First, I want to apologize for the lateness of this chapter. College and life snatched up my free time. I hope you will forgive me for that.
I want to thank Thaliag.2 and Elyograg for beta-reading this chapter. And now... the fourth chapter! Enjoy, and review please. :-)
Disclaimer: None of this is mine. However, I would love DC comics to consider some of the story-lines we come up with and make them into comics/comic series. Who agrees with me?
"Batman to Team, get to the briefing room. Now."
"Finally!" Wally stretched. "Took Bats long enough."
"By now he probably knows where Robin is and will give us our mission," Aqualad said.
"Are you kidding? Batman is protective of Robin. He'll be the one going to rescue Robin, not us."
"Then why is he calling us to the briefing room?" Artemis growled at him.
"Probably to show us what happened." Wally shrugged at her stare. "He likes to show off with his gadgets. Besides, this wouldn't be the first time he up and left to get Robin by himself. We'll remain behind just so we can inform the League. That should keep them from freaking out."
"But whenever we're called to the briefing room, it's for a mission," M'gann said. "Why would he be calling us there if we're not going on a mission?" Wally threw up his hands.
"I don't know, okay? I'm just basing my theory off of Bats's past actions. We might get a mission, but the odds are not in our favor." Artemis snickered. "What?"
"Wow, Baywatch, you're making sense for once." He frowned at her.
"I usually do," he pouted.
"Do too." Kaldur rubbed his forehead wearily.
"Would you two please stop? We are almost to the briefing room and you know Batman is angry already." The two continued to glare at each other, then nodded to their leader. Bat-lectures were unappreciated and they would do anything to avoid them.
The briefing room, contained in the center of the Mountain, usually had several screens up at the same time, containing video feeds, a link to live TV, and a holographic keyboard. At the moment, the blue glow of the multiple screens and holographic projections combined was bright enough to provide sufficient lighting for the entire room. There was one addition the team had never seen before. In the middle of the room there was a holographic landscape showing a remarkable likeness to the area where the struggle had taken place. Besides that piece, there were two screens running through lists of unintelligible words, while another one covered the whole opposite wall. The only thing visible on that screen was the word "Loading".
"You're late." Batman growled. The team was startled, but tried hard not to show it. Apparently Batman could hide even with this much light. Either that or they seriously needed to work on their observation skills. Artemis secretly suspected it was the latter.
"Why have you called us?" Aqualad asked.
"Yeah, why?" Kid Flash crossed his arms. Artemis rolled her eyes and elbowed him in the side. "OUCH!" He glared at her, but kept quiet. Finally.
"I have a mission for you guys," the Dark Knight stated, striding towards the holographic landscape. "As you know, Robin was abducted from this area today, between 3 and 4 pm approximately. He tapped several buttons, bringing up frozen 3-D images. "From the evidence collected, I estimate around eleven fully grown human males attacked him." He pressed another button.
The holographic scene came alive. Two "men" picked "Robin" off his bike and threw him into the grove. Only his acrobatic skills saved him from getting a serious concussion. One stayed behind to grab the bike while the other rejoined the rest of the group in the center of the clearing. For the most part, Robin was able to keep above the men, but that stopped when one grabbed the edge of his cloak, pulling Robin onto the ground. From the way the figure was laying on the ground, it could be assumed that the breath had been knocked out of him, allowing the others to jump in and secure him.
"That is the most likely scenario based on the evidence I gathered," Batman said, his voice shaking the team out of their reverie.
"Does the evidence point to who took him?" Artemis asked.
"A piece of a foreign fabric was left behind," Batman responded. "The manufacturer is unknown, but the weave is identical to the kind the League of Shadows uses. The leader of the League of Shadows is Ra's al Ghul." The screen loaded at that moment and displayed the picture of the man. His hair was striped in shades of black and white, covering his head and forming two neatly trimmed mustaches on either side of his nose. A green cloak covered his shoulders; underneath laid glimpses of a white shirt, black vest, and a sash over black pants and black boots. In his hand he grasped a staff topped with a golden globe. "He has his League of Shadows behind almost every major event in the world and many of the smaller ones, especially in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. He has many bases of operations, centered on the continent of Africa but at least one on every continent and in many countries around the world."
"How does this help us find Robin?" Aqualad inquired.
"Yeah! He could be anywhere by now!" Kid Flash exclaimed. His hands and feet twitched with every word he said, betraying his sense of panic.
"Calm down, Kid Flash." Batman looked at Kid Flash, allowing a hint of sympathy to color his words. "There were some soil and plant transfers in the crime scene. The soil registers high in sodium chloride content, indicating a close location to one of the two oceans. The plant trace is Chenopodium album L, otherwise known as pigweed, which is found in cold, mountainous areas on the continent of Africa. Combining the two pieces of evidence revealed the location." He allowed two seconds for the information to sink in, then brought one of the background screens forward. The sea and the harbor centered in the photo, with crowds in the background vying for goods in the many shops shown while mountains dominated the background.
"He's in Morocco."
"Alright!" KF pumped his fist. "FINALLY we know where Robby is. So, how do you want us to do this mission?"
"Am I correct in assuming you want us in stealth mode, Batman?" Aqualad asked, ever the polite one. Batman looked over each person of the team, knowing what he had to do.
"I will be assuming command – and responsibility – of the mission. Chances of success are greater if I go this alone."
"Then why did you call us?" M'gann asked as Wally groaned and slumped against the wall.
"You deserved to know what happened to your teammate. Also, if and when the Justice League attempts to contact me, you will be able to inform them on my absence."
"Why can't you tell them?" Artemis asked, blinking in disbelief. Batman really was overprotective. And she thought Ollie was bad…
"If the mission is to succeed, the fewer people that know, the better. Also, I will need to maintain radio silence for the entire time." He tapped several keys, bringing forward the screens that had been running through words. He placed the screen of Ra's al Ghul to the side and swept out of the room. "The screens are running through names, aliases and places the League of Shadows own. I want you to review all data, including the evidence from Robin's kidnapping, especially if they're in or within a 100-mile radius of your respective cities. Copy the information to your portable storage drives for your respective mentors." Batman typed in a password to the entrance of the hangar bay and watched the doors open.
"Uh, Bats?" KF asked. "Are you sure this isn't a little… well, extreme?"
"The League of Shadows is a powerful organization and likes to attract attention right before they do something big. Kidnapping Robin made sure they have both mine and the League's attention, which means that their big plans aren't far behind. You five need to ensure that the Shadow's operations in each of your cities are either taken down or going to be taken down by the time I get back with Robin."
"Can't we come with?" Connor asked, crossing his arms over his chest. Batman stepped through the entrance, turned and met his gaze.
"No." The doors swished closed. The team gazed at the data streams before them. Minutes later, they heard the familiar sound of the Batjet taking off, leaving the mountain – and them – behind.
"I knew it!" Wally exploded. "Batman tells us all this so we can sit here and do nothing while he goes and rescues our buddy. He's our best friend, for crying loud!"
"He is Batman's protégé," Kaldur responded calmly. "As his mentor, Batman can and should take full responsibility of Robin's rescue."
"Besides, it's not like we have nothing to do," M'gann said, taking a hesitant look at the screens, slowing down the speed. Her eyes bugged out. "There's enough information here to keep all of us busy for at least three hours, and that's just the reading and sorting!"
"We have to copy it onto disks for our mentors, too," Artemis groaned. "Even if we get it done and get it to our mentors, we won't be able to come with. It'll officially be a 'League matter', not a Young Justice matter."
"Which means –" Aqualad began.
"Stand back, people!" KF cracked his knuckles and stretched his head from side to side. "Let the King of Speed work here!" He sped to the screens and created five terminals. "Hand me your drives!" Each team member took out and handed their drives to the speedster, albeit a little reluctantly. "Just don't break mine, Baywatch, or you're buying me a new one," Artemis threatened.
"Now – WATCH!" He dashed towards the terminals, plugged each data drive into a terminal, and became the blur copying data onto each drive.
"So…" M'gann began. "I assume we are going after our friend?" Artemis smirked at her.
"You bet on it."
"As team leader, I feel obligated to inform you that if you do not want to come, you do not have to," Aqualad stated. "We will be heading into a dangerous fight."
"When has that stopped us?" Connor asked.
"Hey, aren't you supposed to be concerned about the possible consequences of our actions?" Artemis asked.
"I would cite the whole list, yes, but I know you all will simply ignore it," Kaldur stated. "Besides, I too would want to be there to rescue Robin. He would do the same for us if any one of us were taken." The others nodded in agreement and watched KF speeding away at the terminals.
"How much longer, Baywatch?" Artemis asked.
"First: stop calling me that, and second: not much," Wally replied, his eyes glued to the screens. "The data is sorted and has just begun getting stored on your devices. Only a few more minutes now." Almost immediately the terminals began beeping, signaling the transaction was completed.
"Alright!" The speedster pumped his fist into the air, pulling out the devices and flinging them towards the Kryptonian to catch. "Now we can send our mentors the message and be outta here!"
"I can have Sphere send the urgency signal to our mentors to pick up the devices," Connor offered.
"Even better!" KF grinned. "Now can we go?"
"I'll prep the Bioship," M'gann offered, flying in the direction of the hangar.
"Too bad we can't just e-mail the data," Artemis stated.
"Yeah," KF agreed, "but this way we have a chance of getting the jump on eliminating the major HQ's of the League of Shadows in our country. 'Sides, face-to-face data transfer is preferable."
"More like a data drop-off," Connor stated, placing the storage devices on the counter.
"Our mentors are the only ones who can get in and out," KF said. "Plus, I'll write them a note." He speed-scribbled a note and placed it on the counter next to the devices. "'Something came up, will be back soon. The Team.' There, now our mentors definitely won't worry about us."
"Why bother?" Artemis rolled her eyes as she and the others hurried towards the hangar bay. "I mean, we're disobeying a direct order to remain behind to follow the World's Greatest Detective to rescue our friend who's being held captive by one of the most powerful secret societies in the world. What's to worry?"
"Exactly!" Wally nodded in agreement, already zoning out of the archer's last statements. "Hurry up! We got Bats to follow, Robins to rescue. Comeoncomeoncomeoncomeon!" He made sure the last member was on board, sped up the ramp and buckled in. The Bioship soared out of the hangar and onto Batman's last known trajectory.
Batman looked out the windshield as the Batjet zoomed across the Atlantic Ocean. His gloved fingers tapped out the code to switch from manual to autopilot. Once the autopilot was engaged, his hands tapped the small map on the right-hand consol. He zoomed in to focus on the small, horn-shaped section that jutted out between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Three names jumped out at him: Tangier, Ceuta, and Tétouan, the three part-cities, part-towns in that area. He connected the three places to form a triangle and determined the midpoint. There. He zoomed in for a closer look.
That mountain looked familiar. He remembered visiting Morocco when he was on his worldwide expedition to learn and master fighting forms, but he never remembered going into the mountains. I did, however, train at the bases of several mountains, he thought. This must have been one of them. The locals feared the mountains, saying shadows dwelled there, killing anyone who dared venture up there. It is possible, but… His eyes narrowed.
Why would Ra's al Ghul take Robin, and why to Morocco?
The Batjet was silent as the Batman reasoned out possible answers.