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by drillmaster
#29231 Ch 10: No Need for Reunions

Six months after the "Final Crisis of Mankind," Gotham City had found itself a new protector in the cape and cowl. Dick Grayson had, as expected, taken up his mentor's mantle as the Batman. By his side was another familiar face: Damian Wayne, who had achieved his dream of being Robin, the Boy Wonder. For a gleaming moment, it seemed that the status quo would return to the wayward city.

However, fate has a way to make life in Gotham City unexpected.

In the short time between Bruce's death and Dick's first night, several of the usual members of their Rouges Gallery had either left the city, joined a protective racket with a new Black Mask, or even taken up the right side of the law. Of course, the face that Dick feared the most, the Joker, had been missing for months.

It was the new faces that had Dick worried.

Almost immediately, Damian and Dick found themselves wrapped up in a mystery, a mysterious Domino Killer, and a new breed of super villain in the form of Lazlo Valentin. Valentin was a former circus performer who reinvented himself into a killer known as Professor Pyg. Though he seemed crazy, the court deemed him safe enough to go to Blackgate Prison, no doubt due to the destruction of Arkham Asylum. Pyg was only the beginning of a series of seemingly interconnected murders and crimes that culminated with Damian becoming paralyzed from the waist down.

This is where we rejoin our heroes.

"Alfred, I'm not about to send Damian back to his mother!" Dick angrily told the butler.

"Master Dick, may I remind you that we have reached out to Dr. Mid-Night and he could do nothing. We have no other choice! We cannot let Master Damian stay paralyzed! His mother is our last hope and she will not be kept waiting. I'm just amazed her paramedics have not come knocking on our door yet. You already said it was quite hard not to have them take him to her right off the bat."

Dick punched a wall of the Wayne Penthouse. As the Manor had not been fully cleared of booby traps left by El Sombrero, the trio of men decided to call one of Bruce's old penthouses their home. Thankfully, said penthouse also included a Bat-Bunker of its own: perfect for any Dynamic Duo.

"Call me crazy, but I just don't trust Talia to just heal her son using harvested organs. I don't think she is happy how I am 'corrupting' her son and she will no doubt try something to get 'revenge' on us."

"Don't I have a say in this Grayson?" Damian finally interjected from a nearby bed. His paralyzed form laid still, waiting to see what would happen. "Mother harvested those organs specifically to deal with cases like this. Spit it out, this has less to do with me and everything to do about Todd."

Dick spun around. "I don't know what you are talking about Damian."

"*tt* You know damn well what I'm referring to. You want to resurrect Father with that Lazarus Pit in England. It's a stupid idea and you're an idiot for giving it thought. This is why you need to get me back in action; you'd never get by without me," Damian weakly told him, his smugness shining though.

Alfred looked at both of his charges and sat down. "Did you reach out for Miss Gordon? She might be able to find someone who we have overlooked?"

He shook his head and sighed, clearly bothered by Damian's words. "Babs and I are still not talking. I don't approve of her bringing the Brown girl back into this lifestyle. If she wants to let her be Batgirl, that is on her but I will not be a part of it."

"'Don't approve?' Hmm...perhaps that might be our answer Master Dick."

Dick raised an eyebrow. "I don't follow."

"Well can you not think of a person who Miss Gordon would disapprove of who has unlimited access to scientific resources, including, no doubt, the material necessary to heal our boy here?"

"No...no, I will not allow it!" Damian protested as he tried to move any part of his body. "I do not want that harlot coming anywhere near me!"

"'Harlot?' You don't mean...?"

"I do. Shall we prepare the supersonic Bat-Plane?" Alfred asked.

"Isn't it a bit rude to come over unannounced?" Dick questioned. "That isn't in your character Alfred."

The gentlemen chuckled. "That would be the case, but we have an hour flight ahead of us. That gives us more than enough time to make sure she is available, or alternatively to bring Damian to his mother."

"...nice thinking Alfred! What would we do without you?" Dick asked grinning.

"Kill me now Grayson," Damian moaned.

*TGSTGE*

The Bat-Plane flew across the familiar house and shrine in the heart of the Okayama woods. It was small enough that it could land safely right beside the giant lake that the house was built by. Dick, still in costume, could see a lone figure standing by the water. Her pink hair made her unmistakable.

"Miss Washu is very prompt indeed," Alfred said to himself.

"Hear that Dami?" Grayson told his ward. "She's rolling out the red carpet for you."

"I'm thrilled," Damian groaned.

The plane set down and the cockpit door opened. The three men found themselves face to face with the mad scientist who had helped save the planet and earned the ire of Barbara Gordon.

"Miss Washu, may I say thank you for seeing us on such short notice."

The genius scientist bowed in respect. "No problem. You made the right call. As the greatest scientific mind in the galaxy, this kind of a project will be a piece of cake."

"I'm not a damn project Hakubi!" Damian snarled.

Washu peered in to get a better glimpse of the boy. "Hello to you too sunshine. Listen, I'm taking Funshine Bear here into my lab. You two make yourselves at home. I need to be undisturbed. Dick, help me bring him down will you?"

The two brought Damian down on a stretcher that Washu materialized. "Atta boy."

"So where are Kiyone and the others?" Dick asked, looking around.

"I dunno, something about going to get supplies. I don't know, I keep to myself a lot. Now you stay put; come along Boy Wonder!" Washu laughed maniacally.

*TGSTGE*

"Sasami, are you sure you don't need help carrying those bags into the house?" Ayeka called out to her sister.

"I've got it okay Ayeka! I'm so excited to try this recipe that I've got extra strength!" Sasami laughed without care. "Wednesday's are the best day to cook since we are all together!"

"Joy," Ryoko groaned. "The one day of the week that Mihoshi and Kiyone come and eat all of my food. At least those two knights aren't around or I'd never eat anything."

"'Your' food?! That food happens to be made by Sasami! I don't seem to recall you setting foot in the kitchen!"

"Hey, I'd cook for my Tenchi every day, but you all banned me from cooking, remember?!"

"Oh, silly me. I forgot. I'm so used to eating EDIBLE food that I...what is that thing?" Ayeka stopped and asked.

The trio of girls, and a cabbit, had finally returned to the family house and were met by the startling sight of a black vehicle. Ryoko circles around it, trying to activate any kind of defense system.

"I thinks it's one of those flying things...a plane! Yeah, but it's armed!" Ryoko announced, causing Ayeka to adopt a battle stance. "Hold your horses princess; I don't think it is set to attack us. It's not automated...yet."

"Could it be an invention of Washu's?" Sasami asked curiously.

"Well that would make sense...we've better check the house to make sure she hasn't killed anyone or something," Ayeka sighed.

Ayeka opened the door and was face to face with a man in a bat costume sitting on the couch. She immediately screamed. "AZAKA! KAMIDAKE!"

Two giant logs appeared out of thin air. One had blue Japanese characters on it, the other red. The cloaked character got up and started to speak before he was trapped in a force field. "We have him ma'am!" the log named Azaka, after the Knight of Jurai, told her.

"Interesting. I never met these two before," the man spoke from inside the field. He touched the wall and was instantly shocked. "Electrical shocks. So this is what the Planet Jurai uses for defense."

"How do you know about Jurai you criminal!" she bellowed.

Sasami looked at the masked figure and then at his chest. Suddenly, recognition filled her eyes. "Oh no! Azaka! Kamidake! Let him go! That's Batman!"

Ayeka turned around sharply. "What? The American superhero? But I thought he died!"

"Bruce might have died...but I didn't Ayeka!" Batman responded.

"My word! Guardians, release him! Do as Sasami says!"

"Yes ma'am!" both Guardians said at the same time. With that, Batman was set free. He knocked on the wood and smiled.

"Nice job you two. Never met you the last time I was here, but you can do a good job protecting these guys."

"Thank you sir!" Azaka told him.

"Cut the crap Grayson. We know it's you under there," Ryoko grinned.

"You knew before they did?" Dick said, removing his mask.

She nodded. "You can change outfits pretty boy, but you still have the same stance."

"Huh," Dick grinned, clearly impressed. "Hear that Alfred? She met me once six months ago and she knew my stance. Go figure."

"Alfred?" Sasami asked looking around. "I don't see Mr. Pennyworth..."

"I'm in the kitchen Miss Sasami," the elderly British man said, entering the kitchen smiling. "I hope you don't mind me using your kitchen, but I was hoping for some herbal tea. I also heard Ryo-Ohki here so I brought her a carrot!"

"MEOW!" Ryo-Ohki wept for joy.

"You came all the way to Japan for some of Sasami's tea?" Ryoko asked. "And in costume no less!"

The butler of the Batman looked confused. "Did Washu not let you know that we were coming? I do apologize for our rudeness, don't we Master Dick?"

"What? Oh yes, we do," Dick said bowing down. "Please excuse the costume, if someone were to see someone other than Batman flying the plane, it would raise questions."

"But having an English butler wouldn't?" Ryoko continued to pry. "This has 'last minute plan' written all over it. Why do you need that damn scientist's help?"

"Master Damian had an...accident involving a criminal called the Flamingo. He is paralyzed and Miss Hakubi offered to look at him before we resorted to other methods."

"Other methods?" Ayeka asked. "I'm sorry, but I don't quite follow."

"Alfred is dancing around the fact that his mother runs a criminal empire and happens to hate me for 'bringing Damian out of the dark' or something like that," Dick dryly laughed to himself. "I swear, I don't know how Bruce did it."

"With his..." Ryoko started before she got hit by Ayeka. "I'm joking Princess! Cut me some slack!"

As the two women bickered, Sasami, Dick, and Alfred sat down for tea. "How long has Damian been in there?" Sasami asked gently.

"About two hours. We have until the end of the night before the League of Assassins comes looking for him," Dick explained. "The last thing I need is Talia entering the equation. We've had enough issues going on."

"Like what?"

"A scary guy with a pig mask, the return of Jason Todd..."

"Oh!" Sasami said. "He was the second Robin right?"

"Right in one," Dick nodded. "There's also that Flamingo guy and a Domino Killer."

"There is also the little issue of Master Bruce's corpse," Alfred reminded him. The comment caused Dick looked away in shame and anger.

"Was it stolen? That means that Mr. Wayne can't rest in peace!"

"No, child," Alfred waved her concerns away. "In their confrontation, Master Jason brought up the fact that we could resurrect Master Bruce using a Lazarus Pit. Master Dick wished to do it, Master Damian is against it, and I am not sure what to believe."

Sasami shuffled around in her seat. "I don't know if that is a good idea. It's been months, right? Couldn't something bad happen if you brought him back?"

"That's been the debate," Dick admitted.

"Debate eh? Tell me more about these Lazarus Pits," a familiar voice requested.

Everybody looked to see Washu in a nurse's outfit on wiping blood off of her hands. Dick and Alfred stood up. "How...?"

"The kid is fine," she smiled. "I repaired his spine and made sure there would be no lasting damages. He's knocked out, so give him the night and he'll be okay."

"Astounding Miss Washu!" Alfred told her. "You truly are a genius!"

"THE genius, Mr. Pennyworth!" Washu laughed. "Since we have some time before the Boy Wonder wakes up, tell me about Lazarus Pits."

*TGSTGE*

Later that night, the Masaki household sat down for dinner with two extra places set. Dick, who was wearing civilian clothes at this point, and Alfred were invited to one of Sasami's famous meals. While the food was delicious as usual, it was the discussion that was the most notable.

"I've given it thought and I think I'd like to examine the corpse!" Washu announced.

Kiyone and Ayeka both choked on their food for a a moment. "Miss Washu, that is incredibly disrespectful!"

"You all heard their explanation about the Lazarus Pits and the concern about resurrecting the original Batman. If the concern is body decay, I might be able to test that before Mr. Grayson does something he will regret," she explained. "That is my question to you both: may I come to Gotham City with you tomorrow when Damian is back on his feet?"

Dick and Alfred looked to each other. Dick shrugged and said "Well, I don't see the harm in it. It's better to know what can be done before we decide what should be done."

"Can I come too?" Sasami asked earnestly. "I've never been to America! I'd love to see the sights!"

"But if you go, who will cook for us?!" Noboyuki cried. "I can't go back to take out and steamed rice!"

"Why don't we all go? Let's make a vacation out of it!" Mihoshi pleaded.

"Hey," Dick said. "I didn't say..."

The elder Masaki shook his head. "I'm afraid I have to put my foot down on that one. Tenchi has school and his training. It was hard enough to get him to reenroll after the Kagato incident, but I don't think we can manage another excuse."

"But Grandpa!"

Ryoko laughed. "It's okay Tenchi. I'll stay and keep you company while Ayeka takes Sasami to America."

"YOU WILL DO NO SUCH THING SPACE PIRATE!" Ayeka yelled, getting in her face. "If you think I will leave you alone with Lord Tenchi you have another thing coming!"

"We can watch Sasami!" Mihoshi offered. "Come on Kiyone, it will be fun!"

"Mihoshi, we have jobs and rent..."

"Actually," Dick interjected after eating another rice cake. "After thinking about it, I could use your help Kiyone."

"What?" asked a clearly off-guard Kiyone. "I don't understand."

"I don't have the kind of pull at Blackgate Penitentiary that we did at Arkham. There is a prisoner there who we would love to question, but I can't get to him. Would you be interested in an interrogation?"

She thought about it. "What about our jobs? We need to pay our rent and..."

"The funny thing about entering Bruce's life," Dick smiled. "Is having access to his funds. I've got you covered with rent money and I'll see what I can do about your job. This guy is almost as bad as the Joker and might be even crazier."

"Whose the perp?" Kiyone asked.

"Professor Pyg, a low rent circus performer who created an identity destroy drug that comes in the form of a virus. I just can't read this guy and the Bat-Computer is still analyzing his toxin."

"A professor, eh?" Washu smiled. "This sounds right up my alley. I'm in too. I will help you break him."

"Now hold on!" Kiyone argued. "He's a prisoner! He has rights!"

"I thought Batman operates outside the law," she countered. "As long as nobody is killed, right Batsy?"

"Is this typical dinner conversation here Mr. Masaki?" Alfred asked Tenchi as the rest of the table got into the semantics of Batman and the protocol for the "vacation." The lad nodded and laughed to himself.

"Actually, this seems a bit saner than usual."

"Ah," Alfred said, sipping deep into his cup. "This really is good tea."
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by drillmaster
#29232 Ch. 11: No Need for Pyg

Once Damian had woken up, and yelled at Washu for good measure, Sasami, Kiyone, Mihoshi, and Washu packed their bags to prepare for the trip across the Ocean to the Land of Opportunity. Though Noboyuki desperately begged them not to leave, the girls waved goodbye as they sat down in the back of the Bat-Plane.

"Yes Mother, I'm perfectly healed now...it was some alien scientist named Hakubi...yes Mother...Mother, I have a job to do. If you need to talk about something, come to America and tell me directly. Goodbye Mother," Damian talked into a cellphone. He hung up and threw his hands in the air. "I'm ten years old and she things that I'm three!"

"That sounded intense Damian," Dick told him from the cockpit. "Did you really need to give the Daughter of the Demon a reason to come to the house? I really could have done without that."

"Grayson, you know my mother. She is an Al-Ghul. She will never stop until she gets what she wants. What she forgets is that I have Al-Ghul blood in my veins as well."

"How cute! He wants to continue playing dress up!" Washu goaded from the back of the plane.

The boy's eyebrow twitched. "You are lucky I refrain from killing out of respect for my father, harlot. If I was not honor bound to do so, I would gladly end your life."

"And hit the beautiful face of the girl who saved your life?" Washu mockingly looked hurt. "How could you?!"

"How much longer Mr. Grayson?" Sasami asked excitedly. "I can't wait to see Gotham City!"

"Only about twenty minutes Sasami. Don't get yourself too excited, though. Gotham isn't all that different from a city like Tokyo."

Kiyone shuffled in her seat. "I really want to thank you again for your help with the rent Dick. It's not that often that I accept charity."

"Don't worry about it," Dick waved it off. "Honestly, consider it payment as opposed to charity. Pyg is one hell of a customer."

"I've been a Galaxy Police Officer for years now. I've seen scum from one side of the universe to the next. This pig guy can't be that bad."

Damian chuckled to himself. "When you see that tub of lard, you'll eat those words."

*TGSTGE*

Upon landing in Gotham, Alfred took the liberty of taking the long way back to the Penthouse so the tourists could see the sights. Though Damian was getting bored by the extraneous travel, Sasami was clearly thrilled beyond belief about it.

"Wow! I'm actually in America!" Sasami exclaimed. "It's so...big!"

"*tt* You are hopelessly childish Jurai," Damian chided.

Sasami turned up her nose. "You just don't see the beauty of what you have in front of you."

"You might be the first person to call Gotham City 'beautiful' and not be a crazy killer," the Boy Wonder laughed mockingly.

"Now Master Damian, I can think of at least one other individual who would disagree with you," Alfred said from the driver's seat.

"Who? The Kryptonian? The Amazon?"

"Your father."

Damian opened his mouth to comment on it, but he closed it and kept to himself.

"Most of the city was actually built by Master Bruce's ancestors. Would you like to hear about how Solomon Wayne commissioned the area that would eventually be this city?"

"Would I?!" Sasami asked in wonder. "Tell me everything!"

"Ugh," Damian hung his head. "Somebody get me an Advil. This is going to take awhile."

*TGSTGE*

"So what is our game plan?" Washu asked, taking a bite into a burger. "Hey, this isn't half bad!"

"If you come to America, you have to at least try a burger," Dick laughed. "This place makes the best in Gotham."

Alfred had stopped at a Burger Fool restaurant at Dick's request. Though they were all eager to visit the Penthouse, Dick was very adamant about giving the Japanese visitors the true American experience.

"Don't generalize Grayson. Not everyone is as in love with the prospect of eating cow beef like you," Damian countered while eating his salad.

"Aaaanyway," Dick said, switching gears. "I think Pyg might be the bigger issue, though I don't like to admit it. I have no idea how long your analysis of Bruce could take, so I think we should reach out to Commissioner Gordon after lunch."

"Barbara's father?" Kiyone asked. "Does he know who you are?"

"I wouldn't put it past Commissioner Gordon to know about the night time activities of the Wayne family," Alfred responded. "However, he knows he cannot legally acknowledge that fact. He's a very smart man."

Mihoshi looked around while she drank her shake. "Hey, you said Mr. Wayne was dead, right?"

There was a silence as everybody looked at Mihoshi as if she had three heads. "...yes Mihoshi; that is why we are here."

"Then who is that?" Mihoshi asked, pointing at the restaurant's television.

The group immediately watched the television in earnest. Sure enough, a reporter named Vicky Vale was interviewing a man identified as Bruce Wayne. The jaws of Sasami, Washu, and Kiyone hit the floor. Damian's fist tightened and focused back on his salad.

"I want to kill that fool Elliot so badly," Damian said to himself. "If not for the fact he was doing us a favor he'd be dead already."

"'Elliot?'" Kiyone asked. "Who...?"

"One of Bruce's enemies who actually knows his identity," Dick explained, clearly as disgusted as Damian. "He's a surgeon who literally changed his face to resemble Bruce's."

"That's sounds weird," Sasami said.

"Tell me about it," Dick agreed. "However, it's working out well. The public thinks Bruce is alive and well and we have him right where we can keep an eye on him."

Washu shook her head. "You Americans are so confusing."

"Hey, when are we going to see Barbara?" Sasami asked. "Is she around?"

Dick shuffled in his seat. "Well, Babs and I aren't exactly...it's hard to explain."

"You...you didn't let her know we were here did you?" Washu pried. "Trouble in paradise eh?"

"...I'll explain later if you ladies are really concerned. Let's just focus on finishing lunch so we can get this unpleasantness out of the way."

*TGSTGE*

After stopping home and switching into costume, Batman and Robin directed Kiyone and Washu into Blackgate Prison. Waiting for them there was a grey haired, mustachioed man with glasses. He extended his hand for Batman to shake.

"I have to say Batman, this is a bit direct and forward for you. Well," he dropped his voice into a whisper. "Both you and him. You know...the other Batman."

"Desperate times Commissioner. These two women actually helped shut down the Anti-Life Equation in Bluddhaven. Don't take them lightly," Batman countered. "Commissioner Gordon, meet Washu Hakubi, the brilliant scientist, and Officer Kiyone Makibi."

"Pleasure to meet you both," the man told both ladies. "Hakubi...hmm I seem to recall Barbara mentioning something about a pink haired girl named Hakubi. Would you happen to be her?"

"Ask me no questions and I will tell you no lies Commissioner!" Washu winked. "Does Mr. Valentin know he is going to have company?"

Gordon shook his head. "I managed to keep this quiet. I had to pull a few strings to get this to even happen."

The pink haired woman bowed slightly. "The privacy is greatly appreciated."

"I don't know what you two think you can do. Pyg hasn't talked to anyone at all except to ask for his mask. The guards report that he is always speaking in some kind of gibberish to himself."

"Leave that to us Commissioner," Kiyone reassured him.

"Where did you say you were a cop Miss Makibi?"

"I didn't," she said with a smile.

The group walked past several doors until they got to an interrogation room. There was a window in the wall that showed the lone occupant: an overweight dark haired man. He did not look up from the table, but Kiyone noted his mouth was moving. She tried to listen in and was met with a strange string of babble.

"The penitent one will descend upon the goat head in the big blow out. Then Piggy will be released from his sty. But before the beautification, my face must be claimed from the rats," he muttered to himself.

Gordon looked to the Dynamic Duo and waited to hear if they understood his ramblings. Finally Dick spoke: "He said 'big blow out.' That may be circus speak for the finale of a show."

"Which would be his 'beautification,'" Kiyone nodded to herself. "What about his 'penitent' comment?"

"El Penitente is some big time crime lord in Mexico who sent Flamingo to Gotham. *tt* Makibi, didn't you do your homework?" Robin sneered.

"Hush you. Everything he is saying is a clue. I think it's time we entered in," Washu told Kiyone. "I think you being in the room may be counterproductive Batman. Any objections?"

The Dark Knight shook his head, but Commissioner Gordon spoke up. "Keep your guard up, but don't sink to his level."

"We won't," Kiyone reassured him. With that, the two ladies entered in the room with a babbling madman all alone.

The two women sat down and waited for Lazlo to notice their arrival. After about a minute, Kiyone made the first move. "Mr. Valentin, my name is Officer Makibi. How are you doing?"

There was no response. Washu tapped her finger on the table in irritation. "This isn't going to get us anywhere, but I know what will."

Washu created her computer and started to type furiously. "Okay, a Gotham Gazette report about Professor Pyg. Says here you created something called 'Dollotrons.' I'm both impressed and disgusted. As a fellow professor, I think I know what the problem is. We can't work if there isn't the proper equipment. Will this do?" After a few keystrokes, Washu managed to create a plaster mask that resembled a pig.

Lazlo finally looked up at the mask and started to smile. "My face...it's perfect!"

"Perfection is the first step to beauty," Washu reasoned.

"The pink haired one speaks the truth," Professor Pyg agreed. "You are so close to perfection, but your face is lacking. You need work to become wonderful!"

"Perhaps I do, but what are you?"

"Pyg is not perfect, but Pyg will MAKE everything perfect. Then Mommy will love me again!"

"How will you make us perfect Professor?" Kiyone asked, catching on to what Washu was doing and realizing it was getting a response. "We have so many problems."

Pyg looked at both of the women and seemed to think about it. "You need a bad operation. You more than her," he said, pointing to Washu, who blushed. "To be imperfect is to be ugly. All the top names rid their ugliness through one bad operation after another. The germ is the only way to bring results."

"Does El Penitente have the germ?"

After making a squealing sound, Valentin found himself shifting uncontrollably. "Dr. Johnny B. Damned will come in time! Mommy told me so."

Kiyone and Washu stopped talking and tried to process what they were hearing. Finally, it was Kiyone who spoke. "Is El Penitente your Mommy?"

Pyg started to laugh and cry at the same time. "Dr. Johnny B. Damned, my Mommy? In her gown of nails, Mommy can be cruel. In the morning she is Kali, at lunch she is Mormo, and at night she sees red. ALL WAYS LEAD TO HER!"

"So El Peniten...I mean Dr. Johnny B. Damned is coming from Mexico? Do you work for him?" Washu asked earnestly.

Kiyone reflected inward. It was amazing that these two women managed to keep their cool around this man. They knew the risk of giving him back his mask. 'If we play this the right way, we've got him!' Washu had told her. 'If we say anything to offend him, he will try to kill us. This is a cold and calculated game you and I have to play Kiyone. I hope you can keep a poker face. Be prepared for ANYTHING.'

"The Doctor pulled me from the Spyral Sink and showed me the path to perfection! With the germ in place, I can make lovely ladies anywhere I want! All my collection, mint in package! Pristine to the last curve. If even a speck of dust is found, the Dollotron is ruined!"

"The germ...what is it?"

A smile crept on the visible portion of Pyg's face. "The milk from mommy's nursing embrace is addictive and its in you all. It's addiction you catch! Pyg gives you hunger, Pyg offers you salvation! Salvation through perfection! Once you accept the drug, your reason will leave you and you will be mine!"

With that, Professor Pyg got out of his chair and lunged for Kiyone. The girl dodged his attempt and punched him in the gut. However, the behemoth of a man kept advancing. As this was going on, Washu furiously typed on her computer. "Did you really think I would give a clinically insane man the object of his desire without a way to curb your instincts?!"

One keystroke later and Lazlo Valentin started to writhe in pain. At once, he toppled to the ground: fainting from being electrocuted. With this development, Batman, Robin, and Commissioner Gordon ran into the room.

"What the hell was that?" Gordon asked furiously. "You electrocuted the man!"

Washu shrugged as Kiyone panted. "He was trying to kill us. I was merely applying self-defensive strategies."

"I can see that, but WHAT did you do?"

She handed the lawman the mask. "The mask I created had the ability to give off a low level electrical shock if the wearer displayed any negative behavior. Nothing lethal mind you."

"Fascinating," Gordon said, clearly impressed.

"That's all well and good," Robin growled. "But we didn't get any information we didn't know or couldn't surmise on our own."

"Ha," Washu laughed. "So you think Baby Bird; but this mask did far more than just act as an incredibly unsettling facial disguise. It was probing his mind to get any snippets of his past that can be reached beneath the layers of madness that he possesses."

Batman considered it. "Basically, you developed a USB flash drive for the human mind?"

"In so many words," Washu announced. "Just another win for the GREATEST SCIENTIFIC GENIUS IN THE UNIVERSE!"

"Oh no," Damian uttered, putting a hand over his face. "Here they come..."

As if on cue... "You did it Washu!"

"Your genius knows no limits Washu!"

Commissioner Gordon blinked a few times and turned his attention to Kiyone. "Are you alright Officer Makibi? You look a bit shaken."

"I'm fine Commissioner," Kiyone said, catching her breath. "I was caught off guard for a moment. Don't worry about me."

"You did well in there," Gordon said reassuringly. "Batman, I hope that you can find something that can stop whatever he is planning before it starts."

"I hope so too Commissioner," Batman nodded.
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by drillmaster
#29348 Ch. 12: No Need for Tomorrow

The sun around Gotham City was shining off of the Wayne limosine. Inside the elongated car were three people: the enthusiastic Mihoshi, the young and impressionable Sasami, and the humble Alfred. Tagging along for the ride was the group pet Ryo-Ohki. Alfred had decided to take the girls on a nice tour of the city to get them out of the manor while the others were out. They had just finished watching a rerun of Fantasia playing at a movie house and had retuned to continue their day.

"Are all American movies like that? It was so...expressive!" Sasami asked enthusiastically.

"I must have a word with your sister Miss Sasami," Alfred shook his head. "To think a child such as you have been deprived of such American cinema for so long."

"But Mr. Pennyworth, Ayeka and Ryoko typically watch the television that would get those channels! I have my small television so I can watch my cooking shows in the kitchen."

"That is just more of a reason to speak my mind to those young ladies. Though your work habits are to be commended, you really should enjoy some of the entertainment Earth can provide for you."

"Did Bruce like movies very much Alfred?" Mihoshi asked.

Alfred fell quiet for a moment. "Movies were one of the few escapes Master Bruce allowed himself. Oh, he was quite fond of films and shows like The Grey Ghost and Magnificent Seven. However, he would keep The Mark of Zorro close to his heart. I'm not sure if it was for the right reasons or the wrong reasons, but there is no doubt that Zorro will forever be linked to his life."

"What is 'Zorro' Mister Pennyworth?" Sasami asked innocently. "Is that an animal?"

There was a pause while Alfred stopped to think of an answer. "He was a hero, Miss Sasami."

"Let's watch Zorro then!" Mihoshi suggested. "Is it playing in one of those things you took us to...a theater?"

"I was actually going to take you to the Gotham Theater to watch a play. You don't want to waste away in front of the television, you know. The Gotham Players are putting on a production of Annie which I think you both would enjoy. An old friend, Leslie Thompkins, is volunteering her time there to let some of her charges experience the stage at least once in their life. But yes, Miss Mihoshi, we can indeed view The Mark of Zorro before you leave," Alfred decided. "But since we have some time, I think we can enjoy some art. The Flugelheim Museum is not too far from here. I hope you both are up for an exciting day."

"Are we ever? Do you think we can bring back souvenirs for Tenchi and Ayeka and Ryoko?" Sasami asked sweetly. "I want them to have a piece of America since they couldn't come!"

With a light chuckle, Alfred responded "Of course we can."

*TGSTGE*

The Batmobile set down on a docking pad in the Bat-Bunker. Washu and Kiyone hopped out and started to look around the area. It was a lot more sleek and modern than the Bat-Cave, but it still kept the motif going. There were barely any trophies or displays out here; only a giant computer. Washu assumed that is was connected to the same system as the Bat-Computer in the cave.

"Nice place you have here sport," she said with a whistle. "Though I do miss the giant mechanical dinosaur."

"I do too. Rex was always my favorite display," Dick agreed, taking off his cowl. "Do you really think your data can shed some light on this whole case?"

Washu sat down at the computer and cracked her knuckles. "I can't say Batsy. That Pyg fellow seemed to have one crazy, messed up mind. I have no idea what kind of damage it suffered in whatever turned him from a circus performer to...well that!"

"Don't call him Batsy," Damian growled. "That's what HE called father."

Kiyone looked confused. "Who are you talking about Damian?"

"The clown. I've never met him, but when I do, I'll beat that smile right off his face."

"Clown? I wish Mihoshi were here; she would catch me up without looking like a fool," she sighed. "It's not right for a Galaxy Police detective to be so unprepared."

Damian made a mocking laugh. "Your words, not mine, even though I agree with them. How can you come to Gotham City and not even know about the Joker!"

A fast furious typing sound echoed the cave. The pink haired scientist had turned on the Bat-Computer and started to pull up files from the archives. At once, a picture of a pale, green haired man in a purple tuxedo filled the screen. A rap sheet followed shortly, which Kiyone read with great interest.

"'The Joker...real name unknown. Aliases: The Red Hood, Liam Distal, Joseph Kerr, and Jack Napier. Known associates: Harleen Quinzelle, Oswald Cobblepot, and Edward Nygma...'" Kiyone muttered to herself as she got caught up on the history of the Clown Prince of Crime. "This is the guy who killed that Jason Todd guy you were telling us about in Japan! He paralyzed Barbara! He almost killed several newborn infants! This monster is reprehensible; worse than nearly any criminal I have ever come across in the far reaches of the galaxy."

"Thank you for filling us in with information we already know 'detective,'" Damian rolled his eyes as he took off his domino mask.

"Now that you mention it," Dick said, starting to get lost in thought. "He has not been seen since the Arkham incident with the Black Glove. I've got no doubt he is waiting in the shadows...preparing his next routine. Unless..."

"Unless what?" Kiyone asked.

"Hmm..." Dick was quiet for a few moments. He picked up a newspaper describing the death of an oil sheik and stared at it intently. "I may need to talk to Oberon Sexton. This might be nothing...might be everything."

Robin cocked an eyebrow. "The writer? Why would you ever need to see him again?"

"I don't know...there's something funny about all of this."

"Well this is all fun and dandy," Washu announced loudly. "But I am going to need some alone time to dissect this information. Is that okay Caped Crusader?"

"Yeah," he nodded. "Take as much time as you need. But remember, I'd like you to take a look at Bruce's corpse before you leave."

"I haven't forgotten your request Mister Grayson. I am a woman of my word. Now shoo! Skedaddle!"

Damian started to say something, but Dick held him back. Kiyone looked at the livid look on his face and fought back a grin. "Why don't you two get me caught up on all of your known criminal associates? I need to be more prepared and not have to rely on Mihoshi for everything."

"Spoken like a true cop. Say, where are they anyway?" Dick asked. "I haven't seen Mihoshi, Sasami, or Alfred since we have gotten back."

"Pennyworth is probably out doing his job as a chauffeur. Lord knows I wouldn't want that blonde fool staying alone in the penthouse."

Kiyone was going to argue in her partner's favor but decided against it. She knew there was no point in fighting the boy, no matter how rude he might be. 'Still...he did have a point. Mihoshi probably WOULD have destroyed a good deal of the penthouse...' Kiyone thought to herself. 'But I would never tell HIM that.'

*TGSTGE*

Once the play concluded, Alfred stood up to give his applause. He quite enjoyed the production and it made him look back on his own days on the stage. He turned over to Sasami and Mihoshi and were surprised to find them smiling, but not applauding like the rest.

"Alfred, did you find the play bad?" Mihoshi asked. "Why are you all clapping?"

"Err...Miss Mihoshi, in America when you find something well done, you applaud it...oh that's right! The Japanese culture dictates that silence is the highest compliment you can give!" Alfred smiled.

Sasami nodded. "Yes, that's true. Tenchi's father told us about that when we saw A Midsummer Night's Dream last holiday."

"Well I am just happy that you had a good time," Alfred said. Suddenly his eyes widened. "Ah, there she is!"

"Who are you talking about?"

"My old friend. Come, I'd love to introduce you to her," Alfred said, waiting for the two ladies to rise. They made their way down the concert hall and reached an older woman with grey hair. She turned to the man and looked surprised. Clearly this was an impromptu visit. She smiled and hugged the man.

"Alfred Pennywoth, this is a surprise! What brings you my way?" she asked.

Alfred smiled and acknowledged the two ladies he was taking care of. "I am showing these two lovely young ladies around. It is first time in America when there is not chaos and destruction going around and I wished to give them a proper tour of the city. I heard you were involved with the production. I have to say, it turned out marvelous."

The woman blushed. "Well, I thought it would do some of my patients some good to get some confidence back in their lives. But enough about me, who might you two be?"

Sasami bowed slightly. "My name is Sasami. Thank you for putting on such a fantastic show for us to attend. I had a great time."

Emulating Sasami, Mihoshi did the same. "Thank you as well. My name is Fir...Mihoshi!"

Leslie Thompkins, catching on to the Japanese nature of the two ladies, bowed in respect. "It is a pleasure to meet you both. My name is Dr. Leslie Thompkins."

"Wow!" Mihoshi exclaimed. "You are a doctor! What do you do?"

"I presently run a clinic to help young people cope with their disabilities and get readjusted in the world. Some people need a little push...sorry, wheelchair humor. I've already said good-bye to my charges or else I would have loved to introduce you to them. However, I do know at least one person Alfred here would love to see."

"You do?"

"I do. She came to support Wendy Harris, whom I enlisted to help run the stage crew. Ah, there she is now."

The trio of people, and one cabbit, were directed to a woman wheeling down to where they were from a higher seat. Her red hair and glasses were unmistakable. "BARBARA!" Mihoshi yelled as she ran over to her.

"Oh no," Alfred whispered. "This cannot end well for Master Dick."

The look the bespectacled Gordon gave the blonde detective could be described as a mix of shock and horror. Clearly this was the last place she ever expected to see any of the Masaki Clan.

"Mi...Mihoshi! It's...good to see you again! Please...I can't breathe!" Barbara wheezed.

"Barbara I can't believe that I get to see you! I heard you and Dick were fighting! I hope you are okay!"

"You heard all that?" she asked cooly, giving a side glance to Alfred, who looked incredibly guilty. She also noted the younger Jurain princess. "Little Sasami, I am pleased to see you again," she said with a bow.

"Hello to you too Miss Barbara! I'm sorry for Mihoshi; she knows better than to pry."

The blonde haired detective looked flustered and bowed again. "I was being rude wasn't I? I'm so so so sorrrrrry!"

"It's okay Mihoshi...aren't you going to greet me Alfred?" Barbara asked playfully. Though she had no reason to be angry at the man, she knew that he knew that she did not like this situation.

"Miss Gordon, I'm outraged that you would say such a thing!" he responded in a composed form. "It has been far too long."

"Indeed it has. Leslie, the show was great. Thank you for inviting me."

The kind woman smiled in return. "Thank you for supporting Wendy. She seems to have gotten a bit more determined since her accident, thanks no small part to you."

Barbara sighed and grinned. "She'll find her place soon. I know it. Mind if I step in with this dashing young man and his two lady friends?"

Leslie chuckled and said her farewells to the trio. When she left, Barbara adopted a serious look. "She's here too, isn't she?"

Alfred gulped.

*TGSTGE*

Kiyone was getting a good history lesson by Dick Grayson in the living room of the Wayne Penthouse. The skylight was filling the room with light. While Washu was far underneath the ground, they were far above several of the buildings that surrounded it. Kiyone found the various costumed criminals and cases rather interesting. It really was like something out of one of Sasami's shojo mangas about magical girls.

The detective was sharp enough to see that she was not the only one entertained by this discussion. Damian was deeply involved in the conversation, asking even more questions than Kiyone was at times. It reminded her that he really was a boy dealing with the loss of a parent, abet one whom he only knew personally for about a month at most. It really humanized him and caused her to sympathize with him.

"So Joker up and kidnapped Robin and forced him to watch him kill Christmas shoppers?" Kiyone asked with great interest. "That sounds terrible! How did he get out?"

"A Marx Brothers quote...do you have any idea who they are?" Dick asked, laughing to himself. "Pair of comedians...I'll have Alfred pull out some of their work. It might be a nice distraction."

"Please," Damian scoffed. "All that story shows is that Drake was a fool for hopping into a strange car without thinking."

"Think about what would have happened if he didn't have that lapse in judgement," Kiyone countered. "He stopped that madman from going on a worse killing spree than what he did!"

"*tt* Details, details!"

It had been about two hours into the conversation when Kiyone decided to ask a lingering question that was weighing on her mind. "Alfred briefly told us about what happened before the Crisis, but perhaps you can shed some light on this: what IS the Black Glove?"

Dick adopted a serious look. He sunk into his chair and considered his words carefully. "That's a loaded question. You see, the Black Glove can be either a person or a group..."

Kiyone tilted her head in confusion. "I don't follow...yet. Are the two related?"

"Oh yes, they are. The Black Glove is a group of corrupt gamblers who meet once a year to gamble on human lives, or at least that's how Alfred put it. Tim and I were busy fighting the Club of Villains, a bunch of criminals who were either part of the Black Glove or hired by them...it was never really made clear," Dick explained. "Two of the members, a scorpion woman and a hunchback named Le Bosseu tried to lobotomize me to keep me out of the picture."

"You said that when we first met," Kiyone said as realization dawned upon her.

He nodded. "The other members aren't really important except for their leader: Doctor Hurt. He's the link between the two organizations and the man who adopted the name Black Glove as his own."

"I get it now!" Kiyone interjected. "So that's the guy who is responsible for hiring that Sombrero guy to ruin Wayne Manor!"

"Give the girl a prize!" Robin taunted. "Seriously, are you going to let Grayson finish or are you going to butt in every two seconds?"

"Damian, stop being rude!" Dick remonstrated.

"It's okay Dick," Kiyone agreed. "He's right. Please continue."

"Well," the former circus acrobat tried to remember his place. "Hurt set up a whole elaborate trap designed to break Batman. However, he didn't count on two things: Bruce's determination and the Joker."

Kiyone cocked and eyebrow but did not say anything. "Hurt tried to hire the Joker as a servant to kill Bruce in his name, but all that did was offend him. I don't know the details of the conversation, but I gather it wasn't pretty. Here's the kicker: Alfred said that he was going around claiming to be Bruce's father."

"What?!"

"*tt* Not even five minutes," Damian sighed to nobody in particular. The two conversing adults ignored the interjection.

"I know. We haven't heard anything from him since they first battled right before the Crisis. Right after that, Bruce went to investigate Orion's death which lead to his...his death."

"Could he be involved somehow?"

"I'm not ruling out anything," Dick stared out the window deep in thought. "But there is nothing that links him here yet."

As the words left his lips, a door slammed open, which caused the blue hair detective to jump. The familiar young form of Washu Hakubi was panting in the doorway.

"You...you need a better elevator," Washu panted.

"Did you find anything of valuable, harlot?"

"I can't say to be sure, but come on down Dumb Dumb. You all need to see this!"

Dick managed to smile to himself before he adopted his serious role yet again. Unlike Barbara, he found their company enjoyable. These aliens were amusing yet very grounded. It brought back good memories of when he first met Kori, the aforementioned alien princess. "Lead the way Great Gazoo!"

*TGSTGE*

"I want to preface this with a warning," Washu explained and the four people crowded around the Bat-Computer. "What you are going to witness is incredibly disjointed and disturbing. Whatever happened to our little piggy did a number on his view on life. He remembers his past in fragments...and barely coherent ones at that. This entire time I have been trying to put his thoughts in a narrative order."

"Well if anyone could have done it in this short of time, it had to have been the greatest scientific genius in the universe," Dick smiled.

"Don't indulge her Grayson!"

Washu batted her eyelashes at Dick, who laughed uncomfortably. "No, don't stop indulging me Mr. Grayson!"

The eyebrows of Kiyone Makibi started to twitch. It started in low, then it started to grow. "*cough* I thought you had something to show us?"

"Always business with you Kiyone. The Galaxy Police is lucky to have you!" Washu laughed it off. "No seriously Dickie, you can tell me more later," she whispered with a wink, causing Damian and Dick to shudder.

"Sit back and relax kids. In all my years I have never met a more depraved individual. Now you get to know why! Presenting in HD Professor Pyg: Who He Is and How He Came to Be!"

With the press of a button, a series of small clips started to play. The first clip showed a blurred face of a woman talking to him. She looked middle age with dark hair, but it was hard to tell. Clearly it was straining the Professor to think that far back.

"Can you...Lazlo the circus...Kolossal..." the mystery woman was telling him.

"Again, this is going to be very fragmented and disjointed," Washu explained. "Hmm? What's wrong Dick?"

Dick was looking intently at the woman. "That woman...she reminds me of someone...I wish I could see her face..."

"Who do you think she is?" Kiyone asked, trying to take in as much information as she could.

"She reminds me of this woman named Kathy Kane. She was a circus performer who dressed up as Batwoman for awhile. Her and Bruce were very serious, but she died a few years back..."

"Are you sure about that?" Washu asked. "That may be important."

The young man bit his lip and stared intently at the woman. "I'm not sure Washu. Does this woman appear again?" The pink haired scientist shook her head in response. "Then it's not important...yet."

The scene then changed to a dark office. The room was blurry except a bright red symbol. It looked like a spider-web with an eye in the center.

"That," Washu pointed out. "Is the symbol for Spyral, according to Damian's father's databases. There wasn't much on there but from what I gather it's some kind of offshoot of Britain's MI6 I believe."

"Wait, that would make him a spy then!" Kiyone exclaimed. "I only really watch court tv here and that name has been banded about!"

Damian grunted. "That idiot: a spy? I can't see it...not after what he did to Sasha."

"Keep watching. We are about to come to the climax I believe..."

All eyes returned to the screen. They were viewing a first person perspective of the man who would be Pyg running down corridor after corridor. Another voice was heard, this time a male, but it was far clearer than that of the woman.

"Agent Valentin, descend the Spyral Sink! You...breathe deep and then...see what is beyond...door!"

The comment caused Kiyone to snap her fingers. " Spyral sink! He was ranting on about that when we interrogated him!"

Dick nodded approvingly while not taking his eyes off the monitor. "Good observation Detective."

The screen suddenly flashed white and a most interesting sight appeared: a series of wires made into the shape of a woman. It was the most clear image thus far and it overpowered the vision of the observers. At this point, Lazlo Valentin could be heard whispering "Mommy...Mommy I'm sorry...I'll be better..."

"Your pharmaceutical agents work Agent Valentin! See how you fade away..."

"I need a bad operation...I need to operate!"

"This is how you escape the Labyrinth of Dedalus! Embrace your true nature!" the disembodied voice laughed.

There was no commentary now, just horror and pity. Though it was unsaid, they all realized Professor Pyg was not born this way, but created by whomever was speaking to the former Agent of Spyral.

"Lazlo Valentin is it?" a new voice spoke. The picture changed to a dark haired man in a white suit. He was not as blurry as the woman but not as clear as the wire mother.

"Blessed is the ground which the worms crawl..." the voice of Valentin replied.

"And so they shall. I've heard so many things about you...my cartel has use for you..."

The group watched as various images played on the screen. Hands were adjusting a test tube...women were being forced to drink substances...the same hands creating a skin like material...and finally an image of several women lined up in a row.

"Soon my dollies will be perfect! I can make you more than human..."

"I have no doubt of your work. It is a masterpiece by design!" the dark haired man was saying. "You need to give a signature to this piece Valentin. How will you sign it?"

"My Mommy made of nails tells me all! It sees me not as a pig to be slaughtered but a pig to slaughter!" The screen showed his "mommy made of nails again." The man was in view, but upside down now. He was laughing.

"Through your crucifixion, you will be absolved of your freedom, absolved of the burdens of life! Now and forever more, you will be Pyg!" the man gloated. "Now that you are impure, we can outline your vision for Gotham!"

It was here that the video stopped, leaving the room deathly silent. Damian looked angry and started to crack his knuckles, Dick tapped his fingers to his chin, Kiyone looked like she was trying to keep herself together, and Washu looked as though all color had left the world.

"That man had to have been El Penitente," Kiyone whispered. "He mentioned a cartel..."

"It's worse than that, detective," Batman replied. He motioned to Washu to let him sit down at the computer, which she obliged. He pulled up three pictures: one of the dark haired man, one of Bruce's father, and one of an old newspaper clipping discussing a missing doctor...a doctor named Hurt. "Look at them; Dr. Hurt is El Penitente...or maybe was."

"We have no idea how long ago this conversation happened," Washu explained. "It might have been right before you first encountered him or before your little Black Glove incident. Do you have any confirmation that the man died fighting against Bruce?"

"None whatsoever. It's an old saying, but unless there is a body, always consider them alive."

"Why is nobody getting to the real issue: we learned NOTHING!" Damian yelled angrily. "You were supposed to give us a clue or anything that could help us, but you found nothing! Who cares about Spyral or his backstory, it does not change that we have no idea what that bloated bufoon's endgame was!"

Dick got up and turned toward him. "Damian, calm down and think! We know he is in league with the Black Glove! We know that his 'wire mommy' is a weakness we can exploit! We can still collect the old one from police headquarters! All we have to do is ask Jim..."

"Ask him what?" a familiar female voice asked. From the shadows of the Bat-Bunker came the familiar faces of Alfred, Mihoshi, Ryo-Ohki, and Sasami. Trailing behind them was the one face Dick was not expecting: Barbara.

"Babs."

"You've got a lot of nerve Mr. Grayson!" Barbara yelled as she rolled up to him. "You kick me out of the cave and yet don't keep in touch at all! You don't even ask for my help with this matter, but go to a known intergalactic mad scientist!"

"She's got you there Sonny Jim," Washu shrugged. "How are you doing Barbara? Long time!"

"How does it look like I'm doing Hakubi?" Barbara shot her a look on contempt.

Washu jumped back slightly. "Yikes! I think we should leave those two to themselves. Come on guys and gals. Perhaps Alfred here can whip up some lunch."

"Yes...that seems appropriate."

All of the occupants in the Bat-Bunker, Damian included, started to move away from the two quarreling people. Everyone, that is, except Mihoshi.

"I know that guy!" Mihoshi said, pointing to the computer screen. All eyes fell on her.

"Mihoshi, how could you possibly know who that is? That man is presumed dead."

"But Kiyone, I met him! Well, actually Ryoko met him, I only saw him talking to her."

"Mihoshi, I need to ask you a very serious question," Kiyone asked her, knowing full well that all of the denizens in the Bat-Bunker were acknowledging her. "Where did this happen?"

"At the Fortress of Solitude! Ask Ryoko, she would know better than I would!"

Dick gave Washu a look. "Can you contact her? It's not that late in Japan right now...in fact it's early morning there."

A door suddenly appeared in the center of the room. The pink haired scientist bowed to everyone and opened it up. The group of people looked perplexed as they wondered whether Mihoshi Kuramitsu might have stumbled upon the man behind the Pyg or if she was deceiving herself.

*TGSTGE*

Ayeka and Ryoko lounged on the couch watching their soap opera. It was a dull day to be sure, since Tenchi had to return to school, but this made it all worth it. A plate of rice cakes sat between the two women and they sat back and relaxed their cares away.

"You know something Ayeka, without the others here, it is actually easier to do chores."

"I know exactly what you mean Miss Ryoko. Here it is, midday, and we have finished our daily routine. I'm sure if Mihoshi or Washu were here, they would bungle it all up."

"I'll drink to that," Ryoko laughed. She took a gulp of her tea and sighed. "Still, this doesn't taste as good as Sasami's tea."

Ayeka hung her head in shame. "And I'm so lonely! Lord Tenchi is at school, the others are in America, Father is working, and Lord Yosho is tending to the shrine! Do we do ANYTHING to pass the time besides argue Miss Ryoko?"

The spiky haired woman thought about it for a minute and rubbed her head. "I refuse to believe that we do NOTHING but argue! No, I can't accept that. Let's think for a minute here, what do we do all day?"

"Flirt."

"Fight."

"Chores."

"Avoid chores."

"Bathe," both women said at the same time. They turned their heads down dejectedly at their tea glasses.

"This just won't do Miss Ryoko! We need a hobby...or something fun to pass the time!"

"We now return to Popoko!" the television announcer spoke through the television. At once, the two lamenting ladies returned to their previous positions and continued to watch their show in peace.

"'scuse me!" an all too familiar voice announced from behind them. Ayeka and Ryoko turned around to see Washu standing next to the couch with her hands on her hips. "I know you two are so 'busy' but I have need for Ryoko."

"Now wait just a damn minute Washu!" Ryoko got up and growled. "Why do you need me help, and why are you here in Japan?!"

Ayeka got up and joined her rival. "Miss Washu, did something happen to Sasami?!"

The scientist held her hands up to calm them down. "Hold your horses princess! We just need Ryoko to identify a person and then we can have her back here as a productive member of the house!"

"Why you..." Ryoko boiled. She sighed and relented. "Fine, but you owe me one! This show is starting to get good!"

"Surrrrre it is. Tootles!"

In an instant, Lady Ayeka Jurai was all alone. She looked around the house and at the remaining tea cup and sighed. "Now I have nobody to argue with either..."

*TGSTGE*

"So how did it go Damian?" Sasami pried curiously.

Alfred had left the group to prepare some tea once Dick and Barbara started arguing. Kiyone was catching Mihoshi up on the situation as best she could, leaving Damian and Sasami to talk amongst themselves.

"*tt* How should I know? All we have learned is that Professor Pyg needs to be put down like a horse with a broken leg."

Sasami looked horrified at the response the boy gave her. "That is a terrible thing to say! I thought you liked animals!"

"What I like or dislike is inconsequential. It is an Earth saying, nothing more."

"But that's still a mean thing to say about a person," Sasami expressed her concern. Damian gave her a look of anger and regret.

"You've never met that monster. He disfigured a girl no older than...well regardless!" Damian bluntly put it. "I failed to save her when I promised to! Whoever that man was is gone. All traces of humanity have been ebbed away by El Penitente and that labyrinth fool! When you experience such things Princess, then you can tell me when something is mean!"

The blue haired girl put a hand to her mouth and tears started to flow. Damian, clearly not expecting this, reluctantly patted her back. "I'm sorry...I wasn't trying to make you cry. This planet does not always have kind natured fools like that Masaki fellow you cling to. I should know; I'm one of them."

Sasami sniffed her nose and stared deeply in his eyes. "You are only what you believe yourself to be Damian! Just because something hurts today doesn't mean you should bring it into tomorrow!"

At once a lightbulb went of in the young Jurain's head. "Have you ever seen the musical Annie?"

Damian looked offended by the question. "What purpose would an heir to the Al-Ghul family have to watch a musical about a red headed orphan?"

"You could learn a lot from it Damian."

He forced a laugh. "What; how to do a box step?"

"The message of the play is that you have to find hope in every situation," Sasami explained. "The sky might be grey and you might feel lonely, but good things will come! Tomorrow; it's only a day away!"

The child assassin blinked a few times. "What are you talking about? Why can't you just make sense?!"

"I'm saying cheer up and look on the bright side of things!" the Princess smiled. "You have to think of the good things you have and remember that no matter how bad it might be, it'll pick up!"

"Why should I believe you, girl?" Damian asked. "Why should I listen to a stupid song from a stupid play?"

"Because silly, Professor Pyg might be a bad guy, but you're not! You tried to save that girl! You are a hero Damian, don't let anyone say otherwise! Mr. Grayson really brings the best out in you!"

"Yes," Damian chuckled. "Yes he does."

"Do you like being Robin Damian?" Sasami asked curiously.

Damian thought about it for a minute. Between admitting that Grayson was a worthy mentor and this question, what was Sasami driving at.

"Being Robin is the best thing about my life," Damian explained with a sigh, staring at his domino mask. "I never thought about this life, but this truly is the path I have chosen for myself. I have Grayson and Pennyworth to thank for that."

"See?" Sasami jumped up excitedly. "It got better for you Damian! Just like before! You need to give yourself more credit buddy!"

"What is it about you?" Damian began. "That makes it near impossible to brood around?"

Sasami shrugged and smiled again. This time, however, it was returned by a ten year old boy in a cape...a boy who truly smiled for the first time.
User avatar
by drillmaster
#29349 Ch. 13: No Need for Choices

The Bat-Bunker was far tenser than it was when Washu left. It seemed as if it were abandoned except for the two line figures arguing in the shadows.

"I told you Dick, she's proven herself to me! Shouldn't my blessing be enough? She needs to do this, we talked about it before! Stephanie has done great things for this city while you have been busy with Jason and those human dolls! Just because our city is throwing around new criminals does not mean that you can just pull her out! It's not like you and I haven't talked since then, but I know you have been avoiding the subject!"

"Barbara, you know my problem with her was mainly due to the fact that Black Mask returned. She did well enough with the fight against Ras Al Ghul and she did earn my trust, but I still have doubts if she can keep up in this environment. I'm sure Tim feels the same way. I haven't even brought up her recklessness!"

"Were we any less reckless when we were her age?! I seem to recall a certain someone patrolling every time Bruce went out of town! You are trying to bring Damian to the light? I'm trying to give Steph some purpose in her life! Can't you understand that?"

"I...damn it Babs. I'm sorry. It's been getting so damn rough in the city, you know? With Bruce gone, it's been hard to keep up with everything and train Damian at the same time. What did you call him... 'a murderous twit?'"

The two heroes were laughing together like the old friends they were when Washu and Ryoko stepped through the door. Ryoko went to say something, but Washu stopped her. However, it was too late: the pupils of Batman were trained well enough to spot when they were not alone.

"It's okay Hakubi; we know you are there."

"Aw phooey; we're sorry for ruining your moment. Right Ryoko?" Washu said with a nudge.

Ryoko kicked the ground. "Yeah, sure, whatever. Now could someone please tell me why I was dragged out of the house and into another country! Vague explanations, no choice...you really grind my gears Washu!"

"Hold your horses girlie; I'll get you back to Ayeka in two shakes of a cabbit's tail!"

The space pirate rolled her eyes. "Sure you will. I've got no doubt you will try to rope me into whatever harebrained scheme you are planning! Let's just get this over with."

"Ryoko, for what it's worth, I'm sorry we asked you here so suddenly but this is serious," Batman told her.

"Asked, feh," Ryoko grunted. "So what's the problem? And where's the junior princess anyway?"

Dick blinked for a moment. "Junior...you mean Sasami? We asked them to leave for a moment while we talked. If you excuse me a moment ladies, I'll corral them back in."

With that, the three ladies were alone. Ryoko took it upon herself to wander about and make jokes about the decor, leaving Professor Washu and Barbara Gordon to talk at last.

"So...I hear you took on a protege!" Washu said, trying to break the ice.

"I did. Maybe you'll meet her one day...but probably you won't."

The scientist sighed and sat down for a moment. She turned her attention back to the red head and adopted a serious face. "Look, I thought you and I settled the whole 'trust' thing already. Why act so cold? I assume your hostility with our Dark Knight is not just purely because of your new Batgirl, am I right?"

"I'm not happy with his choice in allies, yes! 'Cold?' I'm acting 'cold' because I took it upon myself to do some research about you when we parted ways!" Barbara coolly told her. "I have friends in the Green Lantern Corps. who had no issue looking through your record."

"And I'm sure you'll see that the galaxy hailed me as a hero for the Kagato incident on Jurai!"

"Yes, it did, but there were other curious things too. A dimensional cannon, a universal bullet...you created weapons of mass destruction!"

Washu hand-waved the girl. "Please, I did no such thing. I created scientific advancements! It's not my fault if my material can be dangerous in the wrong hands. I think the same can be said about your boy Bruce."

"Do NOT put Bruce Wayne and you in the same category!"

"I just did! I had hoped as an intelligent woman you would understand the type of person that I am, but I see that I was mistaken," Washu said, obviously trying not to look hurt. "I try to save the galaxy on more occasions than anyone in the Galaxy Police could ever know. What do you think I've been doing in the past six months?!"

There was a silence in the room as the two ladies regarded each other. Ryoko, on the other hand, was hiding in the corner taking in every word. 'This makes this all worth it!' she thought to herself, wishing that she had some sake to make it interesting.

"While you have been here with your new Batgirl, I've had to literally send the girls back in time to clean up a lingering mess from Darkseid's machinations! Because he nearly ruined all of time and space, subspace was thrown out of whack. When that happened, a major criminal named Kain destroyed Galaxy Police Headquarters and went back in time to mess with the past! We were the only ones to notice the anomaly and saved the timeline...at the cost of Tenchi's mother..." she roared bitterly. "I may have created things that I'm not proud of, but I will never regret the technological advancements I have made. You may see me as another 'mad scientist' to lock up in Arkham Asylum, but I'd like to think I'm more than that. I expected more from you Barbara Gordon."

Barbara looked stunned at the passion of Washu's words. She really did write Washu off as an intergalactic criminal and nothing more. In fact, Barbara realized she focused more of her prejudices at her than the ACTUAL space pirate who was in the room. "I suppose...I suppose I haven't been entirely fair to you Washu, even after you helped save the planet. I'm sorry for not being trustworthy, but you have to understand. I'm the daughter of a police commissioner and a pupil of the Batman. It is second nature."

"As it should be. Look, I'm not asking you to be my best friend and go out on movie nights together or anything. I just want your trust. Nothing more, nothing less." With that, she stuck out her hand. "I've already had you shake my hand before. Willing to try again?"

She looked at the hand and had to force a smile. She took it and shook. "See, was that so hard? You can stop eavesdropping now Ryoko!"

"Oh good, you two kissed and made up?" Ryoko mocked laughing. "You all are nuts."

Barbara raised an eyebrow. "Don't think I haven't looked up your crimes too Ryoko!"

"Ack! Hey, that's no fair! Why involve me in this?!"

"You involved yourself!" Barbara smiled.

"This is why I like you Gordon!" Washu laughed, patting her on the back. "You can play with the big leagues and never back down! I love it!"

"You all repulse me," the voice of Damian Wayne echoed from the elevator. The Boy Wonder was followed by Sasami close behind him and everyone else trailing behind.

"Damian!" Sasami chided. "That's not a nice thing to say! Remember what we talked about!"

"...yes Princess," he sighed. Alfred and Dick turned and looked at each other. Alfred raised an eyebrow while Dick started to grin. Mihoshi, however, did not notice anything and ran to hug Ryoko.

The blonde beauty wrapped her arms around the space pirate and squeezed. "Oh Ryoko, welcome to America! You missed it! We saw a great musical about a girl and a dog and a bald guy!"

"Hey, let me go! Down girl! Heel!"

"Oh Mihoshi, quit it!" Kiyone ordered. With a whimper, Mihoshi let go.

"Golly Kiyone, I was just so excited to see Ryoko! You didn't have to yell!"

Rubbing her temple, Kiyone refrained from responding. "Let's get this over with, shall we?"

"Best idea I've heard yet! So why ask a beautiful lady like me to come to a country like this?"

Batman acknowledged the computer. "Mihoshi mentioned that you met a person a few months back. Not that I don't doubt Mihoshi, but I'd like secondary confirmation."

"Yeah, sure," Ryoko shrugged. "If that's all you need, let's do this."

Dick pressed a few buttons and the picture of Doctor Hurt appeared on the screen. Ryoko studied his face and realization dawned upon her. "Hey; that's the pervert at that Fortress place!"

"Pervert?" Kiyone asked. "What made him a pervert?"

"He gave off this weird vibe, like Noboyuki back in the day, but not as innocent...if you can call Noboyuki innocent. He wanted to know my name and was super interested in me..." Ryoko explained. "Who is this scumbag?"

"Not as dead as we thought, apparently," Batman said glumly. "This confirms that the Black Glove is still active."

"What kind of crappy name is that?" Ryoko snorted.

"I have a question!" Mihoshi asked.

They all waited for Mihoshi to speak. "So who is this guy?"

"MIHOSHI! We discussed this already!" Kiyone yelled.

"He claims to be my grandfather," Damian scowled. "He's an ant that needs to be stepped..." He stopped and saw that Sasami was shaking her head disapprovingly. "...he's a criminal that needs to face justice to clear my family name." The pink eyed princess was now smiling that infamous smile of her's.

Ryoko tried to hold back laughter but failed to do so completely. "This is rich!"

"What is Ryoko?" Mihoshi asked.

"I'll tell you when you are older!"

Damian flashed Ryoko a death glare. "Say ANYTHING of that nature and I'll bash your face in!"

"Aaaaanyway," Washu said, trying to change the subject. "So your boy Hurt is alive...saved by Superman in his effort to allow humanity to survive apparently. Guess that narrows down who El Penitente is and who's behind that viral attack you were talking about. I'll take a look at that after I do what you all asked me to do. Where is he?"

"Wait, was that all you needed of me? Damn it Washu, I thought you might need me to bust some heads or something!" Ryoko complained.

"Shut up Ryoko, I'm working. When I finish examining the corpse, I'll bring you back. Don't worry, Tenchi hasn't come home from school yet."

"Since you will be here for some time Miss Ryoko, would you like some tea?" Alfred asked. "I prepared some upstairs and can easily make you a cup."

"Sure Jeeves, why not?" Ryoko sighed. "Might as well show me around. It's not like I had plans for today or anything."

"I can help too! I love helping with tea!" Mihoshi chimed in. Nobody disagreed.

The three individuals left together on the elevator while Batman opened up a secret compartment in the corner of the Bunker.

"Boy, she's a barrel of sunshine," Barbara commented.

"I can tell you stories," Kiyone whispered.

"Sealed vault!" A mechanical voice echoed off the walls. "Speak the password carefully!"

"Zur-En-Arrh"

A metal door creaked open as the contents of the vault were revealed to all of those present: a corpse dressed up in a most familiar costume:

The corpse of Bruce Wayne.

A collective chorus of gasps filled the air as the ladies laid eyes on the deceased body. Damian, who had seen the corpse before, merely turned away. It was clear he did not want to see his father like this.

Washu went up to the body and started to type on her portable computer. "Now then Mister Grayson, Brucie here managed to leave a very detailed map of his body on the Bat-Computer. I can see why you called him 'crazy prepared.' If there is no damage to Bruce Wayne's corpse, he will no doubt pass every test that I throw at him." She gave Mihoshi a long look. "I will require some semblance of silence while I work. You all do not have to leave, but please at least be considerate."

Dick stared intently at the woman as she started to work diligently. Kiyone wished that she could do something, anything to make this easier for him. Then she turned to look at Damian and was surprised at what she saw. Sasami was talking to the boy, but in a consoling way. Damian, amazingly, was receptive to it and seemed to be taking it rather well. 'Sasami...' Kiyone thought to herself, smiling at the young girl. Finally, she turned to Barbara, who was also watching the display with great interest.

"I have never seen him act this way," Barbara whispered to herself.

"Sasami has that effect on people. She's probably the most genuinely kind person I know in all of the galaxy."

"I wouldn't doubt it."

"Hmm..." Washu muttered. "Dickie, you just wanted me to check on the condition of the corpse, correct?"

"Yes Miss Washu, I did."

The woman stared at her computer and then again at the corpse. "This data is very interesting...very interesting indeed."

"Stop with your games woman!" Damian interjected. "What is wrong with father?"

"Superman was right; this corpse does have the DNA of Bruce Wayne. He has every broken bone and injury that he had. The problem comes from the actual chemical makeup of the corpse."

"I don't follow."

Washu pulled up a genetic map of Bruce Wayne, followed by the genetic map of the corpse. "If I were to overlap these two together, they would be identical. The issue is not about genetics, but rather a rare chemical. Kiyone, do you recall our little adventure to Bluddhaven?"

The officer nodded her head. "It's kind of hard to forget."

"What did we encounter there besides Darkseid and the computer terminal?"

She thought about it for a moment. Finally, realization set in and she opened her mouth in surprise. "You don't mean...?"

"Mean what Kiyone?" Sasami asked.

"There were clones," Kiyone whispered. "Clones of Bruce Wayne...are you suggesting?"

"Bingo!" Washu announced. "I took a small sample of the clones for testing and there was an oddity in the genetic makeup of the brain. It is only visible if you were to look for it. Kal-El probably has never encountered it before and glanced over it. He was looking for the bruises and injuries and would have chalked the anomaly to remnants of Darkseid's attack. Those clones killed themselves, and were not killed by Darkseid, thus that anomaly would not be present if it were brought about by Darkseid."

The silence in the Bat-Bunker was intense. Dick nearly collapsed in to the floor, but caught his balance before he looked like a fool. "I would have done anything for Bruce...for Batman. You're saying this isn't him?"

"That is exactly what I am saying," Washu explained. "If you had put this...clone into a Lazarus Pit, he would not have become Bruce Wayne, but rather the monster that killed himself."

"Father...is alive?" Damian asked, clearly in shock. "But where is he? Why was he not in Bluddhaven?"

"Tim Drake theorized he was stuck in time," Dick reminded him. "I guess he was right."

"You would believe the rantings of a fool in mourning?! What evidence did he present? A cave drawing? Come on now!"

"Hold on," Washu interjected. "You said time? You think he was forcibly sent to the past?"

"That's what Tim Drake said," Dick elaborated. "He went on a worldwide trek to prove that point. He only returned recently, but we only barely talked. We were kind of attacked by ninjas. True story."

"Ninjas?" Sasami squealed. "That sounds amazing!"

"We were pretty amazing, if I do say so myself," Damian smiled smugly. "Grandfather didn't know what hit him."

"If we were to check the area in Bluddhaven where Darkseid was killed, we might be able to find additional proof. If there is a concentration of tachyons in the air, it might suggest time travel. It is hard to say with New Gods," Washu was saying to herself. "Damn it, I guess this is a job for Superman."

"What?" Kiyone asked. "You don't think that you can handle this by yourself? That's not like you!"

"Traveling back in time, no problem. We all know that I can manage that. The question is where and why. I don't have access to that data, but if anyone could, it would be Superman."

"You know you don't have to..." Dick started, but Washu cut him off.

"I don't HAVE to do anything," Washu waved her finger. "I promised you I would help out no matter what. This is just the next logical step. What can I say? I'm a woman of my word. Right Barbara?"

"I suppose you are, Professor Hakubi."

"Atta girl!"

"But wait, what about us?" Kiyone asked earnestly. "Are we all going back in time again too?"

"Heavens no! I'll relay the information and will probably be back here in a jiffy. I guess I'll bring Ryoko back too, just to keep her happy. Do you all want to join her?"

"No!" Sasami cried. "I like it here! We didn't even see Zorro yet!"

Dick cocked his head slightly. "Zorro?"

"Mr. Pennyworth told us we could watch it," Sasami explained meekly. "He told us it was Mr. Wayne's favorite movie!"

"That is was Princess that it was."

A clicking sound was heard and the sound of metal on metal flowed through the Bunker. Alfred had returned with Ryoko, clearly bringing tea with him. He distributed cups to everyone who wanted it and started to pour.

"Sasami, Jeeves here might have you beat with tea!" Ryoko drank deep. "That's some good stuff!"

"Earl Grey straight from England Miss Ryoko," "Jeeves" told her. "My personal favorite if I had to say."

"Alfie..we need to talk..." Dick started slowly. As the words came out of his mouth, Alfred was thankful that he was no longer holding any tea cups in his hand as he dropped his tray. Dick, using his keen reflexes, grabbed it before it hit the floor.

"You must forgive me Master Richard. That is most unbecoming for one in my profession. This is quite the shock!"

"Don't have a heart attack on us Pennyworth," Damian chided.

Ryoko downed her tea in one final gulp. "So good for you all, but what about me? I don't want Ayeka to have even a second with my Tenchi all to herself!"

"Spare me," Damian gagged. Sasami giggled to herself.

"I'll get you back Ryoko, don't worry. What about you all?" Washu asked earnestly. "You all don't have to return back just now, but the offer still stands."

"Don't leave on our account," Dick reminded them. "You all have been a great help so far. It's good to get a new set of eyes on the situation. Do you have any objections Damian?"

The Boy Wonder thought about it for a moment and rolled his eyes. "If you must keep all of these horrible people around, I suppose I will allow it."

"Yay! We get to stay!" Sasami cheered. She hugged Damian, who tried to push her off. "Unhand me woman!"

"It IS nice to have some new blood around," Alfred admitted. "What are your thoughts Miss Barbara? You are just as much family here as Master Richard."

The red head smiled. "I don't have a problem. I'm sure we can find something to keep you all occupied. It can be fun."

"Then it's decided!" Washu clapped her hands. "Come on Ryoko, let's go! I've got to go to the Arctic and talk to a Kryptonian."

After petting Ryo-Ohki for a moment, Ryoko gave a simple wave and wandered through the doorway created by Washu. With that the pair vanished and the Bat-Bunker was now unusually quiet.

"So...what now?" Kiyone asked.

The various people in the Bunker waited for someone to think of a good idea. Dick looked to Alfred and threw his hands up. "Ice cream and a movie? We can even call Tim over to tell him the good news."

"Yay...but who's Tim?"

*TGSTGE*

Back at the Masaki house, Ayeka was in the kitchen struggling to read a cookbook. "Now let's see, if I was to add these pieces of meat to these noodles, the balance would be perfect and the broth would taste heavenly!"

She started to chop up meat and stuck it in her bowl. She then poured a bunch of noodles on top of it and began to add hot water. Humming to herself, the Princess broke her set of chop sticks and stirred it around. Finally, she set her bowl down and knelt on her placemat.

"This looks perfect! I will test its taste to make sure Lord Tenchi will love it!" Ayeka seemed rather pleased with herself. She took her chop sticks and brought some of the noodles and meat to her mouth. At once, she started to gag uncontrollably. "What did I do wrong?! I followed the instructions perfectly!"

"Did you actually cook the meat?"

Ayeka was not surprised to hear Washu and Ryoko return but was annoyed that they chose this time to interrupt her, especially as she was hoping to use this time to get the advantage in her quest to make Tenchi her beloved. "Oh, it's you. How was your American vacation Ryoko? See the sights?"

"Oh I saw sights all right. Sights that would turn your purple hair grey," Ryoko teased.

Ayeka looked intrigued and was willing to take the bait. "I don't suppose you would be willing to share said information now would you?"

"Would you believe that Sasami might have found a boyfriend?" Ryoko smiled like a cheshire cat.

"Preposterous! She has not been there long enough for such behaviors to occur! Who is this boy?"

Ryoko started to chuckle and laugh. "The Boy Blunder!"

Ayeka's eyebrow twitched as she realized exactly what her rival had told her. "I will not allow it! Miss Washu, send me to America RIGHT NOW!" she ordered. However, Washu was nowhere to be found. "Miss Washu? Miss Washu!"

"Looks like your ride is cancelled Princess!" Ryoko roared with laughter. "This is great!"

"Miss Ryoko, this is nothing to jest at! If you think I will allow my sister to get involved with a boy who wields knives as playthings you have another thing coming to you! We are returning to America post haste!"

The space pirate wiped away a tear. "And how are you going to get to America little princess?"

"We will do as the Earthlings do and take a plane!"

"Do you have any idea how you will do that? You don't have any Earth money!"

Ayeka was at a loss for words.

*TGSTGE*

"So you are saying that the corpse I found was one of Bruce's clones? Why would he do that?" Superman was asking the pink haired scientist. The two had remained on friendly terms, as that had been Superman's way all of his life, but this was the first time the two worked together directly on a case.

"Not sure big guy. Perhaps Brucie being sent back to the past was some kind of trap to destroy the planet if Darkseid lost," Washu postulated.

The Man of Steel nodded. "You are suggesting that Bruce was his backup plan. Darkseid would be the kind of God who would attempt to make sure there would be no flaws in his plan. He considered every possibility. What do you suggest we do?"

"Honestly? I suggest we go and check out the area where Bruce was 'killed.' There might be an tachyon trail that can pinpoint us at least to the general time that he was sent to. It's a long shot, but it may work."

"Good idea. I'll get a few people to work on this. I'd appreciate it if you came along as well Professor."

"You want to assemble a team of Time Masters and think to include little old me? I'm flattered!"

*TGSTGE*

"I've heard about you all but I've yet to meet any of you. I have to say, you are all a lot different than what I was picturing," Timothy Drake was telling the girls.

The former Boy Wonder had managed to come by the Penthouse per Alfred's request. He hard dark hair and was slightly tall, but not as tall as Dick. He did not wear his costume at this time and was lounging around in a pair of jeans and a tee shirt.

"Sorry to disappoint you!" Mihoshi bowed. Kiyone elbowed her. "What'd you do that for Kiyone?"

"He was just being polite!"

"So," Tim started as he passed a bowl of popcorn to Sasami, who eagerly tried it with great curiosity. "I hear you all have finally realized I was right."

"Don't brag Drake," Damian jeered. "It's not becoming of you."

"Smooth words for a killer," Tim shot back.

"Boys, this is a celebratory night, not one for bickering!" Alfred curtly told them, diffusing the situation. "We now have proof that Master Bruce is alive! This is marvelous."

"How did you know he was still around Mister Drake?" Sasami asked.

"A portrait," Tim explained. "One of the Wayne portraits looked exactly like Bruce. I knew it had to be him. I knew he had to be there. Finding the paintings in the caves was just the confirmation I was looking for!"

"Tim, you mean at the manor?" Dick inquired. "Which picture?"

"The one labeled Mordecai Wayne. I did some research and it was a later addition to the gallery. That tipped me off."

"Let's assume that your crackpot theory were true Drake," Damian started. "Couldn't Father have fought his way home and is in the present? Perhaps he is changed or disfigured!"

"There is that possibility, I'll give that to you," Tim acknowledged. "But I wouldn't be too sure."

"Why don't you all just look at the manor then?" Mihoshi asked absentmindedly while eating every last bit of the food.

"What? What did you say Mihoshi?" Dick countered.

The blonde started to twirl a braid of her hair. "Well, why haven't you gone to check the mansion yourself? Maybe you can find a clue or something?"

"Damn it! I hate it when she's right!" Damian cursed.

"Mihoshi, you are a genius!" Dick exclaimed merrily. "That's a fantastic idea! If Bruce is stuck in the past and was aware enough to leave behind a prehistoric Bat-Signal, perhaps he left clues elsewhere!"

Alfred rubbed his chin and considered it. "Wayne Manor has been in use for over 200 years and the caves below are believed to have been around since the Stone Age. It stands to reason that Master Bruce could have had a hand in its design, if these theories were true."

"Well what are we waiting for? Let's go to Wayne Manor!" Damian said, punching his hand into his fist.

Dick shook his head. "We aren't going anywhere Tiger. We promised these ladies a movie night and I intend to keep that promise. I also don't think a potentially booby-trapped mansion is the safest place for a young princess."

"Or Mihoshi," Kiyone whispered to herself.

"Besides, don't you have a big meeting tomorrow morning with Lucius Fox and the Board of Directors at Wayne Enterprises?"

Damian's eye twitched. "You mean the incongruities with the finances? Fine, I am merely impatient. Still, it is better that I get my rest. I will also be taking the time tomorrow to challenge Drake's claim as Father's legal heir."

"Good luck with that!" Tim goaded.

"I can kill you where you stand Drake!"

"Not in front of your girlfriend you won't!"

"SHE'S NOT MY...!"

"Whelp," Barbara said, finishing her cup of tea. "This night is turning out just like I expected it."

Dick started to rub his temples. Clearly he was stressed out, but yet, he could not help but smile. 'Bruce is alive!'

'But will we find him?'

*TGSTGE*

Sasami yawned as she woke up in a guest room the next morning. She had such a great time the night before that she didn't mind waking up early. She turned and saw a sleeping ball of fur beside her.

"Wake up Ryo-Ohki! Mr. Pennyworth told me I can cook any time I want! I want to surprise everyone with a good breakfast!"

The cabbit wiped at her eye and meowed softly. "Get up sleepyhead! Let's go!"

She ran down the stairs and made her way into the kitchen. She started humming to herself but stopped dead in her tracks. Ryo-Ohki cocked her head around as well. "Hello? Is anyone there?"

"A most perceptive child. It is amazing how easily the circus acrobat can find strays," an older female voice stated from the shadows. "Please don't scream; it's far too early."

Sasami approached the voice cautiously. She made sure to mask her Juraian energy and found herself facing a mysterious woman. She had dark brown hair and a different complexion than most of the other Earthlings she encountered. Innocently, she put on a happy face. "Hello; I didn't know company was being expected. My name is Sasami, who are you?"

The woman smiled and Sasami felt her eyes piercing her body, examining every inch to discern who she was. "You have good manners young Sasami. You may address me as Lady Talia."

"Talia? Oh! You are Damian's mom!" Sasami bowed in respect. "It is an honor to meet you."

Talia returned it. "A young Japanese woman...are you part of that unnatural superhero community as well?"

"No Lady Talia, I am merely visiting as a friend of your son."

"A friend?" Talia raised an eyebrow. "As a courtesy of your respect, I will gladly explain to you the simple truth: you must know that Damian has no time for friends. All of this is merely a phase that will pass in time. Damian will do great things in this world as a new Alexander."

The words hit Sasami like Tenchi's boken. She had come to consider Damian as a friend, one of the only Earth boys she knew. Her mind drifted to the first time she met him, upset about how the most important person of his life was not there for him. She could tell he was crushed.

Yet, here she was and Sasami knew he would be crushed to see her.

"Honorable Lady, I don't understand."

"Nor would I expect you to child. Damian belongs to another world than you do. He is too big for you."

"But you don't even know me! How can you think of me like that? I just want to be his friend!"

Talia gave the girl a venomous glare. Clearly her opinion of Sasami had plummeted. "My Damian was bred to genetic perfection, not to some Japanese Shinto priest!"

The elevator door suddenly opened. The two women looked to it and listened intently to the conversation that was taking place.

"Pennyworth, I can assure you that my attire is up to company standards. This is a board meeting, not a circus. I..." Damian Wayne stopped and observed Talia and Sasami engaging each other. "Mother...what are you doing here?"

"You invited me here, my son. Don't you remember your call, when you refused my medical aid? You had me so worried," Talia soothed. "I was just talking to this girl who seems to think that you are friends. Where do you think she got this childish notion?"

"Mother, who I choose to associate with is of my concern and my concern alone. Do you not confer with assassins and Nazis and other war criminals?"

"My choice of business associates is not the matter at hand here. The matter is you squandering your potential here in this city playing in tights with a circus oaf when you should be striding across the world like the conqueror you were born to be!" Talia ordered. "It breaks my heart to see you this way."

Damian strode up to her and stood his ground. "This girl is not the issue here Mother. I choose to spend my time with Dick Grayson and Princess Sasami then I will do so!"

Talia set her gaze back to Sasami. "Princess? I have heard of no such princess..."

"She's an alien mother! Does it really matter? Does MY choice matter? Don't you care about what I want?"

The Al Ghul woman chuckled. "Oh Damian, this is all about me and what I want. I'm too much of a perfectionist to be any different. I just want you to want what I want, can't you see that? These people do not care about you, the real you. They want to hold you back and brainwash you into being their mindless puppet."

The boy sighed and collected himself. Sasami wished more than anything to reach out to him, to tell him that people did care about him, but she knew that this was Damian's fight. Alfred, who had remained silent throughout the entire conversation, put his hand on her shoulder to tell her the same thing. "Isn't that the same thing you want for me?" he finally said. "There is nothing more to be said Mother. This is the life I have chosen and these are the people I have allowed to surround myself with. Even if Father comes back and asks me not to be Robin anymore, I will still take pride in what I have done. Can't you just be happy for me?"

Talia's eyes narrowed into slits. "No Dami, I cannot. I would have given you the world, but if that is your choice, so be it. I will always love you in my own way, but you will consider yourself an enemy of the House of Al Ghul."

The pain in Damian's eyes could not be hidden as he was not wearing his domino mask. He returned her gaze and nodded. "Very well Mother...I hope I can be a worthy one."

With that, Talia got up and walked toward the elevator. "Mr. Pennyworth, I will allow you to see me out." She passed Sasami without even acknowledging her and waited for Alfred to escort her off the premises.

"It would be my pleasure Miss Talia. Damian, when I return I will prepare a hearty breakfast so you will be well nourished for your meeting."

It was only when the elevator door closed that Damian allowed himself to collapse in Sasami's arms, letting out the tears that he held back for so long. Sasami could not do anything but pat his head and be there for him.
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by drillmaster
#29350 Ch. 14: No Need for Feelings

"He said that? Damn, she's not going to be happy," Dick Grayson said after nearly spitting up his coffee.

Dick and Kiyone had finally rolled out of bed a little after Damian had left with Alfred for his meeting. In order to keep herself calm, Sasami got Alfred's blessing to cook a hearty breakfast. She had finally finished making her first ever omelets and sat down with her two companions.

"She didn't seem happy about it, no she didn't," the young girl moped.

"Sasami, try to understand that Talia is crazy. She comes from a world where human lives are merely some kind of ladder to further her own agenda. Damian is just one more step on the ladder," Dick tried to explain. "Don't take it personally."

Kiyone gave her a quick one armed hug. "Please kid, you don't have to worry about anything. I guarantee he doesn't think less of you. Honestly, it's pretty obvious that he's got it bad."

"Got what bad Kiyone?" Sasami asked innocently.

"You know...'it.' He's got a crush on you!"

The comment caused Sasami to stop attempting to use a fork, which intrigued her, and to blink for a few seconds. Then she started to giggle and blush. "He can't have a crush on me! We are just friends...could he?"

Dick threw his hands up theatrically. "The young are so blind! Since he met you, he's calmed down on his angry instincts a lot. The past day he seems like a whole new person. You got through his walls Princess and showed him what life could really be about...or I'm just misreading this and should be very embarrassed."

The trio laughed at the comment and returned to their breakfast. Kiyone, noticing Sasami staring out into space, figured it might be a good time to discuss some important matters. "So what is the game plan tonight?"

"I don't make plans," Dick admitted. "I'm more of an improv guy. You know, circus roots. Still, I talked it with Barbara and I've got a good idea for what our Sasami here can do tonight."

"Really? What is it?"

"I think it's time that you experienced a good old fashioned American sleep over."

*TGSTGE*

Later that day, Damian had returned to the Penthouse a different man. His meeting with the board of directors allowed him to discover several possible leads to the incongruities, including something most disturbing:

"Between my suggestions and Fox's resources, we pinpointed the problem. There was an accident fund set up for railroad victims in the name of Thomas Wayne," Damian was explaining to Dick Grayson in a private meeting down below. "Ring any bells Grayson?"

He nodded bitterly, piecing the clues together. "Railroad...as in a Mexican Train. Dr. Hurt practically signed his handiwork. Amazing; the Black Glove is actually financed by Bruce's money. He's going to be livid once he finds out the truth."

"We will savor that moment when we discover Father. I don't see Drake anywhere so there is at least something to be thankful about today," he forced a laugh, but was clearly not into it.

Dick squirmed around in his chair as he chose his next words carefully. "Heard about your mom. That couldn't have been fun to hear."

"*tt* Mother...if she cannot accept me for who I am then what kind of a Mother is she anyway? I wasn't even formally introduced to her for years. I've gotten more parenting from Pennyworth than her."

"To be fair, I think we all can consider Alfred the parent of the century. You holding up okay?"

Damian looked up at the ceiling of the Bat-Bunker and nodded. "What do you think will happen when Father returns? We can't be Batman and Robin anymore, can we?"

The current Caped Crusader breathed in and let out a big sigh. "Hard to tell. Odds are I'll go back to being Nightwing. Still, that doesn't mean you can't be Robin. Father and son fighting crime...criminals are doomed!"

"I appreciate the sentiment Grayson, but I'm being serious," Damian looked to him. Dick could see the fear in his eyes, the sadness and the deep settling anxiety. "I've given up everything for this life. What happens if Father returns and I have nothing?"

"What about her?"

"Who?"

"Stop playing around; you know who I'm talking about. Ye big and blue pigtails? Has a triforce on her forehead?"

Damian crossed his arms and scowled. "I have no idea what you are talking about."

"Damian, remember that I'm playing the part of 'World's Greatest Detective.' It's kind of my job to be observant. Have you even talked to her yet?"

It was now Damian's turn to blush. "The Princess is...is someone who I trust. Nothing more."

"Sure about that?"

"That is between me and her Richard!" Damian quickly shouted. The use of his first name was not lost on Dick: he struck a nerve. "Besides, she is an alien princess, I am the partner of a circus clown. You know that she has her responsibilities to uphold and I would not fall into that category."

"Tell that to Tenchi."

"He has royal alien blood!"

"Ayeka didn't know that before she professed her love...or so I'm told," Dick pointed out.

His eyebrow twitching, Damian made the move to walk away. "Don't you have a meeting with that writer?"

"I do. I guess I'll leave you be. Meet me at the Manor later. I'm sending Sasami with Barbara for the night, so don't worry about her."

Damian nodded as Dick put on his costume and headed toward the Batmobile. "Grayson!"

"Yes Boy Wonder?"

"Do..." He started. "Do you really think she would forgive me for Mother's attitude?"

The Batman smiled. "Undoubtedly old chum."

*TGSTGE*

As the day progressed, Mihoshi finally joined the others in the land of the living. It was clear she was getting used to the time zone adjustments, but Kiyone could not help but be embarrassed.

"Do you have any idea what time it is here?" Kiyone grouchily told her and she raised the fridge.

"I told you Kiyone, I'm sorry! I don't set an alarm and these beds are so much comfier than our futons!"

"True as that may be, you've wasted half of the day already! It's rude and frankly I'm embarrassed! How can you call yourself a Galaxy Police Officer?"

Mihoshi laughed. "Silly Kiyone, you know I'm a Galaxy Police Officer! That was a silly question!"

"I'm serious! Mihoshi, we have to be able to rely on each other! If I can't rely on you, what kind of partners are we anyway?"

"Kiyone!"

"I'm sorry Mihoshi, but we've been roped into a very serious case with very different criminals than even we are used to. This is something out of a manga! If I can try to learn more about this culture that you find fascinating, I would hope that you would try to take this more seriously!"

Tears started to form in Mihoshi's eyes. Kiyone knew she was reacting a bit harder than usual, but between the stressful day the day before and feeling bad for Damian, her ability to sympathize was wearing thin.

"Mihoshi, how about this: why don't you go to Yagami and patrol for me? The subspace linkup can connect to here so you don't have to worry. It'll do you some good."

"But," Mihoshi sniffled. "But I go on patrol with you...as partners!"

"I've got to help Dick check for clues at the old mansion. You might set off one of El Sombrero's traps. It's only for today!" Kiyone tried to explain.

"But what if you set off a trap Kiyone? Who will look after you?"

The detective put a smile on her face. "Hey, I've got Batman to back me up. I think I'll be okay. When this is all over Mihoshi, we can go to our favorite karaoke bar...and I'll buy you that stuffed dog you always see in that dingy toy shop in Tokyo."

Smiling through the tears, Mihoshi nodded and saluted. Kiyone returned it. The blonde started to mess with her control cube, which she carried on her at all times, and managed to change into her uniform.

Kiyone brought her down into the Bat-Bunker where she knew there would be a good place to link to Yagami, their patrol ship. They passed Damian, who seemed lost in thought.

"Oh, it's you. Where are you going?" He asked. It wasn't an attack like usual; rather, he seemed genuinely interested.

"I'm going on patrol in space!" Mihoshi put on a big smile.

He blinked and shook his head. "Aliens..."

Kiyone took the control cube from Mihoshi and turned it a few times. With a "ping," a glowing hole appeared. Inside the hole was the cockpit of their ship.

"I'll...miss you Kiyone!" Mihoshi was clearly doing her best not to cry. Again.

"I'll miss you too. If you are hungry, we should have some of Sasami's soup in the storage container. Don't eat it now! Save it for later!"

"Okay! Good bye Kiyone! Good bye Damian! Don't fall into any traps!" She cried as she went through the door. The portal closed behind her, leaving only Damian and Kiyone in the Bunker.

"Where'd Dick go? I thought we were going to the Mansion in a few hours."

"Grayson is visiting Oberon Sexton," Damian explained nonchalantly.

"That writer he was talking about last night?"

"The same. Calls himself 'The Gravedigger,' or something like that."

Something about that name bothered Kiyone. 'Oberon...where have I heard that name before?' "Mind if I use the Bat-Computer to do some research? I want to be prepared for later."

"Be my guest. Say, have you seen the Princess around?"

"Oh, Barbara is coming any minute now to pick her up. If you want that goodbye kiss, now's the time!"

"Officer Makibi, you make my blood boil sometimes, you know that?" Damian informed her as the he made his way toward the elevator.

Kiyone couldn't help but smile at the boy. Dick was right: he really had changed in six months. 'I wonder how much of that is Sasami and how much of that is Dick?' Kiyone thought to herself. Alone in the Bat-Bunker, she cracked her knuckles and started typing.

"If I'm going to be a part of this world, it's high time I start thinking like it. Let's see what I can find about the name Oberon..."

*TGSTGE*

Waiting for Barbara to pick her up at the Wayne Penthouse, Sasami could not help herself but swim about in the several thoughts that were floating around in her head. She had been caught off guard earlier when Kiyone and Dick told her about Damian and she really did not know what to do about it.

'On one hand, Damian may have a crush on me, but is that just because I was here for him when his mother wasn't? On the other hand, do I just like Damian because I see that he is a good person on the inside, or do I really LIKE him?' She asked herself.

'Does he know anything about me at all?'

"Still here I see," a voice caused her to snap out of her thoughts. Unsurprisingly, it was the object of her concern.

"Hello Damian," Sasami replied. "Are you okay?"

"Yes..." Damian replied very fast. "Princess Sasami, I would like to apologize for..."

"Stop it! You defended me and you want to apologize?" Sasami chuckled. "You are a weird boy aren't you Damian?"

"*tt* I'll never concede to that Princess," Damian said with a slight smile. "May I ask you a question?"

"Sure!"

"You once asked me if I enjoy being Robin. Here is my follow up question: do you actually enjoy being a princess?"

"It's not what you would expect it to be," Sasami admitted. "I always have to be so proper and polite all the time."

Damian looked genuinely surprised. "So I was wrong about you? You aren't naturally this peppy all the time?"

"No silly, I am! But I have to be held to a higher standard to others on Jurai. I used to cut school all the time to play in the gardens, but the nobles would always find me and scold me," she elaborated. "I think that's why Ayeka and I like Earth so much. We can be who we really are here without having to be judged."

The Boy Wonder started to laugh. It wasn't a condescending laugh like he typically would do, but a genuine one. Sasami was slightly taken back by it. "What's so funny?"

"You! I would never have pictured you to defy your parents' orders! It's...it's refreshing. I was afraid there wasn't anything beyond the surface besides smiles and sunshine," Damian grinned. "You are a good person Sasami Jurai."

"So you think you know everything beyond the surface of me?" Sasami playfully asked.

"Not even close. Maybe when all of this is over you..." Damian stammered, sweat forming on his brow. "What I mean is...would you permit me the honor of discussing it over dinner and a movie? Maybe in Japan."

The air from the room left in an instant. Sasami turned bright red. Damian turned a brighter shade of it. It was impossible to read the girl, but Damian was starting to panic. It was clear he had never been this open about his feelings before.

"That was stupid..." Damian Wayne started to whisper to himself before she put her finger on his lips. The girl nodded and smiled.

"It's a date."

"A...yes a date. We will discuss it with Pennyworth when we bring down Dr. Hurt. A pleasant talk Sasami," Damian said with a nervous bow. "Enjoy your evening with the cr...with Gordon. I must be off and meet Grayson at Father's mansion."

With that, the boy ran out of the room, leaving a blushing Sasami at the door. A moment later, Alfred walked through the door and saw the sight.

"Miss Sasami, are you well? You look like you are going to faint?"

Sasami started to laugh like a little Earth girl. "No I'm fine Mr. Pennyworth. It's...well..."

"I do not need to pry Miss Sasami," he smiled knowingly with a wink. "Miss Gordon will be pulling up any moment. I believe a night of revelry is planned between you and Miss Brown."

"You mean Batgirl, sir?"

"The same. Master Dick did say he wanted you to experience a true American sleepover."

She left the room to collect her bags. With a smile, she started to call Ryo-Ohki. She couldn't wait to tell her everything that just happened.

*TGSTGE*

"Miss Makibi, how goes your research?" Alfred asked as he stepped out of the elevator into the Bat-Bunker. He made his way toward the detective sergeant, who had notes sprawling everywhere on the computer desk. "It seems as if you are making quite a mess. I suppose my job will remain secure."

"Alfred!" Kiyone jumped, sending her papers every which way. "I didn't hear you come in!"

"If there is one thing that I am used to, it is heroes deep in thought. You fit right in here."

"You mean that?" the frazzled detective asked. "I mean, I'm not a hero; I'm just doing my job."

"And doing a bloody good job at it I'd imagine. What are you researching? Wayne Manor? That awful Hurt fellow?"

"Actually, Oberon Sexton. You know, the writer."

"Indeed? That is surprising. What exactly are you researching?"

Kiyone searched through her notes for a piece of paper. While she searched, she started to speak. "You were an English actor, were you not?"

"I was."

"Are you familiar with the works of William Shakespeare? Damn it, where is it!" she added to herself.

"I would hope that I was!"

"Well last year, Nobuyuki took the house to see a play as a favor to one of his coworkers. It was called A Midsummer Night's Dream. Shall I assume you are familiar with the tale?"

"Assume away, though that comedy has become rather amusing in hindsight after actually meeting Queen Hippolyta and her daughter."

"I'd imagine. Anyway, the fairy king is called Oberon, right? I knew I heard that name somewhere and here it is!" Kiyone enthusiastically explained. "I've been research Oberon himself and discovered something interesting. Did you know that another word for fairies is actually fey?"

"I did. What is the significance of that?"

"This is the big clue!" Kiyone told him. "If he is the King of the Fairies that would make him the King of the Feys!"

Alfred blinked and thought about it. "A Fey King? I don't follow." Suddenly, everything came to him at once. "A Fey King! As in 'faking!'"

"Exactly! And according to various interviews, our writer calls himself 'The Gravedigger.'"

"And gravediggers in Shakespearean plays are called fools or clowns! My word!"

"There is only one issue with your little theory," the voice of Damian called out. The boy was now in costume, waiting to leave for his father's house. "He's an established writer! He published books! His wife was actually killed!"

At once, Kiyone's smile dropped into a frown. "But isn't this the kind of convoluted clue that your enemies would typically do? It was perfect! I even had a theory that HE was actually that Domino Killer you are after because of his close connection to the case and the sick joke of your domino mask!"

"The theory does seem logical Master a Damian," Alfred pointed out. "It is the sort of thing that madman would do."

"Well, then what's his endgame? He's literally talking to Grayson right now. What possible reason would he have to laugh at us like that?"

Kiyone swiveled the chair from side to side in thought. "The Black Glove!"

"Excuse me?"

"All the murders in your domino case prior to coming to Gotham were wealthy businessmen. I'd bet anything they were part of The Black Glove! You all said that he is on bad terms with them; maybe this is his elaborate revenge!"

"You are far more excited than you have my reason to be Makibi. Your theory relies on too much coincidences..." Damian told her, but it didn't sound like he bought it completely.

"Well, we can run it by Dick later and see what he thinks. Don't we have a mansion to search?"

"Indeed we do. Are you all prepared to go?" Alfred asked.

"I'm driving," Damian said without hesitation.

"You most certainly will not!"

*TGSTGE*

In deep space, Mihoshi mad managed to arrest an intergalactic biker gang all by herself and had even helped catch a pet Mitsuki that was dropped out in an escape pod accidentally. Though Mihoshi felt proud of doing all of these things on her own, it just was not the same without Kiyone.

Alone in space, Mihoshi was lost in her own set of thoughts and feelings. 'Oh what am I going to do? Kiyone is mad at me and thinks I'm an embarrassment! If only she saw that I did all of these things today!'

She looked at a picture she kept of the two of them on her controls. She never noticed it before, but Kiyone looked a little annoyed in it. Mihoshi had always thought that it was a nice picture of them, but now she second guessed herself.

'What can I do to make her happy? Should I leave her alone in Gotham to enjoy herself?' she thought.

It made sense. Mihoshi could clearly see that Kiyone was just starting to finally get into the world of heroes like Mihoshi was. However, Mihoshi enjoyed them at a fan level, while Kiyone seemed to just view it as another case. Why couldn't she just see the world as Mihoshi did?

"Wait, I am a Detective Sergeant in the Galaxy Police! I bring down wanted criminals all the time, including without Kiyone! I'll show her that I'm not an embarrassment! I will go and help her out! I...I...I'll just get in the way!" she started to break down again. "What do I do? What do I do? I wish I could talk to someone about this, like Tenchi's grandpa or..."

Suddenly, an idea popped in her head. "I know what to do!" With that, she punched in a few coordinates and made her way to the planet Earth. She was a woman on a mission: Mihoshi had a plan and was going to stick to it...no matter the cost.
User avatar
by drillmaster
#29379 *With this chapter, we are about to enter Batman and Robin Must Die and Return of Bruce Wayne territory*

Ch. 15: No Need for Wayne Manor

The sun had started to set when Dick Grayson saw the familiar headlights of the Batmobile. Inside he could make out the forms of Damian, Kiyone, and Alfred. He was confused as to why Mihoshi was not there but he assumed there was a good reason for it. He had only just arrived from Oberon Sexton's apartment and his mind was already filled with questions.

"Find the place okay Alfie?" Dick asked with a smile.

"It's always hard to tell one ancestral home from another Master Dick. Was your meeting productive?"

"Honestly, he was saying things that made me start thinking. I'm not sure if he is on the level with us..."

Kiyone jumped on that thread immediately. "I agree! I was doing some research and I think that I know who he actually is. I think he's..."

"We will talk later Kiyone. I'm fairly confident you and I have come to the same conclusion but perhaps from different angels. I'm looking forward to it, but right now, lets get some information to send to the Justice League."

She nodded and the group entered the main hall of the Mansion. Though it was a lot cleaner than what it was when Kiyone was last there, it still did not seem to be completely in order. The lights were completely off and Alfred illuminated the way with candles.

"Just as a precaution. I am unsure if all of the booby traps left here were disarmed. Master Bruce would want us to have an air of caution in this situation."

"Agreed."

Damian looked around the room. "So where do we begin Grayson? This was your bright idea..."

"I thought it was Mihoshi's."

"Details!"

"Well," Alfred began. "If Master Bruce was stuck in time, he might have had a chance to plant clues here, as Miss Mihoshi suggested. We cannot talk to him from the past, but HE can talk to us, through the architecture. Now, earlier today while Master Damian was at his meeting, I took the liberty of visiting the mansion to follow Master Timothy's lead. I place all of the fallen Wayne Family portraits in their correct chronological order. You can see them over here."

Alfred led the way to an area with over a dozen portraits hanging up in a row. They all showed various Wayne men, all sharing strikingly similar appearances. The first portrait was the aforementioned Mordecai Wayne, who was in Puritan clothing and holding a blue bound book. Next to that painting was a mysterious empty space.

"What's this Alfred?" Kiyone asked, acknowledging the space. "Why isn't there a painting here?"

"That space is the only acknowledgement of Thomas Wayne, the black sheep of the family. Though the majority of the Wayne Family were philanthropists, our Thomas was known as a devil worshiper who apparently attempted to summon bat demons in a hellish ritual."

"Bats?" Dick asked.

"They appear to be a reoccurring theme in our family. Interesting development, is it not?"

"Very. It even continues to this casket that Joshua Wayne is holding," Dick pointed out, looking at a robed Wayne who was indeed holding a bat labeled wooden box. "So do we have any idea what our pal Mordecai is holding?"

"None at all Master Dick."

"Pennyworth, perhaps you can research that in the Batcave. If we are to assume, like that idiot Drake believes, that this man is Father, it may hold some special meaning."

Alfred nodded. "I follow your meaning Master Damian. I shall head to the cave at once!"

"Why don't you stick to the Batmobile Alfie?" Dick suggested. "The caves are probably below freezing tonight. I think every now and then you deserve the luxury of warmth."

"I most heartily agree. Research duty it is then. I bid the three of you good luck. Keep in contact if you require anything."

The butler parted ways with the group and made his way back out the entrance. Thus, there were only three remaining inside the formers residence of Bruce Wayne. Dick was staring intently at the painting of Joshua Wayne and Damian was looking off, clearly uneasy about being in his father's home. Kiyone, however, was trying to take in all of her surroundings. This made sense, as she was the only one who did not stay in the house for any extended period of time.

"Where do we go from here?" Kiyone asked.

"Splitting up Scooby Doo style seems like a good place to start," Dick responded.

"Scooby Doo?"

"Don't ask. Damian, can you and Kiyone check the family plot? Your knowledge of the Wayne lineage and Kiyone's deductive reasoning might find us something worthwhile."

"That can be arranged. What kind of nonsense are you going to undertake Grayson?"

"Well," Dick was starting at a Wayne portrait set in some kind of battle. "I noticed that Solomon's painting was taken in the library. I want to investigate there and see what I can find. If it is a wild goose chase, I'll come find you."

"*tt* Typical Grayson, needing my help before you even started."

"Keep dreaming Damian," the former Boy Wonder chuckled.

*TGSTGE*

Stephanie Brown stared at the blue haired, pink eyed girl and tried to wrap her head around the situation she found herself in.

Earlier that day, she received a call from her "boss," Barbara Gordon, claiming that she had needed a favor for an important mission. Thinking that this had something to do with going on patrol or, frankly, anything else, she was eager to please her mentor.

Instead she found herself having a sleepover with an energetic ten year old girl and a cat-rabbit thingy.

"You want me...to babysit?" She had asked.

"Look, she's Dick's guest and he wants her to have the full 'American Girl Experience!'" Barbara explained. "Honestly, I've met the kid before. She's cute and very polite."

Stephanie had raised an eyebrow. "Is there something you aren't telling me?"

"Well..." Barbara trailed off for a second, clearly for dramatic effect. "Though she is currently living in Japan, she may be an alien princess."

Stephanie remembered herself pausing and asking a dozen questions at once. Regardless, she was told not to let her out tonight while the boys did their "investigations." So, she called up a friend, made sure her mom was at work, and prepared to have a slumber party...her first one in probably five years.

At least she wasn't doing it alone.

"So...how do you like Gotham?" Stephanie had managed to ask after settling into pajamas. If she was going to have a slumber party, she might as well be comfortable.

"It's really nice so far! Mr. Pennyworth took me to a play and even my first American movie!"

"Really? What was your first movie?" Stephanie asked curiously.

"Fantastia. Have you ever seen it Kara? It's great!"

Stephanie looked to one of her best friends: Kara Zor-El, aka Supergirl. Amazingly, the two girls already met some months back during Darkseid's attempt to kill the world. Small world.

"Oh yes! Ma Kent insisted that Kal and I see it with her. It was apparently a favorite or her and Pa..." Kara said, starting to trail off. With renewed energy, however, she shrugged it off. "So we never really got to talk at the Fortress. You are from Jurai? I visited there once when I was young! Actually, given your age, you might have been on planet when I was there!"

"Really?" Sasami asked. "That is so cool!"

"I love being the only one here who hasn't gone into space..." Steph muttered to herself.

"Well, why don't we go right now? Ryo-Ohki can take us!"

The blonde young adult looked to the animal eating a raw carrot and silently asked herself what this girl was talking about. She shook her head and returned to the conversation. "Let's have a rain check on that. I promised Barbara that you would have a typical Earth slumber party."

"Steph, I've never had a slumber party either! This is so much fun!" Kara laughed.

"Oodles."

Sasami stared at the two older girls. "So we are in our pajamas. What do typical Earth girls do now?"

"Well..." Stephanie drawled out, thinking of every cliche in the book. "I suppose we would talk about boys and watch movies and maybe paint our nails? I don't know, I haven't had a sleepover in ages. I kinda was nearly killed in a gang war that I started not too long back and it kinda jogged me a smidge. Besides, I doubt you know any Earth boys so we can talk about..."

"Oh, but I do! I just started talking to an Earth boy and he asked me out on a date!"

"Great Rao!" Kara shouted. "Details! We need details!"

"I think you both know him...its Damian."

"WHAT?! You mean the ten year old who carries swords?!" Stephanie gagged. "You got the mini-devil to go on a date with you!"

Sasami was taken back by the comment. "Hey, you got it all wrong! Damian is a nice boy who is just going through a hard time now!"

"He threatened to stab me with one of said swords."

The princess blinked at the comment. "Well, that's in the past, right? Anyone can change. Even Ryoko was a wanted criminal, but now she lives with us!"

Not having any idea who or what Ryoko was, Stephanie chose not to acknowledge that. "As eternal an optimist you may be, I don't think you know the caliber of Earth boys there are on this planet. I think I know just the one that you are gonna love!"

"I don't get it."

"Nobody gets David Bowie. They just know that he is there!" Steph said, rummaging through her DVD collection. "Aha! Here it is! The only movie that is a worth enough follow-up to Fantasia: Labyrinth!"

"Labyrinth? I've never seen it Steph. Is it good?" Supergirl

Stephanie laughed hard. "You ladies are in for a treat. You guys set up the movie, I'll make some waffles."

*TGSTGE*

Outside in the Wayne Family graveyard, Damian and Kiyone wandered around the gravestones. As they passed by various names, Damian tried to give off little bits of information that he learned about from both his mother and Alfred.

"Solomon was apparently part of the Underground Railroad. I fail to see why this would be of importance, but we never know what we may find I suppose. Grayson has me so worked up that I wouldn't be surprised to find Father buried alive in one of these graves," he was explaining.

"You really think that?"

"Again, it wouldn't surprise me."

"So..." Kiyone started. "Are you okay?"

"Do I seem okay Makibi?"

"Well, I mean, yes you do. But you've been acting different since I met you..."

Under his domino mask, Damian rolled his eyes. "Are you really going there now? In a graveyard? During an investigation?"

Kiyone kicked herself internally. Here she was, an alien detective trying her best to fit in with a world of heroes, going on asking about a ten year old's crush. It was truly an unprofessional thing to say and she immediately regretted it.

"I..."

"Save it. Grayson would probably do the same if he were on patrol with me right now. The Princess...Sasami I mean, she is, well, different than anyone else I have known. Grayson and Pennyworth have had their lion's share of a task taking me in. I am unsure if this was the course of action Father would have wanted, but I would like to think it is the one that would make him proud. Sasami has shown me that, through her damn peppy attitude." Damian cocked a grin. "You know who else is peppy? Your idiot partner."

"Mihoshi?"

"Right in one! I'm impressed. You are keeping up."

"When did you become so witty?"

"When did YOU abandon your partner? I may be many things, and I have done many things, but I abandoned Grayson but once and I now regret it. She may be an idiot and a ditz and I would lie if I said she doesn't get on my nerves, but she is still YOUR partner. Besides...though I hate to admit it she did save my life," Damian stared intently at her. "If you mention that to ANYONE, do not think I would hesitate to hurt you. Badly."

Kiyone ran her hands through her hair. "I love Mihoshi, but she has just caused so much...chaos in my life! I forgive her for all of that, I really do. I won't say she isn't stressful, but I just don't want her to be hurt."

"*tt* Sounds like you are justifying it to yourself."

"Are you judging me?"

Damian cocked his head. "I'm ten. I judge everyone."

"Fair point."

"Is she not a Galaxy Police Officer?"

"Yes..."

Damian shrugged. "This is Earth. I'm sure she could have handled herself here just fine."

The teal haired detective stared at the ground and kicked herself yet again. 'Damn it, the kid is right! I've been a terrible partner! I can't let him know that...' "Damn it, I'm a terrible partner aren't I?"

"I think you are more of a terrible person, but that works too," Damian admitted. "Just keep your head in the mission Makibi. You'll have time to make amends with that fool later...why is your bracelet blinking?"

He pointed to her wrist. Her bracelet was indeed blinking. A holographic display protruded from it, showing a most disturbing message. "There are several forms descending upon Wayne Manor. Looks like almost one hundred people...what the hell?"

"It seems like we are expecting company," Damian cracked his knuckles. "Grayson, did you hear that? Grayson?"

"He can't hear you sir," the voice of Alfred rang out of their communicators. "I lost contact with him. He seems to have fallen into some secret Batcave judging by his last transmission."

"Keep trying him Pennyworth. Makibi and I will hold down the fort here."

"You both won't be alone!" a new voice called out. The pair turned and saw a person that was familiar to them both. It was a masked man wearing sunglasses and a top hat. The mask covered his entire face and was a deep shade of blue.

"Oberon Sexton? What are you doing here?" Damian asked incredulously.

"Teaming up with you three I reckon. I came to warn Bruce Wayne about an attempt on his life by the Domino Killer, but I got mixed up with the 99 Fiends that are graciously descending upon us at this moment," the masked detective explained. "I don't believe you and I ever had the chance to meet my dear. You are...?" He offered his hand to Kiyone. She hesitated a moment and shook it.

"Detective Sergeant Makibi. Heard a lot about you and followed your cases intensively," she said warily. "Funny that you just appeared like that."

"There's nothing funny about this situation my dear," Oberon replied, grabbing a shovel. "Guess I'll take the 33 on the left. Anyone have any objections?"

"None that pertain to the situation I suppose," Kiyone said, setting her gun to stun.

"Interesting firearm," Oberon noted. "Is that standard issue in your precinct?"

"It is."

"Fascinating! Shall we inquire the names and motives of our attackers?"

Damian laughed. "That'd be prolonging the fun. I'd rather just start bashing heads."

The three charged toward the oncoming criminals. Though there were of all shapes and sizes, tall and short, our heroes were unconcerned that they could buy some time until Batman arrived on the scene.

*TGSTGE*

Meanwhile, in Gotham City...

"Dance, magic dance!" the three girls were singing along to David Bowie's beautiful tones.

"See Sasami? This is what American's consider to be quality entertainment!" Stephanie Brown was enjoying herself far too much for her own good.

"I like this a lot, I really do, but this is starting to get kind of weird," Sasami admitted. "Are the goblins actually children who have been taken away? Is Sarah dreaming? I'm so confused!"

"Sometimes you just have to go with it," Steph explained. "What do you think Kara?"

"I think Hoggle is adorable!"

"You would."

"So Sasami, who is more adorable to you? Hoggle or the Boy Wonder?" Kara asked as she put more syrup on her waffle meal.

Sasami laughed. "Stop it!"

"Can I be serious for a moment?" Stephanie asked. "I know the kid. I don't think he's had any friends before in his life. He asking you on a date sends up all kinds of red flags!"

"Well," the princess breathed. "That's why I'm going! Damian and I are way too young to go on the kind of date that Ayeka or Ryoko would go on with Tenchi. I just want to be his friend! He may not have any friends, but I don't have many friends here either."

The cabbit meowed hurtfully. "Okay, I have you Ryo-Ohki!"

"So...it wouldn't be a date date?" Brown asked.

"Nope! I'm only 700. I'm way too young for THAT kind of date! That'd be silly!"

Stephanie blinked, trying to process the young girl's age. "That it would."

*TGSTGE*

"You would think that this was easy!" Kiyone yelled to Damian as she continued to shoot at her enemies. "These guys don't give up!"

"Stop yelling in combat Makibi!"

The Fiends were all utilizing various different weapons. Some used their fists, others used flaming arrows, and a few even utilized flamethrowers. It was hard to attack everyone at the same time, and Kiyone was starting to feel the pressure of the battle at hand. However, she refused to stand down. As a member of the Galaxy Police, she would fight until her last breath.

A blonde haired woman with goggles pointed her flame thrower toward Damian. Kiyone, noticing this, shot her weapon at her at the same time she kicked a pale man with a mohawk. Damian turned around at this and growled. "I had it under control Makibi!"

"Stop yelling in combat Squirt!" Kiyone yelled playfully.

After what seemed like ages of fighting, Kiyone, Damian, and Sexton were backed by a tomb. Panting and bloody, they regarded the situation. "So, how are we doing?" Kiyone panted.

"About as well as you'd imagine," Sexton whispered as he adjusted his hat. "This is starting to look bad. I thought you said Batman was on the property."

"He is. He's tending to Wayne," Damian explained. "We don't need him. We have this under control."

With that, one of the 99 Fiends made his way to the front of the crowd. He wore a black domino mask and carried a bird on his shoulder. "You have no chance to beat us. You have fought well, but our numbers are too much for you to handle. We know Barbatos has stirred beneath the ground. Give us the Casket and we will leave."

"What casket?" Kiyone asked. "You mean the box in the painting? It's here?"

"So they say," Oberon cracked his neck slightly. "They want to search the tomb behind us more than likely."

"Then we better not let them in," Kiyone smiled. "You all ready?"

Suddenly, a giant light illuminated the graveyard. The Fiends turned to acknowledge it, as did the heroes. "Is that the Batmobile?" Damian asked.

"Attention criminals! You are breaking and entering on private property! You are all under arrest!" a most familiar voice came from the sky. An intense beam of light came down in front of the tomb and a person stepped out of it. Her blonde hair was hidden by her standard issue blue hat. Her gun was pointed at the Fiends and determination was written on her face.

Mihoshi had joined the battle.

"Mihoshi! Where did you come from?" Kiyone yelled. She made a move to go hug her put Mihoshi put her hand up.

"Kiyone, we are on duty! We cannot show weakness in front of these criminals!"

The detective blinked. "Who are you and what have you done with Mihoshi?"

"Kiyoneeee!" Mihoshi whined, her tough facade cracking. "I'm trying to show you how responsible I am! I'm really sorry that you were mad at me and I don't want you to hate m...stay where you are!" She shot the ground near where one of the Fiends was attempting to attack.

"Can you save your heartfelt reunion for later?" Damian yelled. "We have a battle to fight and the odds are stacking up, though I refuse to give up!"

"Don't worry!" Mihoshi smiled. "I brought help guys!"

"What are you talking about?" Kiyone asked. "I don't see..."

A familiar battle cry was heard throughout the graveyard. Beams of red came down from behind the mob of Fiends. A sound similar to a sonic boom crashed around them as a silver and red blur flew around. A second form followed, this time of a pink and purple hue.

"I love a good old fashioned ass kicking! I'll bet I get more than you do Princess!"

"This isn't a competition you monster! Regardless, I'll show you how the true power of Jurai can feel!"

"So you are admitting that I can take out more of these costumed clowns than you?"

"Please darling, you couldn't keep up with me if you tried."

Kiyone stared in shock. How in the world did Mihoshi convince Ryoko and Ayeka to come to America to fight for them. And, more importantly, how did she know they would be needing extra help?

Picking up his shovel, Oberon used the distraction of the three newcomers to bash some skulls in. "Are you going to stand around Baby Boy Wonder, or are you going to lend a hand?"

"Sexton, watch your mouth!"

The fight slowly turning in against them, the Fiends started to dwindle down in size. Though nobody was getting killed, miraculously, they were starting to get grievously wounded. It was during this time that the Wayne tomb opened up from the inside. Crawling into view was Dick Grayson, clutching the casket the Fiends desperately desired.

"I...I found it Robin! I...what the hell is going on?"

"BARBATOS!" one of the Fiends shouted. "Grab the Casket and retreat!"

"Not on your life buddy!" Ryoko yelled. "Double points if you get one who grabs the box!"

"Can I play too?" Mihoshi asked while she shot several Fiends scrambling toward Dick.

"Are you lot always this casual while people are trying to murder you?" Sexton asked incredulously.

"Please!" Kiyone replied, now back to back with Mihoshi and covering Damian's assault. "This is nothing compared to when the fleet of Jurai was after us. On your left!"

Sexton swiftly swung his shovel in stunned surprise. "I owe you one!"

"I'll take you up on that," Kiyone muttered to herself. "Mihoshi, can you forgive me? I was angry and...for pete's sake!" The teal haired detective was grazed with an arrow. "That almost hit me!"

"You almost hit Kiyone?! I'll never forgive you!" Mihoshi started to bawl now, randomly shooting all over the place. Fiend after Fiend fell in a paralyzed state.

"Kuramitsu, whatever you are doing, keep it up!" Damian roared.

Dick stared on in amazement. From what he managed to pick up from Alfred, the group was losing the battle. It seemed that Mihoshi had turned the tide. He clutched the Bat Casket in his arms tightly. Suddenly, an idea sprung in his head. He fiddled with his utility belt and pulled out a small microscopic tool. He placed it on the Casket and charged into battle.

Using the Casket as a weapon, Dick swung hard on the domino wearing Fiend, who grabbed it and pushed Dick away. "We have what we came here for! Everybody out!"

The conscious twenty or so Fiends limped their way off of the property. Ryoko and Ayeka started to chase after them, but Dick yelled for them to return. They did as he asked, albeit hesitantly.

"What the heck was that for? We were winning!" Ryoko pouted.

"I happen to agree with the lady Batman," Oberon panted. "That was foolish. You don't know what we are dealing with."

Batman looked at the masked detective's arm. "You look like you need medical attention. Want me to take you to the hospital?"

"No, I have a medical kit at my apartment. Meet me there and I will give you everything I know on both the Domino Killer and the 99 Fiends...or however many there are now."

"Go on Sexton. We just need to alert Gordon to pick up these goons before Wayne comes out of the deep sleep I put him in," Batman explained.

Mihoshi started to say something, but Kiyone covered her mouth. It was clear from past experience that she was going to ask about Dick's mention of "Bruce Wayne." Sexton, not noticing anything odd with the situation, merely nodded and made his way off the property.

The second he left, Damian started to pound on Dick's chest. "Why did you give up the Casket Grayson? If they discover the tracer you no doubt implanted, all of that would be for nothing!"

"I don't think so. At this point, it’s better to let them take it away so Wayne Manor can be left alone for a bit. I think I know who left it there and why. What I don't know," Dick added, looking at the three unexpected visitors. "Is how the heck you three knew to come here?"

"Well," Mihoshi trailed off. "I managed to catch some really big criminals and wanted to tell Kiyone, but she seemed really upset at me. I stopped back home to ask Tenchi's honorable grandfather what to do, but he was out in town. But I found the next best thing!"

Kiyone sighed and hugged her partner. "Mihoshi, I'm so sorry. I was focusing so much on the mission that I took out my frustration on you. Can you forgive me?"

"OH KIYONEEE!" Mihoshi buried her head into Kiyone's shoulder. As she patted her partner's head, she turned to Ryoko and Ayeka.

"That still doesn't answer why you two wanted to leave Tenchi in Japan and come here," Kiyone asked.

Ryoko snorted with laughter. "Honestly, it’s because of him!" She pointed to Damian, who turned around in confusion.

"Why would you travel..." Damian started before realization set in. "Hakubi, I will slaughter you. Slowly. With a dull blade."

"Young man, if you thought for a single second that I would not want to talk to you in person, you would be wrong!" Ayeka stormed up to him. "Explain to me this: why do you think you can go and court my sister?!"

Damian crossed his arms and grunted. "Do I really need to explain myself to you woman?"

"Yes! Yes you do! As Sasami's older sister...."

"Look," Damian put his hands up in defeated protest. "I understand your apprehension in the matter. I am the spawn of assassins and murders. However, I implore you to look past all of that. Your sister has done something no other person has done, gotten me to actually laugh. Not even Father could do that."

"Regardless," Ayeka said. "You both are far too young to be in any kind of serious relationship. I will not allow it!"

"Serious...Princess, I am ten years old! What makes you think I want ANY part in a serious relationship? I merely wish to get to know your sister more, hence why I asked her to dinner. Is that not what people do? She and I are practically friendless on this planet and that deserves to be rectified! Your sister is a wonderful person, and coming from me that says something."

"It does," Dick interjected for the first time.

"Even Grayson agrees. I am not 'courting' your sister! I want to KNOW your sister. Is that such a crime?" Damian took off his domino mask and stared at her intently. "Look at me. I would NEVER hurt your sister. Yes, I might have what you call a 'crush' on her, but is that so wrong? Again, I am ten. That is apparently typical for my age."

Ayeka narrowed her eyes. It was clear that she still viewed him as the boy with the attitude she met six months prior. Damian groaned to himself. 'Of course she has her doubts. I may never get her to approve of me, but I am a Wayne, and Waynes do not back down.'

"Well...what did Sasami have to say about your proposal?" Ayeka asked suspiciously.

"She told me it was a date," Damian bowed with respect, anticipating a challenge from her. "If you wish for me to clarify my position, I will do so. But I ask you to allow me to continue my friendship with your sister...please."

Dick put a hand to his mouth. "He said 'please!'" he whispered to himself. "Alfred, are you listening to this?"

"I am hanging on every word. I think Master Bruce would be proud of how he has grown."

"Very well..." Ayeka relented. "I cannot stop my sister from doing anything. But I will have my eye on you!"

"I will not disappoint you."

"And as for you!" the princess turned to Ryoko. "You told me Sasami had found a boyfriend! You deliberately misled me!"

"Hey, I call it as I see it!" Ryoko shrugged.

"So you traveled all over the world...to protest Damian?" Kiyone asked. "That seems rather elaborate. What about you Ryoko? Why are you here?"

"If you think I would let that demon stay with Lord Tenchi unsupervised for even a moment..."

"Fair enough," Kiyone conceded. "Has Barbara's father been called yet?"

"I took the liberty of reporting it in Miss Kiyone," Alfred responded. He had parked the Batmobile and made his way toward them. "I think having Bruce Wayne's butler around might make things a bit credible."

"I agree," Dick nodded. "So Kiyone, since we've got some time to kill, why don't we swap Sexton stories?"

*TGSTGE*

Oberon Sexton waited patiently in his apartment. The night's events had taken a minor toll on him. However, he had hoped this would be the moment. This would be when all of the pieces would be put out on the board.

He smiled under his mask. He could hear police sirens wailing down the street. This piqued his curiosity. Could Batman have figured it out at last? If he did, he hoped he wouldn't act too rash. But who was he kidding? He'd probably come in and start accusing him of his role in this. If only he knew what his true endgame was.

The door to his apartment opened and, as expected, Batman entered in the room. He was not alone. The two detectives, the blonde one and the teal haired one, accompanied him. This was proving to be an interesting development.

"All of this protection for little old me? I must say, I think it's a bit much."

"We have to be careful Mr. Sexton. This was quite a night."

"How is Wayne doing?" Sexton asked. "Did he end up getting injured?"

"I knocked Wayne out and hid him in his panic room. The butler assisted as well. They are being questioned as we speak. Still, I have a few questions for you, if you wouldn't mind indulging me."

"If you feel that it is necessary."

"I had a friend in England, the Knight, who I contacted after I left your apartment earlier today. Something wasn't sitting right with me. The way that all of the various members of the Black Glove died...it just seemed too coincidental. I asked him to check something out for me. Then a funny thing happened. Officer Makibi, who I brought in on this case along with her partner, did her own digging and had some interesting theories of her own."

"Oh?" Oberon asked, taking off his sunglasses. "What might those be?"

"Though Sexton is a real writer, the Knight found his corpse buried with his dead wife an hour ago. That means you aren't the real Sexton. You've been pulling a fast one on us. The name...'fey king?' Really? That's what gave it away to her. This whole thing has been one giant joke, hasn't it?" With that, Oberon Sextron removed his mask and revealed a white, grinning visage. His green hair briefly flashed before he put the top hat back on.

Oberon Sexton was actually The Joker.

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by drillmaster
#29409 Ch. 16: No Need for Jokes

It was early morning in Okayama, Japan and Tenchi Masaki had woken up to the sound of his alarm. He prepared himself for another day of school and went into the kitchen.

It was odd not having Sasami around to make his daily lunches, but he knew that he was taking her for granted. He hoped that she was enjoying her stay in America. Along those same lines, he felt the house was way too quiet. It had just become...unnatural.

When he arrived from school the previous day, Ayeka and Ryoko had vanished and there was water damage to the front of the house. Tenchi assumed that Mihoshi had picked them up for some unknown reason. His father nearly had a heart attack when he finally made it home, one that was lessened when Tenchi reminded him that Washu could just repair the damage in an instant when she got home.

"Son, good to see you up and about so early!" Noboyuki told him as he left the house. It appeared that his father was a few steps in front of him and Tenchi didn't even realize it.

"Dad? What are you doing here? Shouldn't you have left already?"

"Tenchi, you know that this is typically when I leave, right? You are just typically too preoccupied with the girls to notice," Noboyuki pointed out. "Have you heard anything from them since yesterday?"

"No, not at all," Tenchi admitted. "I hope they are okay."

"Please son, they are on vacation in another country. I'm sure they are having a blast!"

*TGSTGE*

"Well now, the gang's all here!" The Joker chortled as Robin entered the room with Ayeka and Ryoko.

"A circus clown? Your big enemy is a circus clown?" Ryoko stifled a laugh.

"He doesn't look like much," Damian agreed.

"Robin, I thought the girls weren't going to come here. Weren't they going to meet up with the other one?" Batman asked when the door closed.

Robin leaned into a corner and crossed his arms. "They insisted on seeing this first. I obliged. It's not like they can't take care of themselves. What have I missed?"

"'Sexton' here was in the process of explaining his grand plan to us," Kiyone replied.

"That I was. As I was saying, without my Batman, the real Batman, crime has no punchline. You and I Batbird, we are too much alike to find worthy sport, so I did the next best thing: I decided to fight crime."

"Really?" Dick deadpanned. "You expect me to believe that?"

"I don't expect you to believe anything I say Batfake. Why do you think I disguised myself as the writer?"

"You know what?" The Detective Sergeant cut in. "I think I believe him."

"Thank you Detective! Amazing, somebody here can talk sense!" Joker laughed.

"But Kiyone, you shouldn't!" Mihoshi implored. "That's The Joker! If you trust him, you'll be hurt like Barbara was! He's evil!"

"I agree with Mihoshi," Batman looked at his longtime foe. "Don't ever believe anything that comes out of his mouth. It's always a lie or some kind of plan to mess with our heads."

"I don't think so this time," Kiyone explained. "He's had the opportunity to kill you several times now but he didn't. Don't you get it? He's finishing his vendetta with the Black Glove! He killed all of the other members already. Who's left?"

"Dr. Hurt," Batman considered it all. "I don't like it. It makes sense, but I don't like it."

"Oh Not-Batsy, you are going to have to do better than that if you are going to make it in the old cape and cowl! She gets it, why can't you?" Joker made a mocking bow to Kiyone, who shuddered in response.

"Well I think you'll forgive me for keeping my guard up. How many times have you stabbed us in the back in the past?" Batman growled.

"Literally or metaphorically?"

With that, Commissioner James Gordon slammed open the door and entered the room with five police officers. Each of them had a loaded gun pointed on The Joker. "That's it! Our turn! This filth cannot get away with everything he has done to this city!"

"Commissioner, I think you and I need to talk about this. Can you spare some time? I think we may actually need to...trust him," Dick sighed.

Jim blinked. "You're joking right?"

"I'm not!" Joker chimed in.

"Does this simpleton ever shut up?" Ayeka moaned.

"I can say the same about you, Princess!" Ryoko jabbed at her.

"Stop bickering you two! Kiyone and Mihoshi, I'd like you to sit in on this. Robin, Ayeka and Ryoko, stay on guard. He may, and probably WILL, try something," Dick ordered. "That goes double for you Robin!"

"Hey!"

"Wait," Ryoko asked. "You mean we have to stay here and play babysitter for a circus clown? Damn it, I thought there was going to be some kind of fight. If I had known this, I would have hit up a bar."

"I've got some scotch in the minibar!" Joker offered.

Ryoko flew to the minibar and stared at the scotch. "Did you really think I'd be crazy enough to drink this? You probably poisoned it!"

"No, I thought you'd be crazy enough to activate the motion sensor. I must humbly ask you to pay the bill for it at the front desk," he grinned evilly.

Ayeka started to laugh as Ryoko threw the scotch out of the window. "Oh, shut up Ayeka!"

*TGSTGE*

"You better have a good reason why you would expect me to believe a damn thing that scumbag says," Gordon demanded in the cockpit of the Batmobile.

"I'd like to know too!" Mihoshi agreed.

"Listen Commissioner, it doesn't sit right with me too, but I think Detective Sergeant Makibi here was on to something. When we get to the Bat Bunker, I'll give you everything I have."

"Can I ask you all something?" Jim asked. "What are you really here for? I thought that you all were just some kind of specialists who were brought in to assist with Professor Pyg. But the one girl said the other was a 'princess' and I have interesting reports from the conscious Fiends that we managed to put in immediate lock up at Blackgate."

"You put them there already?"

"It was a necessary precaution that the Mayor insisted upon. Something is going down Batman. All of the small gangs have fled the city. They know that there is trouble in the air. Now, are you going to acknowledge my question or am I not privy to that information?"

Batman looked to Kiyone who gave a quick nod. "You can tell him."

"Bear with me here, but they are aliens who live in Japan. Kiyone and Mihoshi are space cops, Ayeka is a princess, and Ryoko is...well Ryoko," Batman chuckled.

The Commissioner rubbed his temples and sighed. "Aliens? From Japan? It's not the most farfetched thing I've heard today. How'd you get involved here anyway Detective?"

"Your daughter actually," Kiyone admitted. "She put a message out as Oracle when the Anti-Life Equation hit. Professor Washu intercepted it and the two worked together to figure out how to stop it."

"Barbara did that?" Gordon said, impressed. Suddenly, he sneezed. "Makes her old man proud. So the pink haired girl..."

"Is a scientific genius who is older than probably every person on this planet," Batman answered.

"Not Vandall Savage! He's an immortal caveman who..."

"Mihoshi, this planet isn't even...you know what? It's not important Mihoshi!" Kiyone whispered to Mihoshi. "Not now!"

"Where is she anyway?"

"Oh," Mihoshi smiled. "She went back in time to get the original Batman back!" Mihoshi explained. Kiyone and Dick buried their heads in their hands while Gordon scratched his head in confusion.

"I don't think I want to know what she means. What I do want to know is what you all think The Joker is up to."

"That can be arranged. We are here Commissioner! Welcome to the Bat-Bunker!" Batman announced as Commissioner Gordon removed his blindfold. He shook his head in amazement.

"You never cease to amaze me," he chuckled. "Okay, I'm here in your subway station like you wanted. This is the part where you tell me why we shouldn't lock the Joker back in Arkham Asylum."

"That it is. Allow me to be honest with you Commissioner. You know who I am underneath here and it is not your Batman," he admitted.

"True as that may be, I do think that you should know that you are doing a great job filling in. Hell, most of my cops like you more than...well him."

"I appreciate it the sentiments Commissioner," Dick nodded. "But The Joker is just as competent as you. He knows that I am not 'his' Batman. That is critical."

"So, you are saying we can trust him because he's lost the will to fight?"

"Not at all. In fact, Kiyone here believes that he's merely changing dance partners. Care to jump in?"

"Certainly Batman," Kiyone said. "If you don't mind, I'd like to use the Bat Computer."

"Be my guest."

"Right before Darkseid made his move on the planet, Gotham City was attacked by Dr. Simon Hurt and his organization called The Black Glove. They set out to destroy the reputation of millionaire Bruce Wayne and to get rid of the Batman to make sure he did not interfere."

"I remember. Wayne Manor was booby trapped. It was the Black Glove and El Sombrero. I was saved by Talia al Ghul and her League of Assassins," Gordon reminisced. "What does this have to do with The Joker?"

"They apparently broke Joker out of Arkham and set him on Batman. However, something happened and they had a falling out. My guess is that Joker didn't like being a part of another person's plan. Batman disappeared that night, so did both Hurt and The Joker," Kiyone pulled up corresponding images and Arkham security footage. Both Gordon and Mihoshi started at everything intently.

"Wow, it all makes sense! That monster didn't like being played by that Hurt guy and wants to join the good guys to take him down," Mihoshi said knowingly.

"Yes Mihoshi. That's exactly it," Batman sighed. "What about you Commissioner?"

"I get it and I see why it would make sense. I'm just worried that his biggest joke would be to get us to trust him," Jim said uneasily. He pulled out a handkerchief and blew into it.

"Wouldn't it be a bigger joke to actually tell the truth?" Mihoshi giggled. "It is actually kind of funny to think about."

Gordon and Batman exchanged glances. "This is getting us nowhere. We are talking in circles. Commissioner, it's your city and your call."

The Commissioner reached for his cigarettes and played with the pack. He shuffled it around in his hands a few times and finally rubbed his eyes. "I want him monitored at all times. Keep him on a short leash! If you even smell trouble, don't hesitate to stop him!"

"Commissioner, this is me. I've been doing this for a long time. You've known me since I was twelve. You can count on me to handle it," Dick pledged. "You girls up to assist Batman in the biggest case yet?"

"Yes sir!" Kiyone and Mihoshi both said excitedly. It seemed like both girls were both just as eager to do this.

"Good. Now that that's been settled, we can talk Pyg."

*TGSTGE*

"So what happened next Sasami?" Kara asked, with her eyes fixated on the blue haired girl.

"Well it turned out that the ship was haunted!"

"Wait," Steph interjected. "What about the girl?"

"She was a ghost!"

"Amazing!" Kara jumped. "That's incredible!"

Stephanie started to laugh to herself. "That's funny."

"What's funny?" Sasami asked curiously.

"A space ghost...that goes coast to coast on a space ship? Eh? Eh?" Stephanie looked around. Upon realizing her company, she hung her low. "You guys have no idea what I'm talking about, don't you?"

The two girls (and one cabbit) shook their heads.

'I need some friends who are from Earth...that isn't named Tim Drake.'

*TGSTGE*

"I spy with my little eye something beginning with the letter R!" Joker amusingly told nobody in particular.

Robin, Ryoko, and Ayeka stood watch inside The Joker's hotel room with Gordon's men waiting outside in case of an emergency. Damian kept pacing himself around the room, continuing to stare at the corner he leaned on earlier in the night.

"Nobody cares clown," Damian said irritatingly.

"What a pleasant way to spend our night! If I was with Tenchi right now, I'd..." Ryoko trailed off.

"You'd do what Miss Ryoko? Do this? Do that?!"

"Are you insinuating that Tenchi and I should be doing that Princess? Great idea! I'm glad you thought of it," Ryoko snapped her fingers.

"Ugh," Damian groaned. Meanwhile, Joker just followed along with great interest.

"Kid, what's the story of the lovely ladies there? This is solid gold right here!"

"I'm warning you, stop taking unless you have something worthwhile to say, like what you are really planning!" Damian threatened.

"Excuse me?"

"If Batman says that everything you say is a plan, I believe him. Makibi might make sense, but there is something you aren't telling us. So spill it!"

"Oh slowpoke, I've told you everything you need to know! The Doctor and his stooge are my last targets and then the bones will be in the yard! The Domino Killer will be no more and the Grave Digging Clown can make his merry way!"

"Ah, see, here's the problem with your little 'plan.' We aren't going to kill Hurt, as much as I'd like to. Batman doesn't kill!"

"Funny how that works. Wasn't it you who killed The Spook? What happened Baby Boy Wonder? Did you loose your nerve?"

"Shut up!"

"Oh, I can see it now! You've got it don't you? You've got what Betty and Veronica over there has! So when can I meet her?"

"Shut. Your. Mouth! Now!" Damian roared. Ryoko and Ayeka stopped fighting to monitor the situation.

"Maybe we can have a double date! I'm sure I can find a nice young squeeze in town. Maybe Harley can forgive me trying to kill her for a night on the town! We can..."

The Joker couldn't finish his sentence as his jaw was immediately dislocated. Damian had grabbed a crowbar that he left in the corner and swung at him with all of his might. Ryoko and Ayeka looked shocked at the display, with Ryoko looking impressed and Ayeka looking mortified.

"I'm not like the other Robins! I would not hesitate to leave you with severe brain damage if you dare go after the people I care about!"

With every bloody swing of the crowbar, Joker started to writhe in pain. Ryoko held Ayeka back from interfering. "Let's see how this plays out! This is getting good?"

"Unhand me Ryoko! I cannot allow this continue!" Ayeka struggled.

"Wait...mercy! Mercy! I...I was joking!" He wheezed.

"Mercy? I was raised by the League of Assassins to kill without mercy! You didn't show Todd or the Gordons mercy, why would I show it to you?!"

"Robin, you must stop! What would Sasami say?" Ayeka broke free from Ryoko to stop Damian mid swing. "She would most certainly not approve of this action!"

Damian looked at the bloody weapon and gripped it tight. "This filth has been able to get away with murdering loved ones, kidnapping infants, and ruining people's lives all under the cover of insanity! He's not crazy; he's turned his life into one twisted joke!"

"But the bigger joke would be to get you worked up to ruin your life in another way," Ayeka explained. "You have grown much since I first met you, but you still have a lot to learn. You can be better than him."

"Yeah tiny..." Joker weakly chuckled. "The old maid is right. I mean...look where she's at! What, with that Tenchi fellow at her feet I bet she knows all of the moves!"

"How dare you!"

"Riled you up, eh? Maybe you are just jealous I didn't think to...to invite the two of you to our..double date? I'd have to ask that sashimi chick first but...oh no."

Damian and instinctively brought the crowbar up to strike again. "Robin, that's not the way to go about doing this!" Ayeka sternly told him.

At once, little logs appeared from nowhere and surrounded the bleeding Clown Prince of Crime. "What...why are there little lawn ornaments floating around me?"

"This, Boy Wonder, is how you handle the situation," Ayeka adopted a stern look to her face. A small murderous grin snuck its way on there as Joker's form began to become electrocuted.

"Damn Princess, I didn't think you had in you!" Ryoko laughed. "I forgot how you get when you get that crossed!"

"Quiet Ryoko, or you will be next!" Ayeka admonished her as she set about her retribution.

Damian sat there dumbfounded. Here he was in the middle of getting scolded one second for attacking his father's most hated enemy, and all of a sudden the Jurain Princess stepped in and continued where he left off. He could not help but grin as the Harlequin of Hate writhed in pain. "I hate to admit it, but my respect for you is growing every second Princess."

"Please dear, call me Ayeka," Ayeka told him over the laughing and screaming. "As for you, I believe we still haven't gotten the point across. Ryoko, would you like to try explaining it a different way?"

"Would I?!" Ryoko yelled excitedly.

"Help...help me!" The Joker weakly yelled to the cops on the other side of the door.

Faintly, a voice responded. "Nah, screw him."

*TGSTGE*

"So you think that all of us are infected with whatever crap Professor Pyg designed when you first put him away?" Commissioner Gordon asked worryingly.

"That's what we think. Professor Washu left a program to develop an vaccination to counter it before she left, so it should be ready to synthesize in about three days: just in time for the solar eclipse," Batman explained.

"What does that have anything to do with anything?" Gordon asked.

"These people are crazy. I have no doubt that it will factor into their plans somehow. Commissioner, I think it may be best to keep the city on quarantine. If Pyg's virus is let loose, we don't want it to leave the town."

"Smart idea Batman. What's the plan?"

"We need to get you back to HQ. Mihoshi and Kiyone, stay here and keep in contact with Oracle. She can patch you into me or Robin," Batman ordered.

"You can count on us!" Mihoshi said.

"What should we do about Robin and the others?" Kiyone asked.

"I'm sure if they needed our help one of the Commissioner's men would text us. Robin is too proud to ask for help and the girls have no idea what to do, but the other cops should keep us in the loop if there was trouble," Batman said as he hopped back into the cockpit.

"I've been texting Lieutenant Bilbao. He told me it got loud at one point, but they have been keeping it under control, whatever that means," Gordon shrugged. "When this is all over, do you mind if I ask you ladies a few questions? It's rare that I meet a person from another planet that's not wearing tights."

"We'd be glad to," Kiyone smiled.

Just then, a siren wailed from the Batmobile. An electronic female voice echoed throughout the halls of the Bat Bunker: "A major security breach is occurring at Blackgate Penitentiary. A major security breach is..."

"What?!" Gordon cried. "What the hell does that mean?!"

"It means Hurt has made his move. Why do you think that the Mayor wanted the 99 Fiends in Blackgate?The Mayor is probably working for the Black Glove! After all, it's not like there isn't another high profile prisoner there..." Batman started the Batmobile in a frenzy.

"Pyg...oh Christ," Jim whispered to himself.

"Girls, contact Robin and Oracle. Make sure Barbara knows to keep Sasami where she is!" Batman barked. "It's not safe! Tell the others to regroup immediately! It's time to put Joker's money where his mouth is!"

*TGSTGE*

In another area of Gotham, a lone figure stirs in the shadows.

Though he had only arrived in the city mere hours before, this was not a man arriving as a tourist. Rather, this was a king reclaiming his kingdom after a long crusade. He sat on his throne and viewed his prize: a wooden box marked with a bat.

The Casket of Barbatos.

"You will set the remaining Fiends free from their prison and cause as much chaos as you can," the figure had instructed his remaining knights.

"Yes sir. What about the Professor?" the spokesman for the knights inquired.

"Release him as well and give him this gift. I hope it fits him comfortably. He always works better when he is comfortable," he grinned in the darkness as he handed the man a pink mask. "Now tell me again about the confrontation in the Garden of Death."

The masses stirred in anger. "One at a time, one at a time!" he ordered.

"We were challenged by the boy and the writer, but were later assaulted by four women from the heavens."

"Describe them."

"The ones that could fly had long purple hair and spiky silver hair," he bowed. "The two that couldn't had blue and blonde hair. They overcame us with great power."

"Silver spiky hair?" the man in the shadows paused to consider this new information. "Did you catch a name for this fair maiden?"

"No, we did not."

"Fear not. This is an unexpected development, but one that can be used to my advantage. I sensed a great deal of potential in her..."

The man got up and poured himself a glass of wine, which he gripped tightly in his black gloved hand. As he sipped at it, one of the knights robed him in his ceremonial black cape and mask. "Ryoko...that was her name."

"What will you do with her?"

Dr. Simon Hurt drank deep from his goblet. "The same thing as I will do to this city: corrupt her and break her down. They have all fallen into the grip of the Black Glove...with no chance of escaping unscathed. Now go; we can't begin until our co-star is here to work!"

With less than three days until the solar eclipse, the shadow of darkness has descended upon the city. Madness looms in every corner and hope appears to dwindle away with each passing moment. Can Batman and Robin overcome the odds and defeat the personification of the devil?

Place your bets.
User avatar
by drillmaster
#29435 No chapter today, but I drew up another cover for the story, this time covering the events of the second half. If I had known I was going to do this, Alfred would have been on the other picture instead of Dick, who is absent from this one due to space. I may have to George Lucas the old one at some point if I could.

Image

Please leave some feedback for the story if you have the time. I'd love to know your thoughts about it. I know this isn't a crossover that would immediatey spring to mind, but I'm having a blast writing it!
User avatar
by segaman4
#29526 Wow! That was a. Nice first chapter! I can see that the green lantren universe. Will have a major role in this,now i dont know much about the green lantren universe since im mote of a batman fan. But ill learn trough your story . And of course you choose universe for your fanfiction like so many techi fans but hey who am i to complain! I will read chapter too soon so look out!
User avatar
by drillmaster
#29529 Thanks for the kind words! Honestly, this really is more of a Batman story than any other DC line, but by including mentions of the Green Lantern Corps, it showcases how something like the GXP can work alongside it (though Hal Jordan will appear in Chapter 19). Mainly, the first half of the story follows the Final Crisis storyline (or of you read purely Batman issues 701-702) and then will cross into Grant Morrison's Batman and Robin book (mainly Batman vs. Robin, Batman and Robin Must Die, and Return of Bruce Wayne). I do try to add touches here and there of DC continuity so be on the look out!

As for choosing Universe, I did OAV in my Harry Potter story so I wanted to try writing Kiyone, who fits better in this pre-established universe. Gotta love her kiyonesmile1