Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. DC Comics owns them. This is just a fun writing exercise.
Chapter One: Stars on the Beach
The East Coast - Bludhaven -Dick Grayson's apartment - the living room - 8:30 p.m.
Dick Grayson sat in an armchair. The room was shadowed by the darkness of night. There was no light on in the room. Only the lights from a nearby building kept the room from being pitch black. Dick leaned forward in the chair. His face was grim and serious. He held in his hand a picture frame.
The picture was of the five original Titans. In the picture a smiling Wonder Girl wore her original red, gold, white and blue costume with her hair pulled up in a ponytail. Her real name was Donna Troy. She was the closest thing Dick had to a sister. Standing next to her was the red haired youth with the domino mask then known as Speedy. Speedy was dressed in his red and yellow Robin Hood style garb.
Across the darkened room on a table, an answering machine beeped. "It's me Roy!" the voice on the speaker yelled, "Now pick up the darn phone!" Roy Harper was the real name of the one who had been Speedy. When he wore a costume, he now went by the name Arsenal. Like Dick, he was much older than the face the picture showed.
The boy next to Speedy was a thirteen year old Dick Grayson. When he wore the red and green with the yellow cape, he had been Robin. The black haired boy in the picture was so different in expression from the man in the armchair that it was almost hard to believe they were one in the same. Back then Robin had been so young and innocent. Ten years later he was now known as Nightwing.
"You need to talk to someone!" Roy yelled over the speaker. "If you're there pick up the phone! No one's heard from you in weeks! No one outside of Bats and Timmy. Yes, I talked to Bruce. I swears when he talks that way, he's scary!" The phone beeped then rang again. After a minute Roy was back on the speaker. "I wasn't finished! You listen to me! You…"
Dick paid little attention to the phone. He continued to gaze at the picture. His eyes moved to look at a boy with red hair decked out in yellow and red. His codename then, Kid Flash. His real name was Wally West He was now the Flash. Beside the then Kid Flash was yet another youth who since grown into a man. The black haired boy with the purple eyes wore a red and blue costume. His codename then was Aqualad. His real name was simply Garth. He was now Tempest.
The faces in the picture were hard to see in the dim light but they were smiling, a reminder of a happier, more light hearted age. The team then was so bright and optimistic. They were so cheerful. They behaved and acted as if nothing could harm them. One of the people in the picture was now dead.
The West Coast - Star City - Oliver Queen's house - the kitchen - 4:37 p.m.
Roy Harper slammed the phone down hard on the counter top. The red haired man was in his early twenties. His arms were strong from pulling bowstrings. His hair was longish for a man, going past his jaws. His face was filled anger. The anger quickly shifted into worry.
Over at the kitchen table Lian Harper sat with a coloring book. The three year old girl had black hair pulled up in a ponytail. Her eyes were blue the same as her father. She looked up at her Dad. "Uncle Dick is being bad?" she asked.
"Yes," Roy said, "Um no. I don't know. He's closing himself off. He's not talking to his friends. I think he's afraid of getting hurt. He's not dealing with Donna's death."
Mia Dearden, Oliver's teenage ward walked into the room. "If you ask me," she said, "I think that guy's a jerk." Mia grabbed an apple from a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter. "So how long you staying? I don't mind much but I think Ollie's going to go ballistic." Roy sighed. He scratched at his neck. "Much as I wish you were wrong, all of us living under the same roof isn't going to work. I'm looking for an apartment nearby. Maybe a house to rent."
"So you're staying in the area?" Mia asked. She walked out of the room biting into the apple as she moved.
Roy moved over to the table. He pick up Lian. He held her. "For the next month or so no unnecessary risks. Just quality time with family and friends."
"Auntie Donna?" Lian asked.
Roy nodded. "Yes. Loosing her made me revaluate some things."
"Re- what?" Lian's eyes went wide.
Roy smiled a sad smile. "It made me see more clearly the important things. Like how important it is to just enjoy the time you have with loved ones. Loved ones like you!" He began to tickle Lian. Her laughter filled the kitchen.
Seven months later - Bludhaven - Dick Grayson's apartment - outside the front door - 5:30 p.m.
Roy Harper stood banging on the door. "Dick if you're in there, let me in!" Roy continued banging on the door. "I know you're off duty! Let me in!" Roy was leaning on the door as it suddenly swung open. He fell forward. He put his hands out catching himself. He was nearly face down on the floor. A pair of black and white sneakers were in front of his face. "Those shoes, too small for Dick," Roy said out loud.
"That's because I'm not Dick!" a male voice shouted harshly. Roy looked up. The sixteen year old Tim Drake was standing in front of him looking down. The boy was wearing jeans and a dark blue sweater. The boy was glaring quite fiercely. "What are you doing here?"
Roy looked nervous. "Um, looking for Dick?"
Tim's face softened. He laughed. "I scared you. Didn't I?"
It was Roy's turn to glare. He stood up brushing at himself as if brushing off dirt. "You sounded too much like Bats!"
Tim rolled his eyes. "Yeah. Right." He rolled up the long sleeves of the sweater he was wearing. He glanced at his watch. "Dick should be back soon. He was just running down to the local convince store."
"You worried about him too, kid?" Roy asked.
"What do you mean?" There was annoyance in Tim's face and voice. "Dick's fine."
"Fine!" Roy yelled with sarcasm. "He's not fine! He hasn't spoken hardly one word to his best friends in the past six months. Even Wally's worried. The only one who's not is Garth and that's just because he's been out of communication. When Garth gets that way, that's just Garth being Garth. Atlantis is always dealing with wars and other communication problems so not talking to Garth for a few months even half a year, is no big deal. With Dick though it's a different matter."
Roy moved his arms wildly. "When Dick stops talking to his friends or spending time with them it's cause for alarm! My best friend, a guy who is well known for needing human touch and socialization has withdrawn from more than half the people who still care about him. So no, I would say that everything is not fine!"
"Geez," Tim said shaking his head, "Keep your voice down! Do you want the land lady to come here? Trust me man, that's not a good idea. So lower your voice." Tim gestured at the shabby interior of the apartment. "If you're going to be loud come on in first."
A minute later in Roy was standing on the other side of the door. The door was shut. Tim was staring up at Roy. Tim crossed his arms then raised a brow. "Don't you think you're a making a big deal out of nothing?" Tim said.
"No!" Roy said.
Tim smirked. "Okay. I kind of see your point. So what are you planning?"
Roy looked surprised. "What makes you think I'm planning anything?"
"If you don't have a plan then I got one," Tim said. "Just don't tell Dick it was my idea…" A grin that wouldn't have been out of place on a villain spread across Tim's face.
-The next day- the southbound highway out of Gotham City - 6:03 a.m.
An old fashioned blue pickup truck rolled down the highway. Inside the truck were three young men. The driver was Roy Harper. The one in the middle was Tim Drake. On the passenger side was Dick Grayson. Dick's brows were raised. "Tell me again why you convinced me to do this?" Dick asked.
"Because it's going to be fun," Roy said, "It's a shame about Garth and Wally."
Tim's question was ever so innocent sounding. "What about them?" "They're married," Roy said, "Their wives have got them whipped. That's the only reason why you were invited. Two people on this kind of trip would be as much fun. Besides ole Wingnut and me would drive each other nuts! You're- what's that term again? Oh, yeah. Mediator." Roy smiled widely.
Dick looked annoyed. "Hey! I'm not old!" Dick schooled his facial expression into a more relaxed look. He gazed about the truck curiously. "Say this truck, it kind of looks like the one Ollie and Hal used on that road trip. Is it…?"
"No," Roy said, "It looks a lot like it did though. When I found this baby a few months ago I couldn't resist. I may not have a lot of good memories of that time period but that truck was awesome."
"How did you get the tuck from California to here?" Dick asked.
"A teleporter," Roy said, "A stunning purple haired meta-human. On the beauty scale of one to ten she's an eleven. She's no one you know and no I'm not telling you her name. Back to the matter of the truck, I told you what happened to it. I told you about good old Rosebud's final fate. Last year Ollie dragged me on this treasure hunt. The old truck was a decaying rust bucket in the ruins of the Arrow Cave."
"Arrow Cave?" Tim snickered.
Roy gave Tim a sharp look. "You don't make fun of that, kid." The truck swerved to the left.
"Eyes on the road Bowhead!' Dick yelled. Under his breath Dick muttered, "Why am I agreeing to this road trip? I should be back in Buldhaven, not on my way to a spring break in Florida." In his mind Dick was thinking, at the very least there can't anything super hero related. It's a normal vacation whether I want a vacation or not. Dick unbuttoned his shirt a little bit and looked down. There was a hint of blue and black. As a precaution he had the majority of his costume on underneath his clothes.
Tim noticed. His voice had an almost whining tone to it. "You didn't! You are not wearing all the way down! The first truck stop we hit, you're changing. You're throwing that costume in your duffle bag. It may cool weather this far north but it won't be at the beach. You are not wearing long sleeves this whole trip! This is a strictly no costumes trip!"
"Sure thing Timbo," Dick said. He smiled but the smile did not reach his eyes.
Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean - Several hundred feet under water - Exact time unknown
On the ocean floor a creature sat. It looked like a gigantic starfish. It was green. It had a large red eye in its center. It watched and waited. Hundreds of little starfish creatures moved in the water around it. They were miniature copies of the larger one.
Men, water breathers from Atlantis swam toward the monster. The men carried spears to attack it. There were over two dozen men. The little starfish monsters moved like a swarm surrounding the men. The men's bodies were quickly covered in the creatures.
An isolated road in northern Florida - 7:24 p.m.
The sun was slowly setting. The blue truck carrying the young men rolled onward. The truck moved past a light number of houses and a lot of wilderness. Off in the distance to the left the beach could be clearly seen.
"We got to Florida a lot faster than I thought," Tim said.
"Well, this old baby is faster than I thought!" Roy bragged.
Dick's arms were crossed. He scowled, staring out the passenger window. "Someone was speeding," he muttered. Dick's voice grew louder. "That's three tickets from three different states. More than once today I thought Roy's smart mouth was going to get us arrested." Dick's voice rose. He was beginning to shout. "I'm a cop! Do you know how embarrassing getting arrested would be?! Not to mention that it could put my job at risk!"
"Chill out!' Roy said, "It didn't happen. You're acting worse than Batman! What happened to you? You used to be more fun."
"It's called growing up!" Dick snapped.
"No," Roy shouted, "You're not. I know more about that than you, being a single dad and all! You're not acting mature! You're not being responsible! You're backing out of every relationship, every friendship that means anything. You're acting like an idiot!"
"Um guys," Tim said.
"Stay out of this!" both Roy and Dick yelled at the same time. The two men glared at each other.
"No!" Tim shouted, "We're going to crash!"
The truck had gone off the road. There was a huge sign which said 'Welcome to the Unincorporated Town of Silvery Shores. Population, 5,000' The truck was headed right for the sign. Roy slammed the breaks. The truck stopped less than an inch from the sign.
Roy grinned like he had just won the lottery. "This old truck is proving very reliable. She ought to have a name like Old Bessie or something."
Dick was scowling as he said, "How about Rosebud Two? It's just as much a bucket of junk!"
"Nah." Roy shook his head. "Something else. Something not so jinxed." Roy snapped his fingers. "I got it! Lady Arrow! Lady A for short."
Tim snickered. The snickers quickly turned to laughter. "Why not just call it the Arrowmobile?"
Dick smiled a real smile. "Did Ollie ever have an original idea?"
Roy tried to scowl but the scowl turned into a smile. "You know," Roy said, "I've asked myself that same question many times." Roy's smile grew wider. He began laughing. "He even called an airplane, the Arrow Plane!" A few minutes later Roy pulled the truck into a gas station. He parked by the pump. The three of them got out and walked into the gas staion's convience store. The man behind the counter was wearing a baseball cap. "We don't get too many strangers around here," the man said.
A minute Roy, Dick, and Tim walked out of the store. All three were carrying bottles of soda.
Roy stared at the left back tire of the truck. "Aw shoot!" The tire was flat.
"Just get the spare." Dick said.
"I don't have one!" Roy shouted.
Tim raised his brows in disbelief. "You're kidding right?"
Half an hour later the truck was still in the gas station parking lot. The engine of the truck was smoking.
"So much for reliable!" Tim said in a teasing tone. "Dick was right. Rosebud Two is the perfect name. If were a ship I'd call it Titanic." Dick and Roy stood near Tim. Roy looked annoyed. "Did I ask for your opinion, shorty?" Tim rolled his eyes. A slight smile quirked up the corners of Dick's mouth.
Twenty minutes after this the truck was in a auto shop. The handful of men working in the shop all had baseball caps on their heads. Roy stood arguing with one of the mechanics over cost. Tim was sitting on a bench with a cell phone in hand texting. Dick walked out of the shop. He stood on the sidewalk looking around at the street. It was after sun set. It was a small town. Very few people were on the street. There was a courthouse and a post office in one direction. In the other direction there was a bar and a cheap looking motel.
A beautiful blonde haired woman walked down the street wearing a sun dress and a straw hat. She smiled at Dick in a flirty sort of way. "Hello handsome," she said as she moved past him. She walked toward the bar down the street.
Roy came out to stand beside Dick. "Can I borrow your credit card? I'll pay you back…eventually."
"No," Dick said smiling, "It's your bucket of junk. You pay for it!"
Roy raised a brow. "I've been trying to get you to relax some this whole day. And now you're amused? This isn't funny!"
Dick's face went serious. There was a distant look to his eyes. "There's something not right about this town. Every single person we've seen is wearing a hat."
Roy shrugged. "So it's a city of hats? So what? You really need to lighten up some. You're not acting like the boy blunder I remember from when we were kids. Relax. We're on vacation. Nothing's going to happen." "You're probably right," Dick said, "It's probably nothing."
Thirty five minutes later at the cheap motel Dick noticed, a motel room door on the first floor was wide open. In the side the room three duffle bags were piled near the door. There were two double beds in the room. Dick was flipping on a light over the sink at the back of the room.
"So," Tim said standing near the door, "Which one of us get to sleep on the floor? There's no way I'm sharing a bed."
Roy grinned. "Kid, you just answered your own question." Roy was fiddling with the air conditioning unit under the window, a unit which looked like it had seen better days. The walls of the room were dingy. The curtains were faded.
Tim looked around in disgust. "This place is a dump!" He gazed at the floor. It was hard to tell what the oridanl color of the carpet was. "No way am I sleeping on that floor!"
Roy lifted one shoulder in a shrug. "I've seen worse. I've slept on worse. What's the matter, Timmy? Spoiled to sleeping in a fine manor? Say Bruce's place?"
Tim shook his head. "No. I live with my father in a middle class neighborhood."
"That's right," Roy said, "You don't actually live with Batman. You just train with him." Tim put a finger to his lips. "Shh! The door's open. Just because your identity isn't a well kept secret, doesn't mean it's the same for everyone else!"
"How did you convince your father to let you come here?" Roy asked.
"I told him I was spending the week with a childhood friend in Bludhaven," Tim said, "a very sick friend with an illness that could be terminal."
Roy raised his brows. "What friend?"
Tim shrugged. "No one. I lied," he said, "It's not like Dad knows anything about who I was friends when I was little. He was almost never around. Unlike now where he's trying to watch me like a hawk. I had to tell him something. Dad knows I've been in that city some. Cell phones have tracking devices. He got tech savvy enough to know the phone he gave could be used to monitor to me. I get in a big fight over sneaking out and stuff. He tried to ground me. I gave him an ultimatum. Surprisingly it worked. The only good news is he still doesn't know I'm Robin."
Dick walked across the room looking mad. "That's not the story you told Bruce."
"I lie," Tim said, "If I hadn't, I wouldn't be here right now. Ever since Young Justice disbanded last year I've almost never gotten out of the city. "
Roy's eyes narrowed. He shook his head. "I can't believe you lie to Batman. There's going to be hell to pay when you get home."
"Uh-huh." Tim winced as if in pain. "Don't remind me."
"So Dick," Roy said, "You want to go out? There's not a club here or anything but I did see a bar. I saw some very attractive ladies walk in there."
Dick nodded. He followed Roy out of the motel rooom "See you later Tim," Dick said, "Don't go anywhere."
"What?" Tim was startled. "Why do I have to stay here? Why can't I go with you?"
"You're underage," Roy said.
"You lied without good reason," Dick said.
"I've got a fake id!" Tim shouted.
Roy laughed. "You hardly look sixteen shorty! You could never pass for older." Roy walked off still shaking with laugher. Dick pulled the motel room door shut from the outside.
Tim stomped his foot like a tantrum. His face went anger to tiredness. Tim sighed. I wish, he thought, that I was hanging out with my friends. I would love to have Kon or Bart around…Hmm, Bart is Impulse a speedster. I could call him… he could be here in seconds, minute at the most…No, Dick would ready to kill me!
Tim paced back forth in the room. Do I call Bart or not? Do I dare? He's living with Jay Garrick now, the original Flash. If I asked Bart, he'd come. He wouldn't even stop to think that he shouldn't. Impulse is more than a codename. For Bart it's a way of life. If he's got a curfew, then Jay would chase all the way across the country. No, I do not need an angry Flash. That would lead that much faster to an angry Batman.
Five minutes after this in the bar Dick and Roy were sitting at a table in a corner. The bar was dimly lit. There was a dance floor crowded with people. Everyone in the place expect Dick and Roy were wearing hats. There were baseball caps, straw hats, cowboy hats and fedoras. A waitress wearing a beret brought Roy and Dick their drinks.
"You know this place isn't as bad as I thought it would be," Roy said.
Dick's brows were raised. "You don't find the hats weird?"
"No," Roy said, "Not at all. I almost feel bad for leaving the kid back at the motel."
"Really?" This time only one of Dick's brow was raised.
Roy grinned. "I said, 'almost."
Dick held his glass. "Some times I feel like Tim really is my brother."
A blond haired woman with a cowboy hat walked to the table flirting with Roy. She was wearing a midriff revealing shirt and cut-off jeans. Roy smiled back at her. "I think that's my cue," he said. He stood up. As he did so his knee hit the table. The table shook spilling his untouched drink. The liquid moved quickly across the entire table. Roy looked apologetic.
Dick glared. Holding his drink in one hand he pushed his chair back away from the table. "Watch it! If I hadn't holding mine, it might have spilled all over me!"
"Order me another one, would you?" Roy asked, "Oh, and lighten up. You're too serious!" At Dick's continued glare Roy laughed. Roy then followed the girl out onto the dance floor.
Dick sipped his drink. The waitress came around with a towel. Dick smiled at her. "Another one for my friend please. I'm afraid my friend is a bit of a klutz." He looked around at the crowd. I don't care what Roy says, he thought, there's something weird about this town. The waitress walked stared at his drink with growing confusion. He slammed the glass down on the table. Whoa, I'm feeling kind of…Dizzy? He clutched at his head with both his hands.
Roy came back to the table. He stood looking down at Dick. "Strange girl, very strange. She spoke in monotones. When she opened her mouth…" Roy visibly shuddered. "Ugh! She had buckteeth. They were like walrus teeth. It was not attractive- Hey, are you okay? You don't look so hot."
Dick sat limply in his chair. His face was pale.
The waitress came around with mutable glasses on a tray. She handed one to Roy. Dick stood up all wobbly. He shook as he moved. He knocked the glass from Roy's hand.
Roy stared at Dick in disbelief. "What did you do that for? Boy, are you smashed!'
"Not smashed," Dick said, "not drunk. Drugged!"
"Don't ridiculous!" Roy shouted.
"Here," the waitress said. She handed Roy another drink.
"Onnnly hadd hallff a gllasss," Dick said, his word slurring, "Havvennn't tttimme tto gget drrunkk!" He moved quickly but awkwardly. He deliberately bumped into the waitress. He fell with her to the floor. Her hat too fell to the floor. Her head was bare. As she stood up, both men could see that there was a small green starfish with a red eye on top of her head. The crowd in bar stopped behaving normally. Every person took off their hats revealing that each had an identical starfish perched on the center of their heads. The crowd glared at Roy and Dick
Roy's eyes went wide. "Uh oh. That's not normal!"
"Yoouu thinkk!" Dick yelled still slurring his words. He struggled to stand. Roy grabbed one of Dick's hands helping up. Roy half dragged Dick as they ran for the nearest exist.
The crowd was now acting more like a mob. People tried to grab at Dick and Roy. The people spoke if one. "You need to be like us. You need to join the conqueror. He will unify the world."
"No thanks!" Roy shouted. Roy picked a mop that was leaned against a wall. He ran punching people that got too close as he went. Dick staggered behind Roy as they made their way out a set of double doors at the front of the building. Roy thrust the doors shut. He used the mop draping it across the doors as a make shift barricade.
"Wwon't wworrk," Dick said, "wonnn't llasst."
"What are those things?" Roy asked.
"JLA f-foe," Dick said, "I-I can't sppeakk. Evvery wword a-a struggle. Ccann hardly evvenn mmovee." Dick fell forward. Roy caught him. Dick leaned against Roy. Dick continued speaking. "Celll pphonne. Babbss. Ssspeeed diall."
Roy raised a brow. "Babs? Barbara Gordon? Why would you have her on speed dial? I thought you broke up with her."
"Shhee's ooraccle! Yoouu iddiout!" Dick yelled.
"Oh right," Roy said, "Dinah works with her."
"Iddiott!" Dick shouted. His eyes rolled into the back of his head as he passed out.
The doors of the bar shook. Roy's eyes widened. His brows went up. "He was right. That's not going to hold for long! Dick was right about how the people were acting too! I hate it when he's right and I'm wrong! Stupid son of a bat, you're going rub in my face later, aren't you? I think it's time to go!" Roy picked Dick in a fireman's carry.
Gotham City - The Clock Tower- Oracle's computer room- 8:59 p.m.
Sitting in front of a computer, Barbara Gordon was typing. The wheelchair bound Barbara Gordon had once been the vigilante Batgirl. She was now an information specialist known as Oracle.
Her cell phone rang. She checked the number. She picked it up. Her voice was teasing as she spoke "Hey short pants." "No," the voice on the phone said, "I'm not boy blunder. He's here, though very much unconscious at the moment. Carrying him while being chased by a mob is not fun!"
Barbara's face and voice went serious. "Who is this?"
"Roy Harper," the man said, "What do you know about green starfishes with red eyes? Seems I've heard Ollie talk about something like them once. Other than that I know nothing."
"Starro." Barbara's eyes went wide with shock. She went business like again. "An alien life form. The Justice League has dealt with it three times."
"Would you mind," Roy asked, "getting the Justice League to come here? The sooner the better. I can't say I know where am I except that it's northern Florida, the Atlantic Coast. I'm sure a tech genus like you could my find my location. Just have the league beam down, ASAP!"
"No can do, Harper," Barbara said, "You're the second person to ask for League assistance tonight. The Justice Society is busy too. Ironically the League is dealing with a different alien menace."
"This is a Justice League level threat!" Roy yelled, "The only people I got with me are an out cold Dick Grayson and… Oh no! We left Tim at the motel!"
"Tim? As in Robin?" Barbara asked. "Yes," Roy said, "We came here on a road trip. A vacation! No costumes! No gadgets. No weapons! This trip was supposed to be fun. A way of trying to get Dick to cheer up some. Instead I'm dealing with a hick town infested with alien starfishes!"
"Starfishes?" Barbara said, "As in more than one. These wouldn't be the kind that cover a person's face?"
"No," Roy said.
Barbara let out a breath. "That's a relief.
"I wouldn't say that!" Roy yelled, "This is much worse! These little guys are tiny and on top of the head. These things can be hidden by a hat!"
"Aren't you the man" Barbara said, "who claimed to be able to turn anything into a weapon? I've heard of your boasts from both Dick and Dinah."
In the town of Silvery Shores
In a darkened alley beside the bar Roy Harper stood with a cell phone in his right hand. Also to his right was a dumpster. Over towards his left on the ground was the unconscious form of Dick Grayson. Roy kept looking out at the road. He moved over toward the dumpster. With his left hand he began rummaging through it. "Just tell me there's a way to stop these things!" he yelled, "Please tell me there's that doesn't involve super human powerhouses!"
Barbara's answer was "Yes."
Roy let a sigh of relief. Then the crowd of people from the bar started coming down the alleyway. "You'll have to tell me later Babs!" he said, "I've got company!"
"Harper!" Barbara shouted angrily over the phone.
Roy pressed a button to turn off the phone. He shoved the phone into one of his jean pockets. With both hands he began flipping through the contents of the dumpster. He pulled a bunch of empty soda can. He crumpled the cans up and threw at the on coming crowd. It didn't even slow them down. Should have know that wouldn't work. The broken beer bottles here might but one wrong move might seriously and lastingly hurt these people. I'm not fighting common thugs or super villains here. These people are innocent. It's those starfishes that are the problem. As I much I hate trick arrows I would absolutely kill for them and a good bow right about now!
"Ah hah!" Roy said pulling something out of the garbage. In seconds several unbroken beer bottles were flying at people's heads.
In a near by motel room the door was wide open. A mob of people were trying to flood the room. The people would have been ordinary looking if not for the little starfishes perched on their heads. Tim Drake was backing up. A duffle bag was wide open with clothes messily sticking out of it. Tim had Nightwing's gloves over his fingers and the gauntlets on his wrists. Tucked under his left arm was Nightwing's boots. He opened a compartment on one of the gauntlets. He pulled out pellets. "Knockout gas!" he said, "Now where does Dick keep the rebreather?" Tim grabbed at the boots. He turned the boots upside down. He began tapping at the boots. He opened up all the compartments spilling out a number of items including a flash light, a mini computer, listening devices, and lock picks.
Tim caught the rebreather as it fell. He placed the rebreather over his face. He moved deeper into the room until his back was against the sink beside the bathroom.
"You must join us," the mob said speaking in unison. They came closer and closer. "You must become unified with the one. The conqueror will save you. Join us."
"I don't think so," Tim said. He dropped the pellets. Gas flooded the room. Everyone in the room besides Tim passed out. A starfish began crawling fast across the floor. Tim hit it with a wing-ding, Nightwing's version of the batarang. Another starfish came, then another. Tim's eyes widened. "Uh oh!"
A few minutes later Roy was running down a street being chased by a growing mob. More and more people were coming out of the nearby buildings. Street lights and a full moon lit up the night. Roy went on running. Something went past his head. He stared at the object as hit a telephone pole. It looked sort of like a batarang. That's a wing-ding, Roy thought, Dick uses those. Roy turned his head to look back at the mob. Another wing-ding came at him from above. Roy ducked and looked up. "Aw no!" he aloud. Tim was on a store roof. He had no mask on but he did have Nightwing's gloves. He swung down on a rope to stand in front of Roy. Tim's face looked conflicted. "I don't want to do this," he said, even as he raised a fist to hit Roy.
Not good, Roy thought, really not good! This kid was trained by Batman. If it were Dick attacking me I'd be worried. Roy dodged Tim's fist. Tim kicked him to the ground. Both of Roy's brows went up high on his forehead. Fast, so fast! Maybe I should be worried. He was trained by the same one who trained Dick! He was trained by Batman!
"I'm sorry!" Tim said even as he continued his attack. His troubled facial expression was completely at odds with his actions. He kicked at Roy. Roy grabbed Tim's leg knocking him off balance, throwing the teenager to the ground. Roy stood up fast. He ran as fast as his feet would carry him. He yanked Dick's cell phone out of his pocket and pressed a button to call Barbara Gordon a.k.a. Oracle again.
"How do you stop Starro?" Roy asked.
"Quicklime or a certain radio Signals," Barbara answered.
"How am I going to manage that?" Roy said. "I don't exactly see a radio tower around here."
"How about an electronics shop?" Barbara suggested.
"Afraid not. This is a small town," Roy said. Roy kept moving forward away from the mob. He ran out of road and found himself standing on the beach. "Oh, great I'm trapped.! The ocean is front of me. The mob beyond me. Could this get any worse?"
Men began to walk out of the ocean. Men who wore fantastical armor. There were larger red eyed starfishes covering their faces. Roy's eyes widened. "Oh crud! I just had to ask that stupid question!"
"What's going on Harper? Tell me!" Barbara demanded.
"Alantians controlled by Starro!" Roy yelled. Roy's brows went as high as they could when he saw one a familiar red and black outfit. "Gath?"
The Clock Tower in Gotham City
Barbara sat in her wheelchair in front of the computers. On a large screen she had a map of Florida up. There was a dot on the map along the coastline at the top of the state. The map was blown up growing larger, zeroing in on a small town.
"Harper!" Barbara yelled, "Roy are you still there?" He hasn't hung up, she thought, I've used the phone to trace his location. What's going on?
A shout came from the phone. "Call Wally! Wally West!" There was a clicking sound as the phone went dead.
One minute later in Keystone City
In the living room of West apartment, the fifteen year old Bart Allen had his head titled down as his cousin's wife Linda Park-West yelled at him. The teenager stood with his back against a wall. The dark haired woman had her hands on her hips. Several boxes filled with photographs and other mementos were stacked haphazardly around the room. Linda gestured at the mess. "What do you think you're doing! I come home and find you here! You just came in uninvited? Didn't the fact that no one was home, tell you something?"
"I wasn't meaning anything bad," Bart said.
"You never do!" Linda shouted, "Now clean up this mess! Put every back where you got it, then leave! Just wait till I tell Jay about this. Or better yet Joan!"
"You wouldn't!" Bart said, looking deeply distressed. At that precise moment the phone across the room began to ring. Quicker than Linda could blink, Bart was standing at the phone. Bart picked up the phone. "Hello? Hellohellohello?"
"Give me that!" Linda yelled.
"Hello! Hello!" Bart continued saying.
"This isn't Wally West." the voice on the phone said, "This isn't the Flash."
"Nope. I'm his cousin, Bart Allen, Impulse!" Bart boasted, "I'm the fastest teenager alive!"
Back at the Clock Tower
Barbara sighed. "You'll have to do. I need you to come to the Old Clock Tower in Gotham City."
"Um where in Gotham City?" Bart asked.
Less than two minutes later Bart dressed in his red and white costume as Impulse was standing in the Clock Tower. "Your sense of direction is lousy!" Impulse said smiling, "I circled the city twice before I found this place. You know, Gotham is seriously creepy."
Again Barbara sighed. She typed on the computer. A map of Florida was on the screen. She pointed at it. "That red dot is the town I need to you to deliver the device to."
"You want me to run around a small beach town with a radio. I can do that!" Impulse gave a salute. "No problem!"
The town of Silver Shores a minute and a half later
Impulse moved down the three blocks of the small town with a radio in hand. The volume of the radio was cranked up high. A strange pulsing sound was coming from the speakers. Impulse reached the beach, the location where most of the townsfolk were. The starfish on top of people's heads began to shriek.
"This is totally like a B rated Sci Fi movie!" Impulse said. He stopped running. He watched as the starfish jumped of people's heads. Among the crowd was a face Impulse recognized. "Tim!" In under a second he standing beside his friend.
There was a starfish on Roy's head. Like all the others it jumped off. All the starfish ran to the sea. The townsfolk and the Alantians appeared confused. Roy looked at Impulse and the radio the teen was holding. Roy shook his head and covered his eyes with his hands. "Don't tell me, we just rescued by Flash Junior."
"Hey!" Impulse shouted. In less than a second he was standing by Roy. He glared at the older hero. "I'm not I'm Flash Junior. I'm not Kid Flash! The name is Impulse!"
"Whatever you say junior." Roy smirked.
Impulse put his thumbs to his ears and made a funny face at Roy. He then ran back to Tim.
Roy walked up to one of the Alantians, his friend Garth. Garth also known as Tempest, one of the founders of the Teen Titans. Garth was currently blinking. His purple eyes opened and shut multiple times. A dazed expression was on his face. "What happened? Where am I?" Garth asked, "The last thing I remember was investigating something odd on the bottom of the sea. A giant starfish…I think."
"Starro took over you," Roy said.
Garth looked at Roy in disbelief. "Star what?"
"Alien parasite," Tim said as he moved over toward them. Tim was followed by Impulse.
"Nightwinggloves! Sosocool!" Impulse said, "Does this mean you're going public with your identify? Does this mean you're like going to be using the name Nightwing now? Is Nightwing going to be Batman? Is-"
"No, no and no, Bart." Tim was annoyed. "Just stop the speed talk!"
Roy glanced at the gloves on Tim's hands. "You might want to hide those. And what are you doing with them in the first place?"
"Dick is the only one who brought his costume," Tim said, "I had to do something. Say, where is Dick?"
Roy looked suddenly awkward. "He was drugged and unconscious. I hid him." Tim glared. "Where?"
Roy grinned widely. "Let's just say, he won't like the stench."
A few minutes later somewhere else, Dick groaned. He sniffed. He opened his eyes to find that he was facing garbage. He was in a dumpster.
NEXT TIME: UNDER THE SHADOW OF MAGIC!