Good Intentions

May 10, 2017:

Zatanna Zatara is in Brandenburg, Jessica Jones, Bucky Barnes, and Dr. Jane Foster are chasing another lead in a swing club, and John Constantine is performing his own due diligence. This leaves Red Robin with the unenviable task of convincing Reiner Steinschneider to open his grandfather's enchanted diary, and when the young clairvoyant acts on his good intentions, disaster strikes.

Red Robin's Penthouse - Berlin - Germany

Characters

NPCs: Reiner Steinschneider, Adelaide Weir

Mentions: Zatanna Zatara, John Constantine, Bucky Barnes, Jessica Jones, Dr. Jane Foster, Batman

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Everyone is out.

With Jessica, Bucky and Jane at the swing club and John tracing other leads, it leaves Red Robin with the unenviable task of babysitting the ones in their custody, and possibly acquiring the assistance of Reiner Steinschneider with respect to Armand's journal. Adelaide Weir, aging and rather shaken from everything that's happened, has been nothing short of quiet and cooperative - the evening finds her turning in early after dinner, but not before telling the vigilante that he was a nice young man before turtling in. The blond clairvoyant, however, is another story.

He is sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and a look of trepidation on his features. Moonlight casts its silver pall on his face from the windows facing east, though the kitchen itself is brightly lid, full and fat and gleaming distantly in a sea of stars. Approaching past eleven, the man's long fingers - perfect for the piano - turn his mug around its axis over and over again. There is a thoughtful expression on his face, but he is understandably hesitant. After everything that's happened to him and his aunt, he is reluctant in getting further involved. But the team responsible for his safety and his remaining family's own might need his help and he is presently weighing whether he should refuse them.

He doesn't know what it entails. But it probably can't hurt to ask.

"…so…why do you need my help?" he wonders, glancing over at Red with a furrowed brow. "I'm just a psychic."

A question for the ages. All of his life, Red Robin probably had not expected this, but at the vert least it isn't anything like calling Madame Cleo and asking her for her opinion while being charged three dollars every minute.

—-

Babysitting or not, the truth of the matter is that Red Robin doesn't really mind it. After everything that's happened lately, all the near-death scrapes involving the members of the Cult of the Cold Flame trying to murder them with sorcery and magical constructs, a night in makes for a nice change of pace. A little calm before what he's sure is the real storm; he can feel it in his gut, the intuition he's developed over the years of his crime fighting career, which even in its unrefined form as a child had pushed him towards the answer to one of the world's most dangerous mysteries. They're on the precipice of something.

Besides, you couldn't pay him to go to a swing club with a bunch of old people. He likes the other members of their impromptu little mission team well enough, but the only one he'd want to go dancing with is, well…

Red Robin sits at the table as well, his laptop open in front of him as he works… And watches. A few bat-drones observing the swing club, just in case. The rest forming an invisible, watchful perimiter around the penthouse. With both of the remaining members of Steinschneider's family here, the odds of the hideout being compromised have never been higher.

…so…why do you need my help?

An important question, to be sure.

I'm just a psychic.

The young man's mouth quirks up in a faint smile, at that. He's known a psychic or two in his time. Easier to deal with than magicians, though you have to watch out for the mind-reading types.

"I'm not even that," the vigilante says, before he gestures at the middle of the table. Armand Steinschneider's journal is there, seemingly innocuous along with a few other books. "We kept your grandfather's journal out of the hands of the same people who tried to kidnap you before. Miss Zatara did some investigation on it, and discovered that it's magically sealed. Only a member of your bloodline can open it. We don't know what's in there, but your great-grandfather and the Cold Flame cultists both wanted it. It's probably important."

The old debate rages in his head, sits heavily in his belly. How much of the truth does he share? What if the possible risks prove too much for the pianist's courage? It isn't, after all, like he signed up for any of this. Barnes would probably hide the risk to help ensure cooperation, he thinks to himself. Maybe Foster too, she has a ruthless streak to her. Constantine definitely would.

So would the Batman.

But what would he do?

"The seal on the book is demonic, Reiner. Your grandfather dealt with dangerous, evil entities… In particular one which, if Miss Zatara's analysis is correct, has been trying very hard to hurt someone I care very much about. We don't know what might happen, when you open it."

He sighs, faintly. He turns his attention from the laptop to the pianist, to the last blood of Steinschneider. He sees all of it, the reluctance, the worry. The desire to leave and try to resume something approaching a normal life.

"I can't force you to open the book, and I won't lie to you. However… What's in your grandfather's journal might be the secret to stopping your great-grandfather, and the Cold Flame. If you want this to be over, if you want to be able to go back to playing the piano and not looking over your shoulder… If you want to make sure that psychos don't come kicking down your aunt's door in the hopes of getting your grandfather's secrets, then we need to know what's in there."

—-

The blond pianist falls quiet as Red Robin explains what is at stake. There's a shift of green eyes - Hermann Steinschneider's eyes - moving towards the hallway where his aunt, the only family he has left, is sleeping. They track slowly to the diary resting on top of the pile of books in front of him, his lips pursed in an indecisive line. The fact that the book has demonic magic on it can't help but force goosebumps up his skin, and can anyone be blamed? While not a magician, the youth has been surrounded by the occult all of his life, and if there is anyone each member of that community knows, is that dealing with demons is always nasty business, the sort that shouldn't be considered lightly, let alone take on. The revelation that there is such a thing in front of him now, nevermind the revelation that his grandfather was dealing with demons, and one trying to hurt someone one of his rescuers cares about, on top of it, has him shifting uncomfortably on his chair.

But these people saved his life. His aunt's life. And despite his family's dark history, he is not like that. He would like to think that he is a decent person, far removed from the mystical intrigues the earlier generations of his family have been embroiled in.

Taking a deep breath, his hand runs through his hair. "…all I have to do is open it, right? Nothing else?" There's a small smile, glancing over at Red. "That's not so bad. I mean…I'd probably need to wash my hands after, dunno if that'll ward off any demon mojo that might stick, but…" His shoulders slump. "You saved me when you didn't have to, and my aunt now, too. Stack that up to everything else, touching something like that's the least I can do." After a pause, he shakes his head. "You know, I lived with these stories all my life, it was enough to convince me to keep away from all that nasty business as far as possible. Brother killing brother, spouse killing spouse. Fighting over a dead man's things. I don't want any part of that."

He lifts his head to look at Red. "I just want to go back to a concert hall," he confesses.

His green eyes fall back on the journal and he sighs, shaking his head. "I can't believe grandfather made a deal," he murmurs. "I don't know much about the…you know. But I've always been told that shouldn't be done. Ah, well. The faster we open this, the sooner you can take care of things, right?"

With that, he reaches out to take the journal. Holding the leather-bound affair in his grasp, fingers twist on the twine holding it shut. It might be unusual for Red, as no manipulation of the twine would get it to unfurl or open. Now, he'd find that the blond psychic would be able to do so easily, removing it with his fingers and cracking it open. There is a flash of red-black light.

Disorientation comes over Red Robin immediately, though it isn't something he would identify quickly. It is as if the world is on the verge of grinding to a halt and for a moment, all the details that he absorbs every day would ratchet up to even more - the way leather falls from Reiner's grip, the creak of leather as the cover opens, the crinkle of aged, yellow pages and the musty smell accompanying the revelation of its secrets. Outside, he'd hear traffic rushing by in aching slowness, the sound deep and low, and the full moon's gleam brightens before his eyes….

He won't know how long it lasts, but time speeds back up again to its usual pace, and he would find himself watching the psychic quietly reading the first few pages of the journal in his hand. Slowly, he stands up from his chair, clapping it shut.

"You're right," he says. "Something important is in here."

But before he can clarify, there is a knock on the door.

—-

There were rules when it came to dealing with entities like that, Red Robin knew. Zatanna had told him, in her father's study; it was important information, if incomplete, about the costs and dangers of operating in the world she did. Information that had served him well enough in the subsequent search for the gothic witch and Constantine when they'd been banished to Hell, though fortunately it hadn't gone so far as to require him to try and directly deal with anything infernal.

At least, deal with them in any way other than judicious applications of violence.

Probably, dealing with the book directly wasn't a danger to Reiner's soul. Probably. The younger man understood that much, the need to allow such influences in before they could do any real harm. But who knows what might be laced in with the seal itself. Who knows what might be required, beyond just the presence of Armand Steinschneider's genetic code, to actually open it?

A certain level of paranoia is a survival strategy in the world he operates in. A careful, thorough wariness towards traps, traps within traps. A healthy respect for the ways cruelty and ingenuity combine to throw up all sorts of new and exciting dangers and torments. Since Zatanna had confirmed what the journal was, he'd treated it with the same sort of solicitous care one might show towards a suitcase nuke with a hair trigger, or a fragile container full of super-ebola.

Yet, now, as he watches Reiner start to undo the previously unmovable twine holding the volume shut, he feels a sense of excitement, anticipation. Even without the immediate need created by the current case, the potential contents of the journal would still fascinate him. He'd still want to know.

But then, something is wrong.

His head swims briefly as everything seems to slow, to magnify. His skin prickles, until he almost thinks he should feel feverish, but it's not that; it's just the gentle stir of air in the kitchen, the way his clothing sits against his body. A moment stretching out until it seems like it was going to snap, like everything would just stop forever.

But it all lurches back to normal, and Reiner is standing, shutting the journal. He's found something. He…

A knock at the door.

Red Robin's attention turns to his computer monitor. There's a camera outside, of course. Letting anyone approach the penthouse completely unobserved would be an unconscionable lapse in security. But either way, he's rising to his feet.

"Reiner, get your aunt and take her to the panic room," the vigilante orders. The others probably think he chose this penthouse because of its central location, and its general comfort. After all, not many places would have space enough for all six of them, and their equipment, especially with the way he set up a command room: If he'd been more frugal with his budget, they'd probably have spent most of the trip all sleeping in one big pile in the middle of an apartment. But, he'd had concerns. Even on the plane, he'd mentioned the possibility, that they might need to retreat to one of Barnes' old Winter Soldier safehouses if their hideout was compromised. Fortunately, one of the previous owners was maybe even more paranoid than Red Robin, and the penthouse came complete with a panic room that would survive anything short of the entire building beyond destroyed.

Of course, he'd made some modifications of his own.

Always thorough.

The young man heads towards the front door, then. Carefully, quietly. Each step completely silent.

—-

A glimpse from that camera would reveal to Red Robin that there is a figure there, clad in jeans and a hoodie, the cowl drawn over the person's face - already suspicious, considering the penthouse hasn't had any visitors other than the rest of the Berlin team.

Reiner's head is still bent towards the journal, lashes lowered as fingers smooth over the creaky cover. As Red Robin gives him his orders, he doesn't move as the vigilante heads for the door - but he finally does, shuffling steps moving towards the hallway where Adelaide Weir's room is, presumably to retrieve her.

But he stops at the computer and its security feed, peeking at the images there. A hand reaches to tap a single button on the keyboard - the cavernous, ominous sound of security locks disengaging and alarms deactivating ripple all over the penthouse. Red Robin can probably sense this, with whatever technology he has in his person that enables to keep his fingers in the pulse of his safehouse at all times.

Should Tim look over, Reiner's head lifts from the monitor. His formerly green eyes have turned blue, and a smile that doesn't belong to him curls up on the corners of his mouth. Images from the case flood immediately in the young detective's mind, pictures of the Steinschneider clan, dossiers and physical stats. The one they know as Gottfried Muller had green eyes - Reiner is the spitting image of him while young.

His grandfather, Armand, had blue ones.

He would be gratified, perhaps, in a brief and sardonic moment that he was right to ask Zatanna whether demons can possess humans indirectly. She has given accurate information - they cannot.

But human souls do not have such limitations. They talked about that as well, in their prior conversations.

This is when the door flies open with a bang.

Whenever Red spins around to deal with this next, incoming complication, he may be astonished to find his own 'face' staring back at him - not Tim Drake's dark hair and blue eyes, but the impeccable disguise that he's worn all through his trip in Berlin, suggestive of the fact that whoever set this up does not know, at the very least, the young man's true identity. The 'other' Red's lips twist in a smile as he launches into attack mode immediately, fist encased in a brass knuckle cocking back before delivering a swing…

…just as another link on Red's wrist burns away before he can counter.

—-

Security disengaging whispers a voice in Red Robin's ear. At first, he worries that it's some trick pulled by whoever was at the door; he knows that Zatanna has figured out some interesting ways to interact with technology using her magic, surely there are other magic-users who might've gone even further, figuring out ways to directly manipulate computers and such sorcerously.

But that tug of intuition has him turn to look back into the penthouse, towards Reiner. Reiner, looking at him with blue eyes and a cruel smile.

Blue eyes, not green. Blue, like his grandfather's.

His grandfather's journal. Magically sealed by some sort of demonic force, only openable by someone of Armand's bloodline. Thought lost, hidden away in the unremarkable home of unremarkable Adelaide Weir.

You're right. Something important //is in here.//

Oh.

Now it makes sense.

"Fuck," Red Robin curses, vehemently but uncharacteristically. Furious at himself for only figuring it out now, even though there was no way he could've known before. But that's what Zatanna and Stephanie always criticise him for, isn't it? The impossible standards he holds himself, and only himself, to. Now, he just needs to survive the next few minutes so he can do something about his perceived lapse.

The door slams open; he turns, of course, and sees… Himself. His disguised self, the subtly changed face he's seen in the mirror every day for the past few weeks. It is, possibly, a relief that it's not his true appearance… But he can't discount the possibility that it's compromised as well. If they were trying to replace him here and now, they'd want the face that would fool the rest of the crew, and only Zatanna would trust the face of Tim Drake.

His wrist itches, burns as he feels another part of Wong's bill come due at an extremely inopportune time, the knuckleduster-enhanched punch slamming into him without much hope of him offering any defense. He knows he should be able to, of course. He knows, because that was part of the price, too. The potential just… Vanishes. The force behind the swing knocks him off of his feet, sends him crashing into the coffee table, the heavy wood not breaking apart under the force - it would've been easier on him if it had.

"Adelaide," he whispers hoarsely. His voice is transmitted, still, into the borrowed bedroom. "Adelaide, I need you to get up and go to the safe room." He rolls off of the table, crawling painfully. His head is swimming. That was a good punch. "Armand is here."

—-

Adelaide wakes up from a dead sleep at the comm transmission, bleary green eyes suddenly focusing when she's told to slip into the safe room. Given the strange events in the last few days, she does not question Red Robin. Slipping quietly out of her bed, trembling fingers move to find the switch, to open up the panels of her bedroom so she could use the passage carved through the penthouse to get to where she needs to be, the panel sliding shut behind her.

Red Robin's doppleganger seems to have believed that he's managed to knock the young man unconscious, taking further strides in the room to stand before Armand, in the body of his grandson, who leaves the computer monitor and moves towards the copy. The other Red inclines his head towards the blond clairvoyant, inspecting him up and down before giving a nod.

"Armand Steinschneider, I presume." The doppleganger's words are in German. "Must be a relief, then, to finally get back out in the wild. Talk about needing to stretch your legs, how long have you been in there? Years, I heard."

Reiner smiles in response, patting the book in his hand. "Decades," he murmurs. "I've waited decades, but you'll be surprised as to what a man can do with patience and an infinite amount of…foresight." Cold blue eyes watch Red's painfully crawling figure on the coffee table. "I'm happy to see that His Infernal Highness managed to pull through with the Cult, however. Still, we shouldn't tarry. We have a lot of work to do in Brandenburg." He inclines his head to the doppleganger. "You know what to do. Think you can delay them?"

"If it's just to pretend to be this guy, probably," the doppleganger says. "Not like you occult types so Zatara outsourced outside of his outfit. Constantine won't be able to sniff a whiff of magic on me, so it should be fine." He moves over, planting a foot on Red's calf and grinds his heeel in. "What do you want me to do with this guy?"

Armand reaches out to take his jacket from one of the hooks, turning to head out of the front door.

"Kill him."

And with that, he steps out in the night, turning his heel on the street as he steals his grandson's body, moving towards the dark-suited figure waiting for him.

The doppleganger shrugs, hands on his hips. Eyes turn down to Red's discombobulated figure before he gets down on his knee in an attempt to dig it into the small of his back. Arms come up and he would know what is happening before one strong forearm braces against Red's neck.

"Sorry, man," he says as he starts squeezing. "I'll try to make it quick. No blood and all…"

—-

He listens, of course.

It's what he does. Listen. Watch. Observe. Collect information. Anything might be useful, and so every fact, every detail is filed away in the construct inside of his own mind: The familiar corridors and rooms of the now-gone Drake mansion, his memoriae regis, rendered far more vast than the real building on which it was based. All that information carefully organised, right where he can find it when he needs it. Assuming he survives to be able to use it.

Time, being a subjective thing, passes more slowly when he's inside that mental construct. It gives him time to think, to plan, even as he hears what's being communicated between Armand and the other 'him'. Brandenburg, where Zatanna is right now. The copy of himself - apparently, not magical - here to delay the rest of the group by replacing him.

"Seal safe room," he grits out to the computer. "Code: Jones." The system obeys, locking Adelaide in the safety of the panic room, with days of air and food and water… And a biometric seal that only one person can open now, from inside or out. One person who is, thankfully, not there right now. How he got anyone else's biometric data in order to make that system, well, that's a trade secret.

"Activate absolution protocol," he whispers at last. "Full cleanse."

In the command room, the relay node to his supercomputer shudders and sparks, destroying itself. One by one, the rest of the setup follows suit, physical screens going black, holographic displays vanishing. Nothing to disturb Armand or the doppelganger. Red Robin continues crawling, towards the exit to the balcony, when that heel lands on his calf, grinding in.

Kill him, he hears.

Honestly, that was about what he expected.

He tries to push back as the knee finds the small of his back, as he's grabbed. A chokeout, to create as little mess as possible. A professional, at least. Which is always nice.

"Hggk," the young man gurgles out, grabbing at the forearm trying to crush his windpipe, squeeze his carotid artery until he passes out. "Human?" he manages to ask.

—-

Human?

Red Robin can practically taste the professional's smile as he tightens his grip on the young man's throat, using his other wrist as a brace and anchor as he attempts to tighten his grip.

"Special," he says in riposte. "Though that's not gonna matter in a few minutes. Sorry, kid. S'nothing pers— "

He manages to grab his forearm and the pinch ellicits a spike of pain. True to the young detective's conclusions, he doesn't chance it - the temptation is there to keep holding and see who passes out first, and he has a job to do. One arm attempts to jerk away from Red Robin's grip. The attempt is there as well, to palm the back of his head and drive his face straight into the ground.

It is not gentle.

He attempts to pin him there, before reaching into his back pocket to pull out a syringe. He said no blood - there'd be too much to clean up if Red Robin's death was too messy; either the needle contains a sedative, or downright poison. But at this point, it's probably not wise to take any chances.

—-

Special. Metahuman of some type, then; there's no reason to suspect he was lying to Armand when he referred to the 'occult types' in a way that othered them. But it won't matter in a few minutes, the assassin claims, before smashing the vigilante's face into the ground.

"One minute," Red Robin corrects his doppelganger, turning to look back with one eye, his lips pulled back from his teeth in a smile. Blood runs between them, the red highlighting the white. "I already activated the self-destruct sequence that's going to blow this whole penthouse apart." Only the safe room will be protected, its design advanced enough, solid enough that sitting inside Adelaide would barely feel the shockwaves of the bombs going off, or the heat of the detonations. A contingency, just in case something like this - or an even worse intrusion than this - had happened. If it had come down to it, if there was no other choice, he would've turned it into a holding action - making sure that Steinschneider the Elder, or the Fake Giovanni, couldn't leave before the bombs went off, and paying for his violation of the Rule with his own life - but under the circumstances he couldn't leave anything in the hands of their enemies. Anything that would compromise the rest of the team, or in this case make the doppelganger's job easier. Anything that could compromise things back in Gotham.

With his tongue, he removes one of his own molars, already loose: A light bite, just so, to crack it open.

And then he exhales a cloud of sedative mist into the doppelganger's face.

The young man twists, throwing back an elbow at the copy of his own disguised face, aiming for the temple or, failing that, the nose. He needs space, room to maneuver. His mouth and tongue feels numb, like he'd just had a visit to the dentist, but that won't slow him down now. Continue moving, to get out from under his opponent, to get his feet underneath him.

"Thirty seconds," Red Robin reminds his assailant, a light slur in his voice from the sedative he'd spewed. "I'd run, if I were you."

—-

The doppleganger, clearly, did not expect this.

One minute, he says. And his own 'face' twists up in a smile, barely visible from where Red is lying. "You really think I'd fall for that, kid? You're smart, I get it." He digs his knee harder on the small of his back, leaning forward. "There's no way you'd do that when I know you've got the old broad hiding out somewhere in here, so just be a good boy and— "

And he takes a cloud of sedative mist to the face.

The vigilante is a flurry afterward, but the man is able to palm his elbow away when it is driven against him, but the green puff of gas is enough to spook him. The burden on Red Robin's back tears away from him nigh-near immediately, booted feet thumping heavily on the floorboards as he adopts the same thinking the teenager does - he needs the distance, room to maneuver and to regroup.

He doesn't know what he just inhaled, but a long career engaging in unsavory activities such as this has him jerking up completely from Red Robin, his fingers working over his face as he already starts feeling it grow numb. There's a garbled curse, in some language other than German - Norwegian, perhaps, or Icelandic. In any event, Red is free as the shapeshifter staggers backwards, clawing at his face. He can't feel it, his eyes blurring and lethargy overtaking his senses…

"Fuck," he hisses.

He is not being paid to die here. But after a quick look at the young man's eyes, he knows - Red isn't bluffing.

With a curse, he turns and leaps. He goes for the front door and further down. Whatever is in his system is starting to take effect, and the job is botched already. The last thing he needs is to be captured on top of it, and interrogated. He would get a glimpse of the shapeshifter's back before he vanishes in the street, the front door wide open and the doorframe slightly cracked at the hinges. He is gone in a few moments, leaving the cold Spring breeze blow inside.

Adelaide Weir, at least, is safe.

But the young Steinschneider is in terrible danger. And at the moment, he has vanished, a vessel for the soul of his ambitious and talented grandfather, on the way to Brandenburg with his allies in the Cult of the Cold Flame.

To do…what, exactly? They haven't had a chance to see what was in the journal.

Questions for later, but the fact that their situation went from bad to worse in a hurry is quite evident.

—-

Adelaide Weir is safe.

Of course, this does leave one person in danger: Red Robin himself.

Because with the computer system fried, there's no way to shut off the self-destruct now, and there's no time to defuse the explosives the old-fashioned way.

Fifteen seconds, he thinks to himself, keeping count in his head as he fishes his domino mask out of his pocket, adhering it to his face, and picks up an object not far away: His mostly repaired flight pack. It worked well enough, during the clash with the dragon construct, but of course that didn't involve any actual flying. He pulls it on, securing the cross-straps, making sure it's completely tight.

Ten seconds.

One of the windows looking out onto the patio shatters into tiny pieces, the vigilante following a heartbeat behind the shards of glass at a dead run. The safe room will hold up; it'll need Jessica Jones to open it, but assuming she didn't somehow get killed in a freak swing dancing accident that's hardly an insurmountable problem. Adelaide will be fine. But they have no journal. They have a fresh problem.

But they also have a lead.

Five seconds.

His hand barely touches the railing of the patio as Red Robin vaults over it, swinging his legs forward, pushing off, and then he's just falling.

Three seconds.

The capelike strips deploy from the pack at a neural impulse passed through his mask, then another sparks up the repulsor thrusters, and another sends an electical current through the strips, hardening them into wings, to let him fly, and—

Zero seconds.

The penthouse EXPLODES, a spectacular flare of cleansing fire demolishing the interior, destroying computer equipment, destroying clothing, tools, anything that was left behind. Anything and everything that wasn't inside of the saferoom is annihilated, lighting up the night sky over Berlin.

— the shockwave of the explosion hits Red Robin in the back, and a missing part, forgotten, a missing part taken by Jessica Jones days before, causes the wings to fail. The current shuts off, the strips soften, becoming little more than a fluttering cape as flight turns back into a fall, the streets of the German capital approaching at a soon to be fatal speed. This is extremely bad.

Most of his kit went up in the explosion, gone forever. Which leaves him in something of a bind, because the only spares he currently has are out of reach - one set still hidden on the very plane they flew over on, and another set in the magical storage on Zatanna's phone, currently in Brandenburg. Neither of these are viable options.

Fortunately, there is an axiom Red Robin lives by: There's always a way out.

And another: Always be prepared for everything.

The top of his flight pack opens to his electronically communicated mental command, a gun-like device sticking out, quickly snatched by his free hand, and then he's brandishing the grapple gun at a nearby building, launching the titanium claw-hook, the fibre-weave line, catching old stone. His fall turns into a swing, a burst of thrust lifting him up higher at the far peak of his parabolic arc, so he can release, and drop himself onto the roof of another of Berlin's few tall buildings.

The impact is rough, painful, as he rolls to blunt the force of it, leaving him staring up at the night sky. He'd really like to lay there for a while.

He knows he can't, though.

He can already hear the sirens as he sits up, knowing the explosion would draw as much attention as the battle with the dragon construct. The shapeshifter might still be trouble. He should contact the others still in Berlin first. That would be the smart thing to do, that would be the logical play.

Instead, as he pulls his phone from his pocket, his work phone of course - Tim Drake's phone is safe back in Gotham - he goes to his contact list and scrolls immediately to the end. There's only one name there, under the Z.

THEY'RE COMING. ARMAND STEINSCHNEIDER IS IN REINER'S BODY.

He hits 'send' on the text as he picks himself fully up off of the rooftop.

Back to work.

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