Tim Drake ditched his last class at Gotham High. He was already acing all his classes and he had to follow up on a police report he heard on his scanner last night. A girl had gone missing. Jamie Lloyd, who attended Gotham Junior High. She was only three years younger than him.
He went to Gotham PD and talked to Detective Gordon. She had always allowed him to help work on her cases, since they both had a mutual acquaitance in Bruce Wayne.
"I'm busy right now, Tim." Barbara said. "What do you want?"
"What's going on with the Jamie Lloyd case?" he asked.
"Tim, jeez, just because we both have a Robin Grant from the Prince of Gotham.." Barbara started.
"It's more than just a grant, Barbara. Bruce only gives that out to people who earn it." he responded.
"Ha. Yeah, like the movie star?" she chided.
"Dick Grayson is a hero to a lot of people," Tim said. "He was orphaned as a teenager, became a blue collar stunt man, until he got his big break in the film Star Spangled. Since then he's done a lot of work for orphans and at risk youth."
"Okay, okay. I forgot I was talking to his biggest fan," Barbara said. "Listen kid, I know you'll be a hell of a detective when you're old enough but right now I need to focus. Jamie's been missing for over twelve hours now. I've been up all night. My dad keeps telling me to go home but I can't.."
"I've talked to her friends. I can help you," Tim said. "Do you have any suspects?"
"Everyone's focused on her estranged dad." she replied. "It doesn't seem right though. She has a psychotic uncle but he's in Arkham.."
"Didn't Arkham just have a breakout?" Tim asked.
"Yeah, I looked into that." she said. "But her uncle Michael is still in Arkham. He never talked to the other inmates either; as far as his psychiatrist told me, he's mute." She pulled out a file and put it on the desk. "As for the inmates, there's Edward Nigma, doesn't quite fit his profile but I'm not ruling any of these men out; Abner Krill, the polka dot bandit, he was already caught this morning; Julian Day, he's probably planning something for Halloween; and then there's Arnold Etchinson, also known as Abattoir. He's the one I'm most worried about."
Tim picked up Abattoir's profile and began reading it.
Psychiatrist: Professor Hugo Strange.
Known associates: Kai aka Hellhound, Preston Payne, Sondra Fuller.
All known relatives deceased.
Barbara grabbed this profile away from Tim.
"Damn it, Drake." she scolded. "I don't want you getting involved in this. It's too dangerous. Go dress up for Halloween. Go be a kid. I don't need you getting hurt trying to help us."
"I'm trying to help Jamie." Tim said. "You can use my help. How does Etchinson know Kai? I already know his connection to famous actors Preston Payne and Sondra Fuller. It was all over the news when Abattoir kidnapped their baby. I doubt they'll aid him more. What's his connection to Hellhound?"
Barbara sighed. "Listen. We've been grilling Abner Krill all day about the other escapees. We'll find Etchinson. I'm still not sure if it was him who took Jamie. Maybe it was her dad."
"Her friends told me Jamie thinks her dad died a while ago." he replied. Barbara lifted her eyebrow. Tim continued, "Her best friend Rachel told me she thinks it was her uncle."
Barbara shook her head. "Well, if Rachel says so.." she looked at Tim, who was dead serious. "Like I say, her uncle's still in Arkham. According to his doctor, he had no contact with the other inmates, plus he's mute."
"Who's his doctor?" Tim asked.
"I can't tell you that." she replied.
"Is it Hugo Strange?" he asked.
Barbara sighed. "You're good."
"That's the same doctor as Arnold Etchinson's." Tim said.
"I've already talked to Strange." Barbara said. "He told me the two never had any contact."
"Do you trust him?" he asked.
She laughed. "Hugo Strange? No. Something strange about him and it's not just that name."
"There is a connection." he said. "What do you know about Hellhound? It's the only known associate of Abattoir who might be willing to aid him."
"I already told you.." Barbara started.
"I won't look into it alone. I promise you. I have backup." he replied.
"I don't know why I bother." she said, reaching into her desk and retrieving a folder. "You're not going to like it kid."
Tim looked at Hellhound's profile.
..sold Abattoir pit bulls, which were used to eat his victims alive..
Tim felt sick.
"Told you, you weren't going to like it." Barbara said. "Listen kid. I want to find her too but I don't want you getting killed. These are bad men. I don't know who your backup is, I don't care. Leave this to the authorities."
Tim waited for his back up. He wore a black, hooded sweater and carried his retractable bo staff. He scoped out the junkyard as he waited.
"Yo brat. You waiting on me?" came a brash voice from behind him.
Tim spun around, wielding his bo staff as his friend came up from behind him, wearing a red ski mask.
"Damn, Jason, you scared me." he replied. Jason stood a foot taller than Tim and was about four years older.
Jason had lived a rough life, yet somehow had been one of the few people alive to receive the Robin Grant from Bruce Wayne. Jason was also unique in that he's the only person to tear up the grant and throw it in Bruce's face, claiming the wealthy elite are the real problems with the world.
Tim didn't agree with Jason's views but he always respected him.
They had met after Tim had received the Robin Grant. Jason contacted him trying to convince Tim that Wayne Enterprises had shady business dealings and that the Robin Grant was merely Bruce Wayne's way of saving face to the public.
Tim disagreed with Jason. He had done his own research on Bruce and believed him to be an upstanding person who cared for the less fortunate.
Not only had Bruce lost his parents at a young age but in his early adulthood, he had lost is father figure when The Clown murdered his butler Alfred.
Tim felt a great deal of empathy for Bruce.
He retracted his bo staff as Jason walked up to him.
"That all you brought, kid?" Jason asked, then he reached in his leather jacket with both hands and pulled out two semi automatic pistols. "You come to this part of the neighborhood and plan on breaking into a place like that, you better come packing."
"I don't like guns." he replied. "Thanks for the help. We need to break in there and find out what Kai knows about Abattoir."
"Yeah, no problem. I'm doing this for the girl," he said. "Also, to find out what's going on with Arkham. I've had my eye on Professor Strange for awhile now."
The two vigilante's jumped the fence. As soon as Tim landed on the ground he heard dogs barking. Big ones.
Tim ran as fast as he could toward the nearest car pile. He unsheathed his bo staff to full length and used it to pole vault his way onto it. He looked back and saw several pit bulls running toward him, while more ran towards Jason, who stood out in the open, pulled out his pistols and began shooting the junkyard dogs.
Hellhound came running out of the main building, carrying a shotgun, followed by three other armed men. "My dogs are hungry, boys. Let's give them something to eat." he yelled.
'This is not good.' Tim thought, as he watched Jason gun down all the dogs in the yard, then began replacing his bullets, while behind Tim, the four armed men walked straight towards Jason.
As soon as Hellhound and his goons were in view of Jason and began to point their guns at him, Tim pole vaulted himself right towards them, landing on top of Hellhound, he swung his bo staff at the nearest thug, breaking his nose. Then Tim smacked the gun out of another man's hand while simultaneously hitting another thug in the groin. The unarmed thug tackled Tim to the ground. The other two thugs grabbed their guns and pointed it at Tim.
Two shots fired. The two armed thugs hit the ground.
The thug sitting on top of Tim looked back at his two dead friends, then over at Jason, who pointed his pistol at him.
The other thug hit the ground.
Tim stood up. "What the heck? Why did you kill them?" he yelled at Jason.
"They would have killed you, kid." he replied. "Don't act surprised. You know my reputation."
Hellhound stood up silently as the two yelled at each other. Grabbing his knife he slid behind Tim, grabbed him and held the knife to his throat.
"You killed my dogs, Red Hood." he yelled at Jason. "You'll pay for that."
Jason pointed his guns at Hellhounds head. "Try me."
"Don't kill him." Tim demanded. "We need information."
"Information? You want information from me?" Hellhound asked. "All I know is I'm sitting in my office counting my money, when all of a sudden two punk kids come into my back yard and start shooting up my merchandise."
"We need to know who you last sold your merchandise too." Tim asked.
"Why should I tell you?" Hellhound asked. "I keep my clients a secret."
"That's not what I heard." Jason replied.
"We know you've sold to Abattoir before." Tim asked. "Did you sell any dogs to him recently?"
"Recently? I don't know. Maybe I did. Maybe I didn't." Hellhound replied. "What's in it for me? You already owe me for those dogs you killed."
"Abattoir kidnapped a young girl." Tim said. "If he bought dogs from you, he'll use them on her. We need to know where she is."
Hellhound gripped Tim harder with the blade, blood trickled down his neck. "Like I said, boy, what's in it for me?"
"I have money." Tim said.
"It'll take about five hundred grand to pay me what you owe me." Hellhound replied.
"I don't have that." Tim replied. "I can give you twenty grand. That's it."
"Not enough." Hellhound said.
"What do you think will happen if you kill me? Maybe you'll get away from my friend? He's a good shot." Tim said. Hellhound looked at Jason and smiled. Tim continued, "Even if you get away from us, what do you think will happen if your dogs kill the girl? If that happens, The Bat will come after you."
Hellhounds confidence waned. "Heh, The Bat? He ain't real."
"Yes. He is. I know how to contact him." Tim replied. "I sent him what I already know about this case. If he finds out you helped Abattoir kill some girl, he will come after you with everything he's got."
Jason spoke up. "Did you ever hear what happened to The Clown? Some say he's hanging upside down in The Bat's cave. Still alive, barely, getting his blood sucked out everyday."
Hellhound weakened his grip.
Tim Drake grabbed Hellhounds hand and pulled, while sweeping his leg under, flipping the larger man to the ground.
Hellhound bounced back up, knife still in his hand.
Jason shot Hellhounds hand, the knife flew to the ground.
"Tell us what you know." Jason demanded.
"This is it." Tim said. "The Hotel Langstrom. The last owner of the hotel, Kirk Langstrom, went on a rampage and killed his family. Detective James Gordon said in his report that Kirk heard bats screeching in the attic. He claimed in his journal he was The Bat and the bats in the attic had told him to kill his family before he jumped off the roof, thinking he could fly. Scary part of the story is that apparently Kirk was completely deaf. So what did he hear that drove him insane?"
Jason looked at Tim and shook his head. "Too much information."
Tim shrugged. "What? I thought it was worth noting."
The two heroes walked cautiously into the hotel lobby. Jason had both guns loaded and in each hand. Tim gripped his bo staff.
As they walked towards the lobby desk, something began walking towards them.
It was a gigantic pit bull.
"Damn!" Jason said as he pointed his pistol at the dog. "Didn't want to start this right away."
Tim grabbed Jason's arm. "Wait!"
The pit bull walked right up to Tim. It had a passive look on its face.
Tim held out his hand. The pit bull licked it.
"I don't get it?" Jason said. "Hellhound said these things were bred and trained for murder. Why is it so.. nice?"
"I don't know." Tim said as he walked towards the stairwell. "Let's find out. Abattoir should be in the basement. Based on his profile, that's where he takes his victims."
The stairwell was shut tight. Blocked from the other side.
"We're going to have to take the elevator." Tim said.
"Great!" Jason sighed. "Guess we're announcing ourselves after all."
The two rode the elevator down to the basement. The music played a scratchy Fur Elise by Beethoven.
"Power still works for this? There is a lot wrong going on here." Jason pointed out.
As the elevator came to a stop it gave a very loud "DING!"
The doors opened.
Arnold Etchison stood before them with a big grin. His long red hair draped over his white suit.
"Welcome to the Hotel Langstrom!" he said.
Jason Todd pointed both pistols right at Abattoir's head. "Where is she?" he yelled. "Where is the girl, you fracking monster."
Abattoir smiled wide. "Oh fret not, my dear boys. She's right this way."
Tim Drake had a bad feeling in his stomach. The restrained pit bull upstairs. Had they already eaten? Why was Abattoir greeting them? Did he kill Jamie Lloyd? He looked at Jason Todd and could tell his friend was thinking the same dark thoughts.
Abattoir led them to boiler room.
He opened the door and sitting, tied to a chair was the girl.
Relief flooded over Tim as he saw her smile at them.
She was still alive.
Surrounded by large pit bulls.
Fear came back to Tim as one of the pit bulls walked towards Jamie. It licked her hand, then put it's head on her lap.
"I wish I could pet you, sweet Carol. It's too bad Mr. Etchison has my hands tied up." Jamie said to the pit bull.
"Oh my, I forgot to untie you." Abattoir began, before walking over to Jamie with with a long, sharp blade.
Jason Todd shot Abattoir in the head. Blood splattered all over the pit bulls and Jamie Lloyd. Neither of whom twitched in the slightest at the action.
Tim Drake fell back in shock.
"What? What did you?" Tim started.
Jason looked back at Tim. "He moved towards her with that knife. I had too."
"Poor Mr. Etchison." Jamie said. "He thought killing his family would cure the evil in the world. My poor uncle Michael is the same way. Mr. Etchison wanted the doggies to eat me." Jamie giggled. "I showed them a better way. Violence isn't the answer. They wanted to eat me, at first. Now they just want to be my friends."
"What happened, Jamie?" Tim asked.
"I don't go by Jamie Lloyd anymore." she said. "I go by the name Hallow! I bring delight into this world. Peace is my gift."
Jason put his gun away, then asked. "What happened to Abattoir?"
"He was an evil man, before he met me." Hallow said. "He wanted to kill me and many more. Then he sat down with me and I blew softly in his face, as I did with the doggies. All the violence and hatred in his heart left at that moment. He was a good man, before you killed him. He would have untied me, had he not heard the elevator. He was so excited to greet people with his new perspective on life, he simply forgot to untie me. Speaking of which, would one of you please do me the honors?"
The pit bulls reared their heads at the two heroes after she said this.
"Of course, I'll hel.." Tim started.
"Don't bother." Jason said. "I got this."
Jason grabbed Abattoir's knife, bent down and began cutting Hallow's ropes.
She looked in Jason's face as he finished cutting the ropes.
She spoke, "You also have violence in your heart."
She blew an orange mist into Jason's face.
Jason stood up immediately, holding up the knife, "What the hell did you do?"
Hallow smiled as she stood up. "I gave you a gift."
Jason lowered the knife. Looking at Tim he spoke, "Red Robin."
It was their secret word to each other if something went wrong. It meant 'Run'.
Tim Drake turned and ran towards the elevator. Hallow let out an inhuman wail as Jason slammed the boiler room door shut, blocking Hallow and her doggies from following his friend.
Tim jumped in the elevator and pressed the Lobby button. The door slowly closed as the pit bulls began howling. They came running out of the boiler room at top speed, straight for Tim, teeth gnashing.
The door closed just in time. The pit bulls crashed against the door. He heard gun shots fire.
The elevator slowly rose to the lobby. He sprang out of the elevator and ran through the lobby. The remaining pit bull in the lobby ran straight towards him. Tim used his bo staff to pole vault over the pit bull. Explosions rang out from underneath them. The pit bull looked confused, Tim ran as fast as he could for the entrance door.
He ran out of the Hotel Langstrom, slamming the entrance door behind him.
The Hotel Langtsrom burned to the ground.
Detective Barbara Gordon interviewed Tim.
"Damn it, Tim. I told you not to get involved in this."
Tim clutched his bo staff. Barbara gave him a mug of hot cocoa.
"Drink this. It'll make you feel better." she said as she patted his shoulder. "The fire chief told me, there was only one human body. A few pit bulls but that's it. I'm betting the burned body is that of Arnold Etchison." Barbara explained. "Don't know what happened to Jamie or your friend."
Tim looked up into the night sky.
The Bat signal floated in the air.