"This is it?" Stephanie asked as she looked down at the weapon in her hand. "This is the special weapon?"
Bruce looked up at her in surprise. "What? You very skilled at using those you know," he noted as he turned back to his work.
Steph looked herself over, still letting the feeling of being Robin sink in. The costume was essentially the same as Tim's, the exception being her mask, which was a cowl featuring her Spoiler mask's eyes trimmed in green. And of course room for her ponytail. It all looks good except for this thing. She thought as she twirled the article in her hand. "Nunchucks. You really think that nunchucks are gonna help me against some of the stuff out there? Why can't I just use the staff?" she whined.
"Because, Stephanie, Tim was best with the staff. I feel that you will do well with the nunchucks," Bruce said sternly. He turned back to his work, obviously annoyed.
Dammit. I'm trying my best here, I'm not trying to bother you, Bruce. It's not like I asked to do this. She found herself poking at her gunshot wounds from a week ago.* It was then that the Bat Signal lit up the Gotham sky. "Hey, Bruce," she started. No response. "Bruce..." she said a little louder. Silence. "Bruce!"
"What is it?!" Bruce asked, very irritated.
Robin pointed to the sky shyly. "It's the signal," she eeked out.
"Oh," Batman said as he pulled on his cowl. "Let's go," he commanded as he raced for the Batmobile.
Stephanie was right on his heels. "I didn't know they still had one of those," she joked as she hopped into the vehicle.
Minutes later, the Dynamic Duo arrived at the Bat Signal outside of Police Headquarters. Police and swat teams had the place surrounded, but the situation looked tense.
Batman approached Commissioner Gordon with Robin behind him. "What's going on, Jim?" he asked.
Gordon sighed and took his glasses off. "Hostage situation," he informed them as he wiped off his lenses. "Couple of rookies let some crooks with brains get a hold of their firearms, now we got two armed men and an estimated five hostages. So we're a bit ineffective right now," he finished. As he put his glasses back on, he noticed Stephanie. "And is this yet another Robin?" he asked curiously.
Robin walked around Batman and shook Gordon's hand. "That's me, Commissioner Gordon," she replied. She leaned in closer. "But I don't expect to be very long,"
Gordon smiled and patted the girl's back. "You'll do fine, young lady. But I think you might want to go catch up with him, cause you know damn well he's not waiting," he joked.
Robin nodded and rushed to join her partner, who was already on the roof.
Strange, James Gordon thought to himself as he watched her go. I'll be damned if she doesn't remind me of Barbara a little bit...
"What are we gonna do, Tiny? What are we gonna do?" Smiff frantically asked his much larger partner. "The police are sure to nab us, I don't wanna go back! I don't wanna...ow!" he screamed as he grabbed his face.
"Snap out of it man!" Tiny demanded as he drew his hand back, his muscular frame enough incentive for Smiff to calm down. "Look, you watch these coppers, I'm going to go scope out an exit," he grunted. He disappeared into the dark station.
Great plan there, Tiny. Leaving me here...alone. At the sound of a noise, he turned and had his gun ready. But there was nothing except for the hostages. And now my damn mind is playing tricks on me. What next, the Bat?
As if on cue, Batman swooped in and nailed Smiff in his chest with an open fist. The crook stumbled back, but then became brave and swung at the Dark Knight with his gun handle. Batman easily jerked away the weapon and grabbed Smiff's wrist. He drove him to his knees with a minimal amount of pressure, and then tied him up. "Now," he demanded menacingly. "Where's your friend?"
"I got him!" Robin shouted as a kick to the chin sent Tiny tumbling on top of his incapacitated partner. "I'm sorry, but anyone that still has the nerve to say 'coppers' needs to be in jail," she commented.
Batman finished untying the last hostage and turned back to Robin. "They'll tell Gordon and the rest that it's over, let's go," Batman ordered.
Robin didn't move, her eyes were glued to a piece of information scrawled in barely legible pencil, illuminated by moonlight. Robin vs Cluemaster: First Round Match. The words puzzled and scared her at the same time. She picked up the napkin and looked closer. What the hell is this?
"Robin!" Batman shouted, startling the Girl Wonder out of her daze. "Are you alright? What is it?" he asked.
Robin slid the paper in her belt and waved it off. "Oh...nothing. Read into something more than I should have. Let's go," she replied.
That night when she returned home, Stephanie Brown found little peace in sleep. All she knew was that her father was slated to face Robin in some type of first round match. She had no clue as to what that meant, but there were more pressing matters. If he's looking for a fight with Robin, he'll be looking for Tim! How will he react when he finds out I'm Robin now? The thought plagued her the rest of the night, and it was still on her mind the next morning at breakfast.
"Stephanie?" her mother asked worriedly. "What's wrong with you? You haven't touched your food,"
Stephanie quit pushing her eggs across her plate and put down her fork. "Nothing mom, it's just..." her mind raced for an answer. "...I'm just worried about a big quiz on Monday," she lied.
"Oh well honey, I'm sure you'll do just fine," her words reminded Steph of Gordon's words last night. "But I really have to get to work, I'll see you later," she said as she walked out the door.
"Figures. Alone again. I guess my only angle is Oracle on this one, try to see what pops is up to now," her eyes fell upon a picture of Brentwood Academy in the Gotham Gazette. "I wonder what you've been up to since you've been freed," she sighed.
The main office of Brentwood Academy...before hours, of course. The occupant: Tim Drake. The information he's copying: countless stories of the Blue Beetle written by Vince Kennedy.
Damn Vince, you have waaay too much time on your hands, Tim thought as he ran off another copy. Things had been relatively quiet for Tim since his last encounter with Vince*. His grades were coming up, and plus, he couldn't remember a time when he was as worry free. He peeked up at the clock while he worked. 7:50 in the morning. Still have 10 minutes to finish up. It wasn't easy for just anyone to get up at 7 in the morning to break into an office. It wasn't easy to bypass the alarm system just to use the copy machine. Unless of course you used to be Robin. Used to be...the words hit home hard for Tim and he tried to distract himself.
*See The Brave and the Bold #12 for the whole story-Kelen
"That will be all for right now Ms. Peterson," a gruff voice called from the other side of the door. "I'll be in my office,"
Tim looked at the nameplate on the desk next to the machine. "Dean Richard Palmer," he read aloud. Shit! I'm using the dean's personal copier! He rushed to shut down the machine and hide. He dropped the notebook, sending pages everywhere.
Dean Palmer entered his office a few seconds later, unsurprised to find it the same way he left it. He sat down his coffee when he noticed a drawing. Examining it he put it back down. "Aww, young Bruce must have drawn a superhero and left it for me to find today. Wait until I show the others," he said with excitement as he went back out of the office.
From within the confines of the closet, Tim held tightly to the notebook he had just gotten up off the floor seconds ago. "His kid's name is Bruce?" he chuckled to himself as he went for the window.
"What do you make of it, Alfred?" Stephanie asked as she emerged from changing into her costume, minus her mask. "I couldn't tell Bruce without him turning the Bat Ranger and doing this himself, so what do you think?" she asked again.
The butler sighed and looked over the napkin again. "You know, this is the type of thing that did in Master Timothy..." She gave him the look and Alfred gave up. "I think that someone has set up some type of match up between you and your father, why I do not know," he responded.
"I figured that out too, but do you think I'll lose an advantage since I'm not the Robin he wants?" she asked as she paced around Alfred.
Alfred finally grabbed a hold of her. "Stephanie, you have had little trouble facing your father before, I doubt you will now," he scolded. "If I were you, I'd take the offensive and find him before he finds you," he finished.
Steph pulled on her mask and tucked away her nunchucks. "Finally, a good piece of advice! I'm on it Alfred," she replied as she mounted her bike and sped off.
"These Robins," Alfred joked. "They're such a bundle of nerves when they first begin," he chuckled.
"Yeah man!" the young Mexican exclaimed as he and 3 others exited Gotham Police HQ. "We're free!"
"Yeah, but for how long?" another asked. "There goes Tino from the Central Crew, I say we rush him," he suggested.
"But we just got out!" the young one complained. Hard stares from the other 3 told him to shut up.
"But what if Robin or Spoiler show up like last time?"* another piped up. He received a smack across the head from the leader.
"They only come out at night dummy," he replied, very annoyed. "Now let's get him,"
The gang slowly moved in on their prey when they were the ones who were getting jumped. Since they had their weapons confiscated by police, they put up little fight and were soon beaten. The 2 that were conscious could only groan out their various aches and pains. One of them was yanked up by their coat collar, his attacker still blurry in his vision.
"Where did you last see the Spoiler?" the voice demanded.
"Look, Robin," the stunned thug said. "We don't know where your little girl friend is. Now let us go before we turn you in for assault," he said confidently. That was when his vision cleared and he nearly wet himself.
"My, my, my. That's a first. Someone confusing me for Bird Boy," Cluemaster said mildly amused. "But since you were the last ones to encounter her, I figured you might know something..." he mentioned as he pulled out a knife.
Robin swung into the heart of Gotham: downtown. She hadn't been able to find her father yet, but when she did, she swore it would get ugly. Come on. Where are you hiding? She asked herself as she landed atop City Hall for a better view.
A few rooftops away, she saw four men scrambling away from the bank, bags loaded in their arms.
"I know they didn't think they'd get away with this one," Robin joked as she launched her jumpline and landed directly in front of them. "Now, now boys, weren't you taught that stealing is bad?" she asked as he slammed the closet thug with a vicious left hand that left him unconscious.
Two more thugs approached her, thinking they had the advantage. Robin executed one back flip and nailed the youngest in the head with a batarang before she landed. Rolling back towards her other attacker, she nabbed him by his shirt and chopped him on the neck.
"That's what you get for being so cocky," she mocked. "Now what do we do about you?" she asked the last thug sweetly as she pounded her fist into her hand.
"No way! I'm not getting my ass beat by this crazy bitch again!" he screamed as he ran across the rooftops of the close buildings until he ran out of leaping room.
"First off, let's see you leap across Main Street like that," Robin joked as she landed behind her target. "Second," she pulled out her nunchucks. "I know you didn't call me a bitch," she said flatly. Suddenly she was jumped from behind and caught in a sleeper grip. Must be one of those thugs thinking they can take me. Her eyes fell to the bags of cash, noticing one had ripped. Inside was nothing but cotton stuffing. "What is this, some kind of sick joke?" Robin asked as she struggled to break the tight grip.
"Oh, no joke Robin," the evil voice sneered. "Simply your demise, unless you agree to help me," Cluemaster said as he tightened his grip around his own daughter's neck. "Would you like to hear it or should you try to leap over Main Street?"
Robin heard the words, but she was too close to blacking out to respond. What she did see was that the only thing supporting her was her father's arms and she was dangling off the side of the building, the busy Gotham street so far below.
NEXT ISSUE: It looks like Arthur knows about Steph's new job, but will she live to find out what he wants? Plus Tim and his father have their own heart to heart talk about... Damn, ran out of room.