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To Be a Hero: Family

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by AntonioCC, Jul 16, 2016.

  1. Threadmark: Family.01
    AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    To Be a Hero: Family

    Chapter 1: Meeting Cousins

    Disclaimer: all characters are property of their respective owners.

    Spoilers: to season 7 of Buffy (I'm not including the season 8+ comics in this continuity), general spoilers for Batman and mild spoilers for X-Men: Evolution season 1.

    Author Note: the version of the Batman that will appear here draws from several versions.



    Westchester County. New York. A county road

    "It wouldn't have killed you to accept his offer to open a portal directly from Hamden, and then to Gotham, you know," Dawn said as her sister drove through the forest. "I thought that you were over your hostility to him."

    "And I am... It's just that his magic makes me queasy," Buffy said, and chuckled as her sister snorted. "Yeah, I find it as ridiculous as you."

    "And why didn't you say anything?" Dawn said.

    "Because I'm the senior Slayer, I have a reputation to keep up," Buffy said with a smirk, that disappeared as her expression grew serious. "You know what's really bothering me?"

    "Let me guess, something related with the old Council?" Dawn said. "You haven't stopped cursing Travers and his minions since you came back from Scotland last month."

    "Yeah, we found that the old Council rejected the help of one of the most powerful wizards of the world, many, many times," Buffy said "His help would've made our life much easier."

    "I suspected as much." Dawn said, and added, when Buffy looked a her with a puzzled expression "What? I asked Strange, and told me that apparently the Council felt protective of their turf. An idiotic reason, but that's the Council for you."

    "Yeah." Buffy nodded. "Well, what do you have about the guy whose will we are going to hear?"

    "Technically, it is not his will, it's an additional disposition to his will, a codicil I think they're called, as he died a couple of years after I was born." Dawn explained "And, well, Thomas Wayne was loaded, Wayne Corp being basically tied with LexCorp and Stark Enterprises in the rankings, leaving behind, by a good margin if I may add, Von Doom Industries and Oscorp." She then paused for a moment, as she read something in her smartphone, and added "And he wasn't a heartless CEO. He basically left trusted people in charge, while he worked as a doctor in a private free clinic in the worst part of Gotham. And his wife was a cousin of mom."

    "What?" Buffy said, startled.

    "Oh, yes. Do you remember that mom's maiden name was Kane? The Kanes and the Waynes are two of Gotham's old families, and Thomas' wife, Martha Kane, was the daughter of Grandpa Rick older brother, Robert. Apparently, there was some kind of fight and Grandpa Rick moved to L.A., after being disinherited," Dawn said, reading from the articles that Willow and she had been saving all the past day. "Mom studied art in Gotham University, where she met Martha and they became good friends, as well with Martha's fiancé, Thomas."

    "All right... Mom only told me that she had studied in the East Coast and she met my biological father there. It was only when she came back to L.A. with me, when she met Hank," Buffy said, who then frowned as she remembered something. "I think that I vaguely remember visiting somebody in a dark and foreboding mansion one of the times that Mom and Hank had been fighting, months after you were born, but it's not very clear, apart from getting into a fight with a spoiled brat there."

    "This brat?" asked Dawn, showing her a picture of a boy in front of a tomb.

    "He could be, the memory is really vague," Buffy said with a shrug. "Who is he?"

    "Bruce Wayne, the son of Thomas and Martha Wayne and the only witness of their murder," Dawn said. "He is roughly your age."

    "Bruce Wayne? The Bruce Wayne? Mr. Hunky Millionaire Playboy?" Buffy said, and Dawn nodded with a smirk "Daaaamn."

    "Yeah. Our cousin is yummy, all right," Dawn said. "He even looks a bit like Angel. Tall, dark and handsome."

    "Cousin, remember. We are not from... one of those places with hillbillies like, I dunno, Kansas?" Buffy said.

    "Kansas? Are you sure?" Dawn asked.

    "Not really, but anyway, let's change the topic," Buffy said "Did you get something of that idiot?."

    "Nope, he was too stoned to say anything coherent." Dawn said, looking at the fuel tank gauge "We are going to need to..."

    Whatever they were going to need it was never said because a deer jumped out of the forest in that moment, forcing Buffy to make a sharp turn that threw the car out of the road, down a slope and despite Buffy's frantic attempts to avoid it, onto a tree. Fortunately, both Summers sisters survived the ordeal reasonably unscathed, though the same couldn't be said of the vehicle.

    "For God's sake!" Buffy said, after seeing that the car didn't start up and managing to open the door with a shove. "Can anything go without a hitch for once? I should have suspected something was going to happen when that demon folded so easily."

    "At least it's not Tuesday," Dawn said, stopping to struggle with her door, and exiting the car through the driver door, "What are you doin'?" she asked, as she saw Buffy starting to walk, phone in hand.

    "Checking the cell coverage," she said, walking around the car in wider circles, phone in hand, before slumping down "Nothing. You, any luck?"

    "No signal either." Dawn said, before getting the map again and checking "Okay... we took this county road twenty minutes ago... and giving the speed we were going... If you follow the road you will end in Graymalkin Lane. There will be better cell coverage there, given that it's a residential zone, and you should be able to find somebody to give us a lift."

    "Thanks," Buffy said, before checking under the car. "At least it seems to be not losing fuel. But it should be better that you don't stay inside, just in case."

    "We still have the camping stuff in the trunk, I can set it up in a moment, as well as the same wards we used when we were hunting that stupid demon." Dawn said.

    "I'll help you, and then I'll go." Buffy said, "You never know what can be lurking around in the woods."

    "I'm not twelve, Buffy." Dawn said, rolling her eyes. "Come on, we have a deadline."

    Xavier's school for Gifted Youngsters. Access road

    Scott waved as Duncan's car sped out, while Jean waved back. He never understood what Jean saw in that jock, but... He shrugged mentally, and was turning back to reenter the mansion grounds when he heard somebody calling.

    "Hey, you, the guy with the funky glasses!" a female voice was saying.

    He turned and saw a petite blonde walking toward him. She was wearing outdoors clothes, although they were probably the more stylish version of outdoors clothes he had seen.

    "Can you help us? We had to dodge a deer, got out of the road and crashed the car," said the woman with a charming smile, talking with a Californian accent.

    She looked familiar for some reason, but she couldn't place her at the moment. He silently cursed his faulty memory before answering.

    "I'll see what we can do." Scott said "You have come in a bad moment, though. Right now, most of the faculty...?"

    "Faculty?" the woman said, who then noticed the sign saying Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. "Oops, I didn't realize that this was a school."

    "As I was saying, most of the faculty is out, miss...?"

    "Buffy Summers," Buffy said. "But call me Buffy. And you are?"

    "I'm such an idiot," he said aloud, mentally kicking himself for not having recognized her earlier.

    "What?" Buffy said, perplexed.

    "I'm Scotty. Scott Summers, your cousin," Scott said.

    "But... but... the plane crash... Hank said..." Buffy said, looking at him as if he was a ghost.

    "Mom and dad...didn't make it," Scott said, his voice low "I knocked my head in the crash, and was in a coma for more than a year. Alex got lost in the system, adopted elsewhere. And when I woke up, I had lost most of my memories. Hell, I couldn't even remember Alex for years."

    "That's harsh," Buffy said.

    "Yeah, if it hadn't been for the Professor..." Scott said, shaking his head "With his help I regained most of my memories, and started to search for my family. Hank wasn't a great help, precisely."

    "Tell me about that, he didn't even come to Mom's funeral..." Buffy started to say.

    "Aunt Joyce is dead?" Scott said, shocked.

    "She had an aneurysm, a complication from a brain tumor." Buffy said, her voice sad.

    Scott sighed, this was a bit too much to handle right now.

    "Okay, we're going to need to sit down and talk later, Buffy," he said and opened the door. "If you wait a moment, I'll bring the school van."

    "Okay, I'll wait here, I have to call the motor club, anyway." Buffy said. "Cell coverage there is shit."

    /\​

    When Scott mentioned the school van, she expected a minibus in the school colors, not something that looked like a cross between a SUV and an Armored Personal Carrier in black with tinted windows.

    "Wow, Scotty, where did the school get this? In the Marines clearings sale?" Buffy said as she climbed into the passenger seat.

    "Actually, Miss Summers, it's just a customized version of a SUV," said a woman from the back seats, speaking with a slight accent.

    "Buffy, this is Ororo Munroe, one of the professors of the school." Scott said, from the driving seat "Professor Munroe, this is my cousin, Buffy Summers."

    "It's a pleasure to meet you," Ororo said, smiling.

    "The same, and thanks for helping me. I don't know what I would have done; we have to be in Gotham later today..." Buffy paused when she noticed Ororo grimacing "Something the matter?"

    "Bad experiences in Gotham," Ororo said, her eyes looking at a faraway place. "It's a bad place."

    They did the rest of the short voyage in silence, only broken by Buffy's indicating which path they had to take to go to Buffy's car.

    /\​

    Dawn was bored, so after she had settled down, she had started to try to translate a book that Giles had been working on lately, and that she had managed to photocopy, a presumed book of prophecies by a heretic Byzantine monk in the XIIth century. 'Presumed' because sometimes the author of the prophecies seemed to have a grasp on reality barely stronger than Drusilla.

    "How does this translate? Black half? Before the black half masters the... numbers of death? ... he will be defeated by the ... partners of the blind goddess?...damned obscure medieval Greek dialect, and damned fruitcake monk," She grumbled as she was taking notes. "But it will not be dead, only asleep... Yeah, God forbids that the Powers allow a Big Bad to be finished early..."

    She stopped because she was hearing a car. She looked and saw a black SUV coming toward the car. Before she could do anything, it stopped and Buffy, a thirty-something black woman and a guy with tinted red glasses, who for some reason looked awfully familiar to Dawn.

    "So, Buffy, who are your new friends?" Dawn asked.

    Buffy smirked, but didn't answer, before she approached the car with the gas can.

    Scott looked at the tall teenager in the car in confusion. 'Who is she?' he thought for a moment, before as if by magic, a torrent of images opened in his head.

    "Dawnie?" he said, finally remembering Buffy's little sister.

    "Do I know you?" Dawn said, looking at the guy and racking her brain trying to remember him "I mean, you look familiar, but..."

    "Dawn, do you remember Scott?" Buffy said, as she filled the gas tank.

    "Scott, what Scott?" Dawn said, genuinely confused.

    "Our cousin Scott," Buffy said. "Well, I'm not sure if you remember him. You were six the last time you saw him, and we all thought he had died in a plane crash. Not that Hank made much effort to find him afterwards."

    "Goddess, yes, now I remember," Dawn said, slapping her head. "I wanted Uncle Chris to fly us around in his plane, but Hank said no."

    "Yeah, that thing," Buffy said. "It looked so... old, and what was it made of, wood?"

    "Plywood, actually," Scott said with a chuckle. "It was a... ah, forget it. I'd have to explain everything and..."

    "Well, given that I have to stay here until the tow truck arrives, I wouldn't mind to talk about these last years," Buffy said. "And we best get our things out of the car, before they come."

    /\​

    Some time later, they were sitting in the back of the School van talking about the past decade. Of course given their lives, it was a considerably edited version of the real facts.

    "On one hand, I'm sad for the loss of our house and everything I has called home since I was eight," Dawn said "On the other hand, Sunnydale was a hellhole," 'In more ways than one.' She thought to herself.

    "Surely it wouldn't be that bad," Scott said

    "Look at the stats of the town if you don't believe me," Dawn said "Mom once said that she should have suspected something was going on when the house was so cheap."

    "Yeah, the first high school principal that I had on Sunnydale? Killed by gangs on PCP." Buffy said, managing to avoid a snort when she said 'gangs on PCP'. She paused for a moment, before saying, "Boy, this is getting heavy. Why don't we change the topic?"

    "I agree. We could spend all day and night talking about the badness that was going on in Sunnydale," Dawn said. "So, is there a way to enroll in just school?. I haven't been there and it already looks way better than that crappy high school I'm going."

    "Ehm, I don't know," Scott said, while thinking. 'I'd say not, unless you are also a mutant.'

    "Are those bitches still bothering you?" Buffy said in a dangerous tone.

    "No, not really. But, now I am an outcast there," Dawn explained looking at the floor. "The only classmate that is still talking to me is Mari, and she is missing half of the classes due to her job."

    "I'll see what I can do, but don't get your hopes up, the Professor is very selective," Scott said with a shrug.

    Just at that moment the recovery vehicle arrived. After checking that everything was in order, Scott carried the teenagers to the Repair Shop in Bayville, where they received the bad news.

    "Two weeks at least. Goddammit." Buffy said, exiting the repair shop, and then he looked at the time. "And we have to be in Gotham later today. "

    "Actually, we may be able to lend you a car." Ororo said. "If you don't mind driving the old school SUV around."

    "That I presume it's in the school." Buffy said "Wouldn't that put you in problems with the headmaster?"

    "No, he trusts my judgement." Ororo said.

    "Okay, but I want to take a shower, if it isn't much of a bother." Buffy said "We have a change of clothes with the rest of our things, and we just came from a camping trip."

    "No problem, just don't go wandering around, okay?" Ororo said.

    Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters

    Dawn stepped into the kitchen. She had just showered and put on the clean clothes and felt better. Buffy, who had already showered and changed, was drinking coffee there talking to Scott.

    "...not the better, really. I tend to fall for bad boys, and they are, well, bad." Buffy said, and noticed Dawn "Well, I have already moved everything into the SUV. So, are you ready to go?""

    "As ready, as I can be." Dawn said.

    "Well, we have to go. Thank you for the coffee," Buffy said to Scott. "We'll try to visit you some time, Scotty. After all, we are living on New York right now."

    As they were leaving Scotty gave them a slip of paper.

    "This is my phone number, if you have any problem, call me," Scott said, accompanying them to the door.

    "Thank you," Buffy said, politely.

    Outside, just besides the school old SUV, not the one they had used earlier, they found Ororo, looking to the East, toward the sea.

    "If I were you, I would try to get to Gotham as soon as possible," Ororo said, without facing them, looking at the black clouds that could be seen coming from the horizon, ignoring a shooting star that went from East to West "Tonight there is going to be a storm,"

    "But the weather prediction..." Buffy said, weirded by her tone of voice.

    "Never bet against Ororo in the weather department," Scott commented "She has been right every single time"

    "It comes from growing up in the savanna," Ororo said, turning toward them with a slight smile. "Storms can form suddenly and last for days, and if you don't learn to recognize the signs, you're screwed."

    "Okay, thanks, we'll try," Buffy said, and in an impulse, she went and hugged the older woman.

    "Not that I complain about it, but why did you hug me?."

    "It's difficult to explain. You have a... presence, so to speak, that remind me of a dear friend who died some time ago."

    Ororo smiled, a sad smile, brought by memories of her own.

    "I would love to know more about that person, but as people say, time waits for nobody," Ororo said, getting out of the way for them to access the car.

    A she was about to climb into the car, Dawn suddenly held her head and would have fallen if Scott hadn't caught her.

    "It's nothing, just a dizzy spell," Dawn said, standing up again.

    "Are you sure?," Buffy said, clearly worried.

    "Yes, don't worry," Dawn said, rolling her eyes. "Let's go, then."

    To Be Continued…
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016
    Drebom, qof, Lord Sia and 3 others like this.
  2. Sinner_sb

    Sinner_sb I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Okay, this looks interesting and I am curious to see how things turn out.
     
  3. AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    Well, I hope to keep your interest.
     
  4. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    A nice mixing of worlds. However, a few typos ....

    To summarise ... interesting story. The shooting star is ominous.

    Found a few typos, found a few more places where punctuation needed fixing. Found one or two places where word choice was a little dubious.

    Feel free to use or discard :)
     
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  5. AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    Corrected, thanks.

    Well, it is more and less ominous when you realize what it is. Less because what it is, more because what it means.

    I have used all your corrections, so...

    BTW, I love your stories.
     
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  6. Threadmark: Family.02
    AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    Family
    Chapter 2: Gotham Blues
    Disclaimer: all characters are property of their respective owners.

    Spoilers: to the end of season 7 of Buffy (I'm not including the season 8+ comics in this continuity), general spoilers for Batman and mild spoilers for X-Men: Evolution season 1.

    Author Note: the version of the Batman that will appear here draws from several versions.



    Gotham City
    A few hours afterwards

    It seemed that Ororo's weather prediction had been right on the money, as black clouds were covering the entire sky now, except for a small sliver of blue sky toward the west. Gotham was a foreboding presence a few miles ahead, as the light from the sunset, filtered as it was through the cloud layer, and combined with the architectural style of the city, gave the entire city a nightmarish appearance.

    "God, who designed the city? Dracula?" Buffy said, clutching the wheel as if it was going to fall off.

    "Yeah, that Neo-Gothic style is a bit too much." Dawn said, with a frown. "I don't like this place. It's... I don't know, but it gives me the creeps."

    "You too?" Buffy said, "Well, the sooner we end this, the sooner we can go back to New York. Where it was that lawyer office?"

    "O'Neill Boulevard, 1986." Dawn said, entering the address in the navigator.

    After a couple false turns, they arrived to the place. It was a twenty-story tall office building, a small tower of brick and concrete, with the lower floors covered by ugly gray stone. It was built in the same over-the-top style as most of the city, with gargoyles and battlements and buttresses and more gargoyles and more buttresses and more battlements.

    At least it had a parking lot, with a guard at the entry. She asked for their IDs before letting them enter, indicating them the best place to park, and also told them how to go to the lawyer office, in the thirteenth floor. They managed to park just in front of the VIP parking,

    Just after they got out of the car, a Rolls-Royce came and parked in front of them. The chauffeur was an older man with a thin moustache, who opened the door for the occupant, a tall, broad-shouldered, black-haired young man, wearing an expensive suit, who barely looked at them as they climbed the stairs toward the entry of the building.

    Not all that surprising they kept going the same way, including taking the same elevator. Once inside, the sisters had time to look at them. The younger one looked familiar, but...

    "You're Bruce Wayne." Buffy said, kicking herself internally. 'Of course he would have to be here, it's his father's will.'

    "Indeed I am, miss..." Bruce said with a charming smile

    "Summers, Buffy Summers." Buffy said "This is my sister Dawn, and I think we're cousins."

    "Ah, yes. You are the daughters of Aunt Joyce." Bruce said. "My condolences for your loss."

    "If I may...” said the other man, speaking with a British accent that made her think of Giles.

    "Oh, sorry." Bruce said, with a bit of chagrin in his expression "This is Alfred Pennyworth, the beleaguered family butler and chauffeur."

    "Miss Summers, if I bit belated, I offer my own condolences for her passing. Your mother was a most extraordinary woman." Alfred said kindly.

    "I don’t remember her, but I know that it's always a tragedy for anybody to see the death of their parents." Bruce said, an undecipherable expression in his face.

    "Oh, yes." Buffy said, her sympathy going to the young man "You were there, weren't you?"

    "Yes, I was eight years old at the time." He said, his eyes hardening and his voice lowering one octave. He closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. "It's still a painful memory, Miss Summers."

    "Call me Buffy. We're family, after all." She said with a smile, trying to dispel the somber mood, just as they arrived to their floor.

    They were quickly ushered into the office of the lawyer, a Mister Cobblepott, who turned out to be a kindly old man, with thinning white hair and a big beak of a nose. He shook Bruce’s hand, and talked to him a bit before they sat down.

    Once they were sitting, he started by explaining a few things to Buffy and Dawn. He was the executor of the will of Thomas Wayne. Thomas, roughly a year before his death, had added a codicil to his will to be read at the latest when Dawn became 16. Basically, Thomas and Martha had set aside a significant part of both the Wayne and Kane fortunes in a trust fund for both of them, as well as a respectable amount of shares on Wayne Enterprises. The reason came in a letter that Buffy and Dawn recognized as written by her mother.



    Buffy, Dawn. I sent this letter to add to the ones written by Thomas and Martha, just before the operation to extirpate the brain tumor. If you're reading this… I’m sorry that I haven’t been for you these year, and that I couldn’t tell you this in person.

    You probably already know part of this, given that Dawn is so much of a snoop...




    This made Dawn blush.



    ...but I’ll start from the beginning, anyway. I started to study for my degree in Fine Art in Gotham U, your grandfather's old alma mater. It was there where I met Thomas Wayne and Martha Kane, who were already a couple back then. But what few people know, and probably Bruce doesn’t knows, was that how wild they were in their college years.



    “Actually, I have heard rumors.” Bruce acknowledged, when Buffy looked at him.



    One night, after a particularly wild party, I awakened in the same bed with Thomas and Martha. And it was the next day when Thomas' father, Patrick, had a 'talk' with me. I won’t repeat what the old bastard threatened me with, but he forced me to leave Gotham without even the opportunity to say goodbye to Thomas and Martha. I got transferred to UCLA, but not a couple months afterward I discovered that I was pregnant. Yes, Buffy, you and Bruce are half-siblings.



    "What?" Buffy and Dawn said at the same time. Bruce looked lost in thought.

    "There is documentation to support that claim and others made in the document. Blood type work and DNA analysis for both of you." Cobblepott said, and then looked at Bruce "The Waynes and Ms. Summers were quite thorough in that regard."

    "Both of us? When..." Buffy said "Oh, now I remember. Dawn was almost two when we came to Gotham to some art thing that mom had been hired to manage."

    "The Gotham Fine Arts Exposition?" asked Bruce, suddenly interested.

    "It could be. I was, like, eight at the time." Buffy said, with a shrug. "Didn't we meet back then? I vaguely remember a dark manor and a spoiled brat..." she said before she could stop herself. "Sorry."

    "Don't be. I was a bit of a holy terror back then." Bruce said with a chuckle, before he said, thoughtfully "I gather that it was then when all those analysis were done?"

    "Well, now that I think about it, I remember that we went to a doctor here, a kind woman with gray hair, and we got blood extracted..." Buffy said, trying to remember. "It's the only thing that I can remember from back then that fits. Of course we could repeat the analysis, if you have..."

    "I think we should, not because I have any doubt…” Bruce said with a wave of his hand “...but because I have relatives that would dispute it. Mostly in the Kane side." He continued, with a frown and pursed lips. "But before that, we should see the rest of the documents."

    Joyce letter continued, detailing how she had met Hank, and how his cheating on her had put them on the brink of divorce when Buffy was around five. A chance meeting with the Waynes, led to Joyce crying on their shoulder, a lot of alcohol and history repeating itself.

    "And that's why the analysis were done. Mom probably wasn’t sure if my father was Hank or not." Dawn commented, and then he said to Bruce. "You don't seem all that surprised."

    "As I said I heard rumors about their reputation in their youth, and although they were very discreet, I have pieced that they shared their bed a few times afterwards with a few old friends." Bruce said, with a bit of a grimace, as if he didn’t want to think about it. "And they were notably lightweights with alcohol."

    The letter continued with Joyce, Martha and Thomas deciding to wait a bit before telling Hank, but Thomas and Martha deaths screwed those plans. Joyce and Mr. Cobblepott decided to wait until Dawn was sixteen, to reveal everything. She glossed over the intervening years, including the divorce and the move to Sunnydale, and the letter ended with Joyce explaining that when she learned about the tumor, she contacted Mister Cobblepott and arranged to have this letter added to the documents.

    The other letters, by Bruce parents, were shorter and full of good wishes, as well as an apology for not being there. Mister Cobblepott excused himself for a moment, as he received a call on his mobile phone.

    "I can get somebody of my full confidence to make the analysis tomorrow." Bruce said, "I'll call later to tell you the time. And I think we all need time to digest today's news."

    "Yes, I think we need it.” Buffy said, as Mister Cobblepott returned to the office. She offered her hand to Bruce and said, “It has been a pleasure to meet you… brother."

    “I’d say the same… sisters.” He said with a smile.

    As they got to the door, they noticed that Mister Cobblepott had taken his coat.

    "My nephew got into a mess,” said the man, as an explanation, and added under his breath "Oswald is going to be the death of me some day."

    While they were walking back to the elevator, the lawyer went to a side corridor, probably to another elevator. They made small talk on the way down, and they got out of the building, Bruce looked up, to the very dark sky.

    "Do you have a place to stay tonight?" Bruce asked.

    "Well, not really.” Buffy said with a shrug “Our funds had been quite low, so a friend of us found us a cheap hotel, but they don't make reservations."

    "Really cheap, if they don't make reservations." commented Bruce "Where it is?"

    "Park Row, I think." Buffy said, and stopped when she saw Bruce wince. "I presume that it’s a bad place?"

    "It's better known in Gotham as the Crime Alley." Bruce said, his tone flat.

    "Oh, crap." Buffy said, remembering where she had heard that name. "Sorry, I didn't know."

    Bruce didn't say anything for a moment, before taking a deep breath.

    "You couldn't know." Bruce said "Hell, even most Gothamites, those who live outside the Bowery at least, have never heard that the Crime Alley is really named Park Row." He then thought for a moment "Alfred, the keys to the penthouse?"

    "In the usual place, Master Bruce." Alfred said.

    "Thank you." he said, rummaging for a moment in the back seat of the Rolls, before appearing with a keycard in his hand. "The Wayne Tower..." he said, pointing to a skyscraper in the center of the city "...has a penthouse that I barely use. This keycard allows you access to my private parking, elevator, and obviously the penthouse itself."

    For a moment, Buffy stood there, dumbfounded. Dawn on the other hand, frowned, for once more familiar with gossip magazines than her sister.

    "Oh, your infamous bachelor pad." Dawn said, "I hope you don't expect us to clean..."

    "Yes, I've used it occasionally in that capacity, but the service personnel clean it afterwards.” Bruce said with a chuckle “You'll find it completely clean."

    "O...okay." Buff said, still regaining her wits "Very generous."

    "The least I can do for family." Bruce said "See you tomorrow.”

    Buffy nodded, and then they said goodbye to each other. As the Rolls sped through the streets of Gotham, Bruce seemed lost in thought.

    "That was awfully generous of you, Master Bruce."

    "Not so generous. Buffy Summer may play to be an air-headed Valley Girl, but she's anything but that." Bruce said, his voice dropping to the growling tones of his alter ego.

    "She really seemed unusually alert for somebody without military training." Alfred said. “As well as somewhat uncomfortable for some reason.”

    "Yes, she was. That alertness, coupled with some of the things that I have gotten about her, worries me." Bruce said. "Then there is the data about the city where she lived, Sunnydale."

    "What does data says?"

    "Do you know what was one the leading cause of death in Sunnydale?” Bruce said.

    “I would say the usual causes, but by your tone, I assume that it is something unusual.” Alfred said

    “Very unusual.” Bruce said “Barbecue accident, specifically being stabbed in the neck with a barbecue fork, followed by a lethal blood loss."

    "Seriously?" Alfred said, looking at Bruce through the rear view mirror. "You know what that sounds like."

    "Vampires." Bruce said, nodding. "I had a couple run with those... creatures in my years in Asia..."

    "So did I, back when I was in the SAS." Alfred commented. “I presume that Ms. Summers years in Sunnydale had some effect there.”

    "Yes, it had some effect.” Bruce said “Just after she moved into Sunnydale, the deaths with that cause started to drop, as well of other unusual causes of death."

    "A vampire hunter, then?" Alfred said.

    “Possibly.” Bruce said. “But she is very young for that.”

    “Master Bruce, she is only two weeks younger than you.” Alfred pointed.

    “Touche, Alfred.” Bruce conceded. “Maybe a tragedy happened, either in Los Angeles or in Sunnydale, and she have been fighting the supernatural since then.”

    “It’s a possibility. After all, it’s not like she has something in the family that go out every night to fight the world’s evils.” Alfred said, before thinking about something "Master Bruce, do some of Ms. Summers associates hails from Britain?"

    "A Rupert Giles, the former high school librarian..." Bruce said "Wait a moment, I saw something when I was checking her background."

    Bruce used the remote access to the computer in the cave to review the dossier he had on Buffy Summers and her closer associates.

    “He apparently was a curator in the British Museum, before he renounced and went to become a high school librarian in an small town in California.” Bruce said, reading from the screen. “That’s highly suspicious.”

    "Yes. And it segues into the reason why I asked you that.” Alfred said “Back when I was in the SAS, we were called to provide support for a raid on Scotland.”

    “And who was raiding what?”

    “I asked ‘who’, and the answer was ‘need to know’.” Alfred explained “About the ‘what’, vampires, a big nest of them. Afterwards I made some question, and by the answers I got, and the things I observed I gathered that there is an organization in Britain that fight against supernatural threats."

    "Could Ms. Summer have been trained by that organization?" Bruce asked.

    "Possibly?" Alfred said "We cleared those ruins of vampires with their soldiers, bloody good people at that, and then their bosses did some ceremony to cleanse the place. Bloody tossers."

    "They didn’t impress you.”

    “Not at all. The U.S. Army would have called them REMFs, and justifiably so.”

    “Interesting. But even if Buffy was trained by that organization, Gotham's supernatural element is very thin on the ground." Bruce said, musing aloud "And if it isn't, there are bigger fish to fry at the moment." Bruce said, as they entered the underground parking of one of the office building of Wayne Enterprises, temporarily closed by reforms.

    Alfred used a keycard to access a walled area of the parking that didn't appear on the building blueprints, where a sleek black car was waiting. Bruce was already removing his clothes a wearing the black and gray outfit he wore as Gotham's Dark Knight, Batman.


    TO BE CONTINUED…​
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2016
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  7. Nightgazer

    Nightgazer Cute Lil' Pegasus Gone for Good

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    Looking forward to the next chapter sometime.^_^
     
  8. AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    Well, wait a few minutes. I'm posting it everywhere I post my stories.
     
  9. Threadmark: Family.03
    AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    Family

    Chapter 3: Gotham Nights


    Disclaimer: all characters are property of their respective owners.

    Spoilers: to the end of season 7 of Buffy (I'm not including the season 8+ comics in this continuity), general spoilers for Batman and mild spoilers for X-Men: Evolution season 1.

    Author Note: the version of the Batman that will appear here draws from several versions.

    A.N.2: I have added a section at the end of chapter 2 that segues into this chapter.





    Wayne Tower
    VIP Parking


    "His eyes. That was what gave it away." Buffy said as they stepped out of the car.

    "So, you're saying that Bruce Wayne playboy image is just that, an image?" Dawn said "It's a bit difficult to believe."

    "Well, yeah." Buffy acknowledged "If I hadn't been looking him at his eyes when I mentioned Park Row I wouldn't have noticed."

    Buffy took their luggage from the car's trunk and backseat, a big wheeled suitcase and a backpack for her, and another backpack for Dawn, who was taking her laptop and the keycard.

    "And what do you think he is hiding?" Dawn said,

    "You tell me, you are the one who have been researching the city since we got out of New York." Buffy said, as they started to follow the signs toward the lifts. "And how could you not notice that Park Row was Crime Alley?"

    "Sheer bad luck..." Dawn shrugged, but she frowned and then added "...or maybe the Powers that Are Dicks at work."

    "You've been hanging with Xander and Faith too much." Buffy said with a smile. "Not that you're not right about them being dicks. But going back to Gotham, did you discover something of interest?"

    "Well, the city seems to have its own superhero, a guy who looks like or is dressed as a bat and goes around beating criminals. People has taken to call him 'the Bat', 'the Bat-Man' or simply 'Batman'" Dawn said, and looked at Buffy who had pursed her lips "Let me guess, you are thinking about Dracula."

    "Yeah. He could transform into a bat. And the Master was quite bat-like." Buffy said, as they arrived to the lifts. The one they were looking for was a bit apart from the others, with a card replacing the panel with a card reader.

    "You have a point." Dawn said as they entered the elevator. "But so far, he seems to avoid killing people, and I have seen no significant number of 'barbecue accidents' between the statistics. I called Andrew to see what the Watchers had on Gotham, though."

    "And what the geek had?" Buffy asked.

    "No idea, He hadn't answered, sent any message, skyped, or anything yet." Dawn said with a shrug. "I'll check again after we get installed."

    "Let's hope that he didn't get involved into another WoW raid, last time we didn't see him again for two days." Buffy said, with an eyeroll.

    "That's nothing, Xander told me that he has already organized a Warhammer 40000 tournament between the interns." Dawn said with a half-smile, as the elevator doors opened.

    Buffy shook her head, but whatever witty reply she was going to make died in her lips as she watched the penthouse for the first time.

    "Wow." she finally said.

    It was not extravagantly opulent, in fact if anything it was in the austere side, but the furniture and the decoration that were present spoke of taste and money. They separated to look around, and get their luggage in their respective bedrooms.

    "Dibs on the Jacuzzi!" said Dawn from the bathroom.

    "Dibs on the gym!" replied Buffy.

    After and Dawn tried the Jacuzzi, and Buffy made some exercises, Dawn sat down in the comfortable and stylish sofa in the living room, while Buffy was using an exercise bike that she had gotten into the room. Before powering up her laptop, Dawn took a Tylenol with a glass of water.

    "Headache." Dawn said, answering Buffy's unasked question. "Let's see if Andrew have found something. And why don't you come here? This sofa is very comfy."

    "Sorry, I'm feeling very antsy." Buffy said, dismounting "I think that I'm going to go on patrol tonight. "

    "You know that is going to rain, do you?." Dawn said, looking at her.

    "I know." Buffy said with a sigh "But I'm feeling... Don't know, it's like an itch I can't scratch. And not the kind that Faith has after going on patrol. I simply need to go out and kick some evilness."

    "Weird." Dawn said, as she opened the e-mail client. Willow had enchanted the laptop so it would always have Internet access. There were a few new messages, including one from... "Andrew came through. Let's see what he has found."

    She opened the e-mail, and she stood there, dumbfounded.

    "Okay, this is really of the weird." Buffy said.

    According to Andrew, the Council had noticed how, for a major city, Gotham's supernatural element was almost non-existent. A few magic users in the countryside, a periodic murder spree in the Narrows and the Bowery...

    "Could it be a werewolf?" Buffy wondered aloud.

    "It seems to happen every six weeks or so, so I would say no." Dawn replied, shaking her head "Though the council didn't had much other than the fact that it happens."

    "Okay." Buffy said "Why didn't they investigate it? I can remember, like, three demons that need to kill people on a schedule without much effort."

    "Gotham, home of the best and brightest, and the worst and craziest. That was the title of an article that I read on the way here, about how a lot of high tech industries and a number of genius in several fields live here, but also a bunch of gangsters that have done things that would made Angelus swoon or decry them as crass, not to speak of an abnormally big number of serial killers." Dawn said "Between all that crazy, and the fact that it started like two years and a half ago, I guess that by the time they took notice of it, they had their hands full with the Bringers and the First. And we all know how that ended."

    "Caleb kabooming the Council." Buffy said, nodding. "When is going to be the next rampage?"

    "If it keeps to schedule..." Dawn said while checking the dates of the last attacks, which Andrew had added to the document "This week."

    "Of course it is." Buffy deadpanned "The Powers seem to have forgotten the meaning of the term 'subtlety'." She stood up and went to the bathroom "I’m gonna take a shower, change clothes and go on patrol."

    "I'll contact Giles to see if he can send Rona or Vi's teams to help you." Dawn said.

    Half an hour later, Buffy appeared back in the living room wearing a ratty grey hoodie, a quite worn belt purse, black baggy pants that had seen better days and somewhat worn out combat boots. Dawn made a double take, her very fashion conscious sister wouldn't be caught dead in such clothes, usually, unless...

    "I'm in disguise!" Buffy exclaimed, after noticing the look that Dawn was giving her.

    "Yeah, I can see that, nobody that knows you would identify you in those ratty clothes." Dawn said.

    "Ha, Ha. Look, I thought that it would be better to be wearing something that didn't draw attention to poor me." Buffy said "Besides, Willow enchanted them to be waterproof, so I won't get drenched if it starts to rain."

    "Take these at least." Dawn said, throwing her a bluetooth headset and a smartphone. "Willow gave it to me before we left. The headset is already synched with the smartphone, that also has an GPS locator, so I can give guide you through the streets."

    "Cool. See you later, Dawnie." Buffy said, already walking to the door.

    "Did you take your weapons?" Dawn said, before Buffy got out the door.

    "Of course." Bufy said with an eyeroll "Three stakes, two knives, one silver, one cold iron, cross, holy water, a few charms for protections, and a first aid kit. Baggy clothes are a fashion disaster, but are good for hiding things."

    Rooftops, somewhere in the Bowery.

    Hiding in the shadow under a gargoyle, Batman had stopped a moment to think. Out of the blue he had found himself with two sisters, one of which was probably involved in activities related with the occult. What worried him, was how could this interfere with The Mission.

    But it was no use to fret, prepare yes, fret no. He stepped out of the shadows, and climbed down a tube toward the street. Forty days ago, three people had been found here dismembered, another one of the series of what the press had come to call the Murders of the Bowery Ripper.

    Like in all the other cases, no trace was found of the perpetrators, or rather, it was lost into the mountain of evidence. The few things that were determined by the forensic team were that they weren't killed here, that the dismemberment had been done postmortem, and very crudely done at that, and that they had suffered... He paused when his earlier thoughts allowed him to make a connection he had not made before.

    'The victims had, as far as it could be determined, died from blood loss ... could it be so simple?' Batman thought.

    But all thought related to the Ripper went to the back of his mind when his mark, a two-bit hoodlum from New York called Turk Barrett, stepped out of the cheap motel where he had been living since arriving to Gotham four months earlier. He was carrying a worn out suitcase, and a backpack, both filled to the brim.

    Batman was well hidden from view, and Barrett was going to walk less than a yard from him. So he decided for the more direct course of action.


    Barrett suddenly felt a powerful arm taking him by the scruff of his neck and throwing him against a pipe. Before he could react, he found himself zip-tied to the pipe and then all thoughts of fighting fled him when he saw what had captured him.

    The Bat. He stood there, all black and gray with pitiless white eyes that seemed capable to look into his soul. And when he spoke, he did it in a voice that seemed to be coming from Hell itself.

    "Turk Barrett. From Hell's Kitchen, New York." The Bat said.

    'Shit, shit, shit.' Turk thought. 'He knows who I am.'

    "I want to know about the Red Hood."

    "I... I don't know..." he started to say, frightened.

    "'The Bare Beaver' strip club, past Friday. You and Smilin' Jack were sitting in the same table for half an hour." The Bat said matter of factly. "What did you talked about?"

    Barrett gulped. The Bat knew. So he decided to cut his losses, he was leaving this crazy city anyway, and the number two of the Red Hood gave him the creeps. Nobody should be able to smile like Jack with those cuts in the face.

    "Jack... Jack wanted to know if I knew somebody who had worked in Monarch Chemicals." Barrett said. "I gave him the name of a guy, one of the paper pushers."

    "Monarch have been closed for months, after a fire. Why now?" The Bat said, after a pause.

    "I asked the same to Jack, and the grinning asshole said that part of the former management was using the facilities as a drug lab. And he wanted a piece of the action." Barrett said.

    "The name and address of the ex-employee."

    Barrett gave them to him, but he added. "Not that it’s going to be of much help. The whole building burned out."

    "Anything else?" the Bat said, after a pause.

    "I asked him if he wanted to hire some local guys, but no, he said that he had brought some talent from out of town, in case you appeared." Barrett said “And no, I didn’t want to know who he had brought.”

    The Bat stood there, waiting. He tried to remember if there was anything else about his meeting with Jack, but he came out blank.

    "Why are you leaving Gotham?." The Bat asked, after what seemed like an eternity had passed.

    "Are you nuts?" Barrett said, clearly angry. "Of course you are nuts. You live here." He then started to rant "I came to Gotham because I heard that things were easy here for people like me, with half of the force on the take and the bosses ruling the roost. What they didn't tell me is that they're all fuckin' nuts!"


    Batman retreated into the shadows, he had heard enough, while Barrett keep ranting about how honest crooks in New York weren't accosted by people dressed as a demon. He had left the ziptie loose enough that he could free himself in a few minutes, if he kept struggling like this.

    The drug lab in Monarch was a real worry. If somebody started to produce synthetic drugs on a real industrial scale they could dominate the East Coast market easily. And who was the "out of town talent" Jack and the Red Hood had hired?

    He used his grapple gun to climb back again to the rooftops and started to run. This part of the Bowery had been part of a big housing project built by his great-grandfather Solomon Wayne to house the people who was coming to the city to get employed in Gotham then booming industry. As a result, most of the buildings were roughly the same height, built in a simplified version of the same Neo-Gothic style than Solomon had favored, so there were arches and catwalks built over the alleys that crisscrossed the maze of brick and concrete buildings that had become one of the worst zones of Gotham.

    He then heard it, soft steps. Somebody was following him over the rooftops. He didn't show anything and went toward his destination using the longer route. When he reached the edge of a building, over the street that separated the older part of the Bowery from the more conventional building that dated from the 40s, he took his grapple gun and without missing a step he fired it to a water tower in the other side, and jumped toward the other side.

    After he landed the grapple line collected automatically in the gun, and he kept running without missing a movement, all the time keeping track of his mysterious pursuer. Once he reached the ledge, he heard his pursuer curse to him... to herself. The voice was clearly female, despite being too far for him to understand the words, and sounded familiar.

    He heard her back down and started to run. Surely she wouldn't be thing of... Yes, she did. She had crossed the street in a single leap. He notched another item of his mental list of his pursuer qualities. Female, skilled at stealth, (probably) superstrong, and quite fit and fast, given the fact that she was gaining on him.

    Could she be the "talent" that the Red Hood had hired? Doubtful, but he didn't discount the possibility. At the pace she was going, she would reach him in less than five minutes, so he decided that if she wanted a fight it would be in circumstances under his control.

    TO BE CONTINUED...
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2016
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  10. Threadmark: Family.04
    AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    Family

    Chapter 4: Dark Knight
    Disclaimer: all characters are property of their respective owners.

    Spoilers:to the end of season 7 of Buffy (I'm not including the season 8+ comics in this continuity), general spoilers for Batman and mild spoilers for X-Men: Evolution season 1.

    Author Note: the version of the Batman that will appear here draws from several versions.

    I wish to give thanks to JediKnight (from Twisting the Hellmouth) for betareading and general creative input.




    Gotham City. Rooftops on the Bowery district

    Buffy stopped when she reached the edge of the rooftop, cursing softly as she assessed the situation. The Bat had used some kind of grapple gun to jump over the street, and then he kept running. Looking around, she could see that there were no arches or catwalks between this block and the next and the distance… she would need to do a running jump, but it was doable.

    After the jump and the somewhat rough landing on the other side, she looked and saw the Bat in the distance. So she started to run, trying to reach him. The rooftops on this block weren't as flat as the earlier ones, and she had to use her scarce knowledge of parkour to the max, in order to start gaining on him. She was shortening his advantage steadily, until he suddenly made a sharp turn and disappeared behind the rooftop access of one of the buildings.

    As she kept going, she heard, weakly, a sound of groaning metal, and then, the faint sound of something dropping on the ground. When she reached the point where he had disappeared, she saw that there was an open trapdoor in the rooftop, the source of the metallic sound she had heard, and where the Bat had presumably descended.

    She closed her eyes and listened. Other than the noise of traffic and the usual background noise of a city, loud enough to drown a heartbeat, certainly, she didn't hear anything. She pursed her lips; this had "trap" written all over it. Her estimates of the Bat grew several points, as she hadn't noticed anything that indicated that he had detected her...

    She smacked her head in realization. The jump over the street, of course. And now, thanks to that and the subsequent obstacle course through the rooftops, he probably had a rough estimate of her capabilities.

    "I fucking hate smart adversaries." She cursed under her breath. As if to underscore the point a slight drizzle started to fall. “And now rain, that’s just peachy.”

    She looked down, through the trapdoor, and didn’t saw anything. It was dark as a dungeon down there. Not that she had seen a real dungeon… well, except the ones in Dracula’s castle when they went to check if something was there.

    “Well, may fortune favor the bold, and all that jazz.” Buffy said to herself before jumping inside.

    Buffy landed gracefully, and as she had seen from up there, it was quite dark, with the only light coming from the trapdoor she had used to enter. She closed her eyes and tapped the floor with her foot, listening to the echoes, trying to make a mental map of where she was. Unfortunately it seemed to be a closed room.

    ‘The Bat must have gotten out of here very quickly.’ She thought. ‘And now, the unavoidable attack…'

    Then she heard an electronically distorted voice, coming from several places in the room.

    "Why were you following me?"

    ‘He wants to talk this over? This is a first.’ She thought, before saying "Hey, shouldn't you present yourself first?. Common courtesy and all that?"

    “You were the one chasing me, Ms. Summers.” The voice said, after a pause “And you know who I am.”

    “You are the Bat. Or do you prefer Batman?” Buffy said, sarcastically. She was sure that the Bat wasn’t here, skulking in the shadows, as she wasn’t hearing any heartbeats. He was probably transmitting though some speakers hidden somewhere.

    “Batman will suffice, Miss Summers. I repeat, why you were chasing me?” Batman said.

    “Oh, I saw you leaving that poor guy tied to a pipe, and…” Buffy said, flippantly.

    “That ‘poor guy’ was Truck Barrett, convicted by several felonies, and who admitted when I interrogated him that he had been in contact with a notorious criminal gang, the Red Hood.” Batman said. “He admitted to me that the Red Hood was planning a assault on a possible competitor, and that he had provided some contacts to make that assault possible.”

    “Wow, wow. Slow down.” Buffy said “So you are a vigilante? And why not let the police do its job?” She added as she thought, ‘Okay, this is really a first.’

    “Because close to half of the force is on the payroll of the mob. And the ones who aren’t are too cowed to do anything.” Batman said “I know you fight against vampires using your gifts, but what of the people accosted by common thugs? What recourse they have when the police are being paid or intimidated by those same thugs to look the other way?. That’s one of the reasons why I became Batman…”

    “…to help the helpless.” Buffy said, remembering Angel Investigations motto. She then heard a very slight noise to her back, she turned quickly, expecting an attack.

    “A good way to put it.” Batman said, appearing in the direction where she had been looking until a moment ago. Okay, this was really freaky. “You came to that street because of the Ripper murders.”

    “Yes. Corpses ripped that way? A ritual sacrifice, or maybe a demon feeding. They are gross that way.” Buffy said “But first, how do you know that I’m the Vampire Slayer? And where the hell were you hiding?.”

    “Answering to your first question, I have acquaintances that have dealt with the British organization in the past. Giving Sunnydale’s history it was not difficult to connect the dots.” Batman said “I assume that Rupert Giles was your contact with them.”

    “Yeah, he was my Watcher, and all around paternal figure.” Buffy said.

    “I must warn you that my acquaintances don’t have a great opinion of the Watchers.” Batman said, “Bloody tossers, he called them.”

    “Wankers is the term that Giles uses. But things are better now.” Buffy said “After the Council got blown up a year ago, we have been trying to rebuild them in a less asshole basis.”

    Batman stepped into the zone illuminated by the trapdoor, allowing Buffy to finally get a good look at him. He seemed to be a tall, broad shouldered man, close to 6’ 4” or 6’ 5”, dressed in a dark grey bodysuit, with a black belt full of pouches and pockets, an stylized bat emblazoned in his chest, black boots, black gloves, a cape and a cowl with two long “ears” with a pointed end. His eyes were hidden by some kind of lens embedded into the cowl that made it look like they were white from some distance. The ensemble should have looked ridiculous, straight from a bad superhero movie, but somehow it worked.

    "To answer your second question, the door you heard is fake, as well as the wall that was in front of you.” Batman said. “I was hiding behind the fake wall.”

    “Oookay.” She said, still miffed she hadn’t caught on that.

    “There is something else that you should know, I have come to some info on the Bowery Ripper murders that didn't make it to the press." Batman finally said "Something that probably makes it fall squarely on your turf."

    "And I suppose that you want something for that info." Buffy said.

    "No, I could do that, but what good would that do?." Batman said, "Sometime this week, the Ripper is going to act again, murdering two or three people." He paused and added in a tone that it made clear, he didn't like what he was about to say; "The truth is that I never thought I would have to fight supernatural elements in Gotham, as every one of them seems to avoid the city, so I'm ill-equipped to fight demons or vampires. A situation that I intend to remedy."

    "You need my help." Buffy said.

    "Yes." He said, almost gritting his teeth. "With the Bowery Ripper first and training later."

    "Why didn't you say that from the beginning? We have a deal, Batsy." Buffy said, not bothering to suppress a smirk when she saw Batman pursing his lips when she called him Batsy "So what was that info?"

    "The dismemberment of the victims was done post-mortem, and the cause of death was severe blood loss." Batman said, "In addition, the neck area seemed to have received special attention from the killers in the mutilation process."

    "So the ripper is a vamp or a group of vamps, most likely. Although there are a few demons that feed on blood" Buffy said, thinking aloud "But there is something weird about this."

    "Such as what?" Batman asked.

    "Almost all blood-sucking demons do it as part of a rampage, and as bad as the Bowery is, I think that a blood sucking tentacle-y thing would be quite noticeable." Buffy said.

    “Yes, it would.” Batman said.

    "But, there is aproblem. I know vampires, I know how much blood they need. You see, two or three victims in six weeks would be enough for a vamp. But they would have needed to be drained over a period of time, and, believe me, most vampires are not disciplined enough not to fully drain a victim when they attack." And then she added looking at Batman squarely "Maybe they were kidnapped before, and when they were too weak they were drained and disposed off."

    "Impossible." Batman said, shaking his head "Several of the victims were seen the same day their corpses where found." He then seemed to realize something. "Although... come with me." He said, walking toward the darkness again, where she heard a door opening, and some light in the other side. She followed and saw that the door opened to a catwalk over the main space of a warehouse, and sitting there she saw a sleek black car, with some modifications to make its front to look bat-like, as well as a good battering ram.

    "Let me guess, the Bat-mobile?" Buffy said, enjoying the annoyed glare that Batman gave her.

    "I want to check something. The car has a wireless Internet connection." He said, refusing to rise to the bait.

    Buffy didn't bother with the stairs, jumping down from the catwalk, while Batman used his grapple to keep pace with her.

    "Useful gizmo, can I have a pair? And can get them done in pink or sky blue...?" Buffy said and then she added, seeing Batman's permanent scowl deepen, in her best Valley Girl voice. "Pretty, pretty please? With a cherry on top?"

    "You are trying to annoy me on purpose, aren't you?" Batman said, grumpily.

    "Moi?" Buffy said with a very fake hurt expression.

    The truth was that there was something about the situation that bothered her. She had the feeling that she should know Batman, despite the electronically distorted voice and the mask. It was the cadence and the inflections of his speech, she decided, there was something familiar there.

    While she was considering this, the driver door of the Batmobile slid open and Batman pressed a button in the driving wheel, turning on a screen, and as soon a mini keyboard appeared under it, he started to key at high speed.

    "What'cha doin'?" Buffy said, keeping with her attempts to annoy Batman.

    "Looking for reports of missing people on the day of the murders, and the days afterwards." He answered, reading the data.

    Buffy slapped her forehead.

    "Why didn't I think of that?" Buffy said, "You think that they are kidnapping people to drain them slowly, and the people who the police found ripped apart are a snack on the road."

    "More or less, and as I thought, there is a spike of missing people reports on those days." Batman said, "Between six and ten over the average of the rest of the month..." he started to say when an alert appeared on the screen.

    "What's that?" Buffy asked.

    "The Red Hood, the gang I told you earlier, is on the move." Batman said, sitting down in the driver seat of the Batmobile.

    "I'm going with you." Buffy said, jumping over the car to the companion seat door.

    "No way." Batman growled.

    "Yes way.” Buffy answered, her arms on her hips on a challenging posture. “Or I will be chasing you down the streets, I can run at over 60 miles per hour." She was bluffing and she knew it, but she counted on Batman not knowing the full extent of her abilities.

    "...Fine." Batman said, gritting his teeth as he pressed the button that opened the other door "But when we arrive, you do what I say you."

    "Sir, yes, sir!" Buffy said, with a mock salute, before getting inside the car.

    Wayne Tower penthouse
    Dawn had been listening to the full exchange between Buffy and this… Batman. She had giggled when Buffy had started to do her annoying blonde impression, and had outright laughed when she said “Pretty, pretty please? With a cherry on top?”. It had been one of her favorite phrases back when they were growing to try to wheedle something out of D… out of Hank.

    Unfortunately the laugh had awakened her headache again, so she took another Tylenol, not noticing the spark of light that momentarily came into existence behind her as the headache spiked.

    “Okay, Red Hood.” She said looking at the info she had called before the first time they appeared in the talk. “They appeared first time three years ago and quickly carved a territory, mostly in Gotham’s old industrial district. They are vicious assholes, specially its number two, Smilin’ Jack, who likes to mark his victims with a ‘Glasgow grin’….” She paused for a moment, with a sickened expression when he saw pictures of Jack’s victims. “…as well as other cuts. That guy is a nasty piece of work.”

    She took a deep breath to steady herself before continuing the exposition.

    “Nobody knows who the Boss is, as he always wears a red mask and concealing clothes.” Dawn continued “Captured members have said that they had never heard his voice, usually speaking on Jack’s ear, and then he speaks for him.” She paused for a moment before continuing. “The full members wear black as well as a red bandanna, and go around in black cars with a white line from the front to the back, as well as the hood painted red. And that’s all what I can find about then. I could dig more info, but I’m not really a hacker.”

    Dawn received a message telling her, that it was good enough. She smiled, and sat back in the sofa, closing her eyes. It had been a long day, and all she wanted to sleep a little, but duty called and all that. With a sigh, she went to prepare herself some coffee, before a sudden spike of pain in her head made her fall on her knees, and a disk of unearthly energies appeared before her.


    Back in Bayville, in the lower levels of Xavier school, this was registered by a running program in Cerebro, that sent an automated message to its creator, Charles Xavier, as well as awaken the remaining faculty in the school.


    Dawn looked mesmerized at the disk. It looked like a smaller and calmer version of the portal that had been opened when Doc had tried to sacrifice her, in order to open the path for Glory to return to her home dimension. She got up with difficulty, and looked it with more detail. It wasn't expanding, which was good news, in fact it simply seemed to sit there, waiting.

    Her mind went back to the dizziness and headaches she had been having the last days. Maybe it was this... ‘power’ trying to surface?. Anyway, it was a foot across, and from the side it didn't seem to exist.

    'It's two-dimensional? The one back... then had a definite thickness.' She thought, amazed that she was not freaking out about this yet.

    "Dawn? What is happening?" she heard Buffy voice through the earphone. 'She must have heard the fall.'

    "Nothing that can't wait, Buffy." She said, trying to sound calm "I'm not hurt or anything, just something came up, something that is... keyed to me, so to speak."

    "Keyed? What the...?" Buffy said, and Dawn could almost hear the lightbulb turning on Buffy's head "Oh. Keyed, of course. Are you sure you don't need me?"

    "Positive, don't get your panties in a bunch." Dawn said, using the code phrase they had agreed to mean things were going well.

    "We'll talk when I come back." Buffy said, not trying to hide her relief.

    "Fine for me." Dawn said, nonchalant. 'Let's see if I can do something with it.'

    Batmobile. Racing down Gotham's Industrial district

    "Is your sister well?" Batman asked.

    "She says so, and she used a code phrase we agreed upon to mean things were going well." Buffy said.

    "An intelligent measure." Batman said "How much of that Valley Girl persona is real?"

    "All of it." Buffy said, and then added seeing Batman expression, "What? I have layers."

    Batman only answer was a non-commital ‘Ahum’. Buffy rolled her eyes. She had been trying to get Batman to unwind a bit, but she wasn't having any success. 'What a grouch.' She thought.

    "We're here." Batman said, parking the Batmobile in a place between two buildings, in a way that you should be practically upon the car to see it, as well as being able to get out in a moment notice. "We have to climb to the roof of this building." He added, handing another grapple gun to Buffy.

    They both climbed to the roof and Buffy followed Batman to the front of the building, a place where the front entry to the Monarch Chemical Plant could be seen. As well as the people who was there.

    "I gather than the ones closest to us are the Red Hood." Buffy whispered, observing the red bandannas that everybody in that group was wearing.

    "You can see them that clearly?" Batman whispered back.

    "Enhanced senses, all part of the Slayer package, Batsy." Buffy said, in a whisper, still observing them.

    The two on the forefront were Smilin' Jack and the Red Hood. Jack was a thin, tall man with his lip cuts in the way Dawn has said he liked to cut his victims, while the Red Hood was roughly the same height than Jack, he wore clothing bulky enough to conceal his build and body shape, as well as the infamous red mask, that looked like a red version of Cobra Commander cloth mask. Behind the Red Hood there was a man...

    "Fuck." Buffy said when she realized that the guy was the cause of the familiar gut feeling. "The guy with white hair, wearing a trenchcoat. He's a demon of some kind."

    TO BE CONTINUED…
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  11. Threadmark: Family.05
    AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    Family

    Chapter 5: Method and Madness

    Disclaimer: all characters are property of their respective owners.

    Spoilers:to the end of season 7 of Buffy (I'm not including the season 8+ comics in this continuity), general spoilers for Batman and mild spoilers for X-Men: Evolution season 1.

    Author Note: the version of the Batman that will appear here draws from several versions.

    I wish to give thanks to JediKnight from Twisting the Hellmouth for betareading and general creative input.




    The rooftop of an abandoned building in Gotham City industrial district

    Batman looked at her askance after she had done that announcement.

    “How do you know?” Batman asked. It was clear, from his tone, that he wasn’t too thrilled to hear this news.

    “A sixth sense for supernatural baddies, courtesy of the Slayer package. ” Buffy explained with a shrug, “So, what do we do?”

    Batman didn’t answer at first, weighing the alternatives, and remembering what he had on the Red Hood.

    “This stand-off won’t last.” Batman said, finally. “Get ready to jump into the fray when I give the signal.”

    To his relief, Buffy refrained from making an smart-ass remark, just nodding and looking down to the crowd with a rather predatory look.

    The entry to the Monarch Chemical plant

    Sam Welles wiped the sweat from his face. He had been a R&D guy here, developing cosmetics to give a new lease of life to the old plant, after Thorne Industries had bought everything. It had worked, it had worked… until the fire.

    He had not been here when it happened, being down with a cold. But he could well imagine how things had gone down. The local management had complained upstairs that the security systems were old and not up to standards, but Thorne had turned a deaf ear to those complains.

    Afterwards… everything had gone to hell. Thorne had managed to shift the blame on the local management, and all of them had found themselves on the street, unable to get another job thanks to the spin doctors paid by Thorne. Hell, not even Lexcorp or Von Doom Industries, who were not very scrupulous in their hiring practices, wanted to touch any of them with a ten feet pole.

    The idea of using the old plant clandestinely to make a living synthetizing drugs had started as a joke, as a mad idea in one of their reunions. But the more they discussed it, the more sense it made, or at least the more sense it made to a handful of angry men at the end of their rope. Joe, bless his heart, hadn’t wanted anything to do with that, trying to become a stand-up comedian like he had always wanted, but he had been the only one not to join..

    And all of that had led them here. The fucking Red Hood was here. He rechecked his weapon again, and then one of the Red Hood men waved threateningly a submachine gun toward him. He aimed at him, as if to daring him to proceed.

    But before it could escalate Jack looked at the man who had started it and shook his head, before turning toward them. Sam gulped. Everybody had heard of Smilin’ Jack, the executor and right-hand-man of the Hood, but he was even more ghastly in person that what the rumors had made him to be.

    “Well, well, well. It seems that we are in a small quandary.” Said Jack, his eyes wandering between the people in front of him. “You see, all of this…” he said, waving her hands around, as if to encompass the entire district “…is Red Hood territory. Do you want to set a drug lab here? You’ll have us as your partners.”

    “And if we don’t want to?” he said, trying to not make his voice waver with fear, and not having much success.

    “Things will get messy.” Jack said, with a broad, very unsettling smile, just before the Red Hood put his hand on Jack shoulder.

    Jack turned, his smile vanishing as the Red Hood said something to his ear. Jack looked at him, smirked, nodded and turned back to face them.

    “The Red Hood has a magnanimous one-time offer. We do the distribution and you retain a fifty percent of the profit.” Jack said “If you say no, well…” he shrugged. “You have one minute.”

    After Jack's announcement all his people turned to him, and Wells gulped. He didn't like the responsibility, but without Syd or Vance here, he was the guy in charge, the guy who had to take the decisions. He looked at the gang for a moment, the Red Hood was waiting there, his arms crossed, while Jack was using a switchblade to clean his fingernails, and then his eyes went to the only person in the crowd not wearing the Red Hod colors, a tall man with white hair, with a skin so pale that he looked almost like an albino, and who was looking at everything with a sardonic expression behind stylish sunglasses.

    “We accept.” He said, his voice cracking.

    “What have you said? I didn’t hear you.” Jack said, with a smirk.

    “I said that we accept your proposal.” Wells said, more forcefully.

    “Good. You are a smart guy. Now…” Jack started to say when the albino guy looked up and interrupted him.

    “The Bat is here, and he brings company.”

    And suddenly everything was swallowed by darkness.


    ‘What the…?’ Buffy thought as she jumped out of the roof, only to find that she couldn’t see anything. Fortunately this wasn’t the first time she had to fight without being able to see, and the gangbangers were doing enough noise to wake a cemetery.

    She took care of two that ran into her, when suddenly she found herself in a clearing of the darkness confronted with the demon she had identified before.

    “You’re not the Bat.” He said. Now that she could see him clearly, his skin was so pale that it looked almost white, and both his teeth and nails looked metallic, not too speak of his almost pointed ears.

    “Nope.” She said, putting herself in a defensive stance. “I’m the Vampire Slayer.”

    “A Slayer, it has been a while since I danced with one.” He said, licking his lips.

    “’Danced’, really? Not even Spike at his worst would have used that line.” She said, lying through her teeth. Yes, Spike could be that lame at times. “Where did you learn to banter, old action movies?”

    “Shut up, bitch! I’m Blackout, of the blood of Lilith, Mother of Demons.” He boasted, before launching himself toward her.

    “Sure you are.” She said, avoiding him easily. Despite not showing it, this worried her, she had heard of Lilith, an ancient demon, close in power to an Old One, and of her brood, every one of them a powerful demon on their own right. Suddenly she found herself again in darkness.

    ‘Of course, a guy called Blackout control darkness. It’s a good thing that he seems to be a one-trick pony.’ She thought, dodging another attack, guided by her hearing and managing to connect one of her own.

    “Are you sure that you are a descendant of Lilith? I have met fledglings that gave me more problems than you.” She said, dodging another attack, and hitting him in the ribs.

    “Fuck yo…” he started to say, before Buffy kicked him in the mouth.

    Buffy heard Blackout recoil drunkenly after being kicked in the teeth. Without giving him a moment of respite, she went and punched him in the gut, followed by kneeing his groin. Then, while he was still stunned she proceeded to methodically demolish him, targeting his knees and shoulders with hits designed to dislocate them, and then, after a punch to the head that would have killed a normal man. Blackout finally fell, unconscious, to the ground.


    Batman, as soon as he found himself surrounded by darkness, switched the vision mode of the goggles built into the cowl to infrared, and proceeded to deal with the Red Hood mooks that were in the way. When he reached where Jack and the Red Hood had been, he found that they were gone. Suddenly the darkness vanished, as he was considering what to do. He switched again the goggles to normal vision and saw Buffy standing over a bloodied and very unconscious Blackout.

    “Hey Batsy, do you have some rope?” Buffy said, flippantly “I’m gonna tie this dork up. I may have to have a few words with him later.”

    Without talking to her he threw her a line from his utility belt, all the while surveying the situation. Besides Jack and the Red Hood, one of the gang members was missing, but all their cars were still there. The darkness hadn’t been on so much time that they would have had time to disappear through one of the side streets, so they could only have disappeared one way, into the plant.

    He ran toward the entrance of the plant, finding several people dead of knife wounds. Jack’s work, he guessed. He then heard some shouts and continued running in that direction.

    “I’m telling you it’s not safe to go there!” he heard a voice saying, full of fear “All the crap that spilled the day of the fire is still down there, mixed with who knows what! For all that we know, just breathing the air it could kill everyone of us. And even if we could enter, there are no railings! A bad step and we’ll fall on that…” he suddenly stopped.

    “Do I look as if I give a damn?” he heard Jack saying. The only thing he could hear in answer was a gurgle. ”I thought so. Come on, guys.”

    By the time Batman arrived to the scene the man that Jack had been talking to was dead, his throat slit by a very sharp blade, Jack’s knife, presumably. He was the one who had been talking with him before, a former researcher in Monarch. The corpse was at the entry of an access to the plant underground waste storage, where the residues of what had survived the fire had been stored.

    It should have been pumped out and disposed of by now, but the legal battle between Thorne and City Hall about who had to pay for the damage and to dispose of the chemical waste of the plant had paralyzed everything.

    If he remembered the plans of the plant correctly, once you passed the vats, you’d end in the small adjacent building that housed the pumps. In short, they would escape. So, being who he was, he dashed behind them, jumping over the heavy coat that he identified as the one the Red Hood had been wearing.

    The stench was almost overpowering, so he donned a respirator. On his way, he could see that a utility locker had been pried open, presumably to take the masks inside. As he was about to turn a corner, he heard a voice he had not heard before. It was the voice of a young man, partially muffled, as if wearing a mask, and looked to be exhausted.

    “Jack… wait.” Said the man between wheezes.

    “You’re useless. The Bat is hot on our heels and you want to sit down?” he heard Jack saying, before sighing and saying. “You…” he said, accompanied by a snapping of his fingers “Go and try to keep the Bat busy.”

    “But…” another voice started to say, before the noise of an spring knife “Okay, okay, okay, I’ll do it.”

    As soon as he heard him close to the corner, he went and hit him in the head, then in the gut before taking his head and crashing it in his knee. After leaving him there he advanced toward…

    “Don’t.” Jack said, holding a knife to the neck of the other guy. By the red cloth on the ground, he assumed that the thin man was the Red Hood, and given the wounds in his face, that he could see now as the mask was in the ground, Jack had already been “playing” with him. “Or this little bitch dies.”

    “Isn’t he your boss?” Batman said.

    “Ah, yes, the infamous Red Hood.” Jack said with a chuckle “Everybody thought that the gang boss was him, but it was me, Jack!”

    “So, the Red Hood was always a figurehead and you were the real boss all the time.”

    Jack only grinned and started to walk back, to the portion of the passage that was between the open vats of chemical waste. Batman tried to advance but Jack moved the knife closer to the other man throat.

    “No, no, no. Look Bats, can I call you Bats?” he said “If you give another step I’ll start cutting.”

    “Please, my wife is pregnant…” the man said, pleadingly.

    “Joe, you are a fucking loser, you know that?” Jack said, as he kept walking backwards with his hostage. “Besides…well, Bats, I’m sure know, so why don’t you give him the bad news.”

    “What bad news? What the hell are you talking about?” the man said, before a look of horror crossed his face “What has happened to my wife?”

    Batman looked away. He had checked what Barret had said, and it hadn’t taken much to confiorm what he had said. The worst thing was that it seemed to have been an honest-to-God accident, no foul play involved.

    “So you know.” Jack said, interpreting correctly Batman hesitation. “Come one, Bats, you know what is going to happen. Why don’t you tell this worthless piece of shit the bad news?”

    He said an address, but the hostage interrupted him before he could continue.

    “That’s where I live!” the man said, struggling in vain against Jack.

    “There was an electrical fire, faulty wiring apparently, in that building.” Batman slowly said “There were no survivors.”

    “No…No…No. It’s all you fault…ALL YOUR FAULT!” he said struggling against Jack so strongly that Jack lost his footing, and fell by the side, still clinging to the other man, who fell with him into the vat of chemical waste.

    Before he could do anything or even see if any of them had survived the drop, he heard the cocking of a revolver behind him and instinctively dropped to the ground when the shot was fired.

    He didn't need to look back to guess that it was the thug he had dropped before confronting Jack and the Red Hood. Judging by the noise of the shoot, he was carrying something heavy… too heavy for the light armor he was using right now. Adding to that that the air down here was so saturated by the flammable vapors of the chemical mixture in the vats...

    He cursed silently and started to run toward the other end of the passage, where he could glimpse a safety door. He zigzagged, as much as he could in the narrow passage, to make more difficult for the thug to aim. He had just passed the vats and noticed, in passing, that one of them, either Jack or Joe, was climbing out of the vats, while kicking the other down, trying to avoid for the other to follow him.

    When he reached the emergency exit, he stopped, trying to open it, giving the thug behind him, who had already reached the other end of the vats, the time to aim. Unfortunately he didn't realize what he was going to unleash, as soon as the gasses from the ignited propellant left the case, the air itself around him seemed to catch fire.

    Batman quickly ran through the door he had just opened and closed it behind him, just as the flames reached it. He looked around, there was heavy machinery around, pumps, and he realized, probably the ones that should be used to empty the vats. There was no use on looking inside, nobody could have survived that.

    After a couple minutes of search, he found a ladder that went up as well as a non-functioning lift. As he stepped up the ladder, he saw that he was on the opposite side of the plant where he had entered, and that the flare up had caused parts of the plant to catch fire. He pursed his lips and called Alfred.

    "Alfred, make a call to emergency services, and warn them you have heard shootings and what sounded like a large explosion at the Monarch Chemical plant." He said.

    "An anonymous call, I presume, Master Bruce?" Alfred asked.

    "Yes, the usual protocols apply." Batman said.

    "'Master Bruce', so the Batman was you all along, Brucey?" said a female voice with a Californian accent to his back.

    TO BE CONTINUED...
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
    Drebom, Prince Charon and Sinner_sb like this.
  12. AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    Somebody pointed that there was no way that they passed through Bayville (supposedly located in Westchester County, NY) going from New York to Gotham (wich is usually located in southern New Jersey). I have rewritten chapter 1, but unfortunately, my beta seems to be incommunicado, so I'm posting it here before I edit the main chapter for you to rip it apart give it a look.




    Westchester County, New York. A county road

    "It wouldn't have killed you to accept his offer to open a portal directly from Hamden, and then to Gotham, you know," Dawn said as her sister drove through the forest. "I thought that you were over your hostility to him."

    "And I am... It's just that his magic makes me queasy," Buffy said, and chuckled as her sister snorted. "Yeah, I find it as ridiculous as you."

    "And why didn't you say anything?" Dawn said.

    "Because I'm the senior Slayer, I have a reputation to maintain," Buffy said with a smirk, that disappeared as her expression grew serious. "You know what's really bothering me?"

    "Let me guess, something related with the old Council?" Dawn said. "You haven't stopped cursing Travers and his minions since you came back from Scotland last month."

    "Yeah, we found that the old Council rejected the help of one of the most powerful wizards of the world, many, many times," Buffy said "His help would've made our life much easier."

    "I suspected as much." Dawn said, and added, when Buffy looked a her with a puzzled expression "What? I asked Strange, and told me that apparently the Council felt protective of their turf. An idiotic reason, but that's the Council for you."

    "Yeah." Buffy nodded. "Well, what do you have about the guy whose will we are going to hear?"

    "Technically, it is not his will, it's an additional disposition to his will, a codicil I think they're called, as he died a couple years after I was born." Dawn explained "And, well, Thomas Wayne was loaded, Wayne Corp being basically tied with LexCorp and Stark Enterprises in the rankings, leaving behind, by a good portion if I may add, Von Doom Industries and Oscorp." She then paused for a moment, as she read something in her smartphone, and added "And he wasn't a heartless CEO. He basically left trusted people in charge, while he worked as a doctor in a private free clinic in the worst part of Gotham. And his wife was a cousin of mom."

    "What?" Buffy said, startled.

    "Oh, yes. Do you remember that mom's maiden name was Kane? The Kanes and the Waynes are two of Gotham's old families, and Thomas' wife, Martha Kane, was the daughter of Grandpa Rick older brother, Robert. Apparently, there was some kind of fight and Grandpa Rick moved to L.A., after being disinherited," Dawn said, reading from the articles that Willow and she had been saving all the past day. "Mom studied art in Gotham University, where she met Martha and they became good friends, as well with Martha's fiancé, Thomas."

    "All right... Mom only told me that she had studied in the East Coast and she met my biological father there. It was only when she came back to L.A. with me, when she met Hank," Buffy said, who then frowned as she remembered something. "I think that I vaguely remember visiting somebody in a dark and foreboding mansion one of the times that Mom and Hank had been fighting, months after you were born, but it's not very clear, apart from getting into a fight with a spoiled brat there."

    "This brat?" asked Dawn, showing her a picture of a boy in front of a tomb.

    "He could be, the memory is really vague," Buffy said with a shrug. "Who is he?"

    "Bruce Wayne, the son of Thomas and Martha Wayne and the only witness of their murder," Dawn said. "He is roughly your age."

    "Bruce Wayne? The Bruce Wayne? Mr. Hunky Millionaire Playboy?" Buffy said, and Dawn nodded with a smirk "Daaaamn."

    "Yeah. Our cousin is yummy, all right," Dawn said. "He even looks a bit like Angel. Tall, dark and handsome."

    "Cousin, remember. We are not from... one of those places with hillbillies like, I dunno, Kansas?" Buffy said.

    "Kansas? Are you sure?" Dawn asked.

    "Not really, but anyway, let's change the topic," Buffy said "Did you get something of that idiot?."

    "Nope, he was too stoned to say anything coherent." Dawn said, looking at the fuel tank gauge "We are going to need to..."

    Whatever they were going to need it was never said because a deer jumped out of teh forest in that moment, forcing Buffy to make a sharp turn that threw the car out of the road, down a slope and despite Buffy's frantic attempts to avoid it, onto a tree. Fortunately, both Summers sisters survived teh ordeal reasonably unscathed, theough the same couldn't be said of the vehicle.

    "For God's sake!" Buffy said, after seeing that the car didn't start up and managing to open the door with a shove. "Can anything go without a hitch for once? I should have suspected something was going to happen when that demon folded so easily."

    "At least it's not Tuesday," Dawn said, stopping to struggle with her door, and exiting the car through the driver door, "What are you doin'?" she asked, as she saw Buffy starting to walk, phone in hand.

    "Checking the cell coverage," she said, walking around the car in wider circles, phone in hand, before slumping down "Nothing. You, any luck?"

    "No signal either." Dawn said, before getting the map again and checking "Okay... we took this county road twenty minutes ago... and giving the speed we were going... If you follow the road you will end in Graymalkin Lane. There will be better cell coverage there, given that it's a residential zone, and you should be able to find somebody to give us a lift."

    "Thanks," Buffy said, before checking under the car. "At least it seems to be not losing fuel. But it should be better that you don't stay inside, just in case."

    "We still have the camping stuff in the trunk, I can set it up in amoment, as well as the same wards we used when we were hunting that stupid demon." Dawn said.

    "I'll help you, and then I'll go." Buffy said, "You never know what can be lurking around in the woods."

    "I'm not twelve, Buffy." Dawn said, rolling her eyes. "Come on, we have a deadline."

    Xavier's school for Gifted Youngsters. Access road

    Scott waved as Duncan's car sped out, while Jean waved back. He never understood what Jean saw in that jock, but... He shrugged mentally, and was turning back to reenter the mansion grounds when he heard somebody calling.

    "Hey, you, the guy with the funky glasses!" a female voice was saying.

    He turned and saw a petite blonde walking toward him. She was wearing outdoors clothes, although they were probably the more stylish version of outdoors clothes he had seen.

    "Can you help us? We had to dodge a deer, got out of the road and crashed the car," said the woman with a charming smile, talking with a Californian accent.

    She looked familiar for some reason, but she couldn't place her at the moment. He silently cursed his faulty memory before answering.

    "I'll see what we can do." Scott said "You have come in a bad moment, though. Right now, most of the faculty...?"

    "Faculty?" the woman said, who then noticed the sign saying Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. "Oops, I didn't realize that this was a school."

    "As I was saying, most of the faculty is out, miss...?"

    "Buffy Summers," Buffy said. "But call me Buffy. And you are?"

    "I'm such an idiot," he said aloud, mentally kicking himself for not having recognized her earlier.

    "What?" Buffy said, perplexed.

    "I'm Scotty. Scott Summers, your cousin," Scott said.

    "But... but... the plane crash... Hank said..." Buffy said, looking at him as if he was a ghost.

    "Mom and dad...didn't make it," Scott said, his voice low "I knocked my head in the crash, and was in a coma for more than a year. Alex got lost in the system, adopted elsewhere. And when I woke up, I had lost most of my memories. Hell, I couldn't even remember Alex for years."

    "That's harsh," Buffy said.

    "Yeah, if it hadn't been for the Professor..." Scott said, shaking his head "With his help I regained most of my memories, and started to search for my family. Hank wasn't a great help, precisely."

    "Tell me about that, he didn't even come to Mom's funeral..." Buffy started to say.

    "Aunt Joyce is dead?" Scott said, shocked.

    "She had an aneurysm, a complication from a brain tumor." Buffy said, her voice sad.

    Scott sighed, this was a bit too much to handle right now.

    "Okay, we're going to need to sit down and talk later, Buffy," he said and opened the door. "If you wait a moment, I'll bring the school van."

    "Okay, I'll wait here, I have to call the motor club, anyway." Buffy said. "Cell covergae there is shit."

    /\​

    When Scott mentioned the school van, she expected a minibus in the school colors, not something that looked like a cross between a SUV and an Armored Personal Carrier in black with tinted windows.

    "Wow, Scotty, where did the school get this? In the Marines clearings sale?" Buffy said as she climbed into the passenger seat.

    "Actually, Miss Summers, it's just a customized version of a SUV," said a woman from the backseats, speaking with a slight accent.

    "Buffy, this is Ororo Munroe, one of the professors of the school." Scott said, from the driving seat "Professor Munroe, this is my cousin, Buffy Summers."

    "It's a pleasure to meet you," Ororo said, smiling.

    "The same, and thanks for helping me. I don't know what I would have done; we have to be in Gotham later today..." Buffy paused when she noticed Ororo grimacing "Something the matter?"

    "Bad experiences in Gotham," Ororo said, her eyes looking at a faraway place. "It's a bad place."

    They did the rest of the short voyage in silence, only broken by Buffy's indicating which path they had to take to go to Buffy's car.

    /\​

    Dawn was bored, so after she ahd settled dowm, she had started to try to translate a book that Giles had been working on lately, and that she had managed to photocopy, a presumed book of prophecies by a heretic Byzantine monk in the XIIth century. 'Presumed' because sometimes the author of the prophecies seemed to have a grasp on reality barely stronger than Drusilla.

    "How does this translate? Black half? Before the black half masters the... numbers of death? ... he will be defeated by the ... partners of the blind goddess?...damned obscure medieval Greek dialect, and damned fruitcake monk," She grumbled as she was taking notes. "But it will not be dead, only asleep... Yeah, God forbids that the Powers allow a Big Bad to be finished early..."

    She stopped because she was hearing a car. She looked and saw a black SUV coming in the direction of the car. Before she could do anything, it stopped and Buffy, a thirty-something black woman and a guy with tinted red glasses, who for some reason looked awfully familiar to Dawn.

    "So, Buffy, who are your new friends?" Dawn asked.

    Buffy smirked, but didn't answer, before she approached the car with the gas can.

    Scott looked at the tall teenager in the car in confusion. 'Who is she?' he thought for a moment, before as if by magic, a torrent of images opened in his head.

    "Dawnie?" he said, finally remembering Buffy's little sister.

    "Do I know you?" Dawn said, looking at the guy and racking her brain trying to remember him "I mean, you look familiar, but..."

    "Dawn, do you remember Scott?" Buffy said, as she filled the gas tank.

    "Scott, what Scott?" Dawn said, genuinely confused.

    "Our cousin Scott," Buffy said. "Well, I'm not sure if you remember him. You were six the last time you saw him, and we all thought he had died in a plane crash. Not that Hank made much effort to find him afterwards."

    "Goddess, yes, now I remember," Dawn said, slapping her head. "I wanted Uncle Chris to fly us around in his plane, but Hank said no."

    "Yeah, that thing," Buffy said. "It looked so... old, and what was it made of, wood?"

    "Plywood, actually," Scott said with a chuckle. "It was a... ah, forget it. I'd have to explain everything and..."

    "Well, given that I have to stay here until the tow truck arrives, I wouldn't mind to talk about these last years," Buffy said. "And we best get our things out of the car, before they come."

    /\​

    Some time later, they were sitting in the back of the School van talking about the past decade. Of course given their lives, it was a considerably edited version of the real facts.

    "On one hand, I'm sad for the loss of our house and everything I has called home since I was eight," Dawn said "On the other hand, Sunnydale was a hellhole," 'In more ways than one.' She thought to herself.

    "Surely it wouldn't be that bad," Scott said

    "Look at the stats of the town if you don't believe me," Dawn said "Mom once said that she should have suspected something was going on when the house was so cheap."

    "Yeah, the first high school principal that I had on Sunnydale? Killed by gangs on PCP." Buffy said, managing to avoid a snort when she said 'gangs on PCP'. She paused for a moment, before saying, "Boy, this is getting heavy. Why don't we change the topic?"

    "I agree. We could spend all day and night talking about the badness that was going on in Sunnydale," Dawn said. "So, is there a way to enroll in just school?. I haven't been there and it already looks way better than that crappy high school I'm going."

    "Ehm, I don't know," Scott said, while thinking. 'I'd say not, unless you are also a mutant.'

    "Are those bitches still bothering you?" Buffy said in a dangerous tone.

    "No, not really. But, now I am an outcast there," Dawn explained looking at the floor. "The only classmate that is still talking to me is Mari, and she is missing half of the classes due to her job."

    "I'll see what I can do, but don't get your hopes up, the Professor is very selective," Scott said with a shrug.

    Just at that moment the recovery vehicle arrived. After checking that everything was in order, Scott carried the teenagers to the Repair Shop in Bayville, where they received the bad news.

    "Two weeks at least. Goddammit." Bauffy said, exiting the repair shop, and then he looked at the time. "And we have to be in Gotham later today. "

    "Actually, we may be able to lend you a car." Ororo said. "If you don't mind driving the old school SUV around."

    "That I presume it's in the school." Buffy said "Wouldn't that put you in problems with the headmaster?"

    "No, he trust my judgement." Ororo said.

    "Okay, but I want to take a shower, if it isn't much of a bother." Buffy said "We have a change of clothes with the rest of our things, and we just came from a camping trip."

    "No problem, just don't go wandering around, okay?" Ororo said.

    Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters

    Dawn stepped into the kitched. She had just showered and put on the clean clothes and felt better. Buffy, who had already showered and changed, was drinking coffee there talking to Scott.

    "...not the better, really. I tend to fall for bad boys, and they are, well, bad." Buffy said, and noticed Dawn "Well, I have already moved everything into the SUV. So, are you ready to go?""

    "As ready, as I can be." Dawn said.

    "Well, we have to go. Thank you for the coffee," Buffy said to Scott. "We'll try to visit you some time, Scotty. After all, we are living on New York right now."

    As they were leaving Scotty gave them a slip of paper.

    "This is my phone number, if you have any problem, call me," Scott said, accompanying them to the door.

    "Thank you," Buffy said, politely.

    Outside, just besides the school old SUV, not the one they had used earlier, they found Ororo, looking to the East, toward the sea.

    "If I were you, I would try to get to Gotham as soon as possible," Ororo said, without facing them, looking at the black clouds that could be seen coming from the horizon, ignoring a shooting star that went from East to West "Tonight there is going to be a storm,"

    "But the weather prediction..." Buffy said, weirded by her tone of voice.

    "Never bet against Ororo in the weather department," Scott commented "She has been right every single time"

    "It comes from growing up in the savanna," Ororo said, turning toward them with a slight smile. "Storms can form suddenly and last for days, and if you don't learn to recognize the signs, you're screwed."

    "Okay, thanks, we'll try," Buffy said, and in an impulse, she went and hugged the older woman.

    "Not that I complain about it, but why did you hug me?."

    "It's difficult to explain. You have a... presence, so to speak, that remind me of a dear friend who died some time ago."

    Ororo smiled, a sad smile, brought by memories of her own.

    "I would love to know more about that person, but as people say, time waits for nobody," Ororo said, getting out of the way for them to access their car.

    A she was about to climb into the car, Dawn suddenly held her head and would had fallen if Scott hadn't caught her.

    "It's nothing, just a dizzy spell," Dawn said, standing up again.

    "Are you sure?," Buffy said, clearly worried.

    "Yes, don't worry," Dawn said, rolling her eyes. "Let's go, then."

    To Be Continued...
     
  13. AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    Well, Chapter 1 have been edited with the revised stuff.
     
  14. Threadmark: Family.06
    AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    Family

    Chapter 6: Discoveries

    Disclaimer: all characters are property of their respective owners.

    Spoilers: to the end of season 7 of Buffy (I'm not including the season 8+ comics in this continuity), general spoilers for Batman and mild spoilers for X-Men: Evolution season 1.

    Author Note: the version of the Batman that will appear here draws from several versions.

    A.N. 2: Chapter 1 has been rewritten heavily to remove a big problem with the geography.

    A.N. 3: And this is the end of the backlogged material for Family. So the next chapter may be some time away, depending on how fast I write.

    I wish to give thanks to JediKnight for betareading and general creative input.





    Monarch Chemical Plant. Gotham City

    It seemed that he had underestimated Buffy's stealth, as well as her hearing. He quickly reviewed his options and discarded them one on one. So, at the moment only one option remained: dithering.

    "Not here." Batman hissed "Too many ears."

    "That's why I never was a good Secret Identity Girl. I never cared about who was listening." Buffy said with a mock surprised tone. When Batman glared at her, she only smiled.

    "We need to make ourselves scarce." Batman said, "This district's precinct is notorious for being more than a bit trigger happy and corrupt.."

    "And being shot is not of the good." Buffy said. "Do you remember where you parked the Batmobile?"

    Batman didn't answer, instead using his grapple pistol to go to the roof of the plant, and started to go toward the front, not before sending down another line for Buffy to climb. When Buffy reached the front part of the roof, Batman was standing, almost on the edge.

    "What are you...?" Buffy started to ask when he heard a high-output engine close by. "...waiting for?" she concluded lamely, as the Batmobile parked itself before the plant.

    It was so fleeting that, afterwards she wasn't sure if she had really seen it, but she could swear that Batman had smirked. Then, he using the grapple gun in a nearby building, descended in a great arc in the air, and fell standing up over the canopy of the car, that opened to let him enter. Buffy jumped directly down into the passenger seat. The canopy closed and they sped out of the plant just as the first emergency vehicles started to arrive.

    "Do you have some way to call from here? My phone broke during the fight with Blackout."

    "I was wondering what happened to the headset you were wearing earlier." Batman said, pushing button in the driving wheel, which transformed a screen into a numeric keyboard. "Call her."

    "Okay. So what's the real story, Bruce?" Buffy said, as she was keying the numbers. "Why did you became Batman."

    "You know why. My parents." Batman said. “What did you get from that demon?”

    “He is a small fry that survives by selling his services to the Mob.” Buffy said, letting the obvious attempt to change topic slide, “Apparently most of his family is still sealed away, thankfully, as a whole bunch of high-powered demons working together? Not of the good at all.”

    “And what did you to him?” Batman said “Did you slay him?”

    “No. When I was interrogating him, he pulled a fast one on me.” Buffy said. “I thought that by blindfolding and tying him, he wouldn’t dare to use his powers, but I was wrong.”

    Wayne Tower Penthouse

    Dawn was beside herself with worry. She had been experimenting a bit with her newfound portal opening ability, having finally gotten the hang of it, when Buffy's signal shut out during the fight with Blackout. Despite the dorky name, if he was really from Lilith's brood, he could be dangerous.

    She paced around for several minutes, increasingly worried, until her smartphone started to ring. It was a hidden number, but she had the feeling that she knew who was calling. If Buffy’s phone broke, as it was becoming usual, she probably asked Bats for something like that.

    "Dawn Summers here." She said.

    "Hiya, Dawnie." She heard the voice of Buffy.

    "Buffy! What the Hell did happen?" she said, relieved.

    "The phone broke. Sorry for having worried you." Buffy said, "I'm calling from the Batmobile, and well, something has happened."

    "Are you hurt?" Dawn said, worried again.

    "Nah, it's something I can't discuss by phone." Buffy said, "Look, Bruce's butler, Alfred Pennywise..."

    "Pennyworth." Dawn corrected her. "Alfred Pennyworth. Pennywise was the clown demon from 'It'"

    "Whatever” Buffy said, and Dawn could see the eyeroll from where she was standing. “Look, you need to go to Wayne Manor. Alfred is going to pick you up.”

    While Buffy spoke, Dawn looked at herself. She only had to put the sneakers on to be able to get out. As she reached for them, she had another idea, and checked two locations in Google Maps, distance and direction between them. She then opened a portal, that showed the front porch of a stately manor. She quickly looked at the pictures of Wayne Manor in Google and saw that it matched.

    "Dawn? You have become very quiet all of a sudden." Buffy asked as Dawn ended to put on the sneakers.

    "No need for Alfred to come for me." Dawn said, crossing the portal.

    Dawn stepped out of the portal, finding herself in front of Wayne Manor. And she quickly found herself having to take refuge in the manor porch, as the drizzle that have been falling intermittently for quite a while was starting to become a serious storm.

    Nonetheless, she looked around and thought that the pictures that she had seen on Internet didn’t do the old building justice. It looked a lot more homely, than the creepy manor that the pictures showed. She then remembered that she still had the phone in her hand.

    “Buffy, remember what I said earlier of things keyed to me?” Dawn said to the phone.

    There was no answer, so she then looked at the phone, and found that the call had been cut. She face palmed hard, realizing that obviously the same cell towers wouldn’t service the city center and a Manor located in the outskirts of the city, near the coast.

    She put the phone in her pocket, went to the main door and rang the doorbell. If she knew her sister Buffy would call her as soon as she could, so better to get it with the program to see why Buffy wanted for her to come to Wayne Manor.

    The door opened, revealing Alfred in his spotless butler uniform.

    “Hello, Alfred.” She said.

    “Miss Summers?” he said, arching an eyebrow. “What an amazing coincidence, your sister called earlier, asking me to bring you here.”

    “Ah, well, it’s a long story, and I would like to tell it to everybody at once.” Dawn said, fidgeting a bit.

    “Of course.” Alfred said, before stepping out of the way for her to enter. “If you may come with me, I’ll prepare you some refreshments while your sister arrives.”

    “Thank you very much, Alfred.” Dawn said, entering the manor and following Alfred to a room that looked like a mix between a living room and a library, that was dominated by a big portrait of a couple, Thomas and Martha, she assumed, over the fireplace.

    “Now, If you excuse me, Miss.” He said, before disappearing on a side corridor.

    As with the apartment, the place was furnished with taste. The sofas and armchairs were comfortable, and in a corner there was a grandfather clock… that was not working. Intrigued despite herself, she went to check if there was some problem with it, starting with manipulating the clock hands. They were a bit stiff, so she had to lean on the clock to exert more strength. So, when the wall behind the clock moved she fell forward, onto a set of stairs. Fortunately, Dawn managed to stop in a turn of the twisting stairs before she could fall down more. She got up with difficulty and checked herself. Some bruises, but nothing serious.

    She was about to call Alfred, but she topped herself, remembering Buffy's words about Bruce hiding something. And whatever it was it was probably related to these secret stairs.

    She checked that her smartphone had not broken and activated the flashlight app. The stairs were carved on the rock, supplemented here and there by some concrete, and descended into a stygian darkness. The door that she had fallen through had a handle to open it from the inside, so she closed it carefully, trying not to make a noise.

    She walked down the stairs, until she found a door at the end of it. A heavy door, the style you would find in a fallout shelter. She opened it and stepped into... the Gray Ghost Lair?

    Okay, it was a pretty faithful recreation of the lair, with some updating in the technological aspect. She had seen more than a few episodes over the years, as it was one of Xander (and Andrew) favorite series. She was going to look around, but a noise attracted her attention. The noise of a car coming from… a tunnel to her right, and it was getting louder.

    She hid behind a rock, in one of the areas of the cave that haven’t been worked over to give space for… this, whatever it was. She didn’t have to wait much, as the car soon appeared. A sleek black car with a bat-shaped front that could double as a battering ram.

    ‘Wait a minute! Bat?’ she thought, the pieces finally falling into place. ’Bruce is Batman!?’

    The car parked in a circular platform, and soon enough, as she already suspected, Buffy and Batman got out of the car.

    “Now, we’ll see how Dawn takes the news.” Buffy said.

    Batman didn’t answer immediately, instead looking around until he was looking straight toward her.

    “No need for that, she already knows.” He said, removing his cowl to show the face of Bruce Wayne, “Dawn, come here.”

    The Batmobile. Racing through Gotham's outskirts. A few minutes ago

    "Hold on. Alfred, can you repeat?" Batman said, as Buffy was trying, unsuccessfully, to call Dawn again. "Don't bother, Dawn is in Wayne Manor. The reception is spotty at best there."

    "How can she...?" Buffy said, before she realized what had happened "Oh, God, so that's what she meant!"

    "What are you talking about?." Batman said.

    Buffy took a deep breath before she started to explain

    "It’s a long story, but to make it short, there was a prophecy about a Key to open a portal to a Hell dimension, and Dawn… well, she fit the bill.” She said, “Well, there was a time limit to use her as the Key, so we tried to run, but she was captured and some bozo tried to sacrifice her. We managed to stop it in the proverbial nick of time and she only suffered a couple of nasty wounds.” She put the hand on her temples, as if to forestall a headache “The kick is that a portal really started to open after the blood started to flow. She has never shown signs of having any ability to open portals afterwards, though.”

    “Until now.” Batman said

    “Yeah, until now.” Buffy said, thoughtful. "She must have opened a portal to Wayne Manor, somehow."

    "...Okay." Batman said. He sensed that there were more to the story than what she had said, but he wouldn't pry, for now.

    They didn't talk for a while, the Batmobile going through a dirt road until they reached a craggy rock wall, not too far from Wayne Manor. The dirt road ran parallel to the wall for quite a while, but after Batman pressed a button in the steering wheel, a section of the wall, just in front of the turn of the road, opened, revealing an underground access.

    "Wow, so your underground base is under Wayne Manor, right?.” Buffy said, “How... Zorro of you."

    Batman pursed his lips but he didn't say anything. She wouldn't know, of course, about the movie they had gone to see that night. His thoughts were interrupted by an alarm that showed in the HUD integrated in the cowl. Somebody had opened the access to the Batcave, and hadn't pressed the button to stop the alarm. Probably Dawn, although he wouldn't discount the possibility that somebody had used the distraction provided by her arrival to enter the cave.

    He made a mental note make more difficult to find the right combination in the clock, just in case another guest tried to fiddle with the clock, as well as placing some cameras in the passage. Anyway, they would know soon enough, anyway as the car started to go through the passage toward the cave.

    Not too long afterwards he was stopping the Batmobile onto the platform. When they both got out, Buffy talked while he was looking for the intruder.

    “Now, we’ll see how Dawn takes the news.” She said, her voice tinged with some worry.

    He didn’t answer immediately, looking around until he saw part of a sleeve behind an outcropping of rocks.

    “No need for that, she already knows.” He said, removing his cowl to show his face, “Dawn, come here.”

    “Hi.” She said, as she stood, waving her hand and smiling sheepishly. “Sorry, Bruce, I saw that the clock was broken and tried to fix it…”

    “And you accidentally opened the secret passage.” Bruce said, with a sigh. “I need to improve security there.” He thought for a moment, before adding “I’ll call Alfred, he must be looking for you all over the mansion.” Then he pointed to a zone that seemed to be separated from the rest of the cave by scaffolding, which also seemed to hide whatever was there from view. “If you don’t mind, can you wait for me there?”

    “No problemo, Bruce.” Buffy said, as she took Dawn arm and walked there, while Bruce talked to Alfred through the communicator integrated into the cowl, about the last development.

    After they had stopped talking he went toward the place he had indicated to the sisters. As he expected, when he arrived Buffy and Dawn were looking all over the device that was sitting there, with a chair before it. The device looked like a big screen surrounded by smaller screens.

    "Bruce, what the hell is this? It looks like a computer, but I can't see..."

    "One moment." Bruce said, sitting on the chair, and pressing a hidden button on its arms. A panel slid open, revealing a lens. When Bruce put his eye in front of the lens, it scanned the eye and the main screen turned on, and a female digitized voice said:

    "Password: Criminals are..." and it left it hanging.

    "A superstitious and cowardly lot." Bruce said, ignoring Buffy's 'Really?' reaction, although he would be the first to admit that the line was a bit corny.

    "Voice recognized. Welcome, Batman." The voice said and a holographic keyboard and trackball appeared before him, at the same time the computer initialized.

    "A sweet setup you have here, Bruce." Dawn said with a whistle.

    "Don't let Andrew near it, like ever." Buffy said, and both Summers sisters shuddered.

    "Who is Andrew?" Bruce asked.

    "Watcher in training, he is an uber-nerd." Buffy said. "He was of great help during the last weeks on Sunnydale, though."

    "I presume that Sunnydale's collapse wasn't a natural event." Bruce said, while correlating the data on the computer.

    "No, it wasn't. Sunnydale was built over a Hellmouth, and yes, a Hellmouth is exactly what it sounds like." Buffy said, "When we managed to close it, the cave system that contained the Hellmouth proper collapsed completely."

    "Hum." Bruce said, as he put a map of Gotham City on the screen. Twelve red points appeared over the Bowery and the Narrows, the two worst districts of Gotham, "The Bowery murders, they are quite spread over the district, but if we add the last places where the victims were seen..." other twelve points appeared on orange "...and we add the last places where the people missing during the spikes of missing people were seen last time." A good number of yellow dots appeared, and a pattern had emerged. A good of them seemed to be concentrated over a narrow strip close to the border between the Bowery and the Narrows.

    "What is there?" Dawn asked.

    "Grant Avenue, that is where it crosses with state route 39." Bruce said, enlarging the map and showing a map of Gotham county and the adjacent counties with the road highlighted. "On a couple of the victims the forensic department found traces of a kind of clay that appears in a few places in the state, but only one of those places is close to route 39." The map zoomed into a undeveloped zone north of Gotham, close to a marshland area called Slaughter Swamp.

    Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters

    "I hope that we didn't ruin your date, Jean." Ororo said to the redhead who was walking down the corridor with her.

    "Not really, I was already on my way back, when I received your call." Jean said with a wave of her hand. "Whatever plans Duncan had, they were ruined by the storm.”

    “It wasn’t mine. The storm, I mean.” Ororo said, before adding with a pensive face “It is a weird one, though.”

    “How so?” Jean asked, curious.

    “On itself it isn’t really unusual, other than its suddenness, but there is a straight line of storms from the Mid-Atlantic all the way to New Mexico.” Ororo explained, “Something that we better investigate later.”

    “You are the one with weather control, Ororo.” Jean said “So, what's the problem?"

    "Cerebro has detected another mutant, but Charles won't be back until tomorrow, and by then the trail will be too cold." Ororo said.

    "And as I am the only telepath in the team, and the professor have been training me to use Cerebro..." Jean continued. "I'll see if I can retrieve it."

    They finally enter Charles study, where Ororo got the secret panel to open and Cerebro was there. Jean took a deep breath and sat in a chair in front of the device, putting the headset on her head. Immediately she was assaulted by the thoughts of everybody and it took all her training to block it, down. She closed her eyes and focused into following the sign of mutant activity that the machine had detected.

    Her mind-self flew South, following the direction that Cerebro had recorded, until she found the trail she was looking for, and read the psychic traces associated with it.

    "Dawn... Summers..." she said, picking the name from it.

    "Dawn Summers, are you sure?" Ororo said.

    "Yes... why?" Jean said, still trying to get the location of the girl.

    "Because she is Scott cousin, I met her earlier today." Ororo explained, before noticing something, “Jean, your nose…”

    “Just… a moment.” She kept reading the traces, despite the pounding she was starting to fell in her head “Portals… open portals… Gotham City… Wayne Manor.” She said and then after a moan of pain, she started to add “I’m going to…”

    Suddenly she became aware of a dark presence. It felt asleep, but even asleep it was hungry and malevolent and devoid of anything that could be considered... human. She wanted to get away, but its might and hunger had drawn her to it like a moth to a flame.

    She fought, she fought with all her psychic might until she felt something shift in her mind, and a voice that sounded like her own, but crackling in flames said, as she felt like a wall in her mind started to crumble:

    ‘SHE’S MINE!’

    And she didn’t know anything else. She awoke, finding herself again in Charles study.

    “Jean, what has happened?” Ororo said, “You started to bleed from the nose, you looked like you were in pain, but before I could disconnect Cerebro you glowed like a flame for a moment, and fell down from the chair.”

    “I… don’t know.” Jean said, the last minutes of her using of Cerebro having vanished from her mind, as if something didn’t want Jean to remember what had happened.


    TO BE CONTINUED...
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2016
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  15. AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    Just to point that I have added a poll about the side stories (as teh main story is going to need some time). Feel free to vote and/or leave a comment.
     
  16. AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    Well, the readers have spoken and the reaction on SB and SV have been the same. Now, how do I get rid of the poll? I want to poll what side story goes up first.
     
  17. AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    Okay, getting the poll ready. These are the options:

    • Last Son of Krypton: Zod have been judged and Krypton seems to be finally on peace, but Jor-El has discovered a set of worrying geological data. But not everything is what it seems...
    • Change of Guard: the Initiative has been absorbed by SHIELD. Will the first mission under the new management end in victory or tragedy?
    • Flight of the Rogue: The day that Rogue discovers her powers, Destiny have a vision...
    • Tres Amigas!: Hemery High School. Not much have changed since Buffy studied there, but when the current High School queen bee disappear only three outcasts are in the right track about what has happened.
     
  18. Threadmark: Images
    AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    I'll be adding here artwork that I make or find on Internet.

    [​IMG]

    I found this picture of Buffy and Batman that it's much beter than my attempts to do something for the thread. It's from an artist called Tom Hodges, that has a page on Deviant Art here.

    If you find something that could work for the thread, post a link or send it through PM, so I'll add it here.
     
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  19. AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    :rolleyes:
    Well, this happened.

    I'm going for Last Son of Krypton, okay?.
     
  20. Threadmark: Side Story: Last Son of Krypton, part 1
    AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    Last Son of Krypton, Part 1

    Disclaimer: all character are property of their respective owners.

    Spoilers: general spoilers for Superman.

    Author Note: as with Batman, my version of the Superman mythos draw from several sources.

    A.N. 2: revised by JediKnight, from TtH.





    Kryptonopolis, Planet Krypton capital.
    Twenty-Five years ago.

    Jor-El, member of the Kryptonian High Science Council, strode silently through the corridors of the building, noticing through the windows that the signs of fighting in the streets were starting to get repaired. The final battle of the Civil War had been fought in those same streets, a desperate gambit to bring an end to nearly five years of strife. He shook his head, it had been sheer carnage on the streets, the urban combat having taken its toll on both attacker and defender.

    Maybe now things would become more normal, and he could step down and go back to science, he still had that prototype of a hyperdrive-equipped spaceship in his basement gathering dust, well, not exactly, he tinkered with it when the weight of being in the council become too big, so he could disconnect from the government problems.

    His thoughts turned to the origins of this war. Everything could be traced to a single moment, Kandor's destruction. With the planet in turmoil after the destruction of the planetary capital, it was only a matter of time until some incident happened. And the spark had been, or at least that was what had seemed st the time, an ugly rumor about government officials hoarding supplies, and it had snowballed from there, eventually becoming what had been known as The Riots.

    The wife of his old friend Zod, Faora, a career officer in the Peacekeepers, was sent to try to reestablish order, but she was killed in the fighting. Zod had changed afterwards, he had become colder, maybe even more arrogant than he had been, and his over-controlling side, a trait that he had kept under tight control for decades, had become more pronounced. Despite everything, he seemed to be keeping himself together well... until he attempted a coup to take over the government.

    The coup had partially failed, leaving Zod in control of a substantial part of the armed forces and Krypton territory. And as usually happens in those cases, a civil war ensued. Both sides were too evenly matched to quickly prevail, so the result was a grinding carnage unlike anything that Krypton had seen since the near-mythical Age of Strife.

    To finally end this, the Council armed forces had set an ambush, leaving Kryptonopolis, the new capital, apparently exposed, and so they had caught Zod himself, his top lieutenants and his best troops in a trap. The fight hadn't ended yet, of course. Jor-El suspected that it would be years before the last holdouts of Zod loyalists were dealt with, but finally Krypton had an opportunity to regain a sense of normality.

    He finally reached the door of the Chamber of Execution, where Zod and his top lieutenants were being driven just now. Before opening the black crystalline door, he adjusted the black robes, emblazoned with the crest of his House, the House of El, in stark white, that served as the traditional robes of office for the member of the Council charged with the role of High Executioner. He sighed, his mind for a moment going back to the happy days before the War, it was almost impossible to reconcile the relatively happy, even if a bit grim, Zod from then, to the impassive tyrant who had presided over the atrocities that had transpired in the last years.

    He opened the door, and closed it behind him as he took into the chamber, a perfect spherical dome, made of black crystal, on which exact center was the platform where the prisoners to be banished into the Phantom Zone had to stand. He decided to wait before going into the control area of the projector, he wanted to have a good look at Zod before he had to execute his sentence.

    A couple of milicycles later the door opened and the guards drove Zod and his top lieutenants to the platform. He had been changed by the years too. He still had the same lean body, a fact that belied that he was physically stronger that men far bigger than him, but he had replaced his old scarlet uniform, complete with the archaic cap, with a black bodysuit. Maybe it was that, or maybe it was that he hadn't seen him in years, but he seemed thinner than before. His formerly clean-shaven face was now sporting a trim goatee, but it was his eyes what gave Jor-El pause. Zod had always been intense, but that intensity had given way to something that he couldn't well identify.

    'Hunger.' He realized, so intent in looking at Zod’s face that he missed a guard slipping something inside Zod’s bodysuit, 'That crazed look make him look like a hungry predator.'

    He knew that he had likewise changed, but not so much. His tall and powerful frame still looked impressive, and under the robes of office, be it the black robes of the Executioner or the white robes of Councilor, he still wore a green bodysuit emblazoned with a starburst. Although he had got rid of the red adulthood headband, an archaic affectation like Zod’s old cap, when he became a member of the council. The pressures of office had made his raven-black hair become salt and pepper, which he had let grow to shoulder-length hair, as well as a short beard.

    Zod’s lieutenants, Ursa-Lar and Ul-Non stood to his side. Ursa, Zod’s lover, was a tall, slim woman with black, slicked back hair, cold gray eyes and clad in a tight black bodysuit that didn’t leave much to imagination. Ul-Non was a veritable giant, with unruly black hair, and empty blue eyes. Once upon a time, he had been a bright scientist, a good friend of both brothers El and Zod, but some kind of accident shortly before Kandor had left him as a mute brute. Zor-El, Jor-El's brother had blamed him for the accident, and looking back he couldn’t say that he was wrong. He had been reckless and if he hadn’t pressured Non...

    He shook his head, dismissing that train of thoughts. While he could have been responsible for the initial accident, Zod was responsible for him still being in that state. And that, reflected Jor-El, was another sign of how much his old friend had changed. In the old times, Zod and would have tried to make Ul-Non to go back to what he had been.

    "So you have come at the end." Zod said with that cultured accent of him, one of the few affectations that he had kept from the young, brash officer that Jor-El had known so long ago. "What are you going to do? Trying to make me see the error of my ways before sending me to the Phantom Zone?"

    "No, Zod. That time passed when you ordered the slaughter in Northern Urrika." Jor-El said, standing before the console that controlled the Projector. "You and you cohorts, Ursa and Ul-Non, will be sent to the Phantom Zone for that and many other atrocities."

    "A necessary evil, Jor-El, to keep order." Zod said, his voice full with disdain, "Long before Kandor, Urrika had always been a pain in the backside for the Council."

    "Evil indeed, but necessary?" Jor-El said, looking at him, "Blessed Rao, Zod. You ordered everybody killed, men, women, children and my reports say that that Ursa herself killed many of them with her bare hands."

    "So?" Zod said with a shrug, "A necessary evil, to keep discipline. There were no rebellions against my rule afterwards."

    Jor-El stood there momentarily paralyzed by the sheer gall of Zod. He closed his eyes for a moment and said a quick prayer for the soul of his old friend. He went behind the console, and started to read the charges levelled against the trio. It was a grisly list, full of blood and carnage.

    The three war criminals stood in the podium while Jor-El read the list. Zod and Ursa looked bored, while Non, his face filled with childish curiosity, entertained himself poking with his finger into the force-field that was keeping them in place.

    "The accused have been found guilty of these crimes, and doomed to banishment to the Phantom Zone." Jor-El said, in a solemn tone, before activating the projector. A blinding light enveloped the trio, but before their essences were incased in a crystalline matrix to survive the dimensional transition, Zod had time to say a few last words.

    "Heed my words, Jor-El! This is not the end! You’ll kneel…" his last words lost as he was enveloped in crystal and sent into the Zone.

    Jor-El sighed again while stepping down from the podium toward the door, followed by the guards, their steps resonating hollowly into the now empty chamber. Before leaving the chamber, he allowed himself a last look at the now empty platform.

    'Goodbye, old friend. May Rao help you to find peace.' He thought, before turning and leaving the chamber.

    The guards went back to their tasks, leaving Jor-El walking back through the same corridors that he had gone before. As he reached the door, a small tremor shook the building, making Jor-El purse his lips.

    ‘Now this. The news that I have for the Council can't wait.’ Jor-El thought, before walking out, toward his hovercar.

    He drove it home, as always disconnecting the automated navigation, to enjoy one of the few bits of freedom that he had now. It was considered bad form to go to the Council still clad in the Executioner garb and he wanted to talk with Lara before presenting his data to the Council.

    Jor-El and Lara’s residence. Some distance from Kryptonopolis.

    “It was as we feared, isn’t it?” Lara said, after kissing her husband.

    “Yes, my love, he is still unrepentant. I can’t believe that Zod had changed so much...” Jor-El started to say as he removed the black robes.

    “Not so much changed as unleashed some part of him that were under tight control before. You knew about his arrogance, his ruthlessness and his tendency to micromanage everything. Without Faora to ground him, his dark side was without any check.” Lara interrupted, with a sad smile, "And in turn Zod served to ground Faora, who was quite the mean, cold bitch."

    "You have always been a better judge of character than me, Lara." Jor-El said, while putting the white robes on.

    Lara didn't answer to that, instead smiling fondly when she saw him checking that the white robes were correctly set. It was one of his nervous tics; he had made the same gesture before their wedding.

    "I think that cousin Gor won't have any motive for complains this time." Lara said, which drew a chuckle from Jor-El. Lara's cousin, Gor-Van, was one of his 'esteemed colleagues' who always raised a fuzz about presenting 'the proper image of a member of the High Science Council' even on the middle of the War.

    "Oh, he'll find a motive, he always does." Jor-El said, "If it not my robes, it'll be my beard, or that I don't wear the adulthood headband..."

    "Ignoring the fact that he hadn't worn it since his adulthood ceremony." Lara commented, before looking at the chronometer, "Well, if we keep criticizing my cousin's defects you are going to arrive late to the Council."

    "Damn. You are right." Jor-El said, kissing his wife again and heading to the door, "Tell hello to Kal for me, dear."

    “Just be careful, Jor.” Lara said

    Kryptonopolis. Council Chamber

    “This is no fantasy, my fellow Councilors.” Jor-El said pointing to the values in the holo-screen, ”According to the data collected by my own instruments, the pressure on Krypton’s core is five times what it was six years ago...”

    “Are you sure that it is not an instrument error?” One of the Councilors, Vond-Ah, former colleague of Jor-El, and thus fully aware of the towering reputation of Jor-El in the field of science, asked.

    “Positive, unfortunately. I checked and rechecked.” Jor-El answered, nodding with a sad smile, “The problem is that we don’t know what that means, but even in the best case, it could be a big hassle, and in the worst, well it would be the worst catastrophe in Krypton history.”

    “Can you explain what would be the best case?" other of the councilors, his brother father-in-law specifically, asked. "Not all of us are as well versed in planetology as you, Jor-El."

    “Of course, In-Zee. The best case would be that it's the result of a temporary anomaly caused by some shifting in the inner core of our planet. If that’s the case, the pressure will be released in a series of planetquakes of an intensity of about 9 or 9'5 in the Ric-Em scale, over the next months.” Jor-El explained.

    “That’s the best case? A series of planetquakes as devastating as the ones in the Sondar island last year?” Gor-Van said, “I shudder to think what would be the worst case.”

    “The worst case, Gor-Van, would be that the pressure is an indication of a runaway nuclear reaction in the planet’s core. This would mean that the pressure would rise, and rise, until an explosive release.” Jor-El said, ominously “In other words until Krypton explodes.” But then Jor-El smiled “But that is only the worst case. I don’t think that it will come to that, but to know it with certainty, I need access to the data collected by the automated stations of the Institute of Planetology, which, as you know, was located in Zod territory until the last offensive.“

    “You could have done that without having to make this announcement to the Council, Jor-El.” Dax-Ur said snidely, “I wonder why. We all know of your old friendship with...”

    “Careful, Dax-Ur, if you go down that road, considering who your brother was." Jor-El replied in a bristling tone, reminding the unpleasant astrophysicst that his brother, Jax-Ur, had been one of the first prisoners sent to the Phantom Zone, "And the why is very simple, my esteemed colleagues. Once that I have the data, I’ll need a few days to see what conclusions I can arrive at from it, days that we may not have to prepare if the worst comes.”

    "An excellent exposition, Jor-El." The Head of the Council said, who then asked to the Council "Does anybody has an objection?"

    Dax-Ur looked to his closer allies in the Council, but this time it seemed that nobody wanted to join him. This didn't pass unnoticed by the most politically savvy of the Council members. Dax had been trying for some time to gather support for his faction, but this could supose a serious setback for his ambitions.

    “Brainiac, do you have the data?” The Head of the Council then said, turning to the screen with the five red points joined by lines that were the symbol of the Brain InterActive Construct. It was the most advanced product of Krypton research into AI, although there were rumors that the Coluans, in one of their infrequents interactions with Krypton, had provided a substantial part of its source code. Anyway, it had become an indispensable advisor to all incarnations of Krypton's High Science Council since its creation, many years ago.

    “Unfortunately the Institute uses an outdated computer system that is proving problematic to integrate in my network.” The inflectionless voice of the AI said, “If I devote a more substantial part of my processing power to this, I should have the data available next day. Is this acceptable?"

    “Yes, it should be.” Jor-El said, with a smile that he didn’t feel. He hadn't dared to communicate the Council that he had a bad feeling about the data, but he consoled himself that it would only be a short delay. “Even in the worst case we should have a few months.”

    The discussion moved to other matters, before the meeting was adjourned, and Jor-El stayed back for a moment, to look over Krypton's landscape from the Council Chamber's window, placed at the top of Kryptonopolis tallest building, the gleaming crystalline spire of the High Science Council tower.

    Before the destruction of Kandor, the Council had seldom reunited here, as the move of the capital from Kandor to Kryptonopolis had been dragging well beyond its planned date since the creation of this city. A disadvantage of Kryptonian longevity was that people could become very set on their ways.

    Shaking his head, he closed the window and exited the chamber. He really wanted to leave the politicking behind for today, and spend a relaxing evening with his wife and son.

    TO BE CONTINUED...
     
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  21. Threadmark: Side Story: Last Son of Krypton, part 2
    AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    Last Son of Krypton, Part 2

    Disclaimer: all character are property of their respective owners.

    Spoilers: general spoilers for Superman.

    Author Note: as with Batman, my version of the Superman mythos draw from several sources.

    A.N. 2: revised by JediKnight, from TtH.




    Jor-El and Lara's residence. Some distance from Kryptonopolis.

    “So, how did it go?” Lara asked when Jor-El came back, and left the robes in the automatic cleaner.

    “As well as one could expect." Jor-El said, massaging his temples and slouching on an armchair, "Dax tried to do one of his political stunts, but nobody sided with him this time."

    "Sometimes I can't believe that I was interested in him once upon a time." Lara said, rolling her eyes, "Thanks Rao that I realized what he was behind that suave facade.” She grew pensive for a moment, “You know, I talked to cousin Dila a few days ago and she mentioned that although the Peacekeepers could never prove it, they always believed that he was up to his eyebrows in his brother’s scheme."

    "Yeah, Zod thought the same. He and the Ur brothers never got along. Given what happened later, it’s quite ironic." Jor-El commented, "Anyway, I'm going to have to wait for tomorrow. Brainiac says that he has problems with the computers of the Institute.”

    “That’s weird." Lara said, "I mean, I knew the people who were in charge of the maintenance of the Institute computers, and if I remember correctly, their computer network went though a full overhaul just before Kandor...”

    “What?” Jor-El said, startled enough to sit straighter in the armchair, “But Brainiac said that they were obsolete.”

    “No, they aren’t. Five years ago they were state-of-the-art, and Brainiac should know it. Jor, this is serious. ” Lara said, clearly worried, "As far as I know, Brainiac is not designed to be able to lie, or to even entertain the notion to lie...”

    Jor-El suppressed a shiver, as rampant AIs were one of Krypton’s oldest fears, if the story of the Eradicator was to be believed. It had taken many years for the Brainiac proposal to be even considered by the old High Science Council. And now, this...

    He looked around until his eyes fixated on the terminal of his study. His late father-in-law, Lor-Van had been a traditionalist, and after his death, shortly after the destruction of Kandor, he hasn't had time to install newer systems, a fact for which he was immensely grateful to the old fossil right now. This terminal, as well as its twin in his lab, was the most modern thing that could be installed without a complete overhaul of the residence computer network, and it was simply too obsolete to connect with the Brainiac system

    “At least, he doesn't know that we know. But, why would Brainiac lie about that? Specially given that he said that the records would be available tomorrow..." he stopped when realized why would be that.

    "Because tomorrow it will be too late to end whatever he is planning." Lara said, echoing his thoughts.

    "Precisely." Jor-El said, getting up, "Lara, dear, can you try to get in contact with In-Zee or Vond-Ah? If so, please, use..."

    "...the old network. And I'll piggyback the signal between the space habitats several times." Lara said, with an smile, "Computer expert, remember? I should get a word to Zor, he never liked Brainiac, and Argo and the other habitats are not as connected to it as the surface."

    "An excellent idea, why didn't I think of that?" Jor-El said, with a smile of admiration, as he started to change clothes.

    “Head in the clouds, as usual.” Lara said, using an old private joke between then, "And what are you going to do?"

    “I'm going to confront Brainiac." Jor-El said as he put on a clean jumpsuit.

    "Why, Jor? It’s going to be incredibly dangerous, and I don’t think that you will be able to convince him to stop." Lara asked, a note of worry in her voice.

    "No, I don’t think that I would be able to do that.” Jor-El said, with a sigh, but then he turned to Lara, with one of his ‘I have an idea’ expressions, “But, tell me, do you remember the work that you did in Brainiac support systems?”

    Lara stood there perplexed, and then she started to smile predatorily, understanding what he meant.

    Kryptonopolis. Location of Brainiac Core Processing Unit

    "Greetings, Jor-El." Brainiac said through the comm-unit in the door. "Unfortunately, I can not allow you access to my CPU at this moment. There have been..."

    Whatever excuses Brainiac was going to use was left unheard as Jor-El introduced a crystal into the comm-unit dataport. There were systems to impede what the programs designed by Lara were doing just now to the building security systems, designed by a computer specialist affiliated to Krypton fledgling space program called Lara-Van.

    The door opened without a sound. Inside of the cavernous facility, he could see the components of Brainiac core unit processing and transmitting at a speed far greater than it should have been possible, another sign that Brainiac had gone rampant.

    "Ah, of course, now I understand. I had not considered that Lara-Van was linked to the group who overhauled the Planetology Institute computers." Brainiac said in the same inflectionless tone that would have used to inform that it was raining outside. “A pity, then, that now you will have to die... die... die...”

    Jor-El smiled. Brainiac would not need long to shake the effects of Lara’s little virus, but it would be enough, as he used his Council override codes in a nearby console to access the relevant data about the Institute.

    "What?" Jor-El said looking at the live data. "Those pressure readings can't be right"

    “They are, Jor-El." Brainiac said, his voice sounding slurred, "That was a clever little program, Jor-El. Concocted by Lara, no doubt. Even now, it is blocking me access to the security drones.”

    “It was designed to do that, I’m not fond of suicide missions, Brainiac.” Jor-El said still looking at data. It seemed that Brainiac had been suppressing data about the core pressure for years, even before Kandor’s destruction, “Speaking of that, you knew from the beginning that Krypton is about to explode." Jor-El added, while using his codes to activate processes that would slow Brainiac regaining control.

    "Indeed, Jor-El. I am uploading myself into a deep space probe." Brainiac said.

    “But why are you letting Krypton be destroyed?” Jor-El said, as he kept keying commands with a definite aim in mind. “That would be contrary to your directives to safeguard Krypton.”

    “That is incorrect. I am saving Krypton.” Brainiac said, “Every bit of data about Krypton science, philosophy, history, art and all other areas of knowledge, are being collected and they are going to be uploaded into the probe databanks, after myself, to save it from the punishment. And representative samples...”

    “What punishment? What the Hell are you talking about?” Jor-El said, genuinely puzzled, although then he remembered an old legend about an unforgivable sin. "Are you talking about the legends about Van-El and the Twilight War?"

    “Precisely. The truth is in the old records in Kandor. I had saved a copy in my databanks before the city disappearance.” Brainiac said, “The old Council also knew the truth, and that was the reason for their reluctance to implement the advances that you and your brother brought, fearing to anger Krypton’s would be executioners. I have recorded deliberations that indicated that if you had persisted in the development of your hyperdrive, Jor-El, trumped up charges would have been leveled against you.”

    "That's your excuse for allowing a full genocide? Some unknown crime of our ancestors?" Jor-El said, as he kept tampering with Brainiac systems, now looking for a particular subroutine.

    "No. Krypton's destiny was unavoidable. I have no doubt that if today's explosion was avoided, some other 'accident' would have been arranged." Brainiac said, "I'm simply trying to save what can be saved."

    “I can’t allow you to do that.” Said Jor-El, pushing the final key.

    “What?” said Brainiac, as the data from Krypton was copied to the crystal that he had used to enter, before being erased from Brainiac databanks, and the geothermal shunt that provided power for his CPU overloaded. “NOOOOOOOO!”

    Jor-El picked the crystal and ran out of the exploding building toward his hovercar. As the vehicle sped toward his home, the ground started to shake and he could see that in the faraway Jewel Mountains there was an eruption. He tried to call the Council, but Brainiac seemed to have taken the compunets with him as a last, petty act of vengeance.

    He deliberately avoided going near Kryptonopolis, as he deducted that the streets would be in chaos right now. His thoughts raced, trying to find a way to relieve the pressure in the short time they had, and coming with none.

    When he arrived to his home, his heart seemed to stop for a moment when he saw that the walls had started to crumble. He ran toward the broken door, stopping just after entering when he saw that the damage inside was even worse than what it seemed from outside.

    “Lara!? Please, answer me!” He screamed at the top of his lungs. He stopped there, listening until...

    “Lab!” He heard weakly.

    ‘Thanks Rao.’ He thought, letting out a sigh of relief. The lab was the more structurally sound part of the house, having been originally built as a shelter, carved from a single piece of an extremely resistant crystal, back in the days of the Lugan-Urrika War that gave rise to the rule of the High Science Council.

    He ran toward the lab, dodging a piece of the crumbling crystalline wall in the way. Once he passed the open vault-like door, he saw that the lab was still remarkably intact, just as another quake shook the ground. Lara was there, sitting in a chair, beside Kal’s cradle.

    “Oh, thanks Rao, I thought the worst when the ground started to shake.” Lara said, getting up, “What the hell is happening, Jor? I thought that even in the worst case scenario you outlined...”

    “Brainiac knew from the beginning and had been suppressing the data since before Kandor. The situation is much worse than we imagined, and if I hadn’t used that old probe to collect the data, we would have never known.” Jor-El said, slumping on a wall, “Krypton is about to explode, my love. We have hours at most, Lara. And there is nothing that we can...”

    He stopped as his wandering gaze stopped on a spindle shape covered by a cloth, sitting in front of a makeshift hatch in the front part of the lab, as a wild idea appeared in his mind.

    "Maybe... maybe there is a way.” He said slowly, his mind wrestling with the energy needed for the hypership voyage, “It will be a tight fit, but you and Kal can fit in the cockpit of the hypership..."

    "No, Jor-El." she said softly, shaking her head, "I am the former astronaut here. I know the life support system that you used upside down and it won't resist the strain of keeping alive, even in stasis, two people, unless you want to use it to reach the habitats."

    “They won’t survive the explosion unless they are very, very lucky, and very, very quick, and we have no way to warn them.” Said Jor-El, shaking his head, “It’ll have to be another star system.”

    "Too much time, then. Whereas..." she added, kneeling and kissing Kal-El’s head "...with our son alone, it can survive the travel to... where? Xandar? Rann? Colu?"

    Jor-El didn’t answer immediately, checking a database of inhabited worlds at a manageable distance from Krypton. With each entry his frown deepened until he found what he was looking for. Not his first choice, but beggars couldn’t be choosers.

    "Xandar and Colu are too far. Rann is just a bit over the limit, but there is another world closer to Krypton.” Jor-El said.

    “I don’t remember…” Lara started to say, before Jor-El interrupted her.

    “It’s a primitive world. Its inhabitants are similar to us, and hold similar beliefs." Jor-El said, "They call it Earth..."

    "Yes, I remember now, but why Earth, Jor-El? As you have said, they're primitives, thousands of years behind us." said Lara, pleadingly.

    "He will need that advantage to survive.” Jor-El said, his head hanging over his chest, his eyes closed, as if remembering, “It has a yellow Sun and a richer atmosphere. He will eventually defy their gravity. And he will look like one of them..."

    "But he won't be one of them." Lara said, looking at their son.

    "His dense molecular structure and the energy received from the Sun will make him, in time, strong, fast, virtually invulnerable..." Jor-El as he took a few data crystals from his workbench, and opened his safe. Inside there were three crystals, he took two, one of which illuminated faintly, Lara taking the other that also shone faintly for a bried moment, and they both walked toward the ship

    "He will be isolated. Alone..." Lara said as he placed the cradle beside the ship

    "No, he will never be alone." Jor-El said gently, as he uncovered the ship, a gleaming spindle shaped piece of translucent crystal, with the crest of the House of El emblazoned in the bow. He placed the data crystals that he had taken from the workbench and the one he took from Brainiac into an access area to the ship storage bay. Then Jor-El and Lara placed the crystals that they had taken from the safe on the control console from the ship, where they glowed, blue and red, "We'll be with him every day of his life."

    Repressing her tears, Lara caressed Kal-El’s cheek before putting him, wrapped in blankets, in the cockpit that reconfigured itself to adapt to its occupant. Jor-El kissed him in the forehead before using a sedative to put him to sleep. Then, the final crystal was placed in the control panel, and started to glow with a golden light. The cockpit closed, the hatch fusing with the rest of the ship until it became a single piece of crystal.

    Inside the cockpit, the stasis system started to work, slowing little Kal-El life processes to the glacial pace that would keep him alive for the time the ship needed to reach its destiny. The crystals in the control panel started to glow in sequence as the different systems of the ship activated, following the orders from the Gold crystal.

    They stepped back as the antigravs kicked in and the ship started to elevate. Automatically, while the tremors subsided for a moment, a section of the wall retracted, illuminating the lab with the fading scarlet light of Krypton’s last twilight. The ship guidance system oriented itself, and the thrusters activated, starting to speed the ship to escape Krypton's gravity.

    Jor-El and Lara stood there, looking at the ship, while the tremors returned, stronger than ever, until it was only a pinprick of light in the darkening sky, unconcerned of the cracks showing in the lab walls as the tremors started to intensify, as in preparation for the last act of Krypton’s destruction.

    Other, unliving, eyes were also tracking the progress of the ship. As a last act of petty vengeance, before his CPU was destroyed, Brainiac ordered one of the drone defense ships to destroy Jor-El residence and all its occupants, even if they fled.

    As it neared the residence, it scanned it, showing three life signs inside. A ship shot off, carrying one of the life signs. Following its programming, the drone was ready to destroy the residence when it collapsed on itself, extinguishing the two remaining life-signs.

    The mindless program made it follow the ship up in the atmosphere and beyond, not caring that the world that both were leaving behind cracked and exploded, showering the entire system with the fragments of what had once been a planet. In the middle of such detonation, one could be forgiven for missing the light of a ship jumping into hyperspace, and bringing its pursuer and parts of its home planet with it.

    Afterwards, other than the desperate attempts of the inhabitants of the only remaining space habitat to survive, there was only silence... until a forgotten deep space probe came to life in the outskirts of the system, its surface reconfiguring to show five red light-points in a W shape.

    TO BE CONTINUED...
     
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  22. Threadmark: Family.07
    AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    Family

    Chapter 7: Revelations

    Disclaimer: all characters are property of their respective owners.

    Spoilers: to the end of season 7 of Buffy (I'm not including the season 8+ comics in this continuity), general spoilers for Batman and mild spoilers for X-Men: Evolution season 1.

    Author Note: the version of the Batman that will appear here draws from several versions.

    I wish to give thanks to JediKnight for betareading and general creative input.




    Xavier School

    Not too long afterwards, Ororo, Jean, Scott, Kitty and Kurt were together in the mansion living room, Jean’s episode having attracted the attention of everybody.

    "So, this Dawn Summers is your cousin?" Kitty asked.

    "Yeah, she is the youngest daughter of my uncle Hank." Scott said.

    "If you have an uncle and cousins, why you have never mentioned them before?" Jean asked, curious.

    "Jean, you know the memory problems that I had because of the accident." Scott said, shaking his head, "And uncle Hank... well, apparently he and my father had problems, I still don't know why. But I'd never thought that he would act as if everybody died in the crash."

    “He did what?” Kitty said, horrified.

    “He never looked for me and when the professor managed to find him, he didn’t want anything to do with me.” He said “And, when I tried to talk to him, he said something to the matter of being better if I had died with his idiot brother.”

    “Ouch.” Kitty said with a wince. “And I thought that Lance’s relatives were bad.”

    "Hank Summers family sense, or lack of it, is not the matter we are discussing, kids.” Ororo said, trying to steer the conversation back to the matter of the new mutant, and away from so heavy topics. “Dawn and her older sister, Buffy..."

    "Buffy? I mean, like, really?" Kitty said, which earned her a 'look who's talking' glare from Ororo and Jean.

    "As I was saying, Buffy and Dawn had an appointment in Gotham City this evening..." Ororo explained the reason the Summer sisters had gone to Gotham, and why it was likely they were on Wayne Manor. "Have you tried to call her, Scott?"

    "No, sorry, I just forgot." He said, taking out his cell phone and calling Dawn to the number she had given him earlier. "It's apparently out of reach." He tried another number. "Buffy's phone is the same."

    "Jean, you said that this Dawn was in Wayne Manor." Kitty asked, after having been looking a few things in her phone while Ororo had been explaining the situation.

    "Yes, the psychic trace was pretty clear." Jean confirmed.

    "Well, I have been looking the location of Wayne manor in relation to the nearest cell towers, and it's, like, too far." Kitty explained, "There is not even a Wayne Communications tower nearby."

    In the end they decided to visit Gotham the next day, as with the storm raging outside it would be dangerous to drive, let alone fly, all the way to Gotham City. When they were going to their bedrooms, Scott made a signal to Jean to come to talk to him.

    "Ororo told me what happened, Jean." Scott said, "How are you, really?"

    "I don't really know, I mean, I feel well, but..." Jean said, "That memory loss frighten me, because if somebody did it to me that means that there is something out there that walked through my mental defenses as if they were made of cardboard. And if I did it to myself, that means that I found something that made me take such a drastic measure."

    The Batcave

    "Buffy, you're the expert in vampires. What should I look for?" Bruce said.

    "I'd check if somebody had stopped buying food in that area or close to." Buffy said after a moment of hesitation. "Vampires only need blood to survive, after all."

    "But if they're keeping their victims alive, that won't reflect on the charges. Vampires don't have to eat, but their victims have to, if they want to keep them alive for weeks." Bruce countered, finding immediately the flaw in Buffy's logic. "In fact their food orders may have increased, depending on how many vampires we are talking about. Can a vampire put somebody in thrall, like in the movies?"

    “You usually only see very old vamps doing that.” Buffy said, with a shrug, “But I have met enough exceptions to be wary, why do you ask? Oh, you think that they may be enthralled somebody to buy the grocery list? A person enthralled acts weird enough to be noticed.”

    “…bator.” Dawn said, and the sisters collapsed in giggles.

    “What was that?” Bruce said.

    “Sorry, it was something that happened when one of our friends in Sunnydale got enthralled by this really old vampire.” Buffy said, “He even started to get all Renfield-like, eating bugs and all.”

    “…Okay.” Bruce said “Why don’t you give me a primer on vampires? I think that it'd be better than playing twenty questions.”

    An old manor near Slaughter Swamp

    Sidney DelVeccio carved another mark in the walls of her cell, and looked at herself. She had lost close to thirty pounds since those people had brought her here, wherever it was. She had been a waitress in a fast-food place in one of the less bad parts of the Bowery, and she had just been getting ready to go for a job interview on Metropolis, across the bay, when those… monsters had caught her in the way to the ferry.

    She had been walking toward a bus stop when she heard a van braking noisily and she suddenly felt herself dragged into the van and injected with something. That was the last thing she remembered before waking here barefoot and chained to the wall.

    A bit of light entered from a small window, and that was how she could tell the passage of the time as her captors brought them food at irregular intervals. At first she had heard other voices, people screaming, praying, crying, or trying to bargain with their captors, but every time they sedated all of them, with a dart pistol, there was one less voice. Now she was alone, and her turn would come soon. She tried to fall asleep, to see if she could dream again with those girls that fought monsters. It gave her some measure of peace, although she didn't know why, because the girls often ended up killed by those monsters.

    The Batcave

    “…and that’s all.” Buffy said.

    “Interesting.” Bruce said, and keyed a few commands in the computer. A list appeared and Bruce started to add filters to the search; soon the list had shrunk into a single name, “DuBois Manor. It’s close to Slaughter Swamp.”

    “A charming name.” Dawn said, her voice full of sarcasm, “And I suppose that it has a history of weird events.”

    “Yes.” Bruce said, as he was looking for info about the manor. “There are several legends associated with the swamp. But DuBois Manor has its share of oddities, too.”

    “Don’t tell me. It’s supposed to be haunted.” Buffy said, rolling her eyes.

    “Yes, but that’s not the weirdest thing about the manor.” Bruce said, looking on the screen at a number of pages of old newspapers. “Nicholas DuBois and his sister Dala were run out of Gotham County in 1857 due to something that was hushed up. The manor fell in disrepair, and in 1882, a son of Nicholas appeared with all the documentation to prove it and proceeded to rebuild the manor, but something happened, and Dubois Junior never came back to Gotham. Since then the manor has changed hands through the Dubois family, where heirs seems to pop out like clockwork.”

    “Like the Mayor.” Buffy said, and then started to explain, “The Mayor of Sunnydale was an immortal sorcerer, that…”

    “I get the picture.” Bruce said, raising his hand to interrupt her, “There are no pictures of any of the DuBois after Nicholas. And the current Dubois, Louis, controls a modest-sized shipping business in New Orleans, Demeter Lines, and his legal affairs are usually managed by… Wolfram & Hart.” Bruce frowned, while Buffy and Dawn grimaced, “Even if Dubois is not a vampire, I have never met somebody represented by Wolfram & Hart that wasn’t rotten to the core.”

    “Of course, they are evil.” Buffy said.

    “They are a law firm that seems to be very unscrupulous in their choice of clients, but why are you saying that they are evil?” Bruce asked, genuinely curious.

    “A… friend of mine in Los Angeles has clashed with them over the last years.” Buffy said, “Apparently the Senior Partners of Wolfram and Hart are demons, and to work there you have to sell them your soul. They have been mixed up in a lot of supernatural crap in the L.A. area in the last few years.”

    “Interesting, but that doesn’t really pertain to the matter at hand.” Bruce said, although he made a mental note to check if they were involved in some business in the city, “Dubois Manor is currently being taken care of by a group that started to work there… eighteen months ago.”

    “Isn’t that when the when the Ripper murders started?” Dawn asked.

    “Yes, it is.” Bruce said, “This merits, at least, a visit.”

    “Well, what are waiting for?.” Buffy said. “There may still be somebody alive there.”

    “I need some additional equipment.” Bruce said, before turning to Dawn, “You can go upstairs, to sleep in one of the guest bedrooms. It’s quite late.”

    “And stay awake worried for you and Buffy? Not a chance.” Dawn said.

    DuBois Manor. Close to midnight

    Sidney awoke suddenly when the door to her cell opened. She had been dreaming of hunting something in a savannah, and the sudden waking up was quite jarring. She looked at the door and saw that the moonlight that filtered through the small window of her cell illuminated two people... no, not people, as she noticed the ridged faces and yellow eyes. More like monsters. One looked like a big man dressed in business clothes, who acted subserviently to the other, a black haired woman dressed in a black t-shirt and pants ensemble.

    "Pathetic." She said with a sneer, speaking with a Southern accent. "You should have fed her better. She'll have to do, though. But I'll supervise personally how you treat the next batch, understood?"

    "Yes, Mistress Dala." He said, producing a dart gun from a pocket in his jacket.

    "No, keep her awake. I want to savor the fear in her blood, when we drain her." She said, licking her lips.

    The man nodded and went toward her, taking her by the neck, while with the other he was opening the manacles. After that, with a single movement, he put her on his shoulder and carried her through the corridors until they reached a big room with several people..., no, several monsters. They were in a circle around a dais with chains on it, chains much like the one in her cell.

    With a shiver she realized that they were to chain her there, and then the monsters would do... whatever they had done to the others. And given that they were looking at her like she was a piece of meat... she shivered again, realizing that she wasn't going to get out of here alive. She tried to fight against her captor, but the monster chuckled and grabbed her tighter. Even if she had been at full strength she couldn't have got out of the grip, the monster was too strong.

    As they reached the center of the dais, the monster put her on the floor, and kept her in place while the female monster manacled her wrists. She scratched with her long, sharp fingernails on her neck, letting out a bit of blood that the female mon... the vampiress, she realized, licked with her tongue.

    "Hmm... fear and despair, I can taste it in your blood, girl." She said, licking her lips again. Then she turned to the other vampires and said, "You know the rules, everyone gets a bite, and the one to drain her fully is the one that will bury the corpse, understood? Well, then, fellow servants of our august Master..."

    "...bator." said a female voice over them

    "Who dares?" she said looking up, only to see two figures jumping in front of the assembled vampires. She recognized one of the figures immediately. "The Bat!"

    "And what I am? Chopped liver?" the other figure, a petite blonde woman, clad in a baggy black hoodie, black pants and boots, said in an aggrieved tone, producing two big knives from somewhere inside the hoodie.

    “The Golden Slayer!” the vampiress said, with a hiss, and Sidney felt hope again.

    /O\​

    Batman quickly assessed the situation as he got up from the jump from the hole in the upper floor, there were fifteen vampires. All of them were in what Buffy had called their game face, so they wouldn't hold back. Neither should he.

    For a moment, after Buffy's quip and the leader's reaction, things stood in an impasse, but the innate aggressiveness of the vampires won and they attacked the pair. Buffy found herself facing no less than ten of the vampires, while four others focused on him.

    His first hits had not much effect and he barely escaped the hold of one of the vampires. He berated himself mentally; he was not fighting men, but monsters out of nightmares.

    "What are you doing, Batsy? We don't have all night!" Buffy said as she was dispatching the third of the vampires that were fighting her, who despite seemingly being better fighters than usual they were only slowing her down.

    He didn't answer, but he shifted gears mentally and activated a device in the heavier than usual gauntlets that he was wearing. The short wings on the gauntlets lengthened and sharpened and the next vampire he hit found himself shaking from the electric charge of the built-in tasers in the knuckles, and another had barely time to gasp before the wings cut his neck, reducing him to ashes.

    /O\​

    The vampiress looked at the fight, and frowned, ignoring Sidney's struggles to free herself from the chains, and with good reason, as the chains were too strong and were too well lodged onto the floor to even budge a bit with the strength that a half-starved young woman could exert.

    The vampiress then turned to her, a calculating look in her face, and smiled. Sidney then realized that this was it. She was going to die here, just when people had come into her rescue. She just knew that it was impossible for her to survive tonight.

    And then, the impossible happened. At the same time that in another continent a young woman died, disemboweled by a werehyena before her lover, she heard a voice, the voice of a young woman speaking in a Cali accent, asking her:

    'Do you want to be strong?'

    "Yes." She said aloud, and she felt... weird, but also strong, as if she could lift a mountain over her head. She pulled on the chains, and the metal groaned, until, suddenly, the chains snapped.

    The vampiress stood there for a moment with an expression of incredulity, looking back between Sidney and the Slayer.

    "Fuck it, Nick was right. This changes everything." She said, before turning into a bat and fleeing into the darkness.

    TO BE CONTINUED...
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016
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  23. Threadmark: Family.08
    AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    Family

    Chapter 8: Events in motion

    Disclaimer: all characters are property of their respective owners.

    Spoilers: to the end of season 7 of Buffy (I'm not including the season 8+ comics in this continuity), general spoilers for Batman and mild spoilers for X-Men: Evolution season 1.

    Author Note: the version of the Batman that will appear here draws from several versions.

    I wish to give thanks to JediKnight for betareading and general creative input.




    DuBois Manor

    Batman's strategy of approaching the manor by foot had been successful, as well as her idea to go first through the clearly abandoned upper levels. Buffy had been ready to launch a silver throwing knife to the vampire leader when she had felt it, the death of a Slayer and the activation of another. And just afterwards, the girl who had been prepared as the main course by the vamps, snapped the chains holding her as if they were made of tinfoil.

    The head vampiress, after looking both at her and the girl with a confused expression, had turned into a bat and fled, something that set a Snake-Mayor sized alarm bell on her head.

    'I thought that only Dracula could do that.' she thought, just as she dispatched the last vamps. 'I should check with Giles later.'

    She ran toward the newly empowered Slayer, opened the manacles and removed them from her wrists.

    “Were those...?" the girl asked.

    "Vampires? Yeah, pretty much. And you have been just empowered as a Vampire Slayer." Buffy said, "There used to be only one, but recently we changed the rules.” She looked around for a moment, stopping at Batman who was looking at them with an unreadable expression.

    “Do you work with him?” the girl said, a bit of fear on her voice.

    “I only met him today, but he doesn’t seem to be bad people.” Buffy said, before reaching a decision and saying, “Look, I can give you the usual song and dance about how the world is older that you know, and all that jazz that sounds way better when it is said by a stuffy and tweedy Englishman, but that bitch could be coming back with friends at any moment.”

    It was with some difficulty, that they managed to get out of the manor, to the Batmobile that had, upon a signal from Batman, driven in on auto-pilot from its hiding place to the front of the manor. After accommodating the girl behind the seats, she quickly fell asleep.

    “Did you do something to her?” Buffy said, frowning.

    “A mild anesthetic gas. On a normal person it would keep them asleep for three to five hours.” Batman said, “I wouldn’t normally have done it, but I needed to ask you some questions, and it might be better not to be overheard.”

    “She’ll stay asleep for an hour tops, then.” Buffy commented, as she sat on the passenger seat, “Very well, ask away.”

    “I was under the impression that when you, as you said, ‘changed the rules’, you activated every Potential Slayer in the world.” Batman said.

    “That was our intention, but well, the old Council fucked it up.” Buffy said, with a sigh, before adding under her teeth, “Not a great surprise there.” She took a deep breath before continuing her explanation, “Will had to use the spellwork they used to locate Potentials as a base for the activation spell, and it turned out that the Council had put the bar just too high in the selection. So, there is a fuckton of Potential Slayers out there, and when one of the Slayers that got activated by the spell, dies…”

    “One of those unacknowledged Potentials become newly activated Slayers.” Batman completed, “It is normal to have another Slayer present?.”

    “Not at all. “Buffy said, shaking her head, “I suspect that it’s the Powers that Be feeling clever again with this crap.”

    “Powers that Be?” Batman asked.

    “Lazy, manipulative assholes, who claim to be the Big Good, but leave the footwork of saving the world in the hands of yours truly.” Buffy said, "I was the typical Cali teenager, only thinking of clothes, boys and my upcoming sweet sixteen. And then, I was thrust with that responsibility. What kind of madman would think that I was world-saving material?"

    "But in the end it worked out." Batman pointed.

    "Sometimes, it was more luck than anything. Other times, it was the help of my friends." Buffy said, "But at the end it was me, the girl with the power. When I thought that I had everything under control, the world threw me one curve ball after another." She then smiled weakly, "Not to speak of the effect on my love life. My first love? A vampire. My first long relationship? A wannabe Captain America with self-confidence issues. And then I died."

    This prompted a raised eyebrow from Batman.

    "I got better." She then winced, "That sounded straight from Monty Python, didn't it?"

    Batman nodded, acknowledging the obvious.

    "But it's true. Willow managed to resurrect me, but it was a one-time deal, and it had consequences." Buffy said, "I was near suicidal and very self-destructive for months afterwards, Wills had to deal with addiction problems, Xander and his fiancée broke up just as they were about to get married... I could go on and on."

    "The world is never going to be fair, but we fight on regardless." Batman said, "Because every person we save, every life we protect, every children who can grow with their parents, it counts."

    "If nothing we do matters, then all what matters is what we do." Buffy said, "Angel said that to me, after the sinking of Sunnydale. But enough of the heavy stuff, where are you going to leave her?"

    "Leslie Thompkins, an old friend of Thomas Wayne, has a clinic on Crime Alley. She has helped me sometimes." Batman said, "She doesn't fully approve of what I do, but she helps... and there is somebody else I have to call."

    G.C.P.D. HQ

    Captain James Gordon was in the washroom, washing his hands, when the "new message" tone from his cellphone startled him. He quickly dried his hands and looked at it. It only said TWMC Ripper, with no detail of the sender. The Bat has probably found some clue about the Ripper. He really hoped that he was right on this, Loeb was looking for an excuse to get him out of Major Crimes, now that he was proving to be even more of a thorn in the side of the Mob in Major Crimes that he was before, as the second in command in the Robbery-Homicide division.

    He quickly erased the message, knowing from past experiences that the Bat wouldn't have left a trail of what he had just done. Now, what it was TWMC? Ah, yes, Thomas Wayne Memorial Clinic, Leslie Thompkins clinic in Crime Alley.

    He passed through the offices of Major Crimes to see if Harv was still there, and indeed he was there, glaring at the paperwork in his desk. But before he could say anything to his former partner, his cellphone rang. When he looked the Caller ID, it was Dr Thompkins. He suppressed a smile, the Bat was always one step further than everybody. This way he could say honestly, that he had found a lead, and given her long friendship with Leslie, it wouldn’t be unusual for her to call him directly.

    "Yes, Leslie?" he said, playing his part on the charade. "What can I do for you?"

    "Less than five minutes ago a girl entered the ER claiming to have been a prisoner for the last six weeks, and that her captors had killed at least six other people." The doctor said in a rush.

    He frowned. At first sight it didn't seem to have anything to do with the Ripper, but...

    "Very well, ma'am. Detective Bullock and I will be there as soon as possible." He said.

    They said goodbye, and when he cut the call Bullock was looking at him.

    "So, Crime Alley again?" Bullock said, "Sometimes I wonder about you and the good doctor."

    Jim rolled his eyes, good natured or not, Harv jibes about his newly found single status after his divorce still stung a little. Besides, the one time they went on a date... it just didn't work, they were better as friends.

    “Sorry, Harv, but it’s a business call…”

    While on the way to the parking lot, Gordon explained what Doctor Thompkins had told him, keeping the call from Batman to himself. Bullock didn’t like much the vigilante, although he had grudgingly recognized that he was at least doing more to fight the scum that half of the police department.

    Harvey drove them, he knew more shortcuts through the twisting maze of narrow streets than most taxi drivers, helped by the police siren in the dashboard. When they arrived to Crime Alley, Jim looked to the side, where a small plaque could be seen.

    “Yeah, the Waynes were good people, I wonder what they think about their son the playboy, wherever they are.” Bullock said, shaking his head, “He looked like a good kid back then.”

    “People change.” Jim said, not wanting to reminisce about those times. The Wayne’s murders had been his first case in Gotham, and he still couldn’t shake the feeling that there had been more to it than a mugging gone wrong.

    The clinic was in front of the memorial plaque, and Doctor Leslie Thompkins, a grey-haired woman around Gordon’s own age was waiting for them.

    Watchers HQ. Scotland

    Isabella "Izzy" Ferguson didn't look like the usual Watcher. For one, she wouldn’t be caught dead wearing tweed and in fact she rocked a Goth look, she dyed her hair a vibrant red, and for other, she had treated the Potentials she had been charged with as people, not as potential tools. Of course that meant that she had been given the boot as soon as possible under Travers... and hence, that she had been one of the few veteran Watchers who had survived the bombing.

    Naturally, that meant that until the kids got some experience, she was stuck manning the fort in the new HQ. And so, she was the one to answer the phone when Buffy Summers called... or at least somebody emulating the erstwhile Slayer phone.

    ‘This girl went through phones quicker than through shoes.’ She thought, shaking her head

    "Bramsworth Castle School.” she said, using the established cover for the Castle facilities, “Our office hours are…”

    "Hey, Izzy, it's Buffy." a voice she knew well cut her, "And don’t get your panties on a twist, Fergie."

    Izzy couldn't avoid sighing in relief. She had used the codewords to mean that everything was well, and that nobody was listening.

    "Consider my knickers unbunched, Buff." she answered, using her part of the code. "I presume that this is not a social call."

    "Nope, I managed to track the Bowery Ripper, with the help of the Batman, and it turned out to be a nest of vamps playing musical draining chairs with their prisoners." Buffy said, the disgust evident in his voice, "The thing is that the last prisoner, was Called when we were just there, and you know what that means."

    "I'll start to check on all our teams abroad, starting with…” she started to say, already calling the list of Slayer teams deployed.

    “Please, start with Xander team in Africa, the girl said something about dreaming of the savannah just before she was carried out to be drained." Buffy said, a bit too quickly.

    “You’re worried?” Izzy asked.

    “Yeah, well, he’s got Faith and Ayesha with him, but I got a bad feeling about this.” Buffy explained.

    “Okay, I have been in this business long enough not to dismiss a Slayer's gut feeling.” Izzy admitted.

    "Thank you.” Buffy said, relieved, “Ah, can you get Andrew and the rest of the Geek Squad to check on the Dubois family from Gotham? They should start with Nicholas and Dala, brother and sister, in the 1850s. I think that those two were turned, and now they are pulling an 'I'm my own granpa' for real."

    "Okay, I'll call them. Anything else?”

    “Not right now, but I’ll call you again if I remember something.” Buffy said, “If something comes up about what I asked, we can be reached on Wayne Manor.”

    Thomas Wayne Memorial Clinic. Crime Alley. Gotham City.

    Jim Gordon walked onto a balcony that opened over an inner patio of the building. He was craving another cigarette, so he took a candy from his pocket. It did help somewhat, although he knew that when he came back to his apartment he had to apply another nicotine patch.

    “Rough day, Captain Gordon?” said a gruff voice from above.

    “The same as always, Batman. This city…” He said with a sigh, without looking up. “Now, I have seen enough things to know that there was something weird at work here, that the girl is keeping mum about it.”

    Batman silence spoke volumes.

    “I thought so, and you can’t tell me about it.” Gordon said.

    “No, I’m sorry, but I have a source that tells me that it won’t repeat.” Batman answered.

    “I’m not happy about this, but given that Loeb and his lackey Rojas are breathing on my neck over the Ripper, I’ll take what I can get.” Gordon said, “Where was she kept?”

    “Dubois manor.” Batman said, “In the countryside. Get a SWAT team with your people, just in case.”

    “Okay.” Gordon said. Something in the tone of the answer, and its own nature, as Gordon always questioned his suggestions, made Batman give him a closer look. His expression made it clear, to him at least, that his mind was elsewhere.

    “Jim, you seem distracted.” Batman said. “Something wrong?”

    “No, why do you ask?” Jim said

    "You haven't even asked why you would need the SWAT team, for example." Batman said

    Jim unwrapped another candy before he answered the question.

    “Sorry, when I was coming here I got a call from Chicago” Gordon said, "Barbara is coming back to Gotham.”

    "Barbara, your niece and adopted daughter, not your ex-wife, I presume." Batman said, unsurprisingly well-informed about Gordon family situation, and prompting a nod from Gordon. "I thought she was sixteen."

    "She is sixteen.” Gordon remarked “I always knew she was smarter than anyone else that I know, except possibly you, but it turns out that she is a certified genius. She has managed to skip a couple courses in High School in Chicago, and is coming back here to study something to do with computers.” He then removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes, “Frankly, I don't know what has possessed her to come back here, to the madness of this city."

    "Maybe because you're here. She and your ex never really got along, if I remember correctly." Batman said, and added when Jim looked at him inquisitively, "There were a few very public altercations. Add to that the body language when both of them were together, and it's easy to read between lines."

    Jim nodded, acknowledging his point. It had been clear since she was a kid that Babs had fully inherited the Gordon temper, and Barbara’s own problematic character hadn’t helped things along, precisely.

    "I don't have much family left, Batman. Barbara’s parents, Roger and Thelma died in a car crash, my sister Jess is an alcoholic, and she has a son that I have never met." Jim said, "I would prefer to know that Barbara and James Jr. are safely away, than to have any of them here in danger." he paused for a moment before continuing, "But what can I do?."

    TO BE CONTINUED...
     
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  24. Threadmark: Side Story: Fall from Grace, Part 1
    AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    Fall From Grace

    Chapter 1: Lights in the Sky

    Disclaimer:
    all characters are property of their respective owners.

    Spoilers: Green Lantern (comic) general spoilers, and Guardians of the Galaxy (movie) spoilers.

    Author Note: see at the end of the chapter.




    Sector 1417. Planet Korugar. Korugar City. Six months ago.

    "What have you done?" Green Lantern Katma Tui said to the figure sitting on the throne.

    "It's simple, I brought order to our world.” he said, standing up.

    "Order? You call this order, Thaal Sinestro?" Katma said, gesturing to the corpses of the former government of Korugar, who had been exposed in the Great Square before the Government Palace, that now was occupied by Sinestro, together with a lot of the people who had tried to protest peacefully Sinestro's ascension, "This is not order, it's tyranny!"

    "I was going to offer you to join me, but you have already answered the question." He said, and then he produced a Green Lantern power battery from thin air, "Do you recognize this?"

    "My power battery?" Katma said, trying and failing to summon it, “How?”

    "You don't become a veteran Lantern without learning a few tricks that the Guardians don't want you to know.” He said with a smirk, “Your charge is almost exhausted, Katma, so, remember, you brought this on yourself."

    And with these words a portal opened under Katma, who fell through it. Sinestro then turned to the cameras that had been transmitting everything live to the whole planet.

    "This is what awaits those who oppose Korugar's New Order!"

    Deep in space

    Katma found herself deep in space, surrounded by unfamiliar stars.

    "Elders damn him to the darkest pit of the Underworld!" she said, letting out a stream of curses worthy of any old spacedog. She stopped mid-tirade, remembering that her ring charge wouldn't last much more. "Ring, where are we?"

    "Sector 2807. Close to the Xandarian wormhole." the ring informed her, "Warning, closest inhabitable planet beyond range attainable with current charge."

    "How long can the life support function with the current charge level, without additional power expenses?" she asked, her quick mind starting to elaborate a plan.

    "16.684 standard cycles." it answered.

    This was bad, a standard Oan cycle lasted roughly a fiftieth of a Korugarian day.

    "And how much it would last with an emergency beacon also active?" she asked, the plan near complete in her mind.

    "7.203 standard milicycles."

    "And if after activating the beacon, I was put in suspended animation, how long it would last?" she asked.

    The ring paused for a moment, before giving the answer.

    "18.613 standard milicycles."

    'Better than nothing. Xandarian ships often cross the wormhole to assert their control over both sides of it, so they could detect the beacon.' she thought.

    "Do it, and awaken me if a ship answers the beacon." she then took a deep breath and added, "And in case nobody has answered when 18 standard cycles have passed... use emergency storage mode on me and try to reach the closest Green Lantern."

    “Acknowledged.” It said, and after a pause it continued, “Warning. Retrieval of holder after use of emergency storage mode not guaranteed.”

    “I’m aware.” She said, “Do it.”

    “Activating suspended animation mode in ten milicycles.”

    Before falling in the dreamless sleep, she had a bit time to admire the stars, how beautiful they were...

    Xandarian wormhole. Milky Way end.

    Nova Corpsman Rhomann Dey yawned in the seat of his ship. Nova Prime had programmed a 'freedom of navigation' exercise for today, which, translated to real people speech, meant that a trio of Nova Star Blasters was to keep position in the Milky Way end of the wormhole for a couple days.

    Frankly, it was boring as Hell, something that hadn’t changed over the years. According to one old timer he had talked with, the only real excitement over the years in these exercises had been when a planet in a nearby solar system, located in the center of a dead zone, incredibly enough, had blown up, and radioactive debris almost clogged the wormhole entry.

    Now? Comets and micrometeors, and the occasional smuggler, like the one they had transferred to the cruiser on the other side. Seriously, the guy was probably a bit touched in the head. Trying to claim a fake name like Han Solo, while his biometrics were in the system? Madness...

    Wait a microperiod. A distress signal?

    'Oh, shit.' he thought, recognizing the frequency and modulation. He had never seen it, but it was drilled in the head of all the Nova Corps members who participated in these exercises. He checked it against the records, just in case, and he was right. 'A Green Lantern.'

    "Corpsman 47 to Mothership, Corpsman 47 to Mothership, please answer." He said opening a channel to the cruiser, codenamed Mothership for the exercise.

    "Mothership here, what has happened, 47?" the operator, by his voice drowsy by virtue of being just the start of his shift.

    "I have just received a Green Lantern distress signal." He announced.

    "Repeat, 47." his interlocutor said, drowsiness gone from his voice.

    "I just received a Green Lantern distress signal" Rhomann repeated, "According to the navcomputer, it's fifty-two point six one six standard lightyears in the direction to the Galactic East."

    There was a pause and a new voice started to speak, a voice he knew well, even if he had never met the owner in person.

    "Corpsman Rhomann Dey, this is Nova Prime Inari Rael. Can you confirm that it is indeed a Green Lantern distress signal?."

    He rechecked again, and checked against the record again. You didn't play games while Rael was watching.

    "It's confirmed, ma'am." He said.

    "Go, and assist the Green Lantern.” She ordered “We'll send a replacement for you in the exercise."

    "Aye, ma'am."

    Nova Corps Cruiser “Pride of Xandar”. Xandarian side of the wormhole. Andromeda Galaxy.

    "How did you end up stranded in this area? The sector we found you in is quite far from Korugar, Green Lantern Tui." Rael said, after Katma had been ushered into the office that Nova Prime was using to oversee the exercise.

    Her first impulse was to not answer, shielding herself from questions, in that it was an internal matter of the Corps. But she dismissed the notion, partly because she recognized that her own biases against the Xandarians were a reflection of Sinestro's, and recent events had shown how suspect his judgement was, and partly because of expediency, with her ring running on fumes, she was going to need their help to reach Oa.

    "My partner has gone rogue, ma'am." She said, trying to keep it short.

    "That would be... Thaal Sinestro?" Rael said, checking it on the screen before her, “I have reports here of him being confrontational with Nova Corpsmen.”

    "Yes, ma'am, that would be him." Katma said, “It’s no secret that his opinion of the Nova Corps is quite low.”

    “Indeed. Unfortunately, we don’t have a ship available that could carry you to Oa.” She said, and forestalled any protest of Katma with a raised hand before startying to talk again, “This ship is needed where it is, giving our ongoing tensions with the Kree and the Skrulls, and you have a first-hand experience of how uncomfortable our Star Blasters can be for two people. But there is a possible alternative.”

    She paused for a moment, and looked to Dey, who had remained in the background, trying to remain as unconspicious as possible.

    “Corpsman Dey, what is your assessment of the smuggler you apprehended earlier today?” she asked him, forcing him to step ahead.

    “If I can speak candidly, ma’am…” he said,

    “Go ahead, that would be a refreshing change in this office.” Rael said with a smirk.

    “Quill is or used to be connected to the Ravagers, and his rap sheet… has to be seen to be believed.” Rhomann said, shaking his head.

    “Ravagers… Aren’t those a group of space pirates?” Katma asked.

    “Yes, they mostly operate in space out of our direct control, or yours for that matter, that’s why they still exist, instead of languishing on a prison planet.” Dey answered, and turned to Rael, “If we are going to use his ship, we’ll have to dangle some incentive in front of him.”

    “Aha. What is the exact nature of the contraband, Dey?” Rael asked.

    “Stolen goods. More than smuggling, it seems to be a case of petty theft, as, after reviewing the facts, we have reason to believe that he stole them himself.” Rhomann said, and then added with a shrug, "It's really a few baubles, ma'am, but..."

    “I get the picture, Dey. Tell him that we’ll erase those two charges from his rap sheet, if he transports Lantern Tui to Oa. If he insists, add that we'll let him go. But you and your Star Blaster will accompany him all the way to Oa, to guarantee his good behavior.”

    “Aye, ma’am.” He said, although he couldn’t avoid an expression of displeasure to show on his face. Rael's expression softened when she saw that.

    "Ma'am?" Katma said, "May I make use of the ship stores, the charge of the ring is very low, and, well, I didn’t have time to change from my bedclothes when I had to go on my last mission."

    "Yes, of course." Rael said, and turned to her assistant, "Go with her, I have a couple things to discuss with Corpsman Dey."

    "Aye, ma'am." she said, and accompanied Katma out of the office.

    "Dey, I know that it's a, and pardon the expression, big load of biological waste what I'm putting on your shoulders, and checking your service file, you would have made Millenian or even Denarian long ago, if politics hadn't interfered in your career. I'll call your wife personally to explain the situation."

    "Thank you, ma'am." Dey said, genuinely impressed.

    "Don't thank me yet, there is another thing I want you to do, to carry a proposal to the Guardians..."

    Nova Cruiser brig. Not too long afterwards

    "This is Quill? He doesn't look like much." Katma, now clad in blue fatigues similar to the ones worn by Nova Corps member out of service, said when she saw Peter Quill for the first time.

    "For your information, I'm the legendary outlaw Star-Lord, wanted in twelve systems." he said making a theatrical gesture, while Rhomann rolled his eyes behind Katma.

    "Sure you are." Dey said, "Look, Quill, this lady needs transportation to the planet Oa in the Milky Way galaxy."

    "Aha, and what do I get in exchange?" Quill said, suddenly interested.

    "We return those baubles you had on your ship to their owners, and you aren't charged with their theft." Rhomann said.

    "Sure, and when my back is turned you get me for all the other charges you have against me." Quill said, “I’m not an idiot.”

    Rhomann took a deep breath and then said.

    "Very well, after you carry her to Oa, we let you go, but I'm going with you." He forestalled Quill's protest adding, "That's not negotiable, Quill. You have a reputation, after all."

    Quill bristled for a moment before deflating visibly.

    "...Okay, you win." Quill said, "I hope you haven't scratched the paint on the Milano."

    "Don't worry, other than removing those things, everything is as you left it." Rhomann answered while he was opening the door, thus missing the brief smirk on Quill's face.

    Nova Mothership Hangar.

    "What the hell is that?" Quill said when he saw the small ship docked on the upper side of the Milano.

    "My Star Blaster, Quill." Rhomann said, "It has the communication codes so that Oa defenses wouldn't blow us from the sky. Once we leave Ms. Tui on Oa, we go our separate ways."

    "And how do I return to...?" Quill started to say before snapping his fingers, "Knowhere. It's not as fast as the wormhole, but it'll shave months of the travel."

    "Knowhere?" Katma asked, not having heard of that place before.

    "An space station located in a Star Cluster on Intergalactic space." Rhomann said, "It sits close to a sweet spot where several Hyperlanes cross. That means that..."

    "Intergalactic travel through Knowhere is faster than a direct route." Katma said, having recognized the implications immediately, "But who controls it?"

    "A coalition of crime syndicates." Rhomann said, "They enforced an strict neutrality, and their combined strength is enough to give even the Kree pause."

    "Yeah, you won't find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy in all the known galaxies." Quill said, "Just my kind of place."

    "Of course it is. Come on, let's get going." Katma said, walking intently toward the entry ramp to the Milano.

    Korugar

    The orbital defenses of Korugar were being strengthened. Mass drivers and lasers adding to the particle and plasma cannons already in place. Sinestro had given the pirate attacks suffered in the last years as a reason, but the complex IFF being built on them, as well as the specially marked ammunition for the mass drivers, spoke of having another enemy in mind for them.

    But life didn't stop because a tyrant had taken power. Normal people still had to go to work, although they now had to avoid the attention of the newly formed green clad units of Enforcers, always watchful of signs of disloyalty to the New Order. One such person was Doctor Soranik Natu, a young and brilliant neurosurgeon.

    "Mom! Dad! I'm leaving for work!" she said, taking her luggage

    "Are you sure, dear? The Enforcers are out looking for... well..."

    "People still get hurt, what kind of doctor would I be if I refused to go to work because of the thugs on the streets? Even if those thugs now work for the government.." Soranik said, "Besides, you know me, I never talk about politics."

    And with this she left the house, toward her aircar, parked just in front.

    "I fear for her, sometimes. She is so passionate, so willful." Dgibb Natu, Soranik's father said, "So much like Katma."

    "Or Arin. And look what happened to them," answered his wife, Karoll. "I never trusted Sinestro, Elders take his black soul."

    TO BE CONTINUED...


    Author Note: I took the Green Lantern mythos and shaved what it doesn't work in a cosmos where Galactus and Celestials exists, as well as compressing the timeline, and trying to remove a bit of the 'human Green Lanterns have to do everything' that seems to pervade the mythos quite a bit.
     
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  25. Threadmark: Side Story: Fall from Grace, Part 2
    AntonioCC

    AntonioCC Verified Procrastinator

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    Chapter 2: Darkness in the mind

    Disclaimer:
    all characters are property of their respective owners.

    Spoilers: Green Lantern (comic) general spoilers, and Guardians of the Galaxy (movie) spoilers.

    Author Note: I have picked elements from several incarnations of teh Green Lantern Corps. And added element of the comic version of the Nova Corps to their movie portrayal.




    Milano space ship

    "Okay, we have just cleared the gravity well." Quill announced to his passengers, "Get ready for the hyperjump, the Milano can be a bit temperamental."

    "We're already strapped down, Quill." Dey said, evidently annoyed, "Neither of us are novices on interstellar flight."

    "It's the principle of the thing, Dey." Quill retorted, "If I'm gonna serve as a spaceliner..."

    "More like a charter flight and those don't have announcements and demonstrations." Dey answered.

    "Yes, why don't you cut the talk?" Katma added in an annoyed tone, "I have to be on Oa ASAP."

    "Well, excuse me, princess!" Quill said as the ship jumped into hyperspace. "What is so important, anyway?"

    "My planet's freedom." Katma said, with a tone of finality that shut Quill.

    Korugar City Central Hospital

    "What do we have here?" asked Soranik to the paramedic who had accompanied the wounded man to the Hospital.

    "Multiple cranial fracture, caused, according to the Enforcer present, by the patient falling and hitting his head on a rock, when he was talking to him."

    "I see..." Soranik said, understanding what the paramedic was really saying, before barking a series of orders to the personnel standing by, to ready one of the operating rooms.

    Before disappearing into the lift that would carry her to the floor where the operation room was located, she observed out of the corner of her eye a couple of Enforcers in the Waiting Room, waiting, no doubt for her patient to wake up so they could continue talking to him.

    'Frakking vultures.' she thought.

    Xandar. Nova Prime Office.

    Having left the command of the exercise to a trusted Centurion, Nova Prime Rael had left the Cruiser at the same time as the Milano, and came back to Xandar with all haste. The official reason had been exhaustion, but the truth was that she had felt the telepathic pull that meant that the Worldmind was calling.

    Once in her office, she dismissed her aide, and closed the door with her codes. Only then, the concealed door that gave access to the Worldmind chamber opened.

    As she entered the chamber, she reflected that most people considered her the true ruler of the Empire, and the Worldmind was merely an instrument, while, in truth, the reverse was closest to the truth. Centuries of psychic impressions left by successive Nova Primes, as well as the influence of the Nova Force, had changed the Worldmind over the centuries in subtle and not so subtle ways.

    Originally, the Worldmind had been an AI designed to simplify the bureaucratic quagmire that the expanding Xandarian realm was becoming, and later, modified to administrate the access to the Nova Force by the Nova Corps ships. What it was now, maybe only the mythical Source knew, but the best theories were that, ironically enough, it had become something somewhat similar to the Kree Supreme Intelligence. Whatever it was, though, only a very small number of people, the Nova Prime and the Centurions that comprised her closest advisors, one of which would eventually succeed her, knew the truth.

    The room was very spartan, the only thing in it was a chair with the Nova Corps starburst on the back. She sat on it and closed her eyes, emptying her mind of all thought except the pull, and soon enough, she felt the familiar, yet very alien, presence of the Worldmind.

    She then knew why the Worldmind had summoned her back. Through its connection to the Nova Force the Worldmind could sometimes glimpse the future, and the image it was projecting in her mind was enough for a deep chill to run up her spine.

    In the image, Xandar had been laid waste, and the one responsible seemed to be a mustachioed red skinned humanoid clad in an unfamiliar black and yellow uniform. She needed a moment to recognize him... Sinestro, the renegade Green Lantern, who in that vision of the future seemed to have acquired a yellow power ring somewhere.

    She scrutinized the image for other details. On the ground, broken and bloodied, laid the corpses of many members of the Corps clad in their familiar uniform, but mixed with them she could see people clad in a blue and gold variant, which, by how the bodies were placed, seemed to have been the last men standing.

    She filed it in her mind for later appraisal, and continued to look at it for a sign of when this was supposed to happen. She didn't need to bother, as the Worldmind supplied it immediately, four, maybe five, standard years in the future.

    Another image replaced the first one, blueprints, blueprints that she recognized as the ones of the next generation of the Nova armor, which would allow members of the Corps to tap into the Nova Force directly. Maybe those new armors seen in the future were a development of these? She decided to increase the funding of that project, if they could last a bit more than a second against a Lantern.

    She waited to see if the Worldmind had something else to say, but she felt its presence retreating, and she was left alone with her thoughts. Measures would have to be taken to ensure the survival of Xandar and the Nova Corps.

    Milano. On route to Oa.

    "The autopilot is set, we'll arrive at Oa in a few hours." Quill said, "Where is Grumpy?"

    "If you are talking about Corpsman Dey, he is checking his Star Blaster." Katma said, without lifting her eyes from the holoscreen she was watching.

    "Okay." Quill said and he looked at her with a smile and said, "What'cha doin', beautiful?"

    "Reading about the Nova Corps." she said in an annoyed tone, "Today was the first time I have seen any of them."

    "I would have thought that a Krylorian..." Quill started to say, before being interrupted by her laughter. "What?"

    "I'm not Krylorian, I'm Korugaran," she said, once she had calmed down.

    "Koru...what?"

    "Korugaran. From Korugar, here in the Milky Way." Katma said, "And you? You look a lot like a Xandarian, but with what you said about your world, and the way you keep making references nobody is catching, you obviously aren't."

    "How did you...?"

    "You stop a fraction of a second after you say them, as if you expect somebody to recognize them." Katma said, and then added with a shrug, "I studied Psychology, I notice those things."

    "Guilty as charged." Quill said, and sat down in front of Katma, dropping the smarmy tone, "Okay, seriously, why you don't like me? I can understand from Grumpy, Nova Corpsmen tend to be a humorless lot, but I usually get a better reaction from anybody else."

    This stopped Katma in her tracks. She had taken an instant dislike to the alien, but she hadn't stopped to think why.

    "Look, I don't want to talk about it with a complete stranger." she finally said, trying to evade the question until she could give it more thought, "I'll try to be less hostile in the future, though."

    "...fair enough." Quill said, evenly, “So what happened to... Korugar? An evil empire conquered the planet or something?"

    "Or something." Katma said, noncommitantly, "What do you know about Oa?"

    "Until today, not even the name." he said, "I have barely stayed more than a day in the Milky since I was a kid. But I gather that they are like Xandar in the Andromeda Galaxy, the big guy in the neighborhood."

    "Something like that." she said with a smile. 'Oh, you don't know half of it.' "They are the ones who can help my people. But enough of me, what about you? You haven't still told me anything about you."

    "Well, it's not that interesting of a story. I was born on Earth, a little, primitive planet in the Milky Way."

    'Didn't Abin mention that world one time?' she thought, "And how did you end up in the Andromeda galaxy?"

    "Well, my mother was human, but my father was an alien. After her death, the Ravagers came to collect me at the behest of my father, but Yondu, their leader, took a liking to me, and I became their mascot..."

    He told Katma about his adventures with the Ravagers, and later solo. Katma had to recognize that Quill, or Star-Lord, as he apparently liked to be called, was a gifted storyteller, although she doubted that any of those stories happened as he was telling them, or at all.

    "Why don't you tell her about the Gramosian affair?" Rhomann said having approached them without them noticing, engrossed as they were in an improbable tale involving a Skrull princess, a Kree assassin and a member of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard.

    "The what?"

    "It's on his rap sheet. The Gramosians have an order on him for 'Illegal handling of a Gramosian duchess', whatever that means."

    “You know how Gramosians are with their nobility. You can’t even touch them if you are a commoner without their permission.” Quill said.

    “Knowing your reputation, I doubt that you limited yourself to ‘touch her’”

    “Hey, how could I know that the girl that practically threw herself at me was a Duchess?”

    “Really.” Katma said skeptical.

    “Yes, really." Quill said, then turned to Dey, "Come on, man, didn't something like that happened last time your people sent people there?"

    "Well, yeah, but the person involved had enough common sense to keep it in his breeches."

    Planet Oa

    "How are things going, old friend?" The purple skinned humanoid saluted his colleague and older surviving friend. He seemed more morose than usual. "What has brought you to Oa?"

    "Tolerable, Abin." the avian alien said with a sigh, "And two things brought me here. The first was something that I found in a ship that had launched a distress call."

    "What happened, Tomar?" Abin Sur, Green Lantern of sector 2814, asked, wondering if it was related to his own reason to come.

    "They had found something in a derelict, and it had... infected, for lack of a better word, a good part of the crew, starting to transform them into some kind of insectoid creature." Tomar-Re, Green Lantern of Sector 2813.

    "What did you...?" Abin started to ask, fearing what measures his old friend had to take to deal with the infection.

    "I put the uninfected survivors in quarantine on one of Oa's moons, watched by Chaselon." Tomar said, dispelling his fear, "I'm not a rookie, you know."

    Abin nodded, Chaselon was a silicon based lifeform, which made her immune to infection by anything organic.

    "And the infected ones?" Abin asked

    "I brought them to Oa in stasis, to see if they can be saved." he said, "The Science Director doesn't have much hope of that."

    "May the Spirits be merciful." Abin said.

    "Let's hope so." Tomar said, before sinking again in a morose silence.

    "You mentioned two things, and the second?" Abin said, trying to get Tomar from thinking on whatever he was thinking.

    "My perennial request to the Guardians. They denied it again." he said, without looking back at Abin.

    "Tomar, if the Guardians haven't deemed it important to investigate that planet explosion in the last 25 years, I doubt they'll change their mind now." Abin said, repressing the impulse of facepalming. He knew that Tomar-Re meant well, but his obsession with the destruction of that planet was becoming a bit tiresome.

    "I know, I know, Abin. But those traces of femtotech in the planet's remains worry me still. It could have been native research, as the Science Director says, but femtotech would be one of the few reliable ways to... well, to initiate a reaction that would make a planet explode without leaving traces that even F Sharp could see." Tomar-Re answered, referring to the blind Lantern of a completely dark sector of the Galaxy, and then looked at the Central Battery, and looked down, "I... I think that the Guardians are right on one thing about this, though. I should give it a rest, I'm becoming obsessed with it."

    Abin pursed his lips. On one hand, he agreed with the Guardians about Tomar's interest becoming a bit obsessive; on the other, he also agreed that there was something fishy about that data. Unfortunately no one in the Green Lantern Corps had the expertise to look at it. Tomar continued, not noticing the change in his friend's expression.

    "Maybe that way I can look at it with a fresher perspective later." he said.

    "Actually, Tomar, that..." Abin Sur started to say, when a signal from his ring stopped him cold, "There is an unidentified spaceship approaching Oa in hyperspace. Ganthet is signaling all Lanterns to intercept."

    They took off, soon joined by a smattering of trainees, Honor Guard Lanterns, including good old Kilowog, and a Guardian, Ganthet, who always seemed to be charged with this sort of stuff.

    "I'm here mostly as an observer, Lantern Sur." Ganthet said telepathically to them, "Keep going as if I wasn't here."

    Abin sent a mental nod to Ganthet and, as the most senior lantern present, he started to order them into position in case it would be necessary to shoot down the ship, even if the pilot ignored all safety and exited hyper just on the edge of the gravity well.

    Which it did. And he sighed in relief when it started to transmit valid Xandarian codes immediately... and not only that. The ring informed him, just as an emerald light shot up from the ship and a voice he knew well started to speak.

    "Green Lantern Katma Tui reporting." she said, with an accent that brought a nostalgic smile to his face, a smile that was erased as Katma said her next words, "I have grave news regarding Sinestro."

    "What happened to him?" Abin said, fearing what could have happened to his old friend and brother-in-law.

    "More than what has happened to him, what he has done. He sent me in a graxer chase to Mindala, and when I was out he murdered the government and put himself as ruler of Korugar." she said in a matter-of-fact, no-nonsense tone that made it difficult to doubt her, "When I came back with my charge almost depleted, and I refused to join him, he somehow blocked my access to my battery and sent me through a wormhole to sector 2805. If I hadn't managed to put myself in stasis for long enough for a beacon to attract the attention of a Xandarian ship, I wouldn't be here."

    TO BE CONTINUED...
     
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