Apologies in advance for this being a downer.
Disclaimer: I own whom I own. I don't own whom I don't.
Rating: PG-13 for language
Reaping What's Been Sown
There was a male voice in the distance. something very calm and
professional and detached. "And she hasn't mentioned anything like this to
you before? Usually an irritable uterus will give signs of problems before
stress induces something like this."
Mara tried to concentrate on the voices around her, but it all seemed so
"She hasn't said anything-but it would be like her not to."
"Braxton- Hicks contractions usually are an early sign of these kinds of
problems. Extreme stress can cause violent reactions. If what you said is
true, then it was most likely the incident at hand that caused the
situation, not any other outlying forces."
"But you'll let me know for sure?" Her father sounded so worried. What had
happened? She'd been talking to Jordy. Vaguely she remembered the monitor
going dead. Then seeing Batman standing above her.
"We will inform you if there is ANY possibility that this was induced by an
outside source. Until then, we will keep her on the muscle relaxers and
Terbutaline. She's improved greatly in the last twenty minutes or so. I'd
say your presence is. lucky."
"I don't believe in luck," her father informed the doctor grimly. "And
there has been enough misfortune running around today."
Slowly, Mara opened her eyes. The room wasn't even white. It was simply
metallic. It wasn't her father that was talking to the doctor-it was
Nightwing. "What." She took a deep breath. "Da-Ni--"
Nightwing's hand instantly clasped over hers, careful of the IV running
into it. "Robin." He seemed to be breathless suddenly, and he looked so old
and tired. "Batman found you in the cave. You're at S.T.A.R."
She gave half a nod. "I was talking to Jordy."
The color went out of her father's face. "What do you remember?" He looked
desperately to the tall doctor with the gaunt face, begging him silently to
leave. The man looked at them both once, then exited.
"I was talking. then the monitor went dead. And it hurt." She swallowed,
her throat suddenly so dry.
"Honey, do you remember anything that happened when the signal went out?"
"What happened?" she asked seriously. Something bad had happened.
"Honey," he only called her that when things were at their worst. "There
was an acc-something happened at the Titans Tower."
"Jordy's not coming home," she whispered. She didn't know how she knew. But
she felt it inside of her. The light in her life had gone out. The will
that sustained her had diminished. Her husband was gone.
She just knew it, inside of her. Her father's hand unfolded from around a
silver ring. "He's not coming home," Nightwing confirmed sadly. "I'm so
Taking the Green Lantern ring from her father, Robin nodded, trying to be
* * *
Balius reported it. Strangely enough, he and Iris had been the first people
at the tower. It seems they'd been on their way, even before Oracle had
alerted the team that all of their sensors and communications systems had
suddenly dropped offline. Nightwing had been in Bludhaven and had
immediately redirected himself to New York.
Enroot, the situation became clearer. There was a thick brass colored dust
all over the nerve center of the tower, it looked like metal shavings or
coffee grinds. Whatever it was, or had been, had eaten everything in its
wake, had spread out through two levels of the underground headquarters,
and then had suddenly ceased its progression. The structure was unstable,
he'd been informed, and after searching, Balius had found only part of
Matrix's android body in what was left of the kitchen. The devouring had
ceased before finishing off Matrix's chest and head, leaving his hard
drives thankfully intact.
Nightwing had breathed a sigh of relief then, noting that only Matrix
should have been at the tower-until he wondered why Matrix was in the
kitchen, presumably recharging while on duty. This feeling of impending
doom closed around him still further when they'd found Jordan Rayner's
Green Lantern ring and Balius explained that he'd been covering for the
android. He and the rest of the Titans quickened their pace to get to the
tower, to uncover the source of the trouble. Currently it wasn't boding
well for the Lantern who'd been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It wasn't until that he was nearly there that he'd received the call from
Oracle that Batman had found Robin the cave, almost delirious with pain. It
was then that Nightwing's world turned an amber haze. He only remembered
the facts, as though he were reporting them. He didn't remember feeling
anything after that-perhaps he'd shut himself off. It had been necessary,
when he'd dug his hand into the pilings of black and gold dust in the
tower, then began trudging through the thick mass that covered the floor.
He boots kicked up masses of the crunchy matter. It scraped against itself
as it shifted. Flashing his light on the piles, he inspected it closely,
and knew that it was nano bots. "They ate all organic and inorganic matter,
devouring it to replicate, and then they suddenly shut off," Nightwing told
his companions. He looked up at Troia and Arsenal, then behind him to
Balius and Iris. He had his arm about the young woman, comforting her.
Nightwing noted that she seemed to hold herself somewhat responsible. It
was something to file away in his head.
Arsenal bent and picked up some of the stuff. A handful of dead microscopic
bots flittered through his fingers like metallic sand. "And no immediate
sign of a possible source." He swore and shook his head. "It could be that
Terminus guy, it could be."
Donna's hand gently fell on his shoulder. "Anyone."
"Shit," Roy muttered, looking around at the assembled group. "Someone has
to tell Kyle," he said sadly. He got to his feet, then kicked at the
sawdust-like substance. "Me an' Donna will go."
"Oracle can tell him," Nightwing said methodically, then realized how
callus it sounded. "I mean. we have other things to do here." He stared
down at Jordy's ring. It hadn't been consumed because it was neither
organic or inorganic, it was the product of magic. He was forced to draw
the obvious conclusion upon seeing the ring and the disaster area."Get
Daedelus here," he demanded. "I want to know where this came from and how
this happened. I want Matrix put back on-line. I don't care if we have to
put his hard disks inside a Game Cube, but I want to know what he knows."
"I'm going to Kyle," Donna said, preparing to fly off. "If you need me,
"Just let her go, man," Roy said quietly as Troia rose into the air. "Go
check on Bubbles. We aren't going to know if this stuff's related till you
He saw the anxiety on Roy's face, it was anxiety FOR him. Dick clenched his
jaw for a moment, looking at his group. It wasn't the first time they'd
lost a member. But this hadn't even been battle. They had no idea yet what
enemy they faced. "I'm going to S.T.A.R Labs. They're taking Robin there.
You're right. I need to know if this is related." He didn't believe in
Oracle said they'd brought Mara to S.T.A.R. because they had no idea what
had prompted her condition. If it was related to her 'other' life, the last
place for her was a regular hospital. There was also the added complication
that the baby was not entirely human. She'd been seen immediately by a Meta
specialist, but hadn't really stabilized until he'd shown up.
Then he'd had to watch her wake. He didn't know how he'd find the words,
but he was spared the job of finding them-she already knew. One hand
instinctively went to her belly, and she told him that Jordy wasn't coming
back, and she was right.
Sadness crept into her features, but she didn't cry. He wondered if it was
due to the excessive amounts of drugs currently being pumped into her.
Nightwing slid his hand under her neck and sat her up just a little. His
other arm came around her, and he held her tight, rocking her ever so
slightly. "I'm sorry," he reiterated, knowing it wasn't anything.
"I was going to meet him," she told her father dully. "I was going to go.
And we were going to. He's not coming home."
His lips crushed up against her forehead. "Some kind of microbe invaded the
tower. They devoured everything within their path in seconds. He. it was
probably over before he realized what was happening. We'll find out who and
why. I promise."
* * *
It had been over before Barbara even knew what was happening.
After her fruitless confrontation with Jimmy, she'd left Kristen crying on
the couch, and went back to her war room, pondering the question of where
she'd gone wrong. Despite his propensity towards destruction, he'd been her
good child. And now, it was like Kristen had said-no one recognized him.
Suddenly, an alert blared at the Titans' tower. It flashed for not even a
second, then the display went dead. That was enough to tell her something
was amiss. All attempts at reestablishing communications were futile and
left her frustrated at her impotence. Most tragedies in recent memory began
with broken communications.
Calling all the Titans, she found Balius and Iris enroot. They explained
what they'd found to her, and her heart ached. Minutes later, the call had
come from the Cave, and she grew ill.
Dick had asked for Daedelus. She remembered the two unanswered calls to
Jimmy's lab, the hopelessness she felt at seeing her childrens' lives
spiral out of control right before her eyes. "Jimmy, Jordy's gone. Mara's
life might depend on what you can tell your father about what attacked
There'd been no response that last time either, but a minute later, Jimmy
had appeared in her office, his usual bag of equipment slung over one
shoulder and some other bag that she had never seen before in the other
hand. He stood stonily waiting for his orders and listened to them in
"Give me a location on Talia Head," he demanded as he walked towards the
"She knows why," he said, then left. Chills ran down her spine. It seemed
quite plain and reasonable to her that Talia would be dead not five minutes
after she gave location information to her son.
Obviously he blamed HER for whatever was transpiring, and she wanted to
* * *
Daedelus arrived on-site and made his way below ground. The Titans Tower
being destroyed seemed to be a regular occurrence. Still, it had been a few
years. Maybe they were due. Maybe life needed to stop fucking on him for
once in a while.
His brain couldn't comprehend that Jordy wasn't there. His mind couldn't
begin to think about Mara. He only had one comprehendible thought on his
mind. "Location on Talia," he demanded of his mother.
"No, Jimmy," Barbara snapped. "Not unless you tell me what the hell's going
"You afraid I'm going to kill her?" the young man ground back as he found
an access tunnel that wasn't sealed by magnetic lock. He flashed his
halogen light the length of the chamber, making sure nothing would
interrupt his path.
"YES," Barbara replied with brutal honesty.
"You should be," James replied darkly. "If you wont help me, I'll find her
myself. SHE is responsible for this."
"And what proof do you have of that?"
"I have my sources." He cut the connection, no longer wishing to listen to
his mother's incessant rambling. He'd found her once, he could do so again.
A signal reconnection sounded in his ear. "Jimmy, listen to me. Jordy--"
"Just stop," he said, cutting her off. He couldn't think about his friend.
His only friend. The only person who listened to him, no matter how stupid
he was being. The person he fought with the last time he'd seen.
"Jimmy, you're upset. Just. wait. Don't do anything you'll regret."
The young man pushed hard against the door that lead to the main monitor
center. It gave way beneath his efforts, and eventually slid back enough
that he could get himself and his equipment through. When Daedelus was
done, Icarus would be paying Talia a visit. "Don't, Oracle. There's no
place for honor in this line of work. The only thing that there's time for
He fell short as soon as his flashlight caught sight of the debris. Pain
knotted in his stomach. "It's not Talia," a hollow voice emitted. One hand
brushed against the sand-like metallic shells. He knew what these things
were. He knew what they did.
"What are they?" his Uncle Roy asked him. "How'd they get here?"
"B-13," he said, the lie smoothly coming off of his lips. "It only takes
one, then they reproduce like rabbits. Released into the air, dropped."
"Dropped-like when the secure wing was broken into yesterday?"
"Yeah. Do you know who?"
"Tall guy, black suit. That's all the security cameras picked up."
"Then I'd say that's your culprit," Jimmy said fluidly. He knew he was
their culprit in more ways than one. A hand punched the ground. "Damnit!
God damnit! Damn it all to hell!" The young man screamed. "Fucking security
upgrade was for nothing! I didn't do shit against microbes!"
"Jimmy! No one blames you. Calm down, come on."
Rising, the young man stormed off, his diagnosis given.
* * *
"So what you're telling me is that we don't know shit," Nightwing said
angrily to his group. Less than half their team was there-Roy, Iris and
Balius stood around what was left of the conference room. It was hard to
Nightwing clasped his hands behind his back, trying to remain stalwart. "We
don't know a god-damned thing, and Jimmy's missing." He sighed and shook
his head. The young man had gotten Matrix' head working again, then had
disappeared. Roy said that likely Jimmy was just trying to pull himself
together, but Dick was worried. He didn't share his son's B-13 diagnosis.
He had a strong suspicion that it was Apokolypitic technology, with a
leaning towards Kryptonian bastardization, now that he'd had a chance to
actually study it himself.
"We know that THIS," Balius gestured to the devastated inner sanctum. "And
Robin's. incident are not related."
"We don't know that. We just have no proof." He didn't know if she had seen
more and was choosing to forget, or if it had been something more. He'd
ordered the doctors at the lab to run tests for every kind of microbe
infector known to man, especially anything resembling foreign technological
matter in her body. He also told them to do it before she regained her
strength, because once that happened, she'd put up too much of a fight.
"Well, I want somebody's ass to kick," Roy said out loud, ever so
eloquently expressing the thoughts of the group. "And I say we start with
the guy in black. He's gotta be working for the demon's bitch."
"Oracle thinks that Jimmy seemed to have some kind of inside track. He
thought it was Talia, and he was going to go after her. Then he saw the
mess, and said it wasn't her. I think he knows who the man in black was,
too. I think we need to find Jimmy and beat some sort of answer out of
him." He was through playing games-even with his children. The time for
games was over when people ended up dead.
"And where the hell do you start looking for someone who was raised Bat?"
Roy asked mockingly.
"You start working like the Bat," Nightwing informed his company. "You hunt
like the Bat, you THINK like the Bat, and you use the Bat's arsenal."
Iris and Balius held their place. Roy winced. "The protocols." He knew what
his friend meant.
Nightwing nodded. "The protocols."
* * *
"Hey, Waddles," a male voice whispered in the darkness.
With hesitation, Mara opened her eyes. In the dim light of the room, her
brother looked as bad as she felt. His eyes were round and red, but his
face was hard and his jaw locked.
"Hey. I came to check on you."
"Dad left," Mara whispered sadly. "He was here."
As her father had done a few hours before, Jimmy pressed his lips to her
forehead. "He had to work. He's trying to find out. look. I just stopped
in," Jimmy explained. "I think I can find out what's going on."
"Was it Talia?" It didn't seem like Talia's MO, but things had changed so
much lately. there could be something she didn't know-something she hadn't
"No," Jimmy informed her stonily. "It wasn't Talia." A hand gently brushed
away hairs on her face. "But I'll end it. I'll. I'll do what I can for you.
And I'll let you know when it's done."
Mara looked at the door. "Just talk to mom."
"It's more complicated than just mom now. And I promise you. when it's all
over. When this is done, I'll fix things with them."
"Don't-I mean-dad had to go--" She was supposed to hate him. She didn't
know why she was asking him to stay.
"I gotta go, Waddles," but he hesitated and didn't leave.
"I want to go home," was all she could think to say.
"I know. Just. take care of yourself. I'll take care of everything. Once a
fucker is on my shit list, they don't escape," he said sternly.
She nodded her thanks. It was so difficult to be here. To be even unable to
stay awake, much less do anything. The one time in her life, the ONLY time
when she needed to do something, she couldn't. Her IV-laden hand reached up
and brushed the stubble on his cheek. She had a feeling she wasn't going to
see him for a long time. "Just don't forget," she made him promise. "I
need. what I mean. I don't." Mara drew in a sucking breath, trying to find
the right words. "No more fighting."
He nodded, then gently put her hand back down on her belly. Letting go, he
brought his hand up and touched the Lantern ring on the chain about her
neck. It was all she had left of Jordan. He didn't want to think of what
would happen when they asked her to give it back. "Take care. I'll fix
everything else. EVERYTHING."
Mara clenched her eyes shut, thinking she might cry, but the tears didn't
come. When she opened them, her brother was gone.
* * *
The first thing Nightwing noted was that there was no door connected to the
hinges outside Talia's bedroom. The thickness of the door frame confirmed
the weight of the door, and the force with which it would have been
necessary to use to knock it from it's hinges. It seemed like with each new
clue, the mystery grew deeper.
One hand clasped over the mouth of the petite sleeping form nestled among
the violet satin blankets and pillows. Talia's eyes opened and she let out
a muffled yelp.
"You're going to tell me what I want to know," he informed her. "You're
going to tell me what business my son had with you."
The angry fire in her eyes suddenly grew icy as he pulled his hand away.
Suddenly something twisted erupted behind their green depths. "Wouldn't you
like to know," she said noncommittally.
"I will know. You will tell me."
A smile spread across her lips. "Just the business of keeping my bed warm."
Nightwing punched the pillow bare inches from her head. "The TRUTH, Talia,"
he ground out between clenched teeth.
"The truth, young Detective, is as I said. It is no concern of mine, if you
are incapable of accepting my words." Her fingers trailed up his arm and to
his cheek then to his lips. "He's very. enthusiastic. But I'm certain you
could bring a certain.tempered passion--"
Nightwing's hand snapped out and pinched the nerve on the side of her neck,
dropping her into silence. He paused, drawing in a ragged breath. He hadn't
even asked about the Man in Black. He'd simply heard all that he could
bare, and had silenced her.
Talia was not the beginning and end of knowledge. He could find the Man in
Black himself. He and Oracle would. THEY were responsible for this-THEY
would somehow see it to conclusion.
* * *
The glass doors leading to the director's office shattered-not into pieces,
but into dust. It hung thick and white in the air, and the figure behind
the desk instantly lifted his sleeve to his mouth and clenched his eyes
Icarus moved towards the desk with cool effiency, not caring about the air
quality. "You broke the deal," an electronic voice ground out as a fist
slammed on the wooden desk. "You were to leave the Titans alone. No more
drones targeting them. NOTHING. NO ONE was supposed to get hurt," he
hollered. "NO ONE! NONE of my people!" One hand reached out into the
clearing air and grabbed hold of the lapels of the figure behind the desk.
"MY PEOPLE DON'T GET HURT!"
"They aren't your people," a voice ground out as the man behind the desk
dared to open his eyes. "Not when you work for us."
"I don't work for you," Icarus informed the man as he pulled the gaunt
figure out of the chair and over the desk, towards him. "Not any more. WHY?
WHY did you do it?" he demanded.
The thin, flushed cheeks of the putrid creature in his grasp puffed once,
then collapsed as Icarus' grip suddenly slid from the black suit to the
director's throat. "I didn't order it!"
"WHO DID?" An answer wasn't immediately forthcoming, so he throttled the
man. "I gave you that technology as a safe guard against Apokolyps. NOT to
use against my people! WHO ORDERD IT?" He shook one more time-hard.
"I did, sweetness," a female voice chirped behind him.
Icarus turned back towards the doorway. He realized life wasn't fucking
him. He was fucking himself at this point, and other people were being made
to pay. "Granny Goodness."
* * *
Mara dozed, feeling hands on her again. She'd actually slept through all of
their prodding and poking the last two times. Her father had ordered this,
and so she had to behave.
She felt a set of hands slide beneath her back, and she knew she was about
to be moved. Slowly, she drew in a deep breath and then held onto it.
They'd not moved her once since she'd come in here. They were not moving
Without opening her eyes, she cut outward with one arm, catching her
assailant in the throat. Her eyes snapped opened when she realized she'd
hit neither one hard enough to effect real pain, just to make them stagger
back a moment. She damned her weakness. She observed that her attacker was
not S.T.A.R. staff. Obviously the woman with the golden eyes and periwinkle
skin didn't belong.
She sat up suddenly, feeling a renewal of pain in her back and sides.
Pulling herself forward, she managed to put herself just out of the grasp
of the gasping, bristling woman. She struggled to get her knees beneath
her, but as she moved away from the wall, the IV tore out of her hand. Just
as the tape and needle left her skin, she grabbed it and pulled hard on the
tube, bringing the pole crashing down on her opponent.
Again, it was slowing, but it wasn't effective. The woman hit the bed with
a sudden thud, but was putting her hands beneath her before Mara could
react. "What the hell do you want?" she cried out, tugging on the sheet
beneath her. The purple woman's hands were pulled from beneath her, and she
landed on the linoleum with a thud.
Trying not to be sick, Mara quickly put her feet on the floor and began
pulling herself around the bed as the Meta on the floor rose. Swallowing
the pain of movement, she dropped to the floor behind the foot of the bed
just as her opponent rose and fired a blast of icy white energy flew in her
direction. She needed to think. She needed a way out.
Grabbing hold of the foot of the bed, she pulled as hard as she could,
pushing the bed sideways towards the Meta. It was like she was tearing
apart inside as she did so. The assailant let out a gurgled yelp as she
crushed up against the wall.
Mara collapsed backward, hitting her head as she did so. Her hands went to
her stomach, trying to hold back the agony inside her.
The bed shot away from the wall, catching fire with the force of the pale
purple woman's power. It stopped just short of Mara as she dug her heels
into the floor, trying to push herself backward. The woman's hands ignited
again, and Mara faltered, clenching her eyes shut.
There was a crinkling sound, like glass breaking above her, and the heat
from the bed suddenly went out and a cool breeze swept through the room.
Mara opened her eyes and the figure against the wall was frozen to it, and
the bed was encased in ice.
"At least I'm not wasting my time here," Crystal said angrily.
A slow breath finally permitted itself to bleed through Mara's lips and
into her lungs. She didn't know when she'd stopped inhaling. Her eyes fell
closed again as she took in the cool air, trying to use it's power to wash
away her agony. There were breathing exercised for everything. There were
Her grandfather had never taught her anything about this. If he were here.
Hands were immediately upon her, and despite how badly she wished to crawl
away and lick her wounds in private, Mara knew this was for the best. She'd
let them do whatever they had to, to protect all she had left.
"Jimmy." Mara whispered as she was lifted from the floor.
"Isn't coming," Crystal answered. "They can't find the man in black. Oracle
thought you might be a continued target. I had to fight my way in here,
there was another one blocking the wing."
"Thank you," Mara said as she let out a deep breath. She was regulating her
breathing when she'd really rather just scream, but she didn't know what
choice she had.
"Thanking me won't get you out of this. Rule of three, what you send out
is returned threefold."
"You too," Mara managed, before she was removed from the chilling, smoking
room. She wanted to go home. It was cool and dark and safe there.
* * *
Jimmy waited until Crystal was making her report to Nightwing. She'd been
watching over the hospital room since his sister had been stabilized again.
He didn't know if he could face her, or anyone just yet.
Creeping into the room, he tried not to look at her face. Removing the thin
leather glove from his hand, she shoved it into the back pocket of his
faded jeans, then gently slid his fingers under Mara's. Her hand was
bruised and ripped opened, where the IV had been. The bandage covering the
wound was soaked with blood.
Had they come for her to punish him? What concern was it of Granny
Goodness? She'd gotten what she wanted. He'd been manufacturing technology
to face an Apokoliptic threat, all so she could use it on this world and
her own to take over. His own altruism (albeit motivated by the thrill of
covertly snatching technology from Apokolyps and improving upon it) had bit
him in the ass. They were on the verge of war, and he wasn't sure what
could be done, and the first casualty had been his best friend.
"I'm sorry, Mara," he whispered. One finger traced the purple throbbing
veins of her hand, wondering what he could do. "Every time I think I'm
smarter than the game." He forced himself to look at her. Her eyes had
black shadows beneath them. Her face was pale and pasty and her lips were
gray and listless.
Slowly, his eyes moved to the lump beneath the sheet. The back of one
finger gently grazed her belly. "Just keep yourself well, ok? Or get well.
Mara. you've come too far." to have it ruined all in one bad day, he wanted
to finish. To have it ruined by ME.
"Mara. you keep making it through stuff. Make it through this." He slid his
hand from beneath hers and kissed her cold forehead.
Regretfully, he pulled himself up into the ventilation system, preparing to
dodge security and get out the same way he got in.
"Jimmy!" a voice cried out, just as he disappeared into the shaft. He
didn't respond, but he didn't move away either. He didn't know why he
stayed. He hated her. But he still loved her. If only his heart would make
up it's mind. "Jimmy, come back. Your dad--"
"Crys," he said without emotion. "Whatever else you have against her-take
care of her."
"Jimmy, we have to talk. About her, about Jordy. all of this. I know he was
your friend-Jimmy just come down here.."
"Take care of her," he ordered. "Take care of our boys."
By the time Crystal ghosted enough to levitate into the air duct, her
husband was gone.
Sadly, she lowered herself to the ground, staring at the inert body and the
lively, beeping monitoring systems attached to it. "Karma," She whispered
by way of explanation. "It always comes back and bites you in the ass."