Friday September 13, 2019 at 5:08pm
He could not breathe. The thick plume of dust surrounding him coated his throat and twirled in his lungs, suffocating him. His chest ached as he choked. The crumbling brick wall behind him dug into his spine and tore at his fingertips as he slid into crouch, gasps racking through his frame. He rocked his head back into the wall trying to use the pain as an anchor to clear his thoughts.
Hands scrambled to cover his ears, block out the screams of victims nearby. Innocent people crushed under rubble. People he cannot save, people that will die because there is just too much destruction. Numb, he collapses the rest of the way to the ground and grits his teeth against his anger and hopelessness. He allowed a hoarse cry through bloody lips and slammed a broken fist against the ground. The pain has him gasping for air again.
Friday September 13, 2019 at 4:32pm
He prefers not to be unmasked in Jump City. It reduces the risk of Richard Grayson and Robin appearances corresponding. However, Bruce had requested Dick make a trek to Jump City to pick up a security file regarding a recent break-in at the Wayne Enterprise’s Research and Development facility. It was a simple task that a trusted courier could have carried out. However, Bruce makes sure that Dick stops by all the facilities enough to become familiar with the operations and employees.
Dick is still fuming a bit over his short argument with Bruce. It was short only because Bruce hung up and is refusing to continue the conversation further. At eighteen Dick was hoping for a bit more responsibility with the company beyond playing delivery boy.
As he began navigating his way through the town center his adrenaline began to spike. Something seemed off even though there was a significant lack of evidence. However, he has not survived this long at Batman’s side by ignoring instincts. He pulled his bike to the side and hopped off.
Scanning up the street nothing seemed out of place. However, a moment later steel and glass was ripped from the side of a building up the street with a deep thud that caused his eardrums to pound. As shrapnel began to rain down Dick began to move, herding people into buildings. Dust kicked up thick around the gaping hole in the building as Dick ran towards the chaos.
Drivers were beginning to panic as the dust thickened. The scream of bending metal alerted the drivers of their mistakes too late. Dick noticed a small boy curled into a ball against the brick. He was crushing a stuffed animal to his chest, eyes wide with fear.
“I’m here to help you,” Dick called to the boy with a tight reassuring smile. He held out a hand for the child to take. Scared the boy hesitated for a moment before grabbing the lifeline held before him. Dick swept the boy off the ground and held him tight as he began to move, calling out for others to get inside away from the crumbling building.
The boy shifted in Dick’s arms, further crushing the toy to him allowing it to gather his fearful tears. “What’s happening?” he stammers looking up to Dick with wet brown eyes.
Before Dick could consider a appropriate answer another explosion four buildings down knocked Dick off his feet. Scrambling up with a gasp, he checked the small boy wrapped in his arms. He seemed unharmed although his sobs were loud and gasping.
The new explosion forced him away from his bike and up the next street. His ankle ached as he began to move through the crowds more quickly shouting instructions for anyone listening.
A distant explosion caused Dick to shift the child’s weight slightly as he scrambled for his cell phone. He knew the cell towers would be jammed due to the sheer volume of calls emergencies like this cause. Instead of wasting time with a call he typed out the password that would trigger the panic signal to Batman. Dick figured the Titans would already be out in force, but as another explosion echoed a few blocks over he knew this would require every hero that could be spared.
Dick gave up on calling out instruction. Nobody was listening to the professionally dressed teenager. He cursed wishing he was in costume, wishing he had his tools and was in contact with his team.
As he moved further away from the broken buildings the dust began to clear. Dick tucked the boy’s head against his shoulder and told him to close his eyes. Falling glass and steel left a horror scene of injured individuals. Dick blinked realizing for the first time that blood was dripping into his eye from a small gash on his forehead. He swiped at it and continued moving towards the nearest safe house.
He needed his uniform. People needed Robin.
“My baby! Oh God! He’s safe!” A young woman screamed through heavy sobs as she ran towards Dick with arms outstretched. She was covered in dust with a few bloody scraps scattered over her exposed arms. Her tears were muddying her face as she reached for the child in Dick’s hold. The boy’s head shot up at the call from his mother. His face broke into a brilliant grin that had no place in the middle of the destruction.
Dick gently handed the child to his mother and politely accepted the thanks she showered over him. The boy’s hold on his treasured black stuffed animal never lessened as he pressed it against his mother’s chest. She held him close as she began to move away from Dick down the broken streets. Dick watched them for a moment before turning away from them and jogging as much as he could through the thickening crowd.
His heart stopped as he felt the vibrations of another explosion ripple behind him. Dick spun around to watch as another building began to burst outwards. Within seconds he was moving back towards the destruction hoping to catch a glimpse of the mother and child safe and moving away with the crowd. Panic like he has not experience in years blocked his throat as he pushed passed fleeing individuals.
Dick began to fumble through the dust blocking his vision. He tripped over a bloodied man killed by the blast; he tore up his knees on this glass. He choked on the smoke from the fresh fires and ripped his hands to shreds as he felt for something, anything that would bring him hope.
After an eternity of fumbling and the panic a cold vise on his chest, Dick stumbled on the child. Blood ran black out of the mouth that had minutes before smiled so brilliantly. Dick grasped the tiny hand and cursed every entity he could think of. It was not fair. Not just for the child Richard had tried so hard to protect, but for everyone. For him. He was out of contact with his team and unable to save his city as it fell apart at the seams.
After a few moments the dust began to settle enough for Dick to get a look at the doll the boy had been clutching so desperately. Covered in a thin layer of gray dust and the boy’s sticky crimson blood was a stuffed Batman doll.
Dick lifted the doll off the ground and brushed the dust from the bright yellow bat symbol in the center. For the first time in years Dick allowed the sobs to tear from his body without trying to repress them, bury them deep within. He clutched at the doll wishing Bruce was beside him to pick up the pieces. To clean up his mess. He desperately wanted his father to protect him.
Friday September 13, 2019 at 5:09pm
Dick pushed his bloodied palms against his eyes as a sob pulled away from him. He never wanted to open his eyes again. He did not want to face what was happening. He did not want to face this disaster alone. He wanted his team by his side or he wanted Batman calling the shots.
Time passed and then he felt it. He could feel the way the earth trembled moments before the shockwave forced the wall behind him out pushing him into the street. Throwing him as one might toss a doll away in anger. Dick screamed as a strip of metal tore through his chest impaling him. His head lolled to the side and his focused on the Batman doll, just out of reach, as his vision grayed.
Dick smiled at the doll and gasped, “I love you.” before his vision faded to black.
Friday September 13, 2019 at 4:41pm
Bruce Wayne took a small sip of the dark wine as he smirked at his client’s terrible sense of humor. A glass shattered in the bar area followed by a number of fearful gasps. Bruce was up and moving towards the television. He just caught of glimpse of the news bulletin Jump City Attacked as his phone vibrated Richard’s panic code.
Bruce was excusing himself and moving towards the exit within seconds. Usually the feeling in the pit of his stomach would be worry in a situation like this. But, be it his parental instinct or the bond they shared, Bruce knew he lost his son.