Title: Rainbow's Freedom (Sanctuary Arc) (16/17)
Characters/Pairings: Clark/Bruce, Ollie Queen, Hal Jordan, Steve Trevor, Elias Stark, Harvey Dent, Dax Mantell, Lex Luthor
Series Notes: In the 23rd century, Earth is a technologically-advanced society that practices slavery. The wealthy freeman Bruce Wayne acquires a highly-prized bedslave whom he learns to cherish...but can he ever truly love a slave? And will it all be moot as a weak abolitionist movement slowly gathers strength while the Galactic Empire remains in a perpetual state of Cold War? The entire series can be found here.
Categories: Drama, AU
Rating: (this chapter): PG-13
Summary: Bruce, Ollie and Lex learn that the Empire is continuing to build up its arsenal while dealing with myriad threats to the Order of Things.
Date Of Completion: March 12, 2007
Date Of Posting: April 30, 2007
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, DC does, more's the pity.
Word Count: 2465
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
“Balance is order. Order is balance.”
10,993 B.C.E.-10,923 B.C.E.
BALANCE IN ALL THINGS
Bruce arrived outside the meeting room. He immediately spotted Ollie and the blond man shook his hand.
“Welcome back to Gotham.”
Ollie smiled. “Glad to be here.”
“Clark, would you see my secretary about the refreshments?” Bruce asked. Clark nodded and headed for Delilah’s office.
Ollie said, “By the way, Melody is a treasure.”
“Yes, the Caldwell slave.”
“Ah!” Bruce’s eyes lit up. “I didn’t know her name.”
“I did exactly as you suggested,” Ollie said as they moved a short distance away from the others beginning to gather outside the room. “I asked my cousin Leila to front for me as she knows Adelaide Caldwell, Edmund’s wife, and mother of Evangeline, Leila’s friend. That way Edmund wouldn’t know that I was interested, and make the guess that you had instigated things.
“As luck would have it, the little girl was the tea server. Leila immediately declared she was charmed and made an offer on the spot. Adelaide’s no sadist like her husband, but she has no attachments to slaves, either. She agreed and Leila wrote out a check, had Melody pack her things, and brought her directly to me. I reimbursed Leila and asked her to keep this to herself. She despises Edmund, had seen the bruises on Melody, and was glad to do it.
“Dinah adores her. She’s our personal Squire and is a doll.”
“Thank you, Ollie,” Bruce said fervently. “I’ll have to tell Clark.”
“Yes, considering he paid for her literally in flesh and blood.” Sympathy shone in green eyes. “How is he?”
“Does he understand…?”
“He won’t do it again.”
Ollie looked at him speculatively. “The six-hour wait must have been brutal.”
Bruce looked away. “It wasn’t easy.”
“Yes, all six hours must have been painful.”
Bruce looked back, answering steadily, “It was.”
Ollie’s eyes softened, but he said nothing more.
Clark returned and assured Bruce that refreshments were on the way.
Ollie said, “Let me introduce you to our star astronauts.” They went into the meeting room and he caught Hal’s attention. Hal and Steve came over. “Bruce, this is my old buddy, Hal Jordan, and a man rapidly approaching old and trusted friend, Steve Trevor.”
Bruce shook hands with the two Air Force majors, taking stock of them. Hal was a brunette with green eyes, his smile easy and his manner comfortable. However, Bruce sensed a strong will behind the affable smile.
Steve was blond, blue-eyed and what was classically thought of as ‘matinee-idol’-handsome, an archaic term that fit him. His smile was more on the dazzling side, yet he was as confident as Hal. Bruce liked both of them immediately.
“Gentlemen, let’s get started,” General Elias Stark said.
Everyone took their seats except for Bruce. He saw Harvey, Dax, and Lex among the attendees and nodded to them.
“Gentlemen, I wish to request that my slave be allowed to attend but seated,” Bruce said.
Stark harrumphed. “This is business, not a social gathering, Mr. Wayne.”
“I know that, sir, but I would like him to take notes and that would be difficult to do so kneeling at my feet. A vote?”
Grudgingly Stark said, “Highly irregular, but all right.” He turned to the attendees. “All in favor of allowing Mr. Wayne’s slave to be seated instead of kneeling, say aye.”
Several hands raised. Bruce was surprised to see Harvey and Dax’s hands up. He also noted Ollie, Lex, Steve, and Hal’s hands up along with three others.
“All opposed.” Stark and his two aides raised their hands up along with two other men.
“Ayes have it.” Stark’s craggy face registered disappointment.
Bruce went to the door. If the vote had been negative, he would have left Clark outside and taken the notes himself. Coming up with this little plan had allowed him to circumvent the Code about slaves and their positions at business meetings. He knew that proposing a vote would work, as freemen always liked the idea of having a decision in a slave’s fate.
Bruce ushered Clark in and directed him to sit in the corner chair, glad of those dark glasses. He noticed avaricious glances from some of the men. General Stark’s pale blue eyes glittered.
Bruce walked back to the table and sat down between Harvey and Ollie.
The meeting commenced.
& & & & & &
Clark glided the stylus over the electronic clipboard. Studies had shown the small, handheld Blackberrys and other gadgets caused hand problems because of the size. Bigger instruments were better suited for writing purposes.
Clark was grateful that he knew how to write. He could be helpful to Bruce.
He stole covert glances at Hal and Steve. They were right out of the tradition of the 20th Century test pilots and astronauts. Clark was fascinated by pilots. The idea of flying excited him. He often gazed up at the sky, wondering what it would be like up there.
He shook his head. He was drifting off again. Damn his disease. Confusion was part of the deal and despite the quinium treatments, he had to expect such loss of focus. With effort, he concentrated on the meeting.
& & & & & &
“Gentlemen, we’re meeting to discuss new contracts in the military/industrial complex. As you all have high security clearance, we’ll get right to it.” Stark shuffled some papers. “We are looking for mass production of new designs that Majors Jordan and Trevor have been testing. The numbers are on the sheets my aides are distributing now.” Stark waited for everyone to have the papers, then continued, “Our build-up is part of a program currently being implemented by the Galactic Empire.”
“Will we be manufacturing ships for other planets?” Lex asked.
Stark looked at Dax. “Sire Mantell?”
Dax nodded. “Gentlemen, all planets of the Empire will be given different contracts. Most of the manufacturing here on Earth, for example, will be for your own military. However, additional contracts will cover weaponry for the Empire forces. In other words, each planet will take care of their home security but will also contribute to the mutual Empire forces. Earth will supply fighter ships, Rigel will provide dreadnoughts, Orion, shuttles, and so on.”
“Thank you, Sire.”
“General,” Lex asked. “Are we planning for war?”
A hush fell over the room.
Leave it to Lex to be direct, Bruce thought in amusement. He noticed the same emotion in Ollie. All three of us go way back.
“Mr. Luthor, we are in what was once known as a Cold War. We must remain vigilant.” Stark’s expression was grave. “Major Trevor.”
Steve stood up. “One of our outposts on the Rim was attacked last week.”
A buzz went around the room. Lex leaned forward. “The Collective?”
“Unknown.” Steve’s voice was level but Bruce sensed the tension in him. “It could have been Collective work, or a rogue band. The outpost on Cestus 3 mined several kinds of minerals and ore. It was a small operation as we did not want to call attention to it.”
“What minerals?” Ollie asked.
“Irridium that fuels our ships; mexanite, berillium, malachite...” Steve finished the list, Bruce noting Stark’s grim expression. He continued, “There will always be skirmishes and incidents, gentlemen. Things may heat up next week or five years from now. Whatever the case, we need to start our build-up now.”
Stark nodded. “Thank you, Major.”
As Steve sat down, Ollie spoke up. “What are we doing about the attack? Are we trying a diplomatic initiative to see if we can find out anything?”
Stark looked like he wanted to chew glass at the thought of diplomacy. “Ms. Iris West is Earth Ambassador and has been appointed as a Special Envoy to the Collective.”
“She’s got guts,” murmured Lex, and the rest agreed.
Bruce thought of the dangers of dealing with the shadowy race. So little was known about them. Were they humanoid, were they all one race or a collection of races, such as the Empire and the old Confederation? Anyone dealing with them was at a disadvantage, not to mention the rumor that envoys did not always make it back.
“So we do have a diplomatic initiative started then,” said Bruce.
“Yes, but we can’t rely on that. We’ve had skirmishes with the Collective before.” Stark’s face grew even grimmer. “What was left…I won’t go into details.”
Bruce thought that was for the best.
Lex spoke up. “General, what about the rumor that there is a shortage of slave soldiers?”
Stark sipped a glass of water. “There have been some problems.”
“We’re investigating. For some reason the brood slaves are becoming sterile on certain farms. The stud slaves, too.”
A ripple of uneasiness went around the room. “You said ‘certain farms’, General. Does that mean those that supply the military and not the civilian market?”
“As I said, we’re investigating.”
Bruce knew sidestepping the question when he heard it. He and Ollie exchanged glances.
The rest of the meeting concerned production quotas and schedules. As it drew to a close, one of the Gotham businessmen remarked, “Maybe we should try and clone the Batman. Can you imagine the soldiers we could get from his genes?”
“Bah, the Batman,” sneered Stark. “Vigilantes like him shake the foundations of order. I’d say it was lucky that cloning doesn’t work. Too unstable.”
“True,” Harvey agreed. His fingers were flipping a pencil around and over. “Order is essential for our prosperity.”
“Doesn’t this Batman fight the petty crime humanity is riddled with?” Dax asked with a superior smile.
“Oh, he does. And supervillains, too,” Ollie said cheerfully.
“Like Green Arrow and Black Canary in Star City?” Lex asked.
“Yeah, like that. Lex, your city doesn’t have a resident superhero.”
“True. And we’re a major metropolitan city. We should have our own hero,” Lex said in amusement.
“Too bad we can’t use the Kryptonians,” another man suggested.
“The Kryptonians!” Stark was outraged. “With any luck, we’ll have eradicated them in a very short time.”
“How many are left?” Lex asked.
“Too many,” Stark snorted.
“What soldiers they’d make!” said the first man.
“Yes, they’d be great soldiers, but you can’t control them. Gentlemen,” the general leaned forward, “They possess the strength to rip an asteroid in two. They possess superspeed, vision, hearing. They’re invulnerable.” Stark’s pale blue eyes grew even frostier. “They could easily conquer any planet in the Empire with just a handful of their countrymen.”
“Why haven’t they done so?” asked Lex.
“Fortunately for us, their home planet exploded. They were already scattered across the galaxy and had no strength in numbers. Again, luckily for us, their love of independence and freedom keeps them from banding together.” Stark smiled. “And our hunting them down.”
“They hate slavery,” Harvey growled.
Stark nodded. “They would work to abolish the institution, by force if necessary.”
Harvey’s face darkened. “It would bring down the Empire.”
“How so?” asked Steve.
Harvey looked at the blond incredulously. “My dear Major, our civilization is built on slavery. Every planet in the Empire practices it.” Dax nodded beside him. “Without it, we would have chaos.” Harvey’s eyes glowed with the passion of a True Believer. “Order is imperative! Everyone knows their place. Balance in all things.”
Bruce shifted in his seat. He was never comfortable with Harvey’s show of passion. It seemed…unbalanced…at times.
“But they only get their powers under a yellow sun,” Steve observed.
“Correct,” Stark agreed.
“So we simply keep them off yellow sun worlds,” said Lex.
“We try, but they’ve slipped away before and give us trouble. More than one Kryptonian have led slave rebellions.”
“Why haven’t we heard about these rebellions?” Bruce asked with a frown.
“Because, Mr. Wayne, the Empire wishes to prevent these radicals from gaining adherents. They led rebellions in remote outposts. Subduing them proved costly.”
“Still, it would seem more useful to control them instead of simply annihilating them,” Lex said.
Stark snorted. “Believe me, Mr. Luthor, there are factions within our very Government who are researching that line of thinking. In my opinion, we would be fortunate if there were none left to control.” Stark’s voice was stentorian. “These Kryptonians love freedom over life itself, and their powers would be as gods. Highly useful weapons, but the methods to keep them docile and obedient would probably negate their power.”
“I thought that Green Kryptonite killed Kryptonians,” Hal said. “That wouldn’t be very practical for controlling purposes.”
“Green K isn’t the only type out there.”
Bruce was surprised. There were more kinds of Kryptonite? He filed way that fact. You never know when you might need anything you learned.
The meeting concluded and Stark said, “I’d like to meet again in two weeks.”
Bruce stood. “I’d like to offer this room again here at Wayne Enterprises and invite you all back to Gotham.” His dark-blue eyes twinkled. “Gotham at Halloween is an …interesting…experience.” Laughter rippled around the room. “General?”
“Gotham it is, then.”
The meeting broke up into little groups, Ollie chatting with Bruce.
“I’m sorry that I have to run off again on you, Bruce. Let me make it up to you. We’ll have lunch when I return in two weeks. And to sweeten the pot, I’ll bring along glamour boys Jordan and Trevor.”
Bruce glanced over at Clark, whose eager expression amused him. “That sounds great, Ollie. I’d like to invite you to stay at the Manor while you’re in town. You, too, Lex.”
Lex had come up to their group and looked pleased. “Thanks, Bruce. Old friends should stick together.” Interest lit his eyes. “I never saw your Prize up close.”
Bruce lifted his hand and Clark immediately came to his side, eyes downcast behind the dark glasses.
Lex looked with appreciation. “Beautiful,” he murmured.
“Thank you,” Bruce said with pride.
“Well, our train leaves in an hour. Care for a seatmate?” Lex asked Ollie.
“Thanks, Lex. Let’s go for it. Bruce, see you in two.”
Bruce shook their hands. As the men departed, Clark said, “Is Mr. Queen planning to stay over with Mr. Luthor?”
“No, but Star City’s on the route of the train. Wonderful things, monorail trains. They’re so fast and comfortable, and even though hovercars are a great way to travel, I guess I’m just an old-fashioned guy.”
Clark laughed. “I can see that. You’ve updated the Manor technologically but the house itself is so rich in history.”
Bruce looked at Clark in appreciation. “You understand,” he said softly as he took Clark’s hand.
Clark squeezed his hand. “I try.” His lips curved into a smile, and Bruce knew that if the glasses were removed, Clark’s eyes would be sparkling.
Bruce squeezed back. “Let’s go to lunch.”