Title: Son of the Father: Captive Knight
Author: DC Luder
Rating: T for mild language and violence.
Summary: Ra's Al Guhl emerges once more to confront Batman, although this time the Demon's Head is not looking to be a foe.
Infringement: Batman and all recognizable characters belong to DC Comics, not DC Luder.
Author's Note: I originally posted this way back when, but I have revamped it and finally gasp finished it. This story is based upon events seen in "Batman: Son of the Demon".
"Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father!"
Lydia M. Child
On third night, we took action.
But after three years, mere days seemed to pass by like seconds.
I had been in the Detective's city for nearly seventy-two hours without being discovered. Instead of directly engaging in a violent encounter with him, I had decided to utilize a new approach. And dreading failure, I had accompanied the small group of men in order to ensure its success. Under strict orders, Ricard, one of my stealthier guards, had been discretely following the Detective as he made his tours of the city. Although there were several variations in his routes, the pattern soon became nearly as predictable as it was methodical.
Although costly and risky, this new approach in confronting the Detective was specific to the situation at hand. There was no simple way of garnering his attention, let alone convincing him to return with me to any one of my lairs. And since a darkened rooftop was no place to discuss such private details, I had no choice but to use more forceful means of persuasion.
Namely, kidnapping him.
The reconnaissance work that Ricard had performed acted beyond merely determining the best time to confront the Detective. It also allowed for a thorough appraisal of the level of criminal activity in Gotham City, of which was surprisingly low for the metropolitan's reputation. For the majority of the evening, the Detective toured in solitude, only contacting the all-knowing Oracle and meeting with his protégés a handful of times in the course of the night. Ricard had witnessed the apprehension of several criminals per an hour, but none of them seemed to be worthy of the Detective.
Sitting on the terrace of a penthouse we had habited for our stay, I was not surprised to hear footsteps approach me, followed by Ubu's deep voice, "Sire, it is time."
Silently, I checked my pocket watch to see that it was a little before one in the morning, a time when there seemed to be a lull in the Detective's patrols.
I rose and adjusted my garments before leading the way thorough the French doors, Ubu at my heels. Several of my guards stood patiently awaiting my command. With a curt nod, they bowed briefly and then dashed to their positions, stowing any items that had suggested our stay into large duffle bags and crates. Six would accompany me to the site while two would remain to watch over our center. Unfortunately, they were to be the sacrificial lambs in this event for we were not to return after apprehending the Detective.
As the last of the electronic tracking equipment and personal belongings were collected, I left the parlor and maneuvered towards a small corridor. The first door on the left had been my quarters while the door adjacent had been my daughter's.
I rapped on the doorframe and heard her soft reply, "Enter."
Bringing her along on this trip had been quite worrisome. When I had told her of the plan to obtain the Detective, she had all but insisted on accompanying me and I had all but refused her participation. Talia's interest in the situation was understandable but I feared that her involvement would complicate things more so than they already were. The troubled relationship that she shared with the Detective was one that had interfered with my plans numerous times and I had no desire for it to happen again.
After opening the door, I stepped into her room and promptly closed it behind me. Talia was reclined on the bed in her rarely used battle attire; peculiar considering she had no desire to take action in this task. Her long legs were sheathed in black nylon, with her feet guarded by black combat boots while her torso was only covered with a black sleeveless turtleneck. Strapped to her right thigh was a Smith & Wesson pistol, with its ammunition tucked away into a compartment on her belt.
With the elegance of a Greek goddess, she rose and approached me, a slight smile upon her full lips, "Is all ready, Father?"
"Indeed." I offered her my arm, of which she took. Guiding her to the service elevator, I continued, "You will remain in the helicopter until he has been rendered completely unconscious. After he is secured, you may tend to him."
"As you wish, Father," she replied as we stepped into the elevator car. The ride took mere seconds, for we were already on the thirtieth floor. Once on the roof, her hair fluttered wildly as the air moved swiftly around us. She ducked as I wrapped an arm around her shoulders protectively. Our relationship had never been practical, as I found myself using her as a pawn more so than treating her like a daughter. But recently, she and I had grown closer in some respect, letting go of our past in order to look towards the future.
We seated ourselves in the center of the chopper, she residing to my left as Ubu took the seat to my right. The six men made a dash for the opposing three seats; those who did not reach them first opted to sitting on the floor of the helicopter. A medical gurney was centered in the belly of the aircraft, but not a soul dared to rest upon it.
The ride to the rendezvous point took several minutes and I took the opportunity to glance out the open bay door, appraising the slumbering city. As we neared our destination, I could see why the Detective favored it so much and took the time to climb up it. Centrally located in the heart of his city, in addition to being the highest peak in Gotham, it was no wonder why Wayne Tower would be the Bat's roost.
Within fifty yards, the blades were silenced with the cloaking mechanism. The only indication of our presence was the air currents shot out from the rotors. When the pilot began to hover over the tower, I retrieved a pair of digital binoculars and watched the ensuing scene beneath me.
Ricard and the Detective were alternating blows to each other. Both had visible blood on their faces and sneers on their mouths. Closing in, Ubu leapt from his seat and out of the helicopter, landing feet first into the Detective's shoulders. I heard Talia's gasp and felt her hand on my forearm as her love stumbled forward, nearly going over the edge. He rose quickly, as expected, and began to duel both Ricard and Ubu, holding his own. Nevertheless, as much as the Detective was skilled martial artist, there was only so much he could do against two men, one of whom was nearly equal in skill and twice his size.
We watched on as Ricard fell victim to a severe blow to the head that caused him to fall to the ground momentarily. The Detective glanced up quickly and glared at the helicopter, no doubt searching for my face.
Ubu recognized the half-second opportunity, of which he readily took. He wrapped his massive arms around his opponent's neck and began to cut off his airway. The Detective struggled fiercely and nearly slipped out of my bodyguard's grasp. His efforts grew slower and eventually his body became still. Ubu held him tightly to be sure the Detective was not feigning unconsciousness, of which I knew he was quite capable of.
I glanced over to see the pained look on my daughter's face.
She had known this was coming.
I watched as Ubu laid the motionless body down and signaled for the aircraft to approach. Once we had navigated to hover nearly five feet above him, he jumped onto the chopper with the limp body over his shoulder. I watched silently as one of the men who had been sitting on the floor stood and helped Ubu lay the Detective on the gurney and then secured restraints around lifeless wrists and ankles.
In the event he awoke, he would surely show no hesitation in trying to escape.
I felt Talia tense once more beside me at the sight of him. There relationship had been doomed from the beginning. Although there was a strong attraction between them, he would never leave behind his life for her, nor would I allow my daughter to live at his side in Gotham. While looking over the quiet, masked face of my adversary, I corrected myself. He had, once upon a time, taken Talia as his wife and we had joined forces to hunt down the terrorist Qain. In that time, I had seen lightness in him that I had never expected him capable of. I had been honored to have him at my side, as well as at my daughter's, but unfortunately when tragedy had struck, he had returned to his city.
In the six years since, we had become foes once more. My attempts to purge the world of those who were destroying it were foiled by the Detective and his colleagues on numerous occasions. Even Talia had separated herself from me, heading off on her own. But three years ago, it was she who had contacted me, informing me of her need to meet with me, to tell me of a great event that would change our lives.
And it had.
I felt her arm touch mine and I glanced at her, offering a curt nod. As the helicopter ascended and headed towards the airfields outside of Gotham, she unbuckled her belt and took a seat on the gurney beside him. I watched on as she retrieved a handkerchief from her belt and gingerly wiped the blood from his nose before scoring his body for any other signs of harm. Ubu had dealt him quite a beating, but when I gazed at my bodyguard, he was just as worse for the wear.
Shortly after, we landed next to an eight-passenger plane that was taxiing up a private airstrip just outside of Gotham. The men quickly carried all of the bags and crates from one aircraft to the next, leaving the gurney for last. Once everyone was aboard and secured, the plane began to prepare for take off. I had been slightly disappointed that the Detective's protégés had not intervened; then again there hadn't much time to realize he was missing. Combined with how little he contacted them, I began to wonder exactly when they would realize that he was no longer in the city.
As we began our journey across the Atlantic, I waited until we had reached peak altitude before making my way to Talia and her slumbering betrothed.
"Be sure to sedate him heavily, Talia," I said sternly as she carefully applied a damp cloth to his bleeding lip.
She nodded before speaking quietly, "Yes, Father." She sighed before continuing, "Ubu did not need to be so rough with him…"
I heard Ubu's protesting grumble from a few seats back.
"The ends justify the means, my daughter." Keeping her eyes on his unconscious form, she let out another soft sigh. I took the seat beside her, pausing before I spoke, "You know as well as I that he would never voluntarily come. He needed to be… forced."
"But if we told him," Talia spoke, her voice tensing, "Perhaps he would have."
"There was no way of knowing. It is better this way," I stood and straightened my coat, "See to it that the entire suit is removed, as well as the lock picks in his mouth."
Her almond eyes stared up at me for a moment before returning to the Detective's face, "Yes, Father."
I watched on for a moment longer before returning to my seat next to Ubu. He held an ice pack to his swollen jaw and glared in the Detective's direction. "Is there something amiss?"
He shook his head and mumbled, "No, sire."
"Very well. Once his guise is removed, put it in the buoy and then toss it out of the plane."
Not an hour after we had abducted the Detective from his own city, his suit and tracking devices were sailing down towards the Atlantic Ocean's freezing depths. His protégés would search for him relentlessly, but unfortunately their frantic efforts would lead them to a decoy. Nevertheless, by the time they organized a search for him, we would have reached our destination.
And hopefully, the Detective would have woken and agreed to our proposal.
A soft hand caressed my shoulder, "Father, we will be landing soon."
My eyes opened to see Talia smiling with her head tilted slightly. I had not slept in three days, and the exhaustion had caught up with me. I nodded and sat up while she returned to her post beside the Detective. Glancing down the aisle, I was able to see that he was still unconscious but now dressed in dark blue cotton pants. He would be allowed to change once we were settled, if he cooperated.
Ubu had surrendered the ice pack and was proudly sporting a fist-shaped bruise that dominated the left half of his cheek. His right eye had swollen considerably and grown dark as well. His encounters with the Detective over the years always seemed to end with him brandishing a few marks. Before I could comment on his trophies, I felt the plane begin to descend and prepared myself for landing.
Once the plane had halted, I undid the safety belt and stood, directing the unloading of the gurney before our belongings. I led the way out of the craft, with Ubu at my side, followed by the six men managing the Detective, leaving Talia to trail last. I was met by a group of my men, bowed in greeting. Once we had cleared the way, the men quickly began to unload the rest of the plane without a word. As we made our way through the cavernous hangar, various guards went from lounging positions to full attention at the sight of me. I made a mental note to increase the severity of their training sessions.
As we passed through large, lead-lined double doors, I paused and stated, "I would prefer the cell versus your chambers, Talia. When he wakes he will not be very… pleasant."
She hesitated before answering, "As you wish, Father." She then nodded in the direction opposite of the main hall and followed as two men pushed the gurney towards the holding cells.
Each were ten-by ten, with only a small sink, drain, toilet and cot. No mattresses, however, since the Detective had used them to his advantage at one of our earlier encounters. When they were out of sight, I turned on my heel and proceeded to the control room.
Once inside, I took my seat in a large, high-backed chair and went about turning on several monitors. A small radar screen kept track of the Detective's homing signal in the ocean and searched for any object within fifty yards. Upon landing, the buoy that contained the Detective's belongings, it had ejected the guise, tattered and bloodstained. Aside from motion sensors on the floating marker, there was also a small panoramic camera that was to capture the all too hopeful faces of his rescuers.
I watched patiently as the radar's searching arm circled and circled, producing no change in its appraisal. Not ten minutes later, Talia joined me and stood next to my chair, gently resting her slender hand on the back of it. When I glanced over my shoulder at her, I noticed she had changed into a long red dress, one I had not seen before. I fought a smile, realizing that this was a rather important occasion, more so far her than for me. I considered changing myself when one of the larger monitors came to life with activity. My eyes fixed to the screen as I let my lips form into a smile.
As a defense to the darkness, the camera had been outfitted with an infrared lens. After depressing a small button, the screen filled with a slightly hazy view of the ocean and a small aircraft hovering nearby. A raft fell and a magnetic grapple instantly anchored it to the buoy. Not wanting to miss a moment of their search, I pressed another small button and a moment later the speakers gave forth sounds of waves and the hum of a jet engine.
"I don't see anything besides the buoy!" an off-camera voice shouted. Quickly, I recognized it to be that of the Gypsy. The Nightwing. The… son of the Detective.
Another voice replied, "He may be under water!" The Detective's other young protégé, Robin. The third one.
The Gypsy came into view, landing on the raft. He searched the water with a high-powered flashlight, sending beams of light deep into the dark water. His normally collected features were wrought with fear and anxiety, as to be expected. After a moment, he called out the Detective's name feverishly, his voice barely overcoming the roar of the waves. I watched as on as he inserted a re-breather into his mouth before diving into the icy water. He came up for air twice, swimming against the waves briefly before diving down again, searching a new area around the buoy.
After fifteen minutes, the Gypsy surfaced once more, but this time with the sodden cape clasped his hand. His usually determined face was laden with sorrow and fear. His mentor, his hero, his father was "dead."
I watched as he dragged himself onto the raft and stared at the black material in his hands. Ubu had added a nice touch, ripping the fabric sporadically. Perhaps his fate was thought to have been the result of a shark attack, after being dropped in the ocean by enemies unknown. I focused the lens of the camera onto the young man's face but I couldn't tell whether the drops of water that were rolling down his cheeks were droplets from his wet hair or if they were tears. I hoped they had been the latter.
Talia suddenly gasped quietly and ran out of the room. She was a very brave woman, but she still held sympathy for others and their misfortunes. A weakness I did not share.
Despite his discovery, the Gypsy dove back into the water, moving with surprising determination. I continued to watch as he wasted his time and energy exploring the water. After a moment, Dr. Weltman entered the control room, adjusting her glasses. I turned and said, "Good morning, Dr. Weltman."
"Good morning, sire."
Although to any other, the frail woman in the white lab coat would appear to be a normal physician, she was anything but. For years, she had acted as a great tool in my crusade, as well as in restoring my life with the Pit. It had been some time since I had such a qualified individual among my ranks that also shared the same dreams and ambitions as I.
"I've finished his examination. There is a slight concussion, but nothing too serious. Also, severe bruising of the larynx, so speech may be difficult for him. Other than that, nothing more than bruises and scrapes. Although there is a recent injury, a bullet wound to his lower abdomen. It can't be more than a week old."
"Very well, I shall be down shortly."
With a curt nod, she turned and exited into the corridor, her long white coat swaying with each stride. Dr. Weltman had maintained professional courtesy towards my daughter, whereas Talia blatantly would disregard the older woman. However, in the last year, I had been surprised at the change in Talia's attitude towards the good doctor and to others.
As her footfalls grew silent, I returned my gaze to the display monitors to see that the search had grown to a level of frenzy. I noticed that the Gypsy had been joined by the youngest one; their heads bobbing in turn with diving into the water. But as much as I took joy in watching their fruitless efforts, I had more pressing matters to attend to.
After setting the video feed to record, I made my way towards the holding cells. Ubu, who had been standing outside the control room, followed me, matching his stride with mine. As I reached the third cell on the left, I paused and stepped aside, allowing Ubu to open it for me.
The dim lighting of the cell cast an eerie shadow over the Detective's form as he stood in the rear corner. Despite the darkness, his eyes practically glowed, alive with angry. I nodded and Ubu hit a light switch on the outside wall, illuminating the cell. The Detective remained still, his eyes not even blinking in response to the light. He was in a fighter's stance, ready to attack or defend at a moment's notice. His flesh of his throat was severely bruised, as was his lower abdomen. The bullet wound that Dr. Weltman had commented on still bore a row of stitches.
I motioned him forward with my hand, but he remained motionless. "Come now, Detective, let us not make this situation uncivil."
A growl escaped him, his voice was ragged and hoarse, "Where are my belongings?"
"Adrift in the Atlantic Ocean, I'm afraid."
His voice rumbled again, "Where are we?"
"Let us not discuss those details quite yet. I have a proposition…"
He lunged forward suddenly, his fist connecting solidly with my jaw. Before I could retaliate myself, Ubu's massive fist drove past me, colliding into the Detective's temple. I stepped back as Ubu stepped forward, driving his massive fist into the Detective's abdomen with a quickness that had save my life many times. The Detective doubled over in pain momentarily before rising up, striking at Ubu's temple. My bodyguard, who was not recovering from sedation as was the Detective, was well prepared and latched on to the offensive arm. Not a moment later, Ubu shoved his assailant back into the rear of the cell, lifting and pinning him into the cement wall. A moment later, he slammed his shoulder into the Detective's abdomen, a wild look of pain taking over his usually controlled visage. Again and again, Ubu slammed one fist after another into the wound, causing the Detective to scream in agony.
"Enough," I whispered.
Ubu stepped back, letting his adversary fall to the ground. The Detective rose gradually, a hand firmly pressed to his side. He managed to sit, leaning against the wall for support. When he looked up at me, a frail smirk crept over his lips before he spat blood in my direction. I glared at him for a moment and then nodded at Ubu.
I watched on as Ubu assaulted the Detective once more, uneasy as to how little he was fighting back. When I ordered my bodyguard to stand down once more, the Detective was on his back staring up at the ceiling. Blood flowed freely from his lips and onto the cold floor. After taking a step towards him, I descended and stared into his eyes, "Perhaps civility is in order now, Detective."
He tried to spit at me again but was unable to summon the energy.
After standing, I walked to the door, "I shall return in one hour, Detective," I then paused at Ubu's side, "See to it that he changes his mind."
I stepped out of the room and I watched on as a guard locked it. Making my way back to the control room, I was taken aback by a flash of red in the corner of my eye. Talia was running towards the cell, no doubt to try and counteract my orders. I quickly caught up with her, reached out and grasped her arm, twisting it in order to compel her to face me.
Fear in pooling in her eyes, she whispered, "Please, Father, let me talk to him. This is unnecessary. He won't resist if you would just tell him…"
"Talia!" I yelled harshly, "I will not tolerate his defiance. When he is ready to be peaceful, I will be. Until then he must suffer the consequences of his actions."
A tear slipped down her cheek as I tightened my hold on her wrist.
"Do you understand me, daughter. You will not go near that room until I say."
She blinked, letting loose more tears, "… Yes, Father."
After releasing her, I continued on towards the control room. It had always been difficult to be stern with her, even though I had to do so often. She was the mirror image of her mother and every time I looked at her, I could see nothing but the beauty of my beloved, Melisande. When I returned my chair, the screen was only filled with water and the very beginnings of dawn on the horizon. No raft, no plane, no mourning children. I quickly rewound the recording and watched nearly twenty minutes of them searching and then slowly deciding to return to the craft to search the waters from up above. Without any visual, I decided to listen in on their radio conversations with the Oracle.
A soft feminine voice asked, "Not anywhere?"
"No, Batgirl, just a costume. No… body. Maybe he wasn't even out there," the Gypsy replied.
Another female's voice came on, of which I recognized as the elusive Oracle, "I have some bad news. Just retraced his patrols for the night. His signal ended at Wayne Tower, then moved over to the private airstrip south of the city. And then out to the ocean."
"So you're saying someone kidnapped him and dumped him in the water?" the Gypsy asked, fear making his voice quiver.
Her voice was hesitant, "It's what it looks like. I've contacted the JLA. If you stay in the vicinity of that marker, they'll be there shortly to help look."
After exiting the control room for the second time, I returned to assess Ubu's progress. Once the door was unlocked, I opened it to find two forms on the ground, gasping for air. The Detective's stitches had been ripped open and the wound oozed blood. Ubu, who had managed to get to his hands and knees, was also in a poor condition. His already bruised eye had been joined by another and as I looked more closely, I noticed his nose to be broken.
I cleared my throat, "Ubu, what is the progress?"
After making it to his feet, he replied, "Sire, he remains… passive to encouragement."
"Perhaps I may call in another to assist you in heartening him…"
"Wait," his growl interrupted me. The Detective had made it to his feet as well, but he seemed off balance, no doubt the concussion's effect. "Ra's. What is it that you want from me? To surrender?"
"Not in the least. I merely want you to willingly listen to me. I want your undivided attention so that we may discuss certain items of business."
"Items? As in Talia?"
"I won't, Ra's. You know I won't give it up to…"
I interrupted him by asking, "What if it meant being with your son, Detective?"
"My… What are you… My son?"
After I approached him, I continued, "Yes. The one we thought Talia had lost."
"But, she… It can't be…"
"She had given him up to an orphanage shortly after birth. She couldn't bear to have him in her life if she could not also have you. We've kept track of his whereabouts, and three years ago, his adopted parents died in an automobile accident. Talia then took him into her care."
"He's been… It's been six years…" The Detective's mouth closed and he stared at the door behind me.
He continued to sit motionless as I left the room. On my way out, "We'll discuss this further, once you've been settled in. Ubu, take him to the infirmary. And then to Talia and Ibn."
Whether it was the exhaustion from oversea travel or simply the emotional turmoil from the last three days, I had to fight yawning as I made my way to my chambers. And with the coming days no doubt being quite hectic, rest was in order, even if only for a few hours.
After changing and washing up, I made my way to bed. It was as I began to turn down the covers that I heard a soft sound from the adjacent study. Without looking, I smiled and sat upon my bed, "Ibn, you really must stop this."
He stepped into the doorway and smiled, "I came to wake you up, but you weren't asleep. Did you just get back, from your trip?"
I nodded, "Not too long ago."
Ibn smirked again before walking over towards me. He was dressed for the day, khaki pants much too big for his six year old frame. Someday, he would take the strong form of his father…
He hitched them up a bit and then sat next to me, "It was boring here without you and Mom. All I did was read."
"You say that as if it were a negative thing."
The young boy shrugged, "It was okay, but still… boring." He looked up at me and frowned before asking, "What happened to your chin? Is that a bruise?"
"Yes, it is. An accident, I'm afraid."
"It doesn't hurt does it?"
I smiled, "Not at all."
Ibn stood and kissed my sore cheek before he laughed, "Good night."
Often when I traveled, he was the first to seek me out upon my return. Commonly, he would wait outside of my door and then come in to see that I was well. Once he had said he just wanted to know if I had returned with gifts for him, but I knew he just wanted to ease his mind that I was home, safe and well.
But this time, what better gift could I have brought him than his father?
Chapter Two: Search Commenced