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Orbits of Glass

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A sort of prologue set during a Friday in April…


The wind tore at his hair as he crouched lower behind the windshield of his borrowed bike. 'At least the rain stopped,' he told himself. He barely slowed as he entered the city limits and the highway turned into a narrow city street. He wasn't exactly sure which city he was in. All he knew was that he was somewhere north on a bike he stole outside a gas station but probably not safe.

Two-story brownstones bracketed either side as he followed the signs and finally came to a park. The road was dry by the time he cruised to a stop near the tree line. The rain hadn't reached this part of the city so he took advantage of it. He pushed the chopper behind a clump of pines and entered the woods alone, seeking shelter and safety.

He ran a bare hand through his wet hair and shivered inside his oversized shirt. He 'borrowed' the shirt and a pair of pants from one of the thugs that originally jumped him in Gotham. The man was also one of the thugs he knocked out hours after his capture. He stowed his own clothes in one of the saddlebags of the motorcycle, not that they covered much after he had torn the strips away. Now he wore a huge dress shirt and pants with the belt cinched tight and the cuffs rolled up.

The teen rubbed his uncovered eyes, wishing one of the criminals had been smart enough to use sunglasses. His only pair of glasses was smashed under the table he had thrown once he escaped out of the chair they had tied him to. Not that sunglasses made much sense with sunset in the near future.

He pulled his thoughts out of the past as his slight shivering increased to outright trembling and he started to see his breath. It was late April so being cold wasn't unusual. What was strange was the sudden drop in temperature. Giggling sounded behind him which turned his blood cold. Crossing his arms to keep some of the heat in, he turned to face the laughing woman.

He was prepared for anything and he got…nothing. No one was behind him. He continued shivering, certain he had heard a woman's voice. Wind blew around him and the rain he had been fleeing started falling around him. The faint afternoon sun hid completely and set the world in off-colors.

"Are you lost, little boy?" the voice asked. He swung around. Nothing behind him and nothing in front. All that was around him were trees and more trees.

"Come out and face me," he yelled to the trees, falling into a fighting stance. He tried to put as much authority in his voice as he could but it came out sounding small in the new, strange dark.

A cold hand dropped onto his shoulder but he didn't have a chance to look before the same hand slammed him into a tree. He tried to push the thing away but he felt heavy and slid down the tree trunk. He lifted his eyes to the figure pressing him down. All he saw was the shadow of a woman with burning red eyes.

"Ahh… the sweet taste of misery. You are filled with it," the shadow woman cooed and brought her hand to his face in a gesture of mock-kindness. The dark-haired teen tried to pull away but he couldn't find the energy right at the moment. Something deep inside him stirred and a trickle of fear entered and subsequently was stripped from his mind. Finally finding his strength, he kicked at the specter and caught her by surprise. She crashed into a tree a few feet away.

"Who the heck are you?" he asked as he struggled to stand next to the maple tree he had been trapped against.

"I'm Spectra," she said as she floated. From a distance he could see that she had the form of a woman but looked like the black shadow, so his first impression really hadn't been a trick of the light.

"And you, little boy," she continued. "You, are going to give me all your pain, all your misery and I be closer to regaining my form." With that she flew towards him, arms stretched out. She grabbed onto his shoulders and sunk her claw-like nails in.

"I…am not a … little boy!" He grabbed one of her black arms and threw her around into another convenient tree. He staggered back a couple of steps as she pulled herself off the ground and turned to him.

"Oh you are going to PAY for that!" The woman let out a scream and her read eyes flared a brighter red. She hovered above him and swung a clawed fist. A normally easy strike to avoid, it hit him with the force of a Semi pulling a full load.

The lone hit, along with the hell he had been through only hours before was enough to knock him down to the forest floor. He rolled to his side and spit blood and unwanted weakness returned, kept him on the ground. He still had enough in him to glare up at her smirking non-face. It was kind of hard to glare at something that was only eyes and a mouth.

He opened his mouth for one last smart-ass statement when his voice was drowned out by the sound of a high-power laser. The specter was blown through the trees again, this time chased by another flying figure. From what he could see, this new addition wore red and rode what he swore was a flying surfboard. Laser light crossed the space between Spectra and the new fighter, lighting up the small clearing. The two circled around his position, the shadow blasting with green energy beams, the stranger firing back in red.

The teen struggled to sit up and was surprised when hands helped him upright. He looked over to see someone around his age with hair as dark as his, his face covered by green glasses and a half mask covering nose and mouth. "Are you alright?" asked this new person, voice clear through the mask. All he could do was shake his head wordlessly knowing that he was hurt and not knowing exactly what was going on around him. The small burst of energy he had earlier vanished and the adrenaline rush faded. Suddenly, the guy pushed him to the ground and covered him as the two fighters passed right over their spot. Energy blasts struck the ground and the rain hissed with the heat.

He stayed on the ground as his rescuer stood up. They both followed the wild path of the battle until the shadow struck a lucky hit and the second flyer fell to the ground. Spectra gloated from the air as the fighter cursed, the voice feminine and mad. Then the ghost turned from the downed woman and focused on him. Cursing his body for being weak, all he could do was lay there as she flew towards them. She stopped and hovered with a sneer as he stayed on the ground and the guy next to him dropped down on one knee.

"Well, that was fun. But, I have a body to rebuild so if you would just hold still…" She trailed off as the smirk he was coming to hate appeared on her face again. She moved a couple of feet closer with her hands stretched out. His eyes drifted close as the helplessness grew and his energy disappeared. He could imagine the shadow had reached them by now but he laid still on the ground. His eyes shot open though when he heard a gasp. He lifted his head enough to see a green beam slam into the shadow woman, knocking her back into the path of a blue light, light eminatting from something in the downed flyer's hands, pulling the black creature inside. Turning his head he followed the path of the green light to the boy, his rescuer, still kneeling on the ground next to him. He dropped a smoking hand and turned with worry to him.

"Just hold still," the man told him. "We're going to take you to the hospital." He felt arms reach under him to lift him up.

"No hospitals," he ordered. His voice came out weaker than he wanted it to. "Don't take me there…" he stopped talking as his eyes drifted close again exhaustion making one last bid to pull him under.

"Who are you?" his rescuer asked as he settled him back on the ground. His eyes remained closed but he still has enough of a grip on reality to answer the question. He whispered his name before giving up and surrendering to unconsciousness, missing the last of the conversation.

"So what did he say?" asked the girl. She walked across the ground instead of flying like she had for the fight. She slung a cylindrical container across her back and joined her partner to look at the kid they had saved. The teenager on the ground was completely out and they both stared down at the beaten-up boy. Not taking his eyes off his charge he repeated the name.

"Robin…"