Chapter 9

"Guys, I'm found out. Slugging it out," Terry said. After a moment, he growled, "And whoever else is listening in, I'm coming for you."

"Batman, wait-!" Whatever Bruce said next was cut off over the sound of the suit's boosters and the shriek of twisting metal as Terry burst free from the ventilation shaft. A shower of bullets rose to meet him. Tiger's Claw soon proved themselves to be far more dangerous than Gotham's normal thugs. The Tomorrow Knight found himself dodging, gliding, and just struggling to stay alive. So far he was succeeding, but he couldn't keep this pace up for long. He had to find a way to fight back.

Terry came up to one of the room's pillars and began to glide around it for cover. Unfortunately, the men of Tiger's Claw were no amateurs. One of them predicted the course of the turn, and a bullet went through one of the suit's gliders. Terry barely managed to grab onto the pillar with the suit's new claws and hang on. Before the astute gunman could take another shot at him, Terry fired two batarangs in quick succession at the man, the first knocking the gun out of his hand, the second shocking the man into unconsciousness.

Around him, Terry could hear shouts as orders were given to the gunmen. Despite the noise, the orders were clear and precise. Above them all however, he could make out a shrill voice, filled with panic, trying to make himself heard in the pandemonium. Terry managed to twist around and saw the bald man with the radio from before.

"Bruce! That man…" Selina gasped, staring at the monitor. Terry's view of the bald man filled the screen. Bruce nodded.

"Batman," he said into the mic. "That's the leader of this cell. The same one from before."

Back in the warehouse, Terry grinned, a plan forming in his head.

"The panicky one. Perfect." Without another thought, he kicked himself off the pillar and launched himself at the man with the radio. Bullets zipped around him. The man turned to flee, screaming orders at the men to stop shooting before they hit him, the fools. Terry launched one of his electrical batrangs at the radio in the man's hand. The man screamed as the batarang hit its mark and shorted the radio. He began to twist around, anger on his face- until Terry landed a kick in his stomach. As the man collapsed to the floor, Terry turned on the suit's camouflage and jumped back. The men all aimed their guns at and around the collapsed man on the floor.

"Don't shoot, you fools!" The man began getting up, coughing roughly. The gunmen looked to their various commanders, who stared at the bald man blankly. "Don't just stand there, idiots! Look for him! He's in here somewhere!"

The men began to spread out in tight formations. Terry quickly tiptoed past a group and hid behind the control panel for the nuclear material.

"Dark Knight," he whispered. "Call our contact in the police. Tell them to come to this warehouse."

"Batman, the police aren't…"

"Oh, and tell them to make sure they pack Geiger counters and radiation suits. They should still have some from when Blight was around," Terry continued.

"Wait! What the heck are you-"

A bullet whizzed by Terry's head. One of the gunmen had heard him. "Uh, just trust me. No time to explain. Gotta go!" Turning on the suit's thrusters, Terry leapt and positioned himself behind the glass tube holding the nuclear canister. The men continued to fire at his visible thrusters.

Just trust me. That's what he had told Bruce. He sure as hell hoped he knew what he was doing. If this plan worked, this could be the end of Tiger's Claw. And if it failed, well, he'd be dead. Tiger's Claw would hunt down his family, possibly Bruce, and certainly Selina. And there was also a small chance he'd irradiate a good chunk of Gotham City.

The men stopped firing, noticing how close to the tube the Tomorrow Knight was. The bald man's face turned red.

"What are you doing, fools? Fire at him!" the man screamed. One of the commanders turned to argue. The bald man looked at him flatly, then took a device out of his pocket and pressed a button on it. The commander twitched, opened his mouth in a silent scream, then collapsed to the ground.

Whoa! Terry's eyes widened.

The bald man surveyed the room.

"If there are no further objections," he stated coldly, "Then FIRE AT BATMAN! KILL HIM!"

Unable to disobey the order, the men took aim. Terry decided to make the task a little easier for them. He turned off the suit's camouflage and spun himself to the front of the tube, right in front of the canister.

"Here I am guys! See if you can hit me!" he mocked them. Terry had the distinct pleasure of seeing the bald man's face contort into confusion and then terror.

"Wait!" But it was too late. The men had already begun firing. Terry propelled himself off the tube, just before the first few bullets went through it right where he'd been located. An alarm on the panel below began blaring.

"Batman! What's going on in there? The radiation in that room is spiking!"

"Yeah…I may have just started a nuclear meltdown."

"What?!"

"I'm taking care of it!" Terry replied, gliding to the column he'd been at earlier. It was difficult with one of the suit's wings ripped and a trail of bullets following him.

"You were supposed to retrieve the material, not do Tiger Claw's work for them!"

"I have a plan. Trust me," Terry answered, finally reached the column. He planted an explosive device at the top, then leapt towards the next column. "But, uh, you may want to ask the police to hurry."

There was silence on the other end of the com link for a moment. Then, "If you irradiate any of the city besides that warehouse, your paycheck will be going towards the cleanup for the next ten years."

Terry planted an explosive on the next column. Bullets continued to whizz by him, though they were fewer in number as some of the men began trying to contain the leak.

"I'm going to contain it. And if this plan works, Tiger's Claw is through. At least this cell is." Terry replied, leaping to the final column. He landed, then planted the final explosive. Alright, now he just needed to get away before—

A bullet pierced his leg, causing him to lose his grip and fall to the ground below.

"Batman? What's going on?" Terry could hear Bruce's concerned words buzzing through his ears. He was laying on his back on the cold hard floor, in contrast to the burning sensation currently shooting through his leg where the bullet had gone through. The bald man moved into view, standing above the injured hero, his face twisted in fury. The gun in his hand was soon pointed at Terry's face.

"Nearly three decades of work! Down the drain because of some punk!" the man snarled. "Three decades after that-witch-ruined my plans! Do you know how hard it was to climb back to my-!"

Whatever he was about to say after that was cut off as Terry fired his thrusters and launched himself into the man's torso. They always talk too much, Terry thought as he flew past the bald man, now lying stunned and out of breath from the hit to his solar plexus.

The Tomorrow Knight continued his glide, keeping the thrusters as straight as he could with his injured leg, and headed for the door he was fairly certain were the stairs. Chaos reigned in the room as the men of Tiger's Claw ran in panic, some trying to contain the meltdown, others attempting to maintain order, and still others simply trying to escape. At least no one cared enough to fire at him anymore.

Terry burst through the doors, thankfully finding himself in a stairwell. He launched upwards, narrowly squeezing in the narrow space between the winding stairs. Once he judged he was likely above the basement level, he hit the button for the explosives.

The resulting explosion was bigger and louder than he'd expected. The walls and stairs around him began collapsing before his eyes, even as he shot higher and higher. He felt heat below him and looked down to see a massive fireball shooting up the stairwell below him.

"Batman!" Bruce's yell rang in his ears even over the sound of the explosion.

"Slag it," Terry muttered to himself, looking back up, his focus completely on escape, dodging collapsing debris, feeling the pressure of the explosion beginning to propel him upwards.

Opening, opening, need an opening, he thought, keeping his panicked thoughts at bay. Nothing but brick walls met his eyes, until…


There! A small window, the brick around it already starting to collapse! He turned towards it, even as the roar and heat of the explosion seemed to rise around him.

"The commissioner requests that the next time you dispose of nuclear material, try not to make such a big mess." Bruce's wry comment came over the com link.

Terry glanced across the field from his spot in a tree. Gotham's finest, most of them dressed in radiation suits, were currently digging out and arresting various members of Tiger's Claw. The fire department, a special nuclear disposal team, the SWAT team, and half a dozen other response teams were assisting in the clean-up and recovery.

"I'll keep it in mind next time I fight Blight," Terry replied sarcastically. "How bad is it?"

"According to the commissioner, most of the nuclear material is actually contained under the building's debris. The way you blew the columns made the building form a protective umbrella over the material, rather than crushing and dispersing it." Bruce explained. "Most of Tiger's Claw appears to have survived, including their leader. The commissioner's hoping they'll be…chatty."

Terry couldn't keep the grin off his face.

"So this cell's done, huh?"

"Seems like it."

"Maybe it'll lead to the rest of their organization."

"It's quite likely," Bruce replied. Terry found himself frowning.

"So what are you so worried about?" he asked his mentor.

"We never figured out how they were listening in on our com link signal," came Bruce's answer. Terry sighed.

"I'm not worried about it. Most likely it's buried under tons of rubble," Terry replied confidently, looking at the chaos that had once been an old warehouse. Bruce's silence told the teen what the older man thought of that.

"Return to the cave," Bruce finally said. With that, Terry grimaced and climbed down from the tree. His leg still bothering him, he tried not to think about the walk through the woods he was about to make to the Batmobile.