Who’s Your Daddy?

Who’s Your Daddy?

A cheerleader in a perfectly-maintained Gotham University uniform bounces up to the front door of one Jason Blood’s manor. Her red-gold hair is bound up in pigtails and she carries a coffee can overflowing with crumpled dollar bills marked:
Honey-colored eyes are alight with enthusiasm toward her presumptive goal of raising funds, red, red lips wrapped around a Tootsie Pop. She bangs on the door with surprising force, knuckles rapping like she’s the police.
The longer weekend meant a few extra days spent to train. So far one of the positive sides to the intense training was that she was often too sore to get stir-crazy. If she wasn’t working with a blade, she was doing something else to keep fit and focused. There was also the bits that Becky did not research when she asked Jason Blood to teach her how to knight, all of the chores. It had been a different and humbling reality. 
A relatively quiet evening attempting to stretch out her sore limbs and indulge in some music had turned into answering the door of the old house. Both eyebrows rose before she leaned against the doorway, arms crossed over her chest and the thin tank top as the cold of the air seeped into the warm home. 
“Seriously?” she hissed, turning against the door frame to look behind her to make sure things were clear before turning back towards the Cheer Nurse. 
She was considering for a moment if it was even polite to invite her in. It wasn’t her home, it wasn’t like she told anyone where Blood’s house was either. The Nurse didn’t need anyone to tell her where she was though, she seemed amazingly skilled and well…Becky was very aware she gave her one potent tool to keep tabs on her. Blood, life essence, the very important element of the human body and also a very powerful one in the occult. 
“Fuck, just get inside before you freeze your ass off, if that’s even possible,” it was a rather perky posterior, there might have been a bit of a stolen glance. 
Maybe the shock and the surprise wore off once the Nurse was inside and the door was closed, or she remembered her manners about being kind to someone that was doing a lot to help her out without asking for much in return. 
“Would you like some tea? Coffee? Uh…welcome to Blood Manor. He’s going to know you’re here. Wards and stuff.”
Indeed the donation had played a part in things, allowed Asa to craft a deeper bond with Becky so as to keep better tabs on her; a blood connection was much easier than merely scrying, and allowed her to bypass most types of wards. That’s not to say she hadn’t also done as she’d said she would with it, though. There was just a bit of utilitarianism in the dual purposing of resources, and of course the cause of the request in the first place.
At the awkward greeting she beams around her sucker and rattles the coins around the bottom of the can before pulling the former from her mouth in a languid sort of way that would’ve made porn stars jealous. “We’re raising money for charity!” she calls out past Vesper, cupping a hand to her mouth to completely blow any pretense of secrecy here.
Laughing, she allows herself to be ushered inside. “For all you know it is!” the healer from Hell says, seeming to be in a chipper and upbeat mood. The skirt is an inch or two too short for regulation, but at the very least she’s wearing the right shorts beneath it. “Oh I know all that.” She waves off the notion of Jason knowing; it’s unimportant to her, for whatever reason.
“I’d take a bloody mary but I doubt your host has any saint’s blood handy.” She clears her throat, mostly for show. “You said to get in touch if I found anything ‘crazy’…”
“I don’t know what he keeps in the other pantry. Some things are off-limits.” 
Rebecca was okay with that, she was a guest in his home and it was a kindness already to allow her to stay during her weekend training. A young woman in workout gear and another in a cheer-leading uniform looked very out of place in what was a home of an odd collection of antiques and a mish-mosh of decorating styles that dated back, well, further back than she ever wanted to research. 
The kitchen at least had some modern amenities, a small breakfast table that was littered with books that Becky quickly got to shutting and placing in a careful pile. Some old classic literature and then some other more obscure works in various languages. If she wasn’t working out or doing chores, she was studying and sleeping. 
It was the Nurse’s words that caused her to slam a heavy book on the table a little harder than she had intended. She wasn’t even sure what measure ‘crazy’ would be at. She just wanted to be warned if it had turned up anything that she may need to be aware of immediately. 
“Yeah? I’m not active in that way so uh…nothing in that arena then. I’m not even sure what to expect, you’re a Nurse of a different kind.” 
With the space clear she busied whatever worry she had with making a drink. Maybe a regular bloody mary would do, she could at least manage to make that even if it was missing a crucial ingredient. Being in college since she was younger got her a head start on bartending basics. One glass quickly became two in the light of any heavy hitting news. She was trying to be cool about it. She asked for this, she didn’t ask for anything to be easy. It certainly wasn’t going to be from this point on so at least she better get used to a little crazy. 
Celery and a dash of pepper on top to finish off the glasses and she was bringing them back over, a bit hastily made and maybe a little heavy on the vodka. 
“I truly appreciate you doing this and I appreciate the time and energy you’ve put into it…and I really mean it, just wanted to get that out in case I react in a nasty fashion. I’m going to really try not to.”
Asa rolls her eyes at that, but maintains a pleasant enough smile, setting the coffee can on a random shelf alongside some antiques. Maybe she’ll remember it on her way out, though she really doesn’t have any need for the money within. And most charities are scams, anyways.
Moving through Etrigan’s lair as an uninvited guest carries its own kind of thrills, though. She folds her arms and glances around, smile turning to smirk as she sees how his other half lives. “Awfully ostentatious,” she observes, shaking her head. The whiplike ponytails lash at her cheeks with the gesture.
After Becky mixes her drink, she takes a glass and lifts it to her lips, eyes closed as she savors it. “Not quite the same, but I do appreciate a bartender that pours with a heavy hand.” She licks an errant droplet from her lips before taking a seat at the dinner table.
“Oh, you’re probably going to react in a nasty fashion,” the Nightmare Nurse confesses in a weary tone of voice. “I’ve run your blood and the news is a little disturbing. But! You can still opt out of hearing it, if you don’t think you’re ready.” The blonde waits, patient as a judge, for a response one way or another before pushing onward.
She shrugged as she looked around the room. Ostentatious was one word but the man had lifetimes to collect fortunes, memories, stuff. It kind of made sense in her mind when she put into perspective his age and experience. 
“I don’t know him well enough to really say what it is. The study’s nice though. Lots of good reading material, plenty delving into the more infernal realm.” 
That’s about all she could say about it. It would take her a lifetime to read everything and study every text that he had collected over the ages. The very thought that she could spend the rest of her life just trying to absorb it all in and still not even get close to reading everything was just daunting. 
Before she switched topics she reached for her own glass, fearlessly taking a few gulps to prepare herself. It was just easier to try and brace herself but at the same time she was trying to keep her posture loose and she was even swirling the liquid around with the celery before pulling it out to take a nibble. 
“Band-aid has to come off sometime,” it was the brave thing to say. Part of her didn’t want to even acknowledge there was even more to this mess she was dealt. 
At the same time, it has presented some really good opportunities to do good. It was just going to depend on how she handled it and what she decided to do with the information. 
As someone many times older than even Jason Blood, Asa has little to show for it beyond a head full of memories – a mixture of good and ill, most for the most part inconsequential. Just like many, if not the majority of, these relics. “Almost as if he were preparing for this day, when he had a student of his own,” she muses, “Or else his memory’s starting to go. Once you get past five hundred I suppose that’s one of the first things that does.”
She purses her lips and nods as Becky steels herself for the news. “I like your pluck, kiddo, but you’re gonna want to be sitting down for this,” She pulls her celery as well, biting it in half with a loud crunch before seeming to swallow it without chewing. The presumptive demoness waits for her directions to be followed, setting her glass down on the table.
“Your bloodline traces back to ancient Sumeria, which, congratulations, makes your devil daddy a fair bit older than your mentor.” Savvy as she is, she tends to avoid using his name during conversations like this. Especially in the Demon’s own home. “Well, ‘daddy’ is a… bad word to use, considering his proclivities” She shakes her head and sighs softly.
“He’s a real bad one, but as I said before, you don’t have to be. His name… is Nergal.”
“Fine,” she sat without any hesitation. As if sitting was going to make it any better if it was really horrible news. 
Again, she attempted to keep her senses distracted by nibbling at the celery. She was listening intently though, taking in the words very carefully, analyzing them as if they may be false. Did the nurse have any reason to lie to her? Not really. She had been truthful all this time, she had helped her and aided her without expecting anything in return. Unspoken to the blonde, Becky was willing to help her if she had ever needed it in the future. Alliances were good, even if it wasn’t quite a friendship, at least it was something. 
There was a hard swallow as she raised the glass to her lips to absolutely drain the glass. The hot sauce she mixed in was making her eyes water and making sweat bead on her forehead by the time she set the glass down. 
“So…my father isn’t my biological father…” 
Which also meant someone else had deceived her mother and taken advantage of her. 
“…why did I drink all of that? I’ve read some stuff. I’m familiar with the name. I just…why my family? Why me? Now all this fuckery too?” 
The questions were just leaking out but she brought a hand to her mouth to keep anything else from spilling out, including the contents of her stomach but even that was becoming a challenge. It felt like she was suddenly dipped in an ice-cold pool. 
Asa clasps her ungloved hands together, watching Becky’s response as carefully as she listens to it. “Something like that, yes.” She sighs and shakes her head. “I can’t really speculate as to motive, but I think that as far as your family goes it was largely incidental. It had to happen to someone, and where you’re concerned it’s not personal, just part of a greater plan.”
She shrugs a bare shoulder, her expression inscrutible. “Unfortunately for them, you managed to evade their trap. I’m not sure how that has affected things for them, if they have any contingencies or if they’ll try for you from another angle – they made quite an investment in the expectation that you’d turn, and not just the mystical kind.”
All of it had been working toward this one unfulfilled outcome. The clutch of demonic children, the reason that Becky alone had survived undetected. Nightmare Nurse lays it all out calmly, rationally, as if she’s not speaking of grand metaphysical crimes at all so much as discussing the ingredients of her world-famous birthday cake at her local branch of the Oprah Book of the Month Club.
“I’m sure taking it personal,” it was said between gritted teeth. 
Not even a second later she was taking deep breaths and whispering a count to ten before she could pull her words back together. She wanted to smash something. Logic in those deep breaths said that wouldn’t get anywhere except in a whole lot of trouble with her mentor. She could smash something during practice. She could hack and slash and destroy something to absolute utter tiny little pieces and nobody would be hurt because of it. 
“There’s another common denominator. The Demon,” a brow was raised. Was that coincidence? Jason admitted he had been keeping an eye on her, had seen her grow up and deal with all the challenges of having a father that was a demon of a different kind. The ripples it caused in her family, a family so desperate to stay together and try and patch together some semblance of normalcy. It was like living with the Munsters. 
“I don’t want my family knowing. It will open doors that can’t be closed. I’m not even sure how to tell this to my mentor.”
“Of course you are, you’re a person,” the immortal replies, her voice taking on a matronly, sympathetic tone as she reaches out to place a hand on Becky’s arm. Doing her best to keep the teenager calm, so as to avoid an unpleasant outburst. The compassion is more than utilitarian, though, genuine in ways that those with a better understanding of what Asa actually is might not understand. Or believe.
She frowns, nodding hesitantly at that assertion. “Yes, I think he’s a linchpin in all of this as well. I used the word ‘they’ earlier because it’s more than just Nergal operating alone. The earthbound resources required for this scheme are beyond his command.” Sucking in a breath through her teeth, she continues: “I understand that this is an awful lot to put upon your shoulders, but you’re not alone in this.”
For now, perhaps it’s best to leave something for Becky to work after. To withold information until she’s asked, rather than simply laying it out, so she waits on that. Waits until Vesper is prepared to hear it.
She still felt sick. Any kind of consolation at this point wasn’t doing a lot to soothe her nerves. The words mattered though, trying to discover the logic of this situation felt a little like disconnecting herself from it in a way, even if she was very much tied in. 
“I remember saying that it wouldn’t change how I was going to do what I want to do. I still stand by those words. This has just plopped down in the middle of it.” 
She quickly changed the subject, it wasn’t going to fix how she was feeling but it might distract her thoughts for a little while. 
“I asked Jason to train me like a knight. Just a badass lady knight that was raised Athiest. I thought it might help me set a good standard of values and honor for myself. It’s also exhausting. Which is a good thing for me. I guess hearing all of this makes me just want to be better than what was dealt to me even more. I’m not really that powerful yet, I don’t know enough. I feel like a stupid tiny pawn in it all right now. Maybe that’s how it is, for now. I have to trust in my mentor right now, and those trying to help me.”
Asa stops trying to press the issue, allowing Becky’s statement to stand on its own. At her age it’s important to be heard and understood, and that means it’s on the blonde to show that she hears and understands instead of trying to dismantle her statement and show her why it’s wrong. So she nods and allows the topic to shift, still wearing a look of beatific patience.
Smiling at the choice, she nods approvingly. “Just don’t let him talk you into a vow of chastity; you’ll definitely regret it,” she says with a wink, thinking on Lancelot and so many other knights whose libidos proved to be their undoing. And millenia further in the past, oftentimes it was at Nightmare Nurse’s own hands, though those days are long past.
Long, long past.
“Believe it or not, I was once a stupid tiny pawn too. Still am, I suppose – sometimes. But you’ll get to a point where you can control your destiny and make your own decisions. The hard part is getting there, escaping your nature and the machinations of your elders to become… your own woman.” There’s something wistful in her words, reflective almost.
“I’ve been reviewing the old rules of courtly love. Wasn’t published until a while after his time but it’s enough to make a modern day woman and feminist roll her eyes and spit in rage. No silly vows like that. Maybe I have a while to explore all of those carnal desires and romantic urges, maybe I don’t. They’re still there.” 
The way the Nurse said it made it seem like it would take a long time to achieve that end. It was something to work towards. It was better than being dragged down by the facts. There was going to be some shameful over indulgence of alcohol and destruction in the very near future, all the same. 
Rebecca reached out to take the Nurse’s hands in her own, giving them a squeeze. It was a ridiculous looking scene, holding the cheerleader’s hands over empty glasses of Bloody Marys. 
“You’re a good nurse demon lady. I’m very lucky and blessed that you care enough to help me and listen to me. Thank you.”
The Nightmare Nurse waves her hand dismissively. “Oh, that’s mostly bullshit. With a few unfortunate exceptions, anyways.” She smirks, the confidence in her assertion born of the fact that presumably she had lived through it. She blinks in surprise as Becky takes her hand, but squeezes back and smiles warmly at the gesture. “Magic always has a price,” she says, “but for you… your thanks are more than enough.”
There’s more to it than all that, of course. Her Oath, and the promise she’d made to Zatanna, but any noble action could be flensed if exposed to rigorous and methodical scrutiny. She’s trying to do the right thing here, regardless of any other circumstance, because: “This is the path I chose, to heal a sick world and give comfort to those that I can.
“But I was once in your same situation. And I was much, much worse, but even I was given the chance to change my ways, to become… my own person. You deserve the same, Becky. You deserve it far more than I ever did.”
“Yeah, you said something about complete annihilation or something like that. Glad you didn’t get to that point,” she offered a wink with those words. Apparently the Nurse WAS worse. 
She released those hands without holding them too awkwardly long, “Someday, when I can help you, I expect you to ask and I will be there to help. No arguing that. Knightly shit, remember?” 
There was also a frown and a bit of a whisper as she leaned in a bit closer, “Don’t tell the yellow guy I was mushy. He’ll call me Sissy Girl instead and I’m still plotting how best to get on his nerves. I was kind of thinking sweetness and kindness might tone him down a notch.”
“Something like that,” the cheerleader agrees, giggling girlishly. “And so am I – I’m not my father, and neither are you.” She leaves it at that, as it’s already more than she’s told most anybody about herself. But even if Becky were to dime her out, there are so many contradictory stories out there about the Nightmare Nurse for those who go looking that it’d just be white noise.
Even Zatanna doesn’t know.
She nods solemnly when the girl makes a demand of her own. It’s sensible, and shows that she’d been paying attention to her lessons. It’s also a little bit binding, though also beneficial to the demoness herself. “I don’t forget,” is all she has to say to that, reassuring and possibly also troubling.
Literally crossing her heart with her fingers, she swears a little vow of her own. “I won’t narc you out for having feelings, don’t worry. And it’s not as though I have much to say to him, anyways. Though he certainly wishes otherwise, or so I’m told.”
“He nearly had you executed…” it takes a moment before the facts of the situation dawn on her. She merely had to throw it into a different perspective to realize that the action may have meant something else. She rose a hand to cover her face and sighed deeply into her palm. 
“He only likes to fight, he’s not about much otherwise. I prefer it that way,” there was no denying that he was quite a sight to see in battle and recently she had to a chance to slow down enough to actually see how ferocious of a beast he was. 
“I’ll give you a ring if anything else concerning pops up. I’m going to destroy some dummies to avoid practice tomorrow.”
Throughout the dawning of Becky’s realization, the healer from Hell merely grins like the cat who caught the canary. She has little else to add to a discussion about Etrigan, other than, “If I had to choose, I’d rather deal with your mentor. But then again…” She lifts a shoulder, leaving the implication in the air. Something she’d said a while ago, that she isn’t quite convinced that Jason Blood has as much control over his alter-ego as he believes.
Maybe he would prove her wrong.
She finishes off her spicy beverage, then chomps another quarter of the celery, dropping the top of the stalk back into the filmy glass. “Take care of yourself, Rebecca. Nurse’s orders.” She winks as she heads for the exit, pointedly leaving the coffee can behind.
She hadn’t really placed her mentor into that line of thought. Well, that wasn’t true, she has but it was short lived and quickly dismissed. The responsibility to herself to learn and get better and get control of herself took priority over entertaining any wild thoughts that had crossed her mind. That was usually the case most of the time, her experience with men was very limited. The future wasn’t looking too much brighter so it was always easier to throw those romantic notions aside. She nearly choked on her own spit when Asa said those words. 
“He’s easy on the eyes but kind of like a bland onion. A lot of layers to dig through to find something interesting, I guess. I don’t know. Maybe he’s not. I’m not going to find out for you.” 
Those were her last words while narrowing her eyes at the nurse and gently clucking her tongue. She was already gone when she had noticed the Charity money was still sitting on the shelf. It was awfully tempting. 
Routine Checkup

Routine Checkup

For whatever events happened over the weekend, the week resumed its dull and mundane course of classes, homework, and studies. Rebecca had miraculously managed to catch up and was sinking back into the role of just another student at Gotham University. Despite the fact her studies here would get her no further than a piece of paper, her duty to her family’s wishes and a desire for some grip on the mundane kept her appearing and participating. 

There was only one blip during her Archeology class, a note brought to her by one of the student aides. When she opened it and read the official looking document she nearly thumped her knee against the bottom of the half desk so hard she nearly yelped. 
Miss Rebecca Langstrom, your STI. labs are in. Please report to the Student Health Center immediately. 
Never had she ever shoved a piece of paper so deep within her bag so quickly before, as if it were horribly incriminating evidence. 
“Excuse me…” 
She mumbled as she moved along the row of stadium seating to make her way towards the Health Center. Ir was probably a mixup, it was definitely a mixup. She’s never had to go to the nurses there. She never had need to. Anything she could treat herself, she did. Mundane life came with its mundane annoyances.
The student health center at Gotham University is the same as it is on any campus, but that’s not where Becky goes. Not really. Upon stepping through the door, it looks much as expected but it is strangely vacant, shelves full of obscure alchemical ingredients rather than medicine and bandages that look more akin to mummy-wrapping. A single figure in a somewhat risque, purple-black uniform sits faced away from the door, dimly lit by flourescents dangling precariously from the ceiling.
Nightmare Nurse, MD seems to perk up at her little desk as she senses the intrusion, spinning around on her stool and throwing her arms wide. “Becky with the good hair!” she announces in a sing-songy kind of voice. “I do hope you’ll excuse the skullduggery; I had to get your attention somehow, and we didn’t wanna turn this little appointment into a menage a trois.” She winkingly doesn’t quite mention The Demon by name.
Nor noted faculty member Jason Blood, of course.
She stands off of the stool and the scenery seems to shift in peripheral vision, like it’s always sort of been that way: scattered papers, creeping rust. A nurse’s office after the zombie outbreak, perhaps. “Did you have to eat the heart?” she chides, clucking her tongue.
Rebecca stood a bit stunned in the doorway, shifting the weight of her backpack onto her other shoulder. She was taking it all in, the whole change of scenery and the reality of the situation. Her facade of badassery was waning for a moment before she took a breath and dropped her bag onto the floor. 
“It’s fine. Not that this situation is fine but…whatever you’ve got to do,” she looked more annoyed than anything at the mention of her Mentor. 
It was the very reason she insisted on having some space, on at least having her weekdays free to just be a student. It’d slow her training, sure, but it created a much healthier balance for her. Becky didn’t hesitate to move around the room and get a closer look. The place looked like a bomb and a flood had gone through it. Just a bit worn and decayed, a haven for tetanus. 
“It wasn’t going to do anything and destroying every last bit of that woman pleased me. He offered, I don’t think he expected me to take him up on it.” 
Rebecca shrugged, it was disgusting but her body handled it just fine. Part of her maybe even enjoyed it. It was a small pleasure in an otherwise humiliating situation. Becky took her lessons from it though. 
“I was the picture of obedience in a realm I have no experience of, with beings I have little experience with. You were probably watching it all. How bored did you get?”
Asa glances around the ruins they find themselves in. Crumpled medical sheets swirl about her heeled boots. “Oh, I admit it’s less than ideal but we can’t be spied upon here. Or scryed upon.” The space in Between, neither reality nor Oblivion. Not Hell or Heaven but a transitory state that exists outside of time as a mortal or even an immortal might understand it. Someplace alien to all except for the ‘woman’ standing before Rebecca.
And even she would by all appearances rather be someplace else.
She rolls her eyes and steps past the girl to close the office door. Outside, rather than a hallway there is a swirling maelstrom, utter chaos and annihilation. The portal, as subtle as it had been, is gone now. At least there aren’t any windows in here. “It’s not the physical effects that have me worried, sweetie, so much as the transgression it represents. You know that’s still cannibalism, right?” Her tone is one of a concerned parent, or maybe a stern medical professional, as she turns to lean back against the door with her gloved arms crossed over her chest.
When asked about her boredom, however, something sparkles in her honey-colored eyes. “Luckily for you I’m not prone to boredom; living a few strange aeons’ll break anyone of that nasty little affliction, I’m sure.”
“Good, as to expected when dealing with medical professionals and patient doctor confidentiality…” 
The joke fell a little flat and dull. Was it a transgression? It didn’t feel like one at the time. A lot of what she felt and what she thought wasn’t right these days. It usually left her with a lot of regret later and too much time spent mulling over it before finally submitting to it being wrong. Maybe it was wrong. She was being told it was wrong. 
She tried not to look past the Nurse before, it didn’t look pleasant outside the door and it was easier not to think too much about where she was at exactly. That could lead to questions and maybe she didn’t want the answers. She did respect the Nurse’s knowledge though, having supposedly been around since before time was a fad. Becky was a spec in the perspective of things. 
Then there was the ‘Mom’ tone which immediately had her looking to the toes of her boots, “I’ll try not to do it again.”
Pursing her lips, the monster blows a stray lock of hair away from her face and pushes off from the door, stepping closer to Becky and reaching out to gently touch her on the chin. Urging her to look up but not forcing her to. Her sterile gloves have a vaguely antiseptic scent and feel somewhere between rubbery and leathery, a material that isn’t quite right but then neither is Asa.
“I’m not upset, you know,” she assures the young woman. “We’ve all had our growing pains. Just try to be a little less like the demons you’re hunting, hm? Sometimes, when Etrigan makes a suggestion it’s not coming out of your best interest.” She pauses, her hand falling away from Rebecca’s face, then amends: “Actually, safer to assume it never is.”
She turns away dramatically, stalking toward a shelf and rummaging through various phials and tinctures. “Why don’t you try to make some friends your own age?” she asks, changing the subject. “Self-sacrificial crusades are all well and good but I always figured the point was to be mourned afterwards.” Spinning on her heel, she holds a vial close to her chest and then extends it toward Becky in both hands.
“For that, you need mourners! Voila, a friendship potion.”
“That makes things complicated. This whole thing already is. I feel like I don’t even know myself, I mean I do…but I don’t. Closest thing I know to being even close to what I am and I can’t trust them. I don’t know his motives or his agenda and he’s not the talking sort.” 
The conversation took a wild turn in a different direction in a pretty dark way. A reminder or her mortality, a reminder of where this path goes. Everyone’s path ended somewhere though, didn’t it? 
“I appreciate the concern put into my mourners or lack there of but isn’t that cheating? I can try…but friends usually have things in common. I’m got very not common things going on with me, that’s kind of been my thing even when I was a kid. Couldn’t have friends over, can’t have a sleepover. I’m not trying to whine, just stating the facts.” 
She stood on her toes to peek at the vials, “Anything there with a sudden understanding on what’s going on with me so I know what I’m working with? Without the unpleasant side-effects of making my head explode or sudden death?”
“He’s really not, is he? And I don’t think Jason has as much control over him as he thiiinks~” The whole mentorship setup isn’t what she would’ve gone with in a perfect world but there aren’t a whole lot of people around that would take in a young demoness. And Asa isn’t going to tutor her. She’d promised Zatanna that she’d be hands off, in fact, and even this little checkup sort of skirts the edge of the line there. “Picking apart the useful from the detrimental’s something you’ll have to learn along with all the rest of it. That’s life, though; you should’ve seen me when I was your age.” She laughs, a bit mawkish, sounding both sweet and strangely malevolent.
Jiggling the vial, she holds it out insistently. Inside is a translucent purple liquid that has a similar consistency to water. “It’s not cheating, it’s medicinal! Everyone needs an edge sometimes, just take it and drink it when you want to try to engage someone in conversation.” The fact of the matter is, it’s grape Kool-Aid with traces of Xanax and Acetaminophen. But ‘friendship potion’ sounds a lot better when trying to hand it to a young adult. “Or pour it out as soon as you’re back on campus,” Asa pouts. “Trust me when I say there’s nobody like me, and I have friends. You’ll find them in the strangest of places.”
The containers on the shelves have all sorts of grotesqueries inside, like miniature eyeballs or pickled cockroaches or a worm with teeth that run down its entire length floating in a thick green syrup. There are also tins, one literally labelled Snake Oil and some in a language that isn’t of Earth at all and hurts to read. “You’re you – there’s no pill that’s gonna propel you into adulthood, I’m afraid,” the Nightmare Nurse says as she slips back onto her stool. “You’re a woman who owns herself and you’ve got to learn all the responsibilities that entails.” Just like I did, she doesn’t say.
She takes the vial, if only to get her to stop pouting. It doesn’t mean she’s going to drain the contents anytime soon. This fairy godmother might just be some vile thing plotting something else on the side. Then again, Rebecca was somewhere and nowhere in particular and couldn’t get her bearings and the Nurse has done nothing at all to hurt her. 
She slid the vial into her pocket to be done with it, something to explore another time, or something to just flush down the toiler. 
“That sounded a lot broader than I meant it. I’ve been trying to hit the books. I’ve been trying to figure how much of what I am is from my parent’s experiments and some pretty awful summoning magic. I spent a lot of time wishing and hoping I wouldn’t turn into the beast my father is and instead I’ve become something else entirely. Some similarities in abilities but not in others…and I haven’t really pushed myself to what could be my full potential. If you have anything that could point me in the right direction, at least I could get myself book smart about it. It’s really easy getting lost in the species and types and the bloodlines and everything weaving in and out of civilizations, cultures, and beliefs.” 
The rest would just have to come with time and experience, she knew that. There was no instant way to become an expert at something, or to fully understand the many potentials that lay in front of her. Even the concept of adulthood was just vague. Even thinking about it was enough to make her rub her temples in frustration. 
“I really hope there’s not a moment where I can’t learn something or adapt myself or do something differently. That’s not living.”
Asa smirks at the reply, having sort of guessed what the girl really meant though she’d been genuine as well. And she continues to be, saying, “Does it matter to you? The percentages, the minutia – what exactly you are? I’ve always found it best to not have a firm understanding of one’s limitations, so as to better exceed them.” She reaches out, pantomiming booping Rebecca’s snoot. “If you want my advice, figure out how to deal with the you that you understand now. If you don’t, then I’ll see about providing some literature.”
With a sigh, she comes up off of the bench, the rusty joints creaking at the shift of weight. The wheels must be jammed completely, as it doesn’t move at all. “Evolution happens between generations; you can be dynamic but being ever-changing is a drag. Even faeries draw a line somewhere.” Humming, she goes to a different table, procuring a sealed paper sleeve with a syringe inside, which she tears open with her teeth. “If you want the full nine-yards geneological report then I’m gonna need some blood,” she admits as she fastens the needle in place.
“I’m not bound by limits, words, or titles.” 
It was an annoyance she had been coming to terms with. Words being attached to her that held certain unspoken meanings. The best she could do was do her best to ignore them and rise above them. She was just challenged in that every step she took getting closer to understanding herself, she did something awful. 
“Let’s meet in the middle on this then. Could you hold off on passing the results until I have come to some sort of understanding with myself? Maybe it won’t matter as much then, or maybe it will answer some questions. Just uh…warn me if I’m going to sprout extra heads or if you see anything alarming.” 
She wrinkled her nose as she pulled up her sleeve. She hoped there wouldn’t be anything startling, if there was, someone would have sensed it by now. 
“I know I’ve got to take my lumps along the way, that it’s going to be hard and humiliating. I’ve got some big egos looming over me, sometimes it feels crushing and I just want to claw out from it.”
“Good,” is all she says to that, admiring the sentiment. It’s not exactly true but it’s a necessary bit of self-deception, and Asa’s hardly going to stand in the way of Rebecca’s journey of discovery. She gently holds the (much) younger woman’s arm as she sticks the needle in; as someone with tens of thousands of years of practice, she is probably the best at this. There is no sting, just the slight sensation of pressure and then the syringe is full. There’s not even a stray drop of blood after she’s done, no need for the Hello Kitty bandaid she carefully puts over it nor the green lollypop she produces from seemingly nowhere and sticks in Rebecca’s mouth.
“I’ll sit on them until you ask, unless I see ‘anything alarming’,” she promises afterward, unscrewing the needle and tossing it lazily over her shoulder. The vial of blood she tucks away for later. No stage magic but real magic, as it simply disappears. No need for the Between to get a taste for Vesper. “I know what you mean, it can be very stressful but sometimes it’s important to be instructed by someone that knows better. Even if they’re completely insufferable and hell-bent on stopping you from purging the earth of all life.” She wrinkles her nose and takes a step back. “You don’t have to pretend to be okay with it, though. Just understand why it’s helpful, and if you can’t see it then know it’s not there.”
For once she was glad it wasn’t some grand display done with a blade and leaking blood over her palm or anything silly like that. Just the slightest prick, a band-aid and a…lollipop. Her brows knit in confusion when the lollipop was shoved into her mouth. She listened for a moment before she pulled the candy from her mouth and gave the Nurse a tilt of her head. 
“It’s not…that bad. You’re right though, and maybe this is a challenge for them too. Okay, maybe at least one of them.” 
To be perfectly honest she didn’t think the demon really gave a damn one way or another but he was tolerant of her presence and at least tried to keep her out of harm’s way. 
“Thank you, Nurse.”
Asa nods, patting Vesper’s shoulder and gently steering her toward the door. “If it ever gets too bad, just whisper my name three times into a foggy mirror and you can talk to me about it.” She doesn’t expect that the girl will take her up on it, which is a big part of why she’s offering it so freely. And anyways there isn’t really a spell to summon her, though there are a few that will get her attention.
Once opened, instead of Annihilation the portal now leads back to school. Apparently there is some sort of glamour in effect as those folk who walk past don’t even stop to look at the eccentrically-dressed nurse and her young charge, or even the creepy office itself, full of many oddities and as disposable as anything by necessity is in that realm.

“My dear friend is fond of a little saying: the impossible isn’t a limitation, it’s an invitation. You can find a way to thrive, to be who you want to be. Just… be smart about it; I know you’re a clever one.”

Nurse’s Orders

Nurse’s Orders

When Zee arrives back at the house, a door off the main hall is conspicuously cracked open, a trickle of languid steam escaping from within. Inside is a small bathhouse of sorts, a single room featuring a shallow pool of heated water with benches built into the sides. Tucked into the far corner, the Nightmare Nurse enjoys a mimosa, dressed in a purple two-piece with her bright hair already plastered to her head by the heat and moisture. Behind an accordian-style room divider nearby is a selection of bathing suits, ranging from risque to ultra-conservative, and beside that a minibar stocked with primarily scotch. Asa lifts her glass to toast Zatanna as she enters. “Quite a show,” she offers. “But why wait ’til after work for your ‘stiff drink and a hot bath’?”

The house had a way of providing its occupants with whatever was needed at the time. Zee was thankful for that. The answer to Asa’s question wasn’t really addressed as she began removing the long coat and slipped behind the divider to change into something ‘more comfortable’ as it were.
“That’s how I roll, Asa. I’m glad you were entertained. It made up for your task, I hope?”
She stood on her bare toes to peek over, checking for the creature’s reaction before smirking and ducking back down to fit the suit with the cut-outs and straps that somehow miraculously held it together. When she strolled out with the black suit on she didn’t hesitate to pour herself the a rather oversized serving of Scotch.
There were no other words until she had a few deep gulps and she shuddered the sting away. No, Scotch was not supposed to be enjoyed like that. She didn’t really care at the moment.
“I hope the woman has shown a little remorse over what happened. Without conscience, my hopes aren’t going to float too high. John wouldn’t have handled this so delicately. You know how he feels.”
One toe slid into the water to test for its comfort before she carefully strode in, taking a seat beside Asa with a soft sigh. However frightening and potentially dangerous of a creature that Asa is, Zee was very comfortable around her. Maybe it was hope, a little trust and a lot of horribly bad taste that pulled her towards Asa’s situation.
Asa peers up at Zatanna as she peeks, waving a hand dismissively before looking away and sipping at her flute. “You didn’t have to do that for little old me, mon ami; consider that task pro-bono.” It’s unusual for a service like that to come with no strings attached, but nobody had asked her to do it. Well… gods had, thousands of years ago. And they hadn’t asked nicely.
Making no secret of looking the sorceress over after she leaves the privacy screen, Nightmare Nurse wears a broad, intoxicating grin. She’s hardly one to point out drinking etiquette, as everyone tends to approach hedonism in their own sort of way. The smile falters but doesn’t quite leave her lips at the mention of Johnny-boy; she rolls her eyes and says, “He would’ve made sure he came out of it ahead, at least.” With a shrug of her bare shoulders, she finishes off her drink and turns to face Zee.
“I’m a nurse, not a nursemaid; it’s not proper bedside manner to scold a patient. I think she’s feeling it, though.” With one arm up on the edge of the pool, she leans toward the human. “I might just stick around for a while to see how it all plays out. Could be fun… for both of us.” Her blue eyes take on a bit of a shine from the pale light filtering through the paper-covered windows.
“I didn’t do it for you. Somehow it went from playful to outright horrifying but what are you gonna do?”
There was going to be no further mention of his ‘message’ to Asa. Asa probably heard it and saw it. The Demon had no idea what exactly he was flirting with. Zee thought she was pretty delicate about letting him down about it but demons are an ambitious and greedy sort. Sometimes they don’t understand ‘No’ until the point if driven through their skull a few times.
“I wouldn’t have expected you to scold her at all. Staying here will give her some time to reflect. Meanwhile, I just need to relax and hope The Bat or other larger entities don’t make a big stink of this. I feel like I’ve done everything I could.”
She tilted her head towards the blonde, taking a sip from her glass as she did so.
“Any other thoughts? I feel like it’s one of those situations where we might have to wait and see what happens. I hope for the best but I also worry it may go horribly.”
The ‘healer from Hell’ reacts to that with a playful snicker. “I’ll never give him what he wants, but I doubt telling him that would do much good.” She doesn’t say ‘can’t’ or ‘won’t’ because it doesn’t matter which, or even if it’s both. That her true nature is easy to mistake (and difficult to understand) is generally a useful feature but it can be a double-edged sword at times, as well.
“Oh, I agree completely!” Asa announces. “Her little monster seems to come out during moments of stress, so I made sure she got something to eat then put her to bed early.” She reaches for Zatanna’s glass after setting her own aside, fingers resting on it in silent request rather than tugging the scotch away from the sorceress – truly a dangerous move, even for something like her.
Tilting her head when pressed for further analysis, she shrugs one shoulder then surreptitiously leans it against Zee. “It just might. Blood wants to turn her into some sort of archmage, Etrigan wants to make her royalty in Hell. Meanwhile, all Becky wants to do is hunt demons. “But what are you gonna do?” She mimics Zee’s cadence, winking. “Not like there are many safe alternatives.”
“It’s also very safe to assume anything coming from those demonic lips is just a play anyhow. A joke really truth. A play at you just a distraction and an irritation meant to garner attention. I wouldn’t want you to put yourself anywhere within hellfire’s reach of him.”
Though the same could be said for Asa’s words, only a leveled look given to the blonde as the drink is pulled away. Zee valued Asa’s thoughts on this, she’s been in existence far longer than anyone could even comprehend. She’s seen a lot and has a lot of experience and knowledge to pull from. Then again, it seemed she wasn’t at all bored with her human form and some of the perks it granted her. Zatanna entertained her by crawling her fingers across Asa’s shoulder and towards her neck for a gentle caress.
“He’ll get what he wants if she’s killed or banished. I really don’t want to see any harm come to her and I certainly wouldn’t wish for her to go to Hell either,” Zee’s knowledge was a bit limited on that realm. It wasn’t a good place for her or her magic. It was a force that worked against her and perhaps worked against her very nature of what she was. The Magician was completely content keeping her feet firmly planted in this realm.
“We let it play out? Intervene if needed?”
“Why Zatanna, I didn’t know you cared!” She giggles as she tugs at the glass, taking a delicate sip before handing it back. She winces a bit theatrically at the burn of the liquor as it slips down her borrowed throat. “I promise I won’t play into his little game,” she says, wording it in a way that would be dangerously close to binding if she were a demon. There’s no use aggravating the situation, and anyway he might prove useful. It isn’t as though he can be completely removed from the equation, so they might as well work with it.
She shivers at the touch of Zee’s fingers on her warm, damp skin. In truth her insatiable appetites are a diversion from her true hungers, something to numb pangs that have been left unattended for millennia. Cravings best unfulfilled, for the continuing (relative) safety of all of mankind. Her holy work, once an obligation and now a wilfull and happy task, is small penance for the atrocities she had committed so long ago that only the merest echos remain in the collective human unconscious.

“I knew you’d see things my way; that’s why I brought her here. I didn’t pull her out of Morgana’s clever little trap just to leave her for the proverbial wolves.” Pursing her lips, she nods at the summary. “Solid plan.” She scoots a little closer, resting a hand on the sorceress’s shoulder. “So, now that work’s done, I think it’s time you let yourself relax.”

Cybroad Down – Ladytron/Huntress/Harper Row

Cybroad Down – Ladytron/Huntress/Harper Row

Harper sat hunched over her laptop the bright blue-tinged light of the monitor the rooms only illumination. Hours earlier she had pressed her back up against the dull splotchy brown couch in the living room and began her work. In the early going Cullen had sat behind her on the couch doing his best to follow the never ending line of code on the screen. But as always happened he soon had fallen asleep, his chin coming down to rest on her shoulder as he dozed off. Projects of this sort gave Harper a severe case of tunnel vision and little would snap her concentration once she made her way down the rabbit hole, a sharp chin to the shoulder and a low but building snore did it each and every time.

Harper loved her brother. A fact she repeated to herself like a mantra.

Her focus broken her awareness of just how dry her eyes were, and how
scratchy her throat had become turned crystal clear. Raising her right hand she gently pokes Cullen in the middle of his forehead.

“You’re killing me, Smalls….”

Cullen still half asleep mutters something about not knowing who that is before he sits up swaying a bit as he makes it upright, only to sharply turn fall over again. Burying his face into the back of the couch as he settles again and leaves Harper to her work. Placing her fingers back to the keyboard she begins to type again, only for an alert to fill her screen and once again break her concentration completely.

Looking again Harper sees that it’s is instead a message from one of her online associate, the sort that she only dealt with under the hacker name Bluebird. Sitting up and leaning in to better read the words as they scroll past her eyes widening with each word. Something was going down in Gotham and more then a few people had used the word aliens. Of course no one was certain the contact would mention as a media lockdown had quickly gone into effect.

Bored and utterly unable to return her mind to the code of some rand8m app she had agreed to create for a little side money, Harper rises and packs up her laptop moving to grab her special bag on the way out the door. Once out in the hall she unzips the bag and pulls out a pair of goggles that look seriously homemade and high tech at the same time, as if they had been made out of scavenged parts. Mostly because they had been.

Slipping them on she makes her way down the stairs and out of the door to building she had not long ago moved to with her brother. Stopping at a bright blue and purple painted scooter that seems to lack any form of security until Harper approaches and hitting a button on her keys that makes a series of beeps and clicks sound as each of her security devices disable themselves allowing her to now ride the scooter.

“Please dear god let me find something worth my time…mama has tech projects that need proper components.”

Sitting on the scooter she reaches up to tap something on the side of her goggles, after a moment a rudimentary heads display appears complete with an augmented reality style arrow to point her in the right direction. Reviving the modified engine a few times Harper zooms forward to see just what she can find.

The weeks have not been kind to Maxine. Fuck, the years have not been kind, but she’s had some good days at least. This is not one of them. As a Person of Cybernetic Persuasion she is basically at her best on the front lines, a bad-mouthed termagaunt that is thrown like a dollar-store hammer into the face of that which threatens the world or whatever but way back when, when she’d been free to do what the hell she pleased she’d been kind of a menace. To be fair, though, society had screwed her over first.

A handful of corpses and some whiny little bitches in the hospital had turned a crime spree into an execution and from there shit had just kind of gone off the rails. Now at age nineteen she’s a widow by her own actions and missing roughly 95% of her OEM parts, now made of plastic, wire and steel. And some other crap that she neither knows nor cares to know. And right now she doesn’t even know where she is, nor precisely how she’d gotten here.

Error: Visual feed offline

Well, at least I still got-

Error: Audio feed offline

Fuck me sideways, I’ll just get up an’-

Error: Motivators offline

…The hits just keep on comin’.

A multimillion dollar pile of scrap metal with a mohawk and eyebrow piercings lays sprawled out in the alley, sparking from exposed wires. A light fog spills out from her leather jacket, like she’s got a lump of dry ice stashed in an interior pocket. It looks like she’d picked a fight with a garbage truck, and then all the garbage truck’s cousins had jumped her from behind while she was fucking up its face.

Harper raced forward with all the speed a heavily modified Vespa engine could manage. Her eyes kept a close eye on the road but occasionally one would glance to the corner of her HUD to read the update on possible alien debris locations. All anyone knew for sure is some had fallen out of the sky and wrecked a few penthouses, some extraterrestrials, other said Superman, and still, others said Elvis had returned from space.

Some people were idiots.

Rounding a corner as another update arrives Harper looks down to read it only to find a suddenly appearing garbage truck had lumbered into her path. Harper slams on the breaks even as she emits a sound that could not be described as anything close to dignified. A fraction of a second passes as she realizes breaking will not be enough, so jerking the handles sharply the scooter turns and falling to its side skids into an adjacent alleyway and smacks had against a dumpster just inside it.

“New projects Harper…components for NEW projects..fixing a busted scooter is not a ne…”

Having barely avoided cracking her head against the dumpster Harper sits up and looks down to the scooter to assess the damage, then she catches sight of something further inside the alleyway. Seeing the smoke and hearing the telltale sizzle of fried electronics she quickly stands and begins crawling toward Maxine.

“Ooookay so moving really fricking hurts…but Shiny!”

Slowly making her way over she brings herself up to one knee as she slowly looks over Maxine her eyes nearly sparkle at the presence of such technology and it is all she can do not to giggle at the thoughts of tinkering. Then it hits her, this is an actual person and they were clearly in trouble.

“Hey..uh…Lady? I don’t wanna assume or gender or anything. You okay?”

The question was more to see if any sort of response was even possible, clearly, okey would not be the go-to word here.

There’s no response from the punkish garbage heap in the middle of the asphalt. However, given the frequency of the sparks one might surmise that at least there’s still some kind of power source active. A keen mind might link that to the fog, maybe from some kind of coolant system. Beyond that, the cyborg is more or less in a single piece aside from some metal bits that may or may not even belong to her. She’s suffered massive damage despite being intact, much of it maybe requiring quick fixes at best but if there’s a lot of internal damage things could quickly get more complicated.

The chassis itself is extremely feminine, right down to fairly generous steel breasts tucked beneath a cutoff black Jack Daniels tank top. Functionally they would seem to have no real purpose except so as to present a gender but it’s possible perhaps that the recipient hadn’t really had any say as far as design goes. Actually, that’s the truth, but if she had been consulted Maxine would’ve contributed a big fucking thumbs up to the idea, regardless of how nonfunctional the addition was.

Ratty, torn-up jean shorts trail down to just above knee-joins that are bent at the wrong angle, probably need whole new pins there. A surplus combat boot is strapped to either presumably-robotic foot, and clenched in one bare metallic hand is a broken length of chain. The other is about as mangled as her legs, which is to say it ain’t real pretty but it’s probably something with access to a decent machine shop could fix without needing to call NASA. A hinged jaw is partially open, revealing a single row of basically human teeth past her upper lip, the only lip that still exists in fact. The teeth are in various shades of yellow, slightly crooked and pocked with cavities.

Leaning over Maxine, Harper adjusts her goggles and taps off the AR Mode, she then slowly begins to asses the damage or at least what she could assume to be damage and not design. Reaching out to lift the nearest piece of the cyborg she can find intact Harper pulls her hand back as she notices the giant hole in the palm. Cursing under her breath as it occurs to her it must have happened during the skid. Holding up her other hand she inspects the glove there and finds it intact.

Using that hand she again reaches out and lifts a piece from the ground and begins looking it over carefully. Harper was good with tech and she knew that but she also knew in this moment this might be beyond her. She might need help or at the very least someone to help her drag her new friend somewhere better equipped then a random alley.

Reaching into her special bag and fumbling around until she lays a finger and then another on the smartphone inside the bag. Sliding it out she taps on her contacts list and begins scrolling through the names until she comes to nearly the end.


Tapping on an entry that says only StepOnMe she hits the screen until the texting option appears and she begins to type in the following. “911, like Woah hit me back Brown.” Vague as it might be she knew Stephanie Brown would reply as soon as possible, the girl was reliable like that. Until that happened she would have to do what she could on her own.

“Stay with me….I can do this. No really.”

Harper then starts to pick at the pieces she can identify with some degree of certainly and begins laying them out where she thinks they should go. She really needed to get this chick into a real and actual workshop.

The mechanical parts are twisted and mangled but the ongoing power issue also seems to be a problem. There’s some kind of oil or lubricant slowly pooling around the broken cyborg, though it isn’t getting larger at any observable speed. Either she’d already leaked as much as she could or it’s just coming out at such a minute pace that it isn’t perceptible. If it’s the second one then that might indicate she’s been here for some time. Exposed wires spark and sizzle, sending tiny arcs of electricity into the viscous, tarlike stuff.

There’s a single pop followed by a prolonged hiss from somewhere beneath the leather jacket as another hose melts, thicker black smoke starting to pour out. Perhaps related, a little red light starts blinking on her weird metal torso in tune with a barely-audible, tinny beep-beep-beep. The beeps get closer together, tempo speeding up and a robotic voice whispers from a concealed speaker: Reactor critical. Please evacuate to a ten mile radius. Reactor critical. One minute to meltdown.

Harper might have to get her hands dirty with some tools to make a fix here. That or hope she’d brought along some kind of jetpack that can travel at speeds of over six hundred miles an hour. Either one, really. She could also try praying to God, but word on the streets is that Superman split.

Or maybe this is some kind of elaborate prank, but in this world and especially this city all the darkest jokes kinda tend to not be jokes at all.

Standing up sharply at the sound of the alarms and especially the warning about a critical reactor failure. While she did not know what shape her scooter was in she knew to a near certainty that it would not be fast enough. Worse still her brother Cullen was well within a ten-mile radius of her current location, so was Stephanie maybe. Her father could be as well but she didn’t really care much what happened to him.

Okay, she did care…but begrudgingly so at best. The man hadn’t been seen in weeks and the last time he been he was raving about a Clue Man or a ClueMaster? No that couldn’t be right who would call themselves Cluemaster? FOCUS. Harper!

Right. Nuclear reactor eminent..or was it imminent? FOCUS. Death soon. Scrambling through the field of strewn parts to dive for her bag Harper reaches inside grabbing a handful of hoses and assorted tools. Fumbling as she races back over to Maxine to begin sealing off leaks and tighten bolts or anything else she can think of to stabilize a cyborg.

“Is this where they yell…Don’t you die on me?”

Quick wits and some tape seals off the steaming hoses. Heat causes the air above the metal woman to shimmer as it radiates outward but the cybernetics themselves begin to drop in temperature once the coolant system is back online. There’s an internal whirring, and a smell of burnt ozone accompanies the intensified crackle of electricity from exposed wiring but the sparks subside.

Visual feed online. Engaging triage.

Maxine’s blue eyes open and the first thing she sees is a pigeon’s ass as it soars overhead. Nononono you fucker, she thinks, still trapped inside her own head to an extent. Limited motivators online blinks across her field of vision. She moves her head to the side, narrowly escaping a speckle of birdshit, then looks down kind of awkwardly. Her trapjaw works up and down a little as she flexes the hinge. “The fuck’re you doing?” she asks. Her voice sounds like if Courtney Love were yelling from the inside of a sealed trashcan, grungy and raspy with a kind of metallic reverb.

She still can’t move her arms or her legs. Power’s down in a number of critical areas and what little is left of her organics feels like it’s cooking. She also realizes that she can’t even make out her own voice. It’s just dead silence even though it looks like they’re in the middle of some kind of city. “Can you hear me? Am I even sayin’ shit right now?” Audio feed online. “There we fuckin’ are. Hey dumpster-diver, go get me a bottle of five-weight-forty. Or a beer.”

At the sound of Maxine’s voice Harper jumps back landing on her palms, the impact to the injured hand sends an intense jolt of pain through her arm. This sends her falling to her shoulder as the arms gives way under the pain. Her face turns away from Maxine and her eyes point directly into her special bag where her tools had been. Still inside she catches sight of one other special tool.

Reaching inside and sliding the object out she turns back to Maxine her aims a heavily modified taser at the cyborg. Considering the woman had only moments ago been about to explode she didn’t think lowering her guard was the best idea.

“Excuse me?”

Harper snapped back as Maxine’s requested either oil or a beer, she of course had wither on her currently. Only now did she really notice the general look of the woman sitting still on the street in front of her. This cyborg looked like the love child of Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols and a toaster, it was an odd combo to say the least.

“What the hell happened to you lady…also don’t move…please?”

At this she waves the taser around a little to indicate she means business. The less then intimidating expression sitting on her face may undermine her efforts just a little.

Maxine inclines her head up a little, just enough for most of her matted-down mohawk to leave the pavement. She eyes the taser with no small hint of amusement; though without a human lower jaw it’s hard to say whether or not she’s smiling it’s pretty apparent from the set of her pierced eyebrows. “What’re ya gonna do with that, get me off? Tryna skip the whole buyin’ me a drink?” Damaged servos whir and, with another pop of electricity and puff of smoke, die. She slumps her head back with a metallic thunk.

“Yeah, null swear on that,” she grumbles. Her mouth kind of moves with the words but it’s probably an unnecessary cosmetic affectation. However, the motion does provide a glimpse of some kind of empty hole at the back of her robotic mouth, like the barrel of a gun. Could be dangerous, or it could be as broken as the rest of her. The chassis is clearly having power issues regardless, not to mention the fact that she doesn’t seem capable of movement. “An’ as for what happened, your guess is as good as mine, meatbag.”

Turning her head, she can see her mangled left hand and her eyes squint in concentration as if she’s trying to will it to move. There’s not even a static pop at this point, just zero response entirely. She groans in frustration. “Where the fuck am I? It smells like the inside of a fuckin’ septic tank… am I in New Jersey!?”

As if realizing her face told a story other then how much of a badass Maxine was dealing with Harper narrows her eyes at the cyborg, and then realizes her goggles were still on. Letting an exasperated sigh escape her lips Harper slides the goggles up onto her head and renews her glare. Looking down at the taser and giving a little shrug as she lowers the weapon and lays it on the ground.

“You wish this was Jersey…you are in Gotham.”

As fiercely as she may want to defend her hometown regardless of its many flaws, there could be no argument about the smell. Pulling herself to a standing position and careful not to use her injured hand Harper rises and makes her way closer to Maxine.


Running a hand through her hair Harper grips herself by the hair as she again takes in the extent of the damage. Despite herself, a low whistle exits her mouth. She could not say with any amount of certainty that she could handle fixing an actual really real cyborg. The already established nuclear reactor problem only magnified her growing terror.

What if she accidentally set the damn thing off?

“How do we get you moving? This is a real you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay her type situation.”

Dropping to one knee to bring herself closer to her special bag, Harper begins rummaging through the items that remained within. Something had to be of use in this situation…of course it’s not as of she had prepared to do emergency repairs on a punk rawk cyborg or anything.

“Gotham? Ugh, so it is.” She shakes her head as if to say no to reality. Fresh birdshit from the shot she’d narrowly dodged winds up all over the back of her head, which she doesn’t really seem to notice because what little skin she does have is fake anyways. “Garden State two, Maxine zero. At least it ain’t Trenton again.” It seems like she has an unpleasant history in this state. But her crime spree had been kind of a footnote compared to all of the crazy shit that happens in and around this region anyways. What are a handful of violent robberies compared to a week in the life of the Joker, for example?

Thinking a little less optimistically now, she tries to move her shoulder, which sort of works but the joint’s dislocated and hydraulic fluid bleeds out of it in a gush that quickly drops that side of her torso the couple inches it had risen back to the ground. “Haha, fuck if I know,” Ladytron assesses helpfully. “But you better figure it out before the Federales show up.” She doesn’t remember where she is or how she’d even got here, and she doesn’t really remember the past few months either.

It would be a lot more helpful if she did but she’s been on longer benders anyways in her short life.

“Go get like, a truck or some shit, your candy-ass ain’t movin’ me by yourself.” She cranes her neck to regard the girl, who really has no reason to be helping her in the first place. Maxine does not provide any further incentive to do so, either, adding, “And get me that fuckin’ beer,” before slumping back down. She looks up at the sky, her pierced brows taking on an angle that speaks more of the extreme discomfort of her present situation. As far as she knows, she’s being hunted by the law. She doesn’t remember that she does the hunting nowadays.


Trailing off as he thoughts drift back to the bag that contained her tools. She knew each and every one to be found within and she knew without looking that she lacked anything close to what she would need. The panic that this had slowly began to create in the corners of her mind only added to the tightening in her chest.

“This isn’t the sort of neighborhood the cops like to come to…Gotham remember?”

Harper knew full well that in this part of town the cops were the least of the things to fear. Gotham has its fair share, no it had far beyond its fair share of crazies and it only got worse with each passing day.

Finding her phone again Harper begins scrolling through the contacts list. Stopping suddenly on one of the listings Harper shrugs and presses the number an obvious reluctance on her features as she stood listening to it ring. After a few minutes, the endless ringtone pauses and a voice can be heard. Turning and walking a few steps away from Max She listens for a bit then speaks on a low voice to whoever was on the other end.

“Count your transistors chica…cause I’ve got friends in low places.”

“Yeah… you’re right.” The downed cyborg’s brow furrows in thought. “But if they ain’t the ones who did this… who did?” Whatever had put her in this near-destroyed state had clearly done a number on her memory as well, whether because of brain damage or some sort of gaussian effect to some kind of internal memorybanks. It’s really hard to figure how much of her is human in fact, but what’s clear is that whatever that percentage is it’s low.

Without being able to move much beyond her neck, there’s not much she can do except mouth off. While she is normally content to do just that, she’s aware she can’t really back it up while in this kind of condition. At least Harper still seems like she’s going to be of some further use, for whatever reason. But she’s not playing fetch, so what is she doing?

Not much to do but wait, something she sort of hates but otherwise what are the options? “Listen, if you’re callin’ a tow truck I ain’t exactly insured…”

Harper takes the phone from her ear and slides the phone into the inside of her coat. Walking back over to squat down in front of Max she grabs her by the side of the head and turns her face so their looking right into each other’s eyes.

“Okay here’s the deal…your clearly dangerous. So I’m not just leaving you lay here.”

Once she’s sure the cyborg is going to pay attention properly Harper lets her jaw free.

“But I’ve no options but bad ones to make that happen so….”

No sooner does she say this then a large white box truck drives up to the alleyway and turns to begin in until it’s right up to Harper and Max.

“I called some people I know who worked a chop shop that used to be in the Narrows…when there was a Narrows at least. They have the means to move you but might turn on us too so..”

Harper stops cold as a man exits the back of the truck a moment after the back slides open, two more men exit behind him each of these men carry pistols that are currently holstered. Harper holds up her hand and smiles.

“Hey there Uncle Rico…seen my dad lately?”

The man that Harper addressed as Uncle Rico had the bearing and dress of man that expected to be listened to. The suit he wore had the look of an expensive one but little details here and there betrayed it as a cheap knock off. A misaligned stitch here and a frayed thread there told the truth of the large muscled man who had stepped out of the back of the truck, he wanted people to think him important.

“You know I ain’t your daddies brother Harper…”

His tone seemed harsh until a broad smile crept over his lips and he held out a hand to the diminutive girl who only seemed smaller in the shadow he cast, a street light just over his shoulder mostly blocked out by his frame.

If Harper had any fear she showed little of it as she stepped forward and began a quick but elaborate handshake with Rico. As it ended Harper shifted her shoulder and aimed a thumb at the mess of a cyborg laying in the alleyway behind them.

“I’m not leaving that here…she’ll been up a dirty bomb full of Joker gas. Can I call in that favor and get her hauled somewhere I can work?”

Rico steps around Harper and stops just next to Max who he looks over slowly his smile only increasing as he realizes just what he has here. It would be a shame to have to take this from someone he did in fact owe a favor to.

“No worries Harper I’ll take the Killbot off your hands.”

Harper immediately has to stifle the urge to throw up her hands in protest, she knows she has little choice here. Walking up to stand next to Rico again.

“I’m going with…otherwise good luck getting her up and running.”

Rico nods and raising his hand snaps his fingers to bring his men running over one with the chain from a wench mounted to the back of the truck they arrived in. It would take a few minutes but Max would find herself inside shortly.

Huntress had picked up the call for help and to Tron’s luck, she’d been out in the city. The fight between Lobo and Starfire had dragged her out. While she wasn’t on duty per say, she figured something would need cleaned up. It always did. This wasn’t her job but it wasn’t like there were alot of their people inside Gotham. Because none of them were supposed to be there in the first place. Yet someone was.

Light bent around her as she walked slowly down the alleyway, leaving her invisible to the naked eye and most machines if they’d been watching. With a smirk she leaned down, picking a stray piece of broken brick up off the ground and flicked her first, throwing it at the man, meaning the wench, pinging him right between the eyes with pinpoint accuracy.

Reaching up she pulled her goggles down over her eyes, tugging the lower part over her mouth and nose, sealing it in place before letting the field drop from around her and making her visible once again. Pulling a metallic cylinder from her belt she squeezed it, snapping a long staff out as she walked toward them all.

“That does not belong to you.” Her voice, computerized and metallic sounding, was low and half growled. “Leave before I make you.”

For her part, Maxine could’ve done the smart thing and just played dead when the goombas showed up. Unfortunately, Maxine almost never does the smart thing, and she’s been mouthing off the entire time, issuing brutal threats despite her apparently helpless state. As the girl barters her like the pile of scrap she basically is, she continues her impotently wrathful spiel, essentially white noise by the time that she’s wrapped in chain and dragged up into the truck.

And then, the party really gets started. “Hey, did I just hear one of you fleshies eat shit? Is that another cyborg? I can’t seeee!” she complains, clearly disappointed that she’s missing out. Triage complete. The text flashes across her cybernetic retinas; she can practically hear an angelic chorus, like an answer to her prayers. Her joints crackle and pop as bent pins are rearranged by her servomotors, pulled back into alignment. Power is rerouted through alternate cables.

She flexes her limbs, popping the steel chains like they’re made out of plastic. Not even the good kind, the cheap kind from China with the delicious lead additives. Ladytron pushes herself up to her feet, and the suspension of the truck groans as she disembarks from it, a thousand pounds of weight lifting all at once. “You’re so unbelievably fucked,” she announces to everyone present. Tilting her head to one side, her neck-joints crackle menacingly as the pins there are unbent. A screw pops out and rattles down her shoulder. “Didn’t need that one anyways!” she says, kind of defensively, before clacking her metal fists together.

It’s a quick and dirty fix, and she’ll need repairs soon. Lots of them, really. But one thing Maxine Manchester doesn’t do is die easy.

Everything changes in an instant as the scene goes from in control to complete chaos. An object flies past Harper to drop one of the men working the wench, followed by the cyborg now back on her feet exiting the truck and basically blowing Harpers plan to smithereens. The plan had been a terrible one she knew but it had been all she could think to do. Seeing Rico look away Harper drops down to grab her Super Taser from the place it had fallen on the ground earlier.

Wasting no time she jabs it into the large mans ankle and hits the button to send a small but potent jolt of electricity up his leg and throughout his body. Rico twitches a few seconds and falls over with a resounding thud.

Turning is to look to in the direction of the previously cloaked new arrival Harper again tosses the taser to the side.

“Hey now Lady Predator…I’m just trying to get that…”

Pausing a moment she gestures to Max.

“Off the streets.”

Placing a pair of fingers in her mouth and whistling at Max.

“FYI there’s at least two more sitting up front.”

That said she stands and holding up her hands to indicate her surrender, Harper was brave. It not stupid. Taking on a She Predator and She Terminator would be the sort of thing she would lead to someone like Batman, or at least that guy in the Red Hood, Maybe even the chick in purple…naaaaah.

Lady Predator. She smirked under her mask as she walked up on the girl, then glanced down at Rico as he drooled and pissed himself on the ground. Whatever that little taser she’d had packed a punch. Not that Harper could see but her brow arched approvingly as she stepped past her toward the front of the truck.

“Are you functional?” She called to Tron as she gripped the drivers door, pulling it open. Flicking her staff up she cracked him across the back of the head. Then shoved the staff further through to nail the passenger. Shit like this was why they had rules in place. Rules that Tron hadn’t followed. Much like Starfire. But this one was simple enough to clean up at least. The witnesses little more than street trash that few would believe.

Reaching in she shoved the driver over, grabbing the keys out of the ignition before turning to walk back around to the back of the truck.

“And you are?” She leveled her eyes down at Harper from behind the purple glow of her goggles, resting the but of her staff on the ground as she leaned against it.

Maxine manually pushes her head back upright, but it falls back to the side just a few degrees. She can’t exactly frown but her pierced eyebrows suggest that she is not especially pleased. In the time it takes to do this, the other two women take care of the remaining thugs. “Holy moley, fuckin’ save some for me next time.” A few months ago she would’ve just upped her score by waxing both of them and then administering Manchester Smilies to the downed thugs but something’s changed, some half-remembered subroutine.

Her blue eyes take on a faraway sort of look for a second, but when Huntress asks if she’s functional the cyborg snaps back to reality and replies, “I’ve never been called that before.” In an act of petulance she grabs the rear bumper of the truck with both hands, lifts it several feet and then slams the back half of the truck into the ground, cracking the axle and destroying the suspension. It’s marginally less flashy than flipping the damn thing but it’s not going anywhere now. Even less of anywhere than it was without the keys.

But hey, she’s gotta break something.

This little meatbag bitch tried to sell me to those cannoli-suckers,” the termagant answers for Harper, storming toward the girl with murder in her cybereyes. She reaches out to grab her by the throat but pauses when she realizes her left hand’s still pretty mangled, her metal digits failing to fully extend.

Harper to her credit stands her ground even as Maxine stomps toward her with obvious murderous intent. She contemplates diving for the Super Taser again but quickly realizes it would do little good against the cyborg. So instead she stands still and does her best to look like she doesn’t want to run like a bat of the Narrows. What she does instead is barely conceal the grin as Maxine brings up a mangled hand.

“That was embarrassing for you…”

In an effort to further pretend she isn’t completely terrified she looks away from Max to The Huntress her hands going up as she begins to try and explain herself to the imposing woman with the newly bloodied quarterstaff.

“Okay…LOOK…yes I technically did try to sell her. BUT…I was trying to get her out of here and somewhere I could try to fix her.”

Kicking at Rico gently with her foot before looking back to Helena.

“I couldn’t fix her here, I needed tools and time. I’m not even sure I could have really but…I did stop that meltdown.”

“Leave it.” She snapped at LadyTron, a gloved hand snapping out to grab her shoulder and pull her back a step. This was already a disaster. Cleaning up and covering up for a dead kid wasn’t exactly on the list of things she needed or wanted to be dealing with. She wasn’t in the mood for any of it. Street goons weren’t exactly the kind of fight ashe was in the mood for either.

She turned her attention back to the girl, scanning over her. Her goggles kicked up a reading, pulling up the pertinent information. Name. Date of birth. Known residence. All the boring information. What she was more interested in now was exactly why this kid though she could put back together the… mess that was LadyTron.

“Just why do you think you could have fixed it, Ms.Row.”

“Yer lucky whoever-this-is is here, kid.” She gestures vaguely at her eyes with her ruined fingers, then points them sort-of towards Harper. Like I’ll be watching you but I have lazy eyes. She steps back at the tug on her shoulder mostly because she expects it to be stronger but it’s not, it’s like… really not. She shoots a glance toward Huntress. “Are you not a cyborg?” Maxine asks, disappointment in her tone.

She fusses with her busted hand while the two of them exchange information. Her right hand’s mostly alright but there are electronic alerts popping off in her cyberbrain every time she fusses with one of her fingers. It’s extremely annoying and she periodically makes frustrated sounds in the back of her metal throat. When Harper cops to the fact that she’d stopped a meltdown, Ladytron speaks up. “Yeah, I mean I guess she did do that.” She runs her good hand through her wilted mohawk, trying to get it to stand back up.

Whatever files exist on Maxine Manchester do not speak highly of her character. She is an ostensibly-reformed spree killer with a body count that would earn a respectful nod from Victor Zsasz, and a reputation for taking things way too far. Still, she’s brutal as hell and that’s a useful enough trait to outweigh the downsides in this line of work.

Harper flashes through over a decades worth of memories of her fixing everything from the toaster to the television after one of her fathers drunken rampages. He would go out looking for work or for something as simple as groceries and when it all went wrong for whatever reason he would come home and take out his frustrations on his family. On a good night he would smash the microwave and not Harper or her brother Cullen, or their mother.

After she was murdered he only got worse. Snapping back to the present at the odd sounds emanating from inside Maxine’s throat Harper looks to Huntress and shrugs a little.

“It’s a talent, always has been really. A thing breaks I fix it.”

Looking back over to Max and looking her over from top to bottom.

“If she explodes it would kill my brother…”

Harper stops mid sentence as Huntress calls her by her name.

“Did those googles tell you that? All mine do is basic navigation and information.”

She says tapping the goggles she currently worse atop her head.

“We have the same boss.” She said to LadyTron, pointedly. “A boss that you should be returning to right now unless you need further assistance with that.” Because she shouldn’t have been in the damn city in the first place. The last thing Gotham needed was someone like the Joker getting his hands on some of this kind of tech. She’d already seen first hand what some of the criminals here were capable of. “No, I’m not a cyborg.” But enhanced she was, but that was something else all together.

“Interesting.” She turned her attention back to Harper, reaching up to unseal the bottom part of the mask from her mouth and nose, pushing it back up into the goggles so her voice wasn’t distorted anymore.

“Thank you for stopping her from exploding then.” She smirked a bit as she eyed the girl up and down again with a different kind of interest now. There were people who would be interested in her. But she spoke of a brother and that made her frown, and push the thought out of her head. The last thing this kid needed was to get tangled up in their line of work.

“They do, but I have access to some high grade gear.” She held out a hand for her goggles. “May I?”

“Wait, what!?” Maxine looks up from her mangled paw. “How fuckin’ big do you think it’d be?” The cyborg is unaware of her inner workings, as they’ve never really been her problem before. She’d always had someone around to fix her up in the past, except for her solo career as a maniac cyborg which had not been very long. The fact that she’d go out with any kind of significant boom is clearly a surprise to her.

Beats the hell out of a whisper at least.

She stops messing with her hand, letting it drop to her side. Her shoulder creaks softly, clearly in dire need of lubricant. Ladytron is not really capable of self-repair, though her systems can reroute power and generally find some way to keep going in the in-between. There are other cyborgs that can do this a lot faster out there but only a few of them come packaged with a psychopathic serial killer’s brain pattern.

“Yeah, I dunno who you’re talkin’ about,” she mentions to Huntress flippantly, her memory of the past few weeks a little corrupted from the fight she’d clearly lost. At least the subroutines against wanton cold-blooded murder are holding up. Apparently she’d been subjected to repeated simulations after her capture, a Groundhog Day-like scenario where she killed the same people over and over again until finally… she didn’t. Mentally broken and malleable.

Like most of her damage, her memory error would probably be a quick fix. “Who the fuck’re you, anyways? Not that I’m one to complain about a rescue, but I didn’t exactly need one.” If nothing else, Helena had headed off a total slaughter.

Harper reaches up to the goggles strapped onto the top of her head with both hands and slowly almost reluctantly slides them off of her scalp to hold them out for Helena to take. The goggles had an obvious look of home construction to the point most would never deduce how advanced they actually were. Harper if asked would claim this to be on purpose, but in fact had more to do with her limited resources. If she had a proper workshop she knew she could do amazing things.

Inclining her head back to Max at her question.

“I’m not about to take chances with something like that.”

Once the goggles are taken Harper pulls back her hand catching sight again of the large hole on the bottom of her left glove, she would have to replace the pair and soon. The expenses her distracted driving had cost her were piling up by the second.

Harper glanced down to the mess of parts strewn across the alleyway and just laughs as Max insists she had no need of rescue, she so clearly did.

“You need like all the rescue…”

“Check your system, you’re sending out a distress call. You need to turn it off. And you need to come with me. Please.” The last added on as an after thought, as though that might make the ill tempered cyborg come along quieter. Hopefully quieter. She was fighting herself not to be as hard edged as her usually was. This needed to get wrapped up quickly.

Turning back to Harper she took the offered goggles, holding them up as her own scanned over them. She gave a little nod, even as she reached up and pushed her own goggles up onto the top of her head, looking them over again as she turned them over between gloved hands. Handing them back she gave another nod.

“You’ve got talent. Keep it up. You’ll make it out of this city if you do.” She looked her over again before reaching up to slide her goggles back down over her eyes. “Did you take any recordings of this?”

Maxine shoots Huntress a hard look that quickly dissolves into confusion once she runs a quick systems analysis and realizes that the older woman is right. “…Yeah, okay,” she concedes, not entirely sure what’s going on but for some strange reason not feeling especially compelled to fight it, which would normally be her first and only choice in the face of something unknown.

Rolling her blue eyes at Harper, she mutters, “At least I can escape gettin’ roasted by a fuckin’ eight year old.” Ironically Ladytron is about the same age as the wunderkind, but she sure doesn’t look it, having been pretty tall even when she’d been mostly meat, not to mention athletic. Hard living and mass murder kind of require a matching build though, something that can endure it.

It had made her a prime candidate for this cyberization in the end, which was probably preferable to drowning in her own blood in some shitty New Jersey hospital.

Harper snatches the goggles back almost a little to quickly, as if she feared them being stolen. Which she knew was a ridiculous thought given the sophistication of the gear Huntress had at her disposal. Taking a moment to place them back on her head and another to make sure they were sitting in the exact right spot, Harper shakes her head at Huntress.

“Oooh no I did not, because they don’t do that yet..”

She says with a wry grin as she taps the goggles a few times. But her expression quickly sours at the Lady Predators next comment.

“Why would I want to leave Gotham?”

“Because there’s a bigger world out there than this damned city.” Spoken like someone who knew first hand. She looked Harper over one last time before nodding to herself, head turning to eye the alley way and the mess that had been left behind. She needed help with this, but she wasn’t likely to get any. This along with the alien attack was just a royal shit show. This was the kind of things that she’d taken leave to avoid for a while so she could get her head on straight but there wasn’t really such a thing as ‘down time’ with Nowhere.

“Good. It’s time for you to go now Ms. Row. I’ll get her to where she needs to go. I doubt it needs to be said, but I’m going to say it anyway. Do not speak of this to anyone.” She had her information already, she could track her down, but she left that unsaid too. The kid was smart enough to put that together.

She left Harper to getting to scramming if she didn’t have any more questions and turned back to LadyTron. “Pick up the important parts and we need to get moving before we attract any more attention.”

“Why would you wanna leave New Jersey!?” Maxine laughs hysterically at the rhetorical question, her beartrap lower jaw flapping with amusement. She wipes at her eyes with her good hand, though she is wholly incapable of crying even tears of laughter. Probably something to look into next time she’s gunning for new mods, which is basically always.

Huntress more or less has the rest of the conversation handled, though, and Ladytron glances around on the ground for any missing pieces that she would actually miss later on. There are some metal chips, a couple bolts and screws that she’s not even sure the origin of. “Eh, nothin’ important. Probably.” With a half-hearted shrug, she turns as if to leave.

“I can do a buck twenty if yer lookin’ for speed,” she says, glancing back over her shoulder. “Just climb aboard the Good Ship Ladytron. All passengers’re allowed one piece of carry-on luggage but there’s an additional fee for checked baggage.” She belches as she turns her eyes back front.

“I wouldn’t want to live anywhere but here…”

Harper says as she turns and Walks back over to her scooter by the dumpster, carefully lifting it she finds the kickstand has apparently gone missing. Grumbling under her breath she looks the bike over and realizes immediately how unlikely it is to start, not one to leave good scrap she begins walking out of the alleyway with the scooter.

“You going to snap my neck if I call an Uber?”

Or more likely a girl named Stephanie Brown, tapping at her phone she begins another next to her friend. More then a little concerned at being monitored she keep it simple, saying only ‘?…☠…? ’.

“Only if you do it anywhere near here.” Huntress tossed in Harper’s direction as she collapsed her bow staff back down and slipped it into one of the pouches strapped to her leg. She gave another visual sweep of the area, scanning with her goggles to make sure nothing other than bits and bolts were left behind before she put a hand on Tron’s shoulder as she stepped up behind her.

The drugs she’d taken earlier in the night were still running strong through her system as she stepped in closer to the other woman, extending and flexing her mental field around her. Light around them shifted, hardly noticeable to the human eye till it bent and they both vanished from sight. Her fingers flicked the silencing field on that usually dampened her footsteps but as she jumped on the cyborg’s back it covered them both.

“Just get us out of the city so I can get you a ride back to the shop. And we’re in Gotham. Not Jersey.”

“Ain’t Gotham in New Je- you know what, I don’t actually give a shit.” Maxine recalls an embarrassing incident where she’d meant to go to Star City but wound up in fucking San Francisco; she can never keep track of these kinds of things. Without a wifi connection, excluded from her chassis both for security purposes and because she’s shit with technology, she’s forced to rely on a cellphone for things like GPS and predictably she fails to keep hers charged.

Once Huntress is onboard, worn like a murderous psychic backpack, she takes off, keeping to the streets rather than the sidewalk and lane-cutting at dangerous speeds. She’s as good as her word, rapidly blowing past sixty and going even further. It’s a hell of a lot faster than an Uber, or even a supercar given that the latter would still have to contend with traffic. Maybe flying would be the best option but it’s not like she has a built-in rocket pack.


It doesn’t take long for the transport to arrive once Huntress has made an official call-in for it. The chopper barely makes a sound as it descends from the heavens. With the person who leaps out to meet with them making even less sound when she drops out before the vehicle is even safely down. Obviously the leader of the group, she stands nearly a foot taller then the half-dozen agents who load out behind her. Not to mention the tech crew that come in next.

She isn’t there to play nice, there’s no kissy face exchanges, no jokes to be told or banter to be made. A snap of the fingers sends one particular trooper scurrying to the Huntress with a digital clip board in hand. We’ll need your initials here, here and thumb print at the bottom.

It’s possible for someone to look more offended by their proximity to Gotham City, but not by much. She’s doing them a favor by not showing it any deeper than she already is. The all black troops move with precision and expedience once the signatures are there. None of them care to speak to LadyTron. None of them care about Harper. Exactly one of them cares about Huntress and that lasts only until he’s procured her signatures. Then they all set about completing their task and escaping the Lead Agent’s notice as quickly as possible.

Another cluck of the tongue gets their attention though. A raised eyebrow reminds the man with the clipboard that he’s forgotten something. His apologies to Huntress are made as he’s hurriedly shoving a small case of the medicine Huntress requires at regular intervals.

As quickly as that the troops will have LadyTron loaded up. Leaving Huntress as the one affixed with the expectant look from the obviously impatient Agent.

It’s still there, or rather it’s not there – that violent urge to murder everyone in the vicinity, to rage against the machine. Ladytron just stands there when the troops come down, not scared so much as surprised by herself. She could punch the skull out of the back of any of these fleshies’ heads but she just doesn’t want to.

She doesn’t remember that she’s already done exactly that, about thirty or so times, in a simulation that had ultimately broken her will to mass slaughter. But the after-effects are still there, the mental programming intact even through the memory corruption. Nobody responds to her quips here, not even when she gets a little nasty with them. Well, nastier than usual. They just buzz-buzz-buzz like little human insects and she goes along with it because she doesn’t feel like fighting it, a testament to someone’s psychiatric and programming skills.

Offering a half-hearted wave to Huntress, she hops onto the chopper, occupying approximately one thousand imperial pounds of cargo capacity. Sometimes that’s inconvenient, given that she doesn’t take up much physical space she creates more strain on the engine than she really should, but in action she’s worth it. All the trash-talking, vulgarity and frequent sexual harrassment is worth it for someone who can throw cars and absorb gunfire, a cutting-edge weapon against xenos and supers in general.

A hammer, not a scalpel. And not even the biggest hammer around, sure, but she punches above her weight-class and can take a beating long enough for backup to arrive. Usually.

This wasn’t what she’d planned on doing with her evening. She’d had a meeting planned with some old friends of her father’s though she by what she’d had planned for them, they’d be happy if she canceled. If she had time and she showed up late, after this night, she’d be getting twice what she’d originally planned. Irritation made her shoulders tight, left her pacing in the clearing they’d been waiting in when the helicopter showed up.

The paperwork that was shoved at her was little more than formality for someone to cover their ass. She signed over the cyborg, fingerprint recorded, knowing that this was no doubt going to end up a problem later but at least it was fixing the current problem and getting it out of the place that it wasn’t supposed to be. Everything else was just clean up work later.

Angry brown eyes regarded the agent even as he passed over the pills, taking them with a snap of gloved hands as she tested the weight of the package before sliding it away in one of her pouches. Part of her was dreading the run back into the city, but that feral side of her brain was hungry for it, something to burn off all the pent up anger and energy that had been building up over the last week. Helena just wanted to go home, Huntress wanted to hunt and fight.

Hands moved to rest on her hips as she watched the last of the load up finish before she turned her head to look at the lead agent with one brow arched. She shouldn’t say what she knew she was about to say, but she did anyway.

“Harper Row. Some street kid found it. It’s cleaned up. But the kid is a builder. Smart. Worth keeping an eye on for the future. Anything else?”

There is a tight lipped look through those sparkling glasses at the Huntress. One that seems to both offer judgement and yet withhold it all at once. So far she’s not commented upon any of this. Maybe it’s not her place to do so. Maybe she just doesn’t have enough investment in what is going on to do so. More likely her presence here is merely a formality brought upon by so many resources being diverted away from the field in the States right now.

“You were followed. I don’t mean one of the damned drones.”

Okay. So maybe it is judgment after all? The Agent actually points. As bold as you please. Back toward the city. “Didn’t show up on any of our sensors. None of the rank and file noticed it either. We caught a burst of static, then I spotted a silhouette in the moonlight, right before we landed.”

“You’re being hunted. On your vacation time. We’ll be checking in more frequently. At random intervals. Wouldn’t want out investment to go down the drain. You’re dismissed, Huntress.”

The growl that rolled up from her chest was low and dangerous, giving rise to that dark passenger that Helena so often tried to keep contained in the recesses of her mind. But Huntress was so often a beast of her own, burning dangerously in the depths of those dark eyes.

“Keep things like that out of the city and I won’t have to show myself to be hunted.” Her voice pitched lower. “Nor am I concerned by what is hunting me.” Because she had her ideas about what it could be. Undetected. Hidden in the dark. Probably the same thing that she’d been hunting the last few days.

Dismiss yourself. she thought in her head as she turned, shifting the light around her as she vanished from sight and slipped back into the woods to head back toward Gotham. Though now her eyes and ears were open, drinking in the silence of the night without the damn cyborg distracting her. She’d always worked better alone. The solitary predator. Her senses stretched out, listening for every sound, every twitch of the world around her, because now it was her turn to hunt.

The Graveyard Shift – Red Hood/Catwoman

The Graveyard Shift – Red Hood/Catwoman

Gotham during summer was hot, muggy and generally miserable. The night didn’t give much leeway from this. And being in a full costume didn’t make things any better. While Damien didn’t complain, he was far from comfortable. But if his father could do it, then he could do it. Even if it meant that he was ten pounds lighter at the end of the night. It was a sacrifice he was willing to make. Timothy did his best to make the suits lightweight and breathable, there was only so much he could do without compromising the safety and integrity of the suit.

Be as it may, Damien continued moving through the city. Needing to keep his mind occupied while his mother recovered in a hospital nearby. Though she was under heavy security thanks to Timothy’s drones and regular patrols in the area by the others. He was on edge, and needed to take it off, which meant most of Gotham’s criminals were his target. While he wouldn’t kill them… once they recover. They would most likely rethink their stance on doing crime in his city.

Damien made it his business to know what was going on in the city, to know what was coming in and going out. What gangs were up to. He knew that he couldn’t completely eliminate crime, but like his father, he could use it as a tool to keep things tempered. Which is what he was doing now, there’d been reports of a rise in gang violence. Especially since Cobblepot’s downfall … again. One of the gangs, the Yakuza were rising quickly.

It was time to curb that growth.

Damien stalked towards the edge of their territory. Maybe if he can follow a few of them. He can find the lead and … convince them to knock it off.

That’s how it worked, right?

Her encounter with Katana had left Eiko with a new scar on her neck, just a little reminder of how close she’d come to death. The injury had been a necessity, to convince her father that she had tried her best but simply been completely outmatched by the masked vigilante. In return he’d graciously allowed her to keep all of her fingers, and she’s been convalescing in her room ever since.

Or at least, that’s what he thinks.

Her neck’s still bandaged, but the hood of her costume conceals it for the most part. It’s hot and uncomfortable in the thick material but she’s invigorated by it all the same, the sense of freedom that comes with being incognito. The voyeuristic thrill of seeing people she knows and knowing they don’t recognize her. And more than that, she can act differently, without the constraints of her station as the heiress-apparent of the Hasigawa Family. The first time she’d put this thing on was the first time in her life that she’d been able to act her age.

That high still hits her like a shot of heroin. Which, incidentally, is something her current project relates to. The Yakuza has been getting into the trade, shipping in the black tar from overseas through their control of the docks. Privately, Eiko had disagreed with her father that this was a good move but as Catwoman she can actually do something about it. So, Damien isn’t the only one stalking the Japanese mafia tonight.

From atop a roof, quiet as a cat, she observes an unassuming warehouse. While she already knows the schedules, the amount of guards at any given time, how much product is on hand, she’s working backwards from that knowledge to identify a way to take it down without tipping her hand. It could be as simple as placing a call to the police, but she doesn’t much trust the police; they have people there, too. Her fingers gently touch the handle of the coiled bullwhip hanging from her hip. Yes, maybe it’ll come to that. Criminals ought to be flogged.

Following the Yakuza was easy enough. Coming up onto a warehouse. It seems tonight he was in company. Though, he was unaware of this company for a moment. There was -something- in the warehouse, that much was for sure. The number of guards, and how the Yakuza soldiers had to present some sort of identification before getting in was another tip off that there was something in there that they wanted controlled.

Standing at the edge of the building, he’s not hiding. But he knows there not going to look at the rooftop of an abandoned building near Crime Alley. The police in this city were all but useless, If only Damien had his way….

Moving from the building easily, he’s able to get around to the other side of the street quick and easily enough. Being trained by both the League of Assassins and Batman had quite the number of perks. Damien watches the guards on the ground for a few minutes before deciding that the roof was a much more feasible idea. There were only four guards on the rooftop, compared to the eight or more on the ground.

When the time was right, Damien easily crossed the gap between buildings and lands on the roof near one of the Yakuza he’s able to deflect the gun meanwhile throwing out a shower of knives at the other Yakuza on the top. The knives were tipped with a paralyzing poison. It won’t kill them…unfortunately. But they won’t enjoy it. Now, it was time to deal with the man in front of him.

The two of them would trade blows, though Damien more or less powered through them. Enough to deliver a palm strike to the mans chin, then circles around for a strong roundhouse kick sending the man flying over the edge. Damien would normally be content on letting the man fall to his death, Bue Damien is able to catch the man with the grappler and tie him off on the roof.

Now, to see what was inside…

He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.

There will be a shift change soon, and she’ll hit them just after. It wouldn’t do to get caught up by a second wave of thugs. One spread is more than enough for her; her leather catsuit is laced with Tarwon, a para-aramid fiber from the Teishi zaibatsu that is comparable to Kevlar, but not enough that she’s confident of surviving sustained gunfire. That is an aspect of this whole super-vigilante business that she’s not yet grown accustomed to. Maybe if she’s good enough, she’ll never have to. That’s the ideal, anyways.

Her script is flipped entirely by the arrival of someone else, another hood but from this far away it’s unclear whether he’s a vigilante or a rival’s hitter out to steal the goods for himself. She mutters a curse and frees her whip, lashing at the post of a billboard bolted to the side of the next building over and swinging onto the fire escape, which she nimbly descends. Landing in a three-point stance on the concrete below, nimbly as her namesake, she slips across the street under the cover of night. There had been streetlights here, once upon a time, but those that hadn’t been destroyed by ambient thuggery had been systematically shot out with pellet guns by the Yakuza so as to keep their own operation in the dark.

Inside the warehouse, unsurprisingly there are more men, most with guns but a few with swords as well. Her father trains his men himself as a kind of bonding exercise, and they tend to be decent but her father is not Tatsu and so the skills he imparts are of a lower caliber; she does not train with him, and has rarely even visited the grounds he uses. Past the rows of crates filled with fake oriental pottery, a table lined with bricks of heroin is being rapidly cleaned off by a gaggle of prostitutes stuffing it into colorful cartoon animals. They’d gotten ever more creative with their smuggling tactics but sometimes these toys fall into the hands of children.

Eiko hops onto a dumpster next to the warehouse and mantles onto the roof, stalking behind Damien with the intent of figuring out his motive here. She is as an individual very sneaky, but she is no Selina Kyle regardless of the ears she wears.

Damien knew the footfalls of his brothers. And the ones behind him were not them. They were quiet, and if it was someone else. They might not hear them at all. But this wasn’t just anyone. For now, he lets them think that Damien didn’t hear them and continues deeper inside. Once the stairway down opens up enough, he slips off it and onto the rafters. Quiet as a well, as a cat, in this case.

Moving along with them effortlessly, he’s able to able to get a better vantage point in a especially shadowed area between the skylights and the darker shadows cast by the other rafter beams. As he stands still, the shadows seem to almost wrap around him making him nearly invisible to the naked eye. If she was watching him, she’d even have a hard time spotting him in the darkness. Even if he wasn’t wearing black. Thanks to Timothy, he’s able to blend better into the shadows.

Behind her, there’d be a rustle as a pair of pigeons land next to her, cooing softly as they started cleaning themselves and generally being well… pigeons. Not caring, Damien continues staring down as armed men watched as prostitutes in their underwear work to take the heroin out of childrens toys. Narrowing his eyes, he’s on the move again. Silent, as if he wasn’t even touching the rafters. Whoever was tailing him was going to have quite the fright of their lives as Damien vanishes from sight, only to appear behind the leather clad woman.

Damien didn’t have quite the imposing figure that his father had, but it didn’t make him any less intimidating as he simply reaches out and taps her shoulder. If he could just do things his way, this would be so much easier…

“Who are you?” his voice modulated through his helmet as he stood there crossing his arms narrowing his eyes at her. They were high enough that as long as they don’t shout, the heavily armed men below won’t start unloading their weapons in the direct of Damien and Eiko.

She’s at least stealthy enough not to disturb the pigeons, though she silently curses their inconvenient appearance. Having some insider knowledge of what’s going on inside of the warehouse allows her to proceed with confidence, knowing that neither she nor the one she is tailing will be blundering into an ambush. It’s that level of tactical awareness that gives her an edge, rather than the violent sort of reconnaissance employed by Red Hood.

Of course, there’s a time and a place for that as well; one has to keep one’s options open.

Creeping along the rafters, she has her bullwhip in hand still, coiled in loops. With the flick of her wrist the leather will move faster than the speed of sound, the cause of that famous crack, and it’s thick enough that it gives quite a whollop as well. Long, which gives her the advantage of reach and tactical flexibility in that it can be used to incapacitate without causing wounds. She is highly skilled in all types of weaponry, but the foundation of that skill remains the bladework she had learned under her first sensei.

Suddenly, the masculine figure in front of her goes from being just barely visible to vanishing entirely. It’s a trick she’s capable of as well, but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant to be on the receiving end. She goes stock-still as she feels him standing behind her, aware of his presence before he touches and making no sudden movements until she can ascertain his hostility. Thankfully, all he does is tap her. Perhaps he’d been meaning to startle her, but she seems unphased. Deep down though, she’s perfectly terrified.

Moving very slowly, she turns to face Damien, still in a crouch and so much smaller than the imposing vigilante. “…Catwoman?” she says, very nearly more of a question than an actual response. There’s a bandage just barely visible beneath her cat-pendant necklace, perhaps the reason her voice sounds more than a little rough and gravelly.

Damien’s posture doesn’t change, and he’s annoyed by her answer to his question. He keeps his arms crossed and glances down at the operation. It wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. “No. You are not.” saying as looks back towards her. “I would suggest you leave. The gang here are not to be for novices. The Yakuza are quite malicious, and I do not wish to find your body in the gutter because you decided to cross the Yakuza.” his voice, though modulated was even. It didn’t rise or fall, it was just very even. Turning to the side, he gestures towards the door. “You may have ten minutes before the men on the roof start to awaken and sounding the guards off, which will then trigger these men below us to leave.” and then they wouldn’t be able to destroy any of the product.

Without a sound, he drops from the rafters onto the floor below them. Landing easily enough, he runs along the side of the giant crates until he’s close enough to get a better look as to what was going on. The men while heavily armed, weren’t looking in his direction. Reaching into his belt, he pulls out a couple of small metal balls and then rolls them out towards the men. After a couple of seconds, a loud concussive sound would shatter the quietness as thick black smoke filled the immediate area.

There was no hesitation in Damien’s actions as he runs into the cloud. If she’s watching, she’d hear gunfire go off, followed by screams of fear and anguish. Some of the men crying out in Japanese that a red faced demon had come to kill them all. Why must they always think that Damien was out to kill them? Sigh! These were some of the things Damien had to deal with as he made quick work of the men. The prostitutes stopped working and had ran off to behind a van to cower in fear.

When the smoke cleared, Damien would be standing in the middle, four or five Yakuza laid on the floor in various agonizing poses. Mostly with limbs facing the way they shouldn’t. Holding up one of the men, Damien questions him in perfect Japanese.

”When is the boat due?!?!”

Eiko has, in her career as a criminal thus far, had the fortune to not run across any of the city’s host of vigilantes but in this instance that proves to be a detriment. She only knows the most vague of rumors about them, from conflicting whispers on the streets. They’ve never been a primary focus of her own investigations or maneuvering but perhaps that’s time to change. By adopting the persona of a legendary criminal she’d made herself into a figure that they could easily turn on, even while it had given her free license to hamper the criminal organizations of the city under mysterious auspices.

I’ll decide what’s too dangerous for me,” she replies evenly, betraying none of her anxiety. Her accent is tamed, might as well be American; though she’d been born in Tokyo she had been schooled in the West, had for the most part assimilated their manneurisms while in their company. It makes it easy enough to play off her ethnicity, and as for looks most thugs are too busy staring at her chest to think too hard about the color of her skin.

Despite her protest, she lingers a moment after he descends, watching Damien act decisively from above. It’s hard to see much through the smoke but the sounds of a battle can often tell quite a vivid story as well. Just as the cloud is beginning to clear, she drops down to the floor nimbly, her boots not even a whisper as she slips toward the fallen gangsters. While the man in the Red Hood‘s grasp stammers out his defiance, indicating perhaps that he has not been beaten quite enough, another stands up and runs for the exit. Her whip slashes through the air, taking him out at the shins and sending him face-first to the floor in a quivering heap.

“You’re wasting your time. He won’t talk, and besides, I already know all that stuff,” she mentions casually. “What you really should be worried about is-” There’s the sound of motorcycles outside, car doors being slammed. “…the graveyard shift.” Crap. The claw-tipped fingers of her free hand tense, clenching and unclenching from a scratching pose. “Looks like our date just got a lot more interesting.”

Damien isn’t interested in her chest, voice, or what she looks like under the mask. All he cares about is that she just told him the information he needed. Dropping the Yakuza member, the man slowly starts to drag himself away from the Red Faced Demon. “If you have the information. Then why are you here?” asking, gesturing as he heard motorcycles and car doors opening and slamming. “And we are not on a date. I do not know you, despite what legacy you seem to be wearing.” indicating her outfit, it wasn’t the same as the one Selina Kyle wore. The stitching was different, the zipper and boots she wore were also different.

It was safe to say Eiko was playing up to the memory of being Catwoman. For now, it will have to do, and hopefully she doesn’t get killed by the Yakuza. That was the last thing he needed tonight. Damien moved from the men to hide behind some crates before the others busted the doors down and started flooding the warehouse floor with men. Stealthily moving around the crates, he tries to see how many of them there were exactly.

But, he needed it to be darker. Turning around, he squats down leaning back against one of the crates as turns his wrist over to reveal a small display on it. Damiens fingers scrawled across the display as he worked at finding the electrical grid. After a minute, Damien pulls his jacket sleeve back down and then the lights shut off. Darkening the entire warehouse.

Now, it was time for the fun to begin.

Eiko tilts her head at Damien, the closest she can approximate to a raised eyebrow given her nearly-opaque red goggles. “I’m here to keep this garbage off the street. Unlike you, I get all the info I need before I get in fights,” she asserts, with no small amount of sass. She’s not really allowed to talk like that to anyone without the mask on. Not her father, nor even her subordinates. Being middle management in the Yakuza is harder than one might imagine; truly it is better to be the King.

She sniffs when he rejects the notion of a date; it had been a joke anyways, but at least he’s acknowledging her gimmick here. Accepting it. She has no idea where Selina Kyle had gotten off to but her absence had left a void, and as good as left her mask just laying on the ground for some young woman to pick up. She hurries over to the huddled prostitutes, mostly brought in from Taiwan and not especially fluent in English but they know Japanese well enough and she instructs them in that language, directing them to a corner of the warehouse with no nearby exits before she runs back to rejoin Red Hood.

Taking up a spot on the opposite side of the same aisle, her shoulder barely hits the side of a crate before the power goes out. The doors are thrown open and the graveyard shift begin to pour in. ‘Catwoman’ allows her bullwhip to uncoil and fall to the ground, holding only the thick handle. She doesn’t have the same array of high-tech toys that Damien does but her nightvision is keen enough to operate in the scant moonlight that filters in from the smoked-over windows lining the top of the building.

The tech “toys” that Damien had were provided. He didn’t need them, but they made things so much easier. When ‘Catwoman’ rejoins him, he gives her a look. She’d feel how dirty of a look he was giving, even though she couldn’t actually see his face through the helmet. But, then again, Damien gave that look to everyone at one point or another. Hearing the men talk to each other in Japanese as they moved through the warehouse, Damien leans up a little and moves along the crate of boxes as he pulls out a sword of his own.

This would be much easier than dealing with guns at the moment. Shifting through the night, he takes out a couple of men easily enough. Maiming them…but not killing them. Richard and Dinah should be happy. While, as good as Damien was, he couldn’t take on a full squad of armed Yakuza. The prostitutes should be fine, the Yakuza didn’t want to deal with them. They wanted to deal with the Red Faced Demon. They didn’t know about Catwoman, at least, not yet.

But, first, he needed to burn the product before running around. Getting close, he could see a couple Yakuza with uzi’s just waiting to spray someone with the small automatic weapons. Before they could get the drop on him, Damien would ambush them. As the muzzle flash from the uzi’s lit up the immediate area, Catwoman would see a few men sneaking around to come up behind Damien and make him sorry they messed with the Yakuza.

Catwoman shrugs at the glowering vigilante, putting both hands up as if to question the nature of his beef. But she’s smart enough to stay silent, among other things, and when he draws his sword she stops paying attention to him and focuses on the gunmen coming in. She’s waiting for Red Hood to take the lead, to see how he wants to handle this so that she doesn’t get in his way. Although she wouldn’t admit it even if pressed, she knows that she could probably learn a thing or two from watching.

Her whip is quickly coiled back up once it becomes clear they aren’t going for a nearside ambush, which would’ve been a dicey gamble anyways, and then she slips between the crates, tracking Damien’s movements as he engages the Yakuza. She knows most of them, their names, their habits. How cruel or nice they are to the girls that are trafficked. Some of them she really isn’t sorry to see getting carved up, especially since nobody dies.

She slinks around the flanks of the battle, quietly guarding Damien’s blindside and waiting for her own moment to engage. It comes when a trio of men sneak past her own hiding spot, a pool of shadows she’s melded into almost perfectly, and she lets them get a good ten foot head start before she slips out and catches the one in the lead about the ankle with her whip, knocking him into the gangster beside him and sending both to the ground. She sprints at the remaining thug, jumping to run the last few feet along the side of a shipping crate before springing off and leveling him with a crushing elbow that sends him sprawling atop the two on the ground.

The one on the bottom of the pile struggles to lift his submachine gun from the ground and she crushes his hand beneath her bootheel until he lets go, turning toward Damien to flash him a V for victory and a cheeky grin.

Damien isn’t impressed by her save, or her grin, or her victory symbol. Instead, he moves past her to the drugs. Before he could pull his flare out, they’d both be instantly surrounded by a number of guards. This was trouble. Moving towards the center of the circle, Damien is suddenly engulfed in a spotlight as the van starts shaking and moving. The rear doors open as a large man steps out. One. Large. Meaty. Foot at a time.

Stepping out from behind the van doors, he stands taller than Damien, and it four times his size in width. He’d seen sumo wrestlers before, but it’s always amazing to see them fight… though, fighting them was a problem. The layer of fat protected them, and this large specimen of a man wasn’t any different. His hair was tightly pulled back in a bun on the top of his head as he stepped closer to Damien. Causing Damien to back up… only to be greeted by a gun to his back.

“You wish to fight.” Damien said as he stepped forward, tugging his jacket off and tossing it onto the floor. Clasping both of his hands together, he bows before the sumo wrestler. The two circle each other as Damien then goes in for a series of kicks and punches, with the last punch hitting the wrestler straight in the chest.

Normally, this would strike down any other man.

But, this wasn’t any other man.

This was a sumo wrestler.

The large man grabs Damien and throws him like a rag doll, the vigilante’s body skipping across the concrete floor like stone on water. This… wasn’t going to end well.

Eiko feels she can afford to be cocky because she has insider knowledge, she more or less knows the strength of the force they’d just dealt with but in the end it’s that arrogance that is punished as it takes her focus off of her surroundings long enough for a nasty surprise. Her father had changed things up without letting her know, sent a bigger response. Perhaps they’d planned to move the product out early. Organizing the minutia here was supposed to be her responsibility but perhaps her repeated, intentional failures and feigned incompetence had finally begun to outweigh her successes.

The old man is making moves without her. Does he know? No, she’d already be dead if he did; he would kill her without hesitation if he knew that she was working against him. But it speaks to deeper currents, and she doesn’t have the time at present to analyze what all of this means. Not once Konishiki makes his appearance. She groans and drops her whip, holding her hands up. She won’t let herself be captured because that would be as good as suicide but she’ll play pretend long enough for someone to get close and fight her way out even if it means killing a few of them, a prospect she finds distasteful but it’s not like she’d never taken a life.

However, Damien is the first to rise to the challenge, squaring off with the sumo champion and she reverts to observation, forcing herself to ignore the guns pointed at her for the time being. It looks like Red Hood is outmatched, though, and if she’s to be round two she won’t fare much better. So, fighting clean is right out, then.

Pursuing her lips, she steps forward to join the two, coming in from the flank and dropping into a sweep of her boot into the big guy’s right shin right as he’s stepping off with that foot. He’s much larger than she is, and obviously stronger as well but by utilizing leverage, fighting smarter (not to mention a little dirty) she can put him on the ground hopefully long enough to give her ersatz partner the edge he needs to turn this around before Konishiki beats her right into a black and red smear on the concrete floor.

Damien slowly got up as he saw Catwoman’s attack on his shin as Konishiki takes a step. This surprises him as he’s stepping to grab her by leaning over just a little with his big meaty hands. Seeing an advantage here, Damien scrambles up and charges at the large man. Before the wrestler can grab Damien, the vigilante jumps enough to grab Konishiki head and drive his knee into the man’s face, breaking his nose in the process. This causes the man to stagger with a bit of a limp.

“Get his knees! I will strike his sola-” The sumo wasn’t going to have none of this as he grabs Damien and pulls him into a strong hug like grapple. Then the sumo wrestler started twisting his body, shaking Damien like a Lion killing its prey. It takes Damien a couple of shakes to get his hands free, but once they are he has a pair of small metal rods in each fist as he starts to slam them hard into Konishiki solar plexuses.

When Eiko delivers her strong kicks to the sumo’s knees, the heavy wrestler would start swaying like a tree in a breeze before finally falling back with a loud thump. The Yakuza look at each other, surprised that these two took down the mighty Konishiki. Damien would grab his jacket and pull it on with a groan as he stepped over to Eiko, his back to hers as he looked at the challenge ahead.

Though, Damien wasn’t about to play fair at all. “Cover your ears and eyes.” saying to her quietly as several metal balls rolled out of his hand. A moment later, the entire warehouse would be lit up brightly, along with several loud concussive pops. If she didn’t do what he said, she’d be stunned like if a flash bang grenade just went off infront of her. Taking the opportunity, Damien drops enough fire flares onto the drugs to burn it all as he makes a hasty retreat up a pair of stairs on the other side of the warehouse.

This would lead them out, with very angry Yakuza yelling at them in all sort of angry, angry words. Hopefully if Eiko continues to follow him, Damien makes sure to get a few buildings away from the Yakuza warehouse before stopping. “Who are you?” asking again as he turned around to look at her.

“You acted on more information than what was available. I ask again. Who. Are. You?”

Fighting along others isn’t a new concept to her, nor is taking orders. This is another way in which she contrasts when held against her predecessor. With Damien calling out shots, she’s quick to adapt and do as instructed without protest, lashing out with her foot and trusting in her partner to handle his end. The second part takes practice, to just have total faith in the competence of someone else, but it’s necessary for teamwork.

Thankfully, following his orders also spares her from the bang and the flash of his little orbs of doom. She’s more than a little jealous of his toolkit but there’s no source that she could dip into to get the same without it leaving a trail back to her. It had been risky enough putting together the outfit, which she’d done one piece at a time through various tailors. The mask had been especially difficult, but it was also the most important piece.

She rolls to retrieve her whip, sweeping the legs out from under another dazed gangster on her way out mostly out of pique as she tails Damien out of the hotzone. She’s fast and nimble, able to clear fences and keep pace with the stronger vigilante, her athleticism honed well enough that she’s not even out of breath once they’re outside the immediate danger.

Her most obvious weapon is once more coiled at her hip, though she’s never without her claws and after seeing Damien fight she’s marginally less frightened of him. Still reasonably certain she’d lose a straight-up fight but not entirely convinced she wouldn’t be able to flee if she committed to it. Thusly armed, she looks up at him defiantly.

“I already told you, I’m Catwoman. If you get to wear a mask, then so do I.” The knowledge of her identity is dangerous. To herself, to others. There’s only two people in the world she’d trust with it, and one of them is dead.

Now that he had a chance to really listen and get a better look. “You are Japanese. You hide your accent well.” telling her as he narrowed his eyes at her once again. “Tokyo born, Though you studied here.” meaning the US. “Your father has money. Enough to let you study abroad.” tilting his head at her, he turns to start walking away. “If I were you. I would stop playing dress up. It is a life that swallows you up.” honestly, it’s not a life he would suggest on anyone. Even if he does tease Stephanie about being his next Robin. He wouldn’t actually take her.

Walking to the edge of the building, he looks down at all the comotion of what was going on. “Whatever game you are playing, I would highly suggest you be careful. The Yakuza are not a gang to play around with.” now talking to her in perfect Japanese, to the untrained ear, it was perfect. But, to Eiko’s ears. It wasn’t perfect, good, but still trained and not completely natural. “And I suspect you know of Catwoman’s activities within this city? She did not make many friends. I would suggest extreme caution while wearing that outfit. While I can not approve of your actions. I also do not wish to see you dead.”

Damien’s read on her is dead on but it’s not complete. Eiko has to bite back the things she wants to say, which is something she’s well-practiced at but unpleasant in the current circumstance. This costume is all about freedom for her, freedom of action, of choice. The freedom to be who she really wants to be and not just some gangster pressed from a hollow mold of her father.

She follows him to the ledge, but keeps out of arm’s reach, still uncertain as to whether or not he’ll lash out at her. Particularly since she’d been so defiant, and plans to continue that way. Given his fluency in the language, she speaks Japanese as well. “I know exactly how dangerous they are,” she begins. “I became Catwoman because she has no friends, no one to become accountable for my actions.

“That she has many enemies has not been lost on me either.” In point of fact, Eiko is herself an enemy of Selina Kyle, someone who had been caught up in one of the original Cat’s little pranks. Sent to jail, if only temporarily, until her father’s expensive lawyers manifested in a puff of brimstone-scented smoke to get all the charges dropped. She doesn’t really hold a grudge over that, but it had led to something of an obsession for a time as she’d been assigned the task of tracking the woman down.

And that had led here. “You can work with me or not but you won’t change my course,” she cautions him.

Damien watched her for a long while. She certainly was defiant, while he’d like nothing more than to strangle her at the moment, he turns away pulling out his grapple launcher. “I will be watching you.” telling her as he launches the grapple to the building across the way and jumps off. Leaving her to own devices. He could get the information he needed easily enough from some other poor Yakuza that crosses his path. But, for now, it seemed this new Catwoman was picking up right where the original left off.

Deep down, Damien liked her attitude. But, he couldn’t show that to her. He wanted to hear her heartfelt reaction, her defiance to not back down. If she was going to be Catwoman, then she was going to have some big shoes to fill. If she looked down, she would see a small pager like device with ‘911’ written on the back. It was for her incase she needed help and got over her head into some kind of trouble she couldn’t get her way out of.

It wasn’t quite an approval, more of a ‘I don’t want to see you dead’ type of thing. The family honestly could use the help. And if she can control the Yakuza, then that was one less thing the family had to worry about with the potential looming gang war. Cobblepot’s spot was gone, which left a void. The question was, Who was going to claim that void?

Catwoman nods at his assertion, letting him slip away via grappling gun before saying “I expect nothing less.” She watches him until he disappears, then begins to make her own exit before the tip of her boot finds the little electronic device he’d left behind. Smirking, she picks it up, turning it over. It could’ve been a trap, but from what she’d gathered if he wanted her gone he would’ve just done it, come at her directly. No, this is something else entirely.

She clips it to her belt, deciding to take it with her as she heads in the opposite direction of Red Hood. The Yakuza princess can think of a dozen safe places to stash it until she can be sure to the best of her ability it isn’t emitting some kind of signal, but as far as the offer it represents she appreciates it. In the coming days she’ll need help, far more perhaps than even Tatsu might provide.

Especially once she makes her play to usurp her father, and take over Gotham’s underworld in the process.