Note I imagined the original Justice League song playing at the last part of this chapter and do allude to it so being on the safe side, I don't own the Justice League theme song.
Vigilante glared at Booster Gold who was across him in the cafeteria. He was still angry with him about the fight they had the other day. He wanted nothing more to punch him in the face right now.
"Leave him alone…" Sir Justin warned. "He's not worth it…"
Meanwhile across the cafeteria Black Canary was trying to calm an annoyed Green Arrow who had just got taken away from a screaming match with Elongated Man.
"Who the hell does he think he is?" Arrow asked angrily. "I can handle myself! I've done more than what he has and I don't even have powers!"
"Just ignore him!" Black Canary shot back.
From afar Question just sat at a table alone taking things down in notes.
"League is falling apart…Superman and Wonder Woman missing…Batman distracted by a chase around the world…sensing conspiracy from Illuminati…So far already counted two arguments and prevented another fist fight. Are we going to survive or are we going to fall apart?"
Flash was in the cafeteria getting food for Shayera. It was harder for her to walk around due to her belly growing but also she hated walking in the cafeteria. Whenever she and John came in, they had to deal with a bunch of whispers and stares.
"Where are you bringing that food?" a voice called to Wally. He turned around and saw Question was staring at him suspiciously while sitting at a table by himself. Or at least he looked suspicious. Wally couldn't tell because of the mask.
"What are you doing with all that food? You usually devour it right away…" the Question noted in a skeptical tone.
"It's for Shayera…" Wally explained.
"Ah…" the Question said making a note in a book. "Thought it was something else. Can't be too careful with the rate things are going on around here…"
"Yeah…" Wally said while a little surprised that he found the Question out of all people was someone he could actually talk to. Deciding he could spare a few minutes he sat down at the table.
He and Question observed Vigilante having to be dragged away from his table by Sir Justin.
"What's going on here?" Wally asked uncertain. "I mean, I never considered myself the professional type, but for once…"
"You feel like you're the only sane one. I get that all the time…" the Question interrupted.
Wally shook his head.
"What's happened to us? We're supposed to be heroes, leaders of the world. Now we're acting like a bunch of kids…"
"It's simple really," the Question noted. "When you got any organization filled with colorful personalities and with egos, if there seems a lack of order and organization, things tend to fall apart…"
"Hey, most of the founders are still here!"
"J'onn was gone for a long time before returning…" Question shot back. "Shayera's still seen as the outsider by a lot of people here. And Green Lantern, well his whole personal life seems to be what people focus on…"
"But there's me!" Wally cried a little insulted. "Hell I defeated Brainiac last time, remember?"
The Question sighed.
"But who was up at the podium at the press conference after you defeated him?"
"Supes, but that's because he was good at talking and all that inspirational stuff…"
"Exactly…" Question said, pointing his finger. "Superman is not just the most powerful of us all, but the de facto leader, even among you. People look up to him. Same with Wonder Woman as well. They set the example not just for people back on Earth but for the League itself…"
Wally sighed. The Question had a point. Wally never considered himself the poster boy type like Superman was. And Wonder Woman just seemed to have the ability to inspire everyone with her love and compassion mixed with her warrior spirit. Maybe that was why she and Bruce apparently had a thing…
"Wait a minute? What about Batman?" Wally asked.
"Which one?" the Question responded.
"I don't know, both? They weren't considered the inspirational type and yet they could lead."
"That's because the mantle of the Bat led through fear. Batman was the leader you didn't want to piss off. The quiet one you didn't see all the time and heard stories about him. The current Batman does seem to do a good job living up to the reputation in how he took down the Hatter. The problem though is he hasn't been as involved…"
"Bru-the original Batman was a part time member!" Wally complained.
"Please, we all know Bruce Wayne was Batman…"
"I know. It's just force of habit…" Wally defended, a little embarrassed.
"But back to the original Batman. He was only a part time member really in name. I know he wasn't much involved in missions as the rest of you, but once the League expanded he took on a more active role. Think about it. Do you honestly think the original Batman would let this League fall apart if he was still involved in it?"
Wally wanted to answer yes at first but then paused. Batman was always something of a micromanager and perfectionist even though he liked to operate in the shadows.
"I guess you got a point. What's keeping Dick busy?"
"He's chasing after Ra's Al Ghul, at least from what Mister Terrific told me…"
"The eco-terrorist that's got immortal powers or something?" Wally asked. Most of the costumed community had heard of Ra's Al Ghul but for some reason only Batman and a few selected other heroes seemed to be allowed to fight him.
"Yes," the Question affirmed. "And he's now formed an alliance between most of the supercriminals in Gotham. They seem to be going on one big crime spree or something else…"
"What?" Wally asked, leaning in with anticipation.
Question looked around paranoid before leaning in as well…
"What if Darkseid didn't kill Batman…" he whispered.
"You're going with the Omega thingy theory Supes has been obsessing about?"
"No, I'm not saying he's alive, but what if someone murdered him during the invasion…"
"Wait, you think he was killed by something else?" Wally asked confused.
"Think about it. With Batman dead, first Gotham almost descends into chaos. Then an old enemy of Batman tries to attack the Justice League. And now, old enemies of him are doing random robberies across the globe with evidence of a bigger plan and yet the new Batman seems to be unable to stop them. And the League meanwhile is falling apart with all this going on. Maybe someone figured by killing Batman, they would weaken us..."
"Get out of my face!" a voice shouted, interrupting the conversation.
Question and Wally turned around to see Vixen and Fire had started a shouting match at each other over nothing. Ice was trying to calm Fire down who started to blaze green and curse in Portuguese. Wally was glad they broke up. She was a good looking girl but had a mean temper…
Meanwhile some of the male leaguers began to surround the impending fight, all waiting to see the two gorgeous models start fighting. Hawk and Booster Gold seemed to be the chief instigators.
"Shit…" Wally said and sped over to block Vixen who looked like she was about to charge.
"Out of my way Flash…" she hissed angrily.
"Everyone, just calm down…" Flash said in an attempt to try to calm everyone.
"What did you just say?" Arrow yelled at Elongated Man on the other side of the crow. "Why don't you come over and fight me like a man?"
Meanwhile the civilian workers around the Watchtower were looking confused, puzzled at the sight of the world's greatest heroes about to erupt into an all out brawl.
"Come on, let the ladies fight!" Creeper said lecherously as some male Leaguers gave encouragement like frat boys.
"Let me at that bitch…" Vixen muttered.
"Please…" Wally begged.
"I can't help that you were an outfit that makes it questionable what team you play for…" Elongated Man sneered at Arrow who was about to pull out an arrow.
"Guys!" Wally shouted.
"Stop ogglin' ya pig!" Vigilante shouted. He somehow had managed to make his way back to the cafeteria and saw Booster Gold trying to encourage Vixen to fight Fire.
Wally began screaming his mind for J'onn to come help when his prayers seemed answered.
"STOP THIS RIGHT NOW!" shouted a female voice with authority.
The whole tension evaporated and everyone froze like children caught doing something wrong by their parents. Standing in the doorway was a woman in a business suit and glasses with her hair tied in a bun. It was Wonder Woman.
Giving a disgusted look, Wonder Woman stepped inside the cafeteria; she was wearing black high heels that echoed menacingly against the cafeteria floor. When she reached the middle she looked at Fire and Vixen.
"If you two need to express some aggressive feelings towards each other, we have private sparring rooms for that!" she snapped. "But if I catch you two fighting here I will throw you both out!"
She then looked around.
"This goes for everyone! If you don't like someone, keep it private! If you can't, challenge them to spar! Otherwise, you can just quit! The League will not tolerate any immature actions!"
Wonder Woman then looked around again, giving a disapproving look to all the heroes.
"We're supposed to be heroes and examples of the world and yet you squabble like children! What kind of message does that send to our enemies, let alone, the people we vowed to protect?"
She made eye contact with Flash for a second who was eyeing her with shock. He was still taken aback by her sudden return.
"Did you all just decided to stop being professional when Darkseid was defeated? Did you all think that was the end? No. Lest you forget, we still have many enemies out there who would love nothing more to hurt people. And if we can't even learn to get along with each other, how do you expect us to fight them?"
Diana then put her hands on her hips, giving the iconic pose that Wally used to joke as the "Wonder Glare". She would put her hands on her hips with slightly narrowed eyes to signal she was ready to fight.
"You all took an oath to put the needs of others before yourself, but if you can't find it in yourself to put petty troubles behind you while doing your jobs, then maybe this place isn't for you!"
At that moment, an alarm rang and Mister Terrific's voice rang over the intercom, requesting assistance due to an earthquake in South America. Many of the heroes began to run out of the room, although sheepishly, towards the Monitor Womb. Others began to slowly walk away. Wally looked like he was about to leave but Diana stopped him.
"No Wally, you stay…" she commanded. It wasn't a suggestion.
"I was trying to stop it!" Wally complained.
"No, not that. We need to have an emergency founder's meeting in an hour. Make sure to let Shayera, Green Lantern, and J'onn know."
"Okay…" Wally said, a little put off. "But what about Supes and Bats?"
"Leave that to me…" Diana assured.
Dick sat at the computer.
"Alright, let's try again. What did they steal in Budapest?" Barbara asked. They were trying to figure out the pattern Ra's and his allies were doing.
"It's not about the theft, it's something else," Dick muttered with a frustrated sigh.
Barbara clutched his hand.
"It's okay. We'll figure it out…"
"How about this?" Tim asked. "In Munich a company just recently admitted they lost a satellite dish with a one of kind frequency last week…" Tim said searching on the Internet on his own laptop. He had just gotten home from school and immediately went down to try to help the Batclan out.
"They were in Munich weeks ago," Dick corrected. "They were robbing a bank. I still haven't been able to figure out what was in that vault…"
"The company could've delayed with reporting for stock reasons. Wouldn't look good to announce right away if they lost a multimillion dollar satellite that is found in only two parts of the world which technically isn't allowed to be built," Tim corrected. "And also there is a chance that bank robbery was another distraction heist. You know pretend to rob something, to…"
"Cover something else up, yes I'm aware of that…" Dick corrected.
"The question is determining what they intended to steal…" Barbara suggested. "We should go over what we do know they wanted. We can assume they wanted at least one or two of the items during the three pronged robbery they did a few days ago…"
"Yeah, whatever they're stealing it seems technological…" Tim agreed.
"I researched on the Batcomputer and found nothing. No records of whatever machine they seem to be building exists…" Barbara said while typing away. Dick was rubbing his hand on his chin.
"We don't even know if it's something technological. Remember that medallion they stole about a month ago…"
"You weren't exactly sure that was what they were after…" Tim countered. "It could've been a test run anyways…"
"Master Richard!" a voice called from up high.
Dick, Barbara, and Tim all looked up to see Alfred standing there, holding something.
"You left your Justice League communicator up here…" Alfred complained. "Princess Diana had to call the house to get a hold of you…"
"What did she want?" Dick asked a little annoyed. First off, he was in the middle of breaking his case and now the League was bothering him again? Secondly, how did Wonder Woman have the house number? Stupid question. Of course Bruce probably gave it to her…
"She wanted to tell me that the League is having an emergency founders' meeting…"
"I didn't found the Justice League, Bruce did…"
"But you wear the cowl of the Bat and a Batman must be seated among the seven…" Alfred pointed out calmly and coldly.
"I got more important work to do…" Dick complained.
Barbara grabbed his hand.
"You need a break from this anyway. Tim and I will continue the research. Going to this meeting doesn't mean you'll have to bring them in the loop on this case…"
Dick gave a defeated sighed and slightly frowned at Alfred.
"You win…" he muttered. Alfred gave a satisfied smirk. Dick pulled the cowl over his head.
"Don't you need a communicator to have them teleport you up sir?" Alfred asked, waving Dick's discarded commlink.
"I don't need to. I'll just use the emergency teleport that Bruce installed in the cave. It seemed to work for Robin and me when we fought the Hatter…"
And before anyone could comment on the purpose of the emergency teleporter was for emergencies, Batman had stepped on the dusty teleporter pad and pushed a button on a console nearby and disappeared in a flash of light.
Superman sat at the computer which he had on a loop in the Fortress. It was scanning different samples he had taken from the area Darkseid zapped Bruce. Superman had to dig up the ground again and went as deep as he could remember. He collected enough samples and had been running through various tests.
All of them failed so far. Superman refused to get discourage though. From what he learned at New Genesis, the energy used in Omega Sanctions decayed quickly leaving little evidence over long term due to a very short half life. If only he had figured it out sooner. But the truth wouldn't elude him.
The computer beeped and the monitor flashed red words that said FAILED so far. The scan was still going though so there was the chance it would pick up something still. If not he would go through his next sample of dirt. He had readjusted the programs on his computer to detect the energy so many times. He altered the parameters, changed the data, and fixed any errors he thought of. He wasn't even an expert with computers but he did his best. But even then, Kryptonian technology had its faults.
He looked at the monitor which still said the words FAILED when he felt a presence behind him, a familiar presence. He could smell the perfume she was wearing a mile away.
"I see you're back from Thermyscara," Superman said rather coldly.
"Kal, we're having an emergency founders' meeting. We need you up there…"
"I'm busy…" Superman shrugged her off.
He heard the clicking of heels and felt two strong arms spun him around. He was startled by the sudden force and looked to see glaring at him was Diana, who instead of wearing the usual Wonder Woman regalia was in a business suit in black heels, glasses, and a bun. Her blue eyes glowing angrily with a scowl on her face.
Superman winced. She made sure to put a lot of force into that slap…
"Stop being a jerk Kal! We need you right now!"
"Bruce needs us…"
"Bruce is dead…"
"No he's not!" Superman snapped. "Stop saying that…"
"I visited Hades. Even he confirmed it, Bruce is dead."
Superman was a little caught off guard by that.
"My people have discovered a way to travel to the underworld safely. I went there to ask him some questions. Since I was there I asked if he could use his powers as god of death and he confirmed it. Bruce is dead Kal…"
"He's lying!" Superman shot back shaking his head. "Why would he tell you the truth?"
Superman then turned around.
"You can have your meeting. I got work to do. Bruce is dead…"
"Do you know who you sound like?" Diana retorted. "You're just like Bruce when we thought you died…"
"And he was right! Just like I am…"
"It doesn't matter if you're right or not, what matters is you still have a responsibility to the Justice League…" Diana replied in a calmer voice. "Do you know what it was like when we thought you died?"
Superman didn't say anything and kept his back turn.
"We almost fell apart. We were worried sick about Bruce when he wouldn't answer any calls or showed up. Even if he didn't believe that you were dead, that didn't mean he needed to clam up and cut himself off from us, especially when we needed him!"
Diana couldn't tell Superman's reaction because his back was still turned to her.
"Sometimes it's not about whether we are right or not. Sometimes it's about being there for those who care and need us, Clark…" she said softly and put a hand on his shoulder. Superman seemed to relax at her touch. She thought she heard a sob.
"He can't be gone…I know he's alive…" Superman whispered softly while looking down.
Diana looked and saw the screen which still said FAILED. She sighed.
"There will be time to prove your theory, but right now, the League needs you…"
Superman sighed and looked at Diana. Diana couldn't help but notice he looked sick. His hair was longer and he had a beard growing while at the same time looking pale and sick.
"Let's go…" he said quietly while looking at the monitor on the screen that still announced its failed test.
"You're going to need to clean yourself up in your room on the Watchtower…" Diana corrected.
Superman sighed as Diana gently led him to the outside of the Fortress.
"My jet's right here. We'll fly to the Watchtower…" she explained as they walked out, the echo of their footsteps slowly fading away.
The computer monitor kept showing the words FAILED brightly before it started to fizzle. Instead of red letters now it was yellow that stated:
OMEGA ENERGY DETECTED
The machine hummed and beat as the yellow was replaced with green light.
The machine began to hiss again and the letters turn red.
WARNING: INFORMATION OVERLOAD
COMMENCE EMERGENCY SHUT DOWN…ALL RECORDED DATA WILL BE LOST
The screen fizzled and went black.
Diana was still in her business clothes as the founders sat at the table. Batman just arrived and he didn't look happy.
"Can we make this quick? I got work to do…"
Diana scowled at him. J'onn was sitting patiently watching her with his orange eyes. A very pregnant Shayera meanwhile had forgone any semblance of professionalism and was wolfing down all the food Wally had gotten her form the cafeteria. John was next to her, making sure she was alright every five minutes. Wally just sat at his seat drumming his fingers impatiently.
Diana checked her watch; King would be teleported up in a few minutes. When she got back from Thermyscara, she decided to visit him first and let him know that she was ready to pitch Brother Eye to the founders. If there were bad omens, it was best they put up as much defenses as they could. Diana wasn't sure they could survive another invasion like the one they had with Darkseid.
She exited the room to get ready to escort King when she ran into someone slouching.
"Kal!" Diana snapped. At least he shaved and cut his hair so he looked presentable. Yet he still looked like he needed some vitamin D and that he had gotten run over by a train or more like Doomsday.
"Can you stand up straight at least and not look like you're about to fall apart?" she whispered.
"As soon as this meeting is over, I'm gone…" Superman stated and made to go inside. Diana grabbed his hand. He turned around slowly. She was giving him a warning look.
"Whatever you do, don't mention your theory in front of Dic-Batman. He isn't aware…"
"No one's told him?" Superman asked angrily. "He has a right to know out of anyone!"
"Clark! You don't have any solid proof right now and it took Dick a long time to grieve over Bruce's death…"
"He's not dead…"
"It doesn't matter!" Diana cut him off. "Like I said, we all have a responsibility as well! Dick's been really busy and distracted with some things and the last thing he needs is you bringing this up!"
"Clark…" Diana pleaded in a softer tone. "Please. Alfred told me over the phone Dick has been going through a lot. The last thing he needs is to worry about Bruce not being dead again, it will distract him from his job…"
"Fine, but when I have conclusive proof, I'm making sure he is the first to know…"
"Deal…" Diana said and turned around and hurried along the floors of the Watchtower. Within a few minutes she had reached the Monitor Womb. Mister Terrific was already working on the teleporters.
"I'm beaming Agent Faraday up like you requested Wonder Woman," Mister Terrific explained. Diana nodded and watched the teleporter pad which began to glow. A flash of light appeared and standing in front was King Faraday. He was carrying a briefcase and had his sunglasses off for once. He looked at Mister Terrific.
"That was more comfortable than I expected," he complimented and then he saw Diana.
"Glad you dressed up fancy for our presentation…" he teased.
Diana smirked slightly as he walked off the pad. She then escorted him along the satellite hallways to their intended destination. Along the way they passed many heroes and workers who would pause to stare at the sight of Diana walking side by side with a strange man. Diana sighed; despite her lecture on professionalism she knew there would probably be rumors and gossip. But right now, they had important things to discuss.
"Well, here we are…" Diana said as she opened the doors to the founders' office and stepped in.
"Hello everyone, I take it you all know Agent Faraday, our official liaison with the U.S. Government.
The remaining founders were staring at him curiously except Shayera who was still wolfing down large quantities of food.
"You're right Diana, he's really cute…" she joked. She had been even more blunt now that her pregnancy hormones were running wild.
Diana blushed uncomfortably while Faraday cleared his throat.
"Thank you all for having me come. Do any of you know why I'm here?"
"Diana said it was an issue of utmost importance…" Wally interjected.
"I don't see why we're here. We could've done this over the phone," John growled. "Or teleconference like we've done in the past."
King looked around as if he was looking for something.
"Is this room secured?" he asked in a serious tone.
"I told you," Diana assured. "There are no cameras and the walls are sound proof. Plus even people with x-ray vision or superhearing wouldn't be able to penetrate through the defenses we've set up. No one should be able to hear anything or see anything while we're in here…"
"Why all this secrecy?" Batman asked. "From what I recall, that was what almost led to a WWIII a few years back…"
"It is secret because it deals with global security," King shot back and placed his briefcase on the table. Diana meanwhile went to the other side and turned off the lights as King pulled out a laptop and plugged in an outlet on the desk. The projector glowed as the screen was rolled down.
"PowerPoint, really?" Wally groaned.
J'onn glared at him, signaling the speedster to shut up.
King cleared his throat.
"I take it you're all familiar with the 'Star Wars' satellite program back in the '80's?" King asked.
"Yeah, most people think it was just a stunt to scare the Russians…" John retorted.
"To the outside world it seemed that way…." King agreed. "However, secretly the Department of Defense began working on a satellite defense program known as PROJECT OBLIVION…"
The next slide showed briefly blueprints for a satellite. Batman narrowed his eyes. He was never good in engineering like Bruce and couldn't understand it.
"This project was designed to create a satellite system by Professor Ivo that would have the ability to not only use radio transmissions to disable rogue nuclear missiles but also if necessary, turn a country's own nuclear weapons on itself…"
Superman really wasn't paying attention. He was thinking more ways he could alter the test to get the evidence he needed. Why should he pay attention to a history lesson?
"However the project was scrapped due to the Soviets and Americans signing a new treaty and the blueprints and models were all destroyed. This is the only copy of it in existence," King explained. The slide then showed another image of something familiar. Alien invaders and war ships attacking major cities like Metropolis.
"Seem familiar?" King asked.
"Hey, it's when we formed!" Wally cried excitedly, pointing out the obvious. "Just like old times huh?"
Wally immediately regretted what he said when he saw Batman flinch uncomfortably in his seat.
"Yes. The Imperium invasion spurred enough interest to look at starting satellite defense again. A new project, much more sophisticated than OBLIVION was drafted. However it got no traction because if the world had a Justice League, why would we need one?"
Diana saw Superman was looking at Batman. She made sure to get his attention and glare at him through her glasses to signal him to not even think about talking to Dick. King was then going on about the Thangarian Invasion and Shayera began to shift uncomfortably in her seat. John from under the table squeezed her hand and she felt better.
"…during CADMUS, as you all know, the U.S. Government was distracted by other things…"
"You mean trying to discredit the League…" Batman muttered darkly.
"Times have changed, Batman…" King shot back. "The past is the past which is why we're here now."
King then showed another slide which showed Metropolis being attacked by Parademons. Superman and Batman's eyes shot wide open and cringed as that painful memory reached all of them. Some like J'onn and Shayera began to thin their lips. Diana was chastising herself. She should've known better to show a picture like that in front of them, remind them all of Bruce's death. Especially with Superman on the verge of breaking…
"After Darkseid came and invaded, this program finally got the traction it needed. Not only had the U.S., but at least five other countries got behind to sponsor it…"
"Can you at least tell us the name of this program?" John asked, getting annoyed by all the top secrecy.
"I'm getting to it," King assured as the next slide went on. It was even a more complicated piece of machinery what looked like another satellite.
"I'm sorry, but this looks like alien technology…" J'onn noted before changing his tone darkly. "Imperium, alien technology…"
"Remember I said this project was first conceived after the Imperium invasion? The U.S. Government had studied the scrap parts and some began to theoretically design the satellite project which has been nicknamed by some as 'Brother Eye'…"
King went on to the next slide which showed more blueprints.
"Throughout its history, Brother Eye was strictly theoretical. Even the benefits the technology from the Imperium ships couldn't fit the requirements."
"What does Brother Eye exactly do?" Shayera asked curiously.
"It is the ultimate defense system…" King explained. "It finally gained support after Darkseid's invasion when global security was proven inadequate…"
"We defeated Darkseid!" Superman snapped. Bruce was almost killed there and King was making it sound like the Justice League was useless.
"Yes, but on a razor's edge. What if Apokolips regroups and invades again? If anything, what happened six months ago has shown we are exposed to alien threats. Not even the Justice League or the Green Lantern Corps can keep us safe…"
"He's right…" Diana interjected. "I will admit, when he first told me this, I had my doubts at first but think about it. How much less damage could've happened, how many more lives could've been saved?"
For a fraction of a second, she caught eyes with a glaring Superman.
"We had to ally with the Legion of Doom if you remember…" Diana pointed out.
"But how will Brother Eye make anything better?" Wally asked. "I doubt if another alien force will invade us, they're going to be using nuclear missiles…"
"Brother Eye unlike OBLIVION isn't designed to just stop nukes. It is equipped with a radio decoder that can hack into anything, even alien technology. Think of what it could do if it could damage communications of an entire alien fleet?" King promoted.
"How can you be sure it affects alien technology?"
King smiled and another slide went to show a picture of a white face with red eyes and grizzly black hair.
"Lobo?" Wally asked confused.
"The infamous alien bounty hunter was taken into U.S. custody a few months ago after causing extensive property damage while chasing down an alien who had stolen some type of machine."
The slide changed to show a very complex machine, no one was sure if was even real.
"This technology finally gave Brother Eye the ability to hack any communications. We aren't sure what planet or galaxy it came from but it is a very unique design. The only thing we know for sure is for some reason, the space bounty hunter's bike is attracted to it and it keeps turning on when near this alien technology. So for the time being, we've confiscated the bike in one of our research compounds in Bludhaven…"
"Where's Lobo right now?" Shayera asked.
"As far as I'm concern, still a federal prisoner for causing reckless endangerment…"
"Serves him right…"
"How is Lobo's bike able to detect the component?" J'onn asked.
King shrugged his shoulders.
"We've asked Lobo but he won't talk. We have scientists studying his bike which in itself is an interesting technology as well. We'll probably figure out why later, but the important thing is, the component itself works. We've tested it out on confiscated Imperium, Thangarian, and even Apokoliptian technology…"
"So the satellite is like a universal hacker?" Wally asked, trying to explain it in a simple way.
Batman meanwhile was thinking to himself. Radios, technology, hacking, satellites…He then remembered Tim mentioning the possibility of a satellite dish being stolen…
Stolen radios, technology, equipment, dishes…
Batman almost stood up in his seat in shock.
Immediately the answers were coming to him. He knew what Ra's and his allies were up to! He thought the blueprints of OBLIVION looked familiar. Immediately on impulse he wanted to get up and leave but he didn't want to raise suspicion from King or the others and just kept a poker face, although with difficulty. He was hoping the Martian wasn't reading his mind. Although it probably would be hard to read because his mind was racing. The pieces were coming together…
"But that's not all…"
Another slide show a picture of scientist shooting a laser beam at something.
"Brother Eye is equipped with an ion laser defense system that can be narrowed to a nanometer or expanded to the size of a football field. It can be pointed in 360 degrees…"
"You're talking about putting a big laser in the sky?" Shayera asked. "Some people won't find that comfortable…"
"Last time I recall, you all didn't seem to have a problem with a ray gun on your Watchtower…" King retorted.
"We got rid of that!" Wally complained.
"Besides, someone could hack it…" John complained.
Superman was again not paying attention once the topic of lasers came up. It got him thinking about omega beams and him wondering again. Perhaps he could do an analysis on Bruce's "remains". The "remains" were obviously, according to his research, the actual remnants of Batman's suit which is what Dick tested for. They didn't bother to test for DNA. Maybe there would be more omega energy in the urn…
"Brother Eye is impossible to hack into. The only way one could I guess 'hack' into is operate the controls manually aboard the satellite which is near impossible…."
"Why is that?" the Martian asked.
"We have made developments in cloaking technology. Brother Eye is virtually undetectable to anything with super vision, radar, superhearing, or even power rings. The only time it's 'visible' is when it fires its laser which is very rapid."
"I'm sorry though, this technology seems too good…" Shayera pointed out. "Almost too much power for one person or hegemon…"
"The U.S. Government agrees," Diana assured. "That's why they and the other countries have designed two keys. One for a representative of the U.S. Government that isn't elected official so he's not swayed by the political masses and the other for us…"
"Us?" Wally asked confused. "Why?"
"The U.S. Government was only able to get other countries agree to support it if there was a two key system. One for the U.S., who are the ones paying the bulk of the program, and one to an impartial body…" King stated.
"The Justice League…" John finished the statement.
"Take it as an olive branch…" King assured. "An attempt to not only start over, but bring about world peace. A defense system with the cooperation of other nations and the Justice League…"
By now, no one noticed that Superman and Batman weren't paying attention. They were distracted by other things. Batman was chiding himself in his head for being an idiot. He should've put it together early. This meeting needed to hurry up…
"I don't feel comfortable; there should be a failsafe…" John muttered.
"There is," King assured. "Any of the countries that are on board with the program can shut it down and block everyone's keys. Besides the keys only work if you know the passcode. Any wrong one and the keys are locked out so one has no way of controlling Brother Eye…"
"Why don't you just blow it up as a failsafe?" Shayera asked.
"And send billions of dollars and once in a lifetime alien technology in a fiery end? Fat chance. With the keys blocked, the satellite can only be unlocked manually. Right now scientists are trying to discover if they could use from their studies on Lobo's bike a method to detect the satellite to allow onboard missions to repair it and be there to manually turn it on."
Most of the founders were mulling it over. King did a good job presenting it. The program seemed legit, but still there were some misgivings…
"I think we should discuss it with the League…" Wally suggested.
"No," King snapped. "Absolutely not. This was intended to only be known by the founders…"
"Why?" Batman asked suspiciously even though he knew asking any question would delay the meeting he wanted to get out of.
"Because in order for Brother Eye to be a defense weapon, it needs to be secret. If too many people know, eventually people will freak out. Politicians will play on paranoia and fear to shut the program down. The media would crucify it. The less people who know, the better…"
"I think the people have a right to know…" John said a little angrily.
"You're a soldier, aren't you Green Lantern?" King asked, looking at his glowing green eyes.
"I was a Marine…" John affirmed. "Still consider myself one."
"Then you understand in terms of national security, sometimes it's better to keep things secret so to not endanger people's lives or give our enemies an advantage," King argued. "Why should a global satellite designed for defense be any different?"
King then looked around at the founders.
"Understand we are serious about the concerns and don't want this to get abused. We could've launched it without you cooperation but we rather have it for the stability of the world," King implored. Diana decided it was time to speak.
"Thank you Ki-Agent Faraday…" she asserted. "If you wait outside, we'll discuss this…"
King looked reluctant but sighed. He unplugged his laptop and began to put it back in his briefcase which he closed.
"Excuse me, Agent Faraday…" Batman asked, standing up. "May I have a copy?"
"No Batman. Understand technically no copies of Brother Eye schematics officially exist due to fear people might steal them. I don't have the authority to give you some…"
Batman frowned slightly.
"What about OBLIVION?"
"Like I said; all copies were destroyed…" he affirmed and walked out. Batman glared at him. No great loss though. If Bruce's secret hidden cameras were still working, that should be enough…
As King left, the doors closed with a hiss and Diana turned around, her hands on her hips, taking a deep breath.
"So…" she began. "What is the consensus…?"
"I don't like it…" John muttered. "Seems a little shady…"
"I don't know," Shayera disagreed. "With this diluted power, it seems hard for anyone to abuse it…"
"I agree with Shayera," J'onn said calmly. "They seem to have shown every reason to want to cooperate with us. This could be an opportunity of a lifetime…"
"Or the biggest mistake…" John shot back. "I don't like the idea of an universal hacker above earth. What if it starts spying on people?"
"It will only be used for defensive purposes…" Diana reminded him. "I've been studying plans with King-err Agent Faraday. The failsafe would prevent something like that from working. Any one of the countries supporting it can turn the failsafe on as well, not just the U.S. Government and us. Obviously it will only be used for defense…"
"Why can't we let everyone else know?" Wally asked. "I thought we were going to be first among equals…"
"Wally, do you remember what just happened a few hours ago in the cafeteria? You want to trust everyone with classified information?" Diana pointed out.
"What's your stake in this, Princess?" John asked suspiciously. Shayera elbowed him in the gut for sounding rude.
Diana's face flushed a little.
"My mission is to bring about world peace. Lest you forget, Darkseid's invasion became very close and tragic. It could've gone really bad…"
In her mind, Diana was praying for Superman to not to say anything at that remark. To her surprise, he didn't seem to notice. It looked like he was focusing on other things.
"What say you Batman?" the Martian asked curiously at the Caped Crusader who had been silent for most of the time.
Batman sighed and folded his hands. He was still thinking about Ra's and OBLIVION more that he couldn't really say what his stance was on Brother Eye. He bowed his head to think and choose his words before looking up.
"I don't necessarily trust this program, or Agent Faraday…" he went on, making a mental note to check up more on him. He then looked at Diana. "I think however we deserve you to be truthful to us, Wonder Woman."
Everyone was looking between Dick and Wonder Woman.
"Why are you so determined to get this program launched?" Batman asked.
All eyes were on Wonder Woman and she sighed and took off her glasses.
"When I was home, my mother told me there were bad omens again about Man's World. Impending signs of doom of things to come…"
The atmosphere grew tense, even Superman seemed to be alert now.
"What omens?" John asked. "Did she say?"
"The point of omens is they are vague…" Diana said, rubbing her forehead. "I have no clue what it could mean. However, last time I was on Thermyscara and there were bad omens, an alien invasion happened. I think the odds are it could happen again…"
"Or it could be something on earth…" Batman thought in his head. They were wasting time up here. He needed to get back down to earth and stop Ra's.
"Or it's the Omega Sanction…" Superman thought to himself. Alien invasions would be irrelevant if what the book said was true. When Bruce reached a certain point in the future, he could potentially blow up the universe. They needed to rescue him…
"I think for the time being," Diana continued speaking. "We should support this. Right now the future is uncertain. We can talk later about keeping it long term or letting more people in the loop. The point is we're exposed right now and need to do something…"
The founders all looked around silently. No one wanted to speak anymore. They were all waiting for something else. Finally Wally coughed and all eyes were on him.
"I mean, it seems legit guys…why not?"
He then with a look of uncertainty raised his hand.
"I agree with Wonder Woman," J'onn spoke in a calm voice. "For once to be able to have an active defense plan against invaders and not just reacting would be nice…"
He then put up his hand.
Shayera put up hers as well.
"I'll tell you right now, my people would've had a harder time invading if you had something like Brother Eye around…" she justified.
"I'm with Batman and don't trust Faraday, but if Diana seems to be okay with it, I guess I'll support it, for now…"
Four hands were up. Diana then looked at Batman.
"What say you Batman?" she asked. "It needs to be unanimous…"
Batman sighed. His instincts wanted to tell him no but at the same time, PROJECT OBLIVION was getting him worried right now. Maybe having a defense satellite to combat another satellite might be useful later.
"Fine, but I will be keeping a watchful eye on this, and the minute I smell something wrong, I'm shutting it down, and I won't need to use the failsafe…" he warned. He refused to put his hand up but everyone assumed that was his expression of support. Lastly all eyes were turned on Superman.
"Kal?" Diana asked.
He put up his hand sarcastically.
"Go ahead. You all worry about this…" he said angrily. "Build your satellite. We got bigger problems to worry about…"
He then stood up and stomped away.
"I vote yes. I'm done here…" he muttered, eyeing Diana angrily before stomping out.
Diana looked at the rest who were a little taken aback by Superman's outburst.
"What's his problem?" Wally asked.
Batman was a little disturbed. Maybe he should start carrying kryptonite on him like Bruce. It was disturbing to see the most powerful hero in the League acting like a petulant child. But there would be time to worry about it later. He had work to do.
"I got to go to Gotham. Don't bother calling unless it's an emergency," he threatened.
"Just remember," Diana warned. "This is secret. No telling friends, lovers, or family. The last thing we need is our enemies finding out about this…"
Superman had flown himself back down to the Fortress. He had more important work and they were worried about satellite defense? His time was wasted there. Bruce was alone God knows where in the past and needed there help. Superman had entertained the notion Bruce might've gotten killed early on in his journey across time...
No, his friend would survive, he always did…
Superman froze at the sight before him. The computer screen was black. Not again. His frequent attempts of testing samples, then testing them again, and again, and again often led to the computers overloading and shutting down. This wasn't the first time it happened. Problem was they would shut off and erase all data and he would have to set the parameters all over again.
Maybe it was because he had been cooped up too long or maybe because he was frustrated by the lack of results, but for some reason, anger welled up inside Superman. A burning rage of hatred and frustration. Hatred at Darkseid, for doing this to Bruce. Hatred at Metron, for making the information so cryptic. Hatred at Orion and New Genesis for not giving him more details sooner. Hatred at the Justice League for not supporting him. But most of all, hatred at himself.
At himself for failing again…
"ARRGH!" Superman yelled and ripped the computer off the wall. He easily broke it in two and threw it across the Fortress. He then smashed the scanner and spilled the latest dirt sample from the sight of Bruce's disappearance on the ground.
"WHY? WHY?!" he shouted angrily and kicked the other samples he had lined up on a shelf. He began to break the glass and scatter the dirt everywhere madly.
"WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?!" he screamed to the heavens looking up.
His voice scarily echoing and bouncing off the walls. He took a few breaths before speaking again. This time at a much lower volume.
"Why have you forsaken me?" he demanded. "What did I do to deserve this?"
And for the first time in almost half a year, Superman wept. He fell to his knees and began crying.
"I'm so sorry...I'm so sorry…" he choked between tears.
Tim and Barbara turned around to the sound of Batman reappearing in the Batcave. He immediately took off his cowl and began running to the Batcomputer.
"You were right Tim!" Dick said in a rushed voice as he reached the console and began typing furiously.
"Thanks…" Tim responded confused. "About what?"
"About the satellite dish. That's what they were after!" Dick explained and began to pull up a video camera feed. It was what looked like the founders in a presentation with a strange man talking. The tape began to fast forward.
"Was that the meeting you were just at?" Barbara asked.
Dick wasn't paying attention and hit pause. He then zoomed in on the projected image the man was presenting to the Justice League. It was the image of blueprints of a satellite. It was titled PROJECT OBLIVION…
"Oh my God…" Barbara whispered, realization dawning on her.
"That's what they stole in China!" Tim pointed to a small part on the blown up screen of the blue prints.
"How did they figure out this is what they were building?" Barbara asked.
"They didn't. They were trying to build up a new satellite program and get the JL to get on board with it. This was a past project they were planning. I realized all the components needed for it were what a lot of the items we narrowed down what they've been stealing…"
"What does OBLIVION do?" Tim asked.
"It launches nukes from anywhere in the world. If they get a hold of it, they can launch anything…" Dick explained.
"Well let's narrow it down. If we can find what pieces they don't have yet, maybe we can stop them!" Barbara said.
For the next hour the Batclan looked over the case files, crossing out likely components that were stolen or could've been stolen. After much debate and second guessing, they had managed to cross every component off the list except one.
"Even if they still are missing some pieces which we think they already have…" Tim noted. "As long as we can name one piece they definitely don't have yet, we can probably catch them…"
"I already determined it…" Barbara said, pointing to what was described as a decoding machine component for the satellite. "Only one type of that model still exists and is functional. It's in an Air Force base in Colorado that hasn't been attacked or robbed yet. We did it!"
She then looked at Dick.
"We actually are going to catch those basturds! We beat them to it…"
Dick didn't share their optimism.
"It still worries me how Ra's got his hands on classified materials…"
"Right now, we need to stop them though!" Tim pointed out. "We can investigate that later…"
"Oh we will stop them. When they poke their heads out to steal that decoder, I'll be ready for them…"
Dick then stood up angrily to look into the abyss of the cave.
"We're going to finish this once and for all…"
Talia began pouring the tea into the cups. It had a strong and somewhat nauseous aroma but she got used to it. She learned long ago how to tolerate it. Besides it wasn't as bad in terms of taste…
"Whatcha doing?" an annoying high pitched voice asked.
Talia frowned and turned to see the annoying Harley Quinn grinning at her. Why did her father even allow the Joker to bring his psychotic sidekick?
"I'm making tea for my father's men…" Talia explained. "They always drink it before a mission like the one we have tomorrow. It allows them to clear their mind and focus…"
"Uh-huh…" Harley asked pretending to be interested even though Talia could tell she wasn't. "Can I help?"
"No…" Talia said coldly.
"Aww…come on girl! We gal pals got to stick together…"
"We aren't friends…" Talia said and shoved the tray into her hands. "Make yourself useful and pass it out for them to drink…"
"Alright, sheesh. You don't have to get so moody…" Harley complained and exited, carrying the tray.
Talia began making the next batch before sighing.
Tomorrow they would steal the final component, the decoder in the Air Force Base. Then her father would be ready to launch OBLIVION. This was a plan he had for years. Now it was coming to fruition. But she didn't feel comfortable about it at all. Her father put too much trust in the freaks but never listened to her. And then there was that monster Bane always looking at her with those greedy eyes.
She shuddered just thinking about him…
He was so unlike Batman. Her Beloved…
She thought of him. A real man, a noble man. The best man she ever known. Even better than her father. Unfortunately though, she didn't realize until now. But since there was no one else, he was all she had left. She would stay by his side to the end. Besides, they would be able to finally start bringing balance back to the environment; under the assumption the entire world wouldn't call her father's bluff when he revealed he had control of all the nukes in the world.
Io chanted to herself as she began to draw a circle around her and inhale the fumes. So far she had tried all methods she could to try to get a prophecy or a vision. No such luck. She was now resorting to using hallucinogenic plants. She inhaled the smell, it felt good.
"Praise to you, Hera, Queen of Gods and Athena, Patron of wisdom that you give me foresight to see what is to come…" Io prayed.
For awhile nothing. Io began to chant and pray again over and over as the affects of the drugs took effect. She didn't really remember falling backwards or slowly closing her eyes as darkness over took her.
Blackness, no darkness was everywhere. Fire and flame rose from the ground. Cities in Man's World burned from light in the sky. Flying weapons coming down the sky came reigning down like Zeus's lightning bolts, obliterating cities in a blink of an eye. Men in strange mechanical armor walked around killing people.
The landscape changed. Man's World was in ruins. Hope was lost. Faith was broken. Doom inevitable. The sun set on the landscape as the moon rose. Wicked men and monsters gleamed in the moonlight. Some laughing, some roaring.
Pain. Suffering. Loss. Evil. Hopelessness…
But then a voice spoke from the shadows.
"In the darkest hour, light will shine the brightest…"
In the distance, the light was forming over the flat barren wasteland. Shadows were moving away from the rising sun.
"The sun will rise…"
Music began to play. Triumphant music. Music of hope and inspiration.
"And with it Justice shall return…"
There were seven shadows silhouetted by the rising sun…
"A new League will rise…"
Another light was shining from another direction. She could see the seven shadows more distinctly.
"The Seven shall return…"
The music began to play faster and one by one Io was able to see the seven figures moving away from the rising sun more clearly.
To the far left was Artemis. Donned in her best armor carrying a large sword. To her left just a little in front of her was a strange looking creature. Chalk white skin, grizzly black hair with red greedy eyes and a fierce mean look. It looked like a troll and carried what looked like a chain.
In front of the white troll was no doubt the Queen herself. In full battle gear, her blond hair billowing in the breeze with her fierce eyes looking on.
On the far right side was a small creature. It was about the size of a baby or small child. It was hovering in the air about two feet above the ground and wearing some kind of cape that was also being blown by the breeze. It had an impish, almost childlike innocent look to its face. To the small creature's right was a young handsome man with slightly long black hair and blue eyes. Something about his facial features looked familiar.
In contrast to the handsome young man there was something frightening to his right. A hooded figure in a grey cloak that seemed to be surrounded by a thin layer of constant grey smoke. It looked like it was gliding. A silver scythe like device glowing from its hand. Its face looked like the dead. An iron skull mask…
And in the front, leading the six was a figure she couldn't make out. It was still blurry and casted in the shadows for some reason but it was big. It looked like it was wearing heavy, huge armor. Mechanical armor. A large mechanical suit…
"When the sun rises, Vengeance and Justice shall return to Gotham…" the voice spoke as a blinding light filled everywhere blinding Io.
"But there can be no gain without loss, no victory without sacrifice…"
Io moaned as she blacked out. She had inhaled too much incense. By the time she woke up in the morning, she wouldn't remember anything she saw in her drug induced trance…
Up next, we reach the climax of the Oblivion arc. Can Dick and the Batclan stop Ra's before it's too late? Or will they need to have to call for help? The chapter after the next one will begin the Painful Memories arc where we jump back to Batman's story…