The Graveyard Shift – Red Hood/Catwoman

The Graveyard Shift – Red Hood/Catwoman

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

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

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

It was time to curb that growth.

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

That’s how it worked, right?

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

Or at least, that’s what he thinks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, to see what was inside…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

”When is the boat due?!?!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, it was time for the fun to begin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Normally, this would strike down any other man.

But, this wasn’t any other man.

This was a sumo wrestler.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood – Catwoman/Katana

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood – Catwoman/Katana

In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.

Even at the best of times, Gotham City’s hardly a bastion of law and order. It’s not for lack of trying, but there’s just something about the place. Now, it’s even worse than usual. For a crime syndicate during a period like this, it’s a good time to act big. With law enforcement tied up and overwhelmed the door is wide open for bloody reprisals and redistribution of territories, and the Hasigawas have been very, very busy. The presumptive heiress, Eiko, is at the forefront of it all, as a lieutenant or as a soldier, as whatever her father requires of her.

Tatsuo Hasigawa had raised her on a steady diet of Sun Tzu, while her mother had tried to balance it out with Sei Shonagon. When the latter died, the old man’s heart hardened even further, the callus complete. Eiko isn’t a daughter, she’s his legacy and over the years he has tried time and again to break her, to remake her in his image. Anyone that she became close to, he made to disappear so as to keep her focused. This taught her to not to get close to anybody, but it also taught her to hate him. Perhaps this was not the intended lesson.

As an agent of the Yakuza, she’s been consolidating. Taking the lead in the field. Her father had tried to use her to both attack and defend, but feigned, carefully-measured incompetence on her part had forced him to choose. Unsurprisingly, he’d gone with attack. Having bought herself some extra free time with her ploy, she had begun work on a new game of her own. Borrowing a persona, a local ‘celebrity’ of sorts, she undermines her own organization by night, tipping off enemies before a raid, or else leading the police to a stash house before it can be put to the torch.

Sometimes, they won’t even listen to Catwoman, though. And so they hear the song of Eiko Hasigawa’s blade. She had been taught by the finest kenshi to ever pick up a katana, at great expense. The music is as lovely as it needs to be and, perversely, she profits either way. But each time she is forced to do things Tatsuo’s way is a small victory for him. She has been losing her whole life, ever since her first game of Go. Past a certain point, she’d surrendered the thought of an overt victory entirely. She lets him win these battles, because the war will be hers.

Actually, it already is. He just doesn’t realize it yet.

Alone in the backseat of the sedan, she looks out the window at Star Bridge off in the distance. The kitty had to stay in Gotham; it would be too telling if she turned up here, at the precise time as Eiko, on the opposite side of the country. Not to mention the difficulty it would take to shake her entourage, who had accompanied her from the moment the plane had touched down and would likely still be at her side when they go wheels up. Assuming any of them survive the rough bit of business ahead of them. She knows their names, she knows their habits and quirks not because she cares for them as individuals but because, as in chess, it’s important to know how each piece moves. Another reason to enjoy that game is that her father refuses to play it.

Her eyes shift forward as the lead outrider’s tail-light flares, a hand signal over the shoulder to the driver of the car informing of a police presence ahead. The sedan brakes, and the sheathed blade beside Eiko slips toward the footwell opposite her but she catches it out of the air before it falls. Her driver looks back and says something, perhaps an apology, but she can’t hear him over the music coming from her earbuds. Ennio Morricone. But the way she returns her bored gaze out the side window is it’s own reply. I’m coming for you, sensei. She breathes on the glass, using a fingertip to draw a cheshire grin and pointed ears, the corners of her lips quirking upward.

It had taken some effort but Tatsu had finally convinced Eve she could be left alone long enough for her to go gather supplies. The defensives she had prepared should hold she had explained and the stern gaze she used had seemingly convinced the girl. While the terror Eve felt was understandable she had to be made to understand she could not always expect Tatsu to remain at her side. To further ease the girls comfort Tatsu waited for Eve to fall asleep before making her way from the condemned theater they hid within.

Having slept within the single set of clothing Tatsu owned leaving took little preparation beyond grabbing her tattered leather jacket and sliding her arms inside it, and then placing the strap to the small guitar case containing her blade over her neck and finally swinging that to her back. Taking the less observed path at the rear of the theater Tatsu disabled her defensives along the way, taking moments to reset them before moving to the next and finally the last.

Emerging onto the street under the lamppost she herself had shattered to keep prying eyes from seeing more then they should, and taking a quick look about. Seeing no sign of anyone Tatsu then pulls the burner phone she had purchased the day before this out and begins to type in the word grocery store only to see it autocomplete itself into Grotto, cursing something in Japanese she begins to type again.

Succeeding this time she taps the button for directions and makes her way forward down the path indicated, a small corner store sat just three blocks over, it would have to suffice. Tatsu kept her pace slow but deliberate and her eyes keen. While she thought she had yet to be seen in Star she could not be certain and this neighborhood had plenty of fools looking to harass one they deemed an easy target.

How disappointed they would be if they tried.

When running from international crime syndicates, it’s easy to underestimate the scale of the resources that might be utilized to track someone down. Sure, depending on the offense a lone person might escape retribution for a time, disappear into the press of humanity, but something like killing a dozen agents of a particular family might invoke a more concerted effort. It’s the kind of thing that gets organizations to work together, favors to be called in. There are eyes everywhere that are bought and paid for. It’s impossible to not get spotted at all.

To an extent the police state helps in this. Cameras, facial recognition software, even gait protocols, next-level stuff that the police don’t use because of the red tape involved but of course criminals don’t have to worry about any of that. They have their own form of bureaucracy but in this instance it’s hardly relevant. As is the source of the tip, which Eiko does not actually know, nor care to know. Her father had given her orders to move on the information, which meant it was reliable and that was all the assurance she needed.

That she did not intend to fully cooperate with the spirit of those orders is not something he needed to know.

She’d brought four people with her, and they’d combed the area in their usual unsubtle way. Shaking down bit players, shoving photographs in street people’s faces. This kind of brute force tactic works on two levels, the most obvious one being that it’s a pretty quick way to loosen tongues. The other mechanism seems an obvious weakness: as word gets around, inevitably the target will become aware that they are being hunted. Usually, this will cause them to leave their hiding places and bolt, exposing them to danger. Eiko does not suppose that Tatsu will bolt, though. She will take the opposing road instead.

It’s by something of a coincidence that she is the first one to actually lay eyes on Katana, but it’s purposeful that she’s the first one to let herself be seen, leaning against the exterior door of a noodle shop. The young woman’s in a two-piece suit, practically a uniform of the organization, with her dark brown hair unbound. She’d been a child when she’d last seen Tatsu, but the older woman hadn’t changed much over the years. She wonders if Tatsu remembers her. Her left hand clutches a dark green sheath made from lacquered wood, the rayskin-covered hilt of her own sword angled downward. Carried openly, as if in clear disregard of law.

She glances sidelong toward Tatsu, then tilts her head in a minute gesture toward the door, which she turns and enters without a word, a little bell attached to the portal jingling. No, she doesn’t think that Tatsu Yamashiro will run at all. The shop’s lights are mostly off and it looks mostly unoccupied, save for a quartet of similarly-clothed individuals at a table further inside, busily eating ramen. An unlit acquarium houses large, orange and white fish that must look absolutely brilliant when the bulbs are turned on.

Tatsu could rarely be said to be unobservant, but even in those moments where her mind failed her, the Soultaker did not. As she rounds the corner and catches sight of Eiko in the doorway the souls in the sword begin to speak. At first, it is but a whisper, the sounds growing louder until it is practically screaming. ‘Yakuza!’ they shout, ‘enemy!’ they echo over and over until it becomes a maddening chorus of a thousand long departed warriors until in an instant they go quiet. Second passes and a single voice speaks a single word, a name. Maseo her husband says ‘Eiko’. Of all the people Tatsu had expected to see opposite the end of her blade from within the Yakuza, she had not anticipated this one.

It mattered little she told herself if the girl called herself Yakuza he would die like one. Moving to the sidewalk and placing the guitar case on the ground Tatsu flips one clasp then the next to allow her to open the lid. Opening it and reaching inside Tatsu lifts the Soultaker slowly careful not to let the increasingly bright green glow of the sword catch her directly in the eyes

Even still sheathed the eerie aura seemed to reach everywhere, using her other hand she then pulls a small silver mask from within the case and affixes it to her face. Placing the sword into the small loop at her waste for this exact purpose Tatsu turns and walks into the noodle shop. The bell needlessly announces her arrival as the door swings closed behind her.

“Maseo tells me your name is Eiko. I knew an Eiko many years ago…”

The hand she had on her blade as she entered ever so slightly moves its thumb to push the sword just a touch-free of its sheath.

“I do not recall her being so foolish as this.

Looking past Eiko to the men at the tables.

“Only four? Were I prideful I might be insulted.”

The heiress-apparent of the Hasigawa Family strides purposefully toward the seated mooks. They all have names but they are unimportant, interchangable. She reaches them just before Tatsu pushes through the front door. Bowls are dropped, hands reach beneath jackets for a Glock or Beretta or flashy, nickel-plated revolver but Eiko slams her sheath down flat on the table. “Don’t,” she says in a forceful tone. “She’ll kill every one of you.” Eiko leaves her sword there, snatching a paper envelope holding a pair of cheap chopsticks that she extracts and uses to quickly tie her hair up in a bun.

Turning away from them, she slips her blazer over one shoulder and then, more carefully, the other, placing it over the back of a chair at the unoccupied table adjacent. “Eiko doesn’t have a choice.” Her voice is marginally softer than the one she’d used with her own men. A holstered pistol rests at the back of her right hip, a Heckler & Koch USP with two spare magazines. She unclips the holster from her belt and tosses it onto the table in front of her, and then she unbuttons the sleeves of her white shirt. “You’ve been in this situation as well; I hope you understand, sensei.”

Her fingers deftly undo the buttons across her front and she pulls off the overshirt, draping it gently over her jacket. Beneath she wears a tank top, and across her bare shoulders snakes part of a larger tattoo that covers her entire back. It’s just a black outline right now, a dragon’s tail with no color unless one counts her skintone. “Anyway, for what you’ve done you shouldn’t pretend you don’t deserve it.” She reaches back blindly, one of her men reacting to lift her sheath up and press the hilt into her hand. She grips the sword and steps forward, tugging it free in the same motion and holding it underhand.

Tatsu had taught her everything she knows about the weapon, she knows the girl’s moves inside and out and she’s surely kept a few to herself besides. Eiko is under no illusion that she will come out on top here, but there’s an underlying conversation that’s more important than the fight itself. All she has to do is not die, and hopefully keep those accompanying her from that same fate as well. That’s why she’s always putting herself in the front, taking the lead to try and limit casualties on all sides whether through skill or through guile. She knows that Tatsu understands she is here under orders, and she cannot simply disregard those without losing fingers or worse.

The question is, will she care enough to pull her punches?

If anything that Eiko says has any effect on Tatsu the mask she wears keeps this hidden behind its red lenses and silver sheen. Taking a step further into the shop Tatsu follows her former students lead and slips off her own jacket, the jacket Maseo had given her shortly after they first met. It seemed so innocent at the time how he had placed it on her shoulders as they sat and talked waiting for his brother and her husband Takeo to return from business in the city.

She had been lonely in her husband’s absence and Maseo had always been a good friend. Looking back she now knew that had been where the first spark of the love that caused her betrayal had begun.

Pushing these thoughts away, Tatsu knew she had no time for such an indulgence of sentimentality. After all, it was just a jacket. Gently she places the prized jacket on a hook for a coat just inside the door, letting her eyes leave Eiko for only a moment. It was a small thing but if the girl attacked her while she looked away it would reveal much of her student’s character, not doing so spoke volumes in an entirely different way.

Eiko had been a girl of strong character as a child, but fathers among the Yakuza had a way of killing such spirit in favor of more lethal past times. Moving her red eyes back to Eiko now her head nods in a few short movements as the girl speaks.

“You speak as if you understand why I have done the things I have done.”

Her dominant hand now moves to the handle of her blade and slowly pulls the sword free careful as it does not touch the scabbard as it dulls the edge. Setting one foot back a step as she adjusts her stance, her hands move the sword up to right shoulder the tip aimed straight up.

“I will kill a thousand Yakuza if it sees Takeo in his grave….”

Eiko had been polite, well-spoken and detached in a way that some might’ve mistaken for sociopathy, reserved in the manner of a child who isn’t allowed to have friends. She had also been very intelligent, a fast learner with a self-awareness that saved her from the pitfalls of arrogance. It’s not so much that she’s changed from all of that so much as she sees this confrontation as the only way to satisfy all conditions required of her, from her father and those set by herself, with minimal (possibly zero) loss of life.

She does not attack during the conversation, but she does reposition, circling around the table so as to get a clear path toward Tatsu. “There is no understanding; you’re behaving like a rabid beast,” she says, stepping closer. Further from her own people, who remain in their seats paying close attention. They aren’t here to actually help her, whether they understand that or not on some subconscious level. Tatsuo Hasigawa had sent them to make sure that his only child actually completed the mission he’d given her; while they are around, she cannot back down, and in that sense they are as much a hindrance as a help.

If not moreso.

I can help you,” she asserts in a whisper, abruptly switching to Japanese once she’s close enough (and far enough from her people). “But we need to give them a show.” She takes a half-step back and twists her wrist, rolling the hilt around the back of her knuckles so that it winds up in a traditional grip and then wrapping her left hand around it as well, just below the first. She kicks her hard Oxfords off, then bends her knees to drop her center of gravity and tense her muscles in preparation for explosive movement.

If it hadn’t already looked like there was about to be a fight, it’s all but a sure thing now. Past a certain point, placed in this difficult situation, she has to trust that Tatsu will see the reason behind her request. That she won’t just kill her, and her retinue. Either way, though, first there is the struggle, her skills matched against the one she had acquired them from. And it’s going to hurt. Obligingly, she waits for Katana to initiate.

It had been a long time since Tatsu had felt anything but rage. In the few moments she could find that her mind would allow her to sleep her dreams would see to it her thoughts remained enflamed. It had been only a few nights ago that she had most recently awoke screaming as her skin tingled with the sensation of fire as it had that night her home erupted in flame. Much had happened since that day, many had died at her hand all of them her former brethren.

When she had come to Star City she had done so to continue her bloody path of revenge. She had thought nothing could see that path diverted. But then from within the darkness itself a girl emerged, a girl in desperate need of protection. A girl she already knew she would feel obligated to train, Eve abandoned would soon be claimed by her enemies. The loss the girl had suffered mirrored her own in a way and Tatsu found seeing her suffering had broken through the screaming of her mind.

Perhaps it was no coincidence that a new student had appeared and shortly thereafter a former. A former student that seemed reluctant to heed her masters orders. Whatever game Eiko played she would allow her a move or two more.

Her mind set Tatsu moved forward with speed she had found rarely matched her sword moving with a fluid grace it edge aimed with apparent determination to end Eiko’s life. Only at the last moment would she alter its course it’s sharpened tip cutting close enough to confuse their observers.

Of the Yakuza present, Eiko is the strongest fighter. All five of them are aware of this fact, and probably Katana is as well. That doesn’t mean she’s a match for her former sensei, but it does mean she can’t phone it in. Making it look good means actually fighting, it means there needs to be blood because otherwise the play wouldn’t make sense. She punishes Tatsu’s apparent mercy by deflecting with the hilt guard, swatting aside the Soultaker contemptuously.

And following it up with an overhead strike, fast and lethal but subtly telegraphed through the placement of her feet, the tensing of the muscles in her exposed arms. It wouldn’t be enough for someone that hadn’t trained her to predict her attacks, but for Tatsu she is practically calling out her moves a second before she makes them. Her intent is to get the older woman to lock blades, and let her get close enough to growl, “Phone in my jacket. Cut me.” The blazer, hanging from the chair. Perhaps she intends to leave without retrieving it, most likely because she will be too injured.

She gives one last shove, but ultimately loses the test of raw strength, unable to press her attack. Katana is simply more powerful, physically, than the athletic gangster. It leaves her wide open for a follow up, her sword raised in both hands still, not yet recovered from her failed assault. A split second opening that provides a host of options for targets, including lethal ones. Obviously, Hasigawa is hoping that she does not get stabbed through the heart, nor gutted like a trout but either of these are very real possibilities when battling with someone so driven by vengeance as Tatsu.

Given the mask she wore following the path of Tatsu’s eyes was all but impossible. Perhaps this was my she wore it at all. So when she glances to the jacket Eiko mentions no one see’s it happen. Nor would it be apparent as her eyes take note of Eiko foot work or the tensing of her muscles but she most certainly did. As the woman who taught her most of these moves Tatsu could easily see where she was being guided. It was as easily seen as if it had been written across the sky in red smoke.

The question is just what would Tatsu do with the gift she had been given. The urge to disembowel another Yakuza loomed large in her mind but something different was going on here.

Seeing the opening Tatsu adjusts her feet to slide herself back away from Eiko, and checking her options she makes a decision. It takes only a fraction of a second for the edge of the Soultaker to find its ways to her opponents throat.

From the outside viewpoint, it all happens in a flash. The best of them up against a demoness who had slain twenty others, all eyes as the girl launches what looks to be a decisive assault, only to be stopped cold and then undone by a single flash of Katana‘s magical blade. There’s a spray of blood as Eiko’s throat is slit, but it’s not arterial, just a minor puncture of the trachea. Eiko’s eyes go wide in genuine terror, her own sword clattering to the ground as she grasps at her neck, suddenly unable to breathe.

There’s yelling in Japanese as the four men accompanying her rise from the table, chairs clattering as they’re thrown aside. Guns are drawn, but not fired. The Yakuza princess falls to her knees but throws up one slick red hand to wave them off. Her earlier warning is still fresh in their memories: She’ll kill every one of you. If they hadn’t believed it before, they certainly do now. So the choice becomes whether to throw their lives away, and let their boss’s only daughter die in the process or try and make a break for it. Get her to a hospital and save her life.

One of them holsters his gun and slowly walks toward the heiress, his eyes fixed on Tatsu as if nervously anticipating a violent response. It’s up to her, though. She’d never agreed to anything here, regardless what Hasigawa’s apparent plan is.

Katana stands still holding her arm outstretched as a drop of blood falls from the tip of the Soultaker. Her head lowers as if in a bow as she brings her sword about to return it to its sheath. Her eyes remain affixed on Eiko as her men move to remove her from the scene, but she does. It move against them.

As far as Tatsu is concerned this fight is over.

Eiko remains upright, shivering and her eyes still wide. Her lips quirk into something approximating a grin, the closest she can manage, but then a trickle of blood escapes and she seems to lose all strength just in time to be caught by the man slipping up behind her. The rest of them, seeing no further violence from Tatsu, keep their distance as best they can as they retrieve the ditched pistol and the dropped sword on their way out of the noodle shop.

The boss’s daughter is carried out to the sedan, and one of the outriders hops into the back with her, keeping pressure on the wound to her neck as they pull out. They leave behind a single motorcycle, a rented lower-end Harley, and inside Eiko’s blazer remains draped over a chair. In the interior pocket sits a cheap, prepaid cellphone with physical buttons rather than a touchscreen. It’s unlocked, and upon being activated a text message in kanji is already up on the screen, pretyped and waiting to be read:

It was nice to see you again. Talk to you soon.