My first post on Batman Beyond. He has always been one of my favourite characters. It is very sad that the series didn't continue anymore. I don't own DC or their characters.
Terry stood on top of the Wayne-Powers corporate headquarters, looking out over the city. It had been a quiet night on patrol and he'd decided to take a breather from it all. The top of the tower had been his preferred place to go to think for a year or so, since he'd realised it was the one place in the city he'd be able to keep track of the entire city from the birds eye view.
After a few minutes, he spotted a red hover bike flying through the traffic at high speed, a man in black, red and white armour with a red helmet riding it. He slowly walked towards the edge of the building before stopping millimetres from the edge, spreading his arms as the red wings came out under his arms.
"Show time." He said to himself before letting himself forward, bringing his legs together and engaging the thrusters in his boots, gaining on the bike very quickly, looking at the armoured driver as he pulled alongside him "Pull over!"
"Ooh, got myself a Bat I see." The driver said, his voice digitally altered "Shame it's Batboy, I was hoping for Batman, but then I guess the old guy's getting on a little."
"I've got news for you." Terry said, narrowing his eyes "I am Batman!"
"No, you're just a little boy playing dress up." The rider said, swerving his bike, causing Terry to need to copy the manoeuvre to avoid the vehicle slamming into him "You're good kid, but I'm better."
As the rider said that, he jumped off his bike, a red rocket pack coming out of the back of his armour as the bike swerved off and under the traffic. After a second, the thrusters kicked in, propelling him off faster, Terry pushing the bat suits thrusters as hard as he could in an attempt to keep up. After a moment, the other man landed on a roof top, Terry landing a couple of seconds behind him, being met with a heavy blow to the jaw followed by a kick to the gut.
As the man went for a third strike, Terry blocked it, countering with his own blow to the man's stomach before he swung his leg round, tripping the guy. The man got up, pulling a pair of red laser pistols out from the back of his belt and opening fire on Terry, barely missing.
"You're good, I'll give you that." The man in the red helmet said "No where near my standard, but you're good."
"I'm not the one who just missed every shot." Terry shot back "Face it, you don't have a chance."
"Kid, if I'd wanted to kill you, you would've died back on that highway." The man said, his jet pack firing up "I just wanted to let the old man know that I'm back in town, and give you a warning; stay out of my way or I'll deal with you too. See you around, kid."
The man shot off into the air, cutting the thrusters on his pack as his bike came up from the traffic underneath him, landing on the bike before shooting off at high speeds. Terry put two fingers to his left ear as he heard the comm. system in his cowl coming online.
"Terry, get back to the cave." Bruce's voice came through the comm. system "Now."
The system cut off as the large, sleek black form of the batmobile came into view, flying towards him at high speeds, slowing to an almost immediate stop directly above him, the circular hatch at the bottom opening for him to enter the car. He did so, putting his hands on the controls, the suit interfacing with the car as it came about and shot off, heading back towards the batcave.
Terry got out of the batmobile, pulling off his cowl as he walked over to the large computer Bruce was sat by. On the screen was the image of a young man with red hair, a white streak at the front. He was wearing a black and white body suit with a black skull in the centre of the chest.
"Who's skull guy?" Terry asked, getting Bruce pulling up an image of a boy in his mid teens with black hair in a Robin suit that barely differed from Dick Grayson's, the boy being virtually identical to the young man "Guy that replaced Tim Drake?"
"No." Bruce said "He's the one who Tim replaced. The one between Dick and Tim."
"There was a Robin between those two?" Terry asked as Bruce got up slowly with the help of the cane beside him "Who was he?"
"His name was Jason Todd." Bruce said "I met him when he was trying to steal tires from the batmobile I had at the time. I saw him as something I could fix, someone I could help."
"What happened?" Terry asked.
"The Joker happened." Bruce replied "He was doing a job for Ra's Al Ghul but deviated from Ra's' plan. Abducted Jason, beat him half to death with a crowbar and then blew up the building he was in. I was too late to save him."
"Well that sucks and all but how does it come into this guy with the schway red helmet?" Terry asked.
"After Jason was killed, Ra's retrieved his body. He used the Lazarus pit to resurrect him, that's why he has that white streak in his hair. The issue was with Jason's mind though. He was Robin for four years and over that time he became more and more violent. He shattered someone's collarbone when we needed to interrogate the man." Bruce said "Once you put that with the effects of the pits on someone's mind, you get something entirely different. He took up the mantle of the Red Hood, an alias the Joker had used years before. That's who you were fighting tonight."
"So I was fighting the second Robin?" Terry said "They seem to go nuts a lot. First Tim Drake as the Joker, now this? What's next, Dick Grayson as the Scarecrow?"
Bruce didn't say anything, instead turning and walking away with Ace, his dog who had just uncurled himself from where he'd been lying in the shadows by the computer. Terry looked at the image on the monitor. Something didn't feel right with it.
He took a seat at the computer, pulling up files on Jason Todd. According to the system, Todd would be in his mid sixties. Terry was no expert, but even if Todd kept himself in great shape and had a suit enhancing his abilities, he shouldn't have been able to beat Terry, someone less than a third of his age who definitely did have the suit enhancing his abilities. He was determined to find out who this guy was and how the guy had thrashed him and he was going to. The next time he faced the Red Hood, he'd be ready.
Terry sat at the computer in the batcave, pouring over the records the same way he had been for the last hour. He'd grabbed an energy drink after about twenty minutes when fatigue had started to hit him. As he began to give up, there was a beeping, indicating an incoming call. He pressed a control and the image of Commissioner Gordon came up.
"McGinnis? Where's Bruce?" She asked, a hint of stress in her voice.
"He's in bed I guess." Terry replied "What's up commish?"
"Listen, you need to get down here, fast!" She said "There's someone here demanding Bruce Wayne. He said he wanted the real Batman."
"Red hood?" Terry said, getting a small nod "Hang tight, I'm on my way."
As the screen went dark, Terry got up, grabbing the cowl to his costume. He hadn't bothered taking it off, figuring he'd probably get called out again, either for a local problem or something to do with the Justice League. The one thing he hated was how, despite his being freelance, they always called him first, well, second, after Superman. As he thought about it, he jumped into the batmobile, shooting out of the cave at high speeds.
A few minutes later, Terry jumped out of the batmobile, stretching out his arms as the red wings came out under them, slowing his descent as he glided down to the GCPD building. As he did, a laser blast fired up from the roof, blasting a hole in the left wing as more shots rained up at him, quickly demolishing the wings, causing him to hit the roof in a hard roll.
"I asked for the real Batman, not his lap dog." Red hood said as he slowly walked towards Terry, both of his laser pistols in his hands and pointed at Terry "I told you to stay out of my way."
"I never have been very good at following orders." Terry said, smirking "So, want to tell me who's under that fancy headgear of yours or do I have to guess?"
"You tell me yours, I'll tell you mine." The Red hood replied simply as he put his pistols away and offered a hand to Terry "No point in killing you while you're down. If you're so desperate to fight me, then you can have your wish."
Terry looked at the Red hood for a moment before swinging his left leg round, knocking the other man down. Terry sprung up, doing a back flip away from the Red hood, who simply pulled himself up and withdrew a small blade from his belt, throwing it at Terry, who countered by raising his left arm, a small red batarang firing from above his wrist and hitting the blade in mid air, causing it to fall to the floor.
"Not bad kid." The Red hood said "You're still no Batman, but you're good. Maybe Robin level good. Definitely not Batman, or even Nightwing, though."
"Okay, who the hell are you?" Terry asked "You're not Jason Todd, he wouldn't admit someone could be better than him, especially not some 'kid'."
"You're learning fast." Red hood said "I didn't think you'd actually try the detective thing. Or did you have the old man do it for you?"
"That was all me, he doesn't even know I'm here." Terry said, charging at the Red hood and throwing a punch at his stomach, having the blow blocked then countered with an upper cut to Terry's face, a thin stream of blood slowly trickling down his jaw from the edge of his mouth as he hit the roof underneath them.
"You're good kid, I'll give you that." Red hood said, pulling one of his pistols out from where it was on the back of his belt as he used the other hand to pick Terry up "But you're no Batman. You haven't earned it."
As he went to pull the trigger, Terry grabbed the Red hood's hand with both of his, forcing the gun up as it fired. Seizing the opportunity, Terry kicked the Red hood in the groin, flooring him. Terry smirked at his fallen opponent.
"That earning it enough for you?" He said before kicking Red Hood in the face, the helmet cracking from the impact as the Hood let out a small chuckle "What's so funny?"
"You, trying to be Bruce." Red Hood said as he swung a leg round, taking Terry to the floor and getting up "You and he are nothing alike. You're more like Grayson, and even he knew when to stop playing dress up as Batman. You're pathetic, kid."
"I'm pathetic?" Terry said, pulling himself up "Oh, that's schway coming from you. You say I'm playing dress up, then what is it you're doing? You're not Jason Todd, he'd be an old man now, but you know about Bruce, which narrows it down. I'd say you're Tim Drake but he's not much younger, not enough to make a difference. So, tell me this; who are you?"
"I'm the guy who's going to kick you from here to hell and back again. I'm the one who's going to prove to the world that you don't deserve to be Batman." Red Hood replied "But I'll give you a hint; I'm one of the one's Bruce would like to forget, one of his biggest failings. A bit of a failing of Dick's as well. Later, kid."
With that, the rockets popped out of the pack on the back of his suit as he took off into the sky. A half second later, Barbara came running out.
"What are you doing?" She said to Terry "He's getting away!"
"Commissioner, I need a favour." He said, ignoring her comment "I want you to call an old friend of yours and get him into Gotham as fast as you can."
"Who is this friend?" She asked, slightly confused.
"The one the old man would refuse to call." He replied, pressing a control on his belt to call the batmobile as he did, it appearing overhead a couple of seconds later "Get Grayson into town and send him to me. Time he meets this generation's Batman."
Bruce stood in the bat cave, waiting for the batmobile to get back into the cave. After a moment, the vehicle came flying into the cave, setting down in the area for it to be parked. A moment later, Terry got out, pulling off his cowl.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Bruce asked aggressively.
"Coming back after trying to stop the Red Hood from taking out the GCPD building." Terry said "Commissioner Gordon called here, I went and I got my butt handed to me by someone who is apparently a failing of yours and Dick Grayson's."
"I don't care about that." Bruce said "Why did you tell Barbara to get Dick into Gotham?"
"I want to talk to him about this, find out what he knows." Terry replied "He's coming here to talk to me about it, or should be anyway."
"I don't want him here." Bruce said "He walked out a long time ago. Once you walk out of here, you don't come back."
"We both know that's not true." Terry said, going into the changing room and beginning to change, calling out "Bruce, if you need to air things out with Grayson, do it."
"You think I've never tried?" Bruce asked.
"No, I think you never tried hard." Terry said as he walked out, carrying the suit in one hand as he pulled his shirt on "I think you don't want to fix things with him. You don't want to be liked; you want to be seen as the lone silent protector. That's why you stopped Tim Drake from being Robin after that night in Arkham with the Joker."
"Get out." Bruce growled, before barking "Now!"
"Fine!" Terry said, throwing the suit on the floor as he began walking out, before turning around "You know what I think though? I think you're worried. Not about Grayson coming back, but about things you haven't said coming out."
"I told you to get out." Bruce said "You're done McGinnis."
Terry walked back down the steps and walked up to Bruce until he was right in his face.
"Listen to me old man. I'm not Dick Grayson, or Tim Drake or however many other partners you had over the years." He said "They might have taken that abuse you always dish out. That high and mighty mentality of yours that makes you think you can treat everyone else however the hell you want. They might have taken all that but I won't! I'm not your partner, I'm your replacement, but you seem to refuse to accept that. That's why Dick left, because you never treated him as an equal. You put yourself on a pedestal, Bruce. You think you're above everything, but you're not. Kent saw it and you two stopped associating. You always put Batman before everything and everyone else. I'm not doing that, what I am doing is trying to stop this guy from killing everyone in the city. So either help me or stay out of my way!"
"Fine." Bruce grumbled, picking up the crumpled suit on the floor and tossing it to Terry "You're going to need that if you're going to do anything."
Terry paused for a moment before shoving the suit back in his bag. He turned and began to walk out before turning back to Bruce.
"Do me a favour Bruce." He said "Send a message to the Justice League. Tell them I'm not available for anything short of Darkseid making a comeback for the next few days. I've got to follow up on some leads."
"Fine." Bruce said "Though you know that knucklehead Warhawk will-"
"I don't care!" Terry snapped back "Tell him that if he has a problem with it, he can come take it up with me in person. Just remind him of who won last time we went a few rounds."
Terry didn't wait for a reply from Bruce, instead walking out of the cave. He almost felt bad for snapping at Bruce, but the old man would have just kept complaining about the other members of the League as opposed to letting him get on. On some level, Terry had a feeling the old man just felt lonely, although he would never admit it.
Terry found himself wondering this as he got on his hover bike and rode off towards the GCPD building. He could understand Bruce's feeling of loneliness, especially with the size of Wayne Manor. He was also well aware that it was almost entirely self imposed on Bruce's part; he had chosen to let everyone walk out or thrown them out, if they hadn't died first.
Bruce Wayne, as much as he had brought it on himself, had always wanted to be alone. And it was looking more and more like it was his desire for that which had brought this psychopath down upon Gotham.
Terry walked into the GCPD building. He walked up to the front desk and leant on it, smiling at the young woman sat there.
"Hi, I'm here to see the Commissioner." He said, seeing she was about to give him some lecture about it being totally against regulations, cutting her off "Look, I know it's against your protocols and all that, but tell her it's Bruce Wayne's assistant and it's about what we discussed earlier on."
The woman paused for a moment before pressing some controls on the computer in front of her. She waited for a moment while reading what was coming up on her screen.
"She says go on through." The woman said, somewhat begrudgingly "Her office is on the fourth floor, take a left and-"
"I know the way, thanks." Terry said, walking through to the elevator and getting in.
Barbara Gordon sat in her office, waiting for her visitor. Terry was showing just how unlike Bruce he was; Bruce would never have gone to see the commissioner about something official out of costume. Then again, Bruce had had a secret identity to hold up, whereas she'd worked out Terry's the first time she met him.
If anything, Terry reminded Barbara of Dick in his younger years. Cocky, reckless, insubordinate and very much in need of seasoning. Then again, that had been a running theme in a lot of Bruce's partners, and Terry might be Bruce's replacement instead, but he was still exactly the same.
As she sat there thinking about it, Terry came walking in, tossing his bag on one of the chairs across from her. He leant forward, leaning on her desk with both hands clenched into fists.
"Did you call Grayson?" He asked simply, apparently deciding to skip the pleasantries.
"Yeah kid, I did." She replied "He said he's too busy to come running to Gotham from Bludhaven on the whim of a punk kid."
"It's not a 'punk kid' who's asking." Terry said "It's Batman. Come to think of it, he's not asking, he's demanding. Tell Grayson he's coming to Gotham, tonight, whether he likes it or not."
"I wasn't done, I just knew you'd but in there so decided to take a breath." She said "I talked him around. He's meeting you on the roof in ten minutes. You'd better go suit up."
"Got it." Terry said, grabbing his bag and starting to walk out, tossing back as he left "Thanks for the help."
Dick Grayson stood on the roof of the GCPD building. It had been twenty-five years since he'd stepped foot in Gotham. That had been the last time he and Bruce had spoken as well. Back when the old man had still been Batman and Dick had still been Nightwing.
Well, when Dick had been back to being Nightwing. Following an incident with Bane in 2013, Bruce had been temporarily crippled, and Dick had came back to Gotham to fill in as Batman. It had only lasted about eighteen months. Eighteen months during which Dick broke a few of Bruce's big vetoes that had been put in since Bruce's final showdown with the Joker in 2008. What had been his final showdown until recently, anyway.
Dick didn't even need to be concentrating to know that someone had just touched down on the roof behind him. He turned to face the other person, smirking at the sight. Sure, the colour scheme may have been wrong, and there wasn't a cape, but it was definitely Batman.
"Glad you could make it Mr. Grayson." The man said, his voice giving away his youth more than the relatively small frame of him ever did "I've called you here because I want to talk to you about-"
"The Red Hood, I know. Barbara told me." Dick replied "I've got a hunch as to who it is, as well, given what's been said."
"It can't be Jason Todd, I've been looking into that one." Batman shot back "All the listings I've seen list him as having died fifteen years ago."
"Jason Todd is smart, and he's come back from the dead before." Dick said "Anyway, I read those reports too, and he was listed as missing presumed dead; there was no body present."
"So you think he's still alive? That's a bit- Hold on." Batman said, touching his ear "Yeah? Gotham national bank? Okay, and I'm sending someone to the cave. He'll be coming in the batmobile."
Batman lowered his fingers from his ear, looking back to Dick as he pressed a control on his belt.
"sorry, gotta run, something's come up across town, might be our guy." Batman said "The Batmobile's on its way to pick you up."
"I'm not going to the cave." Dick said "Bruce and I cut ties a long time ago, and I don't intend to restore them. You want to know this stuff, you know it now. Get someone else on it. You've got a Robin, right?"
"No..." Batman said, before pressing his fingers to his ear again "Change of plan. Call the League. Tell them to get someone over to the bank, and then we'll consider ourselves even from that little Starro incident."
"Starro incident?" Dick asked as Batman lowered his fingers again.
"It's a long story." Batman replied "Now, tell me what you know."
"Okay." Dick began "It all started in early 2014. I was out on patrol... with my Robin."
Jim Gordon stood on top of the GCPD building, the batsignal beside him shining brightly. He knew that the guy coming to meet him wasn't the usual Batman; he was different. More like some of the partners Batman had had over the years. Hell, he was younger than the original, it wouldn't surprise Gordon if it were Batman's first partner, the one who'd gone off to Blüdhaven as Nightwing for a few years.
As he thought about it, he heard the sound of two people touching down behind him. He turned to look at the people. As always, Batman was stood there, in the same uniform the other one had been using since he'd been with the Justice League, the only difference being a bat shaped belt and only two fins on the side of his gloves. It was the other person that still surprised him
The young man with short, jet black hair, who looked to be about fourteen or fifteen, wore a green, angular, domino mask. He wore a green tunic over a black body suit, a stylized 'R' on the left breast of the tunic. There was a utility belt similar to the one the original Batman had worn around the young man's waist, and green boots and gloves that were essentially smaller versions of the ones Batman was wearing. Finishing up the ensemble was a long yellow cape with a hood attached to it, a point Gordon still didn't quite understand.
"I wondered how long it would take you to get here." Gordon said "He was a lot of things but he was never late. Not for our meetings, anyway."
"I had a... prior engagement." Batman said, before cutting Robin off as he went to say something with a smirk "Anyway, what's going on?"
"Well, you're going to like this." Gordon said "Report came in about half an hour ago. Apparently, Bane's resurfaced."
"Where?" Robin cut Batman off, his tone being more like the original Batman's than the one the current Batman had.
"The second national bank." Gordon said "At first we thought it was Two-face, but then-"
"I only asked where, old man." Robin said, before turning and jumping off the building, firing a grapple line and swinging over to the next roof.
Batman began to walk to the edge of the roof before turning back to Gordon.
"Listen, sir, I'm sorry about him, he's just... eager to take Bane down." Batman said "Personal reasons."
"Well, we both know it's personal for you too." Gordon said "We also know that he wouldn't have taken on another partner. Not after what happened to the last two."
"I know." Batman said after a pause "I'll contact you when we've got Bane, sir."
Batman said no more before he jumped off the building, firing a line across the gap between buildings and joining Robin. Gordon stood there watching as the two caped crusaders ran off into the night.
"Damian!" Dick said after about ten minutes, as they reached the roof across from the second national bank "What was that all about?"
"You wouldn't understand." Damian replied with a scowl "It's not your father whose back he broke. I'm taking the lead this time."
"No, Damian, you're not." Dick said "It's Batman and Robin, not Robin and Batman. As long as you're my partner, you follow my orders. Now, let's get in there and take Bane down.
The two of them jumped off the roof, spreading their arms and using their capes to glide across to the entrance. As they stepped inside, Dick heard the sound of glass cracking underneath their boots. They walked through the bank for a moment before reaching the safe.
The door had been ripped off its hinges. Dick and Damian walked inside the safe. Inside, busy pulling money out of boxes, was Bane. He'd changed his costume back to one more akin to his original costume, albeit an all black version, with a large Venom tank on his back, three tubes being attached.
"Bane." Dick said, shifting his voice to as close to the one Bruce always used as he could, seeing the behemoth turn to face them, a look of surprise on his face "Give it up."
"No, Batman." Bane said as Dick and Damian began to circle him "It is you who will surrender. Or I will break you, just as I broke the other one."
"Bane, this is me." Dick lied "I just changed my tailor."
"You're lying, Batman." Bane said "I can hear it in your voice."
"This is a waste of time!" Damian said, charging Bane, a batarang in his hand like a dagger.
"Robin, no!" Dick yelled, seconds before Bane punched Damian into the wall of the safe, apparently knocking him out.
Bane turned to face Dick and grinned. He was enjoying this. Dick could see it in his eyes; a sick sense of enjoyment. Seeing Bane whack Damian aside like that took Dick back to when he had first faced Bane, as Robin. The time that had ended in him being hung, shirtless, with a weight attached to his feet, over a filling pool of water. If Bruce hadn't shown up, odds are, Dick wouldn't be stood there.
"What's wrong, Batman?" Bane asked, smirking "Worried another one of your little children will be taken apart by me? I remember when I met that first one you had. I enjoyed playing my little game with him."
"Well, I seem to recall that turning out differently." Dick said, seeing Damian stand up behind Bane and beginning to slowly move towards the titan "So, come on, you and me, one on one."
"I cannot pass up that opportunity. The opportunity to break you a second time." Bane said, before being alerted to Damian's presence as the boy began to play with Bane's Venom controller "What are you doing boy?"
"Giving you what you want; more power!" Damian said as he hit the control, beginning to pump the venom into overdrive before smashing the controls "This is for my father."
Dick watched in horror as Bane began to swell up like a balloon, his muscle mass rapidly increasing. As it did, the man screamed in pain while Damian stood there, a satisfied, sadistic grin on his face. He was enjoying this. Enjoying his vengeance.
Dick ran over to Damian, grabbing the young man and pulling him away from Bane by the hood on his cape. As he did, Bane finally seemed to hit breaking point, collapsing to the floor, his body returning to normal size. He began to try to get up before falling limp on the floor. Dick bent down, putting two fingers to Bane's neck, finding a weak, but stable pulse. He was only unconscious. Dick stood up and turned to Damian.
"Congratulations, you're not a murderer." Dick said, his voice like ice for the first time he could remember "What were you thinking?"
"That my father deserves justice." Damian said "And that means that he has to die!"
"No!" Dick said, punching Damian away "You're done. I don't want you as a partner anymore. If you still think that your mother and grand-father had the right idea by killing their enemies, then I've failed you."
"Yes, Dick, you have." Damian said, walking away, an audible rip coming a second before the 'R' from his tunic was dropped on the floor "Damian Wayne is dead. I am Damian Al Ghul."
Dick watched from beside the defeated body of his adversary as Damian walked away, disappearing into the night.
"After that, none of us saw Damian again." Dick said "Bane was left in an almost vegetative state, but I understand you know all about that one?"
"Yeah." Batman said "We met."
"Well, as you may have clocked, Damian's Bruce's son." Dick said "You can understand why he might feel he should be Batman. And why he'd be going after someone he deems 'a pretender'."
"Yeah, I can understand your line of thinking." Batman said "Hold on, what did you just say?"
"Which bit?" Dick asked "There's a fair bit in information there."
"About who he's going after. I don't think I was ever the target." Batman said, shaking Dick's hand "Thanks Mr. Grayson. I'll be in touch."
Before Dick could say anything, Batman took off into the air, the thrusters on his boots disappearing as he entered a large, sleek, floating black car with two points at the front, a rocket thrusters visible on the back as it shot off. Dick half smirked to himself.
"The more things change," He said to himself "the more they stay the same."
"Bruce, I need a cross reference." Terry said from inside the batmobile "Show me both locations I encountered Red Hood at."
"Got a theory?" Bruce asked as two red dots appeared on a map on the screen of the batmobile.
"Maybe." Terry said "Now show me the addresses, both home and business, of all your previous partners."
A number of blue dots flashed up on the screen. Of course, one was on top of one of the red dots, representing the GCPD building. There were about three within easy travelling distance of the other red dot.
"Okay, now show me which direction he was heading originally before I intercepted him when we first met." Terry said, watching as an arrow appeared, pointing towards one of the red dots "There, who lives at that address?"
"Barbara." Bruce said "So, that's your hunch? That he's going after my old partners?"
"Best guess we've got." Terry said "I doubt he'll go after her again for a while though, but he might go after the one he has a limited window of opportunity to get."
"You mean Dick." Bruce said "I'll find out where he's staying, you can stake the place out."
"No need." Terry "When I shook his hand, I put a tracer on him. Sub-dermal, so it won't go away just by him changing a shirt. He won't even know it's there."
"Not bad." Bruce said "So, where are you heading?"
"The Gotham Plaza Hotel. Looks like he's going back to his room." Terry said, pausing for a second "I've got an idea, Bruce, but you're not going to like it."
Red Hood rode through the city on his hover bike. He knew that this new Batman would call in Grayson after his comment the last time they met, and the boy had done exactly as predicted.
Under his helmet, the Red Hood smirked at the thought. He'd done what all the so called 'super-criminals' of so many years ago had failed to do; he'd played Batman like a violin. The only thing that disappointed him was that it wasn't the old man or Grayson under the cowl when he'd managed it.
As he pulled up to the hotel that Grayson was staying at, he pressed a control on his bike to make it hold position before hitting a button on his wrist, engaging his rocket pack, raising up into the air. He would've used the synaptic controls in his suit to engage it, but his last fight with the boy had caused damage to the systems.
As he reached the window to the room Grayson was meant to be in, he looked inside. The lights were on, but apparently no one was home. After a moment, the window opened automatically, before a thin line of blue light appeared, coming up from the floor, before thickening into a holographic projection of Batman.
"I figured you'd show up here next." The hologram said "If you want Grayson and the old man, you've got to go through me, so I've got a little proposition for you. Just Batman and the Red Hood, in the Batcave, one last fight, just how I know you want it, Damian. I'll see you at 11PM in the cave."
The hologram faded. Red Hood engaged the communications link back to his co-worker.
"You saw it, right?" Red Hood asked.
"Yes, I did, he's just as bold as the old man." Red Hood's co-worker said "Now, the question is, is he as good as the old man? Somehow, I doubt it, seeing how easily you've beaten him before, but just in case, you're going to be taking back up in."
"McGinnis said just Batman and the Red Hood." Red Hood replied "I can deal with him myself anyway."
"No, we both know he'll have the home field advantage. So, I'm going to come too." The co-worker replied "Shame Drake won't be there. The old man's about to have all of his boys come home."
The line went dead. The Red Hood sighed to himself. Jason wanted to go with him on this one. The other man may have been using the Lazarus pits just as much as the Red Hood, but that didn't mean that he was as fit. Still, Red Hood was about to get what he wanted. He was about to have vengeance on Grayson. And on his father.
Jason Todd drove in through the entrance to the batcave in his car, a sporty red hover car. As he cut the engine, he opened the door, stepping out. He was wearing white body armour, black gauntlets and boots with a black cape attached to a black stylised skull on the chest. On his head, he wore a red helmet, a red domino mask on underneath the helmet.
He looked around. Aside from updating the tech in the cave, very little had changed. He looked to the sleek, black outline of the batmobile just ahead of him. He preferred the old ones.
As he looked around, he saw his protégé's hover bike come racing in, rapidly decelerating before he jumped off of the bike with a back flip, the bike crashing into the batmobile before exploding, taking the car with it. Jason looked to his counterpart, scowling as he removed his helmet, the younger man keeping his on. Jason's scowl eased up slightly, the shadows around his face lightened only by the red of his domino mask and the white streak at the front of his red hair.
"There was no need for that." Jason said "Actually, it seems a shame for you to have wrecked such a nice car."
"Please, don't stop on my account." Came a voice from behind Jason.
Jason and his protégé turned around to face the man stood there. He may have been grey, with a much older face, but there was no mistaking his identity. No mistaking it was Bruce Wayne. No mistaking it was Batman.
"It's not him." Jason's protégé said "It's the boy, wearing a holo projector."
"Killjoy." The man in front of them said, the image of Bruce Wayne flickering and fading, replaced by the black suited figure of the new Batman "Still, I knew that you'd bring Todd along as well, Damian. Or rather, that he'd invite himself. He never liked to play fair. So I've brought my own team."
As Batman finished speaking, two figures stepped out of the darkness. Both looked much older than Batman, one of them slightly hunched over and three or four inches shorter than either of the other men. The taller of the two men wore a grey bodysuit with black briefs on the outside, with a yellow utility belt with a bat shaped buckle, as well as black boots and black scalloped gloves, a black bat emblem on his chest while a long, black cape was draped over his shoulders, attached to the cowl with long bat ears on it, white lenses over his eyes.
The shorter, hunched over man was in a similar costume, the main difference being the blue lining of the cape, with the belt buckle being more basic. He also had shorter ears on the cowl. Finishing his costume was a smaller bat emblem on his chest, with a yellow circle around it.
"Three of you. Triple the fun." Jason said coolly, a wry grin on his face, turning to his protégé "You take McGinnis and the old man. Grayson's mine. We have unfinished business."
"So you remember?" Dick said, smirking "How long did those broken bones take to heal?"
"With the Lazarus pits? No time at all." Jason's protégé said, removing his own helmet, revealing the face of a man who looked to be in his mid thirties with a striking resemblance to Bruce, his hair black with a single white streak, a scar on his left cheek, stopping just below his left eye, the eyes being the same icy blue as Bruce's, a sadistic grin on his face as he looked at Bruce "Hello, dad. Did you miss me?"
"Damian." Bruce said, narrowing his eyes at his son before turning to Jason "I failed you once, Jason. I won't do so again. This ends tonight!"
As Bruce finished speaking, Terry reached down to his belt, twisting the buckle, causing him to apparently fade away. As he did, Jason reached up and pressed the side of his domino mask, a pair of red lenses flipping down.
Even with the infrared vision capabilities of his mask, Jason couldn't see the new Dark Knight. He could, however, feel it when the young man's fist connected with the left side of his jaw.
"Not bad." Jason said, whipping a trickle of blood away from the side of his grinning mouth as Terry re-appeared in front of him in a fighting stance "Though, do you really want to leave them to fight Damian?"
"What?" Terry said, spinning to see Damian almost effortlessly weaving between Bruce and Dick, his strength and speed easily outclassing the older men "Damn it…"
"Yes, damn it." Jason said, pulling a collapsible metal staff from his belt, around three quarters of a meter long, and hitting Terry round the back of the head with it, turning the young man over and beginning to beat him "If it's any consolation, kid, you were never going to win this. I've got over 50 years of experience on you."
"Then you'll see this coming from a mile away!" Terry said, raising his left arm, his hand in a fist, with a red shuriken flying out of the suit just above his wrist, hitting Jason in the face, drawing blood "Ooh, that'll leave a mark."
"You son of a-" Jason began, being cut off by a quick 1-2-3 combination to his face from Terry, taking the older man to the floor.
Meanwhile, Damian was easily outclassing Bruce and Dick. Even with all the experience advantages they had on him, the Lazarus Pits had given him the advantage of youth; it was a pair of men who were both late in their lives fighting a man in his prime; they had no chance, despite the addition of the home field advantage.
Damian stood over the bodies of the two older men, moving to his father and picking him up by the throat, grabbing the cowl on the costume his father wore and ripping it from the cape it was attached to. Damian grinned at his father, a warped, unhinged grin.
"You see, father? You see what you should've done to all your enemies?" He said, pointing to Dick "What he couldn't?"
"Wr….Wr….Wrong, Damian." Bruce choked out "That's what y…You never could understand."
"And now, I won't have to." Damian said, pulling his free hand back, his fist clenched, and bringing it towards Bruce's face…. And into a black gloved hand, which began squeezing, hard.
"Now, now, Robin, didn't your father ever teach you not to hit, uh, him?" Terry said, grinning as he punched Damian's other wrist, releasing his hold on Bruce before Terry tossed him across the cave, Damian hitting the batcomputer's screen, cracking it "Well, now look what you did. What am I supposed to watch the game on now?"
"You're worse than Grayson…" Damian said, pulling himself up, keying a few commands on his belt and removing something, inserting it into the computer, turning to walk away, tossing back "See ya, kid."
"So that's it?" Terry said "You think I'm just going to let you walk out of here?"
Damian paused for a moment. Then, he turned back to Terry, the grin that was there mere moments before having totally faded. He reached into his belt, pulling a capsule from it and throwing it between where Terry stood and where Bruce and Dick were, a wall of flames rapidly growing where it shattered, separating them.
Terry began to slowly move around as Damian did the same. In all their previous fights, Damian had held the upper hand, with ease. Terry was going to have to be careful here; not only were they on a much less stable playing field, but there were a number of areas where the cave floor narrowed, with chasms filled with jagged rocks below. One wrong move here and it would all be over.
Damian made the first move, charging Terry, a small, six inch blade pulled from his belt in his hand, slashing at Terry's gut. Terry dodged the first slash, the second tearing across the red bat symbol on his chest, leaving Terry with a long, thin slash across his chest. Terry clutched the wound with his left hand, thin red streams of his blood trickling through his fingers and down his hand.
Damian didn't let up, taking another slash at Terry, this one being dodged once again, before Terry came back with a right hook, knocking Damian off balance, his knife flying from his hand, hitting the floor and clattering away, falling into the chasm. Damian took a moment, pulling a laser blaster. As he did, Terry extended his right arm, firing a red shuriken from the wrist launcher, disarming Damian. Terry didn't plan on letting Damien have any kind of weapon, not with him already being injured.
Damian charged the young Dark Knight, tackling him to the ground before kneeling on top of Terry, his left knee in Terry's gut. He grabbed Terry's cowl, pulling it off before beginning to choke Terry, his thumbs pressing into the young Dark Knight's larynx.
"Don't worry, kid." Damian said, grinning sadistically "Hell is dark."
Terry began to choke something out. Damian laughed.
"Does the wannabe Batman have something to say?" He said, moving his thumbs from their position "Go on, tell us all your last words."
"Behind… you…" Terry managed to get out, Damian refusing to fall for the apparent trick… only to have a black gloved hand hit him in the back of the neck, knocking him aside from his position on top of Terry.
"Sorry I took so long." Dick said, helping Terry up "Getting around above you guys without him realising was more awkward than I thought. I had to wait until he was caught up in pummelling you before-"
Dick didn't get to finish, being interrupted by Damian charging him, knocking him off the ledge and into the chasm below. Terry looked on as Damian flipped back up onto his level… with no sign of Dick.
"You killed him…" Terry said "Why?"
"He spoiled my fun." Damian said, with a smirk "That was twice he'd done it. First with Bane, and then with you. Don't worry, you're next, and then the old man."
"Leave him alone!" Terry growled, before leaping forward, the rockets in his boots kicking in, propelling him rapidly towards Damian before he took him up towards the roof of the cave, holding Damian by the throat above the chasm, narrowing his eyes "You still got that rocket pack of yours?"
He didn't wait for a response before he let go, watching as Damian fell… and hit the cave floor by the wall of fire he'd set up. Terry slowly descended beside his injured opponent, the blood loss from his own injury beginning to cause him to become disoriented. As he touched down, Damian slowly picked himself back up.
"This isn't over, McGinnis…" He said, slowly staggering towards Terry, lifting both his arms slowly, putting his hands around Terry's throat "Now… you… die…"
Terry slowly closed his eyes, accepting his fate as Damian began to attempt to tighten his grip. As he did, He felt a weight on him from Damian's direction, taking him to the floor. He opened his eyes to see Damian's battered body on top of him, unconscious. A black gloved hand extended in front of his face, which Terry took, being pulled to his feet, looking at the figure who was now supporting him as he struggled to stand.
Stood in front of him, holding Terry up, was the unmasked visage of Dick Grayson. He had several cuts and bruises, however, apparently, he was healthy, having survived his fall and got back up. He looked down at Damian's unconscious form and sighed to himself.
"This wasn't how he was supposed to turn out, it isn't what he was supposed to do." He said, sombrely, before turning his head to look at Terry "Come on, kid. Let's get that chest of yours looked at."
2 Weeks Later
Terry walked into the cave, looking over to the platform the Batmobile was usually on. It still hadn't been rebuilt, or, at least, it hadn't been delivered if it had. He moved over to the computer, where Bruce was sat. As Terry approached, he saw something close down before he could read much more than the words 'Project: Batman' on the screen.
"What're you working on?" Terry asked, turning to face Bruce and leaning on the edge of the computer.
"You're late." Bruce said, ignoring the question "You were supposed to be here an hour ago."
"I had to tie up a few things." Terry replied, getting a stern look from Bruce "Hey, you should be glad I'm being evasive."
"You're learning." Bruce said, finally, Terry surprised at receiving what almost sounded like a compliment "But you've got a lot more to learn."
Terry just stood there for a moment. Bruce was trying to put him off something. Terry wasn't sure what but he'd find out. As he was about to say something, Bruce stood up, picking up his cane and began to walk out of the cave.
"Where are you going?" Terry asked, quickly walking across the cave to walk alongside Bruce as he went up the stairs back into the mansion.
"It's private, McGinnis." Bruce replied coldly "Get the costume on and get out into the city. The bike's off to the left of the Batmobile's platform, take that."
"Fine." Terry said, not happy with Bruce's evasive tactics, even if they were nothing new "What if I need tech support?"
"Max is coming." Bruce replied "Now, suit up and get out on patrol!"
"You got it." Terry replied, turning and running back down the stairs, into the armoury, to get changed.
Bruce was led through the halls of the new Arkham Asylum by a young doctor in her early to mid twenties. The Asylum had been rebuilt yet again, this new institution having facilities which were based on the Justice League Watchtower. The specifications had been hand delivered by Superman; Kent had owed Bruce a favour.
"We're almost there, Mr. Wayne." The doctor, her name tag identifying her as Dr. Maria Lester "Can I ask, what interest do you have in this inmate?"
"His mother and grandfather are old work acquaintances." Bruce said simply.
"Well, you're lucky you have friends in high places." She said "I've been trying to get a look in on this patient for weeks, but the warden won't allow it."
"The Commissioner's a family friend." Bruce said as they turned the corner into the high security cell section.
"Ah, I wish that I could say something like that, but the closest thing we've got to that is that my grandmother used to work in R&D for, well, you, around 50 years ago." Lester said "She said she'd met you once or twice, Doctor Michaels?"
"Sorry, my memory isn't what it was." Bruce lied, covering that the name could apply to any of 20 different women who had worked for him around that time.
"Well, here we are." She said, stopping outside a cell "Damian Al Ghul, also known as the Red Hood."
"Thank you, doctor." Bruce said, turning and smiling in his best, kindly old man impression "Could you give us a few moments alone?"
Lester paused for a second before nodding. She turned and walked out, leaving Bruce to look into the brightly lit cell. Damian was lying on his bed, tossing a ball against the ceiling and catching it as it came back down before tossing it again.
"She forgot to add Robin to that 'AKA' point." Damian said, not bothering to look at Bruce "Still, you seemed to have done okay at denying that detail until recently."
"I got your calling card." Bruce said, narrowing his eyes "Project Batman Beyond, the last, unofficial, Cadmus project. Or so your files claim."
"Oh please, old man." Damian said, sitting up and facing Bruce "We both know you wouldn't be here if you didn't believe it."
"Why did you leave that file there?" Bruce asked, glaring at his son.
"Ooh, the famous 'bat-stare,' I'm quaking in my boots. Hold on, I'm not wearing any." Damian said, smirking "Seriously, Bruce, if you have to ask why I left that there, you've lost every last element of Batman still present in your personality."
"Why don't you try saying that out here and I'll show you how wrong you are." Bruce said, leaning toward the force field, his eyes narrow and his voice cold and rough "Thank you, Damian. You've told me exactly what I wanted to know."
"What was that, dad?" Damian said with a malicious laugh, before Bruce turned and walked away wordlessly, leaving Damian to yell "What was it? What was it? Tell me, old man! Tell me!"