An Unfair Trial for an Underage HeroEdit
Not a sound could be heard from the eerily placed castle held up by a column of rock. It was something akin to a grand Arabian palace. The only audible sound became a chalice hitting the floor, and the pained regret of the Demon's Head. "I should have never allied myself with a madman." He turned to face his messenger. "Where are they?"
Ra's turned his head in true disgust. "I should have seen this coming. Of all the damnable acts, I of all people would ask that chalk-faced lunatic for help!" Ra's slammed his fist against a column, leaving a hole with spiderweb cracks behind. His own hand bled slightly. "It is no wonder we did not consider him for the Light. His heart is darker than anyone's."
"Poetic, yet not solving the issue at hand," said a calming voice with an unknown accent, similar to her father's. Talia strode in, looking as though she was prepared for a flight.
"You would go, knowing that it will incriminate me," said Ra's selfishly.
"I do not want to see my beloved lose someone," defended Talia. "I can make it before he gets there."
"Go." said Ra's, already knowing Jason was doomed. Another plan formed in his mind. As Talia left, he asked, "Where is the detective?"
The messenger shook his head. "He won't make it in time." He fidgeted, "and neither will we."
"Wow, that looked like it really hurt," said the Joker, in his usual playfully demented voice. He swung the crowbar down on Jason three times. "Whoop, now hang on. That looked like it hurt a lot more."
Of course it did. You're hitting me with a freaking crowbar! shouted Jason in his mind. He couldn't even speak against the purple clad Clown Prince who was taking his time in torturing the boy.
"Now, let's clear this up, OK, pumpkin?"
Clear what up?
"Which hurts more? A?" Joker swung the crowbar forehand against Jason. "Or B?" He returned with a vicious backhand.
B...definitely B... Jason didn't know where the well of sarcasm was coming from, but he made use of it all the same. He turned slightly to face the Joker and whispered an inaudible curse.
Joker mocked his trying to speak. "A little louder, lamb chop. I think you may have a collapsed lung; o, that always impedes the oratory."
Jason spat some blood on the Joker's pale white face, which earned his face being smashed into the ground.
"Now that was rude." Joker wiped off the blood from his face. "The first Boy Blunder had some manners."
Jason moved to face the Joker, smiling defiantly in the process. "Manners weren't part of Batman's regimen. Kicking your ass was though."
Joker stomped the punk's head to the concrete. "And a fine job you've done. All I've been doing is standing here beating you like a fine steak. Yeah, you do excel in the, how you say, 'ass-kicking' department." Joker brought the crowbar down on Jason like it was a sword, breaking another one of the boy's ribs.
In an effort to end the pain, Jason made it so he appeared to black out. The pain felt far away.
"What, out already? Boring." Joker tossed the crowbar aside. "Well, I'm outta here. Say hi to Bats for me, if you can." Laughing manically, he left the warehouse where Jason bled on its unforgiving floors till death took his soul.
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!" Jason shot up from the living nightmare. He breathed heavily...wait, he breathed heavily!? He inspected himself to find no trace of damage.
"Another nightmare?" asked Talia, providing the shocked youth a hot, damp washcloth.
"It was another variation of the dream," Jason said as he wiped his brow, welcoming the warmth of the fabric, more so than the unnatural warmth of the Lazarus Pit. Over the last 2 weeks, Jason received therapeutic treatments after emerging from the Lazarus Pit. His body no longer burned with pain, but his mind still tried to grasp his death.
His death. How could he forget? How could he forget? After everything that happened, he forgot how he died. He knew it was because of the Joker. He know that it was because he and Batman were trying to stop something in Europe. He knew that somehow Ra's al Ghul was their target, and he knew that his memories could not have been altered following his resurrection. Or could they? He did not know, nor did he care. All he knew is that he was alive once more. Jason Peter Todd had cheated death in the most precarious way. He actually died and came back to life.
Or so he thought. Ra's explained that the Lazarus Pits could not truly revive the dead. Either they would come back as supremely broken zombies, or they would melt into the Pit, becoming part of the pits rejuvenating powers. Either way, Jason spared no time hurling at the feet of the man who had saved his life.
"What was it like this time?" asked Talia. The daughter of Ra's al Ghul had nursed the former Robin back to health. Jason touched the cheek Talia had slapped when he asked if she did it because she wasn't with Bruce. He really needed to cut the sarcastic persona. Well, maybe tone it down a bit.
"You were there, and you were on your way to save me," answered Jason. He saw some coffee at the side table. "Mine?"
Talia nodded. "Did I save you?"
"Did you see me grinning like an idiot and hear me sleep talk things that would motivate your father to turn me into a eunuch?"
Talia blinked. "Are you really 13 years old?"
A half-smile formed on Jason's face, something rare in the last 2 weeks. "I'm immature, I'll admit that. But I am not blind." He paused. "Or gay."
A nanosecond smile appeared on Talia's face. She was flattered, sort of. "You're no Bruce Wayne."
"Do I look like a genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist?"
"No, you look like a youth who has gone to hell and back who wags his middle finger at death," answered Talia flatly.
"Who said I went to hell?" asked Jason, not arguing against him flipping off death. Whenever he passed by a statue of Hades that Ra's kept in his palace (God knows why he kept something like that), Jason made time to shoot the bird at the angry god, awake or not. It was one of those subconscious things.
Talia brought a lot of things with her to Jason's room, including a large pot of soup. The reasoning was that he was a growing boy and that the effects of the Lazarus Pit increased his appetite to that of a small army, or some hero from a Japanese anime. "You're not exactly a good boy," she mused as she poured some hearty soup for her patient. Not the way she thought of it, but it was nonetheless appropriate in this situation.
"You don't know that," Jason said with a twinkle in his eye.
"Comments like that only prove my point," parried Talia. She dished up two bowls of beef stew for the two of them. Hey, she was hungry too, and there was more than enough.
"Soup and wordplay," said Jason. "A fine combination. All we need are some candles and some romantic music, and we got ourselves a perfect evening."
Talia looked at the boy, slightly perplexed at what he implied. "Are you quite serious about that?"
Jason chuckled, "Talia, I just woke up from a dirt nap that I thought I was going to be taking for a long time. I really would not like to die again anytime soon. And besides, I already know that you wouldn't go for some kid like me. I always see the way you look at Bruce. Like I said, I'm not blind." He swallowed a spoonful of the beef stew.
Talia laughed, making with no unnecessary noise. "I thought you said you were immature."
"When I want to be," Jason gulped the last of his stew, using some bread as a napkin before eating it. "I still have that privilege, right?"
"Most teenage boys don't die and come back to life, let alone fight alongside the Batman."
Jason helped himself to some more stew. "Tell that to Dick. He was in this a lot longer than I was." He was about to take a bite, then stopped. "I need some air."
Talia didn't miss a beat as she ate. "As long as you don't run away like the last time."
Jason chuckled, "Where would I go? I don't even know where I am."
Purpose of FearEdit
Ra's sipped some of the wine from his golden chalice, the same in Jason's dream. The scratching of a quill could be heard in the chamber, until a faint knock was on the door. "Enter."
The messenger hurried in. "Sir, Jason Todd has left his quarters."
"And?" asked Ra's, expecting something more.
"N-nothing. You just wanted to stay informed of Todd's status."
Ra's stood from his desk, facing the messenger, "To the point where I could be accused of spying on a teenage boy?"
The messenger gulped. "Um..."
"Jason Todd will not leave my palace. That is the truth. Now, unless you have some real news to inform me of, take your leave at once. I wish not to be disturbed."
"Yes sir!" The messenger hurried out, wishing to not anger his master any longer.
Ra's turned to the window, striding towards it. He looked down to see Jason and Talia, gazing out towards the sea. Some part of him wished for one of two things; either Bruce was there with Talia or Jason was far away from Ra's palace. He saw traits in the boy similar to that of Bane; great potential, and a great anger. I now see why you chose him, Batman. The boy could have become a fine Robin. Unfortunately, all I see now is Anakin Skywalker on the verge of explosion.
He had intended to inform Bruce right as the event that brought Jason back from the dead occurred, but he held himself back. He wanted more time, surprisingly, with Jason. He wanted to train the boy in the way Bruce never could. The method of making the hard decision, and the ability to assess the situation to where one will not uselessly die in battle. Ra's mentally went over what he would teach Jason; from advanced ninjutsu to unparallelled swordsmanship. He would make Jason Todd an unstoppable force.
Why though? Why strengthen his 'enemy'? At one point, Ra's overheard one of Jason's nightmares about the Joker. He heard not only how angry that Jason was at the Joker, Ra's heard fear escape the boy's lips. Fear was common. Batman used fear. Villains use fear. Ra's used fear. But this was a fear that made Ra's think of Talia's safety. The kind of fear that makes one want to protect their children, even if they are of age to protect themselves. Ra's al Ghul was the world's liberator, yes, but he was first a father. That much he could not deny.
Jason's nightmares prompted Ra's to have a nightmare where his daughter was in the hands of Joker, telling Batman to forget her and kill Joker, while the Dark Knight Detective said that he would not kill. Joker fell upon his (Ra's') sword, only for Talia to be killed by a second Joker. Ra's shrugged the notion off as a dream, as he did not want to be reminded of his fate: suicide, then skewered by a giant A. He thought it a stupid way to die. After all, there was much more to be accomplished. A world where Joker got the last laugh would be a horrid world indeed. A world of insanity.
Ra's shoved disturbing thoughts aside, and planned for Jason's first lesson as becoming a member of the League of Shadows.
Creating the JuggernautEdit
"So, run this by me again. What am I supposed to do?" asked Jason.
"Escape," answered Ra's.
"Right. And I'm hanging where again?"
"Over a precarious ledge from which you would fall into a pit of vicious and hungry sharks."
"That you just so happen to have in your palace."
"I'm prepared in the event my guests ask for shark fin soup."
"And I'd have to pull a Harry Houdini to escape from this."
"Pulling a Zatara or Zatanna would have been accepted as well."
"Well, now that we have the sarcasm out of the way, I'll go on to say what a PSYCHOTIC AND ANNOYING FU-" Ra's pulled the cloth over Jason's mouth again. He didn't have the patience for vulgarity.
Jason struggled in the ropes, but they only seemed to get tighter. Yeah, it was just that annoying.
"Don't struggle so much," said Ra's. "Keep calm and find a way out. The less hot-headed you are in situations, the more you can perceive."
Jason's memories of training in the Batcave flashed back in his mind. How convenient, he thought to himself. He closed his eyes and remembered his training. Now that he thought about it, there was a part where the rope was weak. He was able to get his arm free if he could just pull his arms in. As he attempted to get free, the ropes became looser, and Jason could grab onto the rope binding his feet. Did I mention he was upside down?
Ra's watched this, unmoved; no praise or scoring would come from his mouth. Of course, Jason got free before he was sent to be shark bait, and deftly landed on the platform below him, in front of Ra's. "Congratulations, you still retained your old skills."
Jason spat. "Bully for me. Now can we please drop the cliches?"
Ra's turned to leave. "The only cliche around here is you and your insufferable sarcasm." He glanced over his shoulder to see Jason bring a roundhouse kick up to Ra's' head. He caught the boy's leg, then threw him forward, slamming Jason into the cold stone wall. "Jackson."
Hurting again, but still defiant, the boy barked. "It's Jason! And don't tell me that you tried to pull a bad history pun!"
"At least your perception doesn't need a lot of work. Everything else on the other hand is quite pathetic. Especially since you expose your left side a lot in battle."
Jason growled, thinking that this advice may have been given to another hot-headed associate of Batman's. "It was serviceable."
In a violent fury, Ra's pinned Jason against the wall with his hand tightly clutching Jason's throat. "That will do you no good! Serviceable makes you weak. Serviceable makes you sloppy. Serviceable cost you YOUR LIFE!" Ra's tightened his grip, making the boy's eyes widen with fear. "I brought you back because I thought it would be a good deed to the Detective whom I respect, but I can see that I may have made a mistake." He threw Jason to the other wall, letting the boy fall, bloody and beaten. "IF you cannot strive to be the best, you will die again, like a dog, in some filthy crime hole, with nary a soul to save you or care about you. Is that what you want, Jason Peter Todd? To die like a worthless animal?"
Jason shuddered. He couldn't bring himself to speak. The fear of being killed by the Joker swarmed his thoughts. He curled up in sorrow, weeping as he did so.
Ra's recomposed himself. "Do you want him to live?"
Jason looked up. "What?"
"Do you want the Joker to live?"
"Do you want the man...the demon..." Ra's paused on the last one for a long time. "who has killed hundreds, hurt thousands, and deprived families of their close relatives be allowed to walk on this earth?"
Jason shook his head.
"The monster who kills because he enjoys it. The clown who will stop at nothing for his 'punch-line'. The vile clown who tore you away from the man you considered a father! Would you let him live?"
Jason shot up on his feet, bridling his rage and emitting a righteous anger. "NO! NO! GOD ALMIGHTY, NO!" His fists clenched, he lashed out against Ra's, not in anger for being manhandled by him, but to test his strength. He jabbed quickly at the Demon's Head, aiming for the vital points. Ra's dodged nearly every blow, but Jason got one in by using his short stature to drop down and tackle Ra's to the ground. Disarming Ra's by pulling out the knife that Ra's had strapped to his left thigh and held it against the Demon's throat. He trapped Ra's al Ghul, one of Batman's deadliest foes, beneath him; a boy of 13 years.
"Well done," said Ra's. "We can now begin the real training."
To Fight 100Edit
The palace Ra's had as his base of operations carried many secrets. One of these enigmas lay in the underground training hall. As long as a football field, and twice as wide, Ra's showed Jason to the area where the boy would learn new skills to survive.
Jason's awe of the area could almost be described as a kid at Christmastime who got everything he wanted and more. Fighters struck vicious blows against sandbags and wooden poles. Others trained in using various edged weaponry. Still others mastered archery and marksmanship. "So, where do we begin?"
"There." Ra's pointed to an arena filled with martial artists, about a hundred. "Defeat all of them, and you can continue with the training."
Jason's eyes shot up in surprise, then he laughed. "You serious? There's gotta be a hundred of them. I can't fight them all."
"You will, or I will toss you out," said Ra's flatly. "And I will not give you the skills necessary to kill the Joker."
That caught Jason's attention. "No, wait! I will fight them." He rushed off to the arena while Talia walked up to her father. "Why hasn't he asked if Bruce killed the Joker already?"
Ra's turned away. "Because he knows Bruce would not have done it."
6 Years LaterEdit
"You have done well in the time you have spent here, Jason Peter Todd." Ra's scrutinized the man before him. The young Jason Todd had become a strong young man. Ra's mentally compared him to a younger Batman in terms of physical appearance and skills. When Jason battled against 100 members of Ra's forces, he was brutally beaten and bloodied the first time. Each time, Jason defeated more and more and more of his personal guard. "I have done everything in my power to prepare you for battle against anyone who may stand in your way." A half lie. Ra's thought. He did not teach Jason everything that he knew even though the boy's learning capacity was astounding. After his first battle with Ra's forces, Jason's ability to read his opponents and counterattack accordingly surpassed anyone in Ra's forces. And over the years, his experience grew to where he could dispatch 100 of Ra's troops without difficulty. "And now, I believe the time is right for you to return to Gotham; to Batman."
Jason nodded, keeping a stoic look on his face. "Thank you for everything, Ra's al Ghul." Some part of him twinged with disgust because he was thanking his mentor's enemy, but considering that he had spent 8 years training under the leader of the world's deadliest assassins, he made sure not to show his annoyance.
"There is just one thing I would like to do before returning to Gotham," started Ra's.
"And that is?"
"I have pursued something called a Gud Klingor for some time now. Even with my resources, I have been unable to retrieve one of these artifacts."
"And you want me to go to Sweden and obtain one of them?"
Ra's raised an eyebrow. "How do you know it is in Sweden?"
"Gud Klingor is Swedish for 'God Blades', a pretty fancy title. Sounds like something out of some anime."
"So it does." Impressive. He's learned more than I realized. Ra's turned to a screen behind him. "Most of the Gud Klingor have been taken by the Justice League and the First Twelve, and a group of individuals calling themselves the Roman Pantheon. Still many others have been found by individuals who established a link with the artifacts, but I have been notified that there are three still in Sarek, the place of discovery for these Gud Klingor. They are held under lock down in a research facility guarded by 2 members of the First Twelve."
"And what is the significance of these Gud Klingor again?"
Ra's typed in something to the computer at his side, and a few screens popped up showing demonstrations of a boy with a lance and a girl with a skirt of blades battling with various villains. "These Gud Klingor have an ability to transform into weapons that are akin to the user's spirit, or so I am told. Also, the weapon formed cannot be broken by anything, not even by another Gud Klingor. This technology intrigues me greatly, and I would like to have it for myself."
Jason's eyes showed the interest and excitement in his eyes. "So it's drop in, grab one, and I'll FedEx it to you?"
Ra's narrowed his eyes. "There is no FedEx in Europe, Jason. And I want you to bring all three back to me."
"What? I don't get to keep one for myself?" Inwardly, Jason crossed his arms, pouting.
"You sound like a child. Do this and that will be the last thing I ask of you."
Jason considered this for a moment. "All right. I'm holding you to that."
Ra's nodded. "I expected you too." He motioned to a member of his guard. "Take him to the Armory."
"I'll take two automatic pistols, please."
"This isn't a gun shop," said Talia. "And we already prepared the weapons you prefer anyway."
"Ain't that convenient," mused Jason.
"Keep that up and you'll leave here with a used shell casing," countered Talia.
Jason raised his hands up in mock defense.
Ignoring the comedian, Talia showed Jason the arsenal he would be provided. "I based most of these weapons off of what Bruce and Nightwing have been using."
Jason surveyed the weapons and gadgets: Taser rods, smoke bombs, explosive gel, a cryptographic sequencer. He pointed to the last that he observed. "WayneTech?"
Talia shifted in place. "Not exactly."
Jason picked up the taser rods, testing them like they were tonfa. Hey, there was an idea. He looked over to the belt on the table; it was an exact copy of Bruce's belt. He looked over to Talia. "I'm not a Batman mini-me you know."
"I thought that was the role of Robin," said Talia wryly.
"I want to be different than a Robin. I want to have a symbol that criminals and heroes will be shocked at." A black motorcycle helmet got his attention. Although, to say it was a motorcycle helmet was a far cry from its true appearance. It's shape equated a simple form-fitting helmet with two lenses to view out of. It was colored black. "Similar to Batman's cowl?"
"We couldn't find a way to miniaturize the technology in the way Bruce was able to do, but we could at least make a helmet that mirrored the capabilities of his cowl," answered Talia.
Jason inspected the helmet, trying it on to test it. He became impressed when he cycled through the Detective Mode and its various functions, including an X-Ray feature. He sneaked a peek of Talia before she sucker punched him in the stomach. "I deserved that," he said, chuckling.
Talia turned her head away. "Men..." She held out a remote control to Jason. "We also equipped the helmet with a last resort bomb."
All of Jason's movement ceased, then he frantically took off the helmet and tossed it onto the table. "You could have told me that sooner!"
A smile formed on Talia's face. "Calm down, the helmet detects your brainwave activity along with your body heat. You'd have to put a monumental electrical surge through it to make it go off unexpectedly, but the only way it will detonate is if you take it off and toss it away."
"How big of an electrical charge are we talking about here?" asked Jason, now very unnerved at the thought of an explosive helmet.
"30 million volts per meter; about ten lightning bolts or something like that," answered Talia.
"Ten lightning bolts? What the hell did you make this thing out of?"
Talia's smile turned to a smirk. "Certain elements." She hevered over some more weapons selected for the former Robin.
Jason wanted to press the issue, but decided that it wasn't really that important. He didn't really care what the helmet was made of as long as he didn't become accidentally headless. "So, can I have some guns?"
Talia glared slightly when she faced Jason again. "Guns are the weapons of cowards and weaklings."
"Oh, praise me more," said Jason sarcastically. "Look, I know that guns are frowned upon by every traditional crimefighters and supervillains, but I'm not either of those. I'd rather use every resource availible to me."