“What,” Bruce said.
“It’s Brown’s fault.”
“What? No it isn’t!”
Damian thrust forward a phone in a sparkly purple case. “Evidence.” Bruce took it from him with a great feeling of trepidation.
“When did you—you stole my phone, you—nasty little sneak!”
“Tt. And you failed to notice entirely. You’re a disgrace to the uniform.”
“…Okay to be fair, I’m not sure any of my nerve endings are functioning properly. Anyway, it’s Jason’s fault.”
“You were the one complaining about being bored.”
“Boredom isn’t a crime, it’s the natural consequence of being stuck someplace boring. None of this”—he waved a hand vaguely—“can reasonably be blamed on me.” He paused for a moment. “…It’s Drake’s fault.”
Tim rolled his eyes. “You think everything’s my fault.”
“Anyway, I may have been involved in the planning and execution, but it was Dick’s idea.”
Bruce looked at Dick. Dick tried to look innocent. “I’d like to point out for the record that no sentient beings were harmed. …Also, I was joking.”
“Brown took it seriously, encouraged the others.”
Jason raised a sardonic eyebrow at Damian. “You make it sound like you weren’t involved every step of the way.”
Bruce was still feeling a little shell-shocked. “I only left you alone for”—he checked the time—“forty-three minutes.” He waved a hand in a vague gesture, encompassing the situation, their surroundings, the entire universe, maybe. “How?”
“Look, things got a bit messy, but I think it’s important to acknowledge the important contribution we’ve made to the field of astrobotany,” Tim pointed out.
Steph raised both fists in the air and whooped. “Science!!”
“Science,” Tim agreed, nodding.
Bruce cast a despairing glance around the room. The walls, like every other room in the Fortress of Solitude, were crystalline and constructed with an intricate and alien architecture. Unlike every other room in the Fortress, but like the floor, the high-tech equipment scattered about, his five protégés, and everything else in this room, the walls were covered in orange, faintly glowing slime.
He glanced down at the phone in his hand, and with a slight feeling of dread, tapped the screen to play the video Damian had queued up.
A flash of four grinning faces, then a wild swing to a pulsing, bright-red orb of something… biological.
Steph’s recorded voice, tinny but loud.
“DO IT FOR THE VINE!”