Best of Both Worlds
She was slammed forward as the breaks screeched. She looked up in time to see the car that had been chasing her had come to a halt only a few inches away form the edge of the bridge they where on. It had been one of those days when everything was going wrong. It felt like all of her adopted father’s enemies had decided to target her today, one after the other in and endless game of cat and mouse.
Not only was every known gang in Gotham after her, but also every super villain that had an axe to grind with her father’s secret identity—Batman—seemed to think it was a good day to try to try ‘collect a ransom’ for her life. As she jumped out of her car and ran for the nearest escape route, the prickles on the back of her neck told her someone or something was watching her from above.
A few seconds later she detected movement on the top of one of the buildings that formed the small alleyway she was heading for in her attempt to escape the goons in the car. This only added to her growing suspicions that a certain masked friend of hers had finally noticed her plight and had decided to drop in and help.
Moments later she arrived at the alley and was satisfied to see that when she entered the darker shadows her best friend jumped down from a nearby windowsill to walk right behind her, knocking out her pursuers at the same time with several well aimed darts.
“What took you so long?” she asked as she dropped her pace from a run to a walk and continued to head in the general direction of Wayne Mansion. “Oh, you know the usual. A robbery on main street, explosion on 3rd, fire on 16th and something about forgetting to write up my weekly mission assessment.” Her new companion replied cheerfully as he followed her through the darkened alley way, always staying a respectful two paces behind.
“I seem to remember reminding you like six times yesterday to get that done. If you get it done before father asks for it, you have less missions to assess at once, which does help cut down the amount of time you haft to spend on it.” Our heroine replied, stopping at the edge of the shadow that signaled the end of the alley they where in.
“Keep reminding me and maybe I’ll remember that sometime. You want me to give you a ride home? It might be faster than walking on the ground and I can spare the time. Not to mention much safer based on what I’ve just observed.” He asked looking over her shoulder at the very busy street. “Sure Rich, that would be great. Any idea when father will get home from outer space?” she said in a relieved tone finally turning around to face him.
As they began their very quick grapnel ride over Gotham to the Wayne Mansion, Nightwing answered her question. “Based on what Alfred said it could be days or weeks. The Justice League has been dealing with a lot of problems in the neighboring galaxies lately, Especially in the area Bats was assigned.”
About five minutes later Clara Wayne walked into the Mansion and placing her purse on a nearby stand, pulling out her phone she headed to the kitchen for something to drink. Nightwing had gone back to his patrol and Alfred is probably cleaning up the Bat Cave from yesterdays Super Hero Sidekicks movie night.
Clara smiled when she thought of how much fun last evening had been, meeting other sidekicks, enjoying good food, an awesome movie and exchanging hilarious retelling of missions with dramatized sound effects had made for a great re-introduction to Justice League Social Life.
Getting a glass of water from the kitchen she headed up to her room to get some down time and catch up on her drawing before her nightly patrol. Upon entering her room she found a mysterious note lying on her dresser which would change her night plans.
On it written in big block letters was this warning “Don’t support the Justice League or else” Clara just shook her head, changed out of her work suite into jeans and her favorite Star Wars T-shirt. Then, sticking the note in her pocket to show Dick later, she sat down on her bed and picked up her drawing pad and pencil.
She flipped to a half drawing of a Sith chasing a young female Jedi and started where she had left off that early that morning. While she drew she thought over the events of the last few days, sincerely wishing she could have her father’s advice on what to do next.
Hours later Clara was almost done with her drawing. As she added the finishing touches, she could hear Alfred and another coming up the stairs. Alfred was saying “Knowing Ms. Wayne she hasn’t put her pencil down since she returned from the meeting in Metropolis with Mr. Queen.” a young female voice which sounded familiar replied “I hate to interrupt her like this but Superman said it was urgent.” There was a knock a Clara’s bedroom door and as she stood up to opened it her mind began to swirl in confusion…
Restoration from Estrangement
The thug was trembling in evident fear as Nightwing stood in front of him, arms folded across his chest in a no nonsense manner. Nighthawk stood a few feet away dramatically sharpening her knife with a small piece of metal she had found lying on the ground. Over the last prayer-filled week, Nightwing and Nighthawk had been taking turns being the interrogator and the intimidator. They where both quite good at it and their method seemed to be working to get information. They had not come to the point where they needed to carry out their threats.
“I don’t know where the shipments go, I’m just the lifter.” Said the thug.
“Not good enough” Nightwing said in a flat tone as he half-turned to signal his partner over.
“Wait! I do remember hearing something about wearin’ bug spray ’cause of mosquitos. They had the truck all fitted out like they where plannin’ on going through some thick muck to. There’s a swamp ’bout two hours drive from here, maybe that’s where they where headed,” the man said as Nightwing stopped in his tracks.
Moments later Nightwing and Nighthawk walked through the portal into the Bat Cave. The minute the portal closed Clara’s shoulders slumped under the weight of her mixed emotions. The fear, anxiety, and anger seemed to crash down on her right then as if their efforts to find Batman where hopeless even though it was not so. Nightwing put his arm around her shoulders in a comforting gesture even as he struggled with some of the same emotions.
Every clue they had chased so far had been a dead end. On top of this, the Justice League, for whatever reason, would not help them at all. Only Green Arrow, Flash and Superman tried to make themselves useful and helped in the investigation as much as they could while covering for Nightwing and Nighthawk in Gotham City.
Nighthawk closed her eyes, her mind trying to process the information they had acquired and make a plan of action. “We can’t just walk into that swamp without a plan, can we?” she asked.
As they approached the Bat Computer, Nightwing said, “We could, but it doesn’t sound like a good idea. We still don’t have any idea who or why our mystery kidnapper took Bruce in the first place or how he got a hold of the knock-out gas they used to do it.”
“True Rich, but what else can we do? It’s not like we could retrieve any data on where the truck went, that swamp is in a nature preserve.” She hesitated. “Unless . . .” And with that she sat down in the chair and began typing away on the Bat Computer’s keyboard.
“Unless what?” he asked as he moved to watch her over her shoulder.
“Unless I can get access to the satellite image from that day and using my skills with photo clarification. . . Aha! There is our mystery truck’s destination!”
“I don’t see anything unusual about it Miss.” Alfred remarked as he walked into the area bringing with him a tray of fruits, vegetables and other finger foods. “I brought you something to eat since you missed lunch. Maybe you’ll find that solving mysteries with a full stomach is easier than doing so with an empty one.”
As one of the groups of grapes floated from among the rest and headed for Nighthawk’s hand, Nightwing grabbed one of the grapes and said “Maybe so Alfred, but we where kind of busy when you called for lunch.”
“I’m aware of that sir, but you shouldn’t make a habit of it. It is bad for your health,” Alfred replied reprovingly, as he turned to go back upstairs at the sound of the doorbell.
“I wonder who would be ringing the doorbell at this time of day?” Nighthawk said as she continued to do research on the mysterious shack.
Using her power ring, Nighthawk sliced the gun in half making it useless. The gunner and his fellow conspirators began to close in and the real battle began. Needless to say, the villains stood no chance against either of our heroes in hand-to-hand combat let alone when they were working together as a team.
They continued down the hallway a short distance only to find a large room mostly filled with boxes and crates. The only furniture in the room was a small rickety wooden desk, chair and lamp. Nightwing began sifting through the things on the desk while Nighthawk used her x-ray vision to scan over the contents of the boxes and crates.
Nightwing found a piece of paper that looked to be a note with instructions of how to avoid detection and handle the crates. As they both examined the paper something about the handwriting popped out at Nighthawk.
She reached into her utility belt and pulled out the note she had found on her dresser the day Superman had called them to the Justice League outpost. As she laid it down next to their most recent acquirement the hand writing matched.
After turning over the thugs to Commissioner Gordon the duo headed back to the Bat Cave. On their arrival, Nightwing was called to the Young Justice HQ for a meeting with his teammates and Clara went off to another very important meeting with Oliver Queen and several other of her father’s political supporters.
Clara Wayne shot up into a sitting position her heart racing like a stampede of buffalo. “Phew, it was just a dream.” She sighed in relief, flopping back in her bed like people do after waking from a bad dream. As she stared at the ceiling a thought occurred to her. Bruce had once said that all thecrimes which threaten us are often connected.
With this in mind, Clara once again went over ALL of the facts surrounding her adopted father’s disappearance. For one thing, whoever had organized this whole thing was either very good or the trap wasn’t meant for her. But if not her, who else could these villains be targeting?
Because of the complexity of the situation, she wasn’t even sure it was a trap at all. Suddenly it occurred to her that since the Joker and Lex Luther where both in jail, there were only two villains that could be behind it and she had a sample of both their handwriting. She hurried downstairs to the Bat Cave. Walking to her locker, she found the samples in question and grabbed the notes so that she could compare.
As Nighthawk walked through the dark hallway towards the lonely prisoner’s cell, the sound of an electric field buzzing steadily came to her ears. From what she could tell from the high security she had so far avoided, whoever was in the cell was considered either valuable, highly dangerous or both. This only added to her already growing suspicions that this was her father’s prison.
About 6 hours later. . .
Relieved that her father’s heart rate had finally steadied out, Clara sat quietly watching her fathers vitals for any signs of more injuries. After a few more minutes of monitoring, Nighthawk moved to sit by her father’s bedside.
Nearby, she could hear the normal cave sounds, such as the bats, the dripping of stalagmites, etc. The past weighed heavily on her mind, especially the parts that had led to her argument with her father. As these thoughts swirled through her mind, Batman stirred slightly and opened his eyes.
Another hour passed and Clara Wayne walked out the Wayne Mansion and got into Oliver Queen’s limo to head to another long business meeting, leaving her father in the capable hands of Alfred. The feeling of freedom this restoration to her father provided is hard to explain. So, I will simply let you use your imagination.
The next day, Batman asked for a full report on the plot and the clues that had led to his discovery. Nighthawk’s report was as follows.
“When Superman called us to the outpost, we examined the evidence from the crash site and found that your kidnapers used a knock out gas with a similar formula to that of one previously used by the League of Shadows. After a whole lot of digging and chasing dead ends, we where able to find the location of the storage place for the gas.
From what I can tell, Darkseid and Ra’s al Ghul are working together with at least two other villains. Their first mistake was leaving a note on my dresser with the same handwriting they where using for communication with their thugs in the storage building we found.
The handwriting confused most of our recognition systems and we thought it was another dead end. Then I realized that maybe the reason the computer didn’t recognize it was because it wasn’t all written by the same villain. Once I studied the samples closely closely I realized at least 4 villains were involved, one for each different writing style.
This is something Luther has done before, so I decided to test my theory. I combined some of the notes and handwriting samples we have found in the past and using individual letter recognition I was able to discover who was behind your abduction. Since the computer recognized both Ra’s al Ghul and Darkseid’s handwriting, so I speculated that Ra gave Darkseid the gas to knock you out and Darkseid used it and then brought you back here to Earth.
I don’t know exactly what their plans were, I do know that it has something to do with my powers and Lex and the Joker’s recent attempt to get control over them. With a little research I was able to discover what kind of ship they brought you back to Earth in. The rest was pretty straight forward. I located the fortress and located you. The only thing I still haven’t figured out is what the point of the whole thing was. . .”
A Paradoxical Case
Batman walked down the hall in the Watchtower, towards the meeting room where the sound of echoes originated.
“She is unstable and has no recorded experience in fighting crime beyond the last few months. Not only that, but her biological father is a mad scientist and her background — or at least what is recorded of it — is sketchy at best.” Hawkwoman was saying when Superman interrupted her.
“So was yours Shiera. You should at least have given her chance and answered her calls for backup. If it wasn’t for her, we may have lost Batman.”
“I agree with Clark. However, I understand what you’re saying Shiera. Her past is unrecorded for a reason that only her and Batman know. I think we should trust Bruce and let her actions influence our decision, not her past.” Green Arrow observed as he tried to bring down the temperature of the conversation.
“But there must be something in her past she doesn’t want found if we don’t have records of it. It is the only reasonable explanation for erasing your past.” Wonder Woman pointed out.
“I was the one who erase her files. She didn’t even know until recently that they where erased.” Batman remarked as he walked through the door. They all looked surprised to see him — some blinking, while others clearly jumping at the sound of his voice.
“But, why?” asked Green Lantern, “Why hide her existence from us and the rest of the galaxy?”
“A super soldier?” Flash guessed cheerfully as he played with his pen. “A powerful ally or enemy?” the Martian Manhunter hypothesized. Superman locked eyes with Batman as he spoke “A target.” It was a statement not a question.
“Exactly. When she left my protection about a year and a half ago I removed her records so that any villain who hacked into the system would not be able to find her. From what she tells me, they found her anyway, but it took them a year and a half. And then it was only because she helped Nightwing and Clark solve a case.” Batman rejoined.
Clara sat on a rock and watched the waves move the ocean in a steady pattern. A few ships where heading for Gotham or Metropolis docks, but most of the ships in sight where sail boats out to enjoy the beautiful day. As she watched them, Clara thought of what her father had said. The one sentence that he had said before he had left for the meeting in the Watchtower. “Some people fear the unknown, while others love it for its mystery.”
With one sentence he had explained the mystery of the ignored calls for backup. Part of her felt complemented, while another was more hurt by their distrust. She heard Tim and Richard come in the front door laughing and talking about their most recent mission and she wondered how much the Young Justice League knew about her past.
She realized that Raven and Batgirl knew a little since they had worked with her on her first case back into the world of masked justice. She also wondered if the Justice League had any knowledge of that mission or her part in it. It wouldn’t have been the first time someone had sped past her name.
“What case?” asked Hawkman to the general murmurs of agreement and confusion. “The Paradoxical Case also known as the Joker and Lex-corps Kryptonite.” Superman replied calmly as he touched a button on the table in front of him. The image that popped up was of Raven, Superman, Batgirl, Nightwing, and Nighthawk fighting an army. The interesting thing was that Nighthawk seemed to be the focus of the image as she was going head-to-head with Lex Luther and his Kryptonite suite.
Luckily, Nightwing noticed and was able to catch her before she hit the ground. While Black Canary attended her, Batgirl arrived and was filled in. While Green Arrow and Batgirl hypothesized the origin of the enemy, Nightwing was busy using his portable computer to read the data files he had gotten off the mysterious object.
“What happened, my head feels like it got hit by a train…” Clara remarked as she gained consciousness.
“I can’t seem to get anything from these files beyond the name ‘experiment B5’ and something about a trap.” Nightwing informed them.
“Or an elephant stampede…. Did you say B5?” Clara continued, glancing in his direction. “Yes, why?” Nightwing asked as he continued to type away.
“It’s probably nothing, but whatever hit me was long range and had Kryptonite mixed in with some other stuff.” She said as she tried to stand up with Black Canary’s help.
“Why do you say that?” Batgirl inquired as she straightened back up, having been examining one of the villains for clues. “This headache reminds me of one I got when Lex hit me with a Kryptonite poison dart. Are there any reports of robberies from Lex Corp?” Clara answered, pointing her question in Nightwing’s direction.
“Several actually.” Nightwing replied after a second of typing, “One from the chemical plant in Ohio and another from the weapons department in California. The police are stumped in both cases and have basically given up on ever solving the cases. Also, a mercenary has escaped prison recently who has a background with working for Lex and being deadly with the sniper rifle that was stolen from Lex Corp. So, either the guy is out for revenge on Lex or. . .”
“Or Lex is up to something, again.” Green Arrow finished for him. After some more discussion, they all agreed to keep in touch and report if they found anything else. Everyone went home, but not before Nightwing said to Nighthawk “It’s good to have you back partner.”
Nighthawk was flying through the upper terraces of the Metropolis skyline—practicing her ability to dodge between the buildings at high speeds without running into anything—when she saw Superman flying nearby on one of his patrols. She decided to join him and in a few minutes was flying by his side.
“Hi, how have you been?” Superman asked as he slowed down a little bit upon noticing her approach.
“Why do you think it was targeted? Couldn’t it have been a machinery malfunction or something like that?” Clark asked as he watched her pick her way through the debris.
“This was an office building of a non-profit organization with the biggest piece of technology being a standard desk-bound computer. Computers don’t usually make this big of an explosion and anyway the windows shattered inward not outward. If it had been an explosion from the inside they would have blown out and be scattered everywhere. However, at the area of the origination of the explosion I am finding shards of glass on the inside as well. . . What is this?” Clara said moving a piece of roof siding to uncover a glowing green stone. She quickly closed her hand around it and put it in her pocket, recognizing it to be a shard of Kryptonite.
“That certainly changes things.” Superman said as they flew off after helping the firemen as much as they could.
“Yes it does, if I’m right the explosion didn’t go as planned. . . But I will have to take this back home to be sure though.” Nighthawk replied, giving him an inquisitive glance.
About 30 minutes later, Clara and Superman arrived at her makeshift hideout. As Nighthawk used her equipment to read the chemical statistics, Superman looked around at the poorly lit room. it had a cot in one corner, her computer gear and a small training area with a few weapons hanging on the walls.
Turning his attention back to Nighthawk, he caught her shaking her head in amusement. “What did you find?” Superman asked.
“I was right. Based on the chemical readings, had the villain added one more chemical, that building and everything in it would have been incinerated. We would both be out cold or possibly dead because of the sudden exposure to Kryptonite. This was supposed to be a Kryptonite bomb, but thankfully whoever put this together was in a rush.” Clara said, carefully moving the Kryptonite into a nearby safe and locking it away.
“Another Kryptonite missile launched from a distance, I doubt it was coincidence.”
He knew by the look on Raven’s face that he must be a mess, but as his eyes searched the area and he saw no sign of his companions his concern for them outweighed his concern about his appearance. Where in the world could they have gone? He thought as Raven helped him to his feet.
Green Arrow opened his eyes to a dark room with iron bars on 2 of the 3 walls. His hand where chained above his head and his feet to the wall near the ground. He could see the 2 of the 3 other cells and their unconscious occupants. The cells where on the corners of a square, Batgirl was to his right and Black Canary was to his left. The 3rd cell was across the square and in the shadows, though he guessed that was Superman’s cell.
The two flanking Kryptonite torches kinda gave that away. Each hero had a specialized cell configuration based on their powers (or the non presence of any). Nighthawk was nowhere in sight, though Green Arrow knew she had been taken captive.
Green Arrow tried to pull his hands to where he could see them (while looking strait ahead) only to get zapped with electricity. Must be motion sensitive he thought, his mind racing to find a way out. Nothing came to mind other than the fact that maybe, just maybe the Justice League would notice before it was to late.
Nightwing folded his arms as he scanned the area. There were no signs whatsoever of his companions or the huge army. Raven had already tried locating them with her powers, but nothing had worked. He had tried to locate their comm-links, but again had gotten nothing.
“Surely there must be something we can do other than wait for their captor to make his next move. I can’t just sit here while they’ re in some dungeon,” he said, thinking out loud.
“We should look for information in the nearby Lex-corp customer service center. It should be connected to the main computer system. If Lex has them, their should be clues in there somewhere,” said Raven.
“That sounds better than just siting around here waiting doing nothing.” Nightwing replied, following her to the Javelin 3 which just happened to be docked nearby.
Nighthawk woke up suspended by an energy field in a cylinder cell made of an unidentifiable metal. She tried to move but the pain of moving made it impossible to struggle for long. She tried not to panic, but her mind raced trying to figure out what had happened. Had Nightwing been killed, what had happened to Clark, Dinah, Barbara and Oliver? Where was she? These where only a few of the questions that raced through her mind.
Nightwing had been scouring Lex Corp’s computer network for signs of his companions for hours. Nothing had come up except a few notes as to their powers and the cities they where seen the most in. He was on his 20th word search when he heard the sound of a body falling to the ground from the area where Raven had been keeping watch.
He froze in place for a second, not daring to call out to Raven to ask what had happened. As he slowly turned around, he saw the cloaked man from their earlier battle standing in the doorway. The man had his gun to Raven’s head. “Surrender boy, or this one dies.” the man growled in a voice that almost sounded familiar to our hero. Even as Nightwing’s captor cuffed and blind folded him, Richard wondered who the guy was and why he seemed so familiar.
Something had changed. For the last 10 hours or so, their guards had completely ignored them except to check that their bonds where intact. Most of that time Oliver had spent in a painful trance, wishing for a good bed and a good nights sleep.
And now they where transporting the four of them from their cells to an unknown location with the greatest care. Odd thought Green Arrow as his escort started the process of untangling him from most of his electronic bonds. Bound hand and feet, and with gags on their mouths, they where walked down a hallway into what appeared to be a throne room only to see both Nightwing and Raven already there. They where standing on a blue circle, one of three in the throne room.
One of the circles was centered on the throne, while the other two where placed so that, were you to connect them with lines, you would have a triangle. Our heroes where forced to stand on the one to the right of the person in the throne. The cloaked man was sitting on the throne while Lex Luther and The Joker were yet to be seen.
Nighthawk could hear the muffled commands and the sounds of feet moving about outside her prison. She had spent the last 10 hours thinking about many things, but what was for most on her mind was Nightwing’s unknown location and condition. She felt as if it was somehow her fault that this was even happening. Even as new thoughts ran through her mind, her world once again went black.
When she woke up she was on her knees, in the middle of the triangle of circles where the others were. Lex and The Joker stood on either side of the throne, while the cloaked man stood over her, his arms crossed in what could be taken as a victory stance. Suddenly, the circle that her friends where standing on lit up with electricity. It shocked everything on it and within two feet of its surface.
Even though her friends did not call out, she could tell they where in pain. She lowered her head as she tried to think of a way to save them. Then the electricity stopped almost as suddenly as it had begun.
“What do you want?” Nighthawk said, her voice full of loathing (for lack of a better word?). Her only hope was to distract the villain from torturing her friends more while she tried to come up with a plan.
The man made a clicking sound with his tong and said in a condescending tone”Now that is no way to great your father. After all these years I thought you would have recognized me.”
Clara drew her breath in sharply, feeling as if a knife had shattered her heart in two. Again. Suddenly she realized what she was sitting in the middle of. Three circles in a triangle pattern… The symbol of the Brainiacs.
The voice was her father’s, the face was a twisted version of her father’s handsome one, but hadn’t she sent him into a black hole after she had broken free from his mind control scheme? She pushed the rest of her questions aside, knowing she only had a few minutes to figure out what he was up to.
“You are no longer my father, you gave up that position years ago when you joined The Joker in his scheme.” She replied haughtily giving him the glare that Batman had taught her years ago. She could tell that everyone but her father (who is also known as Dr. John Shanai) was surprised by the audacity of her reply.
“Gave it up? Ha! It was taken away from me! No matter, you will do as I ask once again. Join me, or your friends will die a long and painful death. I will spare no..” here he was interrupted. “I know how this works. Either I join you and everyone in the world suffers, or I don’t join you and they die but the world is saved from your tyrannical rule.” Clara observed in a cocky tone, one eye brow raised and smirk on her face.
The sounds of laughter from The Joker and a few of the other villains in the room, irritated Dr. Shanai and it took him a minute to recover his composer.
“And?” he asked
“The father I loved died about the time my mother did. I will never join you or any like you No Matter the cost.” She responded resignedly, even as her heart began to shatter inside.
Even though it meant his death, Nightwing was proud of her for her decision. He knew how much she loved her father, and how hard it must have been to make the decision she had made. He only wished that he had time to tell her that and how much he loved her. But knowing super-villains as well as he did, he doubted he would have a chance.
As the electricity was once again turned on, Dr. Shanai held our his hand “I will give you one more chance” but once again he was interrupted “Never!” tear streamed down Nighthawk’s face as her friends, one by one, could no longer hold back their calls of pain.
She felt overwhelmed and her world slowed down. There was only one way to stop this and it would require all the strength she had left. Even though she had no idea what would happen to her, she gathered her powers and broke free from her bonds.
To the gasps of all present, she charged at Dr. Shanai taking him full in the chest with a elbow ram so powerful that the sound wave it created destroyed the entire building they where in. Buried under the rubble, and unconscious, our heroine waited for a rescuer as her heart beat began to fade away…
“Where is Nighthawk?” Nightwing asked as he began to search their dome like shelter for his friend. “Give me a second and I will look for her with my x-ray vision.” Clark said as he stood up putting a hand to his head.”She is under this pile of rubble. It doesn’t look good, Nightwing. Raven see if you can help me move this.” Superman finally said having located Nighthawk.
“I call with all my heart; answer me, Lord, and I will obey your decrees. I call out to you; save me and I will keep your statutes. I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises. Hear my voice in accordance with your love; preserve my life, Lord, according to your laws. Those who devise wicked schemes are near, but they are far from your law. Yet you are near, Lord, and all your commands are true. Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever. Look on my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law. Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise. Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek out your decrees. Your compassion, Lord, is great; preserve my life according to your laws. Many are the foes who persecute me, but I have not turned from your statutes. I look on the faithless with loathing, for they do not obey your word. See how I love your precepts; preserve my life, Lord, in accordance with your love. All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal. Rulers persecute me without cause, but my heart trembles at your word. I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil. I hate and detest falsehood but I love your law. Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws. Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. I wait for your salvation, Lord, and I follow your commands. I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly. I obey your precepts and your statutes, for all my ways are known to you. May my cry come before you, Lord; give me understanding according to your word. May my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise. May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees. May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous. May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. I long for your salvation, Lord, and your law gives me delight. Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me. I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.” (Psalm 119:145-176 NIV)
Clara quietly closed her bible and looked at her father now fully understanding why he had asked her to read this passage. It sounded like it had been written for her. As she was about to ask him a question, the door bell rang. A few seconds later, in came Richard doing his best to appear cheerful, though he knew it probably wouldn’t fool either of the Waynes.
It had been just one of those mornings where he felt like the entire world rested on his shoulders and every room seemed to be collapsing in. All morning he’d been dealing with trying to get his team to stop fussing about his choices during the last worldwide catastrophe and get something done. Of course that is easier said than accomplished.
After a few minutes of aimless discussion, the phone rang. “It’s for you Master Bruce.” Alfred said as he poked his head into the room, the phone to his ear. As her father went to answer the phone, Clara leaned a little closer to Nightwing and whispered “Hard morning?” It was all Richard could do to not wince at the memory of the morning’s team meeting.
“Yeah, first I didn’t sleep well and then you-know-who wouldn’t leave me alone during the meeting. Oh, and I still can’t get some of them to respond when I give them mission assignments. It’s a total disaster.” he replied as he studied the details on the rug. She could tell by the look on his face that there was more, but she knew better than to ask.
“You know, someone once told me that being a leader isn’t just a job. It isn’t just about what you do, but how you handle the dips in the roller coasters.” She said, laying her hand gently on his shoulder.
“Yeah, but I’m usually ok with roller coasters. This is like a hundred foot drop off into nothing.” he retorted with a cheerful sparkle in his eyes.
“At least you sense of humor seems to be improving.” Bruce remarked as he sat down and reopened the newspaper he had been reading. While he was scanning for any new crimes to investigate, a headline caught his full attention. It read “Clara Wayne and Richard Grayson Dating in Venice?” after Bruce read a few more lines he read the entire thing out loud to the surprise of his two young listeners.
“On this last Wednesday, around noon, Clara Wayne and Richard Grayson where caught be the paparazzi leaving an unknown restaurant in Venice, Italy. Though little is known about the validity of this find, it has been becoming obvious to this reporter that something must be going on. Mr. Grayson has accompanied Ms. Wayne to almost every social event since her reappearance 6 months ago. Though at times they are joined by either Mr. Oliver Queen, or Mr. Wayne himself Mr. Grayson is almost always present. This is what leads this reporter to believe that something may be happening, though what I have not yet decided…” Lois Kent, The Daily Planet
“That’s what that guy was doing.” Richard remarked rolling his eyes in irritation.
Bruce raised his eyebrow in the recognizable Batman way. “I knew where you were, but as we discussed, it is not a good thing for the press to discover it at the moment.” Bruce commented “Especially since it currently looks like I don’t have any clue.”
“I hate to interrupt sir, but if you don’t hurry you three will miss your flight to Japan.” Alfred remarked holding out their rain jackets, as it had started to pour outside.
A few rain-filled hours later, they arrived at their destination. After settling themselves in the hotel, they went to the first social event that Bruce’s agent had set up for them. Richard had a few phone calls to make, so he stayed behind at the hotel while Clara and her father went.
They where talking to their hostess about recent political news in Japan when all of the sudden 15 armed men jumped through the glass ceiling. Every celebrity in the room began to panic and hid behind the nearest object. Bruce was looking for a good spot to change into his Bat suit when one of the men noticed his daughter’s hiding place.
The man jerked her up by her wrist and just as she was about to pummel him he pointed his weapon at her. She just glared at him, her mind racing in an attempt to find a way out. Her captor spoke into his walkie-talkie as he handed her over to one of his companions. “Package procured, pull us, argh!” he called out in surprise as a female ninja landed on top of him.
After forcing the other man to let go of our heroine, she drew her sword and took on the other 13 men. Bruce rushed to his daughters side to help her up whispering in her ear as he did so “You know I don’t like it when you scare me like that.” She responded in an equally low tone “You know if I had been able to use my powers, he’d never have touched me.”
They watched as the last man fell, both wondering who in the world this new hero was. She turned to run for the nearest exit, and for a moment she locked eyes with Bruce. It was only a moment, but for some reason it seemed important to Clara.
An hour later Clara was sitting on the couch in her father’s room while Richard was leaning against the nearby wall. They both listened to Bruce while he paced the room clearly irritated. “… It’s to dangerous here, I am sending you both home. I can’t risk either of you getting hurt.” He finished.
“You know her, don’t you.” Clara said. It wasn’t a question, but a statement. Her father stopped pacing near the window and stared out at it at nothing. “That was a long time ago, little one.” he responded in a quiet voice a few silent moments later. “A very long time ago.”
There was a moment of thoughtful silence then Clara broke the quiet. “Father, we are here on a mission. We can’t go home now. You said that only if we worked together as a team, would we be able to finish. The League of Shadows or not, this is a mission we must complete together as a family.” She said as she stood up and placed her hand on his arm.
That night, in an unknown location the mysterious ninja stood staring at the stars. Her mind flew back to a time when another would have been looking with her.
With all further questions about the identity of mystery ninja being deflected by her father, Clara still had no clue as to who it was or how her father knew the ninja. However, she had more pressing things to deal with other than interrogating her father for a real answer.
Having said that, she wasn’t the only one with a full schedule that week.
With the Justice League’s decision about Nighthawk hanging in the balance, Superman and Green Arrow decided to try one more convincing technic. They had tried facts presented with their own theories, and argued that her loyalty to the League was unwavering to say the least. It had been over a week and they felt as if they had gotten nowhere.Sure, they convinced a few of their fellow members, but the Justice League as a whole was undecided. So, Superman resolved to try one more thing. He was going to use their biggest protest against them and appeal to them to reconsider before it was to late.
“My friends, the matter before us is one of which you all know my opinion. That being the case, please hear me out. A few days ago, I brought this subject before you to ascertain as to why you ignored Nighthawk’s call for backup. The discussion quickly changed to one of giving her a position at this table.
Many of you rejected the idea of even recognizing her request for help because of her background. This is the first matter I wish to address, as it is the most important. You say she cannot be one of us because she has been under mind control, yet all of us including myself have been under it many times. You say that since her biological father is a super villain, she cannot be trusted.
Yet you trust people like Hawk Woman who have betrayed the League in the past. Not only that, but we have given you proof of her loyalty to her father and the League. Further more, as her friend and as the one who has had to interview her on more than one occasion as a reporter, I know her better than most of you.
I have seen the effect you are having on her right now, and back when I first met her. Then and now you are her example of how to be a true superhero. Everything you do or say will have an effect on the future. No matter how much you fight it, one day she will be a leading superhero and what happens now will determine not only her future but that of everyone else on this planet.
Let me put it another way. If she was your daughter, niece, cousin, or sister what would you be doing right now? I know what I would be doing if I was Batman. I would have quit the League by now and gone back to my cave without much regret.”
(there were some smothered gasps at this statement as you can imagine)
“As it is, we still have some time to fix this mistake. But, if you decide to continue to ignore her, I can almost guarantee that you will regret it later. Whatever you decide, I will stand by Nighthawk who I regard as the younger sister I never had.”
Clara collapsed on to the couch in her father’s room letting out a sigh of relief. “3 days down only 4 more to go.” She said in a relieved tone as her Father put aside the newspaper he had been reading so he could focus on her. Richard sat cross-legged on the floor, notebook in one hand and a mechanical pencil in the other.
“Did you get any answers today? I’ve got a email from Oliver and he’s all in. The US’s representative in the UN said he’d bring it up in the next meeting, but who knows how that’ll go.” Bruce remarked in an even tone.
“The Japanese government representative said there was no way he could convince his bosses, but the Queen of Kasmia offered her full support. She even offered to give us the royal island for the project. I told her I’d talk to you about it and get back to her.” Clara reported cheerfully watching her father’s face for some kind of reaction.
She was rewarded with one of her Father’s rare smiles. “Have I told you how lucky I am to have you as a daughter lately?” Bruce asked. Startled by the sudden compliment, she blushed slightly looking down at her hands which where folded in her lap. There was a few moments of thoughtful silence only broken by the scratching sound of Nightwing’s pencil, before her Father spoke again.
“I know how stressful this week, for that matter this entire year has been for all of us, so I decided we need some get-away time together as a family. How does one whole week hidden away in Italy sound? We’ll take Tim and Barbara with us and Olly said he could cover for us on the business meeting side.” he preposed, the smile returning upon seeing their reactions.
The looks on their faces where like that of a young child on Christmas Eve, the look of one who was so excited that they would find it would be impossible to sleep. The fact that Bruce hardly ever took time off added to the excitement. They both knew they would probably still keep an eye on Gotham, but unless it wasn’t something the League could handle they would stay put.
That night, after sending his to proteges their rooms, Bruce stepped out to his room’s balcony. He thought about the last few weeks and the fact that he had taken more time off to spend with his apprentices than he had in while. As his mind strayed over the last weeks events it lingered over the encounter with the mystery ninja. As the memory of their last time spent together came before his minds eye, he wondered what he should do. Should he search for her or wait for her show herself. . .
Clara stared out the window at the beautiful city also thinking about days long gone. The face of her mother faded with time and she clung to the memory of her parent’s love for her before her mother’s death. Among the questions she thought over that night, only one seemed to have no answer. Did Nightwing and her Father know of the Brainacs and experiment B5’s potential or had they not even discovered it yet. If not, should she tell them what she knew about it?
“I lift my eyes up to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will bot let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121 NIV
Clara Wayne walked in the front door of the mansion leaving the door open behind her for Richard, Alfred and the luggage. As she placed her purse on the side table waiting for it, there was a sound of a four-legged animal running down the hall. She turned toward the sound barely in time to see the family dog, Ace (aka the Bat-hound) coming straight for her, barking happily.
When Richard and Alfred walked in the door they found Clara on her knees playing with Ace, her hair disarray and a smile on her face. “Did Master Bruce say when he would get home? I need to know when to make supper.” Alfred asked as Clara stood up, her hand resting gently on Ace’s head.
“He didn’t say when, just that he would be back and to not worry about him. I am sure if you fix supper at the usual time, he won’t be upset. In the meantime I am going down to the Bat Cave with Ace. You coming Rich?” Clara responded cheerfully.
“I would, but I’ve been away from the team for a week. I think I should go check on them and give a heads up about the vacation. Barbara will need to ask her dad about going and get packed up. I’ll come back over when I get a chance.” Richard replied as he headed for the tela-pad in the Bat Cave.
So it was that Nighthawk was alone in the Bat Cave with the Bat-hound when the Justice League’s summons for Batman came through.
“Watchtower to Bat Cave, Bruce we need you up here stat.” came the robotic version of Green Arrow’s voice.
“I’m sorry Olly, but father is out on one of his top secret missions, can I help you or take a message?” Clara asked, a worried expression on her face though her voice did not betray her mixed emotions.
Batman crept quietly through the cave’s many twisting tunnel, following the faint trail he had picked up a few hours ago. He had decided to find out if his supposition about the mystery ninja was right once and for all. And, if it was right, make a long overdue explanation to the one he had been forced to leave behind so many years ago.As he approached his final destination, the main cave, he walked out of the shadows into the ‘open’. The cave he walked into had a rough computer set up, all organized and neat just like he had expected.
A woman about his age walked out from one of the side tunnels, and upon seeing him dropped the item in her hand. “Bruce.” she said, clearly surprised though her voice was level. “Talia.” he responded, only slightly surprised that she had recognized him even with the mask on.
“Um, hold on a sec.” Oliver said, clearly not ready for this turn of events. There was the sound of a muffled discussion, which Ace interrupted with a bark as one of the bat computer’s monitors flashed on. “… The thieves have escaped all the police’s efforts to catch them and continue their raids upon Gotham banks as we speak,” the newsman reported.”Alfred would you finish this call for me? Ace and I are going theif hunting.” Clara called up to Alfred as he was descending the stairs with her supper. “Yes of course Miss.” he replied.
It only took Ace a few minutes to find the trail that the thieves had left behind in front of the bank. Disguised as a runner and her dog companion Ace and Clara followed the trail well out of Gotham and into the countryside. That is when they saw it. An old abandoned burned-out shack way off the road in a bunch of trees.
Th place was crawling with sentries holding machine guns, so to keep the element of surprise the two had to creep past the guards on the outside and the ones on the inside. This hunt had just gotten a whole lot harder and mysterious.
Oliver and the rest of the Justice League listened to Alfred’s explanation and asked him to inform Batman whenever he returned that they had come to an unanimous decision regarding his daughter.
Nightwing was lying on his cot looking up at the ceiling wondering what he should do. Lagoon Boy’s temper was getting out of control and hindering the team’s efforts but at the same time, he didn’t want to sound like he was complaining if he brought it before the Justice League. Then he remembered what Clara had said not to long ago:
I am so lucky to have her as a friend he thought as his mind wandered into memories of their last date.
Chapter 6: Initiation
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had it’s foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27 NIV
Between catching robbers and locating thieves in Tokyo, Talia Al’s Ghul and Batman had a long conversation about what had happened those many years ago. The fact that Bruce had been somewhat forced to return to save Gotham was not news to Talia. However, the fact that he had come back looking for her only to find her gone, did surprise her. The realization that he still cared for her, weighed into her decision when he offered her a position in Gotham.
After successfully sneaking past all the guards, Ace and Nighthawk arrived in the main villain lounge/hangout spot. There were 2 super-villains in the room along with a human merc (gun of hire to the highest bidder) who appeared to be in charge of the brute force. “If the Justice League finds out though, we might as well hand-cuff ourselves.” said the merc.”The magic word in that sentence is ‘if’ my fortunate friend. The likelyness of discovery is slim unless Batman gets onto us and from what I hear he is busy in Tokyo.” This was said with a slight purr by none other than Cheetah. The Shade has standing nearby examining part of their latest booty. That’s when Clara made her move.
“What’s that!” Cheetah exclaimed as a gas bomb landed near the Shade’s feet. It only took a few seconds and both super-villains where coughing violently in an attempt to rid their bodies of the fumes. The merc had grabbed the nearest gas mask and his machine gun only to find that he could not see his target. It took only one minute for the Bat-hound to take the merc out. Soon the entire base was filled with the knockout gas unique to the B.O.P (The Birds of Prey aka Batman’s apprentices).
It only took the local police force 15 minutes to arrive on the scene only to find that our heroes had gone leaving no trace, as usual.
It was only about an hour later when Clara Wayne stood in front of the Wayne Tower representing her father’s business to the ever nosy press. Of course, what started out as a political interview ended with a question meant to knock her off balance.
“Ms. Wayne, do you feel that your (cough) past has effected you ability to represent your father’s company?” said the anonymous reporter.
“To answer your question, I believe it has actually, but in a good way. I am better able to understand where our opponents, if you will, are coming from and defend our position more readily than some.” Clara replied calmly with the practiced ease.
“Ms. Wayne, do you feel your adoption into the Wayne business has impeded your working relationships within Wayne Enterprises?” the reporter asked placing his pencil eagerly on his note pad.
“No, I do not. Now if you ladies and gentlemen will excuse me, I have to eat supper sometime.” Clara said in a matter of fact way that brought quite a few chuckles from the crowd.
As Talia and Bruce rode the limo from the airport to pick up Clara at Wayne Tower, Talia decided to ask Bruce something that had been on her mind since she had heard of his adoption of Clara. “I have to know, was it hard to get used to the change when you adopted her?” She asked watching his face for any reaction. He smiled at the memories of those first few days.”If you mean the change of having a girl in the house for the first time since before my mother, yes. To answer your next question, if u build a good foundation, no matter what happens at least part of the house will still be there. It may be shattered, scarred, or rotted out, and maybe even crumbling, but it will be there. When she came under my care, the foundation was there — it just needed some love and care to repair it.” He replied with a far off look in his eyes.
The next few moments where spent in thoughtful silence until Alfred got out and opened the limo door for the beautiful Ms. Wayne as almost 50 reporters tried to get her to answer one last question and get one last picture. The second the limo door closed Clara relaxed laying her head back and closing her eyes.
“How’d it go?” Bruce asked her with a barely perceivable look of concern on his face.
“It went better than I expected if you must know.” He responded turning back to face her. “While I’m thinking about it, Talia, this is my daughter. Clara, this is Talia the mystery ninja.” As Clara Wayne greeted her father’s companion a bell went off in her head. She instantly knew why her father had never mentioned Talia before.
Faraway in the Watchtower the Justice League dispersed to their homes, wondering how Batman would react to their decision. Many of them would spend a sleepless night feeling about the same way you do when a book ends with a cliff-hanger and you can’t read the next part till tomorrow.
“Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. The arrogant mock me unmercifully, but I do not turn from your law.” Psalm 119:49-51 NIV
“Blessed is the one who persevere under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life the Lord has promised those who love him.” James 1:12 NIV
Clara stood in the hotel room’s balcony, watching the streets of Rome for Tim and Richard returning with snack food for the night’s board game and movie. With only 3 days left in their vacation, the family had only a few more places in Rome that they wanted see. Most of the other attractions they had seen in previous visits during after-mission sight-seeing.
Behind her Talia and Barbara sat cross-legged on the floor discussing ball gown dresses as they examined half a dozen or so fall fashion magazines. Bruce was in his room on the phone with Alfred. As she watched the people walking past her to their destinations she heard a voice to her left. “You are a hard one to find, Clara.”
Talia looked up to check on Clara only to see an empty balcony, its curtains fluttering in the slight breeze.
Richard joined the rest of the family and listened as Talia told them what she knew. Beyond the fact that Clara was on the balcony one minute and was gone the next, there wasn’t much to tell. While Bruce examined the balcony for clues, the rest of the team sat down to a quiet supper.
“I know you Oliver. You didn’t just pretend to kidnap me just to take me to dinner.” Clara said pointedly after they ordered their food at one of the best restaurants in Starling City.
“Nor does your father erase entire background files without reason, kiddo. But, that doesn’t really matter at the moment. What matters is that I have your attention, and with it your father’s. Though, if I recall correctly the fake kidnapping was your idea.” Oliver Queen replied calmly, noting that several of the escape routes had guards.
“We’re being watched, aren’t we.” Clara surmised after watching him for a few moments.
“Yes, but I haven’t figured out exactly why. We’re just here to eat dinner.”
“And talk.” she interrupted flashing a knowing smile. “Your wondering about the files, right?”
“That’s not why I was looking for you. The team wants to talk to your father and I volunteered to find him.” Oliver said “However, I have been wondering about those files for some time.”
“Its a long story Oli.” Clara replied moving in her seat slightly so he could see the man a few tables behind her. “I have time.”
Oliver said a smile starting on his face. To the casual eye, everything was normal. Clara Wayne and Oliver Queen where having a private discussion while waiting on their food. But to the trained eyes of both superheroes, someone was about to have problems. And it wasn’t them.
That night found Batman back in his home and relaxed. He could investigate his daughter’s ‘kidnapping’ tomorrow. Though he couldn’t think of any reason Oliver Queen would want to fake kidnap his daughter. It just wasn’t him.
Right at that moment, Oliver Queen was watching his wife and Clara as they tended their horses laughing about something. His world had changed forever because of his vigilante life, but part of him wasn’t just Clara’s friend. To Oliver she was a younger sister, a child in need of protection. It was on days like this he knew why Bruce had decided to take her in no matter what her heritage.
After tending to the animals they sat down to a late snack in the kitchen. After a few minutes of silence, Clara turned to Oliver and asked him a question that had been bugging her since she had gotten the call in the Bat Cave the week before.
“What is so important that the League couldn’t wait for us to return from our vacation?” she asked watching Oliver’s face for a reaction.
“Long story short, You and Nightwing have been accepted into the League. My guess is that when we discovered you had disappeared, some people where worried it was permanent. So I figured I would rather search for you myself than sit around in the Watchtower watching someone else look.” Oliver replied watching the shock and joy mix on his young friend’s face.
Chapter 7: Like Father, Like Daughter
“I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.” ~ Psalm 3:5-6 NIV
For those not aware of what was going on in the training sphere, the sounds of battle would have been quite alarming. However, for those walking the Watchtower hallways it was a common noise to which they where accustomed.
Moreover, when there was not someone training, you might hear the occasional comment on the silence by passing members. As Clara dodged the rain of bullets waiting for the simulated attacker to reload, her thoughts were focused on the fact that the simulation’s police were later than usual. They were never punctual, as with real life, but they had never before failed to show up.
Green Arrow watched her, a confident smirk ever present on his face. His thoughts were occupied with her evident ability to use and adapt her powers to every situation rather than the fact that he should have already sent the police in. Only after Clara was able to get his attention did her battle end.
Batman listened to Wonder Woman, Hawkwoman, Superman, Green Launtern (John Stewart), and J’onn Jones talk of some small talk about the Young Justice Team completely unaware of his form sitting at the table in their midst. He was scanning through his notes when The Flash darted into the room sending papers flying everywhere.
“Your late.” Batman remarked in his no-nonsense voice that he used when around his teammates as he moved to gather his papers.
“Sorry, I was talking to GA and watching Nighthawk training in the sphere and lost track of time. Does anybody have an extra snack I could have? Watching her made me hungry!” Flash replied cheerfully as he often did even when most people were completely serious. There was a general laugh, which dispelled any misgivings for a time. That was until Batman brought up the Wayne’s ‘Secret’ Project.
The project was an underground base and home for the young members of the Young Justice team. The design was for a fully-functional and self-sustaining base with a top-of-the-line security set up. It was to be built on the uninhabited Royal Island in the oceans under the rule of Kasmia. As he answered questions and took note of suggestions, the opinions of his companions became clear to him.
Green Arrow was called off to go on a mission and Clara, thus left to her own devices, retreated to the network of caves under the Wayne Mansion. She had been exploring them since her first visit to them so many year ago. One of her favorite places to go was a place she had only recently gained access to.
It was across a rushing underground stream that was 3 feet deep and fast enough to knock someone over. Not only that, but the water had the power to numb on contact. Only by flying over the water could you get to the caves beyond.
Once you crossed the stream, you would find a tunnel which broke up many times and had hundreds of rooms branching off of it. One of these had several ledges and a pool of warm water. The next door room contained a huge bats nest, so unless you were careful and knew it was there you would (most likely) wake up the resident bats and in your panic run out of the area quickly.
A perfect hideout if there ever was one. Having grabbed her sketchbook and a pencil, she began a drawing that depicted the original 7 in one of their battles against Brianac and Lex Luther. Her joy at being accepted to the League was slightly dampened by having none to share it with upon her arrival home.
Richard, Tim, and Barbara were attending their numerous duties at the temporary Young Justice HQ in a warehouse. Talia was out on patrol helping the Gotham Police fight crime in her new disguise as Nightraven, the newest member of the B.O.P. (Birds of Prey). As for Alfred, he was busy with his duties and hadn’t been easy enough to find.
Soon, the several nights of no sleep caught up with our heroine. The pencil dropped from her fingers to the cave floor and the drawing lay forgotten nearby. Ever since being reunited with her father and moving back under her roof, nightmares of that night whose events had forced her from home came almost every night.
Not only of that night, but other nights our heroine had tried to forget. And then there was the strange dream she had just before discovering her father’s prison. (See Chapter 2, Part 2). It was the most scary, the most frequent.
It was also the only one that usually woke her, though there was occasionally and exception. After weeks of restless nights, she could not sleep no matter how hard she tried. Until now, that is.
Not to far off a young girl looked over her shoulder one more time before she got on the train. No signs of anyone following her, though she wouldn’t feel safe until she was under the protection of her long lost relative.
The girl was about 14 years of age, she was medium hight and her hair (when let down) was brown and only slightly wavy. Her eyes were a beautiful color of green with little gold specks in them.
Her hair was in a neat braid and her small bag of belongings never left her hand. She would have pulled out her book to pass time, but she knew that she had no chance of making it to Gotham if she let her guard down.
Clara’s dream was completely new to her. It was not the nightmare she had come to expect. She watched a young girl of 14 get on a train, noticing her tense shoulders and her nervous observance of everything around. As she watched, she notice the glare of something reflecting the light coming from the girls necklace.
The girl moved slightly in her seat bringing the object (or should I say objects) into Clara’s full view. Two perfectly round blue gems hung on a chain around the girl’s neck. Just like the gem which Clara wore around her neck. The one her mother had given her when she had died.
“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” Hebrews 13:17 NIV
Nighthawk woke up just as the girl in her dream arrived at her destination which look an awful lot like Gotham City Square. She picked up her pencil and sketchbook and then headed back to the cave. She arrived at the same time as her father on his return from the meeting.
She could see that he was stressed about something. Even though she wanted to know what it was she also knew from experience that he would tell her what was bothering him only when he was ready.
The first few minutes where completely silent in the room after Nightwing left. Then Conner spoke out. “I think he is doing his job, and I think this whole thing is completely unnecessary. He is our leader and that is that.” A general murmur of agreement followed. In fact, the next hour was filled with spoken reasons why Nightwing should retain his position, not lose it. Only Lagoon spoke in disfavor, though Blue Beetle was silent.
When the League receive the recording (about 2 hours after the original 7 finished their meeting), they had an emergency meeting where in there was an unanimous agreement that Nightwing should keep his leadership position, even though he was now officially a member of the League. Of course, neither Nightwing or the Young Justice Team had any idea that he had been accepted into the League.
Further more, Aquaman (the King of Atlantis and Lagoon Boy’s mentor) told the team that Lagoon was removed from the team until further notice. Such extreme disregard for authority was not to be tolerated.
Clara was surprised when she saw Richard walking alone in the grounds seemingly deep in thought. Deciding to join him, she told her father where she was going and went down the stairs.Bruce, having moved to the upper floor balcony, watched as Richard greeted Clara on the lawn, obviously glad to see her. They started walking, almost instantly in conversation over some important matter. They where standing in the gazebo when there was a sudden out burst of joy. Bruce knew that Clara must have just broken the news that they had both been made official Justice League members.It was only a few moments later that Talia joined Bruce on the balcony. Soon, Bruce’s full attention was on Talia as they discussed what their plans for the future would be. That is when Bruce made up his mind: he wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice.
“Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the Lord. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.” ~ Psalm 68:4-6 NIV
The following day, the Justice League and Young Justice teams got together in the Watchtower to celebrate Nightwing and Nighthawk’s promotion. The entire area was filled with blue and black party decorations, hand food stations, games, and tables. All of the YJL team members where both super surprised and thrilled about their team leader’s promotion. The area was filled with laughter, talk, and the occasional cheers for a winner of a game.
However it took only 30 minutes before Clara felt her excitement wear off and be replaced by the many questions she still had to answer about a certain case. Sneaking out of the room, Nighthawk headed directly for her father’s computer room. Upon entering she found her father already there, wrapping up a simulation for her to test in their next training session.
Most of the table shook their heads or gave some other sign that they hadn’t. “I’d check Bat’s computer room. They are probably hanging out there working on a case or something.” Nightwing commented in a calm it-happens-all-the-time tone.
Alena stood in front of the Wayne Mansion, for the first time questioning her decision to find her cousin. Alena sighed, lifted her hand, and after one more moment of hesitation, pushed the door bell.
Green Arrow and his companions walked a little bit away from the table to discuss their options.”Why am I not surprised?” remarked GA, “What is the old saying? The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. There where a few chuckles, as well as smiles on everyone’s face. “On to the computer room!” The Flash declared cheerfully.
Chapter 8: Legacies and Heirs
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples” 1 Chronicles 16:24 NIV
Green Arrow and his companions were delayed in their search for Batman and Nighthawk by an issue in Central City that took them an hour to resolve. By the time they returned, Batman and his daughter where gone and everything in the Watchtower had gone back to normal. Therefore, they decided to let the matter drop and went about their business.
It had been several days since Clara had shown her father the secret file. Since that day she and her partner (Nightwing) and Batman had been following the few clues she had about the origin and purpose of eB5. At the moment however, she was taking a break from the buzz of the search and her social life as the daughter of a billionaire (which is tiresome on its own).
Clara was standing on the second floor balcony which overlooked the first floor deck. Beyond the deck was the Gotham Lighthouse and across what was known as Gotham Bay stood the tall buildings of Metropolis’ skyline. The evening breeze whisked around her, making her dress look like it was imitating the ripples of the water below.
“How are you doing?” Richard asked, having come up behind her from the direction of the stairway.
“I’m doing okay. Between meeting, taking in, and getting guardianship of my cousin, father’s engagement to Talia, working in the JL (Justice League), and investigating the eB5 case. . . I haven’t really had time to slow down much. What about you, Rich? Did Cal and Conner agree to at least talking to each other?” She replied turning slightly so she could see his face more clearly as he stood next to her on the balcony.
“About the same as yesterday. I finished scheduling and preparing mentor and apprentice training, and I am almost done with programing the needed sequences and adding them into in the simulator. Cal and Conner are planning on making an effort, so we will see. Then there was the missions and other leadership stuff. Not to change the subject, but how did Paster Ron react to Ms. Al Ghul? I was talking to Robert and Abby outside when Bruce introduced her yesterday.” Richard asked her, noting the suppressed worry in her eyes.
“He seemed pleasantly surprised. I think that had more do with the fact that father introduced them, instead of not even mentioning it at all, more than anything else. How are those two rogues? It’s been a while since I have talked to them.” Clara answered cheerfully.
“He and Abby found a college to go to and are enjoying it a lot. As a matter of fact, Abby mentioned that she hadn’t seen or heard from you in a while. So, Robert suggested maybe we do a double date sometime this week so you two can catch up and we can all get a break from the norm. I told them I’d talk to you about it.” Richard told her, smiling at the look of joy that passed over her face.
“I would love to! It sounds like a good idea to me.” Clara said as they headed hand-in-hand for the stairs.
“I almost forgot, Bats says we are to take the night off. No missions whatsoever until tomorrow morning. I was thinking maybe we would go on an impromptu date to that Italian place on Gotham Drive. We haven’t been there in a long time. And maybe with all the rain we have been getting, the press won’t be out.” Nightwing answered after a few minutes of thought.
“I think a date sounds like a perfect ending to an almost perfect day.” Clara replied. A few minutes later they had grabbed their raincoats and started walking in the direction of Gotham Drive. They decided to walk because it was turning into a beautiful evening and they had plenty of time.
Bruce, Talia, Clara and Richard had discussed the eB5 Case at length. They had all agreed that it was worth telling the Justice League about, however they had not decided how to tell them. Batman knew that some help with the investigation would quicken the results and time was of the essence when the future of the entire galaxy was at stake.
Alena looked out her window, the freedom of not having to worry about the next meal (or anything else) was strange to her. She had a home, food, new friends, a cousin who she had come to know as the older sister she had always wanted, not to mention Mr. Wayne and Ms. Al Ghul as her guardians. Everything had turned out better than she could have ever imagined all those years ago when her parents died. A knock on her door interrupted her thoughts. “Coming!” she called out cheerfully, leaving the entry in her diary for later.
It was Timothy Drake (or Tim as his friends called him), one of Bruce’s other wards. “Barbara and I where wondering if you wanted to play monopoly with us in the tree house.” He half-stated, half-asked when she opened the door a few seconds later. “I would love to!” Alena replied cheerfully, following him down the stairs and across the lawn.
Ra’s Al Ghul listened to Chaon’s report, his back to his head assassin as he stared into the bubbling waters of the famous Lazarus Pit. “Did you see any evidence of my missing daughter?” he asked Chaon once he had finished. “Nothing conclusive my Lord. However, Bruce Wayne has been supposedly spotted with a woman matching her description and. . .” here Chaon stopped, hesitating to tell his master the last bit unsure of how he would react. “And what? It is unlike you to hesitate on such matters.” Ra’s asked, his irritation not changing his voice at all. “Batman’s team has a new member, Nightraven. The skills she has shown match that of Talia Al Ghul.” Chaon replied, knowing there was no way to avoid his master’s reaction.
“You would dare to accuse my daughter of treachery?” Ra’s asked raising is voice and whirling to face his messenger. “No my Lord,” Chaon replied kneeling before Ra’s, “I am only telling you the facts you commanded me to find.” Ra’s nodded, satisfied with his assassin’s answer. “You have done well. Rest and await your next assignment.”
“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2 NIV
“Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who are out to destroy me, from my mortal enemies who surround me. They close up their callous hearts, and their mouths speak with arrogance. They have tracked me down, they now surround me, with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground. They are like a lion hungry for prey, like a fierce lion crouching in cover. Rise up, Lord, confront them, bring them down; with your sword rescue me from the wicked. By your hand save me from such people, Lord, from those of this world whose reward is in this life.” Psalm 17:7-14a NIV
Ra’s Al Ghul smiled as he surveyed the abandoned ruins of the old Brainac stronghold. Now all he had to do was wait of his assassins to finish their mission in Gotham. . .
Clara listened to the water as it lapped the Gotham bridge’s supporting pillars. The trees all throughout Gotham had started to loose their colorful leaves and the night breeze had the chill, indicating that fall had indeed started. Her long brown hair danced in the cool night breeze as she studied the stars sprinkled sky. She smiled as Richard began humming the tune to a song they had written when they where younger. The day had been almost perfect. No paparazzi, almost no rain, and no wanna-be-kidnappers interrupting their night out.
“Gotham is so beautiful tonight. I was just thinking about how unlike father it is to kick us out of the cave like that.” Clara mused as Richard joined her and leaned on the railing to her right.
“He has his reason. He always does. I didn’t think it would do any good to question him.” Richard replied, a hint of a smile in his eyes.
“Probably not, Rich. The timing just seems a bit odd, that’s all.” Clara rejoined with a suppressed chuckle. He smiled and turned his head to examine the water. It only took a second for them both to be deep in thought. After a few moments of beautiful silence, Richard took a deep breath and broke the silence.
“I have something to tell you.” he said quietly.
“When you took Ra’s Al Ghul’s sword for me… and when you refused to join your father.” Here he hesitated for a moment, sounding unsure for the first time that night. The memories of those fateful missions stood before her as vivid as if she was living through it all over again. He took her hands and she turned to look him in the eyes, wondering what it was he was trying to say though her heart had already guessed at the answer. “I was so proud of you. I only had one regret… That I had never taken the time to tell you that I love you. I realize it is a tad bit sudden, but I can’t risk waiting any longer.” he ended in what seemed like a surge of emotions.
“I can only think of one thing to say. I love you, Richard.” She replied, tears of joy hanging in her eyes.
“In that case, I have a question to ask you.” Richard said doing his best to remain serious. He got down on one knee and asked one simple question “Clara Anne Wayne, will you marry me?”
Batman checked the information for the forth time. He and Talia had been pursuing the last set of leads to uncover the reason behind Batman’s kidnapping and its connection to eB5. This last lead had led them to an apparently abandoned chemical plant that the Joker had used as a hide out in the past. The data made everything clear, which wasn’t as good as in might sound.
“Robin, get everyone in the cave. Now!” Batman said, ignoring her question. He ran to the Batmobile, hoping he wasn’t to late.
“Batgirl and Sparrow are here, but Nightwing and Nighthawk aren’t responding.” Robin told them when they arrived back an the Bat Cave.
“Bruce, what is it?” Nightraven (Talia) asked, noting the barely discernible troubled look on his face.
“If this data is accurate, your father was the master-mind behind the eB5 case, my kidnapping, and half-a-dozen other unsolved cases. This data was the last piece to the puzzle. If he has assassins trailing Clara and Richard… Who knows what he will do when he learns that I know.” Batman explained. Before anything more could be said, the Bat Computer came to life.
“The following threat was sent to Gotham Police Department moments ago, after the disturbance on the Gotham Bridge, in which report say two civilians were taken captive by un-known assailants.” The Gotham New Reporter informed the audience with very little evident emotion. The screen was the filled with the image of Ra’s Al Ghul and his assassins.
“This is a message for Batman, and Batman alone. Return my daughter by midnight or these two pay the price.” Ra’s Al Ghul growled triumphantly as he indicated the unconscious forms of Clara Wayne and Richard Grayson.
“The GPD is still trying to get a hold of Batman, and refuse to respond to any further questions. Reports have indicated that messages are being sent to the Justice League and other like organizations, in an attempt to rescue the two young billionaires…” the announcer continued as all eyes in the Bat Cave turned to Batman.
“If we are going to make it, we need to leave now.” Batman said, looking questioningly at Talia who nodded ever so slightly.
“But you don’t even know where they are!” Robin protested half-heartedly.
“Yes I do. There is only one place that they could even dream of holding Nighthawk in, restricted as she is by her secret identity. The old Brainac Stronghold in Australia.” Batman retorted, softening his response by putting a gentle hand on Robin’s shoulder.
“Then let us not waste time, my love.” Talia declared calmly as she headed back to the Batmobile.
Richard groaned and tried to touched his throbbing head. The last thing he remembered… He jolted upright only to collapse with another loud groan onto the cell floor. His entire body felt like he was on fire.”The Ignis potion, very nasty stuff. Of course, that is the point, isn’t it? Knocks you out cold and leaves a very painful after effect.” Chaon sneered compteptiously as he passed the cell door on his way to formally inform his master of the extent of his mission’s success.
Nightwing waited until the outer door closed behind his arch nemesis before he moved again. Bracing himself for the pain he examined his surroundings and found that both of his hands were chained to a ring that was half buried in the concrete floor. His feet were only chained to each other, though the shortness of the chains on his hand made hard to do much more than sit up.
Looking across the outer chamber through the energy door on his cell he saw the other cell. Clara was crumpled on the cell floor, barely even moving. He knew from the slight movements she made, that she was alive. No matter what, he was ready to give everything to make sure she escaped from the mess they had found themselves in.
Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.” Proverbs 29:17
Deliver me from my enemies, O God; be my fortress against those who are attacking me. Deliver me from evildoers and save me from those who are after my blood. See how they lie in wait for me! Fierce men conspire against me for no offense or sin of mine,” Psalm 59:1-3
Talia sat silent in the co-pilot seat of the Batmobile, watching the emotions play across Batman’s usually composed face. The anger, guilt, worry, and love took turns. Placing her hand on his arm, she caught his attention.
“None of this is your fault, Bruce. My father and Chaon would have taken them no matter what we had done.” Talia told him, her calm tone and gentle touch calming down the storm that Bruce had felt rising within him.
As they arrived at the crash site, he spoke with a calmness that belied his inner turmoil. “Follow my lead.” there was a moments silence before he placed his hand on her shoulder, stopping her long enough to look her in the eye. “Your father isn’t taking you away from me ever again.” He promised, and in that moment Talia knew that he would do anything to keep that promise.
Clara closed her eyes, pretending to still be unconscious. Because of her speedster metabolism, the poison had quickly lost it’s effect on her body. It took all of her inner strength not to use her powers to get out of the cell. Instead, she focussed on getting the secret hairpin out of her belt buckle without making any sudden movements. Once she had it, it only took a few seconds to undo her bonds. However, she had to wait until she heard Richard stir in one the other cell before she made her move.
Richard had been going in and out of consciousness several times after he and first awakened to this nightmare. He was almost as surprised as the guards when he heard the clang of dropping chains. Turning slowly, he saw that his fiancé was standing up just out of the sight of their guards. With a few deft movements, Clara knocked the guards out cold with a dose of their own poison. Hurrying over to the his cell, she quickly opened the door and started to work on his chains.
“You ok, Rich?” Clara asked, her concerned look bringing a faint smile to Richard’s face.
“I’ve been worse.” He grunted as she helped him up on his feet and supported him.
“Do you think you can find us a way out of here, or do you think we should wait for Batman?” Clara responded her concern only deepening as she noted the look of pain on her fiancé’s face.
Taking her hand, he started walking toward the door. “Lead me to the computer and we’ll find out.” He replied doing his best not to wince at the pain walking brought with it. Grabbing the guard’s weapons and blow darts, they crept into the next room. While Clara knocked the rest of the guard detail out, Richard went to work hacking into the computer system. He got her attention a few moments later with a noise of frustration. He had been scanning through security camera feeds for a way out. The last camera showed Batman and Nightraven in a triangle shaped room, surrounded by Ra’s warriors, and face to face with the master of assassins himself.
Batman ignored the warriors closing around them, and focussed on Ra’s Al Ghul. The lord of assassins had sent Chaon to escort the two prisoners out. However, Chaon was not gone long. The bodies of the unconscious guards landed at Ra’s feet followed by Chaon’s angry voice.
“We have been betrayed, master. The heiress and her guard are long gone.” He roared venomously.
Batman hid his surprise carefully, knowing just how small a ledge they where on.
“If so, we have nothing to discuss.” Offering his arm to Talia, he turned as if to head leave. The hedge of swords that barred their path showed that the Assassin had other plans. Even as Ra’s spoke from behind them, Batman knew what he would say.
“No one steals from me and escapes.”The lord of Assassins growled drawing his sword and pointing it at them. That was when the unexpected happened. There was a whooshing sound and then an explosion followed by a gas cloud. All of the assassins fell to the ground, out cold. Only Ra’s Al Ghul remained standing, having been quick with the use of his gas mask. Chaon had not been so fortunate. Batman and Talia had been even quicker. Turning and drawing a blade from a fallen warrior in the same motion, Bruce charged his old master. Talia drew her sword and followed him, though she did not join the engagement.
When Clara and Richard arrived on the scene, the two age old enemies where locked in mortal combat their swords making deadly patterns in the air.
While Richard collapsed onto a weapons box that was just inside the door, Clara took time to examine the chamber they where in. It was large triangle shaped room. They were in the center of the crashed ship in what she guessed had served as the command center. Though time and scavengers had long since removed the chairs and computers, the signature blue circles still lay in their places glowing in a way that made you wonder if they where alive. A loud clang broke through her thoughts and made her look to the two dueling enemies. Ra’s was on the ground, a dart in shoulder and his sword was driven int0 the chamber wall ten feet away.
Bruce lowered his sword in the silence that followed the assassins defeat. He wasn’t sure whether or not Ra’s would ever awaken again. Though his defeat lifted a weight of Bruce’s mind, he wondered if his life could have been different if he and Ra’s had seen eye-to-eye. Then he looked at his daughter and her partner, and knew that he wouldn’t have had it any other way. Sure, there had been hard days, but he wouldn’t give up a moment of it for the world.
As Clara came running to him, he was trying to decide whether to praise or reproach his daughter for her actions. Instead, he just hugged her close to him as a stray tear found its way under his mask and down his cheek. Richard closed his eyes and allowed his body to relax. The poison was still active in his system, but it had started to wear off. He waited a moment before asking his question.
“What do we do now?” he asked, keeping his eyes closed and his tone casual.
Kissing his daughter on the forehead, Bruce released her and turned to his young apprentice. “We go home.” Batman answered his eyes not leaving his daughter’s.
By the time the police showed up, our heroes where long gone having taken with them all the high ranking assassins. The assassins would be put in a high security prison, made to hold their kind.
As Clara walked up to her room, she looked through her window at the rays of sunlight breaking over the horizon. It had been a night that she would not soon forget. Nor did she want to.
Chapter 9: Till the Day I Die (part 1)
Clara whirled bringing her staff to bear on the robot that had been sneaking up behind her. It had been several days since she and Richard had been rescued from Ra’s Al Ghul, and Richard was still in pain from the assassin poison running through his system.
Clara was chasing after a lead on the reason behind the B5 Case and had stumbled upon another old CADMUS project that no one had bothered to shut down. Nighthawk felt the system’s defenses fading as she used her recently discovered ability to connect to computers to shut it down. “Why does everything CADMUS does have to do with weapons?” Clara said out loud to no one in particular.
“Because they like blowing things up?” Kid Flash guessed as he joined her by the main computer.
Superboy, who had been fighting robots with Nighthawk, looked like he wanted to say something but for some reason didn’t want to. Turning to Kid Flash, Nighthawk caught him giving her the same look.
“What’s wrong, KF?” Nighthawk asked as the buzz of another comm-link joining the group filled her right ear.
“I see your hacking skills are improving.” Nightwing’s voice came through a little fuzzy.
“Aren’t you supposed to be resting?” Nighthawk responded as she examined the computer further.
“Kinda hard to rest when my body feels like it is on fire. I was finally able to convince Bats to let me have my computer so I could help you guys.” Nightwing answered sounding a bit strained.
The rest of the strike team (that is Ms Martian, Artemis, and Arsenal) joined them in the computer room.
“Dude, what happened?” Kid Flash exclaimed as he and the rest of the team exchanged worried looks.
“Ra’s Al Ghul, who else. Did you find the drive?” Nightwing replied, doing his best not to allow his tense mind result in anger.
“I think so. Doesn’t it seem odd that Waller is just leaving this stuff lying around for people to find?” Nighthawk answered as she knelt down and opened one of the computer’s panels. Pulling out an oddly shaped box, she slipped in under her cloak just as the far off sound of police sirens reached their ears.
“Yeah, it is really odd. I’ve been working with her on another case for several months now, and leaving loose ends is never an option no matter how useless they are. Do you think she doesn’t know about this stuff?” Nightwing speculated, the sound of fast typing making Nighthawk wonder what he was doing. A few seconds later, they found out as they where teleported back into the temporary Young Justice headquarters.
In the middle of the abandoned warehouse, there was a long table with chairs around it and the main computer just beyond it. On either sides of the table there where temporary walls, giving some privacy to the team members. Cots and boxes of stuff filled almost every empty space, making it clear just how temporary this place was. With a two upper floors left there by the former tenants on either side of the room, there was just enough room for all of the team members to sleep.
Nightwing appeared on the computer’s screen, looking for all the world like he was fine. But Nighthawk knew better. He was sitting up in the medical bed, which was an improvement she knew, mask off and hair not in its usual tidiness.
“Speaking of Amanda Waller, guess who just sent me a message to asked me if there was anything she could do?” Nightwing said, feeling his good mood coming back at the sight of his fiancé’s face.
“With what? The poison or the case?” Nighthawk asked, sitting down in chair opposite the computer and putting a hand to her head. That was when she felt the Brainiac symbol on her forehead. “That’s new.” She added, looking up at Nightwing keeping her hand on the bumps.
“I was wondering about that. To answer your first question, probably the poison. You know how she is. As for your next question, considering your ancestry, I am not sure I am surprised. And technically it isn’t the first time that has happened.” Nightwing pointed out.
“I guess not. But I thought it had to do with the circumstances around that event.” Nighthawk replied, noting the looks of confusion on the faces of the team. The rest of the Young Justice team had joined her around the table and where listening intently.
“Anyways, how is everything there?” Nightwing said, changing the subject.
“Good, I think. I just teleported you the drive I found.” Nighthawk answered, typing a few buttons on her computer.
“I got it. Huh, that is weird.” Nightwing commented as he typed away at his computer.
“What?” Superboy interrupted impatiently.
“I think I know why Waller didn’t know about this. . .” Nightwing replied, the look of recognition on his face.
“Why not?” Artemis inquired.
“Because it wasn’t ever a CADMUS project.” Nightwing explained, as a reflective display of his screen took up half the computer screen.
Clara Wayne stood on Wayne Tower’s roof, waiting for the helicopter and military escort that would take her home. The day before the Young Justice team had found evidence that the rogue projects Nighthawk had been finding for months, where in fact not part of Waller ‘s CADMUS project at all. Clara looked out over the city, feeling the weight of the mystery threatening to darken her mood.
Which, she reflected, wouldn’t be all that hard considering what had happened during the board meeting earlier. Clara had dismissed two board members for violating their trust contracts, which was depressing in of itself. The fact that both men had worked under her adoptive grandfather and been steady in the wave of change over time made it worse. Clara let out a depressed sigh as she heard the rush of wind behind her.
“Tough day?” a familiar voice asked, as Superman joined her at the railing.
“Yeah. I’m guessing you’ve heard?” Clara replied without looking away from the view.
“About the kidnapping and the dismissals, yes. Waller asked me to be here as back up just in case.” Superman answered, studying his young friend’s face.
“She mentioned as much.” Clara responded quietly as she watched the helicopter’s progress towards them from the landing pad on the Mansion.
There was a moment of silence before the distant sound of the helicopter’s blades reached the ears of Clara’s human guards.
“To be honest, I would feel safer if you just flew me home. However, that wasn’t one of the choices they gave me.” Clara added, smiling at the memory of how her security staff had reacted to Waller’s arrival and policy.
“Thanks, but I think Waller has a point. This is more for show than anything else.” Superman pointed out, checking the helicopter for any anomalies with his enhanced vision.
“What sounds more overprotective than getting the strongest superhero to escort me home on his own?” Clara retorted teasingly.
“True. But it makes even more of a political impression if he can get the President and the Justice League to offer protectors.” Superman rejoined, returning her teasing smile.
“I guess so. Honestly, I think this is a bit over the top, even for us. To quote my favorite Senator ‘I don’t need more security, I need answers.'” Clara responded, suddenly getting serious again.
Cal El just smiled, looking up at the now loudly approaching helicopter.
“Shall we?” He mouthed at her, offering her his arm. Laughing, they boarded the helicopter and Cal once again marveled at the different and yet similar sides of his young friend.
“I’ve been studying the case, and I think I found something. Remember how I said it was odd that the first one we found was still operating?” Nightwing inquired, as his robotic wheelchair kept pace with his fiancé.
“Yes. You examined the power source and said it was to low grade to keep anything like that operation running longer than a month. You also said it also looked like it wasn’t original power source either, but we assumed that was due to former tenants.” Nighthawk replied slowing her pace slightly as she heard the voices of the Young Justice League team members in the Batcave’s training room in front of them.
“We’re using it as a temporary meeting spot until we can get everything transferred to the newly named Hawk Manor.” Nightwing explained, having noted the slight change in his fiancé and guessing at the cause.
“Right, you where saying?” Nighthawk reminded him as the entered the room.
“After several hours of backtracking and comparison I have come to the conclusion that my original assumption was only partly correct. While the project has been in the building for approximately 4 years, the current tenants have only been using it for about 3 weeks. Which means that my original assumption was correct, though not the way I meant it at the time.” Nightwing continued as he maneuvered past the groups of people gathered around the long table heading for the heads the table. Everyone fell quiet at his approach and moved to their seats, a mix of concern and relief on their faces.
“Which means the original project is being used by someone else with less resources and less hand on knowledge than Lex. Probably for a very different purpose.” Clara finished, reaching up to tuck a loose stand of hair back behind her ear.
“Exactly.” Nightwing replied as he pulled up to his place around the ever growing table. Sitting at her place at his left hand, Nighthawk opened her purse searching for one of his newest creations. Pulling out the inconspicuous ring that matched her bracelet she placed it on her right hand, smiling as a split second later she was in full costume. Based off Flash’s speed rings, the new design worked with her powers to give her an even faster and more efficient change.
“I see it actually works in reality as well if not better than it did in concept.” Nightwing observed, flipping open the case file in front of him. After scanning over the mission overview, Nightwing turned to the mission’s team leader. “Let’s get started. Your assessment, Artemis?”
“So, has Nighthawk and Nightwing found a suitable location for the new Young Justice League Headquarters yet?” Green Lantern asked as they all looked at the updated schematics at the original 7 only/leadership meeting.
“They have. Nightwing purchased a mansion farther out of Gotham that is over the another set of bat caves. It should be the perfect place to build the new HQ. All the kid’s stuff are being moved in as we speak and the big reveal is later this week.” Batman answered, waiving his hand at the holo of the plans.
“Perfect HQ aside, why does he need a mansion?” Flash inquired around the energy bar he was eating.
“I don’t see why he needs another reason.” the Martian Manhunter pointed out.