Dinah: What’s the only thing worse than being stuck in a city that’s rapidly spiraling out of control, and towards imminent war-torn destruction? Being a person with the means, and a place, to bail on it for and being unable to leave because of assorted personal issues and hang-ups. Morals. Vigilante sense of justice, mixed with feelings of stewardship. Ownership. Whatever. Another step worse? Being the kind of control freak who’s used to being able to control the people around them either through skill, smarts, or wiles, and in that sort of situation. Frankly, it’s a wonder that Bruce didn’t have a coronary long before someone killed him. Still. I’d say he probably could have/would have handled this.

If it weren’t for the fact that none of this particular ‘this’ would have been happening if he were here in the first place. Of all of the things that have set Gotham to be the colliding grounds for so many forces, I would never have guessed Batman’s death would have been the cause of all of it. Not like this. What I’m most struggling with, however, is how everything wants to line up so neatly into one small package in my head, when logic says that shouldn’t happen. Not here. And yet…

Not rushing my ass back across the city to my bar and apartment isn’t actually that difficult. I’ve got a lot to think about. The fact that Tim’s not actually there anymore, apparently, dampens my sense of urgency quite a bit. Sure, kid can handle himself. He also went down a flight of concrete stairs with a ninja, and I know how his shoulder looked after. Probably only gotten worse since, and stiffer. Finding out he’s ‘undercover’ somewhere with Spoiler makes me feel better, but only because he’s not in the same building as Deathstroke. Not because I have faith she can look out for him well enough to make up for the shoulder.

With myself down one Red Robin worry, that leaves me with the people in the building. My technical employees and customers. If Slade was interested in murdering the lot of them, he probably would have already started to use that to get my attention. Once I’ve gotten back, it’s up the narrow stairs, the comm tucked back into place where it belongs, and the quick effort of de-Canary-ing. Which actually involves putting more clothes on, right now. A short skirt tugged up over my hips, a slouchy old Pantera shirt pulled over my head. The boots and fishnets may be the same, but I’m not exactly going for high quality disguise before I wander down the connecting flight of stairs to the well bolted connecting door.

It doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s often enough that no eyebrows are raised when I slink through the kitchen, slap together a sandwich with what’s out, and pick up a bottle of cheap-ass whiskey. This is why I don’t bother stocking my kitchen upstairs. My eyebrows are also not raised when I find him much where I expected him to be. Probably should. That’s my day though, right?


I keep going past him, shoving a bite of my food in my face, as I make my way to my favorite corner booth. It wasn’t empty. It gets that way real quickly though, with a demonstrative jerk of my head. Clearly the look on my face makes the two guys that had been using it go from ‘ooh, our lucky day’ to ‘oh $%* run.’

Slade: Gotham City isn’t a tourist destination for normal people. Maybe the occasional loon wanting to get his brush with death in the form of a Rogue’s Gallery scare or someone wanting to catch a glimpse of Batman. What Gotham lacks in tourism as an industry, it makes up for in being the heart of commerce for most of the Eastern Seaboard. Sure, other ports might be safer, but few of them are as large or as well fitted with various levels of Wayne Industries technology. Outside of the Port there’s a certain amount of other industry attached to the city, most of those conversations almost always end with the same family name as well though. Wayne.

The one thing that that Wayne Family don’t control in this city is perhaps the one thing that booms even further than Technology, Shipping or the Labor Industry. One word. Crime. Once upon a time New York, even Chicago, were the hubs of the Mafia-world. True enough that have their fair share, but here in Gotham the Mafia has not been quite as harshly hit as the rest of those cities. Something or someone has always kept them at the cusp. Never quite defeated, never quite dragging the city in to total chaos. Using their means to control the levels of crime, so as to keep the Federal Government from ever truly being too interested.

In most recent times, since the ‘Death of Batman,’ the City’s fine line has been crossed often. As much by the likes of Joker and his insane telecasts, as by the veritable horde of Assassins flooding in to the City, but also by the likes of it’s own protectors who court the interference of the Federal Government with their own defiance. It all seems to be reaching a boiling point, doesn’t it? Like one of those old Indiana Jones movies, where everything that could possibly go wrong does. In catastrophic order. Until the Heroes are faced with the impossible, no-win, situation. In those films something always happens to give Indy his one chance at victory.


When you’re in the line of work that Dinah Lance is in, there are a handful of people in the whole world that you just know on sight. Her connection to the Police alone would have given her all she needed to know in order to recognize the Deathstroke in uniform. All of the other things in her life have given her the ability to recognize him out of that uniform. Sitting at the end of her bar, being attended by a veritable litany of fanboys who are clamoring to hear another story. Dinah’s bar is frequented by all types. From friend to foe, from vigilante out of costume, to crook looking for a safe place to grab a bite to eat without being gunned down by a rival. Not only has Wilson made himself at home, but he’s clearly been here long enough to have garnered some attentions.

And then there’s his tone. So cordial, with that hint of accent that speaks of being well born and raised, yet borders on being too familiar when he’s spoken only a single word. A tip of an empty shot-glass sends the bar-keeper for more, but as he does Slade is turning toward the only thing that’s stolen attention from his tales all evening.

“Finished with the bird bath. Figured you’d be down. Guessin you took a trip to the ‘Berg? Or maybe you had to talk to the Demon’s grandson, to stop him from picking a fight with the U.S. Government? Seriously. Alien Princesses. Gotham’s a lot more Fun now.”

“Little of column A, less of column B.”

At least he missed my brief interlude with the not suited up Superman, also known to almost no one as Conner Luthor for very good reason. Namely the enormous shitshow that would probably result in, were the news spilled by anyone other than President Luthor in a finely controlled fashion that fit his narrative in a finely groomed sort of way. If ever. It doesn’t take much in the way of paranoia to know that that is the kind of secret that can get you killed, even if you’re not a previously untouchable meta-human with the power to whistle slightly louder than your average person. Had Slade seen that, it likely would have gotten mentioned, too.

“Must be something in the water, which is why I’m sticking strictly to alcohol from now on. Really. You’d think people in Gotham would have better sense than to attract Government attention. Only so much temptation can go on before they’re going to stop pointedly looking the other way and pretending we don’t exist as a blight on… blahblahblah…”

Oh. The irony. Maybe less ironic since. Well. I have a feeling he knows that, too. Else why the pointed comments about me missing all my boyfriends, lately? I’d say maybe there’s a possibility it is paranoia causing me to read into something, because Star City’s been my stomping grounds the last few years, putting me, in Gotham, away from my usual company. The way things have been lately? It’s not really a possibility I’m going to allow for. To be on the safe side. And because Slade Wilson is here. Sitting in my bar. After being a little huffy about my not wanting help freely offered to me.

Mostly because it wasn’t free. I know better. And you know. Murder. Throwing back a swallow from my bottle, there’s a satisfied sound as I sink down into seat, sliding around into the curve of it lets me kick my feet up on the other side. It’s also the only booth in the joint that’s not fully bolted down, so I can kick it over if the mood and/or need arises. Also points my screamer a little better in his direction. Or lets me look at him while we’re talking. That second one sounds like better manners. Which we’re apparently pretending to have.

“But here I thought the only kind of fun you were interested in was the paid kind. Unless that’s gotten old finally?”

Slade: Another shot glass filled, another one emptied. This is how the story goes as Dinah speaks. Nothing she says is wrong, but it’s topical. She’s making chit-chat. Standard fair sort of stuff. Ordinarily that might be a cause for tension, but tonight is a different sort of night. Apparently Slade isn’t here to question her or try to get information. As she and Grayson had discussed, you wouldn’t send the Deathstroke for an interrogation. Wrong tool to be applied. No, he’s not bothered by her words or her lack of direction. In fact he seems to embrace this little time of talking, while saying nothing. Perhaps even taking this as opportunity to show her that he can play that game, should it suit him to do so.

“Not a bad plan, actually. Because something is definitely in the Water around here,” a moment’s hesitation leads him to reaching past the single shot glass for the entire bottle that other man’s holding. “Most everything gets old eventually. Being paid isn’t one of them, though. My ex-wife would always try to tell me that you couldn’t buy happiness. One of the many reasons I had to kill her, always lying to me.”

Taking not one but two of the shot glasses that the bartender had put in place, Slade runs the bottle across them. Not minding the mess on the way to filling each of them. One of which is offered to Dinah once he’s risen from that solitary stool and approached her booth. Nothing fancy, just a simple bottle of vodka. As cheap as the whiskey she’s drinking, but twice as hard to down. Such is the nature of those pesky Russians who invented the stuff.

“One of the nuances you always missed, is that there are other currencies to be paid in. Money isn’t the only commodity that I’m willing to take a contract for.” There’s no flashiness to the turning of the shot glass up and downing it, but it is a demonstration to show her that nothing was done to the drink. But then she likely knows poisoning her isn’t how it would likely go with Wilson. “You’d be surprised at the things I’m given in payment. Weapons. Favors. Secrets. Sometimes I’m even willing to trade the things I have, for things I want.”

“You know we don’t have to keep dancing, right? If I was here to kill you, I’ve had ample opportunity to make the attempt. You’re hoping I’ll slip up and give you a clue, but we don’t need to play that game. I’m willing to just tell you, if you’re willing trade answer for answer.”

Dinah: “There usually is, I guess. To be fair. Just a question of whether it’s a body, mind altering chemical, body altering chemical, kerosene…”

I’d be twirling a finger to indicate the list goes on, and on, and on, depending upon which of the Rogues is responsible, or if it’s one of the crime groups, or just your average run of the mill corporate not-caring-pollution. Only one hand has a bottle in it, and the other my sandwich so I just end up gesturing vaguely with my dinner/midnight snack. This is kind of early to be dinner or my mid-night though. Like I’ve said. Gotham’s gone all weird lately, and I guess I’m going along with it.

“Depends on the kind of happiness I guess, and your definition of it. Some people think it only comes in that satisfied, peaceful soul kind of application. Pfft.”

The laugh comes out about the time I’m sipping from my elegant glass/bottle, right before it gets set down to take the offered shot glass. Am I worried about what he’s giving me? Not in the least. We’re in my bar. It’s ‘my’ booze’ and ‘my’ shot glasses and frankly that’s not really his style.

“Not in this job, amiright?”

Not that our jobs are exactly the same, except in the broad stroke label of ‘violence.’ That. We definitely both do. I’m not so high and mighty that I don’t recognize the similarities, but there’s also some very, very big differences. Mostly that come down to the fact that I don’t kill. And also that he gets a whole hell of a lot more money to do what he does, than I do to do what I do. Probably technically more thanks as well. Just in the dollar sign variety.

“See, I know about those other options, I just didn’t know you did. Learn something new every day.”

I don’t like Vodka all that much, personally. Not by itself. I’m sure someone out there would argue I don’t have much in the way of a refined palate for alcohol, especially given what I’m currently swilling, but I still have a preference. Vodka just tastes like a bare step above rubbing alcohol to me, and I don’t make a habit of drinking that either. That said? I was at college for the last three-ish years. There’s not much I can’t chug. So this, too, is thrown back. With a wrinkled nose look of disgust, and chased with another bite of corned beef and ham on mismatched types of toast.

“Oh, sure. I’m aware. Most likely before I, or anyone else that might get uppity (and we know how the Bats are) over you taking a hit in Gotham, knew you were even here. Not that the thought didn’t still cross my mind. I mean. You’re you. I’m me. But then there was you being so gosh darn persistently helpful.”

Hmmmmmmm. I don’t make the considerate sound out loud, but the way my blonde head dips from side to side, it’s a pretty clear contemplative debate going on here. Do I have answers and information? Sure, I have a lot of them. I know a lot of people, who have a lot of secrets, and then there’s my own. A lot of those answers and information not only aren’t mine to give, but even if they were I wouldn’t jeopardize the people they’re about even to sate my curiosity about why the hell Slade Wilson’s sitting in my bar.

“That sounds like a game that could be worth playing. But only if you ask your question first, and if I don’t give you your answer, I don’t get mine.”

Slade: “Hey, in Gotham? It’s just as likely to be all of the above. Bodies, Chemicals and Kerosene sounds like the start of a good night with Harley Quinn, from what I’ve heard.”

Banter. It’s easy to fall in, even for two people that aren’t exactly chums. In this case though, the banter is about recognition. Two people with similar backgrounds, even similar mentalities. Separated only by a thin perception of morality. In this case she has some and Slade doesn’t. At least, Slade would have people believe that normally. Dinah has seen it herself though, that the man does actually have a code. The Contract is everything. In any normal situation he won’t violate a deal once brokered. Though how he chooses to interpret the terms seem to be solely at the discretion of Deathstroke. A nod of the head tells her that she’s entered in to just such a bargain right then and there.

“Oh, Birdy. Don’t tell me you bought in to the Deathstroke mask, you of all people should know that reputation is something to be created. It isn’t necessarily always the truth. I buy, sell and trade in anything that gets me closer to the things I want at any particular time.”

The other side of her booth might look cozy, but Slade makes no effort to take that seat. Joining Dinah might be what any other male would do if given the right opportunity, with enough liquor at play, but not him. He’s all to aware of what proximity does for a girl with her particular set of lungs can do. He saw it first hand not so long ago. Instead of joining her at the table, he pulls one of the stools away from the bar in order to sit outside of the booth. Close, but not confined. Though at that same time, Slade’s making several mistakes if he were jockeying for tactical position. He’s leaving his back exposed. There’s no effort made towards eliminating her line of fire with that voice of her’s. Both of which are mistakes that he’d only make if he were doing it on purpose or already too drunk to be keeping up a conversation. Maybe not even then. So it should be fairly clear that a fight is not what he’s here for.

Chances are he could rise to the occasion quickly enough though. “This isn’t a game, luv, but your terms are more than fair.”

With a cluck of his tongue, Slade takes only long enough to speak again as it takes to pour another round of vodka in to the two shot glasses. “Do you actually remember how we first met, Dinah?”

Dinah: “Or a bad one. Mostly depends on whose body it is.”

It is what I do. Bantering. Chattering. There’s different reasons for doing it, depending upon who my particular sparring partner is. I might be trying to put someone at ease, to humiliate, tweak a nose, or glibly make a point. And that’s just in the ‘Bat’ cave, whichever one it might happen to be. Then there’s distraction and misdirection. More likely to be the case right now, except that I think we both know exactly what this is, and what it isn’t. At least at this moment. The Iceberg was sort of a testament to what our two particular brands of ‘living weapon’ will do if provoked into use. He knows I could scream at him. I know he could put all manner of sharp or shooty things in me just as quickly. If he had a reason to kill me, like he already said, there’s been time and opportunity. And I currently don’t have a good reason to provoke him.

Again. See example: Iceberg if you want to know how that goes. I’m cocky. I’m not stupid.

“Well, if that’s your question…”

I don’t think he’s being sloppy, drunk, or that I’ve successfully charmed him into letting down any sort of defenses. This might not be neutral ground, but I don’t want to hurt anyone in here, or rip down my own building. I would if I felt I had to, though. All things which Slade surely knows. Just like I’m probably the only even potential threat in the building, so there’s no risk in turning his back on everyone else, and a lot more to gain from doing what would normally be exposing a weak point. Picking up my shot glass again, it’s twirled for a moment as I consider exactly how much food versus liquor I’ve had tonight already. And decide I’m okay to down this one, too.

“As we were inevitably going to at some point. On opposite ends of a fight.”

Not my fight, mind you, but one I stuck my nose in anyway. I didn’t have the same initial stake in the game on the West Coast, not like I did here in Gotham where my whole reason began. But I couldn’t not go out there at night, and that lead to meeting Green Arrow. New playmate to learn. And tease, and antagonize, until we fell into being something other than foils. Then his fights were mine, because I wasn’t about to sit by. One of those fights brought me up against the third person in the world that I’d ever met that could kick my ass. Not in rankings of danger/ass-kicking, just chronological order.

“I don’t think you were there for the fight, I think Green Arrow and Shado’s little…spat… was mostly just in your way.”

The ones that suffered most in the offing were the Yakuza, frankly. The other two’s distraction with each other left at least Ollie thinking that wasn’t the case, but what little we’d really engaged with Deathstroke that first time? We lived through, and that meant he wasn’t there for either one of us.

Slade: Another little cluck of the tongue, this time it’s not so clear as to why it’s happened. Either her comment about a time with Quinn being a ‘bad one’ or maybe it has something to do with the way she took the last snifter of vodka. Though, in reality, it doesn’t really matter why he’s done it. So much as it matters that he has. This might not be a game, but there’s a hint of playfulness about it all. Is he testing her limits, in something other than a fight?

“Mmm. That was the first time you met Deathstroke, you don’t remember the first time you met me then.” That isn’t a question, she’s confirmed something that he was looking for.

Moving as carefully as you might expect someone with the man’s skill, the bottle of vodka is lifted and deposited back upon the bar. With the table before Dinah now mostly free, there is plenty of room for him to fish something from the only pocket the loose fitting silk shirt has. This isn’t part of the game. There’s no question being asked. In fact, by the terms of her own making it is now her ‘turn’ in this little back and forth. Though even as she’s being given a chance to ask whatever she likes? Slade has set a small item down in front of her. It looks harmless, for a microchip. Anyone who knows Dinah Lance would know that she’s unlikely to recognize such a thing at a glance, but the way Slade’s fixed upon Dinah’s features? Suggests that he very much expects her too.

“Something tells me that the question you wanted to ask fifteen seconds ago, isn’t the one going through your mind now.”

Dinah: It’s probably a good thing that mostly the only person’s opinion on what I do, and how I do it, that matters to me is my own or I might be trying to read something into that tsk. I may not like vodka, but I’ll drink it, at least as long as I’ve got something else to get rid of the taste with. Besides which, Tim may have ruined me for life when it comes to what whiskey should taste like. I didn’t even feel bad when I found out the relative sticker price of that particular bottle, either. My answer to his statement is a shrug of barely covered shoulders as I finish off the first half of my sandwich, flicking crumbs off the edge of the table as I chew. Obviously I don’t remember, if that wasn’t the first time. When did I meet Slade Wilson?

I’ve got a pretty good head for faces. My father always said it was a must have quality for a Detective, right up there with being willing and able to dog leads, and navigate your way through a crime scene. But he’s right. I don’t remember a time before that. After? Sure. That was the first time he registered for me though. Somewhere that I was training maybe? I’ve been all over the world, and studied under a small collection of other masters (which is where number two on the kick my ass list came in). Or it could have been somewhere innocuous seeming.

What’s he doing? Presenting me with more questions that can be asked. Ones that I think are going to be more important than the one that’s been burning in our collective minds tonight? Or something more personal and curiosity piquing? With my fingers cleaned off, and my mouth mostly clear of food, I pick up the microchip like it’s some nasty, ugly bug that may very well bite me. Do I know exactly what it is? No. Do I know that it’s a piece of electronics or tech? Yup. Which means that it falls squarely into the realm of someone else that stays in this building besides me.

“When you’re right, you’re right. What can I say… and yet…”

What is this? Where did I meet you before and why don’t I remember you from that time? Is it because I was too young, or because of something else? Those things are so much more personal, and immediate seeming. But that doesn’t mean they’re the most important.

“What were you trying to get out of Penguin tonight, Slade?”

More specific than my general question. But then. I know how I’d answer a general question like ‘why are you in town, Dinah?’ With something very general, and vague, and fulfilling the requirements but not really giving anything away that couldn’t be gotten through some other means. Like observation.

Slade: “I was contacted by a ‘blind client,’ about a contract with a peculiar target. Normally I don’t bother questioning, but this time I wanted some further details before decided whether to accept or decline the contract. Oswald has been asking me for months to work protection for something ‘big’ he had going. So I was allowing him to believe we were negotiating terms for that job, in order get information from him.”

There’s no hesitation in Slade about answering her question. Though it seems like he might be hedging, given that he doesn’t immediately tell her the precise ‘What’ he’d been after. In fairness, though she was specific in her question, his answer could be where he chose to leave it. He’s answered well enough and left it where she could follow up with more specifics. Yet after barely a moment to gather a breathe, he continues…

“It isn’t every day that you get asked to kill Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter and if you’re going to accept that contract it means you’ve made an enemy for longer than just life.”

Answering Dinah in such full terms may not be the first surprise of the evening for her, but Slade isn’t quite finished yet. As she’s looking at the first microchip, he takes another from his pocket. Then another and another, and another… until the number of them set before her is five. Once they’re lined up, all but the one in her hand, Slade casually tilts his head in her direction. His gaze is pretty intense, but there’s a sense of him sizing her up. More so a determination of whether she’s being honest about not remembering, nor recognizing the hardware she’s being shown.

“Fairchild. Bronson. Trevor. Waller. Wilson.” Each time he says a name he points at one of the chips, until the only one without a name is the one in her hand. “Lance.”

Once he’s said the last name on the list his hand shifts once more. This time it’s to the back pocket of his pants, where a small cut out of a newspaper clipping is held. It’s from the Daily Planet, years ago. An article written by Clark Kent about the ‘Department of Extranormal Affairs,’ being founded by the newly appointed Secretary of Metahuman Affairs. An African-American woman that Kent names ‘Amanda Waller.’

“Dinah, why did Talia al Ghul build a Lazarus Pit in the Penguin’s night club?”

Dinah: Part of me would wonder if that makes it easier. Not knowing who you were doing the wetwork for. Not having to wonder the ‘why’ of the motivation, if the person might be justified or not. I don’t see him being someone to be kept up at night one way or the other. It’s the job, right? He’s got his supposed code, and otherwise what matters is the contract. Ultimately, I suppose, it’s the person putting out the hit that’s setting things in motion. Except. That it is still murder. There’s been any number of people I’ve come up against that I am fairly sure I could have ended, and been justified to do so. I don’t. That’s a path that Bruce Wayne steered me off of. Now if only we could correct Damien’s outlook just a hair.

Is Oswald’s ‘big project’ the Lazarus Pit he’s had hiding there for who knows how long? That couldn’t have been months though, something like that I don’t think could have stayed quiet there for that long. The blonde eyebrow that hikes up on my face could be for a number of reasons, and I suppose it really is. Like the amount of information I’m actually getting here. About half of which is basically voluntary though…boy… I’m not about to stop him. Or maybe because someone asked him to take out Talia al Ghul. He said if you take it though. Which raises another question in the line. Did he? What happens then, if the Joker does it before he does? I don’t know where the boys are at as far as tracking her down. I do know we don’t have a lot of time either way, now.

Ooh, look. More doohickies… if I”m being un-Dinah-like levels of quiet, it’s because he’s giving me a lot more to chew on than the sandwich did, and laying out more and more of those little chips. This time, with names. Some of which ring obvious bells. All but one actually. My lips purse at my own surname, and I lean in across the booth’s small table to get a little bit of a closer look at the clipping.

“I’ve only really got assumptions there.”

And after what happened to said Lazarus Pit? Either she’s succeeded already, or she’s not going to get the chance to. At least from here, either because it’s gone, or because she’s not going to be in any fit state to do such a thing. Even if I felt like being as openly sharing as he’s being right now, I can’t be. Because I don’t have much. Talia and I aren’t exactly shopping buddies.

“I assume she intended to try to bring Batman back. As for why in the night club? Definitely about the last place I would have thought to look for a pit, Lazarus or otherwise.”

Talia. A contract. Which he may or may not have taken. And may or may not have found out who was actually behind it. The potentially separate issue with these chips. The article. His comments in Penguin’s office earlier, and questions about our first meeting. So many dangling threads and my head wants to seize on all of them. So which do I choose for the answer I’m due, and how long do we get to play this game that’s not really a game so much as an oddly amicable exchange of thoughts with a paid serial killer before he wants something I’m not willing to give? Puts a sort of priority on the questions one might want to ask.

“So. Where should I have remembered meeting you first?”

Something tells me that? Is going to tie into all of this. No, not necessarily Talia and the Bats and Gotham, but what he’s so carefully laying out for me here like breadcrumbs to follow into .. or out of…something dark and dangerous.

Slade: Again, as with before, the answer comes so quickly that it’s crystal clear that I’ve been awaiting the question. It was only natural for Canary to follow up on the things that have been plaguing her and her cohorts, but sooner or later she was going to have to ask about the reasons I was here. Here in the sense of ‘at her Bar,’ more so than here in Gotham. One may lead, even connect too, the other. Ever the Detective, she can’t really let it slide. It’s a thread, one that has very clear connections now that she’s been told the names.

“Two thousand and seven. Ra’s al Ghul was attempting to purge Gotham. The League of Assassins came here with the explicit purpose of destroying the City. Few people actually ever learned of the League itself or it’s intentions. Most believed the press. That it was just one more of the lunatics inspired by the Batman’s presence to rise up against him. The press painted the League as just another serial killer’s following, a cult.”

“Only a handful of people knew the truth about the League. Even fewer knew the truth about why they wanted to ‘Purge Gotham City.’ That Ra’s was trying to eliminate a rival. He failed and the repercussions were harsh,” lifting a hand to gently tap one finger upon those chips. “No one. Maybe not even the Batman, knew that he had some help that night. You and I met ten hours prior to the breach of Arkham. Inside of an airplane, that was in route to Gotham City.”

“Those other names were there with us. These chips? Were in our skulls.”

Dinah: “Let me guess. A rival group that somehow no one else had ever heard of, or managed to guess that they even existed, and likes to keep a certain sort of status quo in Gotham. And that even now apparently scares the demonic piss out of him.”

I was here for the breech. For No Man’s Land. It was a little bit before I started venting my spleen on Gotham’s police department, and the criminal element of the city, for my Father’s murder but I was still here. I’ve lived in Gotham more than I’ve lived out of it, and just because my family’s home was in the suburbs, it doesn’t mean that kind of next level crap doesn’t effect basically everything about your life. There wasn’t a day that it wasn’t discussed in school, if we even had school at the time, and I spent most of that time period with my grandfather because Dad was obviously busy with his job.

While that’s nice information to have, because backstory can be important for motives and methods, and how you’re going to interact with someone that you’re facing… I’m waiting for how it ties this all together. Because I’d been joking with Dick about this all being one neat, nice bloody package tied with a red ribbon. It was both too simple a solution/answer, and yet made a perfect sort of sense anyway. Gotham can be chaos incarnate. But then you look at the pieces that make it that way. The way they work and build off one another. Finding out there’s some group that’s been sitting in the shadows for maybe as long as there’s been a Gotham?

That neat bow? I’m kind of getting this sense of…dread. Because it’s being wrapped up here, in front of me, when the question I’d asked was about how Slade and I had actually met. And his answer?


There isn’t a whole lot of actual humor to that laugh that sneaks out, it’s more startled, maybe with a hint of disbelief to the tone.

“Someone decided it’d be a brilliant idea to put a barely teenage me, an I’m assuming you were already merc-ing you, and a handful of other shmucks on an airplane to go help Batman…”

My incredulity isn’t actually at the potential for my involvement. I was probably fourteen. I was an early bloomer as it was, possibly thanks to the fact that my meta-gene kicked in when I was in kindergarten. I’d been training with Ted Grant for just as long as I had tutoring from the original Black Canary on how to use and control my gift. Add in both female figures in my life being dead at that point, and my having a whole lot of aimless rage from that? Even at fourteen, I was a highly lethal, highly developed Mean Girl. I just hadn’t consciously thought to use how powerful I was that way. Not until when my Dad was killed. Doesn’t mean I didn’t have the potential. I just don’t remember any of this.

Tetch made me lose ten minutes or so of my life not that long ago. Maybe it makes it that much easier to think that someone with the means, and reason, to make me forget a whole night? God. Why am I able to accept that so easily? Or maybe I’m not. I’m going back to my bottle of whiskey now, for a longer drink than just throwing back a from the bottle shot.

“I should probably apologize for the fact that teenage me was very angry, and hadn’t learned to be the charming vixen I am now…and people think I’m blunt force trauma at this point in my life… except obviously. I don’t remember any of this. So. If this all really happened. And I’ll admit I’m drawing a blank for what possible benefit there’d be in it for you to lie about it. Why do you remember this fun little trip and I don’t?”

Slade: The way in which one eyebrow climbs upward suggests that Slade is a little surprised at how Canary reacts to all of this. Throwing the ‘rules’ she set up out in order to ask another question, therefor putting her on the debt side of the equation. His head cants off to the side, but like before he answers almost immediately. There’s no reason to stall or hold back, because this discussion feeds in to why he’s here and is in turn getting him additional information, if only in the form of her clearly having no memories of what he’s speaking off.

Though, that’s a lot less surprising than you might think, given than… “I don’t, actually. Remember it. At least not all of it. Flashes here, broken dreams there. Fragments that might not be memories, but my own body’s way of compensating for what my brain can’t reconcile. What I know, now, comes mostly in the form of information I’ve gained. I told you, I don’t always deal in money as my own commodity.”

“Every time I’ve found answered, I’ve also found more questions. We were part of some sort of suicide squad. Expendable assets that wouldn’t be missed if things went south, nor trusted overly if they went sideways. I’ve been unable to ascertain whether the lost memories were from our handlers or from the people we were sent in to stop.” The news clipping is once again the source of Slade’s attentions, as he draws Dinah back to it with a tap of the fingers. “Ra’s and the League were intent upon purging the City, cleaning out this Rival of the Demon’s. Someone. Very high on the political food chain, made the decision to oppose Ra’s al Ghul. They set her in motion.”

“She was just a handler back then, but now she’s a player herself. You? Too young, no reason you’d have the memories if everyone else lost them. I wasn’t going to even approach you. Your morals will only get in the way of what I’m planning. At least. They would normally. But then I got word from a source that you’ve recently gotten Waller’s attention again. That you now know first hand, that they can make someone disappear. And maybe you’ve got motivation to not leave a highly skilled, but innocent, operative in her hands being forced to do who-knows-what.”

Dinah: “Suicide Squad? Now if that doesn’t have an alliterative ring to it, I don’t know what does…”

Yes, that was a bit of a slip up but… frankly if we were playing this strictly by any set of harsh rules he’s already given far more in the way of answers than I have. He has a lot more to tell on the matters than I have had. As he’d said. It really isn’t a game anyway. I think we’ve taken a step past that now, haven’t we? In fact, it sounds a lot more like ‘common problem.’ Slade made a point of his not only trading in death and coin. So to have something like this, involving yourself, and actions that you took that you have no memories of and were potentially not of your own free will? That’s got to rankle.

It sure does me, and it was half a lifetime ago. I also don’t have a livelihood or reputation quite like Deathstroke’s. I mean. Sure. We could have volunteered. If you asked me tonight to storm Arkham because Batman needed me to? I’d be in. He probably wouldn’t be, not out of the goodness of his heart. But chips planted in someone’s brain, and a shadowy group pulling government strings? Christ. I don’t even need to know what I do about NOWHERE to have that make me get my guard up. Fairchild. Waller. The former I’m just going to assume is Conner’s ‘friend’ and not assume any kind of coincidence. Not anymore.

“That I did. Apparently you don’t get to scream down someone in Metropolis and stay off their radar.”

I’m finding myself sitting here, bottle still in one hand, chip in the other, while my brain starts working up its own sort of chicken or egg conundrum. Was I an asset because I wasn’t on the lists, thanks to my Grandmother? Or was I not on the lists anymore because of what we’d been thrown in to do? Clearly it was a success. He’s still here. I’m here. Waller. Fairchild. The last name Trevor I recognize, though I don’t know the man personally. The last one was really the only mystery. Not enough of one to make me ask, though. Not right now. Leaning back against the seat of the booth again, I let out an exaggeratedly long sigh. Giving up my hold on the bottle, to push a hand through my hair, tousling blonde locks as I scratch.

“Well. You’re in luck, Wilson. I was already set to show them that there’s people you don’t just get to mess with, and make sure it was a lesson that stuck. Somehow it’s actually even more personal now than it was before.”

I’d say that I’m past personal grudges and kicking people’s asses over them. This one? Isn’t just about me, though. And if it’s about Gotham, too? Bruce. Tim, Damien and Dick. All of them? That’s an entirely different kettle of fish.

Slade: “Luck is one thing I never trade in, Lady Bird, but it has it’s place,” just not right now, there is nothing lucky about Slade Wilson being here right now this second.

The comment about screaming someone down in Metropolis seems to merit no notice, though Slade’s one of those people who files things away today and brings them up again in ten years. He very clearly doesn’t have all of the pieces to all of the puzzles. Just enough to tell him which way to point the gun, who to the sword too. Knowing just enough about Penguin’s operation to lure Canary in to a talk, because she had questions. Then just enough about Dinah’s situation to know that she’d have a vested interest in aiding him. Maybe, as an outside chance, she knew something more than he did and would share it once she realized that they did in fact have common enemies at the moment.

With a sweeping gesture of his hand the shot glass he had filled for himself is finally snatched up and downed, with barely a ‘salute’ to remember it by. Dinah’s keen, she knows when something has happened even if she doesn’t know what it is. She can see the wheels in Slade’s brain turning over and over as he processes what he knew, versus what he knows now.

“You’ve got some things to work through here in Gotham, obviously. Gives me time to pull a couple last bits of information out of my contacts. I’ll reach out as soon as I have a location on where they’re holding Oliver,” placing the shot glass down in the same motion that his hand scoops up all of the extra microchips. “Look, I don’t give a rat’s arse about Gotham but what’s going on here? It isn’t just all connected here, it’s connected everywhere.”

“Ra’s al Ghul made a play a decade ago to wipe them out. He failed and from what I’ve pieced together, he was punished for it. It seems pretty clear to me that whoever he was trying to wipe out had the cajoles to pull strings in the White House. The juice to green light Waller’s whole career and now this Clown is stirring them all up again? Sounds to me like the Batman had the right idea. Time to get out of this shithole.”

Rising to leave, Wilson pauses long enough in doing so to give Dinah another look. “I meant what I said before, Pigeon. If you need my help with all of this, the price is negotiable. You just have to ask. I’m sure you know how to reach me, if you really want too.”

Dinah: Maybe there’s nothing lucky about him being here. It might be lucky that I’d already, as I said, had my mind set on an outcome that came from NOWHERE messing with the people close to me, since they couldn’t apparently get at me directly. Does that, too, tie into this? Because why not just come after me? Clearly they’ve done it before, with no provocation required. Screaming in Conner Luthor’s ears was, as he’d told me himself, more than reason enough. What I did tonight at the Lounge was maybe more necessary to save lives, but still the equivalent of thumbing my nose at them. Except it had come after what they did to Ollie.

Which is why I haven’t done anything yet. I’m no genius, that’s my roommate, but I’m smart enough to know that just finding where they have Oliver Queen isn’t enough. Maybe it would have been once. It’s bigger than a one man rescue op though, especially now. The scope’s too big. There’s too many people in the offing to be effected, and so many more potential players. My plan had, until tonight, been a two step work in progress. First? I need to have said genius roommate work his magic. He already was, to a degree. The only way to really end all of it is exposure, and that takes more than me. Second step? I’ve been doing a lot of practicing in basement. Gotta get my lungs powered up even more.

“It was big enough when it was two separate problems. Knowing it’s one? Shit. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse.”

Knowing that Ra’s was scared of them, scared enough to tell Bruce to run? That had been one thing, too. Learning more, finding out the scope and the reach? Knowing that Bruce was trying to work it alone and what happened to him for just maybe disturbing the balance of htings, or at least threatening to? I’m doubly not satisfied with Tim’s backup being Stephanie Brown right now, whatever it is that they’re playing at. I’m also not giving that chip back if he’s not asking for it. You know what they say about gift horses and their mouths.

“I’m a little better at playing with others than Batman was. And that means that unless they’re all migrating? Well. Guess it’s time to show what loyalty to the shithole means.”

It just probably doesn’t include hiring Deathstroke to take care of my problem for me. That’s the line we don’t go over, right?

“Thanks, though. Not so much for the offer but for bringing the rest of this to me.”

Me and my bottle, and my half a sandwich, are getting up, too. Both surely to be finished upstairs in privacy. Everyone else has eyes on them tonight, so God help us all if they end up needing mine, too. It is Gotham though. So we’ll see.