Adam Blake retraced his steps out of the police building, then exited through the roof access. He pulled the piton out of the roof with one swift yank. A simple swing on the line to cross the street, and he was maneuvering around the building to a fire escape. He descended to the street easily. A cab took him back to his jet at the airport. He got clearance and headed back to Gotham City.
He thought about the readings from the inventions created by Luthor. He knew the designs were advanced, but to actually see one was like looking at a piece of the future — a future that he would have to ensure from whomever stole the copy from Macross.
Thomas Chantry stood in the middle of downtown Gotham City. It had taken an hour for him to secure lodging and store his bag for the duration of his visit. He walked in the direction of the holocaust. Things impinged on his eyes, but he ignored them. He had time, but it was running out.
He turned onto the street he had dreamed of on the train, walking west toward the building he had seen in his dreams. He knew it was ahead, veiled by the larger stores and offices.
Chantry paused at a corner before crossing with the light. An image imposed itself over the scene. He saw the light appear and sweep outward again. It reached him and passed. It left behind the source in plain sight. Thomas smiled.
Adam Blake drove from his private garage with one hand while the black box beeped in the other. A small arrow pointed into the city. He followed the arrow, easily cutting through the afternoon traffic. He wondered about several things he had thought of as he had flown from Metropolis.
Uppermost in his mind was Dr. Macross. A stray thought had entered his brain, and he wished he had more time to pursue the suspicion. Something was off about this task.
He saw that the arrow led him west of the central part of the city. He followed it until it pointed at one building in particular. He drove past and found a place to park.
Thomas Chantry examined the building from his dreams. The only places that looked to be likely places to enter were any of the windows that adjoined a thin fire escape running down the side of the building.
He walked into the alley, trying to figure out how to get the fire escape to get to the pavement, then finally decided to roll the trash bin over and using that as a stepladder to grab the bottom rung of the ladder. It creaked downward as he put his weight on the steel.
Chantry waited until the ladder had quit moving before climbing up to the first landing. He began checking windows for a way into the building without breaking anything.
Adam Blake blended into the afternoon walkers on the street. He spotted a lone figure climbing up the fire escape. The black box in his hand showed location markers for electronic equipment as he considered options.
He decided on a direct approach as the unknown man reached the roof of the building and climbed out of sight. He walked to the front door of the target building. A slap of his hand snapped the three deadbolts on the door. He placed the box in his utility belt, still active; he might need it later.
Blake stepped into a foyer on the ground floor. His quarry was above, but its guardians were rushing him with hastily grabbed tools. Blake made for the staircase as the guards formed a blockade. His hands seemed to flicker in the low light of the hall. Four cracks were followed by four men sleeping on the floor.
The fifth man paused at the unexpected speed of the intruder. Unfortunately, he paused on the stairs. Another crack sent him to the bottom of the stairs as Blake proceeded mechanically graceful forward.
Thomas Chantry paused to listen. It sounded like gunshots below. He put that out of his head. His instinct led him now. Sudden sounds would not sway him from his task, now that he was in place to carry it out. To do otherwise would be to never sleep again as long as he lived.
Proceeding to the door that called to him the most, Chantry tried it. He was not surprised to find it was unlocked, as if waiting for him to come along and open it. He stepped inside and paused. A mask fell over his vision like a veil, overlapping the future with the present. He watched as the machinery overloaded and triggered the event that destroyed Gotham City from this new perspective. Then he moved forward to stop it from happening.
Adam Blake went up the stairs until he reached the greatest power display picked up by his sensor from below. He paused as he saw that the man from the alley was powering it down.
“What are you doing to my machine?” said an angry voice, which was revealed to be an angry Dr. Ray Macross as he came into view.
“Your machine is going to destroy the city if you use it,” said the stranger. “It can’t be used the way it is now.”
Blake pulled the sensor from his belt. He had to agree with the stranger. If the machine was allowed to test fire in any way, disaster would follow. He disconnected the card from the box and stored them in his belt. He pulled a small steel ball from its compartment. He gauged the distance and angle. Then he threw in a flickering motion of his hand and arm.
Dr. Macross held an energy weapon in his hands pointed at Thomas Chantry. The steel ball hit the top of the weapon with a ripping crash. It ricocheted from the ruined rifle into the massive version of Luthor’s device. A sparkling cascade roared out as Chantry dived for cover, as if he expected it. Dr. Macross was caught in the stream of energy as it turned to a column of heated light. He vanished in a puff of flame and sprayed ash.
“I think we have a problem,” Chantry said as he picked himself up away from the burning plasma.
“It is a meltdown,” said Adam Blake as he pulled a tool kit from his vest. “We are going to have to pull the plug as fast as we can.”
Thomas Chantry looked around. He spotted a generator on the other side of the bright artificial lightning that was eating the wall. Luckily, it would have to cut through the interior walls and then the outer wall before becoming a danger to anyone else. “I see a generator on the other side of the room,” said Thomas, wanting to call the man Lucas before stopping himself.
“Shut it off,” Blake said as he removed several panels from the casing of the machine. He examined what he could see with as much hurry as a doctor getting ready to operate on a near-death patient.
Chantry frowned as he considered the request. He lay on the floor and a piece from the wrecked rifle. The beam didn’t arc to the floor like he thought. He didn’t want to be cooked to a crisp like the man who had threatened him. He pulled himself to the other side of the room. A simple button push cut off the generator.
Looking at the gauge on the front of the device, Blake cut a nest of wires apart with a wire-cutter from his kit. He regarded the gauge emotionlessly as it told him that his and Chantry’s efforts had destroyed the machine’s ability to take in energy. Now to discharge the remaining energy into the air harmlessly.
Blake slapped a block of plastic material on the dying weapon. He inserted a cap and pressed the button as Chantry crawled back under the stream. The two men made their way downstairs in a rush, dragging the five accomplices with them as they went.
Chantry watched the building destroy itself twice with the satisfaction of a job well done.
Thomas Chantry returned to Chicago. In the comfort of his own bedroom, he dreamed.
He was standing in a room, peering at a grid of hexagons with a podium in front of it. Various colored lights covered the surface of the podium. Adam Blake entered the room as a knight… as a swordsman… as a cowboy… as a soldier… as a man in a black suit. He stood on the grid with same calm expression in every case.
“Ready?” said another man, entering the room. He went to the podium.
“Energize,” said Blake.
The newcomer slid his fingers across the lights on the podium. The grid lit up. Blake disappeared in a sparkling cloud of particles.
Chantry shifted in his sleep, falling into another place. He forgot the insight he gained even as he heard names sounding a roll call. Lucas Priest was the first name called. Adam Blake was around the middle of the list of names. At the end was someone named Matthew Ryder.
Then he dreamed of other things.