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Chapter 2

Every evening between one and two in the morning the Batcave computers downloaded massive amounts of information from police blotters, newspapers, corporate and government networks, and then ran the data through a complex series of filtering and sorting routines designed to tag the information Batman might require. 

It immediately alerted Bruce when a foreign dignitary reserved the top four floors of the Gotham Imperial Hotel.  It took very little investigation to determine that the dignitary was Ra’s Al Ghul.  Despite Selina’s assertion that the demon was a “flyweight, a hairdo, and a bush league schmuck” who owed his stature as a world-class villain to Batman “taking everybody to DefCon4 just because an Al Ghul comes to town,” Batman did, essentially, take everybody to DefCon4. 

He could not deduce what his nemesis was doing here in person.  He had his agents, he had his daughter—he didn’t need to give up the home field advantage leaving his compound this way.  So why did he do it?  

One aspect of “DefCon4” was a subroutine that monitored the closed-captioning on every television station and alerted him if a broadcast contained certain keywords.  At 10:15 in the morning, the subroutine went haywire, it was almost as if dozens of keywords were being flagged at the same time. 

Punching in a code directing the computer to display the broadcast on the largest view screen, Batman gasped as the larger than life face of Ra’s Al Ghul loomed over the cave.  

He was…

He was… 

…on a talk show?  

Ra’s was on a talk show.  He was talking about some book he was writing—about past lives?  He was… This was… This wasn’t right. 

Batman couldn’t help but wonder if some cosmic justice wasn’t avenging Joker for the episode at the Iceberg Lounge. 

Ra’s Al Ghul was IN GOTHAM CITY, appearing on a WOMEN’S TALK SHOW, promoting A BOOK?  

The theories Dick and Tim had put forth about his cooking raced through Bruce’s mind: 

alternate universe! 

“Here’s a sonnet I was able to recall, under regression hypnosis of course, from a previous incarnation in 15th Century Florence, when I was a humble soldier enamored of a noblewoman.  It is entitled simply: To Canary…”

shape shifter!

“Oh, Star, isn’t that beautiful? I wish men today wrote things like that.”

“Girlfriend, most men wouldn’t even admit to writin’ that in a previous life if you ask me,”

“I can’t help wondering if she said yes.”


“You stick around, Rozzie, ‘cause after this commercial break we’re going to make flower boxes to bright up those windows!”

(under playoff music)  “It’s pronounced RAYsh.’”


“The old man’s brain is caught in his zipper.”

Ubu would never have said such a thing.  Ra’s Al Ghul’s former lieutenant-cum-bodyguard had been indoctrinated from birth, raised to serve his master without question or comment. 

Draco, the new man, was a disappointment.  He was respectful enough in Ra’s presence, but spoke in an unseemly way with the captain of the guard, whose room was, of course, bugged.   

Making a mental note to have Draco dispatched when they returned to the compound (for it would not do to dispose of bodies in the Detective’s city), Ra’s switched on the television and searched for the appearance he’d taped the previous day with Regis and some other woman.  He could never remember all their names. 

Not realizing the 36 in the television listing corresponded to channel 8 on the actual set, Ra’s naively turned the dial to 36.  He watched the first three hours of SoapNet’s marathon of classic soap opera storylines, the greatest criminal mind of this or any generation sitting resolutely through highlights of “Luke and Laura’s Summer on the Run” as he waited patiently for his segment with Regis.  As the hours passed, he was able to deduce that a secret agent, a ne’er-do-well thief, and a blonde were all searching for a man-made diamond called Ice Princess.  The thief and the blonde were obviously lovers, and the whole thing was a disgusting example of decadent Western culture… until the appearance of an enigmatic Greek.  The fellow had some kind of secret underground installation from whence he planned—this was intriguing—from whence he planned to build a massive weather machine capable of producing carbonic snow that could freeze the entire world!

Ra’s watched in fascinated awe as Mikkos Cassadine, with a psychopathic gleam in his eye, told how he would “force global leaders to yield to my will! The entire world will live by my rule.  I will be in supreme command!”

It was brilliant!  It was inspired! 

Why was he wasting his time with press agents, publishers, and dogs?  His lieutenants were right! He had lost focus!  He had to escalate his plan to take over the world and FORCE Black Canary to love him…


by Timothy Drake

When an honors student is forced to forego independent thought and mindlessly regurgitate paragraphs from a textbook… <DELETE>

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a student to rewrite a damn fine paper to humor a moron in order to get a passing grade… <DELETE>


The Kenedy Administration saw itself as…

“Two Ns in Kennedy, Bro.”

Tim jumped at the interruption, but was glad for it. 

“Dick, hey, you shouldn’t sneak up like that.  You’re spending more time in Gotham than in Bludhaven these days, aren’t you?”

Dick smiled uncomfortably. 

“Yeah, I guess.  Been seeing a lot of Barb- well anyway, that’s about to change.”

“Not complaining.  It’s better when you’re around.   What’s up, you look like your dog died?

Dick said nothing. 

“Di-ick, what’s wrong, Bro?”

Dick said nothing. 

“That’s a fine impersonation of Bruce.  Now what’s happening?”

“Never mind.  It’s nothing.   Things with Barbara took a turn, I guess.”

Tim laughed uncharitably.  “Like sands through the hour glass.”

“It’s not funny, Tim.”  Dick sounded unusually upset, considering ‘things with Barbara’ were always taking one turn or another.  “If you must know I went over to propose, well not propose exactly, but to lay the groundwork.  Sort of set things in motion for her to encourage or—”

“And she didn’t encourage.”

“Never even got that far.  She… …Babs has got a real nasty streak, you ever notice that?”

Tim thought all of the bat family had a bit of a nasty streak, but he didn’t say so.  Instead, he tried to look sympathetic to make up for the soap opera crack. 

“And I didn’t do anything to bring it on, either,” Dick went on petulantly.  “Just standing there, and she flattened me for no reason.”

“You talk to Bruce?”  

Tim didn’t want to be rude, but he had a paper to write.  And he didn’t have any advice to offer anyway. 

“He’s preoccupied.  Ra’s Al Ghul,”

Tim sniggered. 

“You catch him on The View? ‘A Sonnet:  To Canary.  Tweet Tweet sings the songbird…’”

Dick smiled sadly.  Funny as it was, he didn’t feel like poking fun at another aching heart, even Ra’s Al Ghul’s.  But he played along. 

“My favorite part was, Speak fair my fair one, oh flaxen-haired goddess of song.

Tim roared at this.  Quotations from the putrid bilge the Demon crowd considered love poetry would clearly be an in-joke among the bat-clan for some time. 

“It’s like I said, man, Days of Our Lives.  Gotham’s become a soap opera.”

“No, for that we’d need spies from the World Security Bureau running around with plans for weather machines and diamonds hiding secret formulas.”

It was Tim’s turn to say nothing. 

“I watched a little in college.” Dick explained sheepishly. 

“Weather machines?  With Secret formulas?”

“That was before my time actually, but it’s a very famous story—girl in the student union told me about it—see there was this big diamond called the Ice Princess that one of the Quartermains used in a sculpture, and in the base was a secret formula to make this artificial snow…”

“ANYWAY,” Tim cut him off with some asperity, “if Bruce is busy, how about taking your Barbara problems to Selina.  She’s a woman.”

“You noticed that too, huh.”

“Go away, let me write my paper.  Bother other people.”  

As Tim turned back to his computer, the news alert pinged, and he saw a headline that meteorologist Dan Waynard was missing. 

“How about that,” Tim thought as he continued with his paper, “a missing weatherman.  Speak of the devil…”  

To be continued...

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