Netherith's character journal as he ventures through the DC Online Universe.
It began with a storm.
Not the usual storm of rain and thunder but what could only be described as a thick cloud of microscopic exobytes of unknown origin. It has been said that they spread from a point of origin around or near North America, from there the cloud spread rapidly from its point of origin.
Reports following the occurrence spoke of new metahumans in North America that were previously uncatalogued, as if only able to exhibit their powers after the cloud had appeared; or perhaps their powers were caused by the cloud.
The “contagion” spread from North America, with the European populace exhibiting similar symptoms days later before Australians, too, began exhibiting new meta-physical powers a week after North America’s reports began.
In the midst of experiencing state-wide floods, the pandemic couldn’t have happened at a more opportune time. Suddenly people were able to fly and uplift trees, boulders and upturned vehicles. But for every power that was used to help others, another was used for selfish gain and sometimes vengeance for the destruction of their homes caused by the flood disaster.
While the original meta humans in the respected regions, the ones who had powers before the storm, attempted to control and console these new “heroes” and “villains”, North America has been sending calls for assistance that, so far, have been readily answered by both Europe and Australia. Answered by personages on both sides of the law.
I, too, have received the call to travel to the United States. A call sent by none other than the Justice League itself. Although I am loathe to leave Australia, the local heroes have requested that I follow along after the “Australian Contingent” of new heroes and villains to keep an eye on them.
While the call also specified Metropolis, I chose Gotham City as my base of operations. The city’s ‘per capita’ populace should at least keep me entertained while I watch over my countrymen. And there is something else, the urban legend of the Batman that I am interested in discerning for myself…
A twenty-hour trip awaits me on plane. Although I can fly I chose to remain inconspicuous.
Although with the influx of new metas it would be easy to explain my hidden talents as a by-product of the exobytes. I will keep a database of my findings; files on heroes and villains as I encounter them, locations and events as well. At the very least it should be useful for others around the world should they wish to also answer the call and become “the next legend”.
I don’t remember much of the plane trip, when I woke up I was on board what I would be later told was a “Harvester Ship” affiliated with Brainiac.
I, amongst others, had apparently been locked, unconscious, inside of some kind of storage chamber. I remember four other such chambers in the room I had been released into; some kind of prison facility onboard the ship.
I had been freed by a woman (Artificial Intelligence?) whose voice guided me through the ship via the communications gear in my cowl (which I was oddly wearing even though I do not remembering donning it), offering instructions that ultimately assisted in my escape. To escape I had shut down the ship’s shields, which lead to the arrival of Superman, who had been called by this “Oracle”.
While the kryptonian entered the ship, I was instructed to leave it. Which I did via the newly unlocked teleporters. Following my departure the Harvester Ship was apparently destroyed and I was credited for its destruction.
The teleporter sent me to the Gotham City Police Headquarters, East End precinct.
Strange place for a police station, looks like they have already seen a lot of action judging by the impact craters on the walls.
In retrospect I suppose this should have been expected, North America had been under siege by Brainiac for the past weeks, with little sign of impending victor. Are the nanobytes a by product of this conflict? Are they of Brainiac origin or from another source. Either way I think I should rest a bit before finding out.
Ended up sleeping in the Police station. The place is outfitted like a barracks for war, with newly-powered heroes and police officials alike entering and exiting the establishment in various rushes. Specialized computers line the wall of one room along with two holographic displays and a teleporter that is said to lead to some kind of Watchtower out in space.
Other rooms are typical of a Police Department; holding cells, receptions, hallways, computer desks and research stations, although these, too, seem to be designed to fight some kind of ongoing war.
A war that announces itself via the sound of battle outside.
The first time I exited the station to see outside I was confronted by a pair of armoured robotic guards, standing over the entrance presumably as a type of last defence if the war ever reach the station’s doorstep. Which it once did. At one stage Brainiac’s land forces had made it as close as invading and adjacent street bordering the station. The Gotham Police used their own cars as a barricade and fought the invasion off. I am told that Brainiac’s forces still make attempts on that street; only this time the GCPD are reinforced by their own army of new super-powered heroes. Needless to say, I’m not getting much sleep. The state of this place is a far cry from Australia.
A partial answer to the question over the existence of the Batman arrived in three forms tonight; Robin, Nightwing and the Batwoman.
These three members of the “Bat Family” enter and leave the precinct frequently. With Nightwing on occasion bringing in captured crooks and misbehaving super-heroes. Robin seems to be talking to the city’s police commissioner, Commissioner James Gordon, a lot while Batwoman does her own thing. Not quite sure how she fights people in those high heels though.
Brainiac’s invasion forces made another push for the precinct tonight.
After pushing them back, myself and some other heroes were contacted by Oracle to clear some single devices that Brainiac had installed to interrupt her transmissions. It was a busy night.
I must have made an impression because the following night I was called to embark further from the precinct; this time to actively engage a rival force in this city-wide battle. Led by a professor Crane, better known as the Scarecrow; a professor who dresses as a scarecrow and is obsessed with inflicting fear through chemical influence.
Crane’s gang has been establishing fog and wind generators throughout north East End, blanketing the area in fear gas. While the GCPD has sent out hasmat officers and the like in an attempt to quell the chaos, support for these teams are cut slim, however, due to the multiple battle fronts across the city.
After clearing a construction building of gang members, myself and a group of heroes were orchestrated to support two hasmat teams in two separate street locations, one of which was Crime Alley, an infamous alleyway where two Wayne Family members had been murdered.
Following this we were called to dispel an attack on the East End Free Clinic, where we encountered the pleasant personality of Detective Harvey Bullock.
And then a call from the Batman himself, to find and assist Batwoman who had gone after Crane on her own and lost contact with her team. Entering the East End sewers wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I boarded that plane to America, but then a lot has occurred that I haven’t anticipated. I need to get ahead of these events soon. Myself and a small group of heroes entered the sewers to Batwoman’s last recorded location and encountered a trap. Dosed with fear gas, we encountered Crane’s gang members, however, with Oracle’s instructions we prevailed and managed to locate Crane’s lair and revive Batwoman, who had suffered a similar trap. Defeating and capturing Crane myself and the heroes returned to the East End precinct with Batwoman’s thanks. I took an opportunity to explore the city tonight. I soon wished I hadn’t.
The sheer scale of the destruction and chaos that this city is under is impossible to fathom. I’ve heard that Metropolis, who was facing attacks from both meta and magic factions, is no-where near as distressed as this.
The area I ventured toward was the Old Gotham district. Its buildings were most prominent to me since I arrived and saw the Gotham skyline, largely as they were all “bottled” by Brainiac. Entire blocks of skyscrapers and apartment buildings contained within blue transparent force fields, cut off from the outside by the field’s sheer impenetrability. Looking in I could see the fallen bodies of those who were caught inside when the “bottles” fell, gassed into unconsciousness to be studied like nameless animals at a later date.
Looking over Brainiac’s file, I had learned that he would encase, scan and miniaturize items that he wished to preserve before destroying a planet in his bid for scientific knowledge. In Gotham he had encased the entire Old Gotham and Gotham Chinatown districts. His forces patrolled the streets in strengths that were beyond me and I soon had to return to the still populated, still “free” districts.
Nearly half of Gotham had been taken, with the remaining half being consumed by battles between various rogue armies, the police and Batman’s own fledging forces. I had managed to find my way to the Burnley Freight Yards before I had to stop. Hankering down amongst the cranes I watched as Gotham police forces and members of the Gotham crime families battled each other. At times I believed I caught sight and sound of the Huntress; another member of Batman’s group, dealing with the Mafiosi.
I remained up there for a long while. Watching the battle from above or listening in to the communication channels that were active in the yard.
I was dumbstruck as to what I should be doing here. I guess the events of the past few weeks had caught up with me. I had been kidnapped from a civilian plane on board an alien vessel. Only escaping with the help of a computerized voice whom I didn’t even know was real person or an A.I. (I had suspicions that the voice belonged to a real person, there was no way an A.I. could come up with some of the bad jokes this “Oracle” was spouting).
Saved by Superman, I was deposited here in this city where I spent my time sleeping in a corner of a police station-turned-war shelter and acting on call as a grunt for a heroic legend in some hopeless war.
I had forgotten why I had even come here, to this country. I had been asked to watch over the embarking new heroes and villains from Australia, however, I wasn’t even sure if any had survived to make it here. Perhaps they were in Metropolis? Safe with Superman and the Amazonian Wonder Woman leading the battle. So what am I doing here?
It was a call on the communication channels that knocked me out of my thoughts. Huntress had been defeated, beaten down by a surprise appearance by some new villains. Ambulance crews were reporting their arrival on scene to retrieve her and I, operating automatically, immediately sought out these crews and watched from above as they carted the Huntress, in uniform, on a stretcher into the back of one of the ambulances. As they drove away from the Freight Yards under Police cover I followed and managed to enter alongside them, albeit secretly, as they deposited her at a safe house for medical care.
This…safe house…looked more like a medical wing from a war movie. Huntress was placed amongst dozens of stretchers and beds occupied by ill and injured; cops, heroes, civilians, as curtains were pulled around Huntress’ bed and the doctors and nurses attending to her, I briefly walked the safe house and then opted to simply stand in a shadowy corner, observing long after the medical staff moved on to their next patients. The scene before me reminded me of what Sydney was like after Black Adam hit it in his vengeance about a year ago, the incident that was dubbed “World War Three”, only this scene had more of a World War Two feel. Particularly with the location’s brick walls, constant flow of both fighting men and wounded, the notable and disturbing low amount of food, water and power; it was if I was witnessing Jewish refugees, cowering with a mix of fear, dread and pain-filled despair from Germany’s Nazi regime.
I blinked at that realization because of how close to actuality this comparison really was, although instead of the Jews against the Nazis, it was the citizens of Earth against Brainiac and his allies.
When I had followed the Huntress here I was hoping to find out why she was still fighting. Selfishly asking her while she was at her weakest why she hadn’t packed up and moved city, but then I realized. Moving city wouldn’t stop this. After consuming Gotham it would simply spread, taking Metropolis, New York, Washington, L.A., and then London, Japan, China, and Australia…It would spread, unless it was stopped here.
It was an hour after midnight when I saw who I would later know as the Batman. At the time I didn’t know him, only watched as he pretty much glided, his body hidden within a black cape, across the safe house to the Huntress’ curtained-off bed. Suspicious, I approached as he disappeared behind those curtains and emerged again a few moments later.
I eyed him as he turned to regard me. He was physically much older than myself, more “buff” as well, and he commanded a power that almost made me feel like I was facing something supernaturally powerful, something strong. I literally had to fight the urge to bow.
“She’ll be fine.” He said after a moment, partially interpreting my reason for being here. He then moved passed me, heading back the way he came but momentarily stopped to look back at me again with a glance before turning fully and handing me a pouch.
Within it was a collection of small, throwing weapons carved into the silhouette of bats.
“Don’t let the bad guys win.”
He was long gone but his words remained echoing in my head. The words were so simplistic it was like they had been moulded so that even a child could understand them. “Don’t let the bad guys win.”
Because if they did…
I looked around the room again, at the refuges of this war; of the victims and the wounded, the suffering of innocents. I looked at the curtained bed where the Huntress lay, healing but for now defeated; the fall and death of heroes, of good people. This scene would be repeated in Australia if Brainiac was allowed to win here, or worse, Australia would be destroyed, along with the rest of the planet, if he was allowed to take Gotham.
I had found my purpose. A reason to fight.
Much like the ANZACs in World War Two the forces of good had drawn a line in Gotham. A line where they would stand against the tide until either the tide fell or they did. It was a noble cause, and a necessary cause.
The communicator in my cowl chirruped. A group run by a drug lord named Bane was attacking Gotham’s Mafiosi in East End. I took a deep breath, turned, and headed back outside. Back to join the war and to hold the line. Because I can’t let the bad guys win.