Batman/Warlock: Soul Brothers #2

Written by Anomaly and WarlorTVor, Edited by Marvelite
Published by the Cosmic Powers Fan Fiction Group in

Characters are the properties of Marvel Comics
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Soul Brothers

***Continues from Soul Brothers #1. This story continues from Shards of Destiny.
To read that storyline, go to the Shards of Destiny Archive***

Interlude: What's The Spread On That Soul, Right There, The One On The Left?

He had taken over the abdicated throne of Lucifer Morning Star who had mysteriously walked away from his duties as the universes arch-type of ultimate evil and handed the keys to hell to one of the Endless. He who was called Dream. Eventually the pressure of holding hell became too much responsibility and Dream was forced to return it to its original creator. Sometime after that, another had been given the keys. His name meant the sum of the numeral 666. He had been called the Beast along with many other names over the millennia since his creation. He had also committed every sin and nausium imaginable, and now only one thing gave him pleasure the corruption of innocence.

Two masters of the fine art of corruption now tasted the soul in question for piquancy.

"I'll wager that this one will not break, Neron," Mephisto's mouth opened impossibly wide as his serpent like tongue flickered in and out, and his crimson form hovered in the other universes neither planes.

Neron's stern emerald gaze was dispassionate and his blond hair seemed to billow out as the physics of the neither realm gave the air the consistency of water. "Are you sure, Mephisto?" gibed Neron. "After being beaten by to mere mortals time and again . . . one a pathetic little mage and the other a despot of postage stamp country, with the aid of a fallen and disgraced angel," he continued, as he raised an eye brow playing with the raw nerve he had entangled very well.

"I had thought you above the common devil, with his hooves and horns but it appears I was wrong," said Mephisto as he was stretching a soul he brought with him like it was a mere rubber-band of sorts. Mephisto paused for effect, his unholy aspect meeting Neron's own gaze, "Do you not know deception when you see it," Mephisto had returned Neron's volley and added to it his own dark spin on the events in question. "I had allowed those pathetic mystics their victory . . . in order to provide them with false hope, false hope that I shall surely enjoy purloining once our machinations come to fruition and Kthullis is awaken. Their . . . minor . . . victory is nothing in the grand scheme of the things that are to come, Neron, or had your mighty intellect simply neglect to inform you of such a facet?" A smile caressed the demon's lips for a moment.

Neron rose from his throne and for the first time seemed to take an offense in what Mephisto had said. Neron's great wings expanded to their full width being nearly eight feet. His form carved as one whom was perfect and lacked nothing as far as aesthetics were concerned. Then he gave the command and all the darkness was banished revealing a universe full of twisted and broken souls. Souls being eaten and regurgitated, souls being burnt and frozen. All the souls of the damned in an orgy of suffering and despair.

"Enough of this, Neron! I came to bargain not watch you act like a peacock. Mephisto is not some mere devil, he is the personification evil itself not a mere story used to frighten children. Do you grasp the significance of that statement for unlike you who is but some usurper of another's throne I am not a murderer but murder itself. I am the inspiration for the entire universe. Only one is older than I then the bet is on dark lord the first to corrupt the one known as the Batman, gets to be the evil for our two, now merged universes."

"The soul gem has unbalanced the forces of good and evil and now the Elder God Kthullis will soon return from the sea to feed on all of man kind," Neron said aloud, more to his own musings that directed to the being who would have surely struck an accord of fear in the souls of lesser beings -- and Neron was far removed from those of lesser beings. "Yes, Mephisto," he said, his voice louder than moments before. "We have a bet."    

After a moment's worth of inner contemplation Neron came to one conclusion, something was not right, out of balance it seemed, there was a vital piece to the game that was missing, an extremely vital one, indeed. "But we will need generals, in this game, Lord of Lies."

"You mean pawns," said Mephisto.

"Same difference," Neron stated matter-of-factly.

"As you say," the demonic form scoffed with a wave of his hand. "Yet, you will choose three . . . and I will choose three. Acceptable?” But Mephisto still had not told him that the Batman was a key player, and whoever corrupted him would have a certain amount of leverage before Kutthulus’ eventual return.

Neron only nodded and thought the helmet of Nabu the mysterious helm worn by the mystic Doctor Fate was the last of the artifacts he needed and the final heart of a vampire said to live in another universe and then his dealings with this pseudo devil would be done.

Chapter Two: Have Devils Avenging Angels and Batmen

A spiritual war is no different than a physical war. Both require a great quantity of forces. Both require a prize to be fought over. But in a spiritual war, the forces are invisible and the battleground is the soul.

Bruce Wayne held his stomach in great pain as something ephemeral burst forth from his inner being. This manifested itself in the form of the one once known as Hal Jordon, the newly proclaimed Spectre*, taking place mere months prior to the merger, and who was in his own spiritual battle in the form of his the exorcism of Parallax from his consciousness.  

(*Click here for more info on Spectre!)

On a spiritual plane, the battle was waged in earnest between the wrath of God and the entity who was said to be even older then creation. This entity was called Yon-Soggoth, he who is the gate. The manifestation on the mortal plane took the form of furniture being strewn about and terrible liquids that bubbled up through the floor boards.

Portent was unmoving as he watched the Batman hold himself together. And when he looked into Wayne's normally dark eyes, they were rolling backward and only his whites could be seen. Portent's gaze was unlike most mortals for he viewed things either with the madness side of his mind or its rather rigid logical counterpart. However when he bled through the runes that covered his stoney form, he saw things as the great balance. The crimson liquid began to flow in great torrents from Portent's Body until the floor of the room was nearly six inches in blood.

But the source of the blood was unknown, only that it was not his own, when he bled (see Timeless for details of Portent). He even wondered if it were perhaps the fluids of the previous servants of Chaos and Order and perhaps their blood was all that remained to give them voice.

Portent then saw into Bruce Wayne's mind and terrible images burned into the soul as another rune was then imprinted on Portent’s body. Like a spiritual cattle bran. The Batman bore a similar mark exactly the same as the one on Portent. The rivers of blood finally stopped and the crimson tide congealed around the form of the Batman who suddenly began to spasm uncontrollably. But the blood now connected both the Batman and Portent, and each saw the other on what appeared to be Gotham City.

The Batman was returning to his automobile when he saw a young boy stealing his tires . . . from the Batmobile! The Batman then acted as if Portent was not there and reacted to the boy stealing the tires. "Come back here!" he called forth. But the boy was swift for his age and ducked down a dark alley. Batman could only remember one such instance, outside of the one he was reliving, when the famous - or infamous pending on one's criminal standing - was defiled in such a manner, when the two X-Men known to him only as Wolverine and Gambit had stolen it during the culmination of a war between the two now merged universes. He was breathing very heavy when he felt the hairs on his neck stand on end. When he turned he saw something that was pale and covered in blood. The boy screamed, which allowed the Batman to find him with the utmost of ease.

"I won’t hurt you . . . I promise . . . only criminals have anything to fear from me."

The Batman's stare was imposing but the boy did not flinch, instead he said, "That's a lie! I will die just like your parents and you will fail as you have always failed." Then there was a stream of sardonic laughter as the boy began to transform his shape. Soon he was nearly six feet in height and was truly terrible to behold. The "boy's" complexion was ghost white, his hair a bright, almost blinding green in appearance, and a thick layer of lipstick was 'pon his forever smiling visage.

"None can save you from the Joker bat-dolt! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!"

Portent did not move as it now occurred to him that the site had been chosen, the soul of the Batman would be the chosen battlefield for this internal conflict.

Hal Jordan steeled himself, as the entity proved far more formidable than he had thought, clearly the balance of power had changed and evil's might was increased by at least a hundred fold. The entities’ conflict brought them into the heavenlies and above the earth, which was now evident to the Spectre that this was the prize of victory.

Yon-Soggoth, who had a reptilian body and the head of a frog, croaked violently as the Spectre shoved his fist through the Elder God, who then in turn turned into a wisp of smoke. The creature reformed and took once more the form of a great mouth with rows of jagged teeth like he did when he first attacked the Spectre and swallowed him completely after erupting from the Batman's stomach only moments prior*.

(*See Soul Brothers Chapter One for further details - Editor's Note)

The great teeth sunk deep into the Spectre's spiritual form and then Hal screamed in agony as ephemeral vapors were exiting the Spectre's body. Hal scorned himself for he was still reacting to much like he was a man, and if he were to continue in his current course of acting out of fear and pain he would suffer most gravely. And although he was dead, his spiritual form acted like it was still flesh and blood. But this time, blinded by the pain, his form reacted instinctively and his body was surrounded by glory that shun brighter than any star could even hope to aspire to.

The Elder God cringed as the light drove it backward across the heavenlies, giving the Spectre a chance to surround it in a vassal of an unbreakable hour glass with the sands of time drowning the ancient creature with its terrible weight. 

"You will be the first on my list as I redeem myself for all my past sins, Yon-Soggoth! No longer will my conscious torture me today, creature of the stars! For you will feel the wrath of god itself!"

"Tttttttttttthhhheee tttttiiiiidddddeees are cccccchhhhhaaannnnggggiiiingg, thhhhhhhhe baaaaaaaalllllllllaaaaaaanccccce sssssshhhhifffttttsss!"

The Spectre seemed disturbed at the raw evil of the creature he was fighting and found himself disorientated as he watched himself watch himself and was vulnerable, long enough for the gate keeper to free himself and hit him with something very akin to pure sound. The vibrations were so intense that he could not even keep his form together under the assault and was constantly struggling as he faded in and out of reality.

Hal had thought himself invulnerable in the Spectre's form until now. He just assumed that all demons or murders would simply pack there things and unceremoniously leave his newly forged universe without any questions he was now realizing just how difficult it was going to be to adjust to his new found status. But this soon become the least of his worries as the sound increased to unbearable levels and then Hal was gone and Yon-Soggoth was seemingly victorious!

Bruce did all he could against the Joker's attacks who seemed to have strength and speed beyond anything he had remembered. The Joker easily alluded Batman's best karate kicks and even sidestepped the more street-like maneuvers he had learned from the convicted killer he had met in Borneo.

The Joker’s blows were sharp and crisp, cracking bones and snapping back his jaw. The Batman felt his hands were heavy and slow, as if he were fighting underwater, the pressure was unbearable. The attacker’s head then transformed into Jason Todd, once more, while still keeping the elongated body of the Joker, clad in a purple suit with white stripes running vertically, spaced out evenly across his form.

"All I wanted was someone to care about me!" Jason snapped, tears welling from his eyes. "All I wanted was a chance to be of use to someone! How could you let him kill me, Bruce?! How could you?!"

"Look," Batman tried to explain the Joker's onslaught of attacks, still beating him into a state close to that of submission. "I did the best I could when you became Robin, you took your chances! You were reckless, even careless at times, taking risk, that had I not been there, the Joker would have never had the chance to become your murderer for some street thug or goon would have surely done it earlier. I told you to stay where you were, away from the warehouse, away from the Joker's hands. And you disobeyed me, didn't listen to me when I warned you that the madman was just too dangerous for you to handle. And even asked if you understood, and you answered in the affirmative. Though you did not heed a word I said to you! You went to the warehouse! To aid the woman who gave birth to you! And you, Robin, were the one who fought off the Joker and his number, only to have the Joker beat you to an inch of your life with a crowbar.*”

(As chronicled in Batman: A Death in the Family by Jim Stalin - Editor's Note)

"You, Jason Todd, made a choice."

"I was only a child! How can a child make such a choice?"

But behind Bruce stood his parents.

"Look what you have become," said a strikingly beautiful woman. "A mother would never have wanted her son to be a vigilante . . . an obsessive freak! Dressed like a bat!" Bruce's mother slapped him, hard, and tears rolled down her cheeks as she collapsed on her son's wide shoulder. Bruce didn't know what to do as he tried to comfort his mother.

"I'm sorry," he said, "I wished I could have helped you . . . but only this has given me any kind of satisfaction since your death.” Batman held his sobbing mother close to him. But when she began to giggle the Batman kind of pulled back a little. Then when that giggle turned into a familiar laugh, Batman's covered visage turned a dark shade of red.

"You're going to pay for that one, Joker!"

"Wrong again!"

And the Joker struck him hard. However this time, the Batman seemed to have an immunity of sorts as the blow only moved him a little. But no sooner had he regained a little of his edge then he was assaulted from behind by an incredibly large man. The veins in his arms like fire hoses and the venom, which was pumping through them, could be seen as it moved like quicksilver through his entire body.

Then the one known as Bane lifted him, high into the night air and broke the Batman's back . . . for the second time.

The illusion of Gotham City was gone and Bruce Wayne was lying there, crumpled on the floor of the original room. Bane and the Joker were standing in blood up to their ankles around a severely beaten Batman.

Portent did not move either as he recognized a familiar artifact break through the ceiling. Its emerald light likes a jade sun. It hovered of its own accord and began to descend from above until it slowly placed itself on the brow of the Batman.

Bruce Wayne's eyes opened abruptly and there was something like evil in his eyes. Out of instinct, Portent drew his blade, Stormbringer, but his blade was met by another, he whipped his head around one side, away from the Batman and the two forms of Bane and the Joker to another one, a darker one.

"I am Asmodeus . . . and I shall be your death . . ." Portent’s grin spread wide across his smooth poreless features. The darkblade then began to babble "Doesn't this one know you have been dead once already. Still your infernal tongue black blade,” said the rune warrior his crimson cape hanging to the floor, “one would almost think you were a woman. Can you not see that I will be bringing a guest with me into Mistress Death’s gates? And you know how she hates uninvited guests." Stormbringer howled with anticipation at the oncoming conflict.

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