Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers, Spider-man, Iron Man or any other series. They belong to their rightful copyright owners. This is merely a piece of fanfiction.
The Iron Bat Man?
A penthouse apartment in the middle of a thriving metropolis, so many cars that it would be impossible to drive them all in the space of a day, a different woman on each arm every night of a week to some of the most expensive restaurants available. Money could not buy happiness, but for Anthony Stark it meant being able to but the things that could make him happy.
Alcoholic, smoker, gambler, womaniser, industrialist, inventor and arms trader. All words that could be used to describe the millionaire that had had the nerve to stand before Congress and make a mockery of those that had demanded his presence. Wise cracking, abrasive, often borderline insulting in his dealings with those who felt themselves somehow superior, Stark was not a man to be taken lightly.
In the days since the Avengers had disbanded, Tony Stark had been busy working on other projects. Actually when he wasn't out drinking, womanising and having a good time, he was working on improving the many suits of armour hidden away beneath his mansion on the outskirts of New York. Steel had given way to new materials just as simple circuits had been replaced by new methods of controlling the suits.
A recent collaboration with another scientist had led to new methods of deploying the armour in the field. Having seen the Power Rangers and others in action he had realised how cumbersome some of his designs had been. A little open-mindedness and sharing information with Lightspeed had seen exciting results.
"Load schematics for the Iron Avenger."
There were some projects that Tony had delayed working on. The Iron Avenger was one of them. The large weapon system brought back memories of Minion and the events of that time. It was something he and many others preferred to forget.
~How do you go back to a normal life after something like that?~ he wondered, not for the first time.
Minion and his forced had driven the world to its knees before he was defeated. And for those that had fought against him, it was difficult to forget.
"Access security protocols. If we're going to do this let's start by locking the door."
Stark's reluctance to repair, rebuild or just redesign the Iron Avenger wasn't down to the events surrounding Minion. He was well aware there were those within the government that would love to get their hands on a fully functional suit of Iron Man armour without the safety protocols in place. Even SHIELD had not managed to break the security algorithms he had installed. The Iron Avenger was bigger than any of his normal armour and had the firepower to match. It was a piece of equipment he had vowed to never sell.
"Set initial security as Level Four."
"Level Four has been set, Sir," JARVIS responded. "Energy grid is now locked to your command."
Level Four meant the suit would only accept power when Tony Stark used an exact vocal command while wearing an activated suit of Iron Man armour. When he finished the repairs he planned to lock the Iron Avenger to only accept commands from one suit that he would lock behind security that made the Federal Reserve look undefended.
"Begin mapping the damage."
The Iron Avenger had been wrecked during the battle with the Elemental Beasts, so this was more a case of finding out if anything had survived as opposed to what had been damaged beyond repair. As expected it seemed that the damage had been sever and corrosion had only added to the problem. He realised that now would be a good time to scrap the machine and remove a potential problem down the line.
"It would appear that very little survived," JARVIS commented as various components flashed up on the screen. "I believe your furry dice are intact."
"Okay, let's go back to the drawing board. Start with standard suit and then upscale."
It wasn't that simple of course. The Iron Avenger was a weapon system, not a battle suit. It was controlled from a cockpit, not by direct body movements. And the weapons would need a major redesign to work at a larger scale without exploding.
But this was Tony Stark at his best doing the thing that he excelled at. Working the systems he had built to help him build, he managed to work up a suitable blueprint in the space of an evening.
"What is the flight capability?" he asked, watching as the computer flashed through the necessary calculations.
"Zero, Sir," JARVIS told him. "However with sufficient thrust, a controlled leap is possible."
So, no hovering. The suit was big, heavy and too cumbersome to continuously switch jets and maintain position. It was a task beyond the computers and would require too many humans working as a team to accomplish. He wanted to limit access to a five man crew at most.
"I have relocated the weapons as requested," JARVIS advised, bringing up an image of the giant metal hand. In addition to the single energy weapon mounted on the palm, smaller weapons had been placed at the fingertips and knuckles. "And Miss Antoinette is requesting an appointment to discuss her credit card bill."
Tony sighed. Antoinette Stark was a distant relative that had made several attempts to claim the family fortune before giving up and accepting an expense account. The woman could spend her way through a credit limit easier than a Democrat president, but she was family and he knew it was easier to find the check book and just sign than to try and convince her to spend less.
It was a shame because despite her age, Antoinette had inherited the creativity and genius that made the family rich. He had seen one of her attempts to design a suit of armour and had to admit that some of the features were desirable. It was a shame that she insisted on relying on unconventional methods of powering such designs, namely magic.
~Then again magic is just energy,~ he thought, realising that it would totally bewilder those that sought to use his designs if they had to learn to cast spells as well. "JARVIS, bring up the blueprints for the power core. And then contact Horatio."
Sometimes it didn't hurt to think outside the box.
Arkham Asylum, Earth
'In the game of Life the Joker is wild!'
He had been called a lunatic, a deranged psychopathic murderer that would take pleasure from slaughtering the innocence. And while he would before the first to agree that he was not playing with a full deck, he believed that he deserved some credit for acknowledging it. But alas he received no respect, no respect at all. And it really irked him. More so now he was dead.
In life he had been known as the Joker, a dangerous criminal that had appeared on the streets of Gotham City and made it to the world stage. He had seemingly died a dozen times and had always found a way to return, although for the life of him he couldn't say how. His most recent death however had been permanent as far as he knew. Which raised the interesting question of how he happened to be alive and sitting in a jail cell awaiting his next opportunity to escape.
Something was missing in his life. That little bit of pain that made existence so much more enjoyable. He liked to think of it as Batman. Where was the Bat? He had been missing for almost as long as the Joker had been dead, give or take a year. One day it just seemed the masked fool and his little friends had simply vanished off the face of the planet.
Oh there had been some sort of incident and Batman had been caught in the middle of it as usual, but as far as the Joker was aware he had not been among the final casualties.
"Come out, come out wherever you are," he cooed as he floated through the abandoned corridors of the old cell block. "Because ready or not, here I come! Better yet, I'll hide and you can come and find me. Hahahahaha!"
Gotham City Earth
Being a super hero took a huge strain on the body. Especially when the hero in question was just a man in a mask. Bruce Wayne was aware of the discomfort such activities could cause. His muscles, bones and joints had taken more than their fair share of abuse during his time as Batman. The accumulated knocks had left him crippled, something he publicly blamed on a life of fast cars, loose women and extreme sports.
The comparisons between Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne were well known. Their success in business, their wealth and their vices were a matter of public record. The difference was that while Tony Stark really was a drunken womaniser known to don a suit of armour to protect the world, for Wayne it was an act to cover his secret identity.
Despite being business rivals, there was a healthy respect between Stark and Wayne. Both considered the other competent within their own field. Stark invented things and led teams to bring new products to market while Wayne found the people that could invent things and invested his time and money to make them a success. So when Bruce had received a gift from Stark Enterprises, the gesture was not a shock although the contents were.
"Is that a complete suit sir?" Alfred enquired.
"Stripped of weapons and computer systems," Bruce commented as he studied the black boot in his hand. "But otherwise it looks genuine."
He put the boot down, picked up one of the gloves and slipped it on. A sigh escaped his lips.
"Some sort of active material on the inside," Bruce answered, "clings to the skin and does... something to the muscles."
Indeed for the first time in recent history, Bruce Wayne was able to move the fingers on his right hand without discomfort.
"I don't think Mr Stark did this so you could go drinking with him," Alfred commented, holding up the helmet.
Bruce chuckled. It was clear that Stark had sent him a complete but unfinished suit of light weight armour. Made of softer material than the Iron Man armour, Bruce had no doubt it was still bullet proof and resistant to swords. It would need to be altered to his requirements, but he imagined that was why it had been left unfinished.
"Looks like we'll be needing a shopping list," he said.
Crime in Gotham had been escalating recently, maybe it was time to get back in the game.
There were mixed accounts within the superhero community about Stark's decisions to distribute armour not only to Batman, but to other superheroes. Ranging from fully metal armour to other more flexible materials, it had been noted that Stark had established himself as a cornerstone of the superhero community; later attempts to bring back the Avengers had seen him call in favours from those he had so selflessly supplied.
Some however saw his gesture as a means of protecting against rogue elements. While testing to establish whether or not Stark did plant failsafes inside his gifts were inconclusive due to the reluctance of the owners to damage them, there were rumours that such a feature was used on two occasions. Many pointed out that the need to deal with possible abuse of his designs was something a man like Tony Stark would have considered.
There was some speculation by those that knew him that Bruce Wayne maintained a threat level database on every superhero operating around the world. Multiple resources and his innate detective skills meant he was easily able to guess the identities of some of his peers. For a man who didn't like guns, Batman had an impressive number of bullets that could take down some of his most powerful allies.
Some would condemn such preparations as a lack on faith in his fellow heroes. Others would claim that as one of the elders of the hero world, there was a responsibility to make sure that the protectors of the world never became its greatest threat.
"As usual I had the parts made by different parts of Wayne Enterprises and then channelled through other suppliers to one of our warehouses," Alfred advised as Bruce studied the completed suit.
"And that warehouse just happens to be the one that never got added to the inventory," Bruce commented as he finished inspecting a piece of sharpened metal that had been cut in the shape of a small bat.
"That's right. We found the gauntlets were already equipped with a launching mechanism. One thing I'll say about Mr Stark is that he thinks ahead." He looked to where his employer was inspecting the paintwork on the chest plate. "I took the liberty of having the -- nipples removed."
"Okay let's give this a try," Bruce decided.
Unlike Iron Man's armour, Bruce's new costume did not have an entourage of machines to dress him. Nor did it require one since the pieces fitted together like a suit of clothing instead of needing to bolt together like armour. With the speed of somebody used to dressing in confined spaces in a hurry, Bruce was able to don the costume in less than a minute. Pulling the mask into place activated a few of the systems he and Alfred had thought to be useful.
"We decided not to use Mr Stark's cape," Alfred told him. "The material looked good, but that was all it did. Now this," he said handing a piece of material to his employer, "is an electro-sensitive material. You apply a current and it solidifies. Lightweight too. I've seen hand gliders made from similar products."
"News just in: Police and other agencies have been called to Arkham Asylum after contact with staff inside the facility was lost."
Though they had left the television playing in the background, the report caused Bruce and Alfred to suddenly remember that it was there.
"This couldn't be a coincidence could it?" Alfred asked.
Bruce shrugged. There was no way Stark could have foreseen such a turn of events, but the timing was definitely something he would question later. First of all he planned to head to Arkham and find out what was going on.