End of Summer
 
Choices Chapters
1: Prologue

2: Robin & Huntress

3: The JSA

4: The JLA

5: Starfire, Robin & Batman

6: New Members of the Family

7: At The Manor

8: The Stake-Out

9: New Friendships

10: The Titans

11: Facing The Past

12: Shattered

13: Confrontations

14: Flying

15: Conversations

16: Hitting the Streets

17: On the Trail

18: Face To Face

Choices

Chapter 9: Of New Friendships
and Fractured Frequencies

by Marilee Stephens

*BOOM!!!!*

Nightwing felt the shock wave from the exploding canister at the same time he was pushed to the ground by the flying figure of Starfire hurtling into his airborne body. He saw how the blast from the gun that Sivana Jr. had been wielding had streaked over the spot where his body would have been if she hadn't slammed into him and that it had hit the canister, causing the explosion. Yet, even as she was knocking him over, he heard her give a cry that was a combination of surprise and pain as her body fell to one side of him.

Rolling quickly back to his feet, he found himself surrounded by chaos. Flames leapt from the canister that had been hit by the blast that "Dr. Sivana"'s son had aimed at him. Flames that were probably going to trigger explosions of what were in the other canisters and vats situated around the room. At the same time, Koriand'r was shakily regaining her feet. Bright red blood was streaming down one of her arms. Looking passed her, he saw one of the goons that had been previously taken down standing and aiming a still smoking weapon at both of them.

*BOOM!!!*

A second canister suddenly exploded, as the heat from the first activated whatever ingredients were inside it. All the conscious participants in the room were distracted from their confrontation by it, as they ducked for cover. But even as he was diving, Dick grabbed one of his escrima sticks off his back and threw it at the henchman. It caught the man head on in the middle of his forehead and sent him reeling off his feet and back onto his back, where he lapsed into unconsciousness. As Dick regained his footing, he quickly assessed what could be done to try and save whatever could be from the situation. But he needed to find out how much help Starfire was going to be before he could do much of anything.

Shouting over the noise of the flames, he anxiously queried, "Starfire, how badly are you hurt!?!"

She looked over to him, even as she clutched her left upper arm with her right hand, applying pressure to the seeping wound. "I'm okay… Really. Bullet went right through." But even as she was reassuring him, he saw how her golden tone had paled, and the fresh blood that was running down her arm. Even though she wouldn't admit it, she probably wasn't in any shape to help him stop the others.

But as if she could see the decision that must have shown in his eyes, he saw her straighten and adopt an air of confidence, as if she wasn't about to just lay down and let him handle the situation by himself. "You work on whoever these people are. I'm going to see how to stop this fire before we have any more of the canisters go up." Even as she spoke, another barrel blew, the crashing noise drawing their attention back over to where the furtive figures of Dr. Sivana and his son crouched beside one of the larger vats. She continued, "Especially before they get themselves killed."

With that, she rose into the air, though Dick noted she did so slightly unsteadily. As he rushed out from where they had dove for cover a few moments earlier, the heat from the flames increased, making him feel like he was hitting a wall of hot gas. He grabbed his rebreather and put it on, in case the chemicals in the canisters were giving off any fumes. Once it was affixed in place, he headed immediately for the figures of the men that they had taken down, going for the ones closest to the fires. He needed to remove them from the dangerous area before anyone was more badly hurt.

Moving towards the men, he grabbed the nearest two and dragged them out into the corridor, out of the room and away from the flames. Returning, and about to grab two more, he saw Starfire rapidly descending towards him.

"I found the fire alarm/sprinkler system, but for some reason, I can't get it to turn on", she shouted as she approached him. After the slightest pause to contemplate what she said, he headed towards the door again, while she grabbed one more of the downed goons with her good arm and followed him.

Depositing the two men he was carrying, Dick remembered something that Dr. Sivana had mentioned while he was listening in on them earlier. Removing his rebreather, he explained, "They did something to inactivate the security systems. It might have also screwed up the sprinklers and other emergency systems."

"X'hal! Any idea about how we can get them back up?"

Even as the two of them were rapidly conversing, the sound of another canister erupting came from the main room. At the same time, Dick picked up two dark figures slipping down the corridor towards them out of the corner of his eye. Preparing for a new onslaught, he automatically moved into a battle crouch. Starfire, who had a clearer view of the pair, did no such thing however, but threw herself at the approaching duo.

"Nightwing… Batwoman…Thank X'hal. I was hoping that someone would show up soon."

"Got here as soon after we got your message as we could, Starfire. God, what happened?!?" The elder dark-clad man gestured at her arm, which was covered with blood. He also seemed to take in the paler tone of the woman's skin. Dick heard the note of concern in the other man's voice. But it seemed a bit muted somehow, as if he was trying to not show how concerned he really was.

"It's not important right now. We can get it looked at later. There are still people in there, and we haven't got a way to contain the fire before more of the canisters explode." Starfire moved quickly back towards the door to the main room, where flames were rapidly encircling the remaining men on the floor. As Dick made to follow her, he could just see past her into the main portion of the room. Enough to notice two more dark shapes move towards the wall furthest from the flames. One moment the two figures were crouched against the wall. The next moment, they appeared to slip right through it.

Quickly gesturing to the others as he moved towards the room, he shouted, "Hey, wait! The two in charge. They're getting away!"

His counterpart glanced sharply into the room. Having not seen what the younger Nightwing had, he threw an inquisitive move back towards Dick. "Since you seem to know who's involved here, you go after whoever you saw just leave." Gesturing towards his wife and Batwoman, he then added as he moved authoritatively towards the door to the main room. "Let's grab the others."

Dick had already re-entered the main room, where the heat was beginning to feel like that of a blast furnace. As he threw a line up to exit through the hole in the skylight that Starfire had made earlier, he heard her interject, "Wait. One of us should try to get the emergency fire systems back on."

Dick was climbing through the broken light even as he noticed Batwoman move off from the other two. Obviously, the E-1 Nightwing had decided that she would look for the security and emergency systems' controls while he and Starfire worked to remove the remaining downed men.

Running over to the side of the building which corresponded to the wall he had seen the "Doctor" and his son slip through, he peered over the side, hoping to catch a glimpse of the direction the two might have taken off in. Luckily, they didn't seem to have gone very far yet, as he spied both of them just down the avenue from where the building stood. The older man was hunch over, as if trying to catch his breath, while his son appeared to be anxiously trying to pull him along.

Dick quickly leapt over the side of the roof and using his rope, swung himself down to ground level. Moving as quickly, but quietly as he could, he came up behind the two men. He was about 10 feet behind them and just about to leap on the younger one when the older man spun and saw him. Pressing a button on a small box he had obviously been carrying in his lab coat, the old man gloated, even as a shimmering light seem to appear around him and his son. "Not this time, brat. But we'll be back to settle with you for disrupting our operation." With an almost gleeful chuckle, both he and his son started to fade from sight, even as Dick leapt towards them. But his hands only grabbed empty air.

"Damn…Must have been some sort of communication device to a teleporter. They could be anywhere." Dick was not happy. Those two seemed to be the ones who had the most information about what was going on of anyone involved with the robbery. He could have gotten more out of them. "But at least I got a few more clues from what they were discussing before Starfire and I attacked." It wasn't much, but it was more than they had before.

In the distance, he heard the wail of sirens. Someone must have seen the fire and put in a call to the emergency services. As he headed back towards the warehouse, he saw that his older counterpart and his wife had managed to get everyone else out of the building. The captured men sat or lay bound several feet from the building. As he approached them, he saw the two cycles that had been hidden in the shadows. Starfire was sitting on the seat of her husband's cycle, patiently watching as he wound several bandages firmly around the wound in her upper arm. Dick again was struck by the almost painfully obvious professional air the two of them were putting on with each other.

"Everything okay here?", Dick asked as he approached the pair.

"Yeah. Batwoman must have found the controls for the fire systems, as the sprinklers came on only a minute or so ago. How about you?"

"Not so good. They had access to some sort of teleporter. They used it to get away just as I was about to nab them."

Nightwing and Starfire exchanged glances with Dick's statement. As he finished with her arm, the other man turned to Dick and stated, "Starfire told me all she could about what happened in there. How about you telling me what you know."

Just as Dick as about to start his explanation, several fire vehicles pulled into the parking lot next to the warehouse. At the same time, Batwoman emerged from the building and headed in their direction.

"How's the arm?", she inquired as she got closer.

"Sore, but I'll live", Starfire replied.

"Good. Still, I put in a call to the 'big house'. 'A' said that he'd put in a call to the Doctor. He should be there by the time you get back. So why don't you two run along while this cutie", she smiled as she gestured off-handedly towards Dick, "and I deal with clearing up here."

"You sure, Batwoman?", Nightwing asked.

"Yep. Go on. We shouldn't be all that long."

"All right. Wing, I want to hear about everything that went down in there when you get back to the cave."

Nodding his acceptance, Dick watched as the older man helped Starfire on to the back of his bike, before he climbed on in front of her. After a quick farewell wave, they set off.

Dick became aware of one of the firefighters approaching their group when he turned back. The man seemed pleasantly surprised to see the woman with him. "Batwoman! It's great to see you out. It's been a while since we've heard anything of you."

Batwoman smiled at the man. "I might not be around as much as I used to be, but when I'm needed, I still show up."

"Well, believe me. All the citizens of Gotham are glad that you and the others are around. I don't know where this city would be without you guys."

Dick was observing this exchange in another slight state of shock. He had realized with the encounter with Inspector Henderson over in Metropolis that this Earth's Batman had a slightly more public profile than his own. But to hear one of their group being so publicly praised was a slightly different matter. It was kind of nice to hear, since the counterparts to these people on his Earth kept such a low profile about all the good work that they did, that such praise was usually faint and far between in occurring.

Batwoman had continued her conversation with the firefighter even as he was noting this for further reference. "Do you know if the GCPD has been alerted to this situation."

"Yes, ma'am, they have. We put in a call as soon as we got here and saw your costumes. They said to let you know that since you were on the scene, they might be a few minutes in responding. Apparently there's been a bit of a incident involving Robin and Catwoman that a number of them had to respond to."

Dick and Batwoman exchanged quick looks of concern with that. What had happened? But Batwoman quickly masked her own concern when she turned back to the firefighter.

"Great. We've got a number of perpetrators that are going to need booking. We'll stay here with them if you guys want to work on getting that fire under control."

"Gotcha. Yell if you need anything."

"We will." As the man moved off, Batwoman turned back to Dick. "We'll wait here until the police arrive and we can hand these guys off to them. I suggest that we tell them we'll give them statements later."

Dick nodded his assent to her suggestion. Keeping his eye on the men tied up at their feet, he quietly asked the woman beside him, "You don't go out as Batwoman much anymore? From things said earlier in the cave, and what that guy just said…"

The red-hair cascading down from beneath the woman's cowl flared as she shook her head from side to side. "No. If something big is going on, or they really need more man-power, I'll help out. But, after Kara died, I found that I was really questioning just how effective I was as Batgirl. Heck, I was wondering that even before she died. That just brought my own insecurities more into focus, I guess. Then, I discovered that I could do more good for Gotham City in other capacities than I ever did wearing this costume", she whispered back to him.

"Other capacities?

"Yes. My time in Congress showed me that there were other ways to affect change then going out and beating up on the bad guys. Ways that might have more lasting changes. But a congressional seat was a bit too broad an area for me to really work well in. So, a few years ago, I ran for City Council. This way, I get to help the people of Gotham, can indirectly help Batman and the others with getting certain rulings passed, and have time to spend with my boys."

Dick shook his head at the flow of new information. This Barbara Gordon had been a Congresswoman? Was now working in the political structure of Gotham? It was a very different route than his own Babs had followed. Of course, there were other, more obvious ways in which the two women's lives had diverged. He shouldn't be surprised to find that they had made different choices in other ways as well.

The mention of her sons brought his attention back to her. "Tony and Jimmy? That's your sons' names…right?"

"Good memory. I'm impressed. Course, all things considered, those two names shouldn't totally be unexpected, I guess."

Dick sent her a puzzled look at that line. "Jimmy…Sure, that one makes sense. But Tony?"

"Of course. What better way was I going to have to honor my brother?"

Another interesting new fact. It was definitely the night for them, Dick decided. This Barbara Gordon had a brother. Dick wondered if he was Jim Gordon's natural son, or if he had adopted him like he had Barbara when her own parents had died. But when he put asked her about this, she only returned his puzzled look.

"What are you talking about? Jim Gordon is my 'biological' father."

A bit perplexed by this new bit of information, Dick could only shake his head in apology. "Sorry. Guess I was assuming too much. Barbara Gordon on my Earth was adopted by her Uncle Jim and his wife when her father, Roger Gordon, died."

Batwoman gazed back at him with a slightly bemused expression on her face. "Really. Wonder what other differences there are between her and me?"

Dick smiled back at the woman in front of him, even as he knew he shouldn't mention the biggest difference between her and the woman he now knew as Oracle. "There's a few, but you both obviously women with your hearts in the right place. That's the only really important thing, right?"

Batwoman could only smile back at him in response. "Thank you, Nightwing. That's sweet of you to say."

Dick could feel his face redden slightly with Batwoman's remarks. But even as one part of his mind enjoyed the friendly atmosphere, another part was reminded of a slightly more reserved relationship he had just observed. One that he hadn't expected to see.

"Hey, can you tell me what was up between your Nightwing and Starfire when you guys first showed up here? Seemed like they were almost acting like strangers."

"Oh, that. They've been doing that ever since Dick Grayson and Kory Anders became a public couple. I wouldn't say that they were acting all that much like strangers, but they do consciously make the effort to not appear any closer than that of teammates. I mean, it's public knowledge that Starfire is married to Dick Grayson. Can't have her and Nightwing acting very strongly towards each other. People might talk", she noted with a smile.

Dick had figured that that was the case, but he had wanted confirmation. Well, he concluded, it was nice to see that all his deduction skills hadn't gone totally out the window.

Glancing around to make sure that there was still no one around who could overhear them, he turned and still whispering, joked back, "And Lord knows, we don't need that type of scandal going around the superhero koffeeklatch, now do we?"

Picking up on the thread of humor lacing his voice, Batwoman returned with a mock horrified look, "Heavens, no. Think about how Superman would react. He's such an upstanding guy, don't you know. He just wouldn't stand for it. And we definitely don't want to make the big guy mad, now do we?"

"No way. I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of a blast of his heat vision, would you?"

"Definitely not."

A quiet laughter arose between the pair as they both imagined the scenario. Reaching over, Dick stated, "You know, Batwoman, I'm really glad to have made your acquaintance."

Even as a few squad cars were pulling up beside them, he heard Batwoman return, "Same here, Nightwing. Same here."

After several minutes of explaining to the officers just what had happened, it was obvious that the officers were now in charge of the men and that they could leave. As a result, they headed back up to the roof-top site where Dick and Starfire had set up their surveillance headquarters, and had left not an hour earlier.

"We better go and collect any Bat-cams you guys used before we head back."

"Okay", Dick agreed as the two of them packed up the small TV monitors. Then the two of them headed off to collect the equipment, after agreeing to meet back at Batwoman's cycle. Ten minutes later, they were back on the road, heading back towards Wayne Manor and the cave situated below it.

As Dick and Batwoman pulled up in the Bat-cave, Dick again found himself presented with a scenario that threw him for another loop. For there was a rather smartly dressed man, about the same age as Bruce, conversing with Batman over by the computers. He was slightly taller than average in built, and had a smartly trimmed mustache and neat goatee that matched his medium brown hair. Batman seemed to be quite comfortable talking with the man.

At the sound of the cycle pulling up, both men had turned their attentions to the two newcomers. As they dismounted from the cycle, the unknown man ventured over.

"Batwoman. Good to see you. It's been awhile."

"You know, Doctor Dundee, you're the second person to say that to me tonight. I haven't fully retired from the game yet." As the man acknowledged her statement with a thoughtful bow of his head, she continued, "How's Starfire's arm?"

"Not all that bad. The bullet did go right through, and while it hit muscle and a smaller artery, it missed the major blood vessels and nerves. A couple of weeks and she'll be back flying the friendly skies."

Batman, who had joined the small group, added, "But we're probably going to have more of a problem with Selina. The laser blast she took to her calf isn't nearly as clean a wound."

"What happened there anyways, Batman?", Dick asked anxiously. "Was it another robbery connected to what's happening?" Even as he was inquiring though, he was throwing cautious looks over to the new man.

"No, it doesn't appear to have anything to do with our problem. Jay and Selina came upon another crime in progress as they were on their way to go help you and Koriand'r." Seeing the glances Dick was directing at the other man, Bruce went to make the introductions. "Nightwing, this is Doctor Dundee. He's been handling our major medical problems for several years now."

"Oh." So Leslie Thompkins wasn't the doctor that these people turned to. Another major change to what he was used to. He turned towards the other man with that. "You're sure Starfire's going to be okay?"

"Yes. But if you want, you can go ask her. The others are all over in the med bay part of the cave."

With a quick nod of his head, Dick turned and headed in the direction of the medical station in the cave. Turning around the rock outcropping that separated it from the main portion of the cave, he found several people clustered around the two women, one seated on a chair, the other propped up on the gurney set in the middle of the bay.

Dick noted that his E-1 counterpart seemed much more concerned about his wife's welfare than he had back at the warehouse. But he understood their actions now, given the explanation that Barbara had given him. However, he was surprised by some of the responses that the woman lying on the gurney was eliciting from the others around her.

"Helena, I'm fine!", Catwoman was busy assuring the woman who was hovering about her.

"Are you sure, Aunt Selina. Those burns and gashes aren't just scratches, you know."

Richard reached out to grab his partner's shoulder. "If Catwoman says she's fine, Helena, I'm pretty sure that she's going to be okay."

Dick noticed that Jason, dressed in an outfit that was a slightly modified version of Richard's, was leaning against the wall of the bay, in a slightly defensive pose. "If you only had stayed out of my line of sight, I could have taken that guy down", Dick heard him mutter.

Catwoman, while gingerly moving her leg off the side of the gurney, grimaced over to the young man. "Listen, little bird, I'm sorry I got in your way…"

"Selina…Jay…Stop it", Batman commanded as he entered the room. "I would have thought by now you would have out-grown this antagonism by now."

Jay made to leave the room, even as he cast a slightly cold look back to the woman on the covered table. "Yeah, right, that'll be the day", he threw back in a low tone as he wound his way out into the main room of the cave.

When Batman turned back to the woman, Dick noticed her giving a slight shrug of her shoulders. "Sorry, Bruce. But Jay and I always did rub each other up the wrong way."

"That hadn't stopped you two from working okay in the past. What happened this time?"

The raven-haired woman threw a cautious look around the room before she steadily leveled her gaze back on the man in front of her. "I don't think you really want us discussing that with an audience."

Dick saw the eyes in Batman's cowl narrow at Selina's words. Now he was really intrigued. But before the confrontation in front of him continued, the other Nightwing interrupted. "I think we should leave that for another time. Frankly, Kory should get up to bed…"

Helena added quickly, "And so should Aunt Selina. Uncle Bruce, you have a spare bed here, don't you?"

Catwoman began rapidly shaking her head at that. "No, Helena. I'm okay. It's better if I just head home."

"Don't be ridiculous, Aunt Selina. With your leg the way it is, you should definitely have someone around to watch out for you."

Catwoman kept her gaze on the dark cowled man in front of her, even as she answered the purple and blue clad woman. "You forget, Helena, I'm a cat. We're loners and don't rely on anyone but ourselves. I'll be fine."

Helena threw a slightly pleading look over to Bruce. "Uncle Bruce, convince her she's wrong."

Dick sensed the tension that gripped the man in the center of the room. But after a short moment, the big man's shoulders relaxed, and an almost lazy, if slightly cold, grin slashed across his face. "Normally, I'd side with Catwoman on this matter. But you're right this time, Helena. It might be better if Selina did stay here, to have someone keep a closer eye on her. Never know when she might get into some trouble that she couldn't get out of, especially with a bad leg. I'm sure we can find a bed for her somewhere."

Dick just stared in bemusement at the trio in front of him. It was obvious that there was a lot of hidden meanings to both Batman and Catwoman's words. In fact, if he wasn't mistaken, Selina was practically seething after Bruce's last statement, though she doing her best to hide it. Helena was just looking between the other two with a totally confused expression on her face. It was obvious that she had certain expectations of the two of them and how they interacted. Ones that they weren't necessarily living up to at the moment. Still, she seemed content to let things rest as they were. Whereas Dick was dying of curiosity to find out just what was going on between the other two.

But, yet again, the older Nightwing seemed to be trying to break up the tableau in front of them, as he once again interjected. "If we've got that settled, we should also go over what Wing can tell us about what happened at the warehouse."

Batman and the Earth-2 Robin both nodded their agreement. Huntress also appeared to shift her focus from the purple-clad woman over towards Dick. Starfire just settled back into the chair she had been sitting in, even as her husband threw her a look, as if asking if she wanted to head up to bed. She must have read his signals, as she shook her long curls and tilted her head over towards Dick, directing the other Nightwing's attention back to him.

With everyone's eyes upon him, Dick started to drag up everything that he could remember from the time he entered the warehouse until he saw the two men vanish in the transporter beam. As he was going over the events in his mind and reciting them to the others, he occasionally heard an "Hhmmm" coming from one or another person. When he finished, Batman immediately stood up and headed into the main part of the cave, with Robin and Batwoman following him. The elder Nightwing and Huntress stayed behind with Starfire and the Catwoman, but motioned for Dick to go with the others.

"Dr. Sivana? The name's familiar. I'm going to access our files to see what we have in relation to him, as well as any possible means of passing through matter like you claimed they could do, Dick." Batman paused in his ruminations as he gazed at the other around him. "You guys should head up and try to get some sleep. It's been a long night." He motioned over to where the E-1 Nightwing was carrying his wife up the stairs, and Huntress was helping Catwoman hobble over to the same set of stairs. Seeing the two women, Batman's shoulders abruptly stiffened, and after a short pause, headed over in their direction. Without even asking permission, he swept Catwoman up into his arms and made to climb up the stairs behind his former ward. Helena rounded out the short procession.

As they disappeared, Dick turned to the remaining two. "Okay, someone has got to explain to me what is going on with those two."

Batwoman and Robin exchanged quick looks between themselves. Barbara turned back to Dick and responded to his query, "Listen, if you find out, let us know. You think we actually know? No…Whatever happened…Let's just say Bruce has been very closed-mouth about it since."

Richard reached out and grasped Dick's shoulder. "Listen, I think you should take Bruce's advice. You looked a bit wiped and it has been a long night. And you still haven't slept since you showed up on my Earth, have you?" With Dick's shaking of his head in the negative, Richard's mouth thinned. "That's it. You're headed up to bed. You're not going to be any help if you're almost on the point of collapse."

Dick only stared at the other man in consternation. Still, Richard had a point. And between the conversation with Koriand'r and the fight in the warehouse, he was feeling more than a bit exhausted. So instead of arguing, he merely shrugged his shoulders and turned to head up the stairs.

Reaching the room he had been shown to earlier, he stripped off the costume that his counterpart had loaned him earlier. Holding it, he was amazed by the fact that not once had he worried about wearing the brighter colors again. He was wondering what that could mean when sleep grabbed him and he finally sank into its welcoming embrace.

____________________________________________________________________

The sound of giggles woke Dick from the deep recesses of blackness where he was happily ensconced. Wearily opening his eyes, he noted that a bright beam of sunlight was creeping through the thin slot of space between the meeting edges of the curtains in his room. At some point, someone had come in and pulled the curtains closed while he was sleeping, he decided. Even so, his eyesight rapidly adjusted to the dim lighting of the room

Another burst of giggles drew his eyes to the baseboard of the bed. Over the edge of the dark wood, he could make out three sets of eyes peering intently at him. Their brightness gleamed in the darkened room, and for some reason, all of a sudden, Dick realized what Snow White must have felt like to wake up to see the eyes of small figures focussing on her. It was a bit startling to say the least.

At the slight movement of his head, the giggling ceased, to be replaced with a short moment of uncertainty from the figures at the end of the bed. That didn't last though, as one made a quick movement up and onto the bed.

"Unca 'Wing…You wake?", Alexandra asked as she moved up beside him.

"Well, if he wasn't before, he is now", her older sister commented as she moved around to the side of the bed opposite where Alex sat. "Sorry, Uncle 'Wing, we really weren't trying to wake you up. Honest! Mommy said that you were really tired and that we shouldn't bother you. But it's after lunch…"

"Lunch? It's afternoon already?", Dick queried as he sat up quickly in bed.

"Uh-huh", Mike confirmed as he climbed up beside Alex on the bed, even as Amanda went to draw the curtains open. A brighter beam of light fell into the room and across the bed. Dick could tell by the brightness that they were right. "And we were hoping…"

"You were hoping…?"

Alex piped up, "You come play…Please?"

"Play?"

"Yes. Everybody else busy."

"I see." Dick wasn't sure just how to respond to the three youngsters. Obviously, they had been left at something of loose ends and were trying to find ways to amuse themselves. Hence the creeping into his room.

"Yeah. Mommy's resting, cause her arm's bothering her…"

"Bad boo-boo", Alex added to her brother's explanation.

"I know, Alex", Dick stated. "But I'm sure it's going to be all right. Your mom's pretty tough."

"Uh-huh", Mike agreed. "She says she would play with us, but Daddy told us to let her rest. He's busy down on the computers in the cave. Uncle Jay had to go to work, and Grandpa went off with Uncle Richard and Aunt Helena to meet with some people. Uncle Alfred's busy in the kitchen, or he'd play with us. So we thought…"

"…Maybe I'd play with you", Dick ended for the boy. He searched the three faces intently as all of them nodded. There was a sense of anticipation there, like they really wanted to do something with him, to spend some time with him. A part of him found the idea really appealing, having the chance to just relax and not think about all that was happening. But another part was still unsure about how much he really wanted to interact with these kids. And he wondered if they picked up on that, as underneath the excitement he read on their faces, he also sensed a bit of fear, as if they weren't sure as to how he was going to respond to their request.

Seeing that, he knew that he couldn't turn them down. A few minutes of just hanging out with these three wouldn't hurt him. He would probably even enjoy it. But he knew that he first should find out what was going on in the follow-up to what had happened last night.

"All right. How about this? You guys head downstairs and ask Uncle Alfred if he would mind me invading his kitchen to get some food. I also need to go talk to your dad for a few minutes. Then I'll join you and we'll see what kind of trouble we can get into."

"Yay!", Alex shouted as she threw herself into his arms for yet a third time. This time, he didn't hesitate however, but enveloped her in a tight, if quick, hug. The other two weren't quite as enthusiastic with their agreement to his suggestion, but their broad smiles told him that they were also happy with his decision.

"Now off you three get, so I can have a quick shower and put on some clean clothes", Dick admonished as he sent the children scrambling for the door.

As the other two quickly flew out, Amanda turned back to mention, "Daddy said to tell you that there's some clothes in the closet that you can use."

"Thanks, Amanda. I'll see you three in a few minutes." After the girl left the room, closing the door behind her, Dick threw back the covers and stretched. It was amazing what even a few hours of sleep could do, he decided, as he felt much more like himself than he had for the last couple of days. Maybe it was the sleep, or maybe due to the information he had uncovered last night, he felt that he was actually doing something that was going to get him home. But he felt one hundred percent better than he had since before the explosion in the warehouse back on his earth.

Grabbing a change of clothes, he headed for the bathroom. The quick shower helped to revive him even more. Heading downstairs, he realized that he actually almost felt like whistling. It was a good feeling.

Alfred was waiting for him at the bottom of the staircase. "I see that you found all that you required, young Master Dick."

"Yes. Thanks. Sorry if I've been any sort of bother."

"Nonsense. You could never be a bother here, young sir. I just want to make sure that you feel at home."

"Amazingly enough, in some very weird way, I do. Though I really shouldn't…"

Alfred just sent him a knowing look at that remark. "Amanda mentioned that you were hungry. I've laid out a light lunch for you in the kitchen."

Dick looked over at the older man with a touch of irritation. "I told them to tell you that I would be able to get some food on my own. Thrown together a sandwich or something. You shouldn't have gone to the trouble…"

Alfred held up his hand to silence him, just as his own Alfred would do at home. The sight again made him feel almost like he was back at his own Wayne Manor. "The children did tell me what you said. But I had already prepared the food for you. I knew you would most probably be famished when you woke up. All I had to do was set up the table."

"Oh…okay", Dick acknowledged sheepishly. He should have known that this Alfred would have covered all the eventualities. His own Alfred would have. In fact, if this Alfred was anything like his own, he might even be insulted by the fact that Dick would think that he wouldn't have been prepared. "Sorry…Guess I wasn't really thinking."

"Humphf", Alfred breathed, even as he led the way off to the kitchen. Following him, when they got to the room in question, Dick saw that for this Alfred, much as with his own, a "light lunch" implied more than just the simple soup and sandwiches that others might expect. There was cuts of meat, vegetables, several different pieces of fruit, cheeses, a variety of bread, several types of salad, as well as a selection of desserts spread out over the table. As well, there were jugs of milk and juice, and Dick could smell coffee brewing in a pot over on one of the many counters.

"If you would like some, I have a pot of beef and vegetable soup simmering on the stove."

"Alfred, sometimes you are just too much", Dick stated, before he really realized that he wasn't talking to his own Alfred.

"If you say so, young Master Dick."

With that, the older man turned back to the countertop where he had obviously been at work, and ladled some of the soup into a bowl he had sitting there. Bringing it over to Dick, who was starting to put together a plate of food from the various supplies laid out over the table top, Alfred then returned to preparing whatever he had been making for the evening repast.

Dick was just going to ask Alfred about what had been happening while he had been sleeping, when his older counterpart came into the room. After a brief nod in Dick's direction, he headed over to the refrigerator and grabbed a bottle of juice from inside. Moving over to peer over Alfred's shoulder, he lightly commented, "Chicken Kiev. Alfred, what's the occasion?"

"No occasion, Master Dick."

"Right, Alfred. Whatever you say." The older Dick Grayson just rolled his eyes at his young counterpart as he moved over to the table and sat down on the other side of the table, reaching for an apple as he did so. Taking a bite, after a few moments of chewing, he asked, "Sleep okay, Wing?"

"Yes. Anything happen while I sacked out? How's Koriand'r's arm? And Catwoman?"

"Kory's arm's fine. Well, at least, as fine as it could be for being shot. She's going to need to keep it bandaged and in a sling for awhile though. That is, unless we get Raven to look at it. Kory doesn't want to bother her about it though. She says it's not that serious. Selina's leg's going to be okay too. Though she's going to have to stay off the ankle for a few days, according to Dr. Dundee. But knowing her, I doubt she will. As for the other stuff, well, the JLA's meeting later this afternoon to go over everything that we've uncovered. Bruce, Richard and Helena are off, going over some of the stuff and doing some clean up from last night. We're supposed to head up to the satellite in a few hours time to meet them there. I've just been spending some time going over files and updating other ones."

"Anything I can help with."

"Not at the moment. Besides, as I understand it, you have a 'play-date' with my kids."

"Yeah, well, I'm sure they'd understand if there was something else that needed to be looked into."

"They might. But I wouldn't. Okay?"

Dick heard the slightly harsh note that entered the man's tone with that. Even Alfred must have picked up on it, as the older man raised his head from the ingredients in front of him. "Master Dick?"

The elder Nightwing just shook his head wearily. "Sorry. That probably came out a stronger than what I meant it to." He threw an apologetic look over to the younger man. "Kory and I have always tried to keep our crazy lives' impact on the children to a minimum." At Dick's slightly incredulous expression at that statement, the other man gave a short snort. "No, it doesn't mean that what we do doesn't impact on the kids…Just that we're trying to bring them up as normally as we can, given what we and most of our other family and friends do. We want them to be kids. To not constantly having to face the life-and-death aspects of our jobs all the time. Stuff like Kory being shot…Well, it always seems to bring that aspect of our lives back front and center. I know they try hard not to show it, but seeing either of us, or Bruce, or the various other people they consider 'family', like the old Titans, hurt…I know it bothers them. Bothers them a lot. I was worried about how this latest incident with Kory being shot would affect them. They seem to be handling it okay, but you never know. And they seemed so excited by you agreeing to spend some time with them…"

Dick could only nod at the other man's explanation. It was obvious that Nightwing was trying to balance his home life and his work to the best of his abilities. Having kids who had their own powers must even aggravate the problem, he guessed. Besides, from what Koriand'r had revealed the night before, it was obvious that keeping the two sides of his life at least somewhat separated was almost impossible.

But the other man was continuing with his line of thought. "Listen, I know how hard it must be for you to be around the kids, especially after Kory told me about some of the things you guys discussed last night…"

Dick drew a sharp breath in at that. This man had already reacted angrily once to some of the things he had revealed. How had he taken what his wife had obviously told him, considering she herself had been so upset by what Dick had told her.

But the older Dick Grayson appeared to be giving him an understanding look. In fact, by his follow-up, he seemed to almost read Dick's mind with regards to that. "Listen, relax. I'm not going to jump down your throat, even if I don't agree with the actions you took. Cause I don't. But considering some of the other things that you've mentioned, there were some extenuating circumstances involved. In fact, if you had told Kory everything else that was going on at the same time, she might not have either."

"Everything else?"

"Yeah, like what you told us in the library yesterday about how your Bruce had been badly injured around the same time as your wedding. And you might have mentioned about what happened to your Jason." With Dick's quizzical look, his counterpart explained, "We talked very early this morning, after you had headed up to bed. Kory couldn't sleep until the painkiller Doc Dundee had given her had set in, and Bruce was up, going through the files, looking for stuff on this 'Dr. Sivana' you mentioned. With the information you had given her, plus what you had told Bruce yesterday about your relationship with his counterpart on your Earth and what happened with your Jason…Let's just say that putting two-and-two together, we managed to figure out that you wasn't the easiest time of your life. Have to say, I agree with Kory about not believing that you would let your Starfire leave so easily, but it was your decision, I guess."

Dick couldn't believe his ears. Considering the prior awkwardness he had had with his counterpart, and the confrontation the night before, he had been sure that Nightwing wouldn't have reacted this way. Feeling a touch closer to the other man, he tentatively broached the other things that he and Koriand'r had discussed before the fight at the warehouse had commenced. "Yeah, well, I probably over-reacted a bit to her…refusal to accept my story too. I honestly thought you guys hadn't gone through anything like I and my Titans had gone through. Yet when she told me about what happened to…to your son, and then Amanda…"

Dick noticed the other man stiffening at his words, as well as Alfred throwing a concerned look in their direction. Trying to retract his words quickly, he blurted out, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have brought it up."

"No. No, that's okay. We've learned to live with it. Still, you can see why we want to keep the kids away from the actual 'work' related activities of our lives as much as possible. Amanda working on the computers, them interacting with Prophet, playing Mystery. I can accept that at this stage. But the thought of them actually in the midst of battle, that I'm still coping with. But both Amanda and Mike have expressed an interest, and they all love going up on the trap and learning acrobatics. I don't know. I guess I just want to protect them, and not see them hurt."

"That's understandable."

"Yeah, it is. But that's why I don't want you to do anything that could hurt them. I understand that you might find it hard to be around them, but they really do seem to want to get to know you. Hell, as soon as they got up this morning, they wanted to know where 'Uncle Wing' was, or if they could ask 'Uncle Wing' to do something with them."

Dick could see the small plea in the other man's eyes. The one that said, "please don't disappoint my kids". And as he recognized it, he realized something else. He didn't want to disappoint these kids. This might be the only chance he had to get to know them, and even if it did hurt a little bit, he became aware of the fact that there might also be some joy as well.

Even as he was about to tell their father this, the door to the kitchen burst open, and three bodies flew through it. "Unca Wing…Unca Wing. You ready to come play yet?", Alexandra demanded to know.

Dick levered himself away for the table. "Maybe…But then, I might have to work, you know," he added mischievously, as he threw a conspiratorial wink over to their father.

With his pronouncement, the two younger children's faces fell. However, Amanda saw the twinkle in his eye. "Stop fooling around, Uncle Wing. You promised you'd play with us."

Dick heaved a mocked sigh of resignation. "All right. If I promised, I guess I have to." Nodding to the other men in the room, he herded the kids back into the main foyer of the house. "Okay, just what do you want to do? Feel like a game of Mystery?"

Alex developed a small scowl on her face with that. Seeing it, Mike explained to Dick, "Alex doesn't play Mystery with us yet, Uncle Wing. She's still too little."

"Oh, I don't know about that, Mike. I bet she might be able to fool all of us, if she really wanted to."

The little girl's face beamed at the bit of praise from the man that looked so much like her Daddy. But she still shook her head. "Don't want to play Mystery."

"No? Then what do you want to play, Alex?"

"Hi' and Seek. We hi', you seek."

Dick decided to tease the little girl a bit. As such, he seemed to take a few minutes to contemplate her choice of game. "I don't know, Alex. I am a trained detective. I'll probably be able to find you before you even gotten hidden really well."

"No, you not. I hi' really well." She looked at her siblings, as if looking for support of her statement..

"Yeah, she does, Uncle Wing. You'd be surprised at where she can get herself into."

"Well, we'll see. I'll give all of you to the count of 100 to hide, and then I'm going to come and get you."

With that, the three kids scattered in various directions, giggling and laughing as they went to find spots to hide in. Dick could only shake his head at their enthusiasm for the game. Still, it might be fun.

For the next hour, the four of them just played and joked around. As the hide-and-seek game progressed, they managed to move outside. Finally, after a major wrestling match of the three kids against Dick, they all collapsed under a tree in back of the manor.

"You guys had enough yet?" Dick asked the three limp bodies sprawled around him.

Amanda apparently decided to get back at him for the earlier teasing. "Maybe…But we might have more work for you."

"No…No…Not more. I don't think my heart could handle it." Dick fell back in the grass, clutching at his chest.

Mike just shook his head at the two of them. "Uncle Wing, you're silly", he announced in a definite tone.

Alex then moved over to rest her head on Dick's chest. "Unca Wing?"

"What, Alex?"

"You stay and play with us forever?"

Dick sat up with that, drawing the little girl into his lap at the same time. He looked into her deep sapphire-blue eyes and saw the hope that filled them.

"No, Alex, I can't. I'm sorry, but I have to get back to my own home. I really don't belong here."

A small pout developed on the girl's mouth, but her older sister moved to counter it. "Yeah, Alex. Uncle Wing has people that depend on him back on his own Earth. Just like Uncle Richard does. But you'll come visit like him, won't you, Uncle Wing?"

"I don't know, Amanda…I really don't think that might be possible. We'll…we'll have to see. First we have to find a way for me to even get home."

"Oh, don't worry about that, Uncle Wing", Mike interjected. "Daddy and Grandpa will find a way to get you home. And a way for you to come back and visit whenever you want. I know they will."

Dick's face developed a wiry grin in light of the boy's confidence. "You sure about that, are you, Mike?"

"Uh-huh. Daddy and Grandpa can do anything. They'll make sure that everything goes okay."

Dick looked over at the two girls, who were also nodding their agreement with their brother's assessment. It must be really nice to have people around that have that much faith in you, he decided.

Grinning at the boy, he concluded, "I hope you're right, Mike. I really hope you're right."

Transporting up to the JLA satellite a few hours later, Dick hadn't yet wiped the grin from his face. The time with the kids had relaxed him, more than he thought possible. Their simple, assured confidence that everything was going to turn out all right had rubbed off on him. As a result, his own confidence in getting home had returned, and he greeted the various members that he had already met the day before warmly. But after a few minutes, the Earth-1 Superman and Batman were motioning for people to take seats, either around the conference table, or on couches just off to the side.

Superman went to the head of the table. As the murmurs from around the room died, he launched into the purpose of the meeting, which was to bring everyone up to speed on what had been happening. "Everyone, we've got a lot to discuss here, so let's get going."

As quiet settled over the room, he motioned to Batman, who step forward with the Earth-2 Robin. "As many of you already know, we've uncovered the fact that these robberies have been happening on both Earth-1 and Earth-2 for several weeks now. We just didn't realize that they were related until Nightwing", Batman's head nodded in Dick's direction, "showed up on Earth-2."

Robin picked up on the other man's line of information. "As of last night, we've found approximately 20 robberies that could be connected to this 'trans-dimensional' plot. The latest three occurring last night, two on this earth, and one over on Earth-2. What we hadn't realized before last night was how widespread this plot, whatever it may be, is."

Batman turned to a monitor screen that was mounted on a wall behind the conference table. As he moved over to activate the computer just beneath it, a picture flashed up on the screen. Dick recognized it immediately. It was the "Dr. Sivana" he had faced the night before. Even as the recognition flashed through his mind, and he noticed a few of the others around him startling with the view on the screen, Batman was continuing.

"For those who don't know, this is Dr. Thaddeus Sivana. He's a criminal master-mind who's one of Captain Marvel's greatest foes."

With Batman's statement, the room erupted with several exclamations.

"Captain Marvel?"

"You mean that whatever is going on is also affecting his Earth as well?"

"How about the other Earths? Are they also having to deal with these type of robberies?"

Dick's head swam with the implications of what they were saying as the excited chatter flowed around him. However, Superman rose from the seat that he had taken and the hub-bub died down. When it got to a tolerable level, Dick raised his hand in query. He had to get this information straightened out if he was going to make sense of anything else that was said.

"Are you guys telling me that there's even more 'Earths' out there besides Earth-1 and Earth-2?"

Helena nodded over to him. "Three more that we knew of before you arrived on our earth. Five in total. Yours is now number 6. Of course, before Crisis, there were hundreds, if not thousands more."

Dick vaguely remembered someone mentioning earlier about how there were 5 Earths. He had just let that fact slip his mind with everything else that had been thrown at him since. But now, from what Batman and Robin were saying, these other Earths might also be caught up in this whole mess. Still, the thought of so many Earths out there boggled his mind. As he considered that, another question popped into his head.

"You said Captain Marvel lives on this other Earth. Does it also have counterparts to you", he pointed to Batman and the Supermen, "like Earth-1 and Earth-2 have. Does this world have a counterpart to Captain Marvel?"

Superman, seeing the confusion, curiosity, and also touch of something else…possibly fear?…in the young man's eyes, tried to answer as completely as he could. "No, Captain Marvel's Earth doesn't have direct analogs to Bruce and myself, or the others that are exact duplicates. In fact, only one other Earth we ever came across on a regular basis had what appeared to be close counterparts to some of us, and they were villains, not heroes. But that Earth was destroyed in the Crisis. For the most part, the other Earths that remain have heroes and villains that appear to be unique unto themselves."

The Earth-2 Superman interrupted his counterpart to interject a clarification. "Well, that's not entirely true. I mean, Uncle Sam's crew of 'Freedom Fighters' was originally from our earth. They only made the trip over to the Earth where the Nazis had won World War II when it was realized that there wasn't heroes there to keep the fight going."

Dick sat still in shock. "You mean there's an Earth where the Nazis won the war?"

"Not now. The Freedom Fighters, with the aid of the people of that earth, were finally able to beat them back. It just took 40 years on their Earth, instead of the 7 years it did on ours."

Dick could only shake his head in amazement. The more he learned…

The Earth-1 Hawkman, who was present for this meeting, but who Dick hadn't had a chance to be introduced to yet, calmly broke into the conversation. "This is getting off-topic. Do we know what we're really up against here yet?"

"Smooth the feathers, Hawk", Green Arrow advised. "Boy can't be any help to us if we're not all on the same page."

"Still, Katar's right. We should get back to what we're dealing with here. We can fill Dick in on the details a bit later", Superman conceded.

Continuing from where he had left off, Batman gestured back to the monitor screen. "We sent a message over to Captain Marvel and Bulletman to let them know what's going on. We've also done the same with the Blue Beetle and Captain Atom over on the 4th Earth, though they seem a bit skeptical. Of course, we haven't had nearly the same interaction with them as we have with Captain Marvel and the heroes of his world. They've all sent back messages that they're going to look into it and will get back to us. We haven't been able to get through to Uncle Sam yet, but Firestorm's working on the communications relay attached to the Transponder, trying to raise him or one of the other FF members."

"But what does all this mean, Batman", Black Canary posed.

"From what Dick overheard Dr. Sivana saying last night, Dinah, it appears that someone is orchestrating these robberies from behind the scenes. Dick told us that he overheard Sivana talking about a "voice" that had contacted him. This voice seems to have been the one to contact the others involved, and given them the idea of the cross-dimensional robberies. But who this voice is, and what its purpose is for hooking all these villains up across the various Earths is still not known. From what Dick overheard, even Sivana doesn't know who contacted him and the others."

"I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm getting a headache", Green Arrow groaned aloud.

The others murmured consensus with Green Arrow, even if they might have not expressed it in those terms. Dick himself was feeling a bit overwhelmed. From what he could gleam from the others' explanations, a lot of the people he was used to being part of the heroic population of his own Earth were actually spread out over these other Earths.

"And we still don't know just why Nightwing here has been thrown to our Earths from his own", Dick's E-1 counterpart added to the general discussion that was starting to break out amongst the group at large.

"Yep…The kid's definitely a mystery…And you know how I feel about mysteries", came a voice from over Dick's left shoulder. When he turned his head to see who was speaking, all he could make out was a rapidly twitching nose. A bit startled, he then felt himself begin to grin as he found himself staring at a head attached to a long neck. The neck originated on a body sitting on a couch halfway across the room. It had been a long time since he had had any dealings with the counterpart on his Earth to this man, and before that, their meetings had been few and far between. But Wally and Ralph had always gotten along famously.

"Elongated Man, did you have to sneak up on me like that?"

"Nope, but there wouldn't be any fun in it otherwise."

Turning back to the others, Dick noticed that Jay, Doctor Midnight and Vic had joined the group. Looking at the center of the table, he also saw that the Atom was looking over a number of sheets of paper out in front of the tiny chair he apparently sat on while at meetings.

As if realizing that Dick's attention had become focused on him, the little man looked directly at him. "Speaking of Nightwing, we've come up with a few theories about why we can't get him home right now, and how we might deal with that."

"You have? Let's hear them." Dick sat eagerly forward in his chair, even as he felt a reassuring hand being laid on his right shoulder. Looking over, he saw a concerned look in his E-1's counterpart's eyes. Obviously the man thought that he might be getting his hopes up a bit too high for what the Atom might actually tell them.

Apparently the Atom had heard the same thing in Dick's voice as well, as he tried to temper his announcements. "Well, there's some possible bad news, and some possible good news."

Dick felt a certain deflating in his mood. What if he was going to be told that they couldn't get him home? Until this point, he had assumed that he was going to get home. But what if these people couldn't make that happen?!? What was he going to do then?!?

Jay seemed to sense the rapid downturn his thoughts had taken. "Easy there, son. There's some difficulties, but there's every possibility that we're going to be able to work around them."

Atom nodded his agreement, even as the others in the room sought to cheer him up. Batman finally stepped up to ask, "So just what have you found out?"

"Well, 'finding out' might not be the most accurate term for what we've come up with. 'Discovering' and 'theorizing' work better." Dick could hear the scientist coming out in the Atom's voice. Normally, he would be glad to sit back and listen to the whole intricate explanation, but this time he wanted the bottom line.

"Atom…get to the point."

Vic spoke up at that. "We've been working on trying to figure out just what this 'barrier' that both Jay and Johnny Thunder's thunderbolt encountered when trying to access your dimension, Nightwing."

Jay nodded his head. "And it's the craziest thing. The 'barrier' seems to be made up of, for lack of a better description, 'fractured frequencies'."

"Fractured frequencies, Jay? Just what does that mean?", the E-2 Superman inquired.

"Well, Clark, it's sort of hard to describe. And this is all just a working theory on our parts, though it does seem to fit the data we've managed to collect so far. But, in our part of the vibrational spectrum, there's a continuous set of relatively pure sinusoidal frequency wavelengths. But in the part of the 'dimensional spectrum' that the barrier resides in, near as we can figure, there's a variety of harmonics and sub-harmonics, bits and pieces of a number of sinusoids in that frequency range, all compressed together and overlapping. It's almost like someone, somewhere, took the frequencies in that range, broke the vibrations into chunks and started mixing and matching them. It's a right mess."

Wally picked up from Jay. "Yeah, which is what is making it difficult to break through the barrier, as a large amount of energy would be needed to 'punch a hole' through the frequency overlap. Since the frequencies in this range aren't pure, and are constantly shifting, the energy our bodies would need to adjust to the shifting frequencies would be enormous."

Dick was trying to make heads-and-tails of the scientific explanations that were being thrown out. But the one thing that came across clearly to him was the only thing he really cared about. "So you're telling me that there's no way for you to get me home?"

Wally paused briefly and looked around at the men who he had been working with on the matter. Taking a deep breath, he regarded Dick with an air of concern, but possibly also hope. At least, that's what Dick hoped he was reading in the other man's expression.

"Not necessarily, Nightwing. In the course of our work, we came across one thing that might be enough to help us get you home. We don't know for sure yet though, and we don't want to give you any false hopes…"

Dick understood what the other man was trying to get across. "I understand. I know you're trying your best. But what?"

After getting the nod from Wally and the Atom, Vic moved over to the computer terminal that Batman had used earlier to bring up Sivana's picture on the screen. Rapidly calling up a new schematic, which appeared to be a number of jagged lines running into and over each other, he pointed to the monitor screen.

"See, this is a representation of the 'barrier' as we can envision it."

Dick could only stare at the screen with a sinking feeling. Jay was right, it was a "mess". But still, the others had said there was a chance¼

As if reading his thoughts, Vic pointed one thin line running almost dead center through the lines. With a few more commands to the terminal, the thin light appeared to become brighter than the others. Looking at it, Dick realized that it was a single sinusoidal line.

Looking around, he saw that the others were also clueing in to just what that might mean. But Vic continued, clarifying the point out loud. "Even with the mess of the other frequencies in this range of the spectrum, we managed to find what we believe to be one pure frequency, buried within the others but still somewhat separate."

Changeling piped up at that point. "But how's this going to help get Nightwing home, Vic?"

Wally answered for the other man. "We're speculating that it won't take as much energy to get part way through the barrier as it does to get all the way through. And that once we get part-way through, we can then use find a means to find enough energy to get the rest of the way through. Sort of like a relay station."

"I get it. It's a rest stop. A place to recharge the batteries for the rest of the trip, so to speak", Donna stated. "But just where would you actually do this 'rest stop'?"

'That's the thing", Wally remarked. "It might sound a bit far-fetched…"

"After everything that's come out in the last few days, Wally, I doubt anything will come across as 'far-fetched'", Green Arrow said in a rather sardonic tone.

"Maybe. It makes sense however…"

"What 'makes sense'?", Dick demanded to know.

With Dick's outburst, Wally looked directly at him.

"That there's another Earth there as well…"

To be continued

 
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