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Terry leaned forward in the chair before the Batcomputer, his elbows resting on the desk. Ace lay on the floor beside him. Upstairs, the police were wrapping up their search of the mansion. Commissioner Gordon was standing next to him, giving him the results of the search.
He'd always feared that someday Wayne would be kidnapped. It came with being a billionaire. However, he'd never figure it would happen this soon, and with such a disturbing lack of evidence.
"No sign of a struggle," Gordon said. "No fingerprints, no missing objects, nothing out of place. The only helpful thing we found was that his evening medication was gone. Therefore, we can assume that he was taken sometime tonight.
"Of course," Gordon added, looking around the Batcave, "they didn't search this room."
Terry sighed. He had already looked around while waiting for the police to arrive. He found nothing helpful, either. It was as if Bruce had just vanished.
The only sign of foul play was that Ace had been found tied up. Terry reached down and rubbed the dog's head. "If only you could tell us what happened," he said.
Gordon put her arm on Terry's shoulder. "I'm sorry, kid," she said, "but there's not much I can do. We'll just have to hope some leads come in from somewhere."
Terry leaned back in the chair. "I just know the look-alike got him," he said. "If only there was some way I could prove it."
"Well, there isn't," Gordon replied. "Unless you can think of something we've overlooked."
Terry stared off into space and tried to think of something. What had they overlooked? What had they forgotten to take into account?
Then he realized just where he was looking. And he knew how to find out who did it.
He sat up and started rapidly pushing buttons on the keyboard. Gordon was startled by his sudden action. "What is it?" she asked.
"Security cameras," Terry answered. "We recently installed a camera system to detect if anyone unauthorized entered the Batcave. I'd forgotten it was there. The sound pickups aren't working yet, but we should be able to get a visual. If I can just find where the program is…here we go."
Gordon leaned forward as the image of the Batcave from high up appeared on the screen. She could see herself and Terry on the screen. She looked up and tried to see where the camera was, but failed.
"It's disguised as a stalactite," Terry replied to her unspoken question. "Now, let's rewind a bit."
The image moved quickly in reverse. A few highlights caught the eye. Gordon sped backwards up the stairs, Terry searched around the Batcave, Terry tied up Ace and left the Batcave. Then there was a lot of empty Batcave footage.
Gordon briefly glanced at Terry. His eyes were fixed on the screen in an intense gaze. Gordon turned back to the rewinding image and watched the time signature turn back. It showed eleven o'clock, then ten…
There was a flurry of activity on the screen. Terry quickly stopped and started playback. He and Gordon leaned closer to the screen to see what happened.
Wayne was working on the Batcomputer. Terry noticed that he was looking at a website dedicated to the old Batman. He logged this away in the back of his mind and continued watching the video with intense interest.
On the screen, Ace became agitated. He started barking at the Batmobile access tunnel. Wayne turned and an expression of surprise crossed his face. He made a signal to Ace and the dog ran toward the intruder, but bolas flew across the screen and tied up his legs. Ace fell to the ground, still barking like mad.
A dark figure appeared. It crossed over and sprayed a gas in Ace's face, making him unconscious. Then the dark figure quickly put a muzzle on the dog.
By now, Wayne had gotten up and was approaching the intruder, wielding his cane as a weapon. He spoke some words to the intruder, and there was a short conversation between the two. Then Wayne moved to attack, and the dark figure threw a gas bomb at him, making him pass out. The intruder picked Wayne up, slung him over his shoulder, and turned to leave, spending a little time to admire the Batcave. Then he shook his head and left.
In that short time, they could clearly see the intruder, the kidnapper.
"I knew it!" Terry exclaimed.
It was the Batman look-alike.
Wayne groggily came to. His eyes were closed, and he felt no pressing reason to open them. With his ears, he observed the space around him. The only sounds were the steady hum of idle machinery and the sound of someone typing at a keyboard. Due to a slight echo he heard, it seemed like he was in a large room. Probably a warehouse, because they usually never came up with anything else.
He carefully moved his hands. As he expected, they were tied behind his back. Pulling on the ropes, he found that they were tied to something else. A further exploration using his hands showed that he was tied to a pipe running along a wall.
Finally, he decided to open his eyes. He did so slowly, and found that he was indeed in an old warehouse. Directly before him were a couple tables with various Batman-equipment on them. In another corner lay massive, curious machinery. One machine looked like a supercomputer, and another was a man-sized pod with wires and tubes connecting to it. Several large crates were at the far end of the building, and it looked like they had biohazard warnings on them. The rest of the building was empty.
Wayne groaned and got to his feet, the rope sliding up the pipe. This aroused the attention of the man working at a computer terminal. The Batman look-alike rose and crossed the room to stand face to face with Wayne.
"What do you want from me?" Wayne asked. "Money? You won't get it."
"Oh, no," the look-alike responded. "I want something more than that, something that you've taken from the greatest man in history."
"What are you talking about?" Wayne asked coldly.
"The honor of Batman!" the look-alike shouted. "He was once the most talented superhero, but now you and that boy have stained his reputation."
"You're crazy," Wayne said softly. "I'm-"
"Don't you start," the look-alike said, slapping Wayne across the face. "You rich people sicken me. Did you think that just because you have a lot of money, you can go and bring back one of the most revered crime-fighters? Nobody asked you to! Batman put away the cape and cowl twenty years ago, and we respect his decision. He deserves to rest in peace. But you seem to think that you can do whatever you want. Have you no shame?"
"You've got it all wrong," Wayne protested.
"I think not." The look-alike turned his back and walked over to a table.
"Who are you?" Wayne asked. "And what gives you the right to be Batman?"
The look-alike turned and spoke solemnly. "I have not returned to take over his job of fighting crime. I am merely defending his honor." He turned back and picked something up. "I besides, I love him."
"You love…" Wayne trailed off in shock.
"That's enough," the look-alike said, walking back over. "It's time to bring the boy here. Then this insanity of the 'Tomorrow Knight' can be settled." He stuck the syringe of tranquilizer into Wayne's arm and watched as he drifted back into sleep.
Commissioner Gordon prepared to leave. "I'll issue a bulletin for his arrest," she said, pointing to the frozen image of the Batman look-alike. "Right now, I'll return to headquarters. Call me if you find anything else."
"I will," Terry replied, and watched her leave. He turned back to the screen and stared at the look-alike's face. Then he rubbed his eyes and turned away. How had the look-alike found the Batcave? It was possible that he knew who Batman was, but that didn't seem very likely. However, the only other way he could have found the cave was to have…
A thought struck Terry. He stood up, walked over to the Batmobile, and started searching every inch of the vehicle. He groaned when he found the bat tracer stuck to it. It must have been planted there while he was unconscious last night. He pulled it off and held it in his hand. Planting a tracer was the most basic Batman maneuver, and he had fallen for it. He threw the tracer on the ground and stomped hard on it, crushing the electronics.
A noise alerted him. Ace ran up to Terry and started barking at the Batmobile access tunnel. Terry could see a dark figure approaching. From the cape and pointed ears, he knew who it was.
"Get him," Terry ordered.
Ace ran and jumped at the look-alike. "Stupid mutt," the look-alike said, and swung his fist sideways. He hit Ace on the head and sent him crashing into a glass case.
Terry was running to put on the batsuit and felt a rope snake around his legs. He fell to the ground and turned to see the look-alike throw a gas bomb at him. He held his breath as green mist exploded around him.
"Soon it will all be over," the look-alike proclaimed. "Batman's spirit will finally go back to rest."
Terry sprang to his feet and launched himself at the Batman, taking him by surprise and knocking him to the ground. The batrope fell from his hands. "You need to see a psychiatrist," Terry said. In response, the look-alike punched him in the stomach and shoved him off.
"Look around you," Terry said. "Look at all the Batman stuff. What does that tell you?"
"Wayne was a fan of Batman," the look-alike answered. "Had he not stepped over the line, I would have liked to be his friend."
Terry shook his head. "You just don't get it."
"That's what you keep on telling me," the look-alike said.
The Batman look-alike threw a batarang at Terry's head. He tried to dodge, but his legs were still tied up and he lost his balance, tumbling to the floor. He looked up just in time to see the look-alike prepare to throw another one.
There was a gunshot. The Batman let out a yell and grabbed his left arm. Terry could see blood dripping from the wound. He looked up at the stairs and saw Gordon standing there, holding her gun steadily.
"Put your hands over your head," she ordered.
The look-alike seemed ready to comply, then suddenly pulled out a smoke bomb and threw it to the floor. Gordon shot again, but the smoke blocked her vision. The Batman ran away towards the tunnel. Terry quickly tried to untie himself, while Gordon ran past him in pursuit. However, she was too late to stop him from swinging away out of sight.
Terry finally freed himself and joined Gordon at the mouth of the tunnel. "Where'd he go?" he asked urgently.
"It's no use," Gordon replied. "He's gone now." She walked back into the cave.
Terry refused to give up. "We can't let him get away!" he protested.
"He didn't," she said, looking down at the small puddle of blood on the floor.
The Batman look-alike entered his hideout, his arm hurting like hell. No vital arteries had been hit, but it would need some attention. As he walked over to the first-aid kit, he wondered if the real Batman had ever been hurt.
He turned to look at the sleeping Wayne and cursed him for causing all this trouble. Then his thoughts turned to Commissioner Gordon. What was she doing at the Batcave? Was this evidence of a government conspiracy? His thoughts spun in circles as he dressed his wound.
Gordon carefully dabbed the small puddle of blood with a cotton swab. Then she tapped it on the glass slide, leaving a few drops of blood on it. She cautiously picked it up and inserted it into the appropriate compartment in the Batcomputer. Then she started up the DNA-ID program.
In a couple seconds, a diagram of the DNA appeared on the screen. Gordon didn't know what all the colors and labels meant, but she didn't have to. Instead, she plugged the DNA sequence into the DNA database search program. Then she sat back and waited for what happened.
"If he's from the US," she told Terry, "we'll find a match."
"He'd have to be," Terry replied. "In fact, if he loves Batman this much, he'd probably live around Gotham."
"Probably," Gordon said as the computer beeped. She turned to the screen and widened her eyes in surprise.
"No match?" Terry asked in disbelief.
"No match," she repeated.
"But I thought everyone had to register their DNA."
"They do," Gordon replied, a thoughtful expression on her face.
"So how come this guy isn't in the database?"
"He could have sneaked into the country illegally," Gordon speculated.
"But he couldn't get a job without ID."
"Then he doesn't have a job."
"Where would he find a place to live?"
"A homeless shelter, maybe?"
Terry shook his head. "How could a homeless guy make his own batsuit?"
Gordon frowned. "Maybe he's working with somebody."
Gordon's phone rang. She took it out and put it to her ear. "Gordon here…you don't say…I'll be right there." She ended the call, put the phone back in her pocket, and immediately started to leave.
"Who was that?" Terry asked.
"Police headquarters," Gordon answered. "They got an anonymous call giving information on where to find Kobra tonight. If this is true, then we may have a big break on stopping their operations."
"Good luck," Terry said as she quickly left the Batcave.
He sat down in the chair and looked up at the computer screen. The DNA lead had gone flat. What else could he try?
He groaned and rubbed his eyes. He had to look at the facts. A guy wearing an exact replica of the old batsuit and wielding the same old bat-weapons bursts onto the scene raving about how Terry was wrong and the old Batman was rolling over in his grave or something. His DNA is not in the database, suggesting that he's a homeless immigrant who's evaded the system. However, a homeless man would never get the money to make a batsuit replica, suggesting that someone else must have built it for him.
Terry frowned. Something was bothering him. He couldn't put his finger on it. He sighed and sat back in his chair. Okay, the facts again: a guy wearing an exact replica of the old batsuit…
Terry paused. How did he get an exact replica anyway? It would take detailed knowledge of Batman, and there wasn't anyplace you could go to look that up. No, wait! There was!
Terry's fingers flew across the keyboard as he accessed the Net and started looking around through the old Batman sites. He knew it was here somewhere…aha!
He sat back and looked at the site. There it was: "Complete listing of all Batman weapons and tools." He excitedly clicked through the list. There were pictures of every Bat-weapon he could think of, all from the personal collection of the operator of the website. Here was enough information to outfit your own Batman.
Except that there wasn't enough. As Terry thought about it, he realized that these were only pictures. The more complicated devices, like the electronic lock-scrambler, couldn't be built from pictures alone. You would need to have diagrams and blueprints to do that. There wasn't complete enough information here.
Then another thought hit him. There were pictures…that meant that whoever this was had actually had the devices in his possession. From there you could take them apart and build copies.
This meant that the Batman look-alike probably had some connection with whoever was running this website.
Terry excitedly started the Net-trace program to see who maintained that website. A profile for a Robert Mullins came up on the screen. Terry quickly glanced at it. Mullins was forty-five years old, unmarried and had no kids. He had graduated from Gotham University in the top five of his class. Until recently, he had worked his whole career as a computer programmer at Gotham Computer Solutions. Terry was pleased to see that Mullins lived in Gotham City. That would make him easy to check up on.
This was the only major lead he had. Terry quickly jumped out of his chair and ran to put on his batsuit.
The Batmobile landed on the roof of Gotham Apartment Complex #17. It seemed like a respectable place, not like some slums he'd seen. Terry downloaded building schematics into his suit visor and exited the Batmobile. He clung to the building and followed the holographic image of the building projected on his eyes to locate room 12B.
The window was dark. Terry turned on his camouflage and peeked inside. He could see the empty bedroom, the bed neatly made. There was no light on inside. Terry pressed his finger-mikes against the glass and got no reading. The apartment was empty and silent, perfect for searching.
Terry opened the window and entered the apartment. All was quiet inside. Terry turned off his camouflage and took a step, then stopped short. "Whoa," he said as he looked around. The walls were covered with pictures and newsclippings, all about the old Batman! Terry glanced at them as he walked along. There were photographs, newspaper headlines, and even a couple artists' renderings of the Dark Knight. This place was an old Batman museum!
There was just one picture of somebody other than Batman. There was a framed picture on the dresser. Terry picked it up and looked at it. It showed a man in his forties, with very red hair. This must be Mullins, Terry thought.
Terry moved on into the kitchen. The pictures didn't even stop here. Every available surface was dedicated to Batman. "This guy had a serious obsession about Bruce," Terry commented to himself. He opened the fridge and found that it was empty. All the cupboards were bare, too. Somebody had cleaned this place out.
Terry was about to move on when a sound alerted him. It sounded like the front door was opening. Terry quickly turned his camouflage back on and went to see who it was.
It was dark in the living room. Terry couldn't make out who it was, but he seemed to be searching for something. The man was quickly moving along the walls, checking all the photos, ripping some off to get a better look, then tossing them to the floor.
Then he moved into the moonlight from the window, and Terry saw clearly who it was.
It was a member of Kobra.
|Part I<--||Back to Batman Beyond||-->Part III|
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Batman Beyond and all related characters are the property of someone else. This is a work of fanfiction and no copyright infringement was intended. The Batman look-alike is my own creation.