"The Swarm": When Harper Row's brother Cullen disappeared overnight, she attempted to track his movements using the city's public wi-fi hotspots to trace nanobot communications. Unfortunately, she learned quickly that more than just the f
- Look, I know you think this is what you want. But once you put on a mask... a uniform... once you do something like this, it can become all you do. And then before you know it, you're deep down the rabbit hole of this life and you're not even sure how you got here. I started doing this because I thought I didn't have a choice. But you still do, Harper. So for me, your brother, and everyone else.... you need to be sure you're making the right one.
- -- Red Robin
Appearing in "The Swarm"
Synopsis for "The Swarm"
When Harper Row's brother Cullen disappeared overnight, she attempted to track his movements using the city's public wi-fi hotspots to trace nanobot communications. Unfortunately, she learned quickly that more than just the few cases she and Red Robin had been tracking were infected with the nanovirus that got her brother. She has since found that the infected are being sent out day and night to gather materials - and she's traced the one sending those commands to a warehouse in the Narrows. Whatever that person wants, it involves building something.
Stephanie Brown, meanwhile, has been on the run for so long that she can barely remember the last time she was home in her bed - or had the chance to have a real shower. In the meantime, she'd settle for a break from people trying to kill her. At the moment, she is attacked by her sixth assassin, though she doesn't anticipate he will give her much more trouble than the previous five. He raises his hands, explaining that he was hired to protect her, not kill her. Her confusion gives him the opening he needs to knock her unconscious.
To aid their plan, Red Robin and Harper contact Batgirl and Red Hood to act as distractions while they sneak into the warehouse. Though she is reluctant to trust Harper without Batman present, Batgirl agrees to help. Harper insists on taking an active role in the operation, but despite the fact that her brother is among the victims in need of rescue, Red Robin warns that her intent to become a costumed vigilante is not a decision to be taken lightly. He entered this life thinking he didn't have a choice - but Harper still has a choice - and she'd better be sure she's making the right one while she monitors his frequency from the roof.
While Red Robin and Batgirl take a direct approach, fighting off the nano-infected teens, to see what appears to be a giant relay antenna that they've been building. Red Robin makes his way to destroy or shut down the device, and encounters The Mad Hatter on the catwalk. Red Robin accuses him of being involved in the framing of Jim Gordon, and the Hatter responds that his technology was stolen. From her position on the roof, Harper realizes what the Hatter's planning. She warns Red Robin to get out, but her communications are breaking up. Using the antenna, the Hatter activates the nanobots that the three vigilantes have already been exposed to merely by their presence in the warehouse. Before he falls victim to the Hatter's influence, Red Robin warns Harper not to come in after him.
Afterward, Harper returns to her apartment and records a video message for her brother. She apologizes for not being the perfect sister and caregiver for him. She's sorry for letting their childhood disappear in favour of whatever they are now. Unfortunately, she never really had a choice. She fashions herself a costume and a mask, sure it is the right thing to do.
- This book was first published on January 14, 2015.
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