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Night of the Hornet

Chapter 4: The Hornet Takes Flight

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters. Don't own the mine. Don't own any nukes. Don't own much of anything, and posting fic to chat groups is not going to change that. Pity.

Slash: Past tense. If tense, don't read past.

I still want that shower.

Started early. Got off late. Double shift and then some. Not a sudden crime wave. Something worse. Something to put the BHPD on double time. Helium tanker jumped the Littleneck Narrows overpass and landed on five lanes of traffic. Thank God it wasn't rush hour. Only the driver dead. Four others in the hospital. Light in terms of casualties. Terrible in terms of traffic. Two freeways down in both directions, surface traffic diverted, and the HasMat team will be lucky if they have the truck moved by morning. Helium freezes like you-know-who, so they can't get a tow truck in until the truck is empty. They can't majorly vent the truck without freezing concrete and trashing the overpass. They can't freeze the overpass for fear it will crack and land on the buildings below. You get the idea.

That's two days this week spent playing speed bump. Just my luck. Fortunately this puts me way over hours, so Commander Michaelmas was reasonable when I asked for a few days off. The official reason was a private assignment for WayneTech. Not uncommon for BHPD to hire out as bodyguards or private muscle. Michaelmas figures I'm scaming Bruce. Arnot figures Bruce is screwing me. Either way, it's his money and not theirs. By Bludhaven standards that makes me honest.

I grab the Black-Knight and head for the cave.

There's a new car on the floor. Next to the Batmobile and it still looks pretty sharp. The real things last. I figure this means Batman and Kato worked things out.

I take the back corridor since I'm in civies and there's an outsider in the cave. Not that I have any secrets left, but.....Bruce's house, Bruces's rules. Not a problem.

I make it to the bathroom officially unnoticed. He knows I'm here. Obviously. But he doesn't call. Normally I'd hope for company in the shower. Today I'm just want hot water and soap before I suit up. Kevlar is rough on the Right Guard.

My gears laid out, so Alfred's been down. Good sign. I suit up and join Batman and Kato in the main cavern. The Bat is still in full kit, so they're not best buds, but at least he's not wearing the cowl. He looks up as I come in, but he doesn't leave the monitor. Alfred's set out sandwiches and coffee. I grab two on the way to my station. No lunch today, either. To risky for catering trucks. Batgirl hands me a cup of coffee before turning back to her own display.

"What's the plan."

"You can travel?" I'll consider it a question. Bruce dislikes my 'day job'. He has his reasons, some of them reasonable. Officially, he thinks it hinders Nightwing.

"Indefinite. Cleared with Arnot. I'll send Wayne Enterprises the bill."

"Good. Tomorrow Bruce Wayne inspects the Silver Ghost Mine."

'Hold up." I'm all for playing this civilian but," Didn't Oracle say something about a nuke? If radiation kept out the FBI...."

Kato answers. "The atomic bomb did not explode. Merely the trigger. The Hornet had detached it from the core."

"But plutonium..."

"May have contaminated the damaged level." Batman spoke. "It is now clear."

Fifty years doesn't faze plutonium. It's half life is in the thousands. Bruce knew that, so......" Firestorm."

"Playoff tickets....if the Knight's make it"

"Not a chance." Not for the Knights, anyway. Knowing Bruce, Ronald will get tickets whoever plays.

"The basic tunnel structure surveys as intact. Argante is jumping at the chance W.I. will reopen the pit."

That said nothing for their brains, and even less for their ethics. Pawning off a useless, radiation poisoned mine. Of course, it wasn't, but they couldn't know that. Just grabbing for bucks. Thinking they could con the Gotham playboy. Not Bruce. He'd make another fortune. Serves them right.

"We leave in the morning. There's a small local airfield authorized for daylight operations. The mine engineer will meet us there."

'Us' being? I didn't ask. Batman would tell me. "Our oversea's investor will accompany us. Mr. Ikano Kato.

First shot fired across the Bromley bow.

Rode the bike back to the 'Haven. Nice trip. Good weather, light traffic. Got in early enough to talk to Clancy. Told her I'd be out of town for a while. She'll keep an eye on my place and collect the mail. Clancy likes Bruce, so she's always happy when I'm working for Waynetech. So much safer than police work.

Call Huntress and review a few local problems. She'll cover the city while I'm gone. E-mail Titans Tower and take myself off the active roster. Pack my suitcase, and my other suitcase. I keep duplicates at the cave, but it's my equipment and my job.

Call the Gotham Municipal Airport Security Office, then fax them, then call again. Copies of my police ID and concealed carry permit. One to airport security, one to the Feds. Another set to the authorities in Copper Flats. A hassle, but it's got to be done. Otherwise you don't wear a pistol into an airport.

That's one of Bruce's real problem's with my job. He hates guns. Totally. I'm a cop. I carry. Constantly. God help us if I ever have to fire it.

Left the Black-Knight in the garage. Took my car. More room for luggage. Besides, it may look like crap but it's crap with cop tags. Security waves me past. Thanks. Don't want these bags inspected. I steer around a few trucks and pull in by the hanger. Best thing about a private jet. No 'long term parking' hassle. Earl's there, of course. I drop my bags with him.

Nevada by eleven means leaving Gotham before eight. Early for me, late for Bruce. The only time I like to see sunrise is when I'm still working on the night before. He's one of those early rising, well disciplined types. Makes me nuts. I set the alarm early so I could make the airport by 7:15 and clear weapons check before Bruce arrives.

No luck. By the time I walk out of the office, Bruce and company are waiting in the lobby. I'm surprised to see Cassandra. She's a bit new for field work, even if she can fight, and this looks to be more tactical than our usual street rumbles. More surprised when Bruce hands her over to a uniformed stewardess. Delta? Why the hell was she flying civilian? Bruce had more than one jet. If he's playing another game on the side....

The usual chit-chat in the hanger. Bruce charming the ground crew. I wait until we are on board, then give him the look. Bruce just smiles, but Kato answers. "Miss Cain is going to visit with my grandchildren."

Which answers nada.

"I doubt Claudia Bromley will have time to consider hostages, but it is not outside her style."

"My son is well taught, but he can not watch everywhere at once. Too much readiness might tip our hand."

"Cassandra will attend school with the eldest girl, Mishi, and otherwise babysit the younger two.

I had to agree. It was perfect. One more eurasian kid would pass unremarked on Maloki. We could have asked Kon, but he's the noticeable type. Also he gets distracted by tidal waves and alien invasions and that sort of thing. Cassandra stayed on target like the Bat. After recent events, well, she was back in form but low on confidence. The trust would do her good. Find another topic.

" I wondered....if you don't mind my asking.... if you and Britt .......well...."

"How did I have a son?" He hesitated. Not like someone editing a story. More like remembering.

"The files don't exactly mention a mother. Just Hayashi B. Lee, born 1952 in Tibet."

None of my business, but I'm curious. Another of lifes little quandaries. Bruce, well, he has his sons. In a way. But we aren't his sons. At least, I sure as hell never was. I think Alfred wanted me to be, but we were too close in age, and also... People used to accuse gypsies of stealing children. Romany tell it the other way around. The accuse the Gaje of stealing kids. I guess I felt it would be... disloyal. A lie. Like I was ashamed of who I was.

Tim. Maybe Tim is some sort of son to Bruce. He's a brother to me. I really love that kid. But Tim has a father. A lousy one, but he's trying. And now a mother. OK, a step-mother, but she's a nice lady and she cares for Tim. He doesn't need us for family. Sanity, maybe, but not family.

Jason. That sucks. Jason was Bruce's son. Adopted 3/15/94 That's what the law says. That's what it says on his tombstone. 'Jason Peter Todd Wayne, Beloved Son' . Died 7/21/95. Like losing an infant, but worse because you really knew them. Really loved them. But he's dead and worse he's almost forgotten. Like some mistake Bruce made that eveyones too polite to mention.

For me? I like kids. But I'm not sure I'd let mine near the Bat.

Kato sipped his coffee , leaning back in his chair.

"That is a story. Britt was fond of children. I was not, as I recall. Perhaps because in my childhood they were so very common, and seldom of value. I did not think on it. In the 40's a single man was not thought of as an adoptive father, even if he was not known to be 'gay'. Britt and I were not a 'family'. Perhaps I should have desired a son. They have value in asian culture. But I never particularly admired my own parents, so the end of our lineage did not distress me. Certainly that is not what I sought in Tibet."

"My life was gone. Ikano Kato was gone. Lee was... not yet. I had traveled to Butran, then Sham'bala, and finally following rumors sought the Temple of the Clouds. It is said that there men may see their true face, and know the hearts of men. It is said it holds a power there to rebalance the world. I do not know if I was going after peace, or after power. Perhaps it would be the same. I made it only so far as the Shu-lin Road. Lost in my own pain, I did not hear the bandits until I was upon them. Otherwise, I am ashamed to say, I would likely have ignored their evil. I had seen much pain in my travel, but without Britt it meant nothing. This time, they saw me first. I was forced to fight. In the end, they were dead, but I had come to late for the poor travelers they had murdered. Senseless evil. They had so little to steal, but those were harsh times. One child lived. Even with my heart dead, I could not just abandon it in the snow. I turned back, thinking to leave it with the monks in Lassa. But, when I reached the gate...I could not. So. I took a plane to Tokyo, got my son's passport from the American Embassy, and returned to Moloki. I became a grocer. A widower with a young son. The rest you know."

He paused, staring into the coffee.

"That is my one worry. Hay knows nothing about this. At least...He knows about the Hornet. To teach him, to warn him, I had to tell him some things. But ....I have never told him that he is.......adopted."

No prob. One more non-fact for Lane to write around. That's why she gets the bucks. A look from Bruce. Change the topic again. Back to business.

"So. What exactly are we looking for in Copper Flats."

End Chapter Four

KKR - 2003

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