If you haven't heard of Red, this might be a good time to read it. The events of this story take place ten days after the last chapter of Red, and move fast. Enjoy the guest perspective, because he's not coming back.
He lived on Greenwich Mean Time. It took more than two days to accustom himself to a new time zone, so he didn't. He kept his own hours until it was time for his job. He looked over the room a final time. The window was open and the screen was leaning against the wall. The bed had been pushed to the east wall and the middle-class suit he had worn while requesting a cheap room was hanging neatly in the closet. Rooms on the west side of the hotel had a view of the ocean. He wasn't staying in the pretentious low-class hotel for the beach.
2205 GMT. The scheduled speaker had yet to make an appearance onstage. A flash of metal at the back of the crowd-one of the Titans. A quick check with the scope showed a green pigeon overhead, flying near the back of the crowd. He already had seen two of the others, the alien and human, looking through the audience gathered to hear their new mayor speak about her plans for the term.
The fifth Titan wasn't important. His room had no balcony, but the window was the perfect height and looked over the stage. The podium was just off center from his window, and a steady easterly breeze barely tugged at the corners of a flag some patriotic-minded technician had placed near the center of the stage.
Everything he needed was packed. His cover name would be blown the instant he pulled the trigger but anonymity wasn't a necessity. He had four other drivers' licenses, each complete with social security numbers and memorized lists of facts. His supplier was nothing if not thorough, if only in false identification. His supplier's 'unbeatable' computer system had been tapped, and a transmission had been intercepted near Gotham.
2207 GMT. He was ready when the target finally arrived on the stage, but waited. The waving and sporadic handshakes made for an uncertain path, and he would have a clear shot in just another moment. Amateurs shot too early just as often as too late, and he was not an amateur.
He moved slowly. No one would see the sun glinting from black gunmetal, but the metahuman team that had beaten Rouge might have luck enough to see him in the dark room. The rifle's bipod rested gently on the window's sill, and the formed pad fit precisely against his cheek as he peered through the scope.
He didn't hear the target's opening remarks. Instead, he guided his aim from the target's tailored suit jacket. The seams showed just where he would find the heart... there. The speech was about to begin. His target stilled, as politicians that would go anywhere in a career would before such a speech. This one wouldn't go any farther.
2208 GMT. Checks for wind, angle, and distance passed through his mind, and he pulled the trigger. There was no sound. He didn't look back as he left for the room across the hall, with a balcony and a waiting escape route.
Deathstroke never missed.
Robin was behind the stage. By the time he made out the red rapidly staining Darcy Whittaker's jacket as she pitched forward, she was out of sight. A black shield surrounded her, even before the paparazzi still fiddling with cameras could flash.
"Cyborg, stay with Raven and let us know if you see anyone. Starfire, check around the back of the hotel. Changeling, find that room. I'll check the ground."
"Got it, Robin," Cyborg said.
Starfire was already behind the motel, and a falcon tore through the air. Robin glanced at the police officers near the scene in case of a riot. He should have been ready for something like this. The Brotherhood of Evil wanted the politician dead after an interview in the paper had harmed their business prospects.
"Check the lobby," Robin ordered two police officers, "and don't let anyone leave that hotel." He hadn't been sure that cops would take commands from him but they were already on the move.
"Raven, answer whenever you can," Cyborg said. "An ambulance is on the way. This was on a live news feed, so the dispatcher knew to have one on the way."
"Robin! Someone on a motorcycle is on the move, and is moving fast. I am following."
He saw her, a streak flying low in the sky. "Changeling."
"She flies faster than I do, Robin. I'm staying with the room. The cops are good, but I can give them some extra information. Most bloodhounds don't answer questions."
"Right. Good thinking, Changeling."
"He is going into a tunnel," Starfire warned seconds later. "I do believe that this is the man. I am close enough to see that he has a gun."
"Can you see any details? Better yet, point the communicator at him and set it to video."
"I am upon it," she said, voice muffled. A figure dressed in dark clothing had a pack fitting against his back. The gun slung over one shoulder was a PSG1; he was ninety percent certain, even in the brief glimpse before the assassin was illuminated from behind only with green.
"Did you see any other characteristics?"
"I saw his face only for a moment. It appeared that he had-"
Robin didn't understood the Tamaranean phrase that followed, and wasn't sure how it would be phonetically spelled. He was sure that it wasn't pleasant. He had noticed the same thing as Starfire. The assassin had used a maintenance door in the tunnel, and had soundly locked it from behind.
"That leads straight outside," Cyborg said after just a moment. "It's on city blueprints."
"I am going to finish traveling the tunnel," Starfire said. "It is shorter. I already can see light this way."
"Not your fault, Starfire," Robin said, guessing why she sounded tense. "He planned this. He had it planned from the hotel room he shot it from. How did he get out of the building?"
"I believe that he grabbed onto a device affixed to a cable that was fixed to the balcony."
Robin heard confirmation of that as the police called reports on their radios. "Yes, he did. Any sign of him?"
"None," Starfire said.
"Come on back, Starfire. We'll get him another time," Robin said. "Did you get any physical description?"
"He had a dark patch of cloth over one eye."
It was too early to make any assumptions. "I'll talk to Oracle later, but I have my guesses," he said. "Cyborg, anything suspicious from the crowd?"
"Nothing suspicious. They're just nervous."
"I caught a glimpse of him around back, as a falcon." Changeling had made an awkward landing, but there wasn't an easy way to make the transition from bird to human. "He's middle-aged male, and there's something wrong with him. I've never smelled anything like that before. Some chemical, maybe."
"We will find Darcy's killer," Starfire said, landing carefully. She had to be conscious of her strength. Flying was different, on this planet.
"We will find him," Robin said.
Raven stepped through a gap in the black shield. "Find the attempted killer," she corrected.
"You healed her?" Robin didn't mean to sound so surprised, but the blood had looked centered at the heart.
"She won't even have a scar," Raven confirmed. "The shot hit her heart, yes, but I've been holding energy back for the last week. There are few injuries that are instantly fatal. Ms. Whittaker is unconscious right now, but that's probably better. It's instinctive to resist healing that has to be that invasive."
"The ambulance is here," Cyborg said. "It's heading for the stage. Is that what you want?"
"I'm staying with her," Raven said. "I'll explain to the paramedics what happened and make sure that they don't have the wrong intentions."
"You're sure, Raven? You have mentioned healing takes a lot out of you."
"I'll be fine, Robin." She released the shield, but kept a barrier between Darcy and the audience. There still was a lot of blood and there still were children in the audience. She had been sitting in front of one. He had kicked her seat, and hadn't looked at all intimidated when a black-haired woman in mirrored sunglasses and khakis had asked him to stop.
She stood when the paramedics approached with a gurney, and slipped her sunglasses into her pocket. She glanced at the staring audience, wondering what she had expected. It was obvious by now that the press pass hanging around her neck was just for decoration, and only one Titan dealt with telekinesis and black constructs of energy. Hair dye didn't change that. She had hidden in the crowd on the off chance that something would go wrong, and had been in just the right spot.
She blocked most empathy and attempted to ignore the residual emotions. She left her hair in an uncharacteristic braid. It was easier, if there still was blood. The paramedics were ready. She nodded to her team, stepped into the enclosed space, and began to explain matters to very surprised paramedics.
She looked up at the accented words. White lab coat, stethoscope, name badge. "Dr. Oska. Did the paramedics give you the overview?"
"She was shot in the heart but is better now." Both eyebrows were raised, but his tone remained civil.
"Precisely," Raven said. "I was supposed to be incognito today during Ms. Whittaker's speech, but the assassination attempt was my cue. You have heard of the Titans?"
"You have sent civilians to my emergency room."
"And you have treated civilians with odd lacks of injuries," she said, refusing to react. "The latest was a young boy, I believe, big brown eyes. A car used as a projectile by an enterprising villain landed on his leg, two witnesses heard a loud crack, and there was plenty of blood. He had a bruise on his left arm."
"You had something to do with that?" His voice was no less gruff, but at least he might regain circulation in the fingers gripping his clipboard.
"Yes," she said. "I can heal. It's easiest for me to heal recent wounds, and I can't do anything with diseases. Healing more than a sprain right now would overreach my power reserves, I believe."
"The news shows only black and telekinesis."
"The news doesn't show everything, then," Raven said. "Ms. Whittaker is fine. Robin has already spoken with the head of the hospital. A Titan will be present with her at all times in addition to the police guards outside the doors."
"How much good are you as security, when you could not heal?"
"Enough," Raven said. "Healing takes much more energy than throwing various things around, or creating shields. Will that be all, Dr. Oska?"
"I will check for signs of malady when Ms. Whittaker is awake," he said.
Raven shrugged, and opened the book she hadn't been able to read earlier. She skimmed the text. She had read the book often enough that she didn't need to look at every line. She turned pages. The doctor prowled around the hospital bed and made notes on various readouts from equipment.
Raven noticed signs of consciousness first but she pretended to read her book. Dr. Oska seemed to think it was important to win some unspoken competition.
Dr. Oska glanced at Raven before he answered. "You were shot, Ms. Whittaker."
"I feel fine. How much morphine am I-isn't there supposed to be a morphine drip? Or some kind of IV?"
"Only if you need one," Raven said. It would be faster if she explained things. She tugged the tie from her hair. It was the same length, if the wrong color. "I was in the front row, as we discussed before the speech. An assassin known as Deathstroke shot you. The Brotherhood of Evil probably didn't like the interviews you gave to the newspaper." Raven kept her voice even. She didn't sound particularly warm, but people did listen to her without needing too much convincing.
"I don't know how I could ever repay you."
"That's not why I did it," Raven said. She heard her teammates, and used a piece of ribbon to mark her place in the book. "Good night, Ms. Whittaker, Dr. Oska." She could still fight if it was necessary, but sleep sounded like a much better option.
"Good evening, Darcy, and to the doctor. I will see you tomorrow, Raven," Starfire said.
"Tomorrow, Starfire," Raven agreed, looking to the other Titan. "Are you staying with Star?"
Changeling grinned at her. "After a save like that? You deserve an escort home, don't you think?"
"I don't need you to do that, Changeling."
"I'm flying back with you, Cyborg's giving you a ride, or you're finding a taxi. You healed a sniper rifle bullet to the heart. You get teammates fussing over you," he said, more seriously. "Good night, everybody."
"Do you really think you can keep up?" she asked, just before they reached the doorway. Darcy was in a secure room. Using those windows wouldn't be a good idea. Raven could move through walls, but the guards watching the room wouldn't be pleased.
"Do you really think racing's the way to go, Raven? Enjoy the night. It's beautiful out, the skies are clear…"
"Don't get used to it, but you just might be right," she said. Clear nights were rare in California.
"Of course I am," he said-just before he dove from the roof, and a falcon flew north, moving fast.
Raven half-smiled as she followed him. She should have guessed.