DC Heroes: MechWarrior I
By: Christopher W. Blaine
DISCLAIMER: All characters and situations contained in this story are ©2002 by either DC Comics Inc. or WhizKids and are used without permission for fan-related entertainment purposes only. No profit is made from this story. This original story is ©2002 by Christopher W. Blaine and may not be reproduced either in part or as a whole without the express permission of the author.Chapter 17 Outside Romanus Solaris Gotham Commonwealth January 31, 3032
"Son of a bitch!" Bruce yelled as his missile lock alarm went off. He couldn't believe what was happening! Ra's Al Ghul, a man he considered a mentor and friend, or at the very least, a man deserving of some measure of respect, was trying to kill him.
The missiles struck home and the powerful explosions ripped his left arm off. It was strange, he thought, watching the arm fly away across the field, coolant and lubricant pouring from the wound like blood.
"Father!" Talia cried out and Bruce's heart jumped. She was coming to his defense; her battered and bruised Manhunter limping to get over to where this three-way battle was now taking place. "Look out!" she warned.
The Valor piloted by Colonel Bloodspirit fired a large laser, but Bruce noted that it had duration much longer than a standard weapon. He had never heard of such a thing and his fascination with the implications almost comforted him as he realized that Talia had been warning Ra's about the back attack and not trying to get him to stop trying to kill Bruce!
"Talia?" Bruce whispered into the mike as he fought to keep the Batman going. It was a losing battle he could tell already. "Damn you father! Why couldn't you pilot an Atlas?"
"I am sorry, my Beloved, but this is something more important than you and I," she apologized as her machine kept moving towards them. He could only guess what she was planning to do. He knew that all of her weapons systems were down. Her armor was more memory than plate. It was a suicide march.
The Odin moved to fire again, at Bruce, when the Valor moved at a run towards the 100-ton monster. Bruce winced as the BattleMechs collided in a shower of sparks. Monel manipulated his right arm, putting the mechanical hand into a fist, and began hammering away at the rear armor of Ra's 'mech.
"Get off me, gnat!" Ra's bellowed, trying to twist his torso to a point where he could train some weapon onto the Valor. Bruce began to try to move the Batman when the computerized voice came up.
"Shutting down. Manual override by Lazarus One."
Bruce lost control, punching the control board first and then kicking at anything he could in the small cockpit. Lazarus One was the codename for Ra's. He had shut Bruce down by remote. The only thing working was the radio.
The Valor was finally pushed back and it fell, but the Odin did not turn on Bruce. Obviously Colonel Bloodspirit had managed to infuriate Ra's enough that he was not going to be paying any attention to the dead Batman.
Why was Ra's trying to kill him? It had to do with the fact that Bruce had revealed his identity, but it still didn't answer any of the hundred questions running through Bruce's head. Was Ra's a Thanagarian agent? If so, it made sense to a point, but he couldn't swallow that House Hol wanted to start a war at this time. Alfred Pennyworth was more than capable of defending the Commonwealth.
He then reasoned that perhaps it had to do with Ra's' ties to House Steiner. Then he considered some more things. How was it that Joe Chill came into the employ of Ra's, of all of the stables. How do you get a former champion to fight for you if you didn't have something on him, or something on someone else who had something on Chill?
Either way, Ra's Al Ghul was connected to Joe Chill in a way that was not professional.
"Gotham Prime, this is Emerald Leader," a voice said over the radio.
"Did you hear that? It's the Archon-Prince himself!" another voice called over the airwaves.
"This is an official GreenStar channel; your call signal has been recorded. Prepare for interrogation," the first voice said with a sinister tone.
Bruce looked down at his radar, but it was dead and he spit at it as he fumbled with his restraints. He uncoupled his cooling vest and began to manually work the hatch open. It wouldn't come at first and he cast a glance over to the wrestling 'mechs and was relieved to see that they were moving off slightly. Obviously Bruce was no longer a threat.
He finally got it open and inhaled the air that was filled with cordite and coolant fumes. He coughed and nearly threw up. The devastated stump of his left arm had caught fire and pounds of electrical insulation were starting to burn. The air was full of thunder as the Odin kicked the Valor in a leg that was showing the internal skeleton. Bruce was too far away to get a good look but he suspected that the design would be of great interest.
A laser shot gazed Bruce's shoulder and he fell out of the cockpit. He just managed to grab a handhold before he tumbled to the ground. His weight wrenched his shoulder and he screamed. Another shot hit the burned and scorched armor plate and the sparks it generated burned his face.
The shots were coming from a pistol, not a 'mech weapon and he desperately twisted and turned to see if he could spy who his assassin was. His heart stopped as he saw the Manhunter standing a few hundred feet away, the top hatch open and Talia leaning with a sniper rifle.
A 'mech, painted green and black with a large lantern on its chest floated by on jump jets, plumes of plasma lifting it up and over the Batman. The Emerald Gladiator, a GreenStar BattleMech, trained its four medium lasers on the Manhunter's open cockpit. In a blast of laser fire, John Stewart decimated the Lazarus Pit machine.
Bruce called out to Talia, but his voice trailed off as he came to realize that he could never really love a woman who was associated with his parent's death. A sick feeling came over him and he nearly lost his grip. Now was not the time for remorse and he reached over for another handhold to begin the long trek back up to the hatch.
The Emerald Gladiator landed, sending up a great cloud of dust and dirt. The 75-ton 'mech torso twisted towards the Odin and Valor. In the distance, several tiny 'mechs could be seen pouring into the area. Bruce caught sight of them and recognized them as 15-ton BatMites.
The cavalry had arrived.
John Stewart's voice boomed over his 'mech's loudspeakers. "Ra's Al Ghul! Colonel Monel Bloodspirit! You will cease this now. Commonwealth troops are now securing this area."
The Odin fired into the Valor's left knee that had already been severely damaged. The leg snapped off and seemed to just melt away into the cloud of black smoke. The Valor fell on top of the Odin's feet, temporarily trapping the BattleMech.
"GreenStar is the lackey of the Commonwealth!" Ra's retorted, his 'mech struggling to move the Legion BattleMech out of his way. "The son of Thomas Wayne will die today!"
Bruce managed to get back into his cockpit and closed the hatch. It was still warm inside and it smelled of desperation in the air. He heard the exchange going on between Ra's and John, all while five lances of the tiny Commonwealth BatMites made a large perimeter around all of them.
Talia's 'mech was severed from the bottom of the gyro bay up, nothing more than a pair of legs and some hip actuators. Despite the damage the Manhunter had received, there was no way it should have exploded as it had. He had little time to contemplate the final fate of Talia as the situation was becoming more drastic.
He tuned in the radio as John and Ra's were arguing over their external speakers. The transmissions told a very interesting tale. The Order of St. Dumas had apparently invaded the planet and the Solaris security forces were scrambling to head them off. There was also a lot of chatter about an alleged sighting of the Archon-Prince as well.
"Great," he mumbled, realizing he should have known that announcing his true identity would have been a mistake. Two Batwings roared overhead and Bruce wondered if they were there for him.
"Energy spike in the Legion 'mech!" someone called over the open channel. Bruce's eyes went to where Monel's 'mech had stopped struggling. The Odin suddenly started to jerk violently as Monel super-charged his fusion reactor. The Emerald Gladiator moved to step in front of Bruce's Batman, blocking his view just as the Valor exploded.
There was a wave of blue-white light and Bruce closed his eyes. There was no need; the Batman had polarized windows. Bits of metal flew into the air and showered the remaining 'mechs for at least a full minute. When the rain of debris finally let up, the Emerald Gladiator slowly moved forward and Bruce was able to see the destruction.
He popped open the hatch and a blast of hot air hit him. The air was charged with static electricity and he saw a single BatMite tipped over, a pillar of black smoke coming from it, a victim of shrapnel.
Before Bruce was a scene straight from his worst nightmares. BattleMechs lay in various states of death, puddles of coolant dotted the scene next to small brush fires started by lasers and PPC's.
There was the remnants of Talia's Manhunter and very close by was the Grasshopper that served as Joe Chill's coffin. The Valor was gone, completely destroyed in the tradition of fallen Legion 'mechs, and the Odin was only half a skeleton. It was as if a giant knife had come down out of the sky and sliced away two-thirds of the assault 'mech.
The cockpit was gone and Bruce watched as the burned remains of an LRM launcher dropped to the ground, a final shed tear.
"It's over," John Stewart said.
Bruce could only nod.
Jim Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth and Bruce Wayne stood in the office of the Archon-General. Bruce still had red hair, but it had faded in the weeks since he had been evacuated from Solaris. "So, has the government of Solaris and the Order of St. Dumas made friends?" Bruce asked as he accepted a glass of brandy from Jim.
The intelligence agent nodded. "For the most part, though I suppose the bribes we paid to all of the officials helped out quite a bit."
"Indeed," Alfred said.
Bruce snickered and adjusted the collar on his dress uniform. He had returned to the Gotham Academy and demanded to take the final exams. He completed the BattleMech course with a full 100%score. The only medal on his uniform, however, was the Competitor's Gold from Solaris.
By now the news feeds had been filled with the story of Bruce's wins as Matches Malone and a story was being put out that it had all been part of an intensive BattleMech training program.
The return of the Archon-Prince was tempered by the truth that John Grayson, hero of the Commonwealth, was dead, murdered by an unknown assassin. Oracle agents had spent the time since Bruce had left to scour the records that Ra's Al Ghul had, trying to determine who the assassin was that had been hired.
The trail had ended at the body of Lew Moxon, who had been shot in the back of the head with a high-powered laser rifle. "We still believe it was Talia," Jim commented on the subject. The daughter of Ra's Al Ghul had not been discovered, dead or alive. "How she avoided death we can't even begin to know."
"Which is not surprising," Alfred added. "The Legion 'mechs we recovered were nothing more than standard issue machines; the one piloted by Colonel Bloodspirit was completely atomized. We have no opportunity to examine any special weapons."
"It's like dealing with Wolf's Dragoons," Jim laughed. "In fact, the entire Legion has up and disappeared. They were negotiating a contract with House Luthor and just vanished."
"I here the autopsy on Major Val was interesting," Bruce said.
Jim nodded. "Healthiest person ever seen in the Commonwealth. Too bad someone stole the body from the military morgue."
Bruce sighed. "What about Al Ghul's connection to the Steiners?"
"I would bury it," Alfred told him. "The Steiner's are a powerful family, politically rabid. However, I cannot see them stooping to murdering your father. No, I would say that Al Ghul simply chose a political faction at random."
"For what purpose, though? He was a criminal businessman, he couldn't hope that he could achieve political standing by what he was doing." Bruce turned and looked out the window where his new Dark Knight stood, its black armor gleaming in the moonlight. It was a new design by Ted Kord, meant to replace the defective Batman. "Yet, I always got the idea there was something more to Ra's than he let on. I just never believed that he would be capable…"
Jim put a hand on his lord's shoulder. "Whoever Ra's really was, he had deep pockets and even deeper connections. We've discovered entire 'mech facilities on various moons and outlying worlds. He had private armies…"
"Whomever she was, sir, she has made good her escape as well," Alfred told him. "It seems that you were able to get your revenge though."
Bruce nodded, remembering Joe Chill's sacrifice. "I have to contemplate whether a man can make up for all of the evil in his life with one selfless act." He turned to the two men. "Joe Chill killed my father and mother, but the act also killed him. He lived a life of pain and guilt he couldn't escape. In the end, that guilt cost him."
"Maybe I'm a bit old-fashioned, sir, but I think if he knew who you really were, he would have changed his mind. More than likely he would have murdered you to get in good with Al Ghul," Jim said in an off-handed matter. The reality that Chill had been the murderer was more than unsettling; there was no way a loser such as him could have gotten away with what he did without governmental help.
Bruce held up a hand to halt any further conversation on the subject. "It doesn't matter. Joe Chill is dead. I don't have the proof, but I know he is the person I was after." He then turned to Alfred. "You were right, you know? Vengeance doesn't bring about the satisfaction I thought it would. I just feel empty on the inside."
"Good. It means that maybe you will think more clearly when the time comes to decide whether or not to commit troops to the field. The Order of St. Dumas did a lot for the Commonwealth," Alfred said as he handed over a folder. "I am submitting the names of the officers involved in your rescue for special commendations and compensation packages."
Bruce took the folder and tucked it into the crook of his arm. "A little light reading I suppose." He looked up at the clock. "I have to go sit down with Guardian Ganthet to work out a new GreenStar contract."
"Do not stay up too late; your coronation is tomorrow," Alfred reminded him. "And I get to retire."
"Maybe," Bruce commented with a smile. "What about Richard?"
"The adoption papers have been completed, sir, backdated as appropriate," Jim said. The son of John and Mary Grayson was to become the new Archon-Prince upon Bruce's ascension.
Bruce thanked both of them and moved to the door of the office, where Dinah stood in a crisp uniform. She winked at him and then fell in behind him as he entered the hallway. "I heard you and your husband are getting a divorce," Bruce said quietly.
"Don't get your hopes up, handsome; it's only a rumor," she said as she nodded to the guards outside the door. They moved a few feet down the hallway and she started again. "My daughter is hot, you know."
Bruce ignored her. "What's the word on Selina?"
"She's hooked up with a cult. I can't find out if she went because she believes or because she's undercover." She handed over a folder and he quickly examined the contents. "Maxie Zeus?"
"Old pirate that pilots a Zeus BattleMech. Conducts most of his business from the cockpit," she explained as the turned a corner. "He started a religion around himself and it looks like Selina fell in with him."
"We need to figure out a way to get me in there," he said.
"Jesus! Will you stop! You're the Archon!"
"Just figure it out," Bruce said as he handed back the folder. They stopped in front of a door that had both Commonwealth and GreenStar sentries. "Do this and I'll find someone to marry you're ugly slut of a daughter."
Dinah gave a little chuckle as the doors closed in front of her. It was good to have things back to some sense of normalcy.
She looked down at the folder and shook her head wondering how long that normal would last.