Chapter 1 – Business As Usual

Things were undeniably going well for the Justice League and the Team. Over six months had passed since they defeated the Reach, and there had been no crises of that scale since. To add to their continued good fortune, only a few weeks had passed since the triumphant return of Wally West, who they all had thought dead. Yes, life in general had certainly been favouring Earth's heroes for quite some time. Unfortunately, it was not to last. The Light and their latest associate were brewing fresh plans, which could greatly affect the status quo of the world if left unchecked.

Wally watched the footage of the Red Hood that played on the screen before him with grim displeasure. Beside him, his cousin Bart watched on with a similar concerned face.(1) Having returned from his impromptu adventure into the future, Wally had made the decision to return to the Team on a part time basis, taking back up the mantle of Kid Flash, with Bart being all too happy to return to the name Impulse. This was to be his first official mission back. The goal: gathering information on the Red Hood. A player they knew virtually nothing about. Except, Wally did know a thing or two, and for that matter, so did Bart. In fact he probably knew more. But they were hiding what they knew.

It had been Wally's idea to keep it a secret. For one thing, they couldn't be sure that the Red Hood Bart had known in his timeline was the same man. For another, Bart had drastically changed the timeline. Granted it had been for the better, but there was no telling what it could have done to the man behind the mask. This mission that they were both being sent on was an opportunity. As they tracked the Red Hood's activities, and hopefully uncovered new intel, they might just find the answers they needed. Maybe then they'd tell the others what they knew.

"As you are all aware, this is the Light's latest partner – the Red Hood," Nightwing began, drawing the attention of the gathered heroes away from the footage, and towards himself and Kaldur. The pair had begun jointly leading the team since Dick was no longer off on a break, secretly searching for Wally.

"Despite our best efforts," he continued, "we are no closer to discovering who he is and what his motives are, or why The Light would take interest in a relatively new player. What we do know is that he is not keeping his base of operations in one location."

"Our intel suggests that he is working out of several major cities across America, and we suspect he may have additional ties across the globe," Kaldur added while Dick brought up a map on the screen, "For this mission, you will be breaking into three squads, and investigating exactly why the Red Hood and The Light have joined forces. This is a covert, reconnaissance mission, where you will only engage the enemy if deemed absolutely necessary. Nightwing, Bumblebee, and Miss Martian will be Alpha squad. You will be investigating a lead in Star City where the Red Hood was last seen. We believe he may be planning something large scale, as this is the first time in months that he has been sighted without any other known associates of The Light accompanying him.

"Artemis, Wonder Girl, and our newly reinstated Kid Flash will be Beta squad, and will be investigating an older operation in Central City. Intel suggests that the Red Hood was working in Central up until his recent move to Star, and that he was primarily dealing with a large quantity of weapons shipments. We cannot be certain exactly what weapons, so tread carefully. We suspect that these weapons are the primary reason that he and the Light are working together. Finally Robin, Impulse, and Blue Beetle are Gamma squad, and will be heading to Gotham City, where the Red Hood's first operation appears to have originated. Although he has not been sighted in the city recently, our intel suggests he still has operatives working on something in the area," Kaldur finished his instructions with a slight nod towards Nightwing.

"Information is the priority of this mission," the blue bird added, "If any of you see the Red Hood out in the field, you are not to engage, and are to call it in to Aqualad immediately. If there are no further questions then it's time to move out."

There was the generic short pause where everyone waited to see if questions arose, but with another nod from Kaldur, the Team began to set out. Wally spared a glance at Bart, and for a moment wondered if they should speak before they left, but decided it would be too overbearing. He was worried about what Bart would do if he ever ran into the Red Hood – he did know a little of the history the name the joker used to use. At the very least, he was glad that Bart was headed to the one place where that was not likely to happen.

Jason gazed across Gotham City's skyline with anticipation. He'd bided his time working with the vultures that called themselves The Light; using them as much as they'd used him. He knew that weapons of both the rare and common variety would make him an easy target for their business, and it hadn't taken long to work his way up through their ranks. With their trust secured, he could focus on his true mission. He'd started the gears turning in Gotham months ago, and he'd finally found the opportunity to return to them, and go after what he really wanted. If only Bruce knew what was coming for him.

He'd been careful with his identity, not taking up the name Red Hood until after he'd started meeting with The Light. Not even Ra's suspected who was really under the helmet, as far as he, and everyone else knew, Jason Todd was off the board. His operation had acted like a silent tumour, until he'd managed to spread across dozens of cities and gained The Light's attention. He used fear to keep his men under control. He built up a reputation quickly, putting bullets into the heads of those who went against his rules and orders. His insider knowledge of how the heroes went about their business helped too.

But these successes didn't matter to Jason. Neither did the plans The Light were pursuing. What really mattered was that he was counting down the days until justice – real justice – would finally be his. And heaven help any hero or villain that got in his way.


Next chapter will be called "This Was A Covert-Op" because we all know what the word covert really means to the Team!

Kinda short first chapter I know, but it just seemed like the right place to cut it off.

Please leave a review and let me know what you think so far :)

(1) Read the Epilogue of What's Past Is Prologue to see this moment from Bart's perspective :D