Nightwing: Out of Time 3 – The Hunt for Black Robin
By Christopher W. Blaine
DISCLAIMER: Nightwing™ and all other characters and situations portrayed in this story are ©2002 by DC Comics Inc., an AOL/Time-Warner Company, and are used without permission for fan-related entertainment purposes only. No profit is made from this writing. This original story is ©2002 by Christopher W. Blaine and may not be reproduced in part or as a whole without the express consent of the author.
"Mommy, who is my daddy?" the little blonde-haired girl asked.
The woman, a former assassin in the employ of Ra's Al Ghul, stared at the child's wide, innocent eyes. "A hero, Andrea," was all that she said as she prepared their simple lunch. As she put the peanut butter to the bread, she looked outside the dirty window over her sink at the hellhole they had moved in to. She wondered if having taken Andrea away had been such a wise decision.
This wretched slum held no real fear for the woman; she was a trained killer. She had killed more than a hundred people in the service of Ra's Al Ghul and she had done so with the zeal required in order to be considered worthy of his attention. Andrea, however, had been something that even an assassin could not tolerate. A child created from the genetic materials of two people, one of them being Richard Grayson, the super-hero Nightwing, once the original Robin.
The other…well, there was really no need to dwell on that since Ra's had used Grayson's material in order to allow Andrea to get close to the hero's adoptive father, Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne was also the Batman, the hated Detective that pursued and punished Ra's at every turn. The plan had been to raise Andrea to be a suicide soldier and the woman could not stomach the thought.
It was one thing for an adult to make a decision to become a killer; it was another to take that choice away from a child. It showed the assassin just how sick the mind of Al Ghul was and she had taken it upon herself to rescue the child. They now hid, Andrea simply believing they were poor. The truth was that the woman had access to more money than she could ever hope to spend; all secreted away in private accounts all over the world. No, they needed to hide here away from her brethren still in Ra's service.
"Is he Superman?" Andrea asked, not satisfied with the previous answer.
"Is he Gween Wantern?"
"Is he Pwesident Wuthor?"
The woman laughed. She had actually slept with Lex Luthor once in order to gain some information for her master. "No, dear, the president is far too busy to have children."
"How do you know my daddy is a hewo?"
The woman sighed and put the sandwich on the table. Andrea clapped her hands and climbed up into the chair, wanting to sit like a big girl. The woman walked over and poured some juice in a glass and was about to answer when there was a pounding at the door.
Andrea was startled but the woman calmed her, explaining that she was to stay in the kitchen while mommy answered the door. The woman moved quickly, stopped to grab the dagger she kept on a shelf above the kitchen doorway. There was more pounding on the door and she looked through the peephole. She sighed again and realized that this matter was going to have to be dealt with.
She unhooked the chain and opened the door. Two large men stood there. "Yo, bitch, 'bout time you opens the door," one of the men, the obvious alpha male of the two, said. He was pale skinned, almost white, with a ball cap on sideways and a shirt that said "Dyn-o-Mite".
"I told you before that I am uninterested in your advances, little man," she said in a stern voice.
The man pointed to his crotch. "Baby, you gonna take this and you is gonna like it. See…I'm your man and you is going to be my bitch."
The woman rolled her eyes and the man went to slap her. It was predictable attack. Ever since she had moved into this housing project two months before, this man had been trying to get her to be one of his prostitutes. Her constant refusals only served to anger him more. Now he was here to help mend his wounded ego.
She caught the hand and surprised him with her strength. The dagger went out, stabbing through the man's throat twice before he could blink. She shoved him aside even as he became a crimson fountain and moved towards his friend. The other man made a desperate swing with his ham hock fist, but she ducked it easily.
Five seconds later, he was falling to the floor, clutching at the cut across his own neck. She then stepped back into her apartment and closed the door. There was blood on her shirt and so she removed it, stepping into her bedroom to retrieve a new one. When she walked back into the kitchen, Andrea was munching on her crust.
The little girl looked up at her mother and saw the look in her eyes. "We have to move again?"
The woman nodded. "This time, though, I promise it will be a clean, safe place." She meant it too. Too many times she had to kill to protect their identity and it just didn't seem worth it just to live in rat holes. If she were going to kill, it was going to be for something worthwhile. "We have to go out the back stairs again."
Andrea sighed and got down to go retrieve her coat. The woman watched her and wondered if maybe she should consider finding a man to marry. The woman was beautiful, despite her attempts to look homely. She was, after all, a woman who had charmed Lex Luthor into bed and nobody had stricter standards! But then she would be lying to two people then, unable to come clean about her past or Andrea's identity.
It was hard on both of them, though. Andrea so much wanted a father and the woman was lonely she had to admit. There were times when a strong shoulder to cry on was a necessity.
She fought back the tears and blinked her eyes. Andrea came marching in, trying to button her little jacket. The woman stooped down and helped her. "Can we go live with my daddy?" she asked.
"No, dear, we can't."
"He hates me," the little girl said and the woman pulled her close. "He hates me mommy! He hates me!"
Nightwing stood back, arms folded over his well-muscled chest and trying to breathe as quietly as he could. Next to him, Superman stood in the same position but there seemed to be something noble about the way he did it. Even Nightwing, someone who had traveled through time and space and had worked with the Man of Steel several times, was still in awe of the man whenever he was near him.
In front of them, two women in lab coats were busy looking over several papers, pointing and gesturing every now and then to something that caught their eye. The tension in the room was so thick it was unnerving and the only thing that kept Nightwing's temper in place was the calming presence of Superman. It was the Kryptonian that had secured the use of this private laboratory.
Finally, one of the women turned around and pushed her glasses up. "Mr. Nightwing," she began. "We have finished our testing of the blood sample you provided. I'm afraid we can't help you in this matter. If this is a sample from a clone as you and Superman state, then the cloning was done with technology not available in the United States. It's too perfect."
Nightwing didn't mask his confusion. "What does that mean?"
The other scientist, a young redhead who had been casting glances at both heroes the entire day, smiled. It was a perfect smile that caught Nightwing off guard. "This isn't the blood of a clone. Trust us. It has all of the impurities you'd expect from someone who ate too many hamburgers." Nightwing looked confused. "She had high cholesterol, took birth control and was getting over a cold." The redhead handed over a file folder. "We then looked into trying to match the genetic pattern of the father and mother as you asked in the event the blood did not come from a clone."
The other scientist opened the folder and pointed to several DNA profiles. "This is the DNA profile of the father as you provided to us, and this is the complete profile of the Jane Doe. They were definitely related, no question about it. We were able to come up with a pretty good profile of the mother."
Superman leaned over and observed. "What is this note down here?" he asked, pointing to some handwritten words.
"Oh! Yes, the mother is apparently a carrier of King James Syndrome," the redhead said with the same smile. "It's a rare genetic disorder that was first discovered in a cousin to King James. It occurs in less than 1% of the population. She gave it to her child."
"I've never heard of it," Nightwing commented.
"There are hundreds of little disorders out there, but this one is one of the more rare ones. In about ten percent of the infected persons it causes severe mental problems. It sort of spread rampant through the European royal families for a few generations and then found its way over here. Modern drug therapies help out the people who suffer from it for the most part."
Nightwing and Superman thanked the two women and started to leave. The redhead called after them. The two heroes stopped and the woman handed over a business card to Nightwing. "If you need anything else, please give me a call." She smiled again and a warm, fuzzy feeling settled over Nightwing. When she was gone, he looked down to see that her home phone number was scrawled on the back of the card.
"Are you going to call her?" Superman asked with a grin.
Nightwing scratched his head. "I don't know…she was cute…"
Superman clapped him on the back. "Ah, to be young again! I miss the days of chasing Lois, never knowing if I was ever going to get her."
"Right…Superman never gets the girl," Nightwing added with sarcasm. They walked outside the building and stepped into the cool night air. Nightwing looked over at his car. "I wish I could fly."
"It does have its benefits," the Man of Steel commented. "Are you going to be okay, son?"
Nightwing nodded. "Yeah, I was just thinking of Andrea." He turned his head to the sky, wondering if someone who was meant to die in a future that hadn't happened yet could be in Heaven looking down on him.
It had all started when a mysterious black-clad woman called, aptly enough, Black Robin, had broken into Dick Grayson's apartment to whisk him away to thirty years in the future. There, Per Degaton, a time-traveling villain who had met defeat at Nightwing's hands previously, had placed a city-destroying bomb in New Metropolis.
Nightwing and Black Robin, with the help of the Justice League, tracked down the bomb. During the adventure, Nightwing had learned that Black Robin was his daughter; a daughter he never knew existed.
Just when it seemed that the world was going to be saved, fellow Justice League member Earthian, the son of Geo-Force, struck a killing blow to Black Robin. No reason was ever given and the killer got away despite the efforts of the Legion of Super-Heroes that had arrived to investigate the time traveling that had been going on.
Now, back in his own time, Nightwing was on a search to find his daughter, a little girl that was growing up thinking he didn't care about her. The problem was that he didn't know where she was or who her mother was. "I've got to think this through. Per Degaton said that Ra's Al Ghul had her created to be used as a weapon against Bruce."
"Have you thought about going to Bruce?"
Nightwing blanched. "After everything Al Ghul has done, I think this would be the final straw. I think that using a child as a weapon against him would be enough to push him over the edge."
"What about you?" Superman asked, concern in his voice. "You have…lost it…"
Nightwing nodded. There was a time, not too long ago, when Nightwing had been given the power of life and death over the Joker. The Joker represented everything that Nightwing hated in life, he considered the Clown Prince of Crime a perversion of humanity. It had been the Joker who had killed Jason Todd, the second Robin; it had been the Joker who had paralyzed and raped Barbara Gordon, Nightwing's former girlfriend; it had been the Joker who had killed Sarah Gordon, beloved wife of Commissioner James Gordon. Anything that was wrong in the world seemed to have Joker written all over it.
Throughout his crime fighting career, Nightwing had held true to the one law that could not be broken: thou shall not kill. Well, he mused, he had broken that rule. He had killed the Joker and only Batman's intervention allowed the criminal to be revived. That single act had put a cloud of mistrust over the hero he was still trying to dissipate. "Don't worry, Superman; I'm not out to kill Al Ghul, just save the little girl."
"I still think you should bring Bruce into the picture. You're underestimating him."
"And you overestimate his control. I've known him most of my life and I still don't understand what makes him tick." Nightwing's voice was filled with anger and frustration. "He's my father and he's a perfect stranger. I suppose that maybe I feel that this is my own problem." He sighed, knowing that he was lying to the one man in the world that represented truth and justice. "In the future," he began quietly, "Andrea had a great relationship with Bruce. I only caught glimpses of it, but there was a real love between them. He became her father."
"And you're afraid that will happen in this situation?"
Nightwing nodded slowly. "This is a whole new area of family life we're entering into. I don't know how Bruce will react; I don't know if he will try to make up for what he felt his failures were with Jason and me. Hell, maybe all he ever wanted was a little girl anyway."
"The softer side of Batman, I would love to see that," Superman chuckled. He then started to float up into the sky. "I admire what you're doing, son; call me if I can help out any more."
In an instant, he was gone, heading back to his home and wife in Metropolis, leaving the young hero from Bludhaven alone with his thoughts.
"Do you see him?" Per Degaton asked.
"Yeah," his companion responded, bringing the binoculars down. "So what? A kid dressed in black with a friend who can fly. Whoopee!"
"That 'friend' is Superman, the greatest champion of this era. Imagine a cross between Hawkman, Green Lantern and Hourman," the red-haired criminal said. He was dressed casually, just as the other man was, matching what he assumed was the latest fashion trends. "You want to avoid him."
"Sure, whatever," the other man said. "So, I kill the little punk for you and you will…"
"Provide you with enough information that you'll be able to invest money in the appropriate places so that y 1952, you'll be a rich man." Per Degaton started moving towards the car he had rented. His companion had wanted to steal one, but had been warned off. "The police of this day and age are not the bumbling buffoons of our time period, my friend; they have ways of tracking stolen vehicles."
He regarded the man that was with him and wondered if recruiting him for his vengeance on Nightwing was a wise choice. Twice the hero had ruined his plans; two times Per Degaton, the man who would be master of the world, was humbled before Nightwing. He had spent the last few months incognito here in the future, far removed from his own time period of 1942, watching the hero, learning all he could about him. He already knew his secret identity and he thought about just giving the information away to the various criminal elements of the day.
That would only work against him, he figured; Nightwing had demonstrated a willingness to kill, after all. Who knew what he would do to protect his name? Per Degaton was no fool; the athletic super-hero would best him in single combat and that was exactly why he had employed his super-powered friend.
Revenge was a patient thing even if Per Degaton wasn't. He would have had his associate strike now if it wasn't for the fact that he understood exactly what Nightwing was looking for. It had been he, Per Degaton that had revealed the truth of Black Robin to the hero. With his background in science and research, Per Degaton began to piece together the puzzle as he watched Nightwing travel from lab to lab.
What a delicious revenge it would be when Nightwing would be just within reach of his goal, only to see that goal destroyed before his very eyes.