Batman/Warlock: Soul Brothers #3
Written by Anomaly and
Edited by Marvelite
***Continues from Soul
Brothers #2. This story continues from Shards of
To read that storyline, go to the Shards of Destiny Archive***
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INTERLUDE- MYSTIC GATHERING
It was in the tower of Fate the meeting was called. And slowly the guests came, the angel Zuriel and one of his brethren, the mysterious Phantom stranger who was almost an Angel himself. The class of entities who were even older than angels and gods, they were best described by calling them ideas: Destiny, Death, Dream, Desire, Despair, and Delirium. The enigmatic Lucifer, Morning Star, who had recently abdicated hell and had taken up playing the piano at a nightclub, was present. The Norse gods Loki and Odin. The death god, Anubis, from the culture of Egypt could be seen. The earth born heroes the JLA were also there: Superman, Martian Man-Hunter, the New God Orion, the Amazon Princess Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman and Green Lantern. All were present.
There were many others present as well, most of them of Earth's mystic Society. Merlin and the other universe's sorcerer supreme were likely the most powerful. But as entities and gods continued to fill the Tower of Fate, it became apparent that Doctor Fate was calling a meeting of dire importance.
The group had been there for some time when Fate phased through a wall and was facing the group of powerful beings.
"I am Doctor Fate and I have called you all here for a threat that threatens to unbalance two universes perhaps even all the omniverse itself."
The Phantom Stranger was the first to speak for the gathering. His tone was flat and his posture perfect. His cape of midnight catching a mystic breeze as it hung in the air. "Though you wear the helmet of our comrade, it is obvious you are an imposter! And I would not be unwarranted to ask you why we should follow you?"
Fate seemed to take it in stride as he was unflappable. "I do not deny this, for the one who wore this mask has vanished mysteriously, but if the Phantom Stranger wishes to come forward, I can give some understanding of the current situation at hand."
The Phantom Stranger came forward but seemed to hesitate as he approached the most powerful mystic entity in the universe. There was a terrible flash of light, so bright was it that even earth's mightiest mortal Superman winced as it lit up the entire tower and then as the flashes cleared from the gatherings optics. The Phantom Stranger and Fate were still staring into one another's eyes. "Now," said Fate. "You know all that is I."
The Phantom stranger nodded. "Yes, he has come to our aid and you should trust him for he knows what must be done!"
Then another light brighter than anything since the creation was upon them. Fate was indifferent and merely nodded, "You come at long last, let this meeting truly begin."
"I AM THE PRESENCE AND THE MYSTERIOUS ARTIFACT KNOWN AS THE SOUL GEM AS UNBALANCE ALL THAT THERE IS IN HEAVEN, HELL, AND LIMBO STRIVE FOR THE SEAT ON HIGH ONCE AGAIN.
"MY HARBINGER OF JUSTICE EVEN NOW STRIVES AGAINST THE PAWN OF ONE WHO IS SO ALIEN THAT EVEN THE ENDLESS ARE THREATENED THOUGH THEY BE THE EMBODIMENT OF MANíS IDEALS.
"WE MUST JOIN FORCES WITH THE NEWEST FATE FOR HE HAS KNOWLEDGE THAT MAY SAVE BOTH OUR UNIVERSES."
With that the Presence had vanished and then a man in a red beard and an artist cap came into theTower of Fate. "I have come to reclaim my position!" the man proclaimed.
Fate put his hand upon his chin. "Things have gone from bad to worse as destruction of the Endless has at last rejoined the family. Welcome prodigal son, you are the final piece before the beginning of the end."
CHAPTER THREE SUICIDE
The Batman was pushing against the five hundred pounds of dead weight the threatened to crush him.
But his piston-like arms hit one then two and three. He was still going when he heard a voice from behind him. He let the immense weight go and was on his feet in a flash. His body was dripping with sweat and his chest seemed enormous as the blood from his workout invigorated every muscle. He pushed back his jet-black hair and said almost dangerously.
"What can I do for you, Fate? I was in the middle of a workout."
"It seems perceptions can be deceiving."
"Speak your mind, and not in riddles."
"Do you have a feeling of disconnectiveness?" said Fate, his words nearly hypnotic in their power.
"I have been sick lately," said Wayne as he put his mask on, "I think Iím catching the flu"
"There is an element of truth in all things, for lies only seek to distort the truths which we must face if we are to win the greater battle of knowledge of self."
"Look it's been a long day. I have dealt with Bane and the Joker. So if you don't have anything but riddles for me, I will retire for the night."
"That is not the detective mind I have heard spoken! I awe you seem to be trapped in a web of confusion. Your mask cannot protect you from the lies but it can hide the truth. Is that what you wish?"
The Batman began to think and noticed that his sweat was already dispersed, it was but a small detail but one that drew his attention to other things of a like nature, like the fact that when he put on his mask his entire costume appeared as if from nowhere."
"Is this a dream"?
"Think," said Fate. "About your conflict with Bane."
The Batman remembered his back splinter against the enormous force of Banes venom imbued biceps, once more.
"I am dead."
"Not dead, but your spirit has been separated from its body and it is the battleground for a spiritual war that may shake your entire cosmos, it will no doubt change your life, Soul Brother."
"Soul Brother?" the Batman repeated. "What do you mean by that?"
"All will be revealed soon but your soul now resides in a powerful artifact from another universe, it is a conflict which is one of the by products of the Shards epic and the forces that played in that drama. But if you die your universe ends regardless and if the Soul Gem takes your will, you will pray for death."
"Then I'm not really in Wayne Manor nor am I wearing a physical body," he noted.
"You catch on quickly and will no doubt be ready for the coming conflict for your very soul."
Then Fate was gone.
Portent was ready as the being who called himself Asmodel wore the raiment of light. "I am free from heaven's prison, now step aside and allow me to once again take the form of the Spectre as the balance of power once again shifts."
Portent did not move as most did he used particles called psions to move his body so fast that it nearly appeared as if he were teleported.
Asmodel was one step ahead of the Chaos Lord from the parallel universe and used a sonic attack against him smashing him through the house and into the street. Portent had hit the pavement hard and might have been destroyed had not the mysterious runes on his body used a counter spell of protection against the former Angels terrible assault.
Portent smiled and his black blade howled. "Angels will feed my blade as well as any other dinner is served."
"You do not know true power, let the earth open its maw and swallow you whole." The Angel gestured and the earth consumed portent on the spot.
"Itís not going to be that easy," and Portent slammed his foot against the Angels skull pushing him back 12 steps.
The sky began to blacken and the thunder resounded against the firmament. Stormbringer moved as if it wanted to prove itself and was met by Asmodelís own blade. But the blade twisted and distorted in Portents hands, its runes burning a deep blue. Asmodel was pushed back as the blades blows were coming so fast that they were a blur and then the blade bit deep and Asmodel had a blank stare upon his face. But the blade pulled back as it had the souls within its boundaries stolen and drunken by the renegade Angel.
"Turn about is fair play, aye ebony blade, how does it feel to have your life force stolen from you and how does it feel to know you are against a power which makes even you helpless?"
"Do not delude yourself," said Portent, "there are certain rules that make things easier for your kind in this kind of conflict, but make no mistake, Asmodel, I too know the rules and can bend them at my leisure as well," Portent eyes burned crimson, "your advantage will be short lived already the Spectre is being aided by one of the universes most powerful mystics."
The Batman found himself in a boxing ring and in his corner was his old friend Alfred.
"Sir this is most important and I fear that you will have to be at your best."
Batman met a pasty white body in the center of the ring its hideous clown like visage mocking him with its frozen smile. "Hey Bats, we meet again and this time Iím the champion."
The Batman hit him with an overhand right to the jaw, "I figure your big mouth just cost you 2000 dollars worth of dental surgery, so shut and just fight." The Batman seemed grimmer and more determined than usual, his mind recalling all the hours of studying in Paris, all the hours of perfecting his body and turning it into a machine. How he used the power of his own mind to drive him when he thought he couldn't take any more. The death of his parents, the death of his partner. These thoughts made him sharp and for once even the Joker was at a loss as he had the unfortunate experience to stare into the eyes of one who was obsessed with cleaning the world of his kind for all time.
The Joker got up but found it difficult to make eye contact with him.
"This oneís for Robin."
"This oneís for not keeping your eyes on your opponent."
The blows came too fast for the Joker to defend against and the Batman soon had him against the ropes finally falling to the ground.
"Get up Joker, I want to hear why you did what you did to Robin," the Jokerís face was swollen and bloodied and he wisely stayed down knowing that if he was to rise again it might be the last.
The Batman went back to his corner and Alfred was telling him how well he was doing, "Sir, you seem very focused, but Iím afraid that this is not just a physical battle, it is a battle on the spiritual plane that has manifested itself in the thalamus which usually handles things in a primal fashion."
"Alfred, Iím afraid that from now on you're barred from the liquor cabinet."
"Sir, the next round is commencing - good luck," the Batman was next facing a being whom he had not easily triumphed in the past his body covered by an Atlas of veins that were gorging on the venom.
Batmanís first blows were useless against the leviathan called Bane, but easily avoided the thick square fists that looked as if they could punch a hole in his body.
"C,mon Bane, is that the best you can do? I have had a harder time helping old ladies across the street."
Bane threw his great fists with lethal fervor, as each blow missed by only a hair, Bane began to grow angrier as feelings of helplessness washed over his titanic form.
"Those are some pretty impressive blows, Bane, next time I know who to call on a hot summer day when I need a good breeze," Bane was almost in a murderous frenzy as he continued his advance on the Batman.
"You canít touch me anymore, the only way you can beat me is if I have my back turned to you - isn't it? I will bet that you could never defeat me without that venom running through your veins." Bane then looked at himself and was astounded as his body was completely drained of excess venom.
"How did you do that?" said Bane as spittle flew from his mouth in all directions
"This is a spiritual plane and you don't have any venom any more than you have that body," Batman then began to pound on Baneís large body, as he was helpless to stop the dark knightís assault. Blow after high impact blow struck at Bane, as he continued to give ground. "Surely you must realize that this is all about perception? You may be physically powerful but if you keep up with this line of thinking you will be extinct like the rest of the dinosaurs." Bane dropped like a sack of cornmeal.
Batman went back to his corner where Alfred then said, "This is the toughest opponent this one is your dark side, this is the shadow even you have not faced."
"Thanks for the pep talk, Alfred, Iíll keep that in mind."
And the dark knight was up for the final round when he stepped into the middle of the ring he saw his worst fear. The one had killed his mother and father. Batman lost control and was reverted to a small child. The killer struck him as fear gripped his insides. Now in the body of a child he was physical inferior and could do nothing to harm his larger and fiercer opponent.
Young Wayne drooped to his knees and waited for death. What could a mere boy do against an adult who was in possession of a firearm. He could feel the barrel of the gun being pressed against the back of his head.
"Open your mouth or Iíll kill you on the spot," young Wayne opened and put his teeth against the barrel of the gun. He could taste gunpowder in the back of his throat. He closed his eyes as the gun made clicking sound
Gunfire resounded throughout the ring as young Wayne got up and looked at his killer now laying before him. The back of his head blown clean off.
"I didn't know if I could do it at first," said Wayne as he spoke to the body of his parentsí killer. "But all those years of trying to control the fear that I had created, all those years of trying to find you. It was almost too easy as I set you up. All I had to do was realize you were just smoke, an independent part that I had given life to and take back the energy I had given to you."
The Batman was then hit with a major revelation as he was filled with the new knowledge of self and the greater knowledge that the Joker and Bane were actual souls pulled in by the gem itself to break his will and the knowledge that he now controlled, the very thing that had unbalanced the universe. The Batman was triumphant.
Portent and Asmodel were locked in combat when something like the burning wind began to rip it Asmodelís very being. The wind of flame began to move around the renegade angel with ever increasing speed so fast that even the cosmic senses of Portent could not see it any longer. Soon even the very molecular structure of Asmodel was dispersed in all directions. And then when it began to slow down it took the shape of a man the shape of a deceased man who once called himself the fastest man alive, a man whose name was Barry Allen.
Continued in Soul Brothers #4
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