A/N: Fanime's over! Awh, it was a good run, but I'll miss it. I rather did enjoy sitting and sketching DC/MARVEL cosplayers and giving them little sketches, though I was only able to really give out one to a Batman, Nightwing, and Deadpool cause in the end, I couldn't find the rest; I was drawing without them knowing, -CREEPY SKETCHING STALKER TO YOUR RIGHT-
Fight, Live, Retaliate
Llamas and Circles in the Corn Field
"Kadlur and M'gann had cleared the ship the minute they had boarded it. Surprising, there were only two workers and a single captain on board, making the "taking out the trash," a much easier task. As Kadlur took over the steering wheel of the ship, M'gann scanned the area.
"Her eyes twinkled as she caught sight of the familiar pile of fluff and reached out to grab it. As her palms touched the fluff, she laced her fingers through the softness and pulled off a clump and pressed it to her nose.
"It smelled foul and she pulled her nose away.
"'NERRRGHHHHH!' The Llama said as it felt a clump of it fur being pulled out. 'What you be doing with my fur you silly little girl?'
"'I'm sorry magical, mysterious Llama spirit living in this ship!' M'gann prayed, as she tried to return the fluff that refused to stick back onto the Llama's skin.
"'Nooooo!' The Llama shrieked, 'once you have plucked my fur, you must offer it to those who made the circles in the corn field!'
"'Corn field?' She asked as she floated to a window. Outside was a strange sight to take in. The boat was sailing across land and desert until it finally ended at a strange corn field where Superboy and Kid Flash were removing giant piles of corn plant and formed equal circles in the corn field."
"That's not what happened!" Dick pouted as he laid down on the couch while Jason sat on the floor.
"Yes it is! I'm the story teller, I tell it how it is." Jason stated with a matter of fact. He crossed his arms across his chest, sitting straighter than usual. He stared into his brother's expression, eyes irate and lower lip jutting out. He sighed in defeat. "Fine. Roll the real chapter…"
Fight, Live, Retaliate
This is Enough Evidence
Kadlur and M'gann had cleared the ship the minute they had boarded it. Surprising, there were only two workers and a single captain on board, making the "taking out the trash," a much easier task. As Kadlur took over the steering wheel of the ship, M'gann scanned the area.
She floated through the cabins of the ship, taking in the similar lining of crates every two feet or so. She peaked in a supposed air hole; the crates were cramped, small, but filled with the same thing.
They all looked at her with fear or aggression. Some bared their teeth at her when she got too close.
"I'm not here to hurt any of you." M'gann spoke gently, both hands raised with palms facing out to show that she was going to cause no harm. The more aggressive ones seemed to have lost interest and turned around so that their naked backs were facing the Martian.
"Kadlur," M'gann called out mentally, "there's a shipment of children down here."
"M'gann, see if any of them need special medical attention. I'm changing course back to the harbor."
She did as she was told, looking at all of the children cautiously but carefully, making sure that none of them would lash out while she was inspecting. All the children seemed to be physically fine, but mentally, each was a train wreck with their childhoods taken away from them.
"Kadlur? M'gann?" They heard Jason call.
"Jason, we're turning the ship around." Kadlur responded.
"You won't believe what we just found." M'gann added with a hint of despair. Her mind trailed off as she only could watch the children interact within the crates. As she felt the boat come to a halt and the team calling her to come out from the cabins, she rushed back up the stairs and back onto the harbor.
"Don't go off on your own, ever, again." Jason demanded as he grabbed M'gann's shoulders roughly. As he released his grip, she could hear him mutter a thank you in the back of his mind.
Roy plucked his tracker arrow off the boat knowing that it was no longer going to be needed. He was grateful that he aimed so close to the deck rather than the base of the ship. Sliding the arrow back into his quiver, he followed Jason as he led them onto the deck.
The scenery was familiar to him and Jason exhaled unevenly as unwanted feelings began to devour him. He shook his head, snapping his focus back into the present, trying to keep it from straying too far in the past. He quickly turned around in an act of bewilderment when Roy placed his unpredicted hand on his shoulder. Pulling back, he exhaled again, breathing in shallowly, only to roughly have his breathing rock without rhythm.
"I am calm, Roy." He snarled from under his mask. Jason's muscles were tensed, his fists clenched, to the point that if his knuckles were visible, they would have been solid white. He navigated through the ship easily, but the eerie feeling lingered harshly. The deeper through the ship he went, the more the unsettling emotions would grip to the soles of his feet, telling him not to dive in any deeper.
Roy maneuvered himself to an even stance with Jason, and eventually turned himself to stand in front of his friend. "I'll understand if this isn't easy for you, which is why I'm telling you, you don't have to do this. I'll lead the investigation from here. You can head back to Mount Justice and hang out with your brother."
Jason shook his head slowly, side to side. He grabbed Roy's shoulder and moved Roy behind himself. "There's something I have to do first." He replied lowly.
As they all reached the storage room, where M'gann had located the stash of children, he barked out the orders. "Superboy! There's extra stashes of kids under the floorboards, I need you to use your super-hearing to locate them, Aqua Lad, assist him. Martian, Kid Flash, take over crates A-78 to A-85. Roy, with me."
Wally squatted down and begun to undo one of the locks of the crates. "I wonder what he'll be doing." He muttered as he watched Jason and Roy sit in front of a single crate that was isolated from the rest.
"He has his reasons." M'gann replied with a sheepish smile.
"Yeah, I guess…" he replied unenthusiastically, tossing the lock to the side as he opened the crate door. The children inside didn't move. Instead, they were washed with fear and backed to the farthest end of the crate. Wally's expression turned sympathetic, and he extended an open hand as truce and treaty. The little girl inside the crate reached out to grip as much of the young superhero's hand as she could with her tiny fingers. The boy in the back had also done the same after registering Kid Flash as an ally.
Wally smiled, but his heart was broken. Looking around to his nearest teammates, they had all returned his expression and slowly began luring the children out of their crates and into their arms for a moment of comfort. Some were harder to gain trust from, but others still were holding onto a string of hope that they soon would be saved.
Superboy was able to hearing the shallow breathing of life underneath the wooden floors. It was a haunting sound, being able to hear some breaths that were sick, and some that were close to death. "This one." He growled with anger towards those who had started this mess.
Unwilling to break the boards himself, Connor asked Kadlur to do it, who removed the boards as gently as he could. Just as his super hearing had heard, there were two young teenagers curled underneath the floorboards that were barely awake. They squinted as a dim level of light hit their eyes and they stared up with confusion.
The way they both were able to fit in such a tight space was obviously unhealthy for them, but it was troubling to Connor and Kadlur to mention how small they were. Their faces were beginning to mature, but their bodies showed skin on bones.
The two were more confused than were they scared. Sitting up, they soon figured that they were unable to assist themselves out of the small hole. Their bodies were numb and worn down, so the heroes had to lift them out.
But Kadlur and Conner also had their share of children who were weary or who refused to be helped. They turned to Jason just as how Wally and M'gann did, looking for further instructions.
Jason turned around momentarily, noting how the team was struggling, but it was something he had predicted. "Just remove the ones that are willing to leave, I'll get the others." He told, his voice a bit softer than usual. A click sounded from the lock Roy had been working on and the archer removed the lock from the crate.
"That one was a little tough." The archer breathed out, smiling to himself as he finally got the lock off. He opened the crate to find a boy laying inside, roughed up and eyes fighting to stay open.
He was wearing a red, moth-hole-filled-shirt, and jeans ripped to the point that it was missing one leg and the other was near to falling off too. His skin that was visible was bruised or cut, with distinct burns flaring on his inner thigh. His gaze was glossy, uncaring, but ready to take whatever was going to come at him. He stayed silent, unwilling to willingly move.
"Oh !#$ !" Jason choked out. He knew that the boy had used up all his fight, but not his courage and competence. He quickly pulled the boy out, whispering, "we're going to get you out of here, but I'm going to need you to get the others out of their crates." He only wanted to hug the boy longer, but knew everything could wait until the situation was sorted.
"Jay?" the boy asked tiredly, though, was able to register the matured voiced. Looking up to see a hooded figure, he frowned. "Can't be."
"Tim, it's me."
"Ha—ah, C-can't go crazy now." Tim chuckled a sigh. "I no— don't know you, sorry."
Jason took off his hood and the mask that laid beneath it. "It's really me Tim." He spoke flatly, just trying to get the teenager to believe him. He brushed his forehead against the other's mop of mop of black hair, and felt Tim nod beneath him.
The teenager gripped weakly onto Jason's shoulder, trying to push himself onto his feet. Jason and Roy quickly assisted, and were more of uneasily dragging Tim's feet instead of helping him walk. They mindlessly apologized, but Tim said that he understood. He couldn't tell him that his ankles were broken, and refused to cooperate, so he used the excuse that his legs fell asleep and were still a bit numb.
They stopped in front of the crate that Wally and M'gann sat near.
"Any luck on this one?" Jason asked as he put on his mask and hood.
"None." Wally responded. "Who's that?"
"Tim." He responded, as he lowered Tim onto the ground next to the crate. "…old friend."
"Hey there." Tim spoke gently, cooing the child inside the crate.
Like a magician, Tim was able to pull the remaining children out of their crates just by greeting them. Even the most hostile of children came out to give Tim a heartwarming hug, refusing to release the tattered fabric on his back.
"What's going on?" Wally asked, as he looked up to Jason.
"That's Tim Drake." Jason replied uneasily. "We used to be in the same shipment, but I was moved out to another one. Usually, in each shipment, there's always one person who was willing to take all the hits that came with being part of this system. Tim was one of them." Jason sighed. "I took the liberty to be one when I was moved into a new shipment, but it only lasted for a couple of years. Tim's been at it for at least six or seven."
Wally nodded, knowing that being the person who protected the younglings would have easily gained every ounce of their trust.
After being able to lure all the children out of their crates, Jason and Roy helped Tim back up and led them out, off the ship. In front of them, Batman and part of the city's police department had been waiting.
"Red Hood. I thought I told you to stay back at base." Batman spoke lowly, his tone serious and cold.
Jason looked away, not wanting to comment. "And I thought that you were going to investigate Tom's house."
The Dark Knight's eyes narrowed. "I can take matters from here. Take the team and head back to base."
"I'll be taking Tim back to my apartment." Jason stated as he held stubbornly to his friend. Despite how he and Tim were having constant, silly quarrels, he wasn't going to let anyone split them apart again. They may have been enemies during easier times, but nonetheless, they were still friends to an extent.
"Red Hood, this is an official investigation and I can't let you be rash." Batman responded with full intent of taking Tim for question. "After we ask, Tim, some questions, we'll see about being able to put him into your care."
"You and I both know that after you take him away from me, I'll never see him again!" Jason growled deeply.
"Batman, I promise you that he'll bring Tim back for question by tomorrow." Red Arrow began. "I'll take full responsibility if he doesn't."
Batman remained quiet, an act that always pushed Jason to his limits.
"You don't trust me." Jason stated.
NNANNANANANNNANANANAA MOUNT JUSTICE!
"Then Batman came down and landed a fist in Two Face's face…faces…?"
Dick clapped excitedly, but still a bit groggy from his nap. He had just woken up from his slumber, and insisted that Artemis tell him a story to pass the time. Ever since he had woken up, he only was waiting for Jason to come home, whining and pouting; "where's Jay?" he would ask every two minutes with a sleepy voice.
And two minutes had just passed again.
"Where's Jay?" Dick chirped a bit more lively as his body begun to waken.
"On a mission, he'll be back soon." Artemis smiled. Though, secretly, she slightly resented being left behind. As much as she loved Dick, she had been waiting for hours, watching the child sleep until he had finally woken up from his, what-seemed-to-be hibernation.
The mountain's recognition system blared out names and numbers, and Artemis turned around in surprise.
"Finally, you're back! What did I miss?" She asked immediately.
Wally shook his head as he plopped a seat next to Artemis on the ground. "Trust me, you didn't want to be there."
"Was it bad?"
"Worse." He muttered. "I wouldn't be able to rid the images from my mind if I tried."
It was then did she feel a bit thankful for being kept back, though, it also only made her curious to what Wally had seen. She wrapped an arm around Wally's shoulder in a gesture of comfort, and the orange haired boy replied with a sad smile. She turned her glance back towards Dick momentarily, but the little bird was only looking up to Jason, who had a scorn from behind his domino mask.
Jason dropped his helmet to the ground. His chest was high and his muscles were tensed. Both of his fists were clenched and his eyes were only focused on Batman.
"You just had to take him away from me, is that it?" He yelled, voice was coarse.
"He'll be in good hands." Batman spoke. "I can assure you that."
"No! You just don't trust me to take care of him!" Jason retorted, his finger pointing straight to Dick. "Just like how you don't trust me with my little brother! Would you let strangers take care of someone you loved?"
"Jason, calm down—"
"No, not you too. Don't tell me to calm down! Who gives you the right to tell me what to feel? Do you understand me? You say you do! But what do you know? You're just a spoiled rich kid who lost his par—" Jason's neck snapped to the side and his glare was still hard. He could feel the sting linger on his cheek, despite the fact Batman's hand was gloved.
Jason clenched his teeth, and bit back the remaining words. He understood he may have gone too far, but something inside him told him to keep going; but he didn't.
"Jay!" Dick screamed. He pushed himself off the couch and tumbled to his older brother. He felt a sharp pain rip through his side and he doubled over, grasping the sore areas.
Jason and Batman quickly squatted down, each with one hand on their little bird's back. "Are you okay?" They both asked simultaneously.
"Why'd you hit Jay?" Dick shouted towards the Dark Knight. "He didn't do anything wrong!"
Bruce was taken back, and his eyes widened with guilt. "I'm sorry Robin, I was angry."
"That doesn't give you any right!" Robin replied, as he slowly got back up to grab the loose ends of Jason's motorcycle jacket.
"You should lay down, rest up." Jason insisted, as he lifted Dick in his arms to cradle.
"I'll be fine, Jay." Dick responded, lifting a small finger to wipe away the tear that was slipping from the edges of Jason's domino mask. "Why are you crying?"
Jason didn't realize that tears were flowing until it was mentioned. He began to blink rapidly, trying to keep them back inside. "I think I'm missing someone." He replied with a cracked tone. "But I'll be fine too."
Bruce turned around and began to walk towards the exit.
"Where you going Batman?" Roy asked with a smug expression.
"I have something I need to do."
"Damn right you do."