Nightwing waited patiently for the motorcyclist to make his move. He knew it wouldn’t take long, judging by the other robberies. The man would go through the storefront window, find what he wanted, and try to get away as fast as possible.
He heard a roaring coming down the street. Looking to his left, he realized instantly he had been wrong when he saw the fiery rider and steed appear. He grabbed a capsule from his belt and threw it in the street in front of the cyclist. A cloud of fire-fighting foam engulfed the rider.
Nightwing smiled, sure that he had finally brought the highway robber to heel. His elation was short-lived, as the foam burned away under the wheels of the burning motorcycle.
The flaming cyclist wiped the visor of his helmet clear, gunning the engine. He burned up the road as he streaked away from the sudden confrontation, seeming only interested in his theft.
Nightwing took aim with his wrist-shooter and fired. A thin disk shot out of the metal band and hit the seat of the fleeing bike. He leaped off the edge of the building and swung after his quarry on a line fired from his other shooter. All he had to do was look like he was actively pursuing the rider. The man would escape as usual, but Nightwing could trace the homing beacon to the rider’s home and use the element of surprise to arrest the man.
He registered that the other rider had kickstarted his own motorcycle and had vanished as he swung above the streets. He had thought he had heard the sound of a horse neighing, but dismissed it. He was only interested in the iron horse leading him through the city streets.
The flaming motorcyclist led the Titan to an alley north of the failed robbery. There was a flareup of flame and light, and the man’s burning aura and bike faded out. The homing beacon tinkled when it hit the ground.
The rider, seemingly clad in regular black biker leather, pulled the nearby manhole cover away and descended into the sewer. He replaced the metal lid after he had descended some of the metal rungs built into the wall of the access tunnel.
Nightwing dropped to the asphalt alley floor. He waited for a minute before pulling the cover out of his way. He dropped down the access tunnel quietly. Only a small splash marked his landing. Infrared contacts lit everything in dark red and black as he moved down the tunnel.
His quarry was splashing quietly away through the muck. He didn’t look back or to either side, intent on moving to his goal. He turned suddenly into an opening and vanished from view. Nightwing moved swiftly forward. There was no way he was losing his quarry now.
Nightwing paused at the new tunnel’s entrance and peeked around the edge of the opening. A dimly lit shaft lay beyond. Rails in the bottom of the cylinder said that the thing was a subway tunnel. Exposed wiring from the lights said someone was staying there or using the tunnel regularly.
Dropping into the tunnel, Nightwing moved forward cautiously. The cyclist could be aware that he had been followed. He could even be laying in wait for the hero. The whine of a generator led him onward.
Nightwing saw the man enter an old car parked on the rails. He slid forward, hoping he had been unseen by his prey. He tried to look through the windows in the train car. The glass had been scoured to block casual snooping. The hero moved to the door and checked the sliding panels for alarms before he planted two small explosive charges on the hinges of the car door.
In moments he triggered the charges, bursting into the car. A cloud of smoke preceded him into the parked train compartment. He heard a click and threw himself to the floor. A jet of flame cut through the cloud.
Nightwing flipped to his feet, throwing disk in hand. The motorcyclist glared in his infrared lenses as he threw the disk, which cracked against the rider’s aura, exploding in a wave. The man went down, spreading fire along the ragged carpet and furniture. Nightwing saw the flames leap on a table of chemicals.
A shadow enveloped Nightwing as the chemicals expanded under the sudden heat. He heard a roar and thought he was moving in the air. He kept himself loose, hitting the ground in a slide.
He looked up. Someone else stood against the flames, watching the interior of the train car burn. The fire condensed minutely. The burning cyclist burst out on his fiery motorcycle, landing on his rear wheel. The front wheel came down, and the rider took off. A streak of fire marked the path along the rails out of the abandoned subway tunnel.
Nightwing jumped to his feet as the other man — Lazarus Tremaine — ran for his own motorcycle. He grabbed the seat of Tremaine’s bike as this rider tore off after the first one. Nightwing distinctly heard hoof beats as he pulled himself aboard Tremaine’s bike.
The two motorcyclists were soon racing through the abandoned tunnels. Nightwing grabbed Tremaine’s shoulders as they hurtled along the subway tracks. He didn’t like the shadows cast by his fellow rider and the cycle he was riding on.
The three riders burst into a crowded station, steeds screaming in their own ways. The flaming cyclist led the way up the entrance stairs, cooking the concrete steps before exploding out of the entrance mouth. He turned to the right, jumping the hood of a car and landing in traffic.
Nightwing hung on to Tremaine through the bumpy pursuit, leaning his weight in the right direction as his driver leaned into a turn. They shot down the sidewalk, following the fiery trail in the street. Glancing over Tremaine’s shoulder at the speedometer, the Titan saw they were traveling at more than one-hundred miles per hour, scattering the walkers in front of them.
“Get beside him,” said Nightwing, holding his head close to the black helmet of his ally. “We have to put a stop to this.”
Tremaine nodded, shooting off the curb. The bike roared as he opened up the throttle. They raced down the street in the middle of traffic, avoiding collisions with cars by finger-widths.
Nightwing freed one of his throwing disks as they raced along. The fronts of the buildings on either side of the street were hazy blurs as the wind whipped at his eyes. The black rider Tremaine raced his cycle alongside the other. The burning man looked at the two, visor hiding any expression.
Dick Grayson hurled the disk at the other man’s cycle. The flat grenade exploded in the flaming aura. The burning cycle exploded in a wave, tossing the driver in the air. Lazarus Tremaine skidded to a halt a few yards beyond where the other man slid along the asphalt. He threw off his helmet as he swung off the black motorcycle.
Nightwing swung off Tremaine’s black bike, fire-extinguishing capsules in hand. The flames surrounding the vandal died down as he looked up weakly. “Give it up,” the Titan warned. “Your vendetta is over.”
The black rider walked forward. Gloved hands pulled the other’s helmet off. The burning cyclist looked up at him with hate in her eyes, short hair plastered to her skull by sweat. Sad eyes looked down at her. “Nightwing is right,” said El Diablo. “You have done enough harm.”
“I won’t stop until they pay for what they did,” said the woman, her hand closing in a fist around the switch in her hand.
Nightwing threw the fire-extinguishing capsules before she could press the switch. The foamy chemicals wrapped around her instantly. He pulled the small tanks from her suit before she could try anything else.
“What a waste,” the black rider said, picking up his helmet and putting it on. El Diablo got on his motorcycle and sped off before the police and fire departments could arrive.
Dick Grayson and Koriand’r walked hand in hand in Central Park, enjoying the spring day.
“Her name was Carrie Brubaker,” said Dick, his free hand in a pocket. “Her family went bankrupt, and her father committed suicide. She couldn’t sell her liquid fire invention. Everywhere she turned, someone that belonged to the fraternity seemed to be responsible.”
“So she decided to get revenge on all of them?” Kory said, already guessing the rest.
“Yes,” said Dick.
“What about the other rider?” asked Kory.
“Gone,” said Dick. “No name, no address. The police and insurance companies are looking for him, because a reward was posted for Brubaker. So far, no success.”
“He’ll turn up,” said Kory, putting her arm around his shoulders. “Its not like he’s a devil or a ghost, right?”
Nightwing chuckled uncomfortably.