As some have deduced, the End of All Things is actually the final arc of this story. There will be only a few chapters in this arc and possibly an epilogue. Secondly, as others have noticed, I have been going back and re-editing some chapters. I haven't made any changes but more just made some grammar and syntax fixes. Lastly as some of you can tell this chapter was influenced greatly by the Arkham games. I would recommend listening to the "Church of the Poisoned Mind" song (which I do not own) of the Arkham City soundtrack while reading this chapter.
Lastly, I put a poll on my profile page. I would appreciate if you'd answer it; especially if you loved the story.
"Mommy!" the little boy shouted again in desperation while the panicked crowd continued to separate him from his screaming mother.
The city was in pure anarchy. The police tried to keep order but it was impossible to discern rioters from fleeing civilians. Cars were crashing left and right while looters destroyed all the local shops as families found themselves being separated even further.
"Mommy!" the boy cried a third time as tears fell down his face.
"It's alright honey I'm here!" a voice shouted.
The boy looked up and to his relief saw his mother fighting through the crowd to reach him. The mother through pure determination broke free and grabbed her son.
"It's okay," the mother hushed as she pulled her son into an embrace. Tears of joy were falling down her face.
"Look what we got here boys!" a voice called.
The mother turned around to see a gang of street hoodlums looking at her with leering eyes.
The mother quickly worked to shield her son behind her.
"Stay back!" she warned nervously.
"She ain't bad looking either," another thug called as they took another step forward.
The mother's heart was racing in fear for her child. She backed away only to find herself cornered against a building wall.
"It's the end of the world, might as well get one last fuck before we go right?" one of the gang bangers laughed.
"Mommy?" the boy asked his mother nervously as he clung tight to her.
"Close your eyes," she ordered. It was the only thing she could think of.
"Where's Batman?" the little boy asked.
One of the thugs had heard him and began to laugh as he pulled out a switch blade.
"Didn't ya watch the news bud? The new Batman's captured up there! There's no Bat anymore!"
"Then you're going to have to deal with me!" a female voice threatened.
Out of the shadows a mass of purple and black emerged. Before the thugs could react many of them were already thrown to the ground or kicked. The one with the switch blade kept his wits and lunged at the newcomer only to find his wrist bent backwards.
The thugs began to all flee; most of them were limping from the beating they just had received.
"Crazy bitch!" one called out pitifully.
The rescuer turned around to stare at the mother who was still clutching her child tightly.
"Batman…?" the boy asked nervously.
"Do I look like Batman to you kid?" Huntress snapped; she was a little annoyed and offended by the false identification.
"T-thank you…" the mother spoke nervously.
"Get inside somewhere," Huntress ordered. "It's not safe on the streets and there's no way to evacuate in time."
And the vigilante then turned around and continued to fight. When she had seen the Joker's broadcast her immediate reaction was to worry about her husband who was now trapped in Metropolis with most of the League. But she knew there was nothing she could do, even if the Joker threatened to nuke Metropolis to the ground. The only thing she could do to take her mind off of her husband and the League's impending doom was to take it to the streets. There was no Batclan or Justice League to save Gotham but the city still had her. And she was going to keep fighting to the bitter end.
The thugs cursed in German as they felt the whip cut across their hands and faces.
"And stay the hell away from them!" an American female voice shouted. The thugs ran away leaving the leather clad female to stand in the moonlight over the three young women she had just saved.
"Who-who are you?" one of the woman who spoke a little English asked in a thick German accent.
"I'm Catwoman," the female said with a smirk and took off into the night.
Even though she had moved to France, Selina was in the middle of vacationing in Germany when Joker's threat had been broadcasted. Luckily it seemed Berlin hadn't been targeted for the Joker's strike yet but she knew it was only a matter of time when the rest of Europe would receive fire from the skies. Her first instincts had been to leave but she found herself unable to. For some reason seeing the Joker and her fellow Gotham criminals on the news made her think about someone she had buried a long time ago. She knew a certain man she once loved would continue to fight even if all hope was lost if he had still been alive. Before she knew it, Selina found herself putting on her old costume and going out into the rioting streets of Berlin. But she wasn't trying to steal or commit crimes this time. She was trying to help others. God the thought of her becoming soft made her want to hurl.
"I swear to God Bruce if I waste one of my nine lives because I'm trying to play the hero, I'm going to find a way to kill you again," Catwoman muttered angrily as she headed over to break up what looked like a robbery.
"Alfred," Bruce whispered again to the stunned old man. "It's me."
"Stay back!" Alfred suddenly snapped, pulling the freeze gun up again. Bruce noticed the old man was shaking a lot and sweating as well.
"Alfred I know…"
"This is a trick!" Alfred snapped. "I buried my son a long time ago!"
"What are you?" Alfred interrupted. "Are you another robot duplicate Master Bruce didn't tell me about?"
"How could I have these wounds if I was a duplicate?" Bruce countered, indicating to the numerous cuts and bruises all over his body.
Alfred didn't answer but still nervously had the gun pointed at Bruce.
"I know this is hard to believe right now but it is me Alfred. I really am Bruce…"
"It's not possible," Alfred denied although he didn't sound as confident.
"Do you remember what you said when you first saw me put on the cowl?"
Alfred looked at Bruce with uncertainty.
"You gasped in horror and said 'My God' because you couldn't believe how far I had taken my vow," Bruce reminded. "That was the first and only time you ever really showed your horror and reservations of what I was doing because…"
"I took responsibility of you and knew I would have to support you no matter what so I kept my personal issues about donning that cowl every night to myself," Alfred finished in amazement.
"And I always knew that which is why I trusted you the most. A man who is willing to put his own personal issues aside out of loyalty to someone else is worthy of my trust. And now I'm asking you to return that same trust to me Alfred. I am Bruce Thomas Wayne. I am not a clone or robot. It really is me."
For a few tense seconds which felt like an hour Alfred still pointed the freeze gun at Bruce as his hands shook with nervous anticipation. The old man bit his lip and slowly lowered the gun as his eyes began to look glassy with hope.
"Can it be…?" Alfred whispered with half hope and half trepidation. "After all this time?"
Bruce smiled sadly.
"Yes, it's me."
The two men then immediately pulled each other into an embrace. Bruce could feel Alfred burying his face into his shoulders.
"All I asked was to see you one last time…" Alfred cried happily. "How did this happen?"
"Darkseid sent me back in time, he didn't kill me. Sort of like what happened to Superman a few years back," Bruce explained as he tried to stop crying. "I've been taking the long way home…"
Alfred laughed at that comment. However before he could say anything he found himself reluctantly being pushed away by Bruce.
"There will be time to talk later," Bruce quickly interjected. "I came back to the present to save the world and the Justice League; we have work to do."
And before Alfred could say anything, Bruce suddenly walked away and began running to the Batcomputer. Alfred stood a little flustered and confused by the sudden ending of the tender moment they had but rational thought began to kick in as well. Bruce was right, they had a lot of work to do.
"What happened here?" Bruce asked with concern as he looked at the half demolished cave.
"The Joker and a few of your other rogues broke in. I managed to barely escape with my life. Luckily they didn't damage the Batcomputer or get any important files but unfortunately…"
"They got a hold of the Duplicate head, which reminds me I'm going to have to ask what exactly happened with the Duplicate later. I'm up to speed on what they've used the data for. They were able to hijack all the Watchtower and Metro because of it and have also hijacked Brother Eye…"
Bruce turned on the computer which began to show him a multitude of images from the secret cameras placed around the Watchtower. He was focusing on the ones showing the Monitor Womb.
"The Joker and his allies have managed to lockdown the Metro completely," Alfred explained. "They also have trapped everyone on the Watchtower into your own prison in the Monitor Womb. Not even Superman can get out, as you designed it."
Bruce said nothing and continued to analyze all the secret cameras he had installed. It seemed at this point the Joker had already taken control of Ra's al Ghul's men who were patrolling throughout the various halls of the Watchtower.
"Has he used Brother Eye yet?" Bruce asked.
"Not yet but he will be ready soon. He's also positioning the satellite Brother Eye to begin to blast Gotham."
"So we don't have much time. Once he gets Brother Eye over Gotham he'll start launching the nukes," Bruce said darkly as he watched the screen and noticed the Joker had set a time for three minutes to when he would start launching nukes.
Luckily the timer hadn't started yet indicating Brother Eye hadn't reached its intended destination.
"How many men are up there?"
"How many Society Soldiers are in there? He has them patrolling all over the place."
"Sixty but why is that relevant?"
"Because I'm going up there," Bruce finished. "The Watchtower is the lynch pin. If I take control of it I'll stop them in their tracks."
"Are you mad?" Alfred asked. "You'll get killed!"
"I have to Alfred," Bruce countered. "It's the only way to stop them."
"Surely your efforts would be more productive in helping the authorities trying to track Brother Eye?"
"I have no clue where they have Lobo's bike right now and it would only be able to track where the satellite is when it shoots the laser…"
Alfred was completely lost by Bruce's explanation.
"The point is," Bruce said, trying to calm down upon realizing Alfred had no clue what he was talking about. "We don't have time to try to get the government to help. It's up to us to stop them."
"But they have sixty men completely patrolling the place along with some of the worst of your own enemies. How can you stop them all?"
"Alfred," Bruce explained softly. "During the last place in time I was at before I jumped here, even though I was distracted by an oncoming battle and dealing with a lot of people who I wasn't sure I could trust, I had time to think of what I would do when I got back."
Bruce then looked back at the screen to watch the men patrol around the Watchtower.
"During my journey across time, one of the scariest moments of my life was when I was in a little town about to face off forty bandits armed with cruder weapons than what these soldiers have today on my own. I wondered if I was barely able to survive an encounter like that how could I hope to face a possibly even larger force armed with more sophisticated weapons and training? And then I realized there was one significant difference that would make taking the Watchtower back easier than fighting forty armed bandits in 1868."
"And that is?" Alfred asked, still not completely confident as Bruce was.
Bruce let out a smirk that Alfred saw Bruce use whenever he was about to reveal some clue or secret he just discovered that made the break in a case.
"When I was in 1868, I was a stranger in a strange land, but these Society soldiers and Gotham villains…" Bruce explained before pausing for dramatic effect.
"Well, they're in my house now; my satellite to be more specific. I have designed the Watchtower II personally. I know the layout of every wire and every bolt. I know every function and every crawl space. I even designed some off-the-book countermeasures on it for just this case if it was ever 'completely' compromised."
"I'm aware of that," Alfred protested. "Master Richard and the others had to use those protocols not so long ago. But what good can you do if your enemies have complete control over the satellite? You won't be able to even use the emergency teleporter. I already checked everything, the Duplicate's head has given them complete power over everything, including your countermeasures and emergency protocols. They completely run the Watchtower now."
"No they don't," Bruce said and began to type at the Batcomputer.
"I already looked at everything. I even said the 'Andrea' password. It's no use; the satellite is theirs along with Brother Eye and the Metro Tower."
"Did you honestly think I would be that careless?" Bruce responded calmly as he continued to type.
"You know me Alfred. Did you think I would be careless enough to overlook a design flaw like that; especially after all the trouble the Duplicate caused the first time?"
"No, I realized the risk of letting an AI have full access to the Watchtower and Metro so I began to create another program that was coded on a deeper level of security. A program that the AI would never know about in case it went rogue again. I made sure to not put it in the Duplicate's memories. I didn't get the chance to finish completely integrating this secret security measure, but there should be enough of its programming in the systems to give me the edge I need."
Alfred was flabbergasted by the bombshell. There was a way he could have fought back this whole time?
"Why didn't you tell me?" Alfred asked, a little hurt by the betrayal.
"I meant to," Bruce explained. "I was going to brief you after I had fully integrated it. Unfortunately Darkseid decided to invade Metropolis before I could finish it…ah here it is."
The Batcomputer completely went black and for a second Alfred thought something went wrong but Bruce seemed to not care. In fact he seemed to be expecting this.
Green letters appeared on the screen with a warning.
SYSTEM MUST REBOOT IN TEN SECONDS!
A giant number began to count down from ten.
"Computer," Bruce ordered calmly. "Give me access to the Gray Ghost Program."
For a second Alfred thought Bruce's brains might have been addled from jumping back in time when nothing happened but then the countdown froze at seven as a disembodied voice spoke.
Bruce began to open his mouth to speak but paused and Alfred thought he seemed a little embarrassed and hesitant as if what he was going to say next would be harmful somehow.
"Diana," Bruce muttered in a hushed voice. Alfred still heard him.
"Don't," Bruce warned while suddenly looking back at the older man.
"I wasn't going to say anything Master Bruce," Alfred responded in an aloof voice while giving a knowing smile.
The computer then beeped and turned back on. Alfred stood amazed as the monitor was literally lit up like a Christmas tree with data and camera feeds.
"Amazing…" Alfred said as he stepped up to the computer. "You can even override the block on the emergency teleporter without them knowing."
"Which is why I'm going to need you down here while I'm up there," Bruce explained. "As I said, the program's not completely integrated so we won't be able to take full control from them. They'll still have full control of the Monitor Womb as well but we can delay and sabotage them. We may only be able to do a few things at a time while I make my way up there, but it evens the odds at least."
"I don't think I can do all this," Alfred said in amazement.
"Don't worry, I'll communicate with you the whole time. I'll walk you through everything as I make my way to the Monitor Womb."
Bruce then turned around and began to walk away.
"Tell Batgirl and Robin to come back from riot control so they can help me up there," he explained as he began to head to the changing area. "I can use their help."
"I…" Alfred said in horror.
He had forgotten the horrible fate that had befallen Robin and Batgirl due to the sudden change in recent events. Unfortunately, Bruce could sense the tone in the butler's voice and froze dead in his tracks. He slowly turned around.
"Alfred?" Bruce asked, the fear noticeable in his voice.
"We don't have much time!" Alfred said in desperation while trying to change the subject. He was dreading how Bruce would react if he knew the truth.
"Alfred," Bruce repeated as he began to make his way back up. "Where are they?"
Because he didn't see them on the recording of the Joker's broadcast, Bruce had always assumed that Robin and Batgirl had been on patrol during the Apocalypse of '09.
"That's not important, you need to do your…"
"Where are they?" Bruce demanded with rising anger in his voice that indicated he was losing his patience.
Alfred sighed in defeat.
"They got captured earlier. They are in the ruins of old Arkham along with the Commissioner and perhaps some other officers as well. They're the Hatter's prisoners and from what I've heard from the Joker, he's torturing them right now if he hasn't killed them yet."
Bruce felt a pain in his chest and he found it hard to breathe. Literally minutes ago he was feeling hope that he was given one last chance to save Gotham and everything else and now the feelings of fear and regret were coming back at him. Images of Bart, Matt, and Batmite dying in front of him flashed before his eyes. It was happening again!
"I'm going to get them," Bruce said angrily and began to turn around.
"What?" Alfred asked in shock.
"I'm going after them," Bruce snapped. "They aren't dead; I refuse to believe that."
"You can't! The priority is stopping the Joker on the Watchtower!" Alfred complained as he ran after Bruce to keep up.
"You have full access to the Gray Ghost," Bruce justified. "You should be able to block and stall them for a while."
"I can't do that," Alfred warned. "You said so yourself that the program was not completely integrated. I wouldn't be able to stall them long enough for you to go to Arkham and back."
"Doesn't matter, find a way," Bruce ordered.
"No," Alfred protested and finally managed to get in front, blocking Bruce's way.
"What are you doing?" Bruce asked, giving the man he was looking at moments ago with love a threatening look.
"Stopping you before you make the wrong decision. This isn't you; you're letting your emotions get to you. You're not thinking…"
"Don't tell me how to think," Bruce responded coolly. "Now get out of my way."
"No," Alfred reaffirmed. "Not until you have thought this all the way through."
"I can't let them die…"
"But you can't let the League along with millions and billions die as well. I'm sorry Sir, but you need to think about what you're doing."
"So many people have died in front of me. I was supposed to protect them and I failed all of them. I won't fail Barbara and Tim like I failed the rest."
"Right now you have to make the choice; them or the world."
"I already lost too many children; I can't lose them too!"
"Batman must save Gotham! I don't like it any more than you do, but you know that it is for the greater good! Gotham and the world need you right now."
Bruce looked the other way and began to shake slightly. Alfred saw his eyes were watering.
"I love Master Timothy and Miss Gordon as much as you and do feel just as much responsibility for them. But I know that going to rescue them before stopping the Joker and the others is not the right way. And deep down you know that to be true as well."
Bruce looked back at Alfred with an attempt of a glare but it looked more like a plea.
"I can't lose them too," Bruce whispered softly.
"But you can't lose Gotham either. They'd understand."
Bruce closed his eyes and turned his head as if he was going to think of a counter argument but instead he let out a reluctant sigh and turned back to stare at Alfred with his blue eyes.
"Fine," he relented. "But I want you to do what you can with Gray Ghost to try to block the Joker or the others from calling the Hatter. Once they figure out I'm on the Watchtower they might try to use them against me."
"Understood," Alfred agreed.
"And the minute I take over the Watchtower completely and free the League, I'm going to teleport back to Arkham to rescue them."
"Of course," Alfred said with understanding sympathy. "Just have hope, Master Bruce."
Bruce however wasn't wasting any time. He then brushed past Alfred.
"I need to change," he reminded the old man as he headed to the area where he kept the spare Batsuits.
"Master Bruce, wait!" Alfred warned, suddenly remembering something he had forgotten about over the past few hours.
Bruce turned around.
"What now Alfred? We don't have time."
"It's just while we still have some Batsuits and belts and battarangs around, we are…out of capes and cowls…"
"What?" Bruce asked.
"Master Richard had an annoying habit of destroying them in creative ways. He was wearing the last one before he was captured…"
"But I need it," Bruce snapped angrily. "What do you expect me to do? Walk on the Watchtower exposed?"
A blinding light followed the noise and both Bruce and Alfred looked as something that appeared in the air between them before falling on the floor.
"Good heavens, what is that?" Alfred asked, surprised by the sudden object appearing out of nowhere.
Bruce however walked up to it and realized it was a familiar package. On it was a note scrawled with hasty penmanship.
If everything has gone to plan this should have arrived shortly after you. Before you open it I wanted to warn you another thing about your 'Stains'; if one of them dies you all will die. While that would take care of the Omega Sanction problem, make sure none of them die before you save the world.
Bruce frowned cynically. Leave it to Metron to purposely not tell him another handicap of the plan until after the point of no return. Bruce turned the note over to look on the other side.
In here I'm giving you something I'm sure you'll need when you do what needs to be done. I apologize for desecrating your monument earlier. I just want to remind you that we make our own destiny, and the destiny you have made for yourself is inside here. You are the Batman…
Bruce dropped the note and opened the package to find staring back at him an entire cape and cowl set. Although it looked a little worn out it was still in good condition.
"Alfred," Bruce said with a small smile. "Get the emergency teleporter ready."
"My Queen are you alright?"
"We don't have much time!" Hippolyta ordered Phillipus. "The Fates have given us a second chance! Right now I want you to send word to all our sisters to get ready!"
"Get ready for what?" Phillipus asked in confusion.
"To save Man's World," Hippolyta explained.
"Man's World?" Artemis asked with offense. "What business do we have there? We already have a champion."
"Who needs our help!" Hippolyta argued. "I'll explain later but right now we need everyone to get ready! Sound the alarm!"
Artemis and Phillipus bowed with unease and quickly exited. Hippolyta then turned to look at Andromeda.
"I want you to get Io. See what she can prophesize."
"But my Queen you ordered that she was not allowed to look at the future anymore the other day."
"I changed my mind! Tell her that I want her to try to forsee what we must do if Man's World's weapons begin to turn on themselves!"
Bruce stood on the teleporter pad wearing the Batsuit. At first it felt weird after going nearly six months of not wearing it but then it felt like putting on an old glove again. He already had buckled his utility belt which was stocked with plenty of items he would need. He attached the grapple to his right hip and looked up.
Alfred was busy at the Batcomputer trying to find a way to get access to the emergency teleporter. Meanwhile the Joker was in a small window on the screen still laughing and taunting at the Justice League while the timer stood ominously still in the background. Fortunately Joker hadn't launched any nukes yet.
"You do realize that these Society Soldiers do have heart rate monitors on them?" Alfred asked with worry. "Even though they won't know you teleported up to the Watchtower, they will eventually find out you are there."
"I'm counting on it," Bruce assured. "As long as I keep them distracted they won't be worried about Brother Eye."
"But what about when you finally get to the Monitor Womb. Even with the Gray Ghost they will have full control over it and you will be facing not just Joker, but Bane, Two-Face, Scarecrow, and God knows what that creature is."
"Well hopefully the cavalry will have arrived by then," Bruce muttered.
"Cavalry?" Alfred asked.
"You'll understand later," Bruce explained. "Get that teleporter working."
Bruce then fixed the cape along his shoulders and held the cowl while looking at it with apprehension. As Metron said, he would have to die soon. This would be the last time he wore it. Nervously, he looked up to see if Alfred had everything ready only to see another person standing in the cave between Alfred and Bruce. Bruce's eyes narrowed at the god of death.
"Do you honestly think you can change your fate?" Hades hissed angrily. "You're just a man! You can't stop what already has begun!"
"I thought you didn't believe in fate," Bruce countered as he concentrated hard to try to block him out. He didn't need any distractions from Hades.
"You can't get rid of me easily! My conscience travelled back with yours due to our connection! I know what has happened," Hades warned as he began to fade away. "I have worked too hard to be defeated by a mortal because one god got all sentimental at the last minute."
"Well you should have worked harder then," Bruce argued back.
"You can't win! You're all alone this time! There will be no divine intervention delaying your inevitable fall!"
"And you're nothing but a memory," Bruce countered as he concentrated as hard as he could while Hades disappeared. He could feel a presence in his mind as if Hades was trying to fight back but Bruce kept the mental blocks in his head. He needed to focus.
"Were you saying something?" Alfred asked curiously and turned around to look at Bruce.
"Just telling myself the plan out loud," Bruce lied. He didn't have time to explain to Alfred he also had a deity trapped in his head. He still hadn't put the cowl on yet when he heard a beep.
"I got it Master Bruce!" Alfred said excitedly. "Unfortunately you know where the emergency teleporter will send you on the Watchtower…"
"The farthest point away from the Monitor Womb, I know," Bruce replied.
He was thinking about if he got the chance he would try to change the location of the emergency teleporter. Alfred meanwhile stopped fiddling with the Batcomputer to turn and look at Bruce. For a second the two just made eye contact with each other, neither willing to say anything.
"Are you ready?" Alfred asked in a hushed voice.
"I should be asking you that," Bruce responded with a smirk.
Alfred smiled back. Bruce felt a pang of guilt. This would probably be the last time he saw Alfred.
"Good luck Master Bruce," the butler said and hit the button.
Bruce closed his eyes as a blinding light consumed him. He felt the old but familiar sensation of his body being ripped apart and put back together and then he felt a burning sensation.
"Ungh…" he grunted and almost fell over on the now steel floors of the bottom of the Watchtower.
He felt a little nauseous as he still clutched the cowl in his hands. The teleporter never had that effect before. He quickly deduced it was due to the Omega Sanction still trying to kill him.
"Did you hear that?" a voice asked.
Instincts kicking in, Bruce quickly darted to the side and leaned up against the wall.
"What are you talking about Pierre?" another voice asked.
"I thought I heard something Ivan," Pierre responded.
"You're just imagining things," Ivan dismissed. "Now stay alert. We must stay on guard and patrol this area. It is the will of the Master."
Bruce could hear their footsteps fading away. He quickly pushed the button of his commlink.
"Alfred I almost ran into two sentries. How many more are in the hallway?"
"Just one more Sir," Alfred assured. "But there's two more in the next room guarding the doors on the other side."
Bruce leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
"You can do this. They're on your home turf," Bruce whispered to himself.
He then looked down at the cowl and with single-minded determination, he put the cowl over his head; the Batman had returned.
"Stop looking back," Ivan grunted. "You're making me nervous."
"We're supposed to patrol the area. We should be alert," Pierre warned just as a gloved hand grabbed him by the neck and pulled him back.
"Alert, not paranoid," Ivan corrected as he turned to look at his partner. "You're too…"
Ivan paused in fear when he realized his partner was gone. The sentry turned around only to find a fist charging at him.
"Ungh…" Ivan groaned as he collapsed unconscious after one punch. Batman stood over the body with a satisfied smirk.
"Pierre? Ivan?" a new voice asked. "What are you doing down he-"
Another sentry had rounded the corner just in time for a flying projectile to hit him in the hand and stun him. Before the sentry could react, Batman charged at the man and grabbed his rifle from his hands.
The third sentry collapsed from the blow of his own rifle. Batman quickly began to disassemble it as he walked away.
"Sir, the door you'll be coming up to shortly has two sentries on the other side."
"Where are they posted?"
"One on each side of the door, up against the wall…"
"Perfect," Batman mused as he pulled out his grappling gun and aimed it at an air vent above him.
"What are you doing?" Alfred asked.
"Creating another route," Batman said calmly as he shot the grappling hook at the vent.
The Joker had continued to laugh nonstop for what seemed like hours as the Justice League helplessly remained his prisoners. The other Gotham villains twitched with impatience and unease as the clown continued to laugh.
"What are you waiting for?" Two-Face demanded while pointing to the frozen timer. "Launch them!"
"HAHAHA-not yet," the Joker wheezed while wiping a tear from his eye. "I want everything to go off at once. Wait until Brother Eye gets over Gotham…"
"NNNGGGGHHH!" Shayera groaned in pain as she began to breathe heavily.
"Shayera!" John cried as he held her hand tightly. J'onn meanwhile was timing Shayera's contractions while Sir Justin was holding Shayera's other hand to provide silent support.
"Have you no heart?" Flash cried angrily. "She's about to give birth! She needs treatment!"
Scarecrow let out a cackle while still holding the Bodach tightly on a leash.
"You want me to look at her? I'm a doctor after all," the self-proclaimed Master of Fear offered.
"Go fuck yarselves!" Vigilante swore. The Gotham villains continued to laugh and taunt their prisoners.
Zatanna was cradling Dick in her arms as he continued to shake.
"He's going into shock," she whispered to Mister Terrific.
"Try to keep him warm," Mister Terrific offered.
Superman was just glaring at the villains while still trying to figure a way out even though he knew it was hopeless. The Joker noticed Superman's determination and stopped laughing again.
"You know Supes, you don't need to be so serious. It's not like you lost a planet or something. Oh wait you did! Twice! HAHAHAHAHA!"
Superman clenched his fists in rage. Diana sat by him, still glaring at the Joker who continued to laugh again. She was praying to her gods, even Ares. She wanted to have the strength to break through and pummel the evil clown for all his crimes. She continued to glare at the clown with her eyes narrowed as the lights of the heart rate monitors on the screen still flashed orange…Wait, did on of them just turn blue?
Diana noticed immediately that one of the lights on the screen indicated one of the brainwashed guards had been knocked unconscious, hence the lower heart rate. Was it just a malfunction? But then she saw another one go blue and another. She realized based on the map on the screen, the location of where the three lights went off was at the bottom of the Watchtower. Could it be they had one unaccounted for member in the League still around?
"Kal," Diana whispered so softly that only his superhearing would pick up.
"I'm thinking," Superman whispered back angrily with frustration.
"Look at the screen; notice the heart rate monitors?"
Superman's gaze landed on the screen and his eyes lit up as well.
"What's going on?"
"I don't know," Diana admitted while still praying to her gods in her head. "But do what you can to keep them from noticing it…"
However Diana's plan was futile because the Riddler, who had been busily typing at the computers, looked up and noticed the three blue dots. Alarmed, the Riddler began typing at the computer frantically. Soon Bane and Two-Face realized the Riddler was fidgeting and turned around to see the screen as well.
"What's going on?" Two-Face asked.
"I don't know," Riddler replied with embarrassment.
By now everybody's attention in the Monitor Womb except the Joker was focused on the screen showing the heart rate monitors of the sentries. Even the nearly unconscious Ra's was looking at it with surprise. His daughter still was at his side unconscious.
"What the hell's goin' on?" Vigilante asked.
The Joker's nonstop laughter still pierced the air. He was still oblivious to what was going on behind him.
"Uh, Joker…" Riddler stated nervously.
"JOKER!" Riddler yelled, showing he had lost his patience.
"Don't interrupt me while I'm laughing!" the Joker threatened while turning around angrily.
"B-but look!" Riddler gulped while pointing to the screen.
The Joker realized the three blue dots on the screen finally.
"Do we have a problem?" Bane demanded while cracking his knuckles.
"It looks like we have some men sleeping on the job," Two-Face muttered.
"Or it means we just have one little League member unaccounted for still," Joker explained. "No matter though. Alert those two guards by that chamber…"
One of the glowing orange dots that the Joker was pointing at suddenly went blue.
"What?" the Joker asked angrily.
The one next to it followed suit.
"Get cameras on there now!" Two-Face ordered.
"I'm trying! I'm trying!" Riddler complained. "But I'm running with some interference!"
"What interference? You control the satellite," Bane pointed out.
Meanwhile as the villains began to turn their attention away from the League, Superman and Diana had moved closer to the center. Shayera was still groaning in pain between labored breaths.
"Mister Terrific, do we have anyone else on here?" Diana asked.
"No," the superhero denied. "It doesn't make any sense. I did a full comms check and accountability report before we were attacked. Every League member up on the Watchtower is in here now. The rests are in the Metro, on New Genesis, or perhaps stranded somewhere on Earth."
"Is it possible maybe it's one of the civilian workers who didn't leave?" Flash asked hopefully.
"I doubt it's a civilian worker," Shayera grunted, showing despite going into labor, she still had some clarity.
"What makes you say that?" Zatanna asked, still cradling Dick in her arms.
"I got it!" Riddler shouted, getting the League's attention.
They looked forward and saw on the monitors were various screens around the lowest floor of the Watchtower. The monitors began to flash and show different angles.
"Ah!" Harley screamed as one monitor showed an unconscious body after another.
"That's what makes me say that…ungh!" Shayera responded before grunting in pain again.
"I'm getting a breach. Someone has accessed the elevator!" Riddler noted.
"Well block them out then!" Joker snapped.
"I…uh can't…" the Riddler said sheepishly.
"What you mean can't?" Scarecrow asked, still holding the chain of the Bodach which began to look a little restless.
"Someone has an override code or something! It's taking me all I can from blocking them from taking over the Monitor Womb and Brother Eye! But individual functions like doors, certain cameras, and elevators, I can't use as easily!"
"Well find a way or one rogue Leaguer is going to be the least of your problems," Two-Face threatened, holding his machine gun up.
"I can lock it at a certain level! Just give me a second!"
"How is there an override code?" Bane asked suspiciously. "I thought we were in full control."
"Boys, relax. We still have fifty-five slaves to protect us. There's no way that loser can touch us!" the Joker assured as he fiddled with his radio.
"J'onn," Superman asked the Martian. "Do you know what's going on?"
"I'm just in the dark as you are Superman," J'onn explained. "They should have total control of the Watchtower. They accessed every protocol and security measure that was designed. Whoever is down there, they must have found a way to break through."
"Well whoever it is, I'm glad they're on our side for now," Mister Terrific noted.
"Got it! I got it!" Riddler shouted excitedly. "I stopped it on the third level."
"Can you keep him locked in it?" Bane asked.
"Just did it," Riddler said smugly.
"Attention slaves on the third level!" Joker announced on the radio. "There's one forgotten member of the League making the way up to the elevator. Make sure to properly greet him when he steps out of it."
"Sir it seems they are buying it; they think you are riding up the elevator," Alfred spoke in Batman's ear as the Dark Knight watched the unoccupied elevator head up.
However the doors to the elevator shaft remained open and Batman quickly jumped into the shaft and pulled out his grapple.
Batman hooked to the bottom of the elevator and let it pull himself up the elevator shaft.
"You sure there are no sentries below the floor this is stopping at?" Batman asked.
"Positive Sir. You have about six heading waiting outside the elevator stop on the third level. They have taken the bait."
"Good," Batman said calmly and pushed a button in his belt, allowing the hook to disengage as he swung across the elevator shaft onto a small platform.
"The vent you should be looking for is to your…"
"I designed every aspect of this satellite Alfred; I know where everything is. Just keep watching the sentries, Joker, and the rest."
"Very well Sir," Alfred said as Batman ripped off the grate and began to crawl through it.
He could hear the elevator stopping a floor above him.
"The minute the door's open, fire," Batman heard a faint voice.
Good; they would all be facing the elevator so they wouldn't be looking at the floor vents below them.
"We got six outside the elevator ready to go," Riddler explained as he had most of the monitors showing the cameras of the corridor that displayed the elevator. They could see two sentries pointing their guns at the elevator through the cameras while a third one's rifle tip was visible at one camera angle.
"Are you sure the canalla is going to stop on that floor?" Bane asked.
"It doesn't matter!" Riddler snapped defensively. "I'm in control of the elevator now."
A light beeped on a screen.
"There you go. The elevator is locked in place now. All I need to do is open the doors."
"Master, we are in position, what are your orders?"
"Shoot first!" the Joker cackled into the radio. "I got no time for questions!"
"But don't you want to find out who they are and how they managed to avoid us?" the Riddler asked.
"I have more important things on my mind!" Joker complained. "Open the doors!"
"The minute the door's open, fire," they heard the leader of the group of sentries speak through the radio which was still on.
"Opening doors now…" Riddler chimed and he pushed a button. The villains and the League watched as three different camera angles show the doors open just as a barrage of bullets was launched.
BANG! BANG! BAN! BANG! BANG!
BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!
Batman looked up through the floor vents as the six sentries above him shot at the elevator mindlessly without even clearing it. He used the opportunity to slowly lift up the vent which no one heard. After hearing an almost minute long symphony of metal hitting metal, one of the sentries spoke.
"Hold your fire!" the lead sentry ordered.
"I can't see anything," another sentry complained.
Batman quickly crawled out from the floor vent behind the six sentries and watched as they slowly stepped to the elevator with their rifles pointed up. None of them had bothered to turn around and notice that he had emerged behind them from the ground. Batman wasted no time and jumped to the closest sentry.
"Ooomph…" the sentry grunted as Batman began to choke him out. None of the other sentries heard him. Batman gently lowered the sentry to the ground and made his way to the next one.
"Well?" Joker asked angrily as they saw the sentries step closer to the elevator via the camera feeds.
"There's nothing in there," Two-Face noted darkly.
"Do you see anything?" Joker asked while shouting in the radio.
"There doesn't appear to be anyone in there Master."
"Nnnnggghhh!" Joker grunted in frustration.
All the villains were watching the cameras so none of them were paying attention to the monitor showing all the sentries' heart rates. Diana however was paying attention to that and noticed something. In an area that was highlighted with orange lights, two had already turned blue.
"Do you see that?" Superman asked as a third blue light joined them.
"It seems whoever's down there is a lot smarter than this lot," Mister Terrific observed.
"Just don't let them know," Zatanna warned.
By now the cameras were showing the two front sentries searching the elevator while one stood outside.
"We checked Master, there is no one here."
Joker grumbled just as a noise was heard.
The three monitors showing the camera feeds of the third floor began to fizzle.
"What was that?" Bane asked.
"Look!" Scarecrow cried nervously.
One of one of the camera feed angles, a shadow behind the third sentry was visible and slowly inching forward. It was almost about to totally eclipse the sentry who's back was still turned.
"What is that?" Two-Face demanded.
The monitors fizzled again and instead showed static, indicating the connection was jammed.
"What?" Riddler cried in surprise and began to tap furiously to try to bring the camera feeds back on.
"Mistah J! The lights!" Harley cried and pointed to the heart rate monitor map.
Now four of the six lights were blue.
"Hey you idiots!" the Joker shouted angrily in the radio. "He's behind you!"
The Gotham villains all looked at each other nervously as the radio feed went silent. Riddler was still trying to get the camera feed back on the monitors.
"Now they are all blue!" Harley complained.
"Shut up Harley!" Joker snapped.
"Got it!" Riddler announced as the three monitors began to clear. The villains and their prisoners all looked to see that the three sentries on the camera feeds were all unconscious.
"Uh…" Scarecrow moaned uncomfortably while pointing to one of the cameras that showed that someone when the signal was jammed had written a message on the wall by the elevator with black paint.
"It's just a scare tactic, relax!" Two-Face warned.
Most of the League however couldn't see the message because the monitor was too far away. However Superman with his supervision, while severely weakened at the moment, was still able to read the message though.
"What did it say?" Flash asked Superman in anticipation.
"It said 'You're next,'" Superman revealed calmly.
Whoever it was down there, they were doing a good job distracting the villains and making them nervous.
Batman worked his way through the floor that had the cafeteria. All the sentries nearby were on full alert.
"Eleven of you already down; forty-nine of you left," the Joker was heard on the speakers across the Watchtower. It appeared he was now using the Watchtower broadcast system.
"Don't disappoint me or else," the Joker warned.
"This way!" a sentry called and went running down the halls. Batman leaned up against the wall as they passed by.
"You two check the cafeteria; make sure no one is in there," Batman overheard a voice command. "We'll be right outside patrolling the floor. More reinforcements should be arriving."
Batman listened to the sound of feet moving and doors opening and shutting.
"Sir two have entered the cafeteria and two are on patrol around you," Alfred explained.
"I noticed," Batman responded. "Is there any way you can access any of the countermeasures on this level?"
"I'm afraid I can't. It's costing everything of the Gray Ghost program from keeping the Riddler from using any of the Watchtower countermeasures on you and letting me have control of the cameras as you walk by them."
"What about the cafeteria?" Batman asked.
"There are no countermeasures in the cafeteria."
"My point exactly. Can you try turning everything that's in there on?"
"What do you mean Sir?"
"I mean everything. Oven, stove, sink, dishwasher, iced mocha machines, fire sprinklers. If it is something that can be turned on, turn it on to its max level."
"What will that accomplish?" Alfred asked.
"It'll cause a distraction."
"You're right, I should be able to use the program to turn almost every appliance in there from down here. Give me a second…here you go…"
What happened next sounded like as if a hurricane had happened.
Batman could hear the two sentries scream in confusion as the entire cafeteria erupted into chaos with every appliance suddenly turning on.
"This way!" Batman heard the two sentries who were patrolling around the hallways call as they ran to the source of the noise. Wasting no time Batman jumped from his hiding spot right when they ran pass him. With the speed of a much younger man, he quickly grabbed the two patrolling sentries by the shoulders and smashed their heads together from behind.
"Unnnnhhh…" one sentry groaned as he and his partner collapsed unconscious.
Batman then sprinted to the cafeteria which was still sounding like a disaster.
"Two at once? What the hell's going on down there?" Joker's voice echoed throughout the halls.
Batman sprinted to the cafeteria doors which opened. He immediately saw the two sentries were running around confused. With the fire sprinklers going on an interacting with the over heating stoves and ovens, the entire cafeteria was covered in steam, obscuring the visibility in the room. It didn't help all the other appliances were drowning every noise out.
Smiling smugly, Batman quickly sprinted to the nearest sentry who was trying to shoot the fire sprinklers.
"He's probably coming for you two idiots in the cafeteria next, look out!" the Joker warned; his voice barely piercing through all the noise.
"Wha?" the sentry cried and turned around only to discover he was too late as a fist collided in his face.
"Ahh!" the sentry groaned and collapsed.
"Where are you?" the other sentry yelled angrily and began to shoot wildly around the room.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
Batman dove to the corner as the sentry wildly spun around shooting.
Batman looked to his left and realized he was standing next to the iced mocha machine which was overflowing. Thinking quickly, the caped crusader grabbed a tin foil plate and filled it up with the foamy liquid. He then quickly ran to the other sentry who was wildly shooting in a circle.
"Here," Batman called and threw the tin foil plate filled with iced mocha at the sentry's face.
"Mmmmph!" the sentry grunted as he found his vision blinded from the iced mocha contents. Batman took advantage of the distraction and brought both hands on the sentry's head.
The sentry collapsed without a fight like many of his colleagues and Batman turned to exit the cafeteria. Batman then walked down the corridor. He was about to approach a big open area so he made sure that he had his grappling hook at his side, ready to go.
"Alfred is there anyone in the viewing room?"
"No, but about ten more are heading that way. I'd recommend you try to go through there quickly and bypass the reinforcements. There is no place for you to hide on the ground in that area."
"I'll be fine," Batman assured as the doors opened with a hiss and he found himself in the viewing room. None of the reinforcements had arrived there yet. He looked to the side and saw the tall window that offered an excellent view of the Earth from the Watchtower. Batman couldn't help but look at the planet with a sense of longing. In all his time up here he never really bothered to be sentimental like that and look at the planet the League was supposed to protect with a sense of awe and wonder. Now though, with the whole planet in jeopardy and his own life ending soon, Batman couldn't help but feel a little sentimental at the moment. Maybe he'd get a chance to see that view one more time before he died.
"Sir get out of there! They are almost there and you have no place to hide!"
Batman looked up and smiled.
"Yes I do," Batman countered and pulled out his grappling hook. "I always design things with places to hide."
Riddler had his eyes glued to the monitors.
"Joker the ten reinforcements you sent have reached the viewing room," the Riddler explained.
"Good," Joker said as he got ready to make an announcement across the Watchtower.
"So what?" Two-Face growled.
Riddler gave a smug and patronizing look back.
"There's no way anyone can travel further up the Watchtower without passing the viewing room. Plus it is a big area with no vents or places to hide. Whoever's causing trouble down there won't be able to make it pass the viewing room with ten alert sentries on patrol."
"If you say so," Bane said cynically.
The villains all silently watched the monitors as the ten sentries began to spread out and cover the entire viewing room. It was true what the Riddler said. No one could get through it.
"Is that true?" Superman asked Mister Terrific. "Is there no place to hide in there?"
Mister Terrific shook his head.
"There's no vents, secret passage ways or corners to hide in. And like they said, there's no way to ignore it if you want to make it to the Monitor Womb without the elevators. Whoever's left down there, let's hope they brought enough fire power."
Riddler meanwhile was using the remaining monitors to try to scan across the Watchtower to find their enemy but was having no luck.
"Where are you?" Joker whispered to himself.
"I got an idea," Scarecrow suggested while waving the Bodach's collar chain around.
"Excuse me Dr. Crane but your expertise is in psychology," Two-Face sneered.
Scarecrow ignored him and looked at Riddler.
"We have thermal scans on this right? Why not try to find if there's a warm body that's out of place?"
"Uh…that could work," Riddler said while feeling embarrassed he didn't think of that.
"See, we work better as a team," the Joker said in an overly friendly tone.
"Pulling up the scans…." Riddler mused and on two monitors he rapidly went through the different thermal readings of the different rooms. "It doesn't tell us where everyone is exactly but it should tell us how many warm bodies are in a designated area."
"Two…two…" Riddler read as numbers of the amount of bodies in designated areas popped up on the screen. "Elven-wait!"
"What?" Joker snapped.
"According to the scan there's eleven bodies in the viewing area!" Riddler pointed out.
"So?" Two-Face asked.
"We only sent ten men in there!"
The whole atmosphere in the Monitor Womb felt suddenly cold. All the villains were looking at each other in alarm.
"How is that possible?" Bane asked angrily while pointing to the cameras focused on the viewing room. "There's only ten right here!"
"Are you sure you didn't do something wrong?" Scarecrow asked.
"I didn't do anything wrong!" Riddler denied. "I'm telling you the scans says there are eleven not ten bodies down there!"
"I thought you said there weren't any places to hide in there!" Two-Face accused as he pointed his large gun at Riddler threateningly again.
"It doesn't matter!" Joker snapped as he made his way to the Watchtower microphone. "I'll tell those idiots down there our unwanted guest is with them right now!"
Batman watched as the ten sentries began to search the open viewing area before finding a designated spot to stand guard. Unbeknownst to all ten guards, he was right above them, hiding on one of the upper platforms in the room. When he had designed the Watchtower, he made sure to install these upper platforms in the big open areas like the viewing room. Most in the League were not even aware of them because they never bothered to look up. The few heroes that did however just assumed it was there for aesthetic purposes. Superman used to tease that those platforms were supposed to remind Batman of the gargoyles prevalent throughout the old architecture of Gotham.
Superman was half-right. Batman did install them because of the infamous Gotham gargoyles that he would often perched on when patrolling the streets. But the platforms like the gargoyles served more of a functional rather than decorative purposes. If there was one thing Batman had learned from swinging along the old buildings of Gotham, it was always good to give yourself a high vantage point. And now the platforms were serving that purpose.
"Sir," Alfred spoke in his ear. "They are using the thermal scanners. They'll soon realize you're in the viewing room as well."
"Can you block them?"
"I can but they already scanned your area. They'll know soon enough."
Batman frowned and touched the side of his belt. He made sure to stock extra on smoke pellets and to select the ones that produced the thickest smoke. He peeked over the platform and reached his arm back, ready to drop them all.
"I hope you're enjoying the view but I thought I should let you know THAT YOU HAVE AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR IN THERE WITH YOU!" the Joker shouted into the intercom speakers.
Batman watched as the sentries all began to look around in panic. Batman let out a smirk and threw all the pellets at them.
Joker growled as they watched the sentries began to panic and try to find the intruder when all of a sudden something exploded in the middle of room.
All the villains jumped in surprise at the sudden explosion.
"What is that?" Bane demanded.
"It looks like smoke," Riddler cried. "Lots of it!"
They could hear the sentries coughing as the overabundance of smoke obscured the cameras in the viewing room.
"What the hell?" Two-Face complained and stepped forward.
"Argh!" a voice screamed.
The villains all froze and slowly looked to the monitor that showed the heart rates of the sentries. Another had recently turned blue.
"He's coming from ab-ahh!"
The cameras were still obscured in smoke and two more heart rate monitor lights had turned blue.
"Nnnggghhh!" Joker grunted in frustration and grabbed the microphone to the intercom.
"This isn't funny!" The clown snapped. "He's just one man! Kill him my slaves or one unaccounted for Justice League member is going to be the least of your problems!"
"How do you know if it's just a man?" Harley asked nervously.
"Or how do you know there's not more than one?" Bane growled.
"Because I do!" the Joker snapped madly. "You're all freaking out for nothing! It's just one guy down there causing trouble because apparently some idiots don't know how to kill one guy!"
"It could be a woman…" Harley muttered.
"What was that?" the Joker asked.
"Nothing!" Harley squeaked.
Two more orange lights had turned blue as the sound of gun fire and screams was still being heard on the monitors.
Most of the villains didn't notice and instead began to argue with each other some more, leaving the League able to talk to each other without fear of being overheard.
"You saw the smoke right?" Flash said hopefully. "It might be Green Arrow using his trick arrows! I always knew Ollie would pull through!"
"Green Arrow's locked in the Metro," Mister Terrific countered. "I can guarantee that."
"Maybe the Metro has found a way to break through the lockdown and is rescuin' us," Vigilante said hopefully.
"Impossible," J'onn said shaking his head while John and Sir Justin were continuing to try to get Shayera to relax. "There is no way they could have broken through the lockdown from the inside."
"Would it kill ya to be a little positive? Sheesh," Vigilante complained.
Diana however was in the middle with Superman. They were still watching the heart rate monitor lights.
"So that's five so far…" Diana counted. "Five more to go."
"The smoke's clearing though," Superman noted darkly and Diana looked at the monitors.
It was true what Superman said. The smoke was starting to fade away, allowing clearer pictures for the camera. Unfortunately Diana and Superman were not the only ones to notice that.
"Guys! Guys!" Riddler shouted to be heard over the villains arguing. "The smoke's clearing!"
All the villains instantly shut up and ran to the monitors. The cameras showing the viewing area were no longer obscured. The villains could see what was left of the sentries were running around trying to regain their bearing as the smoke began to clear. Most of the center of the viewing area was still covered in a thick cloud of smoke where the original explosion happened.
Joker smiled and grabbed the microphone again.
"There's five of you left. You can see now! No more excuses! Find out whoever is causing this mess and get rid of them!"
Just as Joker finished his announcement, a strange sound was heard and something thin and black emerged from the remaining cloud of smoke and knock one of the remaining sentries down.
"AAAAHHHHHHH!" the sentry screamed in fear as suddenly the black wire pulled the sentry by the leg into the cloud of smoke as if he was a fish being reeled in.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
The sentries began to shoot wildly into the smoke as the sentry disappeared.
"No!" Riddler complained as the camera feeds began to fizzle and they were seeing static again. The rest of the villains were looking at each other nervously as they saw two more orange lights turn blue.
"Whoever is down there," Superman whispered to Diana. "I sure hope they are on our side."
"Let me go-AAHHH!" the sentry screamed as Batman dropped him off the platform. He fell before about ten feet the roped tied around his legs that was attached to the platform went taut, causing the sentry to hang upside and swing violently.
"He's up there!" one of the last two remaining sentries shouted and began firing at the platform.
Batman wasted no time and began to use his grapple hook to swing onto the next platform and then the next. The sentries were too disoriented and confused to be able to follow him.
Batman eventually made an almost full lap around the room and was on a platform right above one of the two remaining survivors. Wasting no time, the Dark Knight swooped down and grabbed him before using his grapple to pull himself back up onto the platform.
"Mmmmph!" the sentry's muffled groan yelled through Batman's hand which was clasped tightly around his mouth. As soon as Batman was back on the platform he put more pressure in the choke hold. The sentry passed out in four seconds.
"Where did you go Stephan?" the last remaining sentry cried in fear.
Batman smiled and making sure the rope was still attached to the unconscious sentry's feet let him drop.
"AHH!" the sentry screamed in terror as the unconscious body of his last comrade suddenly appeared before him, hanging upside down.
Unfortunately the last sentry had tripped over another unconscious body in shock and lost his balance.
"NO!" the sentry cried as he fell on his back just in time to see something dark descending on him from above.
"Get it back on!" Scarecrow complained as the camera feeds of the viewing area continued to show static.
"I'm trying! I'm trying!"
"Well your trying's not good enough!" Joker complained and pulled out his pistol.
"Do I need to give you an incentive?"
"Please stop!" Riddler cried as he began to sweat nervously. None of the villains were paying attention to the heart rate monitors except Harley. She noticed the last of the ten lights had turned blue.
"Uh Mistah J…" Harley whispered nervously.
"Shut up Harley!" Joker shouted, not even bothering to look at her.
"I got it!" Riddler yelled.
The villains all watched as the static began to clear showing all the camera feeds of the viewing room.
"Ah!" Joker gasped unintentionally in surprise.
The entire viewing area was a massacre. The smoke had longed clear but the floor was littered with unconscious bodies. There were two unconscious ones in fact hanging upside down by some type of rope and swinging menacingly like a pendulum. The cameras didn't go high enough to see what the other ends of the ropes were tied too.
"NNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGHHHHH!" Joker shouted and began to wave his pistol randomly.
"Okay I've got to admit," Flash whispered to J'onn. "That was kind of badass but still kinda creepy."
The Metro Tower
"What are you doing?" Elongated Man asked as he watched Question and Red Tornado frantically typed at the monitors of the Metro.
"Trying to get a signal!" Question explained frantically. Half the League in the Metro was still freaking out while the other half was resigned to their doom and keeping to themselves.
"What's the point?" Booster Gold cried cynically. "It's over. We're all going to die anyways!"
"Still doesn't do us any good to be in the dark!" Question complained.
"Interesting…" the Question suddenly noted. It was hard to read his faceless face.
"What?" Green Arrow asked. One hand was still clutching Black Canary's tightly. It was the same hand that her new engagement ring was on.
"I should be able to pull up some of the camera feeds of the Watchtower…"
"You hacked into the Watchtower?" Black Canary asked hopefully.
"No," Question said bitterly. "But I can get the camera feeds to play on the monitors…"
"What good does that do?" Elongated Man complained.
"At least we can see how the League up there is doing," Green Arrow countered.
"Yeah I want to see who's freaking out more right now," Booster Gold responded sarcastically.
"Here we go…whoa!" Question said in surprise.
He had brought up the camera feeds of the lower levels of the Watchtower and immediately saw that almost every feed and camera angle of the lower levels showed unconscious bodies of what looked like the terrorists that had hijacked the Watchtower.
"Did they kill everybody already?" Black Canary asked nervously.
Question pushed a button and some of the monitors in the Metro brought up the cameras in the Monitor Womb. They could still see what remained of the League was up there and still alive. The villains meanwhile seemed to all be arguing or panicking over something.
"What the hell happened to the cafeteria?" Booster Gold asked, noticing the camera feed of the cafeteria showed a total mess covered with food and water while two unconscious bodies were on the ground.
Meanwhile the rest of the League in the Metro had now also started staring in the monitors in amazement.
"Do you know what's going on Q?" Green Arrow asked.
"I've only been able to access the cameras at the lower levels and the Monitor Womb; let's see if I can rewind any of them."
The camera feed of the cafeteria started to rewind and the League in the Metro saw in reverse how every appliance including the fire sprinklers went on and how the cameras showing the cafeteria were obscured by the steam.
"Stop!" Black Canary shouted suddenly.
Question hit pause immediately.
"Go back a little slowly…"
The tape began to play forward again in slow motion. They couldn't see much still because of the steam but they could see one of the terrorists was fighting through the steam as an unseen force was attacking him.
"Pause!" Canary shouted as for a brief moment, the mysterious assailant became slightly visible to the camera through the steam. The camera didn't show much but the viewers could make out a shadowy figure who looked big and was wearing something that made it look like he had devil horns or long pointed years.
"It can't be…" Green Arrow said in disbelief as he looked back up in the camera feed of the Monitor Womb. Dick in what was left of his Batman costume was still unconscious in the prison with the rest of the League.
"If Batman's up there unconscious," Booster Gold noticed nervously. "Then who's down there?"
"Babs…" Dick whispered deliriously.
"Shh," Zatanna hushed him as she tried to comfort him.
"If he doesn't get treatment soon, he'll die," Mister Terrific noted.
"Well whoever our rescuer is down there, let's hope he hurries up!" Flash complained.
Meanwhile J'onn was looking at Shayera.
"Shayera," J'onn said softly. "I know you're in a lot of pain but please hold on. I do not want you having your children in this prison…"
"Easy for you to say!" John snapped. "She's in pain! My children are at risk!"
"They'll be in more risk if they are born in here and Shayera could die as well without the proper medical treatment, especially while giving birth to triplets," J'onn explained calmly. "Thanagarians have a harder time giving birth to more than one baby than humans do. She could die if she gives birth while not having access to the right medical equipment."
"Not to mention I shudder to think how those rogues would react if they had newborns in this prison," Sir Justin noted with disgust.
"I can't…I can't…"
"Just hold on Babe," John assured and clenched her hand tight. "I'm with you."
"Please Shayera," J'onn whispered. "I already lost a family, I won't lose you."
J'onn then noticed Superman and Diana had approached them.
"Is she alright?" Superman whispered.
"She won't be if I don't get her to the medical bay soon. And there's Mr. Grayson as well."
"Hera," Diana whispered to herself. "Goddess of Motherhood, please help Shayera. And I also pray that you help whoever is down there still fighting. Give him the strength to hurry."
Meanwhile the villains were all screaming at each other, except Scarecrow who was trying to calm the Bodach down. No one seemed to remember Ra's and Talia were in the middle of the Monitor Womb trapped as well. And no one definitely didn't notice the Talia was slowly stirring.
"Wait! Wait! Wait!" Riddler shouted.
"I got the signal!" Riddler complained.
"What signal?" Two-Face demanded.
"The signal that is jamming the cameras!"
"Can you isolate it?" Bane asked.
"No but I can maybe figure out who's jamming it."
"What good is that?" Joker complained.
"Don't you want to know what we're up against when they get through that door?"
"They aren't getting through that door!" Joker snapped. "No one's getting up here!"
"What have you found out?" Bane asked. He seemed to be the only villain that showed interest in the Riddler's discovery.
"I'm looking…" Riddler assured. "Hmmm it won't tell me the location but the files on this computer seem to recognize whoever created the signal and is using it right now. I can cross reference it with the personnel files…here we go!"
The largest monitor went black and for a second it looked like Riddler had turned it off. But then it beeped again and what looked like a profile of someone in the League was up. However it seemed almost everything was blank or blacked out, including the photo ID. It looked as if Riddler had pulled up a blank template and not an actual file.
"What is this?" Scarecrow asked.
"I'll tell you what it is," Two-Face snapped. "It's a blank file. Riddler you've once again failed to deliver…"
"It's not my fault!" Riddler complained. "And not everything on the file is blank! I have at least the Leaguer's code number!"
"What is it?" Bane asked.
"001," Riddler read frantically.
"1?" Joker demanded before turning around to look at his forgotten prisoners.
"1?!" he cried angrily and stomped towards the energy wall.
The prisoners who had been paying attention were looking at Superman with shock and amazement except J'onn who looked confused.
"Why does the computer say you're the one causing trouble?" Joker demanded. "How are you doing this?"
"I'm not," Superman countered while looking at the clown with venom. "Are you sure you don't need tech support?"
"That's not funny!" Joker complained. "How about I send some electric current in your cage? One shock won't hurt you as much, but it will do damage to a lot of your friends, especially the ones needing medical attention."
"If you're going to threaten the mother of my children then come through me first!" John snapped angrily.
"I swear!" Superman said quickly realizing it wasn't the best idea to provoke the Joker. "I have nothing to do with what's going on! No one in the League's up here!"
Joker looked at the Man of Steel with disbelief and disgust.
"Check the files! My code's not 001! It's 002!" Superman begged, not caring he was risking compromising his secret identity to a dangerous criminal like the Joker.
Before anyone of the League could tell if Joker believed Superman or not, the Riddler called him back.
"Joker!" Riddler complained frantically while pointing to the large monitor showing the heart rate monitors.
"We've already lost two in the training room!"
Joker stomped forward, apparently forgetting about the conversation. Superman and the rest let out a sigh of relief. It seemed for the time being the villains were distracted again.
"That was a good bluff," Flash said.
"It wasn't," Superman assured. "My code is 002."
"Wait I thought you would be 001?"
"I'm not," Superman replied before looking at the Martian. "Why did your code pop up?"
"That's not my code," J'onn corrected. "My code is 004."
"Then who the hell's code is that?" Flash asked.
"Doesn't matter!" Shayera snapped between her grunts, signaling she was paying attention despite being in labor. "We should be asking how they are jamming the signals and somehow using our codes!"
Superman however was looking at J'onn in the eyes.
"Then who is 001?" Superman asked in his head.
"The question is not who," J'onn countered telepathically. "The question is how; it doesn't make sense."
"What do you mean?"
"Because the person who is 001 doesn't exist anymore."
"Think about it Superman!" J'onn shouted in his head.
Superman suddenly understood what J'onn was getting at.
"You mean it's…"
"Yes, it's his designation," J'onn finished, revealing he had read his mind. "Like I said it doesn't make sense."
Superman froze as the background noise around him drowned out. He felt as if he was numb for a second before he suddenly felt his heart beat pick up. He started to feel a lot warmer inside and for the first time in a long time, a little more hopeful. Could it be after all this time? After all the pain and failed tests he was right?
"Superman what is it?" J'onn asked verbally after being disturbed by the sight of Superman suddenly freezing up.
Superman seemed to have snapped out of it and looked around. The League prisoners who were paying attention noticed the Man of Steel had a huge smile plastered on his face.
"Supes?" Flash asked nervously. Why the hell was he smiling at a time like this?
"I was right…" Superman said happily as tears begin to fall down his face.
"Kal?" Diana asked nervously. "What are you talking about?"
"He's back!" Superman said excitedly.
Batman slammed the last of five sentries in the training room to the ground. They had proven to be easier to get rid of after Alfred had remotely turned on the training room simulations to distract him. Batman had taken half of the sixty Society Soldiers out.
"Sir you need to hurry! There's no telling how long it takes for Brother Eye to reach Gotham!"
Batman wasted no time and began to exit out of the training room before collapsing.
"ARRGH!" he screamed.
"Master Bruce! Are you alright?"
"Nnnnghh!" Batman yelled through gritted teeth as he felt the familiar sensation of his body feeling like it was on fire. He could feel blood pouring out of his nose again and the feelings of nausea.
"Bruce!" Alfred cried. "Your vitals are off the charts! What's happening?"
Batman closed his eyes and tried to concentrate as hard he could. Almost immediately he could feel the pain subsiding. Opening his eyes he turned around and found he was still alone in the training room.
"So much for Stains of Time," Batman muttered darkly.
He wasn't surprise that Metron was wrong about his other incarnations showing up. All Batman could do was hope he'd be able to do everything he could before he detonated. Or perhaps the Omega Sanction would just kill his body before it reached critical levels.
"Sir!" Alfred's voice echoed. "What happened?"
"It's nothing, I'm fine," Batman said curtly and began to get up and start walking again.
Unfortunately he realized his way was blocked by Hades himself. The god of death stood in front of the doorway with his arms folded and his eyes burning with hate and disgust.
"What are you doing?" Hades hissed. "You dare defy a god?"
Batman walked around Hades and made his way through the door. Unfortunately he found Hades had reappeared at the end of the corridor he had just entered.
"You don't actually think you can win? The Omega Sanction is still inside you. It will kill you if you don't die on your suicide mission first!"
The caped crusader passed the god of death, ignoring him. Once again he found Hades reappearing in front of him along the way.
"Don't you dare turn your back on me!" Hades threatened. "You will fail like you always do! I will enjoy seeing you slowly die your painful death as you choke on your failed hopes and dreams while I laugh at you and make sure that everyone you loved sees you for what you really are; a pathetic mortal who couldn't accept the truth that he was nothing! You cannot win! You will fail! You're nothing to the will of the gods!"
Batman closed his eyes and did all he could to shut Hades out of his head.
"This isn't over…" he heard the fading voice of Hades.
Batman opened his eyes and found he was alone again.
"Sir what is going on?" Alfred demanded.
"Nothing," Batman said quickly. "What's in the next room?"
"There are four sentries posted along the corridor. They are spread out so you should have no trouble dispatching them if you use the floor vents again. But that's not the only problem."
"What do you mean?"
"Sir, Joker and the others are getting restless," Alfred warned. "They might try to launch some of the nukes prematurely if they think you're going to stop them."
"And you can't block them?"
"I'm doing the best I can with Gray Ghost but I won't be able to stop Brother Eye from launching the nukes indefinitely."
"Then I'll need to distract them," Batman reasoned.
"What do you mean?"
"I need to really catch their attention and throw them off guard."
"Well whatever you decide to do you better hurry. Even if those missiles don't reach their destination, the world population might destroy itself. There's panic everywhere."
"I know what to do," Batman assured. "Just answer this for me Alfred. Can you broadcast through Brother Eye?"
"Can you piggyback off Brother Eye and use it to broadcast a message like Joker did to the rest of the world earlier?"
"I think so but how is this rel-?"
"And can you also hack the intercoms of the Monitor Womb and patch them through my commlink?"
"I think I can but what…?"
"Alright listen to me," Batman interrupted again. "I have a plan."
"What do you mean Bruce's back?" Flash complained.
"He's alive!" Superman cried. "Bruce is alive!"
"Bruce is dead," Zatanna countered as she continued to try to comfort a dying Dick.
"Bruce…" Dick groaned.
"What are you talking about?" Shayera grunted.
"This is what I was trying to prove!" Superman said excitedly while looking around. "Don't you all get it? That's Bruce down there! He's back!"
"Superman," J'onn argued. "Bruce died."
"Who knows the Watchtower better than you or Mister Terrific? Whose code is 001? Who fights like that?"
"Kal stop!" Diana snapped. They were already having enough problems and didn't need Superman to relapse again.
"I'm right Diana!" Superman snapped back. "I was right the whole time! I shouldn't have given up!"
"What the hell ya talkin' 'bout?" Vigilante asked.
"Batman wasn't killed by Darkseid," Superman explained.
"Kal please no!" Diana begged.
"Instead he was sent back in time through a weapon known as the Omega Sanction."
"Hey what the hell?" Flash complained. "I offered the time travel theory in the beginning and no one paid…"
"Shut up Flash," John snapped before looking at the kryptonian. "Are you saying Bruce pulled a you and only went to the future?"
"No he didn't," Diana countered. "We all know Bruce died that day. Kal please stop this. This isn't the time to…"
"Shut up!" Two-Face yelled at the prisoners. "I don't like it when you talk!"
The League quickly stopped talking and watched as the Gotham villains continued to quarrel. Two-Face then went back to yelling at the Riddler.
"Do you think they know?" Flash asked Superman in a whisper.
"Flash, Bruce is dead," Diana affirmed.
"He's not Diana," Superman countered. "All of you just wait…"
"Aiy another one!" Harley cried.
The villains looked up and saw another orange light become blue. Based on the map it was in a corridor not too far from the training room.
Joker growled and reached for the microphone.
"Another one!" Scarecrow pointed out nervously as a second light went blue.
"Where the hell did Ra's find these guys?" Two-Face complained.
They all watch as the last two orange lights turned blue.
"Alright you worthless human shields!" the Joker shouted into the microphone. "I'm going to change things up! I'm going to personally execute all the slaves that didn't kill the interloper. However I'll spare the ones that do actually manage to kill him! I've worked too hard on this plan and I will not let a bunch of idiots ruin it for me!"
"Hehhehhehhehheh…" a sinister laughter began to echo around the Monitor Womb, startling the villains and the League prisoners.
"Where is that coming from?" Scarecrow asked fearfully.
"Hehhehhehhahahaha…" the laughter was beginning to pick up. Harley looked surprised and began to sit against one of the control panels trying to cover her ears while closing her eyes.
"No…no…" Harley whimpered. "I know that laugh…it can't be…"
"Who's there?" shouted the Joker as the laughter grew louder.
The League all looked around unsure. There was something unnerving about the disembodied laughter. It was causing everyone's hairs to stand up on the back of their necks. It somehow sounded more threatening than the Joker's laugh.
"I mean it!" the Joker screamed, shouting into the intercom microphone. "Shut up!"
"What's so funny?" Joker snapped angrily.
"You, Joker," a deep baritone voice spoke as the laughter stop. All the villains began to look around nervously. Some of the villains looked like they recognized the voice. Almost all the Leaguers in the Monitor Womb were looking around in amazement. That voice was so familiar, but it couldn't be.
"I don't get it," the Joker spoke into the intercom microphone while looking around. His voice was an octave higher indicating his nervousness.
"I thought the Clown Prince of Crime would surely appreciate the humor of another one of his brilliant plans failing at the last minute. But then again, what did you expect from a second-rate comedian?"
"Who is this?" the Joker demanded angrily.
"It's not possible," Bane whispered in amazement and did the sign of the cross. "Madres Dios."
"You don't recognize my voice after all these years?" the voice asked in a mocking tone. "I'm shocked."
"Do you believe me now?" Superman whispered to the League members around.
"Shh!" Mister Terrific hushed.
"It seems to have escaped me for the moment, ha!" Joker said in an attempt to sound confident which failed miserably. "Do you care to elaborate?"
"What are you talking about Joker?" Riddler screamed. "It's him!"
"No it's not!" Joker snapped. "The real Batman is dead."
The clown then turned to speak into the microphone.
"Can you refresh my memory please?"
"You're in denial you idiot!" Scarecrow complained while looking around as if expecting something to jump out of nowhere and attacking him.
"How about a riddle? Riddle me this," the voice responded sarcastically. "I am the first of mankind."
"Very vague title," Joker taunted.
"Let me finish," the voice countered.
Suddenly something black sped by one of the camera feeds the Riddler had on one of the monitors.
"Ah!" Riddler cried pointing to the screen. The villains turned around and saw nothing. Whatever had moved into the feed had disappeared into the shadows.
"I am the warrior that challenged a god. I am the Dark Knight that saved a kingdom. I am the American that stood up for freedom."
"And I'm the King of Salem!" Joker shouted sardonically into the microphone.
"Didn't you guys here that?" Superman demanded as all the other Leaguers were listening and watching what was happening before them in amazement. Some of them had their jaws hanging open literally in surprise.
"Dark Knight?" Superman asked when no one responded to his inquiry.
"Movement!" Riddler alerted as something black went by another camera feed. But like what had occurred earlier, the shadow had ventured out of the camera's line of sight before anyone could get a good look at him.
"How is he doing this?" Two-Face demanded angrily.
"Ah!" Riddler cried as something began to slowly rise in front of one of the other camera feeds. It was a black face with horns and soulless white eyes.
"I am the World's Greatest Detective. I am the last of the Bat Knights. I am the Gotham Savior who has returned for one last fight before I die. I am vengeance, I am the night...I...AM...BATMAN!"
"Yah!" Harley screamed as the rising face was completely visible in front of the camera to reveal the glaring face of the Dark Knight.
"NO!" Joker screamed.
"What's happening?" Bane asked.
"Brother's Eye's broadcasting something to the world!" Riddler cried.
"Broadcasting what?" Joker snapped.
Riddler typed before stopping dead in his tracks. The Gotham villains quickly realized why as they looked at one of the monitors that was supposed to be showing a newscast. The League, still completely surprised and dumbfounded also stared at that particular monitor.
Being broadcasted through every television feed across the world was a symbol of a black bat contrasted against a yellow background.
Outskirts of Central City
"Get away from them!" Andrea demanded as some hoodlums that were mugging a man and his wife. Some of the hoodlums were throwing Molotov cocktails at the man's shop which was starting to catch on fire.
"Ooh look what we got here, a fire crotch!" one of the thugs taunted.
Andrea said nothing and just glared at them.
"Shut up bitch!" the thug approaching her shouted.
"ARGH!" the thug cried as Andrea snapped his wrist. She wasted no time.
She punched the thug in the gut and then kicked him to the ground.
"Ooooh…" the thug groaned as he breathed uneasily.
Andrea looked up at the remaining thugs who were looking at her in fear.
"Next?" she asked.
The hoodlums immediately sprinted away in different directions.
"My children!" the man called in a foreign accent as the fire began to spread even more in the shop.
"What?" Andrea asked.
"They're still inside!" the man explained in fear as the roaring fire blocked the entrance.
"Noooo!" the wife cried as an explosion came from their shop.
Someone came diving out of the window and landed on the street on his back. Andrea looked and realized it was Vandal who was clutching two small children tightly.
"Mama!" the younger one shouted as Vandal let them go and they ran into their parents' arms.
"Are you alright?" Andrea asked as she helped Vandal up. She noticed he had burn marks all over him that were beginning to heal.
"You're not serious right?" Vandal asked. "This is me we're talking about."
"Your beard got singed though," Andrea noted.
Vandal touched his chin and realized half of his beard had been burnt off by the flames.
"I was going to shave it anyways," Vandal said dismissively.
"This is Linda Park! We are getting some interference again! Maybe the Joker is broadcasting…ssssk!"
Vandal and Andrea looked at the neighboring shop and saw it was an electronic store. It had already been looted but one TV was still playing the local news. Except the TV now was showing static.
Suddenly the TV stopped and showed a picture. It was the image of a black symbol in the middle of a yellow background.
"Is that…?" Andrea asked in amazement.
Vandal just let out a knowing smile.
"Good job my friend," Vandal whispered to himself. "Go and save them before it's too late."
Huntress had found herself caught in the middle of a street brawl and was now fighting each thug off one by one.
She threw an uppercut at one of the brawlers that had tried to sneak up behind her. The vigilante then turned around and saw more were coming towards her armed with bats, chains, and knives. They were all leering at her and signaling they wanted to hurt her. Huntress just stood tall with her hands on her hips.
Huntress heard something behind her but refused to turn around. She would not turn her back on her enemies. She then realized her would be fighters were all looking above her nervously in fear.
"How is that possible?" one of them complained as they began to all back away.
Huntress, deciding she needed to see what was scaring them turned around. The jumbotron that would replay the local Gotham news in the middle of Gotham Square was showing a signal. It was the Batsignal.
Huntress turned back around and saw all the thugs were fleeing in fear at the return of the Batsignal.
"Oh come on!" Huntress complained. "You know there's more than one vigilante in Gotham!"
Catwoman walked along the unconscious would be looters of the bar and began to purr in admiration of her handiwork.
The world class thief turned around and saw the TV on the bar, while damaged was playing something. She realized it was a familiar signal that she used to see in the Gotham skyline years ago.
"Well how about that," Catwoman mused. "I guess Bats do have multiple lives after all."
Somewhere South of Metropolis.
Lois continued to drive along the highway. Because of Clark's warning she was able to get out before the chaos happened and she wasn't facing any traffic or confusion. But she knew it would only be a matter of time before the chaos reached her. She was just hoping she could make it to Smallville.
The radio sputtered in her car. She had turned it off because she couldn't bear to hear the news anymore. It made her feel regret and longing. Clark and the rest were now trapped and at the mercy of that evil clown while the rest of the world was about to be destroyed. Lois could still feel the tears fall down her face. In most of her life, she vowed to never cry because it made her feel weak. But now she didn't care. Her own home would be in ruins, her friends probably already dead, and the man she loved was…
"Clark you son of a bitch," Lois swore angrily with regret. The last time he had talked to her he had saved her life and she was a bitch to him.
The radio sputtered again and Lois decided she couldn't resist being in the dark any longer. She was a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist after all.
Lois tuned the radio knob and managed to pick up a local Midwest news station.
"…and it appears just moments ago another broadcast had been sent to at least every electronic visual medium…"
Lois groaned; she didn't want to hear what the Joker's latest demand was.
"But what was strange about this broadcast was there was no threats from the group of terrorists led by the criminal known as the Joker. Instead it was a symbol for what sources have confirmed was a rendition of the Batsignal…"
Lois hit the brakes and violently veered to the side.
"At least that's what our sources tell us. However it doesn't make sense because Batman was identified to have already been captured and incapacitated on the Watchtower. This has led to some questioning has the Batman found a way to take back the Watchtower from the Gotham terrorists or perhaps there is such of thing as more than one Batman?"
Lois stood dumbfounded with her jaw dropped.
"Damn you Clark!" Lois said in amazement. "You were right this whole time!"
Lois then sat in her car and continued to laugh as tears began to fall down her face. These tears however weren't of sorrow and regret; these were tears of joy and hope.
Somewhere Underground-Washington D.C.
Dr. Hamilton looked at the Batsignal on the screen while Waller looked over his shoulder. They were still evacuating many people including the President to the emergency bunker under the Smithsonian.
"Well I'll be damned," Waller admitted. "It looks like it's not over yet."
"What do you think it means?" Dr. Hamilton asked.
"I think it's a warning," Waller explained. "A warning to all criminals that it isn't over yet."
Waller then turned and began to walk away.
"Call me if anything else pops up!"
Dr. Hamilton sighed before realizing someone else was behind him. He turned around and saw the two children he had forced down to the Bunker were looking at him nervously.
"Hello..." Dr. Hamilton said uncomfortably.
"Is that Batman?" the boy asked while gripping the little girl's hand tightly.
Dr. Hamilton realized he was pointing at the monitor.
"Is Batman going to beat up the bad guys?" the little boy asked.
Dr. Hamilton smiled.
"Yes, yes he is," the man lied. He had no clue what was going on, but he wasn't going to scare two children he had just kidnapped.
The Metro Tower
The entire League stood in stunned silence as they watched the news broadcasts on some of the Metro monitors. It seemed every newscast in the world was being bombarded by the Batsignal. They also were watching the monitor that played a camera feed in the Monitor Womb. The entire Metro had heard Batman announced his return just before the signal was unleashed.
"You know what this means?" Booster Gold asked. "That was definitely Batman we saw in the playback!"
"But how is this possible?" Black Canary asked. "There's only one Batman."
"No of course it makes sense," Question said calmly. "You just got to follow the pattern..."
"Not now Q," Green Arrow groaned.
"That is the original Batman," Question said calmly.
"That's ridiculous!" Elongated Man complained. "The first Batman died six months ago!"
"You heard the voice," Question countered. "That sounded a lot like him."
The whole Metro began to erupt in debate on whether this new incoming Batman was the original or not. However Question was not paying attention and instead was looking at Booster Gold.
"Either the Illuminati or time travel was involved…" Question noted dryly to himself.
Alfred used the Batcomputer to look at the global reaction to the message he had sent through Brother Eye. It was as Batman had predicted. Moments ago the world was tearing itself apart in despair. But now, based on the initial reactions from what Alfred saw, it looked like there was a little more hope in the world. Of course riots were still occurring, but at least a lot of good people in the world now looked like they would not give into fear just yet. For over twenty years the symbol of the Bat had meant to be a symbol of fear for criminals. It was designed to be a warning and a deterrent. The Bat symbol was a calling card for someone to bring vengeance and justice on the wicked. Now for the first time that Alfred could remember, the symbol was being used as a symbol of hope.
The Batsignal being briefly broadcasted across the world was not meant to be a taunt to Joker and the rest. It was to let the world know that all was not lost yet because one man was still out there willing to fight to the bitter end.
"I'm proud of, my son," Alfred whispered to himself as a single tear fell along his right cheek.
"Okay that's Bruce alright," Flash conceded.
Almost all the League members in the Monitor Womb were watching the Gotham villains continue to argue violently. The Batsignal broadcast that had been hijacked through Brother Eye had long ended but its effects were obviously a lot more damaging and long-term to the villains.
"How?" Shayera groaned. "How did he do it?"
"Like I said," Superman said excitedly. "Darkseid sent him back in time."
"But no one else find it strange that he comes back to the present at this exact moment when everything was lost? I mean what were the odds of that?" Mister Terrific asked.
"He's Batman," J'onn said calmly. "It wouldn't be the first time he has done something like this for us."
The only person that was not talking to Superman and the rest was Diana. She didn't know if it was pride or something else, but she still couldn't believe that it was Bruce. Even though this new Batman looked, acted, and even sounded like Bruce, something in heart couldn't let her believe it. Or maybe it was because her heart was afraid to believe he was back…
"Are ya'll sure that's the first Batman and not another one of those robot copies?" Vigilante asked.
That caused all the League to pause for a second. Vigilante did bring up a good point.
"Vigilante's right," Mister Terrific interjected. "I don't think we should be jumping to conclusions yet. This wouldn't be the first time the public thought the first Batman had returned."
"That is not a robot," Zatanna said calmly.
"What makes you say that?" Mister Terrific asked.
"I remember the Duplicate. It was too cold and inhuman. It didn't have any emotions. You saw the tape; that Batman didn't sound emotionless. He sounded angry but at the same time confident. I know Bruce and that was definitely him."
"How can you be so sure?" Mister Terrific asked. "There's not much facts to prove that it is."
"Because I believe," Superman countered. "We all believe. And that is all you need sometimes."
"SHUT UP!" Joker screamed at Two-Face, bringing the League's attention to the villains again.
Riddler meanwhile was muttering nervously to himself.
"This is not possible! He's supposed to be dead!"
"He is!" Joker assured. "This is just a trick!"
"But you saw what he did! The Batsignal..."
"He's dead!" The Joker denied in defiance and waved the gun threateningly at the Riddler. "I won't let my finest hour be ruined by a fake and one of you getting cold feet!"
"Are you mad?" Bane asked. "You saw it! It is him!"
"It's not him!" Joker screamed. "We have come too far to get ruined by a few parlor tricks and theatrics! This is nothing more than an imposter or another robot!"
"Then how has he been able to block the Riddler from taking full control of the Watchtower?!" Scarecrow complained.
While the villains continued to argue, no one seemed to remember Talia and Ra's were still in the Monitor Womb as well. Nor did anyone notice Talia was finally awake.
"Don't move too fast Father," Talia whispered as she slowly pulled out a knife.
Her priority was freeing her father. She would worry about what to do next later.
"If you don't make any sudden or jarring movements, the net won't shock you," Talia warned.
Talia began to cut the net that had trapped her father at a slow but deliberate pace…"
"Hmmm…" Talia groaned and closed her eyes in pain.
Her father didn't flinch at all but Talia could tell he felt that jolt as well. It was definitely going to take a while to free her father. Talia decided that she wanted to talk to her father some more before starting the painful process again.
"Is it true?" Talia whispered, trying to hide the hope in her voice. "Do you think Be-Bruce Wayne has returned?"
Ra's did not answer her and continued to stare at the Joker angrily.
"It doesn't matter," Ra's said dismissively.
"It doesn't matter if this Batman is indeed the first one. All that matters is the Joker and the rest will be stopped."
"But that's good," Talia pointed out. "Why do you make it sound like a bad thing?"
"Don't you realize daughter?" Ra's sneered. "That was my last plan. We had crossed the Rubicon. We would either finally triumph or fail beyond recovery. Our quest has failed. When this over we will be finally caught and the League of Assassins will be finished. It is over for us. My dream will never be realized."
"Father," Talia pleaded. "Right now all that matters is if we stop those foul beings from destroying Mother Earth completely! We should be more worried about them over us!"
But Ra's seemed to ignore Talia's complaints and continued to stare ruefully up at the ceiling. Talia sighed and began to continue to try to free her father slowly. She didn't care about the consequences or the future. All she cared about was stopping the Joker, and being reunited with her Beloved one last time.
Batman pulled back a sentry as two fired back at him.
Batman quickly knocked out the sentry and threw two electric battarangs.
Batman saw the two remaining sentries in the Founder's office convulsing involuntarily. With ease the Caped Crusader dispatched both of them. That meant he had taken three more down. There was only twenty-three sentries left and the Monitor Womb was even closer.
"Sir, you were right. Not only has your little stunt distracted your enemies, it also seems to have at least calmed some of the public down on Earth."
"Good," Batman said curtly and exited the Founder's conference room.
"I must also say your friends on the Watchtower look impressed based on what I have seen."
"How's Dick?" Batman asked.
"He seems to still be breathing, but I can't tell from this far away."
Batman felt a little more urgency and continued to run along the corridors.
"Where do I go next?" Batman asked.
"There are eight sentries heading to what looks like the hangar. If you hurry you can beat them there."
Batman picked up the pace and continued to sprint faster.
"Also Sir, it seems the League in the Metro has at least been able to hack into the camera feeds as well."
That gave Batman an idea.
"Alfred," Batman ordered. "I don't want you to block out the camera feeds when I take the sentries out in the hangar."
"They already know who I am now. I first wanted to put them off guard by the fear of the unknown. Now it is time I strike fear directly in their hearts by showing them what I am capable of."
"In other words, you want to show off now," Alfred muttered sarcastically.
The Joker suddenly began to walk to another control panel.
"What are you doing?" Two-Face asked suspiciously.
"Trying to call Jervis!" Joker shouted. "See what's going on with Batgirl and the rest."
Zatanna felt guilty again, destroying the euphoria she was feeling earlier. Barbara and Tim were still down on Earth, probably still getting tortured by the Hatter if he hadn't killed them yet.
"That's not Robin or Batgirl down there!" Scarecrow complained as he tried to calm the Bodach down.
Joker ignored him and began to call.
"Argh!" Joker yelped while covering his ears.
"Mistah J!" Harley cried.
"What the hell was that?" Joker snapped. "All I got was feedback!"
"I'm trying Joker!" Riddler begged. "But somehow the call to him was blocked!"
"You're supposed to be the smartest criminal mastermind, start acting like it!" Two-Face complained.
"I found him!" Riddler quickly shot back.
All the villains stopped their ongoing bickering to look at the screen.
"He's making his way into the hangar!" Riddler cried.
"Quick!" Two-Face ordered. "Open the air lock when he walks in it! Let him get sucked into the vacuum of space!"
Riddler began to type before laughing sheepishly.
"Uh…it seems the control for that has also been blocked…"
"A trivial matter. We have reinforcements heading there right now," Bane noted. "Lock all the doors and keep him trapped in there!"
"Did it already!" Riddler gloated and threw his fist in the air. "We got him! He's trapped!"
Joker was wasting no time and went to the microphone.
"To the eight lucky souls about to make their way to the hangar, well I have good news for you…"
"They're making a mistake," Shayera grunted.
"What honey?" John asked.
"They think they're going to trap Bruce, but they're just going to trap their men instead…"
The Metro Tower
"Okay I got it…" Question hummed.
Some of the monitors changed to show the camera feeds of the upper levels. Question began to type furiously and kept changing the different feeds and locations.
"There he is!" Booster Gold shouted and pointed to a Monitor.
"That's the hallway by the hangar," Green Arrow noted. "What's he doing over there?"
"It's probably the only way he can get up to the Monitor Womb without using the elevator."
"More importantly we should be asking if this the original Batman we're watching," Elongated Man reminded everyone as the Question kept changing the camera feeds to try to keep up with the sprinting Batman.
"That's him alright," Black Canary noted.
"What makes you say that?" Green Arrow asked.
"I've seen him work out in Ted's gym; that's how he runs."
Green Arrow, despite the high stakes at the moment and the severity of the situation, couldn't help but feel irrational jealousy at that remark.
Batman ran into the hangar when he heard an alarm.
"Initiate Lockdown…" a disembodied voice spoke.
Batman looked around and saw all the exits to the hangar were blocked by steel doors.
"Alfred, apparently I'm locked in," Batman noted dryly.
"Like you did not see that coming," Alfred jested back.
"The airlock is still blocked?"
"Good, leave the cameras on," Batman ordered and made sure to travel along the walls within the blind spots of the cameras. He quickly found a place to hide in the shadows of a javelin.
"To the eight lucky souls about to make their way to the hangar, well I have good news for you. We have done ninety percent of your job for you and have delivered this intruder to you all wrapped up nice with a bow. All you have to do is kill him!"
One of the doors opened and Batman heard sprinting footsteps.
"Spread out!" a sentry commanded. "The Master has ordered to kill him on sight!"
Batman calmly hid in the shadows and listened to them walk around and search.
"Sir you're still out of the cameras' line of sight," Alfred reminded.
"I'll check here," a voice called nearby.
Batman patiently held his breath as he saw a sentry step around the corner looking at the Javelin. The sentry seemed to not notice Batman was squatting down under it and proceeded to stand on his toes to try to peer inside the Javelin.
Batman suddenly reached his arms out and grabbed the sentry's ankles.
"Ah!" the sentry yelled in surprise as he fell onto his back. But before he could say anything or call for help, he found himself being pulled under the Javelin quickly.
"Hmmmm!" the sentry grunted as he tried to breathe. But it was no use. In ten seconds he was out cold.
Batman quickly began to crawl out from under the Javelin.
"I hope you are enjoying your leisurely stroll heh-heh, but I have to point out that YOU ALREADY LOST ONE OF YOUR OWN!
Batman could hear the yells of surprise from the remaining sentries and could hear one actually running his way. Reacting quickly, Batman jumped to the side and waited.
"I'm heading over there right now!" the passing sentry yelled into his radio. Batman immediately jumped from his hiding spot and pulled the sentry back.
"Nnnnnmm!" the sentry protested as he was rendered unconscious.
"This is just embarrassing! You heard me! Embarrassing! You lost another one? At this point I'm tempted to just blow this whole satellite to smithereens so I won't die from embarrassment!
"Regroup at the center!" a sentry voice commanded.
Batman wasted no time and began to run around and under the Javelins. He saw another sentry running along and smirked. This was too easy. With his strength and reflexes Batman dove towards the sentry, not caring that he would be revealing himself to the cameras.
The Joker stood quietly with the rest of his allies and watched the four camera feeds showing the hangar. There had been no sign of the so-called Batman but two heart rate monitors had turned blue. The Joker continued to watch as the sentries began to try to meet up at the center when he saw something black suddenly jump from out of nowhere and tackle a sentry on one of the camera feeds.
"Ah!" Riddler yelped and almost fell backwards. Many of the other villains had similar reactions.
"Grrrrrrrr…." The Bodach growled threateningly.
Scarecrow didn't bother to zap it with the collar that time and instead looked at the beast nervously.
"He's right there!" the Joker shouted while pointing at the monitor that showed Batman taking out the third sentry.
The Joker then grabbed the microphone.
"You idiots don't go to the middle! He's to the side by those boxes!"
"Joker no!" Bane complained.
But it was too late. The figure in black suddenly disappeared again from the cameras. Furthermore, two sentries instead of meeting up with the rest in the center began to run around in confusion.
"They're better off sticking together!" Bane snapped. "Do you not understand strategy?"
"Shut up!" Joker shouted.
"Look!" Riddler cried.
One of the feeds showed the two sentries separated from the rest were now being engaged by something moving like a shadow.
"How do you not hear this?" Joker shouted in the microphone. "Take him out-hey!"
"You three stay in the center!" Bane ordered into the microphone that he had snatched from Joker. "Stay away from the shadows…"
Joker had shot a bullet in the air, causing all the villains, including Bane to freeze.
"GWAR!" the Bodach roared angrily.
"Don't you ever take that from me again…" Joker hissed venomously and grabbed the microphone away from Bane.
"Now where was I? Oh yes! Now we're down to three and there's only one of him. I wonder how this is going to turn out? Get your asses moving!"
The three remaining sentries in the hangar were all nervously spinning around.
"You heard the Master…" one sentry said nervously. "Move…forward…"
The three sentries began to nervously walk further down the hangar, unaware Batman was watching them from behind. Smirking with satisfaction Batman began to walk slowly into the open right behind them, knowing the cameras would catch him.
"You fools! He's right behind you!" Joker's voice screamed in desperation.
"Wha?" one of the sentries called as they all jumped and turned around. Batman was already in the middle of a roundhouse kick.
"Ungh!" one sentry groaned as he went flying and hit a javelin with a thud. Batman however wasn't done with the other two. He quickly disarmed the two other sentries and was fighting them hand to hand. Even though they were converted to Joker's side, they still had the training from Ra's. They were giving Batman a little more trouble than the other sentries had been. But then again Batman always had the element of surprise with the previous sentries.
Batman was so engrossed with fighting the two sentries he had forgotten about the one he had just kicked across the hangar. Although the poor sentry was barely conscious from hitting his head on a javelin, he was still alert enough to move a little.
"Nnnngh…" the sentry grunted as he began to lose consciousness. He pointed his rifle at the center of the swirling black mass that was Batman.
"For the master…" the sentry moaned as he fired two shots before he passed out.
"ARRRGH!" Batman suddenly screamed in shock and pain as he felt something hit his side followed by something hitting his leg.
The villains all jumped when the one lucky sentry managed to get a few shots on the alleged Batman.
"He's hit! He's hit!" Riddler said excitedly.
"HAHAHAHAHA!" Joker laughed and began jumping down in excitement before he grabbed the microphone again.
"Finish him off boys!"
Meanwhile behind the villains and almost forgotten the League helplessly watched in horror as they saw their would be rescuer get shot.
"No!" Flash cried.
"Bruce!" Superman yelled. This couldn't be happening again.
"Unnnnnghh!" Shayera grunted in pain as more sweat poured down her body.
Zatanna grimaced and clutched Dick tightly. The usual passive face of J'onn was alit with horror. Both Vigilante and Mister Terrific were unable to sit still. The only two who didn't seem to be paying attention were Sir Justin and John who were still trying to calm Shayera down. No one noticed Diana who was in the back while watching everything unfold. Unlike most of the League she was still skeptical and not getting her hopes up that their rescuer was Bruce. She just felt there was too much wishful thinking and they couldn't afford to be wishful when the fate of the world was at stake. Nonetheless, she couldn't help but feel a great pain in her heart when she saw the man in black get shot.
"Well we know one thing for sure," Two-Face growled. "He's bleeding. He's human after all."
The Metro Tower
Many in the Metro were covering their mouths in horror at what they just saw. Their only salvation had just got shot. The last hope to save them all had just been stopped.
"No!" Black Canary cried as the two terrorists began to take advantage of Batman collapsing in pain from his wounds and began to beat on him mercilessly.
"Come on Bruce!" Booster Gold shouted. "Don't give them any!"
Green Arrow in spite of himself couldn't help but look at the annoying Leaguer in surprise.
"You know his identity?"
"Who doesn't?" Booster Gold shot back. "It's the biggest open secret in the League!"
"Look he's getting back up!" Question shouted and pointed to the screen.
"Ah!" Batman yelled.
The two sentries were showing no mercy and had taken advantage of Batman's incapacitation.
"Good boys! Make him feel welcomed!"
"Nnnnngh!" Batman hissed as he felt blood pouring out of his side and leg. Based on what he could try to assess, he was hurt badly but the wounds were not fatal.
However that was the least of Batman's problems. He was starting to feel a familiar painful burning sensation inside his body.
"Not now…" Batman gritted through his teeth. It seemed the injury was triggering another Omega Sanction reaction.
"Sir! Sir!" Alfred's voice called helplessly in his ear. "Sir are you alright?"
Biting down hard that his own teeth almost cut his lip, Batman suppressed the pain he was feeling both externally and internally and exploded to his feet.
"YAARRGH!" he grunted like a wild animal while taking the two sentries by surprise with his second wind.
With much anger and adrenaline he smashed the two sentries heads together before collapsing back to the ground.
"Nnnngh!" Batman groaned as he began to twitch involuntarily. He hadn't felt that much pain except for when he used the time machine. He could feel an overwhelming numbing sensation as he began to lose conscious.
"Sir! Sir!" Alfred cried.
"Don't bother getting up! Take a nap! I'll be sending some more friends to come help you…HAHAHA!"
"Sir!" Alfred cried desperately again. "You need to get out of there! There are ten more heading to the hangar! They will kill you if they find you still there!"
"Nnnnngghh!" Batman groaned and tried to get himself to his feet.
"Bruce!" Alfred screamed.
"So close and yet so far. It's so pathetic that it's funny! HAHAHAHAHA!"
"Alfred…" Batman whispered weakly. "Help…"
"There's one of your panic rooms right outside the hangar!" Alfred offered quickly. "I'll unlock the hangar doors and make sure to open the panic room for you but you need to hurry!"
Batman struggled to get to his feet. He could hear the Joker laughing still. Or was it Hades laughing this time? He couldn't tell. Coughing while still bleeding and burning, Batman weakly began to limp to the door out of the hangar.
"Oh don't bother to run," Joker complained. "It'll make you lose blood faster!"
The villains all gloated as they saw their would be enemy limping out of the hangar.
"He's found a way to unlock the doors!" Riddler shouted.
"Doesn't matter," Two-Face smirked. "He's finished."
"What did I tell you boys?" Joker taunted. "I told you this was just another Batfake; a second-rate wanna be Batman."
The entire League in the Monitor Womb with the exception of Dick and Shayera were holding their breaths. Flash was twitching rapidly back and forth.
"No-no-no-no-no…" he said nervously.
Superman meanwhile was almost in tears which contrasted sharply with the angered look he had on his face.
"Come on, come on!" Superman groaned.
Even Diana had to admit it was nerve racking to watch the man struggle to try to get out of the hangar. Based on the other monitors, about ten sentries were on their way to intercept him. It would be only a matter of time before they reached them. And it was at that moment Diana couldn't help but throw caution to the wind and just believe. She couldn't deny it anymore. She knew it was Bruce even though she couldn't rationally explain it. She ignored the warnings of her heart. She just chose to believe.
"Come on Bruce…" she whispered softly although her tone was on edge.
"Ungghh…" Batman groaned. It was costing all his energy to not pass out. Normally he probably would've been able to make it to the panic room even with the two new bullet wounds. But with the Omega Sanction suddenly rising again, Batman was having a hard time staying conscious.
"Bruce hurry please!" Alfred cried. "Just another twenty feet!"
Batman stumbled and leaned up against the wall for support. He began to weakly walk along it while he heard the Joker's taunts.
"Just around the bend…just around the bend…."
Batman could hear the ten sentries as well. They were right on top of him.
"Almost there!" Alfred cried.
Batman took another two uneasy steps when the sound of a hidden door opened.
"Get in!" Alfred commanded.
Batman heard the sentries reaching the hallway.
"Shoot him!" one of them called.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
Batman stumbled into the room as bullets began to fly around the hallway.
"Uhhhh…" he groaned as he collapsed on the ground as the door of the panic room shut. He barely made it and lucky didn't receive any more bullet wounds.
"What is this?" Two-Face inquired.
"It seems he has locked himself in one of the panic rooms!" Riddler noted with frustration.
"This man is harder to kill than a cockroach!" Bane complained. "Open the door!"
"Seriously? Ha!" the Riddler retorted. "Have you not been paying attention to what's been going on the past half hour?"
"NNNNNNGGGGHHH!" Joker growled in frustration.
"What are you complaining about?" Two-Face asked. "He's locked himself in a room and we have ten people outside the door. He's trapped."
"I want him gone!" Joker cried. "I want him to die already!"
"Are you sure no one can breach the panic rooms?" Superman asked J'onn while the Joker continued to throw a temper tantrum.
"They can only be opened from the inside once someone has occupied it. But I'm more worried about his wounds."
"He'll make it," Superman assured, not caring that he sounded delusional. "He'll survive."
"What makes you say that?" Mister Terrific asked darkly. "You saw what happened. He could barely walk. What makes you think he'll come back out and finish the rest off?"
"Because we need him to," Diana spoke out loud for the first time in awhile. Many of the nearby Leaguers jumped and had forgotten she was there as well.
Diana however was looking at Superman right in the eyes as if it was just the two of them alone having a private conversation.
"It is Bruce," she whispered softly. "He'll never fail us."
"Ha I got an idea to draw him out!" Joker shouted.
"Eeehhhh!" Batman groaned as he reached into his utility belt to pull out some medical items. He had pulled out a remote burner to help cauterize the wounds and stop the bleeding. He then pulled out a thin pair of pliers. One of the bullets was still inside him. Thankfully, neither bullet had pierced any arteries or damaged any vital organs. However both wounds hurt like hell and Batman knew he needed to treat them now.
"Nnnnghh…" he grunted. He was still trying to quell the Omega Sanction even though it was almost causing him to pass out. He just needed to ignore it a little longer.
"Sir your vitals are going off the charts again!" Alfred warned.
"Not now…" Batman groaned and put the thin pair of pliers into the wound to get the bullet out.
"Arrrgh!" he screamed as he felt the pain. He hadn't got the bullet yet though. He needed to push down a little further.
"Ffffnnnngggh!" he grunted through gritted teeth. He had managed to get the pliers to clamp on the bullet. All he needed to do was pull it out…
"YYYYAAAAAHHH!" he screamed as his head felt like it exploded. He couldn't ignore it anymore. His body was blowing up from the omega sanction! He coughed up blood and vomited as he fell onto his back. His eyes began to look more bloodshot as his skin burned badly.
"Nnnnnnnanaaarrrrrgghhhhh!" he screamed. The pain was so unbearable he was going to pass out.
"Sir! Sir! Siiiiiirrrrr…."
Alfred's voice had gotten fainter and fainter…
He saw himself again walking across the familiar alley. It was covered with blood. No cover was the wrong word to describe it. The alley was flooded with blood. He could see the Monarch Theater with its the doors cracked open slightly.
"ARGH!" he screamed as he felt the pain. He couldn't bear it anymore. He needed it to stop. He needed to reach the doors.
"Yes go…" a voice taunted.
Bruce collapsed to the ground and began to with difficulty crawl to the theater doors.
"Only death can end your suffering…"
Bruce looked up and glared at the god of death who was standing over him triumphantly.
"Hahahahaha!" Hades taunted. "After everything you have lost! You have shown that you really are nothing! You cannot delay the inevitable!"
Bruce glared but couldn't say anything. The pain was pure agony.
"Go ahead save yourself from anymore suffering. Just accept death and give up. You have failed…"
"Nnggh…" Bruce groaned as he tried to crawl his way to the doors. Hades was right. Death was the only way out.
"Pathetic…" Hades taunted. "Look at what you are reduced to."
"Ungh!" Bruce grunted. He was almost to the doors. But it was then he heard a voice. It was the voice he least expected to hear as he finally died. It was the voice of Vandal Savage.
"I believe in you Bruce. If there is one thing I've learned from our encounters it's that you always win. You always find a way. It's not over yet because you are the Batman…"
"NO!" Batman shouted and forced his eyes open. He wasn't going to give up yet!
With new inspiration or maybe it was another burst of adrenaline, Batman pulled the pliers and yanked the bullet out.
"Naarrgh!" he grunted triumphantly. He then grabbed the other tool and began to cauterize the wound.
"Don't you dare!" Hades shouted angrily. Batman ignored him again as he could feel the god of death getting blocked by his mind.
"You will pay for your insolence!" Hades shouted as he began to fade away. "I swear it. You will die!"
"You're right I will die soon," Batman admitted. "But not just yet."
"NNNNOOOOOOOO!" Hades yelled and slammed his fists to the ground. Cerberus's three heads cowered in fear.
"I can't even get the consolation prize of him dying before he saves the world!" Hades yelled as his eyes turned red and his skin began to turn a grayish color.
"I will not let this…this…mortal insult me anymore!"
"Trouble in paradise, Uncle?" a voice taunted.
Hades turned around and saw Hermes and Apollo had appeared and were looking at him with gloating looks.
"You!" Hades accused. His transformation had appeared to stop and his face was back to its handsome appearance. Although the wild angered look of his face did not make him look handsome at the moment.
"You're behind this! All of you are! We had a deal; you weren't supposed to interfere!"
"And we didn't Uncle, we kept our word," Hermes assured. "You may seem to think man is nothing but they have proven you wrong time and time again. It was makind, not gods that screwed up your plans."
"Man is nothing!" Hades spat. "We are nothing! Nothing matters! Everything will end in chaos and despair! That's how it was supposed to end! It would be my ultimate victory! I saw it! I was supposed to bring about the End of All Things to the entire Multiverse!"
"You failed to look at all possible futures," Apollo criticized coolly. "I told you my gift wasn't a toy. You in your own arrogance only saw the future you wanted to see. You couldn't imagine that others would be willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good."
"There is no greater good!" Hades denied. "If Batman saves the world, what does he accomplish? Nothing! Sooner or later the world will perish and all his friends will die! In fact he has to die soon if he hopes to not kill his friends with the Omega..."
It was at that point Hades froze. His face showed a sudden realization because an idea had crossed his twisted, vengeful mind.
"HAHAHAHAHAHA!" Hades laughed, a sharp contrast to the explosive anger he was expressing earlier. "He has to die!"
"What are you talking about?" Hermes asked uneasily.
"Uncle don't go mad," Apollo said with disgust. "It doesn't suit you. It's over. You have lost."
"This isn't over yet! By the blood of my father Cronus I swear that I, Hades, will have my victory! I still have one last plan!"
Hades then turned his back to his nephews.
"Batman has to die in hopes of saving the world and through his death I will be able to bring about the End of All Things once and for all!"
Batman looked up. He was in the middle of bandaging up his wounds while in the panic room.
"This game has been fun but it's time for me to call checkmate. You have thirty seconds before I hit the launch button and the countdown for the nukes begins. I wanted to save it until Brother Eye was over Gotham but you have forced my hand. However I will spare the world another few extra minutes of life if you open those doors right now and give yourself up. I'll start the countdown now."
Batman pushed his commlink.
"Alfred can you block him?" Batman shouted.
"I don't know if I can. I might be able to stall but not too long."
"How many sentries are outside?" Batman asked.
"Still ten," Alfred said grimly.
Suddenly an idea hit Batman. He still had one card left to play. He slowly began to get to his feet.
"Master Bruce you can't just give yourself up!"
"I have a plan!" Batman assured and hit a button on his belt. An electronic unit began to emit a buzzing noise at a very high pitch frequency. So high not even Superman would've been able to hear it.
"Alfred," Batman ordered. "Initiate the Miller Protocol!"
"What is that Sir?" Alfred asked.
"It's a countermeasure not even in the Duplicate's databanks! Do it now!"
"Now let's just hope Dr. March didn't slack off on his job while I was gone," Batman muttered.
"Sir I initiated it, now what?"
"Patch me to the Monitor Womb intercom again!"
In the bowels of the Watchtower where the main power core was, the voice of the Joker counting down echoed menacingly.
At that moment, a secret door that had blended into the wall had began to swing open shortly as a growing sound of fluttering and screeching was heard.
The doors swung open and a black cloud of screeching and fluttering wings began to fly out of the secret room while aggressively heading towards the high frequency call of their master.
"Three…" the Joker continued to count down with glee as his hand hovered over the button.
The entire League was bowing their heads in shame and defeat. After all the hope they had, it had come crashing down in the end. This was the day that the League failed and evil would win.
"Two…" Joker yelled.
Diana felt the tears managing to escape her shut eyelids and fall down her cheeks.
"Stop!" a confident but commanding voice echoed across the Monitor Womb.
Diana immediately opened her eyes and jerked her head up. He was still alive? Superman as well was looking at the monitors in anticipation. Shayera had managed to delay her painful grunts and looked up in hope and curiosity as well.
"Well I finally got your attention!" the Joker laughed. "Are you going to be a fair sport and give up?"
"I'll do you one better Joker," the voice retorted. "I'll make you a counter offer."
"To hell with this…" Two-Face growled. Joker put up a hand.
"Really?" the Joker asked. "You're in no position to make demands."
"Actually I am," the voice disagreed. "Because the minute I open this door your men will all be incapacitated and I will be one step closer to you."
"Mighty fine talk for just one guy…" Joker taunted. "May I remind you that you've been shot? Guess that's what you get for trying to pretend you're the Batman."
"You really don't believe that it is me? After all those times we spent together?"
"The real Batman wouldn't have lost so quickly," the Joker argued.
"Oh I haven't lost yet Joker," the voice retorted.
"Joker the sensors are picking up disturbances…" the Riddler complained.
"Shut up!" Joker snapped before speaking back into the microphone. "I don't know if you ever played chess pal, but this is what we would call a checkmate."
"You're right; I declare checkmate against you Joker," the voice taunted back.
The Joker frowned.
"That's not funny."
"Now hear me out. If you surrender right now, I promise you after I reach the Monitor Womb, it will be a lot less painful for all of you. Give it up now and I will do my best to restrain myself and not hurt you."
"HAHAHA!" the Joker laughed. "You dare?"
"Joker!" Riddler complained.
"Shut up!" Joker snapped again.
"I am the Clown Prince of Crime. I am the Ace of Knaves! I am the true legacy of Gotham! Do you think I'll let some wannabe punk intimidate me?"
"JOKER!" Riddler cried.
"There's something moving up along the satellite to the floor he's on!" Riddler yelled and pointed to one of the Monitors.
Everyone in the Monitor Womb shifted their focus to a monitor that was showing what looked like a cluster of dots moving up.
"What the hell?" Two-Face asked.
Riddler typed frantically and pulled up a different camera feed.
"Yiah!" Harley screamed as a big black cloud of something zoomed by.
"No!" Scarecrow cried, recognizing what the big back cloud was.
"What is that?" Bane asked although he had a faint idea what it was as well.
"Hey you idiots down there!" Joker shouted into the microphone. "Get the hell out!"
"Hey you idiots down there! Get the hell out!"
The ten sentries looked at each other in confusion just as a screeching sound was heard.
Hundreds of screeching bats violently turned around the corner and began flying around the sentries.
"ARRRGH!" one yelled as many bats began to aggressively attack them.
One tried to shoot at them only to find himself getting swarmed.
"Yaahh!" another sentry screamed.
Within seconds all ten sentries were overcome by the angry swarm of bats. Their weapons laid on the ground discarded as the panic room opened up to reveal a tall and calm Batman. Batman, not disturbed by the bats at all, calmly walked to the nearest sentry and knocked him out with ease. He then made his way to the next sentry, getting ready to calmly subdue them all one by one.
The villains did nothing but stand still in horror as they saw their sentries subdued by a pack of flying rodents. Not even the Joker could think of an angry response or make a joke. All of them could feel the permeating sense of fear. Despite their efforts, the Batman was still alive. In the back of the Monitor Womb the League watched in awe as they saw Batman emerge tall from the panic room as if he never was hurt. He stood out like some sort of demon god among the swarm of bats.
Even though everyone in the League was glad he was alright, they couldn't help but feel a sense of foreboding. They all had finally understood what Batman, no Bruce Wayne, was truly capable of. He was a man who would fight tooth and nail and find a way to turn the tables no matter what the circumstances were. It was hard to believe he was just a man.
"There goes more," Harley croaked, finally breaking the silence.
The heart rate monitors located by the panic room began to go out one by one.
"Screw this!" Joker snapped. "This Batfake thinks he can outsmart me?"
"What does it take to get this through your head?" Riddler yelled back. "That is Batman! Not a Batman, the Batman!"
"No he's not!" the Joker denied, showing more hints of his delusional insanity. "And I'll prove it right now! The real Batman wouldn't have failed like this!"
The Joker then walked to the button.
"It's time to light some fireworks!" he shouted and he hit the button while letting out a mad cackle.
Except nothing happened. The clock still read three minutes.
"What?" Joker asked and hit the button again.
Still nothing happened.
"What the hell is going on here?" Two-Face growled.
"GGWWWWAAAAARRR!" the Bodach roared and started moving around.
"Hey quiet you!" Scarecrow yelled.
"Let me guess," Bane muttered sarcastically. "The signal to launch the missiles is blocked."
"Yes…" Riddler complained. "Why? How is he doing this?"
"Don't ask why!" Two-Face growled. "Get on it!"
"I can break through it! I can!" Riddler assured. "Just give me a few more minutes."
"You don't have minutes!" Superman called out to them in a taunting voice.
"What was that?" Joker demanded.
"Look at the screen," Superman said calmly.
The Joker and the rest looked and saw all ten lights were blue now.
"Batman's coming for all of you," Superman taunted. "Do you think you can break through the block before he gets here?"
"Shut up!" Joker shouted before looking at Riddler.
"Hurry up or I swear to God the last riddle you'll ask is where I'm going to bury you!"
The Metro Tower
The Metro stood in solemn silence as they watch Batman emerge among the swarm of bats victorious. They continued to watch with amazement as he dispatched the ten sentries one by one.
"That's not possible," Elongated Man denied. "He's not human!"
"He doesn't have powers!" Booster Bold accused. "How does he do all this?"
"It's because he's the Batman," Black Canary explained. "Anyone who's willing to dedicate their whole life engaging in a fight they can't win can do anything."
Green Arrow clutched her tightly as Question began to alter the monitors to show different camera feeds as Batman began to move again.
"Let's hope he can hurry up," Green Arrow whispered. "Before they launch a nuke at us."
"Sir I blocked the signal for launching the nukes!" Alfred called excitedly. "However it won't last long. Riddler will be able to break through. You need to hurry!"
Batman dispatched the last sentry and pushed a button on his belt. Immediately the screeching bats began to disperse all over the place like cockroaches when the light is turned on.
"It's going to be a pain catching them all later," Batman muttered ruefully before hurrying along.
He tried to go as fast as he could but he had to limp due to his leg. However he tried to ignore the pain as much as possible as he continued to make his way to the Monitor Womb. He kept hurrying along for a few minutes before talking to Alfred again.
"How many left?"
"Five, you're almost there…"
"Well never thought it would get to this point but it's down to you five losers by the Monitor Womb! I don't care about killing him anymore since you all seem allergic to doing that! All I care about now is that you stall him as long as you can! Do not let him get to the Monitor Womb!"
"I guess I'll be getting some more company," Batman replied.
"Sooner than you think. Two are coming out from the hallway ahead!"
Batman quickly pulled out two battarangs and threw them just as two sentries rounded around a corner.
Both sentries involuntarily cried in pain and dropped their weapons. Batman wasted no time and quickly subdued them.
BAM! WHAM! BAM!
Batman hurried along leaving the two sentries unconscious.
"The others are coming, you need to hurry though! Riddler is about to break through."
"Patch me through the Monitor Womb intercom again," Batman demanded. "It's time to get in their heads."
The League watched as the villains all paced around nervously except Riddler who was in his chair trying to break through the signal firewall. Ra's and Talia were still forgotten in the middle of the floor. No one seemed to care Talia was really close to freeing her father.
"Come on Bruce hurry," Flash said impatiently.
"Yes hurry," Zatanna agreed. "I don't know how much longer Dick can last."
"For the love of God I'm trying to stop three babies from popping out! What the hell is taking him so long?" Shayera screeched.
"There goes two more!" Bane snapped as they watched Batman easily take out two sentries. The heart rate monitors on the screen followed suit.
Joker ran up to the microphone.
"What the hell is preventing you from taking him out?! He's just one man! Not two, or three! He's not even a superhero! He's just one man!"
"And that's why you should be afraid of me," Batman's voice echoed across the Monitor Womb.
Riddler looked up nervously. On the cameras they could see Batman continue to limp along the Watchtower making his way to the Monitor Womb.
"Come again?" the Joker asked.
"You should be afraid of me because I'm just a man," Batman repeated.
"HAHAHAHAHA!" the Joker laughed. "Now that's a joke! What do you think you're trying to pull Batfake? I took out Superman and the Justice League! Why should I be scared of a normal guy in a gimmicky suit?"
"It is true I am a normal man," Batman agreed. "And it is true it doesn't take much to kill me. One wrong move, one stray bullet, one lucky slip of the knife and I am dead. But I want you to think about something."
The cameras showed Batman was only one floor away from the Monitor Womb.
"I have fought in Gotham for over twenty years and I have traveled through time and space. I have across the ages of time fought men, psychopaths, thugs, monsters, demons, aliens, robots, and even beings that call themselves gods. I have been shot, stabbed, beaten, even broken both physically and mentally. And yet despite everything I've gone through I have still survived. Even though it does not take much to kill me I still have survived so much and have continued to fight. So the question you should be asking isn't why you can't kill a normal man; you should be asking yourself what makes you think you're going to succeed this time when thousands of other attempts have failed?"
Batman's challenge felt like a knife cutting through the air. Even the League felt a little icy by that remark. It was true Batman was mortal, but why had he not died yet? How come nothing seemed to be able to kill him?
"You think you can scare me?" Joker snapped. "I'm on to your act! I've seen what you've done to these worthless guards! You don't kill!"
"You've hurt my family, tortured my friends, and threatened my city for the last time. I'm going to make sure that you all pay. You're right I don't kill, but after I get through each and every one of you, you're going to wish I did."
Joker's eyes widened at that threat. Some of the other villains were less subtle in their fear. Scarecrow looked like he was under a full panic attack which was making the Bodach more bold in its movements. Harley was sitting back down and pulling the two bells of her jester hat. Two-Face was flipping his coin erratically and even Bane was twitching. Lastly Riddler was shaking with fear as he in desperation tried to regain access to Brother Eye.
The League meanwhile just sat in silence and let Batman's threat sink in. No one wanted to say anything mainly because a lot of them were somehow afraid to even though Batman was on their side. Finally though Flash broke the silence again.
"Remind me to never ever piss off Bruce, ever…" he joked nervously.
"Eck!" coughed a sentry Batman punched in the gut.
Batman turned around and kicked another one. He was fighting the last three right now as fast as he could. Alfred kept reminding him that Riddler was really close to breaking through the firewall.
Batman threw one last punch and the last sentry passed out cold. He had done it; he had defeated all sixty soldiers of the Society of Shadows! The path to the Monitor Womb was clear now! Batman began to hurry, he was almost there. He suddenly skidded to a halt outside the doors. They were all shut.
"Alfred I'm going to need you to override the locks!"
"Sir I can but I'm going to have to get rid of the signal block that's preventing them from launching the nukes!"
"You know the Gray Ghost program is not completely integrated. I can only do so much at a time. If I help you open the doors I will have to drop the defenses to the nukes!"
"Sir I hate to be blunt but may I remind you that Riddler will break through the block soon anyways? I know you don't like to gamble but you're going to have to hope I can open the door before Riddler realizes the block is gone."
Batman grimaced. He knew it would take a while to free Superman and the others so he couldn't bank on at least Superman or the Green Lantern getting there and stopping the first wave of nuclear strikes.
"Do it," Batman relented.
"I'm starting it right now," Alfred announced. "May I ask what do you intend on doing once you step inside? Call your bats again?"
"The teleporter generators in the Monitor Womb would just scare them away," Batman explained.
"Then what are you going to do?"
"I'm still making it up as I go along," Batman admitted. "Right now though I got to do all that I can to distract them from launching those nukes."
"You do realize you're taking on at least five of your worst foes at once?" Alfred asked, signaling he just realized how much more danger Batman would be in when the doors would open.
"I know I am…"
"It's a suicide mission!" Alfred complained.
"I have one last-ditch plan that might work!" Batman snapped. "Just opens those doors!"
"Come on…come on…" Riddler muttered. After watching the last of the sentries fail, the villains were all scrambling around in terror.
"He's reached the door!" Scarecrow exclaimed.
"Shut up!" Joker snapped.
"Joker!" Riddler cried. "He's somehow hacked the door locks! He's trying to open them!"
"Don't worry about that!" Joker complained. "Worry about launching the nukes!"
Riddler however was looking at the closed Monitor Womb doors and his battlesuit that still stood empty in the corner. Suddenly Riddler got up and started sprinting to his battlesuit.
"Where are you going?" Joker demanded.
"Screw the nukes! I want to live!" Riddler cried and jumped into the battlesuit.
"I can launch them later!" Riddler spoke from inside the battlesuit.
"The doors are opening!" Two-Face growled.
All the villains and the Bodach turned to face it. Joker and Two-Face pulled up their guns facing the door while Scarecrow pulled the beast forward. Bane meanwhile began to pump more Venom into him as his muscles expanded. Lastly Riddler stepped forward in his battle suit. Only Harley cowered behind the rest in fear. However even though all the villains were putting up a strong front, it was obvious they were scared. Even though they had the advantage, they still showed fear and trepidation.
The League was also showing fear as well. Mister Terrific had brought up a point moments ago. While Batman was able to take out the sentries with ease due to often relying on surprise and open areas for him to pop out, how was he supposed to take on five of his strongest foes who were prepared for him?
"Do you think Batman has a plan?" Superman asked J'onn telepathically.
"I can't read any minds outside this prison. I only hope is he has a plan that the rest of us haven't thought of yet."
Diana was right next to Superman. She couldn't help but unconsciously hold his hand tight.
"Hera help us…" she whispered softly.
The doors opened and stumbling in was a man in black who was hunched over, clutching his side in pain.
"It is him!" Flash cried excitedly.
Even though the whole League by now had realized Batman was still alive, they were still rendered speechless by his sudden appearance right in front of them. Moments ago the man they thought had died was now standing in front of them triumphantly. Yes he was injured and exhausted but he was still able to stand with defiance as he stared into his enemies' eyes without fear.
"Impossible…" Shayera said in amazement.
Even the villains were in awe. Despite having guns on him, no one bothered to shoot. They all stood transfixed starting into the glaring white eyes of the cowl as if expecting him to do something else.
"Nnnghh!" Batman suddenly groaned and involuntarily fell onto his knee. He continued to groan in pain. His body was on fire, again. This attack seemed more relentless than the last.
"HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" the Joker laughed. The other villains were staring at the clown unsure.
"No…" Diana cried as she saw Batman groan in pain.
"I stand corrected! This is the Batman!" Joker admitted.
"What made you change your mind?" Scarecrow asked.
"Bruce!" Superman cried.
Batman closed his eyes and tried to concentrate. He didn't like falling to his knees in front of his enemies but the Omega Sanction seemed to have shut off a lot of his motor functions. He once again felt like he was going to pass out but he kept fighting it.
"Don't you see?" Joker asked. "Only the real, Batman could come so close to succeeding and suddenly fail so badly! To work so hard only to trip and colossally mess up on the finish line like this is pathetic, just like his whole life! It was one long story of hardship only for it end on the biggest joke of all; FAILURE! HAHAHAHAHAHA!"
All the villains began to laugh along arrogantly.
"Come on!" Diana snapped. "Pull yourself together Bruce!"
"Nnnngh!" Batman grunted as he heard his enemies laugh. He felt as if his body was splitting; splitting into seven pieces to be exact.
Batman's eyes flung open as he felt the pain subsided. It was still there but it felt like as it was spreading out and diffusing. He noticed the villains were still laughing.
"Hahahahahahaha!" Batman began to laugh along as well.
"HAHAHAHAHAHA!" the villains continued to laugh with him.
"What the hell is going on?" Flash asked. It was one thing to see Batman scary, but laughing was even more terrifying.
That realization seemed to be hitting the villains as well because one by one they stopped laughing to look at Batman uncomfortably. Only Joker and Batman were still laughing while staring at each other.
"Hahahahahahaha!" Batman laughed.
"HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" the Joker cackled back.
"GWWWWAAARR!" the Bodach roared, signaling it didn't like the sound of the two foes laughing. Finally Joker seemed to be calming down a little.
"Hahahahahaha….ha…ha…what are you laughing about?" the Joker asked while clutching his side and wiping away an unintentional tear.
Batman smiled and stood up again. He could feel the pain rising again but he knew it was going to be a good thing this time.
"They are coming," he said calmly.
"They?" the Joker asked in confusion which soon turned into annoyance.
"Who's coming?" the Joker demanded angrily and brought up his gun again.
"ARRGH!" Batman screamed.
A strange sound was heard and Batman was engulfed in white light.
"What the hell?" Two-Face asked for the umpteenth time in the past hour.
A buzzing was heard and one smaller ball of white light emerged from the greater white light and landed far to Batman's right. Immediately a green mechanical suit that looked a little smaller than the Riddler's and worn out appeared.
"That's Bruce!" Shayera shouted in confusion as everyone else realized who the occupant of what looked like Lex Luthor's battlesuit was.
A louder buzzing was heard and another ball of white light landed to the left of the Bruce-like stranger in the battlesuit. Now appearing was a man in a black fedora and trench coat. He was holding a gun in one hand and had shoulder length hair, glasses, and a thin moustache and goatee. But the piercing blue eyes were so familiar. In fact they matched the eyes of the person in the battlesuit.
"Am I seeing this right?" Mister Terrific asked.
The next light landed between the man in the trench coat and Batman who was still standing while being engulfed by white light. When the light cleared it revealed a man in a black Stetson, jacket, and boots with spurs. He was carrying a whip. He also had short black beard over his face while wearing a black mask across his eyes.
"Hot damn that's the Black Ranger!" Vigilante cried.
"How can you be so sure?" Sir Thomas asked.
"I grew up on those tales! I know what he looks like!"
The fourth white light this time landed right next to Bruce on his left side. This time appearing was a man in black medieval armor who was kneeling on one knee while gripping a sword tightly to the ground to balance his body. The knight looked up and began to slowly stand up while brandishing the sword. He didn't wear a helmet so everyone could see that he had long black hair and a bushy beard. He also had the same piercing blue eyes as the rest.
"Sir Thomas! My God!" Sir Justin said in amazement.
"So wait these are all Bruce?" Flash asked, realizing the pattern.
The fifth light landed next to the knight. This time a man in black Ancient Grecian armor while carrying a shield and flaming sword appeared. However to Diana that armor looked familiar. Way too familiar.
"Hera!" Diana gasped out loud in amazement. That was Bruce in Amazonian armor! And he was carrying the legendary sword of Perseus! But that would mean…the dream she had was real!
Diana like the rest stood transfixed and amazed as the sixth light emerged and landed to the left of the version of Bruce in Amazonian armor. This last incarnation was a wild-looking man wearing a loincloth and an animal skull as some type of helmet. He also brandished a club and walked hunched over as if he was some type of ape.
"Aarrghhh!" Batman groaned as the light disappeared. However he did not collapse to the ground in pain this time and instead stood tall with his six other incarnations that were all looking at the Gotham villains and the Bodach in anger. The villains had dumbstruck looks on their faces mixed with fear. Even the Joker looked at a loss for words and seemed to be sweating nervously.
There were seven Batmen on the Watchtower; seven heroes to save the world now.
I have been waiting for almost three years to write that last scene. Up next the climax of the story.