Selena never thought Japan would turn into a mainstay on her travels. As a skilled "acquirer" of treasured antiques and modern artistic triumphs, she was used to moving from one place to another quickly. Rarely spending much time in one particular place for too long. The obvious exception to that was Gotham, but despite her time there, she now found herself moving on from that city just like all the others. She'd done her best to never look back on such places and always keep both eyes on the future but something about that gothic city had lodged itself in her mind and she'd be lying if she said she didn't know who exactly had put it there.
"You don't have to leave."
Selena smiled at the memory. She wondered how many people had seen the grim facade of the Caped Crusader actual crack. Even if it was just for a moment. Maybe the years had softened him since, but back then, a chunk of stone would've been more expressive than Batman. And just a bit more forgiving.
"Enjoying the air?" Her client's voice asked.
Selena sighed as the man moved to her side and both of them looked out from his deck and out into the city. "Just reminiscing." She said.
"Interesting, I didn't think you were the type to feel regret." The man said.
Selena raised an eyebrow. "Did I say I was regretful?"
"You didn't have to." The man replied. "I've seen that look in a lot of people. It says, "Damn, I wish I made a different decision with my life. And didn't have to be here."
"Don't talk as if you know anything about me," Selena said. "If I wanted to have a therapist as a client, I would."
"Didn't mean to offend you." The man chuckled. "I've been trying to find new hobbies. My last one took a lot out of me." The man touched a strange white bracelet on his arm and frowned. An odd action for a man Selena had come to know to be rather upbeat and in the moment. The bracelet itself was new too. It stood out brightly from his dour suit and gloves and seemed to be made of clay-like material.
"You got kids?" Selena asked. The man looked confused before Selena gestured to the bracelet. "Some parents like wearing bracelets that their kids made for them.
The man gave a hearty laugh. "Oh no. No kids, I'm afraid. Just an old hobby." He quickly refocused and held out his gloved hand. "Anyway, did you acquire it?"
Selena nodded and shook his hand before holding up the briefcase. "Simple enough job. Not too many big names in Turkey. " She said, opening it.
The man stared at its contents seemingly unimpressed. "Such strange tastes." He said, running a finger over the ancient blade. "You check how old?"
"Approximately 2330 years," Selena said. "Checked it before I got here. I know you don't like the extra work."
"Selena, you are a consummate professional." The man bowed his head as she closed the case. "Still though, after reading so much about this Alexander, I was expecting something with a bit more... personality."
"You don't have to be all that interesting to conquer the world," Selena said. "Just have to be strong enough with a vision and the right men or army behind you. Maybe a few storytellers to mythologize you cutting a knot."
The man smiled faintly. "Right, and sometimes even that's not enough."
Selena tilted her head at the statement. "Thinking of something in particular Kawamoto?"
"Am I not allowed to reminisce?" Kawamoto asked. He gave another chuckle before continuing. "If nothing else, An old friend of mine would like it. By the way, your money should be transferred by now." Selena pulled out her phone to take a quick look at her finances and smiled when she saw they went up by a significant amount. She nodded as he started to back away with the case now in his hand. "Oh, and just so you know, I'm going to be opening up an art wing in my museum, you're invited to the opening if you want."
Selena smiled. "As fun as that sounds, I think, I'll pass. Itchy fingers and all. Unless you've got an area dedicated to cats..."
Kawamoto chuckled but didn't offer a reply. He gave a quick wave in her direction as he vanished back into the building. With him gone she stared out into the city below. He was a strange man, but he always honored their agreements. That was more than she could say for most people she interacted with in the field of extra-legal activities.
Moments later, her phone rang. "Selena."
The voice brought equal happiness and annoyance. "Bruce." She replied, doing her best to match his detached tone.
"Enjoying Japan?" Batman asked.
Selena grit her teeth. Did he always know where everyone was? "There are worse places," Selena said. "Kamakura's got good food, beautiful scenery, below-average number of spandex-wearing bats, it's workable.
"Not too workable, I hope."
"Hey, I'm keeping a low profile." Selena cut back. "I haven't done anything since I got here."
"Sure, and before you touched down?"
"What do you want?" Selena asked, clawing to the point. "I've got things to do."
"I need you to look into something. Gotham PD recently came across a strange shipment from Japan-"
Selena's sarcasm was biting. "Japan shipping something strange? No."
"-and it's something I've never seen before," Batman added.
Selena's mood shifted at his words. Something Batman didn't know about, that was mildly concerning. "What kind of shipment?"
"Seemed to be a weapon cache Cobblepot took but when I scanned the residual material, it wasn't recognized in the database," Batman said.
"Yours? Gotham's? Or the League's?" Selena asked.
"None of them."
Her concern rose at his answer. "Well, that can't be good."
"My thoughts exactly." Batman said."I've attempted to trace the ship that delivered the cache but it doesn't seem to have made port anywhere after leaving Gotham harbor."
"I'm sorry, but before you ask me to go off ship hunting I need to know why you're even calling me." Selena interrupted. "Why aren't you asking one of your other bats to look into this? Or the League?"
A slight pause on Batman's end brought a small smile to Selena's face. "...The League's been encountering some new problems and a lot of members have taken the holidays off anyway. I'm needed in Gotham."
"Then why not ask..."
"Selena." His voice came back stronger than before. "I'm asking you to look into something for me. Are you going to or not?"
She should say no. She should tell him to leave her out of his problems. She should hang up the phone and think about something, anything else. She was doing just fine on her own, she didn't need to get mixed back up in whatever mess he was in this time.
Selena let out an audible sigh. Her whole life was a stack of ignored 'should' feelings, why should she listen to them now? "I assume you have some leads?"
"I usually do." She could almost picture the tiniest of smiles under his cowl. "The ship may be missing but after going through its history, I came across something interesting. A year ago, it came under the management of a South-East Asian archeological company called Bakahatsu Sangai."
"My Japanese is a little rusty but doesn't the first word mean explosive?" Selena asked. "Seems like a weird name for a company that does archeology."
"My thoughts, exactly," Batman replied. "The only problem is that there doesn't seem to be much about them. Less than fifty people work for it in all and it's only connection is to a small museum of the same name in Kyoto that's been open for three years."
"So your working theory, is that a bunch of historians hired a ship to deliver a ton of clay cubes to Gotham that Penguin assumed were weapons and stole." Selena wondered if hearing his thought process out loud would make him laugh. As usual, It didn't.
"I don't have a working theory yet, that's what I need you for." He said.
Selena bit her tongue just as the hum of helicopter propellers vibrated through the air took off from the roof of the building. "Kyoto's nice this time of year anyway. What's the owner's name?"
Not a second later, Selena spotted the helicopter that had just left flying off into the distance and bit her lower lip. Couldn't have called five minutes ago, could he? "Fine, I'll check it out."
"You sound annoyed. Is it going to be difficult?"
"On the contrary, I have an invitation."
After Red X set off in search of the winged paper angel, Sasori raised an eyebrow at Kakazu. "You trust him enough to find Konan for us?"
"X is reliable if he's paid," Kakazu said, frowning under his mask. "Of course, that means I'll have to keep to the cockpit for now. Auto-pilots are questionable at the best of times." He looked back to Itachi and the puppeteer. "Unless one of you wants to learn how?"
Harley grinned. "Ooo, I can take it!"
Kakazu shook his head. "Quinn, I remember Bialya. You're not getting anywhere near the flight controls!"
"Hey, that sandstorm came out of nowhere!"
A grumble was Kakazu's reply before he moved towards the cockpit and out of sight of the three. With him gone, Quinn huffed back and looked over to the redhead. "Was he always an asshole?"
Sasori's response was brief."It's hard to imagine a time when he wasn't."
The ensuing silence annoyed Harley so she turned to the other passenger in the plane. "Hey, you still here?"
Itachi tore his eyes away from the window. "I haven't moved from this spot."
"That's not what I meant," Harley replied. "You don't talk much do ya?"
"Not a great deal, no," Itachi said.
"Why not?" Harley asked, moving to the chair next to him. "Talking's fun."
"I've never found much joy in it," Itachi replied. "I always found it more fulfilling to let your actions speak for you."
"Well sure if you want to be poetic or something," Harley said. "But what about when you meet someone new?"
Itachi raised an eyebrow. "I speak with those who ask me too."
Harley seemed pleased with the answer. "Cool, so where ya from?"
"Konoha? Sounds like a fruit."
Sasori looked at the two amusement. Such a simple sight should've seemed almost impossible if one knew the individuals. But he supposed he would have to get used to such things. His days of quiet isolation were past him now. His mind drifted away from his laptop and the plane as an old voice ran through his head.
"Keep an eye on her, please? I wouldn't ask but..."
Sasori went to his laptop's photo gallery and pulled up a small image of a brunette woman and a young blonde girl by her side. Both of them smiling under the blue sky. It had been some time since he checked in with the girl personally. With Kisame hopefully in Jump City and now Red X possibly bringing Konan to them, maybe he could spare an hour or two to make sure she was doing well. After all, even the toughest minds would have trouble adjusting after awakening from solid stone.
At the same time, a phone call was made from the cockpit of the plane.
"What is it?" The voice was cold, sharp, and recognizable to anyone who had heard its owner.
"I need a Sorcerer," Kakazu said.
"And I need to know who your new friends are," Waller replied.
Kakazu didn't hide a grumble. "I'm sure Batman could tell you about them."
"Don't patronize me." Waller matched his annoyance and added a coat of venom to her voice. "You assured me you were the only one who ended up on the planet."
"I thought I was." Kakazu snapped back. "Frankly it's telling that with all your connections, you couldn't find them after I gave you descriptions. Those budget cuts must've hurt."
Something snapped on the other end of the phone line. Kakazu assumed it was a pencil or some small object but Waller kept a calculating voice. "Are you trying to annoy me, K?"
Kakazu smiled. "On the contrary, I need your help to find a Sorcerer outside of the League."
Kakazu's temper flared at picturing the target in his head. "One of my "friends" escaped Atlantis and the heroes there. I need to know where he is."
"I've already got men scouring the globe and the League's onto him as well." Waller pointed out. "Why do you need a sorcerer?"
Kakazu sighed. "He's immortal."
"I'm aware of that."
"A magical immortal."
The silence from Waller was telling. "...You're sure?"
Oh, how he wished he wasn't. "Yeah, I'm sure." Kakazu grumbled."If I had to guess, the second he popped up, his immortality made him a target for the magical bastards all over. One of them might've grabbed him."
He thought he could hear Waller holding back a sigh of her own. "Of course, the United States government doesn't deal with anything magical related..."
"Naturally," Kakazu replied.
"...But, If you're desperate enough I can give you a name."
"John Constantine," Waller replied. "He's one of the most influential sorcerers out there but he's reckless and unreliable at the best of times."
Kakazu's sarcasm leaked through the phone. "And we don't have any history dealing with reckless or unreliable idiots, right? As long as he can point me to Hidan, I don't care."
"Why so interested in this man?"
Kakazu didn't reply immediately. He gazed out the cockpit windows before continuing. "He's the most insufferable bastard I ever met. And I want him dead more than any man walking."
He could almost feel Waller smiling on the other end of the phone. "Well, that's your business then, I don't need to tell you that you owe me for this."
"Anytime. Anywhere. Waller." He knew he should've hung the phone up right then but something in the back of his head pushed him to ask one more question. "How's 'Tea these days? I managed to keep track of everyone else from the squad, but she's vanished."
Waller now took a moment before replying. "You heard about the assault on the League's Watchtower two years ago? She was leading it."
Kakazu's fingers tightened. "Dead?" He asked.
"Somehow, no," Waller replied. "She's catatonic. League and Supergirl beat her pretty good. Hamilton's been looking after her praying she'll wake up but I doubt it. Anything else?"
When Kakazu didn't respond, Waller ended the call. The mercenary put his phone away and sat in silence as the plane continued on its course across the country.
Nagato had to give the young man credit. He had kept his story trimmed and polished, leaving out some of the more horrible things he had done, but also making it evident he was not a good man. He recounted his harsh early life in wartorn Ame with Yahiko and Konan. Something flickered through his eyes when he recounted his parents death but it disappeared just as quickly. Training with his sensei, forming Akatsuki, all the way to his invasion of Konohagakure and meeting with the young man who changed his outlook after handedly defeating him, and his brief rebirth for the Fourth Great Shinobi World War. But even without going into too much detail, he knew the story must've sounded strange to anyone who hadn't seen his world before.
Nevertheless, Robin didn't display a hint of emotion. He never gave the impression of being disgusted, angry, or even curious. He had only nodded his head from time to time or asked him to repeat certain things to make sure he heard the story right.
"And the last thing I remember was Itachi sealing me away. Before waking up here." Nagato lifted his hand to gesture to the walls around him. "Did I wake up inside this facility?"
"No, just outside it." Robin exhaled. "Just a bright flash of light and you dropped into the ocean." He walked over towards a nearby window and opened it so Nagato could appreciate the ocean view.
"Oh... Then I must offer you my gratitude for not letting me drown."
Robin smiled at the thank you and walked back over to his side. "We try not to let people die right on our doorstep," He said. "Or anywhere if we can help it."
Nagato smiled at the young man's generosity though he wondered if such a worldview could last. It certainly didn't back in the Elemental Nations.
"So you don't know what happened to the rest of your world?" Robin asked. "If Naruto managed to win the war?"
Nagato shook his head. "I would imagine Itachi would know more than I. Him being here must mean he was defeated as well."
"Which doesn't make sense, by the way," Robin said. "You say the both of you had already died, but you didn't show up on earth until after you were killed a second time."
Nagato nodded. "Believe me, I'm just as confused as you are. I'd imagine that if everyone who died in the Elemental Nations ended up here, you would have more knowledge of my kind."
Robin leaned back in his chair and rubbed his hand through his hair. This was a complete mess. Superpowered people from another reality or world who should be dead just popping up on Earth was going to lead to some serious chaos if it hadn't already. "So, you used to be a pretty bad guy."
"I'd argue I still am," Nagato replied.
Robin tilted his head. "The people you killed, you said you brought them back to life."
"Those I killed at the end of my life in Konoha," Nagato told him with a frown. "I still killed plenty of people before that. Some who deserved it," The image of his village's former leader Hanzo appeared in his mind only to be quickly replaced with his fallen sensei. "others who did not." The former leader of Akatsuki and Amegakure looked away from the hero. "By most definitions, even in my violent world, I don't imagine I qualify as a good person."
"I don't like the idea of anyone killing anyone," Robin admitted. "Even when someone might deserve it."
"Killing is an abhorrent act," Nagato admitted. "But sometimes you won't have a choice."
Batman's words echoed through Robin's head. "There's always a choice." He said.
The redhead gave a sad smile. "Not always, if you come across Itachi and he's willing to talk, he can tell you just what kind of choices he had to make in the name of peace."
Robin opened his mouth to respond when the door opened up beside him. Nagato looked to see a young woman float into the room and smile at Robin. "Is everything going well?"
"It's complicated," Robin said. "But it could be worse. Nagato, meet Starfire."
Starfire drifted over to her fellow redhead and shook his hand with a little more force than he expected. "Greetings, friend Nagato! I am Starfire of Tamaran."
Nagato's smile was in full effect now. The sight of a girl flying with such little effort aside, her smile and friendly energy were too infectious to disregard. There was an authentic feel to the cheer in her voice that the shinobi just wasn't used to hearing. "I am grateful to make your acquaintance." He said.
"Did something happen?" Robin asked.
Starfire turned back towards him. "Beastboy and Raven had some trouble with a few villains but Cyborg said a new friend came by to help them."
"A new friend?" Robin asked, his mind immediately drifting to this Itachi, Nagato had mentioned.
"They said his name was Drago." Starfire clarified. "They're all out getting food so I thought I'd make us something." She shot out of the room. Returning not a moment later with a strange platter of different blue foods that Nagato had never seen before.
Robin's face paled. "Star, I don't think that's..."
"I've been practicing." Starfire defended, taking what appeared to be a blue sandwich of some kind and biting into it. "I added some spice from my home planet Tamaran to cheeseburgers, chicken, and ham sandwiches.
"And it turned them blue?"
Starfire gave a huff and turned to Nagato. "Would you like one?"
Nagato studied the food before nodding. If the girl took a bite out of it, it should be acceptable to eat. Then again, she did say it was from her home planet so... The very thought made his head hurt, so he decided to just take a bite and see what happened. At worst, he'd fall over and die, again.
He took what seemed to be the "cheeseburger" off the platter and bit into it. The taste was instant and surprisingly inviting. It was beef but ground down, cooked, and served in a way he never tried before. Then there was an added spice to it that lit up his mouth but didn't leave him crying out for water either. Before he knew it, the meal was gone and Nagato smiled at the girl. "It was excellent. Thank you."
The compliment was appreciated by Starfire who stuck her tongue out at Robin. "See? Our new friend likes it."
"Law of averages, someone had to," Robin replied.
Nagato smiled at the interactions but it quickly faded at a new sound. A long loud rumble took hold of the tower and its vibrations shook the building to its foundations. The tower security system blared into the room alerting the trio to a disturbance on the roof. Whatever calm there was in the air vanished at the sight and Robin and Starfire quickly darted out of the room. Robin stopped just before exiting and looked back to the bedridden redhead. "Nagato, stay here."
And with that, he shot off out of the room just as the Tower's security precautions kicked in. The door behind him locked shut and Nagato could only speculate as to what was the cause of the alarm. Did someone else follow him here? Was it a threat that Robin and Starfire were familiar with? There were no good answers to either of those questions.
Robin hoped this would just be a small crisis. With Beastboy, Cyborg, and Raven all still on the mainland he hoped he wouldn't have to call them back to action after just fighting villains back in the city. Besides, he and Starfire were a great team, so unless this was one of the big time villain powerhouses coming to visit them, they would be fine.
When he and Starfire got to the roof though, that hope quickly began to fade. As expected there were intruders there, and one looked more than a little familiar.
"Blackfire." Starfire's voice was dripping with venom at the sight of her elder sibling.
Blackfire's laugh put Robin's nerves on edge. Something was different about her. "Long time no see, sis. How's your boyfriend?" Her eyes shifted to the young man who simply stared back at her and kept quiet. "Still settling for second best, Robin?"
"Don't compare yourself to Star." Robin snapped back before looking at Blackfire's companion. He stood taller than she was and more worrisome, he wore a bronze full body armor that gave off a distinct Apokoliptian style. He radiated a dangerous aura even more so than Blackfire that Robin hadn't felt the equal to in a long time.
"Ah," Blackfire's sneer sent a chill up Robin's spine. "This is my new friend, Grayven."
At the mention of his name, Grayven showed a sinister grin and shot towards Starfire. The man's speed caught her completely by surprise and not a moment later, the two of them disappeared over the side of the Tower. Robin could hear him and Starfire trading blows all the way down to the island below but he trusted in Starfire's abilities so kept his eyes square on Blackfire. "What do you want?"
Blackfire kept her smile as she pulled out a device. "Now why would I tell you that?"
Robin discreetly pressed his communication device sending out a quick message to his friends to hurry back as he started towards her but moments later a deafening clap of thunder stopped him in his tracks. A bright portal opened up behind the former queen of Tamaran and from its opening, a sea of Parademons flew into the air above Titans Tower.
Nagato's contemplating ceased as his room shook from an explosion above. His initial estimation of the two Titans was that they were capable warriors but a speck of pride told him he couldn't sit out of the fight. These people had been kind to him out of the goodness of their hearts without expecting anything in return and as such deserved his protection. He began to take stock of his chakra and pushed it into his muscles. His energy had been returning to him steadily but he was still far lower than he felt comfortable with, especially in a new land surrounded by such unknowns. The building shook again as he put his feet on the ground and lifted himself off the bed. It was easier standing up now than it was the stormy night he met Beastboy, but moving was still painful. When yet another explosion shook the Tower, he gritted his teeth and flooded his eyes with chakra before moving towards the still open window.
But before he could get in five steps, a horde of strange winged creatures crashed through the opening and flew straight towards him. Acting on instinct, his eyes narrowed and he held out his hand. "Shinra Tensei."
Starfire couldn't hide either the shock or the pain she felt when the monster named Grayven flew into her and over the side. His strength easily matched her own and the smile he gave her on the way down told her it was just beginning. The pair of them crashed into the island below but neither of them took much damage from the impact. Starfire tried to put her strength against his by throwing a combo of punches to his abdomen but the man simply smiled in response. Not giving him the chance to grab her, she flew back and sent a hail of energy bolts at the man but they seemed to have just as little effect as her punches. His smile remained plastered on his face as he started towards her again. "I sincerely hope you have more to offer than that."
His voice echoed with a superiority that Starfire had often heard from her elder sister. Was this man royalty as well? "Why are you aiding my sister? She cannot be trusted."
Grayven laughed at her words. "That's hardly your concern, all you need to know is she serves Apokolips now."
At his words, a sky became filled with Parademons as they descended on the two warriors. Starfire felt a chill run up her spine at their numbers, but relaxed slightly when she heard her own backup arrive.
"Star, who's this guy?" Beastboy asked, shifting into the silver-back gorilla as he landed at her side.
"He's with Blackfire," Starfire replied, her eyes started to glow green as she summoned more energy. "And he's strong."
"It's never easy is it?" Raven asked, her own magic flowing into her hands.
"And Robin?" Cyborg asked, scanning the enemy's numbers and the roof of the Tower.
An uncharacteristic growl came from the Tamaranean. "Dealing with my sister."
Drago took his time observing the situation. Beastboy and Starfire moved to intercept the large humanoid creature, while Raven and Cyborg decided to focus their attention on the winged creatures surrounding him. All the while, he could hear explosions of star bolts echoing from the roof, indicating yet another fight he could take part in.
For once though, a fight wasn't the thing on his mind. A large chakra burst had occurred around the Tower and after years of being the only one who could use it, his curiosity was too powerful to overcome. He ran across the water towards the opposite end of the tower and immediately saw the effects of the chakra explosion. Dozens of dead creatures floated in the water, their bodies seemingly crushed by an incredible amount of force. After looking over the carcasses, Drago turned his attention upwards to a large open hole in the tower and saw a single figure. He didn't seem dressed for combat but that didn't appear to be stopping him from leaping onto the outer Tower walls and began running upwards.
Nagato turned towards the new voice and saw a man standing on the water below him. It sounded strangely familiar but the unknown face made it impossible to place. "Yes?"
"Are you using chakra?" Drago asked.
Nagato nodded and instantly understood how he was standing on the water. "You are, as well?"
Drago gave an enthusiastic nod at the redhead. He couldn't quite place it but something felt familiar about the man. Drago didn't usually forget a face but with the way the man's hair covered his eyes, he might as well have been a blank slate. "You from the Elemental Nations?"
"I am," Nagato replied. Another volley of explosions came from the top of the Tower while the two men could feel the shockwaves of the fight happening on the other side of the island. "May I ask that we deal with these threats first? These people have been kind to me."
Drago smiled at the chance of another fight. "Sure, you want the battle up top or on the ground floor?"
Two battles. Multiple assailants. Nagato accepted the new information with a nod. "I'll handle the unwelcome visitor on the roof," Nagato replied. "Once dealt with, I'll move to the second."
"Don't get stingy." Drago chided. "I'll handle the big guy with the Titans. You just focus on the one up top."
"Are you sure you can handle him?" Nagato asked.
Drago laughed. "I'm not the one with hair blocking my line of sight."
Feeling strangely self-conscious, Nagato ruffled his hair and at that moment, Drago froze. Those eyes. Those purple, rippled, powerful eyes. Their design was unmistakable. This man had the Rinnegan. At that moment, everything clicked. The man may have looked different, his voice had taken a different tone, and even his mannerisms were new, but there was no mistaking who he was now.
Nagato blinked at the man's lack of movement but he knew he didn't have time to waste. "As you wish, deal with the lower intruders then." He started to walk up the Tower only to feel a massive vortex of chakra down towards the water. The ocean beneath Drago's feet began to swirl and the man's skin began to shift color, growing bluer right before Nagato's eyes. Another laugh reached the redhead's ears and his eyes widened.
"Sure, thing. Leader!" Kisame yelled out, blasting into the air with a torrent of water right behind him. He soared right past Nagato and straight over the top of the tower. Passing over both Robin and Blackfire who both looked at the sight. Kisame laughed when he saw the woman's confused face. For her sake, he hoped she could stand against a god.
He put her out of his mind as he saw the chaos below him. The large creature was making easy work of Starfire and Beastboy. Time to even the odds. The torrent of water behind him began to take on a more animal-like shape as he outstretched his hand down to the creature. "Suiton: Suikōdan no Jutsu!"
A/N: Special thanks to Naruto9tail for being an awesome editor.
I know, I've been gone for a while. It's hard to give a reason why. I just sort of fell away from everything for a while. But I'm back at it and feeling better. I hope you guys enjoyed this and I'll see you next time.