Summary: The epilogue…
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By Syl Francis
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Ra's al Ghul Satrap
Southern Asia: Himalayan Foothills
Six months later/0100 EDT
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Robin hacked the security system in record time. The Team was a year old now and had grown in size. They now had more metas—Bumblebee and Beast Boy had joined the team in mid-March—and Robin was officially Aqualad's second-in-command, as well as, the Team's acknowledged strategist and electronics whiz.
"Okay, I'm in," he reported. Aqualad and M'Gann were waiting in the bioship, while Robin, Superboy, Kid Flash, and Artemis had infiltrated the Demon's no-longer-secret underground facility. Accompanying them on her first mission was Bumblebee, a meta whose powers were geared toward infil missions. Shrinking down to her tiny, insect size she was buzzing around impatiently as her more experienced teammates waited for Robin's electronic sleuthing.
Robin studied the readings coming over his glove computer virtual monitor. "According to security plans, the facility has several additional floors running further down. Whoa…here's something unexpected—"
When no further words were forthcoming, Kid Flash broke in impatiently. "What? What's unexpected? Spill, Rob!"
Bumblebee felt a little mollified at Kid Flash's request because she was ready to go crazy with all the waiting. She jumped the next minute when she came across a pair of almond shaped eyes that were looking at her in amusement.
"Take it easy, Karen…It always goes like this. Robby gets lost in the computer code and Kid Idiot annoys him into staying grounded in reality. It's a mystery, but it works somehow."
"Hey, I heard that!" Kid Flash shot back, sounding amused.
"Okay…it looks like we're in the clear," Robin said. "The place is abandoned. I've run a full security check. The place is in lockdown, but there's no one home."
"What do you make of it?" Aqualad asked. "According to Batman's source, Ra's al Ghul has been developing a dangerous weapon for the past few months here."
Robin saw no need to tell them that the source they were referring to was Talia al Ghul, the daughter of the Demon's Head. Personally, he could not trust her as far he could throw her, but Batman had been sure that at least some of her information would prove useful. Therefore, he had deployed the Team for a reconnaissance mission to find out what weapon her father was developing.
"According to the security files, if there is a weapon being developed here, then we'll probably find it in the lowest sublevel. It's called Project Ibn al Xu'ffash."
"What does that mean?" Bumblebee asked.
"Not really sure," Robin mumbled. "But I can find out…Here it is—Ibn al Xu'ffash is Arabic for—" He stopped, eyes wide. "No…" He whispered with a shake of his head.
"What? What is it, Rob?" Kid Flash demanded.
When Robin still did not answer, Artemis read over the Boy Wonder's shoulder. She gasped slightly, but read the information aloud. "It means, Son of the Bat."
Shuddering slightly, Robin took a deep breath before continuing. "According to this, the underground facility is working on a bioweapon of some kind—a weapon capable of taking out the whole Justice League. However, because of the needs of the Light's new partner, the project has been abandoned for now. Guys…the facility was supposed to be destroyed along with the project." He looked up. "Talia al Ghul was ordered to destroy it. Apparently, she decided to inform Batman of its existence instead."
"But why?" Superboy asked.
"That, Supes, is the million dollar question." Deliberately, Robin repeated the words that his mentor had spoken all those months ago on the Watchtower when they discussed the possible reasons that he had been transported here. Robin now had a very good idea what that reason was. Turning from the others, he activated his personal Bat-communicator.
"What is it?" Batman answered immediately.
"You have to get here, Batman. The facility is abandoned. The bioweapon is located in the lowest level. I think you'll want to be here when we find it."
"Why? What is it?" Batman repeated.
"It's called Project Ibn al Xu'ffash."
There was a long pause, then Batman spoke. "I've locked onto your coordinates. Keep your communicator open. I'm on my way."
"You got it."
The next moment, a white zeta transporter beam materialized before them. When it cleared, the Dark Knight stood there, wearing one of the nth belts that Robin had developed.
Without a word, the two Bats conferred silently with each other. Robin showed his mentor the readings from his glove computer, and Batman took a few minutes to read them through. As they did, the others stood around looking uncomfortable.
"What's going on?" Bumblebee asked Artemis.
Artemis took a sneak peek at Superboy before answering. "I'm not 100 percent sure, but what I am sure of is that it's probably not good."
Superboy glared at no one in particular. He definitely had a feeling of unease growing inside him.
"Let's go," Batman ordered without another word. He and Robin headed toward the lifts at the end of the corridor. Entering they pressed the down button to the lowest level. While everyone kept their opinions to themselves, they all had a growing feeling of inevitability settling on their shoulders.
As the lift doors opened, Robin deployed the team to take up security points around the hidden laboratory. Kid Flash checked the place at super-speed and confirmed that it was unoccupied. Nodding somewhat absentmindedly, Robin took his cues from his partner. Batman gave him with a questioning look, and Robin pointed to a heavy, sealed door at the far end. They walked in its direction in measured steps, side-by-side. Once at the door, Robin jacked into its security pad and quickly decrypted its security code.
Nodding at Superboy, Robin stepped back as the Boy of Steel flexed his muscles and opened the heavy, steel-gage door. Inside, to no one's real surprise was a transparent container holding a small boy. The boy looked to be about five-years-old and was attached to a breathing apparatus. He was submersed in a green, gel-like fluid.
Robin spoke. At some time he had jacked into the pod's control panel. "According to this, the boy is six months old in real time, but five years old in physical development—approximately one month per year. The additional month apparently simulated the nine-month gestation period. That green, yucky stuff acts in place of a womb—"
"TMI, dude!" Kid Flash protested, only to be slapped upside the head by Artemis. "Ouch!"
"Quiet, Baywatch!" She gave him a warning look, her chin pointing toward Batman who was touching the pod palm out.
"The gel-like substance places the occupant in some kind of suspended animation. The boy's development is a combination of cloning science and…" Robin cleared his throat. "…In-vitro fertilization. Batman, some of the stuff here…I think you may want to read it yourself." He turned to the others. "Guys…can you give us some space? This is really Bat-stuff."
"Robin, what can you tell us?" Aqualad asked.
"I'm sorry, Aqualad…but that's up to Batman."
"Understood," Aqualad acknowledged.
"Well, I don't understand," Bumblebee muttered under her breath as they walked out of the sealed room…
"Batman?" Robin spoke uncertainly. He placed his smaller gloved hand over his mentor's. "Batman?" he repeated.
"A clone," Batman whispered, his voice shaky with anger. "Now I know how Superman felt. Ibn al Xu'ffash…Son of the Bat. This is what they did to me during those four hours I was gone. They took DNA samples from me and created a clone—"
"No, Batman…not a clone. A son." Batman turned the full Bat-glare at the boy he thought of as his true son. "They took…" He cleared his throat again in embarrassment. "They took sperm samples from you. The records show that they used sperm to fertilize in-vitro several female ova." He nodded his chin at the boy floating in the gel-like substance. "He's the result." He turned back to his mentor. "He's a real boy, Bruce…your real son." Unable to help himself, Robin's voice hitched slightly at the end. "They used what they learned from the cloning process to speed up his physical development, but he came from your sperm and…Talia's ovum."
He was looking down, so Robin did not notice when Batman put his arm around his shoulder. "You are my real son, Dick. Don't ever forget it." Robin threw his arms around Batman. He had already known the truth, but he had needed a little reminder.
Smiling gratefully, Robin held his Batman's eyes as he asked, "Why don't we see how to get my new brother out of that contraption, so we can take him home?" He grinned suddenly. "I hope you know what you're going to say to Alfred!"
Bruce's arms tightening instinctively around him, coupled with his answering grin told Dick that everything was going to be all right. Whatever happened in the future, whatever they discovered about the still-missing sixteen hours, at this moment, they were no longer Batman and Robin. They were a father and his firstborn son, gazing upon the gift of a new life that had just increased their small family by one.
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Author's Note: I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who signed on for story alert or favored the story, and, of course, thanks to everyone for reviewing. I hope you all enjoyed reading Alpha-Omega Protocol as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to DC, Time Warner, and CN; this is an original story that doesn't intend to infringe on their copyright. Feedback is welcome.
Copyright: January 2013