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Doctor Who Crossover Internet Adventure #05 - "Fear Itself"


Chapter 6
"The Seeds of Doubt"
by Gordon Dymowski


---


"You may call me "The Kryptonite Kid", because I have pure Kryptonite running through my veins." The Kryptonite Kid held out his hands and fired a shot of pure Kryptonite energy at Superman.


       "Can't touch me!" Superman said, as the energy bounced off of his armoured suit.


       "That was just a demonstration!" The Kryptonite Kid turned up the juice, and again the energy on, this time at full blast, ripping the Battle-Suit off like it were made out of paper.


       "Oh, no," Superman cried, as pure Kryptonite energy was being fired at Superman again and again. "That suit was supposed to be my ace against him."


       "Die, Superman! DIE!" One more blast was shot out, there was a loud blood-curling scream from Superman and a moment later Superman's cape floated down into a stunned Batman's arms.


       Standing defiantly, the creature that called itself the "Kryptonite Kid" - a curious amalgam of silver, purple, and yellow, smiled gloatingly, its blood-red lips clashing with his silver skin. Blank white eyes peered through a domino mask and beheld the wanton chaos throughout the plaza.


       "I did it," the creature gloated. "I destroyed Superman!"


       Quickly recovering from his recent shock, Batman calmly inventoried the situation, attempting to devise a plan of action. Alien metal suddenly clanged behind him, as the pieces of the Kryptonian battle armour fell to the ground. Suddenly, Batman heard a sickening crunch, which was followed by some slight tremors. Luthor, quickly creeping away from the Batmobile, trying to avoid detection. The creature had ignored the wooden box, but there was no conceivable way to acquire it without facing the creature. Instinctively dropping Superman's cape, Batman observed that the creature was beginning to develop a greenish glow, as if its power was building.


       "Compared to Superman, you'll be easy," the creature snarled. "After all, you're only human."


       In a flash of thought, Batman reached around his back, and ran his fingers against the rear of his utility belt. Quickly he snapped off one of the cylindrical compartments, double-checking its contents. Normally, this compartment - a vial of acid - would be used if he had to burn his way out of a cell. However, given the power that the creature exuded, it would not do that much damage, but it would give Batman a few critical moments.


       Just as suddenly, Batman hurled the vial into the creature's face. As it smashed apart, the creature felt the acid begin to burn into his flesh, and it grasped at his face. While he was bent over, Batman headed for the Batmobile, opening the door by remove control. The Batmobile's shielding might provide some comfort, but if that thud were what he thought it was, it would buy him some vital time.


       The creature then stood up, the acid harmlessly bubbling against its face. Green energies seemed to build as the creature began to stand defiantly. A slight throbbing noise built as the creature took a few steps towards the Batmobile. Batman was almost inches away from the door.


       "You cannot get away, Batman,' the creature threatened. "I will destroy you... and show you how powerful I can be."


       Just then, in the blink of an eye, the Batman found himself behind the wheel of the Batmobile, just as a blast of energy hit. The Batmobile shook slightly, but remained unharmed.


       "Your vehicle will not protect you," the creature snarled. "Let me show you the full extent of my power!"


       Just then, the throbbing built to a crescendo. The creature began to be swallowed by a greenish light. Just then, a sudden flash, and the creature collapsed into a pile of dust.


       Batman turned to see a very bruised tattered Superman sitting next to him. On top of Superman's lap was the wooden box, partially wrapped in a familiar red cape.


       "What happened?" Batman asked stoically.


       "His energy blast knocked me off balance," Superman responded. "But I was able to recover. One burst of super speed, and I was able to get us here. Our friend subconsciously pulled his punches."


       "That doesn't explain what happened just now," Batman countered. "Why was that thing consumed by its own energy?"


       "Kryptonite can be just as deadly to humans as it is to me," Superman explained. "Only it takes a much longer time. Years, so to speak."


       "That's why Luthor sneaked away like he did," Batman countered.


       Making a mental note to visit Luthor, Superman said, "Yes. From what I've heard, he's learned about Kryptonite the hard way. Whoever gave that boy power didn't count on Kryptonite hurting humans."


       "That 'boy' almost destroyed you and I," Batman countered.


       "It was. Which means we need to find out who's behind this," Superman asserted. "We should call the League on this."


       "No," Batman asserted. "Tactically, we would be at a disadvantage. We already have the Doctor involved, for what reason we don't know. We don't need people punching first and asking questions later."


       "Agreed," Superman responded. "I think we should get some more information on this Doctor. Or, at least, you can tell me what you already know."


       "The cave, then," Batman declared. "You'll get a chance to recuperate, and I will analyse the box and some of that dust. It might give us a clue as to what's going on."


       "Fine," Superman answered tiredly.


       Hopefully, they could figure out what was going on. And what role the Doctor played in all of this.


* * *


"Who are you?" Tegan asked.


       "I am Darkseid," the stone man with the glowing red eyes announced. "I am ruler of Apokolips. I also see that, again, my dolt of a son has failed me."


       "Big fat hairy deal," Superboy quipped, and suddenly sprang at Darkseid. Twin crimson beams emerged from Darkseid's "eyes" and hit Superboy square in the chest. Superboy crumpled to the ground, and Nyssa ran to check on him.


       "Whelp," Darkseid said. "I ask for the three who challenge my dominion. I get an inferior genetic copy, an ignorant protege, and two provocatively dressed human females."


       "For someone who's willing to blast someone for no reason," Tegan snarled. "You have a really poor sense of priorities."


       "He is right about you being rather provocatively dressed," Robin said.


       "*You* should talk," Tegan countered, then pointing to Superboy, asserted, "We don't even know if he's dead."


       "He'll be all right, Tegan," Nyssa announced. "He's just stunned."


       Robin stifled the urge to make a comment about pining for the fjords.


       "Of course," Darkseid countered. "He and the boy will make great slaves in my minds. You and the other female, of course, will serve me well."


       "Just what to you mean by serve?" Tegan asked sardonically.


       "If it is my will, I can have you work in the mines. You may even be fortunate to do something worthier, like provide me a son to replace the worthless husk that is Kalibak," Darkseid responded.


       Tegan was about to lunge at Darkseid, but Robin held her back. He whispered, "I don't think that's a good idea."


       Calming herself, Tegan asked, "And if we're not fortunate?"


       Darkseid responded, "I do not think you want to know."


       With that, he summoned several of his personal guard.


       "Escort them to their... waiting area," Darkseid commanded. "I think I will figure out my... use for them."


       With that, Darkseid departed, and made his way to his private sanctuary.


       As he entered, the Black Guardian turned to reveal himself. Darkseid's face showed no fear, no trepidation, no regret.


       Darkseid began, "My apologies, Guardian. I fear that, in ignoring your command, I have failed you yet again."


       "What do you mean?" the Black Guardian asked, glowering at him through coal-black eyes.


       Darkseid explained what had happened and who had been apprehended. When Darkseid finished, the Guardian smiled a particularly satisfied smile.


       "Do not fret, Darkseid," the Black Guardian said. "In fact, be joyful. You have provided excellent bait for the prize that I truly want."


       "What is that?" Darkseid asked.


* * *


"Hey, Doc, where ya suppose we are?" Bibbo asked.


       "I believe this particular area is called... Armaghetto," the Doctor responded.


       Exiting the TARDIS, both men beheld their surroundings. Thick, noxious- looking grey fumes wafted through a sky painted a particular dirty orange colour. Buildings seemed to lurk menacingly, their architecture bent at strange angles. If Gotham and Metropolis were polar opposites, Apokolips was the third side of the triangle — an entire realm where the collective darkness of the multiverse held reign. Quickly, the Doctor glanced at the celery stalk on his lapel - the veins of the stalk were red. Although not fatal to human or Time Lord, the atmosphere of Apokolips was particularly unhealthy. The sooner they came to the some resolution of this crisis, the better.


       "Bibbo, who told you about boom tubes?" the Doctor asked.


       "What?"


       "Boom tubes. You mentioned something about boom tubes being the only way here. Who told you?"


       "I dunno. I just kinda knew, I guess. It's da same with my appearin' to save Sooperman - I just did."


       Sighing, the Doctor realized that Bibbo really was the Great Bibbowski, and not some shape shifter, or someone in disguise. Someone had used another innocent as bait in a very complex trap. However, the Doctor then realized that it meant there were other players involved some higher players.


       "The more powerful the enemy, the more intricate the trap," the Doctor mumbled.


       "Whadja say?" Bibbo asked.


       "Nothing," the Doctor said. "Let's explore, shall we?"


       Trolling through the streets of Armaghetto, the Doctor and Bibbo saw the results of Darkseid's rule. Although the Doctor had seen countless worlds where tyranny and oppression held sway, Armaghetto was the only place where he actually felt helpless to do anything. As people quickly glanced up to check out the strangers in this realm, the Doctor saw broken spirits in their eyes. If there was hope here, it had long been extinguished.


       It made the Doctor glad he had left his world all those years ago.


       "Doc, ya mentioned dat ya saw my last fight, right?"


       "Yes, I did. I believe it was against Ted Grant."


       "Dat was a long time ago. Longer dan I tink you wuz alive,"


       "Oh, I was a young man, then. Much younger. I was... taking a sabbatical."


       "Huh?"


       "I was taking a break, not of my own choice. I saw much of Earth, helped a lot of people."


       "Dat's good, Doc. Jeez, I wunner where we're goin'"


       "Hopefully, to where that boom tube originated from,"


       Just then, a squadron of parademons flew down from the sky, several of them landing in a pattern surrounding the Doctor and Bibbo. Most of the residents of Armaghetto scurried into their homes, hoping that the parademons would not do too much damage as they dealt with these intruders.


       "And I think we're about to find out," the Doctor announced.


* * *


After relating the news about the box to her father, Talia was surprised to see that Ra's Al Ghul did not engage in his usual fiery temper.


       "My daughter," he said. "As I had related before, there were certain elements of my initial plan that I wanted to keep, and I was correct in my assumption."


       "But Father, when Darkseid finds out..."


       "I will have retreated to an area of safety," Ra's Al Ghul declared. "Let the detective take matters from this point. We shall not be discovered."


       "But Father..." Talia began.


       "And, my daughter," Ra's Al Gul interrupted. "Do not think of attempting to contact the detective on your own. We must retreat skilfully. If we are fortunate, nothing can be traced back to us."


* * *


"Here is your cape, Master Clark," Alfred said, handing Superman a silver tray with a red cloth on it, accompanied by a coffee mug. "And your coffee — cream and one sugar."


       "Thanks, Alfred," Superman responded, taking the tray from Alfred and smiling.


       "It is rather nice to have someone who can articulate gratitude, and not just grunt incoherently," Alfred responded. As soon as Superman placed the tray on a nearby table, Alfred turned and left.


       Batman - or rather, Bruce Wayne without the cowl - entered from another part of the cave, holding a computer printout. As Superman took a drink of coffee, Bruce announced, "Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that hypo had a Kryptonite needle. It was meant for you."


       "And the bad news is...?" Superman asked.


       "There's something... organic in it. It demonstrates empathikinetic properties," Bruce responded.


       "So it influences emotions. Come from anyone we know?"


       "I checked all known criminals who utilize emotions, or who can influence the emotions of others. The only one unaccounted for is Psycho- Pirate, and Animal Man reported that he had been dealt with. Tricky case - Psycho-Pirate actually had Animal Man convinced that we were all characters in a comic book."


       "Could it have something to do with that Mara thing the Doctor spoke about?" Superman asked. The words "Time Lord" shouted themselves in his mind. He still didn't know what that meant.


       A constant beeping sound was heard close by.


       "Oracle. She must have something for us," Batman declared.


       Quickly, both men went through the trophy room and entered the Batcomputer annex. Superman silently wondered how Bruce managed to move a giant penny *and* a giant robot dinosaur into the cave without causing suspicion. However, soon they came upon the Batcomputer - a giant complex machine consisting of one large main screen, several smaller screens, and an elaborate control console with conventional keyboard and other assorted controls. The familiar cape and cowl were hanging on a nearby mannequin.


       A greenish, female face greeted the two men. "Batman, it's Oracle."


       "What's going on?" Bruce asked. He always seemed to have that tone of command, Barbara Gordon thought - he could easily do Dad's job.


       "I did a cross-check on that Doctor person you asked about - I wanted to play a hunch. I double-checked his identity against alternative sources - the League database, some old declassified Justice Society files, some historical files, and some not-so-easy-to-access British intelligence files."


       "British intelligence? I thought you said that UN organization the Doctor belonged to wasn't easily accessible," Batman said, having placed the cowl back on. Superman noticed that the night vision lenses in the cowl gave Bruce's eyes an eerie, unnatural look. No *wonder* criminals were a cowardly, superstitious lot.


       "Let's just say that Waynesoft was a *very* good investment," Oracle quipped.


       "Find anything?" Batman asked.


       "Well, unofficially, England has records on a 'Doctor' appearing in something called the 'Shoreditch Incident' in 1963. Some involvement with a Post Office Tower, and then a big blank. Like someone erased a videotape in the middle of a movie. Bits and pieces, nothing that can be easily reconstructed."


       "What else?" Batman prodded.


       "However, I came across some data on the founding of Opal City that suggests the Doctor may have had a hand in that. Several Justice Society members - Ted Knight, Rex Tyler, Wesley Dodds - report having had workings with a man called the Doctor. Funny thing is... three different men called themselves 'Doctor'."


       Batman and Superman looked at each other puzzledly, trying to make sense of the new information. Oracle then continued, "Here's the kicker - in several League databases on other planets - Thanagar, Rann, Colu, several others - there's mention of a time traveller who has intervened in their affairs. A gentleman called..."


       "The Doctor," Superman interrupted. "Listen, Oracle, can you cross reference the Doctor with the words 'Time Lord'."


       Barbara Gordon was surprised to hear Superman; after all, he and Batman were as different as night and day. Literally. However, after a few moments, she said, "Several worlds *do* mention a race called the Time Lords. Depending on who you ask, these Time Lords are either a race of omnipotent superbeings, a politically corrupt race of powermongers, or a bunch of aliens with *way* too much time on their hands."


       "You know what this means, Batman?" Superman asked.


       "I think I do," Batman answered. "The Doctor knew about the Mara, has been in the right place at the right time; he's behind this."


* * *


Bound by several large, intricate chains, the Doctor and Bibbo found themselves escorted down a rather long hallway by two parademons. As they walked down the hallway, flames shot up from both sides.


       "One of these days," the Doctor muttered. "I think I shall ask Dante if he ever visited here."


       Just then, both men found themselves face-to-face with Darkseid. Seeing Darkseid's countenance, the Doctor wondered just exactly *what* kind of life forms lived here, and how they came into existence.


       "Are *you* the Doctor?" Darkseid asked.


       "I am," the Doctor answered. "May I, in return, ask who you are?"


       "No," Darkseid responded, his eyes glowing red.


       Suddenly, two omega bursts emerged from his eyes....


---
To be concluded...



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