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Two years later . . .
The sprawling complex of the WayneTech radar substation in Metropolis covered acres of land on the outskirts of town. Dominated by the enormous radar dish in the center of the complex, the facility contained a low building attached to the dish's support platform. Inside were offices and control rooms, mainframe computers, and the most sophisticated radar and satellite-guidance technology available.
Surrounded by a chain-link fence topped with razor-sharp curls of barbed wire, the substation was one of the crown jewels in Bruce Wayne's high-tech industrial empire. But for the past several months, Bruce had noticed security breaches in the deep-space radar monitoring network.
Wayne Enterprises operated this facility for the federal government. Bruce knew that if he went through official channels, the investigation of these breaches would inevitably get bogged down for months in governmental red tape. And so the owner and CEO of Wayne Enterprises decided to investigate the situation himself.
But not as Bruce Wayne.
A caped figure dashed silently across the roof of the low office building. Glancing furtively left, then right, certain he was unseen, Batman firmly grasped a grill covering an open duct. Yanking it free, he slipped like a shadow into the building.
Swinging acrobatically, then landing noiselessly on a rafter above the complex's main control room, Batman crouched in the darkness, peering down at the four people in the room below.
The WayneTech technicians, clad in their long white lab coats, checked monitors, took readings, and prepared to close shop for another day. A tall, thin techwith floppy blond hair and large round glasses headed up a metal staircase leading to the exit.
"Okay, I'm outta here," the skinny tech said, pausing at the top of the stairs. "Another week in the bag. Remember, Al, Lee, Cynthia, barbecue at my place Saturday night. You're all invited. Venus is rising early, and you know what that means! A wild time is guaranteed for all!"
His fellow technicians turned to the young man, broad smiles plastered on their faces.
"I'm there, Howie," replied Al, a heavyset, bald man, the senior member of the group. "Wouldn't miss it."
"Sounds great," added Cynthia, a large, middle-aged woman, peering over the top of her reading glasses.
"Thanks," chimed in Lee, a thin, dark-haired tech, the youngest of the group. "See you then."
Stopping at the exit, Howie turned back to face his colleagues. "You guys are party animals," he snorted, giggling, then winking and flashing the thumbs-up sign. "Good night!"
As the door closed behind Howie, the three remaining technicians glanced at one another in silent relief, the frozen smiles instantly vanishing from their faces.
Batman gazed down from above, watching intently as Al stood and spoke to the others.
"H'i chalt eed 'vaird go!" he shrieked in a shrill, inhuman voice, nodding toward the exit. Then, turning to Lee, he added, "Gy! Na'chrona tote!"
The skinny young man nodded, then walked quickly to a bank of large mainframe consoles lining the back wall.
Batman's mind raced. He'd been all over the world, heard hundreds of languages, but this speech was completely foreign to him. Shifting his position to get a better view, Batman wondered why this crew would suddenly stop speaking English when Howie left the room.
Grasping an enormous console towering ten feet in the air, Lee easily lifted the weighty piece of equipment, moving it aside as if it were an empty cardboard box.
Cynthia strode to the space vacated by the console, reached up with her right hand, and punched a hole in the thick stone wall. Shoving her arm into the hole, she lifted out an odd-looking piece of technology about the size of a large roasting pan but irregularly shaped, covered with swirling patches of red, black, and gray circuitry.
"Reeg ear a' chai," she announced, carefully cradling the device in her arms.
Stepping toward the wall, Lee placed the console back in the spot from which he had taken it. He then followed the others through a side door leading out onto the support platform that held the massive radar dish in place.
Scowling, Batman climbed back up through the rafters, slipping out onto the roof.
The support platform consisted of four long, narrow metal walkways radiating out from the central radar dish, then curving down to the ground like the long steel legs of a giant spider. Reaching the radar dish, the technicians placed the device they had carried onto the dish's transmitter. Appearing to move under its own power, the apparatus split into four equal sections, then slithered, as if alive, into four openings in the transmitter, vanishing into the depths of the complex radar tracking system.
Satisfied, the three colleagues turned to leave.
"I doubt that modification's legal," a deep, firm voice said from behind them.
Swinging around in shock, they spotted Batman poised at the end of the dish's platform.
Moving with lightning speed, before the three techs could react, Batman sent a rope tether speeding through the air. Finding its target, the tether bound Al and Lee together as two heavy steel balls attached to each end of the rope spun around and around, faster and faster, tightly securing the two men.
"Shriiiiiiii!" they both screeched, releasing high-pitched, unearthly cries.
"Should've stuck to your desk jobs," Batman announced, dashing toward Cynthia, who stood her ground, her face angry and defiant.
Reaching out to grab Cynthia, Batman recoiled as the female tech swiped at him with surprising speed and power. Dodging the swift backhanded blow, Batman countered with a powerful punch of his own.
Exhibiting extraordinary strength, Cynthia caught Batman's hand midblow, then lifted him by the wrist, tossing him aside like a rag doll.
Reacting instinctively, Batman shifted his weight in midair, whipped his feet around, and landed back on the narrow steel platform in time to see Al and Lee undergo a strange transformation.