I wake up with a blindfold over my eyes. I'm lying on the floor bound and gagged. My movements draw a response; one ear to the coarse, carpeted floor, I can hear footsteps stride over to me.
"He's up," A male voice calls.
Another, possibly in a different room, answers back.
"Right, I forgot; you're the best and you know everything. No offense, but I'm not so sure you're as godlike as you seem."
After a few seconds of silence, the second voice whispers quietly, "I never said I was a god."
One of them shoves my shoulder to the side to push me onto my back and yanks my blindfold down roughly.
"Do you know why you're here?"
The dark-haired man's face is calm and friendly, but after being shot and kidnapped by these guys, I know better. I do my best to memorize his somewhat handsome face for when I escape. Staring into his blue eyes, I think I notice something…off. But he looks away.
"What did she tell you?"
My gag is still in place, so all I can do is wonder how this guy expects to get any information out of me.
"I'm telepathic. The gag is just so no one else hears you. Now, what did Copycat say to you?"
Copycat?…Agent Silverson? Well, she does have powers…I guess she was a superhero.
"Not even close."
My eyes slide off the covered window in the background and back onto my kidnapper. All the humor had gone from him. Somehow still friendly, the somber expression on his face leaves a worried one on my own. Who are these two? What do they have against each other? And why does it involve me?
"It involves you because she decided to involve you. I really have nothing against you, but for some reason, she just can't seem to leave you alone. Sorry." The sympathy this young man is expressing for me isn't faked, and it doesn't seem like something a criminal with any malicious intent would have. But if they both care so much about my well-being, why are they fighting over me? And why did one of them try to kill me?
"Kill you? Ha! Yeah right; not with a shapeshifter around."
I watch in amazement as the now jovial man tries to stifle laughter. His friend in the background doesn't even try though, and laughs long and loud.
The first guy notices the confusion on my face and clarifies.
"That was just a distraction. Darren shot you to pull her away so that I could grab you. Now, do you know why I took you?"
"Dude, I really don't think he knows. I mean, come on. You know she's good. Whatever she said, it must'a been convincing."
"Yeah, I'm starting think it isn't just the bullet that convinced him we were the bad guys." He faces me again and sighs. "So what did she tell you? Are we known criminals, or just dangerous people she was trying to protect you from?"
Blue-Eyes awaits my mental answer, but I'm still trying to figure out which one is lying. They can't both be the good guys…unless there is a third party after me…
"I suppose we can't really exclude that as an option, but it's not likely. Four shapeshifters in the same area never happens."
Four? But I thought—
"Come on, what was it?"
He's getting frustrated with me now, but I'm getting frustrated too. I've gotten no answers, yet they expect me to keep giving them. You want to know? Tell me who—
"Dick Grayson, now answer the damn question!"
I stare at him for a second, searching my brain for a reference, but despite the name sounding familiar, I can't remember anything specific.
All she said was that someone was after me.
"Did she say who?"
No, just someone.
Dick and Darren exchange glances and silently come to some sort of decision.
"Can you keep quiet?"
Several thoughts flash through my head at once, but I try to quiet them before he can hear. That question…if he's really going to…I could…
"I really wouldn't try that. Escaping from a shapeshifter isn't all the easy. Or fun."
"I don't know. I might have fun."
Darren still seems to think this is all just some kind of game or prank. He's just having fun.
Dick looks over his shoulder at his accomplice.
"Heh. Yeah, hunting is fun. But being hunted? Not so much."
Hunting humans is wrong.
Dick glares at me. "You want to talk or what? Promise me you won't try anything and I'll untie you. Otherwise, it's just going to make both our lives harder."
We lock eyes, challenging one another's fortitude but I eventually give in. I've got no powers, no suit and no hope of beating anybody. At least if he unties me I can feel a little more in control. It'll be a relief to finally get the rough rope off my skin.
"Hunting humans is wrong," I repeat after the gag is removed. I know. I can't beat them, but maybe I can antagonize them?
"We don't hunt humans, Ter. That was just a metaphor."
I'm getting to him. I smirk at my first victory since this whole mess started. Dick isn't exactly happy, but all I get is a quick scowl.
"So what now, Dick?" Darren patiently awaits an answer.
Now that I'm mobile and Dick's face isn't stuffed in mine anymore, I can get a better view of Darren. He's blond, young and around eighteen or twenty. His expression is a lot like what I see on many Jokerz I fight, minus the perverse humor: blank and clueless, with a touch of innocence. This is his first time kidnapping someone.
"Now…Now we find out what Copycat's really after…"
It's been six hours. I'm cold. I'm tired. I'm bored. And I'm feeling very uncomfortable being used as bait.
I've been standing in the middle of a cluttered street being jostled and knocked around for the last six hours. Dick thinks that leaving me out in the open will draw her out. She'll find me and try to take me. I really don't want to be taken, especially considering Dick's reaction when I suggested she might be a hero. She is bad—very bad. Not the kind of person I want to meet and especially not the kind of person I want to be left as bait for.
When I was with her, yeah she treated me like I didn't even exist, but when I got hurt she was there for me. And that metal in the wooden shipping container…did Dick do that? No, there was more than one gun firing from the other side, so he couldn't have been hiding in the floor the whole time. But how did he even get into the floor? I did see something like that one time—a reporter named Peek got a belt to vibrate his molecules through solid objects—but gravity still had an effect on him. Dick, on the other hand, had come up through the floor. So what does this all mean?
"It means I have no idea what's going on around here, that's what."
"True. Very true."
I whirl around at the sound of the familiar voice.
"Yes. Where have you been?" Bruce turns and starts back down the alley he must have come from and I follow. It occurs to me to wonder why he didn't park on the street when we come face to face with Dick.
"Hello." "…Dick…?" Wayne is completely surprised but apparently he knows him.
"Yes, it's me, old man. Problem?" By Dick's reaction, I'm guessing they weren't friends.
"You can cut the crap. I know who you are." Dick advances on the old man, but Wayne backs up. I'm not sure why, but I decide to intervene.
"Hold on! Back off, Dick."
"Terry, let me handle this," he warns.
"No! I don't know you and I don't trust you! I'm not going to let you hurt Wayne. I don't care if you think you're one of the good guys—you aren't to me!"
Dick is surprised by my outburst, but his eyes slide off me and glare at my mentor, narrowing almost to slits.
"Terry, I need you to listen to me. That isn't Bruce Wayne. He looks like Bruce, sounds like Bruce and can even answer any question as though he was Bruce. But it's not him. He's a shapeshift—"
Dick's eyes grow wide as I hear a gun cocking next to my ear. I turn to my left, just in time to see the last of Wayne's features fade into Agent Silverson. It's her! She tricked me!
"Stay calm Terry. I told you someone was after you. Looks like we found him." Her calm and confident demeanor remains unshaken.
Maybe she can't hear my thoughts like Dick can?
"Put the gun down, Copycat. I'm—"
"I am not Copycat. My name is Agent Silverson, and you are under arrest for kidnapping," she hisses venomously.
Dick studies her incredulously.
"You're kidding." The two lock eyes for about a half second, and then Dick surprisingly starts to grin. "Give me a break. Terry, come on. We're leaving."
"No, you're not." Readjusting her grip on the gun, she reminds Dick it's still pointed at his chest.
"Copycat, there is a street full of people watching. You and I both know it'll be bad for you if they see something."
"It'll be bad for you too."
"True, but I'm pretty good at getting out of bad situations. I'm wily." Dick smirks, sure that he's won.
I'm starting to get tired of this staring match. They're both pretty much ignoring me and I hate it. If all they're going to do is talk, then I'm going to have to end this standoff myself!
"You may be wily, Dick, but I'm just plain good."
Agent Silverson squeezes the trigger, but I'm already moving. Throwing my full weight into her, I knock her to the ground as I simultaneously grab for the gun. I think her shot went wild because I don't hear any screams of agony, just shock and horror.
"Terry! What the hell are you doing? Get away from her!"
Agent Silverson and I are still struggling for her gun when a powerful force suddenly takes hold of my entire body and wrenches me away from her. I lose my grip on the gun, but so does she. Flipping through the air, I miss most of what happens next, but when I finally gain my footing again, they're running by me, deeper into the alley. They only go about fifteen feet before Agent Silverson, in the lead somehow, pivots to throw several ninja stars at Dick. Faster than I've ever seen a human move, Dick dodges them, even catching a couple in his hands and throwing them back, all in fluid movements. Part of me idly compares the sight to a dance, like ballet, but the rest of me decides to hit the deck before the ninja stars hit me.
Agent Silverson follows up the flurry of ninja stars with an odd shockwave attack. The energy rushes toward Dick as a wall of force; it seems to fold around him and pass harmlessly by while it shears off chips of brick from the alley walls. I turn tail and run, but quickly discover that the hole Dick made in the energy wave is still there. I feel a breeze as the energy blows past me and fizzles out a few feet ahead. Chips of brick and mortar sting my face, but I count my blessings and keep running for the street, leaving the sounds of battle behind me.
Still running, I search wildly for a vidphone. Dick and Agent Silverson have each other occupied right now, but I still haven't seen Darren, and for all I know, I'm more important than the fight. Hopefully I can call Wayne and at least get him to send the Batjet to pick me up. I need to get back to my apartment to grab the suit before these two nutcases disappear on me. Sighing with relief, I race up to a vidphone I just spotted outside a pawn shop. I dial Wayne Manor and wait for the old man to pick up.
"Terry! Where have you been? Your friend called and said you didn't show up to school!"
Wayne is angry, but I think somewhere, deep down, he actually cares. And I remember the last time he heard I hadn't been to school. Someone was trying to kill me then too.
"I know, I'm sorry. Something's going on. Some girl grabbed me from my apartment last night. She said she was FBI, but I'm not so sure now. Then this other guy grabbed me and now they're tearing up an alley on the east side."
For a second, I think I see a flicker of worry flash across his face, but it's hard to tell with the old man. Either way, I can't do anything about that right now. Gotham—and anything that threatens it—comes first.
"I'm sending the car to your position. Think you can handle it?"
"I'd like to say yes, but they've got some major firepower. I'm really not sure. You should call Gordon just in case." I feel embarrassed admitting I need backup, but these shapeshifters are heavy-hitters, and if I can't take them out, I need to know someone else will.
"Alright. And Terry, be careful."
"Always." I smile with pride. He does care.
I know he's just my boss, but sometimes he feels like more. We've been working closely for so long…I guess it's only natural for a bond to form. Sometimes…sometimes he feels like a second dad. Silly, I know, but the way my life had been going before Wayne and I met, I think I needed one.
The car arrives within minutes of our conversation, but the Batsuit is still in my room where I left it. Checking around to make sure no one is watching, I hop into the driver's seat and take off for my apartment. I'm half way there when I realize I should be checking to see if anyone is following me.
"Slag it!" It's hard to tell, but the corner of my eye swears it sees someone jump over the street when I make a hard right. I am being followed.
Gritting my teeth, I brace myself for a wild ride. Up, down, left and right, I change direction every couple seconds. I cut tightly around several buildings and doubled back several times. I even drop far below Gotham's soaring walkways and thoroughfares, right down to the original streets of old Gotham. Checking behind me, I confirm no shadows are following me, then pull up and race back home.
I park on the roof and come down the fire escape. My window is still wide open. Guess mom didn't have time to make my bed yet.
I pop in and snatch my backpack off the floor, ready to yank the Batsuit out. I'm about to put it on when I hear a soft knocking at my door.
"Terry? Is that you?"
"Uh, yeah mom! I'm, um, just…on my way out!" I call through the door. I wait to hear if she walks away.
Instead, she opens the door.
"Terry, where have you been, honey?" My mom looks normal enough, concerned and completely ignorant of what I really do at night, but something about her really creeps me out.
I try to shake it off. My mom? Creepy? Come on, McGinnis, pull it together. Don't lose it just because you're being chased by a bunch of…
I watch in horror as my mom's ruby-red hair and porcelain-white skin darken to a deep ebony.