December 28, 02:53 EST
The interior of the helicopter was eerily quiet, save for the constant, steady chop of the rotors, reduced to mere whispers by latest generation stealth technology.
Five heroes sat in silence.
They'd teleported down to the city of Quebec, Quebec and within an hour had the helicopter the League kept there on standby fueled up and in the air.
Black Canary was sleeping (somehow), her head on Green Arrow's shoulder. The archer seemed to be dozing off too. Red Tornado (who had decided to ride in the helicopter with the others instead of flying on his own in order to save power) had gone into a shutdown cycle. Martian Manhunter was meditating quietly.
Batman had insisted on flying. It gave him something to do, something to keep his mind off his worries.
Though he'd once sworn that he would never allow himself to become attached to anyone, ever again, told himself that the mantle of Batman meant that he could never allow anyone to be close enough to him to be a target, he knew that wasn't true.
Despite all the darkness and despair he'd faced the last ten years, seeing the worst humanity (and other species) had to offer over and over again, the times he spent with his ward made him almost... happy. No matter how hard he'd tried, his heart had opened.
Dick was his son, and he loved him.
And he wasn't going to let anyone take that away.
J'onn appeared behind him, taking a seat in the co-pilot's chair.
"What do you want?" Batman asked the Martian.
"You are apprehensive. You fear for the Team's safety."
"I don't 'fear' anything, J'onn. I am concerned that their mission is in jeopardy."
"And yet you arranged this entire expedition to save them. It is not a sign of weakness to admit that you care, Batman. It is a sign of humanity."
Batman looked down. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that it wasn't just Robin he was worried about: It was the others too. Superboy, who he'd initially distrusted but who he'd still tried to convince Superman to take in. Kaldur, who he was hard on out of necessity, but secretly proud of as well. Wally of course, was Dick's best friend, and so similar to his uncle, it made Batman smile when he was absolutely certain that no one was looking.
"And Miss Martian?" he asked. "You feel the same about her?"
"I believe that she is capable of defending herself," Martian Manhunter replied, "but yes, I am worried about her. She is a relative in my care. It is only natural."
Batman said nothing.
"I sense something else odd as well. Why would you pick only the four of us to accompany you? Why not Superman, or Wonder Woman, or the Flash? Is there no one other than the four of us who you would have brought?"
Batman thought for a second.
"Superman was never a big fan of the Team existing anyways, and his relationship with Superboy is... rocky at best. Flash isn't a stealth person. Diana is on Themyscira. As for the others, this is quite likely a trap for the Team, which means they will be ready for a League response."
"You fear we may be on a suicide mission" observed J'onn.
"I can't risk anyone critical to the continuation of the League. I've left instructions for Aquaman and Captain Atom in the event this mission fails and we go down."
"And you aren't essential?" asked Green Arrow. Batman almost smiled. Of course the archer would be listening in on their conversation. "The League need you too, Bats. You were elected leader for a reason."
"I have to do this" said the Dark Knight. They sat in silence again for a few seconds.
"Let me tell you something" said Green Arrow, finally. "When Roy first started out on his solo gig, I was worried sick. I knew how many times we'd almost died when we were together, and the thought of not being able to be there when he needed it made me feel nauseous. But do you know what I realized? I was there for him, even if I was on the other side of the planet. I was in his training, his experience, his equipment. I'd made him ready. All I had to do was let him go."
Batman stared through the windshield into the dark trees and rocks of Quebec. His eyes narrowed ever so slightly, but he didn't say anything.
"To answer you question, J'onn" he finally said "There is one more person I would have brought... if I could."
The Martian stared at him for a second as he realized who.
"You miss Giovanni."
Batman didn't say anything. He didn't need to. He and Zatara had been what could really only be described as friends for years. When Zatara was forced to become Dr. Fate, Batman had silently promised him that he would look after Zatanna. But even then, she was more than just the daughter of a friend. She was a connection to him, a link to his humanity. If something had happened to her, would Zatara ever want to be himself again?
The radio crackled before the voice of Green Lantern John Stewart, came through. "Batman, this is Watchtower."
"Do you have something to report?" asked Batman. He already knew the answer, of course. Stewart was a soldier. He wouldn't call unless it was important. That's why he was the only other one Batman had told about the mission. They needed someone in the Watchtower to keep an eye on things.
"The drones have ceased fire and seem to have landed, but high-altitude imagery has confirmed a C-5 Galaxy cargo plane just took off from the base, and there are at least two more visible on the runway."
"We are still two hours away" said Martian Manhunter.
"What is the Canadian military's response?" asked Batman.
"It's been slow and I had to get several ministers out of bed, but they should have fighters in the area within an hour."
"Good. See if you can get them to prevent those planes from taking off. Are you tracking the first one?"
"It's hard, and it looks like they've added some stealth tech to the design, but it looks like the plane is heading east over the Atlantic. I've rerouted a satellite system to follow it."
"Acknowledged. Keep us updated."
"Roger that. Good luck out there, Batman. Bring those kids home."
"I intend to," said the Caped Crusader. "Batman out."