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Note: This story takes place sometime during the second season of Batman Beyond. Inque is still flushed down the sewers, and Blight is nowhere to be found.
"Look at this!" Max called. Terry glanced across her living room as she turned her computer so he could see. Secret Identity of Gotham's Masked Defender Revealed! blared the website. Of course, they were wrong. Terry turned back to his homework.
"I thought I came over here to do my math homework with you," he said, "not to find the latest useless gossip on the net."
"I'm done," Max said, and turned back to her computer. Terry looked down and saw he was only half-finished.
"Doesn't it just drive you crazy sometimes," Max asked, "having this big, huge secret? Don't you ever want to just shout it out as loud as you can?"
Terry shot a cold look at her. "No," he said. "There's a bunch of people out there whom I wouldn't want to know I'm Batman."
"Oh, right," Max said, looking back at her computer.
"Just think about it," Terry continued. "Everyone close to me would be in danger. Dana, you, Bruce, Mom, even Matt."
"I get the point," Max said forcefully.
"Sorry," said Terry. "It's a touchy subject."
"I guess," said Max. "I'm just amazed you haven't gone crazy or something. I know I would."
"That's why you're not Batman."
"Hey, I could learn!"
"Sure, whatever," Terry said. "Even if you could, Wayne would never let you."
"Why not? He let you run around in the batsuit; why not me?"
"He didn't exactly let me." Max gave Terry a confused look. He was interrupted when his phone rang. "I'll tell you later," he said, and answered it.
"Hi, Terry here," he said. He listened, giving an occasional "okay" and "uh-huh." When the conversation was done, he put it away and started to pick up his stuff.
"Trouble?" Max asked.
"Isn't there always?" Terry said, and left to don the batsuit.
Blight trudged through the sewers, muttering to himself. He had been lost down here for weeks, trying vainly to find a way out. Day and night he traveled, each passage lit by the radioactive glow coming from his body. His wanderings were completely alone; his radiation kept every animal away from him. He let out an angry yell and punched a nearby wall. He wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for Batman.
Time after time, he played through those words the last time they had met on the submarine. "You killed my father," Batman had said. What did it mean? Who was he? Blight let out another shout and bashed a pipe in front of him. Weeks had passed and he still was no closer to figuring it out. It haunted him all the time, and there was lots of time to be haunted by it since he didn't seem to need to sleep. His whole life was filled with endless wandering. It allowed him to replay his least favorite memories.
He always came back to that one day, the first day Batman had reappeared. On that day, his whole life had gone downhill. It had started out with such a wonderful idea, to make nerve gas for a foreign nation in need. It was sure to bring lots of money, and if it succeeded, others would also want it. The deal had had such good prospect, until Batman sabotaged it.
Blight growled and burned a hole in the ceiling. Who did Batman think he was, messing in his business like that? Time after time, Batman would thwart his plans and ventures. He was more annoying than a mosquito, and a lot more costly.
And for some reason, he had chosen to start off by breaking up his most ambitious venture. That deal was cursed from the start. Things had seemed safe once they had cleared up the fiasco of the missing files. That had been a long and arduous process. First, Tulley had decided to bail out on the project and give top secret files to McGinnis. Then they went and knocked off McGinnis, but found no missing files. They had had to get them from McGinnis's son. Then, after they had taken the files from the boy, suddenly Batman decides to come back from the dead and…
Blight stopped. The boy. Could it be true? Could his nemesis be just a kid? Blight turned the thought over and over in his mind, chuckling while he walked. Yes, it made sense. Little McGinnis's father is killed, and he probably knew what was on the files, so he decides to resurrect Gotham's most famous crime fighter and carry out his personal crusade against Powers's empire. Blight let out an uproarious laugh and listened to it echo.
Now all he had to do was find a way to the surface and he could spread Batman's secret far and…no, not like that. He had a much better idea. He let out another laugh and abruptly stopped.
Something in front of him moved. Blight tiptoed closer, staring at the blob on the floor. Had he been seeing things? No, he was right. It moved again. Blight examined it closely, letting the radiation from his body wash over the pile of muck.
Her thoughts were murky, if you could call them thoughts. They were more like sensations. Her last real thought had been when the rain had come down, tearing apart her body. Consciousness had ended, replaced by a vague sensation of being swept into dark tunnels, finally coming to rest in a blob in a shallow part of the tunnel. She could not gather herself up again; she had too much water in her, the dreadful water. She could do nothing but wait in darkness.
A light came. She could feel it, and tried to move toward it. This light was different from the regular light. She could feel it working on her body, changing her. Her thoughts began to get clearer, and Inque looked up at the source of this strange light.
She backed off, horrified. In front of her was a green glowing skeleton. She shot out an arm to protect herself, and the skeleton backed off. "Inque?" the skeleton asked.
Inque stared at the monster warily. "How do you know my name?" she asked.
"It's me," the skeleton said, "Powers."
Inque stopped in shock. "Derek?" she asked in disbelief. Out of habit, she assumed her human form. "What happened to you?"
"I'm Blight now," the skeleton said. "This is a…condition I have. It's a consequence from a meeting with Batman."
Inque started to say something when she noticed where she was. She jumped with surprise, worried that she would dissolve again. Then she noticed that she was standing in water. She was standing in water! Yet, she was whole. She reached down and scooped water up in the palm of her hand. Her eyes watch the water quiver as she held it.
"How is this possible?" she asked. "I've never been able to touch water before without breaking up."
"You've mutated," Blight said. "This condition of mine makes me highly radioactive. The radiation must have changed you, made the bonds between your molecules stronger."
"I can't rearrange as quickly," Inque commented.
Blight nodded. "An unfortunate side-effect," he said. "You'll still be very formidable." Blight moved closer to her. "Perhaps you could help me with something."
"I don't know," Inque said. "Rich people don't usually trudge around in sewers. I doubt you have any money to pay me."
"I have a much better prize: Batman."
Inque huffed. "Oh, please," she said. "I can do that on my own."
"But I know who he is."
Inque's eyes widened. "Really?" she said, then changed her mind. "No, you're probably lying. You're just saying that to get me to help you."
"I'd never lie to you."
Inque laughed. "I've heard that before."
Blight kept his hard stare. "I'm serious."
Inque examined Blight's face. No emotion could be seen in it. "You really do mean this," she said. "I'm still not sure."
"You owe me one for fixing you," Blight said. "And besides, having Batman out of the way will make your future jobs easier."
Inque sighed. "All right, but only because I hate him, too."
"You won't regret it," said Blight. "Now, let's go someplace more appropriate."
Terry wrapped his arm around Dana's waist as he walked her home from the party. A cool night breeze was blowing, and the moon shone down on them. "I'm glad you finally got a night off," Dana said.
"So am I," said Terry, smiling. Then he turned around and looked behind him.
"What's wrong?" Dana asked.
Terry shook his head. "Do you ever have the feeling that someone's watching you?"
"Don't worry," said Dana. "It's probably nothing."
Finally, they arrived at Dana's house. She gave him a goodbye kiss and walked inside. Terry left and started walking towards Wayne Manor. He still felt that someone was following him. But when he looked again, there was no one. Terry dismissed the thought from his mind and entered the gate to Wayne Manor.
Inque waited a while in the shadows. She watched him enter the mansion, then left to report to Powers.
"He went into Bruce Wayne's place," Inque said.
Blight sat in a chair across the small room. His eyes were squinted in a thoughtful expression. He stood up and walked closer to her. "It makes sense," he said. "The boy's working for Wayne."
"There's an old man," Inque said.
"An old man, who helps Batman. I saw him when I infiltrated Batman's headquarters."
"What did the place look like?" Blight asked thoughtfully.
Inque thought for a moment. "It reminded me of a cave." Then she chuckled. "Not surprising for a bat, I suppose."
Blight's expression didn't change a bit. "It might be more than interior design. Wayne Manor is near the shoreline. There are lots of cliffs and caves over there."
"Do you suppose Wayne is the old man?"
Blight looked at Inque as if she was a schoolchild. "That is the general assumption."
"Why would he do that?"
Blight dismissed the question with a wave of his hand. "It doesn't matter."
"But don't you want to know-"
"No, I don't!" snapped Blight. "It's completely trivial compared to our job. Such information is useless. We only care about the destruction of Batman." Blight sat back down in the chair. "We have the information we need. Now, we must set the plan into action." Inque nodded, hiding the anger from her face.
The dismissal bell for the end of the day rang. Students poured out of the classrooms and flooded the halls. Terry fought to his locker while trying to keep a conversation with Max going. "What did you say?" he asked.
"The Quasars," she repeated, "are going to lose big time tonight."
"I don't know," Terry said as they walked out of the building. "They've got Mike Jerrer. He's pretty good."
Max laughed. "He's not good enough."
Dana joined them once they were outside. "What are you talking about?"
"The game tonight," Terry said. "She thinks the Quasars won't win."
"I'm telling you," said Max, "the Bulldogs are going all the way."
"Never going to happen," Terry proclaimed.
Suddenly, a black figure sprung up in front of them. Dana screamed and Max gave out a yelp. Terry yelled at both of them to run. He went the opposite direction, and Inque sped after him. "What do you want?" Terry asked.
Inque gave no reply, but whipped an arm at Terry's face. Gunk went all over his eyes. Terry tried to claw it off, but it refused to budge. Instead, it settled down over his eyes. He couldn't see!
He heard rushed footsteps around him, and Dana's voice. "Are you alright?" she asked in a worried tone. Terry gave no answer. His world had turned dark.
Terry sat patiently in the chair as Wayne performed his tests. "How do I look?" Terry asked when he was done.
"Whatever it is," Wayne said, "it's bonded to your eyeballs, completely covering them. It's blocking any light from coming through."
There was a silence broken only by the tapping of computer keys. "You're sure it was Inque?" Wayne asked.
"Yes," said Terry. "Don't you believe me?"
"It doesn't look like her," Wayne replied. "The chemical makeup is different from the one in my files. Most importantly, it doesn't dissolve in water."
"So how do I get it off?"
"I'll start working on that right away. In the meantime, we need to figure out why Inque was going after you."
Wayne was interrupted by a beep from the computer. He pushed a button. "Yes?" he asked.
"Bruce, is Terry there?" Commissioner Gordon's voice said.
"I'm here," Terry said. "What do you need?"
"There's a video message that was sent to me," Gordon explained. "Blight wants you to come to the old Gotham Nuclear Power Plant at midnight tonight, or else he's going to blow up the whole place."
"He's not one for beating around the bush," Wayne commented.
"Just thought you would want to know," Gordon said.
"Thank you," Wayne said, and ended the call.
"He knows," Terry said.
Wayne was silent. "We can't be sure," he finally said.
"He and Inque are working together," Terry continued. "Blight made that open challenge because he knows I'm blind."
"How would Blight know who you are?" Wayne asked.
Terry tried to hide a cringe. He remembered what he had said to Blight the last time they had met. "Don't ask me," he said. "The important thing is I have to go."
"You can't be serious," Wayne said.
"We can't let him do this," Terry said.
"But you're blind," Wayne reasoned.
"Remember the time when I fought Spellbinder," Terry said. "You used the vidlink and told me what was there. You can do the same thing again."
There was a long silence. Finally, Wayne spoke. "Will you need help getting into your costume?"
"That won't be necessary," Terry said sharply.
Batman dropped out of the Batmobile. "The door is right in front of you," Wayne said in his ear.
"Thanks," Batman said sarcastically.
"You're the one who suggested this idea," Wayne said.
"Don't remind me. Let's get this over with."
He held his arm out and walked forward until he reached the door. After a moment of searching, he pressed the open button and walked inside.
Inside, everything was quiet. The building also smelled musty. That was all he could tell. "See anything?" he asked.
"Just a big room," said Wayne. "Keep moving."
Batman ventured a bit further, then tripped over something lying on the floor. He landed smack on his face.
"Nice move, Batman," a voice said. "Or should I say, Terry."
"Blight," Batman said, looking up.
"I'm over here," Blight said.
Batman turned his head to the left. "Sorry."
"You know, Terry," Blight said, "that you are completely helpless right now. I'm surprised you decided to come. Although, I knew you wouldn't let any harm befall your precious city."
"He's coming closer," Wayne whispered.
"I admit, it was hard to believe at first," Blight continued. "Imagine that Gotham's dark defender was not even in college yet. The idea seemed preposterous! But all the evidence pointed to you."
"Kick now!" Wayne said.
Batman swept out his leg and felt it connect with something. He heard a cry and a thump as Blight hit the ground. "Rush straight forward," Wayne instructed. Batman sprinted forward, ran into Blight, and flung him across the room. He heard a satisfying crash as Blight hit something.
"Block fast!" Wayne yelled.
Batman raised his arms in front of his face, blocking a strike by Inque. He quickly grabbed her appendage, brought out an electric batarang, and touched it against her. He heard her scream as the appendage grew limp and was pulled away.
"How is this possible?" Blight yelled. "I thought he was supposed to be blind!"
"I don't understand," Inque said, the confusion apparent in her voice.
"Never mind, we can address that later. Just finish him!"
"Inque's coming," Wayne warned. "Dodge to the left." Batman obeyed. "Now to the right." Batman obeyed again. "Jump!" Batman did so. "Move to your right. Wait, the left."
"This is too many instructions!" Batman whispered. He felt something cold close around his ankles. He reached to grab them but Inque's tentacles wrapped around each wrist. She lifted him up and slammed him against the wall, then wrapped an extension around his throat. Batman struggled to breathe.
"Let him go," Blight said.
"What?" Inque asked. "In our moment of triumph?" Batman continued to fight for air.
"Let him go," Blight repeated. "He's mine."
"Like I care," Inque responded. She let out a cry as Blight sent radioactive energy streaming through her and into Batman. Both collapsed to the floor, Batman gasping for breath.
"You double-crosser," Inque said in a weak voice. "I thought you said you'd never lie to me."
"Well," said Blight, "that was a lie." Batman heard Inque scream. The sound faded away.
"Blight just blasted Inque across the room," Wayne said.
"Thanks for the update," Batman replied. The air grew warm around him, and a hand clamped around his throat and lifted him up. Batman kicked out, catching Blight in the chest. He felt the hand release his throat, then spread his wings and launched into the air.
"Duck!" Wayne ordered, and Batman narrowly missed the pipe.
One of Blight's energy balls hit him, and Batman fell to the floor. Another sizzled over his head, causing some machine behind him to explode. The room started to get warm, and he heard flames.
Suddenly, Inque wrapped a tentacle around his arms, forcing them behind his back. "You're mine, bat," she said. Batman used his thrusters to launch himself backwards, slamming Inque into a piece of machinery.
Just then, the fire reached that machine, causing it to explode. Both of them were flung across the room. Fortunately, Batman's suit was fireproof, but from the sound of Inque's screams, she wasn't. "Is she okay?" he asked Wayne.
"Inque caught on fire," Wayne said, "and is losing." Inque's scream gradually grew softer and softer, until it quit altogether.
The room became silent, except for the rustle of the flames. Then, Batman felt the goo on his eyes move. It pulled away and slid down his face, exposing his eyes to light again. "I can see now!" Batman exclaimed.
"Whoop-tee-do," Blight said, and barreled Batman with a radiation blast. He flew across the room and rolled on the ground. He looked up and saw Blight charging, but didn't have time to dodge the second blast. He crashed through the wall and onto the sidewalk.
Gingerly he picked himself up. Blight climbed through the hole in the wall and slowly stepped towards Batman. "This is it," Blight said. "Now you die."
Suddenly, a spotlight focused on Blight. He shielded his eyes and looked at the police vehicle hovering above him. Several more cars came around the corner and stopped to let out troops. They focused their guns on Blight. "Don't move," Commissioner Gordon shouted, "or we'll be forced to shoot."
Blight let out an angry yell and fired a blast of radiation at the spotlight. The vehicle shuddered and plummeted to the ground in front of the police, blocking their view of Blight. He started to run away, but Batman threw bolas around his legs, making him tumble to the ground.
He uttered a low laugh and burned through the ropes holding him. "You fool," he said, voice still low. "What can you possibly hope to do against me?"
"This," Batman said, and threw an electric batarang at Blight. He screamed as the electricity flowed through his body. Using all his strength, he grabbed the batarang and flung it away. Then he collapsed on his knees, breathing heavily.
The police came and tossed a radiation-containment net over Blight. Batman started to leave, but Blight called after him. "It's not over yet," Blight struggled to say. "I still know who you are."
Batman gave him a look of disbelief. "Oh, really," he said. "And who do you think I am?"
"Don't act stupid," Blight shot. "You're really Terry McGinnis."
Batman lifted his eyebrow. "Who?"
Blight glared at Batman. "Don't do this to me. I know it's you!"
"Because I killed your father. You said so."
"I'm afraid you're wrong, but thanks for confessing to the murder. I'm sure the police will love to get that matter cleaned up."
Blight processed what had just happened, then flung himself against the net in a violent rage. "I know it's you! You're lying!"
Batman just shook his head sadly and flew off. Blight yelled after him, the shout echoing into the night.
Batman stepped out of the Batmobile and into the Batcave. He took off his mask and wiped the Inque residue off his face. "Do you think it's worth keeping?" Terry asked, walking over to Wayne.
"Is it still responsive?" Wayne asked, turning in his chair.
Terry wiped the goo onto a slide and watched it. It did nothing. "No."
"That's all of Inque that's left, then," Wayne said.
"Hardly seems enough to do any damage."
"Don't be too sure. We should probably keep it anyway."
Terry obeyed and put it in a small tube. He walked over to Wayne, but accidentally tripped. The tube flew out off his hands and rolled away. It reached the edge of the cliff and fell over. Terry rushed after it, but he couldn't see anything in the darkness. "Sorry," he said.
Wayne grumbled. "The ocean's down there," he said. "The currents should take it out into the open sea. Hopefully no one will find it." He turned back to his work, and Terry took one last look down before getting up to join him.
Blight sat in his cell, staring at the walls. Special walls, able to absorb any radiation blasts he tried against it. A guard walked past, taking one look into the cell before moving on.
The guard returned to the control room at sat beside his partner. One of the security cameras showed their radioactive prisoner. "So, has he moved yet?" the guard asked.
"Not even a flinch," the other said. "I wonder what he's thinking about." He paused and sat back in his chair. "You know, it's the prisoners who don't talk that scare me. You never know what they may be obsessing about."
"Well, it's not going to do him any good," the first said. "He won't be leaving for a long while."
Blight sat in his cell, oblivious to what other people were saying about him. Only one thought crossed his mind.
Go here to see a drawing inspired by this story!
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