The Wayne Foundation and a Scientist
A/N: This is a sequel to “The League of Extraordinary Women”. It will make a lot more sense if you read that first.
Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me. If you want details on ownership and all that jazz, you’ll want to read the appropriate intros in “The League of Extraordinary Women”.
He was only flying out to San Diego for the day, but still he was worrying about keeping Gotham intact while he was gone. He had done four hours of patrol last night, and then slept for most of the flight across the country. He had a few inconvenient bruises and a laceration across the back of his left thigh that made sleeping a little difficult, but Alfred had patched him up in minutes while they waited for the plane to taxi and take off.
He could have gotten to San Diego using the teleport system on the Watchtower, but he wanted this to be clearly Bruce Wayne and not Batman. The trip into that alternate universe had been… disconcerting. He didn’t like magic, and magic turned out to be the core of the problem, with magic being used as part of the solution too. But now he was also concerned about the people he had met. He was investigating every one of them and determining whether their personalities translated into his universe. His universe, his rules.
This world’s Samantha Carter wasn’t an Air Force officer protecting her planet from alien incursions. She was still a physicist whose father was an Air Force general. Only this physicist was writing some remarkable papers on quantum gravity that were in conflict with some of the older papers on the subject. And this physicist had apparently seen her mother die in a car crash. He knew how losing a parent like that could be a driving force which could lead to… some extreme behaviors. As he knew from personal experience. And she had been on extremely bad terms with her father and brother ever since. He knew that wasn’t a good sign either.
Alfred acquired the rental Bugatti while Bruce made a phone call to verify that Samantha Carter was awaiting his visit. Alfred then drove Bruce expertly to the light industrial park where Carter Labs had its sole base. He assumed the name meant that she had plans to expand once she had viable products. That seemed… adventurous given the theoretical nature of her work, so he assumed she was farther along in her experiments than she was willing to admit to outsiders. He knew that could be symptomatic of some problems as well. He had seen it before often enough.
He left Alfred in the Bugatti and knocked on the security door. A camera moved slightly in his peripheral vision, and he pretended he hadn’t noticed the motion. A few moments later, the door lock clicked, and a female voice said, “Please come in, Mister Wayne.”
He opened the door and strode in. The atrium was better lit and more airy than he had expected. Samantha Carter was just as gorgeous as he had expected from her photos. What he hadn’t expected was that she was sitting in a wheelchair. How recent was this injury that it wasn’t in her file?
He stepped forward and extended his hand. “Professor Carter? It’s good of you to give me a little of your time.”
She shook hands with him in an abrupt manner. He was sure that she didn’t want to give him any of her time. Maybe she felt uncomfortable meeting a famous womanizer. Maybe she felt uncomfortable meeting him when she was now in a wheelchair. Or maybe she had some other motive. He had several thoughts on the subject.
Her grip was strong, but not unusually strong. The lack of calluses and the new blisters on her fingers told him she hadn’t been in the wheelchair for long, and she was refusing to take it easy.
She wheeled herself ahead of him into a quiet, paneled office lined with shelves and shelves of books. She rolled behind her desk and indicated with a tilt of her head for him to sit opposite her. He sat and made a little act of fiddling with his cuffs while he watched her and made notes of their surroundings.
The pictures on the sideboard were noticeable for what was not on display. There were no pictures of her father or her brother Mark or Mark’s family. There was no picture of her late mother. Instead, there were pictures of some of her graduate school classmates, and some of her colleagues. There were no pictures of anyone else associated with research in quantum gravity, which seemed notable. However, there were pictures from the Hubble Telescope and the International Space Station.
He spent a good fifteen minutes laying out several options on his proposal for Wayne Scientific to provide backing and funding for her ground-breaking work in quantum gravity. But he could tell from her reaction that she was suspicious and untrusting. She was going to say no any second now.
“No thank you, Mister Wayne. I have already turned down LuthorCorp, and I’m not going to change my mind.”
He carefully said, “I’m nothing like Lex Luthor, and Wayne Enterprises is nothing like LuthorCorp.”
She said, “I doubt it. Oh, I’m sure you’re not as ruthless or as efficient as Lex Luthor. But I’m sure you have plenty of executives who are. I’m quite sure that you’re like Luthor in that you’ll be unwilling to take no for an answer if there was any chance at all of someone else getting a ‘yes’.”
He ended up spending another thirteen minutes attempting to convince her that he wasn’t like Lex Luthor. But she was too untrusting. And it seemed rather coincidental that she had ended up in a wheelchair at approximately the same time she turned Luthor down. Had Luthor had someone engineer Carter’s accident? From her tone of voice, she clearly suspected that was the case, even though she obviously had no proof or else she would have gone to the authorities already. At least, she should
have gone to the authorities.
He finally had to leave without even an ‘I will think about it’. But he was not letting this drop. He decided that he needed to get one of the other Justice Leaguers to check on her work. One who had a background she would respect. Maybe Ray Palmer, if anyone could find him. If not Palmer, then maybe Clark could get Dr. Hamilton to help him out. He had a short list in mind before he opened the door to the Bugatti and slipped inside.
* * * * *
She stared at the monitors and made sure Mr. Wayne was out of her lab building. Then she carefully locked everything down. She didn’t want another ‘accident’ like the one when Luthor’s stooge had chosen to poke around in the middle of the last trial run.
Not that she really cared if her legs worked again. That wasn’t important. What mattered was that she was finally going to be able to prove her hypothesis. That pair of doddering old fools Milnoski and Gregorovic had both dared to criticize her at the latest international physics conference, and she was going to make them sorry. More sorry than they could imagine with their puny little minds. Milnoski had dared to laugh at her. He had laughed at her.
She rolled over to her test chamber and pulled herself up into the sling she had rigged, so she could hang in the exact center of the cylinder. Now all she had to do was prove, once and for all, that she knew far more about quantum gravity than those doddering old fools. That her theories were right, and the competing theories were wrong.
She flipped the switches and triggered the sequence. Then she waited impatiently. The beams struck her with exactly the force she had predicted. She just hadn’t anticipated how much they would hurt
. It was all she could do not to scream. But she had been living with pain of one sort or another ever since her mother died and her father virtually abandoned her. She refused to scream.
After what felt like days of agony, the system powered down. She checked the monitors. Exactly eighty-seven point four seconds. Precisely as planned.
She concentrated. She felt it as the harness no longer held her weight. She was floating! She had mastered quantum gravity and was controlling local gravity with nothing but her mind!
“Yes! Who needs legs… when you can FLY!”
She grinned wickedly. “Time for the next steps.” She focused, and increased the gravitational force on the door to the chamber. It creaked. It bent downward. Then it ripped off its hinges. It was suddenly crushed like a beer can. She concentrated until the entire door had been flattened to something perhaps a centimeter high.
She tossed aside her labcoat and flew out of the chamber. She flew to her security monitors and located an object well outside her building.
There. Down the street. On camera four she could see the trucks parked in the lot of that construction company. They never listened to her requests for noise control. They never listened to her requests for pollution controls on their diesel trucks. And she no longer had to tolerate their rudeness. She extended her mental control, as she reached out with her right hand. She held her hand palm up, as if she were holding a small water balloon.
She squeezed. As she squeezed her hand, the dumptruck collapsed in on itself as if someone had dropped it into a neutron star. When she stopped, there was nothing left but a sphere of undifferentiated matter.
She reached out and grabbed the other dumptruck. It was so easy to cancel the gravitational pull holding the truck to the planet. It flew upward under the influence of centrifugal force, tearing skyward. Once it easily exceeded orbital velocity, she let it go. Then she did the same to the remains of the first dumptruck. No point in leaving obvious evidence lying around.
She had a sudden impulse to smash everything in sight, but she got herself under control. No, she had important things to do with her powers. She, Doctor Samantha Carter, had a Destiny. She was no longer subject to the whims of crotchety old professors who only saw her youth and beauty and ignored her brains. She was no longer limited by the machinations of men like Luthor and Wayne, who only wanted her for what they could steal from her.
She would show those decrepit old fools. She would show them all! She would take what she wanted. And soon, the entire planet would fear her. Soon, the whole planet would be hers. Tomorrow, Milnoski. The next day, Gregorovic. And then…
After that, perhaps someone who would be a real challenge. She wondered how hard it would be to crush Wonder Woman into a red paste, just to prove to the world that she could do it.
Or maybe she would simply reach out with her mind and grab the Justice League's Watchtower in her gravitic grip before smashing it at a thousand miles an hour directly into LuthorCorp headquarters.
She laughed with a slightly maniacal tone. “FEAR ME WORLD, FOR I AM… GRAVITAS