Chapter One: A Dark Future
"You know, it used to be simple. There was good and there and was evil, and good always won and people were happy. That was all in the past though, happiness doesn't even exist anymore. Apokolips butchered all the heroes and took that away. And as a result, I've now had to spend sixteen years rotting in this hellhole! Yeah, today is my sixteenth birthday. And I swear, if I have to spend one more day in this damn cave, I am going to dig my own eyes out with a fork! This is Tommy Gray, signing out on October 15th, year… who the hell cares?"
Tommy turned off the video journal and slid it into his pocket.
"Another bright and cheery journal entry from you, Tommy?" A girl joked, hanging upside down off the foot of her bed. The girl was Allie Queen, daughter of Black Canary and Green Arrow (Dinah Lance and Oliver Queen).
"I'm not in the mood Allie." Tommy warned, standing up and cracking his neck.
"You know, you really are a poet, Tommy. I especially liked the part where you talked about digging your own eyes out with a fork. Very colorful choice of words." Allie continued, flipping over to sit up on the bed. Allie was the kind of girl who could sarcasm you to death, and she took great pleasure in the act. She was two months younger than Tommy, so she was still fifteen. She had perfect, golden hair and emerald green eyes, not to mention the warmest smile you'll ever see.
She was like the complete opposite of Tommy Gray. He was tall and lean, but with a good build. His hair was black and moved halfway down his neck, while his bangs were kept level with his eyes, which were a dark brown, and shone with a fiery hatred for just about everything around him. He didn't know who his parents were, but he had tried countless times to find out from Dinah, the last living hero.
Dinah, a.k.a. Black Canary and also Allie's mother, had been the only hero to survive Apokolips' attack on Earth fourteen years ago. She made a hideout in the Justice Cave, below Mt. Justice, one of the few places that Apokoliptian forces never discovered. She had raised her daughter Allie in secrecy, as well as Tommy, whom she treated like a son. But she would never tell Tommy who his parents were, something that he had never let go of.
"You're even grumpier than normal today Tommy." Allie remarked, standing up and stretching her arms. "Cheer up man, it's your birthday."
"I said I'm not in the mood, ok?" Tommy snapped.
"Geesh, what crawled up your ass this morning?" She muttered.
"I'm just sick of this."
"Sick of what?"
"I don't know… life, I guess." Tommy said, an absent look in his eyes. "This life. Every single day, it's the same here. Nothing ever changes."
"Well what else are we supposed to do? This is the only safe place on Earth."
"Then I think I'd rather go outside and take my chances."
"Fine by me." A third voice said, startling them both. Tommy looked over and saw Quinton was in the room. Quinton is the son of The Question and Huntress, and the third member of their "family," as Dinah called it.
Huntress had been Dinah's best friend, almost like a sister. So Dinah considered Quinton her nephew. Quinton was eighteen, two years older than Tommy. Apparently his parents had been some of the first to die in the invasion. Question had actually infiltrated Darkseid's ranks, but was caught tampering with weapons and was executed on the first day of the invasion. Huntress had then exploded with rage, and went off on her own to try and take revenge. Rumor has it that she killed almost a million Parademons that night before she was taken out by Darkseid himself.
So Quinton had been left in Dinah's custody at the age of four, and like Tommy and Allie, had pretty much grown up in the Justice Cave. But the other two rarely ever interacted with Quinton, because he was always secluding himself. He seemed to go out of his way to avoid human interaction, and would occasionally disappear for days at a time. And now there he sat, reading a book he had picked up in the cave library.
Tommy ripped the book out of Quinton's hands and tossed it on the floor. "Hey! What the hell are you doing? Just because you're in a bad mood doesn't mean you have to-"
"Shut up Quinton." Tommy barked.
"How about showing a little respect? After all, I'm a full two years older than you are and-"
"So you've wasted two more years than I have. Congratulations." Tommy stormed walked toward the door.
"Tommy-" Allie started.
"Don't talk to me!" He cut her off and stormed out of the room.
"What's his problem?" Quinton shook his head and picked up the book again. His gingery red hair completely contradicted with his dark, almost purple eyes.
"Don't take it personally Q." Allie patted him on the shoulder. "Tommy feels things differently than we do."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"Well, you and I are content down here because we have everything we need. A library, a gym, old movies and stuff, plenty of food… everything we need. But Tommy… he doesn't have what he needs down here."
"What more could he need? Human beings only require a few basic necessities, food, water, that sort of thing. Although I do have my doubts that Tommy is really human…"
"That's not what I mean, Q. Tommy needs to feel like he has a purpose. He wants a reason to be alive, you know? And down here, he doesn't feel that. Because we've spent our entire lives just hiding… and he really can't stand it."
"I don't get it." Quinton shrugged/
"Q, you really are a lost cause." Allie laughed. "Still, I hate to see him like this. I'm afraid he's going to do something stupid." Allie walked to the other end of the room and back, thinking. Then a bright look crossed over her face and she smiled.
"Uh oh…" Quinton groaned. "I know that look. What is it this time?"
"Q, do you think you can my mom distracted for a while? Like, just for an hour or so?"
"I have an idea to cheer Tommy up."
"Hah! Good luck. The guy's been in a perpetual bad mood for sixteen years."
"Just keep my mom busy for a while, ok?"
"I suppose I don't have anything better to do."
(New Metropolis – Orphanage)
Metropolis had been the proudest city of free world. Massive, wealthy, and beautiful. So when Darkseid took control of Earth, he created New Metropolis. Still the largest city, and also one of the few cities not in ruins, but now it was dark, depressing, and dingy. Just like the rest of the world under Apokoliptian rule. New Metropolis was home to many of the hellish orphanages run by Granny Goodness, in which children were brainwashed into being utterly loyal to Darkseid.
SANCTION was one of the largest of those orphanages, and also one of the most heavily guarded. And it was exactly where a mysterious figure was headed. A figure that goes by the name of Ricochet.
Ricochet stood on top of a nearby building and surveyed the rooftop of SANCTION. There were four robotic eyes floating around that would trigger an alarm the second they saw him. Also on the roof were two armed drones, with their backs facing each other.
"Too easy." Ricochet chuckled through his mask, which was a black slate with yellow-tinted slits for the eyes. The mask fit over only his face, concealing his identity. His hair hung long at the sides, and was a sandy brown color. He wore all black for stealth purposes. "Let the games begin." Ricochet leapt off of the building he was on and began plummeting toward the SANCTION rooftop. As he fell, he pulled out a gauntlet-looking device and slid it onto his wrist. He then took aim with it and fired an EMP pulse at one of the eye drones, temporarily blinding it. Now that he had a blind spot open, the next part was easy.
Ricochet landed in front of the blinded eye and pulled a heavy steel marble out of his pocket. There was the sound of an electrical surge from him, and then the marble fired out of his hand like a bullet! It hit another one of the eyes, which was facing a different way, and smashed it. The marble then bounced off and with perfect precision, struck a third eye and destroyed it. And in a work of mastery, it ricocheted off and took out the forth eye. The marble then flew back to his hand.
The armed drones noticed him and turned to open fire. Ricochet leapt into the air and landed behind the two drones, and touched them both in the back. "You get a positive charge…" He said to the right drone. "And lefty, you get a negative charge." Suddenly the two drones smashed into each other like a pair of magnets attracting each other. They began spinning around violently trying to pry themselves off of each other, and eventually spun right off the rooftop.
"Like I said, too easy." Ricochet laughed. He moved over to a glass skylight made up of square glass tiles locked together. He touched his hand to one of the tiles. "Never tried this on glass before…" He said to himself. "But I can magnetize anything inorganic, and last I checked, glass wasn't alive." He did his best to magnetize just the one tile, and then raised his hand. The tile came right with it. "Yes!" He demagnetized the tile and then dropped down through the square gap in the skylight.
But he didn't touch the floor. Instead he began to walk on the metal ceiling! Ricochet had found countless uses for his ability to control magnetism, but walking on the ceiling was easily his favorite.
He began to casually take steps down the hall, while handing upside down. When a parademon walked through on guard duty, it passed right under Ricochet, unaware of his presence. Ricochet reached down and grabbed the parademon by the back of his armor, and quickly snapped his neck.
Ricochet then fished around on the dead parademon's armor for a moment before finding a key. He took the keycard, dropped down to the floor, and shoved the dead guard into a closet. Ricochet then moved over to the control room door, and used the keycard to enter. The control room was completely automated, and Ricochet quickly fired another EMP at the alarm system before taking another step. He began scanning over the security screens.
"I'll be here all night if I try to find her like this… I need to find where they keep a list of names, that way I can find out what cell block she's in." Ricochet muttered to himself. After searching for a moment, he found the room where the names would be stored. He quickly used his magnetic abilities to pry the grate off of an air vent, and then started crawling through.
After several minutes of crawling Ricochet reached the room that he wanted to be in. He kicked down the grate and dropped it right on top of the guard's head, knocking him out. Ricochet then descended into the open room and moved over to the holo-computer, where he quickly began looking through all of the names of children in the orphanage.
"Come on… L, L, where's L?" He muttered to himself, scrolling down the list. Suddenly there was a blast behind him, and a laser-shot destroyed the consol. "Damn it!" Ricochet turned around to see Sportsmaster holding a laser rifle. Some of the villains who sided with Apokolips during the invasion had been allowed to live, and were given jobs. Sportsmaster had been made chief of security for all of the orphanages on Earth.
"Ricochet! If I'd known it was you, there wouldn't have been a warning shot." Sportsmaster announced.
"You're really doing this again?" Ricochet sighed. "I kick your ass every single time. Anyone with half a brain wouldn't given up by now."
"This is the end of the line, punk." Sportsmaster looked at the guards behind him. "Kill him!" A hail of laser fire erupted.
Ricochet used his power over magnetism to pull all the tiles off the floor, and began using them as shields, blocking each blast with a different tile. But each time the tile shattered. He wouldn't be able to keep it up forever.
Ricochet drew five steel marbles from his pocket, and infused them with a positive charge. He then sent a negative charge through his hand, causing them to repel away from him like bullets. The marbles struck down several of the guards, and then had a pinball effect in the hallway, bouncing off of the walls repeatedly and striking guards again each time.
Ricochet took advantage of the opening and sprinted out the door, punching Sportsmaster into a wall along the way. He collected up the marbles and broke started to run, only to find a locked door.
Within seconds Sportsmaster was taking aim again. Ricochet tried magnetically to pull his gun away from him, but found that he could not.
"The guns are made of nonmagnetic materials, punk. And since you aren't in physical contact with them, you can't magnetize them. I've been preparing for this encounter."
"I just want to see my sister!" Ricochet yelled.
"And what makes you think she's even still alive?" Sportsmaster taunted, preparing to pull the trigger.
"You know, you really are an idiot." Ricochet's eyes narrowed.
"Because you may be using plastic guns, but you're still dumb enough to wear steel toed boots."
"Huh?" Sportsmaster realized that he couldn't move his feet! Ricochet had magnetized the concrete floor, and stuck Sportsmaster's boots to them! Ricochet then reversed the charge in the floor, causing it to repel Sportsmaster, and the villain flew headfirst into the ceiling!
"See ya'!" Ricochet shouted, running passed him and jumping forcefully off a parademon's shoulders, shoving him to the ground.
Ricochet leapt through the window and began plummeting toward the ground. He grabbed a hold of one of the steel bars from the window frame and planted his feet on it, then used magnetism to keep it in the air. He began flying on it like a hover board, soaring away from the building.
Jets roared behind him, and he looked back to see Sportsmaster and two Parademons chasing after him with jetpacks.
"Give up already!" Ricochet shouted, speeding up. A javelin sailed just passed his head. Ricochet caught the back of it and swung it around, striking a parademon in the face. The next thing he knew, lasers were whizzing by. "Come on!" Ricochet eyed a tall stone building ahead. "Just a little bit further…"
Once he neared the building, he pulled upward and started gliding straight up, but touched his hand against the stone wall, sliding his fingers across it as he soared. Behind him, his pursuers prepared to move upward, but found that they were no longer in control. Ricochet was magnetizing the building, and their jetpacks were pulling straight into a stone wall!
The two parademons hit the wall and splattered. Sportsmaster was just about to make contact with the stone when he was jerked upward by magnetism. He was forcefully pulled up until he was eye-to-eye with Ricochet.
"Run back to Granny Goodness." Ricochet instructed. "Tell her I'm coming… and her days are numbered." Then he touched his hand to Sportsmaster's chest plate and sent an opposite charge through him, blasting Sportsmaster backwards at the speed of sound!
The young hero then moved on, knowing he had to disappear before reinforcements arrived.
(Justice Cave – Training Room)
Tommy Gray stood in the holographic arena, fighting holographic images of villains. He had been doing this for a few hours now, blowing off steam. Just as he was punching Gorilla Grodd in the nose, the images faded. The machine had been turned off.
"What the hell?" Tommy turned around angrily and saw that it was Diana who had deactivated the machine.
"Watch your mouth Tommy." She said, walking toward him. "You seem really agitated lately. Even more so than normal. Care to tell me what's wrong?"
"Not really." Tommy looked away from her.
"Come on, you can talk to me."
"I know I can. The issue here is that I don't want to."
"You sound a lot like your father." She grinned slightly. "I'm just not sure if that's a good thing."
"I'd help you figure it out if I knew who my father was. Either of my parents, really."
"Huh… I'm sorry Tommy."
"Why can't you just tell me?"
"Because they didn't want you to know."
"Well they aren't here!"
"I deserve to know, Dinah!"
"I'm not disagreeing with you. But I respect them too much to tell you the truth. It was your father's dying wish that you never found out who he was, so that you could have a normal life."
"Yeah, because spending my entire life locked up in a cave is really normal."
"If you're anything like him, you'll find out yourself someday." She smiled.
"What does that even mean?"
"You'll understand someday."
"Someday… I am so sick of hearing that word! Someday we'll be able to go outside and not worry about being slaughtered! Someday I'll be able to actually see the sun! Someday I'll understand everything! Well guess what Dinah, 'someday' is never going to come! So about we make it today?"
"I know this isn't the life you want. None of us want this."
"Quinton seems pretty happy with it."
"Quinton is a freak. Don't tell him I said that though."
"My point is that we have to make do with what we have, and wait for things to get better."
"But things won't get better if we just sit around and do nothing! Am I the only one who understands that?"
"No. God, no, Tommy. You think I don't know that? If I had even the slightest idea what to do, I would. But right now, there's nothing that we can do."
"We can try. But you're too afraid of that, aren't you?"
"No. I'm done talking to you. Please, just leave me alone."
"Ok. For now." Dinah then left. Tommy turned on the combat simulator again, and no sooner than it was on, it switched off again.
"Are you kidding me?" Tommy spun around. This time it was Allie who had turned off the machine. "What do you want? Are you going to try and give me a pep talk too?" Tommy yelled.
"Come on out, Mr. Sunshine. I have a surprise for you."
"I hate surprises."
"What don't you hate?"
"Good point." Tommy stepped out of the simulator reluctantly. "What is it?"
"Where are we going?"
"I told you it's a surprise."
"Allie, this had better not be some sort of stupid birthday party you guys threw together."
"No, you would probably commit suicide if we did that."
"You know me too well."
"Hurry up, will you Sunshine? Q won't be able to keep my mom distracted forever."
"How does Q plan to distract Dinah?" Tommy asked skeptically.
Suddenly there was a huge explosion from the other end of the cave, followed by the sound of Dinah screaming, "Quinton! What the hell did you do?"
"Probably something involving that explosion." Allie shrugged. "Now come on!"
First Allie reached her room and opened the door. "Come on in."
"Why?" Tommy took a step back.
"Dude, it's not like I'm going to molest you or anything." Allie rolled her eyes. "I just need to pick something up from here before we can get to your big surprise."
Allie slept in Green Arrow's old room, which looked simple at first glance. But Allie had found plenty of Playboy magazines hidden throughout the room over the years. She had given those to Quinton.
One of the secret hiding places she had discovered was a secret compartment in the wall, behind the bed frame. She pulled the bed away and opened up the compartment, reaching in side. "I stole this from my mom this morning." She grinned, pulling out a key.
"A key? That's my big surprise?"
"No stupid. This is how we get into your surprise.'
They then continued on to the other end of the cave, until they reached a large doorway that they had never been allowed to go through before. Dinah had explained that the doorway led higher up into the mountain, to an area that Darkseid's forces had ransacked. Luckily they had never found the entrance into the lower level, but Dinah never allowed the kids to go up any higher, saying that they could be caught there.
"Wait, you mean that key…" Tommy almost smiled. Almost.
"Yup. We finally get to find out why my moms so paranoid about us seeing what's up there."
"You sure about this Allie?"
"Come on Tommy, where's your sense of adventure?"
"I'm not saying I have doubts, I'm making sure you really want to go through with it."
"Well in that case, I'm offended that you even need to ask." She laughed and opened up the door. After climbing the stairs, she and Tommy came out into a massive dome-shaped room. It was filled with hundreds of trophies from battles, as well as weapons and tools used by the League.
"Whoa…" Allie looked around.
"This place must have served as both a trophy room and an armory. No wonder Dinah didn't want us up here, imagine the kind of stuff we could find." Tommy moved around the room, looking at the many implements of destruction.
"Tommy! Look at this!" Allie yelled, and he moved over to her. His eyes widened when he saw what she was looking at. Costumes. The costumes of every member of the Justice League, in glass display cases. Most of them were damaged, torn and tattered, but still incredible to see in person.
"My mom must have put these on display after the invasion." Allie remarked.
"Yeah, probably an honorary thing. Kind of like a memorial to the fallen heroes." Tommy agreed.
Allie found the Green Arrow suit, which was placed under a special light. Flowers lay at the foot of the display case. Dinah must have put them there. "My dad." Allie ran her hand down the glass.
"Wonder if my dad was anybody in here." Tommy said absently. "Probably not."
"Why do you say that?"
"Well, I don't think I'm a League kid. I mean, look at you and Q. You inherited your mom's sonic scream, and Q… well he's like a half-Italian Question. But I don't have anything like that."
"You could be Batman's kid or something?" Allie suggested.
"No." Tommy looked at the Batman suit. "I don't know how… but I know that there is no way in hell he was my dad."
"Whatever." Allie shrugged and returned her focus to the Green Arrow suit. Soon she had retrieved his bow and his entire arsenal of arrows, and started shooting at flies buzzing around the ceiling. Sure enough, she was a crack shot.
"Wonderful." Tommy muttered. "She got the best from both parents." He pulled out his knife. "And all I have is this."
Tommy had always had a jet black bowie knife. Dinah told him that it was a gift from his father. Then a small, crazy idea began to form in Tommy's mind.
Looking over to make sure Allie was distracted, he went through the nearest wing of the armory, Batman's section, and started loading up on weapons. He took a utility belt and filled it with some baterangs, a battle pole, and some smoke pellets. Then he slid two grapples onto each wrist. He pulled a leather jacket from one of the trophy cases, probably taken from a villain at some point, and slid it on over his black hoody. He also slid on two black gloves from the collection, and ran toward the bat cycle, sat prominently on display in the center of the room.
"Hope there's gas in this thing." He muttered, turning the key in the ignition. The machine roared to life. Tommy grinned and pulled up his hood, and then eyed a large hole in the ceiling left from Darkseid's raid.
"Tommy?" Allie turned around. "What are you doing?"
"Bye Allie." Tommy said loudly before shooting out a grapple and using it to pull down a large display case, which landed on an angle over a smaller one. Tommy drove forward and used it as a ramp, and sailed straight through the hole in the ceiling!
"Wait! Tommy!" He heard Allie screaming, but soon she could no longer be heard. Tommy landed the bike and began driving down the winding path around the mountain.
"I'm sick of doing nothing." He grumbled. "It's time I got a taste of the real world."
In the next chapter I introduce Jesse West, and you won't believe the trouble Tommy causes! So stay tuned…