It was dark, with the sound of water dripping off in the distance. "Why do you want it? The Silver Crystal. You're powerful, why do you need it?" Sailor Jupiter asked, defiantly.

"My master requires the power of the Silver Crystal. With it, the Sith will rule the galaxy forever."

"Who is your master?" she asked.

"It is none of your concern," he spoke, "With the Silver Crystal, the power of immortality and the power to revive those long gone will be ours." Vader stopped his pacing and hung his head.

Lita was empathic. It almost came with the job of being a Sailor Scout and one of Serena's friends. She knew that he was thinking of someone quite dear to him. "What was her name?" she asked, reminiscent of what she'd asked Bobby on their first date.

The ominous breathing was the only sound emanating from him. Vader looked up. "Padme," he answered.

"You were in love with her," Sailor Jupiter surmised, "Weren't you?"

"She and I we're married. It is forbidden for Jedi's to have personal relationships," Vader explained.

"The consequences of which might be a fate worse than death," Sailor Jupiter told him.

"How do you know of these things?" Vader asked.

"Well, you might say I have firsthand knowledge. You see, Obi-Wan's apprentice is my boyfriend. He and I are in love, just as you and Padme were." Her thoughts drifted to him.

"Obi-Wan's apprentice?" Vader asked. "Then the Crystal will be ours. He will bring it to us."

'What have I done?' Lita thought. "Don't hurt him, please!" Sailor Jupiter shouted.

"My quarrel isn't with him, or your friends. Perhaps Obi-Wan, but that must wait. The Crystal is of utmost importance." Vader turned and headed away from her. He stopped. "If there is any chance that I can ensure that someone would have the same relationship that Padme and I had, nothing would stop it."

"Then there is still good in you," Sailor Jupiter told him.

Chapter 4: The History of a Galaxy Far, Far Away

"How do we beat them, Master?" Bobby asked. The remote swished around in the air, firing off bolts that Bobby deflected with his lightsaber.

"You continue practicing," Obi-Wan told him, sitting on a large flat stone, "And I'm going to tell you the story of what happened with Anakin. Years ago, when I was still a Padawan Learner to my Master Qui-Gon Jinn, we we're sent to the planet Naboo to settle a trade disagreement. The Nemoidians tried to gas us and Qui-Gon and I escaped to the surface of the planet where we eventually met with Queen Padme Amidala, leader of Naboo. As we were fleeing the planet, our ship was forced past a blockade, leaving our ship nearly disabled. We managed to make it to the desert planet of Tatooine, where my master met a young slave boy, Anakin Skywalker. Anakin possessed a high Midi-Chlorian count, higher than you and I and Master Yoda put together. Qui-Gon interpreted this as a sign. An ancient legend foretold of The Chosen One who would eliminate the Sith and bring balance to the Force.

When our ship was repaired, Qui-Gon secured the release of Anakin from slavery. He was forced to leave his mother behind, which was very traumatic for Anakin who was nary only ten years old. We travelled to Coruscant and presented Anakin to the Jedi Council. They tested him and determined that he might be Jedi material, but was too old to begin training. Qui-Gon, without permission of the council took Anakin as an apprentice and the three of us travelled back to Naboo to retake the planet.

On Naboo, Qui-Gon and I crossed sabers with Darth Maul, the Sith who I defeated in Japan when we met. Qui-Gon was killed by Darth Maul, and in his dying breath, charged me with taking Anakin as my Padawan. I did. He and I became like brothers during his training. It was some time later that we were called into investigate attempts on Padme, who was now Senator from Naboo, taking the place of Palpatine, who was elected Supreme Chancellor. The mission called for me to go to Geonosis, while Anakin protected Padme. During my absence, Padme and Anakin fell in love and were married. They hid the marriage, he eventually impregnating her.

Later, Anakin began to have nightmares, or often as it was for Jedi, premonitions of Padme dying in childbirth. As time went on, Anakin was seduced to the dark side of the force by Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Sidious, who in actuality was Chancellor Palpatine. When Master Windu and three other Jedi attempted to arrest the Chancellor he defeated all except for Master Windu. Believing Palpatine to be his only recourse to save Padme, he cut off Windu's hand and allowed Sidious to kill Windu. Sidious took Anakin as his apprentice and restructured the Senate into the Galactic Empire, declaring himself emperor.

Padme, believing there to be good in Anakin, travelled to Mustafar to reason with him. I stowed away aboard her ship to confront Vader. In his anger, Anakin choked Padme, as he did Lita in the mall. His anger with me took paramount and released her. He and I dueled, with me eventually gaining the high ground. Ever sure of himself, Anakin tried to gain the upper hand and I was forced to cut off his arm and legs. As he rolled down the embankment, I left him, deciding to let the Force decide his fate. I took Padme back to meet with Master Yoda and Senator Organa, and there we delivered twin babies, Luke and Leia. We hid the children from him. Should Anakin had any offspring, they would be a danger to him. Luke was safely delivered to Tatooine and Leia was adopted by Senator Organa and taken to Alderaan."

"And that is why Jedis can't have personal relationships," Bobby spoke. "Master, I love Lita. When this is all over, I will renounce the ways of the Jedi and never use the Force again."

"Then you should do that now," Obi-Wan suggested. "Then there is no chance of falling to the Dark Side. I will face Vader alone."

"Master, I won't. I can't. I need to help you find Lita," he told his master. "The man with Vader is skilled with a lightsaber. Two on one is hardly fair."

"Indeed," Obi-Wan agreed. "It would be much easier with the numbers even. But the risk is too great."

"I won't turn to the dark side, Master. If I've learned anything from all this… the Jedi business, falling in love… I won't turn to evil." Bobby quit sparring with the remote and looked to his Master. "For the sake of Lita, I won't turn to the Dark Side."

Obi-Wan saw the seriousness in Bobby's eyes. He really did love her, and with the Force as his ally he was going to help Obi-Wan to beat the Sith. "Your heart is pure," Obi-Wan admitted. "Sometimes I believe that there can be coexistence between emotion and knowledge; between the rigid doctrine of the Jedi council and that almost unspeakable evil of the Sith. No one has been able to harness both without losing complete control. You may be the first, my apprentice."

"Well I seriously hope that I am," Bobby spoke, "But if not, I'd gladly retire the lightsaber and resume use of the cape and cowl."

The tranquility of the garden was shattered. "So when are we going to find Lita?" Serena asked, ever worried about the fate of her friend and fellow Sailor Scout. As was typical she was followed by her troupe, Popo and Nana behind them.

"Yea, whoever took her has got something fierce coming," Raye added, her fieriness almost approaching that of what Lita would have had if she was here.

"No way can they stop all of us," Amy concluded.

"Yeah," Mina agreed. "Lita's always been there when we needed her, now it's time to return the favor."

"Oh, I've had enough," Serena declared. "Moon Cosmic Power!" The Crystal in her brooch glowed, showering her body with pink ribbons, which then melded into one solid piece of clothing. Her skirt, gloves and boots then formed, completing the Sailor look for which the team was so named.

"Meatball head's got the right idea," Raye added. "Mars Star Power!" Her power transformer, held high in the air, surrounded her body in flames. She was transformed into the Soldier of Fire, Sailor Mars.

"Mercury Star Power!" Amy cried out. Her transformer showered her in wave upon wave of bubbles. The bubbles gave way to an outfit primarily blue. Sailor Mercury, the Soldier of Ice and Water, had arrived.

"Venus Star Power!" Mina followed with. The transformer in her hand covered her body with chains of hearts and stars, transforming her into the Soldier of Love, Sailor Venus.

"So where do we find this Vader guy?" Sailor Moon asked.

Obi-Wan stopped and pondered for a moment. His thoughts drifted to last night when Bobby predicted Amy nearly freezing to death. "Bobby," he spoke, turning to his new apprentice. "Clear your mind. Think of Lita. Try and envision where she is."

Bobby closed his eyes and drifted, lost in the Power of the Force. "How does it work?" Serena asked.

"Many centuries ago, there was a powerful Jedi Master named Bastila Shan. She had the power of what was called Force Battle Meditation. I believe this power has exhibited itself in Bobby." Obi-Wan explained. "If that is the case, he can locate Lita and Vader with almost no trouble at all."

"I've found them," Bobby reported. "It'll be tough to get to," he explained, "but luckily we've got excellent guides." He pointed. The crowd split down the middle, revealing the two Eskimo kids.

Chapter 5: The Cave of the Winds

"But we," spoke Nana.

"Don't spelunk," finished Popo.

"You mean to tell me in all the mountains that you've climbed that you've never once gone spelunking?" Bobby asked.

"We're the," said Popo.

"Ice Climbers. Not cave divers," finished Nana.

"Oh, it's no time to be modest," Bobby told them. "I believe in you guys. I know you can do it."

"So can we," Nana told him.

"But it's not a matter of doing it," Popo said.

"It's were afraid of what's down there," they both spoke in unison.

"You're afraid of the dark?" Bobby asked.

"The dark," said Popo.

"And Sasquatch."

"Well, if we encounter a Sasquatch, Obi-Wan and I will take care of it. Right now though, we need your help. Lita's being held against her will. We need to help her."

"We are quite fond of…" spoke Popo.

"Lita's cooking," finished Nada.

"We'll help!" they both agreed.

"Well good," said Bobby. "Go get you're climbing and spelunking gear."

"I'll fuel up the…" Obi-Wan stopped. "What do we have that's large enough to carry all of us?"

"Well, we'll have to fly. Colorado is too far to drive. I think Mr. Fox has something that would fit the bill." Bobby thought back, "What did he call it? The Dragonfly I think. It was a contract job for some doctor in Maine."

"I'll contact him and tell him to have it ready," Obi-Wan spoke.

"Not necessary," Bobby told him. "Bruce was quite fond of it. He had it in storage at his own airstrip."

"So where's that at?" Sailor Venus asked.

"About two hundred feet below us," Bobby replied. He led the way down into the Batcave, past where the typical stuff was kept, to an area of mothballed vehicles. Amongst various cars, old Batmobiles, project cars and bikes looking for some TLC was the Dragonfly. It was unusual in that it was very white and very large. It contrasted with the typical Bat gear like a nun in a whorehouse. Sleek, art deco was forgone and gave way to loud, bright and big. Everyone climbed aboard, the scouts finding the seats at the front of the Dragonfly and Popo and Nana settling in back. Bobby and Obi-Wan took the controls.

"Can you fly this thing?" Obi-Wan asked his apprentice.

Bobby flipped switches, powering up the turbine engines and checking flaps. "It's been awhile, but flying is like riding a bicycle."

"With a much smaller margin of error," Obi-Wan reminded. He strapped in and the Dragonfly began to taxi towards the Batcave's small but sufficient runway. The Dragonfly burst out of the darkness like the Phoenix rising from the ashes. Indeed the craft was fast, just as Dr. Quest had ordered it, but found no reason to have it after retiring from the adventure business.

The Dragonfly streaked through the sky at Mach 3, faster than anything in the Wayne or Batman arsenal. Colorado was only 1 hour and seven minutes away at this mind-bending speed. As the Dragonfly ripped through the clouds, that one hour seemed like an eternity. Every thought Bobby had was of the eventual meeting of Lord Vader and his accomplice… and what he would do to them if Lita had come to harm.

"Do not let malice consume your thoughts," Obi-Wan advised from across the aisle. "That is the path to darkness."

"I apologize, Master," Bobby spoke, coming out of a trance like state. "It's just that, I don't know what I'd do without her."

"Would she want you to pursue a career of darkness and evil?" Obi-Wan asked.

"No," Bobby reckoned, "She's spent her entire life fighting evil and injustice. She'd hate me for what I would become."

"So you must stay on the Light side," Obi-Wan added. "She is strong; I don't believe she would have surrendered to Vader."

"No way would she have," Sailor Moon spoke, joining in after listening in on the conversation. "Sailor Jupiter is the strongest of us all. He wouldn't get anything from her."

Bobby silently nodded in agreement. The GPS beeped. "Ten minutes from our destination. I'll begin to throttle down. When we reach 2500 feet, drop the landing gear. I'm going to get us as close to the Cave of the Winds as possible."

The Dragonfly descended on Colorado, dropping out of the sky and into the tourist area called Cave of the Winds.

The Scouts were the first out, followed by the Ice Climbers, and then the Jedi. The tourists cleared a path, obviously knowing that they were on a mission. Everyone suited up in spelunking gear provided by Popo and Nana. The tourist area of the cave was sectioned off. Below that was a much more secluded area, known to be accessible only to seasoned cave divers. Popo and Nana took point, the Jedi behind them in case of a Sasquatch attack.

"You know," Sailor Mars started, "I heard this thing awhile back about a creature in this cave. It was called Bearmanpig or something." Popo and Nana slowed considerably, almost to slower than even caution should allow.

"I believe you're referring to Manbearpig," Sailor Mercury added. "Science has thoroughly debunked that myth as the creation of a crazy man."

The group descended further into the cave and Bobby could feel the presence of her which was closest to him. Obi-Wan could sense Vader. The sloping rocks of the upper cave gave way to more severe drops, the sound of running water and stalactites. The darkness of the cave mirrored that of those individuals who had occupied it for the past few days. The air was damp and stale, smelling of old carpet.

"I've been waiting for you, Obi-Wan," Vader's asthmatic voice boomed in the darkness. A red lightsaber ignited, showing his position. "If you've brought the crystal, we will release your apprentice's betrothed."

"We've come to retrieve her, Anakin, but you cannot have the crystal." Obi-Wan ignited his own lightsaber ready to duel his former apprentice.

"Then you will meet your end," Vader warned. He advanced towards Obi-Wan.

Bobby readied his own saber. "Go and find Sailor Jupiter," he told the Scouts. They proceeded down the cave, Popo and Nana hanging back, watching the duel. Bobby's green blade lit up the darkness and he readied himself to join the battle against Darth Vader. He found himself looking up towards the sky, a red lightsaber in his face.

"I finish what I start," Captain Stele warned. Bobby sprung up, blocking the attack with his saber, causing Stele to slice the floor of the cave.

"I'll warn you," Bobby spoke, blocking thrusts from his attacker, "I've been practicing." Bobby met every move that Stele had. It was deadlock. Bobby seized the moment and went on the attack. In what one might call a dirty move, he deflected Stele's blade and kicked his aggressor in the face.

Stele dropped back, unprepared for the natural ability that Bobby possessed. Bobby leapt on top of Stele, his lightsaber coming down like he was chopping wood. The glow of red blocked Bobby's attack and Stele kicked the young Jedi, causing him to topple over him.

An Olympic gymnastics team had nothing on a Jedi who drew power from the Force. Bobby put a hand down and glided through the kick with grace, not even falling. Stele got up and sized up his opponent. He underestimated the Jedi of two days and sought retreat. "Lucky for you I have to stop your lady friends," he said. His blade returned to its handle and he fled towards where Sailor Moon and the other scouts were.

Bobby watched as Stele disappeared into the cavern. He went to join Obi-Wan against Vader. Like in the mall, no one was clearly winning. "Find Lita," Obi-Wan told his apprentice. He blocked blow after blow, "I'll handle this. Go!"

Bobby did as his master commanded and disappeared into the cave. His green blade deactivated and began his search. The cave was a labyrinth of dead ends and endless loops. Navigation for anyone would be perilous. The Scouts had Sailor Mercury's computer. Bobby had the Force.

He relaxed and allowed his power to flow through and guide him. Surrendering all to the Force, he followed intuition. The mysterious power carried him down the corridor, past a few rights and a left, and into a chamber. Lita was still there. He had beaten the scouts and Stele was apparently pursuing them.

His lightsaber cut through her restraints. She woke from her unconsciousness and smiled. "You came to rescue me when I needed rescued," she was uttered, barely able to speak.

Bobby lifted her to an upright position. He rested his arm behind her, propping her up. "Are you hurt?" She nodded no. "Can you walk?"

"Maybe," she spoke. She swung her legs over the natural stone table and touched her feet to the ground. She was a bit uneasy at first, standing for the first time in her heels. Bobby held onto her as she got her footing. "I'll be okay," she told him, walking free of his grasp.

"So glad to see you found her," Stele spoke, emerging from the darkness. "Call me a sadist, but I really enjoy seeing anguish in people's faces when I take the life of a loved one." His lightsaber activated.

"You're sick," Sailor Jupiter told him. "Jupiter Thunder…" she collapsed to the ground.

"You're still too weak," Bobby told her, hoisting her back onto the table. "I'll handle him."

The opponents stood facing each other at opposite ends of the cavernous chamber. Bobby's green lightsaber activated, bringing balance to the room; One Jedi versus one Sith. Bobby stared a hole in his enemy, meeting him at the center of the room. The Sith attacked first, Bobby blocking his swing and countering with one of his own. Stele, not underestimating his aggressor blocked Bobby's blows instead of trying to do a bit of cheap one-upmanship. He knew that his dirty tricks wouldn't work on this Jedi.

The lightsabers made a horrible crash and cackle when they collided. The intense power that filled the room was nearly electric. Sailor Jupiter could do nothing but watch as the man she loved fought the embodiment of pure evil.

Their swords collided and blow after blow found no winner in the contest. Both combatants had to wait for one to make a mistake. Stele caught Bobby off guard and was able to force push him into the corner. Stele flung his saber at the stalactites on the ceiling. The stone formations cut clean and dropped towards the surprised Jedi.

Bobby rolled out of the way and towards Stele. The green lightsaber cut upwards and towards the TIE Pilot. Bobby regained his footing and went on the offensive, the ferocity of his attacks forcing Stele backwards.

Their sabers locked and Bobby stared into the cold grey eyes of his opponent. The typical Sith draws on anger and aggression for power and Stele was no different. Every moment that Bobby was alive, every heartbeat that pounded in his chest angered Stele. It consumed and controlled him. Bobby was sure staring into Stele's eyes that that isn't what he wanted to become. He couldn't fall to the Dark Side. He would have to do as Jedi for thousands of years had done and remain unfeeling and beat the Sith.

He withdrew, and let Stele come on the offensive. The Force let him feel the worry that Lita felt in her heart. He wouldn't let her down. He performed a dirty maneuver again, kicking Stele. Bobby swung the green marvel at his attacker, catching him in the arm.

"What are you doing?" Jupiter asked. Bobby had put his saber away and scooped her up into his arms.

"I'm saving you… saving us." He started out the door, only to be blocked by a towering presence clothed in black.

"Going somewhere?" Lord Vader asked. Vader limped forward slowly, forcing Bobby backwards.

Bobby released Sailor Jupiter from his grasp letting her walk. He retrieved his lightsaber again and activated it. He stared down the Dark Lord of the Sith. The intimidating presence rattled Bobby. Vader's mask and armor was frightening to say the least. Bobby turned and saw the look of fear and worry on Lita's face. It scared him more than Vader did. From behind, Stele advanced with the signature Sith Lightsaber.

He looked to Lita. "I love you," he whispered.

Stele reeled back, ready to deliver the death blow to his Jedi adversary.

Images of Padme filled Vader's mind. Thoughts of their first meeting in Watto's junk shop, the hill country in Naboo, the image of her pregnant on Coruscant…

A second lightsaber activated and deflected Stele's blade. "I will not let her suffer the way I made Padme," Vader spoke, anger growing in his voice. Stele was shocked.

"Lord Vader, the order from the emperor…" Stele spoke, unsure of his commander.

"The Emperor will not know," he spoke. Stele lowered his blade and Vader, in an act of compassion removed the head of his subordinate. The lifeless body dropped to the ground. "Go," Vader commanded. Bobby took Lita's hand and started out. "Make sure to always love each other, as I love Padme."

The darkness of the cavern where Sailor Jupiter was held disappeared from thought. They'd met up with the rest of the scouts on the way out.

"Save the reunion for another time," Bobby told them. "Where's Obi-Wan?" Bobby asked, worried about his master.

"He and Popo and Nana already went back to the Dragonfly," Sailor Mercury reported.

"Those little Eskimos are so brave," Venus said. "Right in the middle of the fight, Popo whacked Vader in the knee and Nana clubbed him in the head. Obi-Wan grabbed them and got away."

"I love those kids," Bobby spoke. They reached the entrance of the cave and everyone put their harness back on. Lita held onto Bobby as an automatic return feature zipped Bobby and the Scouts up the steep cliff to the touristy section.

Bobby released his beloved and let her walk the rest of the way. Again, the tourists to the Cave of the Winds parted and let our heroes back. Lita winced in the bright sunlight after a day in total darkness. She found some comfort in the Dragonfly's incandescent lighting. She crashed into the seat closest to the door, exhausted. Everyone piled in and Obi-Wan began the startup sequence.

Bobby knelt down in front of Lita and gave her the once over. She was dirty, sweaty and exhausted, but still the woman he fell in love with. He craned in and kissed her. She ran her fingers through his hair, not wanting it to end, but it had to. "I love you," he told her again.

She smiled and released a barely audible "I love you, too," back.

He rose and left her to rest. He took the co-pilot seat and sat next to his master.

"Glad to see you made it out," Obi-Wan told him. "You performed very well, Bobby."

Bobby shook his head. "I can't do it. I can't be a Jedi."

"But you have so much promise," Obi-Wan said, knowing in advance what was going to transpire.

"My Dad once told me that love makes you do dumb things," he told his Master. "It does. And I love her. I can't do both."

Obi-Wan smiled at his now former apprentice. "I expected this. There is so much similar between you and Anakin. You know your limits, he didn't."

"I don't know about that," he told Obi-Wan. "I think Padme was right. There is still good in him."

The Gotham-Miami Connection

By Greg SengerChapter 1: 8:17

It was a Friday… Friday meant one thing; the end of the work week. Boy was it warranted. Bobby was tired of arguing with old women over sixteen cents on some wrongly rung up item, illegal immigrants who exported more money to Latin America than entire countries make in a year, and that bountiful percentage of white trash who never can seem to learn to rinse out their bottles and cans…

But none of that mattered. It was Friday; time to kick back, have a few beers and hang out with Natalie. Oh sweet Natalie. How he loved her so much. Those deep dark eyes that were so easy to get lost in, amazing body that she'd used to tease him and those candy sweet lips… nothing made him happier.

Until 8:17. Forty three minutes 'til close. Everything seemed kosher. It had slowed down, like it always did, except for a few stragglers. That's exactly what they looked like; stragglers. Racism be damned… seen one, seen 'em all. The high volume of illegal's that came through was amazing and at the same time, everyone had gotten used to them. That's exactly what they'd hoped for.

The first guy produced a knife, which was pretty standard for someone of the Latino persuasion. Mexican with a knife… go figure. The situation escalated when the second guy pulled a gun... Beretta 9mm… heavy stuff.

Guns were reserved for the upper echelon of lowlife society; backwoods rednecks, Grove Street ballas, Russian mafia… that type. Not three Mexicans or whatever they were from right over the border. They had no gang markings or visible affiliation.

The third guy was obviously the leader, barking orders to everyone in Spanish over the sound of a Glock. The cashiers didn't understand a word the guy was saying, bunch of gringos all of 'em, but they understood shooty shooty, stabby stabby, and backed off... just like they were trained. The first guy, the one with the knife, opened the safe and began to pilfer packs and packs of hundreds, twenties and ten dollar bills. The second guy stood at the door as a lookout, and the leader held open a sack for the looter to deposit his money in.

It could have ended just like that… get out with the money; no one hurt and only police reports to fill out. But the cops wouldn't do anything. Not for three Mexicans who didn't even exist. Aside from canvassing the streets, there's no way would anyone find them.

Then the either best or worst decision of Bobby's life lay before him. The vividness of the night was lost to bloodshot, adrenaline filled eyes. He descended from the stores office like a creature of the night, knocking the money sack from the leader's hands.

His goons didn't even know what was going on. Bobby took the leader's Glock hand and fired at the knife man, taking him down. The shot startled the lookout guy with the Beretta. He looked up and saw some white guy knocking down his meal ticket. Instinctively, he turned and started to fire. As was pretty standard on the streets of Gotham, no one ever held their gun properly and as such missed their target every time. It was a good thing for Bobby. There was no chance of this guy hitting him with a bullet. There was more of a chance of being hit with a stray casing than the bullet it contained. Seven shots were fired. Three collided with a Coke machine, two into one of the cash registers and one into a bag of Kibbles and Bits. That errant seventh bullet would change things forever.

The sack of cash slid from their leader's hands and halfway between him and the door. Instead of facing the wrath of one pissed off manager, the guy grabbed the money and fled. Smart move. The leader was thoroughly knocked goofy and the knife man was bleeding profusely. Someone had called an ambulance, but response times in Gotham were less than stellar.

The bakery of the store was on the far side of the store. Heavy counters of thick wood and steel could stop probably anything except for a nuclear blast. Tonight, randomness reigned supreme. That errant, single bullet, streaked through the store. Somehow it missed stacks of Budweiser, Campbell's soup, the VitaminWater cooler and every counter in the Bakery. It finally found rest in the back wall of the store… amongst splatters of blood.

The mind tends to block traumatic instances from the conscious. It's a human defense mechanism. How he wished his mind would take over and just block it all out…

Disbelief was the first thing that he felt. No way could one bullet do so much… it just isn't possible. The usual companions of a bullet, accuracy and precision, were absent leaving only happenstance. Happenstance was a fickle friend, serving no one.

Shock and anger followed, then guilt. If he'd let them get away, she'd still be here. He remembered cradling her as the life slipped away from her and out the gaping wound in her chest. Bullets the pierced the heart typically means death within seconds. That's all it took for Bobby to die inside.

His bloodshot eyes were soon joined by tears. Her stare was warm as the life left her. "Love again…"

At 2000 feet per second, the person who he loved more than anyone else, more than his job, his dumpy apartment, even his motorcycle, was gone. Some might argue that it's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all… Bobby thought that was a bunch of hooey. Nothing had felt as bad this. Not the time that his thumb was nearly sliced off, or the time he was hit by a car… nothing wrenched on his heart as much as what one small piece of metal can do to someone.

When the cops did show up, it was too late. The life of the girl known as Natalie Williams was gone.

Chapter 2: The Past

"Bobby?" Lita asked. "Bobby? Are you okay?" her voice was hushed, not wanting to disturb the other patrons of Deception.

Bobby snapped out of his trancelike state. "Huh? Yea, I'm fine," he told her. His arm went around her shoulders and pulled her close. That night lived vividly in his mind. It was a most insidious thought that displayed itself at the most inopportune times. It had picked a humdinger of a time to pop up. Movie night was sacred for Bobby. It gave him a chance for a break from the superhero gig. Tonight, Snake would watch over Gotham, leaving Bobby and Lita time to catch a movie.

"Who is he? The one playing McQuarry," Obi-Wan asked.

"Ewan McGregor," Bobby told his Jedi friend.

"I like him," Obi-Wan said, munching down on popcorn. Both Lita and Bobby looked at him. The Jedi, who was still getting accustomed to Earth food, was almost like a five year old, munching down on handful after handful.

Bobby and Lita couldn't help but have a giggle at Obi-Wan. "They're precious at that age," Bobby remarked. She giggled more.

Despite the smiles and laughter on his girlfriend's face, that image… the night Natalie died… haunted him. It was like a ghost from the past that he could never let go or forget. He'd done what Natalie told her; evidence of this was directly to his right. But it still bothered him. He wasn't grieving. Not anymore. Why did this bug him so much?

"Wanna go?" Bobby asked Lita.

"What? The movie just started," she said.

"There's something I want to show you," he told her.

"Okay," she agreed, putting her leather jacket on as they slid past everyone.

"Where are you going?" Obi-Wan asked between mouthfuls of popcorn.

"We'll be back before the movie gets over," Bobby told him. Obi-Wan relaxed back in his chair and Bobby led Lita out by the hand.

Light bombarded their eyes as they emerged from the theatre and went into the lobby. "Where are we going?" Lita asked.

"For a ride," Bobby told her. The darkness fell upon their leaving. The Land Rover was parked down the street.

Thoughts raced through her head. It'd been a long time since she was with a guy. He was, after all, pulling the old leave-the-movie-for-a-quickie trick. Could she really sleep with him? She was in love with him, but sex… oh boy. That's really a commitment. Unless you're in for the long haul it's just not worth it. And how long had they been a couple? A month, month and a half at the most. 'But… he is really cute,' she thought.

Seat belts clicked and the Rover roared to life. The lumbering SUV towered over most of the compact cars on the road. They rolled down the road, Lita still quite unsure of what was happening. If it was what she thought it was, she was pretty sure that he'd back off if she had any doubts. Either that or she'd have to kick his ass.

Still something was off. At a glance it might seem like he wanted to go off and capitulate, but something was off about him. It was like there was a dark cloud hanging over him. She couldn't quite figure it out, but she knew that in time it'd be revealed to her.

The pulled up outside a grocery store in some run down area by Crime Alley. It was rough neighborhood. "Time to learn a little of my past," Bobby told her. They exited the car.

Lita was somewhat taken aback by the condition of the place. There were slums, junk cars, homeless people, crack dealers and whatnot on seemingly every corner. She was used to Tokyo which seemed light years ahead of what she was in now. "You used to live down here?"

"Actually," Bobby told her, "I lived down that way." He pointed off in the direction of a high-rise building. "I lived in the basement. Pretty shitty."

"This is where you and Natalie worked…" Lita surmised as they entered the grocer. The neon and florescent lights outsider were broken, casting shadows on the past. The condition of the place had deteriorated. In the old days, it wouldn't have been seen as a model grocery store, but it was certainly better than it is now.

"It's a lot worse than I remember…" Shelves were hung in disarray. Nothing was full or faced. The soda coolers were empty and the Dr. Pepper machine didn't even work. The place had a bunch of new faces, no one that Bobby recognized or that knew who he was.

Lita took Bobby's hand as he led her into the store. A year ago, right where they were standing, some jackass with a Beretta opened fire. They took a few more steps forward. "This is where he was when he started shooting," he told Lita.

"The guy that shot her?" she asked.

It was all too clear in Bobby's head. Three feet ahead of them was where he seized the Glock from the head guy and shot the knife man. Just to his left was the counter he ducked behind as the lookout fired that fateful shot #7.

The image of the assailants fled his mind and he led Lita over to the bakery. The depression in the wall where the bullet hit was still there. At least someone had the courtesy to clean the blood. They approached the spot and Bobby watched his step, showing almost reverence to where Natalie was killed.

"Right here," he told Lita. His voice kind of trailed off; like that spot simply drained him. The place was quiet. The employees didn't even bother to try and get them out from behind the bakery. The silence gave way to tears. Not all out sobbing but a kind of manly crying, acknowledging a lost love.

"It's okay," Lita spoke, moving in to comfort him. She was enveloped by his body as they embraced.

"No… it's not," he told her. "Every day, I have to live with the fact that my actions got her killed. If I'd let them get away, they wouldn't have started shooting and I'd still have my Nat."

"But you wouldn't have me," Lita told him. "And who knows, maybe they would have shot out in celebration. You can't guarantee that your actions are what got her shot." He didn't respond. "Look at what you've done. You teamed up with Batman, stopped countless criminals, met me… I think for what's happened, you really made a lot of good out of it."

"You really think so?" Bobby asked.

"I know so. You've united us Sailor Scouts, a Jedi Knight, two Ice Climbers, an Intergalactic Bounty hunter, a rogue Tokyo cop and a Legendary Mercenary for the cause of freedom and Justice. As much as you might miss Natalie, I think she'd agree that what you've done because of her death is nothing short of extraordinary," Lita told him. The tears stopped and their bodies separated.

"I think you're right," he agreed, "She always wanted me to be better than I was."

"How would Obi-Wan say it? Do not mourn her. Do not miss her. Rejoice in the fact that she's one with the Force." She couldn't even make it through without starting to laugh.

Bobby joined in on her laughter. "He would say something like that…" and for the first time since entering the place Bobby smiled. "We should go pick him up. The movie's almost over."

"After you," Lita told him.

He started, but not before her hand was safely in his. He stopped at a shelf in aisle 6 where two employees were standing. He started pulling Hunt's Tomato Paste cans and Ragu Sauce forward, three deep, tag to tag. "Face something will ya," he told the workers as Lita tugged him out the door.

They exited the store, Bobby feeling a little better than when he went in. He climbed into the cushy leather seat of his Land Rover and started the engine. Lita took her place at his right and buckled up. "Why did you show me that?" she asked.

Bobby was silent for a moment. "Well, how I see it, Natalie was my past," he looked over to her. Their eyes met halfway. "And you're my future."

Lita smiled softly as the car entered D. It seemed as if fate had driven them together. A thousand years ago on the moon, Serena, who is actually the Moon Princess of that era, had fallen in love with a prince from Earth, Darien. Lita felt that somehow, Bobby was her own prince. She felt extremely warm and fuzzy inside.

"Wow, what a great film," Obi-Wan said, climbing into the back of the Land Rover.

"Was it that good?" Bobby asked.

"It was amazing… and that Ewan McGregor… what an actor. I need to see more of his films," he spoke, excitedly.

"Well, I think I've got The Island back at home," Bobby told him.

"I look forward to it," Obi-Wan said. He sipped on his Dr. Pepper and ate more popcorn.

"Well, maybe someday if they make a movie about the Justice League, they can have Ewan McGregor play you," Lita told Obi-Wan.

"You really think so? That'd be great!" he spoke. Never had anyone seen a Jedi so excited. The ride back to Wayne Manor played out much of the same; half an hour of Obi-Wan saturating the Land Rover with the goodness of Ewan McGregor.

The garage opened and the Rover found its place in the row of cars driven the most. As was pretty typical, Bobby surveyed his cars to make sure everything was okay while Lita and Obi-Wan went inside.

'Should I ask her if she wants to spend the night with me?' Bobby thought, looking over his Aston Martin. 'What's the harm? I mean, she reacted well when I told her she was my future…' Bobby found an air of confidence as he went inside.

He had that cat that swallowed the canary look about him when he went upstairs. Everyone's bedroom doors were closed. He progressed down the hallway past Obi-Wan's, the Ice Climber's, Samus', and the other Sailor Scout's rooms. He knocked gently on Lita's door at the end of the hallway.

"Hey," she said, opening the door slowly. "What's up?"

"Well, I'd absolutely hate myself if I didn't ask, but do you wanna come back to my room?" he said. Bobby tried his best to exude coolness. He saw himself in this moment as some sort of mix between Prince and James Bond… a lethal combination that no woman could resist.

Lita's mind raced. 'Oh boy,' she thought, just as before. Her mind screamed one thing but "Sure," left her lips. She left her room still not quite sure of what was going on. Ever a gentleman, Bobby extended his arm, which she took as they walked down the hallway of the guest wing to the junction with the hallway of the Master's wing.

The soft cushions of the king sized bed collapsed as Lita climbed onto his bed. Bobby removed his shoes, then sweatshirt before joining her. Hearts raced as they stared at each other. "It's kinda been awhile," Lita admitted.

"Me too," Bobby confessed. He put his arms around her and pulled her body close to him. "I love you."

She managed to utter "I love you, too," before their lips met. They found themselves lost in the embrace of passion.

"You could have saved me… You could have saved me… You still can…"

The area was a fog of emptiness… a place where the dead go.

A cold sweat rolled down Bobby's brow as his eyes opened with the ferocity of that of a heroin addict. He shot up in bed, breathing heavy. 'Only a dream,' he thought, 'but that voice… that was Nat.' He looked around the room. Nothing was disturbed. Next to him was Lita… right where she should have been.

The place was silent, except for the thoughts that raced through his head. 'Maybe she's mad at me… But why? She told me to love again,' he looked at Lita again, 'and I did. Maybe it's something else.' Bobby kicked off the covers and found a pair of pants. He left his bedroom and travelled down to the Batcave.

The cool leather chair ceded to Bobby's weight as he sat down in it. Years ago, the Bat-computer was loaded with digitized copies of all the files in Gotham Police Headquarters. Keys clicked as Bobby pulled up the criminal records of the immigrants from the night that Natalie was killed.

The Medical Examiner made detailed records of the autopsy of the guy who was digging money out of the safe. Cause of death was a 9mm bullet which passed through his left lung and embedded itself in his shoulder blade. The ME identified him one Alberto Gonzalez. Gonzalez was an initiate in the Los Lobos out of Miami.

Further accessing files he found the names of the leader that was taken into custody. Ernesto Gaytan. He was further into the Los Lobos than his two cronies. Gonzalez was dead and Ernesto identified the third man as Orlando Manuel Bautista. Bautista evaded capture by Gotham PD and went back to Miami.

'Miami…' Bobby thought.

"I wondered where you went," Lita spoke, coming up behind him.

"Did I wake you?" he asked, turning to face her.

"Nope," she reported, "I rolled over and you weren't there. So I thought I'd come find you. What are you doing?"

"Well these guys," Bobby pointed at the screen behind him, "are the ones who robbed my store that night."

"Why are you looking at them?"

"I had a dream. Nat told me that I could still save her. The one who shot her got away fled back to his gang." He looked her over. "Want to go to Miami?"

Chapter 3: Miami

A Hispanic looking young man stood over the corpse of a woman, snapping pictures. It was a normal day for Miami; bright and sunny. "What have we got, Eric?" spoke a soft gravelly voice entering the crime scene. He had a commanding presence, along with dark sunglasses, a dark suit and sandy red hair.

"Well H, female vic, age 24, license identifies her as Kelly Jones," Delko reported. He stood over the body of the twenty something with long blonde hair. The guy asking the questions was Lt. Horatio Caine, Miami CSI's Crime Lab Supervisor. It was his job to oversee all the cases that the lab undertook.

"Single laceration across the neck, large arterial spray. Ms. Jones' met the wrong end of a knife," Caine surmised. Indeed blood was splattered all over the sidewalk where her corpse lay.

"From who," a harsher voice asked.

Horatio turned slowly and looked to see who had breached his crime scene. "You'll have to get out of…" The pointy ears and Bat emblem stopped Lt. Caine mid sentence. "I don't believe it."

"Believe it," Batman told him. Cops had gathered around and were somewhat dumbfounded that the almost mythical Caped Crusader from Gotham was now in Miami. "Who killed her?"

"We don't know," Caine reported. "We're still working on it. I'm guessing its gang related however. See the heavy use of green. She was a Hammerhead. They're at war with the Los Lobos."

"Then I'm in the right place," Batman said. "I'm looking for a member of the Lobos. Orlando Manuel Bautista," Batman produced a picture and gave it to Lt. Caine. "He's wanted for the murder of Natalie Williams in Gotham City."

"You certainly aim high," Caine commented. "Bautista has become one of the Lobos pack leaders. He's a hard man to find."

"Just point me in the right direction. I'm very good at getting to gang members," Batman told him.

"Well, Mr. Batman, if you'll wait for my lab, we've got a very large case file against the whole gang. Let us process this crime scene and see what we come up with. We can probably take down the gang leadership," Caine informed.

"How long do you need?" Batman asked of his new Miami based ally.

"We need to process the crime scene then get the warrants… Six hours," Caine estimated.

"If you can expedite the process, do it." Caine agreed. "What kind of operation do the Lobos run?" Batman asked.

"Extortion, gun and drug running, prostitution in some parts of town," Horatio spoke, turning to look at the body of the deceased Ms. Jones, "and murder."

"Sounds like a bunch of winners," Batman added.

A crowd had gathered around the crime scene. The police held them back, but it was almost like a beaver dam was expected to hold back the Colorado River. Green shirts swarmed over the uniforms. The crowd, which was obviously these Hammerheads, became violent, brandishing clubs, knives and a few guns. One of the gang members fired a round into the sky. The uniformed police tried to tackle the gunman. The CSI's ducked down. As if the walls of a castle had fallen, the crime scene was swarmed with green shirted Hammerheads. They were like locusts, destroying every bit of evidence and trying to carry the body of the young girl off.

Batman sprung into action, beating any gang member that got in his way. He found himself facing off with four of the gang members. They produced knives but were disarmed and rendered unconscious by the skill of the Batman.

Lt. Caine and Mr. Delko also felt the onslaught of the angry gang members. Not as skilled in hand to hand combat, Delko and Caine soon became overwhelmed. Luckily, the symbol of the Bat was frightening, even down in Miami. Batman grabbed two of Caine's attackers by the head, smashing them together. One of the gang members assaulting Delko caught a foot to the face and the other a hard fist.

The Gang members persisted, despite an excellent effort by Batman, Delko and Caine. "Jupiter Supreme…"

"Get down!" Batman told Delko and Horatio.

"Thunder!" Sailor Jupiter cried out. Bolts of lightning shot through the crowd, acting like a massive stun gun. All the gang members dropped to the ground, unconscious.

"What was that," Delko asked. He, Horatio and Batman got back to their feet.

"Meet Sailor Jupiter," Batman introduced his crime fighting partner to the CSI's. "She's with me," Batman informed.

"Pleasure to meet you," Jupiter spoke, joining the group.

"Eric, see if Mr. Arnold is among the group." Delko went to work trying to identify this Mr. Arnold. Horatio removed his cell phone and dialed dispatch. "This is Caine. I need squad cars, lots of them, and the paddy wagon. We've got at least thirty gang members down here."

"Who's Arnold?" Batman asked.

"Leader of the Hammerheads. He and Ms. Jones were and item. And if someone wanted to get to Bautista, he'd be the one to tell you how to do it." Caine looked over the crowd.

"Hey H, I got him. David Arnold." Delko stood over the unconscious body of the Hammerhead leader. Eric frisked him and removed a Smith and Wesson from his person.

Batman moved over to the unconscious gang leader, grabbed him by the collar and slapped him awake. "Where is Bautista?" He looked up and saw the Bat hovering over him. Arnold this time became unconscious out of fear, not lightning.

"We'll take him in," Caine told Batman, the paddy wagon arriving to haul off the gang members, "We'll contact you when we get something from him."

"Take this," Batman removed a Motorola cell phone from his belt and gave it to Lt. Caine. "The only number you can call is me."

"Will do," Caine replied. Batman launched his grappling hook into the sky, latching onto one of Miami's downtown high rises. He took Jupiter into his arm and the superheroes were off.

"That was interesting," Eric spoke. "I've seen a lot of weird stuff, but never a grown man in a Batsuit."

"Something tells me," Horatio started, and putting his sunglasses back on, "We haven't seen the last of the Batman."

Chapter 4: The Crime Lab

Horatio and Delko returned to the crime lab. It had been a somewhat unusual day; first Batman, then Sailor Jupiter and then fighting off an entire gang. "Eric, get with Alexx. I want you to be there when she autopsies the body. I'm going to have a little conversation with Mr. Arnold," Horatio instructed from behind his dark, rimless sunglasses.

"You got it, H," he agreed. Eric went on ahead, leaving Horatio as he headed for the ME's office. Lt. Caine surveyed the cars in the Crime Lab's lot. A parked black Ford Crown Victoria meant that Detective Frank Tripp was here. The Yin to Horatio's Yang. Horatio went inside the ultra modern crime lab and found Det. Tripp sipping on a cup of coffee.

"Frank, I need your help," Horatio told him.

"What's up?" he asked. Horatio explained the situation to Frank as they walked to the interrogation room. Arnold, the gang leader, was seated and cuffed to his chair. A uniformed officer made sure that he didn't try anything. Horatio and Frank entered and took up their interrogation positions. Horatio went and looked out the window while Frank leaned over, fists on the table, facing the suspect.

"I need to know where to find Manuel Bautista," Horatio told him, not making direct eye contact with him.

"I ain't saying nothing until my lawyer gets here," Arnold spoke. He was playing the typical role of passive aggressive gang leader.

"I'd start talkin' sport," Frank told him in his gruff Texan accent, "I'm missing a damn good cup of coffee and the Gators kick off in ten minutes."

"Mr. Arnold," Horatio started, "We know that Ms. Jones was romantically linked to you. Why would you want to protect the man who had her killed?"

"Whoa, hold on," Arnold said. His tone was much more defensive. "We we're more than romantically linked. I loved her. We tried to carry her off so to give her the proper Hammerhead burial. That of my wife… Those goddamn Lobos…" he looked out the window at downtown Miami. "We were working on a truce, me and Bautista. It would have been good for the city… a lot less violence. But then he asked for the one thing I wouldn't give him. Kelly. No way in hell would I give her up."

"Where can we find Bautista?" Horatio asked again.

"Downtown," he said. "By Epic Tower."

"Thank you very much," Horatio spoke, leaving the room. Frank followed him out.

Horatio's phone rang. "Yes Eric?"

"H, Alexx ID'd the blade and its owner," Delko reported over the phone.

"Who does it belong to?" Caine asked.

"Jamie Juarez. He's in the system for assault with a deadly weapon. Did a stretch at Riker's… he's out on good behavior," Delko told him. "He's affiliated with The Lobos."

"Good work Eric," Horatio told him. He closed his phone and removed another from his belt.

"Who you calling now?" Frank asked, unsure of what had transpired earlier.

Horatio put his signature sunglasses on. "A friend."

Chapter 5: Lobo Hunt

The whine of Bobby's four cylinder Honda bike drowned out the sounds of the surf on the beach and the seagulls in the air. It was nice to relax after fighting an entire gang of Hammerheads. The sun and salty air was quite relaxing. And seeing Lita in her bikini on the passenger pillion didn't hurt things either.

"You hungry?" he asked her.

Bobby looked at her through his mirrors. She smiled, "Yes actually." He parked the bike in the shade of a palm on the beach. The sunshine was warm on their skin. They were unaccustomed to such weather, being from Japan and Gotham City. Lita was starting to tan nicely and Bobby could pass for a surfer. They strolled up the sun parched boardwalk to hot dog and ice cream vendor.

"What'll ya have?" the vendor asked.

"I'll have a vanilla ice cream cone," Lita told him.

"And I'll take a foot long Coney with chili sauce and onion," Bobby ordered.

Lita gave him a funny look. "I'm so not kissing you later," she said. The vendor gave her the ice cream and Bobby his hot dog. Bobby paid the man and the couple found a nice tree to relax underneath. It was pristine day in Miami. Sun shining, blue skies, soft, warm sand underfoot… it made Gotham look like the drab dump that it was.

Bobby bit into his hot dog. The meat was questionable, but the chili was superb; lots of meat, cooked bell peppers and onions, and only a few beans for fiber. He had it consumed in four bites. Lita was dumbfounded that anyone could eat that fast. "What?" he asked.

"Did you even enjoy that?" she asked.

"Oh yeah," he told her. "Excellent chili. Not so sure about the hot dog though." He took her hand. They walked down the boardwalk from the shelter of their tree to a nice bench next to his bike.

Bobby was relaxed… until he remembered why he was in Miami. This wasn't supposed to be a vacation. They were down here to apprehend Bautista. He and Caine were going to take down a gang. It wasn't all dissimilar from when the Justice League helped Team Warrior in Tokyo to take down the Red Dragon Syndicate. One lowlife organization is just like the next.

"This is nice," Lita spoke, resting her head on his shoulder. "It's too bad we didn't meet under different circumstances. Like if we went to school together and didn't have the superhero thing to worry about. Just us… nothing else."

"That would have been nice," Bobby told her. "But I'll take you any way I can get you." He kissed her on the forehead.

Down the boardwalk a Cuban man dressed in all red, walked down the boardwalk with two of his goons. They were Lobo enforcers out to collect protection money or perhaps take down any rival Hammerheads that might have been on the beach. The lead enforcer took a shine to Lita, until he saw that she had on a green bikini top and shorts.

He grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her off the bench. The goons had a knife to Bobby's neck before he could even react. "Stupid Hammerhead bitch," the red man said.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," Bobby warned.

"What the hell you gonna do about it gringo?" he asked.

"It's not what I'll do to you…" Lita grabbed the guy that had a grasp on her by his wrist and flipped him onto his back.

"No one calls me a bitch," she warned. The third guy left the bench where he and the other guy had Bobby restrained and pulled a knife out. He stabbed at Lita. In her past, she was kicked out of three schools for fighting, and today served to take her back to her youth. She ducked out of the way and cold cocked the guy right in the face. He dropped to the ground, out cold.

The second guy left Bobby alone, moving to engage Lita. He tried a similar maneuver as his predecessor, and again Lita ducked out of the way. This time it was a Judo kick to the face, followed by a quick succession of body blows to remove the fight from him.

By this time the leader was back up. Bobby met him as he rose. "I warned you." Bobby's fist cocked back and met the leader square in the nose. The phone in Bobby's pocket rang twice.

"Better get that," Lita told him.

"Yeah," he spoke in the phone, drawing on his darker, deeper voice used for Batman. "I'll be there," he said.

"What was that?" Lita asked.

"Lieutenant Caine said that Arnold is awake and singing like a bird," he informed. "I guess Batman scared him."

"Time to go then?" she asked.

"Yep," he told her, once again in the Batman voice. He swung his leg over the Honda, leaving their attackers to lay unconscious in the hot sun. Lita followed suit, getting onto the passenger pillion. About a block down from where they were, a quiet alley provided the Bobby the opportunity to change into his Bat-suit.

"Jupiter Star Power!" Lita called out. He transformer pen held high in the air produced lightning bolts, transforming her into the Soldier of Thunder, Sailor Jupiter. Again she hopped on the back of the bike and Batman revved the engine and dumped the clutch. The black CBR, which Bobby deemed BLKPRL, rocketed out of the alleyway and proceeded down the beach and then into town for a meeting with Lt. Caine.

"Nice wheels," Caine told Batman, looking away but following with his eyes.

"Thanks," Batman graciously accepted. "What have we found out?"

"Follow me inside," Caine invited. "I'll let you get the information first hand from Arnold." Horatio led the way for the Batman and Sailor Jupiter. The uniformed police officers seemed somewhat disbelieving that Batman would be in their police station. Caine led them to the interrogation chamber. He and Sailor Jupiter stood behind a mirrored window while Batman went inside.

Always up for the dramatic, the shades closed tight and the lights went out in the room, as Batman entered. "Who's there?" Arnold asked. Batman picked Arnold up by the collar. "What the hell?"

The light came on partially, enough to scare the piss out of whoever was being interrogated. "Where's Bautista?"

"Downtown," he said, terrified.

"Where downtown?" Batman barked.

"Across from Epic Tower. He hides out in a dumpy apartment building down there," Arnold told him. The lights went out again and Arnold was dropped into his chair. The lights returned and Batman was gone.

"That's the same story he gave us," Caine confirmed to Sailor Jupiter.

"What do you have to move against the Lobos?" Batman asked, entering the room.

"The slice on the vic's neck was rough at the end. The murder weapon was a knife with the tip broken off or a flat tipped blade. There was a murder committed a few months back same type of weapon. All our evidence was circumstantial but it did point at your friend Bautista," Caine told them. "We lifted a print off the Ms. Jones that came back positive to one of Bautista's hoods. He's in one of Bautista's inner circle."

"Did you ID the guy?" Batman asked.

"The print came back to Jamie Juarez. I've gotten warrants from the judge and everything we need to move against the Lobos is ready," Caine reported.

"Is SWAT in on it?" Batman asked.

"I'll be leading two SWAT units. Hopefully they won't be needed."

"Right. I'm going after Bautista." Batman stated.

BLKPRL whined with Batman and Sailor Jupiter aboard. Horatio and Delko were mounted in the CSI Hummer with two SWAT vans in tow. The Police station was a memory as the cops and superheroes arrived across from Epic Tower. Batman fired a grappling hook to the top of the roof and grabbed a hold of Jupiter. Caine, Delko and the SWAT units formed at the base of the small ten story apartment building.

"Miami Dade Police! Open Up!" Caine yelled. There was no answer from inside. "Break it down," Horatio instructed one of the SWAT members. He produced a large battering ram and bashed the door down with ferocity.

Waves of Miami SWAT officers swarmed into the building. Surprisingly the hoods inside didn't offer any resistance. The gangsters, primary of Cuban descent raised their hands in surrender.

"What you want, pig?" one of them asked. It was Juarez, the stabber.

Caine entered, his intimidating presence surely being felt by the Lobos. Horatio signaled and Delko moved in with the cuffs. "We're looking for Mr. Bautista. Where is he?"

Outside, the unmistakable sound of a v-twin thudded and clopped out of a garage. A Harley-Davidson V-rod shot out from the shadows, Bautista on board. At the press of a button, the Honda four whined to life as Batman descended from the heavens and mounted. The chase was on.

The V-Rod's quick acceleration let Batista get away from Batman early on, but the ever persistent Batman and Mr. Honda's creation never let the gap get too wide. The skyscrapers and palm trees looked like picket fences as the bikes weaved in and out of traffic. Pedestrians were in awe of the display of speed before them.

The bikes crossed red lights, wove in and out of traffic, and even rode on an empty section of sidewalk at one point. The cape of the Batman filled with air, giving the impression of flight. The high rises of downtown Miami gave way for smaller buildings, houses, and eventually the beach.

The Honda had closed the gap that the V-rod had made. The vigilant Lobo removed a length of log chain and swung it at Batman, missing his head by inches. On the next swing, Batman grabbed the chain and ripped it from the hand of gang leader. Batman and Bautista's eyes were thoroughly fixed on each other. Both of them looked forward. A vendor, much like the one that Lita and Bobby feasted at earlier, was rapidly approaching. Batman dropped his knee to the ground and leaned the Honda to the left. Bautista on the Porsche-engineered Harley went to the right.

Bautista skidded across the boardwalk, losing traction on a patch of sand. He was flung off the bike, a nice cushiony picnic table the only thing to break his fall. The bike continued on its path of destruction, eventually getting backed over by a school bus full of Japanese kids.

The high whine of the CBR ceased, Batman disembarking to apprehend the Lobo leader and murderer of his former beloved. The sand squished away from Batman's feet as Bautista tried to squirm away. Only feet away from apprehension, Bautista threw handful of sand into Batman's eyes. Seizing the opportunity, Bautista got up and delivered a shoulder block to Batman.

Batman fell back, feeling the irritation of sand in the eyes and the Cuban's fists in his stomach. Instinctively, Batman kicked, sending his assailant tumbling end over end. The sand ceased its assault and Batman was able to get his bearings.

Bautista had recovered from the kick and was now charging at Batman, a knife in hand. The Gerber blade caught Batman's torso, slicing away at the rubbery suit. A trickle of blood dribbled down the Bat emblem. Bautista tried to slice him again.

The anger in Batman's eyes was evident. He grabbed the knife hand and twisted back. The blade dropped to the ground. Bautista shifted his weight on his heel turning and catching Batman in the face with a fist.

Batman dropped back, but then stormed ahead with fists of his own. Bautista side stepped and caught Batman with a knee to the gut. Bobby wasn't as good a fighter as Bruce Wayne, but Bruce had only taught the most elemental techniques for hand to hand combat. He kept pace with Bautista well, but it seemed that he wasn't the fresh-off-the-boat guy Bobby had dealt with a year ago. Bobby went on the offensive, after doing sparring circles in the sand.

Batman feigned a kick and then tossed a fist a Bautista's face. The punch landed, but instead of removing Bautista from the fight, it only served to anger him. He dived at Batman, clutching him by the waist and forcing them to wrestle on the ground.

Bautista's legs pumped hard, keeping him atop of Batman as fists smashed into his midsection and face. Batman's blows to Bautista's back were mostly ineffective.

'Is this it?' Bobby asked himself. 'Does Batman end right here?'

"Jupiter Supreme Thunder!" Sailor Jupiter called out. Bolts of lightning sizzled through the air. Bautista rolled out of the way, and Sailor Jupiter knew she'd made an error. The stun-gun effect of Jupiter's thunder knocked Batman out cold.

"Thanks, bitch," Bautista said, getting up from the sand. He started to run, but the pure athletic ability of Jupiter allowed her to leap in front of the escaping Lobo.

"No one calls me a bitch," she said, delivering a kick to Bautista's gut. He dropped down to one knee. She raised her leg, ready to deliver another kick to the face, but the street smarts of Bautista caused him to leap up, tackling Sailor Jupiter and pinning her leg back. He fell on top of her, which coupled with the pinned leg created a somewhat awkward position that Jupiter didn't like at all.

"You lucky you get to go out like this," Bautista told her, obviously alluding to the position they were in. "A cutie like you, I make it quick." He removed a second knife, this one from around his ankle and raised it up and rubbed it on her face. He pulled the knife back, ready to slice at her throat.

"You took the girl I love once," Batman uttered, getting up from Supreme Thunder, "You won't again." The Bat stormed across the sand and kicked Bautista as hard as he could right in the stomach. The Lobo rolled in the sand as Batman fought with renewed vigor. Instead of giving his opponent the chance to defend himself as he usually did, Batman adopted some dirty tactics, like kicking when his opponent was down and the ever low, nut shot.

Sailor Jupiter was getting back to her feet when Horatio arrived and helped her up. "You okay?" he asked.

"I'll be fine," she told Horatio. "We've got to stop them." Lita had an instinctive feeling that because of the threat against her, Batman wouldn't be stopped in his quest to defeat Bautista. She got her bearings and rejoined the fight.

She flanked Bautista, reentering the fight. The gang leader checked his surroundings. He felt good about taking Batman and Sailor Jupiter on in hand-to-hand combat, but Horatio's gun aimed at him took the fight out of him. He laid down in the sand, offering no resistance.

Horatio approached slowly, gun still trained on the Hispanic. His knee drove into the back of the Lobo leader and Bautista soon felt the cold steel bracelets of justice on his wrists. "That was the first smart thing you've done, son."

Batman helped Caine pick up the pack leader. Batman stared a hole in Bautista and he knew that Bautista could feel the anger and joy in his eyes. It had come full circle. What started a year ago a thousand miles away in the cold rain of Gotham City had now ended on the warm sunny sands of Miami.

"We'll process him here, and then send him to Gotham for prosecution," Caine told Batman, a uniformed officer taking Bautista into the back of a squad car.

"That's not necessary Horatio," Batman told him. "Prosecute him here. You've got more dirt on him than the one murder he was wanted for in Gotham." They both watched as the squad car carried him off to jail. "He took something very special to me. Make sure they throw the book at him."

"When the judge and jury learn that it took the infamous Batman from Gotham City to apprehend the dangerous gang leader, I'm sure they'll go with every charge they can," Caine told his new ally. "It's been a pleasure."

"Likewise Lt. Caine," Batman returned the greeting. "If you ever need anything in Gotham City, get a hold of Jim Gordon. He knows where to find me."

"Will do," Caine agreed. Batman left for his parked Honda, Sailor Jupiter joining him.

"Historic day for us, huh H?" Delko asked, joining his superior on the sandy beach.

"This, Eric," he paused and put on his sunglasses. "Was a historic day for Miami."

The Montenegrin Adventure

By Greg Senger

Chapter 1: Who Gets Telegrams Anymore?

The outside of Wayne Manor is an imposing structure; high stone walls, wrought iron gates, gargoyles atop high peaked roofs. Yes, if you didn't know the type of good people that lived inside, it might seem like the ultra-modern nose-in-the-air Mecca. The tall rooftop cast a long shadow on the front door.

Upon ringing the bell, the young courier half expected Count Dracula to emerge and suck his blood. That's the type of place Wayne Manor seemed to be. "Uh… telegram for Mr. Wayne," the young kid spoke. The door had finally opened and Alfred had greeted him.

"Yes, thank you," Alfred spoke, dismissing the young man. The kid hastily, but not hurriedly, departed the front door, finding comfort on the Huffy he rode to the top of the hill to make his delivery. "Master Bobby, telegram for Master Bruce," Alfred reported, entering the black and white tiled kitchen where Bobby Alton, ward to the late Bruce Wayne, liked to entertain.

"Great timing, Al," Bobby spoke, making topping off the top of his onion volcano for sushi night. The Sailor Scouts had gathered as had Popo and Nana. "Pour this in the onion," he instructed, giving Alfred a squirt bottle of water and oil in exchange for the message.

"Who gets telegrams anymore?" Raye asked between gentle sips on her oolong tea.

"Bruce does apparently," Bobby told them. He started to read.

"What is it?" Lita asked.

"Well, it's a letter, dated four days ago," Bobby told them, looking over the envelope. "Some odd language I've never seen before."

"It's Slovakian," Amy told them, offering her expert opinion on the subject. "Looks like Montenegrin." She indeed was the smartest of everyone in Wayne Manor. Her IQ of 185 and having studied in southern Europe certainly helped her.

"I wonder why Bruce would get a letter from Montenegro." Bobby opened the letter and removed a scented, folded piece of paper from the envelope. Odd letters with accents and characters that didn't make sense to anyone presented themselves. "What the hell?"

"Allow me," Amy interjected. Bobby gave her the piece of paper. She began to study the letter, reading every nuance and translating as best she could. "Over, please." Everyone raised an eyebrow. She turned the letter over, revealing at worst some broken English.

"Dearest Mr. Wayne,

You are invited to attend a Hold-em poker tournament in Montenegro at the behest of one Mr. Le Chiffre. The game begins in one week at Casino Royale. Mr. Le Chiffre looks forward to your presence. As is per usual at the VIP table, buy in is ten million US Dollars with a contingency for five million more to buy back into the game. We look forward to seeing you."

"A poker game eh?" Bobby asked. "It's been awhile."

"Who's this Le Chiffre guy?" Serena asked.

"Yea and ten million? You can buy a whole island for that much! That's nuts!" Mina added.

"High rollers playing with more money in a game than some third world countries see in a year… it makes me sick," Raye told them. "We should crash the place, take the money and give it to the poor."

"We're not Robin Hood," Bobby told her. "And that's theft. Besides, Bruce's charities pump billions into hot lunches and free health care for the less fortunate. Ten million wouldn't make a dent."

"Still, short help's better than no help at all," Raye reasoned, resting the fire in her tongue.

"Well, I suppose I should make a trip to the bank so I can buy in," Bobby told them.

"You're going to spend ten million dollars to enter a poker game? For what?" Lita asked. As was pretty typical when a guy and girl get involved, she became conscious of his spending.

"Bruce had a whole file on this Le Chiffre. He could put guns in the hands of people who could use them."

"Terrorist supplier?" Amy asked.

"Correct. He provides banking to the world's freedom fighters. When the stock market was analyzed on 9/12, the analysts discovered a massive shorting of airline stocks. Someone made a fortune on it. Remember the prototype airplane at Miami two days ago?" He motioned at the open New York Times on the table. "The same thing was supposed to happen to Skyfleet. With their prototype new plane destroyed, the company would be near bankruptcy. He engineered it all to happen, but his plan was foiled by MI6. Le Chiffre lost over $100 million betting the wrong way."

"So?" Mina asked.

"So, Le Chiffre doesn't have a hundred million to lose…" Bobby told them.

"So he's been playing the stock market with his client's money." Amy surmised. "They won't be too happy when they find it's gone."

"Exactly. That's why I'm going to Montenegro. After I beat him in poker, he'll have nowhere to run. I'll hand him over to the CIA or whoever in exchange for everything he knows. We're taking a lot of money out of the hands of terrorists." Bobby relaxed in his last statement. Quite an accomplishment.

"You've got to beat him first," Lita burst his bubble with. "Are you prepared to give terrorism ten million dollars?"

He smiled at her softly. "Well, I'll just have to win then."

"So when do we leave?" Lita asked him. Southern Europe seemed quite romantic for the young couple. So mountainous and wooded… almost like something from a Lifetime movie.

"We don't," he told her. Consider it payback for bursting his bubble earlier. "I'm going alone."

"Why?" she asked.

"Who knows what kind of person would pursue Le Chiffre? I don't want you involved," he explained. Run of the mill gangs and criminals are one thing, but the type to carry out 9/11 and every other major terrorist attack… that was a whole other ballgame.

"So I have to sit here and worry while you're off fighting terrorism?" she asked.

"Well, if it makes you feel better, Amy can come along and babysit."

"Me?" Amy asked. Amy was what you'd call the loner of the group. She was loved, but at the same time she really didn't possess the same passions that the other girls did. She struggled with loneliness all her life. She constantly walked the line between social queen and hermit. However, as lonely as she might have felt, she had Serena and the greatest group of friends ever. And that number had grown with the inception of the Justice League. "Why me?"

"Because, I can't read Montenegrin," Bobby told her. "And your analytical mind would be most invaluable at the poker table."

"But surely…"

"Don't call me Shirley. There's no one more qualified here," Bobby told her. "It'll be fun... give us a chance to bond. You are the most elusive of the Scouts to get to know."

"That's true," Lita agreed. "C'mon Amy, besides us, the only other person you really interact with is Obi-Wan."

"Well, maybe I like keeping to myself," Amy defended.

"That's fine," Bobby told her. "But I really like to get to know the people I live in my house and there is no one better qualified to help me with this case."

Amy mulled it over in her head. "Mmm… fine," she reluctantly agreed.

"Hey guys!" Rio spoke, entering from the garage, "What's going on?" In her arms were bags on bags of designer clothes and shoes. Shopping was a bug that infected all the women of Wayne Manor.

"Amy and I are off to Montenegro to foil a poker game," Bobby told her, helping to remove some bags from her arms.

"A poker game huh?" Rio asked. "Maybe I should come along," she suggested. "I was Policetown's Poker champion three years in a row."

Like Haley Joel Osment, Lita had a sixth sense that there was an underlying motive for her wanting to go along. She didn't like it. Not one bit. "But I'm sure that just Bobby and Amy would be sufficient. Less exposure…"

"Well, hang on," Bobby stopped her. "It's been probably two years since I played poker last. We could use the experience."

'Drat,' Lita thought.

'Huzzah,' ripped through Rio's mind. "Great! What do I need for the trip?"

"Specifically?" asked Bobby. "Just you're playing ability."

Chapter 2: Into Montenegro

The railcar rocked side to side as the train carried Bobby, Amy and Rio to their poker game. It was a grandiose affair. Bobby, Rio and Amy were sharing the car with a rather upscale looking British couple. Square cut shoulders on the man's suit, fine silken tie, Omega watch. He was also quite handsome, almost like Hoagy Carmichael. The woman looked breathtaking; beautiful love knot necklace, flawless hair and makeup, designer two piece suit. They belonged together, but almost apprehensively. Like a couple who'd been paired with a specific job to do.

Gotham's residents were just as elegant as their train companions; a blue gown for Amy, little black number for Rio and a suit for Bobby. The black tie look suited him. He fitted in as well in that as the man who was three seats away from him. They had the same Omega watch and same Seville Row suit. Perhaps Bobby belonged at the ten million dollar poker table.

"Was für Abendessen?" the train's maitre d' asked.

"Ein, uh, my German's a little rusty," confessed Bobby.

"Mein Herrfreund möchte das Kalbfleisch, habe ich Hummer Newberg, und Frau Rio möchte ein großes Steak," Amy told the man. He nodded approvingly.

"Und ein flasche von Bollinger la Grande Annee," Bobby added, remember at least a little of college.

The host nodded and took their order to the kitchen for preparation. The display of German was off putting to Rio, who had no idea what was being said. "What did you guys order?"

"Well, Bobby's having the veal," Amy told her, "I'm having Lobster Newberg, and I ordered a large steak for you."

"And I ordered us a bottle of Bollinger champagne," added Bobby. "Very good stuff."

"It sounds expensive," Rio spoke.

"It is," Bobby told her. "But that's the part we're playing. With ten million on the line in a poker game, this two thousand dollar dinner is nothing." Bobby's poker comment caught the ear of the man three seats away from him. He turned his head slightly, carefully listening in, but not prying.

"So do we have a plan going into this?" Rio asked. She sat back comfortably in the tweed seat.

"Simple. Beat Le Chiffre." This peaked the man's interest.

"Excuse me," he told his date. She pardoned him. He rose from his chair, buttoned his suit jacket and walked down the aisle past Bobby, Amy and Rio. The Englishman found himself in the kitchen. His Omega watch varied from Bobby's in that the man's carried an audio bug. He placed it beneath the ice that their Bollinger was chilling on. He did a quick check of the area and returned to his seat.

"Dinner is served," the train host spoke English with a Slovak accent… hopefully not for the last time on this trip. The wine bucket was placed at the edge of the table and the host began to hand out plates to each diner.

"Oh boy!" Rio exclaimed. Like a starving child who hadn't eaten for weeks, she eagerly began to hack up her filet mignon with the provided steak knife and salad fork.

The host raised an eyebrow to her questionable manners, yet still handed out the rest of the meals. Amy's lobster was garnished just properly and cooked to perfection. The orangey red of the lobster skin indicated a master chef. She waited patiently as Bobby received his veal. They were arranged into small cutlets in a pepper crème sauce.

"Enjoy," the host told them. Rio already was. It was a bit embarrassing, but Bobby and Amy paid no attention and acted as if it was just the two of them.

"So," Bobby started, pouring a glass of champagne for Amy then him, "Tell me more about Ms. Amy Mizuno."

"Well, um, I'm not very good about talking about myself…" she replied, modestly.

"Okay, let's start with me then. I was born and raised in Gotham. I attended Brown for two years and got a degree in behavioral psychology, and I am madly in love with your friend Lita."

"Ivy League huh? That's impressive," Amy spoke. "But tell me, if you have a degree from Brown in Behavioral Psychology, why did you end up running a grocery store?"

"I believe Soichiro Honda put it best. He said that a diploma is more worthless than a movie ticket. A movie ticket guarantees you'll see a movie. A diploma doesn't guarantee you'll get a job."

"Mr. Honda was a wise man," Amy agreed of her fellow Japanese.

"Indeed he was. He's always been a hero of mine," Bobby confessed. "That's why all the bikes in the garage are mostly Hondas, with the exception of the Brough Superior and the BMW's."

"I see," Amy said, cracking the claw of her lobster. "Well, since you've gotten the ball rolling. You already know my name. I went to Brighton Academy before being transferred to Serena's school. She befriended me and despite mistaking me for her enemy she found out that I was in fact Sailor Mercury. We've been friends ever since."

"Okay," Bobby said, slicing into his veal, "How about the juicy stuff?"

"I beg your pardon," she asked.

"The things that you take solace in," Bobby explained. "Mine are Lita and my bikes. What makes you tick?"

"Well, I suppose my friends the most," Amy recalled. "Every time I've needed them, they're always there."

"No boyfriend?"

Amy turned red at the question. "I've never had time for a boyfriend. I was always too busy studying. It just didn't factor in."

"You mean to tell me, that there's never been anyone that remotely filled the position?"

"Well, there was Greg…" she recalled back to her junior high days.

"Who's he?"

"Well, he had a crush on me in junior high," she explained. "It was nothing more than a silly crush, but I liked him too. He was always very bashful, even when he didn't have to be. We went out a few times in high school and again in college, but it always seemed like we were both afraid to commit to anything, and then I had to go study in Germany, so it really wouldn't have worked out anyway."

"Make me a promise?"

"What?" she asked.

"When we get home, call him. If what he felt for you is half of how I feel about Lita, it should be an easy call. Bashfulness be damned." He sipped on his goblet of Bollinger.

"So are you really that gaga over what's her bucket?" Rio asked, surfacing for air.

"Lita? Yes I am." The words deflated Rio a little. It was pretty clear that she had in the least a crush on Bobby; money and rugged good looks… exactly what she wanted. "Do you think me a fool?" he asked. "I can sense that there's some attraction for you towards me, and I just want to say stop. Rio, you're a great girl and someday you'll meet someone. But it's not going to be me."

She winced. "Yea I guess. If you haven't fallen for me yet, I don't think you will. I'm pretty irresistible."

"I'm sure you are," Bobby agreed. "How's the lobster, Amy?"

"Quite tasty," she replied. "My compliment's to the chef."

"Well, you'd better get used to it. This game could last for days if Le Chiffre is as good as the intel says he is. Hotel Splendid has a four star kitchen."

The Le Chiffre comment was nabbed in mid-air by the champagne bound bug.

"So what do we know about Le Chiffre?" Amy asked.

"Albanian we think. Mathematical genius who liked to prove it by playing poker. Kind of an odd looking fellow," Bobby produced a picture of the man from his jacket pocket. "Notice the defective tear duct? It causes him to weep blood."

"He isn't very handsome," Amy remarked. The photo showed their mark and the man to beat. Indeed his eyes were off putting. One was a deep brown color; the other was cloudy and scarred. His hair was black and very straight, combed over to one side. His ears and nose were large, perhaps indicating some Jewish blood.

"Eww," Rio added, looking at the man.

"Well what he lacks in looks he makes up for in evil." Bobby relaxed in his seat. "I'm sure we won't be the only good guys there," he spoke. "The CIA and British Intelligence will probably each have a man inside. So long as Le Chiffre loses, it doesn't really matter who brings him in."

The man three rows away was now quite curious.

"So you're telling me it's a matter of probability and odds. I thought there was some luck involved," the man's date spoke.

"Only if you believe the player with the best hand wins," he replied, pouring her a glass of red wine.

"So that is what you'd call bluffing," she surmised. She craned in and propped her chin up with her arm which was thoroughly planted in the table.

"You've heard the term," he acknowledged, putting the wine bottle down. "Then you'll also know that in poker, you never play your hand, you play the man across from you."

"And you're good at reading people?"

"Yes I am," he cut her off with, "which is why I've been able to detect an undercurrent of sarcasm in your voice."

"Well, now I'm sure our money is in good hands," she spoke, resting back in the chair.

"You don't think this is a very good plan do you?" he asked, taking a drink of his own wine.

"So there is a plan? I got the impression we were risking millions of dollars and hundreds of lives on a game of luck. What else can you surmise about surmise, Mr. Bond?"

"About you, Ms. Lynd?" he asked. His gaze was unwavering as he spoke. "Well, your beauty's a problem. You worry you won't be taken seriously."

"Which one can say of any attractive woman with half a brain," she retorted with.

"True," he agreed. "But this one overcompensates by wearing slightly masculine clothing, being more aggressive than her female colleagues, which gives her a somewhat prickly demeanor, and ironically enough, makes it less likely for her to be accepted and promoted by her male superiors, who mistake her insecurity for arrogance." She was mesmerized by his analysis. "Now, I'd have normally gone with only child, but you see by the way you ignored the quip about your parents, I'd have to go with orphan."

She sat back, half a smile across her lips. "All right. By the cut of your suit you went to Oxford or wherever and actually think human beings dress like that. But you wear it with such disdain. My guess is that you didn't come from money and your school friends never let you forget it. Which means you were at that school by the grace of someone else's charity, hence the chip on your shoulder. And since your first thought about me ran to orphan, that's what I'd say you are." He sat back, just as she did for her analysis, smiling. "Oh you are. I like this poker thing," she commented. "And that makes perfect sense, since MI6 looks for maladjusted young men who give little thought to sacrificing others in order to protect Queen and country. You know, former SAS types with easy smiles and expensive watches," she glanced at the timepiece on his wrist. "Rolex?"

"Omega," he replied.

"Beautiful. Now having just met you, I wouldn't go as far as calling you a cold-hearted bastard."

"No of course not," he replied.

"But it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine. You think of women as disposable pleasure rather than meaningful pursuits. So as charming as you are, Mr. Bond, I'll be keeping an eye on our government's money and off your perfectly formed arse."

"You noticed?"

"Even accountants have imagination. How was your lamb?"

"Skewered. One sympathizes."

"Good evening, Mr. Bond."

"Good evening Miss Lynd."

They each rose, the woman turning and leaving for the sleeper car as he stood and watched her walk away. A small chuckle and smile left his mouth as he sat back down.

Chapter 3: Shadow Operation

"Welcome to the Hotel Splendid," the concierge welcomed. "Checking in?"

The name was quite apt. It was a marvelous looking place, combining old world charm with modern convenience. "Yes, the names Alton, but you'll find the reservation under Bruce Wayne." She typed away on her computer, retrieving the information. He signed the paper she presented to him, probably agreeing to room charges or something similar.

"Thank you," she replied. "Enjoy your stay." She presented them with a room key.

"We will," Bobby replied. The bellhop carried their bags up to the fifth floor.

"So what is our cover?" Amy asked, leading the way into an empty elevator.

"Well, I'm playing for Bruce, who was invited. Amy, you will pose as my accountant and banker, and Rio I guess will have to play the part of lover." He reached out and took Rio by the arm, pulling her back towards him. "Looks like you'll get to live out a fantasy for a little while anyway," he told her.

"Lucky me," she said, looking into his eyes.

"Don't get any ideas," he told her. Amy smiled, knowing that Lita had finally found a quality guy. They exited the elevator and the bellhop was awaiting them at the door to their two bedroom suite. He extended his hand and a 100€ bill was received. Bobby ushered his ladies in the door. Rio broke away and Bobby turned, locking the door behind them. "Right where we need to be," he commented.

"I beg your pardon?" Amy asked.

Bobby opened his black Samsonite case and removed a Wayne Enterprises 'Whisper quiet' cordless drill. He dropped to his knees and began to listen to the floor. When he settled on a spot, he attached a long, narrow drill bit and began to drill into the floor, underneath a large rug. The drill bit emerged from the ceiling with the bits of excrement being caught by the light fixture in the room beneath them.

He removed the drill and set up his laptop. A USB connected wire snaked its way through the hole and down into the room beneath them. If this Intel was right, this is where Le Chiffre was staying. Amy opened the PC and connected the USB to its port. A live feed was established from the miniature camera at the end of the wire.

"It's working," Amy reported.

"Good," replied Bobby.

"Well, it's only three in the afternoon. The game starts at ten tonight. How are we going to kill time?" Rio asked.

"Well, if you ladies would accompany me," Bobby spoke, looking out the front window on the car park, "I'd really like to know more about that fellow." They joined him at the window and all witnessed their train companions getting into a beautiful new Aston Martin and departing for downtown.

"Do we have a car here?" Rio asked.

"Do we have a car here?" Bobby laughed. "Of course we do." He extended his arm and Rio took it. Acting the part was particularly easy for her. Bobby and Rio led the way, Amy right behind. They travelled down to the lobby and out into the car park. Two spots down from where the Aston, was a black Porsche Panamera was waiting its owner to arrive. The Porsche styling cues suited a four door sedan quite well and Bruce Wayne was one of the first Americans to own one.

The German engineered car took off down the cobblestone streets after the gray Aston Martin. The sunshine reflected in the glossy black paint of the Porsche as they approached their train companions. Bobby slowed the car as the man and his companion crossed the street and met with another man in an outdoor bistro. Bobby parked their car down the street, creating some distance between themselves and the man who it seems they're destined to follow.

The three found a table a few seats away from the Englishman, his date and his contact. Bobby attached a microphone disguised as a Bluetooth headset to his ear and sat back in the chair. Amy requested three glasses of champagne for the table and began to engage in small talk between her and Rio.

"Does he know we've been watching?" the man asked his contact.

"Le Chiffre? No. Probably because there is no 'we', just 'me,'" he replied from behind a gray beard and soft eyes.

"So he's after Le Chiffre too," Bobby commented softly. "Ladies, I think we have an ally."

"Who?" Amy asked. She was much more up to the spy game than Rio was.

"The Englishman we shared the train car with," he told them. "He's after Le Chiffre too. He and the bearded fellow are talking about it."

Police sirens shrieked and three police cars stopped in the street just before the Bistro. "Isn't it amazing what you can do with Photoshop these days?" the bearded man asked. "I think your odds are improving, Mr. Bond."

"Wow… he's quite the looker," Rio commented, turning her head to see who was on their side.

"Stop it," Bobby told her.

She turned, smiling. "Jealous?"

"Hardly. But you've got a part to play so stop getting all starry eyed over some man who we have no idea who he is," Bobby instructed.

"Except for his name," Amy added. "Bond."

Bobby removed the mic and stuffed it back into his jacket pocket. "Ladies, shall we go? I'm in desperate need of a good tailor."

Chapter 4: The Game Begins…

The white lights in the Hotel Spendid's bathroom provided an excellent glow by which to get dressed by. Each of the girls had taken a room of their suite, which left Bobby to change in the bathroom. Not that he minded. His Seville Row suit was exchanged for a Montenegrin tailored tuxedo. The jacket fit perfectly, as did the button down shirt and trousers. He straightened his bow tie in the mirror and couldn't help but give himself the once over. He did look quite good. He emerged from the bathroom into Amy's suite.

Amy's camera phone clicked as she snapped a picture of him. "That's for Lita," she said, typing Lita's number into the receiver field.

"Only as long as you got my good side," he joked, smiling. "What's Le Chiffre been up to?" The bed collapsed as he sat, looking at the laptop.

"Nothing of interest," Amy reported. "His girl, Valenka, got dressed for the festivities and he's been sucking in on his inhaler like the stuff was candy."

"That'd be an excellent place to put a bug," Bobby reasoned. His Samsonite opened again and he removed a small, wireless microphone from a clear envelope. Amy cleared her throat. Bobby hadn't even paid her second glance.

She was radiant. Her typical blue stud earrings had been exchanged for small pearls with a matching necklace. Her dress was simple; black with a v-neck and belted at the waist to provide a slimming effect. The pleats of the dress were sharp creases and they pointed straight down, hanging to her knees.

"Beautiful," he complimented her.

"Thank you," she spoke, modestly.

"If you think that's hot, you should see me," Rio spoke from behind a closed door. The door burst open and Rio stepped through.

She was dressed in a black ensemble as well, long and flowing onto the floor but with a long slit up the side, almost to her waist. She didn't need a belt, as she was quite in shape. Her slim waist gave way to ample bosom, almost protruding from the dress like a pair of hams that had been stuffed into an ankle sock. Her blonde hair, which was typically up in a messy ponytail was down and flat ironed. It hung to her lower back and had sort of an easy wave to it when she moved. "Well?"

"Yep," Bobby spoke.

"Yep? That's all you have to say?" she asked, somewhat off put that all this effort into her appearance hasn't done anything to sway him from Lita's side.

"Yep," he replied again.

All Amy could do was smile. "Perhaps we should be going," Amy suggested. She grabbed her small purse, which contained her Mercury computer and any other essentials and led the group. Again, Rio took Bobby's arm and the three made the small journey from the hotel, down the block and across the street to Casino Royale.

Multitudes of people had crammed into the casino, playing blackjack, baccarat, the roulette and of course ordering lots of alcoholic beverages. It seemed that everyone was in either a tuxedo or some expensive dress. The three didn't feel a bit out of place.

Amy led again, leading Rio and Bobby to the cellar where the high roller table was. IT was quite the array of players the Le Chiffre had gathered. There was a black man, kind looking with a beard, an Asian man with long gray hair and pencil thin moustache, of course the host, le Chiffre was there. There was a very large black man, obviously African by the accent of his English, an aged Asian woman, and Bond.

Le Chiffre greeted everyone who he'd invited and hopefully would take their money. He greeted Bond first, exchanging words with the apparent ally and good guy. "Mr. Alton is it?" Le Chiffre asked. "Was Bruce too afraid to come play himself?"

"Well, you know Bruce," Bobby told him, shaking the effeminate hand of Le Chiffre, "Once he gets his head into something it's hard to tear him away."

"And who is your lovely friend?" Le Chiffre asked taking and kissing Rio's hand.

"This is Ms. Rio," Bobby introduced. He motioned a few feet back, "And this is my accountant, Ms. Mizuno." Amy silently bowed.

"One for beauty, the other for money," Le Chiffre commented. "You're a lucky man. Hopefully for you, that luck holds out." Le Chiffre left their group, moving on to his other targets.

"Yuck," Rio said as soon as Le Chiffre was out of hearing distance.

"At least he didn't kiss me," Amy commented.

"I thought as soon as he figured that you were the money, he'd have been all over you," Bobby joked with her.

"That's not even nice to joke about," Rio told him, having been on the end of a clammy hand and small, angry lips. "I need a drink." Rio left them for the bar at the end of the VIP room.

A tall man with pencil moustache and too much hair gel stood at the head of the group that gathered. "Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Presenting Mr. Mendel, representing the Basel Bank."

The lanky Swiss man with large ear lobes and an almost cartoonish nose stood and began to address the crowd. Bobby tuned him out, instead ordering a rum and Coke from the barman. "Mr. Wayne?" Mendel asked. Amy stepped forward. "Six or more letters for your password please." She thought a moment, then keyed in a seven letter sequence. "Merci."

The banking was finished and the players sat down at the table. Bobby seated himself at the head of the table. He was two seats away from the dealer and could easily keep Le Chiffre and Bond in sight. Bond glared at Le Chiffre, almost indicating that he was in fact a good guy, possibly MI6, and that he wouldn't let Le Chiffre out alive if it came to it.

The dealer did as his name implied and dealt cards to all the players. Mr. Fukutu, the older Asian gentleman with gray hair in a ponytail, was seated next to Bobby and was the big blind. Mr. Kaminofski was the small blind.

Bets were put out, as were the community cards. Bobby had to fold. Four players had kept their hands, with an eight, nine and five of hearts. Fukutu and the large African man checked. Le Chiffre bet $50,000. Bond stared a hole in his adversary, noting a small twitch in Le Chiffre's cloudy eye and calling him with a bet of his own. Fukutu and the African folded, leaving it to Le Chiffre and Bond.

Another nine was dealt, and Le Chiffre increased his bet to $100,000. Seemingly at the same time, everyone at the table looked away from their cards to see Bond's lady friend entering. Elegance was the norm and she was no exception. She walked over to her lover, exchanging words and a good luck kiss with him.

"Mr. Bond?" The dealer asked, trying to get the attention of the Englishman. "It's your bet?"

"I'm sorry, what was the bet, $100,000?" He nonchalantly flipped a $100,000 chip onto the table, still looking at his woman as she walked to the bar.

The dealer dealt out the river card, a deuce of hearts. Le Chiffre bet again; another $50,000. Again, Bond matched it.

"Mr. Le Chiffre," the dealer spoke, "You have been called. Show down please." Le Chiffre turned his cards over. Pocket deuces. "Full house, deuces full of nines," the dealer announced.

Bond folded his hand. "Send the barman over," he requested. The game host snapped his fingers in the air and a round, pudgy, bald man appeared, ready to take drink requests. "Dry martini."

"Oui, Monsiuer."

"Wait. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet, shake it over ice then add a thin slice of lemon peel," Bond ordered.

"Oui, Monsiuer," the barman complied.

Voices rang out from the table, "You know, I'll have one of those…"

"So will I."

The kind looking black man with the beard spoke last, "My friend, bring me one as well, keep the fruit."

"That's it?" Le Chiffre impatiently asked. "Anyone want to play poker now?"

"Someone's in a hurry," the bearded black man commented, looking at Bond.

Bond smiled. "Deal me out," he instructed. The table watched as he left heading to the bar to stand next to his woman and the kind man with the gray beard.

"Keep dealing," Le Chiffre instructed.

Blinds were put down and everyone was dealt their cards. Bobby checked his hand. King and jack off suited. The dealer burned three cards then put down the flop; Queen, Ace and three of spades. Bobby felt pretty confident that a ten would be dealt, and bet accordingly. He put down $100,000.

The other players folded, except for Le Chiffre. 'A bluff, surely,' Le Chiffre reasoned. He matched Bobby's bet of $100,000.

The dealer burned another card then placed the turn card out; a ten of clubs.

'Gadzooks,' Bobby thought, keeping a stone cold gaze. 'Can't bet too high… might fold realizing that I have the straight.' He looked down at his stack of chips. Then up at Le Chiffre. Then to the bar where Bond it seemed was getting nowhere with his lady. "Fifty thousand," Bobby spoke, placing two chips into the pot.

Le Chiffre stared at the small pile of chips on the table. His gaze then moved to Bobby and the stone cold look. "One hundred fifty thousand," Le Chiffre added to the pile.

Bobby couldn't pass on this. He'd been raised and he had the straight. Maybe he can beat Le Chiffre before the nights over. Bobby added another hundred thousand to the pot, prompting the dealer to burn one then deal the river. An ace of clubs was added to the lineup.

"Check," Bobby spoke, noting Le Chiffre's actions. Le Chiffre added another hundred thousand to the pot. Bobby called, putting half a million into the pot. Surely his straight would bring Le Chiffre down a notch. He turned over his cards, revealing the straight.

Le Chiffre's feminine mouth smiled and he turned over his cards. He had a five and King of spades.

"Flush beats straight," the dealer spoke, moving Le Chiffre's winning hand into the lineup. "Mr. Le Chiffre wins."

Just like that Bobby was down a quarter of a million dollars, and Le Chiffre's head had gotten a little bigger. 'Can't do any more than nineteen hands just like that,' Bobby thought. Bond returned to the game, taking his seat and staring a hole in Le Chiffre again.

Play resumed. Bond and Le Chiffre went at it, Bobby becoming much more conscious of his spending. The kind black man joined in on the action that Le Chiffre and Bond had created. Bobby estimated him to be CIA or something. They continued playing, Bond and Le Chiffre winning most of the hands. Bobby continued to steadily lose money for the next four hours. The game's host dismissed them after the forth hour of play.

Everyone rose, heading towards the bar and socializing with whomever they came. Bond went and met the bearded man and his woman, but not before slipping a small metallic piece into Le Chiffre's inhaler. Bond had beaten Bobby to planting a bug on their mark.

'Nice not to be the only good guy,' Bobby thought. He walked to the bar and joined Amy and Rio.

"Man, you are rusty," Rio told him. "How much have you lost?"

"Six million, two hundred fifty thousand," Amy spoke.

"I really didn't think it was that much," Bobby told them, glibly. "Seriously, he's damn good. It's like every hand he's got one card better than I do."

"That does seem to be a trend," Amy commented.

"Well, at least Bond is faring better than me. I think he can take him."

"Do we know where he's coming from?" Amy asked.

"Britain. I'd say MI6. Remember that embassy that got shot up in Madagascar? I think he was the one that was doing the shooting," Bobby told them.

"Is that really a good thing? A loose cannon like that going after Le Chiffre?" Amy asked, sipping champagne.

"I think so. He knows when to take it to the next level but he's very grounded. He's probably the best shot of beating Le Chiffre." Bobby turned to the barman and ordered one a cranberry juice. "I think we should go back to the room," Bobby suggested. As he turned from the barman, he noticed Le Chiffre's headman whispering in his ear. He downed the juice in one gulp and took Rio's arm, planting a horribly acted drunken wet one on her. "C'mon baby, time for a quickie."

Rio led Bobby, as his stumbling feet made walking difficult. The act was almost overdone; he hadn't drunk that much. Nonetheless, she led him back to their hotel, Amy following quietly behind. They walked past Bond and his lady at the hotel front desk as he retrieved a parcel. They were in the elevator before anyone had noticed them and Bobby had stopped with the drunken act.

"I was kinda hoping you really wanted a quickie," Rio told him.

"Don't bet on it," Bobby told her. The elevator dinged and opened, letting them off at the fifth floor. They proceeded into their hotel room, Bobby undoing his restrictive bowtie.

Amy started the laptop up and began surveillance. "Bobby, have a look at this," she spoke. Bobby joined her. "There are two black men in Le Chiffre's room."

"Any idea who they are?" he asked.

"I'll run them against Codis, but I don't know if we'll get any hits," she informed. She typed commands into the computer. The camera snapped pictures of the men and checked them against an online database. "We've got a hit."

"Who is it?" Rio asked, adjusting the chest hams hidden in her dress.

"His name is Steven Obanno. Leader of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda," Amy reported.

"That must be whose money Le Chiffre lost," Bobby surmised.

"All right, what's so damn important?" Le Chiffre asked Ivanka, who was placed out on the balcony.

She leaned in and kissed him. "I'm sorry," she spoke. The cord stretched taut between Obanno's hands wrapped around Le Chiffre's neck.

"Where is my money?" Obanno asked, squeezing the life out of him. "You think you can lose that kind of money and no one will notice?" Obanno drug him back into the suite, while his henchman grabbed Ivanka and held on so she couldn't escape.

"I'll get the money," Le Chiffre struggled.

Obanno released his grip after enough life had been removed from Le Chiffre, letting him fall to the ground.

"I'll get the money," Le Chiffre repeated.

"I would take a hand for this betrayal," Obanno told him, standing over Le Chiffre's disabled body. The henchman held Ivanka, but at Obanno's calling, produced a small sword. "But you need it to play cards." He turned to Ivanka. "Hold out your arm," he commanded.

She shook her head no, clearly in fear of what might happen to her.

"Hold out your arm, my beauty, or I will take your head," Obanno told her. Finally, his henchman held her arm out. Obanno cocked his arm back and swung, stopping short of removing her hand.

Ivanka's eyes were wide and breath heavy as the blade stopped, an inch or so from her flesh.

"Not even a word of protest," Obanno said, "You should find a new boyfriend."

Fear rocked Le Chiffre's suite. Even Bobby, Amy and Rio could sense it from one floor above. Obanno sheathed the small sword onto his waist and he and his goon left the room.

"Rio, get down there and follow them. I want to make sure Obanno doesn't kill Le Chiffre," Bobby told her.

"Dressed like this?" Rio asked. "How can I fight anyone with my boobs hanging out of a tiny dress?"

"You're the one who put it on," he told her. "Just pretend you're lost."

Rio followed the command and exited back to the elevator. 'Probably some kind of punishment for making a pass at him… but he's so worth it,' she thought. Her heels clicked on the marble floor, then silenced by the red rug that lined the hallway. She called for the lift, which took only a few seconds to get there. She climbed in and hit the '4' button. The ride was pleasantly quiet. The door dinged open and revealed Obanno and his man rushing to the stairwell. Obanno had his sword drawn.

As fast as she could move in heels, Rio ran to the stairway, marked IZLAZ in Montenegrin. At the bottom of the stairwell, Obanno's man was dead, obviously falling from the top level. Three flights down, Obanno was having it out with someone. Moving down the line, Rio could see that it was Bond that was fighting with Obanno.

'He's got it in hand,' Rio decided. She watched the fight for a few more seconds, making sure Bond had the upper hand. A rear naked choke on Obanno told her that it was time to go and report back to Bobby and Amy. She fled the staircase and went back to the fifth floor as the life fled from Mr. Obanno.

"That was fast," Bobby commented, spying Rio coming in the door.

"Bond. Bond took care of them," Rio told them.

"They're dead?" Amy asked.

"Wow. The embassy, Miami airport, these two… it's like he's got a license to kill," Bobby told them. "Well, now I'm sure that he's on the right side." He removed his shoes and poured himself a drink. "I think I should give Bond the last two million I have and just call it a night. MI6 can have Le Chiffre."

"Does Bond have the chops to beat Le Chiffre?" Amy asked.

"Well, he's certainly better than I am," Bobby admitted. "This guy, Le Chiffre, as bad as he is, isn't really our thing is he? We've handled gangs, criminals, giant robots, maniacal madmen… he's not our deal. I mean, he's worth the time, but I can't beat him. Bond can."

"So we're just going to pack it up and head to Gotham?" Rio asked, further adjusting her ill fitting dress.

"Again, I can't beat him," Bobby declared. "Amy, why don't you find out where Mr. Bond is staying and inform him that I'll be leaving the remainder of my cash with him."

"I can do that," Amy spoke. She put the laptop down on the bed. She picked up her small purse and went into the hallway.

Bobby lay back on the exquisitely comfortable bed. Shameless Rio followed him. "You still wanna have that quickie?"

"No," he told her plainly.

She removed herself from the bed, disgusted. Bobby closed his eyes and nodded off for a nap. He didn't awake until Amy returning closed the door to the hotel room. It was now a half an hour later. "What took so long?" Bobby asked, checking his Omega.

"Well," Amy spoke, blushing, "Mr. Bond is very charming…"

He sat up in bed, looking at her. "You didn't?"

She grimaced and nodded yes. Bobby rolled his eyes.

"Man, the bookworm gets laid on this trip and I don't get anything," Rio spoke.

"Well, you could stay here and chase Bond," Bobby suggested.

"Maybe I will," she told him. "It's your loss really. You could have had me as much as you wanted."

"But I don't and probably never will… Shall we head back to Gotham, Amy?"

The New Boss, same as the old Boss

By Greg Senger Chapter 1: Intel

The streets of Gotham at night are a veritable cornucopia of crime. Just like the FBI or CIA, the Justice League has to use intelligence gathering to help understand and combat its foes. The Fast and the Furious films don't capture the real street racing scene. There's much more than can be shown in American Cinema. Often these races were bazaars of drugs, guns and more laundered money than Warren Buffet makes in a week. It was for these reasons that two Justice League operatives infiltrated one of Gotham's most varied and fierce racing circles.

"Are you ready to go, Raye?" Bobby asked, removing his helmet.

"Sure am," she replied. Her dark black hair hung down to her back as her helmet lifted off her head. They made a good team and looked like they belonged. The long haired Asian girl was almost a stereotype at these things and the badass white guy who can outrace anyone really didn't exist in Gotham.

They walked side by side to the circles of cars that had gathered. Everyone gave them the once over, checking Raye out and knowing to back off that Bobby was with her. "How much to enter the race?" Bobby asked. The organizer was checking the race participants.

The guy in charge of organizing the thing worked at a local garage. His name was Rufus Brown. He looked over the contestants rides, simultaneously picking the afro in his hair. "Well playa, the price is 10 large," he turned and looked at Bobby and Raye. He let out a low whistle, "Damn, five large if you gimme the girl, dog."

Bobby took a wad of cash and placed it in his hand. "Twenty grand, for both of us," he said.

Rufus looked at Raye again, then at the money in his hand, and again at Raye. "You right," he said, "Money is betta. Line up with the others, playa."

Raye and Bobby turned and left the group. They put their helmets back on and tightened their leathers. Raye's Ducati ticked over with that unmistakable Ducati V-twin sound. Bobby's Honda was more akin to a jet engine; purposeful and clinical to Raye's soulful Ducati. They both revved their engines and released the clutch, easing up to the starting line.

Bobby checked his surroundings. The starting line of a race is the best place to profile criminals. Of course Rufus the organizer was into selling weed out of his shop, but he was pretty small potatoes compared to others with a stake in the race. Next to Bobby, on a green Kawasaki Ninja was a man, average build with a swastika armband. Apparently the master race didn't mind fraternizing with sub-humans so long as said sub-humans have money.

Next to the Nazi was a similar fellow, mounted on a Suzuki GSXR. In place of the swastika, however, the man had a green and black band, indicating some kind of radical Muslim. He gave everyone dirty looks from behind his Shoei helmet, Bobby knowing that it meant, 'death to the infidels!'

The last one on the line seemed out of place. The lineup consisted of Raye's Ducati 1098R, Bobby's CBR1000RR, the Nazi's ZX10R, and the Muslim's Gixxer 1000. The end man just didn't fit. He was mounted on a Porsche engineered Harley-Davidson V-rod. It brought back memories. Batman chased a V-rod through downtown Miami, hunting for a gang leader.

The rider too was off. He had long white hair and a beard, dirty with tobacco stains. The other riders had full leather suits, but the V-rod man had only a bandanna, leather vest and heavy boots. No helmet.

Everyone revved their engines, waiting for Rufus to signal the start of the race. He walked to the middle of the grid. Everyone looked up and signaled that they were ready. Then, in some wonderful bit of synchronicity, all the metric mounted riders lowered their face shields.

Rufus raised both hands in the air, and the gathered crowd grew completely silent, drowned out by motorcycle engines. Rufus' hands dropped, and clutches were dumped simultaneously. The Ducati and the three Japanese bikes leapt out to a commanding lead; the Harley leaked oil all over the road, causing a loss of traction, sending the V-rod into a parked Honda Civic Si.

Raye took the lead on her Ducati, knee down to the pavement into the first corner. The Ninja Nazi took up second place and kept chomping at the bit to try to get around her. Bobby was content in third, with the Muslim in forth.

Bike racing wasn't like cars. Driving a car, you're protected by a metal cage. On a bike, the only thing between you and asphalt is two small patches of rubber, maybe some leather and your helmet. A motorcycle race meant that there wouldn't be any dirty racing amongst the competitors… unless they didn't think you deserved to live anyway.

Down the first straight, Raye opened up her throttle. The Ducati took a few second lead over her main Nazi competitor. Raye was a conservative rider, making sure that her speed was always in sync with what she was about to do. She throttled back and braked, making sure that she could complete the upcoming turn.

The Nazi was less concerned with riding a clean race and more concerned with winning. He kept the throttle open and got right onto Raye's tail. They came out of the corner at the same time, but the Nazi's open throttle let him whiz past Raye. She dropped back, not too concerned with winning, but more worried about the chicane ahead.

Bobby was having similar luck against the Muslim. Bobby had third place going into the corner, but then found himself in forth coming out.

"That bastard passed me!" Raye cried over the helmet intercoms.

"I saw," Bobby told her. "But they've gotta win. We need to know who that shipment of guns from Gotham Harbor is going to."

These races were quite odd. In the case of Bobby and Raye, the fee to enter was ten grand. For the Nazi and Muslim, they paid in cocaine and opium. Up for grabs was a cache of M16's stolen from a Navy destroyer docked in Gotham Harbor. It was no doubt that both the Nazi and the Muslim had plans for the guns, but whoever got them was more likely to act, therefore Bobby and Raye just hung around to see what group should face more scrutiny from the Justice League.

"Can I at least take second?" Raye asked.

"Be my guest," Bobby told her.

She smiled behind her KBC helmet and twisted the throttle open. The Ducati's twin engine put all its ponies on the road and she closed the gap between her and the Nazi and making sure the Muslim didn't pass her up.

Everyone rounded the last corner of the urban racetrack, making a left hand turn around Wayne Tower in Central Gotham and headed back to the finish line at Rufus' garage. The Nazi had the lead with Raye right on his tail. She was ever persistent and actually hated coming on these recon races because it meant she'd have to lose the race. The Muslim began to close the gap on his Suzuki. Soon the Nazi, Raye and the Muslim were all neck and neck closing on the finish.

"Remember the plan," Bobby reminded over the intercom.

She sighed. "Yeah." Ever so gently, Raye let off the throttle on her bike and the Nazi and the Muslim passed her. She came in third. There was no clear winner; the Nazi and Muslim crossed the line at the same time.

"That might be a problem," Bobby remarked, crossing the finish line himself. Everyone had dismounted and joined their respective posse. The Nazi had rejoined his white brethren and the Muslim returned to his boys and the rusty Toyota pickup that carried them there. Raye had pulled off the road, and into a parking garage next to Rufus' place. Bobby followed her.

"So who gets the guns?" she asked, again letting her long black hair fall out of the helmet.

"I don't know," Bobby told her, removing his AGV, "We should go keep an eye on them." She agreed with a head nod. "Obi-Wan, do you copy?" Bobby spoke into his helmet.

"I hear you, go ahead," the Jedi Master spoke.

"Don't arrive to bust everyone until Rufus hands out the guns and Raye and I are away. After that, you, Snake and Rio can move in."

"Copy that," Obi-Wan complied.

Raye and Bobby left the keys to their bikes in the ignition and their helmets at the ready. They left the parking garage, and rejoined the ruckus crowd in the street. They blended into the throngs of college students who wanted to look like thugs and the ever present population of young professional unmarried girls just out of college looking to score with whoever won the throwdown.

"Well, playas, since it's a tie," Rufus spoke, "we go to sudden death." Unlike sudden death in ice hockey or dodgeball, on the street the name fit perfectly. The shipment of guns was going to be decided by a knife fight on the streets of Gotham.

Hitler was not an appeaser. He saw what he wanted and went after it, like Poland and France. Today's Nazi didn't have as much backbone as der fuhrer. "Can't we just split the winnings?" the Nazi rider suggested. With his helmet off, Bobby could identify him as Hans Grosse, a prominent neo-Nazi leader.

"That would be acceptable," the Muslim agreed. A long black beard and matching hair adorned his face; a perfect complement to his cold eyes. Bobby recognized him as Noushad Muhammad. Underground Intel hacked from the CIA's computers recognized Muhammad as one of the premier al-Qaida leaders in the US, but the government had never had a reason to detain him since the repeal of the PATRIOT act.

Rufus raised an eyebrow at the situation. He didn't expect the entire thing to be decided so… civilly. "Aight, whatever playas." Two of Rufus' shop workers carried out a slab crate with US ARMY burned into the side. The Nazi's removed crowbars from their big pickup and tore the top off the crate. The crate contained twenty M16 assault rifles. The Nazis loaded ten into the back of their truck the Muslims ten into theirs.

"Mr. Rufus, thank you," Muhammad said. "Allah be with you." Rufus nodded in acknowledgement. The Muslims loaded down the rusty Toyota and drove off.

The Nazis just split, probably not wanting to waste breath on some, how would they put it? Dirty n-word? Their red Chevy faded into the darkness of Gotham, not too far behind the Muslims.

Bobby and Raye left the crowd and returned to their bikes. He pressed a transponder in the helmet, giving Obi-Wan the go ahead.

One of his shop workers approached Rufus from behind. The employee ripped off the ghetto clothes, revealing a dark charcoal sneaking suit, headband and .45 SOCOM. "Get on the ground," Snake told Rufus, pointing the gun at his head.

"Shit dog!" Rufus cried out. He threw his hands in the air. Everyone knew it was a bust. Rufus dropped to the ground, Snake's gun ready to make Swiss cheese of him if need be. The college kids and horny young gold diggers fled to their Civics, Corollas and little BMW's, making a bee line for anywhere. Usually, red in the traffic world meant stop. Today, blue did just as well.

Obi-Wan's lightsaber hummed its unmistakable glow over the street. Bobby's exosuit had been reworked to allow anyone to use it. Obi-Wan blocked off one end of the road, with Rio in Nanvel's Pink Elephant Personal armor system at the other end of the road.

Rio's suit smashed the first two cars that approached her stopping up traffic. Those behind the wrecked cars turned and headed for Obi-Wan. His saber sliced the blue and white roundel of some young chick's BMW, essentially halting everyone. Then, like clockwork, Gotham PD arrived.

Gordon and his men moved in and made arrests. Everyone was detained, and over thirty five cars and motorcycles were put into impound; a good bust. But there were still twenty guns in the hands of radical Islamic extremists and neo-Nazis. Raye and Bobby put their helmets back on and rode to the top of the parking garage. Their engines revved, delivering power to pavement in a cloud of smoke. Their bikes leapt from the top of the garage onto an adjacent building. A roof access cargo elevator provided them a way down and away from the police on the block over. Obi-Wan, Rio and Snake made a discreet exit as Gordon's men took over the situation. Everyone met back at Wayne Manor.

"That was great!" Rio said. She was an action junkie and the job with the Justice League gave her all the action she could handle.

"You delight in the criminal world?" Obi-Wan asked. "Such things are to be discouraged, which is why we do our job."

"I don't like crime," Rio told him. "But it does make things fun for us public defenders. Besides, it's no different than you when you're watching Ewan McGregor."

"He is an excellent actor," Obi-Wan confessed. "I haven't seen anything I didn't like him in. Nonetheless, watching films is a victimless hobby. What you do is almost barbaric."

"Why do you always have that holier-than-thou attitude?" Snake asked, lighting a cigarette. "I mean, it seems like you're always ragging on me for smoking or Rio for being an adrenaline junkie. Who cares? It's our lives, back off."

"Yea, no doubt," Rio agreed. "If anything what I do makes my job enjoyable. And that gets criminals into jail."

"Friends, I meant nothing. I simply try to point out things so that you can live a more fulfilling life," Obi-Wan told them.

"Still, it's their lives to live," Bobby told them, joining the group from the garage. "And no fighting. We're not perfect, but we're competent."

"That was a hell of a bust," Raye spoke, trying to ease the tension in the room. "How many did we get?"

"I counted at least thirty," Snake told her. "It was a good night, wasn't it?" He moved around the room, eventually stopping to ogle Raye in her leather suit. "What are you doing later?" he asked.

She just rolled her eyes. Flattering but kinda creepy is Snake's libido. "Not you," she told him. She made playful eyes at him, just to tease, and then left for her room and a comfy bed. Work at 7 am doesn't come later just because you're in the Justice League.

"Damn tease," Snake spoke. "Her loss." Snake smashed his cigarette into the lovely pewter ashtray on the kitchen counter and left for his own room.

"He's like a dog with a bone," Bobby remarked. "Well, I'll see you guys tomorrow." He turned and left for bed. "Hey Rio?"

"Yeah," she spoke, a sort of eagerness in her voice that told of a schoolgirl with a crush.

"I might need your help shopping tomorrow," he told her.

"Oh, what for?" she asked.

"You'll find out," he told. "Good night."

Chapter 2: Kristallnacht

The next day had come and everyone went about their daily lives. Obi-Wan spent most of his time seeking enlightenment reading Earth's great poets and authors at Gotham library. At 6:15, Raye was out of bed and getting ready for work, along with Mina. They worked in the same coffee shop downtown. Amy, Lita and Serena were all getting ready for a day of college classes, Serena running late as she usually did. The Ice Climbers were wide awake, scaling the book cases in Bruce's library. Snake was still asleep, as was Samus.

"Who wants pancakes?" Bobby asked. It was his unwritten duty to provide everyone that wasn't up before him with a hot, nourishing breakfast.

"I'll take a few," Amy said modestly. She stood at the fridge, pouring three cups of orange juice and getting the maple syrup.

"Did someone say pancakes?" Serena burst in, almost knocking Amy over. "Gimme a huge stack!" she exclaimed, dressed but with unmatched socks.

"If she was as enthusiastic about crime fighting as about food, Gotham would be crime free," Lita remarked, moving towards the griddle to help Bobby.

"What do you think you're doing?" he asked his lover.

"I'll make stacks for everyone, you just keep cooking," she told him. She looked at him, their eyes meeting halfway. "Do you know what today is?"

Of course he did. It was their one month anniversary. But he wasn't going to let her know it. "Uh, Wednesday?" he said.

She squinted her eyes at him, but wasn't completely mad. She craned in and kissed him. "You're lucky you're cute," she told him. "And you can cook. Otherwise, I might have to forget about you."

"Well thank God for Food Network then," Bobby spoke. She wasn't mad at all. 'Huzzah! It'll be an even bigger surprise then,' he thought. "Here," he spoke, handing her a huge stack for Serena. Serena began to chow down, not even waiting for everyone else to get their plates. "One for Amy," Bobby told her. "And one for you," he told Lita.

"Thanks," she said, placing the plate down at her spot and giving one to Amy.

"Smells great, Bobby," Amy complemented him.

"Thanks," he said. He checked his watch. 8:15. He had a meeting with Ken Rosenberg, jewelry importer downtown at Rosenberg's. "Well, I gotta get going," he told them. "Has anyone seen Rio? She was supposed to go with me to my meeting."

Lita's scowl grew a little. Amy and Serena were in on what the meeting was. "Uh, I think she was still upstairs," Amy told her.

"Well, I'll call her from the car." On the wall next to the garage entrance was a key rack for every car in the place. He removed the key for his Aston Martin. "The Land Rover's here if you guys need it."

"We'll take care of it," Amy said. Lita must have been too off put to even talk to him.

"I'll see you later," he told them, directed especially at Lita.

"Bye," she responded, not even looking up from her pancakes.

Bobby smiled and chuckled silently before departing for his V12 Aston Martin DBS. "Get your ass down here, we've gotta be downtown in twenty minutes," Bobby spoke into his phone. "It doesn't matter what you look like… no, they won't care. You're going to be jewelry model for me. Just get down here." His phone snapped shut and in about two seconds flat Rio was in the passenger seat of his Aston Martin.

"I'm ready," she reported. Once again, she managed to shoehorn her breasts into a shirt way too small for them matched with an ultra short skirt. If you didn't know she was a cop, she might come off as a hooker.

Bobby didn't even acknowledge her. He just shook his head and started the engine. The car took off and rocketed down the driveway, each occupant thoroughly back in their seat and something from what seemed to be the Need for Speed video games blasted over the radio. It was a 20 minute drive with no traffic to get to Rosenberg's from Wayne Manor. Now, Bobby had to drive with excellent speed and precision, working in and out of daily commuters to get to his appointment. There was no time for chit-chat amongst him and Rio. He was totally focused on the road.

After a few close calls from drivers unaware of what was going on around them, Rosenberg's Jewelry was only walking distance away. Ken Rosenberg was an Orthodox Jew, moving over from Germany as a young boy in the late 1930's to escape Nazi tyranny. His father worked on the docks every day and was able to send young Ken to college where he learned geography and world history. With that knowledge, he went to Sierra Leone in the 60's and discovered diamonds. Now, Ken was one of Gotham's wealthiest men and Diamond mogul, having mines in Canada and conflict free regions of Africa.

"Mr. Alton, good to finally meet you," Ken spoke, greeting his appointment at the door of his jewelry store. His speech sounded of a Jewish man, slurring some words together.

"Mr. Rosenberg," Bobby spoke, shaking hands with the older gentleman. "It's good to finally meet you in person. This is Ms. Rio. She's agreed to be my hand model."

"Oh very good. For a second I thought this was the girl you've been raving about. She doesn't fit you," he spoke, similar of the stereotype of a Jewish mother. "Well, step this way." Ken led Bobby and Rio into the back room of his shop. "I've been polishing this one specifically for you." He removed a small box and gave it to Bobby.

It snapped open, revealing a very lovely diamond and green emerald tennis bracelet. "Wow, that's really something," Bobby told Mr. Rosenberg. "But actually, I've been thinking. I think a ring might be more warranted."

"You screw something up with this girl? Now you try to fix it?" Rosenberg asked.

"Not exactly," Bobby told him. "It's a long story, but she's worth it."

"Well, this diamond just came in from Nova Scotia," he spoke. He picked up a brilliantly cut white diamond, on the order of two carats. "It's from a small village called Medias." He handed the diamond to Bobby.

"Wow," he said. "Can you set this in gold with two emeralds on each side?"

"We can do anything you like," Rosenberg assured him. "When would you like to pick it up?"

"Later this afternoon, if you don't mind," Bobby told him.

"Not a problem," Rosenberg assured. "What size is the lady's finger?"

"That's why I brought Rio along. Rio. Rio?"

"Such pretty, sparkly things…" Rio drooled over all the gemstones and gold in the place.

"Rio!" Bobby snapped. She came back to reality. "I need your finger."

"Right, sorry," she apologized. She presented her left ring finger. Rosenberg took a steel sizing ring and placed it on her finger.

"A size 8. We can have it mounted in a few hours. If you and the lady would like to come back…" Mr. Rosenberg was cut off midsentence by the sound of glass breaking.

Everyone looked towards the showroom. Rosenberg, as fast as an old pair of legs could go, sped to the showroom. "Die müssen der Juden es Rotten!" voices cried out. "Der Juden müssen sterben!" More and more glass broke amongst shouts.

Bobby and Rio arrived in the showroom as the last big pane of window was shattered. Every case in the joint was smashed up; rings and necklaces were gone. All within the $1500 to $50,000 range. On the surface it looked just like a smash and grab robbery. But it was all too eerily reminiscent for Mr. Rosenberg.

He was only a young boy on that horrible night of November 9th, 1938. Kristallnacht, as it came to be known in the rest of the world. The night that tyranny took the lives of 91 Jewish people, arrested 30,000 more Jews and destroyed over 200 synagogues and countless Jewish businesses. The actions of that night sparked Mr. Rosenberg's father to pack his family and head for America.

"I'm ruined," Rosenberg commented. He slowly turned, looking at all the broken glass at his feet. "My life's work…" the old man was moved to tears. He slowly moved outside, taking a look at his shop with teary eyes.

Down the street, tires squealed. A car had braked. Bobby and Rio went outside; crime fighting was in their blood. "Der Juden!" a voice yelled from the truck. A single shot fired from the truck.

Mr. Rosenberg fell back, blood leaving his body live a sieve. Bobby and Rio forgot the aggressors and went to his side. Hitler was killed in 1945, but his racist, anti-Semitic policies still live on. Bobby and Rio were first hand witnesses. Bobby held the old Jewish man as life slipped away.

"Call an ambulance!" Rio called out, running back into the store.

"Mr. Alton…" Rosenberg struggled to say with fading breath.

"Save your strength, Mr. Rosenberg," Bobby told him, trying to comfort the old man. "The ambulance will be here soon. Just hang on."

"Too late for that." The old man smiled.

"I know people… we'll get whoever did this to you," Bobby told him.

"So long as there is good, like your friends, there will always be evil." Mr. Rosenberg closed his eyes. "Tell them to never give up."

It seemed to be a trend that Bobby was falling into of cradling people as they died; first Natalie, then Bruce, and now Mr. Rosenberg. He never got used to it. This time, however, wasn't as bad as Bruce or Nat. The ambulance soon arrived and clothed Mr. Rosenberg in a black bag.

"That kinda puts a kink in the whole thing doesn't it?" Rio asked. She had made it back outside where her friend was helping the EMT's load the body into the ambulance.

"All this means," he said, closing the ambulance doors and dropping his voice, "Is that we move up operations against the neo-Nazis."

Chapter 3: Saving Lazlow

"Go get everyone," Bobby told Rio. He sat down in the chair in front of the computer in the Batcave and began pulling up every bit of dirt that they had on the neo-Nazis.

"Okay," Rio said, somewhat softly. The ride home from the jewelry store was quiet. The ride there was quiet, but for entirely different reasons. Beating traffic was one reason to concentrate; thinking of how to beat an entire racist organization was something else. Rio departed the Batcave and began to knock on doors.

Slowly the Batcave began to fill up. First Snake arrived, followed by Samus, Obi-Wan, Serena, Amy, Rio, and lastly Lita. Raye and Mina had just gotten off work and came and found everyone. The Ice Climbers were off tackling the south face of Wayne Tower.

"We're going to move against the neo-Nazi group that we've had under surveillance," Bobby told the group.

"Why are we moving against them so soon?" Obi-Wan asked.

Bobby turned the Batcave's TV onto CNN. "It appears that Jewish businesses were targeted, one elderly Jewish man being killed." Anderson Cooper reported. "A spokesman for a Gotham based Neo-Nazi group has denied accountability, but did not offer condolences to the business owners or family of the man who had died. Similarly, Noushad Muhammad, a controversial Muslim figure who was under investigation by the FBI for alleged ties to al-Qaida, spoke out, calling today a glorious day for the followers and those who do the bidding of Allah. Jewish groups from all over the country have expressed outrage, claiming that these attacks were caused by Anti-Semitic bigots. They fear that these attacks might have a domino effect, causing other violent groups to target them, but so far, nothing yet. We'll keep you updated…"

Bobby shut the TV off. "I held him as he died," he told the crowd. Everyone turned to look at their leader. "He told me that so long as we existed, evil would. We've got to put an end to this. We can never give up." Everyone was quiet for a moment.

"So when do we take 'em down?" Serena asked.

"Yea, let's go crack some Nazi skulls," Raye added. She smashed her fists together.

"Agreed. We should move as quickly as possible. It would make catching them with the murder weapon and whatever they used to destroy the businesses more likely," Obi-Wan added, citing reason and logic.

"Okay," Bobby agreed. "But we wait until dark. And we find out who planned it. Remove the head from the snake and it quits slithering…"

"I don't think I like that analogy," Snake told them.

"Snake, take your PSG-1 and take a sniping position across the street from their HQ. Load it with tranquilizer darts," Bobby told him. "Obi-Wan, the Scouts, and I will move in. I want Rio and Samus blocking all the escape routes. No one gets out of that building. If they do, they get enough drugs to take down a bull elephant. Everyone get something to eat and we move out at 9pm. See you in a few hours," Bobby dismissed them. "Lita wait," he added.

The crowd dispersed. Lita hung around. It was clearly evident that she was still upset for Bobby taking Rio along to his meeting. "What?" she asked. Her arms were crossed, defensively.

"Happy anniversary," he told her, standing to meet her at eye level.

She stared blankly at him. "Who reminded you?" she finally asked.

"No one," he told her. "I knew the whole time. I played dumb so that I could go to my meeting which was actually a jewelry store. I was gunna get you something amazing, but the old guy who got shot was my jeweler, so you might have to wait for your present."

"Oh Bobby," she said, dropping her arms.

"Well, it happens," he told her.

"That's so romantic," she spoke. The anger in her eyes faded and was replaced by loving jubilation. "I'm sorry I was so… bitchy earlier."

"Don't dwell on it," he told her. "I plan to tolerate your upcoming bitchiness for a long time."

Lita smiled at him. "You can count on me being bitchy whenever you want me to be." She moved in and wrapped her arms around him. "I love you," she spoke softly.

"I love you too," he replied. "C'mon," he said, "Let's go get some food before we take down these Nazi bastards."

"What are we having?" she asked, breaking away.

"What are you hungry for?" he asked.

"Whadda ya got?" she asked.

"What do you want?" he asked again, growing impatient.

"Wasn't there some leftover Korean barbeque from the other night?" Lita asked, fearing another 'whadda ya got?' might land her with no anniversary present at all.

"Maybe," Bobby told her, thinking back to the fridge. "I think Popo and Nana might have gotten into it. They've found all the zucchini and yellow squash that I'd hidden around the house."

"Bobby, might I have a word with you?" Obi-Wan asked. Bobby and Lita had just emerged from the Batcave and back into the main house.

"Yes, Obi-Wan," he said. "Lita, I'll come find you in a few minutes."

"Okay," she replied.

"What's up?" he asked his Jedi friend.

"I've been thinking about the bust the other night. These Nazis and extremists both entered the race using cocaine and opium."

"Right," Bobby agreed.

"Well, cocaine and opium would have a higher street value than twenty M16's. They could have just as easily sold the cocaine and opium and bought ten cases of M16s. There was no logic in the move to use their drugs to enter the race."

"I see where you're going with this," Bobby told him. "Perhaps I should go see Mr. Rufus again. Thank you my friend." Bobby descended back down to the depths of the Batcave, this time emerging in his Batman suit. The Batmobile's jet engine whined as he shot out of the cave and into the night.

Batman adjusted the transmitter in the Batmobile. "Commissioner? Do you hear me?"

"I'm a little busy, friend. Can you make this quick?" Commissioner Gordon asked, juggling phones and struggling to put his coat on.

"The shop owner that was busted last night for the street racing circle, is he still in lock up?" Batman asked.

"He posted bond six hours after he was arrested. They let him out. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to get patrols on the streets."

"What's going on?"

"There's a riot brewing downtown. Some extremist asshole said some things on CNN that really pissed the Jews off."

"Where?" Batman asked.

"He was last seen downtown. I think the mob had followed him to the Lazlowkazahn Complex. He's holed himself up inside. My guys on the ground estimate that there are around 2000 to 3500 protesters. If you get a minute you might want to help," Gordon suggested.

"I might be able to find some time," Batman told the Commissioner, "After I have a word with Mr. Rufus." The Batmobile continued on into the night, back to the same dumpy downtown garage where he and Raye had raced the night before. The streets were quiet. The garage door was closed and front door was locked. A light at the back of the shop and sweet smelling smoke rising from an open window was the only clue anyone was there.

Batman fired his grappling hook to the roof. The garage's skylight was black with soot and mud. Batman cut through it with a diamond cutting wheel, neatly attached to his utility belt. It was clearly evident that Rufus and his employee were about to take a hit from the bong.

"You know that's illegal right?" Batman asked, swooping down from the dark rafters of the shop.

"Shit!" Rufus called out, cowering behind his chair.

His boy took a hit off the bong, and got up, ready to fight. The guy stood up, took one look at Batman and started laughing. Batman's foot caught him in the head as he reached for a bag of Funyuns on the table next to the bong. The guy fell back, out cold on the couch.

Rufus tried to escape but Batman was on him. He grabbed Rufus as he tried to unlock his front door. A sleeper hold made sure he wasn't going anywhere. "The drugs the Nazis and Muslims gave you, what was in it for them?"

"I don't know what you mean playa!" Rufus said, a bit of fear in his voice.

"They could have sold that for a lot more than one case of M16's! What else did they get?"

"I told you," Rufus cried again. A hot stream of yellow fell down his legs and onto Batman's boot.

Batman pulled him back and smashed his face, persuasively, into the wall. "What was in it for them?" he asked again.

"Okay, okay. They gave me the drugs in exchange for some stuff… plastic stuff. C4 and Semtex. Heavy shit."

"Where did you get it?" Batman asked.

"I don't know." Rufus face met the wall again. "Okay okay. The fat guy on the Harley in the last race, his name is Billy Ray Washington. His kid is a Navy Captain. The guns weren't stolen; he let them disappear, along with the plastics."

"What for?" Batman asked.

"I really don't know playa. I'm just the middleman. Really!" Rufus cried. He found himself standing on his own feet, alone in the room.

The Batmobile rocketed downtown. Again, Batman fiddled with the transmitter. "Obi-Wan! Obi-Wan!" The Jedi answered his communicator. "Get everyone downtown. We've got a riot to disperse; Lazlowkazhan complex."

"Understood friend," Obi-Wan replied.

"Wait! Tell Snake I want him to sneak aboard the USS Discovery. I need him to retrieve the Captain for me."

"Very well. Kenobi out."

The dark stinginess of what you'd call the ghetto of Gotham gave way to Metropolitan Gotham. The Wayne Tower stood majestic in the night. Of equal height, but with more jagged edges was the Lazlowkazhan complex. It was the headquarters for the Muslim League of America, an organization to promote Islamic understanding and sympathy in the west. It was a legit organization, not a place someone like Muhammad would be welcomed.

The crowd of angry citizens, mostly Jewish, had gathered outside. They held signs and burned effigies. It was almost like something you'd see in a Middle Eastern nation on one of the 24 hour news networks, but it was right here in Gotham City. As usual, the press had arrived and began to broadcast news reports, the latest of which could be seen on the Jumbotron affixed to the side of nearby Wayne Tower.

Batman parked at the end of the block. A few caresses of the Batmobiles buttons fired tear gas pellets into the crowd. The crowd would disperse, but move to another side of the building. The police weren't having any luck either, the crowd paying no attention to them. Luckily, help had arrived.

"Mars Burning Mandala!" Rings of fire shot from Sailor Mars' fingers, forcing the crowd from the side of the building. The crowd fled the base of the Lazlowkazhan Complex, moving down the block.

"Jupiter Supreme Thunder!" Lightning crashed and thunderbolts fell on the crowd, Jupiter's stun gun effect working perfectly.

"Shine Aqua Illusion!" Sailor Mercury called out. Blasts of water deterred any protesters that escaped Jupiter's thunder and still sought to be belligerent.

With the crowd corralled, Samus leapt into action. A soft blue bubble fell over the crowd. Samus' Varia suit provided a plethora of tools. This time, her handy cannon was transformed into a force field projector. None of the protestors could escape.

"Good work everyone," Batman congratulated, leaving the Batmobile and joining them on the street.

"Snake is heading for the Discovery as you requested," Obi-Wan reported. "Why is he taking the captain into custody?"

"I followed your lead about the drugs. Rufus told me that this Navy Captain supplied the Nazis and Muslims with plastic explosives." Batman gazed up at the glowing, mountainous looking Lazlowkazhan tower. "Enough to bring down a building…"

"To do what?" Sailor Moon asked.

"I think I've got it. Everyone, into the building! I think they've rigged it to explode!" Batman lead his team into the heart of Lazlowkazhan tower. The team descended on the basement, looking for massive amounts of C4 and Semtex explosive.

"I think I've found it," Sailor Mercury reported. Everyone descended on her position in the center of the Lazlowkazhan Tower Basement, 3rd level.

"Whoa," Sailor Venus exclaimed. "Where's the detonator?"

Batman studied the massive pile of plastic, strapped to the main building support. "A good question. I'd say it was remotely detonated, but there is a counter." Indeed atop the mound of explosives flashed a red display. 5:00.

"Good work finding our little present." It was the voice of Noushad Muhammad on the building's loudspeaker. "In five minutes, all the people in this building will be dead. Praise be to Allah."

The message ended.

"Five minutes," Batman recounted. He walked over to the wall and gave the fire alarm a pull. Water streamed down from the sprinklers and a klaxon sounded. The Justice League themselves took off at a run, towards the stairs and out the lobby, fighting against the buildings workers. They had cleared the building when Batman's communicator beeped.

"What is going on?" Nana asked.

"Mr. Batman?" Popo finished.

"We've evacuated a building downtown," Batman struggled to tell the Ice Climbers, over the sound of frenzied masses of people. "Where are you?"

"Above you!" Popo spoke.

"We can see your car!" Nana told him.

Batman looked up. Indeed, forty floors above them, the Ice Climbers were scaling Lazlowkazhan Complex. "Get down. That building's rigged to explode."

"Explode?" Nana asked.

"Some bad men put lots of explosives in the basement. We can't disarm it because we don't know where the detonator is. You've got to get off of that building now."

"We know…" began Popo.

"Where it is," said Nana.


"On the roof!" they both called out. As fast as their small Eskimo legs would carry them, Popo and Nana began to climb. This building was too simple for them. They were used to jagged, rocky crags, not the smooth sided buildings of Gotham City. Within minutes the Ice Climbers had reached the roof of Lazlowkazhan complex. At the center of the building was a spire, used for radio transmissions. This time, it was used to transmit the radio signal to detonate.

All the Ice Climbers' colleagues could do was look up and hope. Popo approached the detonator from one direction, Nana from the other. They circled the thing, a red '1:30' counting down towards zero.

"How do we…" Nana started.

"Disarm it?" Popo finished.

They both studied it, rubbing their chins studiously under their furry hooded parkas. They met at the front of the detonator and watched it countdown. They both sat down, buffaloed as to what to do. Then, they simultaneously got up and began to look over the part that looked like the clock radio in their room.

"I know!" Popo called out, his hammer in the air triumphant in his brilliant idea.

"What?" Nana asked.

"We need nine more minutes!" He reeled back and swung his hammer with great ferocity at the timer. The clock began to flash '12:00.' No explosion was heard. Alas, who would have thought that the snooze function would be the disarming mechanism for the bomb?

"We did it, Mr. Batman!" Nana reported over the communicator.

Batman had been counting down the seconds on his own communicator. "Good work guys. You've got an entire year's worth of eggplant coming," he told them.

"They did it!" Sailor Moon cried out. "Popo and Nana stopped the bomb!"

Everyone let out a cheer, especially the Jews in Samus' force field. She released them. It was clearly obvious that Muhammad wouldn't have been in a building he was about to blow up. "Go home!" Samus shouted to the crowd that she'd just released. Slowly, the Jewish people began to get back into their cars or board the bus or get into taxi cabs for the ride home.

"So, what would have been the point of blowing up the building?" Sailor Jupiter asked, finding herself next to Batman.

"I think it's that the Muslims would have blamed it on the Jews, and the Jews would have blamed the deaths of thousands of their people on the Muslims. It creates the kind of fervor that extremists thrive on," Batman told the group. "But we'll know more as soon as Snake gets here."

"Somebody call?" Snake asked. Under his arm in a sleeper hold, Snake had the Captain of the USS Discovery, unconscious. It was very evident that this man was the son of the fifth racer from the street race the night before. They had the same eyes, and instead of a long white beard with tobacco stains, this man had a short, well trimmed goatee.

"Was it hard to get to him?" Batman asked of his sneaking operative.

"Not really. Soyuz class destroyer… I've boarded dozens of 'em," Snake boasted, lighting up a cigarette. "This clown was asleep in his cabin. Pretty easy to get to."

"Let's get him back to the Batcave for interrogation."

Chapter 4: Strange Bedfellows

"Wake up," Batman spoke. Captain Washington was restrained by Bat-cuffs to an examination table. The table rocked forward, making the captain face forward. A single light from the ceiling fell on the silhouette of the Batman. "Captain Washington?"

The captain was still woozy from Snake's manhandling. "Huh? The Batman? Where am I?"

"Not on the Discovery," Batman told him.

"Captain Noah Washington, US Navy, Serial Number: 436-443-1013," he rattled off.

"Geneva doesn't apply down here," Batman told him. "I need answers. An hour ago, an entire building and 3500 citizens of Gotham were about to be blown straight to God. I need to know why."

"Building? What?"

"We know the plastic explosives came from your ship. You personally allowed them to disappear. Why?"

The Captain let out a half smile; not totally sinister, but at the same time, not innocent. "Isn't it obvious? I mean, I've seen reports about you on the news... about how the magnificent Batman saves the poor wretches of Gotham night after night. What is the main motivator for any crime?"

Batman thought back to what Bruce had taught him. "Money."

"Winner winner, chicken dinner," the captain told him.

"What was the pay off for you?"

"It's really a simple plot. Those explosives cause the collapse of that building. The Jews get mad. The Muslims get mad. Everyone tries to get even. Muhammad paid me a cool million to get those weapons, so in addition to the bank I get from selling government property, they're used to spark World War 3. Call it career advancement."

"At the expense of all those lives? Women and Children!" Batman was growing agitated.

"I, like Mr. Muhammad, consider myself a surgeon, cutting away dead and decaying flesh of society to make room for the stronger of the species."

"You sick bastard."

"Only to the bleeding hearts," Washington commented. "I'm not unlike Caesar, Napoleon, or Hitler! Visionaries each one, cut down before their prime. I was going to make it. Unite Muslim, Nazi and American for the destruction of the Elders of Zion!"

"Not after Navy command sees the video tape of this. I'll make sure they get it…" Batman's voice trailed off as a syringe of tranquilizers worked its way into Washington's bloodstream.

"How do we proceed?" Obi-Wan asked, putting the empty syringe into the Bat-garbage.

"I want you and Snake to check with the FAA for flight plans that Muhammad would have registered. Check Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and Iran for inbound private flights. When you find it, follow him. I want to know where he goes. Make the arrest if you can."

"Understood friend," Obi-Wan agreed. "What are you going to do?"

"The Scouts and I are going after Herr Grosse, the Nazi leader. We'll keep in contact."

"May the Force be with you," Obi-Wan said in parting.

"And with you," Batman spoke. Obi-Wan parted company with his old apprentice and ventured to find Snake.

"So we're going after those Nazis finally?" Lita's voice asked from the darkness. She ventured from the dark and met Batman in the narrow beam of spotlight.

"Yes," Batman spoke, his voice still gravelly. She fell into him and his arms cradled her gently.

"You're very sexy with the rubber suit on," she said.

"I do what I can," Bobby spoke modestly.

"I don't suppose we have time for you to accept your anniversary present before we have to go crack skulls, do we?" she asked, flirting with her eyes.

"Not really," he told her. "But I'd be up for a preview."

She stretched her arms out, resting them behind his head. The pointy ears of the Batsuit tilted to one side; Lita's long ponytailed hair to the other direction, the culmination being one of the most magical kisses that the Batsuit, along with Bobby in it, had experienced. It was slow and deep, with lots of tongue. The kissing wasn't this deep the first time they made love.

"More to come," Lita told him, teasing.

"Oh you two," Sailor Venus spoke, entering the darkness of the Batcave. The Scouts had arrived.

"Like fifteen year-olds at a movie," Sailor Mars commented.

"You know, you might have a different outlook if you were getting some," Lita told her. "Jupiter Star Power!" she called out. Her power stick held high in the air shot bolts of lightning forth, covering her body in her pretty sailor suit adorned with its green skirt, matching green collar and soft pink bow. "Okay, let's go kick some ass."

Batman hadn't quite figured out the Sailor Scouts locomotive ability, but it was efficient nonetheless. They'd leap, and just like that, the entire group was gone. Batman wasn't as gifted, relying on the old Batmobile to get him from place to place. Again, the turbine engine wound up, rocketing the Batmobile out of the Batcave and towards Gotham City.

Washington had admitted that the extremist Muslims and neo-Nazis were in cahoots in planning the new Kristallnacht. Obi-Wan and Snake would handle Muhammad. Batman and the Scouts could easily bring these Nazis to justice, but the real challenge is educating them, making them forget the flawed racist ways of Hitler and embrace diversity. Fascists often use arguments that support whatever they believe, like Darwin's Origin of Species. They conveniently overlook, however, that Darwin also suggested that diversity, infusions of genetic variation into the gene pool, would be required, lest hordes of bad recessive genes be revived.

The Scouts had beaten Batman to the Nazi leadership center. It was a small two storied building down by Gotham's aptly named Crime Alley. The place had a cloth overhang above the door and two large windows in front. On the door, in a throwback from the 30's, the word 'BUND' was written in gold letters. The Bund in Hitler's early days served as a way for German Americans to 'be patriotic' to the fatherland and the fuhrer. They soon disbanded after the outbreak of World War 2. Most members of the Bund were proud Germans but didn't share in Hitler's outright hatred and thirst for conquest. Today, the old Bund headquarters served as a place where racist ideology reigned and common sense no longer had any hold.

"Come in Batman," Sailor Moon spoke into her communicator.

"Go ahead, Sailor Moon."

"What's the plan? Over."

"Why don't you guys kick the door down and give one of those crackerjack speeches. We haven't heard one for a while. I'll sneak in the back and pounce as you've got them distracted," Batman told her.

"Roger," Sailor Moon spoke. She led her Sailor Scouts to the front door. An approach like this would have been impossible, except that the paranoid Nazis had covered the glass windows and door with cardboard. Batman worked to the back and entered stealthily, disabling the sentry at the back door. A thick, sour smell meant that the Nazis had been cooking.

"Sauerkraut," Sailor Jupiter spoke, sniffing the air. Her culinary instinct was correct. "It's a big batch, lots of caraway seed. They're still here."

"Good job, Jupiter," Sailor Moon said. There was no doubt that crybaby Serena was leader of the group. "Ready guys?" she asked.

The Scouts nodded yes simultaneously.

"Hiya!" Sailor Moon called out, kicking the door down. It collapsed, shattering glass and dust everywhere like a low rolling fog.

"Who's that?" Hans Grosse, Nazi leader asked. He and his fellow Nazi leaders were indeed eating a very German supper of sauerkraut and sausages in their castle of hatred.

The Moonlight filtered in behind them, adding a certain touch to the Scout's entrance. "We know that Evil takes many forms. In the past it exhibited itself as Napoleon and Caesar and Hitler! They only lasted so long because we weren't around. I stand for Love. I stand for justice. I am Sailor Moon! And in the name of the moon, I'll punish you." She struck her cocky pose.

"Juden lover…" Grosse uttered. He motioned with his head. The two goons knocked their table down; the Nazi's getting behind it. Had the plan worked as Grosse wanted it to, two guys with MP40 machine guns would have come out and opened fire. It was a contingency should they ever be raided by the police. No one came. "Fritz! Karl!" Grosse called out.

From the back room, two bodies, Fritz and Karl, flew out and crashed into old wooden chairs. "They're no help," Batman uttered, rappelling down from the rafters. High kicks caught two of the senior Nazis.

The Scouts leapt into action, engaging them in hand to hand combat. Sailor Jupiter and Venus focused on one guy, Mars and Mercury taking the other, so Sailor Moon and Batman could concentrate on Hans.

"Surrender," Batman told his Nazi adversary.

"Nein," he replied. From his belt, he removed an old Luger handgun. Before he could even fire a shot, Batman yanked down on the cord he'd rappelled in from, pulling a rafter out of the ceiling and smashing Grosse in the face. He stumbled back.

Sailor Moon didn't miss a beat and disarmed him with a kick. Batman sealed the deal, a solid right jab to the head to render Herr Grosse unconscious. The other Scouts had similar luck, Jupiter and Venus beating their guy with a sleeper that Snake had taught them, and Mars and Mercury using teamwork, as Popo and Nana do, to upset their adversary.

"We gave you the opportunity to quit," Batman told the unconscious body of Hans Grosse. Police sirens outside signaled that Commissioner Gordon had arrived to clean up the scene. Captain Washington's testimony that Batman recorded and Obi-Wan was a witness to served as the death toll Hans Grosse and his Neo-Nazi brethren. The Scouts made a hasty retreat as the cops moved in. Batman worked out the back door and out to his Batmobile.

A red light on the dash of the Batmobile flashed. "Go ahead, Obi-Wan," Batman spoke.

"Snake and I have departed. Muhammad registered a flight plan and is taking off as we speak," Obi-Wan reported. "We're headed to Pakistan."

Chapter 5: The Biggest Fish Ever.

"We should have brought those Eskimos," Snake commented, guiding his and Obi-Wan's old Jeep over the rough mountainous terrain of northern Pakistan.

"You're doing a fine job," Obi-Wan commented, looking down the sharp drop-offs and cliffs on either side of the narrow road they traversed.

"All this for one terrorist asshole," Snake said. He pressed the cigarette lighter in on the car, nothing happened. "That's not a good sign."

"Perhaps its one you should…" Obi-Wan thought back to what Bobby had said earlier, "Never mind."

"This guy better be leading us to a big fish," Snake commented. "I hate wasting time on small fries."

"Big fish?" Obi-Wan asked. He didn't understand the idiom.

"It's an expression," Snake told him. "Like this guy isn't worth my time. But if he leads us to someone who is, well, I guess it was worth following him."

The Jeep worked over the nasty terrain quite well, eventually leaving the high mountains and settling into a hilly area with large rocks all along the road. The car that carried Muhammad had stopped about 500 yards ahead. Snake parked his jeep behind a large rock, off the trail, and exited. He removed from the back his PSG-1 sniper rifle, Stinger missile launcher, some rations, packs of cigarettes and his FA-MAS assault rifle and SOCOM handgun.

"Do you really need all that?" Obi-Wan asked.

"You might be surprised," Snake told him. He lit one of his American Spirit smokes from a book of matches he had in his bag, "C'mon," he told the Jedi.

The mismatched twosome worked their way down the road, hiding behind rocks and taking cover when a terrorist patrol would come into view. The 500 yard trip took them an hour, but Snake and Obi-Wan finally arrived. They took up position behind a large rock, overlooking a small valley.

"What do you see?" Obi-Wan asked, as Snake peered down the scope of his PSG-1.

"It can't be," Snake spoke, disbelievingly. "They've been looking for this asshole for eight years, and this guy leads us right to him."

"Who?" Obi-Wan asked.

"Only two vehicles... As soon as I take them out, get that sword thingy of yours ready. We're gunna be facing a lot of pissed off terrorists." Snake replaced the PSG-1 with his Stinger and took aim at the old rusty Toyota pickup and newer, less rusty Toyota that was parked. Snake's missiles streaked through the sky, rocking the large out cropping of rocks that Muhammad and this mystery man were in. The second missile exploded, and so all of the terrorist's means of escape were gone.

The AK47 wielding soldiers were in a panic. They didn't know what was going on. Neither did Obi-Wan. They began to fire wildly at anything in the desert that moved. Snake took out his PSG-1 and began some sniping, dropping soldiers as they emerged. Snake's last bullet ripped through the flesh of Noushad Muhammad, the man that led them to this terrorist utopia. "I'm out," he said. "Go!" he told Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan's blue lightsaber ignited, revealing their position. Snake popped up, FA-MAS in hand giving Obi-Wan suppressive fire. The Jedi cut through the soft sands, like those of Tatooine, and began to cut down terrorists with his Lightsaber. Snake joined Obi-Wan's trek down the small hill and into the valley below. Snake's bullets handled anyone across the valley, out of Obi-Wan's reach. They worked to the small outcropping of rock that Snake's target was hiding in.

Snake proceeding in first, but was met with a heavy scimitar blade to the arm. Obi-Wan forced pushed Snake out of the way of a death blow from the man. He emerged in the setting desert sun. The man was very tall, upwards of six and a half feet tall, with olive colored skin and a long white colored beard. His eyes were cold.

Obi-Wan himself couldn't believe who was before him. He'd learned about the history of the planet from reading at his local library, and it was this bearded man who more than any other had changed the world in the past few years. "Osama..."

Indeed the man who Muhammad was going to meet with was none other than the most wanted man in the world, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. "Death to America, death to Israel!" he cried. He swung the heavy scimitar at Snake, but his blow was deflected by Obi-Wan's lightsaber. Osama's blade deformed a little. Osama squinted and looked up at Obi-Wan.

"A big fish all right," Obi-Wan commented. He then began to have it out with Osama; Jedi vs. Extremist Muslim in a fight to the death. He deflected any attack that Osama could mount with the heavy blade and countered with fast Jedi moves of his own. It was a quick affair. Osama's blade couldn't handle he intense power of Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan reeled back, ready to deliver the death blow, but Osama suddenly stopped. He collapsed to the sand, clutching his chest. His eyes looked as if they were going to pop out of his head as he uttered one last "Death to the infidels," before dying.

Snake joined Obi-Wan over the corpse of the dead terrorist mastermind. Snake laughed sielently. "Good work," he congratulated.

"But I didn't do anything," Obi-Wan told him.

"You didn't make a martyr out of him. I imagine seeing him collapse of a heart attack with kill morale of anyone in al-Qaida," Snake told him. He lit up another American Spirit. "God Bless America."

Nativity, (put on sunglasses) Miami Style

By Greg Senger Chapter 1

The living room at Wayne Manor was alive with activity. A roaring fire had been built, Christmas tree decorated with all manner of lights and ornaments and a fresh pot of cocoa had been made. The holiday spirit had fallen over Gotham City and all those who reside in it. Snow had begun to fall on this crystal clear night that seemed just like it was out of the Bible.

"My first Christmas with a boyfriend," Lita remarked, shaking the Yahtzee cup. She leaned forward and let the dice fly; a three of a kind. "Damn."

"Was that a damn for the crappy Yahtzee throw, or for me?" Bobby asked her.

She looked back in her easy chair at him. "Definitely about Yahtzee," she told him, leaning back into his chest.

His arms tied around her, snuggling together nice and cozy on this Christmas Eve. "Good answer," he told her. They shared a small kiss, no one even really paying attention to them anymore.

"The house seems so empty with Serena, Amy and Raye back in Japan for the holiday," Mina commented, shaking the Yahtzee cup.

"Yea, but we're still here, along with Obi-Wan and Samus and Snake and Popo and Nana. It's not like you're going to run short on friends this holiday," Bobby told her.

"Yea, but I'm used to all us Scouts being together. Serena always made Christmas so much fun. We'd help the less fortunate or something and then Lita and Serena's mom would cook for us… good times," Mina thought back.

"I'm kinda glad I don't have KP duty anymore. Serena's pretty much a bottomless pit; that girl never stops eating!" Lita added. "Playing sous chef will be kinda fun."

"Which reminds me, how big of a ham should I make?" Bobby asked. "I mean, should I make the entire 10 pounds or just maybe half for all of us?" he shook the Yahtzee cup. Full house.

"I'd make all of it," Lita told him. "That way, there's leftover for sandwiches later in the day."

"Was I the only one who voted for turkey this year?" Mina asked, sipping her cocoa.

"Yes ma'am," Bobby told her. "I'm actually relieved. I hate cooking turkey. It always comes out too dry."

"Don't trust that pop up timer," Lita told him, throwing the dice again. "The epoxy in it is designed to melt at 180° so, the dark meat will be done, but by that time, the white meat will be like a desert, with only a little more flavor."

"Thanks for the science lesson," Bobby told her.

Mina took the Yahtzee cup and rolled. She didn't know if their repartee would continue.

"That Good Eats show is growing on me," she confessed. "Looks like someone needs you."

"Oh, that's very nice, but you'll have to wait until I beat you in Yahtzee," Bobby told her.

"Not me," she said, pointing out the window and at the sky. A lone cloud was the backdrop for the Bat signal.

"Damn," he spoke. Lita removed herself from his lap and allowed him to get up. "Just for kicks…" he took the cup and gave it a shake. Five fives. "Yahtzee…" He left a certain win and descended on the Batcave. The suit was on in no time flat and the Batmobile rocketed out the cave.

"What's going on Commissioner?" Batman spoke into the Batmobile's onboard communications.

"I've been talking with a Lt. Horatio Caine from Miami Dade PD. He said that you helped him capture a gang leader and now he'd like to call in the favor. Apparently there's a Hispanic gentleman wanted for an armed robbery and kidnapping. He's headed for Gotham. Caine is sending two of his CSIs to help with the case, Mr. Wolfe and Ms. Boa Vista. Lt. Caine said that he believes that the kidnapper is transporting the woman he kidnapped as an insurance policy," Gordon reported.

"Where can I meet with Wolfe and Boa Vista?" Batman asked.

"They've both arrived here at the station. I don't think they're used to Gotham weather…"

"It's been a long time since I've seen snow," CSI Boa Vista reported.

"Yea, it's not quite Miami, is it Natalia?" Wolfe spoke. They huddled on the roof with Commissioner Gordon. It was evident that the CSIs weren't used prepared for this kind of cold. Boa Vista was shaking with the shivers and Wolfe tried his best to warm her up. Gordon had provided coats, but it was a definite temperature shock. "Does he usually take this long to get here?" Wolfe asked.

"Sorry I got held up in traffic," Batman spoke from behind them. The CSIs were definitely shocked.

"Whoa," Natalia uttered, turning to see the Caped Crusader for the first time.

"Just like H and Delko said," Wolfe spoke. "Ryan Wolfe, Miami Dade Crime lab," he introduced himself.

"I'm Natalia Boa Vista," the frigid woman introduced herself. She was a strikingly beautiful woman, almost looking as if she belonged on daytime TV.

"Who are we after?" Batman asked, getting right to the point.

"Jose Acuna," Wolfe told Batman, handing him a picture. He had darker skin, as was pretty typical for Hispanics, with long, dark, wavy hair and a goatee. "He's taken hostage and kidnapped one Maria Sandoval. She's pregnant and we think that taking her serves as an insurance policy." Ryan provided a picture of Maria. Indeed, she was very pregnant, almost ready to burst. "Acuna has an uncle that runs a ranch on the outskirts of town. We think that's where he's heading."

"How did you come to that conclusion?" Batman asked.

"We checked his phone and text messages for the past week. All indications say he was going to his uncle's," Boa Vista told him.

"Did the text messages indicate if he'd be alone or not? Was Maria mentioned?"

Natalia thought back. "Come to think of it yea. She was mentioned in a few of them. More of a passing thought than anything…"

"So was it premeditated kidnapping or is she in on this whole thing?" Wolfe asked.

"We'll find out once we find them," Batman told him. "What was the other crime? The armed robbery?" Batman asked.

"Apparently Acuna carjacked some gangbanger's ride to get here. They said he had a gun," Wolfe reported.

"Has that been substantiated?"

"Lt. Caine is working on that back in Miami. He felt that even if it wasn't true, it would be best to find Acuna and Sandoval. That's why we're here," Ryan told him.

"Lt. Caine is a smart man," Batman spoke. "We should get to the Triple A Ranch."

Chapter 2

"Hey Unc!" Jose called out as his uncle answered the door.

"Jose? What are you doing here?" He stuck his head out the door and looked around, "You bring the cops?"

"Cops?" Jose asked, confused.

"I saw you on CNN. They said you carjacked some pendejo and now you're leading the cops on some kind of manhunt."

"I didn't carjack nobody…" Jose spoke. He thought back. "That bastard," he spoke, "It was Ricardo. He set me up."

"Set you up," Uncle Juan asked. "Who's Ricardo?"

"Before I answer that," he extended his hand into the shadows next to the door. "This is Maria. She's gunna be my wife."

"Hola," she spoke quietly.

"Oh shit," Juan spoke, eyeing the Batmobile and a police car coming up the lane. "Quick, go hide in the Stable."

"C'mon Mami, we got to go," Jose took Maria's hand and led her around the house and into the stable. There was a vacant stall with fresh hay on the ground. Jose helped his soon to be wife down into the hay and then sat down himself.

"Will your Uncle be able to handle them?" Maria asked.

"He's the best," Jose told her. "He's always had my back… see how he didn't ask about you being pregnant?"

"What would we have told him, we don't know ourselves," she retorted. She grimaced and began to breathe heavy. "I think it's time!"

"Okay, breathe. Just like Dr. Timoteo said. Keep breathing." Jose took Maria's hand and tried to comfort her, secretly wishing that her cries of pain wouldn't alert to their presence. Indeed her water had broken and their baby was on His way. "When the contractions get really hard, just push," Jose instructed.

Maria began to push with her contractions, really wanting to get the Baby out of her.

Wolfe, Boa Vista and Commissioner Gordon arrived, kicking the door in with true cop fashion. They started with guns drawn, but they soon had them holstered to help to deliver a baby. Natalia took Maria's hand, instructing her to breath, while Ryan and Commissioner Gordon surrendered their long winter coats and laid them in a small basket to receive the child.

Slowly, the Child began to emerge from the womb of Maria, head first. He had a head full of hair, black in color, and was born with both eyes open to the world. He didn't cry, as most babies do, but instead greeted the Earth with a smile; a smile of Kings.

Joseph aided his betrothed, helping the Infant out slowly. Upon exit from the womb, Jose cleaned his Infant Son and laid Him in the basket. Natalia, Ryan and Commissioner Gordon rose and allowed Jose to present the Baby to His mother.

"Jesus," she spoke, naming the Boy.

Batman watched silently from the loft above, like an Angel. He removed himself onto the roof. It was 12:00 midnight and the planet Jupiter was directly overhead, shining brightly. He thought about the night, about how so many years ago a thing happened so much like this one tonight, so far away in Bethlehem.

He didn't want to think if what happened tonight in a stable in Gotham, with Jose, Maria and the Baby Jesus was some kind of Rebirth of the Savior, but it really didn't matter what he thought. It was all before him. The mother, father and Baby, the three wise men, two from Miami, one from the east side of Gotham, and himself filling the role of an angel.

His deeds might be angelic to some, but Batman himself was no angel. As for tonight's birth, only time will tell. Really only One can know, and it isn't the mighty Dark Knight.

Good Eats?

By Greg Senger Chapter 1: Business as usual?

"So what did Commissioner Gordon want?" Lita asked, rubbing sleepiness from her eyes. Bobby had finally come home from helping the Miami CSIs to find their man, whom Lt. Caine called and pardoned. The real criminal was now behind bars.

"Oh, nothing major, just finding some wayward souls," Bobby reported, sitting down on the couch next to her. "How was your night?"

"I beat Mina," she told him. "Popo and Nana went to bed early. I haven't seen Snake or Samus, so you know what that means, and I'm pretty sure Obi-Wan went to bed also."

"So you waited here on the couch for me?" he asked, putting his arm around her.

"Sure," she said, her voice half faltering.

"What was that?" Bobby asked.

"Well, waiting up for you sounds nicer than I was too trashed from the wicked strength egg nog that Mina and I made to make it up to bed. But yea, I planned it so you'd get home as I was sobering up," she said.

"C'mon," he spoke. He got to his feet, but before his beloved could join him, he whisked her off the couch, up into his arms and they ascended the staircase to the master suite.

"So romantic," she remarked, falling onto the cushiony mattress. She pulled him down, almost on top of her and began to kiss him and remove his clothing.

"Are you nuts?" Bobby spoke between kisses. "It's Christmas eve. If we start now the sound will spook Santa's reindeer."

"I never bought into the jolly old elf idea," Lita told him, persisting.

"Okay," Bobby pleaded, "It's 11:42. We'll wait eighteen minutes until it's officially the next day then, whatever," he told her.

"Fine," she reluctantly agreed. The frequency of kisses became lighter and fewer in number before she allowed Bobby to roll onto his own side of the bed and relax.

And there they lay. Both wide awake, staring at the ceiling, not a word between them. The clock clicked over one minute, then the next.

"We're not going to have sex tonight are we?" Lita asked.

"Nope," Bobby replied flatly. "It's kinda weird getting your freak on the before or on the same day as the birth of the Savior."

"That's okay," Lita replied. "We should probably get some sleep anyway; we've got a lot to cook tomorrow."

"Quite right," Bobby agreed. They both slid out of typical clothes and into sleepwear.

"Actually, as fun as this past month has been, I think I'm going to sleep in my own bed," Lita told her boyfriend.

"Was it something I said?" Bobby asked unsure of why Lita would want to return to her old room two hallways away.

"No, but I think it might be a good idea. We've been going like absolutely crazy lately, and it's all a bit new to me. I'll see you in the morning. Sleep tight." She gave him a kiss goodnight, and then retreated off to her own room, which was vacant for the past month. The kiss felt cold and distant, like it wasn't her at all.

Bobby crawled into bed. He knew what was going on. He'd been dumped before. And this really felt like the first stage of a nasty breakup. 'Why?' he wondered. 'We've been getting along great. In fact, I think Lita and I get along better than most people. What would make her want to end it?' He tossed and turned, trying to get comfortable. It was all but impossible as the life-size mass that he was used to snuggling up to was gone. 'I miss her already.' He closed his eyes. 'I'll talk to her tomorrow.'

Chapter 2: Drugs are bad, mmmkay.

The sunshine glistened off the newly fallen snow and into the open curtains of Wayne manor. "Good Morning, Master Bobby," Alfred greeted. He had a newspaper and hot coffee in tow.

"Morning Al. What's in the hot sheets?" Bobby opened the Gotham Times, spying his friend Commissioner Gordon on the front page. His eyes widened with a bit of despair.

"Quite shocking isn't it. I almost didn't believe it myself."

Bobby read quietly, "Police Commissioner James Gordon was found dead in his home. The medical examiner believes that the Commissioner overdosed on medication, citing job pressure and anxiety. He was 54." Bobby closed his eyes and shook his head disbelieving. "It can't be. Not Jim. He's the best thing that ever happened to Gotham. And he wouldn't overdose. No way would Gordon let something so trivial get him. I don't buy it."

"If you continue reading, the medical examiner found six different types of drugs in his stomach," Alfred told Bobby. "And the biggest shock is further down the page."

Bobby scanned the text, looking for what Alfred was talking about. "Bullock!" Bobby exclaimed. "They picked Harvey Bullock to replace Gordon! No way could that unkempt, uncouth fatass do half the good Jim Gordon did."

"Keep reading," Alfred instructed.

"Dismantling the Bat signal! That's some nerve! They'll need Batman more than ever now." He continued to read from the paper, "Commissioner Bullock," Bobby shuttered, "has promised to be twice as tough on criminals, prompting local super criminals such as the Joker, Riddler, Two-Face, the Penguin and Poison Ivy to relocate to Metropolis. They agree they'd rather face off with Superman than Harvey Bullock."

"Shocking isn't it," Alfred spoke. "I'll inform Ms. Lita you're awake."

"Thanks Al," he spoke. It was all a bit hard to digest this early in the morning. Gordon dead? Bullock in charge? Criminals willing to face off with Superman? What is going on?" he left the bedroom and ventured down to the kitchen. At least he could take solace in Lita and spending time cooking with her.

"What the hell are these?" Lita spoke, tossing 3x5 photographs at him. He picked up the six glossy pictures and looked them over. The pictures were quite lewd. It was amateur pornography at its best. "You couldn't get me in bed, so you went and spent the night with Raye? You son of a bitch," her hand stung his face. She tore the ring off her finger and threw it at him. "I'm moving back to Japan. Cheating bastard," she spoke, storming out of the kitchen.

"Wait, Lita!" Bobby pleaded. She was already off down the corridor and into her room, packing angrily. He looked at the pictures again. He didn't see the long flowing black hair that Raye had, but instead Lita's long brown ponytail.

"One down," Alfred commented.

"What Al?"

"Well, I don't think that Master Bruce, rest his soul, would want Wayne Manor turned into a Super 8 motel. We have a certain lifestyle to maintain, and a house full of miscreants doesn't fit with what Master Bruce would have wanted."

"Sorry, but wouldn't Bruce wanted us to defeat crime? That's why they're here."

"I doubt that two children, a hermit, a lusty cop, a serial murderer, spacewoman and five Japanese college students is what Master Bruce had in mind," Alfred told him. "I knew him better than you did. This is the last thing that Master Bruce would want."

"What the hell Al?" Bobby asked, getting irate. "Everything's going wrong… what's happening?"

"Problem, my former apprentice?" Obi-Wan asked, entering the room.

"Yeah, everything's going to hell. Lita's leaving me, Commissioner Gordon's dead, people are voluntarily going to face off against Superman… something is horribly wrong," Bobby told him. He rubbed his head, hoping it was all a nasty dream that would go away. "This isn't real," Bobby spoke softly. "It's all fake. I didn't sleep with Raye and Gordon's still alive."

"I wouldn't be so sure about the former. I heard you two quite well last night," Obi-Wan told him. "Not that it's any of my business anyway. Farewell, Mr. Fox has my hyperdrive fixed and I've got a young Skywalker to look after. Farewell, Bobby."

Bobby watched in disbelief as Obi-Wan Kenobi, his most trusted advisor and friend, just went into the garage, mounted his Jedi starfighter and flew off into the clouds. No extended good bye, and most importantly, no 'May the Force be with You.'

"Where the hell am I?" Bobby began to scream. He dropped to his knees. The will to live had departed, so he did what he does when facing that situation. He went for a drive. He half expected the garage to be empty of the cars that he and Bruce had collected, what with the way things were going. Something in the garage was off. The collection of Hondas was absent, instead replaced by Bobby's most hated motorcycle, the Harley-Davidson. "What the fuck is going on?"

He took solace in his 7 Series Bimmer, parked adjacent to the bikes. His BMW started and ran perfectly. He got out onto the open road and put the hammer down. The car whined and shot off with great speed and power, more than should have been there. At the first gas station he came to, Bobby stopped, filled the tank with premium and opened the hood.

"A V12?" he asked. "What the hell is going on?"

"Problem with your car friend?" the station attendant asked.

Bobby looked up and saw that the attendant had a familiar face. One that after reading the paper, he was glad to see! "Jim!" he called out. "Jim Gordon!" Alas, the attendant had the face of the police commissioner. The same square rimmed glasses and puffy white moustache adorned both their faces.

"Sorry, but you must have me mistaken for someone else," he said.

"No no no," Bobby pleaded. "You're Jim Gordon. I know you. I've been playing Batman since Bruce Wayne died. I've met you on the roof of Police headquarters every night for the past 3 months?"

"You're Batman?" the attendant asked, skeptical.

"Yes," he spoke, sure of himself.

"Let me get my wife over here to meet the infamous Batman!" Gordon laughed. He collapsed on the ground, laughing so hard.

"What's going on?" the Gordon imposters' wife asked, entering form the filling station.

"Ms. Boa Vista?" Bobby asked. The woman looked exactly like the Miami CSI who came to Gotham to apprehend the fugitives.

"Sorry, no. My name is Lindsay…"

Bobby left her and jumped back in his car, not even paying for gas. The V12 powered his 750iL down the road and into Gotham. A siren and red lights flashed. The police were after him. Not a lawbreaker, he pulled over. The squad car wasn't a typical Gotham black and white, but instead was green and white. The officer exited. He had on a brown uniform, almost like a sheriff would wear. "CSI Wolfe?" he asked, lowering the BMW's window.

"Get out of the car sir," Wolfe told him. Bobby rose and got out of the car. "We've got you on camera for driving off without paying for your gas. That gets you a night in jail."

"Ryan, what's going on?" he asked.

"Sorry sir, do I know you?" Wolfe asked.

"Yes. You are Ryan Wolfe of the Miami Dade crime lab. You came to Gotham with Natalia Boa Vista chasing an alleged criminal to a ranch outside of town. My name's Bobby. I'm… Batman."

"Well, you got the name right, but I've never been to Miami. And I find it hard to believe that Batman would leave without paying for gas."

"But I am Batman, I really am!" Bobby pleaded as the cuffs went on.

"No, you're not," Wolfe told him. He led Bobby to the back of his police car, which clearly had Miami Dade Police on the side. "Bruce Wayne was Batman. No way could some two bit hack whose girlfriend died be the Dark Knight."

"How did you know that?" he asked.

"Know what? About Bruce or Natalie?" Wolfe asked.

"Any of it."

"Because I am a CSI. We see things. If you know it, I know it."

"If you know what I know, then you should know what I'm going to ask," Bobby surmised, playing to his detective strength.

"You've got to fight," Wolfe told him. "Everything as you know it can come back, but you have to fight. Bruce escaped him once, and now you must do the same thing."

"Who? Who am I fighting?" he asked.

"You're fighting yourself," Wolfe told him. "Get cozy, I'll take you home." The door shut and the Miami PD car carried its occupants into town. Bobby expected to be taken back to Wayne Manor, but Wolfe instead drove him to Fiddlewood Cemetery, downtown. Wolfe opened the door and let Bobby out. A grave had been freshly dug, right next to the headstone of one Ms. Natalie Williams.

"Why are we here Ryan?" Bobby asked, looking at the empty hole and Nat's tombstone.

"You tell me," Wolfe spoke. "It's your mind."

"Undo the cuffs," Bobby told him. Wolfe obliged and released the handcuffs that bound him. Bobby stood for a moment and looked at the six foot deep hole. It was meant for him. That part of him that died a year ago, along with Natalie. But he let that part of himself go. Because of the death of that part of him, he's done incredible things for Gotham City.

"So that's your choice huh?" Wolfe asked. "We can't leave the hole unfilled." From the trunk of the police car, Wolfe removed a body and lugged it over to the hole. The black bag unzipped and its contents fell into the hole.

Ryan left Bobby's side and went the backhoe that had dug the hole and began to fill it in. Bobby looked down at the cadaver in the hole and was shocked to see Alfred. "Wait! Al!" he called out.

Ryan already had the hole full of dirt before he'd even heard anything. The backhoe powered down and Ryan rejoined his captive. "It's okay. He had to go in," Wolfe told him. "He represented the misgivings that are inherent when you give up a little of your power for the sake of the common good. Alfred isn't really dead."

"This is all…"

"Symbolism," Wolfe responded. "Every bit of it."

"How do I get out of it?"

"With all that's gone wrong, what do you have left to do to set things straight in your mind?" Wolfe asked.

"Well, only Lita," Bobby replied. "I've got to get her back."

"Well, we better get to the airport then. Her flight leaves in ten minutes." Wolfe got back in the cop car, Bobby in the front seat this time instead of the back. The Ford Crown Vic rocketed away from the cemetery and back into the outskirts. Police sirens cleared traffic and soon Wolfe and Bobby arrived at Gotham Airport. They both took off at a run inside.

"Well now I know this isn't real," Bobby remarked. All the airport occupants were carbon copies of Ms. Boa Vista, except in swimwear. The whole thing was quite tempting, and Bobby reasoned that's why they were here.

He ignored all the insanely beautiful copies of Natalia and stormed down the corridor. The last flight for Tokyo took off in 5 minutes, and he needed to plead his case before it took off. Gate 66 came up, and there she was, the person who meant more than anything to Bobby.

"Lita! Wait!" he called out. She looked up from her bags and back to see who was calling for her. She dropped the bag and threw her arms around him.

"You ignored all these women to find me," she found herself in his arms. It still didn't feel completely right, but it was a step in the right direction.

"Lita, I can't live without you. Those pictures…"

"It's okay," she told him. "I'm like Ryan. I know what's going on."

"Then you know what I'm doing?" he asked.

"Ignoring all the women to get to me… infidelity won't be a problem. That's always scarred you in a committed relationship. But you don't have to worry about it now. You've solved the problem. Now, you've got to fight."

"Fight who?" he asked.

"Fight! Fight! Fight!" voices chanted. They were familiar voices. Each one had a distinct cadence and timbre and Bobby knew who they were. One was Lita, another, Obi-Wan. Mina, Popo, Nana and Snake also chimed in. Everything was off kilter. He dropped to the ground, breaking away from Lita's grasp. He closed his eyes and shuddered on the ground.

A strong hand picked him up. Bobby's eyes opened slowly. The silhouette of the Bat filled his eyes, among the chorus of fight chants. "Bruce?"

"Never give up, Bobby." Indeed the person before Bobby was the dearly departed Bruce Wayne. The man who was Bobby's mentor in all things crime fighting and Wayne Corp. executive decisions was before him.

"What's going on Bruce?" Bobby asked.

"All that you're experiencing is inside your own head. I'm a manifestation of the memories and feelings you had about me. Don't pay attention to what Alfred told you earlier, I'm quite proud of the Justice League. You've carried on my legacy just as well as I could have hoped for. Ignore the detractors. You are making a difference. But now, you have to fight."

Bobby got rather angry with Bruce telling him to fight. Everyone had. Ryan did, as did Lita, but he had no idea who or what he was supposed to fight. Was some sick mentally twisted version of the Joker, who in this reality might be sane, running around? Did Two-Face get out of the pen? The anger bubbled and boiled inside him, ready to burst.

Irrationality being the norm today, he took all the rage and anger and leapt out the large plate window. Instead of the glass shattering, Bobby found himself shattered into a million pieces. Whatever had a grasp on him was gone.

Chapter 3: Back to Reality

"Hey, it's wearing off!" Sailor Venus reported. Bobby made out her long blonde hair and big red bow from behind groggy eyes. The room was dark, but that just may have been his perception of what was around him, and besides, the past morning he endured proved that his perceptions might be skewed.

"Good morning sunshine," Sailor Jupiter reported, joining her Bat-lover at his side. "I'm so glad you're awake!"

Bobby moaned as the deleterious effects wore off and he regained his bearings. The room was dark. "Where am I?" he asked from behind the Cape and Cowl.

"You're in the basement of an abandoned mental asylum, my caped friend," Obi-Wan reported. He hadn't left for the deserts of Tatooine.

"Scarecrow," Batman surmised.

"Yep," Jupiter reported, cradling his head and stroking the pointy bat ears. "He drugged you with some type of fear toxin. Obi-Wan concocted a remedy from research Bruce did years ago when he was infected himself."

"Good old Bruce," Batman spoke, thinking to the apparition he spoke to in the dark corridors of his own mind. "Did you catch Scarecrow?" Batman asked, pulling himself up and trying to get to his feet.

"Snake's got a gun on him in the corner," Jupiter reported, helping her man up.

"Did he have me hooked up to any kind of machine where he could have monitored my dream?" Batman asked, finally getting a solid grip on things. "We might all be in danger if he did."

"We found no machine," Obi-Wan reported. "But that doesn't mean that he couldn't have had one concealed somewhere."

"How is the Scarecrow?" Batman asked. He departed Jupiter and Obi-Wan, joining Snake in the corner. The Scarecrow was huddled in the corner, nonmoving. Under the brim of his straw hat contained a large card with the fraction 10/6 on it.

"Complacent," Snake reported.

"No wonder," Batman spoke, removing the card from the hat brim. "The Mad Hatter."

"What? What am I doing here?" Scarecrow asked, waking from the Hatter's trance. Scarecrow tried to get to his feet but Snake's gun in his face forced him back into the corner.

"Where's the Mad Hatter?" Batman asked, moving away from Snake's shadow and into Scarecrow's field of view. "I'm willing to bet that you didn't drug me of your own free will and we'll let you go if you provide information leading to his capture."

"He's right where you left him," Scarecrow reported. "His cell at Arkham."

Batman looked at the Scarecrow. Indeed the master of terror did look as if he'd been genuine with the information and that Jervis Tetch, also known as the Mad Hatter, was still in his cell at Arkham Asylum. "Let him go," Batman told Snake. Snake scowled and lowered his gun.

Scarecrow didn't waste time and beat a hasty retreat, scuffling his feet and scurrying out the door. "Let's go home," Batman told his comrades. He gave a look to Popo and Nana, followed by a nod. They both saluted and left after Scarecrow, sneaking like Snake had taught them. The entire group emerged from Scarecrow's den, a few miles outside of Gotham on an old, abandoned farmhouse.

A few straw farm cats had left prints on the Justice League's new mode of transport. It was an armored Ford Expedition with a convertible roof and treads instead of tires. It would serve as the Justice League's go-anywhere, do-anything transport. Bobby had named it Foe Hammer, at Samus' suggestion. The engine roared and the earth quaked as the behemoth people mover roared back into Gotham.

"So what is it like in your own mind?" Sailor Jupiter asked, snuggling up to her master detective.

"Scary," Batman replied. "Every facet of your own mind, everything that you block out and take for granted gets brought to the forefront. What's scarier is that it all seems like reality. Part of you senses that it's a nasty dream, but another part of you is so lost in it that you get consumed."

"Wow," Jupiter commented. "What happened?"

"Well, first off Jim Gordon died," Batman told her, "Then you left me because you thought I slept with Raye."

"Did you?" Jupiter asked. Her eyes held a sort of seriousness, indicating that she was scarred of infidelity.

"Of course not," Batman told her. "Then Obi-Wan left. So then, I went for a drive and found that my BMW had a V12 instead of the V8. I left a filling station without paying for gas because the attendant was Commissioner Gordon. Then Ryan Wolfe, one of the Miami CSIs I helped was acting like a patrol cop, Alfred got buried, and then I stopped you from getting on a flight back to Japan."

"That sounds like quite the trip," Jupiter commented. "Well, I'm glad to have you back."

"That isn't even the scariest part," Batman told her. She craned in, listening intently. "My Hondas were gone. Replaced by… Harley-Davidsons." He shuddered.

"Oh you poor baby," she spoke, cradling the pointed ears of the Batsuit in her ample bosom. "It was only a dream."

"I know," he spoke. "I know."

"Well, let's get home and you can take stock of everything," Jupiter suggested. "I had to make an entire Christmas dinner by myself, but we saved you some ham."

"I love ham," he told them, dropping the dark Batman voice and using his normal Bobby voice. "Did you make that kimchee coleslaw?"

"You have an entire bowl all to yourself since no one else eats that. And a few pies. I got really ambitious," Jupiter told him. "Serena, Raye and Amy should be back tomorrow, so I thought they should get some of the meal too."

"Well, put it in the oven for me. When we get back, I'm taking the Batmobile and going to check on Mr. Tetch."

Bobby kept his promise and Foe Hammer was parked in the dark recesses of the Batcave. He leapt out, getting into the waiting Batmobile and rocketed off towards Arkham. The winding road up the hill that led to Arkham served as a metaphor for the dark, twisted paths that Arkham's occupants typically call a life.

The low, sleek Batmobile shot up that winding road, parking outside of Arkham's high walls. A grappling hook locked into the roof and carried the Batman up into the top floor, where high level criminals were kept. Poison Ivy, Two-Face, Killer Croc were all locked in their cells. As was the Mad Hatter, Jervis Tetch. The pale moonlight of the Hatter's cell was blocked by the pointed ear silhouette.

"Well hello, Batman," The Mad Hatter greeted his nemesis.

"Mr. Tetch," Batman spoke from outside the barred walls.

"What can I do for you?" The Hatter asked. He'd calmed considerably since Bruce last apprehended him.

"Have a look at this," he presented the fraction card.

"Very nice," Tetch commented. "But it isn't mine," he told Batman.

"Whose is it?" Batman asked.

"I'll help you only if you answer this question. Where does the fraction 10/6 come from?" Tetch relaxed on his springy Arkham bed, confident that the Detective couldn't answer.

"Ten shillings and six pence, the price of a hat in predecimalized British money. Equal to roughly $108 in today's money," Batman told him. Bruce did teach Bobby well in the art of detective-ship and knowing your enemy.

Tetch scowled. "Fine. This fraction card, while carrying my exquisite style, is far too simple to be one of my mind control cards. This is more similar to something from a standard PC. Not too dissimilar to a regular network card. I'd say someone was trying to throw you off their trail." Batman was already gone.

'Scarecrow,' Batman thought, returning to the Batmobile. "Obi-Wan," Batman spoke into the Batmobile comm. system. "I'm heading back to the Scarecrow's lab. The card in his hat was a decoy. Try and see what you can pull up on him. His real name is Dr. Jonathan Crane. Anything will be helpful."

"I'll get back to you," Obi-Wan obliged.

Batman pushed the limits of the Batmobile and returned to Scarecrow's rural hideout. It was a very suitable hiding place for a scarecrow. Run down barn and farmhouse, stray animals feasting on discarded and forgotten bits of other stray animals. The full moon light added to the ambiance.

The cellar door gave way for Batman. Scarecrow hadn't been back since Snake let him go earlier. The entire place, despite the run down façade, was quite modern and technological. Test tubes and beakers lined the walls, holding all manner of chemicals in which the brilliantly twisted mind of Dr. Crane could create anything from a fuzzy navel to the most devious fear toxin imaginable.

Batman studied the test tubes at the center of Crane's workbench. Most of his serums were a derivative of sodium pentothal, truth serum, with some added nasty bits included. It was nasty parts that created the fear inducing substances. Sometimes LSD would be included, others heroin, sometimes even PCP. It all equaled out to a cocktail that no one liked to drink.

Batman eyed the ingredients on the counter; kosher salt, black pepper, thyme, cumin in large quantities, and empty bacon wrappers. The place where Dr. Crane usually mixed up concoctions of a deadly nature now looked like Bobby's kitchen counter. 'Maybe he's switched to concocting gourmet food? No. No reason for the false Hatter card then. What's the game?' Batman thought. He snapped pictures of everything and took samples of the test tube residue.

The Batmobile took him back to Wayne Manor with no fuss from anything. It was a quiet night in Gotham; the type of night that Bobby liked to retire the Batsuit and get with Lita to watch Food Network.

"Hey, I'm glad you're back!" Lita exclaimed, meeting Bobby in the Batcave. "Get out of that suit, AB's going to be on in like ten minutes."

Bobby checked the Bat-clock. Indeed it was 11:50. Bobby's favorite Food Network program, Good Eats, would be on in ten minutes. Perhaps it was host Alton Brown's quirky sense of humor or the scientific approach to cooking that Bobby found appealing, but everyone in the house could attest that whatever it was, it made nights eating in pleasurable. "Turn it on down here," Bobby told her, removing his cowl, "I've got samples to analyze."

She agreed and settled into the Bat-Barcalounger that she brought down from the study upstairs. The Food Network came onto the Bat-Plasma mounted on the wall as Bobby began to click away on the keys to the Bat-computer.

The computer analyzed the contents of Scarecrow's vial; apple cider vinegar. "What's he doing with apple cider vinegar?" Bobby asked himself, pondering Scarecrow's twisted mind.

"He's making a dressing for this romaine heart salad," Lita responded, watching Alton Brown's every move on TV. "Looks kinda good."

"I'm sorry, what?" Bobby asked her.

"AB's making a salad that you pick up and eat," she reported.

"What did he use to season it?" Bobby inquired, walking over to the TV, kicking around an idea in his head.

"Um, salt, pepper, cumin, thyme, bacon fat and…"

"Apple Cider vinegar," Bobby finished, looking at the vial in his hand. "Why would the ingredients of Alton's salad be strewn all over Scarecrow's workbench?"

"Maybe Dr. Crane is a Good Eats fan too," Lita suggested.

"Maybe," Bobby spoke, "But I think we won't know until we go to Atlanta."

Chapter 4: ATL/CDC

"Okay, Ramon after you get a close up of the okra dish, we'll cut to me talking with Carolyn in the fridge," Alton conferred with his cameraman, Ramon.

"You got it AB," Ramon agreed, lugging his steadicam around.

"I'm going to check with Carolyn and see if she's ready for filming. That should give Lindsay time to finish the final product before we do the shoot," AB told his crew. They didn't pay much attention to him as he went to the fridge and slid the hidden door open where The Lady of the Refrigerator would appear from. AB didn't find the Lady of the Refrigerator however.

"Mr. Brown," Batman spoke from the back of the fridge.

Alton blinked heavily, did a double take and then looked around, disbelieving. The crew hadn't gathered or started to laugh, so this wasn't a gag. It was the real Batman. "Hi," he spoke.

"Do you have time for a quick chat?" Batman asked, his head protruding between a celery stalk and a bowl of vanilla pudding.

"What did you have in mind," Alton asked.

"Let's go for a ride," Batman suggested. "I'll meet you out front by you BMW."

Brown's eyes widened as he turned back towards his crew. "Hey Mike, Ramon, everybody take a lunch, I've got something I've got to go do," AB told his crew. They eagerly put down their equipment and made a break for the door.

Alton suited up in his Shoei helmet and Vanson jacket and walked to his BMW motorcycle which was parked outside. The F800 naked BMW whined as AB started it. He checked his surroundings. There was no sign of the Caped Crusader. Soon, the BMW was drowned out by the fast rumblings of a set of Sato cans on a Honda four. A matte black Honda 919 rocketed out of the alley by Alton's production studio. The 919's Nissin brake calipers stopped it next to Brown's BMW.

"Someplace quiet," Batman told him. Brown mounted his BMW and eased the clutch out, joining Atlanta traffic. Batman followed, the Honda four easily keeping up with the twin BMW. Batman pulled next to his cooking idol. Their eyes met and accelerators opened. Each bike shot off with gusto, weaving in and out of traffic, en route to the final destination. Batman eventually backed off, letting Brown's BMW take the lead into a secluded parking garage.

They rode up to the second level, overlooking a shopping mall. Brown parked and dismounted and was soon joined by Batman. "It's certainly evident that you've enrolled in the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's RiderCourse," Batman complimented Brown.

"Thanks," Alton spoke, "You didn't do too bad yourself."

"Years of riding…" Batman replied. "One of Gotham's villains, Scarecrow, mimicked your Romaine heart dressing the other day," Batman explained.

"Gee, I had no idea I was popular in the criminal circles of Gotham," Alton admitted. "What do you want from me?"

"For some reason, Scarecrow is using your recipe. His MO is toxins that induce massive bouts of fear and panic. Could your recipes be altered so as to induce fear in your viewers?"

Brown scratched his chin and thought for a moment. "Chemically, there's nothing reactive in those ingredients. And why would he use an old recipe? We shot that episode two years ago."

"So he wasn't using the ingredients, maybe it was your method he was familiarizing himself with," Batman surmised. "What separates Good Eats from the other shows on the network?"

"Well, we're scientific based, not just a plop and stir show," Brown told him. "And the episode we're filming now is our 500th show. We've become the highest rated show on Food Network."

"Is there something special planned?" Batman asked.

"Come to think of it yea," Brown spoke. "A while ago, I was presented a television that could replicate whatever was being cooked on TV. It was from some engineer on the east coast. I always wanted some sort of TV that could do that, since it could solve hunger issues and really make gourmet food available to those who've never see it."

"And you were going to unveil the TV for your 500th show?" Batman asked.

"Yea, we sent the TV to Washington… Say I bet he's trying to poison the president," Brown surmised. His detective skills were equal to the Dark Knight's. "I'll have my crew halt production!"

"Wait. The engineer who sold you the TV, who was he?"

"I don't remember his name, sorry," Batman spoke.

"Have you hired any new crew member's recently?" Batman asked.

"Well, we did acquire a new actor from the talent agency we use for extras. He was slated to be in this episode," Brown informed.

"Is he a very skinny man, large nose with sunken eyes?" Batman asked.

"As a matter of fact yes," Brown told him. "He was very zombie like and we were going to use him for the Thriller dance break in the show."

"As in Michael Jackson's Thriller? What exactly are you making?"

"I can't tell you that," Brown spoke. "All cooks have secrets. And this is my 500th show, no way I'm telling anyone."

"Well, as a fan myself, I can appreciate that," Batman told him. "Okay, go back and shoot the episode as normal. I'll find out what Scarecrow is up to."

"Okay," Alton agreed. He threw a leg over his BMW and started the engine. It came back to life as he put his Shoei helmet back on. The Teutonic masterpiece carried the culinary wizard off back to his production studio. Good Eats would continue as normal.

Batman mounted his Honda and slid his helmet on. Bobby and Batman in turn, found a kind of Zen on a motorcycle. He was more at home on two wheels instead of four. His peace had come and this is usually the moment when a brilliant idea would pop into his head. He fired up the Honda four and slid his helmet back on. Batman's cape filled in the air as he rode down the ramp and back onto the street. He joined traffic, weaving in and out of cars. Bruce never would have, but Bobby rather liked showing off, making the kids ooh and ahh at the world famous Batman.

After revving his engine to the delight of a stressed mother and a backseat full of young boys, Batman launched into an intersection and out ahead of throngs of Atlanta traffic. He was out ahead of everyone, alone is his head and on the road. A glimmer of sunlight caught his attention. He looked towards the source. The sunlight was reflecting off a curved building with a mirror like exterior. The place had a pond, bridge and clear glass spire at the end. Batman's idea had come.

He leaned hard into a turn and headed back to Alton's studio. Batman laid on the gas, progressing through red lights and crossing all traffic lanes trying to get back to Be Square Studios. He was in the zone. No car couldn't be gone around or over as he caressed his way back downtown.

The Honda screeched to a halt outside, next to Brown's BMW. The Honda was tired, but would have gladly asked for more punishment. The doors to Brown's studio burst open as Batman ran inside. He looked around, remembering how he got to the shooting kitchen the first time. He quickly retraced his steps, finding the path and reentering the kitchen. He arrived on the scene too late.

"Get him!" Alton yelled from behind the cook top. Alton's sound guy, Mike, took a swing at the Scarecrow with his boom microphone, whacking the Gotham Villain in the back of the head. The Scarecrow was indeed dressed like Michael Jackson from Thriller, but only slightly darker in complexion and not as scary to children.

Scarecrow recovered and leapt for Alton, perhaps hoping the show's star would be good collateral as he had seen that Batman had entered the fray. AB was having none of it.

Alton retrieved two small bowls on his cook top and threw them at Scarecrow's face. "Constituting up to 8% of a lemon and limes total volume, and despite being quite weak in the scheme of things, citric acid is one nasty burn to the eyes," AB told Scarecrow. Scarecrow began rub his eye's frequently trying to get the sting out. "Cast iron is one of the heaviest materials in the kitchen and as such holds heat quite well." AB removed his large skillet from the rack above the cook top and delivered a blow to Scarecrow. The villain folded without any resistance. "Too bad I wasn't cooking anything with it," Brown commented, proud of defeating one of Gotham's villains.

"What gave it away?" Batman asked his cooking hero.

"Well the cumin was off," AB reported. "And Ramon found containers marked 'CDC' on them."

"I realized it too after you left. I usually go for a ride to center me. It seems great minds think alike," Batman spoke.

"It would seem like it," AB agreed. "Now if you'll kindly remove this poor soul, I've got a cooking show to shoot."

"Gladly," Batman spoke, slapping the Bat cuffs on his quarry. "Until next time, Mr. Brown."

"Hopefully, not too soon," AB spoke. Batman carried Scarecrow out by the arms. He secured Scarecrow to the back of the Bat-919 and rode off into an Atlanta sunset.

"Was that really?" Mike started to ask. He, AB and Ramon had gathered to watch Batman ride off.

"It was, gentlemen. And it was definitely… no that doesn't work at all. I really need a new catchphrase. Not everything is Good Eats," AB confessed, returning to the kitchen.

Deus Ex Batman

By Greg Senger Chapter 1

Hurried feet splashed through puddles in some dark alley in Gotham City. Fear gripped the man. It was the fear of something so horrible, so terrifying that he couldn't face it; the only thing worse than jail time… death.

He ran, and ran, and ran over potholes, broken bottles; alley cats snacking on dead mice and fish leftovers… nothing could stop him. He was like the Greek Marathon, running for miles and miles. His eyes became bloodshot. Oxygen was depleting in his system with every leg pump. Years of alcohol abuse and cigar smoke were finally taking their toll. He slowed, but his mind kept telling him to go.

His 200 dollar slacks had become covered with mud and his dress shirt smelled of an old gym sock. He ran so hard the felt fedora on top of his head flew off and was now caught behind the front tire of a Cadillac that had run over it.

Eventually his internal energy depleted and he dropped to the ground, panting. Gotham mob bosses weren't endurance runners. He had to stop. Gasping for air, Don Franco Giovanni was at his breaking point. He rolled onto his back as swift death came from above.

The alley sounded of jungle beasts, howling at each other with the distinct sound of a metal blade slicing against concrete accompanying. Death departed Don Giovanni, leaving him to rest on the street he helped to corrupt.

The police arrived twenty minutes later. The area had been sectioned off and the crime lab technicians moved in. They snapped pictures of the body, scrapped under the Don's fingers, and checked his lacerations. "Hey Mac," a young guy with square rimmed glasses greeted his superior.

"What do we have Danny?" the detective in charge asked. He had a very serious look about him. The look that meant he was the type that would continue being a cop until every scumbag was off the streets.

"I think you remember Don Franco Giovanni," Danny told him, standing up, introducing the body. "He was cut up, just like the last four," Danny reported. The body was torn apart. Legs and arms scattered about the alley with the head and torso being the only things intact.

"Four mob bosses killed in ten days," Mac spoke, looking over what was left of the body. "Someone really has it out for organized crime."

"We got any leads yet?" Danny asked.

"Nope. Danny, we've got a serial killer on our hands," Mac reported.

"No leads and four dead mafia dons. They're all killed in similar fashion, bladed attack, removing the limbs first. Whoever or whatever did this really was out to inflict pain," Danny added.

Batman listened from the roof above.

"Get everything gathered and get it back to Lindsay so she can start going over it," Mac was interrupted by his cell phone. "Detective Taylor," he spoke. "I understand commissioner. No my pride won't be hurt. I'll take all the help I can get. Thank you sir."

"What was that?" Danny asked.

"Commissioner Gordon's calling in the FBI," Mac told him. "The Behavioral Analysis Unit should be here in a few hours."

Chapter 2

"So what are the particulars of the case?" A young athletic black man asked, reaching for the file on the Lear Jet's table.

"Four murders, ten days, all the victims were Gotham mob bosses," reported the team leader, Aaron Hotchner. He had dark hair, a dark suit and no sense of humor. The type you'd expect to work at the FBI. "Someone's got it in for the mafia, Derek."

"That doesn't sound so bad to me," Derek Morgan, the aforementioned athletic male spoke.

"Murders of high profile victims suggests that our unsub is very sure of his skill and ability to get away," reported a man of high intelligence. He had mismatched socks and square rimmed glasses. He was the unmistakable nerd of the group.

"Or he's reckless and has gotten lucky," Agent Emily Prentiss spoke. She studied the grisly crime scene photos.

"The level of organization with the unsub is too high for that," Agent David Rossi spoke. Rossi had a frazzled beard, salt and pepper hair and kind eyes. "It's as if the unsub has a personal connection to each of the victims. He hunts them."

"Well, I can only think of one person that fits that description," a young blonde woman spoke.

"Who's that JJ?" The nerd, Dr. Reid asked.

"The Batman," she told them. Hotchner had a vacant look. Reid was fascinated. Morgan listened intently. Rossi and Prentiss both met eyes halfway. "What?" JJ asked.

"You're serious?" Hotch asked.

"Well he does fit the profile," Reid spoke. "He's dealt with each mob bosses operations several times. The flair for theatrics certainly is very Batman-esque."

"But none of the Batman's operations in the past were deadly. Why switch tactics?" Rossi asked.

"Maybe it's a more extreme form of the vigilante justice he was already practicing," Reid postulated, "A way to bypass the morally corrupt Gotham Justice system."

"Why are we even having this discussion?" Hotch asked. "We don't even know if the Batman's real."

"Actually I saw that he helped Miami PD apprehend an entire gang on the national news once," Morgan spoke.

"I saw that too," Prentiss added.

"Okay, I'm not ruling out superheroes, but I think we should focus more on the profile than some winged crusader."

"Hotch is right," Rossi agreed. "Focus on the profile."

"Okay, we're landing in ten minutes, everyone have a seat," Hotch told his crew. The BAU personnel took their seats and buckled in for the landing at Gotham Airport. The Lear touched down, its rubber wheels squeaking on the tarmac.

The crew exited and was met in their hangar by Detective Taylor and Danny Messer, the CSIs. Hotchner was the first out the door, truly leading his unit. "Supervisory Special Agent Aaron Hotchner," he introduced himself, shaking Mac's hand. "This is Dr. Spencer Reid, Emily Prentiss, Jennifer Jereau, Derek Morgan and David Rossi." They all took turns shaking hands with Mac.

"Detective Mac Taylor," he said, "and this is Danny Messer." Danny then shook hands with everyone. "So have you complied a profile?" Mac asked, cutting right to business.

"We've started nailing out a preliminary outline. We'll need more detailed information, but I think we're on the right track," Hotchner spoke.

"I'll have Danny go over all the case files and Sid, our M.E., hasn't filed the autopsy results away yet so you can have complete access to them," Mac was interrupted by his phone. "Taylor," he spoke into it. "Another one? Danny's with me we'll be there in a few minutes." He closed his phone, somewhat disgusted. "Another mob boss, Yakuza, Hiroyoshi Tran. Patrol found the corpse at 86th and Watkins Ave."

"The unsub strikes in broad daylight. He's changing his pattern," Dr. Reid spoke.

"All the victims this far has been killed late at night," Prentiss added to Reid's statement, "Maybe they're more of a convenience hit."

"Maybe he's studied his victims and knows their routines," Derek spoke.

"We'll find out," Hotch spoke. "Reid and JJ, head to the ME's office and meet with Sid. Check over the bodies." They acknowledged their orders. "Who's processed the evidence from the crime scenes?" Hotch asked Mac.

"Lindsay Monroe and Dr. Sheldon Hawkes from my lab," he told them.

"Emily and Derek get with them and go over the evidence. Keep an eye out for anything that would give us insight into our unsub's head. Agent Rossi and I will go with you to the crime scene, Detective Taylor."

Sirens squawked in Mac's Avalanche as he peeled off the tarmac and back into downtown Gotham. The other BAU member's each left in their black Government SUVs for their respective assignments.

"You seem agitated," Rossi told Mac from the backseat of the blacked out Chevy.

"Agitated?" Mac asked. "Are you profiling me?"

"It's kind of my job," Rossi told him.

"Well, I suppose I'm not too upset with who the guys killing but I don't like the idea of a serial killer running free on my streets," Mac told him. He hit the siren again, moving cars out of their path.

"Don't worry, Detective Taylor," Hotch spoke. "We'll get him."

"What's the BAU's track record?" Danny asked.

"Good," Hotch told him. "I'm not sure on the actual numbers. You'd have to ask Reid for that." Hotch and Rossi both leaned in to look out the front window as they came upon the crime scene. High rise buildings deflected sunlight onto the blocks below. Black and whites had the alley quartered off where the body was found.

Blood stained the ground. A brutal dismemberment, just like the previous mob bosses. "Danny, start processing the body," Mac told his colleague. The Chevy was put in 'Park' as the two CSIs and FBI exited and moved to the body. Hotch and Rossi both seemed unbothered by the grisly activity of their unsub.

"Exactly like the other four," Hotch spoke, looking over the large cuts on what was left of the vic's body. "It almost looks like the unsub made on big u-shaped motion to remove all the limbs at once," Hotch added.

"Some kind of martial artist maybe? Yakuza?" Rossi asked.

"I highly doubt it. The Japanese are very ritualistic," Mac told them, "they see their organization like the Samurai, and no one would upset the Shogun like this."

"And even if he was, why kill other gang leaders?" Danny asked between pictures.

"Okay, maybe it wasn't someone from the Yakuza, but the only thing I know of that could make a cut this clean is a Japanese Katana," Rossi told them.

"Okay, so not a Japanese person, but definitely a Japanese weapon?" Danny asked.

"Maybe the unsub studied martial arts in Japan?" Mac asked. "The cuts on all the bodies were like they were made with a razor blade. Even with the right weapon, that takes training to be able to use it like they did."

"Develop the photos," Hotch told them, "We need to get the team back to work up a profile?" The FBI studied while Mac and Danny processed the body and crime scene.

Chapter 3

"Are you Dr. Sid Hammerback?" JJ asked, stepping into the ME's office. Reid was right behind her. Sid looked up from the cadaver he was studying, gave one look at JJ and decided to play Mr. Cool. He unhinged his glasses over the bridge of his nose.

"Wow, usually good looking girls come in here on slab," Sid spoke.

"Gee I wonder why," JJ told him, crossing her arms.

"I'm Dr. Spencer Reid," Reid spoke, introducing himself. "This is Agent Jennifer Jereau, we're with the FBI."

"Oh, the profilers," Sid spoke. "That probably wasn't the best thing to say to a profiler was it?" Reid shook his head no, silently. "Well, here are the files for the corpses. All slain with the same weapon. One motion killed them. The last one though, whatever blade this was didn't separate the ball and socket joint of the victim's right leg. It took a good bit of bone with it. I'm no weapons expert, but I imagine that this guy's tool needs a good sharpening." He looked JJ over again.

"So what kind of weapon made the cut?" Reid asked.

"Any type of sword could do it, really," Sid told him. "Again, I'm not a weapon expert. Could be a Klingon Bat'leth for all I know."

Reid shook his head no again. "The curvature of a Bat'leth would provide too much resistance against flesh. It'd drag down after the first cut. A mek'leth would be much easier to get these cuts with."

"A mek'leth is too short. You'd need the Bat'leth's extra length to give the force necessary to…"

"Guys," JJ cut them off. "Enough Star Trek. What on earth could make this cut?"

"A Japanese Katana," Rossi spoke, entering the ME's office. He was accompanied by Hotchner and Mac.

"Got another one for you Sid," Mac told the medical examiner.

"More than one person down here for company and I get stuck with the stiff," Sid commented before moving the newest corpse into the room for examination.

"Did you say a Katana did this?" Reid asked, turning to Rossi.

"It's the only thing we know of that would be sharp enough and have enough force to remove four limbs at one time," Rossi told him.

"Japanese katanas have been reported to be sharpened down to the atom. Yielded by the right person, that could definitely dismember a body like this," Reid added, his genius shining through.

"So are we looking for someone with an Eastern Asian background?" JJ asked.

"Maybe," Rossi told her. "At least someone with martial arts and katana experience."

Sid chuckled from across the room. "At least this time you had the courtesy to put all the parts together." He removed both legs and arms from a plastic tub and placed them on his table. He shifted focus, "We can rebuild him, we have the technology…"

"Is he always like that?" JJ asked.

"Bit of a kook, but he does a good job," Mac told her. "Do you guys have enough to formulate a profile?"

"I think we should get with Morgan and Prentiss," Hotch told them. "If they've gotten the forensic evidence from your team…"

"That's why you guys were called in," Mac told him. "There is no forensic evidence. If there was we would have had this wrapped up after the second body."

"No evidence?" Rossi asked.

"Nothing besides what we learned from the body," Mac told them. "No hair, DNA under fingernails, saliva, ejaculate… nothing."

"Our unsub is highly organized with an advanced view of the life of career criminals," Reid surmised. "Along with knowledge of police evidence gathering procedures and exactly what they look for."

"Sounds like Batman to me," JJ spoke, this time somewhat hushed.

"I really doubt it," Mac spoke. "He may be some kinda freak in a cape but he's done things to clean up Gotham the police could never do."

"Who's to say he still isn't? Killing mob bosses?" Hotch asked. "Let's go meet with Morgan and Prentiss." The BAU team, along with Mac and Danny went upstairs, leaving Sid to his body.

It was a dead end upstairs. Derek and Emily soon discovered what Mac and the CSIs knew already. "No forensic evidence?" Derek asked, looking at the cute CSI in her lab coat.

"None," Lindsay reported. "Whoever whacked the dons knew what he was doing and how to cover his tracks."

"Well, tell me sweetness, do you at least have the photos of the crime scene?" Morgan asked, pouring on the charm.

"Glossy or JPEG?" Lindsay asked.

"Glossy," Morgan replied. Lindsay pulled a file out from the shelf behind her and handed it to Derek and Prentiss. They opened the file and began to dig through the pictures. All the bodies had been dismembered exactly the same.

"If there's something here, I don't see it," Emily admitted.

"Me either," Derek reported, "Just dank alleys. Nothing spectacular."

"Maybe the alley itself has a particular significance," Reid suggested. The group had joined them from Sid's office.

"Find anything?" Morgan asked.

"Bladed weapon, one motion," Hotch told him. "The murder weapon is probably a Japanese katana. The unsub is of either eastern Asian origin or at least studied martial arts including use of the katana."

"What's his stressor? What made him snap?" Morgan asked.

"Maybe that's the significance of the alley," Reid suggested. He removed his phone and dialed back to Quantico.

"He who seeks the queen of all knowledge speak and be recognized," the voice on the other end of the line spoke. It was Penelope Garcia, the team's information analyst and general worker of computer miracles.

"Garcia, we need some help," Reid spoke.

"What do you have for me?" she asked, readying for her task.

"I want you to look up violent crimes committed in alleyways in Gotham City for the past forty years," Reid told her. "Especially heinous crimes, particularly murder."

"One moment dear," she spoke. Garcia typed away on her magical keyboards, hacking into Gotham PD and accessing their records faster than it would take a file clerk to even log in to the system. "That's one heck of a statistic," Garcia remarked.

"How many, Garcia?" Hotch asked. Reid put her on speaker.

"Murders alone in Gotham City alleys for the past forty years total a staggering 5,516. They drop significantly in the past 10 years and prior to that they were often accompanied by sexual assault and robbery," she spoke.

"What's happened in the past 10 years?" Morgan asked.

"Batman," Mac told him.

"Any particularly juicy ones?" JJ asked.

"Um, let me see… Billionaire Thomas and Martha Wayne, parents of Bruce Wayne were killed in an alley behind a Gotham theatre approximately 29 years ago," Garcia spoke, reading off a digitized newspaper fiche from years past.

"What else do you have on Wayne?" Rossi asked.

"Net worth is 58.9 billion dollars. Age 41, hasn't been seen in Gotham for the past six months. Playboy, nothing too spectacular," she scrolled down the page to a picture of Bruce. "Kinda cute."

"Is there anything else?" Prentiss asked.

"Yea, it says here that after college he disappeared to Japan for eight years to study at a martial arts dojo. Since then he took control of his father's company and has been quite the philanthropist."

"Martial arts dojo," Hotch spoke.

"Parents brutally slain in an alley," Rossi added.

"A recipe for murder?" a growly voice asked. It was one foreign to the group.

"I knew it," JJ spoke, seeing who was joining them. The BAU team was aghast; Mac, Lindsay and Danny looked on bewildered.

"The unsub isn't Bruce Wayne," Batman told the group. "And it isn't me either."

"Most unsubs try to inject themselves into the investigation," Hotch spoke.

"Nice try," Batman told them. "But you need to shift your focus to a man who works for Rupert Thorne. His name is Sebastian Hughes. After a stint in Gotham PD, he's been distributing weapons to all the gangs whose leaders were killed on behalf of Thorne. When they formed a quiet alliance to upset Thorne as the crime lord in Gotham, he put an order on all of them. Fall in line or lose your life."

"What about the katanas?" Rossi asked, defending his hypothesis.

"He has a number of Japanese bladed weapons. He practices with them twice daily. On Thorne's order, he started to emulate a nemesis of mine, Kyodai Ken, a ninja. Ken chose an honorable death in Japan but not before passing his Ninjutsu ways onto Hughes. Hughes would be a check against me if I started to cause trouble for Thorne," Batman informed.

"Where do we find Hughes?" Mac asked.

Batman reached out an open window and pulled a limp, bound body into the station. "He's yours detective Taylor." Batman turned, ready to exit. "Agent Jereau," he said, turning. He gently tossed a Batarang to her, a memento. He jumped out the open window, his cape opening, providing a bat silhouette on the ground below.

"Told you he wasn't involved," Mac told the BAU as they gathered at the window to watch the exit none of them would ever forget.

"The noir hero is a knight in blood caked armor. He's dirty and he does his best to deny the fact that he's a hero the whole time."

Frank Miller

True Justice

By Greg Senger Chapter 1: Fall of the Demon

Cold settled upon the Delaware River, it was Christmas Day. He was so far from his sandy homeland, caught in a snowstorm in a fight for something so grand, so magnificent, it was required he be there.

None of the other men on the tiny wooden boat would have guessed that he was Arabic, or that his name means 'Demon's head,' all they saw was an able bodied man moving the ice flow as they trekked across the river. Soon enough, his skill as a pistol marksman and famed cutlass swashbuckler would come into play. And they'd need it to. German Hessians are among the elite of all fighting forces in the world and it was quite clever of King George to hire them to oppress the American people.

Earlier in the year, in July, the Second Continental Congress voted to send a resolution to the King, one petitioning him for Independence of their thirteen colonies. Anger over taxes, troop quartering, high cost of goods and the general pillaging of the American colonies left the Congress with no choice.

"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

And this is why a young man, born of a tribe of nomads in Arabia, is fighting for true political independence and to end the oppression of the British Superpower. If freedom could be attained here, it could be elsewhere. True freedom for all people.

The ice flow moved aside as Ra's looked back to the center of the boat. General Washington stood magnificently, his eyes firmly set on the New Jersey coast. The sheer determination in this man's eye embodied the American spirit. No one, not a monarch 3,000 miles away could control these colonies.

'If anyone could, it would be General Washington,' Ra's thought. The water silenced and the boats all arrived at the bank.

"Dismount!" Washington commanded his troops. Everyone took their rucksack, rifle and whatever they had to fight and left their boat. There was no time to form ranks and march on to Trenton. The drum and fife majors would warn the Hessians of impending attack. They moved silently, approaching the troop barracks in the dark.

Ra's stood out in the crowd. Instead of typical blues that a Continental Regular would wear, he donned an all black robe and hood. Only his menacing eyes, those of an assassin, could be seen. He laid aside his pistol and naval cutlass, and removed a long curved katana. Shuriken stood at the ready and a curved, sickle-like Kama awaited use in the sash around his waist.

The Continentals approached and silently began to rouse and capture the Hessians. The alarm was soon raised and the Hessian's began to resist against their aggressors. Ra's found his element, beheading and mortally wounding every soldier he encountered, even after the hostilities ceased and the Hessian's surrendered.

"That is enough!" Washington barked. The katana sliced through the neck of an unarmed man. "We are not murderers! Cease at once!"

Ra's sheathed his katana. "Agents of the British crown must be destroyed," Ra's told his superior. "Only through ruthlessness can the day truly be won."

"The Hessians have ceded and Trenton is ours. I decide when the day is won, not you," Washington scolded his underling. He towered over Ra's like a true statue of liberty.

"But they must be killed! One life for each act of injustice against every single American citizen! No quarter can be given! We must show them our resolve!" Ra's pleaded, turning to his superior.

"Injustice towards those unjust to you is not Justice. We are better than they. We must conduct ourselves accordingly," Washington told him.

Ra's was furious. He'd never been corrected in previous battles. The killing of British and all those in their employ was a priority. Justice is balance.

'Perhaps there is no justice. Rights guaranteed are good, but they can still be revoked by the men who enable you to have them. True justice can exist when there are no governments or governed, only men among men. It would be a world where no one is better than the other and all live in perfect balance with nature… true justice.'

Chapter 2: An Unusual Meeting

"So, I've been thinking," Lita spoke, lying down on her back. The ceiling fan moved at a slow pace and with the ferocity of a glacier.

"Oh yeah?" Bobby asked, sitting up in bed, reading his book. The Alphabet of Manliness could wait. "What's on your mind?"

"Well, Mina and Raye moved to that townhouse downtown and I was just thinking that it'd be easier for me to get to my job down there if I didn't live out here in the boonies. No commute and all that," she reported.

"I told you that you could take any of the cars to get to town," he told her.

"I really think that I'd be really good for me to go and explore. And c'mon, you own that building, and it's only four blocks from the restaurant," Lita pleaded.

"You don't have to ask permission," Bobby told her. "We're not married or anything. If you want to live there, that's fine."

"Really!" Lita exclaimed. She was up and her arms tied around her boyfriend in nanoseconds. "You're the best!"

"I know it," he told her, holding her. "Treasure what you've got because it doesn't get any better than me."

"Oh I'm so excited!" she said, rolling back onto her side of the bed. "I'm gunna call Mina tomorrow after I get off work and tell her to make up the spare bedroom!" Her face was aglow as she closed her eyes.

"How is the restaurant?" Bobby asked. Lita had found pastry work at Le Chateau des Beignets.

"It's okay," she reported. Her breathing had calmed and she was about asleep. "Chef Paul, when he's there, and Michelle keep me busy. If I'm not making pastry I wait tables and do dishes. All great chefs' start somewhere," she reminded.

"I'm glad you like it," Bobby told her. His words fell on deaf ears. She was fast asleep. "Goodnight sweetheart," he spoke, gently kissing her. He took the cue and placed The Alphabet on the nightstand. Enter Sandman.

The sun rose, as it always does and Lita discovered she was alone in bed. Her eyes were still heavy as she looked around the room. There was a note on her nightstand, but she was in no condition to read it. She swung her legs out from under the blanket and touched solid ground for the first time in eight hours.

She let out a mighty exhale and stood up. She grabbed the note, not even looking for it, and began the long arduous trek to the kitchen for coffee. She'd grown lazy since the end of college. No 8 AM lecture meant she could sleep in and it had really taken a toll on her.

She walked slowly down the corridor, past Mina and Raye's empty rooms, by Amy's door and almost bumping into Serena's door. Her unconscious mind extended her hand and corrected her path, heading not into Serena's room but down the large staircase to the main floor.

Wood creaked as she walked over the old planks of Wayne's master staircase. The wood ceded to hard marble floors as she took a left and headed toward the kitchen. The smell of Folgers filled her nostrils. Lita's conscious self took a short nap, allowing her to navigate unconsciously by smell towards the hot brown elixir.

Alfred met her at the doorway with a steaming hot cup of Joe. "Morning, Miss Lita," he greeted.

She grunted, and took the coffee. The heat radiated in her as she drank and caffeine was absorbed through her gums. Synapses fired and Lita slowly became awake. "Hi Al," she said. She took another drink and let the stuff work its magic. 'Now onto the note,' she thought, her conscious self returning.

"Dear Lita, I've gone to town to pick up some essentials to help ease the transition from Wayne Manor to the penthouse. Have fun at work. The Rover has a full tank, see you in eight hours, Love Bobby," she read silently.

She took another swig of her coffee. 'So considerate,' she thought. 'I'm so lucky.' She folded the note and put it in her pajama pants pocket. She rummaged around the kitchen and found that he'd made a few bacon strips, scrambled egg and cheese on an English muffin and left it in the fridge for her. 'So considerate.'

She ate her sandwich, which was still partially warm and finished off her coffee. Now Lita was ready for the day. She returned to her and Bobby's room at a much quicker pace than the one she left with.

She bathed, dressed and prepared for another day at the House of Doughnuts. "Hey Ames, you need a ride to the library?" Lita asked through Amy's closed door.

It opened and Amy emerged. Lita was somewhat startled. "Ready!" Amy reported. Amy had graduated top of her class, and was now enrolled in the summer medical electives, but her mornings were free to work. She took a job at the Gotham Downtown Library, her great mind amongst others such as Melville, Chaucer, H.G. Wells, and Poe.

The girls strapped themselves into the oversized SUV and headed towards the outside world. "He must have taken the Aston," Lita commented, not seeing the silver DBS in its usual spot. They paid little attention to what was going on around them and headed for Downtown. Lita had gotten quite good at city driving and in no time had Amy at book repository and was well on her way to Le Chateau.

"Hey Lita!" a short blonde girl waiting the small café tables spoke.

"What's going on Emily?" Lita asked, heading towards the kitchen. "Been busy?"

"Nah, it's been kind of slow so far," Emily reported, handing her customer his fried pastry. "I think Michelle has some special order she needs you to work on."

"Okay, thanks," Lita replied. She clocked in at the green time clock on the wall and met up with her boss, Michelle. "Hey Michelle, what's going on?" Lita asked, putting on her green apron.

A sheet pan of filo dough succumbed to the master baker. "Hey, we've got a huge order to fill. One of the Wayne Corp. execs wants 12 dozen beignets for his floor and he requested that you be the one to make them," Michelle told her.

Lita smiled. She knew who the exec was; her own Dark Knight. "Okay, I'll get right to that," Lita told her boss. She removed all the constituent ingredients from the kitchen's cupboards and began working on her dough. Thirty minutes of sifting, stirring and integrating yielded enough dough for the order and to fill the rapidly depleting pastry case.

She set about frying the dough and mixing up a batch of chocolate ganache and a crème filling for the doughnuts. After cooling them dozen by dozen, a piping bag would fill each pastry with its filling. She loaded up the boxes with the fried pastry and tied elegant pink bows, the signature of Le Chateau, onto each one.

"Done already?" Michelle asked, coming to the back from the sales floor. "Just in time, too. We're starting to fill up. I'm taking the register, Emily's doing refills and there's about four tables that need waited."

Lita removed her pastry preparing apron and exchanged it for her black, service apron. She grabbed a tablet and pen and set about navigating the wireframe tables and chairs and headed to whoever was in need of fried goods.

"Hi, my name is Lita," she spoke at the first table, "What can I get for you?"

The gentleman who was waiting was older. Very fit, but looking as if he was in his late fifties or sixties. Two tufts of hair on each side of his chin comprised an awkward looking beard and his cold eyes stared directly ahead. He was accompanied by a large Indian man. "Lita Kino is it?" the elderly man asked.

"Yes?" Lita asked, puzzled. "Who wants to know?"

"I'm a friend of Bruce Wayne. I require an audience with his ward, whom I understand is your current boyfriend," he explained.

"I'm sorry who are you?" Lita asked.

"My name is Ra's al Ghul," he spoke, a sense of urgency in his voice. "This is my manservant Pasha, and it is imperative that I meet with Bobby."

"Um, okay," Lita agreed. She looked around, not sure of what to do. She had to work, but this could be official Justice League business. "I've got to go clock out."

"Tell your employer Michelle that I'm your grandfather and this was a surprise visit. We've arranged for another of your coworkers, Ernesto, to come in and cover your shift," Ra's explained.

Lita nodded in agreement as she went to the back to explain the situation to Michelle. She emerged a few minutes later, ready to leave. She took one step out the door, but was restrained by Pasha.

"Infidel!" the Indian spoke, pulling Lita back. Her anger grew, ready to lay out the Indian giant.

"I'm afraid Pasha is quite ardent in his duties. No one precedes his master," Ra's informed her. Ra's took a step out onto the sidewalk, followed by Pasha, then Lita.

"Hmm," Lita spoke. "My car's over here," she said. She bowed slightly and allowed Ra's to go ahead. Pasha smiled in agreement.

The Land Rover was saddled with its passengers. Lita took off into Gotham traffic, removing her cell phone from her purse. She hit a number 3 on her phone and speed dialed Mina.

"Hello?" Mina asked.

"Hey Mina, has Bobby been over there?" Lita asked.

"Um," Mina hesitated. "I'm not supposed to say."

"Good enough," Lita told her. "Do you know where he was going?"

"Back to the manor I think. He had one last thing to give you before you moved in."

"Thanks Mina, hey, I'll catch ya later." Lita closed her phone. The Rover got onto the freeway out of town. The car ride consisted of two uneasy freeway exits; Ra's and Pasha didn't speak. Lita might try something to bait them into a conversation, but they never bit. The Rover retook its spot in the garage. The Aston Martin was still gone and a new Honda Element was in its spot.

Lita led Ra's and Pasha into the house. Neither visitor paid much attention to the kitchen or grandiose library. She took them to the study, adjacent to the Batcave's secret entrance. "If you'll wait here," Lita started, "I'll go and find Bobby." Checking that the coast was clear, she descended into darkness.

The Bat-computer was alight with a weekly inventory of nuclear equipped satellites in orbit. "Who's there?" Bobby asked, squinting from the flash of light from the entrance. "Hey!" he spoke, seeing that it was his beloved. He rose and met her at the base of the stairs.

"Hi," Lita greeted him with a kiss. "There's some guy upstairs, he said he knew Bruce."

"Did the guy have a name?" Bobby asked.

"The name is Ra's al Ghul," he spoke, descending the stairs. Bobby looked up and saw that security had been breached by this Ra's character. He took a defensive stance, placing Lita behind him. "Please, Detective, there is no need for aggression." Pasha stood silently behind his master.

"Well, you seem to know who I am," Bobby told him, relaxing, but still on guard. "Who are you? How did you know Bruce?"

"I met your master some time ago. My daughter and his ward at the time, Mr. Grayson, were kidnapped by the same perpetrators," Ra's explained. "With your master's assistance, we were able to recover them."

Bobby had heard the story. He knew all about Ra's and his daughter Talia. How Ra's himself perpetrated the kidnapping to flush out Batman and deduce his secret identity so that Talia could seduce him and produce an heir for Ra's. It was all old hat. Bobby kept it cool. "And what exactly do you need me for?"

"Well, it's not exactly that we need you…" Ra's told him.

Pasha had removed a small blowgun from the sash around his waist and readied it as Ra's was telling his story. A single dart pierced Bobby's neck.

Bobby couldn't even speak as the toxins worked into his body.

"You bastard!" Lita called out. She kicked the blowgun from the Indian giant before he could reload. "Hi-ya!" she cried, delivering a high kick to him.

The kick turned Pasha's head, but left him unfazed otherwise. He moved against her, his giant hand totally encompassing her face. He knocked her back into the cushy leather bat-computer chair, sending it end over end. A knock to the head on the rock floor rendered her unconscious. Pasha had a glimmer in his eye, wanting death.

"Enough, Pasha!" Ra's commanded. The Indian, ever obedient, stood down. "Grab him, we must be off before his compatriots arrive." The Indian grabbed Bobby and slung his lifeless body over his broad shoulder. They hurried up the stairs. They bounded across the study and into the main hall.

"What the hell?" Snake asked, seeing Bobby being carried off. He rode the banister down and hit the ground running, driving a shoulder into his Pasha's gut. Bobby fell to the ground like a sack of potatoes. "No one runs off with my boss, asshole."

"The famous Solid Snake," Ra's spoke, identifying his nemesis. "Impressive what you did at Outer Heaven and Shadow Moses. Too bad they didn't have my Pasha. He is unstoppable."

"We'll see," Snake told him. He took a fighting stance and squared up with the overgrown Indian. He leapt off his back foot and drove a kick into Pasha's midsection. No success. Dropping to the ground, Snake tried sweeping his enemy's legs. Again, no luck. He rolled through Pasha's legs and hopped up. Snake caught him in the classic rear naked choke. Snake, as muscular as he was, couldn't make Pasha succumb.

One giant hand reached behind his head and caught Snake by the scalp. Pasha threw Snake through a marble bust of Beethoven. Snake was removed from the fight, but the ruckus did raise an alarm of the only person left in the house.

"What's going on?" Serena asked, coming to the top of the stairs in her pajamas. "Hey!" she called out, as Pasha picked Bobby up again. "Put him down!" she flew down the stairs at top speed and intercepted Ra's and Pasha.

"And who might you be, dear?" Ra's asked.

"Your worst nightmare, bub! Moon Cosmic Power!" The Imperium Silver Crystal twinkled with its magic as pink ribbons shot forth, covering Serena's body. Completely transformed, she was now ready to square off with whomever. "Put my friend down! Not only is he our leader, he's a close friend of mine. I stand for love! I stand for Justice! I am Sailor Moon and in the name of the Moon," she called out, striking her cocky pose, "I'll punish you!"

"What lovely parlor tricks," Ra's patronized.

"You won't be saying that in a minute!" she called out. She leapt in the air, a flying kick meant for the old man. Pasha moved into her path and caught Sailor Moon by the foot. She went flying the other direction, crashing into a marble bust of Mozart.

"Come Pasha," Ra's commanded, leaving Snake and Sailor Moon broken in the Grand Hall. The soft ground was crushed as Pasha, after putting a still unconscious Bobby on the ground, lifted the heavy Iron Gate from its hinges. Pasha led his master to the edge of the cliff that Wayne Manor was parked on. "Now Daughter," Ra's spoke into a two-way radio.

An autogyro shot up from the below the horizon and into the space above Ra's. He and Pasha watched as the skilled pilot landed in a small clearing. She dismounted, her long flowing black hair falling from the old style helmet that it looked like she borrowed from the Red Baron. Piercing dark eyes were unmasked from behind goggles as she laid eyes on Bobby. "This is my beloved's heir?" she asked disbelieving.

"Yes daughter," Ra's spoke. "This man will father an heir to my empire, Talia, and you shall receive his seed."

"But, I wished it to be that of my beloved," she spoke, growing sad and thinking of Bruce.

"Your beloved trusted this man to carry on his legacy. His detective prowess is equal to that of Mr. Wayne's. He is a good choice." Ra's nodded and Pasha threw Bobby into the middle of the autogyro's cargo hold.

"You're not taking him anywhere! Jupiter Supreme Thunder!" Sailor Jupiter called. Bolts of lightning shot forth as Ra's, Talia and Pasha loaded themselves into the Autogyro. The lightning fizzled against the helicopter blades as the culprits made their getaway. A blast of wind knocked Sailor Jupiter back and to her knees as they slowly moved out of sight. Jupiter could only watch as her Dark Knight was taken from her. Ra's had won this round. Jupiter reentered the manor as Snake and Sailor Moon were coming to. "Get everyone back here now!" Sailor Jupiter commanded.

"On it," Sailor Moon spoke.

"I'll go dig up whatever we've got on this guy. What is his name?" Snake asked.

"His name is Ra's al Ghul," Jupiter told him. "And he's a dead man."

Chapter 3: Mmm, Chicken

"Ra's al Ghul," Snake read from the computer screen, "Over six hundred years old," Snake drew from his cigarette, "Born to a nomadic tribe in Arabia and kept alive by use of underground Lazarus Pits. One son, deranged, one daughter Talia, who has a romantic interest in Bruce Wayne."

"So that's why he said he knew Bruce," Sailor Jupiter spoke. "What else do we have on him?"

"He's got hideouts all over. Every place there's one of these pits. Egypt, Greece, Mongolia…" Snake listed them off. "Where do we find this guy?"

"Like trying to find a needle in a haystack," Sailor Moon commented.

"Actually, like trying to find a needle in a pile of needles. He'd stick out in a haystack," Amy added, entering the Batcave. "Mina and Raye should be right behind me."

"Good," Jupiter spoke. "What the ETA on Rio?"

"She went to Europe for the weekend. I'll raise her and have her scope out the Grecian hideout," Snake informed.

"And Obi-Wan, the Ice Climbers and Samus?" Sailor Moon asked of her cohorts.

"Obi-Wan's en route from downtown, Ice Climbers are coincidentally in Mongolia, so they can scope that one out and Samus is in the basement of Wayne Tower working on her spacecraft. I'll get everyone back," Snake told them, manning the Batcave.

"Oh my God, Lita," Mina said, running down the stairs and throwing her arms around her friend. "Why would anyone kidnap Bobby?"

"I don't know," Sailor Jupiter told her, receiving her friend. "There'll be hell to pay though."

"Yeah," Raye spoke, entering the fold. "Bobby still owes me a track day at Gotham raceway. We've got some major ass to kick."

"You know," Snake said, drawing on his cigarette again, "If I was this guy, and I knew that my captive had some pissed off friends, I'd take him as close as possible." Snake typed into the computer some more. "Bingo," Snake spoke, "Corbin, Kentucky."

"What's in Corbin, Kentucky? Another one of those Lazarus thingies?" Sailor Moon asked.

"Yep," Snake confirmed, "Beneath the world famous Corbin Moonbow."

"The what?" Mina asked.

"The Corbin, Kentucky Moonbow," Amy told them. "Corbin, Kentucky is one of two places in the world where a rainbow can be seen at night under the light of the full moon. It's also the home of Colonel Harlan Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame." Her 300 IQ was completely evident.

"Beneath the Moonbow," Sailor Jupiter spoke under her breath. "Okay, we have our heading."

"Where are we off too?" Obi-Wan asked, joining the meeting already in progress.

"Corbin, Kentucky," Raye told him.

"The Moonbow and KFC," Obi-Wan spoke. "Is this where Ra's has taken Bobby?"

"It's the most logical place," Snake told him. He stood from the computer and went to retrieve Samus katana from the weapons locker. "I'll pilot. Obi-Wan, take the co-pilot seat and you Scouts sit tight. We're going to be going like a bat out of hell."

"Mercury Star Power!" Amy called out. Her power transformer bathed her body in ribbons of blue, transforming her into the Soldier of Water, Sailor Mercury.

"Mars Star Power!" Raye followed suit with. Fire leapt from her transformer, the fiery rings turning into her red skirt, heels, and gloves as she became the Soldier of Fire, Sailor Mars.

"Venus Star Power!" Mina concluded with. Chains made of golden hearts clothed her and showed that she was the Soldier of Love, Sailor Venus.

Snake led his crew of Obi-Wan and the Sailor Scouts down to the waiting Dragonfly. It was a good thing that Dr. Quest had abandoned the construction; otherwise the Justice League would have no means of quick transportation. Everyone took their positions as Snake and Obi-Wan fired up the huge engine.

"Something is wrong," Obi-Wan spoke. He had a disturbed look on his face, like he'd eaten something that didn't agree.

"What is it?" Snake asked, checking his instruments.

"Wait here. Do not take off," Obi-Wan told him. The Jedi unstrapped himself from the co-pilot seat, ran past the Scouts and to the outside of the plane. He did check over of all the plane's surfaces to make sure it wasn't tampered with. Nothing was out of the ordinary. He ran down to the end of the runway. His intuition was correct.

Bombs, four of them. Placed fifteen feet apart and latched to the runway where it emerged from the rock face. He raised his hand and used his Force push ability to knock each bomb to the forest floor below. Ra's booby traps were thwarted by Obi-Wan's powers in the Force.

"Ready to go," Obi-Wan reported, rejoining his colleagues back at the Dragonfly. He strapped himself in again. "Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed," Obi-Wan reported, doing his systems check.

"What?" Snake asked.

"Isn't that what you're supposed to say?" Obi-Wan asked.

Snake shook his head and jammed the accelerator forward. The Dragonfly hunched down as the afterburner launched the Dragonfly forward at full speed. The white giant rocketed out of the Batcave like a Phoenix from the ashes.

Once at a safe cruising altitude, Obi-Wan undid his restraints and joined the Scouts in the second compartment. He could sense something was deeply disturbing. "Lita?" he asked, sitting in the jump seat opposite the Soldier of Thunder. "You needn't worry about Bobby. He is headstrong, and resourceful. He will endure."

Sailor Jupiter nodded in agreement.

Chapter 4: A New Alliance

"What the hell was in that?" Bobby asked, coming to. He was restrained on a stone table. Underground of course. All decent lairs are underground.

"A potent mix of opiates, cannabis, and amphetamines," Ra's told him standing next to his body. "The dosage was small enough to render you unconscious, but you will feel no ill effects later."

"So you got me high?" Bobby asked. "What about the munchies?" Bobby's stomach let out a growl.

"We will provide you sustenance, detective," Ra's told him. From out of the shadows emerged Talia. She was out of her pilot's uniform and into a loose fitting almost toga. It was flowing, but served to accentuate every curve on her body. No doubt to entice him.

"A few indigenous peaches and a bowl of mushrooms grown from above us," Talia spoke, presenting a tray with the aforementioned fruit.

"Are you going to feed me?" Bobby asked, wiggling his hands and feet in the restraints.

"Very tempting," Talia said. She sat at the side of her captor.

"I will leave you," Ra's told them.

Now Talia had to turn up the sex appeal. She softened her eyes and caressed his body. What would have been quite erotic for a typical man, gorgeous woman, little clothes, did nothing to Bobby. His heart belonged to Lita. But he might have to play her to get freedom.

"I know what you're doing," Bobby told her.

"You do?" Talia asked. She had an accent to her voice, indicating she'd spent some time in Russia or perhaps Georgia.

"I do. That drug cocktail isn't as strong as your father thinks. You want my seed, right?" he asked.

Talia stopped. Her face went from one of seduction to one of longing and sorrow. "This isn't right," she commented.

"What? Us? C'mon, let's just be quick about it," he said.

"No. You are not my beloved. Father thinks that since you were his ward, you would work as well. It cannot be," Talia said. Tears began to form in the bottom of her eyes.

"Bruce was your beloved?" Bobby asked. 'He never told me that about that. Bruce and Talia… interesting.'

"I miss him. Since hearing of his death in Japan, I've been perpetually sad. He is the only one for me. My one true love is lost forever," Talia said.

"Why forever?" Bobby asked. "Your father has those pit things. Lazarus pits. Why not put Bruce in one and see what happens."

"Father said that it has been too long. The body would be too far gone the pits chemicals to work," she told him. "I proposed that idea to father as soon as we learned of his passing."

"It might not be too late," Bobby told her. It'd been several months since Bruce was killed by Darth Maul, who was quickly handled by Obi-Wan. "That day that Bruce died, I saw a lot of weird shit. We had Bruce partially mummified. He might be able to be brought back."

Talia lit up, like a kid who found out that Santa Claus was really real. "Is it possible? My beloved? Back with me!" She started out to tell her father.

"Wait!" Bobby shouted. "You can't tell your father. If he's as well connected as Bruce thought, it meant that he knew how we buried Bruce and that his pit could bring him back. Why would your father want his arch nemesis to carry on his legacy?"

"Father was quite fond of beloved," Talia told him.

"Not enough to suppress his own pride," Bobby surmised. "If he was, he would have granted your request to revive Bruce."

Talia's eyes fell. She was torn by the two men she really loved, Bruce and her Father. "I must try to save my beloved."

"Get me out of here and I'll help you," Bobby told her. "You'll need me to get the body."

Talia thought it over, and then moved to release the shackles. "Very well, junior detective," she spoke with a smile.

Sweet freedom. Bobby rubbed his wrists where the shackles had restrained him. "Okay, so how do we get out of here?" Bobby asked his captor turned friend.

"The most important thing," Talia spoke, "Is to avoid Pasha."

"The big Indian that drugged me?" Bobby asked. "Sounds like a good plan. Where's the exit?"

"It is this way, follow me," Talia took his hand. They proceeded out the heavy wooden door and into a stone corridor. Talia took the lead and walked Bobby towards the exit. The entire thing played out like some dungeon master RPG or something. Dripping water, torches stuck in the wall every ten feet, cells with plenty of decaying bones in them; it was like being transported to the Paris catacombs or medieval Tower of London on a good day.

"This is a bit surreal," Bobby spoke, lightening the mood. "Are you sure you know where you're going?"

"Positive," she told him. "I've been in and out of these hundreds of times."

"Tell me, if your father can live forever because of the Lazarus pits, why does he want my seed to make himself an heir? Immortality is forever," Bobby explained.

"My father, despite his advanced age is growing sick and soon will die. The Lazarus pits are miraculous, but there are something's that even they cannot cure," Talia told him. Her voice faltered.

"You okay?" Bobby asked her.

Talia stopped and let out a silent wail. "He is an evil man, really," she spoke, "But he is my father. If it is his last wish on this earth to have an heir for the League of Shadows, I should be a good daughter and acquiesce to it. It must be the seed of my beloved."

Talia's voice carried down the smooth sided corridor and into a grate in the ceiling. "Should I stop them?" Pasha asked. He and his master were listening to the entire conversation.

"No," Ra's told him. "Let them go. If they are able to revive Wayne, so much the better. Talia knows what she is doing. We must be off to Kyoto."

Chapter 5: To the Rescue?

"We're setting down in five minutes," Snake informed over the cabin speaker.

"I need to help Snake. Will you be okay?" Obi-Wan asked.

"I'll be fine," Sailor Jupiter told him. "I've got the best friends in the world." Obi-Wan smiled at her, and departed for his co-pilot duties.

"You know," Sailor Mars started, "He'll probably have already escaped by the time we get there."

"I can totally see him doing that," Sailor Venus concurred. "He'll probably have the perps shackled and unconscious."

"Statistically, the odds don't favor Bobby by himself," Sailor Mercury, the voice of reason, reminded. "But he's not exactly a typical human."

"Nope. If there was ever anyone who could take on a giant Indian guy and some old dude, Bobby'd be it," Sailor Moon added. "I've got five bucks that says he's already got it handled."

"I'll put five on him escaping," Mars told everyone. "Anyone else want a piece of the action?"

"Really, a bet you guys?" Sailor Jupiter asked. She was at least a little miffed.

"Oh, Lita, we're just trying to lighten the mood. Really, we don't mean anything by it," Sailor Venus told her. "I'm sure he's fine. Just relax."

"You guys are right," Jupiter agreed. The plane rocked hard as Snake touched down on the tiny Corbin, Kentucky runway.

"Sorry!" Snake apologized from the cockpit. The plane screeched to a stop just as quickly as it had taken off. "We're down."

"And in one piece," Obi-Wan reminded his passengers. He toggled a switch and the back end of the Dragonfly dropped out. Obi-Wan beat Snake to the back end, earning the right to drive Foe Hammer; the super sized Justice League Ford Expedition. The Scouts piled in back and Snake took shotgun, figuratively and literally.

The mighty Ford rumbled to life and rolled with the smooth locomotion of a caterpillar down the Dragonfly's ramp and onto Corbin's less-than-adequate streets. Navigation was no trouble, as the Moonbow and Sander's Court are the town's only tourist attractions.

The sun began to set and coincidentally, the full moon rose over the Cumberland Falls Moonbow. It did in fact quite look like a standard rainbow, except for the inherent absence of light in the atmosphere.

"He must be down there," Sailor Jupiter spoke, everyone standing at the foot of the waterfall.

"Lita?" Bobby's voice cried out over the sound of the waterfall, "Is that you?" Everyone got really happy.

"Oh my God, Bobby!" Jupiter called out. "Where are you?"

"Keep Talking!" Bobby instructed. "It's hard to find the path in all this water."

"Okay, just follow my voice," Jupiter instructed. She then stopped talking.

"Why'd you stop?" Bobby asked.

"I need something to talk about!" Jupiter shouted back.

"Oh this is stupid! Is Sailor Venus with you?" Bobby asked.

"Yes!" Jupiter shouted over the rushing water. Venus stepped forward.

"Tell her to shoot us a hole!" Bobby instructed. A faint splash could be heard as Bobby and his new ally jumped into the small pool of water in the recess of the cave.

"Us?" Venus asked. She shook it off and stood back. "Venus Crescent Beam Smash!" she called out. A blast of energy, almost like a laser, shot from Sailor Venus' fingers and ripped through the rock face. Dust cleared and the pale moonlight filtered into the cave.

Slowly, Bobby emerged through the person sized hole. He was at least very relieved to see his compatriots. He took two large steps and was met by Jupiter. "I'm sorry I couldn't stop them," Jupiter started to apologize.

"Don't be sorry," Bobby told her. "Just be glad you've got me back." They both smiled at each other.

"Glad to see you are well, friend," Obi-Wan greeted, "But how did you escape."

Bobby reached his hand back through the hole. He helped Talia, who was known to everyone because of the group's meeting, out and into the moonlight. "Meet our newest ally, Talia."

The cold gaze from everyone could chill Eskimos. "Uh, Bobby, are you sure this is a good idea?" Jupiter asked. She'd seen Talia piloting the autogyro that was used in Bobby's kidnapping, so she was naturally a little more cautious than everyone else.

"I'm positive that this is a good idea," Bobby told them. "She's motivated only by love. That's why she helped me escape."

"How do you mean?" Sailor Mars asked. She was nearly as fiery and feisty as Jupiter.

"Her and Bruce. We've got to get back to Hikawa Shrine and exhume Bruce's body."

"With the information I possess," Talia broke her silence, "we can revive my beloved."

Everyone had a look of uncertainty. It was certainly warranted. People just typically don't come back to life from being dead for six months. "Think of it Lita," Bobby told her, taking her hands from her defensive arms crossed position, "Bruce can be back as Batman, Gotham is safe and I can dedicate more time to us."

Jupiter smiled softly. "That would be nice. Okay. Let's go back to Japan."

Chapter 6: Skyhook to Kyoto

"Atomic Batteries to Power, turbines to speed," Obi-Wan reported.

"Quit saying that," Snake told him. Again, the Dragonfly rocked forward taking off with gusto.

"I'm never letting Snake fly," Bobby remarked, putting his Batsuit on.

"He just needs work on take offs and landings," Sailor Jupiter told him. They were alone in the rear section of the plane. Everyone else was in the passenger compartment. It was the only privacy they could have.

"So he really sucks at the two parts that are really important in aviation," Batman surmised, pulling his cowl down. "So you were pretty worried about me?"

Jupiter nodded her head slowly. "I felt so helpless. I'm used to being able to handle anything; the Dark Kingdom, Doom Tree, and Pharaoh 90… never once did I feel as afraid as I did earlier," she confessed.

Batman's muscular hands rested on Jupiter's arms, which supported her weight against the back of Foe Hammer. "It's nice to know I was missed." He took one long look into her brown eyes and leaned in for a kiss. "If this thing, reviving Bruce, works out let's get married."

Lita smiled softly. "Okay," she spoke in barely a whisper. "Hell lets even if it doesn't work."

"Okay," Bobby agreed. "Go get Raye. I'll need her help to find the body," Bobby told Jupiter.

"How does this work?" Jupiter asked, getting ready to go in the cabin. "You two skydive into the shrine, retrieve the body then what?"

"We shoot a skyhook into the air then Snake or Obi-Wan, and I'm really hoping Obi-Wan, flies past, connects with it and whisks us off to Kyoto to the Lazarus pit there."

"Well I'm glad Raye's doing it and not me," Jupiter told him. She exited and reemerged a few moments later with Sailor Mars.

They outfitted themselves with a harness for Mars and the parachute for Batman. It would simplify things if only one of them operated the parachute. Mars could simply hook onto Batman's suit and hold on for dear life as they plummeted out of the sky.

The wind noise of a freefall from 10,000 feet was unreal. Even Honda vs. Ducati days at Gotham Raceway were quieter than the rush of air flowing past Batman and Sailor Mars' bodies. The feeling of weightlessness was uneasy to both of them. There were times, in fact, that Sailor Mars' lunch might have made an appearance.

After a ten count, Bobby pulled the rip cord of the Bat-chute. A good bit of Tokyo watched as the black parachute with Bat silhouette descended into the Hikawa Shrine. It wasn't good practice to use a skyhook in midday, since the normal populous would gather and swarm. It was a race against the clock for Batman and Sailor Mars to retrieve Bruce Wayne's body and get back in the air.

"3, 2, 1… go!" Batman yelled. Mars detached her harness and dropped to the ground as Batman made one final brake before detaching himself from the parachute. Mars immediately took off for the farthest row of cherry blossom trees as Batman set up the rocket powered skyhook launcher.

"I got him!" Mars reported. Batman finished his task and joined her at the makeshift grave site. There lay Bruce; Raye's grandpa had performed a semi-mummification and at Bobby's request, the body was placed in a hermetically sealed bag. Nothing could get in or out.

"Okay," Batman spoke. He grabbed Bruce around the torso and dragged him back to the launcher. The crowd that gathered to watch the descent began to work up the long staircase to the Shrine.

Sailor Mars unfolded the lightweight aluminum basket and Batman placed the body inside. The basket was tethered to Mars' harness, which was in turn tethered to Batman's "Now," Batman spoke into his radio. That was Obi-Wan's signal to pass over the Shrine at a low altitude for pickup. The steel line that would carry them to safety was fired into the air via its rocket and like clockwork; Obi-Wan snagged the awaiting grave robbers, just as the crowd started to fill into the Shrine yard.

"Bring us up," Batman instructed into the radio. Just as planned, Sailor Jupiter activated a winch that carried Batman, Mars and Bruce back up to the backend of the Dragonfly. They arrived in safety, and most importantly, their cargo and new passenger was perfect. A makeshift bed was made in next to Foe Hammer and Bruce was lovingly placed on it.

"My beloved," Talia spoke, pushing everyone out of the way to make it to Bruce.

"Wait," Batman told her. "Don't break the hermetic seal of the bag. Raye's grandpa probably did a fine job, but I don't want to risk it."

"Very well," Talia agreed. Tears of joy flowed from her face as she gave the corpse of her beloved a long overdue embrace. "We must be off to Kyoto."

"We will be there in moments," Obi-Wan informed over the radio. The occupants of the Dragonfly gathered in silent reverence. Everyone had gathered at the back of the plane to see Bruce. It was like the small funeral they had before teleporting off to the Big Shell so many months ago.

The Sailors were all silent and teary; typical girly funeral act, Bobby couldn't but help get emotional at the reunion of his surrogate father and Talia, in a beautiful display, clung onto the black bag the cadaver was in. Minutes seemed like years.

The silence was shattered. "Everyone take a seat," Obi-Wan requested over the plane's loudspeaker. The crowd dispersed, each person hoping the Lazarus Pit would bring Bruce back. Seatbelts clicked as everyone sat down in their seat. Talia, after a good sob at the back of the plane, joined Snake and Obi-Wan to give them instruction to the Kyoto Lazarus pit.

A small grass airstrip at the outskirts of town was the only indicator that there could be anything like a Lazarus pit here. Snake touched down gently for the first time the entire trip and the Dragonfly eased to a halt. The whole scene had sort of a quiet reverence as Batman and Snake carefully carried Bruce's body out of the back of the Dragonfly.

Like a life procession, Talia led the way to the Lazarus pit, Snake and Batman with the body right behind, Obi-Wan keeping an eye on the whole situation and the Scouts falling in behind. The airstrip led to a sunken in stone structure that was easily hundreds of years old. Stairs crumbled as the small procession began the long trek down the stairs and into the underground labyrinth that lead to the Lazarus pit.

The darkness was in the least spooky. It wasn't anything new to Batman, who'd experienced the same thing with Talia in Kentucky. Snake and Obi-Wan weren't bothered, and really the only one of the group who was wigged out was Sailor Moon, but having her closest friends nearby calmed her and kept her composed.

The long dark corridors soon led to more open chambers. They had an eerie green light that seemed to emanate from the ground below. The floor around the edges of the room was indeed perforated and the eerie glow came from the Lazarus pit itself. It was plainly visible moving from one room to another. The large open rooms soon ceased and the group went down another narrow staircase. It turned spiral as everyone descended on the pit.

"Is that it?" Sailor Moon asked. The group had reached its destination. It was an iridescent green color that bubbled with heat and the thick smell of sulfur and methane.

"The power to revive my beloved," Talia spoke, staring deeply at the pit. At the edge of the dais that the group had gathered was a large wooden spool wrapped with chain that led to a steel platform. "Strap my beloved to that," Talia instructed, pointing at the platform.

Obi-Wan cut the hermetic seal with his lightsaber and the body slumped out of the sack. Raye's grandfather did an excellent job of preserving the body; Bruce looked exactly as he did when they sealed him away, hoping for a way to bring him back.

Bobby couldn't help but be excited as they placed the body on the platform. It was simple schoolboy giddiness. With Bruce back, he'd have his mentor and he could devote more time to Lita… Hot damn!

The only one who was more excited than Bobby was Talia. She could have her beloved back. The man, who like so many romance novels put it, completed her. Their love could bring Ra's an heir. If Talia so desired, and Bruce was okay with it. Therein lay the hitch the last time that Ra's approached Bruce for being heir to the League of Shadows. He wanted no part of it. But, Talia couldn't accept it because for her, hope springs eternal. "Lower him in," Talia spoke softly, the words leaving her lips silently hoping that Bruce would be back to life in moments.

Obi-Wan, drawing on the power of the Force, undid the small brake holding the large spool and he began to lower the platform to the pit. What would take a man, about the size of a large Indian, was no task at all for a Jedi Master with the Force as his ally.

The bubbly ooze of the Lazarus Pit swallowed up Bruce's body as the platform made a splashdown at the bottom of the pit. Everyone gathered at the edge to watch. Nothing happened for the first few minutes. Just bubbles and a rancid smell. The entire stage was quiet as they watched. Still nothing below. Then, like someone pushed a button marked 'Play' for life, loud screams breached the green ooze.

Everyone's eyes widened. "Bring him up!" Talia shouted. Obi-Wan, as fast as the Force would allow, began to winch the body back to the surface.

The green ooze was coughed from Bruce's now living body as the platform swung back to the dais and was set down. The hole made by Darth Maul's lightsaber was filled in with new flesh and blood.

Everyone held back silent gasps. Talia knelt down to his side and waited for more signs of life. Bruce shot up like he was having a bad dream. His eyes were wide and that of a crazy man, not a billionaire playboy. He stood, crazy and enraged. His bulging biceps lifted Talia above his head.

As if they were stunned, the Justice League just watched as Bruce prepared to throw Talia over the precipice. Obi-Wan, always at the ready, lifted Talia out of mad Wayne's hands. Bruce was bewildered, not knowing anything but pure rage. A grappling hook fired from Batman's utility belt and wound itself around Bruce's feet.

Within seconds, Batman had hogtied his mentor. "At least he's alive," Batman remarked, rejoining the group as Bruce struggled to get free. Obi-Wan release Talia, who left them and rejoined Bruce.

"He will be all right in a few minutes," Talia told everyone. "The effects of the pit drive men who use it mad temporarily."

"Bravo Detective!" Ra's voice boomed in the cavernous hall. Adjacent to the stairwell was a dark recess and an antechamber. Ra's emerged from the shadows. "You played your parts excellently," he informed them, "Especially you, Talia darling."

Everyone except Batman sensed a double cross. "What are you talking about?" Batman asked, moving to the lead to intercept Ra's.

"Recovering Wayne. Using the pit to bring him back to life. Brilliant. You regain a mentor and father figure and I regain my heir. With you in that suit, Gotham will have no need for Bruce Wayne as Batman. You all did superbly," Ra's again complemented.

"Apparently you don't know Bruce Wayne very well," Batman told Ra's. "He'd never join the League of Shadows."

"Apparently you don't know where Bruce learned all of his techniques," Ra's told him. "Indeed, your beloved mentor was once already my protégé."

"But he didn't stick with it," Batman argued. "He knows the error of your ways."

Ra's was thoroughly served a plate of his own ass with all the trimmings. "Quite right," he admitted after a pause. "And it is because of this that he can never know of your Justice League. Your opposites need to appear. Pasha!" The Indian giant stepped forward.

"This asshole's mine," Snake spoke, lighting a cigarette. He leapt at Pasha, engaging him.

Ra's clapped his hands once. From the stalactites, six ninjas in all black with large swords descended on Batman and the Scouts. Hand to hand combat broke out. Everyone was engaged on the platform, everyone except for the Jedi Master.

"The Immortal Ra's al Ghul," Obi-Wan spoke. Something bothered Obi-Wan. The face of the man he was squaring off with held an uncanny resemblance to Obi-Wan's former master, Qui-Gon Jinn. Obi-Wan didn't let his uneasiness show. "It seems that if you meet your end, the League of Shadows ends. With no heir, your organization would simply cease to be."

"Obi-Wan Kenobi," Ra's spoke, identifying his adversary. "We've been watching you. Your Jedi powers are impressive. You would go far in an organization like mine. You might even be able to wrestle the reigns of control from my grasp."

"Then you haven't studied the Jedi very closely," Obi-Wan spoke. His lightsaber ignited from its handle. "You will meet your end, Ra's."

"En guard, Jedi!" Ra's spoke. His cane, a symbol of frailty, morphed into a sturdy rapier. He raised the rapier as Obi-Wan came on the offensive.

Cortosis is the only material in the known universe that is strong enough to block a lightsaber blade. It's an iridescent green mineral that is mined deep underground and can be added to other metals to make them lightsaber resistant. Obi-Wan learned of it's presence on earth as soon as his blue lightsaber collided with Ra's sword.

The lightsaber should have sliced clean through the soft steel and removed Ra's head, ending this entire debacle. Ra's met Obi-Wan blow for blow, forcing them into the Batman/Sailor Scout melee with the ninjas and then to the edge of the dais. Obi-Wan glanced over his shoulder at the glowing green Lazarus pit and knew immediately why his attacks weren't more successful.

"A Cortosis weave," Obi-Wan commented, deflecting another of Ra's attacks.

"Very observant, Jedi. If you only knew…" Ra's continued his offensive.

The Jedi Master practiced Form III of lightsaber combat, known to the Jedi as Soresu. It was a quick, defensive method that allowed no attacks to harm the user and opted to let the Jedi's opponent make a mistake on which the Jedi could capitalize. Obi-Wan met every thrust and blow of Ra's with a quick parry, using his speed and agility to force Ra's back and away from the precipice. The two battled on a large stone table, which may have had some sacrificial significance to an earlier civilization.

"I'm impressed, Master Kenobi," Ra's admitted, stepping back from the action to catch his breath. Youth and vitality flowed through Obi-Wan, whereas countless years weighed on Ra's. "Perhaps you would be a more suitable heir to my empire than Bruce Wayne."

"I make it my business not to get involved in politics," Obi-Wan informed. "Empires of mad men are something I've grown quite intimate with. You will not survive this encounter."

"Perhaps, Master Jedi," Ra's taunted. "Perhaps not... Pasha!" Ra's yelled.

The Indian giant had thoroughly beaten the Legendary Mercenary to a pulp and was about to deliver a deathblow to Snake when his Master summoned. Pasha dropped Snake to the ground in a pile of humanity then went to fend off a Jedi attack.

Obi-Wan, so focused on Ra's, didn't see the giant's sneak attack. Pasha, with a handful of Obi-Wan's hair, drove the Jedi master's face into the ground. Obi-Wan was stunned. His lightsaber deactivated as he succumbed to the Indian.

The bond shared between a Jedi Master and his Apprentice is a strong one. During Bobby's brief time with the Force, he developed an attachment and fondness for his master. The Force sent ripples through Bobby's spine, telling him his master was in danger. Batman delivered a simple forward jab to his ninja opponent, knocking him out cold. He fired his grappling hook up and into the stone ceiling. Like his namesake creature, he shot up in a fury and descended upon the Indian who was about to make an Obi-Wan pancake courtesy of a very large stone.

Strength succumbed to gravity as the large stone fell right atop Pasha's head. The Indian toppled over, unconscious. Ra's eyes widened with disbelief and anger. "Pasha!" Ra's yelled. He quickly clapped his hands and the ninjas who had been fighting the Sailor Scouts withdrew and carried off the Indian giant. "You may have won this round, but we have what we need."

The ninjas and Pasha's unconscious body disappeared into the shadows, and was soon joined by Ra's. "What did he mean?" Batman asked. Batman turned to the edge of the dais where Bruce had been restrained, only to find cut ropes and a missing Bruce and Talia. "Played me for a sap," he spoke.

"Don't worry," Sailor Jupiter reassured, joining her man. "We'll get them."

Chapter 7: There's no Place like Home

"Wake up, Bruce," a soft voice spoke. As if the heavens themselves had opened up and let an angel into the dark recesses of Gotham, Bruce slowly opened his eyes to a warm breeze and sunlight. An angel sat at the edge of his bed.

"Talia?" he asked. His eyes opened. He was at home, in bed at Wayne Manor. Nothing was out of place, except for his company. "What are you doing here?"

"I broke away from my father," she spoke. "He is a madman and I had to get away from him and be with you. Do you still have feelings for me?" Talia's eyes softened as she looked at her beloved. The stare pierced Bruce.

"Uh, of course," he spoke. Ever cautious, Bruce chose words carefully. "Why am I home? I remember being in Japan with Bobby. We' just caught the Joker and squared off with Captain Planet."

"Don't overexert yourself," Talia spoke rubbing Bruce's forehead. "There will be time for explanations later. All that matters now is that we're together." She lay down next to him, resting her arms across his broad chest and muscular arms. Her lips soon began to explore Bruce's neck.

Normal Bruce would have sensed a deception and cast her aside. Bruce didn't feel like he typically did. He was normally cautious, always trying to sense a lie or dishonesty, but right now he felt therapeutic, in other words, not normal. Good feelings washed over Bruce's body as the raven haired angel caressed his body and showered him with kisses.

Soon enough he began to return the favor, succumbing to emotions he first felt many years ago, back when Dick Grayson was still Robin. The effects of Ra's drugs intensified Bruce's emotions as kissing graduated into playful rolling in the sheets before culminating in what Ra's and Talia had longed for, slow passionate love making.

The heavy wooden doors at the main entrance of Wayne Manor stood in defiance of the heroes who resided there. "Shine Aqua Illusion!" Sailor Mercury called out. A massive jet of water with the force of several fire hoses blew the doors down.

From the darkness the ninjas that had faced off with Batman and the Scouts appeared. It was an even match, six on six. Snake had somewhat recovered from his brutal beating and Obi-Wan was none the worse for wear. Ra's and Pasha were nowhere in sight.

"We really don't have time for this," Batman commented.

Sailor Jupiter stepped forward. "I call upon the planet Jupiter, send forth thunder and lightning! Help us get past our enemies!" The small antenna on her tiara extended. "Jupiter Supreme Thunder!" she called out. Bolts of lightning gathered in the clouds and gathered in Jupiter's tiara before discharging in the group.

Electricity sizzled and popped as the group of ninjas dropped to the ground, shaking violently. The group stepped over their fallen foes, retaking Wayne Manor from the League of Shadows. "Okay, Sailor Scouts, upstairs! Find Bruce!" Batman commanded. "Obi-Wan, Snake and I will find Ra's."

The group split up, the Scouts beginning to canvas the upstairs of the house while Snake, Obi-Wan and Batman descended into the Batcave. Sailor Mercury, being the brain that she is, reasoned that if it was Bruce's seed that Talia was after, it would only make sense to check somewhere that Bruce would feel comfortable.

Sailor Moon and Mercury found themselves outside the only door that no one ever went in. Soft noises were heard from the other side. "I'll kick it down," Sailor Moon spoke, taking the lead. "Then gimme some cover."

"Right," Mercury acknowledged.

A mighty kick to the heavy wooden door knocked it down from its hinges. Sailor Moon and Mercury stormed inside, with Mars, Venus and Jupiter just down the hall. "Mercury Bubbles Blast!" Sailor Mercury called. Streams of bubbles filled Bruce's bedroom, fogging the area and confusing Talia, who was completely manipulating Bruce. "Now Sailor Moon!" Mercury called.

The Crescent Moon Wand appeared, just as it did to heal Captain Planet. "This is a travesty against love! I won't stand for it!" Sailor Moon shouted at Talia. "Moon Healing Activation!" A gold shimmer left the Wand and fell over both Talia and Bruce.

Naked, Talia dropped to the empty side of the bed. Sailor Moon's power rendered her unable to move, but she still contained the love for Bruce in her heart. That was at least the only true thing about Talia. Her head moved to the side to see her beloved, one time before she passed out.

A small fog that clouded Bruce's mind disappeared and the tri-fecta of opium, cannabis and amphetamines wore off. He too passed into a peaceful sleep, but the effect of Ra's drugging was gone.

A blue hue lighted the way into the darkened Batcave. Obi-Wan led the way as he, Snake and Batman went on the hunt of the Demon's head. "Something is off," Obi-Wan reported, drawing on his Jedi powers.

"What do you mean?" Snake asked, readying his gun.

"When I was fighting with Ra's in Kyoto. He said something, and then I felt a schism in the Force. It was a simple deception, but we should be cautious," he warned.

The stairwell that led down to the main landing in the Batcave was darkened. Typically, the light from the Bat-computer's screensaver would provide plenty illumination to guide anyone down the stairs. The trio reached computer. There was no sign of intruders.

Batman pressed the power button on his computer and waited for the boot sequence to come up. The monitor glowed in between boot sequences. Like something from a horror movie, two giant hands grasped Obi-Wan and Snake by the hair and drove their heads together with great force. The dropped down silently, Batman not knowing he was under attack. The monitor went dark again, concealing the attacker. When the Computer's operating system came online, a reflection in the LCD screen alerted Batman to the situation. He rolled to one side as a pair of hands grabbed at him.

"I had a feeling you'd be in here somewhere," Batman spoke, addressing Pasha. "Where has your master gone?"

"A place of symbolic significance," Pasha informed, "From where he can watch the world end." The Indian crouched down, and then leapt forward, bowling into Batman. The Giant, easily weighing that of three Batmans had the Dark Knight pinned down. A giant palm rested against Batman's head as Pasha began to squeeze the life from the Caped Crusader.

Struggling for his Utility belt, Batman was able to get a hold of his grappling launcher. A small hook fired from it and grabbed into the vertical stone wall of the Batcave. The launcher found a new home in Pasha's sash as Batman pressed the retrieve button. The heavy duty cable whined and stretched as the enormous weight was lifted off Batman and was winched with speed over to the wall.

Batman rose, confident that his aggressor wouldn't be giving them anymore trouble. Obi-Wan and Snake slowly got up and found comfy chairs as their heads pulsed in pain. "Where has Ra's gone then?" Obi-Wan asked.

"I may be able to answer that," a dark voice spoke. Eyes turned to the staircase, revealing Bruce, fully healed and ready for action.

Bobby removed the cape and cowl and replaced them with a huge smile. Growing excited, he looked around the room, playing coy. A missing program caught his eye… something was off with the Bat-computer. "Where did it go?"

"Where did what go?" Obi-Wan asked.

"My nuclear satellite catalog," Bobby spoke, checking the computer over. "The entire file is missing."

"We need to get to Wall Street," Bruce spoke. He joined Bobby, Obi-Wan and Snake on the landing by the computer. The Former master gave his ex-apprentice the once-over. "It looks good on you," he complimented. "You drive."

Chapter 8: Finale

Keys clicked on a black laptop. Wall Street was abuzz with activity and no one paid any attention to the old guy with the computer. Ra's sat quietly in the shadow of a great man on the stairs of Federal Hall. Three hundred years ago, this great man scorned his soldier for not sparing the lives of surrendered Redcoats. Now, from his shadow, the small soldier was going to send Earth back to the dark ages with its own modern day musket and katana.

"I can't believe you get good wireless internet up here," a voice spoke, sitting down next to Ra's.

"So you've bested Talia and Pasha, detective," Ra's spoke. "I knew that you would be an excellent heir. It's only too bad you've resorted to theatrics and a flashy car instead of instantaneous victory. With a few simple keystrokes, all the nuclear armament in the sky activates, raining a wondrous electromagnetic pulse on the planet. All your markets crash, money becomes worthless and everything is as it should be with nature... true balance for all people."

"Actually, he does the theatrics and drives the car now," Bruce spoke. The pointed ears of the Batsuit covered Ra's screen. "And with a simple keystroke, he can deactivate the wireless in this area making your weapon useless."

Ra's eyes shifted to Bruce, seated at his left. A smile parted his lips. "You are excellent, both of you. Perhaps today isn't the day that the world comes to an end." Ra's rose, closing his laptop and starting down the stairs.

"Ra's," Batman spoke. Their adversary turned to face the past and present Bats. Batman pressed a button on his utility belt. Within a ten foot radius, everyone's cell phones, digital watches and cameras stopped working. Their circuit boards were burnt to a crisp by an electromagnetic pulse of their own. The power light on Ra's laptop, and the thumb drive carrying Bobby's satellite program both went dead. "We'll be waiting." The setting sun cast shadows of Five Pretty Soldiers, a Jedi and Legendary Mercenary, all waiting in the background.

Ra's walked off without incident. The closing bells of Wall Street could be heard from the steps of Federal Hall. The entire group gathered in the street as the crowds of people went to see what the daily markets closed at. Everyone, Snake, Obi-Wan, the Scouts, Batman and Bruce all gathered to look at the marvelous statue of George Washington.

"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

Their Guards had arrived…

The Slithery Serpent

By Greg Senger

Chapter 1

Salty seawater crashed against the white sands. 'It's so nice here,' Bobby thought. The sun was high in the midday Miami air. Fifteen hundred felt like a million miles away from dark Gotham. They had their Dark Knight, the real Dark Knight back, and so it gave Bobby some time to relax. Or that was the idea, anyway. True enough, Bruce went back to his role as Batman but as for the relaxation bit, well that might come a little harder.

The balcony doors clicked closed as Bobby checked his watch. 12:30… the girls would be here in fifteen minutes. 'Time for a nice leisurely walk downstairs,' Bobby thought. He left the swank hotel room and boarded the elevator. It dinged, then hummed for a bit and dinged again. He stepped out into the hotel lobby, a whole two minutes since he set out.

Bobby looked around for a comfy seat. He found one next to a middle aged man with big, sorrowful eyes, a bald spot separating gray and black hairs and a very casual style. In fact, he looked like he should be teaching college somewhere. "How's it going?" the man asked as Bobby sat down.

"Good," Bobby replied, settling in. A silence grew between them. The balding man paged through a newspaper. Bobby sat, minding the clock and twirling the new gold band that resided on his finger.

"I hope you're not waiting for your mistress with your wedding ring on," the man spoke.

"Excuse me?" Bobby asked, not catching it.

"You're not used to wearing the ring, that's why you play with it. Either recently married or your about to commit adultery and are nervous about it," he explained.

"Impressive," Bobby spoke. "And it's the former. Lita should be here in a few minutes," Bobby told him.

"From your slouched position, I'd guess that Lita carries a lot of excess baggage. Like four friends who are inseparable from one another. I bet it really bugged you when they decided to come along on your honeymoon."

"Okay, this is too weird," Bobby remarked. Indeed, all 5 girls were heading to Miami to partake of the cruise that Bobby and Lita had planned as their honeymoon. "Who are you?" Bobby asked.

"Jason Gideon," the man introduced himself, shaking Bobby's hand. "You are?"

"Bobby Alton," he informed. 'Jason Gideon, boy that sounds familiar…' Bobby thought. "So how'd you do that? The thing…"

"I used to do it for a living," Gideon told him. "But that's all behind me. Sorry for doing it," he spoke with a chuckle. "Sometimes I just can't help to profile people."

"Quite all right," Bobby told him. "What brings you to Miami?"

"Just out trying to find humanity," Gideon told him.

"A somewhat cryptic response," Bobby spoke. "Are you here to go on the cruise?"

"I like trains," Gideon told him, "But Hotch insisted I take the cruise. The FBI's last gift for years of dedicated service I guess."

"Aaron Hotchner?" Bobby asked. Batman had briefly met Hotchner and the BAU while investigating the deaths of Gotham Mob Bosses. "You're that Jason Gideon! From the BAU!"

"Not anymore," Gideon told him. Bobby could clearly see that the topic moved Gideon. The emotions weighed on him like he was trying to move an ocean liner by himself.

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that," Bobby spoke. "They say you were the best."

"Sometimes the best isn't good enough. And even if it is, it's all in vain." Gideon took the square framed reading glasses off his face, folded them closed and placed them in his shirt pocket. The paper folded as Lita and company came clambering into the hotel. "It looks like your bride is here."

Bobby rose with a smile on his face as arms tied around his Lita. A small kiss united the newlyweds in the lobby. Gideon smiled, finding a small bit of humanity in them.

"How was the plane ride?" Bobby asked.

"Good," Lita replied. "Serena got through 32 packages of peanuts before she had to rolfe. Amy won the bet."

"I could have made it to 50 if the pilot could have kept the plane straight," Serena informed.

"Looks like you've got your hands full," Gideon spoke, standing up.

"Who's your friend Bobby?" Raye asked.

"Girls meet Jason, Jason this is Lita, Raye, Amy, Mina and Serena," Bobby spoke, introducing his new friend to the girls.

"Hi Jason," they each rang out.

"Are you going on the cruise with us?" Mina asked.

"You totally should," Raye added. "It's going to be awesome!"

"Yea, why don't you Jason, help me out," Bobby spoke, nodding his head towards the four women who weren't his wife.

"It'd be my pleasure," Gideon spoke, smiling.

Chapter 2

The foghorn filled the air as the Charity churned the mighty sea, heading out to from Miami. Due south and into Cuban waters, then onto Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico around St. Kitts and Nevis before one long stretch to Jamaica. The Charity would then round the other side of Cuba before heading back to the Florida Keys.

"Clear sailing sir," the Officer of the Watch reported. It was plainly obvious to anyone with eyes it was clear sailing. With no clouds, the sea and sky reflected the same shade of blue, melding together. All the bridge officers had the same rigid stance, except for the captain.

"Thank you, Ensign Hayes," the captain spoke. He removed the white officers' hat and placed it on the console. "Relax guys, we're not the navy." Hayes, along with the bridge crew breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed.

"Course plotted for Cuba sir," Lieutenant Nelson reported.

"Very good Lieutenant," the captain spoke, peering out the bridge windows and onto the deck below. Various sorts of hot women were down there, all slathering themselves in tanning oil. "I'll be on deck," the captain reported. He grabbed his hat and retreated in the direction of all that tanning oil. "Women love a man in uniform…" The bridge crew let out a snigger as the captain departed them and went down onto the deck.

He went about, cock of the walk, introducing himself. "Hello. I'm Captain Wellington," he spoke, shaking the hand of the most voluptuous woman he came to, "Please, enjoy your cruise on the Charity. Contact me if you need anything." He put heavy emphasis on the anything. The Captain continued down the line of beautiful women.

The Captain cast a shadow on the next busty woman. One recently married. "Get outta my sun jack," Lita scolded.

"My apologies…" the Captain spoke, eyeing her feminine bits. "I'm Captain Wellington. Please, if you need anything…" he then spied the moderate diamond on her ring finger, "Don't hesitate to contact a member of the crew."

Wellington stood, looked out over the ocean, and then progressed down the line. Bobby watched the player captain putting his moves on from the edge railing of the ship. Anger quietly stewed inside him, but no one would ever know it.

"You wanted to knock his head off," Gideon spoke, leaning back against the railing, joining Bobby. "Don't worry; it's instinctual. Despite how anyone acts, when it comes to procreation, we're not much better than our baser instincts."

"You are very good at that," Bobby told him. A creamy colada fell on Bobby's lips as he turned to look at Gideon. Bobby raised an eyebrow at his new friend. "You look, uh,"

"Out of place?" Jason asked.

"Warm," Bobby finished. While the girls had donned swimsuits and the guys had taken to shorts and sandals, Gideon still was in his sneakers, jeans, tee and loose shirt.

"I told you I like trains," Gideon spoke. "This is your honeymoon right?"

"Yep. My honeymoon with all five of them," Bobby said.

"Well, the two long haired ones are in the wave pool, the short haired one has her nose buried in Moby Dick and the girl with the long pigtails is at the stern shooting skeet," Gideon told him.


"You ever think about having kids?"

Bobby's eyes became as wide as saucers. "Oh!" he cried out. He finished the colada through a smile and handed Jason the cup.

Gideon smiled as Bobby rushed off, whipped the sun reflector out of Lita's hand and whisked her off the deck and back to their cabin. Gideon pushed off from the railing and looked over the vast sea of blue. 'So small… everything is so insignificant,' he pondered. A seabird, red in color, came into Gideon's field of view. Birds are one of Gideon's hobbies.

"A scarlet Ibis," a soft voice spoke out.

"That's right," Gideon confirmed. "They're not native to Cuba. He must have flown here all the way from Florida." Gideon sniggered.

"You feel out of place, like the Ibis," the voice commented again.

"There's so much we can learn from birds. All my days of profiling, of getting inside the criminal mind, it's really not difficult. Look at the mockingbird. It can imitate the cries of other birds, insects, even amphibians to catch its meal. I really wasn't that much different from the mockingbird," Gideon reflected. "All the science doesn't amount to much. It's all about giving into the dark side."

"But you also saved lives," the voice spoke again. Amy joined Gideon leaning on the rail. "How many people's lives did you save when you were with the FBI? Probably far more there are psychos."

"I suppose," Gideon agreed. "But it's hard to feel good about catching one when there are 10 more out there."

"Thirty. There are 30 serial killers active, on average, in the United States at one time," Amy told him.

Gideon's gaze moved from the Ibis to Amy. Her presence was of a soft spoken nerd girl, but in a good way. He was reminded of Dr. Spencer Reid from the FBI. They worked together for four years and Gideon became sort of a father figure to the BAU's resident genius. He smiled at her.

"Do I amuse you?" Amy asked.

"No," Gideon told her. "You just remind me of someone special to me. Up for a walk?"

"I don't think Melville's words will change," Amy spoke, presenting the wooden deck with her hand. They strolled down the deck, watching dolphins running alongside the ship. "So what happened? Why did you leave the FBI?" Amy asked.

"Someone very special to me was killed by a man I should have been able to stop. She was a college friend. We were supposed to have dinner at my apartment. He came to my home. He killed her and dismembered her in my bed. I chased him after I got home, but it was too late. I couldn't save Sarah," Gideon explained.

"Is that the only reason?" Amy asked.

"In the beginning I thought that if I kept plugging away, keep profiling these murderers, stalkers, whatever sort of whacko the world could summon up, that I'd be making it better. I kept a list of the people who I helped to save. I have pictures of most of them. I consider them to be my family. Then Frank came."

"Is Frank the man who killed Sarah?"

"Was," Gideon told her. "He jumped in front of a train with the woman he viewed as his mother."

"Did you find comfort in the fact he was dead?"

"Not really."

"So your ability is your gift and your curse," Amy spoke. She mused about the past years. So much of her adolescence and teen years were surrendered to fight as a Sailor Scout. Many times she wished she could give up the fight for justice and all that and just be a normal girl. All the Scouts did. But destiny had different plans for them. "Do you know what you'll find? I mean, will you ever get solace. Some reason to keep going?"

"I don't know," Gideon told her. "Maybe I'll have some sort of life changing revelation on this cruise. If not, I'm content to resign myself and watch the world pass by, taking comfort in the goodness of people."

"Well, if that's the case, just keep hanging around Bobby," Amy told him. "He's such a good friend. My life changed dramatically because of him. For the better as well." Their footsteps ceased at the bow of the ship. "Do you believe in destiny?"

"Predeterminism? I don't know," Gideon told her, looking over the vast ocean. "Maybe that's my problem. If everything's predetermined, why would I try to make the world better by chasing the worst that humanity could conjure up?" Gideon asked.

"Because you're a good person," Amy told him. "I certainly believe in fate. I've seen a lot of stuff in my few years I've been here. But I fully believe in my friends and in the good of humanity will always seek out and destroy the bad."

"I certainly hope so," Gideon told her. They stood side by side, as far forward on the Charity as they could go.

Chapter 3

Swimsuits had been exchanged for sport coats and dresses. A lovely variation on Pachelbel's Canon in D was bowed out of a wonderfully old violin, possibly a Stradivarius, by a master violinist. A large man with a gray beard accompanied him on the cello as the two men filled the Master Dining Hall of the Charity with the classic tune, usually reserved for weddings.

The air was heavy, perfumed to the point of being obnoxious. Big crystal chandeliers hung overhead, lighting the 200 or so guests of the Charity's dining hall. The room was filled with most of the women that the captain was hitting on earlier, plus a few token guys thrown in. Round tables seated seven at each.

"I was beginning to think you weren't going to come," Bobby remarked, looking across the table at Gideon.

"I hadn't planned on it. But Amy is very charming and quite good with words," Gideon paused and took a sip of his water. "And the free meal didn't hurt either." Everyone gathered at the table chuckled.

The violin concerto stopped and the maestros were replaced by a large man in a tuxedo with a microphone. The former entertainers retreated to an orchestra pit sunken behind the stage and joined a band cueing up. The Captain took the stage, dressed in a uniform almost as elegant as that of US Navy dress whites. "Attention everyone. I'd just like to say thank you on behalf of my crew and my officers for choosing to spend your hard earned vacation time on the Charity. We look forward to serving you in every possible way for the next two days. Enjoy the music and the live entertainment of Mr. Luke Rainer and the Charity players."

A soft piano struck out a few chords, followed by the sweet accompaniment of a tenor sax, as the big man, Rainer, began to clear his throat.

You must remember this, a kiss is still a kiss, a smile is just a smile…

"Oh I love this song," Lita whispered, sipping on her drink. "We should go dance."

"I'm not going to lie," Bobby told her, putting his arm around her shoulders. "I'm kinda tired."

"Nope, sorry," she replied, wiggling out from his arm. "I gave you all afternoon, you can indulge me one dance," she told him. Lita wasn't the type of woman who took no for an answer. She grabbed Bobby's hand, and physically yanked him from his chair and out onto the shiny dance floor. They swayed and rocked, just as they did a week earlier at the wedding.

Gideon and the rest of the girls just watched. "They're so good together," Raye commented. "I miss Chad."

"That sounds like you're admitting you like him," Serena girlishly offered up. Her heart was missing her beloved Darien.

"Oh, shut up," Raye told him. She didn't like to appear sentimental.

Gideon listened and watched them quietly, observing their behavior.

"Oh Darien…" Serena's thoughts wandered, "I wish you could come here. Or we could come back to Tokyo." Her words changed to an internal monologue. 'We're only here because of Bobby, and now with Lita marrying him; I don't know if we'll ever get back.' Her eyes softened. Gideon noticed.

"You really miss your old life," Gideon interrupted her thought. "Tokyo? Am I right? This Darien guy; he's your soul mate."

"Wow, how did you know all that?" Serena asked, dimwitted.

"He worked for the FBI," Amy told her. "Jason was a professional profiler."

"So you can read what I'm thinking?" Serena asked.

"Well, I can read behavior," Gideon told them. Amy knew the story from her and Gideon's walk. "Like you," he pointed at Mina. "You're a bit envious of Lita, watching her and Bobby dance. I'm guessing that you never really had anyone that special to you. You're also more reserved than everyone else here. Your old classmates, before Serena and whomever, thought you were stuck up, but you were just lonely."

"Amazing," Mina commented. "Do Raye."

"Flowing, long black hair, paper charms… Raye's a miko." The girl's past had not been divulged to Gideon; his natural ability to observe told him she was a shrine maiden. "By your demeanor, you attended a different school, not public, more than likely Catholic, and you present yourself much more as a lady than anyone else here. Reserved, but when you're comfortable around people, you don't shy away from a good argument."

"That's spot on," Serena told them. "What's her favorite color?"

"Red," Gideon responded.

"Whoa," was all that Raye had to say.

"Quite something isn't it?" Amy posed. Everyone, in awe of Jason's ability, turned and watched as Rainer finished his song, and Bobby and Lita danced to a halt.

"You can really tell that you're a great figure skater," Bobby complimented his new bride. Lita raised an eyebrow. "What? You're light on your feet. Almost as good a dancer as I am."

The lights dimmed. Not being able to read their music, the band stopped playing. A loud crash and shriek was heard and the entire ship rocked violently. Lita in heels plus a waxed floor plus violent rocking equated out to her landing flat on her bottom. The shaking stopped, and lights returned. "Maybe not," Bobby told her, helping her up.

They made it back to the table, which was none the worse for wear, as the captain took the stage again. "Everyone, please head back to your cabins in an orderly fashion. I and Lieutenant Nelson are going to head to the bridge for a status report. We'll be in contact over the ship-wide paging system."

"What should we do?" Mina asked.

"I'm getting bad vibes," Raye told the group. "Maybe we should check it out."

"Why would you do that?" Gideon asked.

"Oh, uh," Raye stammered, "Just curious I guess."

Gideon smiled. He knew something was afoot with them, but even his master skills couldn't deduce what it was at this point.

"What was that?" Lita asked, recovering from her bump on the tush.

"Did we hit an iceberg?" Mina asked.

"In the Caribbean? I doubt it," Bobby told her. "I think we should all head back to our cabins. The Captain will keep us informed of the situation."

"Bobby's right," Amy agreed. "You're welcome to come and stay with us Jason, if you'd like."

Raye leaned in to whisper to Amy. "What if we have to kick some ass?" she asked.

"Nope, he's coming," Serena commanded. "We're not going to abandon our newest friend."

"She doesn't leave much choice does she?" Gideon asked. "Lead on."

The record for making the dash from the Grand Ballroom to the Bridge is three minutes and 17 seconds. Wellington and Nelson made it in less than two, the First Officer making it before the Captain did.

"What was that?" The Captain asked, getting back to the bridge. Lighted panels on the bridge flashed red, signaling something was wrong.

"We hit something," Lieutenant Nelson spoke, going to his monitor. "We're losing speed and one of the propellers has been completely destroyed."

"What could cause this?" the Captain asked. "Did we hit an iceberg?"

"Sir, we're in the Caribbean," Nelson reminded.

"Right. What is our current speed?" Wellington asked.

"Current speed is 14 knots, sir," the helmsman answered.

The captain unbuttoned his jacket and looked at the Caribbean map laid out. "We're just off of Cuba. Helm, set course for Tortuga," he said, pointing at the north edge of Haiti. "We need to get that propeller fixed."

"Sir, if I may," Nelson interjected, "If we request assistance from the US Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, we could still stay out to sea without putting into port."

"An excellent suggestion, Number one, except that since the President has closed Guantanamo, there isn't much of an aid station," The captain told his second-in-command. "We'll make for Tortuga." The ship rocked violently again, knocking power out in the habitat decks and reducing the ship to emergency power.

"Sir, we just lost our number two propeller," Nelson reported, checking his instrument panel.

"Looks like we're not making Tortuga," The captain spoke. He crawled across the bridge to the radio. Nothing but static was heard. "We're being jammed." He hung the radio receiver back on its perch and took his jacket off. "Give me external cameras," the captain ordered.

The helmsman flipped a few switches, dropping monitors down from the ceiling of the Bridge. The bright blue screens with no input gave way to darkened skies and a pale moon. The Captain, from his station, progressed through the cameras; fore, port, starboard…

"Sweet Jesus," he spoke, after flipping to the aft camera. The camera went to static. "Everyone, prepare to repel boarders!" The captain barked. In one leap he shot across the bridge and picked up the PA system. "Attention passengers. Remain in your cabins. Do not open your door..." The sound of a gunshot cut the captain off mid-sentence, followed by the thump of a dead body dropping to the deck.

"Now hear this," a new voice boomed over the PA system, "We are in control of this vessel. Everyone, step into the grand ballroom. We don't want to hurt any of you, you're merely leverage."

"That doesn't sound good," Mina spoke. Everyone had gathered in the Girl's cabin. "What should we do?" she asked.

"Jason, what do you think?" Amy asked. Surely the FBI would have some kind of response plan for a commandeered vessel.

"We do what they say," Gideon told them.

"You can't be serious?" Raye asked.

"Completely. We keep our identity a secret, find out what they're after. Maybe I can profile whoever is in charge and peaceably resolve this," Gideon spoke.

"A blessing and a curse…" Bobby spoke. "Well, okay. Jason, we should go ahead," Bobby told his new friend. "Let the girls change out of their dresses." He gave Lita a wink, opening the door into the hallway.

Lita acknowledged his signal. "We'll be along in a minute," Lita told the guys as they left.

"Do you mind if we make a stop at my cabin? I have something that might be useful," Gideon added, his profiler instinct knowing that somehow Bobby and the Girls were the good guys. Bobby nodded and Gideon led them down the hall and after a right down the corridor to Gideon's cabin. He removed a small plastic piece from his bag and put it in his back pocket. "Lead on," Jason told him.

The two men left Gideon's cabin, headed for the ballroom. No words were exchanged on the walk down two decks and through a maze of corridors. Bobby was thinking about his and the Scout's upcoming actions while Jason mulled over the idea of profiling the type of person who would commandeer an ocean going cruise ship.

"The unsub seeks power," Gideon finally broke the silence. "He may have been a rapist or does that in addition to his piracy acts. We know he's capable of killing or giving the order to kill. A human life doesn't mean much to him."

"So he's very dangerous," Bobby spoke, heeding Gideon's words. "If we get a chance to seize the leader, should we take it?"

"Threat analysis can't be determined until we discover what the pirate's intentions and armaments are. Ask me after we get to the ballroom," Gideon told him. The sorrowful look was gone from Gideon's face, replaced by one of determination; like a predator stalking game.

Gun toting men dressed in all black with no insignia pushed Gideon and Bobby into the ballroom as they arrived. The guards were armed with KA-BAR knives, H&K Mk. 23 pistols, and MP5 submachine guns. A few pineapple grenades hung from bandoliers around the gunmen's shoulder.

The room was filled the debutantes and movers and shakers from the dinner party earlier. Many had not changed from their evening wear. "What did you think?" Bobby asked. He and Gideon shuffled past the furthest row of tables and towards the dance floor. A table now served as a pulpit for the pirate captain.

Despite expectations, the pirate did not have a peg leg or a parrot on his shoulder. He instead looked like Snake all geared up for a mission. The captain exuded deadliness. He was equipped the same as his guards, decked out in MP5, knife, grenades… the whole bit.

"I'll try and get behind him," Gideon whispered to Bobby.

"Maybe we should wait a minute," Bobby suggested, hoping that Sailor Moon and the Scouts would arrive on scene in a hurry.

"I can get his gun," Gideon said. "Try and get the passengers out of any line of fire. If I…"

"Gideon, we have to wait," Bobby told him. Gideon stared a hole in him. "Trust me. Get into position but wait. You'll know the signal."

"If you say so," Gideon reluctantly agreed. He nonchalantly meandered through the crowd, coming up behind the pirate captain. 'What sign?' Gideon pondered.

Bobby checked his watch, which real pirates would have taken by now. 'They must have some ulterior motive. All the gear looks US issue… what's the game?'

Suddenly, the lights in the ballroom went dark. Only moonlight filtered in from the skylight above. Even the redundant lighting was knocked out.

The captain looked around, puzzled. He clicked the safety off his gun and began shining the flashlight checking the room.

"Door one secure!" one of the guards shouted.

"Door two secure!" another confirmed.

"Stairwell secure!" yet another chimed.

"Okay, Bennigan and Perkins, get down to engineering, restore power," the captain ordered.

"Yes sir!" they chorused. Guns at their sides, they left the room and went out the furthest door from the captain. Turning away, the captain didn't even see their bodies come flying back in the room in a heap.

"Stop right there!" Sailor Moon's voice spoke, filling the ballroom. "You hijacked the wrong ship! This happens to be my friend's honeymoon cruise, and I won't have anyone interrupting it."

"Identify yourself!" The captain yelled, swinging his machine gun around at wherever the voice was.

Sailor Moon's silhouette and signature pigtails showed against the full moonlight. "I stand for Love! I stand for Justice!" She jumped down from the rafter she was perched on. "I am Sailor Moon! And in the name of the moon," she struck her cocky pose, "I'll punish you."

Before one round could be fired, Sailor Moon disarmed the pirate captain with a roundhouse kick. He reached for his pistol, but Sailor Moon's other foot caught him in the side of the face. He went down. This was Gideon's signal.

Jason jumped up from the floor and onto the table. In one swift motion, he seized the captain's sidearm, brandishing it at the pirate. "FBI! Don't Move!" Gideon commanded.

By this time, the other pirates had taken notice of their captain being incapacitated. They moved to engage Sailor Moon and Agent Gideon, but were cut off. "Shine Aqua Illusion!" Sailor Mercury called forth. An immense jet of water knocked two of the pirates back and into the adjoining corridor.

At the second door, Venus intercepted another. "Venus Love Chain, Encircle!" Sailor Venus called for. The golden chain of magical hearts ensnared a pirate by the ankle, stringing him up by a candelabrum on the wall.

Sailor Jupiter had worked through the crowd to Bobby and the two were fighting off a small group of pirates by themselves. No magic, no Utility Belt, just two newlyweds fighting a buccaneer attack barehanded side by side.

Sailor Mars rounded off the onslaught with her Burning Mandala attack, sealing the doors and stairwell off with a magically controlled ball of fire. "We're secure!" Mars reported.

"All right creep! Who are you?" Sailor Moon asked. The captain was silent. His stare turned from the super powered heroine and looked at Gideon.

"Are you really FBI?" the captain asked.

"That's right. Jason Gideon, BAU," Gideon spoke, retrieving his FBI identification from his back pocket. "What squad are you with?" Gideon asked. "Seals? Rangers?"

"Sir, I'm here on a classified mission. Information is on a need to know basis only," the captain told him.

"Well, you've hijacked a cruise ship full of innocents and I've got your gun," Gideon told him. "I need to know." Gideon's stare could pierce even the darkest soul.

The captain looked around at the Sailor Scouts and Bobby who'd gathered at the middle of the room. "Take me to a secure location and I'll explain the details."

"You mean he's a good guy?" Sailor Venus asked.

"Navy SEALS," the captain told them. "Major Dennis Little."

"What's your mission, Major?" Gideon asked.

"Take me to the bridge," Little requested.

Chapter 4

The sea was still and the bow of the Charity was dark. Moonlight and starry skies provided the only illumination through the fore facing windows of the bridge. All the instrument panels and radar screens were black. The stench of death was in the air.

"Oh my," Sailor Mercury spoke, laying eyes on the corpse in the bridge. The rest of the scouts were equally aghast when they piled into the bridge of the ship.

"Why'd you kill him?" Gideon asked, seeing the slain body of Lt. Nelson, the ship's first officer.

"We didn't kill him," Little spoke. "Nelson was a SEAL. He went deep undercover to expose a traitor with ties to the communist world. His prime suspect was Captain Wellington. We think Wellington put a bullet in Nelson's head and made an escape for Cuba when we made out play to apprehend him."

"What kind of ties?" Gideon asked. He examined every word that exited the Major's lips. It was all true.

"The kind that could save a lot of American lives if we captured and interrogated him," Little told him.

"He's tied to Castro… Kim Jong-Il," Gideon spoke.

Little nodded in agreement. "We think he has details about Cuba and North Korea's nuclear programs. If we could have caught him, the information would have given the UN the direction it needs in its nuclear sanctions."

"So," Bobby interjected. "The question seems to be, where did the Captain go?"

"Agent Gideon, who's the civilian?" the Major asked Gideon.

"He's with me," Gideon spoke.

The answer pleased the Major, who didn't question it again. "Logically, he should have headed to Cuba. Return to Castro and be met with open arms."

"Not necessarily," Sailor Mars interjected. She recovered a log that Nelson had been keeping. It was nestled in a crevice next to the First Officer's station. Blood slowly dripped down and into its pages. "Several times he has Tortuga circled." Mars reported, removing the log from its bloody tomb. "Maybe Nelson was trying to get a message out," she suggested.

"Maybe," the Major agreed. "I'll signal our recovery boat to keep an eye on the Haitian coastline," the Major told them. He stopped for a moment to take a good look at the corpse of his fallen comrade. Gideon watched, finding a little more of the humanity he sought so much. "I'll signal the Coast Guard to send ships to commandeer The Charity and return it to Miami. Thank you for your help," the Major spoke.

"Thank you," Gideon spoke. The Major excused himself and got below decks before he and his men were extracted by a small Navy vessel.

"That was interesting," Bobby spoke.

"Helluva honeymoon," Sailor Jupiter spoke. "What do we do now?"

"I think we should help them," Sailor Moon said. "If millions of lives can be saved, we have to try."

"How? We don't even know where he went?" Sailor Mars asked. She would always play devil's advocate.

"Maybe we can profile him," Bobby suggested, looking at Gideon.

"But we'd need his entire file from the Department of Defense," Gideon argued.

"That's where Snake comes in handy," Bobby spoke. "Girls, we need to teleport back to Gotham."

"So, you're some kinda Justice League," Gideon guessed, looking at the way Bobby sort of commanded the Scouts. "Righting wrongs and fighting evil?"

"That's right," Bobby told him.

Gideon smirked. "Reminds me of another group I used to work with…"

Chapter 5

Heavy breathing and lots of sweat served as a precursor to what Snake and Samus we're about to do, or rather attempt to do, for the second time. Again, piles of clothes lined the stairs of the Batcave. The chair was their spot and nothing would interrupt them. Well, almost nothing.

A brilliant flash of light lit up the Batcave. "Shit, it's always something," Snake remarked, seeing Bobby and the Scouts coming up the stairwell to the Bat-computer. He covered himself and Samus as the dais was soon filled with people. "Your timing…"

"Save it. We need a DoD1 file on a Captain Wellington. ASAP," Bobby commanded.

"Who is he?" Snake asked. Snake was no longer upset about not being able to get any nookie.

"He's a cruise ship captain with ties to communist countries," Gideon spoke.

"Who the hell are you?" Snake asked.

"Jason Gideon, former FBI," Gideon spoke.

"Behavioral analysis unit," Snake said, circling Gideon. "You're the one who sent six agents into that warehouse with the bomb in it. Got everyone killed," Snake spoke, lighting a cigarette.

"One of the worst decisions of my life," Gideon spoke. "But right now we need that file. Many more lives are at stake."

Snake looked him over again. "Seems legit. I'll contact Otacon; see if he can hack the Pentagon servers."

"Okay," Bobby spoke, taking charge. "Where's the Big Guy?" Bobby asked anyone who'd listen.

"Two-Face busted out of Arkham. He's gone after him," Samus reported, presenting herself covered in everything but her Varia suit.

"Samus Aran, meet Jason Gideon," Bobby introduced.

"A pleasure," Gideon spoke, his eyes falling on the rather attractive, athletic blonde.

"Likewise, Agent Gideon," Samus spoke.

"Snake, let us know when you've gotten the file from Otacon," Bobby commanded, "I'm going upstairs."

"What's upstairs?" Snake asked.

"The kitchen," Bobby replied, his stomach growling. "I didn't get to eat, I had to dance."

"I'll come with you," Sailor Jupiter spoke. The two newlyweds ascended the stairs up to the kitchen. Bobby thought her company meant some sort of just married hanky panky, but Lita had different plans for him. "What are you thinking?"

"Sorry?" Bobby asked, opening and rummaging through the fridge.

"Bringing Gideon back here! What the hell are you thinking?" she asked.

"Look, it may seem a little reckless since we hardly know him, but I've got a good feeling about him. And besides, he would have figured it out given enough time anyway," Bobby told her. "That man is amazingly gifted. I was thinking of extending him an offer to join us. With his ability we could profile crimes and get to the villain so much faster than we currently do; it'd be amazing."

"You're trying to recruit him?" Lita asked. "What if he says no?"

"If he says no, we let him go. I don't think he'd be the type to go off revealing identities," Bobby told her.

"How sure are you?" she asked.

"100%," Bobby spoke. "He's out to find humanity. So long as he has such a large goal, identities of super heroes aren't that important to him."

"I hope you're right," Lita told him, "I'd hate to have to go into hiding because of nothing but recklessness."

Sailor Mars emerged from the study and into the kitchen. "Snake got the file," she reported. Mars led the group, with Bobby and Jupiter taking turns nibbling at a meatloaf sandwich.

"His name is Peter Wellington," Snake reported, "Age: 43, widower, two kids, both dead."

"Poor guy," Sailor Venus remarked.

"Seems both of the kids, Sophie and Robert, and the mother, we're killed in a US Navy air accident. An F-18 crashed into their house in Ohio, killing everyone inside," Snake told them.

"Where was Wellington?" Gideon asked.

"Work. He's a former used car salesman," Snake added. "After a huge amount of counseling, he joined the Merchant Marine to try and forget his past. Then he fell in with a Scottish arms dealer and started making ties all over the underworld."

"He's seeking power," Gideon spoke. The profiler's gaze was steadfast and unwavering, looking at nothing in particular. "He doesn't want to be a puppet of Castro or Kim Jong-Il. He's out for a power for himself."

"Why?" Sailor Moon asked, ever curious.

"Because in his former life, he was a nobody; A used car salesman with no prospect for improvement," Gideon added, "He couldn't even protect his family. He'd give anything to trade places with them… It only makes sense that he'd take the skills he learned and his anger in a grab for power. Try and avenge his lost family."

"And he could do that by allying himself with Castro?" Snake asked.

"No," Gideon told him. "This man's psychotic. He's using his communist ties for something bigger."

"Snake, bring our satellites online," Bobby spoke, "Have them scan the Caribbean for any heavy metals or other indication of a weapons buildup."

"On it," Snake complied, tapping buttons on the Bat-computer. Scan lines passed over readouts of the Caribbean, several times, but nothing lit up. "Not a damn thing," Snake reported.

"Did he go underground?" Sailor Jupiter asked.

"Snake," Mercury interrupted, "Set the sensors to scan for heavy iron and nickel deposits, with an average temperature of 500°C."

"A volcano," Bobby surmised. "A perfect cover."

"Any satellite scans would be obstructed by the metals contained in the magma itself," Snake spoke. He made the proper adjustments and the computer scanned one more time. "Bingo."

"Where is it?" Bobby asked.

Snake chuckled. "Console da serpente," he said. "It's Portuguese for 'Island of the Snake'."

"Load up the Dragonfly," Bobby spoke, "We're going to cut the head off a snake."

"I'm going to contact the DoD. This is more their game than yours," Snake added.

1: DoD – Department of Defense

Chapter 6

"Looks kinda ominous, doesn't it?" Snake asked from the co-pilot seat of the Dragonfly.

"Not very inviting, that's for sure," Bobby agreed. He maneuvered the Dragonfly closer into the volcano jutting out towards the north end of the island. "It looks like they're stockpiling small arms at the base of the volcano," Bobby noted. "And those next to them look like barracks," he added.

"It kinda looks like a Cobra," Sailor Jupiter chimed in with. A buzzer sounded, alarming everyone in the cockpit who was getting used to the serenity of the hum of the jet engine. A trail of smoke rocketed towards the dragonfly. Ahead of the smoke was an old Russian missile.

"Everyone take a seat!" Bobby commanded. Jupiter sat in the jump seat behind the pilot and buckled herself in. The other Scouts and Gideon followed suit in the passenger section. Bobby banked the Dragonfly hard left as the missile overshot them. "It's still after us," Bobby spoke, looking out the cockpit windows.

"Must be a heat seeker," Snake surmised.

Bobby thought for a moment. "Sailor Mars! We need some heat!" he yelled back from the cockpit. Bobby pitched the nose down and got on the deck, headed for the island.

"You got it," she spoke. Her seatbelt unbuckled and clanked against the metal chair frame as she got up. The emergency exit door opened, letting in rushing air and a whole lot of noise from moving at nearly mach two. She struggled against the intense suction, the heels of her shoes scraping against the steel floor.

A familiar arm wrapped around Sailor Mars' waist. "We've got you!" Sailor Moon shouted. The team leader had grasped onto her dear friend and held on. Sailor Mercury had Sailor Moon secured and Venus was anchoring the group by latching onto the bolted down chair she was sitting in. Gideon smiled, finding even more of the good in humanity.

"Thanks guys!" Mars' yelled. Her focus turned from her friends to the missile on their tail. "Okay! I call upon the power of Mars! Send me heat and fire, enough to get this damn missile off us! Mars Fire Ignite!" A massive fireball built at the tips of her fingers, which were joined and pointed like a gun. The fireball, easily the size of a school bus, discharged and shot towards the island. The air became superheated as the fireball travelled; impacting the side of the volcano they were here to investigate.

The buzzer in the cockpit silenced. Their cunning plan worked and the missile diverted from the Dragonfly's tail to the mountain. The missile impacted, exploding and creating a hole in the side of the volcano. Molten hot magma flowed and encased the small arms depot. The flow began to burn at the Barracks. Like a group of ants, the soldiers, clad in blue, streamed out and towards the sea.

The door to the Dragonfly shut. The scouts fell to the ground, no longer having to fight the force of wind trying to blow them out the door. "Good work guys," Bobby congratulated them.

Mars breathed a sigh of relief. "Land this damn thing so we can get this guy," she spoke between breaths.

"Got it," Bobby spoke. A grass airstrip received the Dragonfly. The small army of blue men was too occupied with putting out fires and fleeing from the magma as it stalked them to worry about the gigantic white jet landing on the other side of the volcano.

"Everybody ready?" Snake asked, joining everyone at the passenger section of the plane.

"I can't believe I found one that still fit," Bobby spoke, emerging from the rear hatch of the Dragonfly with the last unaltered Batsuit. The rubber suit fit like a glove and Bobby's version of Batman might make its last appearance right now. "Ready," Batman reported.

"So what's the plan?" Sailor Moon asked.

"Snake and I will head into the volcano, photograph the evidence of whatever these guys are building, try to apprehend Wellington and get back. You Scouts need to defend the Dragonfly and make sure nothing happens to her," Batman spoke, detailing his plan. "Keep the engines hot in case we need a quick getaway."

Gideon looked up, curious about his role in the coming action. "What about Jason?" Sailor Mercury asked. She clearly cared for her new friend.

"You're not FBI anymore, so you really have no good reason to endanger yourself," Snake told him.

"He's right. We shouldn't let a civilian in on this," Batman agreed.

"I'm the one who brought you here," Gideon said, standing to join Batman and Snake. "My profile led you to this psychopath. I have to go with you… I sent six agents to their death. My profiling got my dear friend Sarah killed. I've lost too much to these crazies. I can't be partly responsible if you fail and these people get the ability to use weapons of mass destruction. The blood of one on my hands is unbearable. Millions would be…" he stopped, words failing him. "We need to stop them."

"Fine," the Caped Crusader agreed, "But you'll need to wear protection. There's a ballistic Kevlar suit in the back. I think there might even be a pistol and some ammunition too. Suit up."

"We don't usually carry guns on the Dragonfly," Sailor Jupiter whispered to her caped husband as Gideon left to prepare for the onslaught.

"He's not the only one who can profile someone," Batman told her.

"You knew all along?" she asked.

"Think of it as real recognizing real," Batman told her, turning to face her. "Just like when I saw you for the very first time."

Jupiter's hands grasped the pointed Bat-ears. Gravity drew them closer together, culminating in a kiss, followed by a penetrating look in each other's eyes. No words were exchanged and none needed to be.

"Be careful," Jupiter finally spoke.

"I will," Batman told her.

"No seriously, you owe Raye a track day and I'll never hear the end of it if something happens," she joked.

"We'll be fine," Batman spoke. He was fighting back a chuckle, but the seriousness carried with the Batsuit forced him to stay mute.

"Ready," Gideon spoke, joining them in the crew compartment.

"Snake, take point, Gideon and I will stay behind you," Batman spoke.

Snake jumped from the door of the Dragonfly and into the heavy grass and scrub of the serpent island. The Legendary Mercenary covered began the trek towards the volcano, his FAMAS covering the front.

Batman and Gideon followed suit, moving into the brush and toward the volcano. Gideon carried the stance of an FBI Agent ready to make a bust, pistol forward, almost militaristic. Batman walked normally, his cape coving both arms in a black veil of justice.

"Did you find what you were looking for?" Batman asked, breaking the silence of the wind and the low growth.

Gideon stopped, reflecting inward. "Did I find humanity? I find humanity everywhere. Never so much though than I have in these past 18 hours." Gideon's intense reflection was very evident; even Snake felt the quake of emotion that Gideon emanated. "You're very lucky. Great wife, great friends, and you do it all while balancing the superhero act. I couldn't do that," he admitted.

"I'd like to extend an invitation to you," Batman spoke, "Join us. With your profiling ability, we could be able to apprehend unsubs much quicker than we typically do."

"I'll have to think about it," Gideon told him. "I'm still trying to figure out everything. I don't know if I'll ever be ready to join any type of team, much less one that becomes a family after a while." Again he thought of Reid, Hotch, Morgan, JJ, Prentiss, and Garcia. He smiled. "I don't know if I can ever go back to that."

"If you decide to, you know how to find us," Batman told him.

"What do you mean? I have no idea who the Batman is," Gideon spoke, chuckling.

"If you two are done chatting, we've got bogies coming in, directly ahead," Snake reported. He leveled his FAMAS and dropped down to one knee.

Batman and Gideon scrambled quickly ahead and joined Snake, getting small like Snake did. "Where are they?" Gideon asked.

Batman touched the side of his cowl. The normally plain eyes of the mask glowed a reddish tint, and Batman's mask became an infrared scanner. Through the eyepieces, Batman monitored six bodies, working through the bush through them.

"I've got them," Snake whispered. "Not very effective camo."

"Would you look at that," Gideon remarked.

"Fan out!" the enemy commander yelled. "We tracked three bodies disembarking the transport. We need to find them!"

"Yes sir!" the soldiers all acknowledged.

"That's one of the most ineffective camouflages I've ever seen," Batman remarked. Indeed, these soldiers had no intention of blending into the surroundings. Bright crimson red indicated the enemies' exact positions. The soldiers had fully enclosed masks with black strips for eyes and a sliver partition for a mouthpiece. The helmets were rounded, resembling a motorcycle helmet. Crimson covered every inch of their bodies except for black jack boots and gloves. A silver serpent's head was embossed onto their chest.

"I'm taking my shot," Snake whispered. He clicked off the safety and raised the FAMAS at the first Crimson Guard. Three rounds exited Snake's gun, dropping the target. The Guards reacted, but Snake had already found his next target. Another three rounds dropped the second soldier.

Gideon, Batman and Snake scrambled as the Guard took aim and fired in their direction. Ducking behind a large, wavy palm tree, Gideon fired one round from his gun. It found the mark, striking one of the Crimsons in the head.

Snake rushed his next target, leaping and droving a knee into the face of the soldier. He rolled through the move and one round met the Guard's face. Pleased with himself, Snake turned to see Batman, dusting it up with the last two Crimsons.

With the actions of their guns jammed by Batarangs, the Crimson Guard began a knife and fist fight with Batman. Knives cannot be held by wrenched on wrists, as the Guards found out. They managed three blows between the two of them before Batman was able to knock them out with a solid jab and a roundhouse kick.

"You got it?" Snake asked.

"Affirmative," Batman acknowledged. "Where's Gideon?"

"Right here," the former FBI spoke, walking to Snake's side.

"Okay. This just went from assault to recon mission. We need to find out what they've got," Batman declared.

"If recons the game, let me do it," Snake said, "Alone."

"One man versus an entire army? You're nuts!" Gideon told him.

"Those are the odds Snake likes," Batman told him, rejoining them. "Gideon and I will head back to the Dragonfly. Signal when you're ready for evac."

"Got it," Snake agreed. The Legendary Mercenary was comfortable, almost happy, to be going in alone. Outer Heaven, Zanzibar, Shadow Moses, The Big Shell… they were all one man ops; no one to be accountable for except himself. Just like Snake liked it. He changed out magazines on his FAMAS and proceeded ahead.

Disappearing into the scrub, Snake moved at a snail's pace to the interior of the Volcano. The place looked like an evil version of NORAD. The perimeter was fenced off with towers two stories high every fifty feet. High caliber machine guns were manned by more of the blue soldiers that they'd seen streaming out of the barracks. One gate in and out.

'Maybe a service duct,' Snake thought, 'just like on Shadow Moses…' he swapped his machine gun for his binoculars and began to check over every inch of the facility. A scan of the lower deck yielded nothing. He could gain entry easy enough through a tower, but in broad daylight he'd be completely visible. 'How'd those red assholes get out here?' he asked himself. Pressing a button on the side of the scanner, it switched from normal to infrared view. The soldiers in the towers lit up like Christmas trees, as did the guards at the gate.

Scanning the scrub around him, Snake breathed a sigh of relief. Completely unknowingly, he'd crawled right between two directional Claymore mines. Disconnecting wires, he removed the mines and took them. 'This is no good,' he thought, still scanning for a way in. He crawled backwards, back to one of the unconscious Crimsons that Batman had handled. 'Not quite a cardboard box, but it'll do.'

The normal dark gray sneaking suit was replaced with one of the Crimson uniforms. He picked up the Russian made rifle that the soldier carried and began a leisurely walk back to base.

"Find anything, Jim?" One of the blue soldiers asked Snake.

"No. The others are still searching. I've received orders to report to the commander," Snake told him. It was an official sounding yet completely BS military line.

"Understood," the blue guy spoke. Snake did a mental check of the blue's uniform. Open helmet, black facemask, bright blue tunic and pants, no grenades and a knockoff M16 for a weapon. The blue soldier opened the gate and let Snake into their lair.

'This is no Volcano,' Snake thought. Upon breaching the outside of the 'volcano,' Snake found a massive structure, completely metallic in the shape of a low cylinder. Atop the cylinder were castle-like murder holes from which soldiers could be stationed. Not getting caught up in it, he resumed his act and proceeded inside.

More of the snake emblems were on seemingly every surface of this snake themed battle station. Inside reminded him of Arsenal Gear; high ceilings, plenty of room for munitions and plenty of soldiers mulling around. He relaxed a bit, blending in, and simply exploring.

The first interesting bit that Snake stumbled upon was a tank hangar. These tanks, however, were nothing like he'd ever seen before. 'Twin tracks, elevated controls with clear glass screen, and dual cannons on top. 788,' he thought, recording the number on the side.

Next to the odd tank was a row of… somethings. Snake had seen almost every military vehicle, but these were a complete mystery. The middle was a pod with a clear glass dome. At the bottom of the dome was a set of booster rockets. On three pylons extending from the pod in equiangular distances, were legs. They consisted of high tension coil springs, almost like a pogo stick, and a four part foot pillion. 'I wonder what these do?' he asked himself.

Above him, hanging from the ceiling were what appear to be personal jetpacks. They seemed fairly simple; nothing more than two rocket engines mounted to a set of wings with one control bar. The snake logo appeared on this too.

In rows of eight next to the pogo looking vehicles were another rocket powered flight machine. This one was a clear glass bubble with a seat mounted beneath it. One machine gun extended from the front and a set of booster rockets were welded to the back.

"Hey Jim!" a voice called out. Snake turned, remembering that the door guard called him that earlier.

"What's up?" Snake asked. It was another one of the blue soldiers. "The commander is in the Special Weapons lab. He and Destro are set to unveil our new WMD."

"I'll be along in a minute," Snake told him.

"Well, don't take too long," the blue man warned, "Destro wants all the elite shock troops to be fully versed in the new weapons."

"Got it," Snake confirmed. The blue man left. As soon as he was out of sight, Snake ducked behind the odd two tracked tank and tapped the CODEC receiver in his ear. "Dragonfly, can you hear me? This is Snake."

"We read you, Snake," Batman told him, monitoring the radio from the Dragonfly.

"I'm heading for some kind of gathering. Have Sailor Mercury access my nanomachines. I'm going to try to get a look at all the leaders of this shindig." Snake talked, gritting his teeth. He emerged from the tank and walked down the corridors, finding the gathering.

Sailor Mercury swung into action, accessing Snake's nanomachines from the Dragonfly's onboard computer. "How does this work?" Gideon asked, unaware of what these nanomachines were.

"Micro sized machines pulse through Snake's veins. Everything he sees, we'll see," Mercury explained.

"We've got the picture," Batman informed.

"Good," Snake confirmed.

"Fellow revolutionaries, our key to victory!" a raspy voiced man, clad in blue with a blue sheet over his face, cried out from the center of a stage. Next to him was a very muscular man with a metallic face, an elegant woman with long dark hair and glasses clad in a leather catsuit, a set of twins who appeared to be identical except being opposite in dress, and another man that looked like he belonged in the 1920's.

"Did we get snapshots of all their faces?" Batman asked.

"Got it," Mercury informed, manning the computer.

The entire group aboard the Dragonfly watched as before their eyes a curtain lifted off a warhead of some type.

"Behold the Photoelectric sunlight diffusion missile!" the masked man cried. "Eight million dollars worth of research yielded this! With this weapon we will take over the world!" On the stage, another soldier joined the leadership. He began talking to the one in the mask who was giving the presentation. "It seems there is a traitor among us! Tele-Viper! Find him!"

"Take off," Snake spoke as calmly as he could.

Batman took the controls of the Dragonfly and did as Snake said, firing the engine and taking off for home.

A soldier, clad in purple wearing a radio backpack roamed amongst the gathered troops. He stopped at Snake. Across the goggles on his face flashed the words 'Intruder.'

"Seize him!" the commander cried. Two of the other Crimsons grabbed Snake's arms, immobilizing him. Descending from the platform, the metal masked man came and removed Snake's helmet.

"An imposter!" the metallic man called, not recognizing Snake.

"How fitting," the Commander spoke joining them. "Solid Snake, Welcome to Cobra!"

The High Cost of the Righteous

By Greg Senger Prologue

Everything seems to move in slow motion when you're in a hurry. Your pulse races, blood pressure elevates, eyes become bloodshot, and adrenaline starts flowing. Meanwhile, the space around you seems to compress, becoming more dense and harder to move through than it ever seemed to be before. Settings and routines, once very familiar, become foreign and uncomfortable.

This is how the FBI Office at Quantico felt for Gideon. He'd been inside these walls thousands of times, often with lives on the line and unsubs to catch. This time, it was a race against the clock in the gravest sense.

He was no longer with the FBI, and therefore had to maneuver around the typical safeguards. Even former heroes don't get a day pass when national security is concerned. He didn't have time to go through security, so instead he went around and over it.

The bullpen, home to Dr. Reid and Agents' Morgan and Prentiss was bypassed immediately. Reid and Morgan immediately noticed who was heading for Hotch's office. Two knocks and Gideon entered.

"Jason?" Hotchner asked, puzzled to see his former colleague in the office of the BAU again.

"I need your help Hotch," Gideon spoke, out of breath.

"What's going on?" Hotchner asked. Morgan, Prentiss and Reid, who were clearly happy to see Gideon again, gathered at the door.

From his back pocket, Gideon produced snapshots of the island fortress and the missile along with mug shots of the leadership. "These people," he said, "they're going to try and destroy the US."

Hotchner took the pictures, looking at them. "Who are they? What are they going to do?"

"They're called Cobra," Gideon told him. "They've got a gun pointed at the head of the entire planet."

Chapter 1

"Get everyone back!" Batman ordered the Scouts. "We'll need Rio, the Ice Climbers, everyone!"

"What is going on?" Obi-Wan asked, unsure of the action.

"Snake's been captured by a paramilitary group and they've got a WMD they plan to take control of the entire world with," Batman informed his Jedi friend.

"What is it? Nuclear?" Samus asked, joining the conversation.

"The Commander called it a photoelectric sunlight diffusion missile," Batman spoke.

Sailor Mercury explained from the command seat of the Bat-Computer. "Basically, it would cast the entire earth in darkness. We'd have to use all means of energy production just for light and warmth, so not only will we exhaust resources at an accelerated pace, but the market would rise in cost so much that no one would be able to afford power."

"And who knows what other types of weapons they'd be able to use while nations argue amongst themselves about resources. The world would be ripe for Cobra's picking," Batman spoke, painting an even more grim future.

"We should warn the government," Obi-Wan suggested.

"We already have," Mercury spoke, "A friend of ours with former FBI ties is informing his old unit chief. They've got a lot of pull and can get things moving."

"Did you get schematics and names of the players involved?" Batman asked Mercury, who was busy clicking all manner of keys on the oversized computer.

"Yes. Which would you like first?" she asked.

"Names," Samus interrupted. "I wanna know who these people are." She was clearly growing agitated.

"First hit; Anastasia DeCobray," Mercury informed. A picture of the woman with glasses and leather cat suit was up, next to a file card. "Primary MO: Intelligence, secondary: fixed wing pilot. Second hit; Laird James McCullen Destro XXIV," Mercury said. This time, a picture of the metallic faced man appeared. "Scottish arms dealer."

"He must be the one that Wellington befriended," Batman surmised.

"Perhaps, but we should not make snap decisions," Mercury suggested. "Up next," Mercury produced the next picture. This man had a bald head, monocle and thick moustache. "Dr. Mindbender, no name, no MO," she added.

"Ugly guy," Sailor Venus spoke, her and Mars joining the group. "The Ice Climbers will be down in a minute."

"Good," Batman remarked. "Who's next?"

The next picture popped up. This fellow had an equally thick moustache as Mindbender, but an eye patch and an odd steel helmet. "Major Sebastian Bludd. Former Australian SAS, now a terrorist and mercenary."

"Rio's on her way back from downtown," Sailor Moon reported, joining them from upstairs. "Who's the masked guy?" she asked.

The next picture was up. Only eyes behind a camouflage skimask were seen. "Meet Firefly," Mercury spoke. "Primary MO, sabotage and demolition. Name and birthplace classified. He's also a ninja master," she added.

"Next," Batman requested.

"The Dreadnoks," Mercury told them, pulling a picture of a greasy Australian biker gang up. "Their leader is Zartan, master of disguise, and his sister Zarana. Beneath them is Torch." Pictures of the biker's filled the screen. Zartan wore a cloak with black patches covering his eyes, Zarana possessed bright pink hair and Torch, aptly named carried an oxy-acetylene torch.

"How many of them are there?" Sailor Jupiter asked, placing her hands on her caped husband's shoulders.

"Four more," Mercury told them. A white hooded ninja with only eyes showing appeared. "Storm Shadow. Ninja. Real name: Tommy Arashikage; master of the katana and bow and arrow."

Batman felt some tugs moving up his cape to his shoulders. "Who are they?" The Ice Climbers asked, joining the party and seeing a set of twins, like themselves on the screen.

"Xamot and Tomax. Commander of the Crimson Guard and identical mirror twin brothers," Mercury told them.

"What did I miss?" Rio asked, joining the group from the den staircase.

"Almost everything," Batman told her, "Except the big one."

"Code name; Cobra Commander," Mercury read. The picture turned to the blue masked villain leading the entire group. "No name or hometown. Primary MO is intelligence with a secondary MO in demolitions."

"This is who we're up against?" Samus asked. "This should be a cakewalk; they all look like two-bit hacks."

"We cannot underestimate them," Obi-Wan added, being the voice of reason. "They were able to capture Snake. Not an easy task."

"Yea, why didn't you go in after him?" Samus asked Batman. He could sense by the tone of her voice she was angry.

"We did what Snake told us and didn't allow anyone else to be captured," Batman told her, defending his decision to leave. "We're going in to rescue Snake and stop the launch of that missile. There would be no way to mount a rescue if we didn't have the information and the numbers that Snake allowed us to have."

"I can't believe you let him go in alone," Samus retorted. "You're all about teamwork! He shouldn't have been alone!"

"Over here," Batman told her, leading her away from the group. Batman thought for a moment, enough to let her cool down. "Every time Snake went into battle, Outer Heaven, Shadow Moses, The Big Shell… he was always prepared for what might happen to him. I suggest you get used to that too." He walked away, leaving her to stew in her anger at him or Cobra or whoever. He rejoined everyone. "Display the schematic."

Sailor Mercury loaded the rest of the data from Snake's nanomachines and created a 3d image of the Cobra Island. "The Missile launcher is set to fire from the crater of the volcano," Mercury told them.

"Won't the lava detonate the warhead?" Obi-Wan asked.

"It's not a real volcano," Sailor Mars told him. "We drained the lava by deflecting a missile from our tail," Mars added, boasting only a little.

"Okay. Here's the plan; The Scouts and I will engage the Cobra forces at the main gate, meanwhile Popo and Nana will lead Samus, Rio and Obi-Wan down the crater. They'll infiltrate through the missile firing aperture. Obi-Wan, locate and free Snake then try to disarm the missile. I want Rio and Samus to try and apprehend Cobra Commander," Batman spoke, detailing his plan.

"What if there is more resistance inside?" Rio asked.

"Then we'll just need to make one hell of a ruckus to get everyone outside," Batman told her. "The Scouts and I will teleport in; it'll be up to Obi-Wan to fly the rest of you in to the crater." Obi-Wan nodded in acknowledgement. "Everyone, we move out in half an hour. Do whatever you need to do to prepare."

Everyone agreed, but was slow to move out, wishing more to get going to save Snake than to take a moment to collect themselves and prepare. This is why Bobby was the leader. The Batcave slowly emptied of heroes. Everyone parted, dividing up into the groups as they usually did. Obi-Wan silently meditated, focusing on finding peace in the Force. This would help in the fight against Cobra.

Rio prepared herself, checking over her gear and battle suit in her room. Everything was up to Team Warrior spec; nothing out of order. Popo and Nana, as they always did, just climbed things. They understood the severity of the situation, but found that worry is about as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.

Batman and the Scouts had gathered in the kitchen. It's not wise to fight on an empty stomach, after all. "How many soldiers do you think they have?" Sailor Moon asked, munching down on a turkey sandwich loaded with lettuce and tomato.

"I don't know," Batman spoke, slowly reflecting on what he'd seen through Snake's nanomachines. "Probably in the hundreds."

"Thousands actually," Mercury spoke. "Judging by the size of the facility from the info from Snake's nanomachines, it can be calculated to a rough estimate. I'd guess approximately 3,200 soldiers."

"Thank god we've got Amy and they don't," Sailor Venus spoke. Everyone chuckled and the comment served its purpose, lightening the mood.

"I feel so bad for her," Sailor Jupiter spoke, seeing Samus equipping her Varia in the foyer. "I think that she really cares about Snake, more than either of them would let on."

"Then why don't you go talk to her," Batman suggested. He felt bad for being unsupportive of her earlier. Maybe he could atone for that by offering the counseling service of his new bride.

"I think I will," Sailor Jupiter spoke. She pushed off of the counter she was leaning against and walked from the hard marble kitchen floor to the hardwood foyer floor. "Hey," she spoke, trying to drum up a conversation.

Samus wasn't exactly open with anyone that lived at Wayne Manor. Really the only person she spent time with was Snake. In her mind, friendship and the love that came with it, was a weakness. She'd been alone in space so many years, fending for herself; she'd gotten comfortable with being alone. Then she met Snake, who was so much like her, it's as if she met herself all over again. Now that bit of her was gone, and she wasn't going to make it easy for anyone to try and get close to her.

"Hi," she responded, calibrating her energy cannon.

"How are you?" Jupiter asked, looking softly at her, trying for a chink in her Varia suit.

"I'll be better in a few hours," she spoke, halfway angrily.

'She's going to be one tough nut to crack,' Jupiter thought to herself. "Well, I just wanted to tell you that, uh, I know you're not the most open person here, but I can tell when someone's hurt." Samus looked up with a scowl so fierce it could scare off a lion. "I realize that you've been alone most of your life so it's hard for you to socialize and make friends, since you probably see that as a weakness. But we're here now, and whether you like it or not, we're your friends. So if you hurt, we hurt, and there's no shame in it. You're only human after all…"

"I am only human," Samus admitted. "And I absolutely hate feeling this way…"

"All the more reason to open up and let us in," Jupiter told her. "Share the burden with us. I've got big shoulders."

"Or just forget it and close myself off. If you're not receptive of it, it alone is my cross to bear," Samus told her. "No one else needs to feel this way."

"That's too bad," Jupiter told her. "Just remember we're always here to help."

Samus watched as Jupiter returned to the kitchen. Part of her, the vulnerable part, felt glad that they'd be willing to help, while her guarded self that only Snake seemed to penetrate, didn't really give a damn.

"What about Jason?" Mercury asked as Jupiter rejoined everyone.

"Gideon's making sure the Government knows about Cobra. We can't get him and take him with us. And from what he's told me, he doesn't want to join us. You might see him again, and you might not," Batman told her.

Chapter 2

"You should have seen the look on Reid's face when you stormed into my office," Hotch told Gideon, the two heading down a long corridor in the Pentagon.

"I did," Gideon told him, smiling. "I really never planned to ever come back into the BAU again, but sometimes fate intervenes." The hallways were brightly lit with silver walls and black floors. In fact, it looked like something from the X-Men movies.

"Fate?" Hotch asked, still not sure of where Gideon got the pictures. "I suppose you'll probably never tell me how you got these photos."

"For now? From a friend," Gideon told him. "Hotch, for what it's worth, I'm glad fate intervened."

Hotchner stopped. "Jason, do you want to come back to the FBI?"

"Oh my no," Gideon told him. "I can't do the job anymore, not for the Bureau. But I did miss all of you," Gideon admitted. "Besides, I see Dave Rossi's back."

"Dave's damn good at the job, probably the second best profiler I know… And we've missed you too," Hotch admitted. "Maybe now that you're back, you can play Reid at chess again. He really missed that."

"Maybe, but I know of someone that would make an excellent chess partner for Spencer," Gideon spoke, thinking of Amy. "I hope this general deems this a credible threat to US Security," Gideon spoke, resuming their brisk walk down the corridor.

"General Abernathy is very adamant in his fight against international terror. I'm sure he has resources to combat this Cobra," Hotch assured his friend. They descended a small flight of stairs and entered a restricted area. Hotchner's clearance was barely enough to get them into the bowels of the Pentagon.

The two profilers descended down into the depths of the US Military's primary headquarters. They were set to meet with the commander of a squad who was activated after 9/11 but was never used in combat. The bureaucrats deemed the squad too expensive and specialized to deal with a minor threat like al-Qaida. The team, G.I. Joe, was mothballed and General Abernathy, or Hawk by his code name, was given desk duty.

"Aaron Hotchner," the General spoke from his desk. "Come on in."

"General Hawk, you remember Jason Gideon," Hotchner spoke, introducing his former colleague to the General.

Hawk and Gideon shook hands. "Of course," Hawk spoke, looking Gideon dead in the eye, "Hard to forget a legend like Jason Gideon." Their hands parted and the three men found a seat. "So, what have you got for an old desk jockey like me?"

Hotch removed the pictures from his inner jacket pocket and laid them on the table. "This is a new terror group called Cobra. Agent Gideon… Jason… came in contact with them on a tropical island in the Caribbean. They have a missile capable of clouding the entire world in darkness."

"I see," Hawk spoke, at least a little disbelieving. "How did you obtain these?"

"Is this room secure?" Gideon asked.

"Anything below level 6 in the Pentagon is," Hawk told him.

"Batman," Gideon told him. The look on Gideon's face was one of absolute seriousness.

Hawk fought back a grin and a case of the giggles. "The Batman? Did the Tooth fairy take you to meet him?"

"Actually General," Hotchner intervened, "The Batman was instrumental in capture of an Unsub in Gotham City approximately three months ago. On further investigation and inquiry, we found that he's also helped to reduce crime in Gotham City by 90% and helped Miami Dade PD to bring down an entire street gang."

"So, some freak in cape took Agent Gideon to this Cobra hideout?" Hawk spoke, still disbelieving.

"Actually it was more of an accident," Gideon told him. "I took Agent Hotchner's advice and took the Bureau's parting cruise and through some indirect action of a Major Dennis Little and the Navy SEALS, the Batman followed one rogue cruise ship captain to this island. I believe that Captain Wellington is the commander of this Cobra group."

"And how did you get the pictures? Flying around on bat-shaped gliders?" Hawk asked.

"The photos were obtained by accessing the optical nanomachines embedded in Solid Snake, the hero of Shadow Moses," Gideon told him. Hawk's look of disbelief turned to one of absolute certainty.

"This changes everything," Hawk told them. "If you'd mentioned Snake in the beginning…"

"So what can we do about them?" Hotchner asked.

"I'll activate my unit," Hawk told them. "Agent Gideon, since you're no longer a part of the FBI, you're not required to help me, but can I ask that you help lead my team to this island? We'll post a guard detail for you and you'll be there as a non-combatant."

"I don't think I can," Gideon told them. "I'm no longer a part of the bureau. After seeing as much killing as I have, I don't know that I could face it again, even if it was the death of a state enemy." Gideon stood, Hotch following not quite ready to leave yet, and the profilers left the depths of the pentagon.

Chapter 3

"We're ready for takeoff," Obi-Wan reported. He sat solo in the cockpit of Samus adopted spacecraft, checking instruments and gauges.

"Go ahead whenever you're ready," Batman told him from the runway in the Batcave.

Obi-Wan gave a thumb up. The turbine engine at the back of the jet whined, growing hotter and hotter. A cone of blue flame fired out and the Dragonfly rocketed off at breakneck speed. The massive white giant shot from the cave like a phoenix rising from the ashes. They'd be on Cobra Island in two hours. Now was the time for the Sailor Scout onslaught.

Batman and the Scouts gathered at the spot where the Dragonfly launched from. "Ready girls?"
Batman asked.

"We were born ready," Sailor Moon reported, leading her team.

"Well, some of us were," Mars added, "You took about two years."

"Shove it Raye," Sailor Moon told her subordinate. The girls joined hands in a circle. Batman moved to the middle of the group. A hum of energy filled the Batcave. A multicolored multitude of lights began to emanate from the Scouts. Each color seemed to correspond to the girl's fuku, or sailor uniform. Sailor Moon, who was the most powerful magically, cast a large pink hue; Mercury glowed blue, Mars red, Jupiter green and Venus a yellowish orange.

"Sailor Teleport," they all spoke in unison. All their power and concentration focused on that imprisoned island in the Caribbean. From out of their imaginations to reality, they appeared on Cobra Island.

Huge blades of grass rustled against their knees, indicating a change from the dark Batcave. Sunlight and warmth greeted everyone as they disjoined hands. "We're here," Mercury reported.

"Sailor Mercury, use your computer and see if you can access Snake's nanomachines from this close proximity. Any intelligence would be helpful," Batman reasoned.

Sailor Mercury's gloved finger squeezed the small blue earring piercing her left ear. A clear visor with a bluish tint appeared across her eyes. From seemingly nowhere, she produced the Mercury computer. The small palmtop PC fit perfectly in her hand, colored blue and boasting the Mercury symbol in yellow. She tapped away at its small buttons, looking for an interface.

"We're online," she reported. The visor put Snake's nanomachines in front of her eyes, as if she was seeing through them herself.

"What can you see?" Sailor Mars asked.

"Snake is restrained; chained to something… and suspended." Mercury reported. "There are a few guards beneath him. I can hear them talking. 'Sink it into the ocean,' he said."

"Sink what?" Sailor Moon asked. "A ship maybe?"

"Too small a target. They must have another weapon," Batman realized, "I'd bet they plan to destroy an entire city to drive the point home about their uncontested rule."

"But where? There are no cities around here, none worth destroying anyway," Sailor Jupiter added. "And it'd have to be on the water."

"It'd have to be an American city. The US is the only immediate threat to Cobra," Mercury spoke. "Hang on, maybe I can use Snake's data I can calculate the range of the missile he's strapped to." She went about keying away calculations of height, mass, density and speed. "I believe the only city that they'd be able to attack would be Miami or the Florida Keys."

"It must be Miami. The Keys are too sparsely populated to make an effective demonstration," Batman reasoned. He removed a small black Motorola cell phone from his utility belt and dialed a number. It went straight to voicemail. "Lt. Caine, there is a terror group called Cobra with some kind of weapon aimed right at Miami. I only hope you get this in time. Batman out."

"Looks like it's all up to Horatio now," spoke Jupiter, who was growing agitated at the thought of millions of dead civilians.

"Not quite. We need to get in there," Batman commanded. He began a trek through the grass to the massive wall. The Scouts fanned out and walked with him. "Let's take it down."

Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter took an action stance, readying themselves for a combined assault.

"Shine Aqua Illusion!" Mercury called for. Her massive jet of high powered water smashed into the wall around the Cobra installation.

"Venus Crescent Beam!" Sailor Venus called forth. A beam of intensely concentrated power, like a yellow laser, shot forth, cutting through the wall.

"Mars Fire Ignite!" Sailor Mars commanded. The same ball of fire that deflected a missile grew at the tips of her fingers and discharged at the wall damaged by Mercury and Venus.

"Jupiter Supreme Thunder!" Jupiter cried. A small antenna extended from her tiara, collecting lightning bolts and discharging them at the wall. The lightning did extensive damage, but the wall still stood.

"Looks like I'm up!" Sailor Moon spoke, stepping forward. After a bit of fancy spinning, the Moon Scepter appeared from seemingly nowhere. "Moon Spiral Heart Attack!" she called out. The Moon Scepter glowed a bright pink. Its power grew discharging all manner of pink hearts at the wall to Cobra Island. The concussive force of repeated heart impacts finally broke down the wall. "Huzzah!" Sailor Moon exclaimed, happy in her victory.

Like water rushing out of a broken dam, hordes of the blue clad soldiers came scurrying onto the field. They aimed their machine guns forward and began to fire off rounds. After about the second bullet whizzed past, the Scouts and Batman hastily took cover behind whatever they could.

"Party poopers!" Sailor Moon cried, cowering behind a big rock. She wasn't the crybaby that she once was, but she didn't have quite the angry resolve of Jupiter or Mars.

"Suck it up, Sailor Moon," Mars heckled her. Sailor Venus and Mars had hidden behind a small clump of trees. "Ready Sailor Venus?" she asked.

"Lead off, Sailor Mars," Venus told her.

The two girls, Mars in red and Venus in yellow popped out from behind the trees. "Mars Burning Mandala!" Sailor Mars wailed. Rings of fire shot forth from the palms of her hands and at the Cobra troopers.

"Venus Crescent Beam Shower!" Sailor Venus chortled, accompanying Mars. Sailor Venus Crescent Beam attack was multiplied by countless numbers, adding an almost laser attack to Mars' heat wave.

"Keep at it!" Batman encouraged. "Their ranks are falling!" The Detective was watching the entire thing through the lenses of the Bat-binoculars. He and Sailor Jupiter had taken cover behind a thicket of sugar cane. At the back of the soldiers, he could plainly see the Dreadnoks, Dr. Mindbender, Destro and Baroness giving commands.

"What should we do?" Jupiter asked of her caped husband.

"Keep at them. The leadership is at the back of the pack," Batman told her. "Have Mercury use her attack." Venus Crescent Beam Shower and Mars Burning Mandala had thinned the ranks, but the stream of Cobra soldiers streaking out was seemingly endless.

"Sailor Mercury!" Jupiter yelled. "We need some cold!"

"On it!" Sailor Mercury acknowledged. She stood from behind the rock that she and Sailor Moon we're hiding behind. Mercury held her hands out, about a foot apart. A blue sphere began to form. "Mercury Ice Bubbles, Freeze!" she called. Instead of her typical bubbles fogging the area, the frozen bubbles filled the tropical island with some kind of unnatural cold, jamming all the Cobra's guns.

All of the Cobra soldiers had a look of bewilderment as the actions of their guns jammed with an icy cold not native to the Caribbean. They dropped their machine guns and removed their pistol side arms. Aim, fire, nothing. Sailor Mercury had disarmed the entire Cobra Army with one blast.

"My turn!" Jupiter called out, jumping out from the cane thicket. "Sparkling Wide Pressure!" Bolts of lightning collected in her tiara rod and were carried to her hand. An arm befitting Roger Clemens hurdled the ball of compressed lighting at the squad of troopers. The ball split, becoming 12 times its compressed size and zapping every Cobra on the field. "You're up Sailor Moon!"

No longer afraid, Sailor Moon appeared from behind her rock. The Crescent Moon wand, the magical pink stick with a glittery golden crescent moon at one end with the Imperium Silver Crystal embedded in it, appeared. She did some of that fancy wand twirling that everyone loves and finally stopped, eyeing the fallen Cobra troops through the golden crescent. "Moon Healing Escalation!" she called out. That magical golden glitter began to drift out over the field, covering every soldier there.

The blue clad Cobra troops, slowly and one by one began to get up from the field where they fell. "Attack you idiots!" Destro yelled, he and his companions coming out to survey the fallen. The Cobra soldiers looked around, confused. They began to remove the black kerchiefs from around their faces and let the odd blue helmets fall to the ground. Sailor Moon's power and control of the Imperium Silver Crystal had healed them of any maliciousness. They began to slowly meander, not sure of where they were or how they got there.

"What treachery is this?" Mindbender asked. "This is not possible!"

"It is possible!" Sailor Mercury told him, stepping up to face off with the Cobra leadership.
"Anything is possible if you open your mind and your heart to them." She took a defensive stance, urging Mindbender to bring it on. "And you're a lousy excuse for a doctor."

"Evil doctor, my dear," Mindbender told her. He advanced. He swung a few times, Mercury evading his attack each time. She leapt around him, avoiding his attack and trying to get a punch or kick in anytime she could.

"Don't you know it's not polite to hit girls!" Jupiter yelled at Mindbender, intervening on her friend's behalf. One solid fist knocked Mindbender back a good five feet and left him permanently goofy. It momentarily became two on one as Mercury and Jupiter knocked Mindbender senseless, breaking his monocle until Baroness and Destro interfered.

"It's a shame the Doctor isn't a better fighter," Baroness spoke with a thick Austrian accent. She intercepted Jupiter and began to dust up with her. They began tussling with Jupiter.

The metallic headed second-in-command's attention turned from the fight between his Baroness and Jupiter to Gotham's Caped Crusader. The two field commanders circled, sizing each other up. Insults and trash talk being the norm today; Batman offered only a, "Nice mask," before slugging down with Destro. Batman soon learned that fists and kicks to Destro's head were not only ineffective, but they hurt. He soon switched to body blows against the Scotsman.

Always in for a fight, the Dreadnoks soon joined the fray, its leader, Zartan, engaging in melee combat with Sailor Moon, their supposed beauty queen Zarana dusting it up with the real Goddess of Love and Beauty, Sailor Venus, and in the last bout, fire fought fire with Sailor Mars versus Torch.

The fight raged on in the open field. Evading blasts of flame and doling out some of her own, Mars was able to place one of her paper charms on Torch's oxyacetylene tank, the magical power jamming it. Without his fire ability, she was quite easily able to defeat him. One kick of her high heels through his wraparound sunglasses removed Torch from the fight.

The tattered clothes look that Zarana usually wore became even more tattered and worn with Sailor Venus' Love Chain wrapped around her, smacking her around on whatever was available. Magic trumps biker attitude any day. Zarana's hair, usually a shade of light red, became crimson as blood began to filter into her follicles.

Zartan had his hands full with the Moon Princess. He gained the upper hand on one occasion, grabbing her by her ultra long pigtails and using them to manipulate her. Sailor Moon quickly became agitated, and performed a sort of mule kick to remove the Australian from her odango1. She gave one roundhouse kick, knocking his silly for the few brief moments she needed.

"Moon Tiara Magic!" she called out. Removing the jeweled tiara from her head, it became a sort of magical Frisbee. She hurled it with all her might, right at the chest of the Dreadnok leader.

Zartan fell back as the tiara cut into him, slicing though his body armor and into the soft flesh underneath. Wielding ultimate control and compassion, Sailor Moon commanded the tiara to stop before killing Zartan. Today's enemy is often tomorrow's friend, and you can't make friends if you kill them all.

Mercury was easily handling Dr. Mindbender. Mindbender, in a last stitch effort to pull an upset, removed a whirly mind control wand from underneath his cape. His psionic blast connected with mercury, but ever vigilant, Mercury activated her visor. The blue tint filtered out Mindbender's control field. Unaffected by his shameless and cowardly tactic, Mercury inverted his own mind control unit, effectively turning Mindbender into a zombie. The four Scouts regrouped, and then debated on whether or not to join the fight against Baroness and Destro.

Baroness suffered a broken pair of glasses as Sailor Jupiter landed a right hook directly to the nose of her Cobra adversary. Baroness reeled from the attack and came after Jupiter with an onslaught of fists. It was unwise for anyone, whether it be the Fonz or Mr. Miyagi or the second in command of an international terrorist organization, to throw down against Jupiter. Her formidable size and strength was probably equal to that of her husband, in addition to the added magical powers she possessed.

One high kick sealed the deal for Baroness. Her unconscious body hit the ground after her fist volley, enraging Jupiter and bringing the full power of the Jovian giant.

Batman was easily handling Destro. The Detective was a good bit faster than and equally as powerful as his adversary. In a dramatic swing, the only offense Destro could manage was to grab at Batman's cape after a failed roundhouse kick and repeatedly head butt the Dark Knight with Destro's metallic face. Dark Knight or not, metal into the back of head repeatedly could easily result in concussions or death.

"Hey asshole! You know the only problem with a metal mask?" Jupiter asked, stepping over the lifeless body of Baroness. Destro turned to look at her, confused. "It's not resistant to electricity. Jupiter Supreme Thunder!" The mini antenna on her tiara collected a quick flash of lightning and discharged it directly at the chrome dome of Destro.

Destro looked shocked as the bolt struck him. The ground sizzled where he stood, the lightning flash exiting though his feet. He fell backwards and Batman right on top of him. Everyone rushed to the Detective's side, but none were there faster than Jupiter.

"Are you okay?" she spoke, helping him up.

Batman blinked, rather large, like the bump had taken something out of him. "Oh my head hurts," he complained. "Why am I hungry for funnel cake?"

"A blow to the lateral nucleus of the hypothalamus could induce hunger," Sailor Mercury advised. "Take an aspirin."

"I'll do that," the Caped Crusader remarked, rubbing the back of his head. He got to his feet as a craft whizzed past overhead.

"Guys, look," Sailor Venus spoke, eying the sky. Obi-Wan and the rest of the Justice League had arrived. The Jedi Master brought the craft to a hover over the crater as the Ice Climbers dropped lines into the Volcano. They scurried down, followed by Rio, Samus and Obi-Wan.

"We better get in there," Sailor Moon said, taking the initiative. "You okay?" she asked Batman before trekking off.

"I'll be okay," Batman told her, dropping his voice down. "Lead the way."

1: Odango – Derived from the Japanese word for Dumpling, Odango are the small 'bun' hairstyles at the base of Sailor Moon's ankle length pigtails

Chapter 4

The interior was oddly devoid of life as Obi-Wan touched down in the interior of the Cobra fortress. Samus and Rio had all directions covered. The Ice Climbers seemed out of place; the fortress had smooth high walls not at all suitable for climbing. "I'll go and find Snake," Samus declared, waiting for Obi-Wan to join at her side.

"No," Obi-Wan objected. "You're far too close emotionally to Snake to be an effective rescuer. I'll go." Beneath the green glow of her suit's helmet, Obi-Wan knew she was steaming. "Rio and the Ice Climbers will need your power suit to capture the commander. I will get Snake, do not worry," he reassured her.

"Fine," she agreed, following the order of her Jedi superior. "Try not to take too long, though. I'd hate for you to miss all the fun. Ready Rio?" she asked.

"You bet!" Rio acknowledged. She was quite ready to kick some ass. It'd been quite awhile. "Where's this commander asshole?"

Samus keyed away something on her energy cannon. On her green facemask displayed the route. "This way," she spoke, leading off. Rio covered the rear with Popo and Nana taking flanking positions with their large wooden mallets.

Obi-Wan watched them as they faded off down the corridor and into some adjacent room. Sensing they'd be fine, he closed his eyes and became attuned to the Force. A mental image filled his mind's eye. He saw Snake, suspended in the air from the oversized missile. Then the mystical powers of the Force illuminated the path to his comrade.

His eyes opened and lightsaber ignited as he started on the trek to Snake. A few Cobra troops tried to stop the relentless march of the Jedi, but met the hot blade of the lightsaber. Obi-Wan continued, unobstructed to the center of the volcano fortress, launching pad for the warhead. He came upon it, a massive warhead, Snake high in the air halfway up.

"Am I glad to see you," Snake struggled to say. Being strung up for the past 4 hours had taken its toll on the Legendary Mercenary.

"I'll cut you down," Obi-Wan told him. "Hold on." The Jedi Master surveyed the launch pad. At ten foot intervals up the length of the missile were servicing platforms. Obi-Wan leapt, jumping onto the first pad with ease. He then jumped across the length of the cylinder of doom to the second platform and up five more to the top where Snake was suspended.

The blue lightsaber cut through Snake's left arm restraint. He started to swing with all his power as Obi-Wan cut the second restraint. Their timing was perfect, with Snake landing on the platform feet first and Obi-Wan joining him. "Thanks," was all that Snake had to say after getting a minute to relax.

"Are you all right?" The Jedi asked.

"I'll be okay after I get some feeling back in my hands," Snake informed, rubbing his wrists with numb digits. "What's the situation?"

"Batman and the Scouts are leading a frontal assault to draw the main Cobra Forces away while I rescue you and Samus, Rio and the Ice Climbers try to capture the commander."

"No one's going to try to stop the launch?" Snake asked with a sense of urgency in his voice.

"What launch?" Obi-Wan inquired, not sure what was going on or that Batman knew of a planned launch.

"They've got a nuke aimed at a city. Don't really know which one," Snake told him.

"This changes everything," Obi-Wan spoke. He took Snake's hand, helping him up. "We must stop that launch. Where are they keeping the warhead?"

"From what I gathered," Snake told him as he started to climb down the missile, "They've got a special projects room. That's Launch control."

"We must be cautious," Obi-Wan urged, jumping down and landing safely, the power of the Force to protect him. The Jedi master started off.

"Wait," Snake told him. He undid three buttons holding the bright crimson tunic to him and let it fall to the floor. He stood bare-chested for a moment. He took the ceremonial decoration off the right arm of the tunic and tied it around his head. "Let's go," he told the Jedi, grabbing a machine gun from the wall.

Obi-Wan nodded and he and the Legendary Mercenary proceeded at a brisk jog to the Special Weapons lab. A few rounds would fire from Snake's gun or Obi-Wan's lightsaber would slice any serpent they ran into. Approximately thirty corpses later, they stumbled upon the lab. Security was lax. Too lax.

"I don't like this," Snake spoke. He checked the darkened room, searching for targets.

"I sense a disturbance in the Force," Obi-Wan told him. He shoved Snake to the ground and extended his lightsaber. The steel blade that hit it fell to the ground with a loud clank. A swift foot caught the handle of the lightsaber, deactivating it and sending it skating across the floor.

Snake drew a bead on Obi-Wan's attacker, only to have the machine gun jammed by a throwing knife expertly wedged in the firing mechanism. He got to his feet then soon fell, tripped by a second attacker.

The lights came up, the ninja enemies having been discovered. In front of Snake and Obi-Wan were two Cobra adversaries, Storm Shadow and Firefly.

"This should be easy," Storm Shadow spoke, rather cocky.

"We should not underestimate them," Firefly warned. "He has great power," pointing to Obi-Wan, "and he's the hero of Shadow Moses."

"All the greater victory," the ninja said. "We will…" he was thrust back across the room.

"You will do no such thing," Obi-Wan told him, lowering his hand. He and Snake had started towards their adversaries.

Snake opened up on Firefly with a barrage of fists, followed by a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick at the end. "You're right. Don't underestimate us." Firefly whirled round and got to his feet. He and Snake exchanged blows, matching each others' movements as if they could read each other telepathically.

Obi-Wan really could read Storm Shadow. This was his only advantage in single combat against a highly trained ninja master. Every kick and punch was repelled and used to throw off the ninja's balance. When he could, Obi-Wan would sneak in a punch or kick, whichever suited the application.

Catching a break, Snake and Firefly faced off both in action stances. "You're good," Firefly told his adversary.

"So are you," Snake replied, acknowledging his opponent's skill. "Just one question…"

"What's that?" Firefly asked. He raised an eyebrow beneath the camouflaged ski mask.

"Are you waterproof?" Snake asked with a snicker.

"Shine Aqua Illusion!" a huge jet of water shot forth from the hands of Sailor Mercury and threw Firefly across the special weapons lab.

"What is this?" Storm Shadow asked, looking at Batman, the Sailor Scouts.

"You're worst nightmare, pal," Sailor Jupiter told him. "Supreme Thunder!" As soon as the lightning started to gather in Jupiter's Tiara, Storm Shadow realized the danger she posed and took off at a Jedi's pace, doing back flips and cartwheels as he went. The lab went dark momentarily and the ninja was gone.

"How are you?" Batman asked his sneaky companion.

"Fine," Snake reported. "No time to chat, we've got to stop a missile launch."

"Any idea what the target is?" Sailor Mars asked of the Jedi and Mercenary.

"Something big; I think it's headed to Washington," Snake told them.

"I don't know if that's possible," Mercury interjected. "By my calculations, all the missiles Cobra has are too short ranged. It'd more likely be Miami."

"Being restrained up there, I heard two of the crimsons talking. The launch pad for the missile is in the Volcano itself," Snake told them.

"Yes, that's where the sunlight defracting thingy is," Sailor Moon said, totally sure of herself.

"No, that's in the special weapons dojo," Snake added, "Where we are now." He pointed off to his left and there sat the Sunlight diffusion missile. "That isn't their primary attack."

"Sailor Mercury, what is the width and depth of the crater?" Batman asked.

The Goddess of Water squeezed her earring and produced her computer. Keys clicked furiously. "It's 600 feet wide and a mile and a half deep… at least according to a geological survey done in 1952. This island isn't exactly watched over by the US Geological Survey."

"Big enough to hold any ICBM made by anyone ever," Snake told him.

"We must assume that the target is Washington. Maybe even Gotham… I'm not too keen on the idea of an entire city obliterated by some cruise ship captain with grief issues," Batman told his band. "Can you disarm the missile?" he asked Snake.

"I think so. If not, I can wire it to explode on the pad and sink this little island back into the Caribbean," Snake informed.

"With all of us on it?" Sailor Moon asked. She breathed a heavy sigh.

"Call it acceptable losses. Giving your life is a consequence of a righteous fight. I thought you'd all know that," Snake lectured still speaking with the military mentality.

Many times the Sailor Scouts risked life and limb to save humanity and those closest to them. The fight against Queen Beryl so long ago resulted in the deaths of all five scouts, but they were resurrected by the power of the Imperium Silver Crystal. Death was nothing new to the Scouts, which is probably why they had such an upbeat attitude.

"They do," Batman intervened on the Scouts behalf. "But let's make that a last resort option."

"Well, we still need to disarm the weapon," Obi-Wan reminded. "Snake and I can handle that. You should go and help Rio and Samus. I'm not sure what kind of resistance they'll be facing."

"Fine," Batman agreed. Like the shadow of justice, he moved through his posse of Sailors and out into the corridor. The girls followed, taking a flanking position.

Obi-Wan and Snake looked at each other. They turned the opposite way from Batman and the Scouts and went over to the missile control console. "Pretty straight forward," Snake spoke, turning dials and flipping switches.

The island rocked violently. "What did you do?" Obi-Wan asked.

Snake looked at the console, buffaloed. "I disarmed the nuke." He stood there a moment, thinking. "Why the hell would it detonate?" A moment passed and a cloud of dust rolled past the door into the dojo. "I hope they're okay." His thoughts were only about Samus.

Chapter 5

"My God," was all that left Batman's lips as he and the Scouts came upon the site of the detonation. What was once the Cobra command room was now just a crater; one hole in the ground adjacent to the volcano crater already there. The bottom began to fill with water.

"Was anyone in here?" Sailor Jupiter asked. Everyone was more concerned about the safety of their friends than capturing the terrorist leader.

"I really hope not," Sailor Mars spoke.

A loud creaking, metal on metal, echoed through the cavern. The missile, an old Soviet relic from the cold war was moored in the crater of the volcano. The explosion, having destroyed half the missile's moorings, caused not only the entire island to rock, but the missile to as well. The Russian giant shifted and began to lean.

"We need to secure that!" Batman commanded. "If the missile falls, we all go up!"

"On it!" cried two tandem voices from above. Everyone smiled as they looked up. Like little angels from above, the Ice Climbers leapt around, tying ropes around the missile, back to the solid rock of the mountain then a very secure knot around the missile again.

With their last knot tied, Popo and Nana scuttled down the missile and up Batman's cape. "Hello Mr. Batman," they spoke.

The Scouts clamored about, surrounding the Ice Climbers and Batman in turn, hugging them. Everyone was delighted to see the small Eskimo kids unharmed.

"What happened," Mercury asked. She presently had Popo in a strong hug.

"Something," he explained.

"The entire place," Nana told them from the arms of Sailor Venus.

"Just went ka-powie," Popo finished.

"Was anyone else in here with you?" Batman asked.

"Ms. Rio and Ms. Samus told us to get out of here," Nana told them.

"So we climbed," Popo started

"To the top of the volcano," continued Nana.

"Something about," said Popo.

"Weird readings. And then," said Nana.

"Blammo!" they spoke in unison. Their small arms went up, demonstrating the explosion.

Everyone became quite somber. At best, the scenario had resolved itself; the death of Cobra Commander and the end of a terrorist organization. At worst, well… no one wanted to think about that.

"Sailor Mercury," Sailor Moon spoke, "Start scanning for life signs with your computer." The leader of the Sailor Scouts voice was wavering. Again Mercury turned to her trusty computer and began looking all over the room. "Anything?"

"No," Sailor Mercury reported. "I've got nothing but debris…"

The gut-wrench sickened feeling struck everyone. The Justice League had only seen triumph. In every encounter with a criminal element the fiends found themselves thoroughly dismantled. And everyone came home…

"Sometimes there are no words. No clever quotes to neatly sum up what happened that day. Sometimes, the day just...ends." Aaron Hotchner

God is a Frenchman

By Greg Senger Chapter 1

Wayne Manor felt strangely empty… probably because it was. No one knew that a standard run of the mill 'stop an evil terrorist organization with a WMD and small army' would end so badly. Four rooms upstairs sat empty.

Usually, Bobby didn't dwell on things of a negative nature, but to not dwell on this would be… inhuman. Two of his dearest friends and colleagues were taken from them in a despicable act of treachery. He couldn't stop re-living those last few moments.

Hearts raced and legs pumped as he and the Sailor Scouts ran down the corridor to the launch bay. The entire island shook with as a blast of smoke and heat shot down all the passageways leading to the volcano crater. They all had wide eyed disbelief in what they saw; sheer annihilation. Discovering the Ice Climbers alive was about the best surprise they had that day, and he took solace in that. But the simple fact that both Samus and Rio were never found, never given a proper sendoff. No one had a chance to say good bye.

And that's why four rooms upstairs now sat empty. Samus and Rio's rooms were left as they had been, untouched since the incident. The Ice Climbers, after a lot of arguing with Bobby, left. Popo and Nana wanted to stay, but he insisted they leave and never come back. He couldn't endanger children for some cockamamie scheme about foiling injustice all over the world.

And then Snake left. Really no one blamed him. A kind of silent romance grew between him and Samus. They were both loners, both in the mercenary business and they both thought they'd bought the farm more than once, only to go on living and killing. 'What goes around comes around,' they figured. After losing and fighting back, and losing and fighting back again, Snake broke. As mighty as the Legendary Mercenary was, he was still, in fact, only human. The last anyone had seen of Snake was a crumpled pack of Lucky Strikes left in the garbage. No note, no goodbye. He was gone.

The whole thing sucked out loud. 'How,' Bobby asked himself, 'Could all this happen. First it was Natalie, and then Samus and Rio.' It seemed that if you were a woman and you became allied with Bobby Alton, death was sure to follow.

The natural course of that train of thought gave Bobby chills. He didn't want to picture his beloved Lita dead somewhere because of him. But she wasn't like the others. She could probably give Death a quick knee in the happy sac and follow that with some Supreme Thunder for good measure. That made him smile.

At least he still had her. At least the Batsuit was officially no longer his. Bruce was back in command in the Batcave, as it should have been. Part of Bobby wished that Bruce would have been the one leading the assault on Cobra. And now GI Joe would handle them. He was out of the superhero game and the only cost was two dead comrades.

"It's funny how death affects you," Bobby spoke. He adjusted in the leather chair. "The death of someone dear to me brought me to do all this, and now the death of two has gotten me out."

Gideon leaned forward in the chair facing Bobby. "Facing death is almost as important as how we face life. I got tired of looking at it. That's why I left the FBI. Sometimes the best action is to quit, no matter how good you might be at the job."

"I suppose," Bobby agreed.

"I used to tell Spencer, 'save one, save one hundred.'" Gideon told him. "What a crock. I think that was my way of dealing with the death I'd see on a daily basis. It was my personal way to get through it for as many years as I did."

"You're haunted by your gift," Bobby told him, profiling the profiler. "It's your greatest strength and greatest weakness."

Gideon smiled. It made him feel good for someone to see it besides himself and Aaron Hotchner. "So, what do you do now?" Gideon asked.

"Now?" Bobby thought for a moment, "Now I need to get going. I've got to stop at the body shop and pick up my latest project, then to the grocery store. I'm making dinner. Care to come over?"

"What are you making?" Gideon asked.

"Why don't you come along and see," Bobby told him, making an offer Gideon couldn't refuse.

"I'll take you up on that," Gideon spoke, smiling. They both stood and threw on their coats. The two new friends exited Borders and went out into the parking lot. Bobby had traded his black BMW 740iL for a rather mundane looking white Honda Element.

Gideon, being the expert that he is, knew the whole thing weighed on Bobby more than he'd let on. He traded off a sleek, black German car; something that could be construed as aggressive and animalistic for a pedestrian, dull, boxy and underpowered snore-mobile. "What happened to your Beamer?" Gideon asked.

"Huh? Oh, the Element," Bobby spoke, pushing the key into the ignition. "It was too impractical. It was a gas guzzler, and no one really needs to do 185mph in Gotham."

"But this?" Gideon asked him. "It's so boring. You traded off an amazing automobile for a practical, little wuss wagon."

"Well, it might have fewer ponies, but these are Japanese. So they're better fed and more motivated," Bobby told him, jokingly.

Gideon smiled. The car whined and the two men took off towards the Whole Foods store. Gideon definitely knew it was a weight on Bobby. Not only was it the car, but his appearance had changed. Before, Bobby dressed in attire ready for action; sleek outfits, with lots of pockets for accoutrement and dark colors… something a Green Beret would wear in his time off. That'd all been exchanged for a cardigan, beige overcoat and slacks. He looked more like he belonged in a library than the man who'd fought crime in a Batsuit. Indeed he no longer wanted the life fate had dealt him.

As per usual when shopping, one of the front wheels of the cart has to wiggle and shake wildly as its being pushed down the aisles. Some fresh veggies over the wheel didn't help stop the squirming. "Doesn't that make you angry?" Gideon asked. "It must be a defect in the manufacture of shopping carts."

"Maybe, but why fight it," Bobby told him, pushing onto the meat department.

'He's lost all his aggression and drive,' Gideon thought to himself. 'There's almost nothing there of the man who took down the Joker, jailed the Scarecrow and fought numerous street crimes.'

It was true. Bobby had mellowed. No more BMW and then with the boring librarian clothes… He didn't even go do track days with Raye anymore. And that was his favorite thing in the entire world to do. The most his CBR ever got pushed was maybe up to 60 on the freeway into the city for scones and a good read, often about telegraph poles. 19th century telegraph poles. Fascinating they were.

"Do you think the girls would rather have; Plain vanilla ice cream or Neapolitan? Flavor versus a blank canvas for creativity?" Bobby asked.

Gideon just smiled, since rolling his eyes would be in bad taste.

Chapter 2

Half a world away from the endless lights of Gotham, night settled on a small Czech village. Soon, the night was driven out by a more sinister darkness; an otherworldly darkness. Slowly, every bit of light was driven from the village until eventually the moon was blocked out.

In the center of town was a well. The well reached deep into the earth and served as the village's only water source during dry spells. The loose stones of the well glowed a bright orange, as if they were superheating. The wooden arch and bucket burst into flames and were incinerated faster than usual. No ash or smoke was given off, and the wooden structure simply ceased to be. The stones quit glowing and fused together.

Two houses and a church adjacent to the well shook with the ground. There hadn't been a quake in the Czech Republic for as long as anyone could remember, so this one came as quite a shock. As soon as a light in one of the houses would come on, it would immediately be extinguished. Bulbs broke and matches refused to light. Eventually, after every match, cigarette lighter and light bulb was rendered inoperable, the ground quit shaking. The first poor sap to stumble outside in the dark in his sleeping cap and pajamas was the first and only to see the source of the ruckus.

His eyes grew as big as saucers before the darkness consumed him too. In an instant, all the life in the village; all 701 men, women and children expired before their time.

Chapter 3

"You want to hand me those mushrooms?" Bobby asked. Gideon was still unpacking sacks when Bobby loaded the cook top with sauté pans and a large pot. The oven was already preheating. Ground beef sizzled in one pan as Gideon obliged and gave Bobby a package of sliced shitake mushrooms. They found their own pan.

"Shall I boil the noodles?" Gideon asked, wanting to be helpful. He removed the lid of the large pot and dumped a handful of kosher salt in.

"So long as you salt the …" Bobby stopped mid sentence seeing what Gideon did. "Go for it."

It was at this moment that Mina, Lita and Raye came into the garage from outside. A boring Tuesday meant work for everyone. Serena would be home from the gun range in a few hours and Amy should be home from the library at six. "Hey guys," Bobby spoke, opening the door for the girls.

"Hi Jason," Raye said, entering first. "It's nice to see you. Are you staying for dinner?"

"Wouldn't miss lasagna," Gideon told her.

"You guys are making lasagna, great!" Mina explained. She removed her shoes and went to the fridge to retrieve a soda for her.

"Hey," Bobby greeted his bride with as she entered. He leaned and they met with a modest peck on the lips.

"How's it going? Get any good reads at Borders?" she asked.

"Uh," Bobby paused. He knew full well that she wanted to read the Divine Comedy by Dante. That was the excuse he gave her to get out of hanging out with the girls. Hanging out in a bookstore with Gideon ranked way higher than shoe shopping or whatever they were going to do. "No," he finally replied. "I'm making dinner for you though."

"Well, I suppose I can forgive you for not getting my book then. I'll have Amy bring me home a copy from the library," she told them. "How are you Jason?" she asked, turning attention to their guest.

"Fine," Gideon replied. A man of mystery, he always made sure not to let anyone into his head or heart. "It's nice of you to have me for dinner."

"Anytime," Bobby told him, meeting Gideon's gaze. Eyes meeting, they both knew that Gideon had become Bobby's counselor for this entire thing. He felt more comfortable talking to Gideon than he did to anyone else; Bruce, Obi-Wan and even Lita. Thinking of the Jedi, "Has anyone seen Obi-Wan?"

"Um," Raye spoke.

"What is it?" Bobby inquired.

"Well, he kinda felt responsible for what happened to Samus and Rio. I think he went to find Snake," Raye told them.

Obi-Wan did give the order to split and have Rio and Samus go after Cobra Commander. He feared that her emotional connection with Snake would hinder her ability to effectively rescue him. It was a bad decision. In fact, it probably would have made the job easier. But the Jedi always fears emotion. And now he was facing emotions of his own, tracking the Legendary Mercenary.

Chapter 4

A twilight glow settled across Gotham Cemetery. It was a gated graveyard, home to lots of old trees, the eternal resting place of Thomas and Martha Wayne as well as the parents of Oswald Cobblepot, known as the Penguin in crime circles, and now it housed a new stone. The stone was small and made of white marble. Inscribed on it were no names. It only said 'To Heroes and Friends Lost.' No bodies rested beneath the stone. One stood above.

"Snake?" Obi-Wan asked. The wrought-iron gate creaked as the Jedi pushed past it. He stopped, in clear view of Snake, but a good distance back.

Snake was out of his usual sneaking suit and had dressed himself in a tan suit with a red tie. Even his bandanna, a symbol of love from his previous flame Meryl was gone. Nothing would identify Snake except for his permanent five o'clock shadow and mullet. "Why are you here?" he asked.

"I came to find you," Obi-Wan confessed. "I was afraid for you," he said sternly.

Snake chuckled to himself. "What for? If I've learned anything from this, it's that I should just stay alone. It's better." He lit himself a cigarette. "They say that these will kill you, ya know." From inside his jacket pocket he removed something. Obi-Wan realized what it was as he moved the slide back and loaded a bullet into the chamber. "I think this is much faster." He held the gun at his side.

"What are you going to do with that?" Obi-Wan asked.

"This is your fault you know," Snake told him. "If you hadn't persuaded me not to sink myself with Arsenal Gear, I never would have gotten to know and I never would have fallen in love." He turned away from the grave. Snake's cold eyes slowly rose to see the Jedi. "I've lived and died on the battlefield. Lost friends, comrades, acquaintances, I've even killed the one man I could call a father and I'd suffer all that a thousand times over than feel what I am right now… You can tell."

Obi-Wan's Jedi power made him sensitive to Snake's feelings. He was full of anger, hate, fear, loss… things Snake didn't know how to feel. It deeply saddened the Jedi. For Obi-Wan this was nearly as painful as losing Anakin Skywalker to the dark side of the force. Where he couldn't help Snake, now he could at least help his lost apprentice.

"I've got good mind to use this on you," Snake told him, raising his gun. "But I won't. If you're in tune with what I'm feeling, I'd rather make you suffer. For a few minutes more at least."

"You still haven't answered me." Obi-Wan took a resolute stance. "What are you going to do with that?"

"With 9mm of lead, all my pain goes away. That's what I'm going to do with it." He took a firm grasp of the grip. "Finally, you'll witness the death of the last son of Big Boss, and forever an end to heartbreak."

"Do you really have what it takes?" Obi-Wan asked. The Jedi knew with almost certainty that Snake couldn't kill himself. Snake, however, considered this to be a final mission. One he'd need to complete. Snake stopped himself. "I suppose it's not really my place to stop you. Do what you want. I just came to tell you that I'm leaving."

"Why would you want to tell me?" Snake asked. The gun again dropped to his side.

"I'm doing it because I caused you the most heartache, the most pain. And I truly am sorry. If you wish to join Samus in whatever afterlife you believe in, that is entirely up to you. But know that nothing has saddened me more than what I've done to you. If I could undo everything, I would. Sadly, as great as a Jedi's powers are, the ability to reverse time is not one of them. I will miss you Snake…" the Jedi paused, "David." Obi-wan smiled softly. No one but Samus ever called Snake by his real name. "Farewell."

The gate creaked again.

Followed by a single gunshot.

Chapter 5

"They're never coming back," Bobby spoke. He looked around at the table. Everyone had a look of solemn loss on their face. This entire episode had cost them everything. Four friends lost. "I guess that's why we didn't put names on the stone. Shit really rolls downhill, doesn't it?" he spoke.

Everyone silently nodded in agreement. "To absent friends," Serena softly spoke, raising her glass. Everyone found it appropriate that she be the one to toast. While not the de facto leader of the Justice League, she was leading the Sailor Scouts long before Bobby even took up cape and cowl. Her never ending love and friendship saved the world more times than anyone would even want to count.

"To friends," everyone spoke. The table then got quiet. There was some squelching as the lasagna was dished out and some glugging from the large bottle of burgundy if someone would take a refill.

"Does anyone have any good jokes?" Gideon asked, letting silence go on long enough.

"I beg your pardon?" Amy asked. "We've suffered a tragedy, and you're looking for good jokes? I don't think I like that Jason."

Gideon smiled and shook his head as if to say, 'that's not it at all.' "No no no," he told them. "In all my years, I've found that comedy is one great outlet for relieving tragedy. While investigating a particularly nasty case with a house cleaner in Kansas City, the BAU and I got together afterwards and watched Charlie Chaplin movies in my office." Gideon looked down at his plate, reflecting inwards. "We were so used to seeing horror every day, it was almost alarming to let our guard down and relax. And laugh." Gideon did miss his family at the BAU. But they understood why he left, and being a true family, that's what matters.

"Jokes huh?" Bobby asked. He sat back in his chair, taking another sip of wine. He turned to Gideon, who was seated at his left. "So, have you heard the one about 'no' and 'me neither'?"

Gideon looked puzzled. "No," he reluctantly replied.

"Me neither!" Bobby exclaimed.

Everyone groaned at the awful joke. It truly was bad, almost on par with a 'dead baby' joke, which would have been completely inappropriate. The joke, however, worked. The mood was lightened. Small giggles and light chatter resumed; it was no longer the dark sad party the night had started out as.

"Anyone mind if I turn on the news?" Amy asked. She took the remote as someone anonymously spoke 'go for it.' From the bureau across the opulent dining room, a flat screen TV emerged and hung almost magically. The TV was constantly tuned to CNN.

Christiane Amanpour was reporting from a small village in the Czech Republic. It was breaking news. "Right Anderson, all 701 people have gone missing from this tiny village. Interpol and local police are investigating, but with limited success. So far, there are no leads. As you can see behind me, there is no structural damage to anything except for the town well, which has been replaced with some sort of obelisk. This is a truly perplexing scene, Anderson," Christiane spoke, concluding her report.

The Wayne Manor residents watched intently.

"So Christiane," Anderson spoke, "I see that there are some markings on the obelisk, has anyone been able to identify those?"

"Not yet," Christiane responded after the satellite delay. "Interpol is contacting top scientists in an effort to get someone here to look over the object, but so far, there have been no takers in Europe."

"That's kind of interesting," Gideon spoke, making sure Bobby heard him. "Maybe something we should look into."

Bobby thought it over. The old Bobby would have leapt at it. The possible deaths of 700 people is something that needs to be looked into. It is simple human rights to exist, and some sort of demon obelisk has denied that. But that was old Bobby… the one who didn't hesitate to throw down with evil and had no thought of the reprisals.

Now all he thought about was the consequences. Could he lose any more of them? Losing Samus and Rio, although not especially close to either, killed him inside. If any of the girls, especially Lita died, how could he go on? He'd sacrifice himself to spare any of them, and he couldn't make a call to endanger them.

"Well I say we get over there and look into it," Lita spoke up.

"This needs our attention," Raye agreed. "700 people are too many. We've got to do something!"

"Agreed!" Serena spoke up, standing from her chair. "This is a job for the Sailor Scouts!"

"What about the Justice League?" Gideon asked, looking over at Bobby for an answer.

"There is no more justice league," Bobby informed, taking another drink of his wine. "It died on Cobra Island."

Chapter 6

"Sailor Teleport!" A multicolored multitude of lights began to emanate from the Scouts. Each color seemed to correspond to the girl's fuku, or sailor uniform. Sailor Moon, who was the most powerful magically, cast a large pink hue; Mercury glowed blue, Mars red, Jupiter green and Venus a yellowish orange.

They appeared around that obelisk in the Czech Republic in a matter of seconds. The area, which not an hour ago was bristling with reporters, cops and Interpol agents was now devoid of life.

"Whatever happened to the villages must have happened to the news crews," Sailor Moon spoke. The team fanned out and began to look around the village. Sailor Moon found the church empty and untouched.

Sailor Venus, Jupiter and Mars took to searching the houses. All were empty. The only indication that there were once people there was ruffled bed sheets and dented pillows. Each one had a sink of dirty dishes or maybe a half drunk pot of coffee, but nothing else. Even family pets were absent.

Ever studious, Sailor Mercury squeezed her earring and began to scan the area with her portable computer and visor. She keyed commands into her palmtop wizard as she began to examine the obelisk itself. "Dead languages," she reported. The rest of the Scouts, finding nothing, rejoined her in the town square.

"How dead?" Sailor Venus asked.

"There are languages on here from civilizations that have been dead for thousands of years," Mercury stated. "For example, this section," she raised her hands to a spot on the obelisk about six feet high, "this is Olmec. It hasn't had a living speaker since before the time of the Aztecs. They were one of the earliest Mesoamerican civilizations."

"So, how did it get here?" Sailor Mars asked.

"Yea, I mean, whoever sent it here did so on purpose, but they covered it in ancient languages that no one can read?" Sailor Jupiter said. "Why?"

"Well, some of these still have readers. They're not all dead," Sailor Mercury told them.

"Like what?" Sailor Moon asked.

"There is Latin on here," Mercury said.

"Okay, but why cover this… death machine… in odd languages. No Kanji or plain English?" Jupiter spoke.

"It is a bit of a mystery. The only thing I can think of is the Tower of Babel from ancient history," Mercury told them.

"Can you read any of the Latin part?" Sailor Moon asked her. "We should try and communicate with it if we can."

"I can feed it through the translator program in my computer," she said. Keys clicked as the miniature wonder was fed with data. "Just processing… Lanua ut lost quod damno , exsisto ostendo sum," Mercury spoke, reading from her visor.

"I thought you'd be able to tell us what it said," Jupiter spoke.

"No," Mercury told her. "It just gives me pronunciat..."

The village flashed a bright white. The Scouts had been removed from their earthy plane.

Chapter 7

"Any word from Lita?" Bobby asked, entering the kitchen from warm the garage. He took to fixing old scooters when he felt nervous or afraid. So far, he'd reassembled three Honda Super Cubs, a Honda Hobbit, two Honda Expresses, a Suzuki Bergman and three old Vespas that he'd found in a barn outside town.

"Not yet," Gideon told him. He had a cold drink of iced tea in his hand, which he handed to his former crime fighting friend.

"Thank you," Bobby spoke, gulping down the tasty beverage. "Something's happened."

Gideon poured himself a glass of tea. "I wouldn't think about it. They're strong. I don't think anything could beat them."

"How did you do it?" Bobby asked.


"I mean, how did you stand toe to toe with the worst humans and survive? I don't mean to be insensitive, but Frank took away a woman who you loved. How did you even continue those few more cases after that?" Bobby sat down at the kitchen table.

"Well, I thought the best thing for me would be to get back to work. So more people wouldn't have to suffer like my friend Sarah did. Then I left. I couldn't do it anymore." Gideon slid a chair back and joined Bobby, jar of iced tea in hand. "And then I met you before that cruise. Whatever my encounter with Frank took away from me, you restored it. That business on the ship then again with the Cobras, it was the first time that I actually missed playing superhero. Something you did very well, by the way."

Bobby smiled, staring at the cold brown liquid in his glass. "I wish I had the nerve to keep going. I should be there with them."

"You still can be," Gideon told him. "If I was in your position, you know, with my loved one still alive, I'd want to be fighting beside her, not cowering at home."

"You're right," Bobby admitted. "Get ready, we're going to Europe." He didn't want to be a spectator to life anymore. He married into the Sailor Scouts; action was part of the job. Even if he wasn't Batman, he should still be able to go along on a possibly life threatening adventure. If this was a movie, he'd have to be like Riley from the National Treasure movies.

"Now just hold on," Gideon spoke. "I admire the gusto, I really do, but we should prepare. We'd never head to a crime scene without basic victimology and crime scene pictures."

"You're right," Bobby admitted. "We'll need some help. Have you ever been to Cambridge?"

Gideon nodded no. "We're stopping at Harvard aren't we?"

"Well you heard Christiane. The thing was covered in symbols," Bobby spoke. "We'll need an expert."

"Meet you at the Dragonfly in 20 minutes?" Gideon asked.

"I'm gunna go put on something a little more hero worthy." Like a flash, Bobby shot up to his room and exchanged the librarian outfit for something that was more like him. Action oriented in color, lots of pockets… something a Green Beret would wear.

"Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed," Gideon told him. Bobby looked at him odd, as if to say, 'What's wrong with you?' "Isn't that what you're supposed to say?"

"Where do you guys get this stuff?" he looked away from his copilot and jammed the throttle down. Hot exhaust shot out the back of the Quest Industries branded jet. Darkness of the Batcave gave way to a noon rising sun.

"We should be in Cambridge in 14 minutes, then three hours to get across to Europe," Gideon told him, checking maps though his small square spectacles.

Chapter 8

The Dragonfly set down fourteen minutes after takeoff. Foe Hammer, the treaded behemoth, was replaced with a more suburban looking Ford Taurus. Bobby took the wheel of the Taurus. Wheels squelching, he and Gideon shot from the back of the Dragonfly and off to Harvard.

"Ever been to Harvard?" Gideon asked.

"When I went to Brown, I attended a lecture on symbolism there. You?" he asked.

"Reid and I gave a lecture to a class about joining the FBI. We tried to make the Bureau look glamorous and inviting. I don't think we were very successful," Gideon admitted. He looked out the window of the new Taurus, seeing a statue of John Harvard sitting in a very comfortable chair. In fact, it looked as if he hadn't moved in hundreds of years.

The car was parked outside a grand looking old building with a clock face, and the two men began to mull about. "So how do we find this guy?" Gideon asked, looking over the grand buildings.

"It's about 8 am and it's Tuesday. No lecture today, but he likes to swim in Blodgett Pool. C'mon," Bobby took the lead. "We'll go across Weekes Footbridge and then a short distance to the pool." They followed Bobby's plan of action and sure enough, they'd found the pool. The Leader was back. Among cool blue water and high vaulted ceilings adorned with banners and pennants of championships, there was a lone figure in the water.

The man was doing laps. Bobby and Gideon moved to the end with his towel and gym bag. After laps, the man climbed out of the pool. "Can I help you gentlemen?" he asked, accepting his towel from Bobby.

"Hello, my name is Bobby Alton. I attended a lecture you gave on symbols some time ago, when Harvard and Brown shared classes."

"That's been some time ago," he admitted. "And you are?"

"Jason Gideon, I used to work for the FBI," he spoke, shaking the drippy hand of the man.

"Well, I'm Professor Robert Langdon, at your service," he toweled off his head and arms. "What can I do for you?"

"As you might be aware, there is a small village in the Czech Republic," Bobby started.

"The obelisk coming from the village well," Langdon said, removing his goggles. They plopped down into his bag. "I'm familiar with it. What have you guys got to do with it?"

"Well, colleagues of ours who went to investigate the obelisk have disappeared," Bobby told him.

"Wouldn't that be a better job for the police?" Langdon asked.

"It would be, except that the police have disappeared too... and the reporters. So far, that thing has taken the lives of at least 700 villagers and who knows how many more. Professor, we need your help to figure out this thing," Bobby spoke. He hoped appealing to his humanity would bring Langdon aboard.

"What personal stake do you have in this?" Langdon asked him. Bobby again felt like he did when Gideon examined him the first time. "I notice you keep twisting your wedding ring. Is your wife someone that has disappeared?"

"Yes," Bobby told him. "Professor, we need to figure out this obelisk and find out what mysteries it holds. Yes my wife has disappeared, but we also need to do it for the countless others. You may be the only person who can understand what's going on. I read your book Sacred Feminine; it was a damn good read. You're the only person who I'd trust with finding my Lita."

Langdon paused and dropped the towel. "We'd better get a move on then, hadn't we?"

Chapter 9

The turbine engine of the Dragonfly wound down. The three men exited the massive white jet plane. "There it is," Bobby spoke, taking the lead in the center of the group. Gideon was at his right, Langdon on his left. The scene, bustling with cops and reporters before was now empty.

The three men all took measure steps towards the obelisk that killed their friends, and Bobby's beloved. With nothing left to lose, the all began to circle the obelisk. "Recognize anything?" he asked.

Gideon nodded no. Langdon moved in closer and began to study the glyphs more carefully. The Harvard symbology professor squinted and craned in, almost nose to nose with the tower. "This is strange," he finally spoke. "There are Egyptian, Olmec, Babylonian, Assyrian, Hellenic, Sanskrit, and Sumerian…" Langdon's voice trailed off in wonder. "There are markings from almost every extinct ancient civilization on earth."

"Can you make out any of it?" Bobby asked.

Langdon studied it some more. "If I can find Latin, that would be the easiest," he spoke. He squinted and studied more. "Lanua ut lost quod damno , exsisto ostendo sum," Langdon spoke.

The obelisk glowed a bright white color. All three men were repulsed, covering their eyes and trying not to look at it. The white glow moved out from the obelisk at the center and all three men, the Harvard professor, FBI profiler and hero turned sheep turned hero again, were transported.

"What did you just say?" Gideon asked. They had been deposited in a world of darkness and gray.

"Door to the lost and damned, be revealed," Langdon told him. He looked around at the sky. Gray against monochrome clouds dotted with half dead looking birds. The odd pterodactyl indicated this was not the world that they all knew. Indeed it seemed that this was the world of the dead.

There was no vegetation, just a vast wasteland. About fifty miles in every direction in the distance, there was a mountain range. It too was gray. The air smelled stale, as if someone had switched off the wind. "Why are you here?" a thunderous voice boomed.

"What was that?" Gideon asked.

"A voice," Bobby replied. Everyone knew full well it was a voice. But he felt necessary to chime in, like he was participating.

"I think it came from that direction," Langdon spoke. Seemingly out of nowhere, a castle appeared. The men began to walk toward it.

The thing dominated the landscape. It was the only thing occupying the flat ethereal plane except for the mountains that seemed to always be fifty miles away in every direction. An odd structure, it seemed as it had been built by man, but not specifically by man.

"What do you make of it, Professor?" Bobby asked.

"Incredible," Langdon spoke. "Not being a student of architecture, to me it looks like it's made of Mesoamerican, European, and Asian designs, fused together somehow." The castle had high vaulted walls, like an English castle of the middle ages. Behind that, towers of ivory with peaked roofs and terra cotta shingles seemed to allude that maybe the Chinese were guarding the place. At the center, a stepped stone pyramid of what appeared to be Aztec. The pyramid stood at least 200 feet high, with a set of narrow stairs running up the front fascia. Atop the pyramid was an empty altar.

"We'd better see what's up there," Bobby concluded with nothing more to lose. The three men approached the front gate in the European style wall. Footsteps soon ceased. "How do we get in?"

"Maybe we need to knock?" Gideon suggested.

They all looked at one another. Bobby then stepped forward and gave the iron gate three raps with his hand. He then stepped back to join Langdon and Gideon.

"Why are you here?" The voice boomed again.

"We need to answer it," Langdon told them. "But we should be careful how we answer."

"What do we say?" Bobby asked, open to suggestions.

"I say we tell it why we're here. Honesty is always the best policy," Gideon told him.

"It's worth a try," Langdon agreed.

Bobby stepped forward. "We're here to find our lost friends. Do you know where they are?"

The empty planet was silent for a moment. "That is incorrect," the voice boomed. "You are allowed one missed question. One more mistake would invite expulsion."

"Then ask your question!" Bobby shouted, growing somewhat impatient with this omnipresent voice.

"Very well... Who are you?"

"It wants to know who we are? We told it what we were doing and it didn't like that. " Gideon asked. "This one might be out of our league."

"There must be a deeper meaning," Langdon surmised. "Not out names but something more abstract, something that covers a wider area."

Bobby thought for a moment. One chance and there would be no more. "I have many names," Bobby spoke. "There are so many things that we can be called. Personally, my name is Bobby. To Lita, I was her husband. I've been a motorcycle racer, friend, crime fighter, counselor, leader, diplomat… the list is almost eternal. To have a mortal define something like that is almost impossible."

The voice in the sky was silent. "Your answer is acceptable. There is no right or wrong, but you may proceed inside."

With a heavy creak and lots of effort, the iron gate lifted from its stony rest. As it reached its apex, Gideon, Langdon and Bobby proceeded inside. Passing the thick walls, they soon encountered the Chinese looking towers.

"Kind of odd there's no challenge here…" Bobby spoke. A fast zing was heard and an arrow shot into the ground at Bobby's feet. From its trajectory, they could tell it was shot from the tower directly ahead of them.

"There's something attached to it," Langdon spoke, pointing at the arrow.

Bobby yanked the arrow from the ground and unrolled a small papyrus scroll on it. "It's in English," Bobby reported, expecting it to be in some dead language. "How does one reach enlightenment?" Bobby dropped his arms to his side and gave it some thought.

"Well, I think intelligence should play a major factor. My study of symbology led me to prevent an antimatter attack on Vatican City and, though some doubt it, find the last living descendant of Christ. Extensive study would be my guess," reported Langdon.

"I don't know about that," Gideon told him. "Study is important, but I think a more spiritual approach would be correct. After hunting the most evil human beings, sometimes the only thing I could find solace in was something outside humanity. It's what got me along. Sometimes, we're too dark as a species. That's why I left the BAU. I needed to leave so I could find the good in people again. Spirituality is the choice I'd make," Gideon told Bobby.

"So the choice is mine," Bobby spoke. "I don't know," he spoke.

"Answer accepted," the booming voice spoke.

"Wait, that wasn't my…" Bobby tried to get in. His moment of introspection was misinterpreted as a response.

"The path to enlightenment begins with acceptance that you know nothing. Your friends were incorrect. You may proceed to the Castle," the voice told him.

"How about that?" Gideon spoke, looking at his colleagues.

"We were both wrong," Langdon said.

"The one called Bobby Alton may proceed. Professor Robert Langdon and Profiler Jason Gideon must be expelled," the voice commanded.

"Wait!" Bobby yelled. It was too late. As soon as the voice had spoken, Langdon and Gideon vanished. Bobby searched around, even around the castle and base of the towers. He was alone... which is what he feared the most.

Not finding them, he turned and proceeded up the long narrow staircase of the Aztec monument. "How did you know my name," he asked, halfway up the stairs. No response. "I said, how did you know my name?"

"I know all," the voice spoke.

Bobby raised his eyebrow. He continued up the stairs. After a 15 minute climb, he reached the top of the pyramid. Before him was a stone alter, waist high.

"Are you prepared for your final test?" the voice asked.

"Let's get on with it." He approached the altar and leaned on it.

"Justify your existence."

He again raised an eyebrow. "How can I do that? With my great works?" he said, doubting himself. "I don't think I can. I've let everyone I care about down. True, I fought crime diligently, hunted super criminals and tried to fight an army with an army of my own, but I failed. I did well, but I could have done better. I didn't paint a masterpiece or compose a symphony; I did what I did because of the curveballs life threw at me. And I did the best I could. So far, you've taken one of the most intelligent men I've ever met, the woman I love more than anything, the best group of friends I've ever had, and a man so cursed by his profound knowledge of others, that he poured himself into catching every single villain that was presented to him. They all deserve life more than I do. If me justifying my existence means I get to leave this place, I'd rather not. I'd rather not exist than have to live without them."

There was no answer from the booming voice.


"Bobby?" a familiar voice spoke.

The sky turned a shade of deep blue, with a noon time sun beating down. Bobby turned and saw what he wanted to see more than anything. "Lita!" he cried out.

She ran at him, jumping into his open arms. "You came for me," she said, showering him with kisses. "I knew you wouldn't let us down."

"How is this possible?" he asked her.

"I don't know," she told him.

"Maybe we should find out," Bobby suggested, finding a little of his old self in seeing her again. He let her down onto her own feet. "Hey!" he called out to the sky. "Hey!"

"Your answer is acceptable," the voice spoke.

"Hey! How is this possible?" he asked.

"Choose a form," the voice told him.

"Form?" Bobby asked, puzzled.

"I have taken many forms over the years. I've been Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, Jesus, Buddha, Vishnu, Quetzalcoatl, Marduk, Zeus, Odin…"

"I get it," Bobby told him. He thought a moment. "I don't know… pick your favorite."

"I will choose one you will know and can speak with," the voice boomed.

"Mr. Alton," a new voice spoke. The voice was very distinguished, and Bobby knew immediately what form the voice had taken. The form had a red tunic with black at the collar, four command pips and a Starfleet comm. badge. The voice had become Jean-Luc Picard, Captain of the USS Enterprise.

"Captain Picard?" Bobby asked.

"Looking into your memory, I found that this was the form you most looked up to. You loved to follow the adventures of the Starship Enterprise and you especially loved Captain Picard. You admired his fairness, decisiveness, cool under pressure… in a way, Picard influenced how you act more than anyone you might have met in real life," the voice, who was now speaking with Patrick Stewart's unmistakable accent, told him.

"He still is my favorite character," Bobby admitted. "So what exactly are you? What is this place?"

"This is what you expected. The gray vast plane with no life, it's what you expected to find. No one hopes for the beaches of Cancun at spring break when they're brought here," Picard told him. "What am I is a little more tricky."

"How so?" Bobby asked.

"I chose this form because it's the part of you that you most admire. What you always aspired to be, your pinnacle. In a sense, I'm found in everything. A spirit created by all, all knowing and all seeing. The very best that humanity can create. I penetrate all and bind everything; I hold the universe together."

"That's what Obi-Wan said the Force was," Bobby spoke.

"To the Jedi, that is what I am. Humans on earth are much different than the humans of his galaxy. At first, the people here worshipped things they could see; Jupiter, the Sun, moon. Then slowly, monotheism took over. The more people believed, the more I existed. But I already existed and created them. It's a bit…"

"Confusing," Bobby told him.

Picard smiled. "Indeed it is. And I don't expect a mortal to understand it. After all, you admitted you know nothing. The first step to becoming enlightened. Someday, you'll understand. The next step in human evolution will reveal much. You've already started to change," Picard told him.

"What do you mean? The species is changing?" Bobby asked.

"No no," Picard told him, "You as a person." Picard moved closer and put his hand on Bobby's shoulder. "You've endured heartache, and persevered. You outwardly try to learn more about yourself and your surroundings. You open yourself and your heart to new people and new things, helping wayward souls. That is the key to the betterment of humanity. In a way, you act more like Picard than I could ever replicate..."

"I'll take that as a compliment," Bobby told him. "So, what is to become of us now? Do we stay here on top of this Aztec pyramid for eternity with a facsimile of the Captain of the Enterprise?"

"You can go and do whatever you want to," Picard told him. "Everyone that approached me, the 701 people of the village, the reporters, cops and even your friends the Sailor Scouts couldn't answer any of my questions correctly. For that they were banished to non-existence."

"It's true," Lita spoke, leaning her head toward Bobby. "Not even Amy could get any of his questions."

"Isn't non-existence a little harsh punishment for not being able to answer some philosophical questions?" Bobby asked.

"Indeed it is. You are also forgiving," Picard told him. "You control their destiny."

"So I can…" Bobby started to ask himself. Before he could finish the sentence, there was a brilliant flash of white, like when they had approached the obelisk. In a mere second, they had appeared in the front lawn of the manor, the place abounding with life.

"Where am I? I'm alive?" Snake asked. "How did I survive a bullet to the head?" he patted the back of his head with his fingertips. No hole.

"Maybe there was a reason to bring you back," a familiar voice mused. Snake looked to his left. He couldn't help but smile. The golden yellow helmet of the Varia suit fell to the ground as blonde hair fell out in droves. "Did you miss me?"

In a move not befitting Snake, he picked Samus up, not minding the 300 pound armor and twirled her around. Their lips met.

"Hey, I'm not dead!" Rio exclaimed. "All my arms and legs are attached!" She whipped out a compact from her pocket and checked her face. "And my beautiful face! It's still here!"

"Welcome back," Obi-Wan greeted her. "But I'm confused. I left for Tatooine. Why am I back on Earth?"

"Yeah," Serena spoke, "What's the deal?" The other Scouts nodded in agreement.

"It must have been something to do with that voice," Gideon mused to himself. "What did you think of it Professor?" he asked, turning to Langdon who had appeared next to him.

Langdon looked around at the azure sky and green trees. "I've never been so happy to see color. It was an occurrence like nothing else. What did we all experience?"

"It's all very confusing," Bobby told them, standing up on a garden bench. He looked back and saw his three slain comrades alive, his departed Jedi friend, the Harvard symbologist, his new best friend Jason Gideon, the Ice Climbers happily scaling the fountain across the yard, all the Sailor Scouts and his beloved wife Lita. "All I know is that I've got you all back. And none of you are going anywhere."

All about could-a, not should-a.

By Greg Senger

Chapter 1

The rustic smell of old wood and leather bound books filled the colossal study. The tall window, which apexed in an arc let in so much light, everything should have been well faded, but it wasn't. A soft westerly breeze blew in from the window, gently rustling the papers and quills strewn about the large oak desk. A nice summer day, as was far too common amongst business types, led to a sweaty back and buttocks. A woolen suit and non-breathable shirt didn't help matters either. Bobby hated every minute of it.

His signature streaked across a seemingly endless array of papers and forms. After the forth hour, he thought that the Pilot pen might become a permanent sixth digit on his right hand. Approaching the eighth hour, no assimilation of pen to hand had taken place, but a rather nasty cramp had set upon him.

Struggling to get out the last 'n' in his last name, he immediately dropped the pen and slammed his hand on the desk, hoping to alleviate the cramp. The shock relaxed his muscles, opening his hand. He breathed a heavy sigh.

The work of an executive wasn't for him but it was his own fault really. Upon returning the Batsuit to Bruce Wayne, he found himself lost amongst the patrons of Wayne Manor. It's human nature to want to feel needed and helpful and he was no different. So, he took a clerical job at the westernmost part of Wayne Manor. It felt good to earn his keep, but the manner in which he did it didn't suit him. He'd much rather be slugging it out with gangs and super criminals than pushing a pen for eight hours a day. He longed to get back to fighting crime; to the challenge that he'd felt pursuing the most evil criminal minds.

A very dusty old cuckoo clock chimed that it was 4:30; quitting time. He neatly arranged the papers on his desk into nice piles of 'signed' and 'unsigned' and clicked his sixth digit closed for the evening. He loosened his tie, which no one saw anyway, and got up and left. He swung the heavy door out of the latch and exited his office. The door clicked shut silently, and Bobby rounded a corner. Seventeen steps and he found himself in the kitchen.

"Hard day at the office, Mr. Alton?" Alfred asked. He was polishing a set of drinking glasses that had been left in the sink carelessly. When sunlight passed through them completely and uninhibited, he deemed them clean enough.

"It's always rough, Al," Bobby told him, rummaging through a cabinet. He removed a bottle of cognac. Alfred seemed alarmed when Bobby took the glass he was peering through right out of his hand. The caramel colored Courvoisier swirled and splashed in the bottom of the glass. Bobby pondered it for a moment, sniffing its subtle aroma and warmth. The smooth Napoleon cognac went down, but he couldn't even enjoy it; he used his cramped right hand to drink it.

"I believe Ms. Lita got off work early today. She's been waiting for you upstairs," the ever dutiful butler told him, taking the empty glass from his curled hand and re-washing it.

"You're the best, Al," Bobby told him. Somewhat reenergized from the cognac, he plodded across the foyer and up the curved staircase to his room. The door swung open. The first thing to barrage his senses was a scent of heavily perfumed air. The shades had all been pulled, letting in no light. Only the soft twinkle of candles lit the room. He went in, not sure what to expect… well, he had a fairly good idea.

He tossed his heavy coat on the settee at the foot of the bed. He felt sensory deprived. He turned slowly. The door slammed shut.

"I need you. I'm so hot right now," Lita spoke walking seductively towards him. The candlelight danced and twinkled off her body, revealing a most pleasing sight. She was clothed in very little; a black lacy bustier, thong, garter belt and heels.

Bobby enjoyed the sight, but felt little compulsion to act. "Well, you might need to handle things without me." He flopped back on the bed, his spine popping and relaxing as he moved.

The lights clicked on. "What's wrong?" Lita asked. She was definitely more worried about his well being than her own needs right now. She could wait. The bed gave way as she sat down next to him, covering herself with her bathrobe.

"My hand hurts," he told her.

A pause. "That's it? You're not getting your rocks off with your amazingly hot wife because your hand hurts?" she asked, disappointed.

"You've used lamer excuses," he told her, flexing his hand. He thought for a minute. "I think it's something deeper than that. You look great, by the way."

"What is it?" she asked, revealing herself a little, hoping maybe he'd come around.

He breathed in, followed by a long slow exhale. The view changed from the ceiling to the sight of Lita's large, lacy bosoms, then back to the ceiling. Another deep breath. "I think I miss the superhero business."

"Well I could have told you that," she said, lying down next to him. "You're miserable. You hate having a boring job; nothing but papers all day, no human interaction. You need people."

"No adrenaline rush of a good fight." He stared skyward, hoping those lovely breasts would once again fill his view. No luck. "What would you do? If you were in my place, I mean."

"What would I do? I'd quit," she told him. "I'd take my money earned, go do something completely irrational and enjoy every second. Then I'd find a job I like."

"Then that's what I'll do," Bobby told her.

"Really? You're going to do something I suggest?" she asked, puzzled. Usually he made up his own mind on matters.

"Yep," he confirmed, still no eyeful of breasticles. "But what to do?" he queried.

"Well, what's something you've always wanted to see or do? Something that you've never gotten the chance to."

Bobby thought for a minute. "You know, you went through all the trouble, you could at least straddle me so I can see you." She playfully shook her head, tossed the robe on the ground and threw a leg over him. Breasticles! Huzzah! "Now, as for a vacation. Well, I've been into space, seen Tokyo, went on a Caribbean cruise, cruised Miami Beach on the CBR, and been to Montenegro and Atlanta. What else is there?"

"Oh there's got to be something else," Lita prodded. She bounced once, allowing his blood flow to increase. "Think," she told him.

"Well, I've always wanted to go to London," he admitted. One boring afternoon, he stumbled across a football match on Fox Soccer Channel between Arsenal and West Ham United. The Gunners won, and Bobby had since been following Arsenal in their quest to win the Barclay's Premier League title. It would be their 14th. He had transformed into a Gooner.

"That'd be great," Lita told him. "We'll go see a soccer game, Big Ben, Buckingham… all that."

"You really think your friends will let you out of their sight for a week. You'll be an entire ocean away, after all," he told her. Mmm… breasticles.

"They are a bit possessive," she agreed, "But I'm bigger and stronger and I'll just lay down the law if I need to." She smashed her fists together to drive the point home. The jolt made her jiggle.

"So, you still wanna do it?" he asked, renewed.

"No, you totally ruined it," she told him, getting off him and heading into the bathroom to put on her normal clothes, blowing out candles as she went.

Chapter 2

The plane jostled from side to side. Nothing quite like turbulence in a plane five miles in the air, over the middle of the Atlantic and seemingly filled with nothing but fat smelly men, overworked mothers and of course, their demon spawn children.

Yet strangely, Bobby really didn't mind any of it. There were no stacks of papers, no sweaty leather chair, and best of all, no pen permanently attached to his hand. Even the hellion that kicked his chair every seventeen seconds felt like a relief compared to that damn office chair. Oh, how he hated that chair. High back, brown leather with a button pattern laid into the backrest. The thing looked as if it belonged in one of those 80's stock trader movies. It would be more at home with Martin Sheen or Eddie Murphy, or even Waldorf and Statler from the Muppets. A gentle smile came across his face.

"Wow," Lita remarked, looking over at him from the adjacent seat. "I haven't seen one of those in a long time. Not even when I was bouncing on you half naked."

"You know me," Bobby told her, "I'm a sucker for airplanes."

"When do we land?" Lita asked, leaning over her husband and peering out the window.

"Only a little while longer," Bobby told her, rubbing her back. She rested on his lap, allowing him to keep rubbing. Her sweater felt scratchy on his hand. It was wool. Bobby's smile disappeared and was replaced with a scowl.

"What's wrong?" she asked as his hand stopped rubbing.

"You're wearing a wool sweater," he told her. She got off his lap and sat up. "Reminds me of that damn suit I have to wear."

"Oh my God," she said. "Will you forget about that crappy job? I mean really, are you going to get all depressed if you see a sheep or an office supply store? You're supposed to be relaxing," she pleaded.

"Then why'd you wear wool?" he asked.

"Because the Weather Channel said it was raining in London and I didn't want to get cold," she told him. "Why does anyone wear wool? It's not like I purposely wore this to provoke you. That'd be the last thing I want…"

"What does that mean?" he asked, thinking she was alluding to some other instance.

"It means I wouldn't want to provoke you," she told him. She was alluding to another time. "I mean really. Heels, garter belt, thong… do you know how uncomfortable that is to wear? I get off work early, try to really get you going to relieve some stress for you because you hate that damn job and what do I get? Nothing!" She leaned over to his ear; no doubt what was coming was not suitable for strangers. "I mean, I felt really sexy wearing that, and I wanted you so bad. And you did nothing! I had to take four cold showers!"

"Sorry," he said apologetically. He put his arm around her. "But if you packed that," he started, staring into her eyes, "I will completely make it up to you."

She giggled girlishly, as if it was tenth grade and a cute boy had passed her a note in math class. "Well, I didn't pack it, but I think I can replicate the effect," she told him.

"I certainly hope you can," he told her, "I mean you're beautiful either way, but wow. That was hot."

"Attention passengers," the stewardess' voice spoke from the overhead speakers. "We will be landing at London's Heathrow airport in twenty minutes. Please fasten your safety belt and make sure your tray tables are in their upright and locked positions. Thank you for flying British Airways."

Both Bobby and Lita did as the stewardess requested and followed proper procedure. The twenty minutes skated by, and the plane safely touched down at London's Heathrow airport. Fifteen minutes were spent gathering luggage, and hailing a cab. They both thought of how much of a hassle it is to get on an airplane, but almost no effort is required to get off.

A cold drizzle had fallen over London. Lita was right to wear a heavy sweater; the dampness of the air plus a cool northern breeze made it quite unbearable to be outside. "Don't worry," she told him, popping the trunk to the cab they hailed, "It's supposed to be 26° tomorrow for the match."

"Twenty six?" Bobby asked. "If I'd known that, I would have worn a parka." He threw his bag in the 'boot' of the car. They were in London after all.

"No, tard," Lita told him. "Twenty six Celsius… That's like 78 Fahrenheit." They both found comfort in the back of the cab.

"Oy," the cabbie spoke, "Where to mate?" The cabbie was like every other cabbie they'd seen in their lives, but with an accent was so thick, you could jar it and spread it on your morning toast.

"Trafalgar Square," Bobby told him, "Club Quarters."

"Cheers," the cabbie spoke, pressing down on the accelerator.

Bobby reclined his head, closing his eyes. He wasn't physically tired, but he typically felt mentally fatigued after a long flight. 747's didn't move at the pace of the Dragonfly.

"Aren't you going to look around?" Lita asked him. "This is where you wanted to come for vacation, after all."

"Not really," Bobby told her, not moving from the reclined position. "I'm just here for the match."

"What match is that?" The cabbie asked, peering at them through the rear view mirror.

"Arsenal vs. Liverpool for the Premier League title," Bobby told him, raising his head to look forward.

"You've got tickets for the Gunners match tomorrow? Boy I envy you. You couldn't get tickets for that for love nor money 'round 'ere," the cabbie told him. "And not for lack o'tryin either. I tried through seven different ticket houses to get in, all sold out. Bit of a raw deal too, my little Arnold's a huge Arsenal fan. Been sick all winter, watching Arsenal on the tele kept him going. He was so excited to see them in the points lead. If the scalpers weren't so high priced, I'd try to get some cheap seats, but even those are 500 quid. I just can't afford it."

"That's pretty crappy," Bobby told him. The cab slowed and rested. He and Lita exited, Bobby going around to the driver's window. "What do we owe you?"

"Fifteen quid," the cabbie told him.

Bobby reached into his pocket and removed some bills. More bills than was required. "Here's fifteen for the ride, and another thousand for you and Arnie to get into the game," Bobby told him.

"Thank you sir," the cabbie said, shaking Bobby's hand. "Oh this will make little Arnie's day!" he stopped, and looked at the wad of hundreds in his hand. His gaze slowly went back out the window to the kind American who rode in his taxi. "Go Gunners," the cabbie muttered, nearly in tears.

"Have a good time," Bobby told him, smiling. The cab drove off and into London traffic. "I hope he doesn't get mugged," Bobby said, joining Lita where the boot of the car had been. She stood there, smiling at him.

"How did I get so lucky?" she asked, holding her handbag, the rest of the luggage at her feet.

Bobby stood next to her, "What? That? Oh well I was going to make up for it by making you carry my luggage," he told her. Her brow furrowed, as if angry. He then started laughing and she was let in on the joke.

She leaned in and gave him a small kiss. "Suppose we should get our room?"

"Yea," Bobby said, looking around at the magnificent Trafalgar square. "I suppose we should." He hoisted all but one of the bags into his arms and he and his bride went into the classy hotel.

The lobby was polished marble floors, lovely old oak counters and tables, high ceilings supported by columns of white marble and crystal chandeliers. The place reeked of elegance. Even for the Wayne manor residents, it was opulent. "Good day sir," the cute blonde hotel clerk spoke from behind her counter. "Can I help you?"

"Yes, checking in," Bobby told her, setting the bag down and reaching into his pocket. "The reservation is under the name Alton." He removed the online receipt he got when he booked the room. The clerk took it and began clicking and clacking on her keyboard.

"All right," she said. The nametag on her lapel said her name was Portia. "Well I see you've got the Nelson suite booked for the entire week. Here on business?" she asked, making polite conversation.

"No, we're here to see the Arsenal match tomorrow," Bobby told her. "Do you like football, Portia?" he asked, showing that Americans can make decent conversation.

"Not really," she spoke. "My boyfriend Tad is really into it, but he's a Manchester United fan." She reached down into the counter and removed two hotel card keys. "Okay, I think we're all set. Oh, if I were you, I'd be careful if traveling around Highbury."

"Why's that?" Lita asked, joining in on the conversation. She had no clue that Highbury, while part of London, is where Arsenal used to play before relocating to Emirates Stadium.

"Well, there's been several murders up that way in the past weeks. Scotland Yard's been called in and everything," she spoke. She leaned in towards the couple, as if to tell a secret. "London's got a serial killer."

"Seems that way," Bobby told her. He acted somewhat dismissive, but his heart was genuinely curious. Murders, while macabre, might be the ticket to rock him out of boredom. "Have a good day," he told her. Excitement and fear, the two most driving forces in apprehending murderers was residing in him.

Lita made for the elevator, Bobby behind her. The door dinged and they found themselves alone in a wooden cubicle. "You're going to want to look into it, aren't you?" she asked. Their gaze, before forward at the door met halfway between them. "It's okay. When you told the girl 'seems that way,' you looked exactly as Gideon would have if he'd been here."

Bobby had nothing but fondness of his friend Jason Gideon. Former FBI behavioral analyst, the man had probably put more people away than he and Bruce combined. And not just common criminals either… serial killers, bombers, rapists, stalkers, arsonists; Gideon stood toe-to-toe with the absolute worst that humanity could throw at him, and for the better part of thirty years he came back for more, profiling and capturing the monsters in the world. If Bobby had those thirty years in him, he figured, he'd be doing well.

"I'm going to call Obi-Wan when we get in the room and see if he can get the information from Scotland Yard's computer," Bobby told her. He seemed to have a gleam in his eye, one that had been robbed by a wool suit and crappy office chair.

The elevator dinged again. They went down the hall, silently to their suite. Named for Lord Horatio Nelson, the Nelson suite was two rooms with an attached bath, all adorned in nautical décor. Not gaudy and overbearing, like, say, a Long John Silver's or Red Lobster, the rooms and adjacent bathroom contained real wooden planks reportedly from the HMS Victory. The hotel managed to reach an agreement with the Royal Navy to use the planks from the ship and incorporate it into Horatio Nelson tribute suite.

Indeed the place did honor Nelson. A large watercolor of him hung above a mantel over a fireplace. The walls were washed in a pleasant pale blue, like the ocean itself and ships lanterns were hung from the walls. The rooms furniture was top notch; a king sized down stuffed bed ensured sleeping comfort and a pair of captain's chairs and a sofa offered ample seating.

"Nice digs," Lita spoke, drinking in the scenery. She wandered around, looking down over Trafalgar square, and then sitting on one of the chairs. She craned in towards a ship under glass between the chairs and sofa. "So is this Nelson's ship?"

Bobby moved next to her. "Yep, it's a replica of the HMS Victory. Too bad Nelson never came back from Trafalgar; I bet he'd love to stay in this room." He removed his laptop from his bag and set it on the small writing desk next to the window. Within a few seconds and keystrokes, the laptop had uplinked with Wayne Enterprises satellites in orbit. A few more keystrokes and he'd hot linked himself into the Bat-computer. "Anyone there?"

"Oh you've got to be kidding!" Snake exclaimed. The Legendary Mercenary was sitting in the Bat-chair, shirt removed, as if he was waiting for someone.

"Who's that?" Bobby could hear a woman's voice in the background. Clearly he'd stumbled into something.

"Stay there!" Snake commanded, looking toward the direction of the stairwell. "What do you want?" he then asked Bobby.

"Uh, I need to access the servers at Scotland Yard. I was hoping Obi-Wan was there," Bobby told Snake.

"I'll tell him you called," Snake said, drawing on his cigarette. He again looked over toward the stairwell. He then let out a heavy sigh.

"Good luck, Snake," Bobby said, in closing. One press of the 'esc' key and the connection was closed. The computer clicked shut, and Bobby found himself looking around for his bride.

"Check out this bed!" Lita shouted from the neighboring bedroom.

Bobby put the rest of his bags on the sofa and made a right hand turn into the bedroom. It was a wondrous sight. "I thought you said you didn't bring that?"

"I lied," Lita spoke. She was lying there in her heels, garter, stockings and matching bra and panty combo. "Now, what are you going to do about it?" she asked, seductively.

Chapter 3

Bobby's cell phone dinged once, waking him. Once focused, and remembering he wasn't home, he looked around for the phone. OBI-WAN AT COMP. a text message to him said. He then looked around, found pants, and then went to his computer. His magical fingers coaxed the computer back online with the Bat-computer.

"Hello friend," Obi-Wan spoke over the webcam connection. "How can I help you?"

"Obi-Wan, I need you to hack the servers at Scotland Yard and pull up anything about a series of murders in Highbury," Bobby told him. "The sooner I get that, the better."

"Helping the local police are we?" Obi-Wan asked, clicking away at his keyboard.

"Unofficially," Bobby reported.

"And how is vacation so far?" the Jedi Master asked.

Lita had woken and wrapped herself in the soft terry robe provided by the hotel. She leaned down behind Bobby. "It's great," she told the Jedi, leaning into the webcam's field of view.

Obi-Wan smiled. "I'm glad." His gaze focused at the screen in front of him. "I believe I've found your files," he stated. "I'm sending them to your inbox now."

"Thanks," Bobby told him.

"Obi-Wan out." The connection was closed.

Bobby checked his inbox. Murders were always grisly and it's something no one ever gets used to. The crime scene photos would scar all but the toughest of characters. "We've got three victims, all brunette between the ages of 23 and 27. The first victim: Claire Egan; 27 years old, brown eyes, single and strangled barehanded. The second: Kelly Woods, age 23. Married to a London ad exec. Cause of death: strangulation, this time with a belt. Both had brown hair and eyes. Both first and second victims were covered and placed, covered with dahlia flowers."

"What about the third victim?" Lita asked.

"Kristine Spangler; age 26. Brunette also, but green eyes. Also strangled with belt, but stabbed multiple times in the genitalia and eyes posthumously. Found in a dumpster across from Emirates Stadium. Eww," Bobby spoke.

"What?" Lita asked curiously, as if strangled, stabbed and left in a dumpster wasn't bad enough.

"They found her eyes in an empty McDonald's cup next to the body. That's really disrespectful," he told her.

"Why was the third victim so much more severe?" Lita asked.

"The posthumous stabs are personal. He didn't need to do that, but he took the time to do it. I'd guess whatever put him over the edge is best represented by this third girl. The genital stabs indicate that he's a heterosexual male; my guess is whoever this person represents, like a wife or girlfriend, cheated, and that's why he stabbed her in the genitals. As for the eyes? I'm not sure on that one. Maybe he just couldn't resist them." Bobby leaned back in the chair, rubbing his head, "This is bad."

"What if he couldn't escape them?" Lita asked.

"Sorry?" Bobby spoke, not following her line of thought.

She sat down in the chair next to him. "Well, what's the first thing you look at in a girl?" she asked.

"The eyes," Bobby said, realizing where she was going. "This girl, Kristine, is his ideal. She represents person he wants to kill. I'd bet any amount it was a wife or girlfriend, fitting this physical profile, that cheated on the guy and left him, and now he's lashing out. He probably stared into her eyes and became infatuated, and he fixated on her from that moment on."

"So, he covered the other victims because he felt remorse?"

"Like he'd killed someone completely innocent," Bobby told her.

"So, will he stop? He's fantasized about killing this woman, whoever she is. Won't it end?" Lita asked.

"No," Bobby told her, sternly. "He didn't take any trophies, and unless he keeps meticulous notes, he'll need to kill this woman again and again and again."

"So what do we do?" Lita asked.

"I don't know. He's evolving. He went from bare hands, to a belt, and is now involving a knife. That's a massive escalation, and he's done it in two weeks time. He might be resorting to guns and who knows what else soon," Bobby told her.

"Is that all that's in the file?" she asked, scrolling around them with the mouse. "Here's something interesting."

"What?" Bobby asked her.

"Well, they all did sex kits to see if they were raped, it turns out that all three had elevated pregnancy hormones." She sat back in her chair, looking at her husband. "They were all in the beginning stages of pregnancy."

"Well, that certainly narrows his victim pool," Bobby leaned into the computer, going to his favorite search engine. "His girl must have been pregnant with his child when she left him." He typed out commands into Google. "There are several fertility clinics near Highbury. The most popular is The Gynae center."

"So are we going for fertility medication, dear?" Lita asked, somewhat girly and bubbly.

"Hell no," Bobby told her. "I wanna have a baby, just not right now." Lita looked at him with a stare that could cut through solid steel. "Really, not right now. But I guess it does make a good cover." He picked up the room phone, signaling the front desk for a cab. "Get dressed. We're going uptown."

Chapter 4

'It's really pretty here,' Bobby thought, looking out the cab window as all the old buildings and history rolled past. 'Only too bad some schmuck has to ruin it by killing. I'd bet 10 to 1 his favorite book is Catcher in the Rye and I'd take 100 to 1 he broke into his dad's porn stash when he was ten. I really hate this.'

And he did. The whole thing made him sick. What conflicted Bobby the most was the fact that he didn't know if the crimes themselves made him sick, which they would in any normal person, or the fact that for some sick twisted reason he liked to solve them. It was satisfying to fight the monsters. When he had children someday, he hoped they'd know their father as slayer of dragons, not some deadbeat dad who's never there. G.K. Chesterton said it best; "Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed."

"What's wrong?" Lita asked, placing a hand on Bobby's lap. Her soft green eyes gazed at him, so warm and nurturing. She'd make a wonderful mother.

He placed his hand on hers and looked inward, from the rainy city. "She didn't leave him," he told her, staring at her eyes.

"Huh?" she asked, unsure of where his sudden intuition came from.

"She was pregnant with someone else's child. That's his stressor," he spoke, almost zombielike as he looked at her, deliver his new insight. "If we look, we'll find an unsolved homicide of a brunette with green eyes. Approximately four weeks ago."

"But wouldn't the police have found the connection?" Lita asked him.

"Not likely. There are lots of brunettes in England. I doubt the beat cops and detectives would look for pregnancy hormones. That was all done at the ME's after they'd concluded their investigation." He looked back outside, still clutching her hand. "We've got to find the connection."

The cab arrived outside the Gynae Clinic. Bobby paid the cabbie his fare, plus a ten quid tip. They stood outside looking at the building. Nothing remarkable about it, save for the fact that it was their best lead in this murder investigation. "Well, should we go in?" Lita asked.

"Be careful of everyone. If this is where the killer chooses his victims, you're a prime candidate. Watch for anyone paying more attention to you than normal; be wary of the doctor, janitor, basically any male in that building," Bobby warned.

"Okay," Lita spoke with a heavy sigh. They joined hands again and went inside. The interior was just as a clinic should be; spotless, lots of lights with white walls and counters and ceilings. A cherry bookcase held all manner of physiology texts and parenting magazines. There was only one thing wrong with the scene. Every person in there; doctor, nurse, housekeeping, were all female.

"Hmm, that's interesting," Bobby spoke, looking around. The women in the place waiting for treatment looked at them, probably wondering why Lita would give up her great physique for baby weight and swollen ankles. Bobby led the way to the admissions desk.

"How can I help?" the receptionist asked. She had blonde hair and blue eyes; not the killer's type.

"Hi. My wife and I were wondering about your clinic," Bobby told the receptionist. "Tell me," he read her name on the plastic nametag attached to her collar, "Tell me Miranda, is everyone on the staff here female?"

"What?" the girl spoke.

"Well, my wife's a little self conscious and we're looking for a clinic with all women staff," Bobby explained. He hoped his ruse worked, because not having men here ruined Bobby's profile.

Miranda leaned over and looked at Lita. "No reason for 'er to be self conscious," she spoke, "She's gorgeous."

"Thank you," Lita spoke, coming toward the counter. "But I am very conscious about a clinic with men." She leaned on the counter, really getting into the act.

Miranda returned her focus to Bobby. "Both our doctors are women, as are all the nurses and housekeeping staff."

"Are there any men that would see the ladies' files?" Bobby prodded, inching closer to the murderer.

"Well, I suppose you'd need to talk to either Dr. Clark or Dr. Hunter," Miranda told them. "Dr. Clark should be back shortly. She had a few errands to run," Miranda told them.

"What about Dr. Hunter?" Bobby asked.

"Oh, her husband took her to lunch;" Miranda leaned in closer, "Which usually means a few rounds of shagging before she comes back to work. Ironic really, they've been trying for a child for months."

Nonchalantly, Bobby checked the walls of the clinic. Both doctors' portraits hung on the wall. "Thank you Miranda," Bobby told her. He took Lita's hand and acted as if they were going to take a seat and wait. He made sure to lead Lita towards the portrait of Dr. Hunter.

"She's a brunette with green eyes," Lita whispered into Bobby's ear as they sat down. "I think we have an idea who the unsub is."

"You called him an unsub. Have you been hanging around Gideon?" Bobby asked.

"He's a heck of a guy," Lita reported. "Call Obi-Wan, see if Dr. Hunter and the hubby live in Highbury."

"Yeah," Bobby agreed. "He wouldn't kill outside his comfort zone." Cell phone dialed, he pressed it against his ear. "Hello, Obi-Wan. I need a background check on a Doctor," he paused to look at the portrait for her first name, "Naomi Hunter and her husband. She's a fertility doctor in London."

Bobby was silent for a minute. "What?" Lita asked, really getting into the detective mode.

"Understood." Bobby's face was grim and unmoving. "David, age 32, and Naomi Hunter, age 26, 701 West Adelborough, Highbury, London."

"But what about the murder four weeks ago? You were certain there'd be one and we'd need clues from that case."

"I got his stressor wrong. It wasn't that she got pregnant with someone else's kid," Bobby told her, "It's that she can't get pregnant at all."

"He's angry with his wife, he's killing her over and over." She stopped and pondered it for a moment. "It's him," Lita whispered.

"Seems that way."

"No, it's really him." The door had swung open and Dr. Hunter returned, along with her husband. He had short dark hair, in his mid 20's, with narrow eyes and lips. His outfit seemed to suggest an upper class. His gaze seemed like a thousand piercing needles going into Lita's eyes. She knew she'd been marked.

"C'mon," he took Lita's hand and they both stood. They moved and intercepted Dr. Hunter before she and her husband could get back into her office. "Dr. Hunter, if we can take a quick second of your time," he spoke.

"Of course, come into my office," she spoke, motioning for to the back of the clinic. She turned around, and kissed her husband. "See you after a while."

A "Yes," was all that left David's small, angry lips. He continued to sneak glances at Lita. He turned around and headed out the front door.

Bobby took his cell phone and slid it down his pant leg and onto the floor. "Oh, he must have dropped it," he spoke. He picked up his own cell phone and went outside, as if to return it. As the door closed, he put the phone back into his pocket and began to look for the unsub. He looked up and down the road, eventually heading towards Highbury. Behind a dumpster, in an alley, he found his man.

The guy was in the corner. It looked as if he was taking a leak, but it was taking far too long. Like a golfer, his head was down and he was focused on his grip. It was unsettling knowing what he was doing. Bobby just stood and watched, waiting for his actions to change and become, well, less personal.

David looked around, as if checking to see the coast was clear. He obviously didn't expect Bobby. The perv dropped what he was doing and tried to get away. "Stop!" Bobby told him in a firm clear voice. Bobby followed down the alley.

The creep stopped. He turned slowly to face the detective. "Can I help you?" David asked coldly, his zipper still undone.

"Oh, I know all about you, Dave," Bobby told him confidently. "You're angry with your wife for not getting pregnant so you take it out on subordinates; women who look like her. How many times have you killed Naomi? Was it satisfying? Did killing her get you off?"

Dave just stood there, looking blankly at him.

"Or maybe it's a personal issue. Maybe you're shooting blanks. High class Mr. Hunter can't make straight swimmers, so he takes his aggression out on innocent women he wishes were his wife."

"I've had quite about enough of you," he told Bobby.

"What are you going to do about it? I'm not a 100 pound woman." Dave reached into his pocket. A small 'snickt' was heard as a switchblade made its presence known. "Excellent."

The fire that Bobby yearned for, the fire that burned brightly but was smothered by a stuffy suit and chair, was back. His heart began to race and his pupils dilated. Dave lunged at Bobby with his weapon, Bobby evading the swipes and stabs, and countering with a punch whenever it was convenient.

Dave stepped back. After not hitting Bobby once and taking a fair share of hits himself, he folded the switchblade closed and realized this was one fight he couldn't win.

Not fighting crime hadn't dulled Bobby's reflexes or made him soft. Capitalizing on his superior training and experience, he started running after the unsub. Bobby caught up to him within ten steps, throwing him violently into the side of the alley. Bobby's forearm against Dave's throat provided an upper hand in the melee.

Dave fumbled for his switchblade, eventually removing it from the pocket in his leather coat. It flipped open. A sharp pain shot through Dave's wrist as Bobby torqued on it. The blade dropped, splashing in a puddle. Bobby dropped his forearm choke and picked the knife up.

"Stop there!" Bobby could hear from down the alley. Bobby looked and saw two constables coming towards them. 'Oh crap,' he thought.

Chapter 5

"Hey, you mind turning that up?" Bobby spoke into an empty hallway. He could hear the voices of Clive Tyldesley and Andy Gray commentating a thrilling football match; a match he was supposed to be attending. The daylight really brought out the god-awful sea foam green color of the holding cell he was in. Sea foam and gunmetal gray bars. Nothing appealing.

He reasoned it to be about 1pm. He'd never spent a night in jail. Quite the opposite in fact. He'd put many people in here, and now he joined them, and as a common criminal no less... a mugger. What put him off the most, more so than the awful jail dinner, or the fact that his arrest let the Highbury killer walk away, what really goaded him the most, was the fact that he wasn't going to get to see his soccer match.

It didn't sound well. From the bits he'd picked up via an echo in the hallway, Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson had both scored goals for Liverpool. Arsenal was down by one, with Cesc Fabregas scoring one before going out with a strained right hamstring. It was approaching the 80th or so minute, he reasoned.

"Well this is a sight," Lita spoke, entering with the arresting officer.

"Is this him, ma'am?" the cop spoke, pointing at Bobby with his billy club.

"Yes, this is my husband," Lita told the cop. Placing the club at his side, he removed his keys from the holder and opened his cell.

"Did you post bail?" Bobby asked, relived that he wasn't any longer incarcerated.

"Not quite," she told him, acting coy. "I kinda gave the superintendent your Arsenal tickets. They dropped the charges." She wasn't sure if the act of getting him out of jail and his record erased was worth the cost.

"Well, as long as you got me out," Bobby told her. He rose from the mattress and gave her a kiss. "I guess if they lose, I probably wouldn't want to see it anyway."

"Hey! Mort! Get out here!" the other cop yelled from the adjacent room. The arresting officer, apparently named Mort, left Bobby and Lita in the cell, fleeing for the TV.

They could both hear the cops yelling and screaming. They were both jumping around the TV excitedly. "What happened?" Bobby asked, going out to the bullpen of the precinct.

"Van Persie just headed one into the goal off a corner kick from Arshavan! Arsenal's tied it!" the second cop told him.

Bobby somberly turned to his bride. "You gave away my tickets," he told her. He looked genuinely sad; as if someone had told him that his bride gave away his Arsenal tickets as they closed in on of the most thrilling finishes in football history.

She only smiled cutely.

"How much time's left?" Bobby asked the cops, who were settling down.

"Five twenty left in regulation, with probably two minutes in stoppage time," Mort told them.

"Mind if we stay here and finish the match?" Bobby asked.

"Pull up a chair," the other cop told him, not taking his gaze off the TV. Be he a mugger, or just a misunderstood tourist, all Gooners were united in their love for the sport, and best of all, seeing Arsenal win another title.

The commentary went quiet for a minute and you could clearly hear the loyal Gooners in the audience singing loudly. He imagined the atmosphere would be something amazing to experience. He hoped that the cabbie that drove them and his son Arnold were belting out Good Ol' Arsenal at the top of their lungs. It was a magical thing. He was joined by his lovely wife, two cops and all of London as lovers of the beautiful game.

Arsenal having scored let Liverpool start at the center of the pitch with the ball. Gerrard kicked off, dropping back a pass to his midfielders. Time slowly ticked away. Down to four minutes. The ball kept getting bound up in midfield; no one seemed to get dominance. These two teams were definitely the tops of the Premier League.

Down to two minutes as the yellow and blue striped ball was kicked about. The denizens of the Police precinct watched intently. Then, magic. The ball was kicked into an open area of field… with Theo Walcott attached to it. Number 14 for Arsenal juked and sidestepped his way past defenders, getting down to the last row of defense. Now is the time when legacies are made.

The crowd grew more and more rowdy, cheering on Theo as he made his valiant attack against the Liverpool defense. The stadium, police station, and everyone who watched the game was on edge as Theo raised his leg back for the strike. The ball streaked through the air… into the waiting grasp of teammate Andrei Arshavin. He struck from the wing.

The TV crew cut to manager Arsène Wengerraising his hands in victory. Arshavin jumped wildly joined in his celebration by Theo, Kolo Toure, Sol Campbell, and Robin van Persie on the wing of the field. The stadium erupted. The police station went crazy. The entire football world was set on fire as Arsenal scored, setting itself up for its 14th Premier League title.

Bobby, in between cheers and bouts of screaming, kissed his wife, who without her he never would have made the trip to London. "Thank you so much," he spoke. The words were drowned out by the screams of the two cops and any other Arsenal supporting inmate in the place.

As the place settled, the clock read 24 seconds. Amidst a crazy Emirates Stadium, Andy Gray could be heard announcing there had been only one minute of stoppage time added. Again, Liverpool kicked off.

To seal the win, Arsenal's nearest player, Walcott, kicked the ball and cleared it out past the Liverpool goal. The game would end on a goal kick as it was inbounded. It was inbounded, and with a single bounce the game was over.

Arsenal had done it. Symbolically this win signified the end of the pen pusher era. He'd find something to do, anything. If Arsenal can win a championship on Bobby's first trip out of the country, he can find a job he liked. Well, in addition to stopping evil.

"We've got a murderer to catch," he told Lita, who was still smiling and happy from the Gunners win. Her rose and gave her his hand.

"Let's go find the guy," Lita spoke. They both made for the door. Cheers from Emirates Stadium could be heard from the precinct. North London had erupted. Bobby stopped and looked around. "What are you thinking?"

"He didn't escalate with me in the alley. He should have had something more than a knife…"

"Maybe you got to him before he could get something more," Lita suggested.

"No," Bobby told her. "He'd need to escalate... to a gun or something." He stopped and looked down the road at the Emirates. "Did Obi-Wan do a background check on him?"

"I don't know…" Lita started.

"Call him and find out," Bobby told her.

In mere seconds Lita had her cell phone out and was dialing back to the States. Bobby struggled to focus on her conversation; the cries of the stadium had enveloped him.

"Are you sure?" Lita shook her head. "Right. Thanks Obi-Wan." She packed the cell phone away in her clutch, turning to her man. "It looks like Mr. Hunter was a biochemist for a major weapons firm. When the G20 banned biological weapons, he found himself out of a job."

"He escalated all right," Bobby reported, still looking at the Emirates. A brilliant flash of yellow was seen above the stadium, blending with the red and white fireworks. A haze of white fell on the crowd. "Heaven help us," he spoke, watching helplessly.

"What is that?" Lita asked, having never seen a biological attack before.

"Some sort of weapon," Bobby spoke, "I really can't tell what it is." He removed his own cell phone. A capsule just above the camera opened, capturing some of the atmosphere. He dialed Obi-Wan. "Obi-Wan," he spoke. "Our new transporting hardware, we've got a reason to test it. I'm sending you and atmosphere sample for testing. I need the scan results asap."

"Has something happened?" The Jedi asked.

"Yes, my friend," Bobby spoke. "I'm not sure how severe." The phone closed and the capsule glowed a bright blue, emptying its contents into an identical receptacle in the Bat-cave.

Chapter 6

"Can you do the teleport thing by yourself?" Bobby asked Lita, not wanting to endanger her life for a fast mode of transport.

"It'll leave me drained, but I should be able to," she reported, removing her transformer from her clutch. "Jupiter Star Power!" she called out. The transformer shot out bolts of thunder and lightning, covering her body in the green trimmed and skirted sailor suit of Sailor Jupiter. "Where are we going again?"

"Princeton, New Jersey," Bobby told her, taking her hands with his.

Jupiter closed her eyes and concentrated, focusing all of her considerable strength on teleporting to Princeton. She began to glow green. "Sailor Teleport…"

Instantly, Bobby found himself in Princeton. Looking ahead, he saw that Lita had un-transformed and turned back into civilian clothes. She collapsed immediately. He hoisted her up and carried her inside their destination, Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital.

The hospital was pretty typical. Round admissions desk, waiting area off to the right. Next to the desk, Bobby saw a slender, dark haired woman arguing with a taller man with a cane.

They both looked over at Bobby carrying in Lita's limp body. "Fine, I'll take the hot slope with the nice rack," the thin, scruffy cripple spoke. He limped his way over to Bobby and Lita. "Over here," he spoke leading off with the cane.

Bobby carried her body into the exam room. She acted dazed, almost drunk. He set her up on the exam bed, supporting her so she wouldn't fall over.

The cane man, who was apparently a doctor, set up a small portable TV on the desk and tuned into ABC. "Lay her down," he instructed, grabbing the rolling stool and sitting down on it. His gaze went to the TV instead of his patient.

"Aren't you going to look at her?" Bobby asked.

"I did," the grumpy doctor told him, "She's tired. Let her sleep." Bobby's gaze was unwavering at him. He looked up, ruffling his brow. "What? All My Children is on," he said. Bobby still didn't break his glare. "Fine, I'll look at her during the first commercial."

Bobby groaned. "Fine," he spoke. "Do you know Doctor James Wilson?" His question didn't elicit a response from the grump. Bobby ditched the polite tactic. "I'm just going to get louder and louder until you tell me where he is!" Bobby said, so loud he could be heard in the lobby.

"All right," the cripple finally broke down. "Third floor," he informed. Bobby turned to exit. "I really didn't want to know why Greenlee left David and went back to Ryan anyway."

Bobby, against his better judgment left Lita with the crabby cripple doctor and went to the elevator. He pressed the '3' button and waited for the lift to complete its ascent. His journey took him twenty feet more, to the office of Dr. James Wilson, head of oncology. A knock on the door revealed someone was home.

"Come in," Dr. Wilson spoke. The door swung open, revealing a large bookcase, movie posters on the wall from some film called Feral Pleasures and Dr. Wilson sitting at his desk. "Can I help you with something?"

"Isn't that a porno?" Bobby asked, entering the office, pointing at the poster. "Is that really you?"

Wilson groaned. "Yes. My college roommate was the director. He added scenes later after college so he could release it as a porno." Wilson shook his head, ashamed of his art. "Poster courtesy of Dr. Greg House… I'm sorry, was there something you needed?"

"Oh yes," Bobby said, moving toward the desk. "My name is Bobby Alton; I was in London to see the Barclay's Premier League final game a few hours ago. Anyway, there was an explosion which scattered a particle into the air. I had a colleague of mine run tests on it. We found that the powder was molecular DNA of a type of algae that some scientists think that all life evolved from."

"Okay," Wilson spoke, puzzled, "Why did you want to tell me this?"

"Obi-Wan found that the DNA contained a mutated T-cell. Dormant in normal humans, if activated this t-cell would cause exponential cellular growth," Bobby told him, hoping this would explain why he needed an oncologist.

"Causing massive tumors in anyone exposed. How many people…?" Wilson asked, worried about the possible pandemic of airborne, contagious cancer.

"Including myself and my wife, all of London," Bobby reported. "With prevailing winds from the west, it might even make mainland Europe."

"My God," Wilson said. "Well, I suppose we need to find a way to reverse the infection." He pressed a button on his phone and picked up the receiver. "House, I need a consult," he spoke into it. "I'd like to bring in a diagnostician and his team."

"Fine," Bobby agreed. "Um, my wife is downstairs being seen by some crabby doctor with a cane, can we have her brought up?"

Wilson pressed the button on the phone again. "House, bring up the guys wife too." Wilson rose from his desk, ushering Bobby into the hallway. "Over here," he said, leading to the adjacent office.

Inside was a bald black man with a sharp suit, thin white man with great hair and eyes, a balding Jewish man with a large nose and a strikingly beautiful woman with long dark hair and very fine facial features. "This is House's team, Dr. Foreman, Dr. Chase, Dr. Taub, and Dr. Hadley. House is the crippled crab you met earlier," Wilson told him.

"I heard that," House spoke, entering from behind, Lita in tow. "This better be important, Annie keeps trying to seduce JR in the Chandler Mansion even though Marissa just moved back in. Pretty wild stuff." House hobbled over towards the whiteboard by the windows, popping a white pill.

"Everyone, this is Bobby," Wilson told the team. They all looked at him. He waved slightly. "There's been a biological attack in London, which Bobby and his wife was infected with. I'll let him tell the story," Wilson spoke.

"Well, I work with Wayne Enterprises and we've been working on an experimental transporter technology. When the warhead detonated, I captured a sample of the air around Emirates Stadium, where the attack was focused. I sent it back to Gotham for examination, whereupon we found that the sample had a mutated dormant t-cell in it. The t-cell, we think, when exposed to normal tissue will cause exponential cellular growth," Bobby told them.

"So, someone's weaponized cancer?" Dr. Hadley asked.

"How do you know that's even what the cell would do?" Chase asked, his Australian accent different than the Londoners accent that Bobby and Lita had gotten used to.

"Why risk an attack if it wouldn't work?" House asked. "If it didn't work, then they're just joining in the festivities. Terrorism only works if their attack incites fear, not the oohs and aahs of fireworks." Foreman nodded in agreement with House. "Get MRI's for him and his wife, 4 millimeter slices. Be looking for tumors." House hobbled into his office, adjacent to the meeting room and turned on the flat screen on his wall.

Chapter 7

"So who won the Premier League?" Dr. Chase asked from behind the safety glass in the MRI room. He was studying computer screens looking at cross-sections of Bobby's body.

Bobby found it somewhat difficult to hear, being encased in a plastic tube. "What?" he asked.

Chase leaned in towards the microphone into the MRI. "Who won the football match?"

"Oh," Bobby said, in his moment of clarity. "Oh it was a good one. Arsenal trailed most of the game. Fabregas scored a goal, and then went out with a pulled hamstring, and then Van Persie headed one in off a corner from Arshavin. Then, with like two minutes left, Walcott won the ball in midfield, worked it down past the Liverpool defenders and then crossed it across the field to Arshavin. Arshavin kicked it in from the wing and the entire stadium erupted… the entire town for that matter. Well, except for the Liverpool fans that were there. It was a great game."

The swooping sound of the MRI stopped, and the table Bobby was lying on slid out of the hollow plastic tube. "Sounds like a good match," Chase told him, meeting Bobby at the entrance to the MRI.

"Did you see anything on the MRI?" Bobby asked, wondering if his hypothesis was correct and he really had cancer.

"We'll go over the findings in House's office," Chase told him. There wasn't a word spoken between them on the elevator ride back to the 3rd floor. Bobby suspected that his guess was correct; his DNA had been rewritten by the dormant T-cell and now he, Lita and everyone exposed to the blast now had cancer.

"What'd ya find?" House asked, bouncing a gray and red tennis ball off the wall of his office with his cane.

"Have a look," Chase told him, placing scans of the MRI on the x-ray viewer. Dr. Hadley, Dr. Taub, Dr. Foreman and Lita entered from the conference room next door.

The bride and groom locked hands in the center of the office. "How does it look?" Lita asked, concerned about Bobby.

"Lots and lots of tumors…" House told them, dryly. "Get Wilson over here," he spoke to his team. Dr. Hadley took the hint and went to fetch Wilson.

"How many tumors?" Bobby asked.

"Nineteen," Foreman spoke, counting them out. "All over the place; lungs, pancreas, liver, testicles…"

"What's that mean?" Lita asked, unsure of cancer timetables.

"It means if you want kiddies you'd better get to it before he starts shooting blanks," House told her, pointing at Bobby's love spuds with his cane. "It's bad."

"How bad?" Wilson asked, arriving with Dr. Hadley.

"Nineteen tumors," Dr. Taub told him.

"I think he's going for the hospital record," House spoke. "Well, Wilson, you're the oncologist, what now?"

"Me?" Wilson asked, "You don't have some crazy have baked notion of how to fight this? That's why I asked you for the consult. I could have said 'surgery and chemo' on my own," Wilson argued.

"Clearly you shouldn't have put such high expectations on me," House told him. "You should have known better." House gazed past Bobby and Lita and his own team, out into the hallway. He grew antsy and concerned; the skinny dark haired woman was back. "Well Wilson, let me make it up to you." Wilson raised an eyebrow. "You haven't had your MRI yet?" House asked Lita.

"No," Lita replied.

"Well c'mon," he said heading to the elevator. Lita joined him. "Take a lunch break," he told Chase. They were intercepted entering the hall by the skinny woman.

"House, I still need an explanation of why you assaulted a woman in a wheelchair," she spoke, chasing after him as well as she could. Sky high heels equates to about a cane and bum leg, Lita figured.

"Can't talk Cuddy, gotta go do doctor stuff," he said, getting into the elevator. "What? MRI's," he said, gesturing to Lita. "Go talk to Wilson, he was there too."

"I already have," she said, just before the door closed.

There was an awkward silence between House and Lita. "Assaulted a wheelchair bound woman?" she finally asked, wondering what kind of crackpot doctor she'd been assigned.

"Do not resuscitate doesn't mean do not treat," House told her. Lita nodded in acknowledgement. "Actually she was going to take the last Belgian waffle."

"So you hit her?"

"Just rolled her out of the way," House said. "If she wanted it so bad, she should have set her brakes." The elevator dinged open, and House and Lita went to radiology.

"So was the skinny woman your boss or what?" Lita asked, getting on the little table.

"That's Cuddy," he said.

"You're afraid of her," Lita told him.

"Absolutely not," House said annoyed, pressing the 'IN' button with his cane. "It's going to get really loud in there, then really quiet. When it's loud, don't move." He hobbled into the scan room. Like he said, the MRI got loud, scanning Lita in 4mm increments. Then it grew quiet.

"Are we done?" Lita asked, still stuck in the tube. No response. She pushed against the sides of the thing and pushed her way out. House was gone. Films of the scan were setting on the desk in the scanner room. She picked them up and went back upstairs.

"Where's House?" Cuddy asked on Lita's arrival.

"I don't know," Lita spoke. "He left me in the little tube, and when I climbed out he was gone."

"That son of a bitch," Cuddy spoke, storming out of the office. The occupants of House's office watched as she nearly blindsided and orderly in her fit of rage.

From the other direction, House rounded the corner and entered his office, foil package in hand. "Where's Cuddy going?" House asked, walking to his desk.

Annoyed, Foreman stepped forward. "She stormed out after you left your patient stuck in the MRI tube."

"Actually," House spoke, opening the foil, "They're Wilson's patients." Sauerkraut dangled from the toasted sandwich as House bit into it. "Did you bring the scans?" he asked Lita, mouth full of Reuben.

Dr. Hadley stepped forward and hung the scans on the viewing wall. "Are you sure these are the right scans?" she asked, looking at them.

"They're the ones that were on the desk when I got out of the tube," she said, looking angrily at House.

"So where are all her tumors?" Chase asked, befuddled. Indeed Lita's MRI scan was completely clean. No trace of cancer, no tumors, not even any naturally occurring cysts. She was perfectly healthy.

"Where are her tumors?" House asked, redundantly. He rose and hobbled over to the scans. "Either your terrorist is a terrible biological weapons designer, or he's the best one ever."

"What do you mean?" Bobby asked him.

"There aren't that many Japanese girls in London, I imagine." He sat down and his desk and took another bite of sandwich. "Anyone know why he was affected and not her?"

Chase, Foreman, Taub and Hadley pondered for a moment, the Diagnostics team in action. "Mongoloid DNA instead of Caucasoid DNA," Wilson sprouted forward with. He emerged from behind the huddled team.

"Too bad this hospital needs an oncology department," House said, looking at his team, "I could fire all of you and just hire Wilson." He leaned back, thinking on his previous statement. "Like the Lone Ranger and Tonto." Another bite.

"So, it didn't affect me…" Lita started.

"Because millions of years ago, your ancestors evolved different genetics than your husband's ancestors," Chase told her.

"But wouldn't the T-cell affect everyone equally?" Dr. Hadley asked. "It supposedly came from a common ancestor. It should affect both."

"Well, then he screwed up," House told her. "Where would he get a common ancestor? I don't think there are many Cro-Magnons walking around he could convince to get their DNA."

"Okay, so we know more about it? But how do we treat it?" Hadley asked.

"Do I have to do everything for you people?" House asked. "Find out what it didn't change in her, and do the same to him."

"It'd take months to isolate her DNA structure, analyze it, then find out what hasn't changed. Then we'd have to find out how to replicate it," Foreman spoke, showing the difficulty.

Bobby thought for a moment. "I think I can help there." Everyone looked at him, "The Wayne Tech Matter transporter. We'll apply a sample of Lita's T-cells to a sample of my DNA, if it turns off the cancer, we can use the transporter to replicate as much as we'll need; enough to save me, and everyone that's been exposed to the agent."

"The only problem is that we won't have any idea where to even look to find the sequence that's causing the cancer to grow," Taub said.

"Wilson, what causes cancer to grow in the human body?" House asked his colleague.

"Exposure to toxins, some viruses, and genetic mutation," Wilson told them.

"What specifically about mutation?" House enquired.

"Emerging science thinks that altering of the DNA structure itself can cause cancer. Adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine and how they bond together." Wilson stopped. "If this guy's weapon is re-arranging say the adenine to align with a cytosine, it could cause uncontrollable tumor growth."

"With it affecting everyone who isn't Asian?" Foreman asked, annoyed at the farfetchedness of the whole thing.

"I guess he's the best then," House said. "Look at their base pairs. Break down their DNA."

Chapter 8

"How does it look?" Wilson asked, joining Dr. Hadley and Dr. Chase in the lab.

"House was right," Chase reported, looking into a microscope. "His DNA is all out of whack. There's free floating adenine, cytosine where it shouldn't be… it's a wonder he's even alive."

"What about her DNA?" Wilson asked.

"Perfectly fine," Dr. Hadley reported, peering into another microscope. "I wonder why he had it specifically target whites?" she mused.

"Because the man who made this," Bobby spoke entering the lab, "Is a serial killer. The only person he wants to kills is his wife, but he can't. So he'll do the next best thing and wipe out every woman that looks like her. First London, and then onto mainland Europe. Eventually the entire world will be wiped clean of Caucasian people or anyone with the correct genotype."

"How do you know so much about it?" Wilson asked his patient.

"Lita and I were investigating him." Bobby sat on one of the lab stools. "Have you combined our DNA yet?"

"Not yet," Chase told him. "How does this transporter thing of yours work anyway?" He squirted a needle full of Lita's DNA into a Petri dish.

"Well, the transporter dematerializes a person or object into a data stream, sends it wherever it needs to be, and rematerializes it. So far, the only test we've done is the atmosphere sample that I sent back from London," Bobby told them.

"Doesn't that require huge amounts of energy to run?" Dr. Hadley asked.

"Yes," Bobby told them. "But we've been working closely with Stark Industries in California and one of their Arc reactors powers the system."

"How do you correctly identify and capture the atomic structure of something?" Chase asked. "I mean they're always moving, and you can't know what they're doing while moving." He finished injecting the DNA samples together.

"Heisenberg's uncertainty principle," Bobby spoke, recognizing the problem. "We engineered something we call the Heisenberg compensator. It's a computer that basically predicts with 99.99% accuracy where an atom will be and what it's doing. If our tests pan out, we'll see an end to interstate shipping and all of its pollution, no more airline accidents, the end of jammed freeways, replication and transport of food for the third world… it'll truly be a historic human achievement."

"That really is a breakthrough," Wilson spoke. "If it works here, maybe we can even cure cancer with it."

"We'll name it the Wilson procedure," Bobby told him. "Any luck?" Bobby asked of the DNA structures.

"Your wife's DNA is rearranging the misaligned helixes." He moved so that Dr. Hadley and Wilson could look into the microscope. "I hope that transporter of yours is working, because it's really going to town."

"So it'll work?" Bobby asked.

"Well, in principle," Dr. Hadley told him. "We'll need enough of her DNA to completely saturate yours, and then remove it."

"Any idea on how to do that?" Wilson asked.

"Maybe," Bobby told them. "It's still in the planning stages. We've been working on developing nanites. If we had a prototype nanite available, we could program it to inject Lita's DNA into an infected person, and then when the DNA is done re-sequencing, have the nanite terminate itself and Lita's DNA."

"How long will it take to make a nanite?" Wilson asked.

"We already have," Bobby told them. "It's very basic, and that much instruction might overload its small rom."

"It's your only chance for survival," House said, entering the lab. "Fire up that transporter, let's see it in action."

Bobby removed his cell phone and dialed home. "Hey, Rio, find Obi-Wan…" a pause... "Obi-Wan, hey I need you to beam the contents of Wayne Tech sample EX10001 to me…. Yes the nanite will be fine. In fact, split the beam and send it to Lita and myself. If it works, we'll have two samples and critical data about our transporter. Understood, good bye."

He opened the messaging section of his phone and waited. The small plastic chamber at the top of the phone glowed blue. "Is it in there?" Hadley asked, not seeing anything in the tube. Bobby placed the phone under the microscope. A small, square piece of circuit board with three fingers coming from each side was visible. The transporter had worked flawlessly.

"Did Obi-Wan send me something?" Lita asked, carrying her phone. Bobby took it and replaced his with hers under the microscope. Success.

"We've just beat this guy," Bobby said. "Okay, I'll program the nanite to carry out our plan, and then we'll inject it with DNA. I'll beam it to your phone multiple times and then inject the whole mess into my system." He began typing commands on his smart phone. Never had Bobby's fingers moved so fast on that tiny QWERTY keyboard. "I think I've got it," he reported, hitting 'enter' one final time.

"Chase, inject her DNA into the transporter," House told his employee. Chase did exactly that. A few key taps and the transporters lit up. What was not even visible in Bobby's phone had turned into gelatinous ooze in Lita's.

"Hopefully that's enough," Bobby spoke.

"How many are in there?" Lita asked.

"If I did the math right, about 16 million," Bobby told her. He removed a needle from one of the cabinets and sucked the ooze into it. "Moment of truth," he said. Dr. Hadley took a rubber and tied his arm off, exposing a vein.

"Wait a minute!" Lita protested. Dr. Hadley stopped. "Isn't there some risk involved? What happens if it goes wrong?"

"Well," Bobby told her, taking her hand, "If it doesn't work, my DNA will be rewritten, and I'll either die or become Asian."

"Oh," she said, not fully processing it.

Dr. Hadley took the syringe and shot the nanites into his bloodstream. An army of sixteen million microscopic robots began assaulting every cell in his body, re-encoding Bobby's DNA with the immune Asian genotype, eradicating the cancer, then resetting the genotype to its normal self and deactivating.

The lab was silent for a moment. "How do you feel?" Lita asked.

Bobby stopped for a minute. "Well, I'm not dead and don't have an undying hunger for ramen… roll that ultrasound over here," he said, directed at Dr. Chase.

Chase got the hint and rolled over a portable ultrasound. Bobby took the probe and began rubbing the cold metallic wand on his chest. The tumors were clearly visible. "They're still there," Chase spoke.

"I don't imagine it'd be instantaneous," House said. "Move it to your balls," he suggested.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" Lita asked. She tried to give the man a chance, ever since hearing of how he rolled a defenseless woman out of the way in the breakfast line, to being stuck in an MRI tube, no matter how brilliant Dr. Greg House might be, he'll always be a few notches higher in the 'asshole' column. "His balls? Really?"

"Lots of blood flow to the testes… if the cancer's gone there, he'll be all right." He centered himself on the ultrasound monitor as Bobby moved the wand to where House suggested. "I've never been so happy to see a pair of testicles in my life." He turned the monitor so everyone else could see.

The James Wilson procedure had worked. The cancer was reversing. Transporter technology, nanites, rendering biological weapons inoperative… Wayne Tech and The Justice League had triumphed in a big way.

"We did it," Lita remarked, looking at the scope.

"No," Bobby spoke, "You did it. Your DNA saved me. And will save countless millions." The room was filled with a sort of quiet warmth; one accompanied by accomplishment and victory. All shared in the feeling, except for one, who was no hobbling his way out of the lab. "Dr. House?" He stopped, "Thank you." House continued out.

"Well, this is day for the history books," Wilson commented, happy the procedure worked. "I really hope that we'll be able to use this technology to treat other patients."

"Absolutely," Bobby told him. "With the Stark reactor powering our transporters, we can replicate damn near anything. Be it cancer fighters or tons of food for the third world, we're going to change the face of this planet."

"Onwards and upwards?" Wilson asked.

"Anyway but backwards," Bobby added. "And I think I figured out what I'm going to do for my next job."

"Oh, you finally figured that out?" Lita asked. "I mean you were supposed to do that in London but you were chasing that murderer. Why fly halfway around the planet when we can drive fifty miles to Princeton and figure it out?"

"Do you want to hear it, or just harass me?" he asked.

"Fine," she agreed.

"I think I'm going to take over the Wayne Tech Experimental Sciences division." She looked at him, confused. "It was mothballed, so no one runs it now. I'll take over and Obi-Wan and I can keep working with the transporters and all that. I mean, we knocked out nanites and transporters… imagine what other Star Trek tech we can nail down."

"What about the Highbury killer?" Lita asked.

"We know his face. We'll give all our evidence to Scotland Yard. They can bring him in," Bobby told her. "I'm going to let this one go." He removed his cell phone and beamed the nanites back to Obi-wan with a text message attached. 'Replicate 1 trillion and spray over London.'

"Wow. A job you'll like, ability to let go, curing cancer, and a League title for Arsenal. That's a heck of a day for you," she commented.

"Amazing, since I thought we were done after that God business last time," he joked.