Coming Home - Part 2
[Gotham Brownstone - January 2030]
The door opened. Dingy light filtered in through the shuttered shades on the two windows that overlooked the front steps. The light fell on wooden tables covered with sheets. No one came into this room. None of the keys worked on the lock, except his. That was intentional. For some things, Jack needed privacy.
Jack walked to the wooden mantled fireplace. He placed the butt of his flashlight under the mantle on the left-most side against the wall. Again, a soft click as the wall fell back a couple of inches and pushed to the side revealing a hidden hallway, and inside a hidden staircase up to top floor. Moving through, Jack stopped to make sure the door slid closed behind him before ascending.
The stairway had been the servants’ access to the different floors so they could move freely without interfering with the tenants. Many old houses had such conveniences. When he had remodeled the brownstone, he had additional security put in place. No one would be able to access them, or even find them. At least that was the intention. The crew had been hired through Templar, his lawyer in London. They had been English workers and the materials purchased in England to make it even more difficult for anyone to put the pieces together. Caution was an essential part of the business.
He placed his flashlight against the doorjamb at the top of the stairs. It was an old wooden door. The other side would be made to blend in with the wall. Turning the knob, he pushed into a dark room. “Lights.”
On command, the room illuminated, a more modern contrast to the floors below. Jack looked around. The door closed behind him blending in perfectly. Jack had taken pains to respect the period of the brownstone, even on this floor. But the lower levels still showed their age. There was no mistaking that the building had been brought up to code, but modernization was twenty or more years behind. The fifth floor, however, the fifth floor looked as if it had just been built yesterday, stylized to look like a late century building, but undeniably Victorian modern. “Ginsy, status.”
A disembodied voice responded through hidden speakers. “Voice recognition confirmed. The floor is secure.”
“Good. Ready command.”
“As you wish, sir.”
Jack walked across the room to a blank wall on the right side of a fireplace opposite the door he had entered. The wall opened away from him as he approached. If anyone else had entered the room, it was programmed to subdue and detain by various measures. Elimination was only authorized if capture was not an option.
As Jack passed through the door, lights came into working order and the door closed behind him. A small room, ten by ten, otherwise empty other than Jack Thomas. “Ginsberg, disengage quarantine.”
The wall opposite him slid to the side exposing a more spacious chamber that looked like a very modern English sitting room. Out of an adjoining hallway, Jack’s butler, Ginsberg appeared carrying a cup of hot Earl Grey, and looking much the same as he did in London fifteen years ago.
“Nice to see you again, Master Jack.”
“You saw me this morning.”
“Yes, but that was in New York. We haven’t seen you in Gotham for seventeen days.”
“Yes, Ginsberg, you are correct.” Jack smiled as he took the offered cup of tea. “Is command ready?”
“Retrieve Gotham adoption records. Narrow parameters to my birthdate, seven days prior and post. Male.”
Ginsberg pursed his lips ever so slightly. His brow creased between his eyes. “Are you looking into your own adoption, sir.”
“Yes, Ginsberg. I am.”
“Do you think that wise?”
“Grandfather said he wanted me to find out who I was.” They fell in step as they walked to the command.
“Yes, he did. But I took that to be metaphorical.”
“He was being literal.”
“As you say, sir. You know best.”
Jack stopped and handed his empty teacup back to his butler. “Also, bring up the files on the recent new meta activity.”
“As you wish, sir.”
“Thank you, Ginsberg.” A smile of friendship passed between the two men. Ginsberg turned to return the cup to the kitchen. Jack headed to his command center.
Jack sat down in his captain’s chair pulling a third custom arm around with an embedded keyboard, then slipped a ring on his thumb that acted as a wireless mouse. “Ginsy.”
“Yes, sir.” The voice came from the bank of computer screens in front of him. A dozen of the stared at him with different feeds. The one directly in front of him was a four-foot curved model. Currently, one-half of it displayed adoption records. The other half was split into four frozen views of recent meta activity.
“Alter parameters on adoption search. Parents, One Latino. One Latino and/or Caucasian. Mixed race is acceptable. Cross-reference mother with prison record. Exclude any that do not match the parameters. Mother known father unknown is acceptable.”
Jack pushed a button on his keyboard. “Ginsberg.”
“Prepare my room. I will be staying here tonight.”
“As you wish, sir.”
Jack waved his hand in front of him to the left. The portion of the screen with the adoption search moved left making room for the meta feeds. “Ginsy, start meta feed one.”
The top-left image expanded pushing the other three to the side. The image of a young man—black hair, Caucasian, wearing a black mask, stepping forward from a crowd began to run. The young man stops LexCorp security from beating a man for information he either did not have or did not want to give up. Jack guessed the former. The young man flew off toward the end of the footage.
“Ginsy, tag this individual as Subject One. Potential ally. Search all records for mentions that match his description. Start meta feed two.”
The feed of the young man shifted to the side and another similar image came up. This time, the central figure was a man in a stylized plague-mask, Witch-Doctor. There was no sound as all of the cameras were either too far away or were not installed with a mic. Jack watched as he murdered a man, decapitated him. Another man, the same one rescued from the previous feed, was tortured with fear gas. Others followed.
“Ginsy, start meta feed three.” Witch-Doctor stood there, grandstanding. Challenging anyone who wanted to play hero. Specifically, the young man that challenged his soldiers. “Ginsy, tag Witch-Doctor as Target Alpha. Start meta feed four.
Undeniably, Superman. Several feeds from cell phones uploaded to social media capture his image as he flies toward the Daily Planet in Metropolis. Similar sources record Zod being thrown from the same building, his body limp and seemingly deceased.
“Ginsy, create a moon relationship chart of known associated for Witch-Doctor and Zod. Particularly with connections with Lex Luthor and Superman. Tag Superman as Target Omega-One. Tag Lex Luther as Target Omega-Two. Expand search for meta activity to the Six-Cities. Prepare a file for later.”
Jack removed the mouse ring, pushed away the keyboard arm, and slid his chair back. He sat there a moment in thought before standing, preparing to leave the room. As he turned to leave the command center, Ginsy called to him. “Sir, would you like the results of the adoption search?”
He paused. “Yes, Ginsy.”
“Zero record match the requested parameters.”
Jack’s face narrowed. “Parameters missing?”
“Number of records without missing parameter?”
“Prepare a file on the three records. Expand search to ten, twenty, and fifty-mile radii.”
Jack left heading for the kitchen.
Ginsberg moved about the kitchen tidying an already immaculate room.
“Ginsberg, I’ll be going out tonight. Prepare my suit.”
“Which one, sir?”
“As you wish, sir.”
“And some Chamomile, please. I’m going to get some sleep.”
“As you wish, sir.”