Ah do not own these characters, DC Comics does! Nor do Ah own the idea of Elseworlds! This is a fanfic strictly for entertainment purposes, and no money is being made heah:(:( So don't sue moi:):)
Rated PG for some violence and some unpleasant concepts and such!
This is a sequel to the DC Elseworlds, "Batman: Holy Terror". As such, reading that book is a real advantage, heah! Although Ah will do moi's best to guide ya'll, Ah make no guarantees that ya'll will not get lost.
Just in case moi's poor powers of description should fail, heah's a (Ah hope!) terse recap:
The world of "Batman: Holy Terror" is a grim one. In our reality, Oliver Cromwell, the self proclaimed Great Protector of England, died in 1658 of malaria. His repressive, theocratic ideas regarding religion and government did not have sufficient time to take permanent hold in England. No so in this Elseworlds! Here, Cromwell survived for another ten years, and his ideas DID become deeply entrenched. Thus, from England, the repressive theocracy he established was transplanted to the so called "American Commonwealth" where it thrived.
In the world of "Batman: Holy Terror", all is not well. Jews are a persecuted minority. Three million homosexuals and other "sinners" a year are "eliminated" or "reeducated". Prostitutes and other "sinners" are subjected to heinous "aversion therapy". Sin and crime are swiftly punished, very much in the vein of "an eye for an eye". Rebellion against the State and the status quo, in any form, is not permitted. We learn, for example, that "millionaire industrialist Oliver Queen" has just been executed by the State for promulgating the literary works of such "pornographers" as Isaac Singer... White, landholding "Christian" men have multiple votes in any election. Women have none. Non-landholders and minorities (whether they own property or not only receive half a vote.
All of this is beneath the surface, of course. To the casual eye, all is an orderly, God-fearing paradise, benevolently ruled by the Privy Council and the Star Chamber. The "American Commonwealth" has taken its "manifest destiny" to heart, and is busy exporting its rule and repression throughout the continent at gunpoint. In all of North and South America, only the tiny state of Peru has yet to be conquered, and it's next on the agenda! All in the name of God, of course.
And into this seething cauldron leaps: The Batman! Just how Bruce Wayne became The Batman and what he encounters in his fight against oppression is the gist of the story!
WHEW! Sorry for the long winded explanation, folks! Now: On with the story!:):)
Batman: Holy Terror 2: Picking Up The Pieces
An Elseworlds Tale by Dannell Lites
From the diary of Father Bruce Wayne, Society of Jesus: Written in this the Year Of Our Lord, Nineteen hundred and ninety-three, being the one thousand, nine hundred and sixty-third year since the Ascension into Heaven of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the three hundred and thirty-fifth year since the Providential Salvation of His servant, the Great Protector, Oliver Cromwell...
Like my father before me, I keep this diary so that someday, someone will know the *real* Bruce Wayne. I wish them to know The Avenger of the Night, as well as God's humble priest.
And yes, despite it all, I do still believe in Him. It is the State I reject; the Privy Council and all those who have twisted His Word, usurped it for their own, worldly purposes, not God himself in his infinite mercy and wisdom.
But where to begin? What was it, after all, that began this kaleidoscopic journey into rebellion and obsession for me?
Was it the death of my parents?
Was that the beginning for me? Was it really that simple? Yes, in many ways, I suppose it was. I was only nine years old when my parents were taken from me; slain before my shocked, disbelieving eyes, in a filthy Gotham City alley as we returned from seeing a film, "The Mask of Zorro". To this day, the thing I remember the clearest as we left the theatre was the joy, the exhilaration I felt. I wanted to be Zorro! Oh, not because he was a hero, or because fighting oppression was the thing to do...no. A quixotic, imaginative small child, I wanted to be Zorro because it looked like fun!
But then, as we made our happy, laughing way back to our car...death struck like lightning. A senseless, random street crime, I was told. They never caught the killer. For many years thereafter, I burned, I seethed, for justice; no, not for justice, for revenge.
That was where I first meet the Lord High Commisioner, James Gordon. In those days he was simply an Inquisitor, newly transferred to Gotham from New Amsterdam. He was the Inquisitor assigned to investigate the death of my parents, in fact. He was a kind man and a good one, I believed. In spite of everything, I still believe that. The good Inquisitor took an interest in a lonely, orphaned young boy. He became a mentor of sorts for me. He never pushed or pressed me, but, in spite of his quiet nature, I knew that he was secretly pleased and very gratified when I announced to the world at the tender age of ten that I wished to become an Inquisitor when I came of age. Jim Gordon and Alfred were the only ones who didn't laugh at me or regard my determined commitment as a childish whim or fancy. Between the three of us we struggled to make my youthful dream a reality.
In the gymnasium Alfred stocked and furnished for me in the basement of Wayne Manor, I trained my body. An Inquisitor must be fit, and I was determined to be the best Inquisitor I could be. Exercising constantly, driving my body and spirit to its limits, I grew tall and strong. If the American Commonwealth had still participated in anything with such heathen origins as the Olympic Games, I was assured that I could have been a star athlete in any of half a dozen sports. Swimming was one of my favorites. For a time, I practically lived in the Olympic sized pool in my private gym. Smiling, Alfred joked drolly of gills and fins.
With Jim Gordon, I trained my mind. Patiently, he endured my endless rounds of probing questions. He gave me books to read and shared his cases with me. Under his tutelage, I began to swiftly learn the art of detection. He taught me how to train my powers of observation and how to ask the right questions and follow leads in an investigation. I learned the ins and outs of Inquisitorial procedure, and the reasons behind those procedures. On my own, I began to study psychology and the human mind in an attempt to understand what motivates people.
I was sixteen the first time I helped Jim Gordon solve a particularily difficult case. The serial killer the media ironically dubbed The Joker had remained at large for far too long. The Inquisitors were baffled. He and his hideous "Joker venom" had claimed half a hundred victims by the time Jim came to me. The rising of the sun with each new day brought fresh evidence of his ruthless insanity in the form of corpses strewn about Gotham Town like discarded trash, their faces frozen in a horrible leering rictus, a sick, gross parody of laughter and a smile.
"What an Inquisitor you'll make, Bruce!" Jim congratulated me when my chemical analysis of the "venom" lead to the discovery of a rare catalytic enzyme only availible from a single source, and thus to the Joker's subsequent capture and arrest. Such praise was most welcome. It was one of the proudest days of my young life when I watched the televised public trial that found the Joker guilty of murder. I likewise watched with satisfaction his public execution, televised live from Coventry. And I admit to owning no small sense of irony that the killer of so many was executed by means of cyanide gas.
And yet...and yet...
It was not enough. My victory was somehow...hollow. My satisfaction swiftly faded. And, in the end, my parents were still dead. I was adrift again, lost amidst the swirling currents of an aimless life without purpose or duty. I had thought that becoming an Inquisitor was the answer. That my parents ghosts might rest; stop haunting my dreams if only I could bring some small bit of justice into the world; some protection for the innocent. If not for them, then at least for others.
But it was not to be. I was lost, all my plans in ruins. If not an Inquisitor, then *what*? How, then, could I bury my dead, make sense of a senseless world and perhaps, just perhaps, find a tiny measure of peace for my burdened soul? I did not know.
I can't tell you exactly what it was that led me to Gotham's St. Cromwell's Cathedral on that particular Sabbath.
Well, yes I can...
It was to discover God's plan for my life and to answer His call...
I awoke that morning depressed. I'd not yet told Jim Gordon of my decision not to become an Inquisitor. I did not look forward to seeing the disappointment take root like a noxious weed in his eyes at the news. Not even Alfred's careful preparation of my very favorite breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes with bacon and fresh squeezed orange juice was enough to entirely lift my pensive mood.
Alfred is a wonder. The closest thing I have ever had to a father since my parents died. He knows me so well. He senses my moods and he always knows how to dispel the gloom that, at times, threatens to consume me. He was the one who sat by my bed in the weeks and then months after I was orphaned, fighting to keep the nightmares at bay. I shall forever be grateful for his endless bowls of buttered popcorn, his fresh baked cookies, still hot and gooey from the oven and our endless walks about the spacious grounds of Wayne Manor, talking of nothing and everything at one and the same time.
He saved my sanity.
That day, he had decided that I needed to be indulged. Alfred is a fabulous cook, but it isn't often that I permit myself to free my appetite. Gluttony is, after all, one of the Seven Deadly Sins, and an overweight Inquisitor is a frequently unsuccessful Inquisitor. So I am parsimonious and eat sparingly despite Alfred's many talents as a chef. Yielding to temptation is also a sin. And Alfred's food was very tempting. Thus, I persevered. But not that day. That day was to be different. And why not? I was not, after all, to be an Inquisitor any longer, so why not enjoy the fruits of Alfred's culinary labors? What could it matter?
It may sound trite to say that it was the Hand of Almighty God that led me to attend services that particular Sabbath. True, I attend regularly. At least, my body does... Like most people, I assume, I had always attended church by rote. Because it was the right thing to do. I obeyed the law and paid my tithes regularly, scrupulously, even generously. But this was different; not the same at all. As I took my place on the hard wooden pew, I did not begin to suspect what fate awaited me. Not even when Father Doyle stepped aside and Bishop Caspian took his place behind the altar. Immediately he dominated the cathedral, his tall presence reaching out to each of us. His Eminence is a powerful, charismatic, speaker. And he was speaking directly to me or so it seemed.
I was lost...but I learned I was not alone; never alone. God was with me. Under the good Bishop's guidance, like Jim Gordon before him, I found my true path. Peace settled over me like a great warm blanket, protection against the chill of night. My parents had been taken form me, yes; nothing would ever change that. But perhaps there was a reason behind it, even if it was not one my poor mortal mind could comprehend. And if their killer escaped man's fallible, human justice, he could not escape God's judgment. In the end, he would pay.
But on the very eve of the greatest day of my life, my ordination into the priesthood, my world was shattered again. Once more the world became a senseless place of random, inexplicable violence and damnation.
It stopped making sense.
I remember being sad that Alfred did not accept my offer to remain in his home at Wayne Manor. Perhaps it was small punishment for my failings. All my other earthly possessions I donated to the Church in keeping with the vows of poverty I would soon utter. But...somehow I could not bring myself to part with my ancestral home. There were too many memories there. Memories I could not bear to part with. The smell of my father's favorite cherry flavored pipe tobacco...the lingering scent of my mother's musky, floral perfume...the memory of her fresh baked apple pie on the Sabbath, a special treat for the less fortunate family always invited around the Wayne family table on the Lord's Day. Alfred was not allowed to do the cooking on that day. That was my mother's special gift to God and her fellow man, given in love and kindness. So I established a small trust fund for the maintenance of the Manor in my absence.
I was in the basement, paying one last nostalgic visit to my old dream of becoming an Inquisitor, when Jim Gordon surprised me.
I knew something was wrong the moment I saw him, standing there stooped and pensive as if the weight of the world rested on his shoulders. He couldn't meet my eyes. Staring at his shoes as if they were the most fascinating thing God had ever created, he whispered, "I - I told you I never found the man who killed your parents. That...was a lie. His name was Joseph Chill. And he was dead before I even discovered his name, conveniently killed in a prison riot in Coventry. A convict released for one purpose and one purpose only -- to kill your parents and make it look like a random street crime, a robbery. But it wasn't. It was an execution, Bruce. A state execution..."
I recall my denial vividly, even now, years later.
"But - but that's absurd!" I cried, horrified. "My father was personal physician to the Privy Council! Why would they want to kill him?"
He straightened his cravat, and peered at me owlishly from behind his thick glasses. "You only knew part of what your parents were, Bruce," he told me, his watery, but farseeing blue eyes overwhelmed with compassion for the agony of spirit that shone from my own eyes. "You only saw the loyal state citizens. Not the radical agitators who were tried in absentia and convicted of 'counter productive activities'. You see, they were too high up in the Church Hierarchy, the Holy Elite, for a public trial. The State doesn't like to admit that citizens of such high rank could be traitors. So it had to be a covert enough execution to seem like a tragic accident. And yet clear enough to their fellow insurrectionists to be an effective deterrent."
The computer disk he handed me was the final poof. My hand trembled as I took it. "Don't you see?" he murmured, "I couldn't let you go and become a part of the very system that killed your parents. I had to tell you the truth."
With my head buried in my hands, I did not see the melancholy that swept like a tide through his face and manner. But I heard it in his voice. His voice rang with it. I'll never forget the hollow sound of his rasping voice.
"But all I've really succeeded in doing is shifting a burden of pain from one heart to another."
And he left me there, my head bowed under my new/old burden, making his way silently out of my home and my life. The next day, the day of my ordination, was not a joyful one as it should have been. Jim Gordon had robbed me of that. But even as I felt Judson's hands on my head, praying for God's blessings as I ventured into a new life as His priest, I knew that I had made the right decision to accept my vows and enter the Holy Elite. As the traditional vows fell from my lips (God's grace that I did not stammer or misspeak) I made another, silent, more personal vow. To fight them, seek vengeance. From the inside. And I would begin by finding the members of the Privy Council who condemned and murdered my parents.
And then I found my father's diaries. Hidden away in a safe place for me to find and read. As Jim Gordon said, my knowledge of my parents was woefully incomplete. First and foremost, my father was a physician,healer sworn to preserve life, to be bring comfort to the sick and injured. My fingers numb with cold horror, I read deep into the night. Page after page of hideousness...unmarried pregnant women who swallowed acid trying to abort the growing life within them rather than be shunned and imprisoned...homosexuals and prostitutes subjected to 'aversion therapy' and 'reeducation', covered with burns from electroshock, some who mutilated their own genitalia in a desperate, last ditch effort to deny what they were, the way God had made them. Such victims were not allowed access to normal medical treatment. Yet my father fought for them, healed them when he could, mourned them when he couldn't, in his illegal, clandestine clinic.
Dr. Charles McNider, my father's closest associate, is blind but he opened my eyes to the harsh truth. My parent's brethren in resistance to the state...all caught...all executed...the names. So many, many names...Alan Scott and his 'Radio Free America'...Carter and Shiera Hall, archeologist's and weapons smugglers...Rex Tyler, clandestine manufacturer of drugs needed for the hidden clinics...Oliver Queen, who's only 'crime' was that he enjoyed a good tale, well told, who died for bringing Isaac Bashevis Singer's delightful stories to the public. Because Singer was a Jew.
And Charles McNider himself. Oh, he survived when that "lunatic", a State agent, really, threw acid in his eyes. Blinded but alive. But his beloved wife, Myra, wasn't so lucky. She was "mugged"...knifed and left to bleed to death slowly in a filthy abandoned alley on her way home one night. By a "criminal" who was conveniently never caught. So very much like the eath of my parents, my heart clenched as I heard him speak of it, broken and tortured. Charles McNider learned his lesson. No more resistance activities for him.
Of course, by that time, there was almost nothing left of any organized resistance...
It was from Doctor McNider that I first heard the legend of The Green Man. Rumors really, a prayer, a hope; tales of someone held captive in Cathedral, someone with power enough to challenge, to threaten, the State. Charles warned me not to believe the myths. I sometimes wonder what he would have done if he'd ever discovered how wrong he was.
And how tragically, heartbreakingly right at the same time.
I had no sooner taken my vows of Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience, than I shattered them with a will. Deliberately, I broke my vow of Obedience. Many times, I had seen Judson enter his password into the ChurchNet database. I knew it well. Our Bishop is a trusting soul for all his sternness. I did not let myself think of the betrayal of his trust, his kindness and compassion for a lost young soul. Using his pilfered access code, I easily gleamed the information I needed. The information that lead me to Cathedral, that massive building housing the secular arm of government of the American Commonwealth.
Led me to Cathedral...
And to Doctor Saul Erdel and The Green Man...
Betraying Judson's trust the second time, abusing his access code to slip unnoticed into the bowels of Cathedral, was easier than the first time. Betrayal, like any other art, just gets easier with practice, doesn't it? I fancy my thirst for vengeance eased my pricking conscience. Down, down I went...down...
End, Part One