Doctor Occult and the Seven
Doctor Occult provides the Hood with special combat training from an unexpected and most unique source: the Batman!
“OK, Doc. Tell me again why we’re doing this.”
Richard Occult looked at his young friend and shook his head. “I’ve told you before, you need to learn how to handle yourself in a fight.”
“GBC is having a Kung Fu marathon this weekend,” T.J. Dalton said. “Couldn’t I just watch that? I’ll take notes.”
“You need this,” was all Richard said.
“What about Wildcat? I thought you were going to have him train me.”
“He was injured recently and has chosen to recuperate the old-fashioned way.”
“Oh,” T.J. replied. “So, why are we doing this?”
“Just go change.”
“Change? Aw, man.” T.J. shot his friend a grin as he left to put his costume on.
“Now I know why Rose and I decided against children.”
T.J. returned a few minutes later wearing a brown-hooded tunic that had once belonged to Kent Thurston. Along with a handful of heroes, Kent, who had called himself the Invisible Hood, had traveled to another world and made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. T.J. wanted to make sure that legacy endured. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Doctor Occult and the Seven: Forgotten Legacies.]
“OK,” he said. “What do we do first?”
Doctor Occult walked over to a table and opened a book to a preselected page. He lit a trio of candles, more for light than any arcane need. He then walked to the door, locked it, and flipped the light switch off. As he went back to the table, he began to speak.
“There are those who believe that everything we do leaves a psychic imprint on the fabric of reality. I have found a relatively simple incantation that will allow us to access these imprints and replay them.”
T.J. took advantage of Richard’s pause to ask a question. “What do I need to do?”
“Just be ready, and be prepared to learn.”
“Be ready for what?” T.J.’s voice held a hint of nervousness.
“You’ll see,” Occult said, grinning. Without telling his young friend anything else, he began the incantation.
The young man ignored the words his friend spoke, knowing they were from an ancient language beyond his understanding. Instead, he focused his attention on the room around him.
A voice behind him spun him around.
“So, son, are you ready?”
T.J.’s eyes grew so big that even he thought they were going to pop out of his head.
The man stood just slightly over six feet tall and had a physique that would have made Charles Atlas green with envy. This was accented by the gray bodysuit he wore like a second skin. Over this he wore black boots, trunks, and gloves, as well as a bright yellow belt. The things that made him most recognizable, however, were the black cape and pointy-eared cowl, and the silhouette of a large black bat that dominated his chest.
“Buh… buh… Batman?!”
This is impossible! T.J. thought as he stared for several seconds at the apparition that stood before him. His mind began to race as he struggled to understand how this man, a man who had been dead for almost a decade, could be standing here before him.
Then he remembered what Doctor Occult had told him and took a closer look at the ghostly figure before him. T.J. realized that Batman was not speaking to, nor even looking at, him. “So, this must be one of those psychic imprints,” he said. “Cool.”
“Let’s begin,” Batman said. “First, we will start with some basic defense moves. I’ll do them, and then you can try.”
T.J. watched in fascination as the man whose name was revered throughout the world began to move. Every movement was performed with precision and grace.
After a few minutes, Batman quit moving and began speaking.
“Now, it’s your turn.”
As Batman watched whomever he was training, T.J. began to copy the man’s actions. His own actions seemed stiff and jerky at first, but soon he felt the fluidity he had seen in the apparition.
“What’s wrong?” Batman asked.
The young man started to answer, but remembered that he was not the one being addressed.
“No, Robin. You can’t take the cape off,” Batman was saying. “Do you think the Joker’s going to give you time to remove it the next time we get into a fight?”
Once that issue was settled, the apparition began to move about, obviously observing his young ward’s technique from various angles.
After a while, Batman had become satisfied with Robin’s movements enough that he began to build on what the boy knew. T.J. began adding the new moves to his own routine.
Gradually, the young man became so engrossed in the lessons Batman was teaching that he lost all track of time.
As the last image began to fade, Doctor Occult switched on the light. Approaching T.J., he heard his friend whisper a “Thank you” and knew it wasn’t directed at him. He gave him a few moments to reorient himself.
“So, that’s it?” the young man asked.
“Were you expecting something else?”
“I thought it would last longer.”
“You’ve been at this for nearly eighteen hours,” the older man laughed. “How much longer did you want it to last?”
“Eighteen hours?” T.J. was stunned.
“What say we grab a bite to eat?” Occult asked. “I’m famished.”
“Uh, OK.” T.J. started toward the door. “Let me go clean up and change.” He opened the door and started to leave. “Hey, Doc,” he said, looking back.
“While we eat, could you tell me a little more about Batman?”
Richard smiled. “I’d be glad to.”
As he pulled the door closed behind him, T.J. heard a soft whisper, like someone speaking from far, far away.
“Not bad, son. Not bad at all.”