The team doesn't know how the hell they got surrounded by three dozen ninjas in shadowy black clothes. They don't know how the hell they managed to sneak up on them with Conner's super-hearing. And they definitely don't know what the fuck to do.

Is it just me, Wally said absentmindedly through the mind link. Or do we always manage to get caught?

The team was too wracked to come up with a decent reply. Even Artemis, and that was saying something. Everyone was on guard, water-bearers drawn, fists clenched, a single arrow nocked in a bow.

Robin was crouched in a defensive position, ready to spring. Out of the six teenagers there, he was currently the most calm at the moment. But even he was a little disconcerted (emphasis on the dis) at the notion of getting captured. He warily eyed the ninjas closest to him. They were dressed completely exactly like the typical ninja, with matching face masks and sword sheathes that were currently empty. Said swords were currently pointed at their faces in a deadly circle of extremely sharp metal.


Do we surrender? M'gann asked nervously. She was absently hovering an inch off the ground. They don't seem to-

No. Robin cut her off sharply. We don't give up.

What do you suggest we do, my friend? Kaldur thought calmly, although the mind link betrayed the nervous jolts he was feeling. You have the most experience out of the rest of us.

Robin attempted to lighten the mood. Well, we could always escape, he quipped, but he stopped after Artemis threw him a look. Er- right. Well, I'm guessing they have Kryptonite somewhere, judging by the lead cases I see in their belts. And if they are highly trained, I don't think you can run, KF. They'll easily catch you.

Oh, joy, Artemis bit out sarcastically. So, what, we die?

Robin ignored that part. Sometimes, it was good to ignore Artemis (but don't tell her about that). Something had struck him, though...

They're being awfully quiet, the Boy Wonder observed.

Same as us, Superboy pointed out.

Yeah, but that's because we're talking through a mind link, Artemis said.

A grin slid across Robin's face, and a look of uneasiness crossed the face of the ninja in front of him. That's right! Robin crowed. So they must have a puppet master telling them what to do! They must be communicating with him right now.

Without warning, Robin spoke. "Hello."

His teammates jumped slightly at the unexpected voice.

"Any chance of you letting us go?" Robin said in an easy voice to the ninja man in front of him.

The ninja didn't move.

Robin let out a dramatic sigh. "What a shame, then. People these days never do things the easy way."


"Can I have the pleasure of knowing who you work for?" Robin continued. "Because, you know. If I die here, I want to send Batman a little note telling him who killed me. Might give me a little closure, too. I can't stand suspense."

Some of the ninja's eyes darted over to the ninja Robin was currently speaking with, but nobody spoke.

"Seriously," he said impatiently. "I'm getting bored, here."

What the hell are you doing!? Artemis yelled. Do you want to get us killed?

Ah, relax, Arty, Robin said, as if commenting on the weather. If they wanted to kill us, they would have done it by now.

Is that supposed to make me feel better?

Suddenly, the ninja man spoke. "Drop your weapons and surrender," he said gruffly.

The Boy Wonder didn't miss a beat. "Says who?" he scoffed. "I can get out anytime I want."

"Yes. But your friends cannot."

Point made…

The ninja shifted his position, and in that subtle movement, Robin caught a small signal etched onto the hilt of his sword, a black S.

"You work for the League of Shadows," Robin noted. His grin grew wider. "That makes that easier, then. Let us go, or I'm telling Daddy what happened."

The rest of the team exchanged looks.

Um… M'gann started.

"Your threats are meaningless," the ninja retaliated. "If you do not surrender, then your mother will give me the order to kill your friends."

Robin didn't even hesitate. "And if you kill my friends, then I'll give my Dad the order to kill you and hang you off the top of Wayne Towers." He shrugged. "Really. It's your pick."

He flashed a wicked grin, and a look of fear flashed across the ninja's face. The other ninjas shifted uncomfortably.

The team was dumbfounded. Your mother…? Superboy cast a suspicious look at Robin.

Slip of the tongue, I think, Robin replied cheerfully, as if nothing was wrong. Don't mind him.

"And you do know how spoiled I am," Robin cooed at the ninja. "Maybe I'll even have Grandpa pay a visit…"

The ninja was visibly shaking now. "I-I-"

"Jarvis!" A female voice cut through the cold warehouse air like a knife. The team stiffened. Eyes darted around, searching for the voice. "You are fired. Pack your bags. I expect your room on the island to be deserted by midnight. Is that clear?"

The ninja had turned an unhealthy shade of white. "Y-yes, madam." He bowed his head at some invisible source and backed out of the circle, sheathing his sword as he went.

There was a cold rush of air and a sleek young woman in green and black dropped down from the ceiling. She had attractive almond eyes and long hair that was tied in a ponytail. A gun was strapped into its holster on her hip, and she wore a silver utility belt not unlike Robin's.

"Pathetic," she snarled to herself. "A thirty-five year old man couldn't even stand up to a thirteen year old boy."

Her brown eyes flicked over every member of the team, and each tensed in return. Robin noticed that Wally's mouth was hanging open.

You'll catch flies, KF, he said drily.

Dude! Wally practically squealed. That babe is-

Ugh. Don't even finish the sentence, Robin thought, repulsed.

Robin inclined his head at the woman. "Talia."

Talia al Ghul gave a slight nod at him. "Robin." She held a hand up. "Stand down," she told her ninjas. "We are only here to negotiate."

Robin tilted his head. "Negotiate?" he asked, playing the perfect angel. "I'm afraid I don't know what-"

In one quick movement, Talia drew out something white from her utility belt. Superboy stepped forward, a growl bubbling up from his throat, but he never got the chance to do anything. Talia snapped the object down, and it unfurled from its previous scroll: a piece of paper, with a red mark at the top.

"Care to explain this?" she said coolly, looking directly at Robin.

Robin's angel face diminished in cuteness. "I don't know what you're tal-"

"Don't play games with me, child," Talia hissed. She jabbed a finger at a bold red number at the top of the page. "What… is this?"

What the hell is going on? Wally thought.

Robin… do you know this woman? Kaldur frowned at the thirteen year old.

He acted as if he hadn't heard them. "Where did you get that?" Robin said flatly.

Talia lifted a finger up to her chin. "Funny story, actually…" Her eyes narrowed. "I found this in the garbage can at the Manor. A corner was poking out."

Robin tried desperately. "Talia, it's an 89-"

"Which is one point from a 90!"

"And I had patrol that night, so I couldn't study-"

"No excuse! Have your father-"

"He is not my dad!"

"-excuse you from one night of patrol. Your education is more important than Joker's new plot."

"But I-"

"No, child. An 89% is not to be tolerated. You are grounded from patrol for the next week, as well as housebound for the next five."

"But I'm supposed to go to Barbara's house tomorrow!" Robin protested.

"You will wash and feed Ace tomorrow. You have no need of a social life anyway-"

"I have every need of a social life," Robin countered. "I have a reputation to uphold."

Talia pretended that she hadn't heard. "And you will get two extra weeks of training from you Grandfather."

Robin's mouth dropped open. "WHAT? Talia, you have got to be kidding me! He's a slave driver, for Christ's-"

"You will not speak to your grandfather that way! And when you get back home, you will add a dollar to the swear jar."

Robin's face flushed red. "He's not my legal grandfather. And technically, that was only half of a curse."

"Fifty cents, then," Talia said briskly.

"So this whole mission was a setup?"

"That is correct. When you get home, have your father train you on your deducting skills. You really should have seen the signs earlier."

Robin grumbled under his breath," He is not my Dad."

"Excuse me." Robin and Talia's heads snapped over to Wally, who had a confused look on his face. His right hand was up in the air. At the double glares, Wally visibly shrunk. "Sorry," he continued meekly. "But, um… are you Robin's mom?"

"No," Robin said, at the same time Talia said, "Yes."

They frowned at each other.

"No," Robin stressed. "I am technically not legally adopted by you. Therefore, you are not my mother."

"You're an assassin," Artemis deadpanned.

"So are you," Talia returned. Artemis flushed. "And it's Lady Talia to you, girl."

"Talia, she's my-"

"Wait, wait." M'gann looked extremely confused. "But you're Robin. A good guy. Why is your mom a bad guy?"

"She's not my legal mother," Robin corrected.

"I was currently in a romantic relationship with his legal father, however," Talia said. "So, through the years, Robin has come to see me as a mother figure."

"Talia!" Robin's face was bright red by then. The ninjas behind Talia were shifting uncomfortably. "Secret ID!"

Talia waved her hand in dismissal.

The team, however, had finally caught on. "Wait… your Dad…" Artemis's face was one of pure shock. "Batman? He's dating-" She waved her hands wildly around to signify Talia.

"Was," Robin corrected. "Can we go, now?"

Talia withdrew another sheet of paper from her utility belt and gave Robin a pen. "Sign here to accept this contract stating that you understand the consequences of your actions."

"And what if I don't want to?" Robin scowled.

"Your friends will die."

"You're bluffing."

Talia tilted her head. "Am I?" she leaned in closer. "That's what you said about James last year."

The team's eyes widened in horror.

Robin matched her gaze for thirty seconds, but eventually broke it off and sighed. He signed a quick R and handed the pen back to Talia. Talia studied the paper. When she was satisfied that it was somehow not a fake, she tucked it into her utility belt.

She smiled and backed away. "Now you may go," she said. She raised a hand and pointed a finger at the team. "Team Alpha, attack."

She disappeared with a laugh into the shadows, and Robin had to duck under the blow of a ninja. He slammed his foot into his head and successfully knocked the ninja unconscious. He cursed. He was so going to get Talia back for this later…

Half an Hour Later

"Dudeeee…" Wally collapsed into the seat of the Bioship. "Your mom is mean."

"She's not my mom," Robin corrected, for the millionth time. "But other than that, yes she is."

He followed Wally's suit and took a seat in the Bioship.

As soon as everyone was onboard, Artemis rounded on Robin. "You never told us your freaking MOM is a freaking ASSASSIN!"

Robin shrugged nonchalantly. "You never asked."

Artemis threw her hands up in the air and let out a sigh of frustration.

"Did she really kill your friend… er- James?" Superboy said.

Robin shook his head sluggishly. He was exhausted. "Nah. She just made him disappear for a week. Nothing major. No permanent damage."

"But really, she's not that bad," he said soothingly. "She just gets a little mad sometimes when I'm not perfect. No big deal."

The team was too tired to reply.

"Catwoman's worse, though."