Fugitive Endeavor, part 2
Disclaimers in "part 0"
The answer finally came telepathically. I'm okay, Batman. I'm here. An image accompanied the words, and Batman immediately closed the door of the Batmobile and headed purposefully in the direction he knew J'onn to be. His senses remained at high alert; J'onn had called him Batman, not Bruce. It could merely be a reaction to the state of mind that J'onn recognized when he stretched out his telepathic touch, but no sense taking chances.
J'onn was deep in the Cave, well past the spaces that Batman had claimed as his own. It was in fact a part of the Cave that Batman tended to avoid, even after the quake had shifted the dimensions of the tight crevasse that wound away from the main Cave. He repressed a shudder, remembering how he had once lured Azrael into this narrow passage, tricking the avenging angel to abandon his armor and evening the odds of their battle. A reassuring touch brushed against his mind, although there was something under J'onn's effort at comfort. A ... concern? Worry?
Batman picked up his pace.
The quake had made a big difference to this part of the Cave, Batman realized suddenly, aware that he was still moving more or less upright as he pressed deeper into the dark. The rough rock corridor pressed in tight on both sides, seeming to threaten to narrow to nothing at any moment, but J'onn's mental directions assured him that the way stayed open. Probably ghosted through this part, Batman grunted in his thoughts, forced to turn sideways to accommodate his body to the narrow space.
I was in pursuit, J'onn replied with imperturbable calm, and Batman raised his head in surprise.
You'll want to see this yourself, J'onn demurred. You're almost here.
Almost in human terms or in Mar- Oh. Batman almost stumbled at the sudden sense of space around him and blinked at the low level lantern that illuminated a cave space about the size of a small bedroom. This certainly had not been a part of the cave system when Batman had fought Azrael.
J'onn stood opposite the entrance that Batman had emerged from, inspecting something in the beam of his lantern.
"What have you found?" Bruce asked.
J'onn shook his head. "A point of entry, and tonight of egress." He gestured Batman closer and invited him to look down a shaft half sheltered by an overhang of stalactites. Bruce peered into the darkness.
"Someone came through here?"
J'onn reached down and scooped up a handful of dust from the cave floor. Without comment, he blew the dust off his palm and let it drift down the shaft. The tell tale streaks of laser guiding beams showed clearly for a moment. "Breadcrumbs," J'onn observed. "I followed them back two miles to an abandoned barn."
"And you caught-" Batman stopped the question too late. Of course J'onn hadn't, if whoever it was was not presently in the Martian's custody.
J'onn seemed to catch Batman's thoughts, because he shook his head apologetically. "He was already rabbiting down this hole when I had fully materialized in the teleporter. He had done this often enough to be proceeding swiftly and without thought."
Batman held a startled reaction in check. "Often," he repeated.
J'onn nodded soberly. "I got a sense that he had set this up some time ago and for some reason had abandoned it. I quite doubt he could ever be so close as this at any time I was in the Manor without me sensing him."
"Him," Batman repeated, processing what J'onn was telling him. Cave security had been breached - for a while, apparently. Without Batman's knowledge. Someone had established unlimited access- "J'onn, did you get enough to make an ID?"
J'onn shook his head. "Not someone I know. Although-" His expression grew thoughtful. Do you recognize him? he projected, accompanying the thought with an impression of the person J'onn had almost caught.
Batman felt his jaw set as the sensations flooded over him. Oh, yes, he recognized him. "Cain," he spat.
"As in Cassandra's father?" J'onn asked in a surprised tone. "Why-?"
"I don't know," Batman stated, "but it's not good whatever it is. J'onn, did he realize it was you -"
J'onn shook his head. "I think he heard the teleporter warming up and took off more or less instantly. Whatever he was doing he did not want to get caught in the act."
Batman stared down the shaft that had allowed an assassin access to his stronghold. "What are you doing, David?" he wondered.
He felt J'onn rest a gentle hand at the small of his back. "If you would like, it would take little effort to dismantle his system here and refortify our security measures."
Batman glanced up at J'onn's sincere expression, for a moment almost smiling at the "our." But his mind snapped back to the issue at hand swiftly, a plan formulating in his mind. "No," he decided. "This bears watching, but I want to know what he's up to. And I want to figure out everything he's touched. You said he's been here often?"
"Often enough to make this difficult passage with a fair reliance on muscle memory. Although not in the last 10 months. As I said, I would've noticed."
Batman reached back to give J'onn's hand a reassuring squeeze. "I know. Which means that there was some plan afoot a year ago that for some reason did not get carried through." Batman tapped open a com channel. "Oracle."
"Go ahead, Batman."
"I want you to run a fine grain diagnostic on all files in the Crays in the period ranging from 12 to 14 months ago. And call the boys. I'm going to need them here."
"We've got a security breach," Batman reported grimly, "and we need to plan."