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.
Dr. Mid-Nite: DCF #1
"Darkness is My Ally - Part 2"
Written by Schuyler Bush (Zenreaper@yahoo.com)
Edited by Jason Tippitt
Dr. Mid-Nite created by Charles Reizenstein & Stanley Asch.
The citizen/employees of Kyoto City live an idyllic life undreamed of by most of humanity. Carefully nurtured and watched over by the corporations that govern them, they enjoy a long, healthy, crime-free existence. The air they breathe is clean, the weather is always beautiful, and people rarely die of anything but old age and the occasional accident. Their children are well-educated and are guaranteed life-long employment.
Beyond the gleaming walls of metal and energy that shields Kyoto from the rest of Nippon, life is not so kind. Society has broken down into a perverse parody of feudal Japan's caste system. The Eta live at the bottom of this vicious food chain. They are the homeless, the poor, and the weak who are regularly harvested like cattle to supply the people of Kyoto with a steady supply of spare organs and limbs.
Justice League Central Headquarters Baja, California
Jeremy Brood glared at the bank of monitors in front of him. More accurately, he glared at the contradictory information they insisted on displaying. Try as he might, Justice League Archivist Jeremy Brood, Accounts Payable Division, couldn't make the databases agree. Sighing, he drained the last of his Captain Frenzy cola (six times the caffeine of regular cola, and a favorite with computer programmers worldwide) and rubbed his gritty, fatigued eyes. The hour was late and Brood had the office to himself. It was a depressing room, reminiscent of a bunker, with gray concrete walls, unadorned light strips, and row after row of cubicles.
The rumpled, middle-aged man shook his head, and as often happened when he was frustrated or depressed, his thoughts turned to his ex-wife. She'd often referred to him as "Captain Clerk" or "Number Cruncher Man" during their frequent fights. He reminded himself to send a thank you note to his friend in the Covert Ops Division who'd arranged her "accident" last month.
Turning back to his computers, Brood decided there was no use in putting off the inevitable. In the time-honored fashion of underlings throughout history, he knew it was time to pass the problem off to a superior. Straightening his tie, he dialed a number on the cubicle's vid- phone.
"Dr. Diana Lord's office," a voice answered in the crisp professional tones of a career secretary.
<Probably earns twice as much as me just to sit there and look good,> Brood thought, frowning at the image of the impeccably dressed man on the screen.
"I need to speak with Dr. Lord."
"I'm sorry, but she's occupied at the moment," the receptionist replied with just a hint of the smirk he reserved for low-level bureaucrats.
"Security clearance Omega Zed Niner okay?"
"Hmph. Just a moment sir." Several moments ticked by, but Brood knew better than to appear impatient. It was common practice for high-level Leaguers to observe their underlings through the ubiquitous security cameras. So he sat there with a humble, patient smile plastered on his features until Dr. Lord appeared on the screen.
"Mr. Brood? What can I do for you?"
"Good morning, ma'am; I've been going over our monthly casualties lists, and I've come across a, well a glitch."
"Excuse me? Mr. Brood, am I to understand that you called me to discuss a glitch?"
"Ordinarily ma'am, I wouldn't dream of disturbing you, but the nature of this discrepancy has disturbing ramifications."
"Very well. Proceed."
"Thank you, ma'am. You see, I was comparing our casualty list for the month against our pensions and benefits expenses, and they don't match."
"Mr. Brood, if you've discovered an embezzler, I applaud your diligence, but this is hardly a matter for my personal attention."
"It's NOT an embezzler, ma'am. In fact, it's the other way around. We didn't pay out enough benefits, if our list of injured or slain agents is to be credited."
"That's interesting, but surely it's a simple clerical error."
"That was my first thought, until I came across a fascinating fact while cross-checking the casualty list against our listing of active operatives."
"Mr. Brood, I will only ask you once. Get to the point of this call. NOW."
"Err, uh, yes, ma'am! I'm not sure if you heard about it, but a few weeks ago all the passengers aboard Nippon Airways Flight 23 were killed. According to their records, an agent of ours, Justice League designate Zen Reaper was aboard."
"I see; where did it crash?"
"It didn't. The shuttle arrived at Honshu International right on schedule. When the doors were opened however, they found everyone on board had been brutally murdered."
"All right, Brood, I can see where this would be a matter for concern, but how does it involve you?"
"Well, ma'am, the thing of it is, there is no agent named Zen Reaper listed in any of my records. He's never received a stipend, an expense voucher, drawn any benefits, or taken any sick leave. But he DOES show up on the most recent active agent listing. But not on any of the old ones."
"That is unsettling, Mr. Brood, but surely you're not implying that someone tampered with Justice League computer files? We have the most secure computer system in the world."
"Not anymore, we don't."
Citizen's Mediplex Kyoto, Nippon
Shioko Anami sat in the plush waiting area, trying to appear calm despite the fear and worry that raged within her. Her two children, Suki and Chojiro, played on the floor, oblivious to their mother's inner turmoil.
"I wanna be Lantern X!" Suki informed her older brother in a loud voice.
"You gotta be Flamebird 'cuz you're a girl. 'Sides, they're MY action figures."
"Mom! Cho won't play nice with me!"
"Tattle-tale!" The comfortable familiarity of the children's argument went a long way towards distracting Shioko. The matter was settled when Chojiro agreed that Suki could be Lantern X AND Flamebird, while he took on the role of Comet and Lightning. Together they began to sing the Infinity Corp theme song. She watched the two playing, both of them blessedly ignorant of the fact that Suki was dying.
"Ms. Anami? The doctor will see you now," a cheerful, disembodied voice informed her from a hidden speaker. Shioko kissed her two children, admonishing them to continue playing nice. It never crossed her mind to worry about leaving her children unattended. After all, Kyoto Security would be constantly monitoring them, protecting its future employees from any and all harm. She stepped through the open door, and into a pleasantly lit corridor lined with classical, soothing works of art. Another door opened for her, and she entered the office to find Suki's physician, Dr. Hachiro, seated behind his desk.
"Please be seated, Ms. Anami. May I get you anything? Refreshment, perhaps?" the doctor asked her in a calm, soft voice.
"No, thank you, Doctor." Again Shioko struggled to keep the fear and worry from her face.
"Well, I've been over Suki's latest tests, and I'm afraid that the treatments aren't working."
"NO! I'm sorry, Doctor I " The tears finally broke through Shioko's mask of control. Dr. Hachiro rushed from behind his desk and placed a comforting arm around her shoulders.
"Now, now, it's going to be just fine, I tell you. You won't lose your little girl. I swear it!"
"But if the treatments aren't working then what can we do?"
"Since we can't beat the disease that's weakening your daughter's heart, I think we should try a transplant."
"Would that work?"
"I don't see any reason why not. The Tryclosis infection is isolated to her heart, so a new one should solve the problem completely. We would have tried earlier, but I believe it's always best to try non- surgical alternatives first."
"Will we be able to find a donor in time?"
"Ms. Anami, you're an employee of UniGen. Your daughter will have her new heart by the end of the week." For the first time in months, Shioko smiled and felt hope.
Back alley Iga Province, Nippon Three days later
Commander Nori Ross of the Honshu Metro Police Department did his best not to gag. The overwhelming stenches of rotting fish, human feces and others more difficult to identify were conspiring to make him look foolish in front of his fellow officers.
<Seventeen years on the force, and I STILL got a weak stomach. Sweet Buddha on a bike! You'd think I'd get used to this crap.>
He eyed the scene through half closed eyes, waiting for his insides to stop their acrobatics, and stoically ignored the snickers from the patrolman nearest him. They stood in a back alley behind a dive called Wang's Noodle Hut that tried to pass itself off as a restaurant to the unwary. It was early morning, the sun still struggling to make its appearance felt through the thick clouds of smog that enshrouded Nippon. Two patrolmen were holographing the scene while several other officers grouped around a street vendor selling tea and pastries from an ancient handcart. The alley was littered with bags of garbage, greasy food wrappers, several unconscious flesh gangers, and the disemboweled corpse of a young girl.
<Great way to start the morning, Ross. Why don't you get a new job? Something pleasant, like toxic waste disposal?> The fifty-year-old police veteran wore a standard issue HMPD uniform, made of ballistic cloth reinforced with Vilarium armor plates. He was average height and had only recently started to worry about his spreading waistline. With a sigh of resignation, he ran a scarred, thick hand through his thinning, sweat- soaked grey hair. <Barely an hour after sunrise, and already it's too frazzin' hot around here. Maybe it's time to retire, move to NorAm. I hear Blüdhaven's nice this time of year. Nicer than this dump, anyway.>
"Morning, Ross! How you doing this fine morning? I brought your morning dose of Kayo-Pepto." Glancing over his shoulder, Ross saw Lieutenant Jacqueline Hasaki walking towards him, a steaming cup of strong tea in one hand, and a cup of frothy pink liquid in the other. She was about twenty years his junior, dark, and far too damned cheerful in the morning, in Ross's opinion.
"Buddha smile on you, girl; you're an angel in a flak vest."
"Well, I know how upset your stomach gets early in the morning. Cup of this will settle you out. How's things down at the station?"
"I'm busier than a one legged man in an ass-kicking contest. What's the story here?"
"Another Mid-Nite special. The girl's some Eta; the sleeping beauties are from a gang called the Lounge Lizards, if you can believe it. Looks like they opened her up in a Chop Shop, took their 'merchandise,' and were dumping the body here when "
"We're SURE it was this Mid-Nite turkey?"
"Pretty sure, unless you know of someone else who's running around, beating up flesh gangers, leaving them tied up nice and neat for us. Some of them look like they were gassed."
"Great. All right, Jackie, untie 'em and let 'em go."
"WHAT? Are you crazy?" Hot tea splashed out of Hasaki's cup and onto her gloves while she stared at her superior in utter disbelief.
"Hey, it's not like we're gonna put 'em in jail or anything," Ross grumbled, trying to seem casual about the whole thing.
"We're not even going to book them? What's going on here?" Hasaki finally noticed the spilling tea and drank the rest of it down in one gulp, oblivious to the scalding her tongue received.
"Orders. Orders from high up. Nosebleed level high up. Any of Dr. Do-Right's little gifts get set free. No charges, no arresting, no booking, no nothing."
"I don't get it."
"Think it through, Jackie. How many flesh gangers do we arrest a year? REALLY arrest and send to jail."
"I agree. But in the last few weeks, we've booked more flesh gangers than we did all of last year. Thanks to the good Doctor."
"Well, what's wrong with that? Besides the fact that we don't do our jobs?"
"We aren't allowed to do our jobs. The Grand High Mucky Mucks in Kyoto City tell the rest of the world, 'No, tens of thousands of people DON'T disappear off the streets of Nippon every year and wind up in our freezers and labs. That would be barbaric. Sure, some people come up missing in Nippon, just like everywhere else. But there's no epidemic of sanctioned slaughter in Nippon.' Now we've got some nut job beating up gangs that aren't supposed to exist, and we've had dozens of hoods in and out of our jails in the last few weeks!"
"So what? We let them go. Who cares if they spend a night in jail?"
"THEY do. The real bosses over in Kyoto do. Because all of a sudden, they look like liars."
"Big deal. It's not like the UN or the Justice League's gonna do anything about it."
"Of course not. But that's not the point, LIEUTENANT! The point is they don't like to be contradicted. And I don't like having them notice us out here. So we don't take in any more care packages from the Masked Marvel. End of story."
"What about the girl?"
"Send her to the crematorium. No autopsy. I gotta get back to the office. Do we understand each other here, Lieutenant?" Without a word, Jacqueline Hasaki spun on her heel and stalked over to the waiting patrolmen, who were busy trying to look like they hadn't been listening to the heated exchange between the two officers.
"Great. She's gonna be trouble."
Mama-San's Polynesian Tiki Lounge Iga province
Deadeye Dick calmly sipped at his Flaming Volcano, listening to the smooth sounds of the immortal Don Ho playing on the ancient jukebox. Mama-San's was only moderately crowded this morning, the late night crowd of diehards slowly giving way to the early morning booze hounds. After The Hole in the Wall, this was Dick's favorite watering hole. There was something irresistible to him about the red velvet wall paper, mirrored ceiling, plastic palm trees, and Mama-San' prize collection of Tiki statues. Maybe it was just that sometimes he liked being in a place whose decor was louder and gaudier than his wardrobe.
In front of him on the Formica bar was a two-foot high ceramic volcano that contained his drink. At the summit burned a small can of sterno, its blue flames bobbing and weaving in the air-conditioned breeze. A long straw connected the drink to Dick's mouth, and he kept sipping meditatively as he watched the new arrivals trickling into the bar.
One thing about a place like Mama-San's was that armed thugs stood out like a sore thumb. It was amusing Deadeye Dick immensely to watch the various toughs who'd wandered in over the last hour try and blend in. Some were attempting to appear casual while drinking from pineapple-shaped mugs with little umbrellas. One was actually trying to hide behind a plastic palm tree. They all looked ridiculous.
<Ten stupid-looking bully boys. Geez, that's kind of overkill. Who the hell do they think I am? Batman?>
An old woman dressed in a Day-Glo sarong appeared behind the bar and scowled at Dick.
"Hey, Dick, you bring trouble into my bar you pay for damages, okay?"
"*Sigh.* O' course, Mama-San. Jest charge it to my account."
"No credit! Cash!" Dick knew better than to argue with the ancient firebrand before him. She'd owned and operated this bar for longer than anyone could remember. Some rumors claimed that she'd actually been born in the TwenCen, but whatever the truth of the matter, everyone knew that you didn't mess with Mama-San. Fishing a cash card out of his vest pocket, Dick checked the amount and handed it to the impatient woman.
"That ought to cover any damages that come up. Now you gotta do me a favor, you ol' battle-axe, you. Go over to the juke box and put on song G47."
"No, Dick, not that! Please "
"Jest do it and let me finish mah drink." The old woman scurried away, glancing nervously at her treasured Tiki statues. One of the armed goons took this as his cue and sauntered over to Dick's spot at the bar. The newcomer was a teenager dressed all in black, like unimaginative killers everywhere, sporting a nylon holster with a set of brand spanking new VF 36 laser pistols. He sneered at Dick and sat on the stool next to him as the opening verse of William Shatner singing "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" came over the jukebox speakers.
"Hey, Dick, my name's the Kid."
"Of course it is."
"Well, listen up, the Jade Monkey wants to have a word with you," the adolescent gunman said.
"Go away. I'm drinkin.' An' I don't talk shop when I'm drinkin.' It's part of my code."
"Ooh the big, bad old-timer's got a code? So what? Come on."
"Listen, I got a good liter of liquor left in this here drink I aim to drink. So I ain't interested. Now scram, sonny."
"Pack it up, and let's go. The Daimyo don't like to be kept waiting."
"What if I say no?"
"Maybe you ain't heard, old man, but the Monkey's hiring muscle to help him take of his recent vigilante problems. It's a good job. He wants to talk to you about it. SO. COME. ALONG. NOW."
"What if I say no?"
"Don't do this, man."
"WHAT IF I SAY NO?"
"Fine. In that case, the Daimyo said that we were to INSIST you come with us."
"That's what I thought."
One of the things that never failed to unnerve people about Deadeye Dick was the fact that you could never tell where he was looking. The black bandana that covered his eyes made that impossible. People tend to take their cues from other people by watching their eyes. Perhaps that's why the Kid wasn't expecting Dick to toss the Flaming Volcano at him. The high-octane rum splashed all over the stunned gunman, and was quickly set ablaze by the sterno. While the Kid frantically beat at the flames, Deadeye Dick drew his two nickel-plated Croft .95 Automags. Moving with a languid, casual grace, Dick aimed both guns behind him and fired. To the people in the bar, it looked like Deadeye Dick had just wasted two shots by shooting the door to the Men's Room. Inside the bathroom, two gunmen fell to the floor. They'd each been shot once, neatly through their left eye.
One of the thugs in the main bar dragged out his chopped-down MAC 30 beam rifle and shot the spot Dick had been in just moments before. Since the energy beam's intended target was no longer there, it continued on its way and plowed through the Kid's abdomen, killing him instantly. Deadeye Dick popped up from behind a large wooden Tiki head and stuck his tongue out at the rifleman.
"Hey, stupid! I'm over here!" Dick yelled while dropping two more of his enemies, each with exactly one shot, right through the eye. The large (and not terribly bright) rifleman bellowed his rage and shot at his tormentor. Unfortunately for him, Dick had already ducked behind the Tiki head again, so this shot missed him as well. Instead of striking a person though, this time it hit the large mirror Dick had been standing in front of. The energy beam bounced off of it and continued back in the direction it had come from, with deadly results. Dick stood up again and picked off two more of his hapless opponents. Humming along to the melodious strains of his favorite song, still playing on the jukebox, he rolled away from the shelter of the Tiki head to a spot behind the bar. Coming to a stop on his back, he aimed at the bar above him and shot through it twice. Satisfied with the sound of two more bodies hitting the floor, he came to his feet to watch the two remaining goons run out the front door.
"Shit, Batman, eat yer heart out!"
The sound of applause filled the bar as the stunned customers came out from under their tables. Dick took a bow and turned around to face the obviously annoyed figure of Mama-San.
"You're a very bad boy, Dick! Look at my bar! You're just like your father! No damn good! You're grounded."
"Now, Ma, you can't ground me; I moved out twenty years ago, remember? And don't be going and bad-mouthing my Pappy's good name, either! 'Sides, I paid for the damages ahead of time, and the customers always like a good floor show. Ya gotta admit, I did pretty durn good."
"I wouldn't have missed the last two. That was sloppy."
"Let 'em go back an' tell their boss to leave me along when I'm drinkin.' Now, I'm thinking I should find me this Mid-Nite feller and have a heart-to-heart with him. Way I look at it, he owes me a Flaming Volcano."
Honshu Free Clinic Sterling Street, Iga Province
James Baskon, Esquire, billionaire playboy, wastrel, and all-round charming rogue (at least to hear HIM tell it) was gingerly making his way to the dining hall at the Honshu Free Clinic. He wore a spidersilk bathrobe and pajamas, pink fuzzy bunny slippers, and was trying to figure out why everyone insisted on talking so loudly this early in the morning. Blearily, he made his way to the table where the morning's buffet was laid out. He stood there staring at the food for quite a while, until he finally turned to a group of elderly women standing nearby.
"Ahh, good morning, ladies. I was wondering if you could help me with something; I'm trying to figure out why someone has laid out soup and sandwiches for breakfast." The women giggled for a few minutes before one of their number stepped forward to answer the perplexed socialite.
"Mr. Baskon, it's lunch time!"
"Oh well, that explains why I'm so tired, then. Thank you very much, Mrs. Musashi. Your assistance in this matter has been greatly appreciated. If you stop by my room later tonight I'd be more than happy to 'express my gratitude', if you follow my meaning. And bring your lovely friends, too!" Baskon leered at the women, a parody of juvenile lust on his features. The women squealed in delighted outrage and scurried away, casting many a glance back at him. He wasn't entirely certain, but he could have sworn he overheard a flattering comment about his anatomy.
"Careful, Jim, one of these days they're going to call your bluff."
"And a fine morni I mean, afternoon to you, Dr. Siddig. How goes the eternal battle against disease and infirmity?" Baskon moved over to the table where his friend, Dr. Diego Siddig, sat grinning and sat down across from him. The two men presented quite a contrast, the red-haired Baskon in his sleep wear, and the dark-haired Siddig in his lab coat.
"Oh, things are going alright, I suppose. I hate to ask you, Jim, but one of the bio-beds broke down, and I was wondering if "
"Damn it, Diego, how many times do I have to tell you? If you need money, just take it! I've given you all the passcodes and clearances; help yourself!"
"I know Jim, but it feels funny spending your money all the time to run this place. I mean, you built it, bought all the equipment, pay all the expenses and our salaries."
"So? What am I going to do with all that money my folks made? I can only drink so many bottles of brandy a night; might as well get some use out of all that cash. Besides, it's nice to know SOME good comes out of my being alive."
"Jim, stop it; I hate hearing you put yourself down like that "
"Let's drop it, okay? Help yourself to the money, please. Now tell me what's going on around here these days. You look like you haven't slept in days!"
"Oh, well, Gregory and I've been up late working on a new project."
"I see. How's Greg working out as your assistant, anyway?"
"Oh, very well, indeed. I don't know how we got along without him. Say, there he is now! Greg! Come over and join us!"
"Good afternoon, Dr. Siddig, Mr. Baskon. "
"How's life here at our little nuthouse treating you, Dr. Lee? Enjoying it?"
"Yes, very much so. And, please, call me Greg."
"Well, only if you call me Jim. Diego was just telling me about some project you guys have been working at night. I'm not going to have to start paying you overtime, am I?"
"Speaking of late nights, Jim, you look like you had along one yourself," Siddig interjected as Lee took a seat at the table.
"Oh, nothing too exciting, really. Stayed up too late drinking wine and watching old 2-D holovids. Got really smashed during the 'Mark of Zorro' and just HAD too dig my old Kendo practice robot out of storage. Must have been even drunker than I thought, because the next thing I knew, it was this afternoon, and I was stretched out on my living room floor with the Kendobot standing over me waiting for round two."
"Is that where you got that bruise on the side of your face, Jim?" Siddig asked, chuckling.
"Lucky shot. Next time I'll take that pile of tin apart, just you wait and see! Hey, is that Jackie I see over there?" Baskon said, pointing to the entrance of the dining hall where Lieutenant Hasaki stood, looking around the room. When she spotted the three men at their table, she made a beeline for them.
"Jackie, how good to see you; won't you sit down?" Siddig gestured towards the only remaining chair at the table. Hasaki came over, gave Siddig and Baskon each a warm kiss of greeting, and glanced at Dr. Lee.
"You're looking lovely as always, Officer Hasaki. Have you met Diego's new assistant, Dr. Lee? Greg, this is our very dear friend, Lieutenant Jacqueline Hasaki of the Honshu Metro Police. Jackie, this is Dr. Gregory Lee, the latest addition to our happy little family. I must say, you look terribly sexy in that uniform. Why didn't I marry you?"
"Because you don't like women, you rich bastard."
"Oh, yes. I'd almost forgotten, it's been so long since I had a date. So what brings you down here to this godforsaken spot?"
"I need a favor."
"Anything, Jackie, all you need to do is ask," Siddig said warmly.
"Thanks, Diego. You guys have all heard about this Dr. Mid-Nite character who's been in all the local Newsnets recently, right?" An awkward silence stretched out over the table as all three men stared at Hasaki, dumbfounded expressions on all their faces.
'What's the matter, boys? Did I say something wrong?"
"No, Jackie, it was just a sudden change of subject is all. Uhm, and yes, I'm sure we've all heard about him," Siddig answered.
"Or her don't forget, no one's seen this 'person' in anything but a mask and big trenchcoat thingie. Everyone's just assuming it's a man," Baskon added thoughtfully, looking at Hasaki with narrowed eyes.
"Uhm, good point, Jim. Anyway, I'm working on a case, actually, NOT working on a case that involves him. Or her."
"Well, what can we do to help? Greg and I are doctors, not detectives."
"And I'm pretty much useless unless you want me to drink something or buy something."
"Well, what I need is an autopsy."
The DCFutures FanFiction Group recognizes that Dr. Mid-Nite 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 Schuyler Bush.