Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Alfred, Clark/Bruce, Dick, Alan Fordham, Brad Stryker, Sven Anderson, Silas Bracken
Series Notes: In the 23rd century, Earth is a technologically-advanced society that practices the ancient institution of slavery. New superheroes appear on the scene as the Abolitionist Movement gathers strength. Meanwhile, Lex gets his heart’s desire while long-held secrets begin to spill out of the Manor. Nothing will ever be the same again.
The entire series can be found here.
Genres: AU, Challenge, Drama, Slavefic
Challenge Category: Section E (Slavefic)
Rating: (this chapter): PG-13
Summary: Secrets spill out.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): March 18, 2010
Date Of Posting: June 22, 2011
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 2324
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author's Note: Written for my 2010 DCU Fic/Art Bondage Challenge.
"All About Eve"
The hurricane had swept through, and now there was clean-up to contend with, a massive project in Gotham and at the Manor.
The Family took a survey of the grounds as clouds bunched together in the sky, white and fluffy instead of dark and heavy. Everything was drenched, and dismay crossed four faces as they saw trees uprooted and the gardens in wild disarray.
Alfred sighed. “We were lucky that the trees nearest the house sustained little damage.”
“Mmm,” Bruce said. He had been distracted all morning. His expression saddened as he went over to a venerable old sugar maple, touching the trunk. “It’s split nearly in two,” he murmured.
“We can get our landscapers for the bulk of this mess, but we’ll call a tree doctor for this.”
“A tree doctor!” Dick giggled. He was hobbling but Alfred had persuaded Bruce that the fresh air would do the boy good.
Clark was distressed at the state of the grounds, and examined the maple tree closely. “I think the tree can be saved,” he declared.
“You really think so?” Dick limped to stand next to Clark and the damaged tree.
“I do,” Clark said as he looked down at Dick with a smile. He caressed the trunk. “This is a sturdy old fella, probably at least a century old.”
“Two,” Alfred said.
“Wow.” Dick looked up at the tree that towered over them. “Everything here is old.”
Clark and Alfred laughed, even Bruce smiling a little. Bruce put his hand on Dick’s shoulder. “We prefer to say ‘traditional’.”
Alfred studied the tree. “I believe you’re right, Clark. It does look salvageable.”
Bruce patted the trunk. “It’s a survivor,” he said quietly, “Some things endure even while things change around them.”
Alfred looked sharply at his charge, and as Clark and Dick discussed what methods would be used to save the tree, the butler asked quietly, “Everything all right, sir?”
Bruce was watching his loved ones. “Everything’s fine, Alfred. I just have a lot of things on my mind.”
Alfred said nothing further. When Master Bruce wanted to talk, he would.
“Let’s get that tree doctor out here, eh?” Bruce said.
Bruce jumped. “Oh, you startled me, Clark.”
Clark raised an eyebrow. Bruce rarely startled. “What are you up to?”
“Just some research.” Bruce closed the window on his computer before Clark could see it. “How are you feeling?”
“Pretty good.” Clark sat down on the other side of the desk. “How about you?”
“Me? I’m fine.”
“You’ve been awfully quiet.”
“Oh, you know me. I’m a quiet type.” He smiled. “Looks like you’ll be doing a lot of work in the garden.”
“Oh, yeah. Alfred’s kitchen garden is separated, but the formal gardens…ouch.”
“Well, whatever you need, order it. Wayne Manor needs beautiful gardens.”
“Oh, yes. Clark smiled. “You could stand to feel the earth between your fingers.”
“Oh, I could, could I?”
“Yes, you could.”
Bruce laughed. “Maybe you’re right.”
Clark’s smile was of the mega-wattage variety. Bruce relaxed. He should stop brooding about what-ifs and maybes and enjoy what he had. He slipped his hand across the desk and grasped Clark’s hand, their fingers entwining as the sun finally broke out from behind the clouds, shining a rainbow prism into the study.
The doorbell rang. “I’ll get it, Alfred!” Dick said as he limped across the foyer. He opened the door. “Yes?”
A blond main in a crisp suit and long coat stood there, with a manila envelope in his hand. He sported a black eye and his right hand was bandaged.
“Tavisham Courier Service. I have a delivery for Mr. Wayne.”
“I need a signature…” Alan Fordham shifted, a little uncomfortable.
Dick bit his lip. Bruce was down in the Batcave, preparatory to patrol, and a signature could only be given by a freeman.
Brad Stryker came up the driveway. “Is there a problem here, Richard?”
Relieved, Dick said, “Mr. Stryker, this gentleman says he needs a signature, and Master Bruce isn’t available.”
“Ah. I’ll sign.”
The courier handed Brad the datapad, the Security Chief scrawling his name and handing the pad back.
“Thank you, sir.”
“You’re welcome.” Brad’s cellphone rang and he moved away to talk.
“Tell Mr. Wayne that I’m sorry for the delay. I spent a few days in the hospital after my train crashed.” The courier grimaced.
“Oh, wow! Don’t worry about it. Master Bruce won’t hold it against you. A train crash isn’t your fault.”
The courier grinned. “Thanks, kid.” He left as Dick closed the door.
Dick limped across the foyer and down the hall to the study, placing the envelope on Bruce’s desk. He returned to help Alfred bake cookies in the kitchen.
Bruce typed at a furious pace. The slave smuggling rings encompassed all of Earth, concentrated in North America. At first glance they appeared to be strictly Terran, but were there ties to off-world gangs?
If they’re dealing in exotics, they have to be. He leaned back in his chair. Especially if the exotics are Kryptonian.
Rubbing his forehead, he thought of last night’s stake-out. He had watched Silas Bracken’s office but saw no suspicious activity, which of course would not show up there. No, he would have to check out the warehouse Bracken leased for signs of illegal activity.
Bruce alerted Alfred upstairs that he was leaving and rose from his chair. He slipped on his cowl and went to the Batmobile, driving out of the Cave.
The stake-out left Batman alone with his thoughts. By now the Gotham Police Department would be coordinating arrests with other cities’ police. That would mean Lex’s Committee would be short one member.
He watched the warehouse that Silas Bracken leased in concert with other slave dealers. Each dealer had their own section of the large building, cages set up in the same way as they were in Knickerbocker Hall. The offices were located in the southeastern corner.
The warehouse district was respectable enough, certainly better than some other sections in other areas of town. Slaves were transported into Gotham by boat or truck, but there were no signs of any shipments.
A door opened and a shaggy-haired man in jeans and a denim jacket stepped out, lighting a glowstick. The stick illuminated his face as he took a drag, blowing out nicotine-free smoke. He continued his break for ten minutes, then went back inside.
Inside, the supervisor returned to his office, frowning as he saw his computer on. He had not booted it up yet. What…?
Sven Anderson jumped. “Who’s there?”
“Is Silas Bracken involved in the smuggling trade?” came the rasping voice.
Anderson backed up nervously. “I don’t know nothin’ about any slave smuggling.”
“Really?” The voice sounded closer. All Anderson could see were shadows. Terror seized his heart as he realized who was speaking. “I think you know quite a bit.”
“I don’t, I swear!” Maybe if he could get out of the office…
The door slammed behind him. Jumping, Anderson winced. He could hear the rustle of silk.
“Tell me, Mr. Anderson,” whispered the voice in his ear. “Tell me about Silas Bracken dealing in illegal exotics.”
“I don’t know his dealings…” He hissed as a gloved hand clamped his shoulder in a vise. “Please, I don’t know nothin’!”
“Think again.” The hand gripped tighter and Anderson whimpered. “It will go badly for you if you don’t talk. Show me the evidence.”
Anderson trembled. “Nothin’s here.” He nervously licked his lips. The silence was worse than the voice. “It’d be in his office.”
Anderson nodded vigorously. “Not on his computer. He don’t trust it with all the Gov snooping. All the records off the official books are in his office safe.”
“Where’s the safe?”
“Behind the picture of the horse race.”
“Kentucky Derby. He’s got horses he runs.”
The silk began to retreat. “Say nothing.”
Sven Anderson nearly collapsed in relief as the Batman disappeared.
Batman found the office of Silas Bracken easily. It was located in the Braddock Building, close to Knickerbocker Hall. The office was plush, befitting a man who made his wealth in the slave trade.
The gilt-edged painting of the Kentucky Derby was behind the desk. A wraith-like figure slipped over to the painting and pulled it away from the wall.
The safe was an old-fashioned type, which many people employed instead of the electronic ones. The old art of safecracking had been lost, and until that art was cultivated again, valuables could be protected.
Fortunately, the Batman cultivated the old-fashioned.
He listened to the tumblers click, then opened the safe. He took out the papers, riffling through them. Thunder rumbled in the distance.
He read, and he read, and his hands began to tremble. A sound out in the hall caused him to whirl around, disappearing into the shadows.
Clark wiped down with a nice, fluffy towel. It had been a relaxing bath. He stepped out into the bedroom, noticing the clouds gathering on the horizon as he looked out the window. He hoped that did not mean another storm. Yawning, he climbed in under the covers for some sleep before Bruce came back.
Silas entered the office, huffing as he headed for his desk. Jeremiah had left several messages, insisting on speaking to him, and Silas was betting it was not about Great Aunt Sally’s 100th birthday next month. Thunder growled on the outskirts of the city.
Thick fingers reached to turn on the desk lamp, suddenly noticing the painting slightly ajar.
“What the hell…?”
The breath whooshed out of him as he was slammed into the wall.
“Silas Bracken, you are a smuggler.”
The hiss reverberated in his ear. Stomach clenching, he stuttered, “What…what are you talking about?” He groaned as he was slammed into the wall again.
“You know what I’m talking about! You are working with your cousin to sell Kryptonians to wealthy buyers!”
“Kryps? They’re Hunted! Why would I risk…?”
“Because of the money, of course!”
“It’s too risky!”
“You have a conduit with your cousin on the Kryptonian Control Committee. He can get you Kryptonians for your dirty little trade.”
“I…” Sweat beaded on his broad forehead.
“Kryptonians that you pump full of mindwipe drugs and somehow suppress their powers!”
“You’re fishing, Batman! I deal in legal slaves, not those under a Hunt Decree! I told you it’s too risky!”
“So maybe you don’t do it often, but maybe once? What about the slave you sold to Bruce Wayne? No memory, no pedigree…a blank slate!” Thunder cracked and lightning flashed as the new storm broke.
Dick yawned. He was used to staying up late nights because of patrol, but tonight he was off again. He had bid goodnight to Alfred but paused beside the study doorway. Maybe he should write a note to Bruce and tell him that courier delivery had been delayed. What if it was something important?
He went into the room and turned on the desk lamp. Fishing around for paper, he listened to the sound of the rain drumming on the roof. Well, at least it was not another hurricane.
Dick finished the note and reached to put it in the envelope when a flash of lightning startled him and he knocked the envelope off the desk. The broken clasp came loose and papers slipped out. Dick bent down to gather them up and froze when he read Lex’s handwritten note.
He quickly red through the print-outs, shock on his face as he sat on the floor with a thump.
The rain came down harder.
The rain came to Gotham as it always did.
Batman navigated the curves of the country road with precise skill. The Batmobile was a beautiful machine. The records he had taken from Bracken’s safe were on the seat next to him.
Supply can be obtained from contacts on the Hunt Decree and Kryptonian Control Committees.
The rain came down harder, Batman gripping the wheel tightly.
Drugs can be administered to control memory. These drugs are in use now for experiments by the K-Con Comm.
Suppression of powers can also be obtained from the K-Con Comm. They are developing new forms of Kryptonite to keep the powers under control. The latest type is Rainbow Kryptonite.
Batman gunned the engine, the Batmobile roaring along the winding road, the turrets of the Manor showing above the trees as lightning arced over the ocean, the waves wild and frothing.
Selling Kryptonians is risky. Supplying owners with a piece of Green Kryptonite is advisable.
The waves crashed on the rocks below as the Batmobile disappeared through the hidden entrance in the hillside.
This operation is risky, but could be immensely profitable.
Batman slammed on the brakes, scrambling out of the Batmobile and striding toward the vault, cape swirling behind him as the bats squeaked high overhead as if sensing his agitation.
He opened the vault and went inside, walking to the back. Slowly he picked up the metal box given to him by Silas Bracken when he had purchased Clark, picking up the brass key and bringing it out to the Cave, falling to his knees. With a shaking hand, he unlocked the box.
Dick heard the powerful thrum of the Batmobile’s engine. He hurried down the grand staircase and into the study, snatching up the envelope and hobbling to the library. Opening the grandfather clock, he hurried down the stone steps as fast as he could.
He saw Bruce kneeling before a lead box, a green glow limning his face, tears glistening on his cheeks. Dick felt his stomach clench as he approached, putting a hand on Bruce’s shoulder as he knelt beside him.
Nothing would ever be the same again.
END OF ARC THE SEVENTH: PROJECT K
NEXT: ARC THE EIGHTH: RAINBOW PRISMS (tentative title)