Dick Grayson, alias Nightwing, climbed wearily through the window of his apartment. He’d stopped five muggings, four attempted rapes, seven robberies, and two arsons. And that was before Dr. Death had tried to raid the local S.T.A.R. Labs for biological weapons. All in all, not a bad night of crimefighting. But Dick could seriously use a shower and a few hours of sleep.
This, it seemed, was not to be. “Welcome home, Mr. Grayson,” the sinister voice from the shadows declared. Dick recognized the man instantly—Prof. Hugo Strange, one of his mentor, Batman’s worst enemies. And unfortunately, among the few to figure out the Dark Knight’s true identity. They’d thrown Strange off the trail in the past but the mad professor was convinced he knew the truth.
“Grayson’s not here, Strange,” Dick lied weakly. “He’s been missing for a week. I’m investigating his—”
“Oh, don’t patronize me, boy,” Strange spat in annoyance. “I know who you are. All of you. Does that keep you up at night? That your adopted father has a chink in his secretive armor? Oh, yes, I’ll bet you’re just a stew of daddy issues, Nightwing. Little Robin all grown up with so many expectations and hopes yet you’re never the man he wants you to be, never—”
“Look, are we going to fight or is this a social visit, Hugo?” Nightwing said.
“This isn’t a fight, Grayson,” Strange answered. “It’s an experiment.”
Before the hero could react, the professor had drawn an odd device from his jacket. With lightning quickness, Strange held a small lens up to the light, refracting the beam at his opponent. Instantly, Nightwing began to feel queasy.
The room spun then seemed to distort and change. Objects elongated in an unnatural fashion and Dick felt the sensation of a swift, rushing wind. When his vision cleared, the normally diminutive Hugo Strange towered over him like a terrifying colossus.
“Excellent,” the giant thundered. “Another animal for my lab.”
Returning to his senses, Nightwing leapt away from the huge grasping fingers that descended for him. Drawing a grappling hook from his belt, he fired a line out the window and disappeared into the night.
“Damn it,” Strange cursed behind him. “Enjoy your new stature, Grayson. I’ve bigger fish to fry.”
The cold night air was like razors to the tiny crimefighter. His mind raced, trying to comprehend what had just happened. Strange had actually…shrunk him? It seemed impossible. Hugo had always relied on mental games and strategy, rarely technological gimmicks or paranormal tricks. The how and why of it mattered little though, Nightwing knew. A cure was his primary goal if he had any hope of stopping Strange. And he knew he’d never survive alone like this. Not for long.
He needed help. Nightwing quickly activated the com-link in his costume, calling for allies. “This is Nightwing. I, uh…have a bit of a situation here. Anyone there?”
“Oracle here,” came an electronic voice from his earpiece. “What’s going on, Nightwing?”
Dick breathed a sigh of relief. At this moment, the slightly modulated voice was that of a savior. Ever since they’d been kids together as Robin and Batgirl, Barbara Gordon had been the love of his life. He adored her strength, her intelligence, and that undying resolve that kept her going after crippling injury and seeming defeat. Though retired from field work, as the all-seeing Oracle, Barbara was invaluable to the war on crime.
And though things had been…awkward between them lately, there was no one he wanted by his side more when the world got crazy.
“Am I glad to hear you, Babs,” Nightwing said. “Can you get a fix on my coordinates? I need some help pronto.”
“We’ll be there soon,” Oracle assured him. “What’s up?”
“I think it’d be better if I just showed you.”
Nightwing spent several agonizing minutes on a vast rooftop, jumping at every shadow, startled by the slightest noise, until the helicopter touched down. The metal behemoth seemed massive beyond reason and the wind from its rotors threatened to sweep the miniature figure away like a twister. He held fast to the ground and prayed.
Soon, the door swung open and an enormous figure emerged. Straining to focus on the huge black boots and the shapely skyscraper legs, Nightwing recognized one of Oracle’s agents, her personal pilot, Lady Blackhawk. The towering blonde was dressed in a black aviator jacket and cap and a mini-skirt that left little to the tiny hero’s imagination. Particularly from the angle he was now viewing her. Nightwing quickly pulled his eyes away and tried to get the giantess’ attention.
“Zinda! Zinda, down here!”
“I don’t see him anywhere, Skipper,” Lady Blackhawk called back to the woman in the helicopter. “This here’s where the signal came from but your beau seems to have up and vanished.”
“He’s not my ‘beau,’ Zinda,” Barbara’s (now natural) voice answered from the doorway. “Not anymore.”
“Well, I’ll keep lookin’, just the same,” Zinda Blake insisted. She took a step forward and Nightwing had to leap out of the path of a sky-blotting boot.
“Gah!” he grunted, as he tucked and rolled away. Her footfalls shuddered behind him. “Zinda, look where you’re going! I’m right—oh, this is ridiculous.” Drawing his grappling hook, he fired it up the length of Zinda’s lofty form until it latched onto the brim of her cap. With the touch of a button, the line retracted, pulling him into the air.
“What in the Sam Hill?” the dulcet yet ear-piercing voice intoned. Before the puzzled Blackhawk’s eyes a small, one-inch figure dangled by a thin string.
“Nightwing?” Zinda asked, bewildered. “Jeehosaphat, boy! You’re tiny! I’ve done whiskey shots bigger’n you! What the heck happened?”
The little man could barely focus on the delicate features now magnified to horrifying size. Before he could respond, a large, white-gloved hand extended palm upward to catch the dangling creature. Nightwing detached his grapple and dropped into Zinda’s waiting fingers.
“Hey, Skipper!” she said as she held out her hand to Barbara. “Look what I found!”
Resting in her wheelchair at the door of the aircraft sat a red-haired, mountainous goddess. The sight of his former love at this staggering scale took Nightwing’s breath away. Behind her thin glasses, Barbara Gordon’s sea-green eyes grew wide with alarm. A mouth large enough to swallow him dropped open in disbelief.
“We got us our very own little Robin, boss,” Lady Blackhawk chuckled. “Think this is what they mean when they talk about a bird in the hand?”