Black Ops
Chapter 6: Playing God

By John Westcott

"Not much to go on in the way of clues is there?" Robin asked. Beneath his cape and cowl, Batman had been keeping his own council for the entire trip to Bludhaven. He had already arranged for the windows In Dickís apartment to be replaced by a Wayne Foundation subsidiary before anyone noticed they had been broken, especially Clancy. They had been combing the apartment looking for clues and Batman had to admit there were few, but that didnít mean there were no clues at all.

"Look over here Robin." He said pointing to the floor as he inspected a footprint. It was basically the clear outline of a work boot of some kind. "I recognize this foot print. Or at least foot prints like it. This is a standard combat boot worn by military types on operations where silence was required. They are tough steel toed boots but they are almost like tennis shoes in the makeup of their soles, quiet and tough... and they make exactly that print."

Robin was astounded. Batmanís wide array of knowledge covered areas that Tim had never imagined. Bruce Wayne would have made a top level FBI agent or criminologist, but Wayneís life path was forever altered when his parents were killed in front of his eyes in a Gotham alley.

"I suspect that whoever has taken Dick wishes to keep him out of the mainstream population and therefore wouldnít take him to an military base or anything like that. Do you have the map I asked you to bring?" Robin nodded and handed a small data pad to his mentor. Batman thumbed a small button and an LCD map of Bludhaven appeared there. The cowled crime fighter scanned the map intently as he used directional buttons to scroll the map in different directions across the screen. Tim had no idea what Batman was looking for. He noticed that Bruce had stopped scrolling the visual display and tapped a spot on the southeastern section of the map, the location seemed to be several miles outside of the city borders.

"There. Thatís our next stop." He said in an icy calm voice.

He handed the map to Robin, his eyes narrowed as he saw what Batman had found. An old Atomic bomb shelter. Of course, the perfect hideout for military types hoping to stay out of the limelight. Of course, the old shelter wouldnít appear on any normal maps of the city, but he was Batman, and he had special resources.

"Letís check it out."

"Hang on Dick, weíre coming for you." Robin whispered to the shadows.

The Boy Wonder replied as he clipped the device back on his belt.

And with a rustle of their capes the dynamic duo disappeared into the Bludhaven night, on the hunt for their missing comrade.

"Donít get me wrong, I enjoy showering with a beautiful woman..... itís just that usually I like to know their names first.......... usually." The hot steamy needles of water lashed out from the showerhead and caressed Dick, who relaxed against the wall and let the heat take the ache out of his muscles. Behind him, Major Stacy Summers of Impact Squadron took a large sponge in her hand and began to rub Dickís muscles. Dickís back was aching from the three death matches he had cheated his way out of only a few hours ago. He leaned on the tiled wall for support and let the beautiful woman run the soapy sponge over his body, he was far too sore to refuse her efforts.

Only a few hours ago he had met Summers for the first time. He had ignorantly assumed Major Summers was a man, a rookie mistake he mentally chided himself for making. His surprise at seeing the ravishing beauty for the first time almost gave them all away. This type of subterfuge was not something he had a lot of practice at. Summers covered for him though, indicating that her "poor husband" had taken one too many shots to the head. Judasí recruiter, Neil Anderson, seemed to believe the story easily enough. Anderson led Summers, Young, and Dick to his waiting seaplane where they were promptly flown to a secluded spot in the Aegean Sea. Once there, they boarded a yacht that whisked them off to one of the most elegant sights Dick had ever laid eyes upon.

In a secluded inlet along the coastline of Crete, Nightwing couldnít believe his eyes as the yacht parted the morning mist and revealed a huge breathtaking castle perched at the edge of a sheer cliff. Anderson informed them that the castle was once used by an order of warrior monks that had disappeared into the mists of time. Dick had seen a lot in his time, but he doubted he had ever seen anything quite as breathtaking as this. Huge stained glass windows depicting saints and prophets twinkled in the morning sunlight. Turrets covered in ivy reached up toward the sky, complete with armed guards patrolling each one. The side of the building that faced the sea was unapproachable, protected by the sheer two story rock face. The remaining three sides were also well defended by a high wall topped with razor sharp glass and roving cameras. There was no doubt that anyone who tried to attack the inhabitants of this castle would not get far before Judas could release his warheads or even his biological weapons..... wherever he was keeping them. On top of all that security, the area was one of the most beautiful and pristine that Dick had ever set eyes on.

The ship docked at a small pier at the cliff base and the three of them were escorted to a series of steps that led up the cliff face to the top. They couldnít believe they were being asked to climb all the way to the top. Anderson joked that if they had changed their minds they could always swim back to Desolation Island. No one had any doubt that he was totally serious about the threat. Finally they had reached the top, Dick was especially sore after what he had been through in the death match tournament. Neither Summers nor Young had been given a chance to speak to Nightwing alone since their time on the island. As they walked through the courtyard Dick was amazed at the stunning gardens and artificial waterfalls that had been so carefully arranged to please both the visual and olfactory senses. Flowers and shrubs of every kind blossomed all around him in every color of the rainbow. Reds, whites, greens, and blues shot in every direction in a kaleidoscope of color that only nature could provide. They walked through a small path through the gardens towards a set of open french doors. They were obviously expected by the master of the house.

Anderson led the trio up a spiral staircase to a long hallway with marble floors and heavy oaken doors. Anderson offered Young the first suite to refresh himself. There was nothing the Colonel could do but accept the offer and cast a quick glance to Dick and Summers, indicating to them that he would be all right. Dick couldnít help but wonder if that were true. Young was now on his own. Separated from the group. Divide and conquer was the oldest trick in the book.

"I suspect you and your wife will enjoy this suite." Anderson said with a chuckle as he led the two into a huge room with a large king size canopy bed. Their feet sank into plush carpeting as they entered. Sunlight was now beaming through the windows illuminating the fresh cut flowers that filled the room. They had no choice but to play along without blowing their cover of a married couple.

"I will be up to get you in a few hours when you will have an early dinner with my employer and we can discuss things. The appropriate clothes are supplied in the closet." Anderson said, "Until then, relax and enjoy." He said as he shut the heavy door behind him, they both heard the lock being turned from the outside. They both knew that the entire room was no doubt bugged. Perhaps they were even being watched on video. They quickly realized there was only one place they could communicate without being seen or heard, and that was in the shower.

Summers stripped off her leather outfit without a trace of modesty, knowing that cameras were watching them, Dick tried his hardest not to let his eyes bulge out of his head as her nude form padded across the thick carpet to the adjoining bathroom, seconds later the shower was running and steam blossomed throughout the room. Dick knew that he had to join her in the bathroom and get into the shower with her, but his mind was running rampant with images of the other women in his life. Kory, Barbara, and Clancy. All women he cared for deeply, he could imagine their faces if they knew what he was about to do. He felt dirty somehow, but there was little he could do about his current situation.

"For Queen and Country...." he muttered as he stripped off his clothes and stepped into the shower with the beautiful young woman. It was beyond uncomfortable for Dick, but he had faced far worse duties in his life. Finally, the two could speak freely.

"This is one hell of a honeymoon..." he said as the hot spray began to wash over him.

"Sorry for springing this on you Nightwing, but this is my cover and I am supposed to watch your back... and thatís exactly what Iím going to do."

"Listen lady, thanks for your help and all but I donít need you to watch my back. Iíve been doing this type of thing since before I was old enough to shave."

Summers began to wash shampoo into her own luxurious mane of dark hair. "No you listen, I have never failed on a mission yet and I donít intend to start now. My orders are to pose as your wife and protect you whether you need it or not. Youíre too important to the success of this mission not to have a bodyguard and mister, thatís me... like it or not. Youíre going to have to start calling me Stacy by the way if you want to keep our cover from getting blown And just what do I call you?"

He thought about that for a minute. Just what was she supposed to call him? He couldnít give her his real name that was out of the question. He thought about it for a few minutes, letting the hot water soak his pain away. He turned to face her in and looked in her sparkling blue eyes. He still couldnít quite believe that he was standing nude before her in the shower trying to think of a name for himself that he could share with her. The answer came to him all at once and he smiled as he remembered the face of a friend long gone.

You can call me Todd....... Jason Todd.

She smiled at him, "Ok Jason. Of course you can call me Stacy." She again began to soak his chest with the soapy sponge. Feeling uncomfortable about the whole thing, he reached out to stop her and his hand grabbed hers, Summers froze and their eyes locked. For several seconds they both held the gaze, finally Dick broke off and turned away from her, finishing up his shower.

"Before we get out of here, do you have any suggestions as to how we proceed? Any kind of game plan?"

"No one has ever made it this far Jason. Iím sure you know that. So a lot of this is going to have to be playing it by ear. This much we can do, you act as the quiet street fighter, Iím your wife and the Colonel is your manager. Weíre supposed to be here to negotiate a deal for you to work with Judas. Let us carry the conversation."

"The ball is in your court my dear." Dick said as he turned off the water. He felt much better despite the circumstances. The hot shower helped his aching body immensely and he felt better knowing Summers was a more than competent individual. He toweled off quickly and opened up the large walk in closet looking for the promised clothes. He was only mildly surprised to see a tuxedo hanging there. Next to that was a strapless blue dress for Major Summers.

"Apparently itís going to be a black tie affair." He muttered to himself. The only other pieces of apparel in the closet were two terrycloth robes, both a scarlet red. It was far too early to dress for dinner seeing as how it was still the middle of the morning so he donned a robe. It was then that Dick finally felt the wave of exhaustion hit him. He had been going nonstop for hours and he had fought for his life three times in the past 24 hours. Dick felt his limbs become heavy and his eyelids began to close despite himself. He wandered over to the large bed and fell on top of it, face down. He felt Summers climb on top of him and begin an expert massage of his back. Before he knew it he was too tired to even thank her for her efforts and falling into a deep sleep.

Kane stood before Angelica as she brushed some lint from his tuxedo jacket. He had spent the day watching the newcomers on hidden cameras. Unfortunately there was little he could learn. He watched as this new fighter and his wife showered together and both had fallen asleep almost immediately afterwards. He had sent Angelica up to their room to wake them up and soon afterwards they were both dressing in the clothes Kane had supplied to them. He had supplied Nightwing with a tuxedo identical to his own. It was a simple black tuxedo with white collarless shirt. The manís so called 'wife' looked quite ravishing in her strapless blue gown, both Kane and Angelica noticed that and said so. Kane wondered how she would stand up to his virile needs. Both of them admitted that it would be interesting to find out but probably quite impractical.

"Shall we meet our guests Angelica my love?" He said as he took her arm in his. Angelica was, as usual, wearing as little as possible. Her dress revealed far more than it concealed. She wore a black dress that ended at the ankles but was slit almost obscenely high on her leg. The neckline plunged deep and revealed much and the back of the dress plunged further than her neckline did, revealing a muscular back and a few scars as well.

They entered the room together arm in arm while Nightwing and Summers entered from the opposite end also arm in arm. They were in a high ceilinged room with a large chandelier at the apex, twinkling in the late afternoon sun. Copies of beautiful paintings by Monet, Van Gogh, and many others covered most of the walls. Stacy and Dick noticed that there was no sign of Colonel Young, and it made them both feel dread. Whatever Dick was expecting of Kane this wasnít it. Kane was about 6 foot 4 inches tall and had perfect bone structure. His body was well muscled and perfectly proportioned, his skin healthy and tanned and his blonde hair tied back in a ponytail much like Nightwing used to have. His teeth and smile were of course perfect. He could pass for any well bred company chairman or all American politician. He didnít look threatening as he played the part of diner host. Dick knew however that this man was lethal in the extreme.

"Welcome to my home!!" Kane smiled broadly and shook Dickís hand vigorously. He then kissed the back of Summersí hand like a true gentleman would. Nightwing did the same, kissing Angelicaís hand, she almost purred as his lips touched the back of her hand.

"Allow me to introduce myself, I call myself Kane and this is my most cherished confidante and mate Angelica. Iím sorry but your manager is feeling a bit ill and wonít be joining us until after dinner."

Dick opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by Stacy. "I am Stacy Todd and this is my husband Jason. Thank you for having us. Your home is stunning." From a side door a very large and dark featured man appeared dressed in a grey suit and escorted them all to the dining room, both Dick and Stacy noticed that their silent escort was eyeing Major Summers hungrily. Dick could only guess what this man could do to her if given a chance. He could be a rapist and murderer for all they knew. If he was working for Kane, he was certainly no Boy Scout. They were led to their seats and the large man insisted on seating Summers, he moved his own body as close to hers as he possibly could, Summers instantly felt dirty just being near him but revealed nothing.

"I assume you know something of why I have brought you here Mr. Todd." Kane asked as Dick and the silent man exchanged a look of warning. The silent man smiled arrogantly at Dick as if he were not a threat. Dick returned his attention to Kane.

"Not much really. I only know Iíve been offered a lot of money."

Kane laughed in response, "Money is the least of what I offer you my boy. I offer you power and a chance to be in the vanguard of the new humanity I intend to create." Nightwing arched his eyebrow and shook his head to imply he didnít comprehend. Summers spoke up again as well.

"The new humanity? Mr. Kane what are you talking about?"

Kane continued to talk as they were served a succulent roast beef dinner cooked and seasoned to perfection with a wide selection of vegetables. The silent man served them and always took the opportunity to lean in close to Summers just to smell her or touch her briefly. Kane was completely forthright with them and explained everything as if he were planning his summer vacation.

"My dear please allow me to explain. I am a genetically engineered man. From head to toe my DNA has been written and rewritten by human scientists to achieve the pinnacle of genetic development. Created by the government of The United States of America as cannon fodder for the wars to come. I am faster, smarter, stronger, and more resilient than any normal human. In fact, the difference between myself and normal humans is as vast as the difference between yourself and an ape."

"You mean less than 10 percent?" Dick spoke up suddenly.

"What did you say?" Kane asked.

"Well surely a man as smart as yourself knows that there is less than a 10 percent difference in the DNA of a human and an ape. They are intelligent and loving creatures with family and social structures. They take only what they need and harm no one."

Kane was silent for a moment. Dick, Angelica, and Stacy could all see that Kane was fuming inside at Dickís remarks. Was there that much difference between Kane and a normal human? Kane seemed to think so and having his beliefs questioned at his own dinner table obviously angered him greatly. Summers knew Nightwing was testing him.

"Apes may be just as you say Mr. Todd, but mankind is not. Mankind is decadent, stupid, hate filled and weak. People starve daily and mankind does nothing to help them. Why? Because the hungry masses donít have money thatís why. How can anyone go to bed at night with a full stomach and not feel guilty that others are starving and they do nothing about it? A colony of apes would never allow that to happen. Mankind will however. Thatís why I have need of your special talents Mister Todd. To be blunt, things need to change and I am just the man to instigate that change. My plan is simple. I am going to eradicate the human race as we know it."

Both Dick and Stacy were silent at Kaneís announcement.

"What?" Dick asked.

Kane smiled proudly. "I am in the process of gathering enough biological weapons to kill off the entire human race and begin anew my friends. I plan to repopulate the Earth with my own siblings, which I am even now in the process of creating. The strain of virus is a mutated strain of Ebola which is called Ebola Omega. It just so happens that I and others like me that I create are immune. We will begin again and no one need ever go hungry or homeless again in my world. Of course, I may be the pinnacle of human development but even I only have two hands. I need an army to carry out my wishes. An army comprised of men and women such as yourself to gather the biological weapons I need."

"You plan on using people like my husband as cannon fodder such as you yourself say you were meant for?" Stacy interjected.

"Youíre playing God." Dick said as the silent man reached down to take Summerís empty dinner plate and rubbed himself against her back. In one brief flash Dick reached out and grabbed the man by his silk tie and pulled on it with enough force to smash the mans face into Summersí dinner plate and he fell backwards clutching his face.

"Hands off the lady scum bag."

The man was silent no more. His nose bleeding profusely, he cursed at Dick in several languages and produced a knife, before he could use it Dick kicked the knife from the would be killers hand and sent it sliding across the floor. With cat like agility the enraged killer jumped to his feet and took a swing at Dick, again Dick grabbed the man by the tie as he ducked the punch and pulled the man to the ground, pinning him to the ground with his foot on the manís throat.

"Enough!!" Kane yelled, his voice like a thunderclap. Returning to his feet, the silent man froze where he was standing. Dick took the opportunity to strike his attacker in a nerve cluster in the shoulder and the man fell to the ground unconscious.

The room fell silent as all eyes were drawn to Kane who dabbed at the corners of his mouth with a napkin and rose to his feet calmly.

"Donít concern yourself with him Mister Todd. He was very expendable. I think itís time we drop this charade donít you Nightwing? I was using Emil here to test you and you failed miserably sir. I think itís time your manager joined us donít you?" Angelica rose to her feet and turned walked over to the far wall. She touched a panel on the wall and a large painting began to slide away revealing a large viewing screen. As soon as the painting had slid away into a recessed compartment it shimmered to life and Dick and Summers gasped in shock. There on the screen was Colonel Young, bound to a table and surrounded by men and women dressed in surgical gowns and masks. The room was pure white and was no doubt some form of operating theater.

"You do call yourself Nightwing yes? And I must therefore assume that your wife and manager are key members of a constant thorn in my side known as Impact Squadron. As you can see, I have known your true identities all along. Even now I have a select group of my best men ready to descend on the remaining members of Impact Squadron and eliminate them as well."

For the first time Summers spoke in a way that broke her cover, "What?"

"I am always three steps ahead my dear." He responded with a smile.

Summers turned to Nightwing, her eyes pleading, "We have to get out of here... now."

"What about Young?" Nightwing asked.

"Heíd agree with me. Weíll come back for him."

Dick turned back to Kane and pointed his finger accusingly as he spoke. "You are one sick puppy you know that Kane or Judas or whatever you call yourself? Youíre a science experiment gone wrong. Youíre a circus freak with a test tube for a father."

Kane fell silent and closed his eyes. Rage flaring within him. Angelica gasped with shock hearing Dickís words. No one had ever talked to Kane in that manner. As he did Dick turned back to Stacy. "Get out of here, Iíll keep him busy."

"Heíll kill you." She replied with real concern in her voice.

"Go!" Dick said as he pushed he towards the door. Angelica suddenly broke into a run and chased Stacy out the door way.

Slowly, Kane opened his eyes and looked straight at Dick, a cold hatred in his eyes.

"Iím going to enjoy killing you Nightwing."

"Iím going to enjoy watching you try."

"Ok out with it Sito whatís with all the Nightwing hero worship anyway?" Romaine asked as he threw a poker chip on the table and sucked on his cigarette. Eight members of Impact Squadron were sitting in an old farmhouse just up the coastline from Nightwingís current position, awaiting further orders. Murrant had been teasing the younger Sito for days about his fondness for the Bludhaven vigilante and the others were curious as well. Here in this farmhouse surrounded by fields and the chirps of crickets and frogs they had nothing to do but wait. They could either talk and pass the time or go stir crazy. They wisely chose conversation.

"I canít tell you because youíll all laugh at me." He replied as he lobbed some poker chips at Murrant.

"We laugh at you anyway so you might as well give up the big secret."

Sito was quiet for a minute and finally began to speak. "If anyone laughs at this I swear I will kick your tails so hard.........."

"All right we promise we wonít laugh just tell us." Johnson interjected to a round of agreement from the rest of the squad.

"A few months ago my sister was traveling with a friend to New York and they stopped in Bludhaven to visit an old friend. She was on her way home from a party and she was attacked by this gang. Theyíre known as The Misfits in Bludhaven and they rule all the other gangs in the city. Theyíre also a bunch of rabid psychos who would rape her and leave her in a ditch just as soon as look at her. I know this happened because she told me this herself. Apparently this guy comes out of the shadows and kicks all their tales pretty hard. He even got her to a police station to assure her safety. She asked him what his name was but he didnít answer."

"So what makes you think this was Nightwing? Bludhaven is full of psychos." Francis said as the others chimed in with their agreement.

"Yeah but remember this guys, my sister has a photographic memory. She not only described this guy to a tee, but she drew a picture of him." Sito reached into his wallet and pulled out a folded piece of paper which he proceeded to unfold and throw on the table for all to see. The room fell silent as they all examined the paper with its slightly faded drawing.

"Iíll be damned......." Francis was the first to find his voice.

"It IS him." Stiles remarked.

"No doubt about it." Brooks agreed.

"Damn right it is" Sito confirmed. "So cut the guy some slack. He may not be one of us, but heís one of the good guys."

Without warning Sito sat up, his body tense and fully alert. "Wait just a damn minute. Listen. What do you guys hear?"

The other men strained their ears to listen. "I donít hear anything." Murrant admitted.

"Exactly." Sito replied as he pointed towards the open window, "What the Hell happened to the frogs outside?"

"Ohhhhhhhhhhhh shit."

"MOVE!!! MOVE!!! MOVE!!!" Brooks yelled as they all overturned the table and scrambled for their weapons. It was then that all Hell broke loose.

"They were here all right." Robin said as he went through the discarded food tins and miscellaneous bits and pieces of evidence that suggested that Dick and his captors were here. Batman was topside, examining the tracks left in the dirt by several vehicles. He took his communicator from his belt and spoke to Robin as he ran his fingers through them, making mental notes as he talked.

"They took off in a very special kind of military aircraft Robin. I see evidence of that in the tire tracks and the machinery thatís been left lying around. A Typhoon 313 B I suspect. Very fast and capable of long flights carrying a great amount of passengers and cargo without needing a runway an longer than the average driveway." Robin shook his head in amazement, "How can even you possibly know that?" He asked.

"Wayne Enterprises has a government contract to build the engines for them. There should only be about nine in existence right now." He added, a brief smile passing over his lips and then disappearing.

"Get in contact with Oracle Robin, weíll need her special talents on this one. No one can make a move these days without making waves on the information highway and this plane is one high tech venture. It needs special parts and fuel. If anyone can find it, she can."

They closed the connection and Batman rose to his feet, his cape rustling in the night wind. He looked up at the full moon and wondered where on Earth they had taken Dick. Where under the moon was his adopted son? Russia? Turkey? Canada? Brazil? Zaire? Just down the road even? He pulled his cape around him and walked back to the waiting Batmobile. He would find Dick, and then he would make whoever had kidnapped him feel the wrath of Batman.

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