Chapter 1: Where In The World Is Mr. Black?
Harry was pacing in his suite at Black Island, racking his brain regarding his next move. The war against Voldemort had ended abruptly only a few measly weeks ago. Harry himself was shocked speechless when Henchgirl handed him a special edition of the Daily Prophet claiming incontrovertible proof of Voldemort's demise. While that fact alone was indeed surprising, what he found mind-boggling was that he – that is, Mr. Black – was credited with the dark wizard's destruction. The wizarding press reported that the previously un-locatable Riddle house vanished in giant fireball the previous evening, taking out the house, Dark Lord, and all his followers – but incredibly leaving the muggle dwellings adjacent to the wizarding home completely unscathed. The helpful Potions' mistress also provided the young wizard with a muggle paper – the London Times – which reported that a RAF cargo carrier was flying over the town of Little Hangleton when its rear hatch malfunctioned, dumping several metric tons of munitions over an abandoned settlement. The paper went on to report that the house was due for demolition for many years anyway, but was curiously overlooked by the district's public works office.
While the knowledge that Voldemort would no longer be able to harm his friends was welcome, Harry found the sudden inactivity to be tedious.
In short, the globetrotting young wizard was bored, which helped to explain how he was so easily convinced by the Professor and Henchgirl to help them test their latest invention.
"So, what does this thing do?" Harry asked again, after receiving an incomprehensibly detailed accounting from the Professor.
When the short man opened his mouth to repeat himself, Henchgirl smacked her companion over the head. "In short," she answered, "it's a combination of apparition and portkeys. It should transport any matter to any destination we choose."
Harry raised an eyebrow in interest. "Is there a maximum range?"
"We've tested it on inanimate objects just fine, and yesterday we transported a cat from here to the Hawaii islands without a problem," the Professor answered excitedly.
Henchgirl, ever the voice of reason, added, "Of course, we also missed the beach by about ten feet, which dumped the cat into Pacific Ocean. And we also turned it green."
"And all its hair fell out," the Professor added helpfully.
Harry looked a little worried at that.
"But we fixed the green problem," the Professor promised. "And we're much better on our accuracy now. There's absolutely nothing to worry about!"
Harry nodded. "And the hair problem?"
Henchgirl smiled and held up a small vial. "Hair restorer."
The little man's nervous grin somehow failed to inspire much confidence, but Harry was a Gryffindor and Gryffindors went forward. "All right," the world famous wizard answered, "what do I need to do?"
"Just stand at the center of the locating pad…" the Professor advised while gesturing to the concentric red and white circles on the floor.
"You mean this giant bull's eye?" the dark-haired wizard asked.
"Precisely!" the older man bubbled as he began energetically turning knobs and mashing buttons. After checking a multitude of gauges, none of which Harry could derive the purpose of, the mad scientist look-alike moved his hand over a large red button and yelled, "Contact!"
"No! No! No!" Henchgirl protested. "I've told you this already! You're supposed to give a count down before pressing the button!"
"Fine, whatever!" the Professor waved away the young woman's concern. "One hundred… ninety nine… ninety eight…"
"Forget it," she muttered resignedly. "Fire in the hole!" she yelled, just before smacking the Professor's hand, activating the machine and causing the widely feared 'Mr. Black' to disappear in a glow of magic.
"Success!" the Professor yelled happily, before capering around the lab like a two-year-old. "We didn't even leave any body parts behind on this run!"
"Let's see how well it did," Henchgirl said hesitantly. Activating the teleporter's viewfinder, she zoomed to the area where their employer should have landed. Not seeing the wizard anywhere, the young witch began rapidly panning the shoreline. Unfortunately, this frantic activity was too much for the device, which began overheating and merrily melting its components.
Stifling a growl, she pulled out her Black Ink zippo. "Mr. Black? The teleporter's just got fried. You'll have to apparate back to the island." After several moments of silence, she inquired, "Mr. Black?"
As the minutes drug by with no word from the infamous Mr. Black, the two inventors looked at each other in slowly dawning terror. Using her keen sense of scientific deduction, Henchgirl effortlessly summarized the situation.
Harry picked himself up off the cold concrete floor and looked around. Taking in his surroundings – which consisted of a great many safety deposit boxes, several of which emanated a veritable glow of magic – the transplanted wizard concluded that he was in a dimly lit inside of a vault.
Running a hand across his shiny bald head, Harry sighed and downed the vial. "Why does all the strange stuff always happen to me?" he pleaded rhetorically. Shaking his head at life in general, Harry pulled out his Zippo. "Professor, are you there?"
"Henchgirl…?" he asked nervously.
Still no answer.
"Bloody hell!" Harry swore. He knew he should stay in the vicinity of… wherever it is that he landed, but he was not going to stay locked inside of a vault. Throwing his hand out, he sent one of those cool Russian demolition spells flying into the vault's door. With a protest of tearing metal, daylight streamed into the room Harry was occupying as the tattered steel door pivoted outwards and landed noisily on the floor. Oddly enough, the door seemed to cry out in pain as it landed.
'Odd,' Harry thought as he casually strode out of the room. Much to his surprise, he immediately encountered four individuals, all of which were sending incredulous glances from Harry to the vault door upon which he stood. The first person was an elderly man, dressed in what Harry thought was a World War II-era pilot's uniform. The other three were in even stranger garb; the transplanted wizard saw two women in revealing costumes standing alongside of another man in a red, full-body spandex suit. Apparently they were dressed for a party somewhere, as one of the women even had a set of feathered wings!
"Uhm… sorry about that," Harry said sheepishly. "I sometimes forget my own strength." Meeting the inquiring eyes of his four-person audience, Harry turned to the old soldier and saluted. "Some of your mates did me and mine a good turn over in southern Britain a while back. If there's ever anything I can do for you, just let me know."
The older man looked confused and opened his mouth to say something, but Harry saved him the trouble of answering. "The RAF cargo carrier that did some demolitions work? You boys saved a lot of lives that night, and I appreciate it." Harry just nodded as the man's eyes widened in recognition. "Right, that. So, if you ever need a favor, just give me a call or something."
"Who are you?" Chuck, formerly of the elite Black Hawk squadron, asked hesitantly.
"Oh, right. Sorry about that," Harry said as he smacked himself upside the head. "I'm Mr. Black. Anyway, it's been nice meeting all of you, and I hope you get to your costume party alright. Good day!"
Harry gave a cheerful wave and meandered out of large warehouse to explore this new environment.
"Who the hell was that?" Shayera Hol, also known as Hawkgirl of the Justice League, demanded. She had wanted to question the strange man's sudden appearance – inside of a locked vault of all places – but held off when it seemed that her old friend Chuck knew him.
"Impossible…" the old pilot muttered.
"What's impossible?" Beatriz DaCosta asked in her Brazilian accent.
"My unit was only in Britain for one week during the war," the older man explained, "and we only went on one mission – a Black Ops mission. And by Black Ops, I mean that nobody knew, except the highest levels of the Brass."
"And one other person," he added mysteriously. "I suppose it won't hurt to tell you now, but we were ordered to rendezvous with one of the Brit's supposed secret agents. The guy was strange personified; he went to great lengths to keep his identity hidden, including dressing in a full-length black body suit, and told us to just call him 'Agent Black'. Anyway, we snuck aboard one of the Royal Air Force's largest cargo planes, which was fully loaded with munitions for the front lines. After we got airborne, this guy guided us to a little suburb on the outskirts of London, which had this one house he identified as a Nazi spy cell. Long story short, me and the boys went down below and blew the place to kingdom come. When we got back up from the rear bay, all we found was the front hatch wide open. The Brit was gone, but none of the parachutes were missing. We returned to base and that's the last we heard of the matter… until just now."
"Whoa… whoa… whoa!" Flash protested. "Are you saying that the kid who just wandered outside is over fifty years old?"
"Actually, the mission was over sixty years, so he has to be at least 80," Chuck corrected. "But if this isn't the same guy, then how did he know? The mission was never logged."
"That's impossible!" the fastest man alive repeated. "He can't be more than eighteen! Twenty tops!"
Shayera looked completive. "Well, remember what happened to Superman with Vandal Savage? He was sent centuries into the future and met Savage, who looked the same as always. Maybe this 'Mr. Black' can go back in time."
"Unless he's immortal like Savage," the Brazilian Fire added. "Maybe he didn't need to go back in time; he could have just lived through it."
"What I want to know is why he showed up now," the former squadron commander interrupted. "How did he even know that we were here? This is a fairly secluded facility, after all."
"Well, you said he's a spy," Hawk girl mentioned, "so the 'how' is easy. As for 'why'…"
Fire quietly proposed, "Maybe he thought those idiots were a threat to your life and decided to intervene?"
"I don't know, but this is incredible!" Chuck exclaimed. "I mean, I knew that the guy had unusual training, but this is just… surreal."
Flash didn't look totally convinced, but he was leaning that way. "Well, whoever the guy is, shouldn't we take him to the League? I mean, he did flatten Luthor, the Key, and Dr. Polaris."
"You can try," Chuck advised, "but I wouldn't force him. There's no telling what tricks he's picked up over the years, and I'd hate to be you if you piss him off."
The JLA members readily agreed and hurriedly went after the man to 'request' that the strange immortal English spy accompany them back to the League's watchtower. Once Harry found out that they wanted to take him to an actual space station, he was more than happy to go with them. After all, once the Professor fixed the problem with the teleporter and portable floo, they could find Harry easily enough.
After arranging for one of their jets – 'a Javelin,' Harry thought - dropping the old man off at his home, the trio of leaguers took turns explaining about the Justice League to the bemused Harry, who spent most of the journey either staring out of the window or examining the weird muggle gadgets the space plane contained. Once they actually docked with the station, Flash and Fire spent the next several minutes taking Harry on a tour of the orbiting space station while Shayera slipped away to notify the rest of League founders.
"…And that's pretty much it," Flash concluded.
Harry was very impressed, and wished that his friends could have come with him to see such an amazing facility. "I'm impressed. I mean, I heard that America was launching space stations and stuff, but I didn't know that it was this advanced!"
"Well, saving the world a few dozen times has to come with some perks, after all," the scarlet speedster mentioned.
"Now, it's not quite like that," a male voice responded from over Harry's shoulder. Turning around, the wizard found himself staring at a tall, broad-shouldered man. The figure was dressed in a skintight blue body stocking with a large 'S' on his chest and a flowing red cape falling across his shoulders.
"Hello," the man said cordially, extending his hand, "I'm Superman. Welcome aboard the Watchtower."
Harry dipped his head. "I'm Mr. Black. Thanks for the invite, by the way."
"You're most welcome," the costumed superhero replied. "Shayera – that's Hawkgirl -" he added at the other's confused look "- has already mentioned about your arrival. If you'd follow me, some of us had a few more questions for you."
"Of course," Harry conceded. "Lead the way."
"Bye, Flash," Fire called out as the 'fastest man alive' fell in beside Harry as they followed Superman to the founder's conference room.
After escorting Harry to the League's inner sanctum, the two leaguers took their seats, leaving Harry standing in front of a circular table with seven seats. Besides Shayera, Flash, and Superman, there were three other people whom Harry did not know. The first wore a mask from his nose upwards and was clad in gray and black, with a bat emblazoned on his chest. To his left was a stern faced, dark-skinned man in a green and black spandex suit, with a logo of some sort of lantern displayed across his sternum. On the bat-obsessed man's other side was another woman, this one in a red, white, and blue swimsuit, replete with a golden lasso attached at her waist.
Harry waved at the winged woman perched on her own seat, earning one from the redhead in return.
The man who introduced himself as Superman broke the ice. "Well, Mr… Black, we have a few questions that we'd like to ask you."
"One second, please," the wizard responded.
Since Harry had discretely inquired earlier if the league had any knowledge of the magical populace, he found that there was at least three 'mystics' enrolled as members. Knowing that he would not be violating the statute of secrecy, Harry had no qualms with conjuring himself a comfortable recliner, not unlike those that Albus Dumbledore had so blatantly created a year or so prior.
Falling casually back into the stuffed chair, Harry kicked his heels up and said, "Okay, shoot."
Harry could tell that his casual conjuring of the chair had combined with his distinct lack of fear to offset the others nicely. To their credit, however, they quickly shook the shock off and continued.
"Well, the first one is-" Superman started only to be interrupted by the 'bat man'.
"What is your full name?" Batman demanded coldly. "Who sent you?"
"I believe that you just interrupted your friend," Harry said levelly. "That wasn't very polite. If there's one thing I've learned in my life, it's that good manners are very important. They can prevent all kinds of misunderstandings, you see."
"Your name," he stressed grimly.
"What's yours?" Harry returned quickly, still not losing his composure.
"I'm not the one being interrogated!" he barked.
That did put a slight chill into Harry's reply.
"And you're implying that I am?" the wizard demanded coldly.
"No, of course not! Don't mind Batman; he's suspicious around everyone." Superman jumped back in to the conversation, shooting his partner a warning glance at the same time. "We just wanted to know how you came to be on Blackhawk Island."
"Blackhawk Island?" Harry repeated curiously. "Is that where I bumped into Shayera and Flash?" At the man's nod, Harry just shrugged. "An old friend needed my help, so I went to help. Everything didn't go exactly as expected – I certainly didn't expect to run into all of you -, but it seemed to work out all right in the end."
"Yes, it did," Superman answered, thinking of the recaptured villains, as well as the reclaimed Lance of Longinus – solely due to this 'Mr. Black's' efforts.
Shayera voiced the next question, seeing as how she was interested in covert missions. Of course, the mystery of Mr. Black's age picked at her brain as well. "You mentioned a plane dropping ordinance in southern Britain earlier, remember?"
Harry just nodded at the woman in confirmation.
"Well," she hesitated, "Chuck told us that pilots on those kinds of missions are usually Black Ops. Can you tell us anything else about that mission?"
The wizard blinked once before replying, "I'd imagine that any soldiers in that line of work are bound by secrecy oaths. I don't know about how things are run here, but it's my experience that those oaths would prevent any discussion of the mission or its parameters. I can't really tell you anything more specific than that. Does that help you any?" Harry asked curiously.
Shayera thought on what he had told her for a few moments. "Yes, I think so. Thanks," she smiled.
Harry gave a half-hearted salute with two fingers. "Anytime."
"I have a question," the other woman spoke up. At Harry's interested look, she continued, "My name is Diana, by the way. What are you planning to do now that you… helped your friend?"
"I'm just a guy on vacation," Harry said before thinking for a few moments. "I had been on vacation, but I had to cut it short due to an… incident," Harry summarized carefully. "Now that it is… resolved, I suppose that I'll go back on break. I had only just got started in the States, so I guess I'll just see what there is to see."
"So you don't have any outside agenda?" Superman asked, with a significant glance at the stoic Batman.
"Well, I confess to being a little addicted to the 'Wild West'. I really liked this little Colorado town back a hundred years or so ago," Harry confided.
Harry frowned for a moment in thought. "No," he said finally, "I guess it was set more like a hundred and fifty years ago, now that I think about it."
Snorting amusedly, Harry glanced back at Diana and asked, "Do you ever have problems keeping track of things like that? I don't know about you, but I can never keep my dates straight; I'd make a right sorry History professor, I suppose."
Shrugging good-naturedly, Harry missed Diana's brief widening eyes as he returned to his previous topic. "Anyway, I picked up this great little forty five long when I was wandering through. You know, the old Single Action Army 'six shooter'?"
Harry's eyes suddenly lit up. "You know what… I think that I still have my hat! Just a minute." The wizard began digging through his coat's inner pockets in search of his treasure, completely unaware of the incredulous gazes being exchanged between the senior Leaguers.
"Aha!" Harry exclaimed when his shoulder was buried in his coat. Withdrawing the entire length of his arm, Harry removed his worn Stetson with its black leather and turned down brim. "Still in good shape, too, all things considered," the wizard said happily as he perched it on his head.
Ever the military buff, John Stewart aka the Green Lantern jumped on the opportunity to pick this… unique individual's brain. "You said you had an authentic Army-issue single action?"
Harry nodded. "Still do, actually," he answered. "By the way, if you say that your name is 'Green man', I'm out of here," Harry added resolutely.
"It's the 'Green Lantern'," the darker man answered flatly while a few of his associates hastily hid their smiles. "Can I see it?"
"Sure," the wizard said easily before shoving his whole head inside the same inner pocket that his hat had come from earlier. The group of superheroes heard irritated mutterings before Harry removed his head from the charmed pocket. Standing up, the wizard took his specially made coat off and gestured to get Superman's attention.
"Hey, you look pretty stout. Can you give a bloke a hand?" Harry asked the taller man. At the costumed figure's confused expression, Harry clarified, "Just hold my coat open." Rearranging the coat so its flaps were held wide open, he explained, "The gun belt got caught around my sword and the whole tangled bunch slid under my motorbike. Won't take but a second."
Before the dumbfounded hero could muster a rejoinder, Harry had jumped into the coat headfirst, his feet disappearing inside the pocket's hem. Even the Batman seemed shaken – however slightly – by this unforeseen development, and the superheroes spent the next several moments staring at each other with wide eyes.
The disguised Clark Kent, being the brave sort, chanced a glance into this magical space before his eyes practically jumped from his head and he resolutely looked at the ceiling. Pocket dimensions were perfectly reasonable. Inter-dimensional travel – no problem. Identical genetic cloning, evil twins, alien invasions – easy as pie. But there was just something wrong about having a garage's worth of junk in your coat pocket!
A few minutes later, Harry crawled out of his coat with the gun belt around his waist. "Thanks, mate," Harry said as he took his coat back and slipped it on. Noticing that the man didn't take his eyes off the ceiling. Harry craned his own neck upwards in order to spot what had captured the man's attention. Finding nothing, he shrugged to himself again and unholstered the pistol. Pulling the appropriate lever, Harry spun the small cartridge around to ensure that it was unloaded. Ensuring that the weapon was safe, he spun the weapon around in his hand so that he held it by the barrel and extending the weapon to the captivated Green Lantern.
"I don't believe it!" the normally serious ex-Marine practically gushed. "This thing is one of the original handcrafted pieces! There can be more than a handful of these still in circulation!"
"It was used when I bought it," Harry mentioned offhandedly. "I ran into an old prospector – nice bloke – who knew a thing or three about six-shooters. He's the one who fixed it up for me."
"Incredible!" Lantern breathed as he gently passed the pistol back to its owner.
Holstering the sidearm, Harry smiled at the man's delight. "Well, I've enjoyed our little chat, but breakfast was a long time ago, and I'm getting hungry. Unless you have any more pressing questions, would one of you mind pointing me in the direction of the dining hall?"
"Uhm… sure," Superman mumbled, finally snapping out of his haze. "Out the door, to the right, third door on your left."
Harry tipped his hat at the group. "Cheers." And before any of the leaguers could do anything, Harry did an about face and strode right through the door. Fortunately for the wizard's dignity, Henchgirl's spell ignored the small hiccup that the very solid door was still shut at the time.
The wizard's rather unorthodox departure had – yet again - reduced the six remaining adults to a catatonic state. Regaining his senses the fastest, Batman turned to his Kryptonian ally and hissed, "Do you think it wise to allow a security risk of that magnitude to wander around our most sensitive base at will?"
The barely hidden barb was sufficient to rouse the remainder of the chief council, and earned a reprisal from the man of steel. "Do you think that we have any real chance of stopping him? The man has a full scale motorcycle in his coat pocket, for goodness sake!"
"A few cheap tricks and you're prepared to just roll over?" the dark knight demanded incredulously.
"Those 'cheap tricks' are more advanced than what our mystics can pull off, and you know it!" John Stewart replied forcefully. "It would have taken both Dr. Fate and Zatanna to match that little show, and this 'Mr. Black' did it without their wands and incantations. That was some pretty high caliber stuff he was throwing around there."
"Yeah, the floor show was kinda cool, but why did he do it?" Flash asked confusedly. "I mean, all he did was let us know how dangerous he can be; wouldn't it have been smarter to play dumb? You know, hide his powers?"
Batman rotated his head slightly to center Flash in his gaze. "He was sending a message," Batman intoned, as if the matter were obvious.
"Huh?" Flash intelligently responded.
Diana nodded to herself. "He assured us that he had no hostile intentions, but he would defend himself if we attacked him first. That magic show he put on was just to highlight his warning."
"Think about it," Shayera concurred. "Without being obvious or offensive, he showed Clark up close just how advanced his power was, as well as underlining that he only came here to help a friend. Then he told Batman that he would behave himself unless we pressed him. Diana was informed that he knew she was immortal, and that he was long-lived as well. Black then proved that he was that British spy from World War II when he discretely pointed out that he knew about John's fascination with the old west. I mean, it's not like that sort of thing is public knowledge. He'd almost have to have had espionage training."
"And then he finished it up by proving that we can't imprison him even if we wanted to," Clark concluded. His brow furrowed in thought for a few moments as he pondered the mysterious stranger that had wondered into their midst. He absently flicked an irritating lock of hair out of his eyes as his mind came to the only logical conclusion.
"We should offer him a place with us," the world's strongest man concluded audibly for his teammates.
"Absolutely not!" Batman immediately countered. "He's a security risk and we should get rid of him immediately, not invite him to stay around."
"The problem is that he can probably find out anything from us whether he's a league member or not," John rejoined. "For all we know, he might have all our personal information already. If he knew about my hobby, who's to say that Black doesn't know about your private life? If he was on the team, that might encourage him from disseminating whatever intel he's gathered."
"Yeah, what GL said," Flash added. "Besides, if we told him to leave and tried to kick him out, he'd probably just turn invisible or something. Then, we'd have a very unhappy camper on our hands, and no real way to stop him."
Shayera shook her head. "I can't believe that I'm saying this, but I think that Wally has a point."
"As do I," Diana weighed in with her own opinion. "He seems to be an honorable… being. We should not scorn him merely for being different from us."
"Let's take it to a majority vote," Superman called. "All in favor of inviting Mr. Black to join us?" Of the six, only Batman's hand remained motionless. "Alright, the motion passes," Clark concluded.
Batman rose swiftly to his feet. As he swept from the room, his gravelly voice carried a warning back to his teammates. "I hope that you all know what you are doing… for your sakes."
As the automatic door closed behind Gotham's champion, Clark met the others eyes.
"Now that that's settled…" Clark inquired, "Who's going to tell our guest?"