Chapter 61: Sins of the Fathers

Elsewhere in Bludhaven, Nightwing rode through the streets towards the docks, driving towards a secluded building. He pushed a button on the console, causing part of the wall to slide open. This allowed him to drive inside and bring the bike to a stop. He pulled his helmet off before climbing off and walking towards an array of tools along one wall. As he did, the lights to his base switched on, and a figure in a wheelchair was seen sitting by the switch.

"You know, if you're trying to keep this place secure, perhaps don't use the same passwords you used back in the cave for your Playstation."

Nightwing quickly turned around, seeing none other than Barbara Gordon sitting before him. He couldn't help but smile as a result.

"Hey Barb," he greeted.

"Hey Dick." She rolled towards him, adjusting her glasses as she got closer. "It's been awhile."

"You're looking good," he noted, pulling off his mask.

"Same to you. Nightwing, huh? Certainly a bit more intimidating than Robin." She chuckled a bit before sighing. "Guess this explains why I haven't heard from you since…"

"Jason's funeral…" A heavy silence fell, both of them remembering that somber day. After a moment, Dick spoke up again. "I couldn't stay… Not with how Bruce was."

"Believe me, I get it. Why do you think I hung up the cape for a while? I just couldn't bear to be around him while he spiraled. It only got worse after..."

"Yeah, that…" Dick's eyes trailed down to Barbara's legs. "I should have visited…"

"I wish you had…" Barb sniffed slightly, wiping her eyes. "I really needed you…"

"I just… couldn't. I couldn't see you in that bed, especially after I heard what-" Dick's breath hitched, forcing him to stop talking. "I just… couldn't do it. I'm sorry."

Barbara gripped the arm rests of her chair before taking a breath and letting it out. "I didn't come here to discuss the past. I came here to ask what's going on."

This caused Dick to perk up, his brow furrowing.

"You came… or Bruce sent you?"

"I came on my own. I may still be working for Bruce, but I'm a free agent. Besides, I'm worried about you. I mean, taking on the likes of HIVE all on your own?"

"I can handle myself," Dick insisted, going back to the weapons wall and pulling off a few things. "Besides, HIVE's not the one I'm after."

"Ravager, right?" Dick looked up in surprise. "I did my research, Dick. You're after Ravager, which personally, I think is worse than going after HIVE alone."

"I can take him. Besides, he's just one step to get at the real target."

That caused Barbara to go wide eyed. "Dick, you can't be serious. Please tell me you're not trying to go after…" she paused, lowering her voice, "after him."

"He's started to resurface. He's going after higher profile targets. Somebody has to take him down, and Ravager is my best lead to stopping him."

"How are you sure it's even him? He vanished nearly 6 years ago, and even if he was still alive, he would have made a move by now."

"Last year, I got word of a kidnapping of a Joseph Wilson that ended in his throat getting slit, cutting off his ability to talk. I did some digging and I found who his father was. Deathstroke."

"That doesn't prove anything."

"Except that cameras outside of the hospital saw a man with Deathstroke's description dropping the boy off. He's back, Barb, and I'm going to stop him."

"Why?" Barbara crossed her arms. "Why is this so important to you? Just what are you trying to prove?"

"I'm not trying to prove anything! Deathstroke's a monster and he needs to be stopped. This is the only way I know how."

"Then work with us. We can find more leads. Ones that don't involve you going solo on a suicide mission!"

Nightwing remained silent, before grabbing his mask and placing it back on.

"I've got to go," he replied, heading towards his bike. "You know how to lock up."

"Dick!" She reached out, grabbing his arm. "Dick, please… Don't shut me out like this."

He pulled his arm free, pausing for a brief moment.

"I'm sorry…" he whispered before moving to his bike.

He slid on his helmet, gunning the engine before disappearing out of the garage. Barbara watched him go, then wiped her eyes again before getting on her comms. "I tried, Bruce… I really did."

"I know. Dick's always been too headstrong for his own good."

"Please… keep him safe."

"I'll do what I can," Batman replied before hanging up. He then closed his eyes and lowered his head, remembering the partnership the two once shared.

On a rooftop overlooking Gotham City, Batman and a young Robin stood watch as several goons below were carrying out several crates of valuables to a truck outside. Leading the thugs was known crime boss, Oswald Cobblepot, AKA, the Penguin.

"Holy armed robbery, Batman. Looks like you were right about the Penguin showing up."

"Who else would hijack a shipment of priceless faberge eggs en route to the Gotham City Museum."

"Good point. Now, what do you say we cage this bird?"

Robin pulled out a grappling line and threw it to a nearby flagpole, allowing him to swing down towards the thugs.

"Yahoo!" he called out, kicking two in the chest as he swung in.

"It's the brat!" one of the goons shrieked.

"And where there's a brat…" Penguin looked up at the skylight, a bead of sweat dripping down his face. "There's a bat…"

Just as he said that, Batman busted through the skylight, dropping down in front of Penguin. Penguin quickly aimed his umbrella at Batman and opened fire, forcing him to leap out of the way.

"Robin!" he called out. "Maneuver seven!"

Robin nodded before running right at Batman. As he approached, Batman caught one of Robin's feet and launched him into the air, doing a quadruple backflip before flinging a batarang at Penguin's umbrella. The batarang wedged itself into the barrel of the umbrella, jamming it. Penguin quickly got to work trying to pull the batarang free, only for Batman to walk up to him and grab him by the front of his suit, hoisting him into the air.

"Next time, stick to smuggling figurines," he spoke before throwing him into a box, knocking him out.

"Looks like this bird is going back to his cage," Robin remarked, walking up to him.

"Looks like. Good work, Robin."

"Bats!" Aquaman called out, pulling the Dark Knight from his memories. "Earth to Bats!"

Batman snapped back into reality, looking up to see Aquaman and the other heroes standing at the edge of the roof.

"Sorry. What's the situation?"

"The ARGUS guys are about to load the bomb onto the ship. No sign of HIVE yet."

"Right. We'll all take different stations around the ship. Aquaman, you take to the water, Superman, you take to the air, Diana, you and I will tail the shipment from the ground.

"Understood," Superman replied before taking off into the air.

"What about me?" Robin asked as Aquaman went to the water.

"Spotter on the roof over there," Batman instructed. "Keep me informed about everything happening on that boat."

"Gotcha," Robin replied, giving a two fingered salute before firing a grappling hook and zipping off.

"And now… we wait."

On board the ship, Lyla was watching the bomb being loaded onto the ship. Seeing that things were going well, she slipped away and went inside the ship itself, pulling out a phone and calling an encrypted number.

"Waller?"

"I trust everything is going as planned."

"About that. What is the plan? Transporting an explosive device through a civilian population, I have some concerns."

"Is the cargo secure?"

"... yes. Though HIVE made a grab for it."

"Perfect."

That caused Lyla to pause.

"You wanted this to happen?"

"We've been trying to figure out HIVE's forces and capabilities for months now. We needed a way to draw them out into the open."

"By putting the city at risk?"

"The situation seemed well in hand."

"And what about the men that you're putting at risk for this venture? Or the fact that, had the Justice League not intervened the first time, the bomb would currently be in the hands of the most dangerous terrorist organization on our radar right now?"

"Who do you think clued the League into HIVE's presence in the city?"

There was a brief moment of silence. "Just how deep does this rabbit hole of yours go, Waller?"

"That's not your concern, Agent Michaels. What is of concern is making sure that cargo gets out of the city by tonight."

Lyla let out a breath. "We're loading the cargo onto the ship right now. We should be out within the hour."

"Excellent work. I knew I could count on you."

Lyla hung up, pinching her eyes in response to the chain of events around her.

Meanwhile, Nightwing was making his way towards the docks, zipping around cars while staying on his mission. As he rounded the next corner, he saw the ship in the distance.

"Bingo. Just try something, Ravager. You're mine."

"Don't cash a check you can't fund, Dick," Barbara's voice cautioned over comms, much to Nightwing's surprise.

"You hacked my comms, Babs? That's low."

"I needed some way to try and get through that thick skull of yours."

"I don't need another lecture, Barbara."

"Clearly you do if you're still going on about this. You can't go on by yourself, especially against the likes of HIVE or Ravager."

"I've been up against worse than these chumps. Besides, if it brings me one step closer to Deathstroke, it'll be worth it."

There was a sigh on the other end of the comms. "You're gonna make me do it, aren't you?"

"What are you talking about?"

"I'm sorry Dick, but this is for your own good." The sounds of keystrokes filled the comms. "Connecting to JL comm network."

"What?!" Nightwing let out.

"Nightwing," Batman's voice greeted.

"I don't have anything to say to you…"

"Then listen. The amount of resources HIVE has at their disposal are not to be underestimated. This is not a job you can pull on your own. Work with us and let us help you."

"I don't need help. Especially from you. This is my mission. You wanna help? Then stay out of my way!"

"This is more important than personal feelings, Nightwing."

"It always was for you, wasn't it?" Nightwing remarked before disconnecting the communication.

On the other end, Batman grimaced at Nightwing's words, lowering his hand from his ear. Wonder Woman took notice of this as she walked up to him.

"I take it, it did not go well," She surmised.

"... no."

"I can tell there's much tension between you two. What happened to cause such strife between you."

Batman paused for a moment before responding.

"Things changed."

Meanwhile, Robin was stationed on his rooftop, surveying the docks for any sign of trouble. Suddenly, he noted something out on the water. He raised his binoculars to get a better look, eying a small group of speedboats quickly approaching the ship.

"Guys, I got something," he reported. "A group of speedboats approaching from the east."

"Roger that," Superman replied. "Aquaman, take a look and see what we're up against."

In the water, Aquaman swam up close towards the oncoming boats, catching sight of the men on board dressed in the same uniforms as the HIVE soldiers.

"It's them," Aquaman confirmed. "They're making a play for the ship."

"We have to assume more are coming," Superman reasoned. "Take these guys out before they reach the ship."

"On it!"

Aquaman then jetted after one of the boats, quickly darting up at it so he could plow right through the floor. This caused the boat to break apart as the soldiers flailed in the water. Once that boat was down, Aquaman instantly swam towards the second one, leaping up out of the water and landing on the hood. He then stabbed his trident into the hood, killing the engine and leaving them dead in the water. Aquaman just smirked as the soldiers readied their weapons.

"Let's do this."

Back on the ground, several HIVE SUV's suddenly arrived, soldiers piling out and opening fire on the heroes in sight. Batman quickly flipped out of the way, throwing a batarang at one of the soldiers, knocking the gun out of his hands. Wonder Woman quickly deflected the bullets with her bracelets, actually managing to direct one into the arm of a soldier, forcing him to drop to the ground. She then grabbed hold of her lasso and used it to whip a gun right out of the hands of another soldier. Once he was disarmed, Wonder Woman dashed forward, ramming right into the soldier and knocking him to the ground. She then spun around and whipped her lasso at another soldier, knocking him back instantly. Batman meanwhile continued weaving around the oncoming gunfire until he leapt up onto one of the SUV's and leapt into the air, kicking a soldier in the face. The soldier fell to the ground as Batman landed, flinging another batarang at a second soldier, hitting him in the head and knocking him out.

Seeing the action going down, Robin fired out a grappling line and swung down to the ground, kicking one of the soldiers aside. Batman looked up to see Robin land and gave him a thumbs up, prompting him to nod in response.

Up in the air, Superman made his way down to the boat Aquaman was on, ready to lend a hand. As he did however, one of the HIVE soldiers saw him coming and quickly went for a nearby rocket launcher. He picked it up and aimed it in Superman's direction. He finally fired, causing the rocket to sail right past Superman towards a cruise ship that was out on the river. It collided with the side of the ship, causing it to begin sinking.

"No…" Superman let out.

"Go!" Aquaman called out, punching out a soldier. "We got this!"

Superman nodded before going to save the sinking ship, leaving Aquaman to duke it out with the bag guys. He quickly punched another one out before picking up a second and throwing him overboard.

Back on land, Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman continued fighting against the soldiers, taking them out in rapid succession. As another one was taken down with a kick, Robin looked up to see Ravager stepping out of a SUV, clearly waiting until the heroes were occupied, and making a break for the ship.

"Batman, it's Ravager!" he called out. "He's making for the ship!"

"Stay on him! We'll catch up!"

Robin nodded before taking off after him. Just as Ravager made his way up the gangplank, Robin fired a grappling hook, allowing him to zip up to the deck. Just as he climbed up though, a kick to the side of the head knocked him back. Robin groaned in pain as Ravager stood over him.

"Isn't it past your bedtime, kid?" he remarked.

"Don't you have license plates to pound out in Blackgate?" Robin retorted, flipping back to his feet.

"Oh I fully intend to do some pounding tonight," Ravager replied, pounding his fist.

Back on the ground, Wonder Woman's tiara flew out, nailing three soldiers at once before finally returning to her hand. One last soldier was about to take aim when a grappling line shot out, wrapping around the weapon and pulling it out of his hands before landing at Batman's feet. He promptly smashed it with his foot, causing him to take off running. Unfortunately for him, that's when Nightwing's bike suddenly came riding up, prompting him to pull out an escrima stick and smack the soldier across the face with it before coming to a stop.

"Ravager? Is he here?" Nightwing demanded.

"Our priority is making sure HIVE-" Batman began to insist.

"Where is he?!"

Batman paused for a moment.

"He's on board the ship. Robin's slowing him down."

"You sent the kid after him?!"

"He isn't doing anything you didn't do."

"Nice to know nothing's changed," Nightwing remarked before brushing past and making his way towards the ship.

Back onboard, Robin had drawn his staff just as Ravager drew a sword. Ravager rushed forward, swinging his sword at him. Robin brought up his staff to block it before swinging it at Ravager low. Ravager leapt over it and kicked Robin away. Robin rolled on the ground before pulling out three batarangs and chucking them at the mercenary. Ravager deflected the projectiles in rapid succession before drawing a gun and opening fire. Robin leapt forward and rolled out of the way of the bullets before throwing his staff right at Ravager. The staff hit him in the face, knocking him to the ground. Robin ran towards him, but Ravager performed a sweeping kick, forcing Robin to leap into the air. Ravager then used his hands to spring himself up nailing Robin in the stomach and knocking him to the ground. Seeing that the Boy Wonder was down, Ravager returned to his task and made his way below deck. Robin held his stomach in pain as he picked himself up, suddenly greeted by a hand in front of his face. Robin looked up to see Nightwing standing over him.

"What took you so long?" Robin remarked, taking the hand as Nightwing helped him up.

"Go home," Nightwing snapped.

"Kinda can't do that. Ravager's making his way to the bomb."

"Leave him to me," Nightwing told him, starting to head off.

"Hey, I can help if you just-"

Suddenly, a pair of bolas flew out, wrapping around Robin's arms and legs, causing him to drop to the ground.

"Sorry kid, but losing one Robin is plenty," Nightwing spoke before turning away and whispering to himself. "And I don't need another dead brother."

Below deck, Ravager easily dispatched numerous ARGUS agents on his way to claim his prize. He just finished cutting one down before opening the door to a chamber where the bomb was being housed.

"Perfect," he mused, walking inside.

Just then, he suddenly felt a gun being leveled at the back of his head.

"Don't move," Lyla demanded.

Ravager slowly put his hands up, before spinning around and knocking the gun out of her hands. He then kicked her in the stomach, knocking her to the ground as he readied his sword. Before he could swing it however, a wing ding flew out, knocking the blade out of his hand.

"Wouldn't you rather have a real challenge?" Nightwing remarked.

"Love one. But you'll serve as a good warm up."

"Funny. I was thinking the same about you."

Nightwing leapt forward, kicking Ravager in the chest and knocking him into the chamber. Ravager quickly recovered and got back to his feet as Nightwing entered, ready to punch him. Ravager blocked the blow before performing a palm strike on Nightwing, sending him staggering back. Nightwing rushed forward again, dealing several blows that Ravager did his best to block and deflect. Eventually, Nightwing grabbed Ravager's arm and flipped him over his shoulder, sending him colliding with a wall. Ravager looked up as Nightwing approached, attempting to kick him in the stomach, but Nightwing just caught the kick before throwing him towards the bomb.

"Had enough?" Nightwing asked.

"Hardly."

Ravager then pulled out a small device then tossed it onto the ceiling. The second it connected, it exploded, creating a gaping hole in the ceiling that led outside.

Meanwhile, Superman had just finished patching up the hole in the cruise ship, folding the metal back into place and using his heat vision to weld it up shut. Once he was done, he suddenly heard an oncoming helicopter, prompting him to look up and see one flying overhead. Curious, he flew up to intercept, only for a cannon mounted on the outside to open fire on him, knocking him back. He skipped across the water before stabilizing himself, quick to get back in pursuit.

Seeing the same blast, Batman and Wonder Woman made their way onto the ship, the former finding Robin tied up.

"What happened?" he asked, cutting him free.

"Nightwing. He's dead set on keeping me out of the fight.

"I don't think that's gonna be an option before long," Batman remarked as the helicopter flew overhead.

It came to a stop over the hole in the ship, a set of cables lowering down towards the hole.

Inside the ship, Nightwing and Ravager continue to duke it out, neither one gaining a true advantage over the other. Seeing that his transport was close though, Ravager kicked Nightwing aside so he could attach them to the bomb. Once the cables were attached, Ravager climbed on top of the bomb and gave one of the cables a tug, signaling the soldiers to pull the bomb up. Nightwing wasted no time grabbing onto the bomb as it was being pulled up, being pulled up along with it.

As the bomb was being carried away, Batman narrowed his eyes, quickly hurling a batarang at the connecting cable. Before it could make contact however, something shot at it, shattering it to pieces. Noticing this, the heroes looked towards one of the neighboring buildings to see Deathstroke standing on the roof holding a pistol.

"Deathstroke…" Batman realized.

"Finally," Nightwing let out, smirking.

He then flipped off the bomb, spreading his flaps and gliding right towards him. Batman shot out a grappling line and swung after him as Wonder Woman flew up towards the copter.

Deathstroke holstered the gun just as Nightwing landed on the roof right in front of him.

"You're a hard man to find, Deathstroke," Nightwing remarked, pulling out his escrima sticks.

Deathstroke just drew his sword without saying a word. He then lunged at Nightwing, swinging his sword and forcing the hero to evade. He then used his sticks to deflect some sword strikes before nailing Deathstroke in the head. He barely flinched before punching Nightwing in the face, causing him to go flying into an air conditioning unit, denting it severely. Nightwing wiped his mouth, noting a bit of blood coming from it before looking up to see Deathstroke approaching him.

"You're out of your depth, kid," he warned him.

Just then, a series of smoke bombs went off all around Deathstroke. He looked around for any sign of their source, only to look up as Batman descended with an electric knuckle on his hand, quickly punching him in the face. He stumbled back as Batman landed on the ground.

"What's your angle in this, Deathstroke?" Batman demanded.

"I have my reasons."

The two then lunged at each other, Deathstroke swinging his sword rapidly and Batman doing his best to avoid the strikes. Batman used the fins of his gloves to catch and redirect the blade attacks. As he aimed the blade low, he elbowed Deathstroke in the face, knocking him back a bit before Batman rushed forward and tried to strike again. Deathstroke grabbed that arm however and struck him with the hilt of his blade before trying to bring it down on him. Batman caught the blade in his fins yet again, only to break them apart, snapping the blade in half. Deathstroke looked down at the broken blade before looking up to see Batman throwing a punch. Deathstroke easily caught the punch, bending back his wrist to make Batman get down on one knee.

"Hey!"

Deathstroke looked up to see Nightwing running up before leaping into the air, kneeing Deathstroke on the face and causing him to let go of Batman.

"Stay out of this, Batman!" Nightwing insisted. "This is my fight!"

"He's too powerful to take on alone," Batman countered.

"I can handle this!"

From the helicopter, Ravager could see the battle going on between Batman, Nightwing, and Deathstroke. He smirked, wanting in on the action as Wonder Woman flew up to them.

"Surrender," she demanded.

"Afraid not," Ravager replied, throwing a small device at Wonder Woman.

The device then sprouted a set of metal cables that wrapped around Wonder Woman, tying her up and causing her to drop towards the ground. Once she was subdued, Ravager leapt off the copter and bounced off the boat and onto the street, intent on catching up with Deathstroke.

As Wonder Woman dropped to the ground, Superman swooped in, grabbing her as he touched down on the ground and used his heat vision to cut her free.

"Thank you," she replied as Superman set her down.

"Don't mention it," Superman replied.

Back with the fight, Batman and Nightwing both engaged Deathstroke head on, the assassin able to keep pace with both heroes with little difficulty. Nightwing slammed his escrima sticks on either side of Deathstroke's head, disorienting him enough so he could kick Deathstroke in the chest, knocking him back. Nightwing then swung his sticks continuously at Deathstroke, nailing him in the face and chest repeatedly. Finally, Deathstroke kneed Nightwing in the gut, knocking him back. Nightwing hit the ground, quickly rolling backwards onto one knee as Deathstroke closed in.

"Stay down, kid," Deathstroke warned.

Just then, a grappling line wrapped around Deathstroke's neck, pulling him back to Batman could strike him across the face. Nightwing got back up and was about to join in, but a quick neck shop from behind was enough to cause him to collapse, allowing Ravager to walk past and approach Deathstroke and Batman.

Meanwhile, Aquaman just flipped up out of the water onto the ground, joining Superman, Robin, and Wonder Woman.

"So, what'd I miss?" he remarked.

"HIVE's getting away with the bomb," Superman informed. "There may still be some time before-"

Just then, a rocket shot out of nowhere, hitting Superman and causing him to skid back. He looked up as a group of HIVE soldiers approached, with one holding a rocket launcher and the others wielding energy gauntlets and batons emanating energy.

"Well, this just got interesting," Aquaman remarked, pulling out his trident.

The heroes quickly engaged the agents, with Superman narrowly avoiding another rocket before darting forward and plowing into the agent. Aquaman swung his trident at the baton wielding soldier, causing energy to surge through both weapons as Aquaman shoved him away. The two clashed again, colliding weapons over and over. Robin ran up to a soldier wielding electric gauntlets, leaping over him as the soldier brought them down. The soldier quickly spun around and hit Robin, knocking him back. Wonder Woman drew her sword, clashing it against another baton soldier, electricity sparking as a result.

Back with Batman, he and Deathstroke continued to fight it out on the rooftop, with neither gaining ground over the other. Batman managed to block a kick before dodging a punch. He delivered a punch in kind, knocking Deathstroke back a bit as Batman moved in. He then grabbed hold of Deathstroke, throwing him against the rooftop entrance, pinning him.

"What's your angle in this Deathstroke? What's your connection with HIVE?!"

"Connection?" Deathstroke scoffed. "And here I thought you were supposed to be the world's greatest Detective. I'm not here for HIVE."

"Then why-"

Just then, a surge of electricity coursed through Batman's body, causing him to cry out in pain. He could only take so much before finally collapsing to the ground, both Deathstroke, and an electric staff wielding Ravager standing over him.

"Because of me," Ravager answered, smiling maliciously.