The anomaly happened at nearly three in the morning the night after Bart Allen had first appeared. There was no warning that something had happened. Dick, Barbara and Tim were all doing a quick sweep of Gotham. Currently all the big bads were locked up, and because of this, Dick had let Tim go on his own a little. A thing he still struggled with- that the bats all struggled with after Jason. Dick believed in him, and Tim felt more confident now that he was more experienced, now that he'd led his own squad a bit- but it was still hard to remember that all the faith Dick had in him was earned.
As he flew across rooftops, skirted around corners and searched for any sign of danger, Tim was still trapped in thoughts. Mostly of the passed twenty four hours. He thought over everything they'd learned about the (aliens), about Bart. About the gaps in the knowledge that were so big he was sure even Superboy couldn't leap across them were they physical. They worked with what they had, but once it was all laid out before him, it felt like so little.
Dick told him it was just the start, to trust his instincts and piece it together as they went. To think it through. But Tim couldn't help feeling uncertain, insecure. He hoped that Bruce would be back soon, he would be better suited to this. He could piece it together and soothe the anxiety that Dick couldn't.
"Robin, what's your location?" Babs voice spoke quick over the comm, dragging Tim forcibly from his thoughts and nearly spooking him over the ledge of the building he'd been about to leap off, his grapple hook at the ready. When he didn't respond to her immediately, too busy catching his breath, eyes wide as he stared down at the street so far below, she spoke again, "Robin? You okay?"
"Robin? Batgirl? What's happening?" That was Dick, his voice gritty and gravelly in a way that sounded so wrong for Dick, but almost right for The Batman, his guise of the night.
"I'm fine, I'm here, just lost in thought-" he flinched at his slip up. He could hear Dick taking a breath to scold him, 'you have to focused on the job', it was unsafe not to be, not that Dick had a lot of room to talk, especially as of late. Still, he tried to derail the lecture until later, "What did you want, Batgirl?"
"Picked up some strange readings in your section, are you still there, or have you headed back?"
"I can check it out." He said quickly, already looking down at the holo screen that popped up from his gauntlet. There was a map of the sector he was in, and Batgirl sent him the location she had for the anomaly. For a second, as he looked at the mark just a few blocks from his position, he wondered if Barbara had returned to the cave or if Alfred had picked up the information and simply sent it her way first. Either was likely, she did have classes in the morning.
"Send me the coordinates as well, BG, I'll meet up with Robin." Dick stated, following with orders after, "Don't engage if you find anything, got it, Robin?"
"Right." Tim flung himself off the rooftop, the jerk of the grapple gun familiar as its hook flew and caught on a ledge. He was sure that Dick would easily catch up to him, and he'd obey the first Robin, as he always did. But he would arrive first and would only engage if absolutely needed.
There was nothing there, though, not at first. The alley looked empty upon first glance. It was an alley like any other in Gotham, grimy and relatively empty. If something had happened here there was no outward sign. No signs of any sort of struggle from a mugging or a brawl, no electric charge to the air he'd learned to recognize from Zatanna's magic. There was, however, a slight tingle in the back of his head. The feeling that something was there that shouldn't be. He'd been on enough jobs with M'gann to recognize the soft touch of a telepath, but it was subtle, quiet. Not a link like they used on missions, almost more of a diversion. Like someone trying to use a slight of hand trick.
Shaking his head, Tim blinked and tried to get rid of it, to no avail. He thought maybe he was wrong, it was late and he'd not slept much the night before. Everything that had happened, the strain of what was happening, not just in Gotham, but to the world at large, could easily explain the unease he felt, right? But Tim was smarter than that. It had to feel off for a reason, especially if Babs had sent him here to check something.
Reaching into his belt he pulled out his binoculars, switching on the heat sensors. If the telepath messing with him had a good hold on his mind, it wouldn't make a difference. But them, he also wouldn't be able to feel them in his head. Without the binoculars there was nothing to see, but with them, he could pick up the body temperatures of three people. A bit low, suggesting they'd either been out in the cold a while, or just weren't dressed for the chill if Gotham nights. They were pretty close to the docks, so it was even colder than most places in the city.
Dick had said not to engage, so Tim settled in to wait. There was no sign he'd actually been noticed despite his vision being effected. It wasn't until the sound of