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DC Futures Fan Fiction focuses on the future of the DC Universe. Characters in DCF are often the descendents and proteges of the modern-day DC characters, but they are original creations of the authors.

The three previous installments of "Squad Run"
can be found in the Fanzing Archives, in issues 9, 10 and 12.

NorAm: Outside Gotham City
Stately Wayne Manor

Eve Tresser felt herself cave in to the presence and charisma of Tim Drake. They sat on the sofa in his den, arms entwined, kissing with a passion she had rarely ever felt. Ollie at his best approached this level of intensity; Nathaniel Adam wasn't even in the same league. The fireworks show flashing before her closed eyes was suddenly interrupted by sound accompaniment. An alarm bell ringing through the mansion.

Tim Drake's eyes snapped open. He pulled away from the disoriented Eve, snapping, "Alfred?"

"Master Tim! Thank Heaven you've rejoined us," said the artificial intelligence that maintained housekeeping and security for the mansion. "Please get to Mr. Carter's room as soon as you're able!" If a computer could fret, Alfred was fretting.

Tim sprinted up the master staircase with an Olympic runner's speed and agility, Eve on his heels. He reached the door to Michael Carter's room, freezing in mid-step. Eve closed in behind him and gasped at the sight of a tall, powerfully built man with graying hair and glasses, standing over an unconscious Mercury. The man held Mercury dangling by his shirt with his left hand, clenching his right hand, the size of a ham or a football, in a fist.

Behind them, a hospital bed, with the TwenCen hero Booster Gold lying still under white sheets. His eyes were closed; his face was peaceful. And his life support was turned off.

"He killed him," Clark Kent said quietly, tears streaming down his face. "He killed him."

Suicide Squad: DCF #12
"Squad Run, Part 4"
Written by Jason Tippitt
Directed by Erik Burnham

BATMAN: DCF created by Erik Burnham
SUICIDE SQUAD: DCF created by Jason Tippitt

San Juan, Puerto Rico:

Johann Carver and Charmaine Doyle stood on the roof of a skyscraper a mile and a half away from the Justice League Embassy. The girl's arms were crossed in a look of impatience, and she tapped her foot while he peered through the targeting scope built into his helmet. "C'mon, Johann, how long's this gonna take?"

"The whole time," he replied sarcastically. "But I promise you it won't last any longer than that."

She pointed out towards the ocean. "Miles and miles of coastline, and I could be out there swimming or working on my tan!" she said. "Here I am, though, stuck up on a rooftop with a guy who can't even settle on a hero name."

"You miss it, don't you?" he asked, grinning underneath the helmet.

"No, not one bit," she said. "This isn't what I get paid for, anyway."

"Aw, come on," Carver said. "You send Abby a Warriors postcard every week. Now, when we were in there a few weeks ago, I didn't see a big bulk-rate box of assorted cards. And you only bought a couple when we were there. That would seem to imply that you've been back a time or two." (* They went there with Mercury, and she met Warrior, back in #7, the "False Prophets" epilogue -- Tippitt)

"They have good fries!" Charmaine said. "And, um, we shoot a lot of pictures in that neighborhood."

"And the owner's a superhero," Carver said. "Admit it: you miss the life. You hang out there listening to war stories since you're off the front lines."

All she could come up with in defense was a cranky, "Bite me" as photon armor materialized around her body and over her face.

"Can't," he said, picking up a rocket launcher he'd talked Manhunter out of on the way down. "You're way too young for me."

Wayne Manor:

"Slow down," Tim said, stepping between Clark and Eve. "And let go of the guy's shirt, for God's sake, you look like a kid with a Raggedy Ann doll." He turned to face Clark. "How much did you see and hear?"

"I heard B -- Mr. Carter yelling 'Help me!' as loud as he could muster," the big man said. "I came in the door, and this maniac was turning off his life support."

"Maybe that was help," Eve said quietly. "What was wrong with the man? Cancer? AIDS? I mean, it's obviously not hyper-contagious, if he was being treated here, but this level of treatment wouldn't be given to the common cold."

The men looked at each other, neither one sure what he should say, both afraid of what the other might say. Stonewalling her seemed the best option. Shaking her head, she stepped past Tim to look at the figure on the bed. "This isn't the face of a man who was fighting very hard," she said, peering at the still figure. "One could envy that look of peace, in fact."

"Alfred, what do you make of this?" Tim asked through clenched teeth.

"Well, Master Tim… accessing… perhaps I should simply play you a recording?"

"A recording? What kind of place…?" Eve looked at the face of the dead man before her, suddenly recognizing his face from records of Captain Atom's past. This was Booster Gold.

"Who… who's there?" Carter's weak voice asked, across the air waves. "Tim?" A pause. "Ted? Is that you, ol'… ol' buddy?"

Eve made the connection immediately. Ted Kord was Blue Beetle, Booster's best friend in the TwenCen Justice League.

"I'm tired, Ted. It's eating me alive. I know I should fight it, but I can't anymore. I just… I just can't. Is that wrong? I never thought I'd get NSR, pal. Never ever. I mean, I was in the past! It didn't exist! But I got it anyway. And all I wanna do is go home. I want to see my family again, Ted. I can see them again, right?"

"Come on, this is enough…" Clark said. "Look, lady, I'm sorry about your friend…"

Tim kept listening. He had to know. Maybe it was the detective he hated being, but he had to know what the score was here. Whether Mercury had murdered another innocent man, or whether this was Booster's will. This was a minefield the likes of which he'd never really traversed. There were so many ways for this to go wrong.

"I know Tim meant well with all of this… all of this stuff," the recording said, "but he doesn't know. He can't know, not with who he is… nothing can hurt who he is… Nothing ever."

Eve's eyes rose up, locking onto Tim Drake's, as she figured out who he was. He saw the look in her eyes, and he knew the bomb had just gone off. He was unmasked.

"Stupid" didn't begin to describe how she felt. Tim Drake was Batman? Who would ever believe that? Then who was the man standing over Merc… oh, no.

She looked over at the man with the unruly forelock, and could picture him in the costume. The red S across his chest. He'd aged, but this was still David and Goliath, only she came without her slingshot.

"Ted, please. Help me." The voice was a whisper now. "While I can still ask, before I go to sleep again and can't do anything… please, let me go home." There was a long pause, as Eve looked back and forth at the two men. The new Batman, whom she could possibly defeat in a fight if it came to it, although after the way he beat Mercury and Nathan, she wasn't as sure as she'd like to be… and the original Superman, whom she couldn't even hope to kick before he had her locked up in a jail cell with her powers inhibited.

"Eh, I think there's been a huge mis--"

The recording cut her off. "HELP ME!" Barely audible, the click of a switch. And then, quite loud, an explosion. The door splintering into shrapnel.

"What have you done?" And a serious of thuds as the two men fought for a few seconds.

The three stood in uncomfortable silence for a full thirty seconds. Clark looked from Tim to Eve to the unconscious speedster at his feet, wondering what Nemesis might have up her sleeve. His powers were diminished, and he'd always been vulnerable to magic. If the rumors were true, she had sorceress training.

Eve looked down at Mercury, and seeing that he was breathing, looked at the two men standing before her, feeling incredibly stupid for not having figured out Batman's secret identity. The presence of the Last Son of Krypton also scared her like nothing else in the world. Being near him made one question one's every motivation and action. This was the ideal; how far removed was she? Hell, she might as well not be on the same planet. Although he was the one who left and let the UN happen, dammit…

Tim took the whole situation in and analyzed it as best he could. Maybe he'd been wrong to hook Michael Carter up to the machines. Clark seemed awfully offended by this, at least at first -- though he quickly became more accepting in demeanor once the motive was revealed. He'd spent a lot of time up here; maybe he'd thought of the same thing. Then there was the matter of Ms. Tresser… if her act downstairs was the real deal, maybe her motives were a little better than her press -- reading off JL press releases without any critical thinking at all -- made her sound.

Three people whose lives had all been building to this. Each one painfully aware of what was in themselves. Each one knowing that the next moments could literally change the course of human history. Each one unaware that Mercury's actions already had. (* See "Timequake," in this year's Batman:DCF Annual, for the scoop -- Tippitt) Each one fairly certain that if a fight erupted in the next few seconds, at least one of them wouldn't survive it.

And no one could think of a thing to say. Finally, Tim spoke up. "Let's make sure Guy gets invited to this funeral. I don't want him mistaking me for, oh, Captain Atom." He spun on his heel and stomped out of the room.

"Ms. Tresser, I'm--" Clark looked around, saw the room was empty. Probably just as well.

Puerto Rico:

Carver pointed to the building while loading a rocket. "I'm gonna blow a hole in the wall with one of these rockets. You're gonna find our guy while I'm still covering the distance. Then we're going to get out of here before the Justice League knows we're here."

"You're dreaming," she said, stretching. "Don't you know about this team's track record with prison breaks?" (* She's thinking about the fiasco in Phoenix, shown in issue #3 -- Tippitt)

"They got Mercury out of one before you ever hooked up with them," he said, sighting down the scope, letting the computerized crosshairs come together over the front door. "At least that's what the boss's records say--"

"Whoa, stop right there," Chalice said, stepping between him and the target. "You read Eve's records?"

"Part of them," he said.

"How'd you break in?" she asked. "She's got passwords out the wazoo!"

"I didn't break in," he said.

"Well, she didn't show them to you."

"Right again. You're smarter than you look, Blondie."

"How'd you get into them, then?" She crossed her arms, grinning. "Donut cracked the system."

"Nope. Danny sees all, knows all… and tells only what he wants."

"Why did he want you reading the records?"

He looked at her a moment. "You'll know why when the time comes, Charmaine. If I told you any more, it would just distract you from the mission."

"Can you at least tell me what it's about?"

"Nope." He pushed her aside with his telekinesis, and let the rocket fly. "Don't have too much fun without me, he said as it struck its target and exploded. Charmaine seemed to vanish into the breeze, flying to the base at light speed while the Squad's marksman started dismantling the launcher.

Elsewhere:

Shadows crept their way into the center of the medical bay, converging in a three-dimensional mass whose features congealed in between heartbeats as the forms of Nemesis and Mercury. She was crouched over the speedster, who lay unconscious at her feet. Eve tapped her wrist communicator. "Abby, Wally, I need you two in sickbay now."

The teens arrived within a couple of minutes. "Whoa, who the hell clocked Mercury?" Wally asked.

"Someone faster than a speeding bullet," Eve said. "Help me get him up on this table."

Eve Tresser and Wally Meyer pulled the unconscious form of Jake Russell up onto the table. He was heavier than he looked -- most speedsters' muscle tissue was unusually dense, to allow for the accelerated motion they put their bodies through. So although Mercury was a trim 5'10," he weighed over two hundred pounds.

Eve swung the mechanical arm of a diagnostic droid over his body. "Computer, check for internal injuries."

-PROCESSING-

"You were in Gotham, not Metropolis," Albatross said. "What was Superman doing there?"

"I didn't say the guy who did this was Superman," Eve said. "He's not. At least, not any more. I think."

"Heh, this is a turnaround," Wally commented.

"What?" Eve asked wearily.

The boy grinned. "You always have all the answers. And now you're acting a lot like things are out of control," he said. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you're almost being -- humble."

-ANALYSIS COMPLETE. SUBJECT: MERCURY SUFFERS MILD TRAUMA. METABOLISM IS HEALING INJURIES NORMALLY. PROGNOSIS: SUBJECT WILL AWAKEN--

The speedster let out an inarticulate grunt, moving around, interrupting the computer. He shot an accusatory glare at Eve, and signed, "Brilliant deduction, O Great Leader." He stood up, then slumped back to the bed. "On second thought, I'll rest a bit longer," he signed to Wally.

Eve walked out of the room, shoulders slumped.

"What's going on?" Abby asked.

"Maybe she's going after Captain Atom," Wally suggested.

"Maybe she's going to get a dunce cap," Mercury signed.

Puerto Rico:

Charmaine Doyle swept through the building at lower speed than she was capable of, blinding every guard she encountered with a photon blast. Maybe it wouldn't be permanent.

She'd been in here for three seconds, looking for Blok. "Just look for a statue that seems out of place," Carver had said, "like in a holding cell or somewhere not typically known for the decor."

Suddenly, she felt herself assaulted by a series of blows. The girl crashed to the ground, solidified, but with her armor still intact. She looked up to see her assailant. A tall African-American man dressed in white, a black-and-yellow jacket over his chest and a golden helmet similar to her own on top of his head. "Hello, Chalice," the man said. "It's nice to finally meet some more of the family."

Gotham City: The Knightclub

Nathaniel Adam sat at the bar, his silver hair dyed black now, ordering up another scotch and soda, mulling over this mission. This was a disaster, no two ways about it. How the hell could he have let that idiot in the bat suit goad him on like that? When he'd finally awakened from his "nap," he hadn't been able to power up.

That concerned him.

It also relieved him like you wouldn't believe.

If his powers were really and truly gone, then he'd be free from a whole lot of worry. Oh, sure, he might be more vulnerable to Justice League pursuers -- although if he went back to Danny the Street, that wouldn't be an issue. But at least he could live and die as his own man. And not have to worry about the next attack not killing him, but doing worse.

There were much worse things than death. Like losing your entire life. Like having that happen twice.

His beeper went off. He checked the number. Eve. This made twice she'd tried to contact him, and twice he'd ignored it.

Now he knew how Ollie felt.

Suddenly, a tap on the shoulder. He turned around to see Jake Russell's smiling face looking at him. He looked over Mercury's shoulder, half-expecting to see Eve standing back there. To his relief (and a little disappointment, he had to admit), she wasn't there.

"What brings you here?" Nathan asked, his voice a bit slurred.

"I came to get you," Jake said, tapping it out on the bar. "It's taken me three hours to comb this city."

"You must be getting slow in your old age."

"Severe beatings from dead guys will do that to you."

"I thought Carver was in Puerto Rico?"

"Different one. Lots of you old-timers coming out of the woodwork. I'm personally holding out on a comeback by the Leaping Lemur." Jake stood up. "Come on, the man's waiting outside to take us where we're going."

"What man?"

"Just some guy we know."

Puerto Rico:

Johann Carver swept into the building, his senses tingling. Something major was going to happen, soon, unless they acted quickly. He checked his helmet's sensor array -- graciously upgraded by one of Eve's friends, although for enough coin to feed a family for a couple of years -- and found most of the building's electrical current seemed to be heading down to his left. That would suggest that was where the holding cell would be.

This was the correct assumption. Unfortunately, this also led him away from Charmaine and her situation, not that he knew anything about it.

Blackhawk soared again, his telekinetic powers steering him down the hallways. He finally came upon a large array of non-powered guards standing between himself and a steel doorway. "You can't kill me, so don't even try," he said.

A shout in Spanish, and the guards opened fire on the oddly-dressed man before them. The deafening roar of automatic weapons filled the corridor, and Carver just stood there, bullets thumping off his flesh. Five of the men fell, hit by their own men's ricochets, four of them fatally.

Carver just looked at the men silently. They slowly, one by one, stopped firing.

"El diablo," one of the men murmured, crossing himself.

"Different guy, different ethnicity," Blackhawk answered. "You done now?"

His mind reached out for the massive door, ripping it from its hinges as easily as one might open an envelope. That's when the men deserted their post.

Carver flew into the next room, finding himself face to face with a large slab of a man. "Blok, I presume."

The alien's eyes shone brightly. "Loooooooooooo--"

"What?"

"--ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooook--"

Blok was having a hard time moving around in his cell. Or talking. Or doing much of anything, since the Justice League had taken away his anti-gravity apparatus while he wasn't being interrogated. And so it was that Carver was suddenly assaulted, bound in place, before the alien soldier could even say, "Out."

Outside the Knightclub:

Nathaniel Adam looked from the man offering them a ride in his hover back to his teammate. "Traitor," he said.

Guy Gardner smiled sadly. "Hey, c'mon, Nathan. You knew him. You deserve to be at his funeral."

"Whose funeral?" Nathan asked.

"Booster's dead," Guy said.

"Well, it's been over a hundred years," Nathan said. "Although I woulda figured 'im for taking Ambrosia."

Guy shook his head. Nathan was a smart guy -- a bit hot-headed, but smart -- but he was shaping up to be a stupid drunk. "Booster got stuck in this time period, same as us. Only he was sick. He's been living at Tim Drake's place. And he died today."

Nathan looked at Mercury. "You and Eve were there today. Wait a minute. You killed him, didn't you?"

"He was asking for it," Mercury signed. "No, literally -- he asked me to take him off life support. Kept calling me 'Ted.'"

That detail was the only thing that kept Nathan from lunging at the speedster in an attempt to strangle him before he could dodge. "Ted was his best friend," Nathan said slowly. "So where are we going?"

"Tim's having a wake," Guy said. "Just those of us who knew him." He looked over at the speedster. "And I guess Charmaine's psycho buddy here is invited, too. After all, we truly wouldn't be here today without him." Mercury looked at his shoes.

"How is Charmaine, anyway?" Nathan asked, getting into the car.

Puerto Rico:

Charmaine was in a world of pain, but she kept up her defenses. She and Photon were sword-fighting, their powers manifesting the weapons. She suddenly heard a scream from off in the distance, and she recognized the voice immediately. "Deadshot?" she asked.

Photon took advantage of her distraction, slashing her across the abdomen with his hard-light claymore. Charmaine staggered, then gave her opponent a roundhouse kick to the jaw, knocking him down.

"Bastard," she spat, gritting her teeth as she cauterized the cut. She'd have to make a point of undoing it when she was totally in her energy form again.

She went to half-power and flew down the hallways of the now-evacuated building, trying to find the ex-teammate who'd gotten her into this little family reunion.

Gotham City:

"This is all just too much," Nathan said to Gardner. "You, me, now Booster… who else is gonna come back?"

"Oh, you'll be surprised," Mercury tapped on the window. "Heh, I was."

"This should be interesting," Guy said to Mercury. "Think about it, you and I are a bit alike -- we're the ones everyone has always looked at with distrust. Now, Nathan here -- he was always seen as a bit above reproach, back in the day. Well, until Ted and Michael figured out he was just in the League as a government plant. But Nathan was always a little bit of a Boy Scout--"

"Although a Boy Scout with a temper," Mercury tapped.

"Exactly. Be interesting to see what happens when *the* Boy Scout sizes him up," Guy said.

Nathan's eyes opened wide, and a look of absolute horror crossed his face. "Oh, no, you're leading me into a trap."

"Yup, that S stands for 'Slap around the little man who blew up Lady Liberty,'" Guy said.

"I shoulda known something was up when you didn't chew me out over that," Nathan muttered. (For the story of Guy and Nathan's first 2112 meeting, read "The Best of Times" in Sudden Death #2, coming soon -- Tippitt)

"Hey, why should I chew you out?" Guy said. "I know from being misunderstood. Besides, Supes is just so damned good at the guilt trip…"

Elsewhere:

Eve Tresser sat down in her office, finally letting out the second wave of tears. She thought she'd cried herself out up on the GCPD building. Wrong.

The first time, it was for everyone and everything she'd lost. Lynx leaving and getting killed, Ollie going into the wind, Cliff killing himself, and her firing Charmaine. But it all came back to "This is what they did to me."

How utterly selfish.

This time around was over that crying before, and what it stood for. Why were people leaving? Because they couldn't stand fighting by her side. What made her that poor a leader? Why did she do something as callous as chewing Captain Atom out in the middle of a mission in front of a teammate? What made her so arrogant she overlooked something as obvious as Gotham's richest man having the most resources to be Batman?

The foot of pride pressed down on her back. And she felt absolutely miserable. Maybe it was time to start apologizing. She dried her eyes, turned on her computer.

NorAm: New Orleans
Offices of the Manhunter Agency

"You called me, you know who I am."

"Donut."

The chubby little man's hand froze over a box of cream cheese danish. "Hey, Eve, what can I do you for?"

She paused a moment, then finally answered. "Please, I need to speak to Ollie."

"Ollie's not here," he said with a nervous laugh.

"You know where he is," Eve said, voice near cracking. "Please, Donut -- tell me."

The hacker sighed. "Get a pen and pencil," he said. "And don't tell him you talked to me. I mean, he'll know anyway, but just keep up pretenses, okay? It's an address in downtown Kingston…"

Puerto Rico:

Chalice stopped at the doorway to the room, finding Carver on the floor, writhing in agony. She'd never seen him like this before; he was supposed to be invulnerable.

"Just die, damn you!" a sharp voice barked. She could tell it wasn't the statue, it was--

"RASPUTIN!" she screamed, running into the room. She looked and saw the cocky magician standing a few feet away from -- Blackhawk, Deadshot, whatever he wanted to call himself, he was in trouble. (* Rasputin brought Carver back from the dead in the Suicide Squad "False Prophets" storyline.)

"Hello, little schoolgirl," the mage said, light glittering off the inverted pentagram that hung from a gold chain around his neck. "If you're thinking of beating me senseless in an attempt to free your friend here--"

"Yeah, that's about the extent of it," Chalice said, eyes flashing hatred at the man who'd drugged her at Horatio Roberts' religious freakshow.

"--then such an effort would be wasted," Rasputin said. "I did not cast this spell."

"I did," came a softer voice. Chalice spun to see herself facing a red-haired hag, face wrinkled.

The woman grabbed Charmaine, and her teeth went for the girl's throat. Her fangs struck home, drawing blood. Beta endorphins flooded Charmaine's system, and pleasure filled her body as the life was drained from her by Anastasia, the elder mage's daughter.

Carver looked on as the sorceress grew younger in appearance and his would-be rescuer's features began to wrinkle before his very eyes. And there wasn't a damned thing he could do.

Wayne Manor:

Clark Kent straightened his tie. "Tim, are you really sure this is such a good idea?" he asked. He need not have done so; the skepticism was clear on his face.

Tim nodded slowly. "The secret's out there," he said. "The Suicide Squad knows who I am. I can't go after them; they could destroy me. So I may as well make a pitch for a peaceful coexistence. Not cooperation, not assistance, and certainly no silly team-ups, but an agreement to disagree and all that. Live and let live."

"Cliché and let cliché?" Alfred offered helpfully.

"Shut up, Alfred," Tim said gloomily. "I was going to say, 'Keep your friends close and your enemy's drink full.' Besides, Shiny knew Booster. It would be wrong not to invite him to the funeral."

"I can see where Guy would be adamant on that point," Clark said quietly. "Thing is, the old Guy would have either made a point of *not* inviting him -- retaliation over Tora -- or of reminding him endlessly that he had thought of it -- rubbing his nose in the situation." He shook his head. "If Guy Gardner can grow up, maybe there's hope for us all." (* Guy's girlfriend Tora, Ice of the TwenCen Justice League, died on a mission while Guy was away, and no one told him until later -- Tippitt)

"Not me," Tim said with a smile. "I'll be cracking puns on my deathbed."

"That can be arranged," Alfred offered. "I know, I know, 'Shut up, Alfred.'"

Puerto Rico:

Photon wasn't sure who the redhead was, but he had too many "issues" to discuss with Charmaine Doyle to see her dead. So he decapitated the redhead with his light blade before she even saw him coming.

Chalice fell to the floor, her armor dissipated. And Blackhawk arose, turning to face Rasputin. "Hello, old friend," he said.

The magician just looked in horror at his daughter's corpse on the ground. "Do you have any idea how long resurrecting her is going to take?" he asked. With a snap of his fingers, he and Anastasia vanished, leaving Carver in the room with an unconscious teammate, a ready-for-round-two Photon, and an immobile Blok.

That's when the rumbling came. "An earthquake in Puerto Rico?" he wondered aloud.

Photon shook his head. "No, they're launching the ship."

"What ship?"

"The embassy's a ship," Photon said. "Next stop: Justice Island."

Wayne Manor:

Somewhat amused by the tension in the room, despite the situation, Guy happily nursed a beer. Mercury drank coffee. Black. Lots of it. Nathan struck his claim on a scotch bottle. And Tim chose ginger ale for much the same reasons as Clark chose to have Alfred make him a vanilla milkshake -- this was a powder keg. He could feel the minutes ticking down until someone let his identity slip to Guy.

Fate had other things in mind. Mercury started channel-surfing, and ran across Hourman making a speech in Denver, near the site of a Patriot bombing.

"…must never tolerate such acts of terrorism," Hourman said, that smug grin for once suppressed. "We must never learn to 'take it in stride,' to think, 'oh, that's just a weekend for you.'"

"Bastard," Nathan spat.

"I really hate that guy," Mercury signed.

"Yeah, he's so fake," Guy said. "I mean, he came into my place right after he'd gone and revealed Charmaine's identity for the whole world, and told me how much he 'admired' me. What a crock."

"Someone needs to set him straight," Nathan said.

"I'd be happy to off him," Mercury suggested.

"No, no, no," Tim said. "That would be silly. The man's a superstar. Don't you have any foresight? You'd make him a martyr, and that would only hurt your cause in the long run. What you need to do is ruin his name. Or embarrass him."

Guy looked at Tim. "Yeah, I side with the civilian here." Mercury and Captain Atom exchanged grins. Someone was out of the loop here, and for once, it wasn't them. "The thing is, we're here not to plan some sort of war strategy -- we're here to remember one of history's great practical jokers. What would Booster do to get this guy?"

And so it began.

*****

"If we're gonna do this, we're gonna need to do it right," Tim said. "Who's in?" Everyone nodded, except for Clark. "Eh, it works better with four, anyway," he said. "Party pooper."

"This is too much…" Clark said. "This is a man's dignity we're talking about!"

"This is no man," Guy said. "This is a Justice Leaguer."

"Since he's gonna be blindfolded, we need code names to go by," Tim said. "How's this sound?"

NorAm: Denver

Hourman sank into the chair in his hotel room, pondering. Things had changed. They'd changed a lot since he'd joined the League a dozen years ago. Now there was talk of expanding into space, starting colonization -- just talk at this point, but one never knew.

And Johann Carver was back. Blackhawk, Deadshot, whoever he was now, that was a concern. Jonathan Bolander was in too important a position now for things to be jeopardized by this new element in the equation.

He sighed, and closed his eyes…

…Then found himself immersed in darkness, a feeling of a great wind blowing around him. And his ears were filled with the sounds of rapid footfalls and someone snickering.

Gotham City: Lowtown
Inside an Old Warehouse

Mercury walked in, Hourman slung over his shoulder. The Justice Leaguer had been blindfolded, and a power inhibitor was strapped to one ankle, sapping his superhuman strength. "Look what I got," he signed.

"What are we gonna do with him, Mr. Blondie?" Tim asked.

"What we oughtta do is just kill him," Nathan said.

"Nah, I'm with Mr. Pimp," Guy said. "No killing unless absolutely necessary."

"Who are you lunatics?" Hourman asked.

"Mr. Blondie's the only lunatic," Tim -- the aforementioned 'Mr. Pimp,' much to his chagrin and Alfred's amusement -- said. "Although Mr. Shiny has a bad tempter."

Mercury turned on a CD player, and pulled a metal device out of his pocket. He leaned over Hourman with it in hand.

"Oh, my God! He's cutting off my ear!" Hourman shrieked.

"Nah, he's just piercing it," Guy offered.

Kingston:

"I need to speak to Oliver Hawke," a dark-haired woman asked the two bruisers in the skyscraper's lobby. She flashed an identification badge. Tara Milan.

"You're not on the list," one of them said. "Sorry, no one gets in who's not been cleared in advance."

"But he and I are really old friends…"

"Cry me a river. Leave now, or in an ambulance."

Eve Tresser walked into the lobby of the building, past the fuming woman, and found herself looked down upon by two gigantic bruisers. "Hi, I'm here to see Oll--"

"He said you might be," one of them said. "Take the elevator to the penthouse."

Wayne Manor:

"Are you pleased with yourselves?" Clark asked.

Tim looked around at the other men. "In a word: Yup." He tossed Clark a CD. "Put this in the player at your own risk," he said. "You've never lived until you've seen Hourman dressed up in a Wonder Woman outfit with a bad makeup job, squirming to get out of a rope while 'The Hokey-Pokey' plays on in the background."

"Live, in front of hundreds of cameras, during a major pay-per-view sporting event," Guy added.

"Well, if you call wrestling a sport," Tim said.

"Booster would be proud," Clark said, finally breaking a smile.

Epilogue I
Outside Wayne Manor:

Clark Kent straightened his glasses. "I guess I'm the one who has to speak, huh?"

He looked at the four men standing before him. "Booster and I didn't always get along," he said. "Don't get me wrong; I always liked Booster -- who didn't? -- but we didn't always see things eye-to-eye.

"It was a difference in approach to things," Clark said. "Booster took money for his work, at least initially. I didn't. Heroes don't always see eye-to-eye." He looked at Guy, then at Tim, then at Nathan. "I know I've had some heated discussions with… two of you."

Guy smirked.

"But the fact is, you have these powers, these gifts… what else is there to do with them? You use them, because otherwise it's a waste." He looked at Nathan and Mercury. "Sometimes I won't always agree or approve -- and under any other circumstances, I'd probably be arresting both of you, but since the law's not to be trusted, it would be moot. So you get a second chance. Like I did when I came back from the dead, like Booster did, like all of us have at one time or another. Do like Booster. Be a hero, not just a guy in a suit."

Epilogue II
Puerto Rico:

"Are you gonna let us out of here, or do we have to fight?" Carver asked, holding Charmaine Doyle with his left arm.

"You and my cousin can leave any time you want," Photon said, smiling at Blackhawk. "Blok stays, though -- I suspect you'd have a hard time carrying him, anyway." Suddenly a look of fear crossed the man's face. "Oh, my God…"

Five seconds later, the building exploded.

Next issue: The aftermath. (Suicide Squad:DCF #13, http://www.digitallymystic.com/sites/fiction/dcf/)

The DCFutures FanFiction Group recognizes that Batman and all related characters are property of DC Comics. These stories are written for no profit, but rather a strong desire to peer into the future of the DCU. The stories and concepts presented herein, however, are property of the author. So there.

This DC Futures story is © 1999 by .

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