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.
"Daddy?" the little girl started to say, her bottom lip quivering as she was on the verge of tears.
Nightwing looked at her and saw those deep blue eyes and knew immediately that this was the person whom he had met in the future. This was his daughter, his flesh and blood, and his legacy. He slowly moved towards her, not sure of what to do. He could see that she was shaking with fear.
He wished that he had not come in costume; wished even more that Rebecca had not hit him so hard with the frying pan because his vision was still slightly blurry. "Andrea…"
"Are you my daddy?" she asked, hope in her voice.
He nodded slowly. "Yes…yes I am."
He reached up and pulled off his mask. "Yeah…my name is…." His response was cut off by his own scream as a bolt of lightning struck him hard in the chest. His body was sent flying across the room, where it hit hard against the wall.
Andrea screamed a piercing wail that seemed to drown out all other sounds and Nightwing found his head spinning. His chest was hot and he could tell he was burned pretty badly, but his insulated suit (a must for anyone who swung from skyscrapers) had protected him from being electrocuted.
He shook his head and looked just in time to see Wonder Woman throw her magic lasso around a man in a green costume with a lightning bolt on his chest. He recognized him from his constant search through the Batcomputer's files when he was a younger man. "Deathbolt," he murmured.
The man laughed and sent an electrical charge through the lasso. There was no chance of burning the mystical rope away, but it was an unfortunately good conductor of electricity. Obviously Wonder Woman had acted out of reflex and desire to spare the child or else she wouldn't have made such a blunder.
The Amazing Amazon screamed as thousands of volts ripped through her body. Her metahuman physique would save her life, but she would be out of the fight for a few moments just like Nightwing.
Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion as he watched Deathbolt turn towards him again. He knew that Deathbolt had been something of a major super-villain in the early 1940's, but had disappeared sometime in 1942. It was presumed that he had either given up crime or had been killed by someone like the Ultra-Humanite. He was also a known associate of Per Degaton.
The very thought of the little redheaded wanna-be world tyrant invoked a terrifying rage within Nightwing. Many were the people he counted as his enemies, but very few, with the exception perhaps of Two-Face or the Joker, were able to affect him so personally. It had been Per Degaton that had staged the events that would lead to Andrea's death in the future. It was obvious now that he was here somewhere to try and end Nightwing's even earlier.
The hero tried to get up, to throw up some sort of defense, but his muscles were numb and his head was throbbing. Deathbolt smiled and again Andrea screamed. Nightwing's gaze immediately turned to her and he saw something from his worst nightmares. Behind her, Per Degaton, dressed in his black uniform, stood with his Luger pistol drawn.
"I told you I would get revenge on you!" he sneered. He then turned his head to Deathbolt. "Kill him! Kill them all!"
Nightwing started to say something as he turned to Deathbolt. Perhaps he could convince the villain to surrender. Maybe he could threaten him with the fact that the Batman would avenge his death!
That made no sense his mind told him, as Deathbolt more than likely didn't even know whom the Batman was.
"Bastard!" Rebecca cried out loud as she kicked Deathbolt in the ribs. The villain doubled over as his breath left him. "Forgot me, didn't you?"
Deathbolt coughed and reached out to block a punch to his face. A small jolt of electricity shot through Rebecca's arm, and she jumped back. "Kill that bitch!" Per Degaton cried.
"Mommy!" Andrea bellowed and Per Degaton smacked her. "Quiet, you insolent snot!"
Deathbolt saw the strike and look coldly at his employer. "Hey! What did I say?" He never got hear the reply as Rebecca grabbed him by the head and twisted. There was a snapping sound and Deathbolt's corpse fell to the floor.
"No! No killing!" Nightwing finally was able to get out as he got to his knees.
"Yes! More killing!" Per Degaton laughed as he drew a bead on Rebecca. Immediately, the assassin realized that she had made a fatal mistake by not going after the armed man first. That mistake was going to cost her life.
"Andrea?" she asked silently before the 9 millimeter bullet pushed through her skull and blew out the back of her head.
Nightwing coughed and started scrambling, moving to catch the falling Rebecca. There was nothing from Andrea and Nightwing was silently thankful that Per Degaton's blow seemed to have knocked the child out. He did not want another child to witness the murder of a parent or loved one.
Her caught Rebecca and both fell to the blood-soaked floor. There was a shocked expression on her face and Nightwing burned inside with guilt. Had he bothered to scope the area first, even asked Wonder Woman to guard the side door that Deathbolt and Per Degaton had entered, then there may not have been two dead bodies in this home.
Police sirens could be heard wailing in the background and Nightwing looked up to see the Luger pointed at him. "I should kill you now, but I have a better idea…"
"Don't even think about it…" Nightwing threatened.
Per Degaton looked down at Andrea and then at Nightwing. He pulled the trigger and shot the hero in the leg. He then took a step back as Nightwing put a hand over the bleeding wound. "I'm taking your daughter, Grayson," he said, noting the slight surprise in Nightwing's expression. "Oh, please, I'm not a dummy!"
"Leave her alone! If you have a problem, take me!" Nightwing pleaded.
Per Degaton pressed a button on his belt buckle and it started to flash. Immediately he and Andrea began to shimmer and fade. "I've perfected my time-travel controls, hero! I'm taking your brat and dropping her somewhere in the time stream!"
"Maybe I'll raise her myself in the 1940's, or maybe I'll sell her to a caliph during the Crusades? Drop her off in the middle of the Black Death? Hmmmm…" Per Degaton taunted. The possibilities were endless and Nightwing realized that he had to act fast.
He pushed back the pain and focused his intense desire to save Andrea. He pushed off and leapt at the fading forms, but made contact far too late. They were already gone.
"No! No! No!" Nightwing screamed, beating his fists on the floor. He kept pounding, not even noticing when his hands went numb or when he broke through the floorboards. It continued for several minutes until a strong hand grabbed his shoulder.
Behind tear-filled eyes, he saw Wonder Woman holding his mask. "The police are here," she said.
Duty and obligation forced him to put aside his grief and he took the mask, applying some adhesive from his utility belt before putting it on. Just as he did so, the police stormed in telling them to put their hands up.
There was an exchange of words that was finally halted when Wonder Woman produced her JLA credentials. Both she and Nightwing gave their statements, but there really was nothing else they could do. A quick call to the JLA hotline confirmed that Wonder Woman and Nightwing, who was serving in an advisory capacity, were there on official JLA business. Wonder Woman made a mental note to thank the Atom for covering for them.
One of the police officers asked Nightwing if he was okay and for a moment, he felt like just telling the unknown man everything. He was a fellow officer and the Blue Brotherhood had no geographical boundaries. Only another cop could understand the frustration at having failed completely in protecting the public.
Perhaps if he had been acting in his capacity as a police officer, he might have, but being a super-hero was something else entirely. Nightwing walked with the modern gods; he was there with the living embodiment of Aphrodite! Though they served the same purpose, their methods made them strangers. Nightwing told the man he was fine and after both heroes refused paramedic treatment, they left.
Nightwing was not surprised to find Batman waiting for them at their hotel room. "What do you want?" he snapped.
Wonder Woman was about to leave but Batman halted her. "Please, stay," he asked. She was shocked by his politeness.
"Dick…what's going on?" Batman asked, pushing back his cowl. Underneath, the sweat-stained face of Bruce Wayne implored his son to open up to him.
Nightwing stepped towards him and collapsed into his father's arms.
"I've taken the liberty of renting out the entire floor," Bruce Wayne said as he stepped out onto the balcony. "I've got Blue Beetle, Booster Gold and Plastic Man throwing a party as cover. It will cost me a small fortune…"
"Hookers?" Diana asked as she sipped her orange juice.
"Rubber chickens and grape jelly," he commented sourly. "Don't ask…I didn't."
They were silent for a moment, each one looking out at the Ohio River and the barges going by. Bruce finally broke the silence. "Do you love him?"
She didn't turn to face him. "It's none of your business. Suffice to say we will be exploring all avenues as time permits. We both agree on taking it slow; especially now."
"We'll need your help, or at least your mother's."
She nodded. "So you intend to hunt through time for her?"
He walked to the balcony and took a drink of his coffee. It was a pleasant morning, not at all like Gotham. He missed his city. "Dick practically coerced Wally to travel back in time to the 1940's to look for her."
"You can't change the past…"
"I'd do the same thing."
"I take it Wally was unsuccessful," she said. It was a statement of fact because if he had found Andrea, they wouldn't be there now. "What next?"
There was a knock at the door and Bruce turned suddenly. "There is another interested party in this matter. We need to get his input."
The billionaire walked back into the hotel room and went to the door. When he opened it, a tall, brown-haired man stood. He wore a suit cut in the European fashion that accentuated his muscular physique. "Bruce," the man said, extending his hand.
Bruce took it and showed him in. The man regarded Diana and bowed. "Princess," he said.
"Prince," she replied, suddenly understanding.
"Bryon?" Dick said as he walked into the main room. He was clad in a bathrobe and his eyes were red and puffy. He took the offered hand. "Why are you here?"
Prince Bryon Markov was a friend more of Bruce's than Dick's. As Geo-Force, he had been a member of the Outsiders, a group formed by Batman when his philosophies clashed with those of the original Justice League. Ruler of a small European nation, he was, for the most part, retired from being a super-hero.
It was Geo-Force's son, Earthian, that murdered Andrea in the future after Nightwing was able to diffuse the bomb that was meant to destroy New Metropolis. "It is a family matter," the prince stated.
Dick didn't understand. The only family that Bryon had that Dick was even remotely familiar with was Tara Markov, Bryon's sister. The young woman had once been a member of the Teen Titans, as Terra. She had betrayed the Titans, though, allying herself with Deathstroke the Terminator. During the final climatic battle, Tara killed herself in an uncontrolled rage.
Bryon nodded. "Yes; it appears my sister is your daughter's mother. No doubt Ra's Al Ghul was hoping to have Andrea inherit our powers…"
"I never…I mean, I didn't touch…"
Diana came up and stood next to him, taking his hand into hers. "We know, Richard."
"You can understand how important this little girl is to me," Bryon explained. "I loved my little sister very much. I never knew the extent of her madness, a genetic trait I'm afraid."
"Her eyes," Dick said, remembering Tara's deep blue ones. "Your sister was very beautiful."
Bryon accepted the compliment. "Thank you." He paused for a moment. "I would like to join you on any further quests for her. In fact, if you do find her, I would like to propose that she be raised in my country. It may be the safest place for her."
Dick actually found himself warming to the idea until he remembered Earthian. "Bryon, do you have a son?"
Bryon turned a shade of red. "No…I cannot have children. That is why young Andrea is so important. She is the heir to the throne."
He once again heard the screams, the wailing of the little girl who was calling for her father. Her voice sounded like his own that fateful night when his parent's plummeted to the ground. He had cried that night, but not as much as he had been crying the past few days. With his parent's deaths, there was finality.
With Andrea, there was only torture.
He awoke again, his eyes popping open and looking to the clock next to his bed. He had only been asleep for fifteen minutes.
He hadn't been able to sleep more than that since it had happened.
He felt Diana stir next to him and he quietly slipped out of bed and padded into the living room of his small apartment. He wondered how Donna and Barbara were going to react to the news, but he supposed that they would eventually accept it. Would it last? He wondered about that a lot, but then he had learned to pace himself when it came to women. "Don't try to marry every single one; don't use them either," he said silently.
He got a glass of warm milk and went to sit on his couch. His leg was healing quite well, but then when you have an Amazon nurse, you tend to get better real quick. He looked over at the pictures on the table, especially the newest one.
Bryon had been kind enough to give him a photograph of Tara Markov when she had been a little girl. Long before she had received her powers and gone insane. The resemblance was uncanny. And he mentally smacked himself for not seeing it before.
It would be some time before he would be ready to continue the journey as Bruce had pointed out. While it ate at him not to be doing anything, he didn't know what he was supposed to be doing. Andrea could be anywhere, at any time. Several members of the Justice Society had already begun scouring their records looking for any hints of Per Degaton's moves. As soon as he got a real clue, he would act upon it.
There was also the matter of Earthian. If Bryon could not have children, then was Earthian a plant in the future Justice League? Or was it possible that Dick had been taken through Hypertime into a possible future? It was too confusing for him to consider right now. He had to get up in five hours for work. He couldn't keep bribing his way out of duty.
Diana walked into the room; her nude form silhouetted by the moonlight and Dick felt a strange stirring deep within him. It was like being hungry, thirsty and wanting to ride a roller coaster all wrapped into one. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," he said, getting up. She stepped up, lowered her head and kissed him. "What was that for?" he asked.
"You looked like you needed it," she said.
She wiggled her eyebrows. "Do you know what I need?"
He chuckled. "Didn't you give me a lecture about sex and…"
She kissed him again. "I told you, basically, to make up your mind and be responsible. I'm a member of the Justice League…you don't get more responsible than that."
He kissed her neck. "Plastic Man is part of the League," he joked.
She reached down and hoisted him over her shoulder. "Enough talk! Men talk too much. Must be to make up for something they lack…such as stamina!"
He laughed and pretended to struggle as they went back into the bedroom.
Two hours later, his eyes popped open again.
He could still hear the screams.