|The Astonishing Justice Games
Author: 13LuckyWishes PM
Based off a LJ prompt. Batman's prepared them for this situation, mostly because he's prepared them for every situation. So the 74th annual Hunger Games? Should be as easy to handle as the quagmire of conspiracies that surround it. No, really. Art by SkyDominic.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure/Parody - Chapters: 7 - Words: 21,548 - Reviews: 47 - Favs: 33 - Follows: 65 - Updated: 12-03-12 - Published: 05-16-12 - id: 8123093
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The creepy kid, Timothy Gray, hadn't stopped moving since the beginning of Moby's shift. Maybe Copper had been exaggerating when she described the shape he was in when he'd been dragged into his cell. Beaten to a bloody pulp, she'd said.
It was kind of hard to believe, the way the kid was flipping around. It was probably just another way to brag about how she'd landed the better time slot to monitor the prisoner's security cameras. Most people got brought in during the early evening, late enough for the Peacekeepers to beat the crap out of someone but early enough to avoid a late night. People were always the most restless and entertaining just after they'd been jailed, too. During his shift, the night one, they tended to go to sleep. Because, you know, nighttime.
On the positive end, he'd totally avoided getting the short end of the stick this time. Wait 'til he rubbed in Copper's face how prisoner 1016 was putting on a freaking performance for him. At the moment he was doing some flips that definitely proved that however badly he was supposed to be hurt, he was apparently just fine.
He'd stretch, do a backflip to warm up, somersault or cartwheel a lap around the room, then for good measure run up a wall to smack a hand on the ceiling. Every few tricks he'd turn to one of the room's three cameras and take a dramatic bow. Moby silently clapped in his head. Each room was bugged with a microphone too (in case a prisoner decided to mutter his escape plan in his sleep or something?), which meant he heard some pretty creepy things too.
Mostly the kid's laugh, which would echo through his cell's bug to Moby's headset like ... like he'd just seen something really demented and thought it was hilarious.
It was way more entertaining than the other prisoners, who just sat there and glared at the floor or curled up into a ball and cried.
Moby spent the next half hour watching the prisoner flip and bounce his way around the room, and the security guard began wondering if it would be possible to sneak a tape of this out of the facility. Probably not. The only time that Gray stopped moving was right before he left. He paused, cocked his ear to the door like he heard something Moby couldn't, grinned, and promptly sat down. Never had someone so effectively or efficiently twisted himself into a pretzel. An arm looped through a leg for a final pose just before a heavy metal door swung open and two Peacekeepers walked inside.
They glared until Gray got the message to stand up and leave with them. Which was ... weird. Standard protocol stated prisoners were supposed to stew in solitary for 24 hours, for a start.
But hey, these were Peacekeepers. Working for the government, you kind of learned to just accept the "Don't ask, don't tell" details.
The other prisoners were boring.
Okay, so maybe flying around the room like a diva hadn't been the best idea. Robin had assumed he'd have ample time to pass out and recuperate later. But standing still and being normal and silent and still for so long was like being restricted to his Dick Grayson persona for a few months, but worse because everyone around him was shallow and evil. Still. Standing in front of several (self-)important people, it was unduly difficult to not pass out.
And training from the Batman once again wins the "best possible thing to have at this moment" prize!
"You're now under strict surveillance. The device in your arm will activate if you move more than fifty feet away from your assigned Peacekeeper."
Said assigned Peacekeeper wasn't the one he'd had before sneaking into City Hall. The first one had been an angry barely-not-a-teen that kind of reminded him of Roy. Actually, Robin would prefer to avoid thinking about the guy and what could have happened to him. It wouldn't really help anything. The new guy was somewhere between his 20s and 50s, looking huge and intimidating even in his silly white uniform.
More importantly? They were kind of just letting him go. Robin's inner detective perked up and he had to avoid smiling through his slowly swelling eye and lip. "You guys must be pretty confident you amped security up enough to keep me out, then." You know what? Forget trying not to smile. He grinned as infuriatingly as he could, and the other men in the room looked very not-whelmed.
What were they going to do? Change their minds and put him back in prison for being cheeky?
A really old guy in a suit, one that had been standing in the back of the room since he'd arrived, frowned at him and spoke for the first time. "I don't like this, and neither do many other important people. If I had my way none of your or your 'friends' would even be alive right now. Don't push it."
Which was just fascinating considering this guy was speaking in what Robin had learned was a Capitol accent. District 5's mayor had practically bowed when he'd walked in the room halfway through the meeting. To be honest none of the decisions that had been made about him or the rest of the Team made any sense at all. Really. Being allowed out in a District, where they could make allies, relay messages, or just run away? So not more appealing than locking the security threats in a tiny room and never letting them out. Well, not from the bad guy's point of view anyway.
So who wanted them in that position so badly?
"I don't understand why they aren't running."
"They did, sir. They merely left holograms in their places and no one has noticed yet."
"Cute, Joy. But with the level of competence the lower levels are showing, I honestly wouldn't be surprised if that were the case."
"I'm not sure what your definition of 'incompetent' is, sir. I'm sure the Webster Dictionary wouldn't agree that it's 'failing to identify children and genetic patterns from an era that's been almost entirely forgotten,' however."
"And I hired you for your sarcasm, not your leniency." An exhale. "It just doesn't make any sense. There's not one of them that couldn't leave right now if they didn't want to, I made sure of it. No resistance to anything they've seen? At all?"
"The speedster threw a fit once. Tried to stop a public whipping."
"Right, right. At least we know they haven't been brainwashed, then. Any other events I forgot?"
"It's not like you to forget detail."
"It also isn't like me to get less than five hours of sleep a night. Hurting businesses wreak havoc on a man's schedule, Joy. Besides, the human brain is designed to forget information it knows it has easy access to. Isn't remembering things part of your job."
"I thought it was verbal banter for stress relief, sir. The assistant job description was just a cover, or did you forget those conversations as well?"
"Should I go back to bantering with Microsoft Sam, then? I hear sticky notes are a popular way for the elderly to remember things as well."
"I feel the need to call you out on your idle bluff, sir."
"Don't push me, Huntley."
"Grayson was caught hacking into 5's files. He's known where the other members of Young Justice are for days. No unusual activity after he was released from confinement, though. Are you sure you don't remember this? You forced the officials into letting him out of prison yourself."
"That means much? I do everything myself. But no, I remember now. I was so sure he'd bolt after he knew their locations, too."
"Actually, sir, we have footage of the Team being instructed by Black Canary that we believe explains it. It's new."
"Footage from the past that's new?"
"I'm going to need more coffee."
"Huntley, before you leave. Why wasn't this the first thing you told me?"
"It's not often I see you at a loss, sir."
"To be completely juvenile, you are a jerk, Joy."
A noise that could be mistaken for a laugh. "Yes, sir."
"Kon," usually known as Connor Kent or the Superboy, stood in a line of sixteen year old boys and towered over every one of them. Not for the first time he wished he hadn't inherited superhearing from his genetic donor. Then he wouldn't be able to hear every hyperventilating child and parent with the breath frozen halfway out of their lungs and heart trying to beat out of its owner's chest. It was a perfect symphony of terror and chaos, only accentuated by how every outward appearance was one of utter stillness.
Kids tinier than Robin were crowded into sections like livestock, and right then and there the clone decided it was (just barely) worse to be treated as an animal than a weapon. When a small blonde woman beamed a dead smile and walked onto the temporary stage built in the middle of the town square, her high heels echoed under the hollow stage until the whole scene seemed unbearably tense. Three months ago, something or someone would have had a hole punched in them by this point.
Without a hint of the tenseness or remorse everyone else seemed to be displaying, the woman introduced herself, cleared her throat, and talked about things everyone already knew (even him). And talked, and talked, and talked. And in the middle of the talking, paused long enough to regain Kon's attention. Her mouth twisted upwards, she reached into a big glass bowl, and half of the tension in the town square seemed to dissipate, because most of the crowd's children hadn't been chosen. One woman was crying, but not loudly enough to be heard by anyone but Connor.
A short girl with brown hair marched up to the stage.
Next was a boy who couldn't even march. He was too busy making fighting an old pair of crutches that seemed too small for him, but were still necessary because of a mangled leg. The Superboy narrowed his eyes, and waited.
Had future events not gone as they had, Timothy Gray would have gone down in history as the first and only tribute to laugh as his name was called out to the crowd. What could he say? He hadn't felt like going through all of the trouble of volunteering.
Megan padded up the stairs to the stage. It was difficult to keep the sudden wash of pity, awe, and thankfulness overwhelm her. The emotions of others were doing their best to convince her she'd just given up her life, and she had to cut off her general mental link entirely to keep the misconception at bay. From the crowd's center of attention, she flashed a quick smile to the girl whose life she'd saved.
Kaldur faced down the crowds, prepared for four or five voices to proclaim that they were volunteering as well. He was perfectly aware of the concept of a "career tribute" as a way to exploit the murder of other children to get ahead. Several boys had loudly boasted that they were going to volunteer that year and become legends.
Silence filled the air because the crowds were expecting the same thing he was, but there was... nothing. Looking out into the sea of faces, those who had wanted to volunteer were either pale faced or not there at all.
Wally paced around for the allotted hour, practically wearing a hole through the expensive plush rug. It was meant to be time for tributes to say goodbye to their loved ones, so naturally no one was coming to see him. A new sudden rush of irrational nerves hit him, and he wishes that part of the farewell process involved comfort food.
Artemis, after volunteering, put her skills at ignoring things to use. She ignored the cameras, the crowds, the stunned look on her Peacekeeper's face, the boy tribute she was loaded onto a train with, and the people who claimed they'd be mentoring her until she entered the Games.
The first thing she said was to no one in particular. Well, no one in the room anyway.
What she assumed was Robin's alias, because no way would he use his real name with or without a mask, was called out to the crowd. His laughter was as creepy as ever, and even the TV show hosts had to comment on it.
Her lips twitched upwards. "That little troll."
The other tribute, Tan, was the only other person in the car. He gave her a puzzled look but wisely decided not to comment. Besides, he had his own problems