You may be prompted on ChainHop to confirm the cross-chain swap. You should see the estimated amount you will receive on the destination chain. Before exploring the different features offered by ChainHop, you shall need to connect your wallet. The simple fact is, the resources are had by us, experience and knowledge to provide winning launchpad products – and CrossSwap will be no exception. All of this marketing power is fuelled by the strongest KOL line up in the industry, by the day that is growing. Our social engagement and reach is greater than every competitor on the market on any chain and our consistent month on month growth since inception is testament to our reach.
- If one from the numerous conditions isn’t met, the trade fails, and every deposited fund is returned to the depositors.
- Cross-chain swap is not limited to trading and exchange only.
- The high demanding platforms Even, Ethereum and Bitcoin, have their isolated ecosystem.
- The crypto exchange won’t accept litecoin transactions using
- Consider a bridge in crypto such as a bridge in the physical world.
These chains can neither come across nor facilitate token exchange or trade that belongs to different blockchain protocols. Multiple parties choose the best time constraint for each transaction. Let’s say, Bob and Alice want to enter into a transaction which involves them swapping money for tokens.
Cost-friendly P2p Transactions
Taking Avalanche for example, the network launched in September 2020, and over 225 projects are built as of on the platform now Bsc swap. At the same time, AVAX tokens are increasingly being traded on a large volume. Since that time, the users have started looking for technology to handle the challenges of exchanging or swapping on multiple blockchain platforms. They found the solution with the cross-chain swap, which plays an essential role in improving the blockchain ecosystem. This article shall discuss cross-chain swap in detail to describe its importance in the evolving blockchain ecosystem.
- In this new landscape, a premium is being placed on selecting and investing in only the best projects.
- particular blockchain deploy those tokens on different ecosystems?
- Decentralized Cross Chain Bridge – Users can deposit any coins into the protocol and mint wrapped tokens in a decentralized way.
- Binance bridge supplies a swap limit of $10,000 per wallet, ChainSwap will have a higher limit.
- Let’s say, Bob and Alice want to enter into a transaction which involves them swapping money for tokens.
CrossSwap use virtual rates to create front running unprofitable, discouraging front running, ensuring users get the most from every trade. Just choose the chain you want your USDT on and swap it with just one single click.
About Us-nobos Exchange-
The need of the entire hour is simple and intuitive swaps in one major blockchain to another. Cross-chain swaps achieve high flexibility by allowing the exchange of most tokens. Users don’t need to convert tokens into specific protocol-based tokens as they need to do in centralized exchanges. Timelock mechanism utilizes time constraints to secure the transaction on the blockchain network.
Initially, users had to decide on a centralized version of swapping tokens for just one another or fiat currencies. In a centralized exchange, the platform holds the private key of many parties swapping different cryptocurrencies for just one another. The security of the funds is in the tactile hands of the exchange, and if a breach occurs, it could lead to the increased loss of funds for users. Security breaches are a serious issue in centralized exchanges because of the custodial feature. This raised the necessity for a decentralized means of swapping cryptocurrency without the usage of a centralized body. Peer-to-Peer and Decentralized exchanges use different systems to swap tokens such as for example atomic cross-chain swaps.
How Do Cross-chain Swaps Work?
On the contrary, atomic swap confirms that either party receives valid tokens in a particular timeframe, or the transaction will undoubtedly be declared void. However, the sender gets the precise amount of token he previously put to swap back. That’s how cross-chain swap eliminates fraud and manipulation. Anyswap charges a fee of 0.4% for each and every swap transaction, among which 0.3% will head to liquidity providers and 0.1% will go to Anyswap Company. Also, a 0.1% gateway fee will undoubtedly be charged to users who use bridge to lock out wrapped assets.
- Not only that but many of them are developed within an isolated environments, plus they operate under different consensus rules.
- The transaction is executed if deposits are created within a timeframe.
- Timelock system sets time limits to secure the operations in the blockchain.
When the swap is completed, the transaction status will turn to “Completed”. After confirming on MetaMask, you have submitted the transaction. You can examine the transaction status in “Pending” in the very best right corner of the page, which shows the estimated time of arrival. It is possible to adjust the Slippage Tolerance of the cross-chain swap. ChainHop currently supports MetaMask and WalletConnect in desktop browsers.
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Before any Anyswap Working Node is working, these 6600 tokens will all be rewarded to liquidity providers. Swap and Trading Rewards are calculated on a 100 blocks basis. Each trader will undoubtedly be rewarded according proportionally to his trading volume. If there is no swap trade in this 100 blocks, 150 ANY will be rewarded to liquidity providers and 100 ANY shall be rewarded to Anyswap Working Node runners.
- This prevents users from utilizing the assets on both blockchains concurrently.
- RocketX multi-chain swaps are thereforecost-effectiveand haveminimal slippage.
- At the same time, AVAX tokens are being traded on a large volume.
- Swap to the best tokens on these ecosystems directly, without paying a cent in gas fees.
These new chains provided benefits including lower transaction costs, increased network throughput, and access to novel yield-earning activities. The global world is recognizing the significance of decentralization. Cross-chain swaps make people independent by providing a decentralized ecosystem for multi-blockchain exchange.
Get The Bestprice Onevery Swap
However, the technology was implemented in 2017 by Charlie Lee, a famous computer scientist, and creator of Litecoin. He exchanged LTC for BTC and therefore explained the mechanism of cross-chain swap. Decentralized Cross Chain Bridge – Users can deposit any coins into the protocol and mint wrapped tokens in a decentralized way. Cross-chain swaps let you exchange cryptocurrencies across different blockchains.
Smart Contract Audit
Hashed Timelock Contract is what governs the operation of an atomic swap. It is designed to act like a two-way virtual safe, while working with a hash function. A hash function may be the encryption system that protects its integrity from intruders.
Exactly What Is A Cross-chain Bridge In Crypto?
We have been crypto enthusiasts and our main intention with Coin Guides is to educate people about Cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology. We regularly publish content about Bitcoin, Ethereum, Altcoins, wallet guides, mining tutorials and trading tips. Most bridges as a way to transfer asset between chains they secure the assets on source chain and mint equivalent amount of wrapped assets on the destination chain. These centralized services that facilitate cross chain activity involve some cons such as charge of high fee for transfers, need of KYC registration etc. But these days users no longer rely on these centralized services to execute token swaps.
Types Of Cross-chain Swap
Moreover, cross-chain swaps are ever more popular among banking, energy industries, healthcare, government, and finance industries. Non-atomic cross-chain swap is when you send a particular token to a stranger on the blockchain network and hope to receive a different token in exchange. This spray and pray approach can cause fraud since the receiver can exit the process when he receives the tokens.
What Are The Forms Of Atomic Swaps?
As a result they will have no way of communicating with other blockchains. Project can set every wallet that will require tokens before launch day and schedule the release. The users can claim after the scheduled adding of liquidity then. Here’s a select few popular video lessons on how to economically and easily do cross-chain crypto transfers via Hybrid and decentralized platform – RocketX Exchange. With just1-clickyou can swap crypto across chains in a jiffy. Timelock system sets time limits to secure the operations in the blockchain.
For the Hash Time-Locked Contract to work, two encrypted keys are needed, which are the Hashlock key and the Timelock key. Hashlock key manages making certain transactions are finalized once the multiple parties involved offer their cryptographic proofs. It works whenever the party mixed up in trade fulfils its conditions. Assets on blockchain A will unlock only once the equivalent level of minted tokens on blockchain B gets burned or locked again.
Exactly What Is A Cross-chain Swap And How Exactly To Swap At Low Fees?
After connecting your wallet, you should now see your wallet address and your current chain in the top right corner of the page. And by reducing the volume of front running bots the common trader could have more opportunities to participate in the launch of a project, with lower slippage and less loss. CrossSwap will undoubtedly be integrated with the BlueZilla anti-bot methodology utilized by BSCPad for over 40 launches successfully. Projects can design their very own whitelists which are public and on chain. For instance, the cross-chain would make it possible for us to increase the amount of cryptos we use at any moment with minimal difficulty. In the event that a ongoing company or facility only takes stablecoin as payment, we may immediately exchange our BTC for USDT or USDC.
Most Popular Cross-chain Swaps
Also so as to ensure connectivity and scalability among the DeFi ecosystem the necessity to connect blockchains becomes critical. Produced by the competing wrapped-token projects and allows consumers to access the higher liquidity of native tokens, through the entire whole market. Cross Chain DCRM Node Rewards are calculated on a 6600 blocks basis . Every 6600 blocks, 6600 ANY will be rewarded to AWN runners.
Dibney: If you were to ask most costumed heroes in today’s society if they would pick Batman or Nightwing, as a possible mantle to wear? Nine and nine tenths of them would say Batman. The Cowl is a Legend, regardless of how you slice it. In Gotham it’s known as a sometime Hero, sometime Vigilante. Half-Vampire Immortal Demon. Half Sherlock Holmes, Super Genius James Bond. Out in the world Batman is known on two fronts; He helped save the world from Paralax, and he helped save the world from Alien Invasion. He’s also known for causing Gotham to fall in to despotic criminal No Man’s Land, which it has only recently recovered. All of which translates simply in to Batman being the biggest known, unknown in the Meta-Community.
Making Batman something other than the ideal candidate for tagging along on this particular mission. Not so much a mission as it is a meeting, in fact. The sign on the door window says ‘Brave and Bold Detective Agency.’ The under-lable is that of Ralph Dibny and a second name that has recently been removed. To get there Black Canary and Nightwing had to come in through the front door. Why? Because the windows to this particular office have been triple bolted with security grating. Oh and there’s no fire-escape. Plus the roof access door has boards over it. On the outside and the inside. Even when breaking those, it would seem someone has piled so much stuff in the stairwell that you’d have to unpack it for a full day to make use of the stairs. Largely the whole building is nothing short of a massive fire hazard in waiting. You basically have no choice but to come in through the front door.
And then …. walk up the four flights of stairs to get to the ‘Detective Agency.’ Because the elevator hasn’t worked since before Dinah was even alive. One might wonder how this is indicative of getting business, but just as the costumed visitors near the door? It opens in a whoosh and slams with the force needed to break the window pane with the names on it. A woman with legs as long as Dinah’s strolls out, hand to her eyes, uncorking alligator tears that only look half as bad as the heaving cry escaping overly red lips. It’s only the sound of ‘…does that mean the check’s in the mail, Ma’am?’ That really cuts through the whole demonstration.
Of course one need not be particularly observant then to see the man blinking back at the two Costumed people in the hallway. Toothpick on his lips, tie mostly undone, with hair that saw a comb yesterday but not today. He’d be attractive, by any standards, if he didn’t look like he lived in the office they’re peering through a window at. Between the chiseled jawline and the piercing eyes, he’s a looker by just about any standard. Albeit a little run down.
The inner sanctum of this particular detective? Nothing like the one who accompanied Dinah in the first place. There’s not a computer in sight. The television in one corner of the office was also born before Dinah. The room has this odd combo-scent of cigarette, scotch, and bubblegum. Bubblicious Bubble Gum at that. With a hint of three day old popcorn. There’s a desk set right in the middle of the office, but it’s got stacks of files (all paper) higher than the horns on Batman’s cowl. A table to the left, with boxes of left-over pizza that is stacked in a progressive assortment of ‘Last Month’ to ‘Last Night.’ A couch over to the right, that’s got a visible impression of being well worn and if the pillow/sheet combo is any indication it has earned that reputation.
Dibny himself is busy clearing off the second of two chairs that were in front of the desk. He spares about three whole seconds on Dinah’s legs before carefully putting the pile in his hands back in to the chair. “Look. I studied that file long enough to know those fishnets anywhere. You look like a smart Dame, so lets skip the whole sweet-talking, scotch-drinking, fun night on the couch while Cuckwing cries in his Wheaties as you try to get intel out of me. The answer to your question, all of your questions, is ‘Classified.'”
Dinah: Let the record show, for judge, jury and the kids keeping score back at home: I’m still mad at Dick, but anyone who doesn’t think I can stuff down emotions when they’re inconvenient to what I want doesn’t know Dinah Lance very well. Queen of Emotional Constipation is I believe what I was called by someone once. I think they meant it as a bad thing, but that’s a badge I’ll proudly wear basically any day of the week. My only real debate was if Grayson sticking around after our Fun Time in my room was because he wasn’t 100% sure his tactics had worked and wanted to make very, very certain, or if he’s trying to make it up to me. Honestly, my money’s on the former because I think it’s pretty well established that I like to do the ‘alone’ thing. Truth is, it’s never as simple as either, and since he’s here I’m damn sure going to use him. He seemed pretty upset that I wasn’t before, after all.
“Golly. I guess it’s a good thing that wasn’t the play I made. Looks like someone beat me to it.”
It’d be hard to have done much more to rip this place out of some Noir novella, and the inconsolable damsel whose distress assumedly hasn’t been assuaged fits right on in. It’s a trick that only really works for those that don’t actually know me, even if I’m not entirely faking the act. Make that twice in the last day that going without playing pretend was the choice I’d made. Sure, I could have lied to Deathstroke, tried to trick him, what would have been the point? Those are the kind of cards that you save for emergencies, and some impassioned explanation of why I thought this second side trip to track down Dibney had done the trick. Better than expected, actually.
This old school trash heap is pretty much right up my alley. No, really, it’s more or less what my place would probably look like, sans the smoke because that’s never been my vice, if I didn’t have an OCD roommate. Right down the low grade, but still effective against casual and not so casual intruders, security methods. Ten bucks says someone’s gotten the drop on him already and he doesn’t want it happening again, so all visitors are funneled in the way Dick and I had to arrive.
“What, these fishnets? You must be mistaken. These are new. Some kind of fancy filament to keep me from having to replace them every night.”
Among other things, step the rest of the way through the door that I’d pulled open, not skirting the shattered glass because it’s not going to puncture the soles of my boots, and I’m not sneaking up on anyone just now.
“So what I’m hearing is you’re not interested in easy way. That’s too bad. Expecting some other company, Ralph? Can I call you Ralph?”
Because if he’s clearing a second chair because he saw two of us coming up, he also already saw who was coming up, or at least that it was a pair of costumes.
Dibney: “Sweetheart, with you types there is no easy way and it’s not the nets that’re important, it’s the legs that wear ’em.”
Behind her is the former Boy Wonder. He’s in all his particular glory, looking like a svelte half-ninja half-adrenaline junkie. That’s who the second seat was going to be for. Right up until he saw the pair of them through the window. Something about the sight of them contrasted with whatever he’d seen or heard that tipped him off to their arrival. Apparently, he’d come to the conclusion that this might not be a social call. Go figure. Tipping his hand might seem suspicious, but it doesn’t seem at all like he cares one bit to play along with it.
“What? Nah. That Broad was just a client. Ex-client. Hired me t’ find her Husband. Didn’t like where I found ’em.” A moment is spared to glance over at the top folder, still laying open, on that mountain of other folders that covers the actual desk. “Ya do a good job in this City and all ya get is grief. That one? She ain’t payin the bill. Gonna spend the next couple years blamin’ the Detective for her Husband’s …inadequacies, instead of blaming the husband.”
“Got me a couple o’ those fancy filaments too. Stops me from havin t’ wear rubber suits. Alright, Doll. Can I call you Doll? Enough chit-chat. You an the Boy payin by the hour or want me t’ bill you lump sum? Lump requires a retainer…” Would you believe that the man they came here to see actually takes a step away from his pile of abused folders to start rolling up his sleeves? He’s starting to loosen up the tie when his eyes cut to Nightwing again. “…chargin double, if junior’s in. Not normally in on the funny stuff, but… like I said, read ya file.”
Dinah: “That’s pretty subjective, yeah? Some folks like a challenge. Maybe it’s a rare day where I’m in a great mood…”
I can’t really argue. I mean. I can, and I will, but he’s not without a salient point right there. After all, I carried on just fine for a long time with regular old fishnets, and made a whole lot of trouble for the people who opposed me without any tech to speak of at all. This situation could be read a number of ways, and I usually do read them a number of ways just to be prepared. Preparation is what lets you eke an edge out on someone you otherwise shouldn’t be able to beat. He doesn’t need that second chair anymore, and so clearly isn’t going to be inviting us to sit down now. Either someone else is coming or he was expecting us, and that means either he saw us come in, in which case he wouldn’t have bothered, or someone told him we were coming. There’s any number of little ‘birds’ that someone could blame for that, and sometimes? The simplest, most obvious answer is actually your answer.
“Anything except blaming yourself, right? People these days.”
The side-eye that Nightwing’s getting right now is a lot more about heading off a comment from the peanut gallery rather than any kind of nod towards this particular situation. I can’t help but wonder if those filaments of his are new, and if they’d come part in parcel with whatever his payment was for his stint as Oliver Queen. Maybe he’s still working for them, because I don’t think you ever get to really stop, and the whole building reads like someone who’s not exactly cool with his particular boogey men creeping up on him again.
“Whatever floats your boat, stretch. Oooh, there’s a retainer option? I’m going to need some more details on that before I make a decision.”
Tapping a black polished forefinger against my lips, blonde head’s cocked to the side in consideration. I do find it somewhat hilarious that he’s referring to the Boy in repeated diminutive terms, when The Boy is older than me but I have to assume he’s just trying to get a rise.
“I’m kind of particular, and there’s some qualities I get kind of picky about. Like doing what I say, with or without restraints and debateably excessive force, open honesty and trust in compromising situations… like ya said. You read my file.”
Dibney: “Yeah, no. With a side of nooooo. You, the royal you that encompasses all of you Gotham types, haven’t had a great day in a long time. Like maybe the day before birth, but probably not even then. Add that to your time in Star City and you ain’t seen the right side of a good day, much less a great day, maybe ever.”
Sleeves rolled up. Dibny is ready for a good hard days work. The only thing missing is… “It’s America. We only blame ourselves, if there’s a benefit to it. And then we deny that we ever did it, as soon as we’re suckin up the dividends.”
“Floats. My. Eh. Boat? Egads, was that an plastic man joke? Because if that’s the level of banter I can expect from you, I’m going to have to have a serious talk about the people who keep Nowhere’s personality profiles. You got like full marks for witty reparte. A plastic man joke is just phoning it in, Lady. Patrick can’t carry my shorties. That’s like comparing Boy Blunder back there to Bats. Sure he’s got all the tools, but he thinks too small. It’s like comparing Mozart to Post Malone.”
It’s pretty easy to see that the digs at Nightwing are having an effect. ‘Easy’ to a life-long detective, that’s been doing this whole thing as long as Black Canary’s namesake. He has tells, like anyone else. They’re just disguised behind moving out of a direct line of fire that would stop him from attacking, if anything happens. Attacking. If that’s what Nightwing is thinking about then it means those jabs are having an impact. Which means he thinks there’s a chance that some comment, something that Dibney says is going to cause the fight. Nightwing’s stance suggests it is inevitable, so Dibney’s response is to assume a more defensive posture. Dinah’s seen it before. After all it looks a lot like a certain old school Boxer’s posture.
“Excessive Force and Restraints? Sounds like my second marriage. Maybe the third. Tell you what. You can hum a few bars and I’ll fake it. But you’re paying the mortgage and keepin the lost puppy in the divorce. Deal?”
Dinah: “I did visit Metropolis a couple weeks back. That’s gotta count for at least part of a glimpse at one. You know. Enough to actually know what I’m missing, instead of the deluded Stockholm Syndrome.”
I can’t even take credit for the last bit. It’s Tim’s foundling’s favorite thing to say about Gotham City, or at least about the Narrows though I have to imagine she means the whole thing. We had half a conversation about her plans to GTFO as quickly as she could, and by that I mean I decided we weren’t working hard enough if she had time to tell me about stuff I really wasn’t actually asking her about. It may have been fairly effective, but I think maybe I might owe her a Dinah Lance version of an apology at some point down the line, because while I’m definitely a hard ass, there’s a few sessions in hindsight that I maybe took a little too hard. For reasons I don’t actually want to do the mental gymnastics to examine just now.
“Ooh, little sensitive about something? Because jabs at a nom de plume is kind of beneath me.” It had actually been meant as a saying but hey, if he’s going to own it and keep feeding me tidbits more power to him. And I haven’t used Nightwing’s name like an insult once. Today. Yet. So it’s not even a lie. Also, the irony. Guess that means they really don’t know who’s under the cowl, or at least that Ralph isn’t high enough on the totem pole to get updates like that. “…now you’re just talking gibberish and I can only work with what you give me here.”
Who the hell is Post Malone? None of what he’s saying is phasing me, I actually have pushed my hands into the pockets of my leather jacket, which are nice and satin and comfy, thank you Red Robin. I don’t need to look over my shoulder to be aware that Dick’s moving, or to feel the tension shift. It’s just one of those things that you either can do, or learn to do, in a fight. I don’t act like I’ve actually noticed until Dibney’s going a step further into readiness prep, then there’s an exaggerated look from him, to Nightwing, and then back.
“Are you trying to Wildcat me? Your leading foot it way too far forward. Also lacks a little bit of the Drunk, Yes or No? Mystique. How did anyone not notice that was you in Star City?”
Because no one that really knew Oliver was there to spot the fake? Oh, wait. I’m not one of those self-blaming martyr types. I’m more has to be made to eat crow, and then pretends like she wanted it all along girls. Do I want to follow suit and start prepping for an assault? Oh, sure. I’ve been robbed of good targets to vent my spleen on left and right, lately. But we kick this guy’s ass and then what? He still doesn’t give me what I want, we give NOWHERE one more black mark to wave under their ‘just cause’ flag, and I’m still not any closer to putting things right.
“You really trade in one unappreciative client that dumps you for a city full of them that don’t even pay? My files made me think I was dealing with someone smarter than that, but clearly your people and my people need to have an accurate information swap.”
Dibney: “They don’t really call it Stockholms, when it’s the whole city. That’s a pandemic. At that point they just call it buggered too all fookin shiz. English term, I don’t claim it really.”
If there’s one thing Dibs doesn’t respond to? The one about his fighting stance is it. Nothing. Not even a smirk. Nothing at all like the running jokes on Plastic Man or the diatribe on the Bat-people. That goes to speak to whether or not his fighting style means anything to him. Alternatively, she’s wrong about it and he’s poker facing her. Either way Dibs is on to the thing she said that did bother him.
“I’ve been Ollie so many times over the years, that most of his girlfriends couldn’t tell the difference. I remember this one down on her luck, freshly kicked out of Gotham, blonde dame. Let me tell you. The only thing worse than her down trodden daddy issues, was her over-inflated sense of self-importance that was directly in defiance of her complete lack of self worth. That one. Threw herself at anything that looked her direction and drank herself in to a pity party about it to save you the need to kicking her out of Olliver’s bed.”
Is that a sweet smile? You betcha. Dibs told her that he could banter all she wanted. He can also rise to or play down to the line of chatter. This? Just like her, is simple and straight forward. A shot across the bow. “Just because that was a little low, even for me, I’m gonna do you a favor and tell you one thing.”
“Wildcat learned Rope-a-Dope from Muhammed Ali. Which… is what I’m doing. You’ve got about a minute, maybe two, before they’re here and by my math? You’re going to need at least five, to even tickle me proper. Leaving you at least fifteen short of even getting me to tell you my name, rank and serial number. And you haven’t even asked the first good question.”
“I hate doing the whole Clint Eastwood thing, but.. yeesh.. your generation sucks. Fuckin Millenials.”
Dinah: “Maybe you should. Probably not anyone to contradict you here.”
I’m being downright cheerful. Sunny even, in direct contrast to the way the rest of my week’s been going. Or maybe in spite of. But maybe that’s got something to do with the oddly reassuring feel of the no longer cool metal recording device in that jacket pocket along with my balled fists. Bingo. Thanks again to Tim for making it just bulky enough to be protective, and deceptive. I’ve got a short fuse, as Dick got to see yesterday but already fully well knew about, and that’s why he’s probably still surprised his nose isn’t broken. I’ve made a relatively long career, and reputation, for speaking my feelings with blunt force. But you know what I’m even better at, and even more dogged about? Not giving someone the satisfaction of my emotions, good or bad, if I don’t want them to have them. And I don’t want this motherfucker to have them.
So of all the possible reactions that both of them are expecting to explode out of me, in this all too casual and relaxed posture that I’m in, an eye roll so dramatic that it lolls my head back on my shoulders for a moment with a groan that I’ve been told by Spoiler indicates ‘can’t even’ levels of annoyance or disbelief, is probably not close to one of them.
“Okay Boomer, don’t flatter yourself.”
Even if it would probably have gotten someone punched another day, depending on how well they knew me, but a heated response? Proof. Also, I’ve never had to throw myself at anything with legs in literally my entire life. Blue eyes settle down from out of my skull in time to pull my gaze back onto Dibney.
“Oh, please. That, while maybe Wednesday evenings kind of fun, wouldn’t have been worth the effort. I was kind of curious if you’d take the chance of doing what you actually loved again, but… never made it to the table, did it? Mysteries for another time. But thanks sweetheart. You’ve been a real peach.”
The toss of my blonde head oozes dismissive/you’re not worth my time, and I strut a thousand times better than the last woman through that door. With better legs.
“Don’t need good questions when the other guy can’t help himself.”
Dibney: “Dollface, I didn’t dump the city for a client that doesn’t pay. Queen pays better than anyone I know. Especially now.”
Is that it? Dibny is left puzzling over what has been said and how Dinah would have garnered anything about what was said in all of that. Dinah is making an exit, which leaves only Nightwing and Ralph Dibny looking at one another for a couple small moments. It ends when Dick shakes his head and turns to follow the Blonde out. He’s about to clear the doorway when Dibny speaks out…
“Hrm. It was the jab about being someone in Star City wasn’t it? But neither of us said who I was or wasn’t in Star City. She got nothing.”
Nightwing barely rolls his shoulders in a shrug at the Elongated Man behind him as he files out. “She wasn’t here for a confession for the courts, Ralph. Just confirmation. She’ll be back for that confession later.”
If Ralph Dibny has anything else to say? Neither Canary or Nightwing are going to hear it. They have started to trek down the stairs to the lobby and then the door to the sidewalk. It’s about there that the two of them will hear, more so than see, the line of black sedans that pull up out front. Agents of the Federal persuasion file out of the vehicles with a sense of dramatic purpose like an episode of the X-Files. It might be impressive, even intimidating, if not for it all being outdone by the woman who steps out of the lead car. Prompting a low whistle from Dick Grayson.
“… holy swizzle sticks Canary, I thought that SUV was a low-rider…” But no, it wasn’t. It was merely the vehicle that Agent Nowhere was being driven to the scene in. It doesn’t take a detective of Grayson’s calibre to deduce the sheer body masse that would be required to drop the suspension like that. “You take guy to all the best place. A little wine, some music, touch of dancing… with a side of hulked out super soldier. Covered all the basics. This might get you to second base, if you know… we don’t end up in a blacksite prison…”
Dinah: The way out is, while the same as it had been on the way in, taken with a fair bit more speed to it. If he knew we were coming, and is clearly still on the payroll, it’d be idiocy to think that he’s the only one who knew that, and while I’d like to put it up for debate in most circumstances whether or not we’d done anything today to get us into trouble? Don’t think anyone else is going to be doing a whole lot of listening. NOWHERE’s very much a questions later or not at all sort of crew.
God. I really want to punch someone. It’s been days since I punched anyone.
“Man. You know you’ve arrived when they send this amount of overkill for a humble vigilante and a piece of ass.”
There’s a pause, before I continue talking out of the side of my mouth. Dramatic effect, or because I was doing some mental counts, and dramatically lowering the statistical probability of bailing out of this without having to resort to violence. Which would be fine on most days but…
“Second one’s you, by the way. I don’t remember you complaining this much. And to be fair, we were headed for one anyway, so maybe they’re just doing us a favor by providing the transport.”
Shit shit shit.
“Unless you’ve got some magic in all that spandex though, I guess this is our cue to try to find.. or make… a back door. You’re probably too pretty for prison.”
Dick: “Arrived? Batman got the entire Suicide Squad. This is like three black sedans and a freak from GLOW. I’d call this a Bollywood arrival, tops.”
Both of us can do the Math here pretty easily, but where she’s trying to ascertain the odds of us escaping without violence I’m working on the angles of attack. That’s the difference between us in a nutshell in this particular moment. Not always, but definitely right now. On your average day, I’d call it a victory to talk our way out of something and she’d be the one to kick your teeth in first and ask questions afterward. It’s the opposite right now. All of which is born from our Agenda at the moment. Canary wants to get out of town with what she’s gotten. I’ve got more reasons than that, at stake here.
“That’s because you’re mentally blocking out the tidy green-whitey days to save yourself from the undeniable hotness of this ass in those shorts. Alternatively the trauma of those memories. Because I complain. A lot. About. Everything.” Batman doesn’t Complain, but oh-you-bet-your-buckies, I’m going to let you know all about the situation. “Don’t you think for one moment that I missed the fact that I was going in to situations like these with a whole lot of Yellow, Red and Green in my costume. While my partner was a silent, shadow seeking ninja. I was modern day clickbait. The distraction.”
“I was your legs. With a better ass. While Batman was the rest of you.”
“By the way. Mostly the reason I talk so much, is because it stops the bad guys from monologuing. God that’s obnoxious.”
NOWHERE: Oddly there isn’t much of that going on. The people logging out of the transports are all wearing suits, but it’s doubtful that Nightwing or Canary mistake them for anything but what they are. The only difference between Gotham Goons and these guys? They all have badges and are legalized deputies of an actual Law Enforcement Agency.
While your average Gotham Baddie would be right now speaking some vague threat, these guys aren’t even doing the casual law enforcement proclamation of ‘Come out with your Hands Up.’ To make matters even worse, once Dick’s stopped talking he points Canary to the rooftop where actual S.W.A.T. type sharpshooters are repelling from Helicopters to take up crossfire positions.
Agent Nowhere doesn’t even do them the courtesy of letting them work it out. She’s just stalking right toward Ralph Dibny’s building, as if she knows the only exit of use if the front door. Her version of ‘Come out with your hands up?’ is….
“We doing this the easy way or the hard way?”
Dinah: “Little bit before my time, old man. Also I’m sticking a pin in that Batman is All of Us thing for later discussion.”
By the time I got brought into the Cave, Dick had gotten too big for his britches, or hot pants in this case, and Bruce was on to the next Robin that I tormented like only an overly confident teenage girl can. Doesn’t mean I don’t know though. After all, it hadn’t taken a whole lot of alterations to make my Sexy Robin Halloween costume last year. As for the odds? Yeah, they’re basically zero from what I know about our new dance partner, and that’s before you factor in the rest of these shmucks who only have to wait for an opportune angle to pick us off. If I were going at this solo, my approach would be a whole hell of a lot different. It’s a whole lot easier to get a whole lot more ballsy when it’s only you with the repercussions and a nothing to lose attitude. I had this whole plan to do things differently, to try to at least go about it from sort of of sneaky high ground.
“What’s obnoxious is that she actually asked that question.”
Our only choice on the way in was the front door, but that’s when we were trying to come in sly and subtle. That ship’s sailed. Hard way gives us a lot more options, like making our own new doors. After that conversation with Dibney I won’t even feel a little bit bad about it either.
“Admittedly used to working with a different partner here, so forgive a gal some assumptions but maybe you oughta point me at either a good punch spot for a sewer exit or the least likely wall to bring the building down on our heads. Her head’s fine. Our hair’s too good, though.”
I know fully well there’s some great sewer systems. Isn’t my first time in Star City, after all. Whether there’s one here, under this particular building is another story.
Dick: “Before your time? Like I didn’t see your Bedroom walls, with the Hotpants all over them, when we did Recon on you, before you got adopted. You’re what Spoiler calls ‘Dorbs’ right now. Totally dorbs. She actually says that. When you’re not looking.”
Me? In the span of a couple heart beats, during which the monster woman has approached us and asked that soul-crushing question ( Maybe topping all the worst monologues ever. Not to mention one-upping Dinah’s to Dibny, all at once. ) I’ve gone from playfully bantering to looking at Dinah like she’s grown a third eye.
“Why. In the Hell. Would I know where a sewer exi… did you just… holyshit… did you just …” Yeah. I’m actually ignoring the predicament we’re in for one very hot minute. Because. “You just assumed because one Robin is an anal retentive, overly educated, paranoid, hyper-intelligence, plan-upon-plan-upon-plan freak, that we’re all like that. All Robins are -NOT- created equal. We each have our own unique traits. We bring something different to the table. That was extremely presumptuous of you. You’re a Robinist. That’s what you are you. Just put us all in a box and stick us in the corner. Well, Nightwing doesn’t go in to a corner, Canary. No one puts Nightwing in a Corner. No one.”
“Also. Sewer Access is always nearest the mainline, which would run from that door over there. Marked ‘Restroom’. Shutit. Not one goddamn word.”
NOWHERE: Agent Nowhere jerks a thumb over her shoulder at the door behind her. “You two clowns think I brought air support, but now sewer support? I don’t normally do this, but you’re clearly special. Speshul. So, let’s try this again. If you come peacefully there’s donuts, if not.. there’s still donuts. Just the kind you get through a straw.”
Canary: “It’s probably totes dorbs…aaaand I’m going to punch her even harder than usual when we get back…”
Because I fully believe that it is, in fact, a thing she says and it’s going to be something that must be done on principal if nothing else. There’s creative with the English language and then there’s just outright butchering it. Even worse is that it stuck enough for me to just automatically, in bantering and can’t help it mode, do it myself.
In any other moment, or situation, I’d be smirking my smuggest, most self-satisfied expression as Nightwing doth protest too much. Robins might all have different particular strengths, but they’re all Bruce Wayne’s freaking kids. And if they didn’t have all those proclivities beforehand they got drilled into them. They also all have Alfred in their ears. I may not use the tech, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a vague idea about how it works, mostly thanks to the repeated, frustrated conversations where someone tried to get me to utilize the stuff. Tim is definitely the MOST of all those particular…qualities… Dick’s just rattled off but eventually his rant gets to where we’re headed and I’m not kidding anyone. I was smirking despite the situation.
“Well, gosh, now I kind of want to have made someone trounce through shit for nothing. And donuts.”
Smirk’s a lot more questioning eyebrow now, I may not be telegraphing quite so hard as Dibney and his fucking rope-a-dope (which was also not right either), but my seemingly relaxed posture is me an instant away from motion. I assume he’s got reads on at least some, if maybe not all the anal retentive sources, and a vague idea of if we’re angling at snowball’s chance, or none, and what he’s willing to go in for here. I hadn’t really been kidding about the headed for the blacksite anyway comment. That’s not a choice I want to make for Dick, though.
Dick: “It’s so totes dorbs that it hurts me on the inside right now,” shooting a glance from Dinah to the tall woman with the dour attitude. “I’m not sure what bothers me most right now, BC. The fact that she’s being so smug about this or that you are.”
So this is what the feels like. Man, I’m heard that phrase before but it really hits home when you’re the one standing in front of what seems like an impossible situation. With a very imposing figure doling out your choices for life expectancy standing about ten feet in front of you. As we’ve covered before, I’m not Bruce, so I’ve never been the biggest bat in the room but I’m normally the one people are running from. Not the other way around.
It’s a good thing, though, that Dinah brought me along. (Like she had a choice.) Because while I’m not the most technological advanced Robin, I do have some skill to be brought to the table. Which includes a lifetime spent next to Bruce in compromising situations, by every who’s who of villains Gotham City had to offer. Each one thinking they had the drop on us and each one thinking they had all the bases covered. None of which succeeded, because we were always a step ahead. As luck would have it? We’re nearly three steps ahead here.
Dinah and I were about to leave, peacefully at that, when all these folks showed up. I was only marginally behind her when Agent Nowhere showed up and in the time she’s spent making her offer, with us bantering for time, I’ve closed that gap. For once the touch of my hand going to the small of Canary’s back is not some sort of flirting effect. It’s to guide her, when she too finds herself unable to see because I’d dropped a couple smoke pellets at our feet. She doesn’t wear the tech, she won’t hear Alfred’s directions in her ear, so she’s got to be directed a different way. Staying close also means less opportunity for life fire to hit us if they open fire.
The moment that the smoke fills the immediate space around us, I’m taking Canary -back- the way we came. Not to the sewers, not to the roof. Back towards Dibny’s office. For what it’s worth, Ralph Dibny is not hiding. He’s standing at the window watching the proceedings with a nervous sort of appraisal. Unlike when we were here seconds ago, he’s broke out a cigarette to calm his nerves. Which does a whole lot of nothing for him, once we come bouncing back in to that beat up office of his.
“It was a setup from the star. There’s no way out.”
“God you’re an idiot, I can’t even be bothered to waste some of my good material on you.” I don’t need to face Dinah to talk to her, nor do I need to see her face to tell that she’s going hate this idea. She will however appreciate me bouncing a escrima stick off of Dibny’s face. Even if she doesn’t know why I’ve done it, until she sees where the cigarette from his lips falls. In to that big stack of flammable paper he’d been shuffling around. “You’ve been working on leaping tall buildings with those vocal chords of your’s? Out the window. Don’t look back.”
“Step one: Blow the window. Step two: Sonic flight at least a two block distance from the scene, then escape on foot. You’re sporting the new suit from Tim, so it’ll mask your meta-signature once you’re not using it anymore. Step three: Get to your bike and get out of here.”
“Oooh, that look says you’re not used to being saved. If it makes it any better for you? This is going to hurt Dibny a lot more than it’s going to hurt me,” which she can probably guess why, as I’ve barely even recovered my baton, before I’m scooping up Detective Dibny to throw him over my shoulder. “Villain 1 oh 1. They think they’re the Heroes of this story. So we’ve got to make our capture the lesser of potential outcomes.”
Unconcious Dibny isn’t holding himself quite together, so I’m more.. Gathering him up, than anything and putting him partially through the broke window of that door. This is taking time and in that time the people on the outside of this building are looking for shots. So I’m avoiding the external windows, but I’m using that little bit of time we have to position Dibny between Agent Nowhere and us. All the while that cigarette is starting to catch on fire.
“She’ll save him. The ones outside we can avoid or deal with. Stop looking at me like that. You have to learn how criminals think to bring them down, BC. Adapt. Overcome. Out the window, right now. Go faster than a speeding bullet. I’m right behind you, but the first shots are going to be aimed at you.”
Dinah: “I’m sure it’s hard not being the biggest ego in the room. Actually, I wouldn’t know…”
Does the sudden cloaking of the building’s dubious lobby take me by surprise? No, if anything I keep to myself the stray thought of ‘yeesh, what took you so long?’ Probably waiting for something else to fall into place, so that the domino could tick over at just the right moment to bring us cascading to the best possible result. Look, I’m a mouthy, arrogant bitch a lot of the time but I’m also observant. In another life, much like Dibs up there, maybe I could have actually made a living out of the whole detective thing. Maybe if I’d gotten my start anywhere but Gotham I would have. My maneuvering is usually reserved for a physical fight, and the scenery surrounding it. I don’t have to Big Picture it if I’ve got a Bat with me. He’d asked why I didn’t trust him, and even if that was at least partially a baited ruse and not actual concern, this is my own personal. Private testament to the fact that I do.
All I needed was the cue.
I almost miss the best part in all of this, due to the epic eye roll that I’ve done in response to Ralph. Who is literally standing next to a way out. No kidding it’s a setup, the real question is which of the potentials can we really point fingers at for setting it up in the first place. Or who didn’t mind talking about it where a big blue bird could hear them doing it. Fortunately for me, I have really great reflexes and situational awareness so the motion of that baton being launched by Nightwing was more than enough to draw my eye just where it needed to be.
No. I’m not used to being saved. Yes, I’m rolling my eyes at the other man this time, as I round the desk and square up to the window. There’s no alarm over the fire, I mean, that seems like karmic justice just a little bit to me. Also maybe this is why Tim gets after me about the clutter at my place, or would if any got to accumulate anymore. Even I had nothing on Ralph Dibney though, I hadn’t been in a place long enough to let it get like this. It takes very little effort to take out the glass, and surrounding pane. Without, I might add, demolishing any of the rest of the wall because I’m good like that. Though the place is about to be engulfed in flames so maybe it didn’t really matter, but there’s a single short screech of concussive force.
“Gosh, it’s almost like you’ve spent your entire life figuring this stuff out…”
The urge to save my ass may override the need to argue with him, but it doesn’t at all stop a healthy dose of sass. If that’s missing, it’s when you know the shit has really, truly hit the fan. I wait until I’m actually ready to jump to plant the thick sole of a boot on the frame, because I’m not about to make myself anymore of the target that I didn’t need told I would be.
“Nn-nn, partner. Doesn’t count as saving when you’re doing your job.”
I don’t wait for a rebuttal after my wink, before I let momentum, and that foot on the edge of the hole, boost me hard out and a little bit up. Only a little bit though, have to hit the top of that arc first for a couple reasons. One, if they’re going to start shooting I want it to start in the instant of an opening, so that when I start screaming not only is it going to propel me in the direction I actually want to go, but it hopefully will do some of the work of keeping me from getting myself shot. I know how this works in theory, more than in practice. I actually spent a lot of time learning about my sonics, both from Grandma and science nerds, but knowing how it ought to go is very different from doing a thing outside of very limited practical experience.
So it’s probably a good thing that I’m an instinctual doer more than a plodding thinker. Otherwise I’d be doing a lot more ‘fuckfuckfuck’ rather than screaming. And consequently flying.
Dick: “Truth is, I am not sure that Dibny was the real enemy here,” all this talk about ego and figuring things out aside, I don’t like this whole setup because it all stinks of something even more foul than just his part in Oliver Queen’s situation. “If he was actually working for them, really on their team? He wouldn’t be here. Not like this. He seemed to be protecting himself against something just like this.”
We don’t have a lot of time to talk right now, because things are heating up. Through the broken window I can -hear- the footsteps of the woman we’re avoiding, as she advances. Outside we know from seeing them arrive that there are people on the streets and on the rooftops. We also know, because Agent Nowhere has a big mouth, that there are people in the sewer. We also know that Dibny was aware of us, before he actually saw us. Given that this place has no operable security system, nor does Dibny have powers which would lend themselves to granting him that information -and- Alfred traced no electronic communication from this building out of it. My deductions leave me believing that Dibny is not entirely to blame here, which was reinforced by how he said he’s taken Oliver’s place in the past.
He’s not out of the blame though, because he has also clearly sold out. His hands are dirty, not to say that every single one of us has clean hands, but that alleviates me from feeling much guilt over what I’m planning here. I’ve got just enough time to spare an eyeroll for Dinah though, “Yeah, yeah. Conveniently now we’re partners. Stopping us from being even. Grumble. Grumble.”
Blowing out the window the way she does is impressive. Taking the glass, the frame that holds those security grates, yet not damaging the wall speaks to Dinah’s legit skills with her meta-human power. Back in the day she would have taken the whole wall down with it. Even recently in Gotham she’s not demonstrated her skills, but now I have a pretty clear picture that she held back out of respect for Bruce’s no-meta rules. Even after he was gone.
Once she takes flight, I count the shots. One. Two. Three. Four. Equaling the number of sharpshooters we saw on the roof. They’re all training on Dinah, who’s employing a skill that no one even knows she has. Except for those of us she trusted with the information (or those of us who spied on her while she was getting lessons). Three of the shots are off wide, but the fourth is good enough that she’d have taken a hit if not for the fact that she’s moving far faster than the bullet itself. I’m not able to even perceive whether it knicks her or misses her, but because of Dinah’s surprise I’ll have the opportunity to ask her later. Those snipers are trailing her for another round of shots, which is good because that leaves them not aiming at me.
Agent Nowhere is tugging Ralph out of the doorway, which I’d used him to gum it up. He’s unconcious and she’s having to work him like a child tries to work with play dough. To her credit she’s doing it faster than I’d planned for, but to Dinah’s credit she took -all- of the attention from outside with that display. Leaving me to bound out the same window behind her, tossing a set of flash-bangs from my belt at the guys on the ground.
Between the sonic boom in the air, the flash-bangs on the ground and a rapidly spreading fire in Dibny’s office? There’s not a lot to keep us from making an escape to our bikes a block over. True to my estimate, Agent Nowhere is one of the people who believes their side to be the Heroes. She isn’t giving chase, because she actually is making an effort to save silly-putty Dibny. More importantly to me? Dinah got the confirmation she wanted and we got out of there without either of us being taken down.
Dinah: Of course Dibney wasn’t the real enemy. It might not have saved him from a punch in the spleen on any other day of the week, but there’s levels of blame. If I were to be very, very generous I could just assume he’d done it because he didn’t have a choice. That doesn’t exactly mesh with what Dick had told me, and what information I had, but there’s a whole lot of other factors at play and I’m neither naive, or innocent enough, to not at least think about them. Black and white is the purview of people with enough power to draw a stark, smudge proof line. If my grandmother wasn’t who she was, and had I not been born where I was and used the restraint I have with flexing my sonic muscle? I might have had to deal with all of this bullshit a whole lot sooner than now.
I already did. I just don’t remember it. But the timeline I’ve reconstructed places it before NOWHERE could possibly have had a reason to knuckle me under except opportunity and want. Maybe Dibney happened to be getting paid to do something that he was being asked to do by the government. But chances are the hard way, easy way discussion wasn’t just for Dick and Me. Now, you want to get into the chessboard tactic semantics with a side of paranoia and self-importance? Was this all an elaborate way to get me to put my foot even more out of line? Is this all a trap that benefits them by getting someone even more on their side in a position of power (as much ‘power’ as the Mayor of Star City can be said to have, anyway). Maybe it’s all just a little convenient.
I never like leaving a man behind. Even one that is fully capable of watching his own ass. I still go, though. It’s difficult to fully watch what’s going on around me, and I can already see this is going to need practice despite being something I’ve got very limited opportunity or place to do, because I have to keep the force waves coming out of my throat aimed downwards, so that I stay up. There’s no sudden pain, so clearly they’ve missed me. By quite a bit, though I don’t actually witness it, but a moving target is a lot easier when you’re prepared for where it’s going. I scream harder. Pushing myself higher into the air, modulating it downwards to sink erratically as I arc away from Dibney’s smoking building.
Guess it’s a good thing I’d been pushing my lung power in duration, after what Conner Luthor had told me, but at this pace a few blocks isn’t difficult. Trans-Pacific? Not so much. The problem will mostly come as I reach my target, and I realize I do have to land. It gets tricky as I have to contend with buildings, and the other pieces that make up a city, the car alarms that start squealing in my wake making it even more obvious where I’ve gone. It was a possibility, which is why I hadn’t aimed towards where we’d stashed the bikes. I cut off the sonics just a hair sooner than I probably should have, leaving me with a slightly bigger drop to the ground than I’d really wanted. It’s only Black Canary swagger, and a whole lot of knowing how to roll with punches, that keeps that from being more of a disaster. There’s a solid ‘whumf’ of the rest of the air I’d been holding being forced out, before I’m tumbling up to my feet again and already in motion. Doubling back and sprinting through alleys until I can make it to the transport.
Then it’s time to GTFO of Dodge. Or Star.
Dick: “So. You’re heading off with Slade Wilson. To track down a part of your History. This is where I’m supposed to ask you if that’s a good idea.”
Things have not exactly gone according to plan for me of late. The investigation in to Bruce’s death has hit a wall at nearly every pass. Given the combine ability of every Bat-family member involved, it is nigh-unto impossible to calculate the odds that we’d all be getting no where fast. Yet, here we are. Made all the more confounding by the ramp-up of Nowhere. Which has now played in to Damien getting himself in trouble with them. A fact that brought them in to Gotham. Damien doesn’t even realize his mistake there, with the Princess from Outer Space. He’s essentially erased a decades long agreement between Black Canary, the original version, with Nowhere to leave Gotham effectively out of their crusade.
Oh and let’s not forget. Hawk-Lady literally flew away, while I was stuck dealing with the after-math of an all out assault on her. Damien’s involvement there was absolutely baffling and with her ‘getting away,’ I’m left back at the basics tracking the Hawk-people and their ‘magic metal’ down. I’m not even sure how Damien got involved with that, but… I do know who to talk to about being in charge while I was gone. I’m looking at her.
Or rather, I’m looking at the person I thought was going to be in charge. She’s apparently got something to do too. “Dinah, do I really have to tell you how preposterous it is that Slade fucking Wilson shows up. With the kind of information he’s throwing to you. At exactly the moment we need you in Gotham most? Much less with his hat in hands and willing to help you with Ollie?”
“…and Tim is letting you just… go off on your own?”
Dinah: “I wouldn’t call it with so much as Deathstroke adjacent. And when is anything we do a technical good idea?”
Because on paper, going to a concrete war with mobsters and psychopaths toting guns and acid while wearing lingerie and boots sounds like an absolutely terrible one. Fighting an army of criminals with minimal, no matter how skilled, backup to call on is essentially in the same boat. We could go on to talk about well armored Halloween costumes and not sleeping while maintaining double lives. The list goes on. And it doesn’t stop a single one of us. So really, the determining characteristic of whether or not an idea is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in these parts seems to come down to whether or not you’re the one doing it.
“And no. You really do not. Why the hell would you even think that I haven’t run all that through the over-thinker a time or six? It boils down to what it always boils down to, and I shouldn’t have to tell you that. It’s about what’s in it, or not in it, for him.”
Clearly he’s been talking to his brother. Or alternately getting into the computer, though I have to assume it’s more of the former. There’s a pause in my unceremonious packing of a duffel bag, aka cramming clothing in a wad into its interior, and a puff of breath to get blonde hair out of my face as I look over my shoulder at Dick. The last time we had a one on one conversation I had the distinct impression that he was trying to get a certain answer out of me, and not listening to the words that I actually had in his quest to get them. I also ended up very annoyed, and so here I am. Debating already if I want to instigate a fight or to not give anyone else a reason to try and interfere in all this. Especially when I’d managed to get out of one round of this with his brother better than I’d expected.
“Y’know. I really can’t decide if I want to coo at you over actually saying out loud that you need me, or go the righteous indignation route for using ‘Tim’ and ‘let’ in a sentence. Tim wasn’t invited, and hopefully will stay busy with his protege and not try to tag along anyway.”
Neither is anyone else, for that matter. But I think he’d gotten the message well enough. Gotham doesn’t need to be involved in this, and no matter how much I might insist that Gotham is as much my home as it is any of theirs, that one little gene makes for a line. A line that also was, up until lately, an unspoken boundary around the city. One that doesn’t need to get any more blurry than it already is. Besides. I’m actually quite good at identifying my personal quirks and foibles, and I know I can’t sit on this particular situation any longer.
“They’re threatening family. So I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth. That’s how you get bit. So why are you here, exactly?”
Dick: “We both know, maybe better than any two people have a right to, that there is absolutely no such thing as Deathstroke adjacent. The man utilizes over ninety percent of his brain. Most people never use more than ten percent. Me and you? Forty, tops. He’s next level and he’s got some sort of an angle in this. Engaging him, even adjacently if it were possible, without knowing his angle? Is like hugging a hornet nest with the hope of not being stung.”
By this point in the conversation I’ve switched from hanging out at the doorway, to actually making sure she has to see me by crossing in to her line of vision. I want her to see that I’m not in the Batman’s costume. Nor am I here with that stone cold face of distance. I don’t want her to do this and I’ve come without a mask so that she can read my features and know the truth. First rule of engagement with Dinah, pick your battle wisey. Second rule is to choose the right weapon.
“A lot of research was done on those implants, Dinah. Tim told you everything he could find, but did he tell you that Bruce knew about all of this?”
Clues within a clue. I’m giving away something for free; Tim didn’t go behind Dinah’s back to give me a total debriefing of their discussion. At the same time I’m also laying on the table that I know more about that aspect of it than Tim could have uncovered from notes on one of Bruce’s files. Bait, that’s what a comment like that is and I’m not an idiot, so I know that Dinah knows exactly what I’m doing. Which is why I have to throw something else out there.
“I know my little brothers, Dinah. As good as you are. You couldn’t stop Damien or Tim from being Damien or Tim, without permanent damage. Maybe not even then. So. Yeah, I’m asking if Tim let you go. You’re choosing to take it as my saying he could prevent you, but I mean it as a question of whether he is allowing you to go without a struggle of some sort? No argument? No drones keeping tabs on you?”
This is the second time I’ve felt the twitch of the detective side of my brain screaming at me over this topic. Unlike last time when I couldn’t put my finger on it, this time … I came a little better armed for the discussion. Pick your battles -and- your weapons, remember? “One of the most frustrating things I’ve dealt with since getting in to this life? Is this whole ‘Family’ idea. Bruce hated it, you know? I mean he thought of all of us as family, don’t get me wrong, but he thought of the whole idea of us being a ‘Family’ as a bad idea. Alfred pushed him in to it. He knew Bruce needed an anchor. Something to keep him from crossing that line. A tether of sorts that would hold the darkness at bay. Originally that ‘Family’ started with me, Dinah.”
“I’ve been the one pushing this family agenda since day one. I’ve fought for it. Pushed it. Kept it alive. Time and time again, Bruce would pony up to the table and tell us all to go away. Or worse, he’d put the weight of the entire family on his shoulders. Lock the rest of us out and go cowboy on some issue to protect us. Time and time again, until I had enough of it. Until I couldn’t take it any more and walked away.”
“Who drug me back? Who made the big speech about doing my part and protecting my family when they needed me most? Spoiler Alert: It was you. Now you are going to go maverick, with Slade Wilson and you think. Wait. Here’s the Clown Prince of Jokes. You actually think that I’m going to let you go off half-cocked when this City… and this Family needs you most?”
“So. I’m asking you. Seriously. Did Robin give you permission to go?”
Dinah: “So if you have to hug that hornet’s nest, you go in with a suit and do it at arm’s length. There’s any number of easy angles, which means that they’re probably not the correct, or only, ones. Whatever it actually is, he’s motivated.”
Information is a good one, and even if they hadn’t started messing with people that I care about and pushed the issue, information would have eventually led me down this path. Knowledge. You can’t brag about knowing yourself, only to then find out that you really don’t, and not have that stick in your craw. I might have been able to hold off a lot longer, go about it in more long game ways and taken time to gather resources that were not homicidal mercenaries, but it was still only a matter of time before I did it nonetheless. That was when it was just about me. But it’s not anymore. It’s about Ollie. It’s about Roy. It’s about that blurred line. Because if they’re targeting non-metas, no matter their reasoning for that targeting, then who’s next? Tim? Lian? Dick and Alfred?
There’s a very high probability that this is a trap. I’m not stupid, I’m not even especially trusting. That’s why I’m still alive. And if it is, their choice of bait has only made me even more certain that I’m going to make them pay for this. And it’s going to hurt. And it’s going to stick and the whole damn world is going to know about it.
“No… but I made an educated guess.”
And I was even butt-hurt about it for a minute or two when I realized it. Those minutes weren’t even when Red Robin was giving me the information that he had in the first place, so much as after my initial discussion with Slade. There wasn’t much that went on here that Bruce hadn’t known about, but knowing him made it absolutely impossible to believe that he would have missed that assault on Arkham. And having not missed it, that he wouldn’t have found out about the participants. Which leads to…
“I’d even bet you five bucks that it’s actually why he brought me in, in the first place. You know. Adjacent to the fact that he couldn’t seem to help himself when it comes to orphans, and not wanting me to really futz up the status quo with my wanting to be heard.”
Because it had never been just to help me. That was an end result of course, giving me that family which he supposedly hated and seemed to instinctively amass just the same. I really can’t fault the reasoning, and maybe were he alive I’d get a little more righteous about him not telling me. But…
There’s no skulking in the shadows of my apartment, or even especially looming which means I can’t really call him Batdad, but it also means that he’s got a reason. Or maybe just knows that trying to get me to not do something by trying to order me around in the cowl is only going to push me in the opposite direction. So I do him the moderate favor of pausing in my preparations, straightening my posture with hands on my hips. It’s a more relaxed posture than one of defiance, mostly because of the inquisitive tilt of my head. Even if I am muttering under my breath.
“Drugging doesn’t even work, either… Drones are kind of a given, especially now that he’s sonic proofed them, and he didn’t argue so much as spin out my logic and then not really fight me on it.”
Honestly, he’d fought me on it a lot less than I expected. Because what I’d expected was bribery. Of him withholding his help on the technical aspect that I didn’t have a prayer of figuring out on my own, unless I took him along even though I hadn’t thought Tim was in any shape for much of anything. I’d tried to bench the guy after the Iceberg, and the second I’d turned my back he’d gone out anyway, with someone that really wasn’t good enough to pick up the slack and keep him safe.
“You were half-back on your own, Dick. And even me ranting and scolding couldn’t make you do this if you didn’t have your reasons. So while I appreciate the warm welcome, and have every intention of being here for my family, I’m not exactly the only one with multiple irons in the fire here.”
He’s doing it again. Asking me the same questions over again, when I already gave an answer and Dick’s a lot of things but forgetful and dense aren’t really among them. Barring some sort of cranial injury that has messed up his short term memory that I hadn’t heard about… there’s a clucking sound of annoyance as I suck my teeth at him, arms moving from my sides to folded across my chest.
“We discussed it. He told me to go and that he’d man Fort Gotham until I got back. Why are you harping on this? I don’t need any of your permission.”
Dick: Drones probably are a given. Honestly. That’s beside the point that I’m making here, but I should really look in to the whole drone thing. Oh, hey. Irons in the Fire, by example. Right, so I’m going to need to escalate my plan of action here aren’t I? “Sucker’s bet there, Dinah. I was there, remember? I was always trying to get in his head. He was always trying to let me, too. He wanted me to become him. Oddly, I’m unique in that way. He never wanted this life for Tim. He regretted that Damien was forced in to this life before he even got a choice. You? He wouldn’t have gotten his friend’s Grand-Daughter in to this life. You were already in. He brought you in to protect you.”
“…and to get to the bottom of the whole mystery…”
“Which brings me back to the point. I was there.” Two of us can put our hands on our hips and I just might be the one person she knows who has more shapely ones than herself. “I was there and you haven’t asked me what I know.”
“Wait. Stop. You’re going to launch in to some witty retort. For once, let me talk. Not just because I like the sound of my voice, but because I’m good at this Dinah. I want you to think about what I’m saying and what I’m about to say. Really. Think about it. Walk through it like Bruce taught you. Like your Dad would have. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane. You’re not the side-kick type. So what is Tim? A friend? Little brother-type? I’d buy it. He needs a Batman, you’re his best option. But you care about him. Natural. Makes sense. We have a similar connection, but… if I tried to take you out of the field and make you a trainer you’d kick my ass. Or at least, you normally would.”
“That was actually the first clue. I couldn’t understand it. Barb thought maybe you were crushing on my little brother, but I couldn’t see it. Until I started to look closer. But then you denied it. Hard. I mean like stone cold hard. So I started to re-examine my clues. There were a number of them. I started with your return to Gotham. Then I started to piece oddities together. Your shift from keeping Tim at arms length to letting him slowly open the doors. You two became the new dynamic duo. But I couldn’t get past your denial. You’re self-awareness is keen, even more so than my own. So I started to back-track. When could I pin-point your first shift…”
“Moping around the apartment, when Tim didn’t listen to you.
“Coming to me to protect Tim.
“Not breaking Damien’s arms for murdering people.
“Letting me taser you.
“Taking in Tim’s stray to train…
“Staying in Gotham, to be Robin’s partner in the field.
“Everything. Every little squiggle of this centered around Robin. Robins. So maybe you were just being protective. Momma Bird. Right? As much as I wanted to think that, you’re more of a mock us until we do what we should have done in the first place -or- go do it your damned self type. So.. I just couldn’t let it go. Not after our last talk.”
Gesturing finally for Dinah to follow, I take about three whole steps needed to cross her floor and point to the little eye-in-the-sky drone that most people wouldn’t notice out across the street. “You’re the one who said it yourself. Drones were a given. They have been since he came back to Gotham. So, I took a page out of the book of the guy that’s been hacking the Batcave’s system. I asked Alfred to access them.”
“Fifteen Seconds. One of Tim’s drones tracked you. You were with Jervis Tetch for fifteen seconds according to that drone. Then Robin interrupted him. You told Robin that you had no memory of what was going on for those fifteen seconds. But you’ve been nicer to the three Robins in this City than you’ve ever been before.”
“So. Dinah. I have a hypothesis. Ready? Can you keep packing that bag, if I tell you that Robin is lacing himself with a chemical that is going to drive him insane in order to repair his body. Because -he- can’t stand the fact that you benched him? Listen to me closely. Can you even try you finish packing with the idea of leaving? You know, intelligently, that I’m capable of stopping Timothy. But can you, are you capable of even thinking of leaving without tending to it yourself?”
Dinah: He’s right, I was about to retort and it wasn’t going to be witty in this instance so much as snotty, because no. I don’t remember and that’s the entire problem. It was also before my first introduction in a personal way to anything Bat, or Batlike. That I knew of. So while I might have learned the timeline after the fact, I couldn’t have known for sure if he had been there or not. Now. Maybe if I wasn’t still a little pissy about him tasering me I might have thought to ask but I hadn’t needed to, because I had Tim and he’d been pretty damn happy to have me actually ask for his help on something.
I do actually let him talk. Much to my credit, right? I may like to talk, but I don’t need to in order to make a point. I do that with fists. Though not right now. Right now I employ my expressive face, and some body language so that there’s no missing what I think about any number of his points with quirks of my lips, or what starts to threaten to be blue eyes rolling to one side or the other. So I let him talk. And I wait. And I build up my tirade of a reply one little building block at a time. I’ve got a good memory, after all, which is another reason why the entire situation with the Suicide Squad was so goddamn obnoxious.
“I did not mope, he was going to get himself killed and me telling him so was only going to wreck his confidence and make it happen even more quickly, one of you two ought to muzzle Damien, but mostly we didn’t need our ranks thinned mid-ninja invasion, Stephanie Brown is also going to get herself killed without a whole lot of instruction, and Bruce was my family, too. Just like Gotham is my home, and I’m not staying for the purpose of being anyone’s partner.”
Okay so maybe skipping over the letting him taser me bit was telling, but if I’d protested that I hadn’t let him, then that would be admitting the lack of the ability to anticipate it, or to prevent him. I definitely haven’t forgotten. Oh no. I’m biding my time for a suitable opening on that slight. And as glorious as that imagined revenge has been in my head a time or two, it’s really not what I’m going to dwell on right this moment. Because I’m trying to understand what he’s getting at, without having to insist for what feels like too many times that I don’t have a ‘thing’ for his brother. He’s a little young for me, for the least of the reasons I might want to throw out there.
Gah. The damn drones. I’d gotten good enough at spotting them, that I think i’ve stopped trying to do it, and so…
“Is this a hypothetical situation or is he actually…”
The speed and sharpness with which my eyes have narrowed, and my brows pulled together actually makes my forehead feel a little twitchy, because I find it hard to believe that Tim would do something so stupid, unless he felt he didn’t have a choice, and then I’d like to think he’d invent or devise another one anyway. Or that someone would stop him. My expression stays focused and pensive, and my lips parted mid sentence as my brain… I realize it’s churning through its own hypothetical like it can’t puzzle out a result when it’s a very simple question he’s asked me. Of course I can finish packing. There’s not even much to finish, because I don’t really travel heavy. Don’t require tech and gizmos and gadgets when my weapons are usually just me, myself and I.
“He told me to go.”
Why is that my answer? Whether I was told or not has zero pertinence, because I was going to go anyway. I had just done Red Robin the courtesy of warning him. Mostly because I wanted to make sure Spoiler was getting training from someone who wasn’t me. I’d been so frustrated and in need of a pressure release after the phone call I’d gotten from Fake Oliver that I’d taken a sparring session far, far too . Well . Far. If I hadn’t told him, and he realized I’d gone, it would have only made it that much more likely that he’d follow me, and we couldn’t all be gone.
Dick: “Mm. Do you know how many times Barbara told me to go when she stuck in that wheelchair? I lost count. She meant it too. It was actually more painful for her to know that I was witnessing what she was going through, than it was to actually go through it. Babs wanted to be out there. Doing what we do. It got taken away from her, when she wasn’t even in uniform. She just opened the wrong door and bang…”
We’re not normally the close knit types. Oh, family might be what we say but it’s not always what we are. Our sort of little family talks usually involve teasing one another until the other submits. Or beat the crap out of each other in a spar/fight or video game. We don’t have heart to heart talks like this. So why are we having this one?
“Tim got put out of the game, when he wasn’t even in uniform. Doing something he’s done a thousand times. He took a fall the wrong way, because he couldn’t give away that he knew how to take a fall. He was protecting us. All of us, but mostly you at the time. He probably needs surgery. We all know it. You know it, you’re the one that pulled his wings. Why did he tell you to go, Dinah? Do you think he wants you to see him like that? Not a chance. He wants you to believe in him, Dinah. His time as Batman was singularly fueled by your belief in him…”
“And he’s going to do whatever it takes to make himself good enough to be that partner. Including the use of experimental Wayne Corp nano-probes that are fixing his shoulder. Lucius Fox reported it missing from the lab, during Tim’s overnight disappearing act while you grounded him. He went ‘shopping’ while he was out on the town. Lucius’ report to Alfred says that all the trials have resulted in ‘aberrant behavior’ in the test subjects, prompting the tests to be black listed.”
One thing I -do- know right now, based simply upon the look she’s got on her face, I’m not going to be able to break through what Tim said to her. I’ve got to do this a little bit different. “Back to my hypothesis. The Dinah that I know would never leave Tim to something so dangerous. Even if her mission was important, it’s been laying dormant for years so it’s not time sensitive. That means you don’t have to go. Unless you have to obey Timothy. He did tell you to go, like you said.”
“That Dinah. Always obedient. Sounds just like her. That’s what they say.”
Dinah: I could continue to argue this with him, but it feels much like our last conversation. Only this time he’s not in a cowl and interrupting my movie. I’m going to answer his questions, that I don’t actually have to answer. He’s going to ask them either in a different way, or more irritatingly the exact same one, over again. It’ll turn into a cycle that will continue to ramp until one of us gets irritated enough to cut our losses and bring it to an end. Tim and Barbara aren’t the same people. No matter the similarities he’s drawing between these two particular events. I’m clearly not the only one concerned about him, and if his actual family isn’t moving to put a swift stop to his behavior then why do they expect me to do it?
“Well. My personal guess is that he knew full well that I’d be going anyway whether he said it or not, and it was a way of taking on what I’m foisting back onto him without saying as much. Or because it’s a way of seeming to acquiesce while having every intention of meddling via tech and drones and whatever else he has at his disposal because medi-nano-whatevers? I’m sure there’s even fancier things in those vaults.”
I make a show of snagging the trailing sleeve of a dark sweater that I’d actually discarded from my planned packing, wadding it up and cramming it into my bag. See? I can pack just fine, thank you very much, even though I know he couldn’t have meant the physical aspect of it, so much as the mental follow through. But the act is.. actually more difficult than it should be. Not physically of course. I had no problem taking this course, and nothing Grayson’s actually said is enough to sway me because I don’t intend to be gone that long. His disapproval actually is a non factor. That much I know for sure. The fact that I hadn’t had to argue and cajole his brother to stay in Gotham had been a surprise, and if anything his willingness to stay and keep things safe (ish) in Gotham had been like a giant weight off.
“Are you really accusing me of being obedient over something I decided to do, marched into the Nest and told him I was doing…” Okay not really in those exact words… “And am now trying to get onto doing, even with you standing here griping at me about it? It stopped being dormant, and something to be backburnered Dick, when people’s real names started getting named. When me being here is going to bring them here again, and I assume you know they really don’t need much of a reason at this point.”
Superman’s already been and gone a few times. Wonder Woman turned up. The alien that crash landed. I made myself a little too interesting and tipped the balance of my grandmother’s agreement.
“Do you want to maybe just tell me in simple terms what it is you’re actually wanting me to say right now? I really don’t actually have to explain any of his to you, but hey. I might also point out that the ‘Dinah you know’ has bailed on Gotham before without actually having intentions to be back. So unless you have advance knowledge of the League coming back for round two, or some other immediate looming threat that is something you want to tell me you cannot handle…?”
Dick: “You’re not wrong. There is a lot worse in those vaults,” it almost seems to be an after-thought, the topic of the vault. “Or rather, there was. It would seem that Timothy took somewhat took care of that issue. As a means of preventing whomever has been attacking the Bat Cave from finding that sort of weaponry.”
Her point is actually a really good one. Timothy is my brother. Just as Damien is. I -should- be there for him, physically in person, but that’s the strange truth of Bruce’s philosophy. Doing that would take me away from what is actually going on out there, beyond Gotham City. A point that I think Dinah herself was espousing to Tim and I not so long ago. Her own argument about this Slade-business is that exact point of view; She could back burner it until it began to impact more than just herself.
“You’re going to have a hard time swallowing this right now, but I can’t. I’m pursuing a lead that might flesh out the entire situation in Khandaq. I only even became aware of the situation in Gotham, because Damien showed up at a location that I was investigating. Apparently your Kryptonian boy-pal decided to give him a choice between being useful in Khandaq or being put in jail for the entire Alien debacle there in Gotham.”
“Dinah,” starting over after a brief pause to pivot my approach to something a little more palatable to her. “I want you to say that you’ll tend to this Timothy matter, but I don’t think you can. Tim told you to go, so I don’t think you’re actually capable of doing anything but exactly what he said.”
Dinah: “And the situation in Khandaq is your problem why?”
I don’t actually need him to answer that question, though. Because he’s following through, once again, with something that Tim started. Tim, as the Batman, ventured out of Gotham and publicly worked with this Wonder Woman. With the new Flash. Why settle for one Pandora’s box being thrown open when you can manage a baker’s dozen? I know Bruce had his fingers in all the pies, but he’s not Bruce. He doesn’t have to be. That was where Tim was going wrong, even as I think he was also going right in other things.
“That does sound like my Superfriend. But let me get this straight. You had enough time to watch drone footage, do some other research, and drop in to badger me about this, and yet not enough time to go have a bro-talk with him yourself?”
The set of my mouth is expectant, if not exactly patient as he tries to swap tacks again. This feels like bait, like he’s trying to provoke me into a certain reaction only I cannot for the life of me fathom what it is. No, that’s not true. I just don’t know the purpose. Is Dick trying some reverse psychology bullshit to steer my actions? There’s a low, soft growl in my throat as I yank the zipper on the duffel closed, and push a hand through loose blonde hair to try to calm my irritability a little.
“Jesus Christ, Dick, do you hear yourself? You can’t say I’m someone’s puppet for doing exactly what I was already doing before they were even aware or involved. I. Will. Handle. Tim. If Tim is something that still needs handling when I get back, even though it shouldn’t be me that needs to do it, and with the track record of him not listening to me last time. Do you want to also tell me that I’m going to watch my ass around Wilson only because someone else told me to be careful? Or maybe breathing only became a good idea after some stray ‘deep breaths’ comment??
I don’t need to be half the good read of people that I actually am to know that Red Robin wouldn’t be at all pleased if I were to suddenly and abruptly reverse course to hang around and mother, and scold and nag and hover over him.
Dick: The snort that makes it past my otherwise unemotional veneer is simply because, “Wait. You don’t get to ask that. Not when you talked me in to taking the mantel over when I thought he was doing a good job. Making the Bat a symbol for hope again. It’s the only reason I agreed to do it in the first place.”
One thing that people easily mistake about Dinah, she’s as good with her mouth as she is with her firsts. Equal opportunity weaponry. She’s using the former as a means of trying to knock me off the path of attack. All deflection without actually answering my accusation. That part, I at least understand. Because she’s right about a lot of things. We three brothers haven’t exactly been playing the part very well. Who would have thought that Bruce was the glue binding the three of us together. These days we work independent of one another to such a large extent that none of us even know what the other is doing most of the time. Unless you account for the spying on one another. Which is mostly Alfred doing it, then sicking one brother on the other to keep them in line.
I’m not rising to that particular bait though. Not this time at least. “Despite what a couple of my ex-girlfriends might think, I actually can’t walk on water. Compliment noted however. Chicken or the Egg question, by the way. I’m not going to follow you down that rabbit hole Alice, beyond pointing out that if you had made up your mind to go? Your normal m.o. would have been to blown town before a loved one could try to stop you. Taking your own argument for example, you went against your own nature by going to Tim for permission.”
“But,” a hand finally comes up to make a very soft gesture to the packed bag. “The truth is, I really don’t have time to go have a bro-talk with him. Nor do I have time to keep trying to get through to you. So I’m going to make this easy Dinah. You might not even need to go with Slade, because we have the case files from Bruce. If you’d have come to me, I’d have shared them with you originally. Take care of Tim, Alfred will bring you the case files.”
“Here is where you lash out again. Bark at me some more about your mind being made up. Here is where you argue with me, when presented with an opportunity to have actionable intel, in order to do as you were told.” With this comes a resolved shake of the head and a soft sigh that brings a hanging of my head with it and the rummaging of a hand in to the vest pocket for a thumb drive. “Alright. Well, if you’re going at least take the intel from Bruce’s case files…”
Dinah: “He was doing a good job. He was also trying way too hard to be an ideal, and wasn’t playing to the strengths that would have kept him alive while doing it.”
I still can’t believe he was trying to do the job without his ‘signature’ weaponry. Maybe there would have been the crook out there who would have picked up on the fact that he was fighting differently than Batman used to, but chances are that crook is also one that likely already had noticed that something was up in the vigilante corner of the ring. Or maybe Gotham would more correctly be a Thunderdome. I might not often use my meta-powers, but I’ve had every bit as much practice, maybe even more, in using fists and feet and the rest of the my body.
“And you and I both know how that would have gone, Dick. I didn’t want him following me when he realized I was gone. Or saw me heading towards the city limits with a drone. Not when I already don’t think he should be anywhere but resting that shoulder, and here there’s at least other distractions. So, sure. I made a tactical choice.”
Tim doesn’t want to hear from me that I don’t want him slowing me down. That’s not something you say to a partner. Not if you want to maintain that relationship at any point in the future. And that’s what we’ve been working as. And we were before my run in with Tetch. I let the guy crash at my place before that, too. We’d been unable to figure out what exactly, if anything, the Mad Hatter had been able to talk me into during that time I don’t have memories for but it’s completely ludicrous to believe that it would have been to obey one of the Bats. Or all of them. I think my interactions ought to be proof enough that it’s definitely not the latter.
“You’re busy. Remember?”
Okay, so that isn’t fair entirely and while I’m not going to apologize for making it sound like I’m faulting him for being occupied in doing something that I actually do think is important, and good, the cluck of my tongue and the momentary wince is at myself and not Dick.
“No, I’m not going to, even though I’m pretty sure you’re actually trying to bait me into screaming you out that window over there. Barking at you is working as well as cajoling did on Tim. I’d worry that I was losing my touch if it were another week than this one.”
And I am going. So I hold my hand out, palm up, expectantly. It isn’t just about intel though. There’s a lot of this I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain or justify, and maybe he’s just caught up in this nonsense. To go from accusing me of having a thing for a teenage boy, to deciding that it must be mind control. There’s some things you can’t get just from information, like sussing out what Wilson’s part in this is. That? I need to be there for. I also need feet on the ground to make someone hurt for hurting Ollie. And past all of that? It’s just the way I work.
“So if you were there, why didn’t you bring it up before now? I know why Bruce didn’t. Because he’s… was… you know what, never mind. Apparently ain’t no one got time right now.”
Dick: “Originally I never brought any of this up with you because Bruce would have never allowed it. Not to mention, I actually sort of agreed with him. We didn’t really know all we know now about Nowhere, so all we knew was that some very highly placed government officials sanctioned a squad of suicidal super-people to do something in Arkham. We didn’t even know what at the time. Faced with the very real possibility that a headstrong Girl with a bad attitude might get herself killed trying to find answers? Bruce did what Bruce does and kept it all internal.”
“And for some real full disclosure, Dinah, I really hate the fact that once again Bruce is right. A decade later, he’s still right.” One more sigh for the road, but this time it comes without the hung head as I put the thumb drive in to her hand. “In more recent times, I didn’t bring it up because… because the real truth is that we, collectively, have a lot of things pulling at us. You wanted me to step in to the mantel, Dinah, right? You knew what that meant and frankly, I think you’re being a little silly about not at least giving me a little benefit of the doubt here. Being the Batman can be about inspiring Hope, it can be about solving crimes and cleaning up the City… yada yada yada… but it’s also at the very core? About being the Leader. Hell, you make fun all the time with your Bat-Dad jokes.”
“I made the choice to prioritize the problems, the cases, we’re all dealing with. Starting with ‘the potential end of the world as we know it’ crisis in Khandaq. Does that mean I love my little brother(s) any less or that I don’t want to help you with all of this?”
Has this discussion spiraled a little too far abroad of the reason I came here to begin with? I don’t like what I’m becoming reasonably sure is the situation before me, but I really do have to prioritize. I can’t drop every single thing I’m dealing with to try to convince Dinah that something is wrong. Just like I can’t stop pursuing these Hawk people just to stage an intervention for one of my little Brothers. I’m realizing all too quickly what made Bruce in to the man we all love/hate. These decisions eat at you, you can’t stop that.
So you just have to make the decisions be something you can live with. Right? “One thing. Just to be clear. You never asked for my help. Not once. Not even a hint at it. Yet, I’ve found the time twice now to be here trying to offer it. How do you even know that I haven’t tried to do the same with Tim or Damien?”
“When you’re ready to ask for help, I’ll be there. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel,” pointing the finger-gun at her duffel bag on my way through the door of her apartment. “For someone that isn’t hung up on someone, you may have just packed Tim’s underwear in your overnight bag.”
A few seconds later, from just beyond the door of her apartment. “Hah! Made you look.”
“And my inner cynic can’t <i>not</i> chime in with ‘and not at all because it would make for juicy just in case leverage to use later against one of the only operating metas in the city.'”
Cynical sentiment or not, I can’t even really fault it. One of the many reasons besides his not being here any longer to be mad at that I’m not. Mad. Now, Dick would make a better target for it, but with my not remembering it could also have just been a matter of why bring it up if I don’t need to? There’s any number of reasons to not share something like that, and while I would have preferred to not have been caught flat footed when Slade Wilson showed up wanting to be chummy old pals it is what it is.
“The moment I stop making fun of you is when you can bet I have <i>actually</i> been mind controlled. Or whatever this is you think is supposedly going on. You’ve got a lot on your plate, I get it. I can juggle plates, too. Ollie and Roy and Diggle are <i>my</I> family, too.”
And frankly I trust the Batcrew in residence a whole lot further than I do the Arrows at this particular moment in time, to be able to keep their shit together long enough for me to deal with something else. How do I know he hasn’t tried to bash some sense into his brothers already? I don’t. Though if it’d come to actual blows I think I would probably have noticed the marks on someone, especially as much time as I spend around the youngest of them.
The only ‘looking’ that goes on with his jab is an exaggerated eye-roll towards the ceiling, as he’s on the way out. Psh. Please. Has he not seen that Red Robin suit? Even if there were underwear under that thing, Tim is far too OCD to leave any laying around. That’s <i>my</i> shtick, not his. Once I’m alone, I steal the luxury of wasting a few moments rubbing my face with the heels of my hands. Letting my brain tumble at a less aggressive responsed pace to the suggestions/accusations that he’d just made. Yeah, no, still sounds just as crazy as it had at first blush.
Maybe I should just go have a nice, quiet chat with Tetch on my way out to settle this once and for all.
What lengths would someone go to for family? It was a question she asked herself time and time again. She found herself faced with that question over the years and sometimes, no matter whatever drastic measure she may have taken, it didn’t always end the way she hoped. She would hate herself more for not trying, at least in her heart knowing she doing everything she could and everything that was within her power without breaking any fundamental laws.
She looked for leads in all the dark places. The Order of St. Dumas was slippery and to some, not even believed to be around anymore. They had fizzled out and splintered over time like so many other things that were as old as that order was. The landscape had changed, faith had changed, humanity as a whole had evolved. It didn’t mean they weren’t there, and the lead that ‘Batman’ had given her was something she had thrown herself into following while still keeping an eye out on the events turning in Gotham city. She had been benched from the larger activities. Leaving Faust to observe the players and to analyze the data as he would. Following that was crucial to maintaining the role she had created for herself. She could have pulled rank, she could have put her entire hand of cards down and set things to the truth. Part of being involved with NOWHERE was also knowing when to hold those cards and when to show them. Her involvement was a sacrifice she made but it allowed her opportunities that may not have been afforded to her before.
This wasn’t some bar in Gotham that she was at. She had easily hopped over to the City of Angels without too much effort.What was less easy was slipping into the bar and attempting to look like any other patron. It wasn’t as easy as simply strolling in and getting the attention of who she sought right away. There was a game to be played just like there was anywhere else.
There was the lack of a stage however, the only central figure of the room being the glossy black piano that stood imposingly around the rounded seating areas, the fine wood tables and the perimeter surrounded by more seating and the glowing feature of the bar.
Zatanna’s dress tended to evolve with the environment. While she was the showman in battle and on the stage, she knew how to blend into an establishment like this. The long cocktail dress with a slit that traveled up the length of her leg and ended at her hip, a hugging corset made of a contrasting ivory silk, black ribbons that crossed against her back and trailed down from the bow that was expertly tied. Even her hair was placed into waves that cascaded to the side, reminiscent of the 40’s style many actresses had worn.
As she strolled by the piano she reached into the center of corset, pulling a single white rosebud out from a space that seemingly had no room to spare for such a delicate flower. Carefully, she placed the rose on the piano.
Many gods had altars and expected offerings in order for their prayers to be heard, perhaps this was no different. A respectful and beautiful offering for perhaps only a moment of time from the owner. She glided to the bar to wait, ordering an old-fashioned that seemed quite appropriate for the atmosphere and the bittersweet endeavour she was about to undertake.
The Lux. Named in part after the Devil’s favorite word, it stands as a beacon to that singular word; Luxury. For at the Lux anything you desire can be your’s, for a price. Oh, it sounds so very ominous and yet simplistically in line with everything people know about Satan. But it could not be further from the truth. Souls are not the most accepted form of currency here. Favors. Money. Power. Human delicacies that can be spent no differently than money? Absolutely.
The act of dealing in souls is Human fallacy. Because the fact of the matter is that anyone willing to give their soul up for a wish? Is already doomed by the word of God to be interred in Hell anyway. No, the art of using a soul to fuel magic is no different than using petrol in a car. It is a finite energy source and causes nothing but pollution in its wake.
Here at the Lux your heart’s desire might be sold for something as simple as your stock shares in Amazon. What strikes most newcomers as the surprising part, happens to be that the seller of such whims is not always the purveyor of the Lux himself. So long as you follow the rules; all are welcome in the Lux.
The best part? You don’t actually have to even leave Gotham to visit. As a psychopomp the Devil himself is not constrained to simple human laws or understandings of science. The door to the Lux opens anywhere, any time, to anyone who seeks it’s entrance. It’s all about need and the willingness to pay that aforementioned price. If you need it enough, want it enough and happen to be willing to pay for it? Any old door will work. You don’t even need a magic word to open it.
Now for those who need something, but not so badly as to have to come to the realization that they’d do or give anything for it? For those who’s soul isn’t already beholding to a final destination? Well that’s precisely why the Lux does have a physical blip on the Map. We service all kinds, you see.
Which is most likely why there’s no prayer requirement for notice by Zatanna. Just the fluttering of wings and a drink slid before her. Because it seems only natural that the Devil himself is tending to the bar this evening.
Sleeves drawn up, suit-coat misplaced, neck-tie unkempt, and a smile that happens to be lopsided. Yet, it is impossible not to recognize the most beautiful creature in all of God’s creation. “Zatanna. I must say you look ravishing this evening. Business or pleasure this evening? Not that it matters, I’ve never been much of a fan for the bores who choose not to mix the two.”
It wasn’t unusual for people to know her name. Word got around, specially in these tight circles where magic and myth intertwined with lives. There was a pause in her reaction. She was usually quick with her words and her clever quips but for the moment her eyes were taking everything in from the First Fallen.
She had heard plenty, she had read plenty. She had been warned that it was probably more trouble than it was worth involving the fallen angel in anything that was her business, rumor was; it was difficult to pry him out once you let him in. Specially if the circumstances were intriguing enough to hold his interest for more than a few seconds.
She decided to be a little more careful with her words, putting a little more thought into how she was approaching this. It was easier done while bringing the glass to her lips while her eyes didn’t seem to leave him or the glorious feature that extended from his back. Being in the presence of the Creator’s more creative and beautiful designs was a little overwhelming.
“Thank you, Lucifer. I didn’t conjure up this dress just to bore you and droll on about my little problems.”
It felt like a cheat to come to him with this particular problem. Maybe it was the easy way, maybe it wasn’t. It could possibly open up new paths or knowledge that she didn’t easily have access to. Then again, dealing with the infernal was not something she was excited about. Everyone had their weakness, even the fantastic and amazing magician Zatanna Zatara.
It didn’t seem to matter his preference, or that he was the bartender on duty. The nearest glass to his hand filled with liquid without waiting for an answer. Maybe it was a favorite, or something he had just been thinking about while mixing her own drink. He wasn’t the only one that could grant a simple desire or wish.
“Don’t laugh. It feels like I’m on a fool’s errand but they have something very important to me…”
Chasing down a time-splintered cult that was known for operating in secret and in the shadows was a worthy challenge but even obtaining the first clue was a difficult task. All she had was a body. Slain by a demoness that was attempting to protect her friend. It seemed too easy, too simple.
“…The Sacred Order of St. Dumas. I’m trying to locate them,” ‘Dumas’ was said with a bit of a lift in her tone. He was not known for being a saint, more like a madman that was really good at building a following around him. It seemed fairly par for the course with anything dealing with the Bat. There was always a mad something involved, wasn’t there?
“Don’t mind if you do.”
The problem with supplying the Devil his desire is that you’re not guaranteed to like what you conjure up. In this case though, oddly enough, Zatanna doesn’t truly conjure up anything outlandish. Because she serves him a simple copy of her own drink. Which, upon looking at the chalice, is immediately pushed right to the Magician’s other hand. There’s no fancy words; no double entendres, nor any means of misunderstanding.
The Devil’s desire is to get her drunk. How could it not be?
“Well, you’ve managed to succeed in not boring me. Whether that be the dress or the way a fickle imagination works when seeing you in it? Tis anyone’s guess, of course.”
No effort is made to pry further information from her. He works with the simple assumption that she knows exactly to whom she’s speaking. She traversed the U.S. Country to speak with the creature before her, it is therefore nothing short of logical that she would know that he is known as the Keeper of Secrets, just as well as he’s been called the Lord of Lies. Knowing the secrets of a darkened soul is simply part of what he does. It takes but a single strand of corruption in a Cult such as the one she speaks of and there’s no secret kept from one such as he.
There’s also no promise of those secrets being shared with someone. Anyone. Most especially one such as she. No guaranty at all and the smile upon his features confirms that without a word.
“Now why would you come to me asking such a question,” the rhetoric that spills from that silver tongue of his are smooth, easily heard even with the din of the Lux all around them. “You could easily get that information with a parlor trick. Which means, of course, that you don’t wish to use your own power to come by the knowledge. Or you just like a twist of danger in the martini you call life. I’m almost curious enough to play this game.”
He’s no sooner said these words than those wings of his flutter once more and he’s next to her. No one around them seems the mildest bit off-put by such a feat, as if it’s just normal for the Lux or this individual in particular. “The Order of ‘Saint’ Dumas is something of a joke in itself. Dumas was hardly a Saint. Nor was he even viewed as such by his original followers.”
“The Order, as it is today, is more like a splinter cell organization. The particular ‘Order’ that you are in search of, I would suggest, is nothing more than a piece of the overall pie. So, in truth, if I were to live up to my reputation I would make some sort of arrangement. Putting you in my debt, without even giving you anything of worth.”
“How lucky are you, Zee, that my reputation is greatly exaggerated. You came to me from Gotham, if you were to travel back there and search for a man by the name of Jean-Paul Valley. I’m quite sure you know the right people to do the leg work. He can most assuredly lead you to the Order with whom you have business.”
“Without the dress I still have my particular charms.”
The dress was only a layer, a prop. Anyone could wear a dress but it takes a certain kind of charisma and confidence to pull it off and make it something interesting, even if it’s a object of a mild fantasy. Well, mild was a manner of perspective in this case. Lucifer has had a long time to explore every corner of existence and she was still exploring the bits that were of interest to her.
A drink in both hands, she raises them both in a mock toast before finishing off the one in her right and starting on the one on her left. It wasn’t a drink made for taking down in such a manner but she was trying to be a good guest, humoring him a little.
“I could probably twist a little bit of time and return to the moment before my friend came to cross their path and completely avoid the situation that’s brought me here. I could summon the knowledge to my very fingertips. I also wouldn’t have had the opportunity to enjoy a fine cocktail and your company. We both know there are consequences and ripples that are caused and power like mine has to be used responsibly. I also enjoy the challenge of a mad goose hunt, the twist of danger, the quest and the rewards that are gained from it.”
A smirk played across her lips before she pressed them together to test the tingling that was beginning to play against them. She didn’t quite flinch when he moved next to her but it did provide her with a closer inspection. She wondered if she should feel intimidated, frightened or even possibly terribly paranoid. She’s had her dealing with demons under her belt already though, she knew the rules and knew how to dance around them. Instead she just found herself curious.
“Fanatics you mean. My father had some collected works in the library, there were some amazing stories but that was well…nearly a thousand years ago. They’re a splinter of a splinter from the Knights Templar. Add in some mystical artifacts and at one time they were either feared or praised as heroes.”
She waved a hand dismissively, the angel probably knew all of that and she didn’t need to go into further details. The name did earn a quirked eyebrow, it was a lead but she knew she was limited as far as what she could do about it.
“Their Azrael, their champion, was slain recently. A matter that involved Etrigan and a hybrid,” not the entire truth, some details were left out but she continued on.
“I imagine another will rise. Which bothers me considering a dear friend is caught in the mix. I’d rather he not be pulled into the affairs that I deal with.”
She turned in the stool slightly so she was at a better angle to watch him. He may have already known, or he didn’t. It seemed a fair exchange of information over drinks. She didn’t come empty handed and without payment for him for his time and his knowledge.
“You know who I work for. I’ve been benched from Gotham involvement, not that it stops me from doing much. Whatever I do has to be done in the shadows and perhaps through ‘agents’. Those agents are on their own hunt that doesn’t necessarily involve the Order. An old enemy that may have made a side deal with one of the Lords of Hell.”
Everyone had their agents it seemed, it was a tangled mess of involvements and paths just seemed to cross coincidentally.
“I appreciate the lead though. I’ll keep an eye on him,” with a wink she took a long sip from her glass. Scrying wasn’t against the rules.
“Ah, madame, now which of us is engaged in word-play. I know what and who you work for, of course. Though I’m also certain those two terms are not one and the same.” This is said amidst a sly smile that passes from her, back to the audience of the Lux. “Mortal games. Quite honestly, this world’s drama is better than most. I do so enjoy watching it play out.”
“I’m more than a little annoyed that I didn’t think of it all first.”
This is where a hand is waved in something of a dismissive gesture, but doing so makes the wings shimmer behind him. It isn’t often than even the mystical bred mortals can perceive them, leading him to have stopped bothering to worry about their effects offhandedly.
“Things of this nature are often cylindrical. What was, will be again. You’re right to think another ‘champion’ will rise. Were it me, I would see such a thing not as potential for danger, but the opportunity to control the cycle itself.”
“Of course you may have other ideas, but it seems to me that opportunity such as this affords you control. Which might in fact keep your ‘friend’ out of the cycle itself. Two birds. One stone. Such as it were.”
Another moment is spent looking at Zatanna. Only this doesn’t seem to be with the same sort of simple gaze as before. Almost as if he were judging whether she was capable of the guilde necessary for such action. As quickly as his gaze focuses in, there’s this shift to nibbling at his lower lip. Pleasure. The Devil doesn’t lie and neither does his expression, as he clearly likes what he perceives. A mortal, a witch, who might actually serve as a distraction from his boredom. Yes, I think I’ll watch this one more closely.
Not that such a gaze is ever a good thing. You’d never know that from the way his features shift in to taking all of Zatanna in to account. “Though I passed on the drink, perhaps a dance?”
“I didn’t presume that you weren’t aware. You know my foci, word games are my thing,” she took another light sip. She had thought this situation over, she had considered all of the angles and what the Devil may or may not know. There was a reason he’s settled here of all places, in all times and realms. It was probably the most entertaining but there was plenty of uninteresting bits to slog through to get to the real gems.
She had her reasons for her associations. Reasons she kept to herself because secrets were important, what was in her heart and what fueled her passions was something only she could hold onto right now. For a brief moment she seemed distracted, her lips even parting in a subdued expression of awe. She had seen a lot of things in her short life, a lot of very beautiful things and even to the outright grotesque and horrific. Those wings were captured somewhere in between but they drew her attention as if they were the most precious thing she had ever seen.
There was a quick shake of her head as she pulled her thoughts back to the conversation, focusing on Lucifer’s facial features, almost equally as appealing but a little less distracting. It was the words that held her attention though, it wasn’t often she could talk to someone that understood the chaotic order of things. Someone that saw the bigger picture perhaps much clearer and and more vast than she really understood it.
“It could potentially be an advantage. It’s also attempting to bring order to something that has been known to deal in chaos. I’m not exactly sure it’s the people involved, more of <i>what</i> is involved. Given that I’m dealing with an Order that’s had nearly a thousand years to adapt and several advancements in technology, it would be a dumb move to assume it’s as simple as charging the castle.”
What she really needed was some solid intelligence but for now all she had was a name, a potentially solid lead. This meant she would have to exhibit some patience, let pieces fall into place and make sure she was at the right place at the right time. Even if she hated the idea of leaving Bruce with them even a second longer. He could handle it, he’ll make it through. He had the strength and determination that was both admirable and dangerous.
She felt that shift in his gaze, it was like the devil’s claws crawling along the sensitive skin along her spine. She had anticipated only providing a small moment of amusement, not capturing that gaze that almost looked like it went right through and into her. Part of her was suggesting that it was a fine time to make with the disappearing act while the mood was still light and neither was terribly invested. That was the plan. If she had been really smart, she wouldn’t have come here at all. Leave the devil to observe and concern himself with more immediate factors that affected his ability to do as he wished.
The other more impulsive part of her was fighting that good and sound judgement. She was struggling to pull her thoughts away from admiring that beautiful creature in front of her and trying to focus on the very nature of that creature. The problem was, she had a very different view of creatures that may be considered evil, not all of them were. Some were even brought close enough to her to be considered friends and perhaps even more. It was those beliefs that had pushed her away from her allies, friends, and loves.
She was swayed by the liquor, by the excitement and the atmosphere that was created within the walls. A dance with the devil? Many would probably be fearful of the suggestion, or perhaps react in rage or insult. Lucifer was so often villainized but he has proven to be civilized and polite as well. She saw the innocence of the offer. Just a dance. Life was for the living and this moment would certainly be lively.
Gracefully, she set the glass down gently down on the bar top, offering her hand palm down to him, “I’d be honored to tango with you, Lucifer.”
There was a bit of a mischievous glint in her eye as she set the tone for the dance. The slit of her dress wasn’t made for a waltz and she was quite the performer. The club may be in for a treat.
I don’t particularly feel like listening to Ansu talk, but he hasn’t exactly given me a choice in the matter. He’s a slippery bastard, and he’s always got his greedy little fingers embedded in some pies – there’s always something he’s looking to steal, or something he’s procured that’s resulted in a bit more heat than he would prefer.
Funny how a demon finds themselves in that sort of predicament from time to time; it’s a dilemma that they put themselves in long before I was ever around, and it will no doubt be the thorn in someone else’s hind-side long after I’m gone. He’s trying to pawn it off on me now, but the kicker is that I’m not all that interested in the cursed belongings of dead kings. I’ll take a bottle of cheap bourbon over the animosity of one-hundred one dead souls. But then what’s one-hundred one more added on top of however many others looking to settle a score with ol’ John?
So I’m entertaining his offer, but I’m not thrilled about where it will lead me if I accept.
Ansu is criticizing the stained glass, and I’m spending the Silk Cut by absorbing the noxious smoke down into my lungs. Flakes of ash float about, joining with my exhale as I listen to him drone on about how Sumerian architecture was a superior aesthetic in comparison to the Roman-Catholic churches.
“Don’t blame me for your disgust.” I tell the bastard, rolling my eyes as I pull the cigarette away from my mouth to scratch at my cheek with the same hand. As the smoke mingles with my eye, I squint. “You’re the one who chose holy ground for the meeting.”
I’m not one to say his name in conversation, and that’s purposeful.
For starters, I understand the power inherent in names, especially with regards to demonology. Something about the vanity of the beasts allows them to draw and seat power by hearing their own names and titles uttered out loud – it’s what invokes them during the use of Goetia, their names chanted alongside the presence of the many ingredients and instruments attributable to them. Ansu’s just so happen to be feathers, unceremoniously “borrowed” items, and time-pieces.
Secondly, I know just how badly it pisses him off when I never address him by name. Sometimes, you’ve got to take the thrills wherever you can get them, otherwise the day may not be worth living.
“I assumed it would be more comforting for you,” the demon feigns a fondness for my well-being while clinging to the shadows around the altar, “a place like this.”
“Furniture’s a bit stiff.” I gesture towards the pews, and shrug my shoulders as I step down the aisle. “Could have done this at a pub if you were worried about my comfort, mate. Didn’t have to do it at all if you really cared. But I appreciate the half-ass sentiment.”
“It’s the thought that counts, yes?” Ansu asks, laughter in his voice.
People sit around doing nothing all day long about the travesties and the causes that originated with them. They donate money a bit here and a bit there to cast off their guilt and go about their business care-free. Some do the bare minimum by folding their hands and bowing their heads for a minute or two. It’s why I’ve never really considered the thought to count for much of anything. It helps people sleep at night, but it doesn’t do much good in the end.
While Ansu picks himself up from beside the alter, the shadows leave his demonic silhouette and his unholy visage is suppressed by the man-like shape void of wings and hooves. His golden eyes dim a bit, but he can’t completely hide what’s behind the mask. One would think that the street-light coming in through the stained glass might have singed him, but the red tone of his skin is only a portion of his poor disguise as a human.
Like the majority of his kind, Ansu is hardly bothered by the many empty homes of God or by the countless half-measure prayers being cast out into the heavens. But as I approach the altar, he hesitates to take a step back. Bastard to bastard, I’m someone Ansu fears.