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Multiple crossover; DC Movieverse / NCIS / West Wing / possibly more to come. See the first chapter for disclaimers etc.
by Marcus L. Rowland
Gotham City, 3.45 PM
“Something smells really gross in there,” said one of the SWAT cops.
“Stay outside,” said Gibbs. “There’s kryptonite in there, maybe other hazards. What have you got for me?”
The robot operator checked his instruments, and swivelled its camera around to get a better view. The screen showed a group of industrial robots surrounding a complicated-looking steel frame. “There’s some radiation apart from the kryptonite. A lot more than you’d get from a granite building, less than I’d expect from any sort of nuke.”
“Pan around, let’s get more of a feel for the layout.”
“Okay.” More computers, a safe with radiation symbols on the door, a table…
“Zoom in on the table.”
“You’ve got it.” The table smoothly expanded to fill the screen. “Is that kryptonite?” There were several glass or plastic cylinders on the table, each holding a shard of glowing green material.
“I doubt it,” said Gibbs, “judging by the size, each of those pieces would be more kryptonite than has ever been impounded. How accurate is the colour?”
“As good as we can get it; you don’t want to make a mistake cutting wires.”
“Then I’m pretty sure that’s a fake. The real stuff is paler green. Whatever this is, it’s still going to be radioactive, that’s part of the fake, so let’s be careful.”
“If that’s the fake, do you think there’s real kryptonite in the safe?” asked Agent Lee. “If we’re sensing it with the door closed there must be a lot.”
“Maybe,” said Gibbs. “They’d need some radioactive minerals to make the fake kryptonite, that’s probably in there too.”
“Zoom back out, and take a look back at the door. I don’t want to run into any surprises when we go in.”
“Perhaps I can help,” said a deep but slightly distorted voice. Gibbs looked around, and saw a figure covered in heavy metal armour, with the familiar ‘S’ logo on its chest, carrying a dull grey box about the size of a large tool kit. A heavy grey glass visor covered the face, making it almost impossible to see inside. He moved forward, leaving deep footprints in the warm asphalt.
“That you, Superman?”
“Yes. This armour is resistant to most forms of radiation, including kryptonite, also as close to bullet and bomb proof as I can make it. If you’d like me to go in I can make sure that everything’s safe.”
“Okay,” said Gibbs, “but be careful about damaging evidence.”
The armoured figure levitated a few inches above the floor and flew in relatively slowly. “That’s interesting.”
“These crystals; they’re mostly fake, but each container includes just a little real kryptonite.”
“Probably just enough to trip a kryptonite detector, make them seem real.”
“Agreed. I’m putting them into the radiation-proof box.”
“Okay. The counter on the robot says that there’s still some radioactivity, but the kryptonite detector just stopped beeping.”
“My detectors may be more sensitive. There are sources of radiation in the safe, including more kryptonite.”
“Can you get it open?”
“Let me try.” On screen Gibbs saw Superman twist the dial left and right, and after a few moments turn the lever that opened the door. The kryptonite sensor started beeping again. “Luthor’s name is the combination – 12 left, 21 right, 20 left, 8, 15, 18”
“What can you see in there?”
“More kryptonite; I think this probably accounts for most of what was left of Luthor’s meteor, plus some shards which I think must be the remains of the kryptonite blade he used to stab me.” Superman carefully placed them into the box. “There’s also a bottle of uranium nitrate.”
“Wait a second; let me get the robot in close to get pictures. Is there a manufacturer’s logo on the bottle?”
“Axis Chemicals. Don’t know the name. It’s old; the use-by date is 1988”
“Axis went out of business in the nineties,” said one of the SWAT officers. “There’s still an old factory but it hasn’t been used in years.” The robot advanced, and took a dozen photographs of the box and its contents.
“If you don’t mind, I’ll put this somewhere safe.”
“We’ll need to dust everything for prints.”
“Maybe we can compromise,” said Kara. “It’s only the kryptonite that worries us, if Kal-El puts the uranium nitrate back in the radiation-proof safe, and puts the kryptonite somewhere safe for now, he can bring it back if you need more evidence.”
“Depends,” said Gibbs. “Where were you thinking of putting it?”
“Won’t the vacuum damage fingerprints?”
“The box has airtight seals. It ought to hold pressure for a few months.”
“Okay, but bring it out here first, I want to put an evidence seal on it. Wait a second, how are we doing for radiation?”
“Only slightly above the normal background level,” said the robot operator. “We ought to be safe.”
Gibbs put two plastic evidence seal straps around the box, signed their closures with a permanent marker, and watched as Superman took off. “Okay, everyone going in there needs to wear hazmat suits; I really don’t like that smell…”
“It looks like Luthor was stripped and clamped into this frame,” said Gibbs. “That kept him immobile while someone operated on him. It’s rigged and motorised so that he was immobile but could be spun around to any position. It looks like it’s fitted out to give him electric shocks too.”
“No wonder the Jeffersonian confirmed damage to his wrists and ankles,” said Ducky, on the phone link from Washington. “He must have constantly struggled to free himself.”
“Moving on, one of the industrial robots was fitted with a hose, I’d guess it was used to keep him clean, from the smell and the stains it didn’t do a particularly good job. It also had a machine that looks like it was designed to feed him through a nozzle; it’s still loaded with a big barrel of some sort of food concentrate, says it’s an ‘all in one health diet’. I’m not sure what the other machines were for.”
“Can you see any manufacturer’s logo?” asked McGee, also in Washington.
“One’s labelled ‘Zeuss,’ another’s ‘Intuitive’ something.” Gibbs reached for his glasses.
Ducky’s voice added “How very unpleasant.”
“They’re remote control surgical systems,” said McGee. “They’re intended to be used in forward aid stations or aboard ship, controlled by a surgeon in a safe location, with a corpsman to look after the patient and make sure that the system doesn’t foul up.”
“That’s not what happened here,” said Gibbs, “there’s no sign that anyone was looking after him apart from the machines.”
“I didn’t like the man,” said Superman, “but that’s just horrible.”
“That must be a couple of million dollars worth of equipment. Get the serial numbers; I’ll try to trace them.”
“All of this equipment is connected to some sort of master computer,” said Gibbs, “but it’s a wreck. It looks like thermite charges were strapped to the hard drives. You won’t be recovering any data.”
“See if you can figure out what it was linked to. Someone had to be controlling everything. Look for something like an internet connection, probably fibre-optic to handle that much bandwidth.”
“There are steerable microwave dishes on the roof,” said Kara. “I guess they were used for some sort of satellite transmission, but they aren’t pointing at anything now.”
“They must have been controlled by the computers," said McGee. "I’m surprised; I wouldn’t have thought that a satellite link would give you a fast enough response time for safe surgery.”
“Maybe whoever set it up wasn’t too concerned about keeping him safe,” said Agent Lee.
“Thou shalt not kill,” said Ducky, “But needs’t not strive, officiously to keep alive.”
“Amen to that,” said Gibbs.
“Anything else?” asked McGee.
“There’s a video projector, the lamp has burned out. It’s connected to a five-disk DVD player that has the National Geographic Superman collection on continuous loop. Nearly ten hours of non-stop Superman footage.
“If they wanted to condition him to fear Superman, the fear toxin and that would do the trick,” said Ducky.
“Okay, enough talking. I’m getting everything packed for shipment back to the labs. If we’re lucky this might be the break we’ve been looking for.”
Metropolis, Thursday 27th September
“It is now more than three weeks since the death of Lex Luthor. As details emerge it becomes apparent that he was subjected to horrific torture, rather than any punishment mandated by law.
While it cannot be denied that Luthor’s crimes would have involved mass murder on an unimaginable scale if they had achieved their objectives, two wrongs do not make a right. Yet a recent poll suggests that a large majority of the citizens of Metropolis support what amounts to kidnapping and brain-washing, the direct cause of Luthor’s suicide.
As one of Luthor’s victims I despise the man and everything he stood for. I am glad that he is dead. But I can feel no joy in the manner of his passing; to do so is to embrace Luthor’s own callousness and disrespect for human suffering. I hope that most of the citizens of Metropolis are better than that.”Daily Planet Editorial – Lois Lane
Washington, Tuesday, 10.00 AM
“So how are things going here?” asked Tony DiNozzo, as Gibbs drove him and Ziva David from the airport to NCIS headquarters. “I heard that it really was Lex Luthor, but I’ve been a bit out of touch on the Seahawk. Are we any closer to finding out who killed him?”
“The investigation is stalled,” said Gibbs. “That’s why we were able to come out to the ship and help with your investigation. Somehow someone used Luthor’s own money to set up his kidnapping. It turns out that he even paid for the surgical robots that operated on him. Gotham PD have found a few rent-a-thugs who set the place up, but everyone involved seems to have got their instructions and payment anonymously. We’re running into dead end after dead end.”
“Seen much of Supergirl?”
“Abby and I had lunch with her a few days ago,” said Ziva. “She’s really nice.”
“Okay,” said Tony. “Why does the idea of you and Abby spending time with the most powerful woman on earth get me worried?”
“Because sometimes you’re not entirely stupid,” said Gibbs.
Long Beach, California, 11.30 PM PST
Relaxing after a hard day of house-sitting and rescues, Kara watched the big-screen TV, a Will Smith movie, and stroked one of the dogs in her care. She was starting to doze off when something on the screen caught her attention.
After a few minutes she switched off, and spent the next hour or so deep in thought. She was beginning to suspect who had killed Lex Luthor, and starting to feel very frightened.
To Be Continued
Notes: Axis Chemicals appears in various DC comics and the 1989 film Batman; it is usually mentioned as the place where The Joker falls into a vat of chemicals and is disfigured, but this does not appear to be canon for Batman Begins / The Dark Knight. Tony DiNozzo returned to the USA after the episode Agent Afloat, first transmitted on September 30th 2007.