"You sure about this, kid?" Slade asked him as the helicopter was approaching Infinity Island.
Dick nodded firmly. He was wearing an outfit not very different from Deathstroke's, half orange and half black.
From a distance, Infinity Island didn't even look inhabited. Mountains spanned the large terrain, and no light was emitted from the site. The only thing that brightened the area was the faint glow of stars in the distance.
"Well, you better be, because we're almost there," Slade said, paying more attention to flying the chopper than talking to Dick. Dick's palms were sweaty, even though he knew that there was a minimal chance of something going wrong. Ra's was smart, but so was Dick, and he'd been able to manipulate Ra's more than once in the past.
His plan was simple. All he would have to do was gain Ra's trust as Deathstroke's apprentice that needed additional training on Infinity Island, and gather intel on why Ra's left the Light and lost control over the League of Shadows.
Easy as pie.
Bruce produced an artificial alpha scent for him to conceal his own, while Zatanna gave him a glamour elixir that he could use to obscure his appearance. This time it was in a liquid state, much unlike the blatantly obvious amulet she gave Artemis, which Ra's was able to discern right away. He could simply drink the elixir and rub the alpha scent on his glands once a week to dispose of any traces of his true self. He had enough of each to last him an entire year, but hopefully he wouldn't have to stay that long.
Dick looked over at Slade. There was no way that the mercenary would ordinarily agree to help him, but Slade owed him a favor after he agreed not to go after him for manipulating Terra.
"Brace yourself," Deathstroke said as he lowered the helicopter. Dick knew that Slade wasn't talking about the landing.
When they reached the ground, Slade opened up the door and stepped out, Dick in tow. Ra's was there waiting for them, along with the red hooded ninja Dick had fought the last time he was there, and the old sensei that had originally captured Brion, Halo, and Forager.
"Deathstroke. Always a pleasure," Ra's said in an underlyingly bitter tone, confirming Dick's suspicions that Ra's wasn't entirely willing in making this arrangement with Slade.
Slade didn't bother with formalities, getting straight to the point. "This is Renegade, my apprentice. I expect you to train him just as you would anyone else, and give him no special treatment." His hand was firmly planted on Dick's shoulder. Dick wasn't sure if it was supposed to be a comforting gesture or a signal of aggression, but he wasn't about to ask.
"Do I appear as the type of man to give anyone special treatment, Deathstroke? I would train my own daughter as I would with any other warrior in my ranks, let alone your apprentice," Ra's said pointedly, eyebrows raised. Deathstroke gave him a stern look, but nonetheless jutted out his jaw in acknowledgement. The tension in the air was palpable, even though most of them were wearing scent blockers.
Everyone looked towards Dick, as if they were expecting him to say something. Dick bit his lip under the mask, and let his mind run to think of something to say.
"Father, what is going on?" Talia stepped out of the shadows, much to Dick's immense relief, carrying something in her arms. As she stepped closer, he nearly recoiled in shock. Was that a pup she was holding?
Ra's turned his head to look at her. "I have made an arrangement with Deathstroke. He has recently recruited an apprentice that he expects us to train," he said stiffly.
Talia gave Ra's a look that he couldn't decipher, but he wasn't paying very much attention to her anyway. He was more focused on the pup, who was the spitting image of Bruce at not even a year old, sleeping soundly in her arms.
Dick wasn't the only one fixated on the pup, though. The red hooded ninja put forth his arms, as if he was gesturing for something to be handed over to him. Talia seemed to understand his signal, and placed the mini-Bruce in his outstretched arms. The ninja seemed to relax a little, and curled the pup protectively against his chest.
She shifted her attention to Dick and narrowed her eyes. "How long are we training him for?"
"Until you see him fit to be returned to me," Slade cut in, showing no regard for the standoffishness of both the al Ghuls. Her lips pursed in disapproval, but she nevertheless turned up her head in admission. Dick couldn't bring himself to speak, or even care, his thoughts remaining engrossed on the sleeping bundle.
How was that possible? Talia and Bruce were both alphas. There was no way that she would go out to find an omega or beta to carry Bruce's pup for her, since the heir to the Demon would have to be of her own kin. Perhaps she stole the pup from some random one night standee that Bruce knocked up in order to blackmail him? Did she figure out a way to conceive even though she was an alpha herself?
Silence lingered among the group, the only sounds being the faint chirping of crickets in the background, complimenting the tranquility of the night sky.
Slade suddenly spoke up again."Well, I'll be off. If you end up killing Renegade, then I'll slaughter you to the point that not even a Lazarus Pit could bring you back." He inclined his head in farewell and turned around, walking back over to the helicopter.
Ra's simply stared Slade down as he climbed back up inside the chopper and started meddling with the controls. Eventually, after Slade had already started to rise into the air, Ra's attention shifted to Dick.
"What's your name, child?"
"That doesn't matter. Just call me Renegade," Dick said in his best impression of a Bad Guy voice. He inwardly cringed, knowing that he would have to try harder to make his cover more believable.
Ra's gave him a look that had distaste written all over it. Dick clenched his jaw and curled his fists to keep himself from trembling. He hadn't constructed his alias any further than Renegade, since Ra's would be able to do a background check if he revealed a name. Making a false identity was much too risky for exposure.
"Very well. My daughter, Talia, will show you to your quarters." With that, Ra's left the two alphas to their affairs, the sensei and red hooded ninja trailing behind him. Dick watched them leave, eyes never straying from the pup.
"You seem very interested in my pup." Talia startled Dick out of his gaze.
Dick quickly thought of a cover. "He looks exactly like Batman. He's an alpha and you're an alpha. I'm curious." He realized that he probably shouldn't have said that, but hopefully she would infer that the apprentice of Deathstroke would be aware of Batman's identity.
"Hm." Talia didn't seem fazed. "I wanted a pup with my beloved, so I created Damian in an artificial womb using DNA samples from both of our cells. It required much dedication and research, but I was able to generate a son with peak genetic ability. One benefit of being born of two alphas is that he is predisposed to be an alpha himself."
Fuck. Now he had one more thing to worry about. Surprisingly, that was a lot more information than he anticipated her to reveal, though. He couldn't help but ask one more question.
"Who is the man that you handed him over to?"
She looked at him curiously, most likely because she wasn't expecting someone so blatant from Deathstroke, but complied nonetheless. "He nurses my son, since I do not produce milk as an alpha. I will not tell you his name, because his existence is a secret that I do not want anyone other than me or my father knowing about."
Dick wasn't expecting that. Not only did he have more intel that he needed to gather about whatever secret Ra's was hiding with this man, but he would've never thought that Ra's would train an omega, since he was known to be very traditional.
"Enough with the questions," she said sternly, demeanor changing completely, "You begin training tomorrow, and you will require as much sleep as you can get. Follow me."
She led him through the silent compound, which seemed so barren when it wasn't housing the League of Shadows. He trailed after her into the main building, and they came to a halt at a simple red door in a hallway of others identical to it.
"These are your quarters. I expect you awake at sunrise tomorrow morning in the outdoor training area. Goodnight."
Dick walked inside the room and closed the door behind him, waiting to hear her trail away. After checking the chambers for bugs to no avail, he opened the hidden compartments in his armor and fished out two flasks: one for the scent, and one for the elixir.
It was risky to keep them in his quarters, but it was far more reckless carrying them around on him when there was always the chance of losing them. Concealing the flasks under the bed would be too obvious, so he took out a knife and cut a slit into the mattress, sliding both flasks deep inside of it. It wasn't the greatest hiding place, but the room was fairly bleak and left him no other option.
Inside the closet was a couple of garments that he could wear for training and leisure. Dick stripped himself of the armor, changed into something more comfortable, and slid into the bed.
His mind was clouded with thoughts. This undercover mission would go much deeper than he originally anticipated. Not only did he have to find out why Ra's was no longer associated with the League of Shadows and the Light, but he also had to rescue Bruce's test-tube baby and figure out what Ra's was hiding with the red hooded omega.
What the hell did he get himself into?