Little Green Phial
It was late at night; in fact it was almost technically the morning. Robin looked at his watch, 11:52 p.m. He had been up for almost an entire twenty-four hours and was ready to go home and climb into his bed. Unfortunately, he still had work to do; and he could not put it off any longer. If Robin did not come home with his target, well, he preferred not to think about what would happen. Slade had become more lenient over the past year, letting Robin choose when he went on missions, but not for this job. He wanted it done today. They would need it soon.
Robin sat on the top of a roof, watching a large building across the street with binoculars. The building had a large sign that lit up the entire street, Neuro Link Inc. It was a new biotech company that was working on several projects at the moment, one of which Slade wanted. Robin was studying the guards, or so called "security", walking around the front of the building. Robin could tell that they were not very well trained. His biggest concern was the security system. Even though the company was still relatively new, it was backed by a large sum of government funds that protected it from theft. The building's security was top of the line, but then again, this was Robin. He was a master thief and assassin.
Robin continued to watch as the guards walked around the entrance of the building. He hoped to sneak into the building without arising suspicion so that he didn't have to kill any of them. It wasn't that he was averse to killing, he had become plenty used to that; he just didn't want to alert anyone to the theft. All he would need is for that to show up on the news. They were trying to keep a low profile at the moment; at least until they were ready to take down the crime boss, Victor Wyatte. By then, they would practically have one foot out of the city and be ready to move on. Thus, if anyone even discovered that something was going on in the city, they would be long gone.
Robin had been watching the building for nearly a half hour and felt ready to begin. He noticed that the guards would only round around the building once every ten minutes, which gave him plenty of time to break in. Across the street, a shadow could be seen scaling down an indistinct building in complete silence. Robin landed on the floor with a soft thud and placed his grappling hook back into his belt before running off to the building across the street. He scaled along the building, keeping his eyes open for bystanders, and made his way towards the back. The only sounds that could be heard were those of the guards talking and cars driving along the street. Robin could feel a familiar feeling creeping upon him, a certain rush. Missions were the only thing that made him feel that way. He wasn't certain whether or not he even liked it; he preferred the numbness that he had become accustomed to. He stopped at the back corner of the building and looked around; making sure that no one was coming before squatting down and pulling out a drill. He began to drill several bolts out of a vent.
After thirty seconds of speedy drilling worthy of a race track, Robin opened the vent and climbed in legs first. He was about to begin drilling the vent shut when he heard voices approaching.
"So, do you even know what they make here? Like, what is it that they are working on that is so important? I mean really," a man's voice said. Robin stayed still, holding the vent in its place.
"I don't know man; all I know is that they pay me to walk around all day. So, I don't really care," another man's voice replied. Two pairs of legs passed by the vent and walked towards the front of the building. Neither of the guards had noticed the fingers in the vent or the bolts lying on the floor. "What professionals," Robin thought. He opened the vent and grabbed the remaining bolts from the ground before drilling it shut.
Inside the vent, Robin pulled up the blueprints for the building on his watch, which projected them in front of him. He had come to love his watch, especially in situations where he couldn't carry giant blueprints in his pockets. He needed to make his way to the main control room, and considering that the whole building was laced with cameras, the hallways were off limits. So, he was confined to the ventilation system. After getting a good look at the map, Robin began to worm his way through the system of vents. The security room was on the second floor, so Robin was going to have to make his way up after reaching the very back of the building. He really did seem to get the worst end of things when it came to Slade. He always was given the tedious and uncomfortable missions. It used to really bother him, but now he really didn't care what he did anymore. He was more or less a walking shell… a robot that Slade commanded... and it didn't bother him in the slightest…
He had been crawling through the vents for twenty minutes, discreet as a puff of smoke in the wind. It was extremely hot and stuffy and Robin was beginning to sweat. He felt like he was in a furnace; what he would give for some fresh air. On top of that, he had crawled through at least ten spider webs. He came to a fork, one way leading up and the other leading down. He kicked his legs up and landed in the top vent. He began to crawl upwards, trying his best not to slip from the sweat on his hands.
After another ten minutes of crawling, Robin stopped at a vent and kicked it open. There was a camera in the corner, but its range of vision left a rather large blind spot towards the right side of the room. Robin lowered his body out of the vent, being careful to keep it out of the range of the camera and swung himself over to the right corner. He pulled a small device out of his belt and placed it on the wall before crawling back up into the vent. He just hoped that his legs weren't caught in mid swing by the camera. Upon re-entering, he closed the vent behind him and continued on, making his way through the maze of turns. He looked at his watch, it was now past one. Hopefully he would be out of here by two; he really wanted to go to sleep.
He stopped before another vent and sat down, peeking into the room below. There were about ten screens on the wall and a large computer below them, controlling every security measure that the building had. Inside sat three men, one absentmindedly watching the screens and the other two chatting with coffee in their hands. Did anyone take this job seriously? They are practically asking to be robbed. Not that Robin cared; it just made his job easier. Though, he had to admit that he was hoping for a bit of a challenge. Robin sat up and pulled a remote out of his belt. Making sure that at least one person was watching the screens, he pushed a large button.
"Whoa! Did you guys see that?" the man watching the screens asked. The other two looked over and began to watch the screens.
"I don't see anything…" a tall red-headed man said. He didn't feel like getting up to check on anything.
"There was a flash on camera seven. Here, I'll play it again," the first man said as he began to type on the computer. A replay of the massive flash of light showed on the screen and the man sat back, waiting to hear his co-workers responses.
"Sooo…. What? It was a flash, probably just a problem with the camera." The third man sat silently as his two co-workers talked, not caring to say anything. He was playing with the edges of his coffee mug and looking at the screen.
"Well, it came from the records room. If something got stolen, we would be dead. We would be beyond fired! Just go check on it, okay?" The man had worked security for other companies before and had learned one thing, you can never be too careful.
"Ughhh, fine, but after this, you owe me a doughnut," the red- headed man joked. "How about you, Jerry? You have been silent this entire time, why don't you come with me on my field trip?" The man named Jerry looked at him and shrugged, placing his coffee mug on a nearby table. The two left the room and the third turned back around to watch the screens. Robin could hear a conversation between the two workers as the door shut behind them. "Can you believe this? Checking on a flash of light, this is ridiculous."
"At least we have something to do besides swivel in our chairs," the man named Jerry replied. Both laughed and continued walking, taking their time in going to the source of the flash. Neither believed that it was anything, so neither cared to move faster. Not like they had anything to rush back to anyways.
Robin had expected for all three to go investigate, but nevertheless, he was prepared. He pulled out a small can and aimed it through the vent into the room. It cracked and a faint hiss could be heard, though not unnoticed by the man. He looked around intently for about a minute before falling out of his chair onto the floor. Robin kicked the vent open and dropped into the room. He walked over to the computer and began to type. A password request popped up, preventing Robin from going further. He looked up at the screens; the two men were still walking towards the records room at a leisurely pace. What idiots… Robin pulled a flash drive out of his belt and plugged it into the computer. Within seconds the password screen disappeared.
He continued to type as the flash drive did its work. All of the surveillance screens reset and were now on a continuous loop. Rather than seeing the two guards walking in the hallway, Robin saw an empty corridor. He turned off all of the cameras and bypassed the alarm. Now, not even the silent alarm could be set off. He could blow up an entire room and no one would know, not that he intended to. He pulled the flash drive out and set the screen back to its original state. The man was lying asleep on the floor and Robin walked over to pick him up. After placing him in his chair, Robin closed the vent and walked out into the hallway. A few minutes later the two men showed up and laughed at the man sleeping in his chair. "I guess we aren't the only ones bored out of our minds!"
Robin walked into an empty room and pulled a lab suit out of a small backpack that he had been carrying. It was all white, except for a black label on its right lapel that said Neuro Link Inc.Slade had made the suit to look exactly like the suits that the scientists wore, thus allowing Robin to walk into the lab without arising suspicion. After changing into his suit, Robin threw the backpack into the nearest trash can and walked back into the hallway. He was on the second floor, but needed to get to the seventh, where the lab was located. He headed towards the stairwell, not wanting to be seen in the elevator by others. He may have the suit, but that doesn't mean that he had the face to match it. Someone might not recognize him and start asking questions, and he didn't feel like having to strangle someone to death today.
He ran up the stairs until he reached the seventh floor landing. In the hallways, various workers could see a young scientist walking towards the lab, already dressed in his suit. It was a slightly odd sight for them, as the scientists didn't normally walk around in their suits outside of the lab. Robin approached the door and saw that a keycard was needed to get in. Suspecting that this might happen, he had stolen the passed out security guard's keycard as a precautionary measure. He figured that security guards could get into any room.
After swiping the card, he entered the lab, where twelve other workers in lab suits were walking around doing various tasks. Most were carrying chemicals and little phials, some of which Robin could identify. Slade wanted Robin to know his way around certain subjects and forced him to study Chemistry during their first year together. It did come in useful, especially when mixing poisons and making bombs. Robin walked the length of the room, looking around as inconspicuously as possible. He needed to look like he knew his way around the lab.
The room was filled with large and expensive looking equipment, most of which Robin had no idea the use of. He may know some Chemistry, but this looked like something out of a science fiction movie to him. At the far end of the room was a large metal door with a label on it, 'Caution: dangerous chemicals'. This was where it must be. This room was protected by a keypad and of course, Robin didn't know the code. He fished through his pockets before coming across another, smaller flash drive. He plugged it in and overrode the system, forcing the door to open.
He walked in and looked around the small room. It was like a giant refrigerator, he could even see his breath in the air. There were several rows of shelves to each side of him, all covered in jars and phials. He scanned through each shelf, looking for a certain label. There were chemicals of all types in here; it was like a scientist's dream. Robin came across several bottles that he wouldn't have minded stealing for himself, but thought it best not to; better to not raise suspicion. He continued to search through the shelves, scanning every label. There it was, sitting pretty on the third shelf to his left. He picked the tiny bottle up and examined it. It was green and about the size of his index finger. He quickly pocketed it and pulled out an identical bottle to put in its place. He was about to make his way out when an alarm sounded and the door slammed shut. All of the scientists stopped what they were doing and looked over at the room.
"Shit," Robin exclaimed under his breath. He was in trouble now… He had turned off the alarm, the cameras… What the hell? There must have been a separate alarm for this room that he did not know about. Why didn't it go off when he hacked the keypad? Perhaps the alarm reset itself, or maybe the guard woke up. The guard didn't see anything though; he was supposed to think that he just fell asleep… Whatever it was, it didn't matter anymore. It was too late; Robin was caught. Now the police would know that Nero Link Inc. was robbed. Great…
Robin placed a round device on the door and within a few seconds it was blown out of its frame. There was no going back now. He placed several other devices along each of the shelves and walked out of the room, stepping on the bent door. Another several explosions went off inside the room, knocking the shelves over and breaking all of the bottles. The scientists began to run out of the room, several shrieking along the way. For all they knew, he was trying to blow up the entire lab as some sort of sabotage to their experiments.
Robin bolted out of the room; guards would start showing up soon and he needed to disappear. He had not prepared for a quick escape. This was supposed to be a completely silent heist; he was supposed to have time to sleuth out with grace. He started stripping out of his suit as he ran towards the stairs. Several guards came out of the elevator just as Robin ran into the stairwell. They sprinted to the lab, not seeing the door close next to them. Robin began to jump down from rail to rail, not wanting to take the time to actually run down the stairs.
Somewhere around the third floor, several men ran into the stairwell and saw Robin jumping down. They followed suit and caught up to him at the floor below, surrounding him in a swarm of men. "Stop!" One guard shouted and Robin froze in place. The man was very large and muscular; he would probably be quite intimidating to most people, but not Robin. After all, Robin did work for the most frightening and menacing assassin out there.
Robin looked around at all the men pointing guns at him. "Now slowly put your hands up where I can see them!" Robin looked at the man, a smile creeping up on his face. It frightened the other guards quite a bit; it was not a natural smile, but something that you would expect to come from a monster. It was almost inhuman. Robin began to raise his arms slowly above his head and the guards looked at him, feeling that something was off. The head guard put his gun away and started to walk towards Robin with handcuffs. He stopped as Robin began to open his own hand, showing them all a small circular devise in his palm. The guards began to run backwards, assuming that it was a bomb. None of them signed up to be blown up when they had accepted the job. Robin threw it to the ground at the feet of the large guard that had been approaching him, ready to get the hell out of there.
Giant clouds of smoke filled the entire second floor landing and all the guards began coughing. Within seconds Robin was gone, phial in hand. As the smoke cleared, everyone could see the burly guard passed out on the floor, his hands cuffed to the stair rails. By the time that the police showed up, Robin was several blocks over, watching the scene from a rooftop with his binoculars.
He may have gotten caught, but at least they wouldn't know what was stolen. In fact, they might not even think that he had stolen anything at all; they might just assume that it was an attack on the company. Robin just hoped that they believed that, or else blowing up the entire room's contents would have been in vain. Robin stood up, putting his binoculars back into his belt, and ran off into the night. A light clink could be heard on the street below as a small handcuff key fell from the roof, where Robin had been sitting a moment ago.
-Nearly two years ago-
It had now been two weeks since Robin was kidnapped and he was sitting at the table in the kitchen, absentmindedly playing with his thumbs. Light streamed in from the window as the sun came up and Robin gazed at one of the streaks that it made on the table. He was going to make himself breakfast, but just didn't find the motivation to do so once he got there. He sat in silence with a blank stare on his face for another half hour until Slade came in the room. He walked over to the fridge without so much as a glance towards Robin.
"Have you eaten breakfast?" he asked. He didn't ask out of kindness or concern for Robin, he just didn't want him to become weak from malnourishment. He turned around and Robin shook his head in reply. He hadn't talked much since the events of last week; he was still in shock.
"I expect you to eat breakfast every day Robin. I will make you something today, but do not expect me to cook for you every day," he said, his back turned to Robin. Robin just continued to stare at the light on the table, barely listening to what Slade was saying. His mind had been foggy lately, like he was only half there. Whenever Slade spoke to him, it was as if he heard it through water. Slade walked to the table, two large bowls in hand, and sat down. He slid a bowl across the table towards Robin. "Eat," he commanded. Robin obeyed and began to slowly eat out of the bowl, not really paying attention to what he was eating.
Slade began to read the newspaper, not eating his food due to his mask. He would wait for Robin to finish and leave before eating. One day he would be able to eat in front of Robin. He fully intended upon taking off his mask, but only when he was certain that Robin was broken enough to stay upon his own free will. That was when Slade could fully trust him; he was going to makeno mistakes this time.
"Slade?" Robin whispered. Slade looked up at Robin, who was already looking at him.
"You may call me master, Robin. Not Slade," he pointed out. Robin just sighed; he would not call Slade master, though he didn't want to anger him into another lesson either… There was just no way that Robin would call him master, that would mean giving up. He had stopped fighting during training and had stopped talking back… for the most part… but he would not call Slade master,ever.
"That boy… Why did you kill a child? Why not an adult?" This had been bothering Robin all week. Why did he feel the need to kill a child? Killing an adult would have proven his point just as well. Robin's face was filled with gloom and Slade could see it.
"Why Robin, I thought that you, the boy wonder, saw all life forms as equal? Young, old, good, bad…" Robin could tell exactly where this was going. "So, are you telling me that some people are more worthy of life than others? As in the case of this child?"
"I didn't say that…" Robin replied, his tone defeated. Robin knew that Slade would pull this reasoning on him; it was only a matter of time. Slade wanted him as an assassin, there was no denying it. He had been waiting for the 'it's okay to kill certain people' speech for over a week now.
"Well you were certainly implying it. See? We are not so different after all Robin… We both see that some people deserve life more than others…" Slade said, his voice smooth and cunning.
"Look, I don't want to get into this now. I just want to know why you chose a ten-year-old." Robin was already done with Slade's clever manipulation. He didn't even want to think about what his future held for him. He knew that it would come down to it one day; he was going to be forced to kill. And when that day came, he was going to do everything in his power to prevent it. There was only one problem… what if Slade threatened another life? Would he really be saving somebody if another was just going to die in their place?
Slade looked at Robin for about a minute, staring in silence, before saying anything. "I chose the boy because he was so remnant of you Robin." He knew it; Slade did choose him because of their similarities. "He had more in common with you than you may think," Slade said. "He was small and frail… just like you at that age. He had blue eyes… just like you do." Robin sat up straighter; he was shocked, outraged, that Slade knew the color of his eyes. How did he find out? How long had he known? "He was even parentless… just like you at that age."
Robin stood up out of his chair, panting heavily and staring daggers at Slade, who just smiled in return under his mask. "Unfortunately, he wasn't lucky enough to be adopted by a billionaire… like you at that age," he added. Robin's jaw dropped. How?! How could he know?! He stood there gaping at Slade. "I have known who you are for years, Richard. It was not that hard to put two and two together. You and old bats are not as clever as you think you are." He paused, "It was rather careless of him to adopt his own ward as a sidekick…. Made it too easy to figure out his identity."
Robin sat back down in his chair, not knowing what to do or say. He just looked down at the table; now Slade knew Batman's identity as well. Robin was truly stuck; his friends might not even be able to save him now. "Do not worry; I am not going use your identity against you. If I was going to, I would have done it years ago." He did have a point. He could have used it against Robin years ago, but he didn't.
Robin was now falling into a pit of despair. Slade knew his identity and it had been two weeks since he went missing… Why have the Titans not come for him yet? He didn't want to be stuck here forever! What was taking them so long? He just wanted to go home to his friends, where he could laugh and enjoy life… He wasn't going to become an assassin… He wasn't going to call Slade master… And he certainly wasn't going to live the rest of his life here! The Titans will come… Just don't give up hope… Don't give in to Slade… They will come…
Robin stood back up, this time not out of anger, but rather because he was done with the conversation. As he made his way towards the door he stopped, wanting to know one more thing. "What was his name? The boy…" he asked.
"Timothy Spoke… an orphan from the village. Do not worry, no one will miss him." With that Robin walked out, his body once again going numb.
Robin arrived back at the base and walked to Slade's desk. Slade was sitting in his chair, his arms crossed over his chest, and waiting for Robin. It was now two thirty and he was ready to go to bed. Robin pulled the phial out of his pocket and handed it to Slade, who put it in a cooler next to his desk.
"I see that you managed not only to alert the police, but to also blow up the entire lab," Slade said. Robin looked at him, his face blank. Slade stood up and towered over Robin, who didn't move an inch or even blink in response. "Tomorrow," he growled, his voice low and dangerous, before walking out of the room. Robin stood there a little while longer before making his way to his own room to get some much needed rest. He knew that he was in for it in the morning.