DCU: Truth, Justice and the Way #03
The Invisible Labyrinth, part 3
The red and blue lights were still flashing when Timothy Hunter reached his home. The events that transpired in the supermarket were still greatly in his mind, so much that young little Tim failed to notice the numerous police cars that were parked in a perimeter around the apartment he and his father lived in. The groceries he had brought home with him fell in a cascade of clattering cans and plastic-wrapped parcels as he shifted his focus instead on the scene before him.
"Daaaad!" Timothy screamed and ran towards the police perimeter. Policemen at the area spun to see the young boy reach the cars and struggle to find a way past them. One policeman leaped onto the hood of the car and clamped down both of his hands on the agitated boy’s shoudlers. Hindered, Timothy struggled uselessly against the older man’s strength. He continued screaming for his father, hoping he would hear him. "Dad!"
"Settle down boy… you live there?" the policeman asked. Timothy swatted his hands against the policeman but failed to make him let go. He considered throwing a kick on the guy’s groin, but he shook him so hard he could only stare back at the cop and nod a yes. "How many of you live in there?"
"W-What is happening…"
"How many of you live in there?" the cop repeated, ignoring Tim’s query.
"Just.. just me and my dad.. my dad… is my dad okay?"
The police man pinned Tim against the car hood and called out to another policeman, "Tell the captain just one. The boy’s father."
"What is happening!??!?!" Timothy screamed again. Tim remembered the events in the supermarket. He remembered the bald man named Lex Luthor standing before the Truth and telling her he would be her downfall. He remembered the Truth staring back at him coldly, then suddenly tugging on the lasso so quickly that he barely got to scream before the golden threads sliced into the rebel’s skin.
And he remembered Lex Luthor, just before blacking out from the intense shock and pain onto his system, turned his head to look straight at him. And smile.
Truth, Justice and the Way
An Elseworld Event
Written by Tobie Abad
Mister E, the King of Dreams and the Spirit of Vengeance were all standing inside the living room of Timothy and his father’s house. His father was still deep in his slumber as the three powerful entities continued their impromptu meeting.
"The three of us are gathered here for the same person," Mister E announced, certain of his pronouncements, "But the three of us are not necessarily standing in the same opinion in the matter of things."
"Vengeance and whimsical visions rarely meet eye to eye," the Spectre plainly replied and motioned to Mister E, "You, however, I suspect have reasons that directly conflict with ours. You have been the forefront magician among mankind for many generations of man. I sense you see Timothy Hunter’s coming as something… you despise."
The King of Dreams turned to face Mister E as he countered the accusations the Spirit of Vengeance made. He watched as Mister E raised his gloved hands to show they were empty. A show he was unarmed.
"I will not deny that I despise the young tadpole for being Destined to overshoot even my accomplishments. But I do despise that you see me so shallowly, great Spectre. I have come, unlike the Dream King, unarmed and without ready Enchantments for conflict. I have come merely to talk with him."
The Dream King ignored the attempt to redirect accusation towards him.
"And yet," the Dream King added, "We have all arrived to find that he is not here."
"That," Mister E confessed, "Would be my doing. I am afraid I had glimpsed into the future and seen the time you both sought to visit him. And with the simplest of misdirections, I have made Mister Hunter send his son out to use the groceries today."
"Why have you done so?" Spectre hissed, evidently unhappy with having been manipulated.
"Because," Mister E calmly replied, "We have to make a choice."
"A choice?" the Dream King called Morpheus asked aloud, "What manner of choice requries such entities to gather?"
"One that may determine whether or not we too shall stand against Truth, Justice and the Way."
* * *
Timothy Hunter had just returned from the marketplace to find the police surrounding his home. And none of them seemed willing to explain what was going on. Frustration grew as the Captain, a kind yet determined man named Joseph Kerr, told him to wait and focused instead on other things.
Sitting on the curb, young Tim grabbed a few rocks and began throwing them at the wheel of the police car just beside him. He was worried for his father but he did agree that the Police Captain was right; his father was an adult and most likely was in need of less help than Tim himself. The Captain had given him a deck of playing cards to keep him occupied while they continued doing… whatever they were doing.
"Joker," Tim muttered as he drew a card from the deck and turned it over to see it was the Joker card. He grinned and raised it to his face, noticing how the artwork resembled Joseph Kerr’s profile.
"Any confirmations?" Captain Kerr asked aloud and motioned to one of the cops to glance behind him. The cop saw Tim drawing a few more cards from the deck. "His father among those who were permitted to leave the building?"
"No sir," a young police officer with the name Drake on the name tag replied, "Only Mister Hunter is being held hostage in there. Everyone else was permitted to leave. Kinda strange considering-"
"-The Hunters barely have enough to pay rent each month," the Captain continued for Drake. He scratched his prominent chin and adjusted his hat. Drake nearly gave a guffaw. "What? Oh… the hair," Captain Kerr snickered, "…wife’s fault. She wanted to save some bucks by dying it for me. Didn’t look at the packet that carefully. Now my hair’s dyed a dark shade of green. At least I didn’t bleach first or that would look grass green right now!"
The two shared a laugh but kept it low. The last thing they wanted was someone thinking they were slacking no their job.
"Do we have an I.D. on the guy whose holding Mister Hunter hostage?"
Drake pulled out his palm pilot and clicked on the e-mail function. He dug up the mail recently sent to him by the department and showed it to the Captain. "Kind of hard to believe but its this magician from television. Mister E, they call him."
"The real one?" Captain Kerr inquired.
"Yep," Drake replied, "What, you a fan?"
"Do I look like I’m into dressing up like some clown and making magic tricks?" Joseph Kerr hissed and motioned to Drake to head towards the other cops, "Tell them to get ready. We’ve wasted enough time as it is. I don’t even see why we have to wait for-"
"That would have been against procedure, Captain," a heavy and thick voice announced his presence. Suddenly, everyone was looking at the tall and imposing figure in the shadows whose cowl allowed him to blend in with the darkness itself, "Going against procedure is risking acting against justice."
"I did not mean to suggest that," Captain Kerr admitted, "I just thought an ordinary hostage situation would not require the attention of the Big three."
The Dark Knight stared at Joseph Kerr, blue eyes tearing deep into Joseph Kerr’s green ones. He stepped back into the shadows and vanished.
"Never fails to scare me," Drake admitted.
"At least you’re not expected to be his partner or nothing, boy. Wonder about that for a moment." Jospeh Kerr snarled, "I have to. Being the Captain."
* * *
Before the police arrived.
Mister Hunter awoke to a strange buzzing in his head. A heavy haze seemed to dance over his eyes, making it difficult to see things properly. He felt like he wasn’t who he was and wondered if he was sleep walking.
"…contact the Mother and hear her side to all this…"
"…aware of his true lineage…"
"…unaccounted for… there are still the Elementals… and then there is the underground movement…"
Each leg was a heavy iron pillar to lift, drop, then drag with each step. Still, even in his sleepy state, he made no sound as he walked. Closer and closer, he progressed towards the three, eavesdropping on them, and searching for their faces.
"…can train him in the moments he is resting…"
"…teach him to defeat the very three that stand against him…"
"Stop!" the Dream King called out, "I see a dream that hears our own voices!"
The three turned to see Mister Hunter standing at the hallway and at the act of turning to face them. Mister E acted quickly, grabbing the nearest chair and throwing it to land in front of the old man. The Spectre and The Dreak King both began to fade, quickly leaving the mortal plane. Just as Mister Hunter turned to face where the meeting was transpiring, Mister E landed on the hair and wrapped his hands around Mister Hunter’s head, effectively blocking Hunter’s eyes with his stomach.
"Damn you," Mister E quickly glanced back to realize the two others had chosen to flee rather than help. It became clear to him that the two had even chosen to avoid using their magicks, to leave no tell-tale signs of having been here.
"Whooooo…" Mister Hunter mumbled in his sleepwalk, unaware that his body, senses and words were not his own that moment.
"The time to act is forced upon me," Mister E shared the realization aloud, "There would be no hiding from Justice. Very well. Let us be done with it then. This building is under influence to hold hostage. Have the young Timothy Hunter brought up here or his father dies."
* * *
Somewhere, a green skinned man in a sensory-deprivation tank activated a few post-hypnotically trained commands and send a written report to Justice that a crime was being committed in a city under the Truth’s jurisdiction. Still, the criminal had invoked his title and for that, the Dark Knight knew he could not ignore its call.
He rose, not bothering to thank the green-skinned telepathic martian he had retrieved from a crash site in Area 51, and made his way for the teleporter. Through the martian, the Dark Knight had access to practically any mind that was currently half-asleep if not sleeping outright. The telepathic prowess of the martian was great, but covering the world was far more important than a more focused application of telepathy in a small area of effect.
Still, the Dark Knight despised the alien. Hated how it could so easily pretend to be human. Though the Dark Knight was allied with two others whom could be viewed as alien as well, the martian was worse in the sense that it could pose as him if he wasn’t stopped.
"Wonder Woman," he mumbled to the communicators that allowed the three to keep in touch "I am on my way to your lands. I do hope I am welcome there. It has been a long time, Diana."
* * *
Tim Hunter looked up to see the shadow that moved in the darkness. He peered at the figure and watched as the Dark Knight emerged from the shadows and approached the building with a grappling hook in his hands. Throwing the hook to the ceiling, he began climbing the wall without any assistance from anyone.
He was tall, though not as tall as Truth. His body was heavy set and compact with muscle and padded armor. Dark gray, black and blue made his costume match the dark shadows of the street and alleyways. His eyes, Tim failed to see, but he imagined them to be focused and sharp. Like those of an assassin. Or perhaps something worse.
He wore a mask, a cowl that covered his face and head with a dark pair of horns that reminded Timothy of a goat or a bat. He had a large cape that seemed sharped edged, and a pair of boots who seemed built for massive impact and trauma ( on whose who got it used on them.) And lastly, there were the bats. Like familiars. Like carrion feeders who knew that the feast was soon to come.
The Dark Knight reached the roof top and vanished from view. Timothy Hunter just knew that somewhere inside, his father was still there.
* * *
"Please… please don’t kill me," Mister Hunter pleaded to Mister E, his cheeks stained with tears as he felt his mind was finally released by the martian telepath. Mister E had cast a small suggestion upon the man to make him feel helpless and weak; such a suggestion would have failed against a stronger will.
"Explain yourself," the Dark Knight that called itself Justice spoke from the shadows. Though Mister E relied on other senses to overcome his evident blindness, the Dark Knight was skilled enough to remain concealed from view. "You are an entertainer. A stage magician who is called Mister E. An interesting play on the word, Mystery."
"I am someone who has the ability to see what needs to be seen. And I am amused to ponder on the fact you do not fall under that definition this very moment, Dark Knight. I can, however see the good and evil in the souls of others. Perhaps I cannot see you for you do not have one?"
"Your were called Eric in the orphanage were you were taken care of after losing your parents. Your father mutilated you as a child. Reports say he was suffering from a serve form of psychosis. And that your mother was a heavy substance abuser."
Mister E seemed to falter in his focus. He felt his lower lip quiver in uncertainty. The Justice had somehow found information on him.
"Your blindness wasn’t hereditary. Nor was it induced by your mother’s dependence on artificial sources of happiness. It was inflicted upon you by your father," the Dark Knight continued speaking in a calm and focused tone. Mister E failed to realize the Dark Knight had positioned himself to his rear. Mister Hunter felt his heart beating so fast, he was afraid it would burst.
"You… you are saying all this to upset me. To keep me.. distracted…"
"He believed he was saving you from being tempted by evil. By sin. Your mother was a woman of low moral character. Your father believed by blinding you he was saving you from the sin women offered. He scooped it out and embraced you, telling you that all healing begins with pain."
"STOP IT!" Mister E screamed, unsettled at the amount of information the Dark Knight had uncovered about him. "You… you don’t know what it was like… how it felt…"
"You know how this will end," the Dark Knight reminded Mister E and slammed a harsh kick into the blind man’s back. The vicious boot collided with the base of Mister E’s spine. Bone shattered in the instant and the man fell on his back, screaming obscenities as he felt the pain shoot all over him in white heat. Not wanting to give the opponent any opportunity to recover, the Dark Knight stomped his foot onto Mister E’s face. The shades the magician wore to cover his blindness snapped into pieces. Glass was ground into his already blind eyes. "You see into the future… You know you’ll be beaten today!"
Mister E wanted to crumple into a ball. He wanted to crouch into fetal position like a child and hide from the bat-man that was causing even more pain. He felt like a child, maltreated and abused once more. The Dark Knight did not cease stomping on his face until Mister E was in far too much pain and shock to actually react to further injuries. It was only when Mister E’s breathing was the only sign left that he was alive did the Batman actually stop his assault and walk up to Mister Hunter.
"I… I wanted… I don’t know… who…" Mister Hunter mumbled in utter terror, fearing his savior more than his assailant. The Batman’s view on Justice was dark and unpredictable. At times it reminded him of Lextalionis, the old Biblical system of giving an eye for an eye that was lost. A form of balance in punishment. On other times, it was more harsh and cruel, amputating limbs for shop lifting. Or slicing way tongues for cursing a public authority figure. And in some occasions, it was utterly abused. A suspected rapist named Jason Todd was allowed to go home unmolested. On another occasion, a prostitute named Helena Wayne was permitted to leave without having to pay any fines after being caught.
"I am not speaking with you," the Justice looked around and tried to see what was awry. What stood out. He embraced the role of the Justice because among the three it was he know knew best the ways of crime and investigation. It was he who could piece together things neither Truth nor superhuman senses could find. "Shut this house down," he told the security who were waiting by the door, "I do not want anyone else to enter or leave this house after Mister Hunter here leaves. And charge him two months wages. He has been drinking more than he should. I noticed the bottles in the trash. There were four bottles more than the permitted three per week."
Mister Hunter hung his face low. He muttered something barely audible enough. The security were about to escort him out when the Dark Knight turned to face them and motioned them to stop.
"Dad!" Timothy Hunter called out from the street, seeing his father emerge from the door. He wanted to run towards him but Captain Joseph Kerr stopped him. The Captain had sensed something bad was about to happen. He tried to force Timothy to look away but the kid would not let the Captain hold him down. "Dad! Are you alright?"
The Dark Knight emerged from the door way and leapt towards Tim’s father. An audible crack snapped into the air and preempeted the utter scream of pain that Tim’s father released. He fell into the ground practically at the same time the Dark Knight landed on the ground.
"Quiet!" Joseph Kerr muffled Timothy’s scream by cupping his hand over the boy’s mouth. Though the boy was going wild, the Captain’s more trained and built body permitted him to overpower the child. Worry about him getting hurt while I restrain him, Joseph Kerr convinced himself, Better a sore face than a dead one.
The Dark Knight stared at the whimpering Mister Hunter on the ground. "That was for insulting a superior authority. Lock him up," he told the security who quietly obeyed without question. Joseph Kerr dragged Timothy to his car and pinned the child down against the side of the vehicle, "If you do not shut up this moment, your father may very well pay for your noise with his life. Now behave!"
Timothy stopped struggling. Though his nostrils flared with each intake of breath, he remained quiet and fought the tears that wanted to fall.
"Will there be anything else, Justice?" Captain Joseph Kerr approached the Dark Knight and offered a rictus grin of a smile. He hated having to face amusement and interest in the Dark Knight’s cruelties, but it provided him with a chance to keep his job.
"Yes. I will investigate this house further personally. After which, you are to burn it down."
"I shall confer with the Truth, as procedure dictates?" the Captain boldly questioned the Batman. Everyone found themselves holding their breath, surprised that the Captain would dare question the command of one of the Three. But Joseph Kerr knew he had the Three’s own edicts to his advantage. "Yes. Of course," the Batman replied, sensing the Captain was very skillfully deflecting punishment by invoking the Truth’s territorial laws.
"It shall be done," he concurred, "And the child?"
The Batman stared at the Captain’s car and realized the boy was gone. He was not concerned however, believing he could easy track a boy down when he needed to.
"What child?" he told the Captain and began to walk away from the house. Joseph Kerr turned back to see the empty spot beside his car where he had left the boy. He shook his head and hoped the boy would avoid getting into more trouble.
At least for tonight.
End of Issue #03
"The Invisible Labyrinth, part 3"
written by Tobie Abad
Andre Mischa Cleofe
Cathy delos Santos