Disclaimer: me no own. Believe me, if I owned it, there would be a lot more to it and way more Batfam interactions =]
Just an idea I had at work yesterday. I saw a clip online for future eps with the six Leaguers off in space I thought of this. Yes I'm still gonna get back to the other stories I'm working on, just need to clear my head a bit first. =P
Character Witness Call
Six members of the Justice League stood at an alien judgment bar in energy handcuffs. Behind them stood a handful of other members, some as advocates, others as emotional support. Course, the Green Lanterns were there to make sure the Courts of Rimbor to make sure they had a fair trial, but other than that they had no power there. They couldn't save their allies.
"Before we proceed with today's assessments," one of the more neutral advocates stared, approaching the judges slowly, "there is something I believe should be viewed. As is these… Earthling's… custom, one of these men was allowed to make a 'phone call' home yesterday." One of the Leaguer's heads snapped right around to glare wide eyed at him. That was private! The creature continued anyway. "I believe, after viewing this 'call', we will all have a better perspective on what took place five cycles ago. If I may?"
Different Leaguers exchanged looks of confusion and frustration at the mention of this. One in particular clenched and unclenched his teeth and hands a few times over, not liking where this was going. Some knew why while others were still confused. Who were they talking about and how could this help anyway? It all became clear when one face appeared on a screen before them.
"Who's… Batman?!" Nightwing nearly gaped in surprise at the screen, his jaw slacked and eyes popping from behind his mask. The young man was not expecting this. A second screen appeared next to it so they could see both ends of the conversation.
"Status report," came his mentor's immediate reply.
"How… when…" The guy was half way between relief and laughter at his point. "Is the trial over? Are you coming home? Or did you just hack their systems to check on me?"
"Focus Nightwing. Update."
"Not until you tell me exactly how you're calling now. After two months of nothing." There was a slight edge to the young man's voice, but only enough to tell them he meant business. "I'd say hacking and time shortage if this wasn't such an alien signal I'm getting here. Had to scramble to get the mask on."
Nightwing reached to his face to take the thing back off but was cut short. "Leave it. It's too open a channel."
The acrobat's hand fell away from his face and he just looked back at Batman expectantly. "Well? How are you calling?"
"Convinced the guards it was required for prisoners to get a phone call while incarcerated. Time is limited. Status report."
He took a deep breath, some exhaustion playing on his face as he leaned back in the chair. As the young man would say, he was whelmed. "Where to start… A lot's happened in the past two months. Some good, some bad."
"Pick something and stick with it." The Leaguers looked over to their Batman, glaring slightly at his snappy actions towards his first partner. Couldn't he be a little nicer? The dark knight stood silent and expressionless like a statue, not letting himself be bothered about this any further. Not externally at least.
Surprisingly the guy on the other end smirked, almost fondly. "Right. Good first. Well, we've had a few successful missions. Gotham's still in one piece if you must know. Same with the rest of the world. Red Arrow and his… heh… wife found Speedy, you know, the original. Red said the kid's going by Arsenal, or may go by it once his new arm is in place."
"Yeah… Apparently the 'Light' took his arm in order to perfect the cloning process on him. His right one. Luthor actually supplied him with a mechanical one in exchange for his life not too long ago. Don't know what's going to happen after that's settled, but we're making sure everyone's prepared for him if he decides to join the team.
"Bottom line is, he's back." Nightwing grinned to himself. "Hopefully this will get Red Arrow to cool off and move on. Green Arrow even mentioned they were starting to get along a little better. Course Lian might have a part in that."
"Yeah! Red and Cheshire had a baby!" The guy was really excited about that. The rest of the Leaguers there exchanged excited looks. "A little girl! She's so cute! I've only seen pictures so far but Wals and I are planning… well, were planning, on crashing their apartment to see her. Maybe I can get Black Canary to go with me…"
"Speedy's found and Red Arrow's life is turning around," the Batman on the screen reiterated. "Next."
"Okay okay…" Nightwing smirked to himself, getting back on track. "Flash's grandson from the future appeared in the cave about a month back. Said he was a tourist but recent events make me think he's trying to prevent a certain future, including one where his dad doesn't have Flash in his life. Oh, his wife's pregnant, with twins. Flash's wife I mean. The kid, Impulse, he's about Ti—Robin's age. So, another new recruit. He's volunteered, and taken a particular liking to Blue Beetle. Bad news is, he knows all our IDs. Think I have him keeping quiet now but with speedsters you never know."
"Another Flash. Great." Sarcasm dripped from the recorded man's lips.
"And for other news…" he looked up in thought for a moment. "We may have a few more new recruits. We're not sure what to do with them yet after… oh. We found the 'Light's new partner."
Every one of their allies looked deep into the screen. The 'Light' had a new partner and now their favorite and first of the next generation of heroes had intel on them. They had to know what happened.
"Um… first things first?" The guy seemed a little awkward then, as if there were lots of things he wanted to say but didn't know how. "Um… how's the trial?"
"Proceeding slowly like most. Now, the partner."
"So… no signs of coming home any time soon?"
"Focus on the mission Nightwing."
The young man cringed, but whether to the tone of his former mentor's voice or what was happening they didn't know. "Look, there's a lot of details I'd like to share and get some help with, but not here. Not on an open alien channel. There's been a lot of bad with the good, and some of the bad led to good. So… keep an open mind?"
The Bat on the screen tapped the metal panel before him impatiently, glaring slightly. Nightwing bit his lip for a moment before looking away. "Okay, here goes. The new partner is an alien race called the REACH. We found that out a couple days ago, so bear with me. Not long after you left I sent an all-female squad to Bialya to check out some boom-tube sites. Instead of tech like that bomb at Melina Island, they found kidnapped runaways. The 'Light' were gathering up teenagers, runaway and orphans," Batman seemed to take a sharp breath there, on the screen and in person, "off the streets and giving them to the REACH. They were doing something to them. No idea what yet, but we think it has to do with meta-genes."
"Still working out all the data we've gathered," he explained, "but it looks like something that gives people powers. Like Flash's superspeed or Canary's cry. It's supposedly inside each of us and they were looking into it. Don't know what for yet, but I'm betting that Impulse being here and saving his grandfather also stopped one guy from being their tool. I think they're trying to control people who have these meta-genes for their own ends. What those are I don't know. Not yet at least."
The man on the screen nodded. "Well done. We'll review the facts later."
"There's more." Nightwing shifted in his seat uncomfortably. "To get as much intel as we could, and to save those captured, I had to activate operation Goddess Fall. My source needed help. It wasn't pretty."
Goddess fall? The Leaguers looked over to Batman, still stoic as ever. He was not going to tell them. The bat on the screen's eyes widened for a moment in surprise, but then nodded. "Understood. Once the REACH and the 'Light' are taken care of, we can explain—"
"That's going to be really hard to do." The young man pinched his nose, somehow in more emotional pain than they first thought. "Wally hates me right now. And that's not the end of it. Lagoon Boy was caught during that operation and we failed the original mission. My source had to keep an eye out for him and then make a believable scenario to make sure we could get him back. He took advantage of a seek and destroy mission to get me the intel I needed to save everyone and get the REACH's name, but…"
He really felt bad now, slumping in his chair. "Mount Justice was destroyed."
All the Leaguers gasped in surprise at the statement, some horror filling them. Half of them were founders and remembered making the place their home many years ago. The rest remembered remodeling the place for the team's use. It would be sorely missed.
"Any casualties?" was the Batman on the screen's reply.
"Only the trophy room and a few fish." He still didn't look up as he started to ramble. "Couldn't save the one Jason brought back either. Until we can think of another place to set up base, we're using the Hall of Justice. Not near as cool but…" He looked aside, clearly feeling guilty. "Beast Boy, Blue Beetle, and Impulse were all abducted then too."
"The following week we had the mission that retrieved all our members and the abductees," Nightwing rushed out before getting a lecture. "No deaths, and everyone's relatively fine."
"M'gann's not doing too well, some kind of mental shock I think. Beast Boy's helping her out. And Blue's not happy about what we found out about his scarab and the REACH. Apparently Ted didn't make it. There was another beetle there, an evil one. Black Beetle is what Wonder Girl called him. And like I said, the runaways are pretty shaken up. The last group wasn't gone long enough to make a ruckus so we sent them home. I think one of them took a liking to Robin though. And I think something happened to my source.
"Which is really bad because we really need him now." He cringed even more, breathing in and out or a moment before continuing. "Before we could tell the world about the REACH and their invasion plans, they went public. Like meeting the UN for peaceful meetings public. Even got Godfrey on their side. I'm telling you, that guy is evil. We've got to do something about him before he turns the whole world against us just for breathing. I mean, it's not Superman's fault he came here as a baby and tried to be a normal person before making his presence known. How can a baby even introduce himself to the UN? And—"'
"You're rambling," his mentor reminded him quickly.
"Right right…" Nightwing ran a hand through his hair and over his face. He was beginning to look exhausted. Being leader of a whole bunch of super powered adolescence was hard work.
"So," Batman on the screen started, "this REACH is trying to invade Earth, take people with meta-genes so they can control them for something, have copies of Blue Beetle's scarab to control already, and has gone public in order to make the League look bad if they go against them. Being said, the abductees who you recovered should probably lay low until we have the situatior out in the open without question to avoid recapture and to preserve evidence. Keep an eye on Blue Beetle, as he's caught their attention as well."
"Impulse is taking the lead on that I think."
"Have you debriefed him?"
"More like threatened him not to reveal too much, especially about our individual lives." He rubbed his eyes, trying to relieve the stress inside him. "You know all those things about the future could twist how we see things now. Sometimes trying to avoid it only makes it happen and all that."
"You watch too many TV shows."
"You don't watch enough." Nightwing tried to smile as he looked back at his mentor. "Now, I've given you the lowdown here. What's going on where you are? And don't give me a neutral answer. How much longer is it going to take for them to find you innocent and or under coercion?"
"It's been two months!" The guy nearly leapt from his seat to drive the point home. "I'm going crazy over here! Besides all of that, the work you've left me to do is piling up! Robin and Batgirl can only take part of the load, but you know I hate going to those socialite parties. And explaining where you are all the time… Vikki's getting really suspicious and Selina's pouting every time I catch her instead of you. It's a good thing you occasionally disappeared in the past B but seriously, how long do you think it's going to take before they realize you're gone and I'll have to try and wear the cowl down here?!"
"I'm not ready for that! I don't want to take your place or even fill in your shoes for a few months! I can't do this! I can't be you! Wally hates me for Goddess Fall! And then the cave and… And I can't talk to anyone else about so many things! I'm in over my head here! I know I play it cool with the others but I just… Please tell me you're coming back soon! You have to come back soon!"
"There has to be a way to get you back home faster. Do you need a character witness? I'm not in the League but I've known everyone there, well nearly everyone there, half my life! Maybe if I go up there and—"
"That's enough!" Instantly the young man stopped his rambling, clearly at wits end. If the Batman on the screen hadn't told him to stop, he probably wouldn't have. He had a lot to get off his chest. After a deep breath, the older man started up again. "No, we don't need a character witness. I don't know if it works that way here. I'm still trying to piece together what we did, and what the point of it all was. You need to calm down and stay where you are. Your team needs you. You're their leader and shining example. Their rock. You can't leave just because you feel a little lonely."
"Lonely?!" Nightwing gave him an incredulous look.
"Well can't argue with that one." He snapped a glare at him. "You have any idea how much pressure I'm under over here?"
"Last I checked you did well under pressure."
"Only because you were there to catch me!" Once he said it, his head drooped again, slumping loosely in his chair. "You were always there to… Nothing was this hard because I knew… There's no backup this time."
"There's your team."
"This is different."
"Robin and Batgirl are with you."
"But they aren't you!" He snapped a glare back at him for a moment before deflating once more. "They aren't… You said I'm the team's rock. Well, what happens when my rock's gone? Did you think about that?"
There was a pause before Batman spoke again. "You can stand on your own now. You're much stronger than you realize. You don't need—"
"I think I'm old enough to know what I do and don't need Batman." Nightwing gave him a wistful look. "Would you like A to say those words to you?" To that the man on the screen shifted, tables turned on him. That made his old protégé smirk sadly. "See? I don't think I'll ever not need you around. What happened to that promise not to go to alternate realities or off world missions you made me make all those years ago? Don't go anywhere I can't follow."
"Nightwing," he started, some exhaustion entering his voice, "you know why we had to come here."
"I know." The young man closed his eyes for a moment, defeated. "I still don't like it. You weren't in control at the time. If you were, you'd never have left Earth. You wouldn't have hurt anyone. And we wouldn't have had to take you guys down."
Both of them fell silent for a moment, one looking away while the other watched their expression. Nightwing smirked slightly after a moment, a bit sad. "You still regret it don't you. Having to fight me. How many times do I have to say 'I forgive you' before you forgive yourself?"
"I should have been able to stop myself."
"You don't even remember the fight. No one remembers anything from that day."
"I still should have—"
"Alien tech, remember? Magic mixed with alien biological components and nanotechnology. We had a devil of a time developing an antidote-thing to cancel it out." He leaned back into his chair for a moment. "Getting up to the Watchtower was also interesting. And taking you all down… Say, do we get a reward for interrupting the 'Light's plans back then and getting the attack there cut short?"
"Somehow I doubt it."
"Meh, worth a shot. Batman," Nightwing looked straight at his mentor through the screens, "it wasn't your fault. Savage and Klarion had complete control of your body. We should be glad they didn't have access to your mind and knew what you could really do. If they knew, things could have been much worse. You could have really hurt someone."
The young man gave an exasperated sigh. "I don't count."
"You do count. Quit down playing yourself."
"Then quit feeling guilty about something you had no control over!" The two glared at each other for a moment before smirking on the screens. It was almost frightening how similar they were at that moment. "Seriously, it wasn't that bad. Nothing permanent, nothing long lasting, just got knocked around a bit. Nothing in compare to what you're planning on doing to Klarion if you ever catch him.
"Besides," the young man shrugged, "it was kinda like a sparring session, without so much holding back. I did quite a number on you too, remember?"
"With Superboy's help," Batman pointed out.
"Details details," he waved off, pretending not to care. "How can you expect a fourteen year old to take the likes of you down completely on his own anyway?" Nightwing gave him a slightly despairing gaze. "Look, bottom line is, it wasn't your fault. We may not know everything that happened during those sixteen hours, but I do know you would have done none of it if you had a choice or even a prayer of fighting back. If things were different, you'd be here right now taking on the REACH, defending the earth and stopping Two-Face before he started a crime wave."
"No, still in his cell. Same with Joker and all the others, just like you left them. Well, mostly." He smirked slightly. "Riddler did something silly and clever to try and escape, but ended up walking right into an inspection the Commissioner was doing. Best failed Arkham breakout yet."
"Hm. He's losing his touch."
"Yeah." Nightwing looked at his mentor for a long while in silence. "You are coming back. Even if I have to go up there and bring you home myself, you are coming home, got it?"
"Understood." There were a few chuckles of endearment from the Leaguers watching. Their Batman in the here and now though did nothing but endure the show in silence. The one on the screen nearly smirked. "Better make sure we're cleared then. I'm not having you become an intergalactic felon."
"Why not?" The acrobat feigned innocence. "Not like you had any choice in the matter, and I think I'd look better on the most wanted pictures. At least I would know what I did."
"Hm. Just remember to take Robin, Batgirl, or A with you when you visit their graves tomorrow."
At this the young man froze, saddened once again. "That's the real reason you called isn't it? To see how I was doing."
"No." Everyone but Batman and Superman were confused at this point. What were they referring to? Some secret Bat-thing? The one on the screen elaborated a little. "It's just why I called now. I can't guarantee a second chance."
"Ah." Nightwing nodded, not near as energetic as they were used to. A sad thoughtful smile played on his lips, barely visible. "Thanks. I'll… I'll be sure to put flowers on Jay's and your parents' graves as well. I think Robin would enjoy it best."
"Probably." The man on the screen looked around. "I should rejoin the others. Icon's been reviewing details with us, and he may know a thing or two about this REACH."
"Send my love to Auntie D and Uncle C." Superman and Wonder Woman smiled broadly at the recording. They got the message. "And tell Hal to send us some updates on the trial already! Waiting around for news like this is driving me crazy."
"Hey!" That particular Green Lantern was caught partway between amusement and frustration at the moment. The kid sometimes had more gall than anyone he ever knew.
"I'll make a point of it. Anything else?"
"Tell them we're having a devil of a time keeping up appearances, and that J'onn really needs to take a talk with his niece when he gets back. We're all waiting eagerly for when you come home." Nightwing's eyes narrowed slightly. "If I don't get word of things changing for the better before Robin's birthday, I'm coming after you on The Fourth."
That brought a smirk to the dark knight's lips for a moment. "Understood. Take care of each other out there."
"We will. Just remember to come back."
"Count on it. Get some rest old chum. You look exhausted."
Nightwing smiled back, fondness on his face. "Love you too."
Batman on the screen just smiled at him and nodded once before the transmission was cut. The advocate stepped forward once again to explain why he showed the conversation. "As you can see, we have not edited nor modified the footage. Every word coming between these two's mouths is what they believe is the truth. They have spoken about recent and past events, plus a future without thought of what the other may say or think. From this we can conclude many facts and beliefs of at least one individual present today. This also displays what happened directly after their departure from Rimbor, and its effects upon those who called them away."
"Tell us councilor," one of the judges started, "what relevance is this as evidence?"
"Earthlings have spoken of a thing called a 'character witness'. One who would speak on behalf of another to explain why a person would not normally behave in a certain manner. This display," he waved over to the now empty screens, "is both that and a testimonial of events from one who dealt with the dilemma personally."
"And who is this person to you, Batman? Why did you use your one 'call' to talk to him?"
All the Leaguers looked at the dark knight, wanting and waiting to know what his answer would be. The man took a deep breath before answering. "He's my son."
In the private chambers of the Rimbor council of judges, they discussed the evidence brought before them. The conversation had revealed more than they bargained for. Taking any interest in people the REACH were influencing was asking for trouble. But these crimes were done long before their arrival on Earth and they were keeping the League members away for a while. Who knew what actions they would take next.
But what Nightwing and Batman had talked about, and that this young man was his son, was something to consider. Parental instinct was strong, nearly as strong as the one to survive. According to the testimonial in the conversation, Batman had attacked his son, unable to stop himself, shortly after being taken away from Rimbor. The boy was much smaller then. The man felt guilty for it, even five cycles later.
"It matters not," one said. "We would never strike a child, even under the most difficult of circumstances."
"But he could not stop himself," another defended. "And humans are nothing like us. Their physiology and ours are far from compatible. If a neural implant truly is to blame, it could prevent the protective parental instinct from stopping him. Especially if the implant had shut off the individual's cognitive functions."
"So it is possible the human had no idea what he did or said at the time."
"If what that child said is true, then it is likely he cannot even recall a single moment of that day. Absolutely no control over his body or any ability to view what he was doing at the time. Without knowing what was happening around him, he could not stop himself."
"And as a result, hurt his own son. And never forgiven himself, despite the boy's words."
"It is likely he is here to receive punishment."
"But that matters not. We must determine if this is truly viable evidence for this atrocity. Should we really consider this a statement in favor of them, or as a carefully planned distraction from the crimes they committed?"
It truly was something they had to consider. And it would not be easy to decide.
A/N: wasn't sure about the ending, but I wanted to review what has happened so far and make it so teh League out there knew. Did anyone else notice that other than Flash they were all the main cast of that last justice league tv run? Kinda funny.
Little tidbits: Mentioned Steph in here, but it was a small thing. Tim's B-day is late June if I remember right. Old Chum is what Bruce called Dick way back in the day and in the 60's tv show, so it's an old petname I'd think. Goddess Fall would translate into Artemis' faked death so I made it so Bats knew of the contingency plan. Also made it so the call was just after 'Before the Dawn' to include everything. And it's almost to when Dick's parents died, maybe the day before. Bruce may have tricked the guards into letting him make that call, but he had to time it right so he wouldn't fail his grown son. =P
As for whether the judges use this as evidence, I think it'll help in Bruce and John's case, as they're normal humans, but unsure if it'll help with the rest. really, next to the instinct to live, the instinct to protect one's young is the next most powerful one people have. Kinda wish something like this would happen, just to prove they're thinking about each other, but who knows.
Well, see ya next time! ^^V