Rest In Peace
Ian Bourne

Send him plenty of feedback at: bourne@australia mail.com :):) He deserves it!

A DC alternate time-line story.

Introductory information:

I wrote this story to continue from an Elseworld's episode written by Dannel Lites. This is only a work of fan-fiction, and I do not presume to own any rights to the characters contained within. It does make mention of several Marvel characters - I do not own any rights to those characters either.

It follows the death of Batman, and the following capture and incarceration of Azrael by Batman. No matter how silly this sounds, I'm not in a position to give away what happened in the previous stories.

It is supposed to complete this miniature arc on the death of Batman and Azrael, and the rebirth of Batman. Both are intriguing characters, and I must admit I don't believe I did justice to Batman in this story. Next time.

Enjoy.

Part 1.

Jean-Paul Valley sat despondently in his cell, his shy good-looks a picture of resignation.

A resignation to the ultimate Fate.

Azrael had fallen from Grace, and his only reward would, could, be Hell.

He could almost feel Death behind him, skeletal fingers ticking away the seconds that the man once known as Azrael had looked forward to with anticipation.

No more.

Less than a minute later, Jean-Paul Valley, genetically- and psychologically-engineered Azrael of the Order of Saint Dumas, took the flowers, placed them over his eyes... and was terminated.

In the security area, an alert guard jumped as every prisoner in the facility let out three short cries, precisely coordinated. As he ran his gaze over each of his monitors, he caught a flicker of something at the corner of one of the cells.

Then he saw Valley.

His response was instanteous, as he had been trained to do since day one.

"Cell 5N165! We have a body in 5N165!"

On the prisoner level, a rapid deployment team raced towards 5N165.

"Jesus... wasn't that that wacko Valley?"

"I don't want to know... to be so damn calm about your own death - that is something really wrong. Not a mark on him..."

In the security area, the guard marked the time he had unconsciously noted as he had made his frantic report. Twelve forty-seven.

Richard Grayson turned away from the body, a look of relief on his face. It was over. Azrael was no more. No other could replace Azrael, not even the demented Order. Even they followed rules - Azrael was a carefully forged weapon, the product of over 400 years of genetic engineering and experimentation.

"Let us pray to God he was the last," he whispered, half to himself.

The body of Nomoz was found in Valley's former apartment - when he had first learnt of Azrael. The dwarfling had been struck by a flaming blade - which was confirmed by Batman's examination of the body.

Soon after, the slaughters continued. Those who the Order had cast out, who had managed to survive, were executed. All over the world.

Then he returned to Gotham.

Blood splattered the streets, blood which was sometimes crudely drawn in the sigil of Dumas.

Personalities seemed his target - any they all had something in common. They were all between twenty and thirty years old, known publicly to practically everyone, and they were all male.

But Grayson would not be the first to meet this threat.

Timothy Drake, aged 16, and occassional partner of Batman as Robin, was permanently brain-damaged by a blow to the side of the head by a flaming sword. He was found in an alley by a cinema he was known to frequent. The media and police treated it as a mistake, but Grayson... Batman, knew better.

The Huntress... Helena Bertelli, was found shot through the heart by her own crossbow. Still clad in a simple dress, the kind she wore while teaching, the blood had already lost its warmth when Batman found her.

He swore he had to finish it now. The message was coded in various newspaper ads and electronic notices that he knew had to attract the attention of this new threat. But Batman could not call it Azrael. Not yet - it seemed impossible.

On the crafted rooftop of the cathedral, he stood in the shadows. The Batman.

Twelve forty-seven. Time.

He stepped out into the rain, protected by his costume, hardly feeling the strike of the drops.

"Know that men call you a FRAUD! Know that you are without HONOUR! Know that your life is FORFEIT! Know that it is thus the sworn duty of the avenging angel Azrael to execute your TERMINATION!"

The sword came flashing down, but Azrael never could match Batman. ANY Batman.

The blade was caught and gripped, torn from the man's hands. Asbetos gloves prevented the heat from damaging his hands as Batman brought it around, the hard metallic pommel smashing in the helm.

Even so, the Avenging Angel did not fall. His body was encased in a new costume, one of red and black, a sea of scarlet flames and slivers on a background as dark as night.

In his mind, Batman was counting down, fighting against time. Desperately trying to finish this now!

A batarang each put the circuitry of both gauntlets out of commission. But suddenly Azrael was encased in flame, small jets spouting fiery vengeance.

"Azrael has been reborn! Even though another wears the mantle of the Bat, vengeance shall still be carried out!"

Batman leapt over the burning angel, striking deftly, trying to find a weak point, but to no avail.

The blade was once more in Azrael's gauntleted hands, swinging, pushing Batman back. Batman stood, poised to leap to one side to try and avoid that final strike . . .

Part 2.

"Enough."

The voice was one that had stopped countries going to war, had warned children from crossing the street without checking, had become the voice of human honour and justice. Deep, resonant, but hardly above a whisper.

From the shadows they emerged...

They were incredible in their costumes, all wearing a black armband with the image of the Bat emblazoned on it.

Superman... Aquaman... Fantastic Four... Wonder Woman... Green Lantern... Iron Man...

Spider-Man... Daredevil... Captain America... Green Arrow... The Flash... Justice...

Many more, until every available ledge was filled.

And finally... Alfred and Barbara.

And one word was whispered once... as if prepared for, but everyone knew it was spontaneous.

"Murderer."

Then Superman raised his head, showing eyes deepened with sorrow and anger.

"It is our duty to preserve Justice... to keep the public from the dangers and horror that can befall them." The words were hard, a tone not heard from the Man of Steel before.

"You have shattered Justice... you have struck against us. We now uphold Justice, and bring sentence against you."

In a split second, Superman had gripped Azrael's chestplate, digging his fingers into the metal, and lifted up him. The other hand wrenched off the faceplate.

And there was silence as they stared upon the fury burnt into the face of... Jean-Paul Valley.

The flames flickered out around the armour, and then, for the first time, Superman carried out Justice himself, taking the life of another being, purposefully and in cold-blood.

The twin minute beams of light flashed for a split second, and Azrael slumped.

Epilogue.

The twin graves of Jean-Paul Valley and Azrael were splattered by rain, hidden in a corner of the cemetary reserved for heroes and villians of super-hero note.

Barbara, Dick, Alfred and Clark stood before the graves, the markers etched with the sigil of Saint Dumas and the image of a burning angel falling.

Dick spoke first.

"It was the last order carried out by the Order. They of course had his genetic material. It was simple to clone him and have it killed in the cell.

"Jean-Paul did die in that cell. He surrendered to the System... the prison officers said that he withdrew into himself, and I believe that the last vestiges of his mind were destroyed after being incarcerated.

"But Azrael did not perform as expected. He exploded into action, killing the last of the true Order, and as I just found out, destroying their three major headquarters.

"Then he set his sights on us."

"Will... Tim ever...?" asked Superman, dressed in simple black clothing.

"Never again. He'll never walk or talk. I doubt he understands anything anymore."

"I'm sorry it ended like this. Nothing but suffering."

"You start dying when you are born - life is about suffering. But it is also about overcoming suffering. Bruce understood that... but he could not live by it."

"Rest in peace."

End.