It was just an ordinary day in the cave. M’gann, Karen, Artemis and Zatana were lounging on the couches, talking about how difficult being a superhero made dating and other girl talk. Garfield and Jamie were sprawled out on the floor, surrounded by papers detailing blueprints and team rosters. The girls occasionally shot warning looks at the two boys, whom were clearly planning a prank of some sort. Kaldur and Conner were sparing in the next room.
Wally raced into the room and skidded to a stop in front of the girls. He flopped down onto the nearest couch, which Artemis was sitting on. With his head in her lap, he looked up at her annoyed face and smirked.
“Hey babe,” he said, “I’m bored. Let’s do something together.”
“Really Wally,” Artemis sighed, “Can’t you see that I’m busy? Go find someone else to bother.”
“Can’t,” Wally complained, “Everyone is busy. God, I wish something interesting would happen.”
The words had scarcely left his mouth before the zeta tube activated.
“Recognised Robin B-1-3,” the computer intoned.
Everyone turned to look at the zeta tubes and watched as Robin exited at a run. Gasps of surprise escaped from M’gann, Cassie and Wally as they took in Robin’s dishevelled appearance. His suit was ripped in multiple places and there was a deep cut on his arm, which was bleeding steadily. His cape was in tatters, shortened in length to the middle of his back, instead of billowing around his legs. The burnt ends of the cap fluttered behind him as he dashed to the zeta tube controls. But what surprised the team the most was that Robin was wearing a completely different costume. His black and yellow cape was replaced with one of black and red. Across his chest were two utility belts that formed a cross with a strange bird symbol. The outfit was missing the (R) symbol that had always been on the robin uniform.
Whilst the team stared at Robin in surprise, Robin began frantically typing at the zeta tube control console. The team started in surprise as the computer spoke.
“Emergency cave lockdown initiated. Authorisation B-F-0-6. All entrances secured. Awaiting final authorisation for zeta tube lock down”.
“Robin,” called Kaldur, who had entered the zeta tube room with Conner during the lockdown announcement, “What are you doing? Why have you locked down the cave?”
“Yeh, and what is with that designation?” asked Garfield.
Robin did not respond; he simple kept on typing frantically at the computer. Wally sped over to the console and peeked over Robin’s shoulder. His expression changed from interested to confused as he beheld the speeding lines of code on the screen. It was only thanks to his super speed that he could keep up with the speed of the text. He sent a wondering look at Robin, unable to comprehend how he could type that fast.
Robin keyed in the final command and swayed alarmingly, almost falling over. Wally caught him before he could hit the ground. His curious look changed to one of concern when he felt the blood that had seeped through Robin’s clothes. The rest of the team had darted forward when they had seen Robin fall and were all hovering around the fallen hero in concern.
“Dude, are you ok?”
Their questions melded together into a white noise that made Robin’s head ring.
He pushed himself away from Kid Flash and stood up, using the console for support. Before the team could ask any more questions, they were distracted once more by the computer.
“Recognised B-F-0-8. Recognised B-F-0-7. Recognised B-F-0-4, B-F-0-5,” the computer announced.
The entire team turned to stare at the zeta tubes and the new comers.
Four people had exited the zeta tube. The first was a blonde-haired girl in an armoured black body suit and cape. There were purple highlights that ran along the side of her legs, arms and torso of her costume and the underside of her cape was also purple. A utility belt was wrapped around her waist and a pouch was strapped to her right leg. A black cowl similar in design to Batman’s covered her face and blazed upon her chest was a yellow bat symbol. Like Robin, her cape and armoured suit were damaged. But whilst Robin’s appeared to have been sliced up, the blonde-haired girl looked as though her clothes had been burned.
The second intruder was also a female wearing a black body suit and cape. Unlike the first girl, there were no highlights along her costume and the underside of her cape was the same golden yellow as the bat symbol upon her chest. Her black hair flowed freely about her tanned face and she wore a domino mask, which highlighted her black eyes. She appeared less injured than the other girl, with only a cut upon her cheek and a slight limp.
Both of the costumed girls were in defensive positions in front of the final two newcomers. Whilst their unexpected appearance and apparent injuries had surprised the team, it was nothing compared to how they responded when they saw the other two strangers.
It was the gun in the man’s hand that surprised the team. None of the heroes that they knew of used such a weapon. There was another clearly strapped to his thigh and the bulges underneath his red leather jacket indicated that there were other weapons hidden upon his person. His expression was unreadable as he wore a red helmet that covered his entire face. His body language screamed hostility and there was blood splattered all over his clothes. The team would have attacked him, if not for two things: the red bat symbol upon his chest and the woman that he cradled protectively in his arms.
The woman was dressed the strangest of all of the intruders. In contrast to the others, she was in civilian clothes; a pair of jeans and a green, close fitting shirt. Her red hair was a mess and her clothes were singed. But aside from the burns upon her arms and the damage to the back of her clothes, she did not appear to be injured. This lack of major injury perplexed the team, because if she wasn’t injured, why was she being carried?
All four of the newcomers took in their surroundings with the trained eye of a fighter. Their body language was tense and defensive as they scanned the room. The defensive body language of the girls and woman only relaxed when their gaze alighted upon Robin. They all moved away from the zeta tube and headed towards Robin. The two girls maintained a defensive perimeter around the other two and the man tucked the woman in his arms tighter to his chest and shifted slightly so that he was between her and the team. Most of the team noticed the defensive organisation of the group and rightly concluded that they were protecting the woman.
“Where are the others?” asked Robin, causing the team to look at him in surprise.
>There are more?< thought M’gann to the rest of the team.
“They’re coming Replacement,” the man in the red helmet sneered, “They’re just ensuring that we’re not followed.”
“No need to be rude Hood,” the girl with the purple cape said as she elbowed the helmeted man in the ribs, “Red Robin is just making sure nothing happened.”
Hood mumbled something in response, but none of the team except for Conner heard the uncouth response as the computer chimed once more.
“Recognised B-F-0-9. Recognised B-F-0-3”.
Two more costumed individuals stepped out of the zeta tubes. The team did a double take as they recognised the two heroes. The tall male wore a black armoured body suit like the others, but his had a pale blue bird upon his chest. There was a stab wound in his shoulder and a number of minor slashes upon his arms and torso. The younger male couldn’t have been older than eleven and wore the robin suit that the team knew well. The problem was that the red top, black pants and black and yellow cape were on a stranger and not their Robin, who was standing next to the zeta controls dressed in an unknown costume. This boy was unknown to them and was favouring his left arm, which was clearly broken.
About three seconds after they exited the zeta, it suddenly lost power.
“Zeta connection lost,” the computer intoned.
“Zeta tube lock down,” said the man with the blue bird upon his chest, “Authorisation Nightwing, B-F-0-3.”
“Lock down confirmed,” the computer responded “Siege protocol activated.”
>Siege protocol?< thought Garfield >Since when have we had a siege protocol?<
>I do not know,< Kaldur thought back, >I was never briefed about such protocol.<
“Yo, Golden Boy,” called Hood tauntingly and distracting the team from their mental conversation, “What took you so long? You stop for a chat?”
“-tt-,” sneered the boy in the robin uniform, “We ensured that the pursuing enemies were annihilated and that any additional opponents would be unable to gain access to this stronghold. Something that appears to be too complicated for you to understand Todd.”
“Why, you Demon spawn,” snarled Hood as he started towards the younger boy.
“Whoa, Baby bird, no names” said Nightwing, at the same time as the woman in Hood’s arms shifted and faced all of the unknown heroes.
“That’s enough,” she said, with a fire in her green eyes that quietened any disagreement. “All of us are injured. We are heading to the infirmary, and there will be no arguing or trying to kill each other until this crisis is over.”
>Kill each other?< Artemis thought at Wally.
>Don’t look at me, Babe,< he thought back with a shrug. >I have no more of an idea about what is going on than anyone else.<
>Shh,< thought Jamie. >I can’t focus on what their saying.<
“O!” Nightwing cried out relief, refocusing the team on the intruders as he darting towards the red headed woman and started fussing. “Are you ok? Both of you?”
“We’re fine,” the woman O replied.
“Of course she’s fine,” the blonde girl said, whilst Hood snorted. “She was with us.”
“Your presence, and that of Hood’s, does not provide any substantial protection, Fatgirl,” Baby bird sneered.
The blonde-haired Fatgirl bristled at the insult and opened her mouth to retaliate. But before she could retort and continue the hostility, Aqualad interrupted.
“Enough,” said Kaldur firmly and the cave fell silent. “Now Nightwing, Robin, would you care to explain what is going on and who these strangers are?”
“We were attacked,” Nightwing said as Robin walked over to the intruders. “They targeted each of us and the clock tower, one of our main bases of operations. We believe that the bat cave is also compromised, so we are regrouping here.”
“Well that answers the why,” Karen declared. “But not the who.”
“Family,” said the black-haired Asian girl who had yet to speak. “We are the Bat Family.”