A/N: Thank you for the reviews, alerts/follows, favorites and reviews. Trust me though; I'm glad that this is ending.
Nightwing's eyes narrowed back at Azrael and Ra's. He was too far away to help Damian…
He took one moment of peace though. Damian wasn't with Talia alone. Bruce wouldn't let anything happen to him…
Red Robin hit the rooftops after his meeting with Catwoman and huffed at the impact of his boots on the rooftop. Nothing. Absolutely nothing found at last night's scope of the city. Now what?
Maybe he should head to the hospital?
No. The child assassin was there. No matter how desperately he wanted to check in to see Bruce's and Alfred's conditions, being alone with Damian again didn't set too well in his stomach at all. Taking a deep breath of fresh air, he padded to the end of the rooftop he was on and settled himself down on the edge.
Dr. Langstrom's study on the alien chemical in affect with 'meta-genes' for lack of a better scientific term, hadn't revealed much either. Maybe he should…
He hadn't been told if the Batcave was up to par for study but he knew the Batbunker was. Yeah, he could go there. Study it himself. He might have simply stayed with Dr. Langstrom but come on; the guy was Man-Bat! There weren't too many happy memories in his mind connected with the guy. Though he was accepted, they all were a little weary of him.
Well it was either start his own studies on the samples himself, or go find Nightwing, who was most likely still in a meeting with the Commissioner. and see if he needed any help. Of course, he could go back to the hotel and get that nap he had been craving earlier, he was starting to get a stress headache behind his right eye and he'd been under mind control for most of this adventure. Earlier Stephanie had told, more like ranted to, him how many times she had been knocked out. When some gang guy had tried to knock her out again last night while she was out on the city-scope with the 'cats' she'd single-handedly thrown him and the entire gang off the nearest bridge since they had been near the river instead of the rooftops. He was avoiding her at the moment, plus she was back with her mother at their apartment that had escaped the city panic with only minimal damage.
Tim suddenly had to reach up and rub at his eyes. That hotel bed…
OK. It was too tempting, he wanted a nap.
With that, he turned away from the sunlit city scape line and headed back to the extra fluffy bed that was calling his name.
Frustrated, Dr. Langstrom shoved the photo diagram of meta-DNA away and reached for his coffee cup. He wasn't getting anywhere with his studies at the moment. Draining the last two drops of coffee, he should've made more than one cup, he walked over to the low end window of the East Wayne-Research lab and looked up at the sky.
Ugh! He could feel the wings already, even without the bat-gland formula in his veins.
Well, he had no more coffee, his studies hadn't turned up anything, he was dying to fly, the formula was burning a hole in his back pocket and most of the 'team' had been patrolling the night before so those running around right now could be outnumbered-not that there could possibly be much more people or villains out there that weren't busy getting back on their feet.
He shouldn't be arguing with his brain. He was going on his own patrol!
He left the cup on the windowsill, opened the door to the rooftop on the far side of the lab and followed the fresh air all the way up to the sky.
Damian's eyes were wide, his mouth dripping blood as he stared down at his own chest. He couldn't take his eyes off of the blade. Yes, BLADE that was sticking in between two of his ribs. He couldn't even look up at his mother, as she towered above him. Her hand was stained with his blood and she was grimacing at it as if it were some kind of vile alien-slug.
Damn. Grayson was still influencing him. Whatever the idiot had was apparently contagious!
"You will understand boy-this is necessary."
"Mother, why?" Damian choked out as a heat raced up his esophagus that felt like starch cotton.
"You are not Damian-you are not my son."
Raising a second blade just below her shoulder for a downward strike, Talia let herself be lost in her memory…
"The fools," Talia muttered as her sharp eyes glanced around the decimated biology lab.
White broken tiles, knocked over test tube racks, cracked grey computer screens and hole-filled walls stared back her with the same sharp of eyes of just a different nature. She had returned to the underground research biology lab in India to recover a hard file that had been abandoned quite quickly when that team of meta-humans had discovered it months ago.
The file had been the responsibility of the head scientist of the group that was responsible for her son. Unfortunately, the useless brain had allowed himself to be captured by those "Outsiders" and left the file behind. Talia had to wonder though-what were the chances those heroes hadn't taken it for themselves?
Even if they possessed it, she had to hope it was still in the hidden safe. Giving the room a strait, curious glare, the al Ghul made her way over to the center of the room where a small stasis cylinder stood. It was only big enough for perhaps, a three year old boy. Ah, the place where their head scientists had ensured her that her son would be her perfect soldier. Her mouth fell a bit at that but she shook off the betrayal from her neck and spine. She bent down at the cylinders base and ran her fingertips over the sleek aluminum shell before pressing it in at three different points. The hidden door slid open and what she found inside was not the hard copy manila folder of project 'Gatea' but a large dusty memory drive that resembled a computer chip.
She would kill her employee for lying to her. Beheading.
Curious though, she picked it up with her fingertips and blew off the dust. Did the old thing even work?
Locating a still humming computer she crossed the room towards it to check the files on it, if there were any at all.
Perhaps it was the file for their project in digital form?
When the static of a video file was the first sight to greet her though, she knew that she had been wrong.
When the picture adjusted the color and clarity she beat down the way her heart wanted to thump painfully in regret. She recognized the child in the cylinder chamber by the identification code on its side.
"Damian," she mentally sighed.
Some of the scientists that had been working on project 'Gatea' had also aided in her son's early infant development. OK, perhaps she should just kill that one in his sleep…
She was kind of listening to the scientists' voices grumbling back and forth to one another on the video. Talia reached up to the nearest power switch to turn the screen off but something her sharp eyes spotted made her stop and stare. Her hands flew to the computer controls and froze the screen. On the side of the lab on the screen, one of the computers had a heart monitor display. Zooming in-her eyes widened and her jaw dropped.
The heart rate had flat-lined.
But then that would mean...
The video went back to playing and Talia held her breath as one of the white coated scientists approached the stasis cylinder and slid open the door, watching the infant body fall onto the floor.
"Lady Talia will not be happy."
"We'll be killed."
"This is your fault! Too much of the Amatatinine-195 caused the heart to dry out!"
"Silence! We'll all be killed, unless…"
"Do we have other DNA samples on hand?"
"Well, yes-but I don't see-"
"We'll have to double the synthesizing rate to complete the project on time. Whatever whole DNA samples we have will have to be used to repair what we can recover from this failed experiment."
He kicked at the cold body on the floor, "Dump this far from here and get to work, or it'll be our heads. Talia al Ghul will have A son."
Talia stepped back in pure, completely disturbed, shock.
This was not her son, so Talia had nothing to fear or regret. She drew out a second blade from her left sleeve, reached out and grabbed the boy by his hair. She yanked his head back and frowned as it let his throat be exposed to her. He was gasping, so the first knife had probably struck a lung.
She hesitated and mentally stabbed herself for it. This was NOT her child. Those fools! The boy was a mess of DNA strands that had been forced to synthesize.
She straitened her hand holding the knife and stared up at the clouds. She had seen the bandage around his neck. Opening the wound would allow the entire DNA bloodstream to spill-but no, a quick, clean cut. The child deserved that. Then it would be over.
"Understand I cannot apologize for this."
The blade flashed in the afternoon sun that couldn't reach them.
Did these things ever end!
Dick found himself facing twice as many ninja before including Ra's and Azrael himself. He tried to keep his body up to par and to ignore the pain from his few wounds by muttering a random rhyme.
One Ninja! Two Ninja! Red Ninja! Blue Ninja!
Thank you doctor!
"You will fall," muttered Azrael.
"Says the skinless stale skeleton. Whoa, try saying the five times fast," Nightwing muttered while flipping the dead guy over his shoulder and face-first onto the rooftop beneath their feet.
It took him a good few minutes to take down the ninja but then he was faced against Azrael.
"Eliminate him," Ra's commanded and the bat armor-clad zombie dove forward to drive his claws through the skull of his prey.
"I really hope this guy doesn't eat brains," the blue and black clad hero thought as he rolled to the side to avoid the attack.
Dodging a bladed gauntlet, Nightwing leaped up and used the shoulders of the once live Azrael as a springboard to reach the higher rooftop he had been backed against for most of the fight. The armored bat wasn't far behind, meeting the hero gauntlet to ecrisma stick. This was definitely one of those days. Gotham had to be where all the villains' plans were buried under layers of false plans. It couldn't be as simple for them as Superman. With Metropolis, a huge alien monster normally just attacked the city and Superman would normally throw it back out into space.
What was it about Gotham that attracted the ones with brains?
Well, maybe that's why the zombie was here; but if even a small part of the old Jean-Paul Valley existed, Dick hated to admit it even mentally; he had to at least try to reach that part.
"Jean-Paul! What happened to you? Do you remember-anything?"
He got a snarl and nearly got his left lung ripped out for that one. Maybe if he bonked him on the head a few times? That always worked on television and hey-truth was stranger than fiction, right?
Catching sense of an opening and swiping a sharp kick across the armored head, Dick grinned as he heard the helmet hit the ground. Then, he glanced up and saw something he didn't expect to. Apparently the guy had been in some zombie form, because that weak kick hadn't just taken the helmet off, the head had gone with it.
THAT WAS IT! RA'S WAS GETTING AN ECRISMA STICK SHOVED DOWN HIS THROAT IF IT WAS THE LAST THING HE DID!
Nightwing turned towards the man obsessed with immortality and tightened his hold on his weapons.
"Please, if your mentor could not defeat me what chance do-" Ra's was cut off as he jumped backwards to avoid a stream of firing bullets.
Dick gasped and glanced behind him.
"You scum-get out of my city before I fill you full of lead," the Red Hood said.
"You!" Ra's gasped, "I thought we had rid ourselves of-"
"Shut up!" Jason yelled, firing another line of bullets.
A loud breeze shut the three up. The villain, the hero and the anti-hero.
"Well, you up for some double play Dickie-bird?"
Nightwing glared before racing towards Ra's, "Shut up and fight!"
Jason chuckled under his breath and withdrew a second gun. This would be fun!
In the end, Ra's had vanished into the shadows of a back-water alley, also spitting out the obvious fact that criminals would retake the city with ease. It seems that if the city's normal criminals helped Ra's with his mission, their reputation would advance in the underworld. Of course.
"So, what are you doing here?" Nightwing asked, raising an eyebrow behind his mask at his younger brother.
"I ran into an old friend of yours."
Up went the other eyebrow, "Old friend?"
"The possessive old maniac."
Dick's face fell into an annoyed expression, "Deathstroke."
"Yeah he's still all, 'Nightwing will be mine!' I'm fine with the women bro, but you've GOT to stop attracting these old men-it's freaking creepy!"
The acrobat slapped his forehead with a sigh before ignoring the problem, "I need to get back to Damian, Bruce and Talia."
When he turned to face him again though, Jason was gone.
"Modest guy doesn't even wait for a thank you," Nightwing muttered before heading off in the direction where his youngest brother had left with his parents.
He stopped for only a moment, the folder Ra's had given him was still lying on the rooftop with the bloody bodies of Azrael, the scientists that were slaughtered and all the unconscious ninja. He kicked it off the rooftop and ignored it. So what? None of it meant anything to their family, especially to him. DNA or not. It didn't matter.
With that final thought and a sharp self-assuring nod, Dick left the rooftop for Gotham's finest to look over later.
Nightwing found an unconscious Bruce Wayne and a bit of blood at the scene, but that was it. He was by his unconscious mentor's side in a second. He scanned the body for wounds, breathed a sigh of relief but then gasped at the sight of a needle in the man's neck.
Sleeping drug. Non-lethal. Whew!
Dick turned and let his lenses scan the rooftop. It didn't take long to find a suspicious trail of blood or the cold, unmoving, dead body of a little boy-killed before his time. Throat slit, open to Gotham's polluted air.
Ecrisma sticks shattered against the rooftop as a distant Midwestern death bell tolled out the time for noonday.
I've decided there will be an epilogue. I wanted this to be the complete end but I think this is really where I need to break it off.