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by drillmaster
#29533 Ch. 17: No Need for Chess

Gotham City was a dangerous place to be at night. The shadows consumed every crevice of the city's winding landscape. Nothing could escape the grasp of the dark: always moving, never stopping. However, the city had its own defense, like a child in their bedroom. The dark may be scary at first, but it dissipates at the first instance of light.

That defense is, of course, the Batman.

The Batmobile roared through the sky as Dick Grayson and Commissioner Gordon raced to stop the 99 Fiends from releasing Professor Pyg from Blackgate Penitentiary. It was a race that they could not afford to lose.

"If Pyg gets out, he could incite even more panic than what we were expecting! If this viral sickness does hit within the next few days, the city will try to kill itself!"

"Keep it together Batman!" Jim tried to comfort him. "We've taken on bigger challenges and came out on top! This is nothing we can't handle!"

Batman flicked a switch on the dashboard and put the car into overdrive. "I haven't had the ability to test this function yet. It homes in directly to areas of interest in the city: Crime Alley, Arkham Asylum, Town Hall..."

"And Blackgate," Gordon finished.

"Hostile targets incoming!" The voice of the Batmobile rang. "Multiple targets fleeing from Blackgate Penitentiary!"

"They've gotten Valentin! We can still cut them off. Brace yourself Commissioner, this is going to get rough!"

*TGSTGE*

"What do you mean quarantine?!" Ayeka screamed into Damian's communicator.

"Watch it woma...Ayeka! You'll puncture my ears!" Robin winced in pain as he corrected himself.

"Listen, by being in the city, you run the risk of infection. It will probably be only a few days and then we can all return to Japan," Kiyone explained on the other end of the line.

Ayeka curled her fists into balls and punched the wall. "But that is three days I am deprived of my Lord Tenchi...and three days I am stuck her with that woman!"

"Am I that bad Princess?" Ryoko asked, teleporting beside her. "I always thought of myself as a fabulous woman and the heart and soul of the group."

"That is a matter of opinion Miss Ryoko," the Juraian verbally jabbed.

"Is it? Hey Clown, what do you think?" Ryoko called out to the stirring form on the floor.

Battered and bloody, The Joker regained consciousness and coughed up some blood. He wiped it off of his mouth. "I think I shouldn't have turned left at Albuquerque," he groaned.

"See? He agrees!"

"Is that really an opinion that you want to have?" Ayeka sighed.

"So great, we are stuck in a city I didn't want to be in with a monster who I really dislike," Ryoko rolled her eyes. "What could possibly make this worse?!"

"Ladies," Kiyone's voice piped up again. "I have word that Batman is now engaging the 99 Fiends and Professor Pyg at Blackgate. They may need help."

"The who?" Ryoko asked.

Ayeka's eyebrow twitched in irritation. "Those people at the Mansion who we decimated! Have you paid any attention to what has gone on around you since you got here?!"

"Don't know, don't care. This crap is way too confusing and annoying for me to think about. Still, let me handle this Princess," offered the space pirate. "I've got way too much stress to let loose. Can you handle him?"

"That depends. Mister Joker person, are you going to try to kill anyone or cross me?"

"But mommy, I don't want to go to school today! I want to stay home and bake cookies with you!" Joker loonily responded.

Ayeka blinked a few times. "I'm honestly not sure if he's faking or not."

"Just to make sure, keep an eye on him. He might be playing possum," Ryoko suggested. "I should know. I would do it. I'll be back before you can say 'Jurai Sucks!'" With that, the woman teleported out of the room, leaving a clown, a child assassin, and a princess alone in a hotel room.

"Oh, she really grinds my gears! Well since we have so much alone time together Robin, why don't we talk about your aspirations for the future. I take Sasami's friends very seriously you know," Ayeka sat down, preparing for an interrogation. Damian backed up in confusion and what can only be described as fearful annoyance.

"...really? Right now?"

"Really. Right now," she smiled.

*TGSTGE*

A large plume of smoke rose from the fortress that is Blackgate Penitentiary. Several dozen forms were running away from the building and heading toward several armored cars. Chief among those fleeing was the familiar form of Lazlo Valentin, commonly called Professor Pyg.

"Run my lovelies! I know the good doctor opened my dollies out of their packaging! The condition may no longer be mint, but their beauty shall know no bounds!" Pyg roared in delight.

A beam of light fell upon the running forms. Pyg looked up and pointed at the sight. "That smell...can it be? Batman! That's the man who ruined my precious mask! Bleed him dry and watch the starry venom bathe the streets!"

"Commissioner, use these controls to disable the vehicles. You're a smart man, I think you can figure it out!" Batman yelled as he jumped out of the Batmobile and descended onto the crowds of fanatics.

"YOU NEVER TOLD ME WHICH CONTROLS TO USE!" Gordon called back to him. He sighed and looked at the various buttons. "Okay...what the hell do I do now?"

On the streets, Batman whipped out his escrima sticks and started to fight the Fiends. Thankfully, most of them were still injured from their encounter at Wayne Manor, so it was not as bad as it could have been. Regardless, Dick Grayson was but one man and there seemed to be no end to the foes that he had to face this night.

Just then, new players appeared on the gameboard. From a distance, they looked like cute little girls in odd dresses, but Dick knew better. These were Professor Pyg's Dollotrons: people who have been dosed with an identity destroying drug and surgically grafted with a fake face.

"Commissioner, I could really use some suppression fire!" Batman requested as loud as he could.

"I don't..."

"Red button on the left control panel! Hurry!"

After some fumbling, Commissioner Gordon managed to hit the right button. A stream of rubber bullets hailed down from the sky. Just then, a Dollotron managed to produce a weapon that gave Batman dread: a rocket launcher. "Oh no. If he shoots down the Batmobile, the Commissioner could be killed!"

Batman attempted to beat his was to the Dollotron with the rocket launcher. The doll people kept coming at him in waves, and Dick saw that he wasn't going to make it. The only hope he had was that the body was strong enough to brace for a crash landing.

With a flash and a pounding sound, the rocket ejected from the launcher and struck the Batmobile. The vehicle crashed to the street below and was immediately swarmed by the criminals that infested the streets. Dick had no way of knowing if the Commissioner was okay, so he v-lined for the crash site. Grabbing his grappling hook from his utility belt and firing at a nearby lamppost, Batman soared in the air like he did when he was a child. He perfectly executed a triple flip and landed on top of the wreckage. He could hear the "self-destruct" protocol engage itself but could not see any sign of his long time mentor.

How fortuitous, then, that Ryoko arrived ready for a fight.

"Who's the bastard responsible for me not being able to see my Tenchi?!" The woman screamed at the top of her lungs.

"Wha? Ryoko? How did...actually, I don't want to know," Batman questioned. "Ryoko, find Commissioner Gordon before they kill him! It's up to you! Ugh!" Dick kicked a Dollotron out of his way.

"Baaaaaatmaaaaaan!" the all too familiar wail of Professor Pyg echoed. "You lost your tooooooy! He needs a bad operation! Come out and saaaaave him, if you caaaaaan!"

"Unhand me!" Batman could hear Gordon struggle. 'This means he's close.' "Batman, don't worry about me! Stop those monsters from destroying the city!"

"Can you save him Batman? Can you...ugh!" Pyg started to taunt before getting grabbed by Ryoko. She flew him up in the sky and stared at his disgusting form.

"Just between you and me, I'm going to enjoy this far more than you will. Clear?" Ryoko grinned evilly.

"Pain is like fine wine to me!" Pyg laughed.

"Good. I've got one hell of a vintage!"

Ryoko threw the masked man down to the ground with great strength. He smashed into the pavement, causing particles of debris to fly everywhere. He twitched, showing that he was miraculously alive. Batman noticed the knocked out form of Commissioner Gordon was in the line of fire. "Damn it Ryoko, I said save Gordon, not accidentally kill him!"

As Batman was focused on saving the Commissioner, he did not notice the Dollotron with the rocket launcher had managed to load a second rocket. The poor creature pointed it at the laughing form of the infamous space pirate and fired. It was unfortunate luck that the Batmobile exploded at the same time, causing Ryoko to have no idea of her coming doom.

The rocket collided and exploded. As it had knocked her off guard, Ryoko actually managed to fall down to the Earth herself. Her lifeless form plummeted directly into a secondary blast from the now destroyed Batmobile. Given her nigh destructible body, she was not critically damaged, but was knocked out due to shock.

"It's the demon who attacked us from the heavens!" One of the 99 Fiends announced to her comrades.

"She may prove use to us! The Professor may be lost to us, but El Penitente would want her too! Grab her before she wakes!"

With that, the Fiends grabbed the slumbering form of Ryoko and dragged her to one of the armored vehicle. In the midst of all of the combat, the Fiends slipped away, leaving Batman to take fend for both himself and the Commissioner.

*TGSTGE*

"What do you mean you failed to retrieve Pyg?!" Dr. Simon Hurt snapped at the Fiends. "All of my plans were contingent on his presence here! The Black Glove meets in a few hours and I now have no victim to corrupt or right hand to control!"

Hurt began to pace around the abandoned theater he had adopted as his base of operations. He had every intention of bringing Mayor Hady and the other current members of the Black Glove here tonight to watch the fall of an innocent soul, but this changed things. He could see the doubt on his guest's face. He was a middle age man wearing a domino mask and a cowboy hat.

His name was Senator Vine and he was the last remaining member of the previous Black Glove to still be alive. The others were, of course, killed by The Joker.

"I refuse to allow it all to fall apart when I have finally come to reclaim my birthright!"

"But the Casket of Barbatos..." One of the Fiends asked.

"Requires the offering of a noble soul, something which we are lacking at the present moment. My plans for Grayson are still in play, but this is a delicate procedure," Hurt paced around in a circle. He sighed and slumped into a chair. "Now you claimed you had something else to offer me in Pyg's place. Present it."

The door opened up and four Fiends dragged in the unconscious form of Ryoko. Hurt jumped up in amazed excitement and examined the woman.

"How is this possible? How did you get her?"

"She came flying from the sky and intervened with our fight with the Batman," one of the Fiends exclaimed. "One of the dolls struck her with a rocket launcher and she fell into our grasp."

"A rocket launcher? With such minimal damage? This woman may prove to be a worthy specimen. Prepare her in Pyg's table!" Hurt ordered. "It's time this doctor opened his practice once more!"

*TGSTGE*

"You mean to tell me Miss Ryoko has been captured by that Black Glove person?!" Ayeka yelled in the Bat-Bunker later that day. Upon his arrival from the wreckage of the battle at Blackgate, Batman explained the situation to all of his remaining help. This included Oracle, who was communicating from a different location speaking through her computer proxy, and The Joker, who was blindfolded and knocked out before arriving. Nobody liked his presence in the Bunker, but they tolerated it given the situation.

"She was caught in two different powerful explosions," Batman explained. "She's probably knocked out, but I'm not too worried. From what you have told me, she is a powerhouse. She'll probably give Hurt a run for his money when she wakes up."

"This is proving to be more exciting than I was expecting!" Joker laughed. "How is it possible that the Doctor screwed up so royally that he let his bishop and several of his pawns get captured? The man cannot play chess for his life!"

"What are you blabbering on about?" Robin growled. "How does chess factor into ANYTHING?"

"That's what this is Boy Blunder. All of this, right here, is a giant game between me and the Black Glove. I have my knights, my pawns, and even a queen!" He pointed to Ayeka, whose rage was showing on her face. "This is why you need to trust me for once!"

"Just to be clear here Joker, we are not working FOR you. We are working WITH you," Dick clarified.

"Actually, you aren't 'working' at all. You are standing around arguing details with me while your friend may be dying at Crime Alley!" Joker pointed out.

Batman raised an eyelid under his cowl. "Crime Alley? How did you know that?"

The Joker snorted. "Oh please, everyone in the know is aware of the party going down tonight. Trust me, I had to hire a caterer for it," he sighed. "Did you even ONCE check that homing signal you put on that Casket thingy?"

"Who says I didn't? We've been a bit preoccupied with, well you," Dick reluctantly admitted. "Hurt was going to be our next target. I was just hoping to see him play his hand."

Joker laughed again. "See, this is why you need me! You wanted to play cards, but he is playing chess!"

"Maybe he is playing Go?" Mihoshi offered.

"I like her!" Joker pointed to the blonde. "She gets my style!"

"Enough with your chess and other stupid games!" Robin yelled. "You are stalling! Just make sense and we can finish the job!"

The Boy Wonder felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned slightly to see Kiyone shake her head. "What Robin is asking is for you to clarify what you know. It would be better for everyone here if we are all on the same page."

"Couldn't have said it better myself! All the bigwigs of the city have all gathered here to witness our dearly demented Doctor Hurt throw a party to celebrate the fall of the city to some kind of madness." Joker pointed to a map of Gotham City that was on the wall and pointed out Crime Alley. "There has been talk about this for days now. I was afraid I would have to do this as Sexton, but this is so much funnier. The proverbial Mexican Train has stationed itself in Crime Alley and has promised the ruin of a good spirit. That's probably why the Hamburglar's happy meal toys targeted Gordo initially before a better target presented itself."

Batman processed all of the information that he received. "Oracle, what is your take on all of this?"

"There has been a lot of chatter over the radios about the old Monarch Theater being off limits tonight, specifically from the Mayor's office. This could be the largest gathering of underworld gangsters since Black Mask's war game two years ago," the modulated voice of Barbara Gordon played on the speakers.

"Even Max Headroom there agrees with me!"

"But what about Ryoko?" Mihoshi asked. "What if the Black Glove hurts her?!"

With that, Ayeka started to laugh. "Come now, you are honestly concerned for that woman? She has brought down spaceships all on her own. What harm could a single Earthling do to her?"

*TGSTGE*

"What are you doing to her Doctor Hurt?" Senator Vine asked his protector. He had been watching the man work with several chemicals for over an hour now and had started to become unnerved. Every second that was spent on this woman was a second that was taken away from protecting him from The Joker.

"It is very simple Senator Vine. I have performed some cursory tests on our female companion here and I have only one logical conclusion: she is not of this world. I could tell that there was something extraordinary about this one when I first met her. This is a golden opportunity to learn more about our foe."

"That didn't answer the question."

Hurt held up the vial that contained his chemical concoction. "This is a cocktail of the most powerful truth serums on the planet. I have lived long enough to understand a thing or two about the mind Senator. If this woman is as humanoid as I believe her to be, I will hold the keys to her mind. If not, she will no doubt kill us where we stand," Hurt explained. A smile crept over his face. "It is a risky gamble, but one I am willing to take."

Senator Vine backed away from the slumbering woman and the demented doctor. "You...you are going to kill us! I thought we were trying to be safe! This...this is some kind of sick, demented horror movie!"

"Oh Senator, Gotham is an over the top city. You must remember that. We all have our roles to play in our little game, and now it is time to see if Ryoko here will play the role of the Trojan Horse or my dark queen. Place your bets!"

With that, he forced the liquid down the space pirate's throat. "Watch as she is helpless to stop! This is the big moment Senator! Ryoko, awaken and be my servant!" Hurt laughed as loud as he could. The senator could not help be stay affixed to his current spot, watching the horror unfold in sheer terror.

The woman with the spiky hair opened her eyes defensively. She looked around the room and her eyes fell to the man with the gloves. "You!" With a loud grunt she ripped her restraints off of her arms and grabbed Hurt by his throat. "How did I get here?"

"The better question is what did I do to you?" Hurt smiled.

Ryoko's vision suddenly became blurry and her knees started to collapse. She grabbed the table for support, but even it was hard to hold on to. Doctor Hurt merely adjusted his black cape and knelt down to her. "I think it is time you and I had a little talk my dear..."

*TGSTGE*

The air around Crime Alley was thick with the stench of fear and corruption. It was an air that seemed to have stuck when two prominent individuals, Thomas and Martha Wayne, were gunned down by a hood with a gun. Tonight was no exception. In fact, the air was especially thick tonight.

Flying toward the building in the Batcopter, Batman was worried about the horrors he would fact at the Monarch Theater. He knew the symbolic value of the place and was annoyed at how set Hurt was on desecrating Bruce’s legacy. He looked to his passengers and noted their determination. Ayeka, Mihoshi, and Kiyone had joined him tonight. He did not want Damian to be alone with the Joker, but he was not about to risk Joker’s presence on sight and the girls insisted upon rescuing their friend. Deep down, Dick hoped that Damian’s new-found optimism would keep his temper in check.

“Funny thing that a supposed abandoned theater has all of its lights on,” Kiyone observed. “Guess The Joker wasn’t lying after all.”

“Joker knew that we knew where Hurt was. He had no reason to lie,” Batman explained. “Girls, I have no idea what we are going to face in there. If it gets bad, I want you to promise me that you will get out of there and regroup. If we can make it to tomorrow, I think we will be fine.”

Mihoshi coked her head in confusion. “What are you talking about Batman? What happens tomorrow?”

“Remember that eclipse I was telling you about? It happens tomorrow. I have a hunch that something big will happen tomorrow, and my hunches are usually right.”

The Juraian Princess scoffed at the comment. “Please, we can end this tonight without any problem. We have the power of Jurai at our disposal and…what is happening down there?” The princess pointed down to the streets below. A crowd had formed and it seemed like there was some kind of movement going on.

“Batcopter, zoom in,” Dick commanded. The view screen of the car obliged and displayed a most horrific sight: the citizens of Gotham had started to riot and fight for seemingly no reason. The inhabitants of the Batcopter watched in horror as men, women, and children seemingly tried to kill each other with makeshift weapons. “My god, it’s starting.”

“What is starting?” Ayeka asked.

“It’s Pyg’s virus, isn’t it?” Kiyone whispered. “The one you said was dormant…”

“Guess it’s no longer dormant,” Dick bit his lower lip. “Damn it, I wish Washu were here. She claimed can stop all of this.”

“Isn’t the Bat Computer working on something to counteract it?” Kiyone asked.

Dick nodded. “Between my analysis and Washu’s tinkering, we should be in the clear…if Gotham can hold its own for one more day…”

“Monarch Theater in range,” the Batcopter announced.

“Guess we are bringing the fireworks after all,” Dick sighed. “Be on your guard. Be prepared for anything! Just because Pyg is gone does not mean we discount his Dollotrons!”

With that, Dick fired into the old theater on the corner of Park Row. As the heroes jumped down into the carnage they discovered a terrible sight: several men and women were all laughing uncontrollably and turning pale.

“He did say he was handling the catering…” Dick muttered.

It was only when he landed on the ground that Dick’s fears were realized: Professor Pyg’s Dollotrons were playing the role of body guards and henchmen for this Black Glove ceremony. ‘Wait, if the Dollotrons are here...where are the 99 Fiends?’ he thought to himself.

As Batman started to attack the Dollotrons, Ayeka's eyes met a limp form on an operating table. Knowing that spiky hair anywhere, the princess plowed through the hordes of doll creates like they were tin soldiers.

"Hang on Ryoko! I'm getting you out of here!" Ayeka shouted. She landed beside her rival and started to pull the straps on her wrists.

The second she grabbed the material, an electric shock went through both women. Ayeka started to writhe in pain. She tried to pull away but found she was stuck.

"The first princess of the Planet Jurai! Welcome!" A new voice shouted from behind the princess. A dark figure made his way into her vision. Though it was blurred, she recognized the face from the Bat Computer.

"Doctor...Hurt!"

"The restraints you are currently attached to can only come off with great force. However, I can flick a switch to release you, but the shock will kill your friendly rival here!" Doctor Hurt announced as if he were a television announcer. "Are you willing to bet your life for hers?"

Before he could hear Ayeka's answer, a shot was fired at him. Hurt spun around to see the familiar duo of Mihoshi and Kiyone. "Ah, the Galaxy Police Officers!"

"How did you know that?" Kiyone demanded. "Answer me you criminal!"

"I know more than you think Detective Sergeant," Hurt grinned. "I am The Hole in Things!"

"What does that mean?" Mihoshi asked intently.

"It means I have been there since the beginning and I will be there at the end. I know all of your secrets and will not stop at anything to get to him!"

A loud scream was heard. Ayeka was still pulling at the restraints with all of her might.

"I have calculated the force needed to remove her by just the princess alone. However, you may have a chance to save them both if you all pull together. What will you do? Will you save the world from me or save your friends?!" With that, Hurt ran at both of them and then right in between them.

Kiyone spun around and started firing at him, but by that point he had blended in with the Dollotrons and the victims of The Joker's handiwork. A new scream was joined Ayeka's and Kiyone knew at once what needed to happen.

The teal haired woman ran to her partner and the princess and started to pull like her life depended on it. The electricity flowed into her body now and, unlike Ayeka, did not have the power of Jurai to lessen the blow. It was pain unlike any other Kiyone had felt, but she knew she needed to be there for her friends.

With a final pull, the three women flew back to the floor. Mihoshi's body started to twitch, which caused Kiyone to crawl over to her.

"Mihoshi! Mihoshi you bonehead! Are you okay?!"

"Ugh..." Mihoshi moaned. "Ryoko...?"

Understanding that she wanted to see how Ryoko was doing, she looked up to see Ryoko still laying on the table but no longer tied down. Ayeka miraculously limped over to her and and started to pant.

"Awaken...you decrepit mummy!" Ayeka cried. "I demand...demand by the Holy...Council of Jurai to awaken!" She accentuated her last word with a punch to her stomach.

Ryoko began to suddenly cough. Tears started to roll down her face. "Ayeka..."

"Don't you dare...be that foolish again!" Ayeka forced a smile.

"Listen to me!" The former space pirate weakly grabbed Ayeka's collar. "That bastard did things to me! He drugged me!"

"And you can tell me about that later! We have to help Mister Grayson fight those doll people and that..."

"NO!" Ryoko yelled. "I couldn't help it! I told him everything I know! He knows where to find Sasami!"

A wall exploded nearby and the sound of a helicopter was heard. The Dollotrons had pushed a fallen figure into it: Dick Grayson had been overcome and captured. As the helicopter rose into the sky, Ayeka and the rest could only stare dumbfounded at the sight. Before they knew it, they were attacked by the remaining creatures.

Ayeka, mad with grief and full of rage, used all of her Juraian power to strike all of her foes. Kiyone stood there in shocked awe at the force she was exerting. “WHERE. IS. THE. DOCTOR?!”

One by one like dominoes the Dollotons fell. In the end, all that remained were the four injured, exhausted women. Ayeka combed through the remains like a fine comb. “He isn’t here! He must have gotten in that helicopter and…”

“There isn’t time Princess!” Ryoko wheezed. “We have to get to Sasami before he does!”

“You don’t even know WHERE she is outside of a last name! How do you expect to find her?!”

“Why don’t we ask Oracle?” Mihoshi offered weakly. “We need to think calmly about this!”

Ryoko put her arm on Ayeka’s shoulder. “She’s right.”

The purple haired noble bit her lower lip and flew to the Bat Copter. There was not much time to get there before Doctor Hurt could…

*TGSTGE*

The Brown house was lively despite only having three occupants inside. With the rioting going on in town, Stephanie’s mother was still out trying to save lives. Unfortunately, Kara had to leave as well, citing another global emergency that she had to take care of while her cousin was traveling in time. All that remained were Sasami, Stephanie, and the small Ryo-Ohki. As it was, the two girls were engaged in deep combat.

“If you think you can land a blow on me, guess again,” Steph taunted. “I’m the best fighter here.”

“We will see about that! Hiya!” Sasami cried in return. “You have the power, but I have the reach!”

Steph stared at the television amazed that Sasami kept using Samus Aran’s throw to counter Ness’ PK Fire. “Stop spamming the throw! It’s no fun that way!”

“All is fair in video games! That’s how I play with Azaka back on Jurai!”

“Damn you and your persistence! Take this!”

The two girls were warned by both Stephanie’s mother and Oracle to remain inside. Though both girls professed their desire to help, Oracle managed to convince them that joining a conflict they knew nothing about was dangerous, especially since if something were to happen to Sasami an intergalactic upset could occur.

That was not something Stephanie Brown wished to live with.

“Yay! I win!” Sasami cheered as the Super Smash Bros. game finished. “Do you want to play again?”

“We keep going until I show you what Americans are made of!” Steph’s determination was incredibly strong. Sasami could not help but laugh at it.

With that, the door was broken open by several people from outside of the house. Sasami screamed as the oddly dressed men and women entered the room. One of the people, a blonde woman holding a flame thrower, pointed at the girl.

“She’s the one! Torch the rest!”

Steph, not taking any chances, pushed Sasami away as she instantly started to attack the crowd. “You need to get out of here!”

Tears started to form in Sasami’s eyes as she looked at her new friend fighting for her. “I can’t leave you!”

“I was trained by Batman! I’ve got this! Go!”

The blonde was in full Batgirl mode now as she grabbed various objects around her house to defend herself with. Sasami, not wishing to stand by, ran to help her. Seeing the chance, one of the Fiends let his vicious dog loose and sent it at her.

Ryo-Ohki, seeing the immediate danger in the situation, flung herself at the animal. The cabbit scratched the creature with all of her might, but suddenly stopped. With a faint “Meow,” she looked down and saw an arrow pierce her side. The little creature collapsed to the ground, panting and barely breathing.

“RYO-OHKI!” Sasami screamed at the top of her lungs. With that, her world went black as a Fiend snuck up behind her and knocked her out.

*TGSTGE*

Ayeka and Ryoko flew with all of their might to the Brown House. Oracle had tried to contact Stephanie, but could not reach her at all. The fear only compounded when Ryoko felt a sharp pain in her chest that she recognized as coming from Ryo-Ohki. Things were not looking good as they sped their way through the Gotham skyline.

“Look there! That smoke is where I sense Ryo-Ohki!”

“I have no doubt that is where that Brown girl lives,” Ayeka cried grimly.

The smoke was indeed emanating from Stephanie’s house. The two women were horrified to see that the house was lit up like a pack of matches. The house had started to collapse and the flames escalated. Several of the neighbors had come out of their houses to watch the ensuing chaos…at least those who were not succumbing to the effects of the viral narcotic.

“Stay back! All of you!” Ryoko growled as she started to tear through the burning carnage. Thankfully, she could withstand the effects of fire. “RYO-OHKI? WHERE ARE YOU?”

Beside Ryoko, Ayeka did her part to find her little sister. The fire burned her, but she was too determined to let that stop her. After a few minutes of tearing the place apart, Ryoko found what she was looking for.

Ryo-Ohki, battered and burned, had managed to create a tiny force field around the lifeless form of Stephanie Brown. It was clear that both of them were clinging on to life, but were alive regardless. Ryoko grabbed her companion and the girl and pulled them out of the fire. By now, Ryo-Ohki had dropped the force field and lay still on the grass outside of the house. Ryoko knew her self-regenerative cells would heal her in time, but it did not change the pain that Ryoko knew she was going through.

Ayeka continued to search for Sasami until a cough was heard. Stephanie managed to awaken and was now watching her home burn down in front of her eyes.

“My…house…”

“Lay back kid, you are alright,” Ryoko whispered.

“Took her…they got her…” Stephanie managed weakly. She dropped her head and it hit the ground. Ryoko checked her pulse to make sure if she was alive. Thankfully, she was. By now, an ambulance pulled up and from the vehicle came a very concerned woman. Ryoko could see the resemblance between the two immediately and realized that this was her mother.

“Stephanie! Get her some oxygen and put her on the stretcher! Did anyone see what happened here?!” Mrs. Brown asked the crowd.

“A bunch of hoodlums came in and took some girl. Your daughter tried to save her,” a reply came from the crowd. The woman held her daughter’s hand as they loaded her into the ambulance.

Watching all of this and seeing her injured cabbit, Ryoko wanted to do nothing more than to scream and kill the man who drugged her, used her, and penetrated her own mind. However, she looked to Ayeka, who had fallen so low and had started to cry. Ryoko knew that she needed to get both of them back to the Bat-Bunker…

When that was done, though? She would kill Simon Hurt. Slowly. Painfully.
User avatar
by drillmaster
#29630 Ch. 18.: No Need for a Black Mass

The state in the Bat-Bunker was one of fury and rage. It was one thing to kidnap Ryoko, who admittedly has been used to kidnapping in the past, but practically killing Ryo-Ohki and kidnapping Sasami was crossing a line. Sasami was the heart of every remaining person there, save The Joker who had never met the girl.

A few quiet, but tense hours had passed to allow time for Ryo-Ohki to be stabilized and to let the women recuperate. Alfred had been secretly contacted at this point and was following Dick's last instruction before he himself was kidnapped: go back to Wayne Manor. The old man was devastated but could not take part in the ensuing war council, which also included a monitored Joker and Oracle.

"We kill him!" Ryoko demanded immediately when everyone gathered around.

"No," Damian turned away, clenching his fist. "They wouldn't want that...even though I...GAH!" The young boy punched a wall and started to pant. "This is infuriating! We are literally helpless until he makes his move!"

"You HAVE gotten soft, haven't you Rocking Robin?" Joker taunted. Robin responded with a back handed punch.

"I choose to HONOR these people clown. It is only because of their influence that you are even still breathing right now," Damian growled. "Same with that damn Doctor..."

"Calm down Robin! We need to think about this! Now we know that Miss Ryoko..." Ayeka started before she was stopped by a fist actually breaking the wall.

"Miss Ryoko knows what?!" Ryoko asked with no humor in her voice. "Is this where you blame me, call me a monster, and make me feel worse than I already am?!"

"Miss Ryoko, I..."

"Well you listen to me Miss High and Mighty, that asshole got into MY head! He invaded MY thoughts! Do you know how violated that makes me feel?!"

"That's not what..."

"This has nothing to do with our fight for Tenchi! This is crossing a line! His men SHOT Ryo-Ohki! They burned down that girl's house! If he harms a single hair on the Junior Princess' head, I will tear him apart! You hear me, he will PAY WITH HIS BLOOD!"

"Miss Ryoko!"

"What?!"

"I was trying to tell you I don't blame you," Ayeka quietly told her. Ryoko stopped and looked at her. "This has been a terrible situation for us all. Do not get me wrong, I am absolutely livid right now and I may do things I might regret later, but pointing fingers is a waste of time. I know Sasami means a lot to you."

"Princess..." Ryoko whispered uncharacteristically.

"Don't get me wrong, you are still a terrible monster woman who does not deserve my Lord Tenchi, but you are a rather close acquaintance of mine, which instantly places you under Juraian protection."

It was a rare moment indeed when the two women put aside their differences to focus on a common goal and be friendly to one another. Needless to say, The Joker decided to ruin that moment.

"Aww, is that a Kodack moment or what?" Joker interjected. Ryoko took the opportunity to punch the clown so hard he flew into the wall, knocking him out cold.

"Was that really necessary?" Kiyone asked.

"Yes," Ryoko, Ayeka, and Damian all responded at once.

"Fair enough."

"How bad is it out there Oracle?" Mihoshi asked the computer. "By the time Kiyone and I made it back here, it looked like the city was tearing itself apart."

"It is," Oracle responded. "I can't seem to get control of Red Robin, but I called in a few of the Birds of Prey to help Dad with the situation. I've also gotten word that Stephanie has stabilized but is going to be monitored for a few days. Unfortunately it seems like this is a situation that needs to resolve itself."

Kiyone's eyes met a small tab on the Bat Computer containing the final analysis for the viral narcotic Pyg had developed. "We only have a few hours to go before we can counter this thing. Batman and Washu believed in it; we have to as well. Did you find out anything Ryoko while you were there?"

She shook her head. "It's all kind of a blur. He asked a lot of questions about us and why we were here, but I've got nothing about a plan...except..."

"Except what?" Damian asked suddenly.

"I vaguely overheard him saying something about plans for Grayson that were still in play and how he wanted to reclaim his birthright," Ryoko suddenly snapped. "He had something planned out...but I don't know what."

"That's not helpful or anything," Damian grinded his teeth.

"Birthright..." Kiyone tapped her finger to her cheek.

"You seem lost in thought Kiyone. Whatcha thinking about?" Mihoshi pried.

"Hurt's birthright...I think he means Wayne Manor!" Kiyone snapped her fingers. "Hurt has to be the missing portrait in Wayne Manor!"

"The what?" Ayeka asked.

"The hell are you talking about?" Ryoko demanded.

Of course, that comment was not meant for Ryoko, Ayeka, or Mihoshi, but rather for Damian. The boy thought about it and nodded. "I...it could be possible. Pennyworth did say that Thomas Wayne did try to offer his soul or whatever to some kind of Bat god. That would fall in line with all of that Barbatos crap the 99 Fiends believe in."

"And it would explain why he claimed to be Thomas Wayne. He IS Thomas Wayne, but not Bruce Wayne's father!"

"But then answer me this: how would a man from the 1700's be alive today?" Damian countered. "It sounds preposterous."

"As preposterous as taking a dip into a Lazarus Pit like your Grandfather?" Kiyone quipped. Damian's face flushed red in anger for not realizing the familial connection. "Alfred said it is possible that Thomas summoned a 'bat god,' who we can assume can be Barbatos. Barbatos may have actually been an alien or a god or..." She stopped and thought about it. "Could it have been Darkseid?"

"*tt* Why would Darkseid want to give a human long life for no good reason?"

"We know Darkseid has been influencing this planet for ages," Oracle re-entered herself into the conversation. "The Crime Bible is basically a giant tool for people to worship him, albeit unknowingly. Hurt might have come in contact with it or some kind of avatar for Darkseid and influenced its popularity..."

"Okay, enough of this crap. What the HELL are you idiots blabbering on about?!" Ryoko yelled. "What portrait? What's Barbatos? Isn't Darkseid that god who died? What does this have to do with that asshole?"

"Bluntly, it means that the "asshole" may be immortal..." Kiyone explained.

"I have no idea what's going on!" Mihoshi started to cry. "This is all way too confusing for me!"

"I have to agree with Mihoshi," Ayeka sighed. "I wish this were straighter forward than what it seems."

"No," Damian said. "It makes perfect sense. Makibi, you are on to something. I guess those idiots in the Galaxy Police aren't as dumb as you made them out to be if they hired you."

The comment caught Kiyone off guard. When she first got caught up with all of the commotion surrounding the Anti-Life Equation, she thought the world of superheroes was a childish thing that amused Earthlings and people like Mihoshi. Yet here she was, doing everything she could to fit in this world that she herself now found interesting. To get verbal praise for Dick Grayson was one thing, but for Damian to compliment her was a whole different story. This was a kid who wanted her dead the moment he saw her and yet had grown to the point that he was seeing her as an equal ally.

The fact she was calling an eight year old an equal was not lost on her.

"Of all the bull..." Oracle was saying to herself, taking Kiyone out of her introspective thoughts. "You guys are not going to believe this, but I think I might have found our Doctor."

"Where is the bastard Gordon?!" Damian pounded his curled up hand into his fist.

"On National Television."

"...what?!" Damian twitched his eye. "What channel is he on?"

"Got it!" Mihoshi yelled, turning on another monitor. "Actually, I think he's on a lot of channels."

"Good work Mihoshi," Kiyone whispered to her partner before she listened intently to the reporter on the television introduce a man who was definitely Simon Hurt.

"Doctor Thomas Wayne, a man presumed dead for decades, has returned to Gotham after what he described as a long coma. He is speaking to the press from his home at this very moment. Let's listen in, shall we?"

"What I am proposing may not be easy, but I believe Gotham's recovery may come at a price. I will need able bodied men and women to line the streets for one giant celebration. I believe that a surge of good feelings may counteract the virus," Simon Hurt smiled into the camera. "I have the means of providing the right materials, which I have already sent out to the streets. As I do not as of yet control my family's fortune, I will require money from my fair city to restore it back to its natural order."

"It's a trap! That's just the plot for Ghostbusters 2!" Mihoshi pointed out instantly.

"And how do you...actually, at this point I'd trust you," Kiyone sighed with a smile. "But I think it was obvious that it is a trap."

Ayeka nodded. "Of course it is. He wants us there instead of that old Mansion. Shall we leave?"

"Leave?" Ryoko asked. "Where?"

"Why to the Mansion to put that foolish man to death of course!" Ayeka said offended. "Honestly Ryoko, I'm surprised you are even still here. To show this much restraint...it is commendable."

"Is that...it couldn't be..." Mihoshi was saying, staring at the screen.

"Miss Mihoshi?" Ayeka asked. "Is something the matter?"

"I think that float has...has...just look!"

The television was now showing an image of Downtown Gotham where the crowd of people were now gathering around the various parade floats. Some of the floats had men working on it, but others seemed to have very familiar people in very familiar clothing...

"It's that Pyg guy's doll things!" Ryoko growled.

"No, not that!" Mihoshi pointed to one particular float. "THERE!"

The float she was referring to was that of a boat with several men on it that also were instantly recognizable: members of the 99 Fiends. But Mihoshi was not pointing to them, but rather merman attached to the front of the ship. It looked rather lifelike with black hair and closed eyes. The hands were bound together in prayer.

Suddenly, recognition sunk in and Ayeka and Ryoko screamed. "TENCHI?!"

"What is my Tenchi doing in America?!"

"And how did Lord Tenchi get put on that disgusting float?!"

"There was theoretically enough time between the moments you were kidnapped until now for Hurt's men to fly from Japan over here if he had anyone loyal to him over there..." Oracle speculated. "He did run a drug cartel. I'm sending all available teams to Downtown so don't worry about..."

"He used me to get my Tenchi?!" Ryoko shrieked. "Stand back Ayeka, I'm going to save Tenchi! You get back Sasami!" With that, the space pirate flew out of the Bat Bunker and into the night.

However, this time she was not going alone. "You get back here you vile demon! Lord Tenchi is mine to save!" Ayeka shouted into the darkness. She turned to Robin and grabbed his hands tightly. "You must save my sister and stop that foul man Damian! I beg you!"

Damian's face flushed red. He had never seen the Princess act this way toward him. She was placing her sister's life in his hands. That showed how much she had to trust him. "You have nothing to fear. Now get that simpleton back so you can help me bash Hurt's skull in!"

The purple haired princess flew off after her rival and to her beloved. Damian moved to the Bat Copter. "Get in Makibi. Kuramitsu, grab that trash and toss him in back. We have a job to do."

"Can you even drive this thing?" Kiyone asked.

"I'm the son of Batman," Damian smiled grimly. "I can do anything."

*TGSTGE*

"So much for being able to do anything!" Kiyone was yelling to Damian as the two of them were being dragged down the hall of Wayne Manor.

"I didn't see you do any better Detecive Sergeant!"

The two, along with Mihoshi and a still unconscious Joker, had set the Bat Copter down on the far side of Wayne Manor. Given the current condition of the Joker, it was deemed unwise to leave him alone. Mihoshi had volunteered to keep watch over him, despite Kiyone's concerns.

In the end, Damian and Kiyone attempted to break into Wayne Manor to save their comrade. Unfortunately, the two were not able to overcome the half of the 99 Fiends that were guarding the mansion.

The Boy Wonder and the Detective Sergeant were beaten, bound, and dragged down the hallway of the ancestral Wayne home. As they were dragged by two burly men, Kiyone could not help but notice the Wayne Family portraits were yet again lying on the floor, forcibly torn down. She looked to Damian and, through the domino mask, their eyes met and instantly understood the significance of the gesture.

The men opened up the door and threw the two to the ground. However, they were not alone this time. Both Sasami and Dick Grayson were held captive in the room as well. Surrounding them were several armed Fiends, each with a weapon aimed at their heads.

"Oh look Sasami, our Boy Wonder has finally come to rescue us! What took you so long?" Batman joked.

"We underestimated our opponent Grayson...something I see you have done as well. Why didn't you get Sasami out of here earlier?" Damian growled. "Have they hurt you?"

The princess shook her head. "We've been kept separate from each other. We only were just brought in here."

"That doesn't make sense. Why wouldn't you try to escape?" Kiyone asked.

The sound of a helicopter suddenly filled the room. The vehicle had apparently landed outside the side entrance. A voice was faintly heard gloating to himself down the hallway.

"Because the Doctor wasn't in and I wanted a second opinion," Dick grinned.

"Do you ever shut up Grayson?"

"And ruin my trademark charm? Never."

With that, the doors swung open and revealed a man in a back suit, a black cape, a black mask, and black gloves. Doctor Hurt surveyed his kingdom with pride and sneered when he saw his captives all in a row at his feet.

"You have fought valiantly Mister Grayson. You have brought this child out of the darkness and dragged him into the light! Watch now, as I will break and corrupt his very spirit before your eyes!"

A Fiend forced Sasami and Dick's head to the floor by bashing them with the ends of their guns, causing Dick's mask to come off. Damian spun wildly around as he tried to escape from his bindings. "Damn you! When I get loose, I will break every bone in your body...slowly!"

Hurt laughed a shallow laugh. "I'd like to see you try Mister Wayne. If your father could not stop me, what could a circus clown, a princess, and an alien cop hope to accomplish?"

"You still don't see the end picture Hurt," Dick goaded.

"Brief bloom," Hurt retorted.

"We've already won."

Simon Hurt produced two hand guns from inside of his cape. He pointed one pistol at Sasami's head and one at Dick's. With a single motion, he fired both weapons at the same time.

Damian and Kiyone looked on in horror as their two friends were shot in front of their eyes. Kiyone stood still in shock, unbelieving at the sight that occurred in front of her. Damian, on the other hand, started moving violently around, trying to get free with all of his might.

"You are dead! DEAD!" The Boy Wonder howled with blind rage.

"It can't be..." Kiyone started to cry.

"The .32 pellets won't penetrate their skulls, but they have been EXPERTLY placed to fracture the skull and cause a hematoma. In less than twelve hours, blood absorbed into the cerebral spinal fluid will result in permanent neurological damage!" Hurt laughed, waving the two smoking guns around.

"They are alive...?" Kiyone whispered through her tears.

Hurt kicked her in the face. "Stay down you pathetic woman! This offer is good for one person and one person alone. I am a surgeon Robin. I have the facilities here in my Batcave below to save either the alien princess or the big top trash."

"Offer?" the teal haired detective coughed.

"I can save one of these fools from the fate you have brought upon them, but I do have a price...your eternal soul," the Doctor grinned.

"N...no Dami...Damian!" Sasami weakly spoke. It was apparent she was putting her all into the gesture as she tried to stop herself from fading away into shock. "You...r soul!"

"I don't believe in souls Thomas Wayne," Damian retorted. "Yes, we know who you are! You are an idiot for coming back here today! Did you even think this plan through?!"

"More than you think child. Today is the prophesied eclipse of Barbatos," Hurt explained while his Fiends prepared a ceremonial altar with a candle and the Casket from the caves below. "When your soul is mine and everyone around you is at my feet, perhaps you will know by that hole in your life what it is that you have given up so freely."

The Fiends picked Damian up and forced him to the altar. Damian, oddly enough, did not struggle. "I am pleased boy. Have you made your choice? Together, you and I will summon the spirit Barbatos to open this casket of ancient wisdom and mystery."

"Robin..." Dick Grayson called to him. "Remember who left it there...stall!"

"Who will it be child? All I need is your soul and one of them can be saved? Will it be the mentor who guided you from the dark? Will it be the girl who tried to offer you friendship? Raise you left hand and swear on..." Hurt started to announce before screaming was heard in the hall. The sounds of several people falling was heard by all. "What?!"

A Fiend dropped to the floor as a most welcoming and famiar figure entered the room. She pointed her Galaxy Police issued weapon at Doctor Hurt and stood her ground. "Doctor Simon Hurt I must place you under arrest for kidnapping a foreign diplomat from the Planet of Jurai!"

"Mihoshi!" Kiyone was surprised to see her partner acting so professional and saving her life...again! "How..."

"Most of the Fiends are in here instead of patrolling the grounds," Mihoshi sternly responded, never once dropping Doctor Hurt from her sight. "I saw you get captured and I needed to save you!"

"What about The Joker?" Kiyone asked.

"You are my partner Kiyone! You took priority!"

"The bumbling detective!" Hurt yelled. "Kill her! We still can finish the Ceremony of the Bat!"

"No you don't!" Mihoshi fired directly at Hurt. However, the shot missed him but struck the Casket to the floor. At that very moment, the eclipse fully engulfed the sun. The time of Barbatos had arrived, but without the Casket, the offering could not be made.

Hurt stared at the floor in horror. All of his plans had hinged on this moment. The game he had been playing for over three years hinged at the Son of Gotham, in his weakest hour, falling to the Devil. Now it was ruined by a ditzy blonde with a space gun. He went to shoot her but was instantly met by two fists intercepting his face.

Batman had freed himself from his bindings and proceeded to join Robin in a double punch to the face.

"How is this happening?!" Hurt stammered. "I had won! Victory was assured! You couldn't possibly...wait...THE CASKET!"

Hurt's eye had been drawn to the Casket. Miraculously, the box had started to open. Hurt's hopes were raised. Perhaps Barbatos could still come to continue the offering. However, his hopes turned into shock as the contents of the Casket revealed itself: a blinking Batarang with a note that read "Gotcha!"

"No...it isn't possible!" Hurt pulled himself from the floor. He saw the two Galaxy Police Officers had helped the Juraian Princess of the floor and were now all ready to confront the good Doctor. He backed away to the fireplace and searched around for his minions. "Fiends! To your master!"

"You played a good game Doctor," Batman cracked his knuckles in anticipation. "But we played one better. You've been backed up into a corner and have overlooked the one person you should never have forgotten about. You claim to be the Devil? Well, meet the Bat-God."

Soot flew out of the fireplace and temporarily blinded Doctor Hurt. The man started coughing as he tried to process the acrobat's words. "What is happening?!"

"Turn around Doctor..." an unfamiliar female voice called out.

From the fireplace came two figures. One was a young woman with spiky pink hair and the other was the only person besides The Joker who Hurt feared the most.

"...It's All Over," a second Batman announced deep within the shadows.

Washu Hakubi had done it: Bruce Wayne had returned.
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by drillmaster
#30105 Ch. 19: No Need for Time Masters

"This is..." Washu Hakubi struggled to find the proper words. "This is...this is fantastic!"

Washu stared around the Justice League Watchtower in awe. She had heard stories of the technology that powered the League's space base, but had never gotten the chance to see any of it in person. It was a memorable experience for the Greatest Scientific Genius in the Galaxy.

"Bruce helped fund the building a few years back," Superman was explaining to her. "Between Wayne Enterprises and Star Labs, we managed to get her operational and have been making modifications to it ever since."

"Technology is always advancing Mr. Kent," Washu nodded. "So when do I get to meet these 'Time Masters' that you have picked out?"

"They are in the meeting room," Superman pressed a button on a door. It slid open and the two continued on their way. "It's just down this hallway."

"How many people are we bringing back in time anyway?" the scientist pried.

"Counting us? Five people and one robot."

"Fascinating."

The pair stopped at a double sided door that clearly led into a meeting room. After entering in a combination, Superman allowed Washu to enter before him. The scientist noted that his farm boy manners really added to his charm as the world's premiere hero. 'That Lois Lane is sure lucky,' she thought to herself.

The room was indeed filled with three people who Washu had never laid eyes on before, though she did recognize one of the uniforms. All three of the people were men, and two of them had brown hair. The lone blonde wore a yellow visor and was adorned in blue and gold. Hovering over him was a little golden robot that seemed to look more like a little ship than humanoid. To his left was a man wearing a simple green and red zip up jump suit. It amused Washu to see a hint of stubble on his chin. She did not know why it amused her, but it seemed worth noting. The last individual wore a uniform she knew right off the bat: he was a member of the famous Green Lantern Corps.

"Gentlemen, I'd like you all to meet Professor Washu Hakubi. She is the one who picked up on the idea that Bruce's corpse was actually a genetic clone created by Darkseid," Superman announced to the collective. He acknowledged the blonde haired man. "This is Booster Gold, and his companion Skeets." He then moved on to the Green Lantern. "This is Hal Jordan, the first of three Green Lanters assigned to protect our Solar System." Lastly, he pointed to the final man. "And this is our resident time travel expert: Rip Hunter."

Washu simply bowed at the group. "How do you all do? It is an honor to be working with you."

"Hakubi? As in the most famous mad scientist in the galaxy?" Booster Gold freaked out.

An eyebrow shot up. "You've heard of me?" she asked curiously.

"Pardon me Ma'am," the robot known as Skeets responded. "Booster Gold, greatest hero of all time, is actually from the future who got sent to the past. He is aware of various bits of Earth history that, as of right now, are unknown to you."

"Really now?" Washu pried. "What do I do in the future?"

"You are the woman directly responsible for opening our planet up to the Juraian network, before nearly causing an intergalactic upset involving a dimensional bazooka and the Galaxy Police!" Booster exclaimed. "You escaped into the far reaches of space for years, but it turned out that you had just snuck back into your subspace lab. You are a legend in the scientific circles!"

Hal projected a giant green hand and willed it to point at Washu. "That's where I have heard about you! Barbara Gordon asked John Stewart to look into you! He found a lot of disturbing things in your records! Didn't you build a galaxy destroying and..."

"Details, details..." Washu hand waved it while cutting him off. "Besides, Barbara and I are on the same page now. There is nothing to worry about. Now, Mr. Hunter, do you have anything you want to add about this?"

"Honestly, no. I could care less about your reputation in the future or the past. All I know is that I picked up on you traveling through time not that long ago. You went back to Tokyo to stop some kind of temporal anomaly, right?"

Washu blinked in shock. "How did you...?"

"I make time my business Miss Hakubi," Rip shrugged. "It's what I do."

"So...?"

"No, I could honestly care less about the politics of the Planet Jurai and the power they wield. You stopped the entity known as Kain, that's all I need to know."

"Way to make it sound dull," Washu pouted. "It was hard work building that time machine and keeping the timeline together."

"Why DID you have a time machine anyway?" Hal asked suspiciously.

She batted her eyelashes at the man. "Oh, why are you questioning little old me Mr. Jordan? Just because I was curious about the lateral nature and constant fluctuation of time doesn't mean I'm a bad girl!"

"Maam, I would like to point out that you WERE charged for crimes against the galaxy, despite them being pardoned in the Juraian Incident with Prince Yosho," Skeets added.

"Not. Helping."

Superman gave a loud cough to call attention back to the matter at hand. "Now that we are all introduced, we have work to do. Earlier today, Professor Hakubi and I visited Bluddhaven to examine the Command D bunker. Professor, would you like to explain what we found there?"

The pink haired girl summoned her computer and began to type. After a moment, an image projected into the middle of the table. "It has been proven that time is lateral, meaning we can move both back in time and forward. Though it is possible to alter the time stream, the tampering will inevitably become reconciled and shown in the original timeline," she explained. "As such, Bruce Wayne has always been destined to go back in time. In addition, theories left by Bruce Wayne himself posit that New Gods like Darkseid are literal living archetypes that affect the reality that we live in. By confronting Darkseid, Batman literally became the archetype lone hero standing up to evil. However, that is not all that he became."

Washu drew a line from the center most point of the image all the way to the other side. "He has also become the archetypal time traveler. If he did not get sent back in time, we might have been able to crack the time stream."

"So back it up," Booster Gold scratched his head. "By going back in time, Batman basically is responsible for us going back in time to bring him back? That sounds...confusing."

"I can break it down for you in simpler terms sir," Skeets offered.

"Don't bother. So if you gathered us all together, there must be something you haven't gotten to yet. What's the bad news?" Rip asked.

"By at tuning my supervision to a frequency discovered by Professor Hakubi, we found a trail of energy leading straight into the past. We think it is literally leading into prehistoric times," Superman announced. "What the Professor is concerned with is that the Omega Energy is actually building up within Bruce until his body cannot handle it anymore."

"So basically, boom?" Booster flashed his hands dramatically.

Washu nodded grimly. "The hope is that we can get to him before he gets back to our time and takes us all out."

"Sounds like a typical weekday," Hal sniggered. "Are we doing this or not?"

"I'm driving Rip's time machine!" Booster shouted.

"No you're not!"

"Okay, then shot gun!"

Washu blinked and shook her head. "You Americans are weird."

*TGSTGE*

The spherical pod landed in the rocky mountain area gracefully. It opened up and one by one it's occupants stepped out. Looking around, Booster Gold let out a low whistle.

"Wow, prehistoric times, eh?" He said in awe. "I've got to say, this is a first."

"You get used to it," Rip shrugged. "He should be around here. I'm staying with the ship."

"Look over there!" Washu pointed to an object in the distance. "Is that a rocket?"

The group moved over to the machine and looked it over. "We sent this...during the Crisis," Superman whispered. "I guess this confirms Darkseid's involvement. But we've got a problem. He isn't here."

"How can you tell?" Hal asked.

"I can't hear his heartbeat. There is only one heartbeat that I am familiar with and it makes sense."

"Who?"

"Vandal Savage. He is an immortal caveman who we have dealt with in the past," he explained. "But he's not the issue here. The Omega Trail has gone cold."

"Well since he's not in the past, that can only mean one thing! He went to the future!" Washu announced with a laugh.

"You are brilliant Washu!" Her A doll popped up, much to the bewilderment of the others.

"Your genius knows no bounds Washu!" The B doll chimed in.

"What...what was that?" Booster asked after a moment.

"And how does that make you a genius? Everything from this point on HAS to be the future!" Hal pointed out angrily.

"Details, details..." Washu dismissed it. "Honestly, I starting to think old Brucie is in over his head."

"I wouldn't be so sure. Surviving is what he does, and I don't know anyone more prepared than he is," Superman affirmed.

"So I hear. The man was paranoid enough to dress in a purple and yellow costume while drugged up using a back up personality he developed just for that occasion," Washu shrugged. "I guess if he can do that then he can do anything."

"Back up," Booster started to laugh. "He wore WHAT now?"

"Save it for later Booster!" Rip yelled from the ship. "I've managed to pick up the Omega Trail all the way to the 64th Century! I think this is our only chance before he goes back to the present!"

"64th Century?!" Hal spouted out.

Washu smiled. "This is proving to be one of the best days of my life!"

Hal lifted an eyebrow underneath his green mask. "What makes you say that?"

"She's a woman of science, Mister Jordan," Skeets replied. "No doubt the thrill of seeing the unknown has piqued her curiosity."

"He's right! It's not every day I get to see the dawn of a planet and the future of it! Think of the science!"

"Think of the..." Hal started to retort.

"Am I just gonna keep this thing on idle or are we going to drive?!"

*TGSTGE*

When the group arrived to their next destination, they discovered themselves in a place that was sterile and dark. Washu could not help but look around and take in all of the advancements the planet had undertaken.

"THIS is Earth? This looks more like my lab!"

"This is a very important piece of history. Welcome to the Vanishing Point!" Rip announced.

"What's so special about it?" Hal asked grumpily.

"This is the last remaining place on the planet before the universe implodes on itself. Humanity has been long extinct, but several archivists remain to chronicle the final moments of time," Rip elaborated. "We have maybe ten minutes left before the universe crumbles away. If Bruce is here, we need to find him quickly."

"The local timeline will end in nine minutes and twenty seconds," a cold sterile voice called out from the station. A tall black being stepped out. He had two little ears and a single red glowing eye. "You must vacate this station."

"Why bother archiving if the universe is going to die?" Washu asked.

The archivist stopped and stared at the woman intently. "It was a command from the creator of the bioarchival bush robots. All of the information of this galaxy in this timeline will be stored in a black hole for protection."

"Genius! I would have done the same thing!"

"I know Washu Hakubi."

The comment took Washu back. "How...how did you know my name?"

"This is a map of all time and space," the archivist willed a giant tapestry of lines in front of the group. "Each line represents a new timeline that has been created from a certain event. Each event causes changes to that current time line. In this timeline, the residents of the Masaki household play a larger part of this universe's history. In this parallel timeline, you may not even exist at all. In this third parallel timeline, you may exist but Superman may not. In each world a Vanishing Point will exist. Though it may differ in appearance, its function remains universal."

"Did...did you get all of that?" Rip asked. "This lines up with my own research into the time stream."

"As does my own," Superman nodded. "So in the timeline that we are presently in, Professor Washu has..."

"My god, I created you," Washu whispered.

"You are correct in the idea that this version of Vanishing Point was indeed a byproduct of your design," the architect pointed out. "But you did not create me. Nor have you created the hyperfauna that has infested the station. The local time line will end in seven minutes and forty seconds."

"Hyperfauna?" Washu asked.

"Darkseid's weapon of death," Superman grimaced. "Archivist, where is the hyperfauna? Where is Bruce Wayne?!"

"The hyperfauna? It is self contained. Inside of me," the archivist spoke softly. "Forgive me for what I must do."

With that a bubble surrounded the visitors from the 21st Century. Using all of their might, Hal Jordan and Superman tried to beat down the force field. Washu, however, started typing furiously on her computer.

"I would not do that Creator Hakubi. You need to trust me," the archivist said. The blank black face faded away to reveal a human male with dark black hair. "You have no idea what I have had to do to get to this point."

"Bruce, you can't!" Superman yelled. "Darkseid turned you into a trap! If you return to the 21st Century, we will all die!"

"You need to trust me," Bruce whispered as he walked into Rip's time machine.

"NO!" Rip yelled. "We are all damned here! We have no way of getting back now! Damn it!"

"Language Rip!" Superman stopped before continuing to punch the bubble they were trapped in.

"This may appear hopeless sirs and madame, but Batman DID say to trust him!" Skeets pointed out.

Booster hit his head on the wall of the bubble. "Well Professor, you apparently created this technology. Can't you, I don't know, manipulate it or open it up?"

"I'm trying!" Washu hurriedly told him. "I may have had a hand in this station's design, but I haven't done that yet! I...wait..."

"What?" Jordan inquired, stopping his green fist from pounding the wall.

"This design is similar to my own time machine. I...I think Batman is using the Vanishing Point to create a second time machine!"

"That Batman," Booster chuckled. "Is there anything he isn't prepared for?"

"Mister Hunter," Washu stepped aside. "The controls are starting to form. Would you like to take the helm of my apparent greatest work?"

"I'd be honored to. Fasten your seat belts boys and girl, we are about to experience the big All Over!"

With that, the universe died.

*TGSTGE*

The time capsule arrived in a mess.

From a giant gorilla to an orange skinned alien princess, the members of the Justice League were thrown around the Hall of Justice like they were rag-dolls. However, it was apparent the fight was not over yet as two lone figures remained to confront a darker, scarier Batman.

"The bio archivist suit...it's changed," Booster observed.

"A Batman of death," Superman growled. "Not my kind of Batman at all."

"I took a big gamble here," the rough voice of Bruce Wayne rang out from the suit. "I had no way of beating you at the end of time. But here? In a time where a Kryptonian and an Amazonian princess fight for justice? You are just target practice."

"No!" The suit bellowed in a dark growl, similar to Darkseid himself. "You can't!"

"After what we just went through," Hal cracked his knuckles. "You bet your ass we will."

"Language!" Superman yelled as he flew out of the time bubble to land a punch. The body of the Dark Knight flew back into the wall.

Of the two people still standing, the woman was the first to move. She wore a familiar tiara: Wonder Woman of Themyscera. The combined might of Superman and Wonder Woman was enough to keep Bruce pinned down.

"We've got to separate the suit from him!" Rip shouted. "That's where the hyperfauna is!"

The other figure, who Washu recognized as Tim Drake shook his head worriedly. "It'll kill him!"

"Wait!" Washu snapped her fingers. "If I built the technology that the suit is based on, it may have the failsafes I typically install!"

"What?!" Booster freaked out. "You are saying this NOW?!"

"Cut me some slack! Pass phrase: Washu is a genius!"

"Washu is all knowing!" Doll A chimed in.

"Washu is number one!" Its twin completed.

Bruce's body began to shake. Using the opportunity, Superman grabbed and pulled the armor off of him. With one final pull, the archivist's remains snapped off the bloody skin of Batman. As he slunk to the floor, Bruce weakly pointed to the time machine. "Send it back! It'll blow itself up and get it out of here!"

The greatest heroes of the age obliged the World's Greatest Detective. The hyperfauna started to scream in pain. "Need to adapt! Need to escape! For Darkseid!"

Shifting its shape, the creature now resembled a giant bat as the time sphere vanished from Hall. Washu blinked and put the pieces together.

"So THAT is the origin of Barbatos...which means The 99 Fiends are actually worshiping Darkseid. Pretty crazy, eh?" Washu turned to see Bruce's limp body on the floor. She rushed over and started typing on her computer.

"It's no use. He's absorbed too much Omega Energy. By being here, Bruce Wayne is slowing destroying time itself," Rip hung his head low.

"I just need to siphon the Energy out and..." Washu started but Rip shook his head.

"We can't do that."

"He's right," Superman looked grave. "The only way to release the Omega Energy is for Bruce to cease living."

"No! You can't be serious!"

"He is," Wonder Woman said, scooping up the body. "He killed Darkseid and must suffer for it. For striking down a New God, Bruce Wayne must die!"

Washu stared at the body and felt incredibly helpless. She had made it a point of pride to always keep her word to those she gave it to. Yet here she was, unable to give even the slightest aid to a man she had never met but knew so much about.

She thought about Barbara, whom she finally regained her trust. How would she feel if she couldn't even keep her promise?

She thought about Alfred and the state he would be in if his charge had died after regaining hope of his revival.

Finally, she thought about Damian and Dick, who needed this more than any of them combined. She could not face the two knowing that they would blame her for failing.

"Hey," Superman nudged her, picking up on her emotions. "Trust me."

With that, he gave a wink.

The Kryptonian led the group of conscious heroes outside to a decorative pool of water. Wonder Woman lowered the lifeless body of Bruce Wayne into the water and turned to Superman. With all of his might, Superman began to blow on the water.

Washu gasped. Before her eyes, the water began to freeze solid. She hit herself on the head, realization setting in. "You're stopping his heart then restarting it! Why didn't I think of that?"

"You may be the Greatest Scientific Genius in the Universe," Booster grinned. "But even you have nothing in the Man of Steel."

She smiled and gave him a playful punch. Just then, a loud, painful cough was heard. Booster and Washu returned their attention to Bruce, who had coughed up a large amount of black bile.

"Give him this," Tim said, holding up the famous cape and cowl of the Caped Crusader. "Tell him to save Gotham."

With that, the Dark Knight rose to his feet. He wiped away the blood and the bile from his mouth and observed his surroundings.

"Darkseid..." Bruce whispered.

"Is gone Bruce," Superman told his friend. "You did it. You're back!"

"No...he's trying to reincarnate into the doctor...Doctor Hurt," he panted.

"Makes sense," Washu frowned. "Seems like he is behind every other thing that has crossed our paths."

Bruce eyed the pink haired girl. "Why are you here?"

"Don't you want to know who I am?" Washu raised an eyebrow.

"I know who you are Professor Hakubi. When I merged with the archivist, I briefly saw everything that has happened and will happen. What I don't know is how you came to be here."

"We don't have time for explanations Bruce!" Tim interjected. "The Joker is loose and Gotham had been put on quarantine! Something is driving all of the citizens crazy!"

"It's Pyg's viral narcotic," Washu scowled. "They've made their move. What do you say Batman? Need a lift back to stately Wayne Manor?" The young woman motioned to a door she created using her subspace computer.

"Hhh," Bruce narrowed his eyes and donned his cape and cowl. "Fill me in on the way. Tim, help take control of the city. The night's not over yet."

The Dark Knight and the Genius Scientist stepped through the doorway into the fireplace of Wayne Manor where they found Doctor Hurt lying on the floor.

"Turn around Doctor!" Washu announced theatrically.

Batman stepped out triumphantly and took his place over the imposter Thomas Wayne. "...it's All Over!"

Doctor Hurt's worst fear had come true: Bruce Wayne had returned and had come for him.