Hello everyone! Here is, I believe the penultimate chapter! It's a little longer than usual. I can't believe this story is finally coming to a close. It's been running for quite a long time! Thanks a lot for all of the support that you all have been lending me, whether that has been in reviews of in PMs. They've all meant such a lot! A special thank you to BlueJayRobin too for keeping me motivated! :D
Foniko: Hello! You're killing my robots!? Well, this chapter will satisfy you then my dear! Thanks for the review :D
DARKSOMEONE41: That's a very fitting song. Impressive. Hahaha, I'm glad that you enjoyed that last chapter and I really hope that you like this one too! I'll admit this one was pretty difficult to get out! :)
KaliAnn: Thanks a lot. I'm not very experienced in writing in fight scenes so that means a lot! Read on and you'll find out whether Artemis and Robin can help or not. This chapter's focused on Batman's perspective :D
S.S. Pie: Hi hi! Yeah, Robin and Artemis are a deadly combo but so necessary right now! Hahah! Thanks so much for your kind words, I'm glad that I got Artemis right too. Read on and find out how they're doing, this chapter was very satisfying to write! :D
sharyvagram: I'm glad you enjoyed my dear! I hope you enjoy this chapter two and aww damn it stop, you're making me blush! Thanks a lot, and thanks for reviewing :)
Guest: Thanks so much for spotting that for me! I've corrected that now. I'm glad that you're liking the story too! Thanks for the review and enjoy this next chapter whoever you may be! :D
Nightwing15: Yay to you too!
soccernin19: I'm glad you're liking Robin. I must admit he was quite a hero is that last chapter wasn't he? Hahaha enjoy this next! :D
weathergirl17248: I hope you like this chapter too! Robin and Artemis being useful was just necessary to write in really. Thanks for reviewing! :)
Guest: Thanks for raising awareness and everything for what I assume is a good cause. But what exactly is SOPA? I have no idea...
Saige: Enjoy this next chapter! :D
On to the story!
Bruce had been having one hell of a bad day – in fact he could have sworn that it was karma from unintentionally hitting Alfred in the face when he woke him up in the morning for his meeting at the company. To reiterate that, it was an accident. He couldn't exactly have helped it: he had been in a bad mood since his ward had left and the man hated mornings so who could blame him for a little sub-conscious screw-up? Besides this morning was particularly bad, and without Dick there to cheer him up Bruce was feeling especially anti-social that morning. He'd gotten himself up early and reluctantly stepped out into the cold in his fancy suit and combed hair and he had gotten himself into the office anyway. It had taken effort.
When Bruce had stepped into that stuffy office at the very top of the building, his secretary had scampered straight after him with her tail between her legs gabbling something about the meeting being cancelled on account of Lucius Fox being taken ill at the last minute. The look that Mr Wayne had given his secretary probably could've killed her had she not quickly taken his coat, turned on her heels and briskly walked away with her head bowed. Bruce hadn't intended to be unkind to the poor woman, but for him a bad mood was like some sort of contagious disease that needed to move to new living hosts for its continued survival. Basically, he felt the need to scare the hell of everyone around him so that they'd be more likely to do as they were told.
The exhausted billionaire flopped down into his chair and span around to gaze out of the window down to the city below. Gotham was filthy and on a dark day like it was that day he could have sworn that even the sun was prejudiced against the city itself. It saddened him to look down on the city that he fought so hard to save and protect regularly and still see that there were people who were clearly struggling. He had just entered an especially brooding mood when he heard the squeak of his assistant asking whether she could enter or not. Mr Wayne tried to put some vague essence of a smile on his face so that he wouldn't seem so unapproachable and then span his chair back around to face her.
The thin woman who often dressed like a librarian entered the room quickly and then handed him his ringing phone. He looked down at the caller ID and saw an unidentified number, and that could've meant all manner of things. The most likely being some sort of advertisement call from some insurance company, the next most likely being one of the Leaguers calling for strategic advice after having already tried the Cave and his home phone, and the other could be a wrong number. The moment he picked up the phone, he knew one thing was certain. He was finally going to get out of the office. Sure, he'd only been there for a few minutes in total but to be perfectly honest those were a few minutes too many.
"It's Superboy..." The voice on the other side of the line said quickly and with an urgent sort of purpose. Immediately Bruce Wayne stood up and strolled across his office and to the elevators. His secretary stared after him as though she was about to stop him, but then she seemed to remember once again exactly who he was and stopped her mouth. He pressed the button to head down to the lobby as he listened to what Superboy was hurriedly saying. What Superboy had to say didn't please him. Not in the slightest.
What was this? How did a simple mission go so wrong? Robin was ill, the Bio-ship was 'down' whatever that meant and they had barely gathered any information. The Dark Knight began to emerge from behind the mask of Bruce Wayne as he strolled out of the building and began to make his way running to the nearest zeta tubes. The Bat's face darkened with every new piece of bad news, but then the words 'critical condition' appeared and he stopped right on the spot. He took a few breaths to calm himself, Alfred had told him that taking deep breaths often helped when one had a temper but it didn't seem to be doing anything. That was enough.
"I don't care about anything else right now; your team always comes first. I'll organise a rescue mission immediately and we'll be there in less than two hours if we go from the Watchtower," Mr Wayne said in an angry voice whilst changing clothes in the phone booth zeta station. After he reassured Superboy that help was on the way he felt that he could give himself the freedom to shout a little bit, "When you all get back, somebody had better explain why you have all failed and they had better make it good! How can you go so badly wrong on such a basic mission? What, did you sleep during your training sessions or something? And I'm going to see to it that you all never see life outside the Cave again until you all excel at recon..."
Batman had trailed off on entry to the Watchtower, and he suspected that it was partially because his train of thought was beginning to become more focused upon the rescue mission he needed to get under way as quickly as possible but another big part could have been the zeta energy making him feel slightly queasy like it always did. Wonder Woman had looked up sharply at the sound of his angry shouts and winced inwardly when she realised that he must have been talking to the Team: however she did motion to Martian Manhunter to track the call just in case it was anything else. She then registered the obvious worry in his body language, his shoulders were tensed and his strides were longer and held more urgency in them than usually they did. Suddenly, the Bat flinched violently at something.
"Superboy? Connor! Are you there?" Batman yelled in his deep, gravelling voice. Then he took the phone away from his ear. All of the commotion had drawn the attention of several Leaguers, but only Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter took it upon themselves to daringly move forward and confront the Dark Knight about what was going on. Batman didn't hear his colleagues the first few times that they called, and that was mainly because he was going through the last few seconds of the phone call in his head. He had definitely heard a loud crackling noise before the call had completely cut off and the phone had died. But what the noise was would remain a mystery.
"It's a rescue situation. The Team are in need of immediate help – Robin's in a critical condition." Batman said monotonously after coming back to his senses. Wonder Woman looked shocked and Martian Manhunter could only think of whether or not his niece was safe. Batman moved past them and looked at the computer monitor that Martian Manhunter had been sat at before he had moved over to investigate and it seemed that he had managed to track the phone signal and had pinpointed their exact current location. All that was left now was to find transport and go with medical supplies.
Martian Manhunter instantly volunteered his ship when Batman voiced his checklist out loud and then Wonder Woman piped up and said that she'd come along and help the two of them with getting everyone back safely. Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter could have sworn that they saw a grateful smile cross is face for a moment, but instead of waiting around to tease him about it they ran off to their respective roles. Manhunter went to prepare his ship to break atmosphere and get to Siberia as soon as possible, and then Wonder Woman took it upon herself to gather a first aid kit to prepare for any possibility or eventuality.
Batman then took the opportunity to calm himself down: Robin was fine. He just needed to focus on getting to Siberia as quickly as possible and then he could worry all he wanted. The Bat boarded Manhunter's ship and buckled up next to the pilot; Wonder Woman shortly after followed and secured her seatbelt next to Batman. She was concerned about him already, the guy was still tense and she knew that it was the threat hanging over Robin's head that was bothering him. Manhunter didn't wait for the order from Batman, it seemed he was too deep in thought to give the order anyway, and eased the ship out of the Watchtower. It would take about an hour to position the ship over Siberia and probably another hour and a half to lower the ship through the atmosphere and to the Team's precise location.
The Dark Knight just didn't understand, the plan had originally been to allow the Team to gather information on the whereabouts of the firearms and where they were going to and perhaps some information on the Superman android if at all possible but they were not to engage. That way, the Leaguers would have the element of surprise on whoever was behind all of this. So, whilst getting to the position just over Russia (to land in Siberia when taking into account the rotation of the Earth) Batman created a new plan to put into action whilst in Siberia. Now, the primary objective was to stabilise Robin and get the Team to safety, and then if at all possible produce as much information on the firearms as could be gathered. The Team would be safe and then he and his team would take care of everything else whilst they were debriefed and in recovery.
They had been flying in complete silence, each of them to their own thoughts. But as Martian Manhunter caught sight of Russia poking out from beneath the heavy grey snowstorm clouds his heart lifted at the thought of being reunited with his niece in just another hour or so. They began their descent and the silence only got quieter somehow as the other two heroes respected the need for complete focus at this stage. The trajectory and velocity needed to be perfect to avoid burning up on entry. Batman's grip on his seat got tighter in anticipation of exactly what condition he was about to find his ward in. Wonder Woman reached over from behind him and put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. Though she didn't speak, the message was received. Calm down, Bruce.
A long time after the ship had started shaking from the friction meeting the ship, Manhunter told his passengers to brace for landing even though he knew it was going to be smooth as it always was. The ship met the ground neatly and that was nothing unusual, the sound of loud bangs around them was the shock. Batman's eyes widened behind his mask and he got to his feet quickly and demanded that Martian Manhunter open the doors immediately. When the Martian obliged and the three of them were met with what could only be described as a miniature war zone before them, their hearts sank. There was a pile of destroyed monkey robots to the left and clear evidence of a pretty intense struggle around them. Which evidently was still happening.
Batman looked around the field to find the source of the sounds of fighting and spotted M'Gann, Aqualad and Connor engaging half-heartedly but valiantly with the Superman android that they had all of them seen on the security footage tapes. The Bat almost slapped his face in exasperation, he had specifically told them not to engage. What was so difficult to understand about that? At the sight of his niece fighting, and so clearly in pain and exhausted too, Manhunter ran out of the ship immediately to offer his help in combat. The moment he left the ship however, he froze at the sight of her Bio-ship. It was no wonder that the girl was in pain; the Bio-ship was destroyed and from the looks of the surroundings they had suffered a crash not so long ago as well. Manhunter pushed it from his mind for the moment and ran in to help his niece, Aqualad and Superboy: Wonder Woman following closely at his heels.
Batman saw his fellow heroes going to help the juniors and was satisfied that they could hold their own without him for now. Besides, he wouldn't be able to concentrate fully on combat before he saw his ward and actually found Artemis and Kid Flash who were nowhere to be seen at present. He took a cautiously step out of the ship and carefully scaled his way around the fight intensifying nearby. The Superman android was mocking the efforts of the junior team and going about the usual speech that the Dark Knight heard a thousand times a day about how he would defeat them and fulfil his ultimate goals and blah-blah-blah.
The destroyed state of the Bio-ship served as a real perspective adjustment. On the way here he just didn't see how a simple mission such as the one that he had originally set could have gone so terribly wrong. But at the state of an obliterated ship and the target of the mission attacking a seemingly exhausted team which was down to a mere three members, Batman could see that the Young Justice team had been through a whole lot more than what Superboy had said over the phone: the stolen phone – that alone should have told him that something was very wrong. Then, just outside the hole blown into the side of the Bio-ship, amongst some debris, Batman caught sight of a heap of yellow.
Jogging over to what he had seen, Batman was horrified. Kid Flash had a serious burn running down the length of his back, probably a result of the explosion that had blown the ship wide open: this didn't make Batman optimistic for what he would find concerning Robin. Down on one knee, the Bat gently shook Kid Flash's shoulder, but the kid didn't even stir. Batman shook his head worriedly and slung the limp body over his shoulder before ducking as the android threw a large piece of sheet metal at him. Wonder Woman quickly covered him and Batman stood back up and went to investigate inside the Bio-ship.
Once inside, Batman instantly caught sight of Artemis who was sat upright with a constant line of tears running down her sooty face. She was fanning another motionless body and the Dark Knight's blood ran cold as he realised that it had to be Robin. There was no one else that it could have been. Artemis got to her knees weakly and then tried to stand up when she saw Batman, but she grabbed her head and fell back down again next to Robin. So instead she looked up and asked, "Kid Flash. Is he – Is he okay?" Batman nodded at her sympathetically and walked over to her. He lay Kid Flash down next to Artemis face down and she took his mask off tenderly whilst she looked down on him as he slept.
Whilst Artemis kept her eyes on Kid Flash, Batman figured that she wouldn't have her eyes on him as he rushed over to Robin in a flat panic and knelt down next to him anxiously. He put a worried hand on his forehead and felt his heart beat increase with complete all-consuming worry. Honestly, he was completely shaken because he'd rarely seen Robin this unwell. He found himself overcome with panic before he realised that it would do his ward and best friend no good and he cleared his mind as best he could. He couldn't very well diagnose Robin now with that android still at large so he put a warning, firm hand on Artemis' shoulder, told her to keep an eye on him, and then got up to help defeat the opponent.
He looked at where everyone was with the android and saw that they had weakened it significantly. It was missing a hand and a small section of its abdomen. The bit that would really shut it down however was the head, but they didn't want to damage it because it probably held more information that they could use than the Team could have ever gathered on a four day mission. Batman wasn't given a lot of time to think about what to do because at one point Manhunter and Miss Martian simultaneously tripped the android and shoved it to the ground where Connor held it down. Batman saw that as his window to help finish this.
"Hold it down!" Batman bellowed. Wonder Woman and Connor looked at each other for a moment before nodding determinedly and each grabbed an arm to hold down the android as low to the ground as they could get it. The machine shook and screeched – blasting red beams of heat from its artificial eyes desperately – all in vain as M'Gann and her uncle combined their strengths to hold him steady. Batman then leapt on top of the machine and grabbed its head with both hands. It took a few mighty pulls, but the head eventually gave way and was freed from its metal body. Aqualad looked disgusted despite the fact that the android was nothing more than a machine. The Dark Knight looked inside the man-made skull for a tracking device, which he disabled, and then tossed the heavy ball to Connor who received it in mild shock. Batman sat down on the disabled body, relieved. Miss Martian slumped down to the ground out of pure unbridled fatigue and probably some sort of injury, visible or otherwise and Connor saw fit to join her. Aqualad knelt down and spoke to the two of them in hushed tones which Batman assumed were supposed to reassure them that it was all over now.
The Team had clearly taken a beating and they weren't up to talking about all of it now he was sure. Right at that moment however, Batman still had the task of stabilising Robin and getting the rest of the Team back to the cave in Happy Harbour. They had clearly had enough for a while. Batman signalled for Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter to follow him and walked back inside the destroyed Bio-ship where Wonder Woman put an arm around Artemis and held her tightly as she got to her feet still crying. Manhunter lifted the still unconscious body that was Kid Flash carefully and the two of them began walking back to Manhunter's ship where the first aid supplies were waiting for them. Batman bent over to look down on Robin's pained face and winced inwardly at the sight of it. It never got easier – having to carry the kid home from a mission that had gone badly. He scooped up his injured ward and held him close, protecting him from anything and everything around him. He should never have let him go on this mission in the first place.
Thanks for reading everyone and I really hope that you enjoyed it!
Don't forget to leave a review if you want to and the next chapter's all about seeing everyone taken care of so all of the drama is now officially over! They're safe, or close enough anyways!
Once again if you see any mistakes you know what to do!