Mindstorm, part 17

by Chicago

Disclaimers and other information in "part 0"

The front passenger tire of the Batmobile was hanging over the abyss. There were ominous splashing noises coming from the underground river far beneath the working levels of the Batcave. The crashes of china and glass above had stopped.

Batman carefully rose from the floor near the computer station and righted his chair as the Bat computer slowly came back to life. For the first time, he was grateful for the quake that had hit Gotham three years ago. The pressure on the tectonic plates beneath the city, beneath his home, had not had time to rebuild. Not the way it had under Philadelphia, to judge from the destruction evident on the intermittent feed appearing on monitor 7.

"Master Bruce?" Alfred, an odd emotional strain in his voice that Dick had once identified as the "please don't be dead" tone.

"Here, Alfred," Batman called back, hearing relief in the footsteps coming down the stairs. "Are you all right?"

"Fine, Master Bruce, although I cannot say as much for the contents of the china cabinet. And the clock seems to have been sprung off its hinges again."

Batman frowned to himself. The way the clock entrance to the Cave was designed, that shouldn't have happened. He would have to bring John Stewart in to do some structural consulting.

"My word, that looks bad," Alfred remarked, noting monitor after monitor stuttering to show scenes of destruction. "Is there any-"

"Flash to anyone! I repeat, this is the Flash-" Batman reached for the volume control on the suddenly blaring speaker and opened a comline.

"Go ahead, Flash."

"Batman, thank god! I've finally re-established our satellite feeds, although at least three-quarters of the hardware in orbit is on the fritz. Looks like electromagnetic interference. I've tried six of our nine emergency channels and this is the first to get through -"

"Have you reached Oracle?" Batman asked, typing in a diagnostic command for the various power and communications grids in Gotham.

"No luck so far," Flash admitted. "It looks awful down there. I can pick out at least a dozen cities on the night side of the planet from the fires."

"Understood," Batman said tersely. Most of Gotham was without power. Oracle should have a backup generator, though, and the Clocktower was quakeproofed. He scowled, then punched in a code for one of the Gotham private emergency lines. "Flash, try reaching Oracle on this frequency," he suggested.

"Trying," Flash responded, not questioning the request. "Eureka! Batman, patching the lines together and-"

"Batman?"

"Oracle, status."

The synthesized voice almost sounded relieved. "Most of my systems are off-line. I've managed to hook into a JSA channel. Obsidian and Eclipso have been neutralized, but they're less certain they got Mordru. I've been able to contact several heroes through Dr. Mid-Nite's communications array to start mobilizing clean up and support."

Batman grunted an acknowledgment. "Flash, Watchtower situation?"

"Had to seal off the northeast living quarters. We probably lost that whole section of the Tower. Otherwise just a lot of mess."

"And the others?"

Flash paused for just long enough to make Batman uneasy. "It's pretty touch and go. I'm not sure how much longer J'onn can contain the situation."

Batman closed his eyes, aware of Alfred's concerned look, but he did not pause before he spoke. "Okay, that's our new priority. That and communications. Oracle -"

"I've got a line on Dr. Occult," she cut in smoothly. "He's with Canary." She paused for a moment, likely to contact her operative, and then the voice was back, sounding somehow grimmer. "The JSA lost Sand. He's the one who stopped the earthquakes."

"Not Lantern?" Batman asked.

"I couldn't get him deployed, and it wouldn't have matter anyway. The kind of large scale destabilization -"

"We'll debrief that later," he interrupted brusquely. "Flash, how soon can we get the teleporters functional?"

"Not sure," the Flash confessed. "No one else up here can cover comm if I get involved in the teleporters. It's going to depend-"

"Communications first," Batman decided. "And Oracle, see if we can get someone else up to the moon - preferably JLA. They already know what's happening up there. Flash, tell J'onn and Lois just to hold on a little longer, but contact me if something changes with their situation. And let me know if you get the teleporters operational enough for inorganic transport."

"Roger that," the Flash answered. "Any specific inorganic?"

Batman thought about the kryptonite still sitting in his vault. "Let's make that need to know."

"Batman," Oracle jumped in, "I've got Wonder Woman available to transport Dr. Occult to your location and then offer support on the moon. I still can't raise Green Lantern. And you might want to tune in to the emergency broadcast system."

"Understood. Establish a universal emergency channel for all teams, then triage and deploy. Send Lantern as soon as you reach him. Batman out."

He switched his comset back to standby as Oracle and the Flash began talking to each other. Batman nudged the volume on the national emergency broadcast channel. Lex Luthor's voice flooded the Cave.

"... worst of the external threat has passed. Again we have been terrorized and frightened by villains seeking vengeance against the superhero community, but the whys of this day's horror are a subject for another day. What is important now is that we work together. FEMA and National Guard units are already mobilizing in -"

"He's right," Alfred stated.

Batman spun to face the older man, noting the weariness in his frame as he scanned the scenes of destruction. "Alfred?"

A strange resignation was in Alfred's eyes as he met Batman's gaze evenly. "We will all need to work together," he clarified, although somehow that didn't seem to be all he was saying. "If you will excuse me, Master Bruce, I should stay by the phone upstairs. I imagine some lines will be active soon, and I can assure your CFO that you have authorized any level of relief expenditures he deems advisable."

Batman nodded. "Of course." He thought again about the kryptonite, about Superman's incapacitation, about villains seeking vengeance. "Do that," he agreed, his mind already moving to the next puzzle. He reactivated his link to Oracle.

"Go ahead, Batman."

"Has Wonder Woman arrived in New York yet?"

"She's almost there. Why?"

"Have her take Dr. Occult to Smallville instead. I think he needs to talk to Aquaman."

"Will do. Oracle out."

Batman considered for a moment, then he reopened his files on Masters, the facility in Wyoming, experts on mind control, and Lex Luthor.

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