Young Justice Beyond #1
Volume 1. Story 1.
The Secret Arc

Notes:

-This article will be combined as four ongoing stories, one dealing with the team itself and the other stories dealing with the individual characters on their own adventures.

-This is an amalgamation of the comics continuity and the DCAU series 'Batman Beyond.'


"Todd, stay focused."

"Why must I? It's clear to the team that I'm a non-essential item. Why not send one of his civilian insiders to get this stuff? Doesn't he own the place?"

"All areas of the mission are essential."

"Can we be sure of such? It's at least clear to me that this is the area which is less likely to produce any life threatening incidents."

"Todd, stay focused."

The day was creeping into Gotham city but a light fog deflected much of the sunlight from reaching its earthly target; some faintly shines through glanced upon the glass panes of the outer architecture signalling the death of the lively atmosphere of the night preceding it. Soon, it'll be time for the people of the bat to retreat to their caves.

Nightwing was certain of his situation, a new comer to the night crew in Gotham he had grown accustomed to being assigned the more lighter sides of the city's criminal underworld if such a side existed. Wayne, at the very least, ensured that there was such a place for him. While Batman was spearheading his operation against the sonic super villain Shriek in the more seedier parts of Gotham and Batgirl was out chasing down Shrieks tech runners throughout the South east corner, Nightwing was acting watch on Paxton Powers whom Wayne had assured his troops is working closely with Shriek as his father likewise did since his breakout from Black Gate Penitentiary.

Gliding silently from building to building, Nightwing made a soft landing on the slanted glass panels of the top floor of Power's new base of operation. Looking for a place to hide, he clasped on to one of the one of for cement corner pillars that curved at their top points towards the inclination of the tilted glass pyramid.

"I think he's here, a light in the room on the other side of the floor just went on."

"Camouflage and microphone him, we need to know what he's up to in Gotham."

"Way ahead of you, this dreg is going down."

"Don't be seen!"

The Nightwing suit had undergone quite transformation since its former mantle holder, while much of its uniformity was maintained, this person was more than sufficient enough recognize the need to subtract some of the old and add some of the most essential of high tech items to become more distinct from his predecessor and the hero he answers too. He wore bulky grey boots that when full stretched nearly reached up the entirety of his shins, but lacking restraints to keep them there, the sidings fell down to his ankles making it seem as though the shear grip of the soles kept the boot from sliding off his feet. His gloves followed suit, holding the uniform grey that he wore over the standard Bat grade gloves but rather than hang loosely, they were firmly tied around his fore arms with a rather unsightly large circular bubble apparatuses on the outside of his forearms that seemed to carry something of importance. While the entirety of the leotard was of an offset black, the addition of colour came in the form the logo that fit firmly on his chest, a blue bird, its angular wings flapped out from side to side with a neck that produced two sharp like beaks signalling his position within the line of Nightwing holders. He placed a finger on one of the windows and instantly it shot up with lines of blue energy that coursed throughout his fingers like tiny threads but not without purpose, the ingenuity of this technology gave him the ability to hear through this meagre glass surface.

"Quickly..." a door opened, "we must move everything before Shriek gets in too deep with Batman. Grab the files of the Forward Computer while I delete the temporary files. We need to get away from here before we are attached to this horrible indecency the D.E.O. has gotten us into," the angry Paxton fired off as he efficiently made his way to his computer behind his long oak desk that sat directly in front of the door he was entering through. A slow brutish figure in a dark jacket followed in from behind him attempting to find the appropriate monitor that lined the large office room walls.

"He's brought company...big company. Must be on a hiring binge." Nightwing commented in a hushed tone.

"We need to know what he's deleting, is there any way you can get close enough to tap into the computers and trace the files?"

"Yeah, not without being seen," Nightwing stated, taking a moment to think, "What's the D.E.O.?"

"Accessing...It's a near defunct government operation. They've been studying meta-humans since the mid-nineties...most of whom were quite young...notified by the bat computer as a minimal threat today."

"What would Powers want with a bunch of super powered kids?"

"Irrelevant at this moment. If he's footing the bill for Shriek we need to be able to connect him. We may have no choice now…Intercept Powers and retrieve the files."

"Yeah, didn't get that far in the training manual," Nightwing continued in his bantering tone all while keeping a sharp eye on the happenings through the glass panelled roof of the office room, "don't think I'll have to do much work. They're leaving."

"The files Todd. Follow them."

"I'm going in."

"Where?"

"The office, duh." Nightwing placed the entirety of his fingers now on the glass panel that his finger had sat idly on. The hand quickly came to grasp the panel, sticking well enough for the young hero to pull it up easily on its hinges. Nightwing slipped into the dark office room and made his way to the forward computer on the main office desk previously occupied by Powers, "have to say that the computer education around these parts are quite minimal, I mean how to do you get away with sending all these copies?"

"What have you found."

"Exactly what...I think we're looking for? None of this has anything to do with Shriek." Brashly, Nightwing sifted through the computer files scrolling rapidly through each one, "All of this has something to do with the D.E.O. Man, this dreg is in deep...wait, do we got anything going on in Metro Town? Pretty much all the files on the top are linked to something that's happened there recently..."

"Accessing...There's a Wayne-Powers chemical research and storage facility there. Files indicate a cover up. What they were really working on...oh."

"What happened?"

"Upload those files to me; it appears you'll be working in Metro Town shortly."

"Schway..."


"I don't think I'll be liking this place."

"What's not to like?"

Vehicles had crammed onto the cold high rise cement highway in the early hours of the morning, they were busily moving quickly to and fro from the nearby city only gently clasping the road surface with their thin hoop like tires. With the advent of auto-control settings installed in every vehicle, the multitude of cars in their various makes and weight classed never came into contact with one another, saddling tight within the span of eight lanes that comprised the highway which itself was a near three stories from solid earth with exits down to it existing every few miles ahead of one another, becoming more and more dense as the approach to the major city was undertaken.

"I lived around here for a long time, used to patrol primarily around this area for some time when I wasn't on another planet, traversing several dimensions or..." his face crunched up in thought, "travelling through time..." he shook it off, "I can't seem to remember where I went only that I did. No matter, can't be expecting to get into all that yet."

With the destination found the slick dark green coated vehicle automatically manoeuvred itself to the farthest lane of the highway closest to the exit that led into the heart of the eastern bound city below. First focusing on the distant sun as it glowed, the boy sitting snugly in the passenger seat ruffled his decently short black hair to prevent himself from becoming less than the vanity he prided himself for. He became sharply saddened when the beauty of the sun as it gently rose to lit the street ahead disappeared when the manoeuvring of the vehicle down the exit ramp led to a new world of complex roads veering under the primary highway, "Still got me waiting for the call?" he questioned the driver through a weak voice.

"Yeah, it's not terribly unusual," the driver reassured him taking his eyes briefly from the road, "the guardians get quite busy sometimes when governing the safety of the universe. I've heard stories of some perspective lanterns waiting up to a month before getting a call up to Oa."

"A whole week with the most powerful weapon in the universe...we'll see about the time travelling Kyle."

"Probably be much longer since you stole the ring, the guardians look so pitifully upon even the smallest of crimes."

"I didn't steal it...!" the boy retorted with a sharp stern attitude, "I just happened to come across it...in the open...stuff," he mumbled off.

The vehicle headed into a large complex of buildings and houses that reached near ten stories high. The architecture represented a late twentieth century design though obviously reconstructed in a day and age when precious stones of a past time have been replaced with composite plastics. They were generally consistent with one another, fashioned with an overlay of dark radish like bricks that squared on every wall of the structure. There were several steps that lead up to the door ways, the old wooden kind with a heavy gold painted handle and a circular or square frame of glass in its centre that sparkled and radiated the particles of light that dare reach its pebble like formation; though this was most uncommon with the triangular roof top hanging overhead of the porch like platform where the doors awaited their opening. The aurora the buildings gave off was more or less a winter feeling, clasping to delicately cold colours of purple, white and blue with all its shades.

"It looks nice Kyle, it really does," a small dazed look swelled up on the boy's face as he saw the families and pet owners walk down the similar hard plastic sidewalks enjoying the day that was beginning to unfold. "But when I look at this, all of this, it seems so fake."

Kyle turned to take a look at his new young ward as the both now were looking at the community they were now inclined to join, "hopefully," Kyle said trying to cover up his remorse, "that feeling will die away with time. You just got to get to know people..."

"Perhaps," he said with his gaze never leaving the passing structures, "I don't want it too."

The nearly hovering vehicle Kyle was piloting came to a complete stop at one such of the familiar structures. It was built up in the same uniform as all the surrounding buildings but was seemingly produced to reach four floors making this strip of housing significantly smaller than all the others for the seemingly important purpose of making particular buildings made for a single owner.

"All our stuff should be inside," Kyle said has he was getting out of the vehicle, "we've got this whole one section to ourselves. Let's say we at least check it out and see if it fits our needs.

"As if we have a choice?" the mumbled groan came as the young ward jumped up from the passenger seat. He took his first couple of steps on the solid ground and with a less than eager pace followed Kyle up the steps to their new home. He was a boy of average height, could not be more than seventeen years of age at the most but unlike those of city fold that resided here, he was quite the muscular specimen, worked hard from years on the streets throughout his youth. With frizzled short black hair, crisp blue eyes, an angular chin line, and somewhat pale skin, he stood to mirror that of his older mentor Kyle Rayner whom had come to take him in upon coming across the ring that powered all members of the Green Lantern corps. He clung tightly to a dark green leather like jacket which had accentuated patched lines around the square regions of his shoulders and button up straps on the ledge of his sleeves that had been left open to reveal his forearms. He came to a sudden stop at the centre of the side walk and glanced upward to gather in the details of the structure he would be calling his new home pretty soon.

A black fence, with vertical square bars spaced half a foot from each other and carried spear like points at the end, surrounded the entirety of the front and squared the corner at the both ends of the sections it enclosed and reached back to connect to the sides of the house. As it was, the fence only existed after a near metre high wall of solid plastic cases, modelled to look like stones, were present making the gate even more the menacing being that their base was at his eye level. With several solid stone steps lined up at the centre of the building, the wall was divided and as such indented inward reaching towards the main structure thereby setting up the enclosure of two separate patches of grass on either side of the steps being carried above the rock barrier. Of the building itself, the brick overlay on the core construction appeared to be in its dim dark purple hue but in a very ruffled state with various degrees of circular cuts and scars being on the surface giving off a very distinct look. At either side of the centre of the building and ahead of the grass fields were large window panes that were gently shaded with a dark tint making view within impossible. Above the panes were a series of smaller windows lined up centre with the larger and at every floor interval. The roof was composed of a loose metal painted brown and was triangular in shape, running horizontal to the building as they saw it but with a particular strong additional triangular arch shape that mixed into the roof at the centre. The stone like wall gently grasped the sidewalk it faced and linked up with the other building structures panning out on either side of where the young man stood. Seeing this, most especially the points of the gate, further imposed the feeling of uniformity and collectively within his mind; if you enter, you will never leave.

He climbed up, one foot after the other, up the several steps that comprised the walkway to the big solid brownish door which carried on either side of its frame two narrow yellow window strips. "What's that?" His voice peaked up. Kyle, having already pushed upon the door to open it, narrowed his eyes to his belt line as he blindly walked into the building with his companion. A pager seemed to be blinking off on Kyle's belt. He took a quick look around in the small lobby area just inside the entrance way and then to the neighbouring apparent family room to their immediate left which contained black plastic boxes of various sizes filled to the brim with Kyle's things. Only one such box belonged to the young boy. The ground everywhere was a dark trimmed woods, narrow panels that laid flat against one another at various lengths. The living room appeared to be the largest room in the house having taken up a significant fraction of the ground floor, a white trim circled around the cumbersome entrance way inside which immediately contrasted with the blue palsy of the surrounding walls. Immediately in front of them was a long straight stairwell, kind of steep, with a white railing while immediately beside it was a small hallway that led to the back where he could make out white linoleum, a kitchen of sorts most likely.

Kyle was quite the muscular man himself however not through the conventional methods that had inflicted the boy, rather years in the Green Lantern Corps had hardened his body and sharpened his mind but perhaps it was a few years too many. The youthful figure that was Kyle when he had first been given the ring had been shattered, making way to a man in his mid-forties; wrinkled, bruised, scarred and black hair slipping away to a grey shade at the sides, nothing that could not be fixed with the latest hair chemicals of the time. It had been sometime since he had left the formal Lantern uniform, but now he had given into the casual wear of the time accepting straight pants and a simple collar shirt and silk laced jacket that hung loosely on his shoulders, opened at the chest, and hanging lowly at his sides. The Lantern whom stood as Earth's hero before him once told him that the only way out of the life of a Lantern is to die. And while he more than exceptionally should his words to be true, Kyle was determined to believe he could retire with his life intact and perhaps this boy could offer him an opportunity. He cuffed his hand around the square block on his belt and looked down at it.

"It's a call from the League," Kyle announced. He quickly took a look around attempting to locate all of his belongs he had shipped over the past few days ago, "Why don't you go check out your room, I'm a have to take this."

"Schway!" the boy stated with an unparallelled sarcastic voice as he pattered his way up the stairs immediately in front of entrance way. Thoughts of living in a full room crowded his immediate thoughts, but traces of the contents of Kyle's call became more prominent with every step he made upwards. "Coincidence or something else...all the rooms are painted green." He took a few steps into the room he assumed was his own. It was on the third floor which he, upon taking a good educated look, determined was as best suited for his living since there was plenty of living space and exit ways from which he could make his nightly escapes. A quick turn to peak upstairs to the fourth story revealed a single room which he assumed Kyle would possess since he would need to be in and out of the house through the roof more than he ever would. "Man, this place is wack." He returned to his new found room to take a better look around. He saw that all furnishings had already been placed out in an efficient matter, bed, desk, television set, "Kyle," He yelled back in a unusual tone, "This place is laid out like a bad television sitcom, how long you say you were working on this place?"

"Deryck," Kyle shyly responded, " I uh...I have to get going. I got some business I need to take care of."

"Great! can I come with?" Deryck shouted back his query.

"No, not this time, it's a little out of bounds for you at the moment," Kyle yelled back reaching to the stairwell, "just sit tight for a bit will ya? No ring outings till I get back, alright?"

A small dissatisfied frown reached Deryck's face acknowledging that Kyle may be gone longer than he is currently letting off, "Sure," he mumbled back.

"Ok." Kyle yelled back, "you can reach me through the communicator. It's on the kitchen counter...uh..." he paused in his concluding words, "goodbye for now."

"As if that'll ever get through," he muttered in response. Deryck had felt like this had happen to him all before, a sharp emotional depression grew his brain as he thought heavily upon Kyle, he looked around his new room. The bed, with its green blanket top, sat in the far left corner upon entering, the desk with its sharp steel like design was designated to the right side wall, its farthest ledge just short of the back wall, and the flat screen television was practically connected to the wall to the immediate left of the entrance thereby standing directly in front of the bed, sitting upon a simple silver shinning stand of sorts. He reached for the swivel chair from under the desk and dragged it along the wooden panel floors, "I can't just be doing nothing..."

Deryck came to a stop at the front of his green coated bed and leaned forward towards the television screen, reaching out a finger to tap the central blue button that sank at the bottom centre of the frame. He rapidly began flicking through the channels quickly coming to a pause of a national News station. Quick images flew by of what Deryck quickly ascertained to be the Justice League quickly jumping into battle with an alien intelligence that he had difficulty describing to himself "So I guess that's where Kyle is...and is that Batman? Hmm never seen him before, heh," he laughed the notion off, "probably a new addition."

"Although the Justice League is currently occupied, our sources however are currently being devoted to an incident in Metro-Town which has succumbed to what authorities are calling an accidental chemical fire."

"Sounds promising..." Deryck began to smile slowly as the newsman continued the story till its finale in one of the most serious tones he could possibly mumble.

"The apparent explosion has possibly trapped a hundred or more civilians in their homes for the time being or has no doubt forced eviction until the excess pollution can be safely contained. Authorities state that the possibility of a quick removal is unlikely and that with current resources available it may take up to a week to make the town hospitable again."

"People need help," he shook a fist, "and with Kyle and league busy with something of a more persistent matter, it only seems right that other expendable...expendable?...heroes like myself attempt to reconcile the situation regardless of the current laws imposed upon me...us?" a look of thought crept upon his face as he stood up and planted his right fist into his open left palm, "Who am I talking to?" he questioned as he threw away his hands, "I can justify breaking orders later, people need my help! Ring, lets suit up!"

The green ring with its lantern decal surface quickly sparked up with its green energy that expand around his arm forming bulky green gloves that left his fingers exposed and extended down his forearm ending off in unique shaped spikes that protruded off the side of his elbows. The green form quickly made its way down his torso leaving its mark; green shoulder pads, though only as such as imbedded in the costume itself, with centre metre thick hexagonal piece on the outside of his shoulders. Following in line with the hexagonal shape, upon his chest was a large green outline of the six sided shape awaiting something to fill it within. The ring continued its transformation with strong green boots that reached to just under his knee before extending upward into an angular four piece pad that capped the knee, they were surprisingly bulky but gave off the impression of being battle ready and regarded for its impeccable strength simply based off appearance. "Yeah this will do," he stated with some remote glee as the green mask lit up around his eyes, four triangular pieces jutting up and down on either side of his face, two pieces pulling down his cheeks and the other two up to his temples "I now carry on a legacy that everyone can trust!" he yelled excitingly as he quickly located the window to the ride of the desk. He quickly dashed towards it, working his hands onto the metal hinge piece on the side, pressing upon it till he could successfully slide the window across into the centre. He slowly began to rise up into the air, working his way towards the outside, "But can I even trust myself when I continue to decline in the world of insanity by talking to myself," speeding up, he had pushed upward to the sky diving towards the air as all heroes with flight capabilities did, "...the world must know!"


"Alright, what's the problem?"

"I'm bored...no room to stretch my legs...did all the others have this problem or am I a unique oddity? How did you pacify this urge?" the blonde haired speedster made pace marks in the floor, every indent finding the sole of his shoes a near thousand times. He was a tall specimen with a very loose muscular structure that made him kind of gangly, but this was quickly made up by his fleeting brown eyes and sharp smile laced overtop of a nearly squared off Jaw. He was young and bright but nonetheless impatient, a traveller that was not used to staying around for such a long extended period of time.

The young speedster was stretching his legs on a flat plateau of light wooden flavour plaques that smoothed into one another with a waxy coating, solid as best it could be. To his eastward direction, to his side, a step down from the plateau occurred giving way to a setup of plush green couches, sitting in a square formation around a tall spiralling rock made fire place save that the opening for the fire had been replaced with a flat television screen. The couch to his side was a long three person couch, its back side running along the single step down, whereas on either side were two single person couches, though by their sheer puffiness, it could be argued that more than just the one could easily squeeze in. Sitting on the farthest edge, the northern most side, of the three person couch was a particular individual who the young speedster had come to be thankful for being a part of this family of speedsters, though this may be for the single fact that separated him….

"Didn't exercise my right to the speed force for that long... you know it's hard to hear the TV with that rattling back and forth," he stated gently scratching away at his short black hair and ironing out his muscular stomach with both his paw like hands. He was a man of incredible finesse, and while never attempting to reach the speed of his friendly companion, he more than definitely made up for it with his over developed strength; though all such attributes we're deemed unsuitable in light of the man's incredible laziness always being in the victor's circle.

"Yeah, sorry sir."

His hand waved backwards towards the running boy behind him in a meaningful gesture, "no, don't call me sir, this isn't Petrol, Petrius or whatever that dwarf planet is that you are so terribly fond of," the man said with his gaze never turning away from to the television screen but taking the relative mundane action of waving as an opportunity to unfurl his arms on the top bar of the couch plush green couch, "Why not take a seat and let your mind waver uncontrollably into the world of..." he shook his head in a dissatisfied way, "whatever I'm watching?"

"It's Petrus."

"Isn't that the drama in space? This is some sort of reality TV show marathon about a bunch of shop girls."

"No, that's the planet I lived on," the blond haired boy glided around the end of the primary couch the man sat on and took a seat on the single cushioned matching couch adjacent to it, "and it's a micro-planet."

"I've already lost interest."

"You care so very much Jai," the boy sneered as he pointed out his hand at him in evident sarcasm.

"No, really I don't," he said carefree, never leaving the TV screen's phenomenal glow, "Remember, it's my sister who picked you up, I just feel compelled to help whenever I can."

"By the way, this is the last season."

"For what?"

"This show," he said re-pointing his finger at the television screen, "this is a particular favourite of cultural theorists in my home century; though you must explain to me, what's this fixation you all appear to have on the daily lives random inarticulate women, it's so infuriating..."

"Yeah, I've been told that before."

"Kind of makes all the people within your time seem so less evolved then you actually believe."

"Creatures of habit?" he shook his head once more in dissatisfaction, uncertain of the purpose in those words, "I didn't pay much attention in the education departments."

"Clearly."

Following a moment of watching, Jai suddenly grew tiresome of the television glow and took a look at his companion who sat with his head laid back against the headrest and hands stretched out on the holders as ready to fall asleep, "You know, we had this guy living here once from the twenty-ninth or thirtieth century...think he was your cousin or something strange...you guys ever meet in your time."

"twenty-eighth." He responded pulling his head to look at Jai.

"Nope, still sure it was the thirtieth." he said as he fell back in his chair to look back at the television.

"No, I'm from the 28th...and no, I've never met Bart."

"Eh what's this...?" Jai leaned in forward brings his hands down from the couch top to clasp together on top of his legs.

"What...?" Jace followed suit, curbing his head to take a look at the incoming information.

The occupants of the cumbersome living space placed their entirety of senses onto the screen absorbing every absolute detail that could be found in its glow. "The Justice League battling up in space?" Jace commented, "Looks like sis won't be home for a while."

"Ah come on." Jace quickly rattled around the room at a lightning speed and then sat down in his original position. "I've been sitting around all day."

"I know it's tough, but you're going to have to enjoy life like the normal people."

"I'm not a normal person Jai," Jace stood up at a surprisingly normal speed and decided to take a normal walk around the room instead, "I came here to learn. I've spent my life waiting for this and I haven't even been allowed to leave the house without her; why should I put up with this?"

Jai turned around from his position on the couch and looked up at Jace pacing once again behind him, "Jace, you are particularly special, but these things you want come in time, something none of the flashes seem to have learnt, not even the great one; they just have no patience. Why don't you master that and-"

"Hey what's that," an excited tone reached the end of Jace's lips as he jumped back to the upper plateau and planted his hands over top of the three person couch sharply leaning forward to learn of even further information on current events, "Something's happening in Metro Town."

"Yeah, that's great...people love the tragedy," Jai stated with disappointment as he reached for the television controller.

"It's only a tragedy if we allow it. With the justice league busy, it's a necessity that I do my part in their absence," Jace stated as he shook his hand at the television over the couch top.

"No, I pretty sure that some of them 'human beings' have gotten things under control."

"I'm a suit up and head over to a news agency and get some more information."

"Perhaps its best that you wait like Iris told you."

"Jai." Jace looked at him with wide eyes exposing his heavy heart, "People are in trouble."

"Yeah," Jai said as he stood up to look at the blonde brazen boy as he stood ready to run the latest marathon of heroics, "but what about your time paradox chart where all your actions and stuff, I didn't understand half of it, leads to your existence being withdrawn? And do you even really care?"

"The future of earth is never as it seems!" Jace brought up his right fist and looked deep at the mystical ring that sat around his finger, "It's time to fly," suddenly a scarlet and black suit catapulted from the inside of the golden ring flexing out into the full garment as Jace speedily jumped into it with ease. His feet became encased in hard shield boots fashionably furnished in a dark red that matched the triangular middle chest region that extended beyond his shoulders and down the outer region of his arms to his gloves. His gloves maintained the same universal flash colour but they meagrely reached beyond his wrists and were held tightly down by two thick black straps. As an offset black completed the remnants of his suit, that being leggings and the outer sides of his torso, the flash logo flexed and became fully realized on Jace's chest, the yellow rimmed circle with the black inside and finished off with the red lightning bolt.

"Never understood this affiliation with black,"

"Well you know what they say about white in this time," the speedster nodded, "it's the current evil."

To top off his uniform was the full scarlet cowl with goggle pieces that fit firmly around the outer bone structure of his eyes, "what I don't understand is all the other younger flashes letting their hair roam free; You've really fixed that stereo type. How is it possible that no one in a small town would notice that there is someone with the same flamboyant hair style as a local superhero?"

"Talk to Iris about it, I've always liked the full cowl; looks more mature." Jace stated as he shook his body a bit to get some flexibility, "I'll be back in a flash."


"Wow-chk" Nightwing stated while not only managing the sudden coughs that have over taken him but also trying to remain steady since the coughs resulting in the distorting movements in his feet, of crucial importance since the his boot's rocket boosters were indiscriminate when it came to being powered at full strength when it certainly wasn't wanted, "the air is nasty here and I haven't even reached the main hub of the city," a moment of static raised through, "Proxy? you hearing me?"

"Communications seem to be breaking down; I'm reading some heavy interference...?"

"I'm a try to get to some higher ground," Nightwing diverted his foot booster so he stood upright propelling himself vertically through and above the layered yellow smog which only seemed to dissipate in minuscule amounts as the ascent continued, "These buildings are smaller than I expected..." he spat out as he climbed up closely along a flat window side of a nearby building.

"You're coming in much better now."

"That's great, but I'm still not seeing anything...oh wait a second..." a clearing began to open up ahead. Within seconds he bolstered himself through the opening and almost immediately dropped his body to a horizontal stance so he flew just above the heavier smog below him. Arms spread out ahead, he propelled himself over the top of the building that he had just moments ago been flying upwards against, "Think I found an office building… can see it just barely above the thickness of the smog...must be the tallest structure in the city." Nightwing flew up a few feet more as he approached the designated structure which he set to noting as being rectangular in shape and being at least reaching twelve stories to be able to get its rooftop above. He proceeded to let his boosters fall through, retracting the blue wing like apparatuses under his arms simultaneously thereby allowing himself some support to glide down to the top structure, "agh, you'd figure there would be more efficient methods to build roofs than this slippery glass..." he fell down to his knees when his feet gave out on the slippery surface that comprised the roof, "I'm going to take a look down below."

Nightwing slowly rose to his feet and took a few steps forwards. He retracted his wings while he angrily began kicking his boots to the ground attempting to get a grip on the flat glassy surface. At the steep ledge of the building he took to one knee and attempted to take a good look at the ground below, "I'm not seeing anything, this gas is tragically heavy and who knows what dregs are lying dead out there."

"Perhaps I could be of assistance...whoa..." after the first few steps, Interval began to slip and slide on his feet before finally getting his grip on the surface by dropping on all fours just short of Nightwing's arch on the straight ledge, "what's with this century's people and their inefficient design plans?" Interval stuttered out as he attempted a careful walk to get to the ledge.

Nightwing took a quick glance back at his fellow young hero before returning to his complete fixation on the golden smog that covered the ground below, "Yeah, hello and everything," Nightwing replied sarcastically, his attention being returned entirely to the world covered below.

"I assume you're having some vision based issues?"

"Yeah, the infrared vision in my cowl is getting all distorted," Nightwing lifted himself up with his arms and shifted his legs to sit over the edge plopping down comfortably, "I'm not sure I can help anyone below, this is way outside of my moral comfort zone..." he said attempting to appear as one who people dying and the heroes unable to do anything."

"If it alleviates you at all," Interval said taking a knee to become on par with Nightwing, "I didn't see anyone coming in," he stared into the distance, "it's possible everyone's been evacuated," he said coldly.

Nightwing shifted his head upward to look at Interval, "How are you getting through this smog?"

"I'm just speeding up my arms to make some air currents," he stated as he pushed his arms forward ahead of Nightwing's field of vision, "at a high speed I can create a small wind vortex a few metres in front of me," the speedster sighed, "works better in enclosed spaces, out here though heavy smog just flows back in a matter of seconds...nearly ran into a park vehicle."

"Man, I wish I could have been there to take a picture..." Nightwing responded quietly in sarcastic edge.

"Hey," Interval looked across at Nightwing with puzzlement upon his lips, "can you hear that?"

"Is something big coming?" he responded looking up over his shoulder, passing the side where Interval was standing next to him.

Interval stood up took a short slippery walk to the ledge of the adjacent side to look at the side of the building zeroing in on an incoming storm that seemed to be the source of rumbling below, "looks like our help has arrived!" Interval smirked.

Nightwing took to a stand and moved in next to Interval, both of them watching the sky above as a loose green ball of energy hover in the air but was quickly taking in the distance between them. As it approached, it became plainly obvious that this was a humanoid figure of sorts with an applicable thick coat of green energy that wove around every facet of his body. He was floating more downward now with his right hand fully extended in front, protruding from it a thick beam of green that shot down to the covered street below. "Iota!," Interval shouted out to get over the loud grating noise that had taken its home within his ear.

"Eh what?" Iota responded turning his head to look at the top of the exposed office building while still maintaining his descent. He continued to push forward and was soon on par with the two other young heroes on the top of the building. They looked at him with their puzzlement pulling a tap along the young lanterns spine which jittered his legs. Just as his boots were beyond the trim of the building, he came to a pause and turned to face the other young heroes whom stood on top of there. He attempted a smile but it was quickly short lived when he saw the presence of the darkened Nightwing, his shoulders hunched.

"What are you making?" Interval continued to shout over the loud noise that continued to rumble from the ground upwards.

"A Fan!"

Nightwing stepped towards the edge of the building and peered his head over top when he came to notice a flurry of the darkened brown dust flutter away in large circular quantities bursting through the window sides and crossing through the dividing street lines. Interval followed suit, leaning as he did on his strong right leg, looking down at the dispersing smog which steadily grew further and further in development as Iota came closer. Their eyes quickly got on to particularly large item that scrapped along the street top, large shinning green propeller blades of sorts that circles at an intense speed that only Interval could keep his eyes on successfully for any period of time; five blades near the size of a building but just small enough to hold to its sway on the main street.

"What the...no, I don't think so," Iota seemed to be mumbling to himself. The connection beam from his arm to the blades of the fan suddenly severed as he reverted his descent, hovering now upwards above the rooftop and heading inward towards its centre. He took to landing on the glass like surface of the building. Nightwing and Interval watched with interest as the fan quickly began to dissipate into simple contour lines, a ghost of its former majestic fullness, "my rings mighty temperamental today, doesn't think I'm accomplishing anything with the fan...what's with this roof? It's so smooth..." he smiled in delight, "why don't they make all buildings with this glassy stuff?" He slid around on the surface with a strange happiness before deciding to produce sharp prongs on the soles of his boots, digging them deep into the roof surface for grip.

"Never mind that!" Interval said looking down at the relatively cleaned up street thanks to Iota's efforts. Below, the main road was near vacant; abandoned vehicles, the empty lobbies of the sidewalks immediately in front of the jammed up buildings which in themselves appeared more than empty with the absence of any clear light or power within, regardless, it still held up quite a strong sand storm of sorts that twisted and blended into the contour patterns of the wind. Something however, down below on this main street, didn't quite sit well with the logical thinking speedster whom clumped his hands into fists and bit down his lips.

"No, I want to know," Nightwing questioned interrupting Interval's discovery, "Why do you think this kind of roofing is efficient?"

"Efficient?" Iota questioned as he turned to face the expanse of his cleansing, "from where I was standing the glint of the sun really lit up the place; can't be that bad a place to work in side, the lighting must be just right and it's all natural...that's efficient right?"

"Alright, the roof is fine," Interval said standing up, "but quickly come and take a look at this before the smog sneaks its way back into the middle of the city."

"Great..." Nightwing sighed as he stretched his legs out before pulling them side to side, placing his hands on his knee cap allowing for him lean in to get a good look at the a distant roadway that some smog had exited from during the Iota's cleansing, "a bunch of dregs in white hazmat suits...remember when these guys were the stuff of legend and myth?" He glanced up to Interval.

"It appears they're looking for something," Iota said with a smile. The teen lantern approached the ledge, standing off to Nightwing's side whom leaned down centre of the two other teen heroes. He placed his hands on his waists and continue with the smirk as he examined the hazmat clad figures below, "perhaps a good time to show them what I can do."

"You?" Nightwing stated loudly while turning to glare at Iota.

"Hold up, lets first figure out what-" Interval began to say trailing off into silence as both Iota and Nightwing made the heavenly drop to the ground in hopes of being the first to get their hands filled with acts of heroism. "Perhaps we can discuss the ethics and morals of teamwork when we become better aware of our collective strengths and weaknesses and...I'm coming..." Interval took a jump off the glass surface and connected to the side of the building running at full strength to catch up with the heroes who had gently descended to the earth in their most familiar style. Upon getting close to his accomplices, he found that Nightwing and Iota had already introduced themselves, facing a tall man in a giant white full body hazmat suit with the only abstraction being a square transparent panel on a rather robust box of a cowl which allowed for the pale straight edged face of the human flesh within to become visible, "hey guys, what's with you young people in this generation?"

"What appears to be the issue? Can I help? Ignore these guys these amateurs! I once worked with Batman," Nightwing began spitting out gaining the attention the white hazmat suited gentlemen.

"No, no, I'm the real hero here, part of an inter-galactic order of policemen." Iota responded strongly with enough enthusiasm to back up his rather dry lie statement, "if there is someone who you could call upon for help, it would most definitely be me."

Interval shook his head in disgust. The man in the hazmat suit seemed unamused, never seemingly moving towards any expression, his vision obscured by addition of black tinted goggles tied firmly to face. "Alright hold up guys," Interval jumped in with a calm and matured voice, "I'm Interval, these two are my fellow heroes Nightwing and Iota."

"Me."

"That's me."

"Is there any way that we can be of assistance?" Interval continued. The hazmat wearing gentlemen stood motionless for a few moments seemingly staring down the boys who began to slowly wobble at the knees simply from the eeriness of the situation. Taking a charge in amongst them, Interval continued, "may I ask whom we are addressing?"

The motionless stare continued, though no special attention was first placed upon the face of the hazmat man, the boys began to realize the absolute purity of the man's complexion, white and without wrinkles, no visible discriminatory marks of any kind. Suddenly and without warning, the man turned around to face a large parked van behind him, his mouth opened ready to blurt out the intrusive dialogue in a booming base, "We have company!"

"Company? Where?" Nightwing shouted as he shifted himself into a position prepared to go into battle.

"I think he means us man, stand down." Iota assured Nightwing over his shoulder. Within a minute the boys found themselves surround by a near dozen other men in hazmat suits all speckled with the same black tinted goggles and near perfect pale complexions.

"Dude, I think these things are ghosts!" Nightwing stated collapsing to his knees and clasping his hands to this mouth.

"Ghosts don't exist!" Iota was quick to respond, "stand up and make yourself presentable, we ain't going down without a proper fight."

"How do you know?" Nightwing said regaining his composure and pushed himself up against Iota attempting to appear menacing. The small three man crew of teen heroes formed a loose triangular shape at the centre of the street, all aiming down towards a handful of hazmat wearing creeps whom were approaching them at a sluggish pace.

"No, the question is how you can believe in all that nonsense!" Iota retorted.

"Enough! We can argue this later." Interval said spreading his arms to his sides as if to say to his fellow heroes to calm down. One of the hazmat suit wearing person, whom was more reasonably smaller and stockier passed by the first hazmat wearing ghost and made his appearance up front and faced the boys with a smile. While he too had the black tinted goggles firmly in the proper position, his face was significantly more so aged and less perfect than all the similar looking individuals surrounding them. For Interval, he seemed much more human. "To whom am I addressing?"

"I am professor Isaiah Esau of the Department of Extra-Normal Operations..." he stated with a hint of an old English accent, "perhaps better known within your community as simply the D.E.O."

"Yeah, I knew these guys looked familiar." Nightwing stated now crossing his arms and sporting a mild smirk. He relinquished his fighter stance, turning instead to one of relaxation as he turned back to face the arrival of the professor along with Iota.

"Yeah, could have fooled us," Iota said slapping Nightwing's arm causing him to jump a little out of fright, a sneer coming across his face.

"As much as it pains me to say this to you all in particular," the older hazmat gentlemen began, "but I believe the incident that has occurred here is partly our responsibility"

"How so?" Nightwing questioned taking the front of the questioning, "are you saying that this was no simple chemical plant malfunction?"

"Not exactly," Esau responded in a seldom used monotone, "it's a bit of a mess that we hoped we could keep quiet, but now that your assistance could be used to the benefit of both our parties, then I suppose I ask for your services," he finished by crossing his arms signifying to the boys his absolute authority in the situation, "and let me just how thrilled we would be with some of this world's finest youth's working this case."

"I'm not sure," Nightwing hesitated, "from what I understand the D.E.O has always been somewhat hostile to the hero community…you guys like want something else than just some helping hands in the clean up?"

"It's some sort of a PR grab." Iota interrupted, "by working closely with the young heroes you guys think you might be able to invoke some good graces with the big ones."

The man then began to smile and brought his hands up to his chest to grab one another at the centre, "perhaps then it is not as easy to pass our intentions past even the most 'simple' of young people."

"I'm sorry," Nightwing stated while raising his hand ready to ask a question, "but did anyone else see him stare at me?"

"I confide in you boys now with respect to the responsibility you must then undertake," the man stated solemnly.

"You've put lives in danger," Interval retorted with an outright tinge of anger.

"I assure you that all people in the area have been properly evacuated and know nothing of the true current situation."

"Just be straight," Iota bumped in, "what's the problem."

"The chemical storage facility that the media has declared as the source of the problem is essentially just a front for one of our more seedier operations," Esau took a moment to swallow then continued, "while we do indeed work with chemicals as the public believes it as such but there are also other things to which we have been doing so perfectly that we have elude the attention of the public eye."

"And these are..." Nightwing started tailing off with a questioning glare.

"Meta-experimentation," Esau was quick to growl staring down all the boys, "It's not exactly a moral accepted practice, but we believe that such experiments have provided millions in medical research. Our only intent was to ensure human survival."

"In the event that people like us choose that you're no longer relevant..." Interval stated.

"Always comes back to money...survival's just the decoy," Iota shrugged looking anywhere but the D.E.O agents around him.

"You guys don't seem very human to me; experimentation on anything living just seems... inhuman." Nightwing stated attempting to find his roots of authority over the D.E.O figures.

"Regardless of your opinion, we are in a situation that needs the utmost attention," Esau continue, "One of the entities in our possessions, as we can assume it to have limited logical thought, has managed to escape the facility and seemingly in the process generated this smog that currently has enveloped Metro-Town" he gestured his hands upwards to the sky with open palms, "the smog itself appears not to be immediately hazardous, we're still analyzing its compounds based off of the stock in the facility...but don't stand in it too long."

"I imagine you're having difficulty finding the creature?" Interval questioned now noticing the smog creeping back down the streets and into the city section Iota was clearing out.

"Indeed, it's been eluding us since the moment we arrived. We're attempting to make our way to the main facility but we're still experiencing some difficulties in moving our equipment." With a flick of his raised hand, Esau had ordered the D.E.O troops to disperse and leave to continue their hunt for the creature, "I must warn you of this creature, it is highly volatile, quite capable of changing its composition to more hazardous substances than just this smog...we have some great concern for the lives of our agents."

"Where can we find it?" Nightwing pleaded for the man's attention on him.

"Hmm," Esau started, "You accept then. It would probably be best to try the main facility first, the emanating smog seems to be deflecting off of the building and into the atmosphere and it's likely that the creature is responsible for this strange affect. In the meantime, my men and I will continue the analyzing of this smog," he raised a single hand just in front of his face and waved it slowly back and forth in front of his plain of vision, "It would appear that its coming back, I suggest you make your move while you can before the smog becomes so thick that your abilities would no longer be effective." As the boys turned to make their move towards the facility down the road they were blocked by a hazmat D.E.O agent who used both his hands to carry a decent sized glass cylinder like device that looked like a large vitamin capsule. "You'll probably need this to capture it…it should contain the creature. We have no intent to harm it if that is such a possible, if not, I'm certain that heroes such as yourselves can act at your own discretion. Be careful," he coldly continued.

Iota took hold of the cylinder with both his hands and took a look at his two new companions, "Alright!" Nightwing exclaimed stepping forward and mashing his left fist into the open palm of his right hand which he proceeded to squeeze gently, "let's make our move out!"


"What do you think this stuff is?" Nightwing began while walking with his two companions down the city where its monolithic structures, crevices and general population had become unknown in the thick atmosphere of golden shinning smog, "I bet you it's that ectoplasm stuff," he raised a hand to his chin and rubbed it lightly.

"Ok!" Iota face palmed his left hand to his head then threw it back down in disgust, "There are no such things as ghosts and by association there is no ectoplasm."

"Seriously man!" Nightwing turned to look at him, waving his right index finger with some strong anger behind it, "how do you know?" he abruptly dropped his hand and hunched up his shoulders to neck height, heavily planting step after step against the tar black ground of the road in the direction they were headed anyway. He threw both his hands into the air when had gained some significant distance ahead of his companions, "bet they've captured a ghost and they've been experimenting on the undead for years!" his trudging quickly turned into an outright run; however it was short lived as a result of some strange thoughts and emotions crowding his head causing him to drop to his knees in a defiant stop.

"Both your arguments exert great flaws," Interval stated focusing intently on the road beyond Nightwing's slumping body, taking quick glances at the flat glassy buildings, "there are more important things going on that could use our attention."

After a few steps down the road towards the main chemical facility Interval came to a stop. "What's wrong?" Nightwing asked when the Interval, along with Iota, came to a stop beside him. He quickly rose up from his position and analyzed the coughing of the speedster.

"It's coming in faster now, any chance you can blow us another path...cukk...I'm starting to have some breathing problems and I don't think running at high speeds will make it any better, just too dangerous..." Interval stuttered to get out as he rose a hand to his mouth.

"Hey, no problem." Nightwing reached into a slot in his utility belt and pulled from it a transparent triangular mouth piece that extended upwards to the nose and was weighted down at the chin by a small cylinder device. "put this on."

"What is it," interval asked as he gently placed the device on his mouth feeling it suction onto his nose and chin almost instantly

"It's some sort of breathing device," Nightwing proceeded to pull another from his belt and put it over his own mouth and waited for it start suctioning on to his face, "Its suppose to convert all the poison into something breathable...seems to be working yes?"

"Indeed," Interval sternly responded, dropping his hand from the piece once he felt that it had tightly been sucked onto his otherwise exposed mouth and nostrils.

"That's all fail." Iota said with his pride in full swing, "my ring keeps me safe from harm," he said raising his ring hand and allowing the green lightning to sparkle in what minimal light the upper sky provided through the overwhelming clouds.

"Great good for you. How's it feeling today? Jealous? Does it miss its friends on the planet of the rings?" Nightwing said with malice as he headed off in the direction the facility was purported to be in, "What else could be down this way?"

"Should be the town centre and then on the other side of that the main facility," Interval began to state, "The visibility is falling apart," Interval raised his hand and began twirling it at a hyper accelerated speed. Seeing the impending doom of twisting whirl winds, Nightwing dove out of the way and watched from his crumpled state at the resulting pushing of the smog but only to a limited affect, "Iota any way you could extend this distance of the wind? My speed just isn't packing the punch."

"Pack-a-Punch!" Nightwing exclaimed with accentuated syllables as he got behind Interval to take a look ahead watching the wake of the smog move away to making a clear path to what appeared to be a circular disk with a smaller bowl shaped object raised a foot above it in the centre, "Hmm, that looks like a fountain..."

"Yeah, I'm working on it," Iota took a long stare at his ring, "come on, don't let me down," he seemingly whispered to his ring hoping that its emotional core would see the urgency of the situation and work to fullest.

Several smaller versions of the large fan appeared in a row across the road and along the line that was formed by the teen heroes standing side by side. Nightwing and Interval both became excited as the smog started rapidly moving away to the sides resulting in the clarity of grounded fountain like object ahead. Six fans worked at full strength allowing Interval to relax himself somewhat, relieved that he could still back up his boasting. With the smog having dissipated away from the fountain, he could not help but voice his pleasure with a humbled words that failed to be recognizable through his still strong arrogant tone, "that should hold it back for a bit, what we seeing?"

"The fountain...its dry," Nightwing stated as he ran up to its stone circular edge and leaned to look inside, "Money!" he excitedly shouted as he pressed his hands against the inner rung of the fountain, scratching away at the long obsolete metal made coins.

Interval and Iota began to move up to take a good look also, "Its glass like," Iota said looking over his shoulder at Interval who was also looking into the fountain with a shocked expression. Nightwing pulled away from the fountain with a moan upon realizing that the coins, seemingly encased in the glassy substance, would be impossible to get to short of blowing up the fountain.

"That's just a little strange," Interval began, "do any of you know what the weather was like around here yesterday?"

"Yeah, hold on," Nightwing stated turning away from the fountain and taking a few paces away from the group for some privacy, "Proxy, can you hook me up with the weather in this area for the past little while?"

"Who do you think he's talking to?" Iota questioned Interval.

"The Bat-gods?" Interval said. His gaze began to shift away from his companions and began to focus upon the surface that had formed in the inner fountain.

"What are you thinking val?" Iota stated taking a seat on the edge of the fountain.

"Well, if Nightwing can confirm the weather, my theory may actually just come to light," Interval placed up his right foot on the ledge and leaned in to take a more complex look at the thick glassy substance.

"Yeah, I got something" Nightwing said as he returned to the group, "It was raining heavily for the last three days."

"Well then it all makes sense!" Interval exclaimed, pulling his foot down from the ledge and waving his hands out to his sides.

"Ok, I hate it when people do that...it forces me to think." Nightwing stated as he took a seat on the edge of the fountain with Iota.

"Its water...look at the buildings, the roofs, this fountain..."

"I know I usually understand you, but now you're actually beginning to lose me," Iota said attempting to get into the conversation.

"It's water! The glass is water." Interval said dryly.

"How exactly does this help us?" Nightwing asked knowing that with even hours of thought, no logic would be likely to extrude from his conscience.

"It's the reason why all the water has dried up from the fountain and why all the buildings and surfaces are all slippery and glass like, the composition of the smog is changing the composition of the water so we end up with this hard shiny layer of glass."

"Still not helping me see everything..."

"Well, we could probably be able to eliminate all this smog with a good rainstorm."

"Probably won't take to long for the D.E.O guys to figure this out," Iota said reassuringly.

"Won't that just make a giant sheet of glass in the air or like create a massive hail storm?" Nightwing said assuming his now standard questioning tone.

"Yes..." Interval stated looking for a moment to think, "Not sure we could prevent that, in any case, I don't see there being much evaporation getting past these dark clouds. I mean, why do people always expect that we'll have solved every single problem by the end of every story?"

"OK great, we found a way to save the city and destroy it at the same time, what exactly can we learn from this?" Nightwing inquisitively asked bringing his left hand to his chin as if to extrude that he actually cared about the answer.

"Well," Interval said while distancing himself from the group looking down at his large boots, "If the creature we're after is really the source of this smog, or at least shares some fundamental composition with it, then we may be able to use some water to eliminate it."

"You don't seem too thrilled about it," Iota said letting the cylinder free fall in one hand holding off to the side.

"Well, we don't know what we're dealing with, for all we know water could kill it, but it might be all we've got going for us...besides I don't see where we'll be getting water in this dried up hole of a place."

"I'm sure our collective minds will think of something," Iota chimed in with his support.

"As water is the source of life and as such it should be the source of un-life!" Nightwing stated seemingly being ignorant of the conversation that had just taken place.

"What?" Interval said switching to the inquisitive tone normally suited to Nightwing.

"How fortunate that someone like me exists and that I know people like you that can do all this weird science thinking for me so that I can better focus on bringing the dregs of the world too justice!"

"Thanks Nightwing, I'm a make a bumper sticker of that statement as soon as we're done here!" Iota sarcastically responded.

"Cassie always said my words would be remembered," Nightwing said, ignorant of the sarcasm protruding from Iota's mouth.

"The smog is seeping in again," Interval intruded, "let's get to facility, the agency listing showed it beyond the town hall. Let's see what we can dig up." Interval immediately began to start walking in the direction of where the town hall was, the smog already creating a light layer that made the view of the once majestic white pillars at the front of the classical building appear as though it were decaying with the advent of yellow plaque.


"Wow, this place is just shocking!" Nightwing shouted upon reaching the wide concrete steps of the chemical storage facility.

"I don't know," Iota chimed in, "looks like all pretty much like all the other buildings with all this glassy texture."

"No, no, it's half past three," Nightwing started up, he nodded his head and caught under the glares of his two fellow teen heroes which he shrugged off to his back side, "that means we've been walking for less than five minutes..." he turned abruptly and stared at Interval with wide eyes, "you know since I started reading all this text..."

"This breathing apparatus is getting too tight; I can feel my nose dying." Interval stated with some detachment, "let's quickly figure out what we're dealing with so I can breathe some fresh air." Interval pointed towards the entrance, "There, I can see the door looks like the outer lobby walls are giving it some clear coverage. Iota can you clear away all this excess stuff so we can move in?"

"I'm on it," and just like that the green three prong fans made their reappearances ahead of them and quickly acted to create a pathway up the wide angled facility stairs. Despite the hindrance of the heavy smog above, the boys were able to make out the bleak grey colour of the building that stood as a single story box with its sides seemingly running off infinitely into the distance on account of the ends being stifled from view by the intense smog which of itself blocked off all other structures around them which made the appearance, the clarity, of this particular building up ahead. With the dropping of Iota's fans, the three found themselves focussing upon the bustling smoke streams that seemed to bounce along an invisible wall that held up around this front piece of the building. The front of the building was quite a straight edge; however, there was quite the indentation where the boys were headed, where it was clear under the meagre rooftop. Their line of vision led them up from the long lane of stairs towards four steel block like doors that were just begging to be opened.

Interval took some steady quick steps up the stair, a questioning puzzlement in his eyes as he analyzed the under areas of the outer lobby. Iota stayed along the ground with his own puzzling glare being infatuated with the skies above while Nightwing stood on the first step, head tilted, and postulated the speedster's sudden stop, "find something?"

"Hmm…there's no smog in this area," Interval obliged to the question

"What's wrong?" Iota asked catching up to the outer lobby area just before the door. Nightwing likewise followed suit and stepped up the steps at a heightened pace. All three came to stand under the overhanging roof and found themselves somewhat relieved now that the smog which had blinded them for most of their journey was for the most part gone, all particles just seemingly having dispersed away magically.

"These stone walls shouldn't be doing this good a job keeping the smog out and yet," Interval concluded, "there's none here," he hurriedly pulled away his breathing mask, snapping its suction and handing it off to its original owner Nightwing, "not a bit."

"Yeah, my sensors aren't even getting any trace readings..." he Nightwing hunched an eyebrow as he accepted his handed out device from Interval, "not from in here...but what's in here?" Nightwing sharply turned towards the doors as he retracted the apparatus from his mouth.

"It's a good question," Iota noted.

"Alright," Interval took to command, "let's take a look inside and see if we can find anything related to the smog…if this absence here is any indicator it could mean that the creature responsible is working out of here, maybe its blocking its off somehow."

"Yeah," Nightwing slowly slurred out as he made a dash ahead of his companions to the door, leaping one of the centred ones with enough force to cause its metal composition to bounce out a thud sound.

Interval and Iota followed their light minded companion to the multiple steel doors. Nightwing took to one knee, retracted a silver lined key from the tip his index finger with a smile, and angrily attempted to try to pick away at the circular lock piece just below the square handle piece. Iota, impatient as he always was, walked passed by the crouched bat-boy and simply grasped the handle and pulled accordingly to make it open. Interval followed Iota shortly, head shaking slight in dissatisfaction as he passed by Nightwing whom stayed on the floor waiting for the two of them to make their way in before he would follow, "my way is cooler."

"It's kind of dark," Nightwing stated, "but No worries," he peaked with excitement, "I got a flash light in one of these pockets," he continued with his hands working harder on the built in utility containers around his waist, rummaging with the hope that he would at some point come across the flashlight in his belt.

Interval and Iota stood rather ignorant of the bat-boys attempts to make himself appear useful, instead they were focussed upon the image ahead that engrained itself in their eyes. The hallway ahead was rather lengthy in its perception, carrying over the bleak grey cement imaging of the outdoors along the sides with several door sized indentations that presumably lead into rooms, but of keen interest was the illuminated entrance way at the end, a bright light shining through an opening that was at least two door sizes wide sitting centre of the wall. "You can put that away the moment you find it," Interval commented, "kind of bright over there."

"Do not walk towards the bright light," Nightwing stated in a cheerfully eerie voice as he lifted his arms with the ends of his hands aimed down and walked towards the light in a pale imitation of a zombie. Interval and Iota nodded towards one another and began to follow their friend.

"So what you think's behind the door?" Nightwing stated as the group came to a stop a short two metres outside the door that emanated the bright light, "let's take a look inside," he said as he proceeded to dash up to the evidently glass door and rub up his hands along it and pulling his head up close enough to peer inside.

"Hey?" Iota exclaimed, "did you hear that?"

"Rumbling?" Interval beckoned with a shocked facial gesture. He brought his head up slowly to look upwards at the ceiling above, a sheet of metal that was seemingly being hammered against on the other side, "it's coming from above," he concluded drawing the attention of his colleagues to look upwards as well.

Nightwing never quite dropped his grasp from the door, instead letting them slide down somewhat as his head pivoted on over his shoulder to look back and above, looking for the source of the persistent rumbling and contorting of the metal plate. "Perhaps some of the pipes are in need of some repairs..." he said in a mild intellectual tone. Suddenly he pulled his head back to the door and peaked up in his common cheer filled voice, "come on lets open the door!"

"No wait!" Interval shouted as he reached his right hand out to grab Nightwing shoulder but even with his super speed in hand he was unable to prevent the bat-boy from sliding one of the panel glass doors into its wall slot.

A sudden explosion of broken concrete chunk blew out from one side of the hallway and shot out from its cracks a golden gaseous form, composed of much similar compounds as the outside smog, which quickly encapsulated quite far back green glowing Iota taking him into the other side at enough force to bust through the solid wall but with a much greater immensity in volume. "I haven't even opened it yet!" Nightwing coldly shouted over his shoulder as he pulled his arms down from the clearly unmoved door. He turned sharply to take a look at the massive small cracked like hole within one of the walls and followed the pathway formed by dust clouds to the large mess of the much larger hole within the opposing wall. When the rubble had reached its final resting place on the floor it was quite immediately recognized that a significant portion of the wall had collapsed where Iota had been torn through. The two heroes stepped towards the opening and peered their heads in to take a look finding there to be a large set up lab equipment, but more importantly another significant hole in the wall ahead, "You think he went that way?"

Iota found himself surrounded in a cleft of dust being carried some distance through concrete wall after concrete wall, "Ouuu...For...Ahhh...Sakes..." he shouted through barred teeth as he began clawing rapidly at the intangible force of dust and fog that engulfed him, propelling him without discrimination. The intensity of his glowing emerald shield grew in intensity as he attempted to fly out. When his attempts to do so were stunted, he immediately resorted to flashing out some laser grade ammunition which simply blew out of foggy force resulting in the sound of breaking rock, the walls where the laser presumably landed. It was not long till he had found his acquired ring abilities be futile in breaking free from the force that carried him, but he was not ready to give up the fight just yet resulting instead to physical tactics, stretching out his limbs searching out for the solidarity within the cloud, the piece that held him attached within it. He somehow found himself able to get his head free but before he could get a good look at his tormentor all he could see was another wall ahead, "Is that steel?"

A large 'donk' sound made its way through out the facility, the source of which was only known by the teen hero whom collided into a solid steel wall. Iota slumped to ground, the subjectivity of his tormentor leaving him to soak in his wounds and take a mandatory rest, "OK..." he said with a grunt while he flipped over onto his back, head leaned up against the wall he had crashed into. He looked up and saw the smallest of indents in the wall where his head had collided, thankful no doubt that his emerald shield kept him safe from serious injury, "that hurt. Groan..." he unmistakably grovelled.

"It's some sort of gaseous creature...probably composed of the same stuff outside…interesting!" Interval stated with absolute fascination. The speedster began to take some small steps back towards the bright shining door where Nightwing stood backside against it. And while he stepped, he never once took his eyes off the dark cream coloured cloud that floated towards them at the other end of the hallway near the entrance where they first started.

"Let's try not to stare to long at it...ghosts always kill the living if you stare at them!" Nightwing said as he felt the open palms of his hands against the glass door feeling the suction that was induced by it.

"Nightwing," Interval tilted his head slightly to his colleague, eyes still focused on the creature, "get into one of the labs and see if you can get some water, it's our best bet."

"What are you going to be doing?"

"I'm a try to hold it off," Interval said picking up the clear large canister that Iota had dropped after he was attacked. He pulled up with both his hands and crouched slowly, placing the it safely on its side against the glass door, "I'll buy you some time..."

"Yeah, no reason to worry about Iota then I guess." Nightwing said as he began a steady side step against the wall, reaching towards the nearest lab door a couple metres back down the hallway, "good green-boy can take care of himself," he suddenly disappeared into the small indentation, pulling away at the solid steel door and sliding carefully into the lab room, his last part being his head as it glanced towards Interval and down to the approaching monstrous cloud. With a quick smile, he was in the room.

"Alright, I know you must be scared," Interval stepped forward reaching out with a friendly hand, "I don't mean you any harm we just want to know what has happened here..." he retracted himself, dropping solidly on both soles of his feet and letting his hands fall loosely to his sides. He became frighteningly puzzled by the creature's appearance, "can you speak to me?" he stated suggestively but clearly uncertain of himself as sweat began to dribble down from his hair and soak into his goggles.

Interval began to take some heavy breaths when the gaseous entity came to as sudden stop ten paces out of reach from him. The gaseous state of the creature began to shift, growing into a rather humanoid form. First stretching out from its core was two dark grey arms along with a spherical head piece. The core piece began to fashion into a solid chest plate that appeared much darker than the cream part, reaching towards a near metallic like armour which grew upward creeping along the neck forming triangular bars over the head. "Not particularly liking your formation..." Interval said under clenched teeth, maintaining a monotone; much too frightened to reveal his fear. Doubt in his ability to communicate quickly began to overcome his rational thinking, topping to a peak when he found that he had backed up to the glass door. As he looked at the creature head, it began to form golden circular eyes which protruded from between cracks in the plated armour that had encapsulated his face head; horns coming from off the corner sides of forehead, aiming with their sharp points to the ceiling above generating a mood of hate that Interval was not to particular fond of.

Following one last heavy breath, Interval reasserted himself with a strong step forward and assuming a commanding no nonsense tone, "last of my warnings, who are you?" It was the last words of his honest cause for communication, but his warning went unheeded as the creature continued to pan down on him.

The plates over what would be considered the mouth began to slide opening to a deep black hole, an infinite looking gap in the space of the creature's entirety. A loud moan began to creep out from its hole; dust now seemingly exiting from every angle of the beast: "You...KNOW HIM!" The creature raised its head as high as it could reach, just tapping onto the ceiling. Its arms became larger in its muscular girth and stretched out longer to touch the ground. The hands at the end protruded three finger claws which were nearly a foot long and drag along the floor, tearing away at the first layer of concrete.

Interval heart steadily began to pump harder as fear with a mixed sense of confusion quickly took its hold, "I know...a lot of people..." he stuttered to get out as a question.

"I WILL...DESTROY!" the creature moaned puffing up its chest to become more fearsome and bellowing a continuous stream of the illustrious gold dust.

"Don't come any closer..." Interval stated regaining his sharp edge. As the beast grew closer Interval felt he had no choice but to throw out his arm and slowly begin to turn it, "enough warnings," the twisting of his arm quickly went to an unimaginable speed creating a mini-vortex of wind that quickly sped down the hallway corridor bashing into the creature just as it saw it's opportunity to lunge at the lone hero. The wind of the vortex quickly over took the creature, blowing away its metallic looking armour like it was never solid to begin with.

Interval slowed to a complete stop once the creature had seemingly disappeared through the cracks in the concrete walls. After taking a moment to contemplate the situation he became startled to hear the familiar rattling noise occurring nearby. He took a few steps back towards the building entrance way, stepping over top of the broken concrete mounds that formed from the explosions. He took a look through the holes in the wall that Iota had unwillingly formed moments earlier then looked down towards the door that Nightwing had gone through, "Nightwing? You got that water?" he said with a bit of shock escaping his face, believing the more than often confused bat-boy to be the source of the pipe like rattling that hung overhead.

Wisps of the creature's essence began to pour through the cracked wall where it had first appeared, coming through on Interval's backside whom continued to step towards the distant doors. The creature began to reform its terrifying image, the metallic armour, plates and claws which wobbled lightly on its wrists. The claws rose up and ran along both sides of the hallway and scrapped silently along them as it made an approach on Interval. Interval, sensing danger, quickly shot up his head to look to the side but at that moment he turned he was confronted with a heavy had hit to his face, clawed no doubt by a massive fist of the creature knocking his head against the inner side of the concrete wall nearly knocking him unconscious instantly. "I WILL..." the creature continued to groan in its heavy hammed tone, coughing up the dust that made up its composition, "DESTROY HIM!"


Nightwing had found himself in testing lab room, counters and desks all lined up perfectly with one another, shelves lining every wall carrying large assortments of beakers and chemical containers that Nightwing only found interesting because of the cumbersome amount of 'flammable warning' logos. "Need to find water..." Nightwing muttered taking his attention from the chemical containers. He quickly found that all the counters had in the centre a deep steel basin sink which he immediately assumed was for the purpose of washing down excess chemicals. He quickly pattered up to the nearest one from the door he had just entered and proceeded to turn the green topped valve which he hoped would sputter the water chemical goodness but was stunned to find that nothing was coming out of the cone shaped tap like he had imagined. "Come on watery goodness...oh for...oh?" Nightwing noticed a door in the far corner which had a white sign with black writing that said 'washing down', "water, washing...same thing!" he concluded without hesitation. He quickly jumped up on the desk and made a dashed towards the far door which had become his hope for success in his given task.

Nightwing quickly retract his key imprint in his glove but couldn't find there to be a key hole, "...oh yeah...just twist," he nodded lightly regretting his stupidity. The key retracted and placed his hand on the circular nob, twisting and pulling the door open. "Water is here!" he rushed up to the far deep bottom sink at the end of the wall and took hold of the hose that protruded out from the back which he realized was the tap. He turned the tap on to its full strength and waited a few seconds to only be disappointed to got only a small stream. "There's got to be something stopping it in the back somewhere," as he stated dropping to one knee to take a look at the piping arrangement under and behind the large sink.

Nightwing felt something grab his leg and begin to pull him away, "no wait I haven't figured this out yet..." he grabbed hold of the hose and held on stretching it its full length which unravelled out from the room quite a distance. He found himself face to face with the creature of his nightmares, "so, would you like to help me find something?"

"YOU!" the creature groaned holding up Nightwing by the neck with its massive three prong metallic claw ready to tear his throat clean, "YOU...did THIS to ME!"

"Was that a question?" Nightwing raised his free hand to finger raise symbolizing his questioning nature. The creature didn't take to kind the demeanour of the bat-boy and placed more pressure on the boy's neck, shoving him deeper into the wall.

"Give ME MY LIFE BACK!" It moaned. The creature suddenly turned to a more emotional entity, "I...will destroy..." its voice tailed off, seemingly waiting for the tears to form but never quite being successful in such a natural operation.

"Yeah, but here's where I hope for some easy way out..." Nightwing pulled a batarang from his free left hand and flicked his wrist sharply, tossing the black bat shaped device across his chest towards the backroom sink. Both heads, the creature and Nightwing, watch the batarang fly till it hit a lock pin that was connected to a large pipe which further hooked up to the sink. Nightwing and the creature brought their gazes back together. A smile crept upon Nightwing's face, he held the hose up close, "if this doesn't do anything, could you "destroy' my speedy friend first?"

The strength of the water was felt immediately as it channelled through the hose becoming hard with pressure that flew right into the arm of the beastly creature turning it into glass breaking its grip around Nightwing. Its head turned suddenly, looking back over its shoulder to see Iota and Interval entering through the door, "Now! Do something!" Nightwing stated sharply as he dropped to the ground.

The creature fell backwards watching its arm shatter on the ground, some of the water had reached up to his shoulder and face creating a similar affect that had befallen its arm. It stumbled around developing a new fear that it had never felt before. Interval and Iota cautiously stepped forward watching as the creature slowly came undone, "IT PAINS ME!" it shouted in the bass moan. It dropped down lowly, his head now at stomach height of the teen heroes that had circled around him.

"Iota, get the cylinder ready!" Interval shouted as he quickly ran to speed and circling around the creature. The velocity of the wind quickly shattered what was left of the creature's armour seemingly causing it greater pain than it had already experienced. It continued to degrade further as the vortex of speed that Interval generated over whelmed him. Iota, feet firmly placed into the ground that he stood upon, quickly generated a large funnel composed of the emerald energy and placed it underneath the small tornado that had formed within the room. The capsule, the containment device, sat at the bottom of the fun, one side open and awaiting the entry of the creatures broken down essence. Interval came to a stop and watched as the tornado came undone and the creature fell through the green funnel right into the cylinder trapping it. Iota quickly encased the cylinder in a floating old fashioned bank vault which along with its block appearance included a non-essential combination lock, "that's it, we got it." Interval stated announcing their achievement.

"Yeah too bad, was really looking forward to a fight." Nightwing stated while twirling the hose, the steam of water having died down. Iota was quick to snap his hand on the back of Nightwing's head, "Ou! What did I say now?"

Interval placed his hand on the green safe and took a good look at their cylindrical cage that had suddenly gone smokey as was to be expected, "seems to be a creature with at least a conception of intelligence, albeit mildly..."

"So what?" Nightwing scoffed as he started heading for the door, "it tried to kill us. Now let's try the mystery door before I lose interest."

"Nightwing, it sounded like it knew you, do you know something?" Interval asked as he and Iota followed suit with the hovering green bank safe in tow.

"Nope, can't imagine I have," Nightwing responded with some uncalled for arrogance, "but come on, I've got a lot of villains I don't know, it's just comes with the territory."

"Iota, keep a good eye on the creature," Interval sharply commanded.

"Eh? Nothing is getting in or out," The teen lantern confirmed.

The boys hurried out of the room and into the hallway taking a look at the sliding door that shined brightly casting strange long shadows on their backsides, "bet you the answer to all this mystery is behind that door!" Nightwing stated, standing centre of the three and taking steps forwards towards the door.

"What mystery?" Iota asked with confusion.

"We already finished the assignment!" Interval chimed in.

"Let's just take a look, OK," Nightwing spat out with disappointment over his colleagues waning interest. He placed his thick grey gloves onto the glass door and slowly began to slide it open.

As the door came open the three boys entered the room placing their arms over top of their eyes in fear of the bright light that seemed to come in from unknown force. As they recuperated and took to the walls to the sides of the door they came to realize they were in a very small room the side walls being less than half the broad sides that the door and light source were connected to. After taking a quick look around and noticing the blackened areas on the smaller walls from which the light reached out to poor. Interval felt it best to make note of his conclusions: "It's some sort of energy tunnel or teleporter powered by light...this technology is wrong...its way to advance for this time..."

All of them stared at the circle hole of light on the opposite wall to the glass door, it pulsated consistently making bubbles of pure white energy evaporate consistently in front of their eyes, falling back deeply into a otherwise deeply held blue of the inner tunnel workings.

"I don't know what it is, but it looks kind of cool," Iota said taking his arm down to relax, "Where does it go?"

"Ah guys..." Nightwing stated lowly attempting to gain an undeserved attention from the other side of the room, "There's a dead person over here."

The three crowded around a middle age bald man in a brown jumpsuit who was sprawled out in a basic steel refined chair. Iota and Interval crossed along the side of the entrance door and joined Nightwing in surrounding the deceased fellow. They stood there with uneasiness in their stomachs, looking at the evident suffering that he must have endured with the processes of decay having been taken in long strides with blood vessels having burst, face swollen and his skin having turned a dark shade of brown and grey , "what a terrible way to go," Interval stated.

"What happened?" Nightwing asked turning to Interval.

"The smog must have gotten him...looks like all the liquid in his body turned to glass...must have been here when it first set off, would have gotten the brunt of it. It's amazing we were OK out there."

"AHHH!" Iota screamed out with a jump, falling backwards to the floor.

"What happened hero? Never seen a dead body before?" Nightwing said intimidatingly crossing his arms.

"No man...the creature has a face..." Iota commented, panic stricken upon his face.

"What?" Interval turned around with a look of shock and disbelief, "Of course, we saw the head!"

"No..." Iota responded with uneasiness seeping out of his mouth, "it's more human...I think its crying."

"What?" Interval questioned as he made an approach to the green safe where the capsule was enshrined.

"If someone's going to be shocked, it's going to be me, stop doing that." Nightwing stated with anger over Interval's sudden burst of puzzlement.

"Let's take a better look," Interval stated as all the boys crept down to take a look through the safety that cylinder was said to represent, "just fog..."

"No I swear...there! Look!" Iota rose his ring-less left hand to point a formation the gaseous inner cloud was forming.

All the boys became shocked to find a pale cream coloured face form within the capsule, gold coloured triangular patches sitting over where eyes supposedly were, "he looks sad." Iota stated, concern having wrapped up in him.

"Just a kid, He can't be much older than us..." Interval said with a heavy heart feeling responsible now for nearly killing the once seemingly lifeless entity which only exhibited signs of rudimentary anger, at least in his deduction.

"It's got to be a ruse..." Nightwing stated with a serious take, stepping back from the safe, "we went from calling it an 'it' to 'he', it may very well want our sympathy so that we may be liable to release it and give it another opportunity to kill us."

"No harm to the innocent victims…" Interval muttered, "Iota, can you secure it in the safe alone?"

"It can be done." Immediately a small pair of dark green pliers appeared inside the safe and proceeded to work away at the screw tap of the cylindrical cage, "sure we know what we're doing?"

"If he's a conscious life then we have no right to imprison it without reason. He must realize the position he's in. All we want to do is talk to him, not hurt him…the D.E.O have certain done enough of that."

As the top lid popped off with the pliers grip the familiar cream coloured smoke made its way from the cage and fluttered around in the safe, "can you make the safe bigger?", Interval asked. Iota nodded and allowed for the safe to grow to a near wall size as the creature's aura continued to expand till it had taken up the fullness of the safe.

"This is bad..." Nightwing stated with authority, stamping his feet in the ground with preparation for any fighting that may ensue.

"Well, how would you feel if you were imprisoned for possibly no reason?" Interval posited the philosophic question.

"Hello, I have...it's called living..." Nightwing snapped back in a cheeky manner, breaking away from the fighters pose to assume something more gangly and loose.

The dust and smoke seemingly dropped to the bottom of the safe and formed itself into an image of young boy that could be no older than fifteen. He wore a light grey jacket that went down to his knees and was buttoned twice around his chest over top of a full body suit of an off white body suit that connected seamlessly down to his shoes. Of note however, the boys spent special attention to two diamond patches that covered both his eyes allowing for minimal transference of what looked like black slanted slits for eyes.

Interval stepped closer and crouched down to take a good look at the mysterious boy sitting down, "Do you have a name..." the boy stared blankly at them, "It's alright, we're not here to harm you...do you know what happened here?"

The boy was sitting down on its knees sending the sides of his jacket over top of his thighs. His head darted around his case, looking around the safe and reaching a hasty conclusion that there was no way out of his predicament. His attention seemed to shift at Nightwing who stared down at him with his arms crossed, he then turned back to Interval who appeared to him to be of a more friendly nature, "I know..." he said softly, "what happened...but I don't want anyone to know...I want revenge!" He accentuated in a anger but which was nonetheless soft on account of the boys voice having not reached its full development.

"That's not how the world works," Interval started, "we're here to help…we can help you. Just let us know what happened..."

"I will not let him," he pointed with a menacing finger at Nightwing, raising somewhat from his kneeling position, "help me."

"Why, what did he do?" Interval calmly questioned.

"He made me like this...like this monster."

Iota and Interval were quick to turn and look at Nightwing who upon noticing dropped his arms and seemed slightly shock, "I don't know? Perhaps he's confused me with someone else?"

"Regardless of what he may have done..." Interval continued, "you need to clue us in if you want us to get you out of this holding."

"They experimented on me here...tortured me...took away everything from me and the others..." he pulled his knees up in front of his body and brought his arms around them and rocked back and forth slowly on his bottom. "I couldn't take it no more...it hurt me..." he turned his attention towards the decaying man in the chair as he leaned back on the safe wall,

"Who was he?" Interval asked as he too turned to take a look at the decaying man, "do you know what happened to him?"

"He was my friend, it was his idea to get me out...he did all of this for me...?"

"The smog outside?" Interval asked.

"Yes...it was the only way to get me and the others free...made from my own body," the boy looked up at Interval, "he died saving us all...created that tunnel for all of us to get out..."

"All of you? There's more?" Interval continued with his inquisition.

"Yes, they're all free..." the boy slowly began to smile before returning to a sombre look "but I just couldn't leave him here...I needed to protect him...he made a way out for us through the tunnel..." He nodded his head down resting his chin on his chest, "said it would protect us."

"I'm sorry, there's nothing any of us can do for him."

"I know... I felt him pass through..." he looked up to Jace, seemingly ready to cry, "please let me go..." he bashed the back of head against the safe wall.

Iota and Interval crowded around Nightwing some distance away, "we can't just give him back to them." Iota said with disgust.

"Granted, but something about this doesn't add up," Interval went on with his logical bent, "Nightwing, are you sure that you know nothing about him?"

Nightwing took a look down at his boots and then back up with a more serious face, "No...I don't," he replied with a long overdue serious tone.

"Alright..." Interval turned back to the former menacing creature, "we're going to get you out of here."

"We are?" all looks shot at Nightwing over his exclamation, disgust evident in their eyes, "yeah, of course." he muttered as he crossed his arms over his chest once more.


"Excellent boys," the elder D.E.O agent leader responded.

"Well, it was a tough uphill battle, but I slugged away and found victory." Nightwing commented.

"Thank you for that..." Esau continued with a sarcastic smile.

"What do you plan to do with the creature now?" Interval chimed in earning the attention of the D.E.O staff.

"It's been determined that the creature is much too dangerous to be maintained," Esau concluded.

"You're going to put it to sleep?" Iota said with a slight bit of shock.

"It's painless I assure you, it for the best really," Esau said sharply handing over the acquired cylinder to a nearby uniformed agent who proceeded to retreat to the D.E.O truck behind them, "We've discovered that water has an adverse effect to this smog the creature had generated; you can expect this smog to be taken care of within the week."

The boys watched intently as the cylinder was placed inside a slot on the side panel of the large truck, following the turning of a switch, water immediately entered the cylinder slowly freezing and frosting up the sides, the agent turned to the group and with a monotone voice stated his conclusions: "It checked in as the creature...rendered inert."

"Thank you for your service gentlemen, and don't be afraid to confide in your superiors of this great service to man, you all deserve appropriate praise."

"If only..." Interval stated coldly as he turned to run off followed by Nightwing and Iota taking to the air.


"Whatever you're called...I choose you!" Nightwing exclaimed as he threw a small cylindrical black package to the ground of softs blades of grass of the hillside the three heroes now stood upon, immediately splitting open to reveal the once former menacing creature to freedom. Iota and Interval, being unsettled, shot another glare in Nightwing's direction, "hey, if he fits in one of these then that phrase will definitely catch on!"

"As much as it pains me to say," Interval stated as he stepped closer to golden crusted smog as it slowly developed form and shape akin to the small boy they had just met. He sat down and looked up to his three heroes through his triangular patched eyes as they came up closer to him, "it's a good thing that the smog was derived from your genetic makeup," Interval continued, "otherwise that discussion with the D.E.O would have been a little more difficult than what became of it," the boy looked a tiny bit frightened as he searched his more recent memories as a possession of the D.E.O. He bent up his legs and grabbed hold of his toes pulling them back towards him all while crinkling the skin between his eyes as he continued to gaze upon them, "Do you have a name...do you remember anything of your life before this?"

"They referred to me as ODDO7717...I can't remember anything but it...except him," once looking in the direction of Nightwing, a slight sneer on his tongue, "I feel a great pain when I'm around him...he did something to me" he said shaking his head and bringing his hands up to grab it, "it's just to horrid to think about...all I remember is I come from some island in the far east..." his back began to rise up slowly pushing his feet out from his hands grasp, "I can't even remember what it's called..."

"I'm sorry..." Interval started.

"Oddo," Nightwing interrupted, pushing Interval to the side and kneeling down to talk to the sitting boy, "I don't know exactly what I've done to hurt you so much… but of what I do know is that your currently free to pursue a living that you see fit, free of the D.E.O. and their experiments," both looking eye to eye, "and if you want answers then maybe we can work towards them together sometime when we're both ready."

"Oddo," the boy stated as he nodded his head in affirmation, "I'm OK with that." Suddenly the odd boy rose to his feet, the gentle fog foaming around his form as he continued from the ground and floated on beyond to the sky, "thank you for your help my friends," he stuttered, "I don't expect this to be the last time we see one another."

"Oddo, hold up," Nightwing said pulling up a small square device from his utility belt, "take this...it's a communicator, if you ever need help, just give us a call," he said tossing it up to Oddo.

"Thank you," he turned to fly away muttering his first lines of freedom, "I'm free..."

Nightwing turned around to face the two puzzled heroes, "so you guys think that was a ghost? Cause we have evidence now right?"

"What happened there?" Interval said placing his hands firmly on his waist.

"Doing what heroes should be doing, helping the weak overcome the fists of the oppressors."

"No, what's going on Nightwing...what kind of an act was that?"

"OK," Nightwing relaxed himself and sighed, "I don't know what I might have done to him… perhaps he really has just got me confused with someone else…either way, it time I started taking some responsibility where it's required...that boy is all alone without us," he tapped back into his serious state of mind catching his new friends off guard, "time we did more than just cause problems for others after we've done our thing. Let's do some resolving for once rather than leave the aftermath for someone else."

"You done well by me," Interval said reassuringly, he turned to look at Iota, "so you think we might team up all again someday in the near future?"

"I guess I wouldn't mind, have to find a way to fit that in my complex schedule..." Iota stated with pride.

"Yeah yeah, let's do this again real soon so we can have emotional happy time and learn a valuable lesson by the end of each and every story," Nightwing stated sarcastically then booted up into his casually happy voice, "I like the sound of that!"