Master of the Hunt, Part I

All parts linked here.

2100 Hours, Blüdhaven Harbor

Nightwing lithely lighted on a crane just as the scene below was getting interesting. Cocking an eyebrow, he almost immediately cued up communications with his old mentor.

Bruce Wayne accepted the call, relegating the video feed to  one of the periphery screens of the Bat Computer.

“Dick, how’s it going?”

“Oh, you know, the usual. Camping out in the freezing cold. Isn’t Deathstroke in Arkham right now?”

Bruce glanced over at the screen, making momentary eye contact, before pulling up the file on Slade Wilson.

“He should be. Why?”

“Cause I could swear I’m seeing him in Blüdhaven.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes sir. He’s breaking into a shipyard warehouse owned by a wealthy family here in town.”

“Well, wrap him up. I have more important things to be doing, Dick. Unless you don’t think you can handle him?”

Nightwing snorted.

“Please, I was besting this guy back when I was Robin. I just thought you might want to come pick him up when I get done with hi-”

Just as Deathstroke managed to rewire the gate such that it would open, the air was filled with an acrid and implacable smell. Nightwing’s communications promptly cut out as a massive wind picked up, and suddenly, out of nowhere, a small craftappeared with a blast of light and a thunderclap. roughly conical in shape, with no windows and three wings. Like a stone across a pond, it skipped through the now open gate and across the open space of the compound, destroying various trucks and equipment in the process. Its manic progress was only brought to a halt when it smashed brutally into one of the warehouse walls, crumpling like an aluminum can.

“It’s rude to hang up, you know.”

“That wasn’t me.”

Without bothering to explain further, Nightwing held out his arm, providing Batman with ample view of the unfolding scene. As Deathstroke made his final approach, a small section of the pod ejected itself, and a young man all but fell out on the ground.

He had short blonde hair and Caucasian skin, and Nightwing could see, even from his high vantage point, that the young man had piercing eyes. His build was perfectly nondescript, neither fat nor thin,  muscular nor wiry, and he wore a tattered military style overcoat. It was hooded, was missing the left sleeve, and had numerous darker patches that evidently once bore insignia of rank. His left shoulder, left bare by the missing sleeve, bore a large scar that was a combination of burns and cuts forming the capital letter “H.”

He fell to his hands and knees, breathing heavily as if he’d just finished a marathon, and Deathstroke promptly leveled his sword behind the young man’s neck.

“Next time, don’t intrude on my job.”

The words should have paralyzed the young man. Nightwing was within a wair of dropping down to save him when the unexpected happened.

The young man’s head jerked sharply to the right, and his hands curled into tight fists. The expansion and contraction of his breath became spasmodic enough to be visible on Batman’s screen. Then, his head fell limp for an instant.

Deathstroke’s god eye narrowed.

Then the young man’s hear jerked sharply around, an inhuman expression of contempt on his face. His irises were suddenly glowing orange.

“Target aquired.”

Two words, simple, not special in any way, and yet somehow they made Nightwing’s blood run cold.

Almost too quickly to see, the young man’s arm snapped around, knocking Deathstroke’s sword from his hands. A brief contortion of the young man’s torso pushed the momentum further, flipping himself into a standing position just out of Deathstroke’s reach.

Almost immediately the two engaged each other, Deathstroke whipping out his staff, but the fight seemed almost slanted. Deathstroke could hardly get a hit in as the young man dodged and weaved around hisblows in a manner that was simultaneously sinewous and robotic, striking blow after blow. Somehow, he appeared to be wearing the impervious Deathstroke down.

Nightwing watched, somewhat amazed at the fight unfolding before him.

The young man outpaced Deathstroke quickly, and had disarmed him before several seconds had passed. A flurry of blows ensued, Deathstroke flipping his opponent over his head.Upon landing, the orange light in the young man’s eyes flickered.

He rolled out of the way of Deathstroke’s next attack, a downward kick that would have smashed his nose, before sweeping the mercenary’s feet out from under him.

Up until this point, Nightwing had been conflicted about getting involved, but there was something in the mechanically murderous look in the young man’s eyes that compelled him towards intervening to save his past nemesis. For some reason, blows that wouldn’t have slowed Deathstroke previously appeared to be inflicting permanent damage on the merc.

He lept down from his crane, landing behind the young man.

“Hey! Trench coat! Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?”

The young man turned, eyes flickering to green for a moment before flaring orange again.

“Superior combatant detected. Contest realigned.”

The words sounded synthetic, but Dick had no time to reflect on this as the young man savagely charged toward him.

I a flash his weapons were in his hands, and he readily parried several punches and kicks with them, before delivering a two handed blow across the young man’s face. He should have been knocked unconscious.

Insteadthe young man spun a full three hundred and sixty degrees to deliver a punch while Nightwing’s guard was all the way to one side, but somehow, for the briefest of moments, the young man’s eyes flashed blue and… Fearful.

“Help m-” he gasped out, pulling the punch slightly, and missed Nightwing’s face by a fraction of an inch, but his eyes reverted almost immediately to an angry orange.

Nightwing didn’t know or care what this kid wanted help with. All he knew was that he had an opening, and he took it. He slammed home a staff into the kid’s stomach, taking his breath away. Another flash of blue, another hesitation, and another brutal blow, and soon the young man was on his knees, gasping for air and clutching one arm that hung limp.

He looked up, no lights in his eyes, and gasped, “Thanks-” right as Nightwing knocked him unconscious with a blow to the temple.

“Bruce, I think you’re going to want to come check this out…”

Part II


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