Disclaimer: Be forewarned, you are entering a story or pure awesomeness. Any mind blowing injuries are not the responsibility of the author. Also, I own no DC characters within the epic story below.
So last month I bought Vol. 1 of the New 52's Batman comic and the Court of Owls truly fascinated me. As such, my sequel to Strange New World will be centered on that storyline though I'll try my damnedest to fit into the YJ universe. I'd suggest reading Strange New World before (find it on my profile page) getting into this one so you can read the origin of my OC character without getting all confused in this one. Don't worry, my OC is kind of badass so Strange New World is worth a look. The intro paragraph plays directly off the epilogue from Strange New World. I also indirectly fit in A Good Soldier into my little OC universe. Enjoy, and please review!
Washington D.C. – June 7, 2052
Hall of Justice Memorial
Kal returned to the car thinking his over his dad's question. His dad, the hero known as Hawkeye, had asked if he wanted to hear about his days with Red Hood and the Outlaws or if he wanted to hear the story of how Nightwing and Hawkeye had taken down the Court of Owls. To the 12 year old they both sounded awesome since they both meant more stories about his "relatives" in the Bat-family of which Kal's family were ancillary members. Having been raised within the hero community Kal knew all the heroes pretty well, but most of his dad's early days were forty or so years ago. Thing hard on the choice he made a decision just as his dad returned from the memorial to the first Aqualad, who Kal was told was where his name came from.
Thomas got behind the wheel and started up his prized black 2012 Dodge Challenger reveling in the roar of the engine before turning to talk to his son, "So make a decision yet bud? Got a long drive home and plenty of stories to tell."
"Yeah, I wanna hear about you and Uncle Dick taking down the Court of Owls!"
Thomas smiled, "Good choice Kal, good choice! Well buckle up and we'll hit the road. This tale will probably take the whole trip home."
Pulling the car out of the memorial parking lot Thomas began telling his eager 12 year old son the story, "So this one happened about 37 years ago…"
Gotham City – March 3, 2015
Dick Grayson descended in the old service elevator from Wayne Manor into the bowels of the Batcave below. To the rest of the world he had simply returned home from college in Blüdhaven. Thanks to Bruce Dick could have gotten into any college in any city in the world and it was quite the source of tabloid discussion when the ward of Bruce Wayne chose to attend college in the crime-ridden city in Europe. Young Mr. Grayson had been going to college for the whole semester before rumors of a new vigilante on the streets of Blüdhaven started reaching Batman's ears. And Batman was most definitely not someone you kept things from, especially things like going solo as a hero in a city that nearly made Gotham look like a small farm town in terms of crime and corruption.
That was the real reason Mr. Grayson found himself heading to his old stomping ground in the Batcave. While the public would never know it was actually the events in this very cave one year prior that drove Dick to choose his new location in life. Bruce had replaced him as Robin with some junkie kid who had the gall to try to steal the tires of the Batmobile. That had set Dick off more than anything. He was the one who had created the Robin identity for crying out loud! It was what his mother used to call him before they were murdered and Bruce taking that identity and giving it some punk had put such a strain on their relationship that he couldn't stand working with the man anymore. And that's the story of how Nightwing came to Blüdhaven and started beating the crap out of criminals and scum, which was why Dick wasn't looking forward to his conversation with Bruce.
As the elevator came to a stop Dick lifted the metal safety bar and stepped into the underground lair of the legendary Batman. Walking toward the main computer the young hero found his gaze being drawn to the lab table where a body was laying with what looked like liquid nitrogen tubes running into his chest. His curiosity getting the better of him Dick walked over to examine the body. What he found utterly amazed him. The man had more scars running along his body the Bruce, Dick and Jason combined. It seemed impossible for someone to have lived through the trauma that this man's body had seen. There were several that indicated to the trained eye that the man's hands had been repeatedly broken. One, caused by what appeared to be a blade, ran down the side of his face from his right eye brow down to just above the right part of his upper lip. The torso alone seemed to have more scarred than unmarred flesh.
"Ah, Master Richard, so good to see you again. I see you have found Master Bruce's new lab experiment." The sudden sound of Alfred made Dick jump a fraction of an inch. Somehow the man could sneak up on anyone, even Batman.
"Alfred! Good to see you!" Dick gave his old butler/caretaker a cheerful hug before getting more serious by making a gesture to the man on the table, "I take it this is part of the reason Bruce called me?"
"Quite right sir, quite right. Though I believe the initial call was concerning your recent foray into solo vigilantism. However I sincerely doubt that Master Bruce would admit as much."
"So do I A, so do I."
Before Dick could get any chance to further examine the corpse on the slab Batman, sans the top of his costume, emerged from the armory. The sight of him caused Dick to inwardly gasp out of shock for he hadn't seen the man this beaten in years. Bandages were draped around his torso and looked as though they weren't doing too good of a job at stopping whatever bleeding was going on. The way Bruce walked it looked as though there were numerous broken or cracked ribs. There were several lacerations on his face and arms along with major swelling around his left eye. Bruises had formed in the abdomen and didn't end as they wound their way to Bruce's back, which Dick didn't even want to look at judging by the condition of his front side. That wasn't even mentioning the serious limp Bruce walked with. His right calf had been splinted and he looked as though he should be bedridden instead of walking around the Batcave like nothing happened. Yet despite the injuries and the mental trauma that clearly had to accompany them Bruce seemed to be soldier on. He was, after all, Batman.
Dick wasn't sure what to say to the man who all but kicked him out a little over a year ago so he went with whatever came out his mouth, "You look like hell Bruce."
"You should see the other guy." Both Alfred and Dick froze on the spot. Did Batman just make a joke? That happened literally once a year. You could literally count the number of years Bruce had been Batman by the number of jokes he'd told. Yet in spite of the serious beating he'd just started to recover from Bruce had cracked a joke. Between that and the dead guy on the table something told Dick this was going to be a strange night.
"So you want to tell me what happened?"
Bruce finished walking over to the Alfred and Dick and stared at the body for several seconds before responding, "The Court of Owls has declared war on Gotham."
The sentence hung in the air for several seconds before Dick fully comprehended the meaning behind it, "What, like THE Court of Owls? You always said they were just a myth."
"I was wrong."
Holy shit, a joke and he's admitting he was wrong. The world has officially stopped spinning.
Dick's inner monologue was cut off by Bruce continuing to explain the situation, "The man on the table is an assassin known as a Talon and is actually over 150 years old."
"Pardon me sir, did you say 'A' Talon?" Alfred was deeply concerned that there were more of these assassins considering what only one could do to Batman.
"Yes Alfred, 'A' Talon." Striding over to the lab table and standing directly over the body Bruce began to recite on old folk tale,
"The Court of Owls watches,
watches all the time.
Ruling Gotham from shadowed perch,
behind granite and lime.
They watch you at your hearth.
they watch you in your bed,
speak not a whispered word of them,
or they'll send The Talon for your head.
During my encounter with the Court I found the holding cells for each of the Talons. There were 21 unopened caskets housing the different assassins. Two were opened. One was this man's, who according to the Court was their deadliest warrior. The other was unfilled, having been meant for a new recruit who the Court is waiting to reclaim."
"Bruce, who is the man?" While Dick was quite appreciative of Batman's sharing mood this particular night he really wanted some more solid intel like names and dates than old wives' tales.
"His name is William Cobb. And if you brushed up on your family tree like I asked you then you'll know the name."
Dropping Cobb's name had thrown Nightwing for a loop. Seems to be a consistent them tonight. "My great-grandfather? That why you wanted me to research my family on the flight over? The records I found indicate that he died at the age of 19 after getting my great-grandmother pregnant. Are you tell me he became this assassin?"
"Yes and that isn't the most troubling part Dick."
"What's more troubling than finding out my great-grandfather is a master assassin and somehow still alive?"
"That would be the liquid nitrogen. Through a combination of chemicals the Court is able to keep their assassins in a hibernetic state between battles and it also allows them to heal their bodies, even from death. However I analyzed the chemical and found than extreme cold keeps the chemical reaction from occurring."
"Well, that explains the tubes in his arms and chest, but you said there was something more troubling?"
"That unopened casket I told you about was meant for someone in particular Dick." Bruce looked at the ground stopping just short of revealing the name. "Who?" Dick had grown agitated at Bruce's piece-mealing of the information.
"You Dick. You were meant to be the next Talon."
I certainly hope the introduction has whetted your appetite for more of the story! Please review to give you criticism and opinions, plus maybe your ideas on where the story might be headed. My OC Thomas, from Strange New World, will figure heavily from here on out so I would suggest reading that story (find it on my profile page) before reading chapter 2 of this tale whenever I get it posted.