Summary: Cadmus fears the growing power of the League and Amanda Waller puts a plan into action that she hopes will net her information that will aid her organization should the League ever go rogue
Characters: Batman, Amanda Waller, Superman, Dick Grayson/Nightwing
She flipped through the pictures in the file for the third time and paused on one, one of a dark haired young man clothed in blue and black kevlar. The kid, well he was a kid, no more than twenty-three and a non-meta. He was Batman's boy. Perfect.
"Batman will not give us information on the League. He helped found it. It would be like trying to ask Superman for help after telling him that I've been working behind the scenes for all these years."
Amanda Waller leveled a glare at Emil Hamilton and spoke. "That is why you are keeping your involvement in Cadmus a secret from the Man of Steel. He still trusts you and we need him to continue doing so for as long as possible. You are too good a source of unwitting information."
"How do you intend to sway Batman's loyalty?" Waller turned to face Eiling with a smirk.
"You should know dear General..." She stopped to thumb through the pictures in her file for a moment before choosing one and throwing the file towards the center of the table. The other images spread out in an arc and she could see glimpses of the same young man in both his 'professional' and civilian attire. "Every enemy has that one crack in their armor." Her smile widened and she placed the image she had selected down on the table for the rest of them to see. "Richard John Grayson Wayne. Alias Nightwing. Batman's adopted son. We have the boy and we should have the father. It's a simple manner of leverage.
Eiling laughed softly and shook his head. "Do we have him in custody?" Waller shook her head.
"The rich boy must see first hand what his refusal to cooperate with us will cost him. Bringing the man's son in should Wayne refuse to help us will be your task General."
Eiling smirked, obviously pleased with his assignment. "One less costumed hero is one less costumed hero."
"Keep Windragon sedated Dr. Hamilton. His DNA will continue to deteriorate and we will be able to dispose of him soon enough. Hopefully the second team will last longer." Amanda juggled her bag, phone and keys, and managed to get into her apartment without breaking her conversation. "Yes, loosing Long Shadow to the League was unfortunate. What was I supposed to do? Create an incident in front of the media? He was helping the League save civilians, not helping the rest of his team destroy the building. We will work on his mental state with the next model. The second Long Shadow clone will remain loyal to us and I expect you to make sure of that. Goodnight Doctor."
She shut down her phone and reached to flip the light switch. The incident at the lab with the Ultimen had been a disaster. Luckily they had gotten the clones away before they could be damaged, it would have been far too expensive to rebuild all of their cloning technology. She finally found the switch and flipped it. When nothing happened she cursed and reached for the lamp. A hand clamped over her wrist and she whirled towards her intruder.
"Cloning, genetic manipulation, what next Waller?"
"Rich Boy." Amanda smirked in the darkness as she felt the hand on her wrist tighten at the indication that she knew what identity lay behind the cowl. "That's right. I know exactly who you are."
"How." It was less a question and more a demand.
"I have almost as many resources as you do. Why give up my secrets."
"What is your game Waller?"
"The protection of my country Batman, from the likes of your precious League."
"It would seem that the country needs protection from the likes of you and not from the League." Amanda plowed on as though she had not heard him.
"Gods floating above us and looking down like they can control every last action. That is what we need protecting from Batman." Her voice took a more conversational tone as she continued. "I have never understood how one such as you could stand to join them. You are not a god, you are flesh and blood. What do you stand to gain by looking down on us like you are better than us? I know what the League is capable of Batman. I have seen the scenarios. I know what happened with the Justice Lords on that alternate earth."
"That won't happen here." He released her wrist and she turned to face him fully.
"Are you so certain? My sources tell him that Luthor is preparing to run for the presidency. What will you do if the evil you fight becomes the government? What will Superman do?"
"Superman will not go that far."
"You hope Batman. What if he does? Will that small piece of Kryptonite you care be enough to stop him? What if it is not just Superman? What if Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Martian, what if they all join together? God help us then." She could see his form, outlined in the soft moonlight, tense.
"The League is better than that Waller." She pressed the slight advantage that his voice failed to betray but that his body did.
"You i hope /i the League is better than that Batman, but I sense that you are not sure. You are starting to doubt that the contingency plans you have in place will be enough. Help me Batman. I could use an information source within the League."
Her proposal hung in the air between them and she waited, already knowing the answer he would give and fully ready to activate her contingency plan. Eiling's forces were already in place and Cadmus would have the boy within two hours.
"No." It was so simple, and he said it with such force.
"Remember my words Batman and pray that what you believe is right. The League is too powerful and they i will /i overstep their boundaries. It is simply a matter of time and arrogance." She spoke the words to his retreating form even as a small secret smile threatened to tug at her lips. When he was gone and she had checked her apartment for bugs she removed her phone from her bag and dialed a number.
"Eiling put contingency Plan 815A into action. I want Nightwing in Cadmus custody within the hour."
"Yes Ma'am." The call ended and Amanda dropped back onto her sofa. Bringing down the League was paramount to the safety of the world. She remembered the scenario reports she had briefed the others on. The League members were too powerful and to take them down she would need a high level informer on the inside.
Bruce could not believe her gull. What had she expected him to say? Turning against the League was something he had no intention of doing, unless they crossed certain lines. There was only so far he would go for them and Gotham still came first in his mind. It was difficult working with a team due to how often it kept him away from his city.
When he had started out he had never planned to do anything but work alone. Dick had changed that, with Barbara and Tim forcing their way into his inner circle almost recklessly. Barbara and Tim kept Gotham in check in his absence and Dick had recently expanded into Bludhaven.
He was almost back to Gotham when a one of the distress signals flared to life.
"B..tm..! I.. nd..r att..k." The static over the communication relay made it nearly impossible for him to recognize Dick's voice.
"..at..n.." The static cut out whatever else the younger hero attempted to say to him and he switched frequencies even as he turned the Batwing towards Bludhaven.
"Batgirl, Robin, activate emergency protocols. Switch to secondary frequencies for all communications and maintain contact." He received affirmatives from both of them and began switching through Dick's communication channels. He got static across all lines. "Nightwing?" The static continued for nearly five minutes before silence abruptly settled over the line. He flipped another switch on the control panel and the radar flared to life, giving him the location of Dick's tracker. It showed no motion and he managed to get a fix on Dick's location before the tracker signal flickered and disappeared. Bruce pushed the plane for extra speed and resisted to let his nerves show in his actions as Bludhaven came into view on the horizon fifteen minutes later.
Soon he was touching down on the closest building he could find that would allow the plane to land.. He had carefully memorized the location of Dick's last transmission and he quickly reached the alleyway. It seemed barely disturbed and he quickly realized that whoever had attacked his son had been trained to do so. Dick probably hadn't realized what hit him until the attack was almost over.
A thorough search of the alley revealed Dick's smashed communication chip and escrima sticks but nothing that would reveal who had attacked the young hero, or any indication of where they would have taken him.
"Locate Nightwing." Silence fell over his communication channel and Bruce silently wished that he had put more pressure on Dick to join the League, at least as a reserve member as Harper had done. It would have made finding the young man easier. The channel flared to life again and Bruce pushed his thoughts to the back of his mind.
"I cannot Batman. I am unfamiliar with his mind. What has happened?" Bruce's hand tightened into a fist and he forced himself not to slam his hand into one of the trash cans that lined the alleyway.
"He was attacked at my current location and taken by his attackers."
"I will continue my attempts."
"Do so." Another vain search of the alley revealed nothing new and he headed towards the rooftop where he had landed the plane. When he reached it he settled into the seat and flipped on the communication channels.
"What happened Batman?" Robin's voice.
"Nightwing was attacked and is missing. Emergency protocols are to remain in effect indefinetely. You and Batgirl are to patrol in a team until I see fit to lift them. Begin running a trace program on Nightwing's tracker. I am returning to base."
"Roger Batman." Bruce shut down the relay and slumped into the seat for a moment. He was moving to close the cockpit when a streak of red and blue came into focus beside the plane.
"Batman? I heard the communication with the Watchtower. What do you know?" Bruce reigned in tightly on his emotions and forced calm to show in his face.
"Nothing. Whoever took him knew exactly how to handle him and how to cover their trail. It took me less than 30 minutes to reach his location and the scene had already been expertly stripped." Superman was listening but not looking at him, his gaze focused towards the alley where Bruce had received Dick's distress call. The Man of Steel frowned and Bruce realized that his assumptions about there being nothing useful were correct.
"I do not hear him." That surprised Bruce and a slight worry that Dick might already be dead wormed its way into his thoughts. Only the knowledge that there were ways to block Clark's alien senses kept him from believing that possibility.
"I must return to the cave." Clark nodded distactedly and Bruce closed the cockpit. The short flight from Bludhaven to Gotham ate at him. He wanted to be on the ground, attempting to find his eldest but he had no place to start. He reached the cave in near record time to find Tim in his chair before the computer.
The teen looked up at him and shook his head as Bruce approached.
"Dick's tracker is offline. I don't know where they took him." Bruce could see the frustration on Tim's face and he knew how much a riddle frustrated his youngest student. He indicated that Tim should move and the teen did so after scooping up his laptop. Said laptop was quickly booted up on one of the secondary computer terminals and Bruce knew that Tim was trying to trace each component of their communicators individually. It would be an almost futile search but they both knew the value of keeping busy.
It had been almost two days since Dick had gone missing and Bruce had barely allowed himself to eat, much less sleep. The three of them, with the help of the League had begun a thorough shake-down of not only the Gotham but also the Bludhaven crime bosses. Not so much as a whisper had turned up no matter what angle they followed. Both J'onn and Superman had kept an eye out for Dick's whereabouts but neither had been able to come up with anything and the two of them had been forced to focus their energies on League matters.
Bruce rested against his chair and closed his eyes, desperately willing sleep away for a few more hours but knowing he would not be able to. Exhaustion had set in heavily after his latest return from Bludhaven and he was beginning to fear for Dick's safety. The fact that his disappearance had gone so smoothly kept him from giving in. Someone wanted his son for something, and they needed him alive. That scared him more than the idea that Dick might be dead. His eyes drifted closed despite his will to keep them open and he felt like he was floating.
The sound of a soft beeping broke the light sleep he fell into and he was instantly awake and staring at the small indicator light that was flashing on the computer's radar maps. The sound of someone on the stairs of the cave distracted him and he was aware of Tim entering the edge of his vision. The teen was almost as transfixed as he was by the sudden reeappearance of Dick's tracking signal that neither of them were sure it was real. Almost as one they were in motion. Bruce honned the computer in on the signal and Tim moved towards his laptop.
"I'll contact the League?"
"No!" Bruce knew that Tim was staring hard at him and he shook his head. "No." He said it softer this time as he scanned the images that the computer was feeding him.
"Why not Bruce? This isn't something we should try to handle alone."
"There is no i we /i I am going alone. It's a trap. They want something from me and they are using Dick to get it. I will i not /i put you, Barbara, or the rest of the League in danger."
"Bruce you can't." Bruce ignored him and started to feed the information he had gathered from Dick's tracker into the Batwing's computer. He stood and was heading for the weapons vault when Tim stepped in front of him. "You need to let the League help you." Bruce pushed Tim to he side and shook his head.
"Whoever took Dick knows enough about the League to prevent both J'onn and Clark from finding him. They will be expecting a frontal assault. I will not put Dick's life in danger by giving them what they expect." Tim grabbed his arm and Bruce stopped.
"At least let me help you Bruce. Please."
"You will stay here in the cave and feed me blueprints and outside data. That is all I can safely ask you to do. If something happens you will not call the League." Tim shook his head in defiance and Bruce turned towards him to catch the teen's arm in a tight grip. "I will go in blind then."
"Fine." Tim's voice was near a shout. "Fine Bruce. Be stubborn, do whatever you think is best and refuse to ask for help." The teen's voice dropped and worry replaced the anger. "I'll do whatever I can to help you. Just don't leave me out." Bruce nodded and headed into the weapons locker.
He exited fully kitted less than ten minutes later. He noted that Tim had already returned to the computer terminal and was busy going over the details of the base that could be gathered by satellite. It would take some digging but Bruce was confident that Tim would be able to get at least part of the information he needed before he reached the desert base in South Western Arizona.
Getting inside had been easier than he had thought it would be which was confirming Bruce's suspicion that the sudden appearance of Dick's tracker had been a setup from the beginning. Tim's voice was soft in his ear as the teen guided him through the maze of underground corridors which made up the base proper.
It was going to be difficult to get Dick out of here but if the place was as lightly staffed as it seemed to be it might not be a problem. The problem would be finding Dick before he was found. There were several areas of the base that Tim had not been able to access and if Dick was here he was likely being held in one of those areas. He was rapidly approaching the largest of those areas and as he got closer the communication chip in his ear started to pick up heavy static.
"Bat..an... loosin... ou..."
"Copy Robin. Cutting signal. Will reestablish communication when out of the black zone." The static was distracting and grating hard on his nerves and the silence of the relay was almost more so. The knowledge that this had to be a setup made the feeling worse. He moved like a shadow through the corridors and allowed his internal compass to guide him towards where he suspected the center of the deadzone to be. He soon found another stairway down. There were two guards at the top of the stairs which were quickly taken out and dragged into a service closet.
As he eased down the stairs the office and lab lined corridors he had been following turned into larger rooms with one way picture windows. All of them were darkened and empty and he moved farther into the maze, being sure to memorize the route he took so he would be able to attempt an escape. A soft glow around a corner caught his attention and he pressed himself against the wall as he moved towards the light source. When he reached the edge he peeked around the corner and froze.
One of the rooms was lit from the inside and he could clearly make out Dick's unconscious form on the table. The young man had been stripped to the skin and he recognized a stasis table when he saw one. The monitors at the side of the room showed Dick's vitals and one of the machines was displaying a spiraling DNA helix. Whoever was behind this was purposely keeping Dick sedated and his senses screamed that this was a trap. He also realized that he was right in not involving the League. He was not about to leave here without Dick either though.
He stuck to the walls and moved towards the room where his son lay. As he got closer he could see the rise and fall of Dick's chest and he allowed himself to breathe a sigh of relief. He knelt in front of the door and removed a set of electronic lock picks from his utility belt. The security panel came off easily but just as he was touching the picks to the internal circuits the corridor lights flared and soldiers poured out of the rooms.
Bruce moved to his feet immediately and was prepared to fight his way through them when a woman stepped into the room behind the men.
"Prompt as always Rich Boy." Bruce's hand tightened into a fist and he heard the metallic crunch as the lock pick broke in his grip.
"Waller." Her men moved to surround him and he launched a roundhouse kick at the closest two. The move disarmed them and he was going to move fully into the fray when her voice stopped him.
"Think of who you might hurt Rich Boy." Bruce sparred a glance towards Dick and froze when he saw two men hovering over the unconscious young man with guns drawn and pointed at Dick's head.
"Let him go Waller. You have me."
"Having you isn't enough now is it Rich Boy? You know what I really want." Bruce's mind flashed to the conversation the two of them had had in her home. His fist tightened and his eyes narrowed.
"I won't betray the League."
"Suit yourself." Waller made a sign with her hand and Bruce could see one of the men pulling back the hammer of the weapon in his hand. He reacted out of desperation and reached for an exploding Batarang. Waller made another motion and the man stopped and raised the gun.
"I'm not afraid Waller."
"It would be futile Batman. The glass would withstand the force of the explosion and you would not be able to get in there fast enough to stop them. You would lose your son in the same way you lost your parents. Are you willing to add that nightmare on top of your already burdened mind? Would your sanity survive consciously letting him die when you had the power to protect him?"
"The League does too much good Waller. Are you truly willing to jeopradize the fate of the world on a few worst case scenarios? The League will not overstep the lines you expect them to."
"Think of what is at stake Batman. I would rather have the world free to wage war against one another than live as slaves to an arrogant group of self proclaimed gods. That is what the League stands to become if arrogance holds too much sway. You have seen the signs, you know what they are capable of." Bruce cut her off.
"They won't go that far Waller. I won't let them." She smiled at him.
"Think about it Batman. I have already told you that Luthor is prepared to bid for the presidency. What will happen when Superman's nemesis becomes the government that the League has sworn itself to protecting? The League acts in absolutes. In Superman's eyes Luthor is evil and the second he sees Luthor acting out he will feel obligated to take matters into his own hands." Bruce felt his hand waver and he lowered the batarang. He hated that she might be right but Clark was too much of a boyscout at times to truly think about his actions. The idea of the US nuclear arsenal in the man's hands was something Bruce did not want to think about and Clark would i not /i think about if Luthor chose to use it..
"Let Dick go and I'll help you." Waller shook her head and sighed.
"Then I lose my bargaining chip Batman and when you fail to give me what I want I would have to go to the trouble of capturing him all over again." Waller moved over to the glass and placed her hand on it. "He really is a remarkable boy Batman. I found it hard to believe that he is completely non-meta until I ran his DNA myself. Imagine what a little gene modification could do for his abilities."
Bruce froze, remembering the incident with the Ultimen all too clearly. He knew exactly what Cadmus was capable of when it came to genetic modification and he knew that it was highly prone to disaster.
"Then cooperate with me Batman. When I have what I need I'll release your son to you."