Alright. Nother story. This one's set right after Season 1, just to clarify. Reviews would be dearly appreciated! (God, I sounded like an old lady)
The shrill sound of an alarm startled Robin out of his concentration.
Shit. He started to type away furiously at his holographic computer, watching the maddening slow progress of the information being downloaded into his glove. He did not want to be caught. Not here, not now. And on Infinity Island, of all places. The League of Shadows HQ! Brilliant.
Who tripped the alarm? He demanded through the mind link.
64% completed… 72% completed…
How was I supposed to see the wire? Rocket's defensive voice echoed in his head. It was practically invisible!
He almost face-palmed. Rookie mistake. Never mind, he said hastily. Just get out. Now! Meet at the Bioship. M'gann, are you sure you secured its location?
The Bioship's at the south end of the island, M'gann assured him soothingly. It's camouflaged and free of all guards.
Then go. Kaldur's voice was steady, as always. We will meet everyone there.
84% completed… 90% completed... There was a short stall in the system, and Robin had to fight to quell the panic rising up.
Too late, Kid Flash said weakly. And a second later, Robin felt the waves of fury and hatred resonating off of Artemis. Sportsmaster. He has company, too.
As if on cue, the door burst open with a bang, prompting Robin to tear his eyes away from his computer. He heard the sound of blades being drawn before he even saw the Shadow assassins. They were lined up in immaculate lines in front of the door, like soldiers. Each of them was pointing some sort of weapon at the Boy Wonder. A gun, a katana. He could've sworn he saw a rifle somewhere.
Robin narrowed his eyes and glanced back at the screen. 97% completed.
He returned his gaze to the assassins, and their leader, a pretty Asian woman with chocolate almond shaped eyes and green robes. She had a gun aimed at Robin's head.
Count me out, he told his friends grimly. Talia al Ghul and company. This might take a while.
There was a small ping from his holographic computer. Download completed.
Robin grinned and straightened up, letting the glow of his computer fade away.
"Hey, Talia," Robin began cheerfully. "New robes? You look great. Not a day over 620."
Talia cocked her gun. "You know you can't fight, little bird," she warned. "We have your friends. And I know how to use this gun very well. You may want to surrender."
Who's captured? Robin asked through the mental link.
There was a short pause, then a chorus of We are.
Robin sighed. Brilliant. See you soon, then.
He raised his hands, the universal sign of surrender.
The assassins at Talia's command hesitated, looking to their leader for orders. She nodded, and two of the assassins came forward warily. Robin grinned at their caginess.
"I'm not going to bite," he said in a teasing but dangerous tone.
Quickly, the first assassin roughly stripped off his gloves, grabbed his wrists and cuffed them into a metal brace that encased his hands and arm up to his elbow. There was no picking his way out of this one. He tossed the holo-computer to Talia. The other assassin snapped a collar of metal around Robin's neck. An inhibitor collar.
He raised his eyebrow at the second accessory. "Sorry," he said in what he hoped was a nonchalant tone. "No powers for you to inhibit." He grinned again.
Talia unclipped something from her belt. And just as Robin processed that it was some sort of remote control, Talia pressed a button.
A burst of pain flared up around his neck, so intense that Robin had to bite his tongue from screaming out. He smelled ozone. The stupid collar was electrified. And even after it had stopped, he still saw only darkness for a couple seconds.
He realized he was still breathing hard from the pain and forced himself to breathe normally. He straightened up from his hunched position and looked Talia square in the eye. "Nice toy," he spat out venomously, his previous cheerful disposition wiped away like a smudge of paint.
"Isn't it?" Talia replied flippantly. She nodded at her… employees, several of whom instantly grabbed onto Robin's shoulders. One even grabbed a fistful of hair to keep him from escaping.
"Keep an eye on him," Talia ordered, as if violating his personal space wasn't enough already. "Bats are known for their cunning and mastery in the art of escape."
Robin gritted his teeth as he was practically dragged along the halls of a relatively plain but classy hall. If the definition of classy is reinforced concrete lined with tapestries depicting gruesome deaths. Then yes, very classy.
At the end of the hall was a wide set of double doors. The assassins pushed past them and the Boy Wonder entered a large throne room crawling with Shadow assassins. Most of them were gathered on the ground, weapons aimed towards something at the center of the room. But some, like Cheshire and Black Spider, were perched on the rafters, casually observing the scene below. At the sound of the doors being pushed open, hundreds of assassins turned their heads at once to see the new arrival. The assassins shoved Robin into the middle of the room, where his friends were already grouped, all of them sporting inhibitor collars and cuffs similar to the ones Robin had on. He was the last one to join the party.
At the head of the room, Ra's al Ghul sat on a gold and black obsidian throne, flanked by Sensei, Sportsmaster, and Lady Shiva. Talia quietly joined them by her father's side.
Robin inclined his head in greeting at his friends, since the mind link was down. They looked back at him with grim faces, which wasn't surprising, since there were roughly a couple hundred guns, swords, and various other weapons aimed at their powerless bodies. Artemis was looking particularly angry, probably due to the run in with her dear father.
At the head of the room, Ra's al Ghul cleared his throat. And everyone turned their undivided attention on him.
"As you can see," he started in his lilting drawl. "We have some uninvited guests today." A ripple of laughter. "The Justice League seemed to think it wise to send their sidekicks to gather information on us." A furious hiss echoed around the room.
Talia presented Robin's stolen holographic computer to her father. He accepted it, but didn't try to open it. It would be destroyed anyway, along with the mini heroes.
"Now." Ra's spread his arms to indicate the entire room. "I have gathered my loyal subjects here to debate the fates of thee sidekicks. We all know that the Light would pay a hefty fee for each individual, especially after the New Year's fiasco, but we also know that these individuals contain valuable information key to overthrowing the League." He paused. "Or we can just abide to killing them all." A roar of approval among the assassins.
Ra's smiled. He seemed to be enjoying this. "What do you say, my dear subjects?"
There was a cacophony of opinions. "Kill them all!" Hook roared, very intelligently.
"We need them for information, idiot," Cheshire stated, her voice calm but still easily heard over the noise. "Killing them all won't amount to anything."
"Besides a show of our strength and power, you mean." Black Spider seemed to smirk under his mask. "Still have a soft spot for your dear old sister, I see."
Cheshire hissed at him. "If you still want that eye, BS… I suggest you keep quiet."
Under the noise of the arguments, Aqualad whispered, "Perhaps now we can use this chance to escape."
Zatanna looked doubtful. "With this many assassins?" she argued. "And with our powers gone? What are the chances we'll end up dead instead?"
"We can try to reason our way out of here," Artemis said, pitching in any ideas that came into mind.
But it was shot down quickly by Superboy. "What makes you think that these people will listen to anyone?" he demanded. "Do they look reasonable to you?"
"Well, do you have a better plan?" Artemis hissed, her temper flaring. "I thought not."
Ra's raised his arms, and the whole room instantly quieted. The team glared at him with murderous rage, particularly from Artemis and Superboy. Aqualad and Robin seemed calm, Zatanna and Rocket looked deflated, and Wally looked ready to bolt. M'gann's eyebrows were scrunched together, trying to read minds with powers she didn't have.
"What do we say?" Ra's questioned, his voice acting as the center of gravity for the assassins. They seemed to latch onto his every word. "Do we turn them over to the Light?" A murmur of conversation. "Do we imprison them for information?" A shout of assent, led by Cheshire. "Or do we kill them?" A roar of approval.
Wally snorted. "Well this is just brilliant," he muttered, as the nearest assassins to them hefted their weapons.
Ra's smiled. "Very well," he declared. "Our council has decided. This team of superheroes will be executed at this very moment." Chuckles escaped the assassins as they leveled their weapons to the hero's chests and heads.
With an angry roar, Superboy charged at the nearest assassin, using his metal bound forearms as a club. The target of Superboy's rage merely laughed and batted him away with the butt of her katana. He fell back, stunned, a bruise forming on his forehead.
Ra's smirked at the display. "Any… last words?"
He directed his gaze at Artemis, and then at Robin.
"Well, sis?" Cheshire called from above. Her voice came out smoothly, like always, but there was a taut string of tenseness lying underneath.
Artemis was silent, glaring at the ground.
"Artemis," Talia spoke. "Robin. Both of you will be excellent additions to the Shadows…" She left the hint unfinished.
When no one else spoke, Ra's sighed dramatically. "Very well, then. Assassins. Ready."
Weapons, if not drawn, were drawn and aimed at their targets.
"I'm goin' for the Kryptonian," someone muttered.
Another person scoffed. "Please, Tim. You get a chance to kill Batman's kid and you choose Superman's?"
Robin seemed to be deliberating something in his head.
"Well, my friends," Kaldur said quietly. "It has been an honor working alongside you."
"Kaldur…" Artemis protested.
Guns were cocked. Throwing daggers and arrows were drawn back, ready to be unleashed.
Robin stepped forward, a small scowl gracing his features.
Ra's leaned back in his throne, obviously pleased with this new development.
"Ten years? My dear bird, you jest. What stops me from taking you now?" Weapons were lowered as the assassins observed this new turn.
"I'm not developed yet," Robin reasoned, obviously fighting something within. "I'm not as strong as I will be in ten years, not as fast, not as agile. And of course, not as smart. If you take me in now, there will be a greater chance of me dying in the field before I reach the peak of my physical ability. But if you take me in ten years… just think about the deal you'll be getting."
There was a stunned silence.
"Are you bargaining your future for our lives?" Came the furious outburst from Artemis. "That is complete bullsh-"
"Let the birdie talk," Cheshire interrupted. "He's saving your sorry ass, isn't he?"
Artemis glared up at her sister. "You do not get a say in-"
"Silence!" Talia barked out, and both girls unwittingly fell silent, Artemis still fuming.
Ra's pondered his words. "That is all very true," he admitted. "But you must admit ten years is a long time. Five years."
"Ten," Robin ground out.
"Eight." Robin gritted his teeth. "You get me when I'm 21 and that's the lowest I'm going."
Ra's thought over the proposition. "Eight years seems reasonable," he agreed. "But-"
"And you have to leave my friends and their family alone," Robin cut in.
Ra's raised a long, white eyebrow. "I see no reason to provide them with anything of the sort."
"You should," Robin said matter-of-factly. "You won't achieve anything if you hurt them."
"I won't achieve anything if I don't."
"Yes you do," Robin disputed. "If you leave them alone, they might come to you all by themselves."
Interested by this new turn of conversation, Ra's demanded, "Explain."
"Think about it." Robin pressed. He took a deep breath, mentally wrote out his apologies to his teammates, then said, "Each of them have their own weakness that will eventually come into light. Take Superboy, for example." The Kryptonian stiffened. "Superboy has allegiances to Lex Luthor. No matter how much he hates him, what are the chances he hates Superman more? What's the breaking point for him, his point of tolerance for his cloner? And Artemis. Everyone knows that her dad is Sportsmaster and her sister is Cheshire. When will she decide that she'll join the family business and leave the hero phase behind?" Sportsmaster's eyes turned to Artemis's, and he seemed to smile under his mask. The whole room was silent, waiting for more.
"And Miss Martian. She's a White Martian. Her home planet is currently fighting a civil war against them. Her uncle, Martian Manhunter, is a Green Martian. That's on the other side of the battlefield. One day, she might turn her back on him and join the Light, all without their meddling."
M'gann looked ready to cry.
"I…" she whispered. "I won't…"
"Aqualad… well, Artemis isn't the only person with Daddy issues, even if he doesn't know it yet. When he finds out who his father is, he'll be enraged. He'll join the Light willingly."
Kaldur frowned. Was he talking about his foster father?
Ra's nodded. "And what of Kid Flash? Zatanna? Rocket?"
Robin hated himself for going on, but he did it anyway. For the sake of my friends. "Kid Flash has always been undermined by the Flash. Always slower, never fast enough, always tripping in places he shouldn't. And above all, always causing more unneeded chaos on the battlefield. His family ties might be strong enough to not be won over to the Light, but one day or another, he'll drop out of the hero business for good. And that's good news for you.
Zatanna? Her father gave himself over to Doctor Fate as a host. Even now, she's trying to find some way to get him out of her father's body. How far do you think she'll go to win back her dad? Enough to side with Klarion?
And Rocket. She's unstable. She can never be alone. She's too attached. And when her friends turn themselves over to the Light, her family ties won't stop her from joining them."
Ra's was smiling now. Robin looked visibly bitter now, at himself. "And you, my dear Robin?"
"What about me?" he snapped. "You're already getting me in eight years. You don't need any reasons from me."
Robin gritted his teeth, but started. "I have no family ties. At all. Don't get me wrong: I'm grateful for all Batman has done for me, but at the end of the day-," Robin swallowed. "-he's not my father. There will be a day when he's taught me all that he can, and I will most likely turn my back on him and run off to protect my own city. And, well, if you know who I am, then you know that there are people in the world- one person, to be exact- I would want nothing more of than to see dead. And once I'm out of Batman's wing, there's no telling how far I will go to see them dead."
Robin's face twisted in a grimace. "But you're getting me in eight years now, anyway. So. Amused yet?"
Robin pretended not to feel the shocked gazes of his teammates' eyes on him, and turned his full attention to Ra's.
"Quiet, actually," he said.
"Do we have a deal, then?" Robin said. "You get me in eight years, and you leave my friends and their families out."
"I will not say the same for the rest of the Light," Ra's warned. "But the Shadows will not harm them. Yet."
He nodded curtly at Talia, who stepped forward to unlock Robin's cuffs. They dropped to the ground with a clang. Robin rubbed his sore wrists, imprints of the cuffs still impressed in his skin.
"I do believe we have a deal," Ra's said. He stood up and reached out one hand. Robin walked forward and shook it. Ra's smiled darkly. "Very clever, little Robin," he said in approval. "I look forward to working with you in eight years. But for now…"
"Tranquilizers," he called out. Robin widened his eyes. But too late, there was a sharp prick at the back of his neck, just above the inhibitor collar. He crumpled to the ground, already unconscious before he hit it.
He slowly came to sometime around six pm, right after Kid Flash and Aqualad. He vaguely noticed that their collars were gone, and that their cuffs had been removed. They were also dumped right in front of the camouflaged Bioship hidden in a cluster of trees. How had they known?
Everyone else came to within two minutes, and they boarded the Bioship quietly. Once they were over the Caribbean Sea, Artemis broke the silence.
Twisting around in her seat to face Robin, she hissed. "You're an idiot."
"You practically traded your life for ours, you little twit! What were you thinking?"
"Ah, don't worry about it, Art," he said lightly, a grin on his face. "I'll get out of it."
Disbelief was etched in every pore of Artemis's face. "You don't get out of deals with the Shadows."
He smirked. "I got out of the same deal when I was nine," he stated.
"Yeah, well, apparently, Ra's didn't know the 'crossing your finger when you make a deal cancels it all out rule' so I got away with it!" he beamed triumphantly and let out a carefree laugh. Then, he frowned. "But the cuffs kinda got in the way this time, so…"
He shrugged. "Eh. I'll find a way out of it."
He noticed the stony silence that hung over the rest of his teammates, and quickly made to apologize.
"Hey, guys, look. I'm sorry I said those things-"
"No, you were right to do what you did," Kaldur said. "We all owe you our lives, because of you. There is no need to apologize."
"No, really, I-"
"Robin?" Said bird paused at M'gann's voice, which sounded so utterly broken.
"You- you didn't mean what you said, did you? About our weaknesses and me turning my back on Uncle J'onn?"
Robin smiled reassuringly at her. "No, M'gann," he said soothingly. "I just said what Ra's wanted to hear."
M'gann couldn't hear through the lie. Neither could anyone else.
Eight Years Later:
Robin was no longer Robin. He had dropped that persona long ago when he had left Batman for Blüdhaven. His predictions, although conjured up on the spot from within his knowledge of the team, was startling accurate. Kaldur had thrown a fit when he found out Black Manta was his father. He had turned his back on his King and had joined his father five years after the old team's encounter with the League of Shadows.
Artemis was no longer Artemis. After she and Wally had broken up, she had joined the family business, much to the delight of her father and sister and the sorrow of her mother, and had become Tigress, a ruthless killing machine in orange and black. Wally, brokenhearted, permanently left the team and the League and spent his days working at his job as a forensic scientist, just like his deceased Uncle Barry.
Superboy was still on the good side, although his resolve to stay strong was somewhat shattered after M'gann had been assassinated on a campaign for peace on Mars. Zatanna, too, and Rocket, were members of the League, as they had vowed to remain on the "good side". The former Robin wondered how long they'd last.
There was a new team, now. New members. A new leader (The former Boy Wonder had resigned from being team leader shortly after his 20th birthday). The old team was divided, split between the black and the white. Three on the white, two on the dark.
On Nightwing's 21st birthday, he hitched a boat to Infinity Island and had a reunion with Artemis and Kaldur. Both were happy to see their friend, even under the grim circumstances. He was determined to keep his promise, however. He couldn't afford to owe Ra's al Ghul anything.
When he had reached the throne room, Ra's had smiled down on the former Boy Wonder, a boy no longer.
"Nightwing," he had said proudly, resting a hand on his shoulder. "Welcome… to the Light."
The old team was evenly split down the middle, now: Three dark, three light. One dead, one broken.
And eight years didn't make a difference.