Maybe I'll complete this story after all. Sorry if it isn't up to par with what I've written previously.
Chapter 14: Discovery
Shortly after the meeting, the Watchtower fell further into chaos, and Dick had been there to watch its painful, helpless degeneration. He'd expected more grandeur- more façade to the place, and while he'd seen through the forced civility projected by its members, inevitably a mark of its professionalism, he realized that the League was only a few moments away from drawing its anticlimactic last breath. Consequently, Bruce had forced him to flee.
"They've issued us subpoenas. I suspect they know we're housing you, given our personal affiliation outside the League. We've made special arrangements for Roy given his circumstance," was his low-voiced send-off. He'd brusquely thrust a communication module into Dick's gloved hands before turning away from the teleporters; it hadn't prevented Dick from sensing his apprehension. "I don't doubt your ability to lay low, but be careful."
Now, as Dick skidded down the night highway, he endured Shayera's patronizingly laconic breakdown of what the future held for him.
"Don't stay in Blüdhaven. They'll look for you there. Don't go to Gotham either," she buzzed, her contempt apparent. Dick was continually surprised by his ability to tolerate her.
"The subpoenas." He had to shout over the wind and the whirring of the bike's motor. "What are you going to tell them about Wally?"
"That he's recovering from surgery. "
While it had been true not long ago, it was currently a lie. Shayera herself had been the one to discover Wally's disappearance from his room; her mothering instinct had sent her to check on him immediately after their dispersion. It had been unnerving, seeing that empty bed- the blood-bag dribbling ominously onto the floor. Truthfully, no one had seen him leave, and the surveillance tape had only pulled up a rippling blanket of noise. All the Lanterns but John and Kyle had found it suspicious, citing some sort of guilty escape.
Wally wasn't like that. He'd never been. He had always been ready to accept the blame for anything he'd done. Not like Roy. Not like Garth. Not like himself. To a degree, anyway. He'd always taken responsibility for inconsequential things, to show others he was a good leader and that he was capable of admitting to his faults. He'd let people like Roy berate him for those things to gain their trust. That was the Bruce in him.
Dick switched channels.
"Barbara? You there?"
"Sure am, babe. What's your status?" His lips succumbed to a reluctant smile.
"Bad … no- worse. Like, everyone from the League, including Roy, has been issued subpoenas. Everyone known to be American, anyway. I gave Bruce the files but he wanted to be clean just in case, so we're going to have to look at them together. Only problem is we can't meet in Gotham or Blüdhaven. Wally's disappeared from his recovery room, so I have no one to help in transporting you."
"You have me." His eyes widened, his bike swerving abruptly. Sparks fountained from the tail.
"Dick? You there? Who is that?"
Dick regained his composure, looking up to observe his hovering, light-bathed intruder.
"We don't need the Lanterns' help." Kyle's face was momentarily unresponsive. He reclined his head in resolution.
"I'm not offering my help. I have orders to follow you."
"I'm not part of the League."
"But you have an interest in finding Wally, we believe he's tied up in whatever other thing you're investigating. Orders are orders, Nightwing." His voice was patient, void of any real forcefulness or derision. It was almost pleading. "I won't be in your way. I have no disdain for you. Wally was my friend too, and I'm worried about how the other Lanterns are planning to deal with him. I don't think they know-"
"That may be very well, but he's no longer relevant to the mission I'm on now. All he did was help me retrieve something. If you really do think following me will do you any good, by all means, be my guest." Dick turned sharply and resumed his journey towards the abyss, leaving Kyle to drift alone in his confusion.
The hall was regal, but it echoed with ancient fear. Statues carved of marble and gold, their faces were frozen in grotesque expressions of hedonic pleasure, their lips were parted self-aware faux-amusement. But the columns were beautiful.
And there she sat across the floor, cross legged, adorned in stars. She, Donna Troy, sister of the great Diana. She wouldn't look at him.
"Shitty, that I have to stay here." Roy finally uttered. He scraped a something sticky and black off the tip of his bow. He bitterly marveled at how easily miscommunication could cause a few feet to seem like an ocean; the mistrust in her eyes made it seem even further.
"The island is not meant for men."
Donna had been called by Diana upon his arrival at the Watch Tower, and the reason for his presence there had shocked her out of her complacent dream. Curled and naked in her bed, she'd felt betrayed somehow, that the man she thought she'd known had turned out to be the liar she had hoped he wasn't. Yet he seemed almost unperturbed by the consequences of his actions; all he really wanted was her approval.
Donna wouldn't give him any.
"I know," he murmured at large.
"Is there anything you don't know?" Her words accusatory, but there was a sadness to them, for her disillusionment was still taking hold. Roy felt it. It rang in his voice too.
"Donna, please." He tried to move forward, but she recoiled, far away, across the tile. His shoulders slumped, his body echoing defeat. "It's not what you think."
"Then what is it?" She lashed out, and she had the right to. She was Donna Troy, and she deserved a man more uncomplicated than he. But they were all complicated, and they both knew they were running the same discoloured memories over and over again in their heads. She knitted her brows. "Well?"
"Please, ladies." Diana burst into the hall, light streaming in behind her. Brilliance flooded the room, and, for a moment, the room was engulfed in white-hot fire. As it subsided, Diana turned, beckoning. "We have bigger concerns."
"I thought you said we weren't supposed to meet in Gotham?" Barbara raised a questioning eyebrow, setting her mint julep on her control panel. The room was lit solely by the flickering of her monitors; her eyes and smile caught the light.
In the dark, she was still radiant.
"They don't think I'm stupid enough to come back here." The place was littered with old notes and crumpled paper; chalk maps lined the walls, and the air stank of must. Pictures, CDs, case files. She was as thorough as Bruce in her own right, yet she was far more decorous.
"Are you saying you are? This is the first place they are going to look." Her auburn hair curled carelessly around her face, the corners of her mouth raised in quiet amusement. Despite the circumstances of his visit, Dick couldn't help but reciprocate.
"No, the first place they are going to look is Metropolis. That was where I was teleported. I made sure to be seen." He spoke pointedly. Barbara swiveled in her wheelchair to address the ensuing sigh.
"Hi, Kyle. Didn't know you were stopping by."
"Purely business." His eyes scanned the room in silent observation. He fronted placidity but his arms were folded defensively against his body. Dick pulled up a chair, reaching for the unfinished julep.
"He's following me to find Wally. He doesn't seem to get that he won't have any luck since this Spartan Labs thing doesn't have anything to do with it."
He slipped Barbara a small plastic-encased disc, which she quickly unwrapped and slid into the dark slit on the face of her computer. The screen flickered momentarily as she pulled up several windows, mostly crammed with text and blueprint images. A final window contained a set of head shots, names scrawled unevenly beneath.
"Realise-" Kyle was harshly emphatic. "Realise that I'm also an American and am allowed to have an interest in the goings on of my own country. If you guys had told me what you were investigating sooner, I could have given you more info." He paused, resting his eyes on the monitor. "I know those people."
"So do I," Barbara glanced over to the other side of her desk, attempting to reach for a set of dog-eared post-its. Dick handed them to her, wordlessly expressing his curiosity upon eye contact. She indulged him. "About a year ago Dinah was out of commission for personal reasons. You remember that?"
"Yeah." Dick reclined in his intent.
"She was pregnant with Ollie. She miscarried. Some thugs, or so we thought at the time, they'd drugged and kidnapped Ollie after finding out. Their ransom was the corpse of this child. Dinah had no choice but to give up the body of her daughter. She was distraught after the whole thing, so she talked to me about it. I did some research and found out that these guys had formerly been under the employment of Gabriel Vasquez."
"Who is that?"
"My dad," interjected Kyle. "He used to be CIA."
"Vasquez, eh? Never knew you were Mexican." Dick took a languorous sip of the julep, offering it, as a last thought, to Kyle.
"Funny, what a difference a name makes." Kyle smiled his sarcasm. Dick took another sip.
"Anyway." Babs pulled up another window. The contents were garbled. "I contacted Kyle about this, since he was on leave from the GLs. We found nothing."
"No. Dinah tried to go back to that place on another mission, but her partner, Kara- she alerted the League of her strange behavior. Dinah was suspended. Dinah did find something though. An abandoned robot prototype that had her Scream."
"She didn't tell the League?"
"She was hesitant about Clark, so she told Bruce and Diana instead. He kept it on file, but none of us made the connection until a half an hour before you arrived."
"Which is?" Dick sat up, alert.
"Well, what does Dinah's Scream do?"
"Paralyzes people." His face betrayed a nearly imperceptible disconcertedness.
"What happened to Wally the day of the Keystone incident?"
"He was… paralyzed… kinda?"
"No, he was paralyzed. The robot was facing him directly. The robot's sound transmitter was damaged beyond repair so we were unable to identify it till we knew what we were looking at."
"No one else heard it though- the Scream."
"Right." Her triumph was evident. "Because it's a higher frequency variant."
"Why did it only affect Wally?" Kyle's question was sudden, and Barbara pivoted to face him.
"I'm not sure about that yet."
"Maybe the radius of the scream was small enough that it only affected him?"
The breeze and mechanical lull of the fan in the corner lured them into a temporary silence.
"All this while, he thought it was himself. He blamed himself, and everyone blamed him," Dick muttered quietly. He set the empty glass down with a submissive 'clunk'. Barbara pursed her lips, clasping her hands in empathy. She lowered her eyes.
"No one could have known."
"With all the technology we have, they should have." It was an a-tonal sort of anger that coloured hs words. Barbara acceded, handing him a single sheet of paper.
"There's one more thing. Bruce had me exhume the bodies of Wally's parents."
"The coffins were empty but for traces of clay."
"You're shitting me. Clayface?" Dick's jaw began to work as he settled back in his chair. "This whole thing was a massive set-up. Damnit!" Kyle crossed his arms, lowering his head in a resignation.
"We've got to find Wally. If he's alive, he's probably really fucked up," he said at last. A quiet anxiety trembled beneath the layers of his statement. He abruptly lunged forward and leaned over the controls, his fingers quickly skimming the keys. Barbara moved aside.
"Calling Titans Tower again. "Guys. Do you read us? Guys?"
For a moment, the world was soundless. Then-
"Hello, Green Lantern." A blurred figure crossed the screen through the static.
"As a speedster, Bart should be receiving-"
Dick shot him a perplexed glance. He hadn't told him about Bart.
"No, the amount of speed has been reduced. He is able to control it. Wally is no longer transmitting at full capacity." It was a pale face, shrouded in dark cloth. The violet eyes were unmistakable.
"Do you think you can figure out where he is using Bart?"
"I would have thought you'd have found him by now." Raven narrowed her eyes slightly. She was unable to see her audience through the darkness of the other side.
"Just cut to it and tell me."
"Nowhere in Kansas is safe for him. The only other places he'd go are the Himalayas or Wayne Manor. Those are the only places he'd feel safe." Her tone became more solicitous. "This is merely a guess. Bart says he might be in Metropolis too. That is where his last direct interaction with the Speed Force occurred."
"Wait… is there any way for Bart to increase the amount of energy he is receiving?"
"Bart says 'yes'."
"Is there any sort of surface heat-scan you can do to determine if there is a corresponding exothermic spot somewhere on the continent?"
"Not accurately… not with what we have now."
Dick suddenly unseated himself, reaching forward to disconnect the call. As the screen imploded, he turned to face the two. Kyle gestured in exasperation.
"Guys, I think we're looking at this all wrong. I think… I think Wally's in Greece."
"Greece?" Barbara's skepticism was thinly veiled.
"Dick, we're not going to Greece on a hunch."
"No? I am."
The three fell into a strained silence. Dick began to move towards the exit.
"That's fine." Barbara finally turned up the lights; the three squinted in their wake. "You're being looked for anyway. You might as well find Wally and stay with him. Kyle, I know you were supposed to find Wally, but we need a favour of you."
"Anything." He raised a hand to shield his eyes from the glare, but he was assiduous.
"The real Spartan Headquarters are near the Belle Reve meta-human imprisonment facility in Louisiana. I need you to go find out what they are doing there. Dick, you know where to find a jet. I've sent Alfred his orders."
In a moment, Kyle was gone, and Barbara had turned to resume her work.
Dick lingered a moment before nodding his assent and dissolving into the twilight. The lights turned off and Barbara closed her eyes.