Tang Ri Shan

Red Wings

(This is a sequel to Beware the Batman: Conundrum. I suggest reading that story if you have not done so already)

Chapter 21

Alfred felt his pulse quicken as the knob of the door leading into the control room turned. He braced himself as the door suddenly swung open, revealing a young woman with blonde hair.

Alfred paused, his eyes widening as he recognized the woman. "Dinah?"

Dinah Lance froze in the doorway, but her look of surprise quickly faded to one of suspicion. "Who are you? You're not allowed in here!" She demanded

"Dinah, listen to me. I'm here on official business from..." Alfred started to say.

"Get out!" Dinah demanded, an angry frown appearing on her face.

"I'm afraid I can't do that" Alfred said solemnly, bringing one hand behind his back.

Dinah's eyes narrowed, and her mouth opened. A sonic cry erupted from her lips, knocking Alfred back into the wall.

As Alfred grunted in pain, Dinah reached for her cuff-links and pressed one of them. An audible click was heard.

"I just contacted security They'll be here any second. Any last words?" Dinah asked, looking back up...only to see something come flying at her.

"Actually, yes" Alfred said, straightening with a wince as he watched the dart embed itself in the girl's neck. "Never take your eyes off your opponent" He added as the blonde girl slumped to the floor.

Hearing footsteps in the corridor outside, Alfred pulled her into the room, then moved to close the door and brace it with a chair. He then reached for his earpiece. "Sir, I've managed to subdue one of the birds of prey, but my position's been compromised. I don't know how much longer I'll be able to stay here"

Bruce's eyes narrowed as Alfred gave his report. He glanced at Kathy, meeting her eyes, and gave a kurt nod.

Kathy nodded back, then her eyes suddenly widened. "Um, Bruce, do you hear something?" She asked.

At Kathy's words, Bruce suddenly became aware of a faint hissing sound. He glanced down, and his eyes widened when he saw what looked like pale green vapor seeping out from gaps in the stage.

"Kathy!" Bruce warned. Kathy followed his gaze, and her eyes widened as she saw the gas.

"WHAT'S HAPPENING?" She shrieked, alerting other people to the presence of the gas.

Around her, people gasped and started to cry out as they noticed the gas. Then they started coughing too, as the gas reached their noses.

"Bruce!" Bruce froze as a voice reached his ears, a hauntingly familiar voice.

"Bruce!" Bruce's eyes widened as, amidst the people who were coughing and choking, a figure appeared. He stood tall, seemingly unaffected by the gas, gazing, no...glaring at Bruce with ice-cold eyes and an expression that held no warmth.

"Father?" Bruce's eyes widened as he recognized the man, it was Thomas Wayne.

"Bruce, you have failed me." Thomas scolded. His voice was gentle, but the tone was sharp enough to cut through Bruce like a knife.

"What?" Bruce blinked, surprised.

"You have shamed our family name." Thomas Wayne continued to scold. "I am very disappointed in you, my son."

Bruce was so overcome with emotion that he barely acknowledged the fact that people were screaming around him, that Kathy was weeping beside him, reaching out to a figure only she could see. Chairs went flying, and tables were overturned as the Scarecrow's fear gas did its work. He barely even noticed Oswald Cobblepot standing calmly amidst the sea of chaos that filled the room, wearing a portable gas mask, and looking around with a smug expression on his face.

"Bruce!" Bruce felt a hand on his shoulder, but he barely noticed it. "Bruce!" Someone began shaking his shoulder, but he simply shrugged it off.

"Reaf fo dnim sih realc!" A voice chanted in his ear, and suddenly Bruce's head seemed to clear. The image of his father seemed to flicker before finally dissolving into vapor.

Bruce blinked and then started as he felt something cover his mouth and nose, but it was only a handkerchief. He looked around to see Zatanna kneeling next to him, another handkerchief covering her own face.

Realizing what had happened, Bruce nodded his gratitude at the magician, who nodded back, before moving towards the grief-stricken Kathy. Tapping his ear, Bruce sent a signal to Man-Bat and Metamorpho.

"Blow the roof, now!" Bruce's voice ordered.

Confused, Man-Bat and Metamorpho looked at each other.

"Right now?" Man-Bat replied.

"Yes, now!" Bruce yelled, struggling to be heard over the chaos that was erupting around them.

A few seconds later...


Even though he was expecting it, Bruce still jumped as part of the ceiling suddenly exploded, blowing open a gaping hole and revealing the night sky above.

Bruce turned to Zatana, "Now! Send the gas out of here!" He shouted through his handkerchief, struggling to be heard over everyone's screams.

Zatanna nodded, closed her eyes, and raised her hands. "Foor eht hguorht tuo sag eht wlob!" She chanted. A warm wind sprang up, blowing thorughout the room, corralling the fear gas into one location before rising up to the hole in the ceiling. Like a funnel, the wind directed the fear gas up through the hole, releasing it into the night.

"So, Scarecrow was right all along!" They turned to see Oswald Cobblepot glaring at them, dropping his gas mask to the floor beside him. "You have betrayed me, my dear"

"Okay, first of all, I'm not your 'dear', and second, I was never with you, you brainwashed me!" Zatanna argued.

"If you are not with me, my dear, then you are in my way." Cobblepot raised his umbrella and pointed it at Zatanna. "And anyone who gets in my way, needs to be removed!"

Zatanna raised an eyebrow, gazing at the umbrella. "What are you going to do with that, Cobblepot?" She asked mockingly.

"Come now, my dear." To her surprise, Mr. Cobblepot smirked. "Not that all pretenses have been laid to rest, I prefer you call me, Penguin!"

Zatanna raised an eyebrow. "Penguin?" She repeated.

"A flightless bird, I know, but they do have a certain flair!" At he spoke, Cobblepot pressed a hidden switch in the handle, and flames suddenly spewed out from the tip, rushing towards Zatanna, who gasped in alarm.

Moving quickly, Bruce dropped his handkerchief, lunging towards Zatanna, tackling her and knocking her down seconds before the flames reached her.

"Thanks!" Zatanna said as they scrambled to their feet.

"I'd say we're even now." Bruce answered.

"Ozzie!" Both of them looked up to see that Mr. Cobblepot was now being confronted by a furious Kathy, a silken scarf wrapped around her mouth and nose. "What is the meaning of this?!" She demanded.

"It's quite simple my dear." Mr. Cobblepot said with a smirk as he suddenly pointed his umbrella at the woman, and a sword tip sprang out from the end. "I am taking what I deserve, any way that I can!"

"What on earth?!" Kathy gasped and tried to back up, but before she could, Mr. Cobblepot lunged forward and grabbed her.

"Kathy!" Bruce gasped.

"Miss Kane!" Richard Dragon exclaimed.

The cries of the two men did not go unnoticed. Heads turned, eyes widened, voices exclaimed in shock as they saw Mr. Cobblepot holding Miss Kane, brandishing what appeared to be a sword-tipped umbrella.

"Barbara, come back!" Richard called as he chased the red-haired girl through a labyrinth of tunnels.

"No, stay away from me!" Barbara yelled, dashing around a corner. Richard followed, coming to a halt when he saw that the corridor was a dead end, except for a ladder that stretched up into the darkness. Barbara had already started up the ladder.

"Barbara!" Richard started climbing as well.

"Let her go, Oswald!" Bruce demanded, taking a step forwards.

"Ah ah ah." Mr. Cobblepot taunted, pulling Kathy Kane back so that the blade of the sword rested against her neck. "I'd stay back Bruce, unless you want to see just how blue Kane blood really is."

Bruce froze in place, but his glare sliced across the room. "Do you actually think you'll get away with this, Oswald?" He asked.

"It's Penguin to you, simpleton!" Mr. Cobblepot snapped. "And while my plans may have been soiled, I believe that, yes, I will still manage to get away."

"Your plan to what, gas everyone in the room with a fear toxin that forces them to experience their worst nightmares?" Bruce theorized.

"Something along those lines, yes." Penguin admitted, shrugging his shoulders. "Fear is a sign of weakness, but it can also be a powerful weapon. Control someone's fear, you control them. Miss Gordon is a prime example of that."

Bruce's eyes widened, then he shook head, sighing in exasperation as he ran a hand over his hair, his fingers tapping his earpiece as he did so.

"Finally," Alfred said, trying his best to ignore the banging on the control room door as he reached for his earpiece. "It's time." He said before turning to face the door just as a massive crack appeared on it.

"FREEZE!" Everyone jumped as Commissioner Gordon suddenly appeared in the middle of the crowd, gun drawn and aimed at the Penguin. Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, several of the diners pulled out weapons and aimed them at the stage, just as riot police burst in from several doorways.

"What?" Penguin gasped as he instantly found himself surrounded.

"Commissioner Gordon, what are you doing here?" Bruce asked, pretending to look confused.

"Got a tip-off that something bad was going to happen at the Iceberg Lounge on its opening night." The Commissioner explained, "Looks like my intel was good."

"Commissioner Gordon, your timing is impeccable." The Penguin snorted. "But I would strongly advise you and your associates put those down." Raising his voice, he called out "TO ME, MY BIRDS OF PREY!"

There was a crash from nearby, then four figures suddenly leapt over the assembled officers and assembled in front of the Penguin, a dark-skinned woman with short black hair, a woman with snowy blonde hair, and two men, one with red hair, and one with black hair.

Bruce tensed as the four figures assumed fighting stances. "The other birds?" He asked.

"Yes, but one is missing." Zatanna replied. "i don't see Dinah."

Penguin must have realized the same thing because he frowned before speaking into what must have been a hidden communicator. "Black Canary is missing, find her!" He barked. Several staff members darted away in various directions before the police could stop them.

"You really think a few lackeys are going to make a difference here?" The Commissioner did not look intimidated by the Penguin's help.

The Penguin just chuckled. "Oh believe me, commissioner, these are no mere lackeys." As he spoke, the dark-skinned woman suddenly lifted up into the air, her fingers curled into claws. A set of mechanical wings burst out from the black-haired man's back, tearing through his shirt and jacket in the process, and he also took off into the air, while the remaining two birds stalked forwards, their faces sporting matching glares.

"Hmph." The Commissioner snorted. "Everyone's got a gimmick now. Doesn't change anything."

The Penguin frowned. "Perhaps, but I fear you may not be around to enjoy the rest of my bird's 'gimmicks', as you may soon find yourslef distracted by other matters."

"And what is that supposed to mean?" Commissioner Gordon asked.

"GET AWAY FROM ME!" A loud scream cut through the air, drawing everyone's attention to the giant iceberg that dominated the center of the room. As the room watched,d two small figures appeared on top of it, one with flaming red hair.

"Ah, perfect timing." said the Penguin.

Bruce's eyes widened. "Oracle." He whispered.

"Barbara?" the commissioner looked stunned, then his gaze turned to Cobblepot, and his eyes narrowed to hostile slits. "Care to explain what my daughter is doing here?" His voice became dangerous.

An evil smile appeared on the Penguin's face. "One way or another, Commissioner, I intend to come out on top tonight." He said, shifting his hand to get a better grip on Miss Kane. "And your daughter may be just the key to make sure that happens"

"What have you done to Barbara?!" The Commissioner demanded.

"I believe we are all about to find out." The Penguin said, his gaze turning to the giant Iceberg.

Barbara please, you have to listen to me!" Richard pleaded as he climbed out of the tunnel and onto the fake iceberg.

Barbara shook her head and continued to back away from him. She turned to run, but Richard lunged and grabbed the end of her trench coat, before using it to pull Barbara to him and threw his arms around her.

"LET ME GO!" Barbara shrieked, flailing wildly.

"Not gonna happen!" Richard grunted as he struggled to hold her down.

Somehow, Barbara was able to slip out of his grasp and rolled away from him, leaving him holding her trench coat.

"Barbara, I..." Richard's words were cut off by a gasp as he saw that, underneath the coat, Barbara was wearing an explosive vest.

"S-stay away from me!" She said, holding up a small device in her hands. She pressed a button on it and a light on the vest began blinking.

And Cut!

For the last few weeks, I've been struck with a SERIOUS case of writer's block. I wasn't making ANY headway on any of my current stories, so I began looking back through my old ones and decided to pick this one up again. Within a few minutes, I was writing away! I can't believe this story has been on hiatus for over a year! I'd say it's overdue for an update!

As always, thanks to Superfan 44 for beta-reading. BTW: the two of us have been talking about a possible sequel to this story. If anyone else wants to see this happen, please let us know in your responses and we'll see what happens.

Until Next Time!