by Reclaimer | Jul 22, 2018 | Chronicles
Harper sat hunched over her laptop the bright blue-tinged light of the monitor the rooms only illumination. Hours earlier she had pressed her back up against the dull splotchy brown couch in the living room and began her work. In the early going Cullen had sat behind her on the couch doing his best to follow the never ending line of code on the screen. But as always happened he soon had fallen asleep, his chin coming down to rest on her shoulder as he dozed off. Projects of this sort gave Harper a severe case of tunnel vision and little would snap her concentration once she made her way down the rabbit hole, a sharp chin to the shoulder and a low but building snore did it each and every time.
Harper loved her brother. A fact she repeated to herself like a mantra.
Her focus broken her awareness of just how dry her eyes were, and how
scratchy her throat had become turned crystal clear. Raising her right hand she gently pokes Cullen in the middle of his forehead.
“You’re killing me, Smalls….”
Cullen still half asleep mutters something about not knowing who that is before he sits up swaying a bit as he makes it upright, only to sharply turn fall over again. Burying his face into the back of the couch as he settles again and leaves Harper to her work. Placing her fingers back to the keyboard she begins to type again, only for an alert to fill her screen and once again break her concentration completely.
Looking again Harper sees that it’s is instead a message from one of her online associate, the sort that she only dealt with under the hacker name Bluebird. Sitting up and leaning in to better read the words as they scroll past her eyes widening with each word. Something was going down in Gotham and more then a few people had used the word aliens. Of course no one was certain the contact would mention as a media lockdown had quickly gone into effect.
Bored and utterly unable to return her mind to the code of some rand8m app she had agreed to create for a little side money, Harper rises and packs up her laptop moving to grab her special bag on the way out the door. Once out in the hall she unzips the bag and pulls out a pair of goggles that look seriously homemade and high tech at the same time, as if they had been made out of scavenged parts. Mostly because they had been.
Slipping them on she makes her way down the stairs and out of the door to building she had not long ago moved to with her brother. Stopping at a bright blue and purple painted scooter that seems to lack any form of security until Harper approaches and hitting a button on her keys that makes a series of beeps and clicks sound as each of her security devices disable themselves allowing her to now ride the scooter.
“Please dear god let me find something worth my time…mama has tech projects that need proper components.”
Sitting on the scooter she reaches up to tap something on the side of her goggles, after a moment a rudimentary heads display appears complete with an augmented reality style arrow to point her in the right direction. Reviving the modified engine a few times Harper zooms forward to see just what she can find.
The weeks have not been kind to Maxine. Fuck, the years have not been kind, but she’s had some good days at least. This is not one of them. As a Person of Cybernetic Persuasion she is basically at her best on the front lines, a bad-mouthed termagaunt that is thrown like a dollar-store hammer into the face of that which threatens the world or whatever but way back when, when she’d been free to do what the hell she pleased she’d been kind of a menace. To be fair, though, society had screwed her over first.
A handful of corpses and some whiny little bitches in the hospital had turned a crime spree into an execution and from there shit had just kind of gone off the rails. Now at age nineteen she’s a widow by her own actions and missing roughly 95% of her OEM parts, now made of plastic, wire and steel. And some other crap that she neither knows nor cares to know. And right now she doesn’t even know where she is, nor precisely how she’d gotten here.
Error: Visual feed offline
Well, at least I still got-
Error: Audio feed offline
Fuck me sideways, I’ll just get up an’-
Error: Motivators offline
…The hits just keep on comin’.
A multimillion dollar pile of scrap metal with a mohawk and eyebrow piercings lays sprawled out in the alley, sparking from exposed wires. A light fog spills out from her leather jacket, like she’s got a lump of dry ice stashed in an interior pocket. It looks like she’d picked a fight with a garbage truck, and then all the garbage truck’s cousins had jumped her from behind while she was fucking up its face.
Harper raced forward with all the speed a heavily modified Vespa engine could manage. Her eyes kept a close eye on the road but occasionally one would glance to the corner of her HUD to read the update on possible alien debris locations. All anyone knew for sure is some had fallen out of the sky and wrecked a few penthouses, some extraterrestrials, other said Superman, and still, others said Elvis had returned from space.
Some people were idiots.
Rounding a corner as another update arrives Harper looks down to read it only to find a suddenly appearing garbage truck had lumbered into her path. Harper slams on the breaks even as she emits a sound that could not be described as anything close to dignified. A fraction of a second passes as she realizes breaking will not be enough, so jerking the handles sharply the scooter turns and falling to its side skids into an adjacent alleyway and smacks had against a dumpster just inside it.
“New projects Harper…components for NEW projects..fixing a busted scooter is not a ne…”
Having barely avoided cracking her head against the dumpster Harper sits up and looks down to the scooter to assess the damage, then she catches sight of something further inside the alleyway. Seeing the smoke and hearing the telltale sizzle of fried electronics she quickly stands and begins crawling toward Maxine.
“Ooookay so moving really fricking hurts…but Shiny!”
Slowly making her way over she brings herself up to one knee as she slowly looks over Maxine her eyes nearly sparkle at the presence of such technology and it is all she can do not to giggle at the thoughts of tinkering. Then it hits her, this is an actual person and they were clearly in trouble.
“Hey..uh…Lady? I don’t wanna assume or gender or anything. You okay?”
The question was more to see if any sort of response was even possible, clearly, okey would not be the go-to word here.
There’s no response from the punkish garbage heap in the middle of the asphalt. However, given the frequency of the sparks one might surmise that at least there’s still some kind of power source active. A keen mind might link that to the fog, maybe from some kind of coolant system. Beyond that, the cyborg is more or less in a single piece aside from some metal bits that may or may not even belong to her. She’s suffered massive damage despite being intact, much of it maybe requiring quick fixes at best but if there’s a lot of internal damage things could quickly get more complicated.
The chassis itself is extremely feminine, right down to fairly generous steel breasts tucked beneath a cutoff black Jack Daniels tank top. Functionally they would seem to have no real purpose except so as to present a gender but it’s possible perhaps that the recipient hadn’t really had any say as far as design goes. Actually, that’s the truth, but if she had been consulted Maxine would’ve contributed a big fucking thumbs up to the idea, regardless of how nonfunctional the addition was.
Ratty, torn-up jean shorts trail down to just above knee-joins that are bent at the wrong angle, probably need whole new pins there. A surplus combat boot is strapped to either presumably-robotic foot, and clenched in one bare metallic hand is a broken length of chain. The other is about as mangled as her legs, which is to say it ain’t real pretty but it’s probably something with access to a decent machine shop could fix without needing to call NASA. A hinged jaw is partially open, revealing a single row of basically human teeth past her upper lip, the only lip that still exists in fact. The teeth are in various shades of yellow, slightly crooked and pocked with cavities.
Leaning over Maxine, Harper adjusts her goggles and taps off the AR Mode, she then slowly begins to asses the damage or at least what she could assume to be damage and not design. Reaching out to lift the nearest piece of the cyborg she can find intact Harper pulls her hand back as she notices the giant hole in the palm. Cursing under her breath as it occurs to her it must have happened during the skid. Holding up her other hand she inspects the glove there and finds it intact.
Using that hand she again reaches out and lifts a piece from the ground and begins looking it over carefully. Harper was good with tech and she knew that but she also knew in this moment this might be beyond her. She might need help or at the very least someone to help her drag her new friend somewhere better equipped then a random alley.
Reaching into her special bag and fumbling around until she lays a finger and then another on the smartphone inside the bag. Sliding it out she taps on her contacts list and begins scrolling through the names until she comes to nearly the end.
Tapping on an entry that says only StepOnMe she hits the screen until the texting option appears and she begins to type in the following. “911, like Woah hit me back Brown.” Vague as it might be she knew Stephanie Brown would reply as soon as possible, the girl was reliable like that. Until that happened she would have to do what she could on her own.
“Stay with me….I can do this. No really.”
Harper then starts to pick at the pieces she can identify with some degree of certainly and begins laying them out where she thinks they should go. She really needed to get this chick into a real and actual workshop.
The mechanical parts are twisted and mangled but the ongoing power issue also seems to be a problem. There’s some kind of oil or lubricant slowly pooling around the broken cyborg, though it isn’t getting larger at any observable speed. Either she’d already leaked as much as she could or it’s just coming out at such a minute pace that it isn’t perceptible. If it’s the second one then that might indicate she’s been here for some time. Exposed wires spark and sizzle, sending tiny arcs of electricity into the viscous, tarlike stuff.
There’s a single pop followed by a prolonged hiss from somewhere beneath the leather jacket as another hose melts, thicker black smoke starting to pour out. Perhaps related, a little red light starts blinking on her weird metal torso in tune with a barely-audible, tinny beep-beep-beep. The beeps get closer together, tempo speeding up and a robotic voice whispers from a concealed speaker: Reactor critical. Please evacuate to a ten mile radius. Reactor critical. One minute to meltdown.
Harper might have to get her hands dirty with some tools to make a fix here. That or hope she’d brought along some kind of jetpack that can travel at speeds of over six hundred miles an hour. Either one, really. She could also try praying to God, but word on the streets is that Superman split.
Or maybe this is some kind of elaborate prank, but in this world and especially this city all the darkest jokes kinda tend to not be jokes at all.
Standing up sharply at the sound of the alarms and especially the warning about a critical reactor failure. While she did not know what shape her scooter was in she knew to a near certainty that it would not be fast enough. Worse still her brother Cullen was well within a ten-mile radius of her current location, so was Stephanie maybe. Her father could be as well but she didn’t really care much what happened to him.
Okay, she did care…but begrudgingly so at best. The man hadn’t been seen in weeks and the last time he been he was raving about a Clue Man or a ClueMaster? No that couldn’t be right who would call themselves Cluemaster? FOCUS. Harper!
Right. Nuclear reactor eminent..or was it imminent? FOCUS. Death soon. Scrambling through the field of strewn parts to dive for her bag Harper reaches inside grabbing a handful of hoses and assorted tools. Fumbling as she races back over to Maxine to begin sealing off leaks and tighten bolts or anything else she can think of to stabilize a cyborg.
“Is this where they yell…Don’t you die on me?”
Quick wits and some tape seals off the steaming hoses. Heat causes the air above the metal woman to shimmer as it radiates outward but the cybernetics themselves begin to drop in temperature once the coolant system is back online. There’s an internal whirring, and a smell of burnt ozone accompanies the intensified crackle of electricity from exposed wiring but the sparks subside.
Visual feed online. Engaging triage.
Maxine’s blue eyes open and the first thing she sees is a pigeon’s ass as it soars overhead. Nononono you fucker, she thinks, still trapped inside her own head to an extent. Limited motivators online blinks across her field of vision. She moves her head to the side, narrowly escaping a speckle of birdshit, then looks down kind of awkwardly. Her trapjaw works up and down a little as she flexes the hinge. “The fuck’re you doing?” she asks. Her voice sounds like if Courtney Love were yelling from the inside of a sealed trashcan, grungy and raspy with a kind of metallic reverb.
She still can’t move her arms or her legs. Power’s down in a number of critical areas and what little is left of her organics feels like it’s cooking. She also realizes that she can’t even make out her own voice. It’s just dead silence even though it looks like they’re in the middle of some kind of city. “Can you hear me? Am I even sayin’ shit right now?” Audio feed online. “There we fuckin’ are. Hey dumpster-diver, go get me a bottle of five-weight-forty. Or a beer.”
At the sound of Maxine’s voice Harper jumps back landing on her palms, the impact to the injured hand sends an intense jolt of pain through her arm. This sends her falling to her shoulder as the arms gives way under the pain. Her face turns away from Maxine and her eyes point directly into her special bag where her tools had been. Still inside she catches sight of one other special tool.
Reaching inside and sliding the object out she turns back to Maxine her aims a heavily modified taser at the cyborg. Considering the woman had only moments ago been about to explode she didn’t think lowering her guard was the best idea.
Harper snapped back as Maxine’s requested either oil or a beer, she of course had wither on her currently. Only now did she really notice the general look of the woman sitting still on the street in front of her. This cyborg looked like the love child of Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols and a toaster, it was an odd combo to say the least.
“What the hell happened to you lady…also don’t move…please?”
At this she waves the taser around a little to indicate she means business. The less then intimidating expression sitting on her face may undermine her efforts just a little.
Maxine inclines her head up a little, just enough for most of her matted-down mohawk to leave the pavement. She eyes the taser with no small hint of amusement; though without a human lower jaw it’s hard to say whether or not she’s smiling it’s pretty apparent from the set of her pierced eyebrows. “What’re ya gonna do with that, get me off? Tryna skip the whole buyin’ me a drink?” Damaged servos whir and, with another pop of electricity and puff of smoke, die. She slumps her head back with a metallic thunk.
“Yeah, null swear on that,” she grumbles. Her mouth kind of moves with the words but it’s probably an unnecessary cosmetic affectation. However, the motion does provide a glimpse of some kind of empty hole at the back of her robotic mouth, like the barrel of a gun. Could be dangerous, or it could be as broken as the rest of her. The chassis is clearly having power issues regardless, not to mention the fact that she doesn’t seem capable of movement. “An’ as for what happened, your guess is as good as mine, meatbag.”
Turning her head, she can see her mangled left hand and her eyes squint in concentration as if she’s trying to will it to move. There’s not even a static pop at this point, just zero response entirely. She groans in frustration. “Where the fuck am I? It smells like the inside of a fuckin’ septic tank… am I in New Jersey!?”
As if realizing her face told a story other then how much of a badass Maxine was dealing with Harper narrows her eyes at the cyborg, and then realizes her goggles were still on. Letting an exasperated sigh escape her lips Harper slides the goggles up onto her head and renews her glare. Looking down at the taser and giving a little shrug as she lowers the weapon and lays it on the ground.
“You wish this was Jersey…you are in Gotham.”
As fiercely as she may want to defend her hometown regardless of its many flaws, there could be no argument about the smell. Pulling herself to a standing position and careful not to use her injured hand Harper rises and makes her way closer to Maxine.
Running a hand through her hair Harper grips herself by the hair as she again takes in the extent of the damage. Despite herself, a low whistle exits her mouth. She could not say with any amount of certainty that she could handle fixing an actual really real cyborg. The already established nuclear reactor problem only magnified her growing terror.
What if she accidentally set the damn thing off?
“How do we get you moving? This is a real you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay her type situation.”
Dropping to one knee to bring herself closer to her special bag, Harper begins rummaging through the items that remained within. Something had to be of use in this situation…of course it’s not as of she had prepared to do emergency repairs on a punk rawk cyborg or anything.
“Gotham? Ugh, so it is.” She shakes her head as if to say no to reality. Fresh birdshit from the shot she’d narrowly dodged winds up all over the back of her head, which she doesn’t really seem to notice because what little skin she does have is fake anyways. “Garden State two, Maxine zero. At least it ain’t Trenton again.” It seems like she has an unpleasant history in this state. But her crime spree had been kind of a footnote compared to all of the crazy shit that happens in and around this region anyways. What are a handful of violent robberies compared to a week in the life of the Joker, for example?
Thinking a little less optimistically now, she tries to move her shoulder, which sort of works but the joint’s dislocated and hydraulic fluid bleeds out of it in a gush that quickly drops that side of her torso the couple inches it had risen back to the ground. “Haha, fuck if I know,” Ladytron assesses helpfully. “But you better figure it out before the Federales show up.” She doesn’t remember where she is or how she’d even got here, and she doesn’t really remember the past few months either.
It would be a lot more helpful if she did but she’s been on longer benders anyways in her short life.
“Go get like, a truck or some shit, your candy-ass ain’t movin’ me by yourself.” She cranes her neck to regard the girl, who really has no reason to be helping her in the first place. Maxine does not provide any further incentive to do so, either, adding, “And get me that fuckin’ beer,” before slumping back down. She looks up at the sky, her pierced brows taking on an angle that speaks more of the extreme discomfort of her present situation. As far as she knows, she’s being hunted by the law. She doesn’t remember that she does the hunting nowadays.
Trailing off as he thoughts drift back to the bag that contained her tools. She knew each and every one to be found within and she knew without looking that she lacked anything close to what she would need. The panic that this had slowly began to create in the corners of her mind only added to the tightening in her chest.
“This isn’t the sort of neighborhood the cops like to come to…Gotham remember?”
Harper knew full well that in this part of town the cops were the least of the things to fear. Gotham has its fair share, no it had far beyond its fair share of crazies and it only got worse with each passing day.
Finding her phone again Harper begins scrolling through the contacts list. Stopping suddenly on one of the listings Harper shrugs and presses the number an obvious reluctance on her features as she stood listening to it ring. After a few minutes, the endless ringtone pauses and a voice can be heard. Turning and walking a few steps away from Max She listens for a bit then speaks on a low voice to whoever was on the other end.
“Count your transistors chica…cause I’ve got friends in low places.”
“Yeah… you’re right.” The downed cyborg’s brow furrows in thought. “But if they ain’t the ones who did this… who did?” Whatever had put her in this near-destroyed state had clearly done a number on her memory as well, whether because of brain damage or some sort of gaussian effect to some kind of internal memorybanks. It’s really hard to figure how much of her is human in fact, but what’s clear is that whatever that percentage is it’s low.
Without being able to move much beyond her neck, there’s not much she can do except mouth off. While she is normally content to do just that, she’s aware she can’t really back it up while in this kind of condition. At least Harper still seems like she’s going to be of some further use, for whatever reason. But she’s not playing fetch, so what is she doing?
Not much to do but wait, something she sort of hates but otherwise what are the options? “Listen, if you’re callin’ a tow truck I ain’t exactly insured…”
Harper takes the phone from her ear and slides the phone into the inside of her coat. Walking back over to squat down in front of Max she grabs her by the side of the head and turns her face so their looking right into each other’s eyes.
“Okay here’s the deal…your clearly dangerous. So I’m not just leaving you lay here.”
Once she’s sure the cyborg is going to pay attention properly Harper lets her jaw free.
“But I’ve no options but bad ones to make that happen so….”
No sooner does she say this then a large white box truck drives up to the alleyway and turns to begin in until it’s right up to Harper and Max.
“I called some people I know who worked a chop shop that used to be in the Narrows…when there was a Narrows at least. They have the means to move you but might turn on us too so..”
Harper stops cold as a man exits the back of the truck a moment after the back slides open, two more men exit behind him each of these men carry pistols that are currently holstered. Harper holds up her hand and smiles.
“Hey there Uncle Rico…seen my dad lately?”
The man that Harper addressed as Uncle Rico had the bearing and dress of man that expected to be listened to. The suit he wore had the look of an expensive one but little details here and there betrayed it as a cheap knock off. A misaligned stitch here and a frayed thread there told the truth of the large muscled man who had stepped out of the back of the truck, he wanted people to think him important.
“You know I ain’t your daddies brother Harper…”
His tone seemed harsh until a broad smile crept over his lips and he held out a hand to the diminutive girl who only seemed smaller in the shadow he cast, a street light just over his shoulder mostly blocked out by his frame.
If Harper had any fear she showed little of it as she stepped forward and began a quick but elaborate handshake with Rico. As it ended Harper shifted her shoulder and aimed a thumb at the mess of a cyborg laying in the alleyway behind them.
“I’m not leaving that here…she’ll been up a dirty bomb full of Joker gas. Can I call in that favor and get her hauled somewhere I can work?”
Rico steps around Harper and stops just next to Max who he looks over slowly his smile only increasing as he realizes just what he has here. It would be a shame to have to take this from someone he did in fact owe a favor to.
“No worries Harper I’ll take the Killbot off your hands.”
Harper immediately has to stifle the urge to throw up her hands in protest, she knows she has little choice here. Walking up to stand next to Rico again.
“I’m going with…otherwise good luck getting her up and running.”
Rico nods and raising his hand snaps his fingers to bring his men running over one with the chain from a wench mounted to the back of the truck they arrived in. It would take a few minutes but Max would find herself inside shortly.
Huntress had picked up the call for help and to Tron’s luck, she’d been out in the city. The fight between Lobo and Starfire had dragged her out. While she wasn’t on duty per say, she figured something would need cleaned up. It always did. This wasn’t her job but it wasn’t like there were alot of their people inside Gotham. Because none of them were supposed to be there in the first place. Yet someone was.
Light bent around her as she walked slowly down the alleyway, leaving her invisible to the naked eye and most machines if they’d been watching. With a smirk she leaned down, picking a stray piece of broken brick up off the ground and flicked her first, throwing it at the man, meaning the wench, pinging him right between the eyes with pinpoint accuracy.
Reaching up she pulled her goggles down over her eyes, tugging the lower part over her mouth and nose, sealing it in place before letting the field drop from around her and making her visible once again. Pulling a metallic cylinder from her belt she squeezed it, snapping a long staff out as she walked toward them all.
“That does not belong to you.” Her voice, computerized and metallic sounding, was low and half growled. “Leave before I make you.”
For her part, Maxine could’ve done the smart thing and just played dead when the goombas showed up. Unfortunately, Maxine almost never does the smart thing, and she’s been mouthing off the entire time, issuing brutal threats despite her apparently helpless state. As the girl barters her like the pile of scrap she basically is, she continues her impotently wrathful spiel, essentially white noise by the time that she’s wrapped in chain and dragged up into the truck.
And then, the party really gets started. “Hey, did I just hear one of you fleshies eat shit? Is that another cyborg? I can’t seeee!” she complains, clearly disappointed that she’s missing out. Triage complete. The text flashes across her cybernetic retinas; she can practically hear an angelic chorus, like an answer to her prayers. Her joints crackle and pop as bent pins are rearranged by her servomotors, pulled back into alignment. Power is rerouted through alternate cables.
She flexes her limbs, popping the steel chains like they’re made out of plastic. Not even the good kind, the cheap kind from China with the delicious lead additives. Ladytron pushes herself up to her feet, and the suspension of the truck groans as she disembarks from it, a thousand pounds of weight lifting all at once. “You’re so unbelievably fucked,” she announces to everyone present. Tilting her head to one side, her neck-joints crackle menacingly as the pins there are unbent. A screw pops out and rattles down her shoulder. “Didn’t need that one anyways!” she says, kind of defensively, before clacking her metal fists together.
It’s a quick and dirty fix, and she’ll need repairs soon. Lots of them, really. But one thing Maxine Manchester doesn’t do is die easy.
Everything changes in an instant as the scene goes from in control to complete chaos. An object flies past Harper to drop one of the men working the wench, followed by the cyborg now back on her feet exiting the truck and basically blowing Harpers plan to smithereens. The plan had been a terrible one she knew but it had been all she could think to do. Seeing Rico look away Harper drops down to grab her Super Taser from the place it had fallen on the ground earlier.
Wasting no time she jabs it into the large mans ankle and hits the button to send a small but potent jolt of electricity up his leg and throughout his body. Rico twitches a few seconds and falls over with a resounding thud.
Turning is to look to in the direction of the previously cloaked new arrival Harper again tosses the taser to the side.
“Hey now Lady Predator…I’m just trying to get that…”
Pausing a moment she gestures to Max.
“Off the streets.”
Placing a pair of fingers in her mouth and whistling at Max.
“FYI there’s at least two more sitting up front.”
That said she stands and holding up her hands to indicate her surrender, Harper was brave. It not stupid. Taking on a She Predator and She Terminator would be the sort of thing she would lead to someone like Batman, or at least that guy in the Red Hood, Maybe even the chick in purple…naaaaah.
Lady Predator. She smirked under her mask as she walked up on the girl, then glanced down at Rico as he drooled and pissed himself on the ground. Whatever that little taser she’d had packed a punch. Not that Harper could see but her brow arched approvingly as she stepped past her toward the front of the truck.
“Are you functional?” She called to Tron as she gripped the drivers door, pulling it open. Flicking her staff up she cracked him across the back of the head. Then shoved the staff further through to nail the passenger. Shit like this was why they had rules in place. Rules that Tron hadn’t followed. Much like Starfire. But this one was simple enough to clean up at least. The witnesses little more than street trash that few would believe.
Reaching in she shoved the driver over, grabbing the keys out of the ignition before turning to walk back around to the back of the truck.
“And you are?” She leveled her eyes down at Harper from behind the purple glow of her goggles, resting the but of her staff on the ground as she leaned against it.
Maxine manually pushes her head back upright, but it falls back to the side just a few degrees. She can’t exactly frown but her pierced eyebrows suggest that she is not especially pleased. In the time it takes to do this, the other two women take care of the remaining thugs. “Holy moley, fuckin’ save some for me next time.” A few months ago she would’ve just upped her score by waxing both of them and then administering Manchester Smilies to the downed thugs but something’s changed, some half-remembered subroutine.
Her blue eyes take on a faraway sort of look for a second, but when Huntress asks if she’s functional the cyborg snaps back to reality and replies, “I’ve never been called that before.” In an act of petulance she grabs the rear bumper of the truck with both hands, lifts it several feet and then slams the back half of the truck into the ground, cracking the axle and destroying the suspension. It’s marginally less flashy than flipping the damn thing but it’s not going anywhere now. Even less of anywhere than it was without the keys.
But hey, she’s gotta break something.
“This little meatbag bitch tried to sell me to those cannoli-suckers,” the termagant answers for Harper, storming toward the girl with murder in her cybereyes. She reaches out to grab her by the throat but pauses when she realizes her left hand’s still pretty mangled, her metal digits failing to fully extend.
Harper to her credit stands her ground even as Maxine stomps toward her with obvious murderous intent. She contemplates diving for the Super Taser again but quickly realizes it would do little good against the cyborg. So instead she stands still and does her best to look like she doesn’t want to run like a bat of the Narrows. What she does instead is barely conceal the grin as Maxine brings up a mangled hand.
“That was embarrassing for you…”
In an effort to further pretend she isn’t completely terrified she looks away from Max to The Huntress her hands going up as she begins to try and explain herself to the imposing woman with the newly bloodied quarterstaff.
“Okay…LOOK…yes I technically did try to sell her. BUT…I was trying to get her out of here and somewhere I could try to fix her.”
Kicking at Rico gently with her foot before looking back to Helena.
“I couldn’t fix her here, I needed tools and time. I’m not even sure I could have really but…I did stop that meltdown.”
“Leave it.” She snapped at LadyTron, a gloved hand snapping out to grab her shoulder and pull her back a step. This was already a disaster. Cleaning up and covering up for a dead kid wasn’t exactly on the list of things she needed or wanted to be dealing with. She wasn’t in the mood for any of it. Street goons weren’t exactly the kind of fight ashe was in the mood for either.
She turned her attention back to the girl, scanning over her. Her goggles kicked up a reading, pulling up the pertinent information. Name. Date of birth. Known residence. All the boring information. What she was more interested in now was exactly why this kid though she could put back together the… mess that was LadyTron.
“Just why do you think you could have fixed it, Ms.Row.”
“Yer lucky whoever-this-is is here, kid.” She gestures vaguely at her eyes with her ruined fingers, then points them sort-of towards Harper. Like I’ll be watching you but I have lazy eyes. She steps back at the tug on her shoulder mostly because she expects it to be stronger but it’s not, it’s like… really not. She shoots a glance toward Huntress. “Are you not a cyborg?” Maxine asks, disappointment in her tone.
She fusses with her busted hand while the two of them exchange information. Her right hand’s mostly alright but there are electronic alerts popping off in her cyberbrain every time she fusses with one of her fingers. It’s extremely annoying and she periodically makes frustrated sounds in the back of her metal throat. When Harper cops to the fact that she’d stopped a meltdown, Ladytron speaks up. “Yeah, I mean I guess she did do that.” She runs her good hand through her wilted mohawk, trying to get it to stand back up.
Whatever files exist on Maxine Manchester do not speak highly of her character. She is an ostensibly-reformed spree killer with a body count that would earn a respectful nod from Victor Zsasz, and a reputation for taking things way too far. Still, she’s brutal as hell and that’s a useful enough trait to outweigh the downsides in this line of work.
Harper flashes through over a decades worth of memories of her fixing everything from the toaster to the television after one of her fathers drunken rampages. He would go out looking for work or for something as simple as groceries and when it all went wrong for whatever reason he would come home and take out his frustrations on his family. On a good night he would smash the microwave and not Harper or her brother Cullen, or their mother.
After she was murdered he only got worse. Snapping back to the present at the odd sounds emanating from inside Maxine’s throat Harper looks to Huntress and shrugs a little.
“It’s a talent, always has been really. A thing breaks I fix it.”
Looking back over to Max and looking her over from top to bottom.
“If she explodes it would kill my brother…”
Harper stops mid sentence as Huntress calls her by her name.
“Did those googles tell you that? All mine do is basic navigation and information.”
She says tapping the goggles she currently worse atop her head.
“We have the same boss.” She said to LadyTron, pointedly. “A boss that you should be returning to right now unless you need further assistance with that.” Because she shouldn’t have been in the damn city in the first place. The last thing Gotham needed was someone like the Joker getting his hands on some of this kind of tech. She’d already seen first hand what some of the criminals here were capable of. “No, I’m not a cyborg.” But enhanced she was, but that was something else all together.
“Interesting.” She turned her attention back to Harper, reaching up to unseal the bottom part of the mask from her mouth and nose, pushing it back up into the goggles so her voice wasn’t distorted anymore.
“Thank you for stopping her from exploding then.” She smirked a bit as she eyed the girl up and down again with a different kind of interest now. There were people who would be interested in her. But she spoke of a brother and that made her frown, and push the thought out of her head. The last thing this kid needed was to get tangled up in their line of work.
“They do, but I have access to some high grade gear.” She held out a hand for her goggles. “May I?”
“Wait, what!?” Maxine looks up from her mangled paw. “How fuckin’ big do you think it’d be?” The cyborg is unaware of her inner workings, as they’ve never really been her problem before. She’d always had someone around to fix her up in the past, except for her solo career as a maniac cyborg which had not been very long. The fact that she’d go out with any kind of significant boom is clearly a surprise to her.
Beats the hell out of a whisper at least.
She stops messing with her hand, letting it drop to her side. Her shoulder creaks softly, clearly in dire need of lubricant. Ladytron is not really capable of self-repair, though her systems can reroute power and generally find some way to keep going in the in-between. There are other cyborgs that can do this a lot faster out there but only a few of them come packaged with a psychopathic serial killer’s brain pattern.
“Yeah, I dunno who you’re talkin’ about,” she mentions to Huntress flippantly, her memory of the past few weeks a little corrupted from the fight she’d clearly lost. At least the subroutines against wanton cold-blooded murder are holding up. Apparently she’d been subjected to repeated simulations after her capture, a Groundhog Day-like scenario where she killed the same people over and over again until finally… she didn’t. Mentally broken and malleable.
Like most of her damage, her memory error would probably be a quick fix. “Who the fuck’re you, anyways? Not that I’m one to complain about a rescue, but I didn’t exactly need one.” If nothing else, Helena had headed off a total slaughter.
Harper reaches up to the goggles strapped onto the top of her head with both hands and slowly almost reluctantly slides them off of her scalp to hold them out for Helena to take. The goggles had an obvious look of home construction to the point most would never deduce how advanced they actually were. Harper if asked would claim this to be on purpose, but in fact had more to do with her limited resources. If she had a proper workshop she knew she could do amazing things.
Inclining her head back to Max at her question.
“I’m not about to take chances with something like that.”
Once the goggles are taken Harper pulls back her hand catching sight again of the large hole on the bottom of her left glove, she would have to replace the pair and soon. The expenses her distracted driving had cost her were piling up by the second.
Harper glanced down to the mess of parts strewn across the alleyway and just laughs as Max insists she had no need of rescue, she so clearly did.
“You need like all the rescue…”
“Check your system, you’re sending out a distress call. You need to turn it off. And you need to come with me. Please.” The last added on as an after thought, as though that might make the ill tempered cyborg come along quieter. Hopefully quieter. She was fighting herself not to be as hard edged as her usually was. This needed to get wrapped up quickly.
Turning back to Harper she took the offered goggles, holding them up as her own scanned over them. She gave a little nod, even as she reached up and pushed her own goggles up onto the top of her head, looking them over again as she turned them over between gloved hands. Handing them back she gave another nod.
“You’ve got talent. Keep it up. You’ll make it out of this city if you do.” She looked her over again before reaching up to slide her goggles back down over her eyes. “Did you take any recordings of this?”
Maxine shoots Huntress a hard look that quickly dissolves into confusion once she runs a quick systems analysis and realizes that the older woman is right. “…Yeah, okay,” she concedes, not entirely sure what’s going on but for some strange reason not feeling especially compelled to fight it, which would normally be her first and only choice in the face of something unknown.
Rolling her blue eyes at Harper, she mutters, “At least I can escape gettin’ roasted by a fuckin’ eight year old.” Ironically Ladytron is about the same age as the wunderkind, but she sure doesn’t look it, having been pretty tall even when she’d been mostly meat, not to mention athletic. Hard living and mass murder kind of require a matching build though, something that can endure it.
It had made her a prime candidate for this cyberization in the end, which was probably preferable to drowning in her own blood in some shitty New Jersey hospital.
Harper snatches the goggles back almost a little to quickly, as if she feared them being stolen. Which she knew was a ridiculous thought given the sophistication of the gear Huntress had at her disposal. Taking a moment to place them back on her head and another to make sure they were sitting in the exact right spot, Harper shakes her head at Huntress.
“Oooh no I did not, because they don’t do that yet..”
She says with a wry grin as she taps the goggles a few times. But her expression quickly sours at the Lady Predators next comment.
“Why would I want to leave Gotham?”
“Because there’s a bigger world out there than this damned city.” Spoken like someone who knew first hand. She looked Harper over one last time before nodding to herself, head turning to eye the alley way and the mess that had been left behind. She needed help with this, but she wasn’t likely to get any. This along with the alien attack was just a royal shit show. This was the kind of things that she’d taken leave to avoid for a while so she could get her head on straight but there wasn’t really such a thing as ‘down time’ with Nowhere.
“Good. It’s time for you to go now Ms. Row. I’ll get her to where she needs to go. I doubt it needs to be said, but I’m going to say it anyway. Do not speak of this to anyone.” She had her information already, she could track her down, but she left that unsaid too. The kid was smart enough to put that together.
She left Harper to getting to scramming if she didn’t have any more questions and turned back to LadyTron. “Pick up the important parts and we need to get moving before we attract any more attention.”
“Why would you wanna leave New Jersey!?” Maxine laughs hysterically at the rhetorical question, her beartrap lower jaw flapping with amusement. She wipes at her eyes with her good hand, though she is wholly incapable of crying even tears of laughter. Probably something to look into next time she’s gunning for new mods, which is basically always.
Huntress more or less has the rest of the conversation handled, though, and Ladytron glances around on the ground for any missing pieces that she would actually miss later on. There are some metal chips, a couple bolts and screws that she’s not even sure the origin of. “Eh, nothin’ important. Probably.” With a half-hearted shrug, she turns as if to leave.
“I can do a buck twenty if yer lookin’ for speed,” she says, glancing back over her shoulder. “Just climb aboard the Good Ship Ladytron. All passengers’re allowed one piece of carry-on luggage but there’s an additional fee for checked baggage.” She belches as she turns her eyes back front.
“I wouldn’t want to live anywhere but here…”
Harper says as she turns and Walks back over to her scooter by the dumpster, carefully lifting it she finds the kickstand has apparently gone missing. Grumbling under her breath she looks the bike over and realizes immediately how unlikely it is to start, not one to leave good scrap she begins walking out of the alleyway with the scooter.
“You going to snap my neck if I call an Uber?”
Or more likely a girl named Stephanie Brown, tapping at her phone she begins another next to her friend. More then a little concerned at being monitored she keep it simple, saying only ‘?…☠…? ’.
“Only if you do it anywhere near here.” Huntress tossed in Harper’s direction as she collapsed her bow staff back down and slipped it into one of the pouches strapped to her leg. She gave another visual sweep of the area, scanning with her goggles to make sure nothing other than bits and bolts were left behind before she put a hand on Tron’s shoulder as she stepped up behind her.
The drugs she’d taken earlier in the night were still running strong through her system as she stepped in closer to the other woman, extending and flexing her mental field around her. Light around them shifted, hardly noticeable to the human eye till it bent and they both vanished from sight. Her fingers flicked the silencing field on that usually dampened her footsteps but as she jumped on the cyborg’s back it covered them both.
“Just get us out of the city so I can get you a ride back to the shop. And we’re in Gotham. Not Jersey.”
“Ain’t Gotham in New Je- you know what, I don’t actually give a shit.” Maxine recalls an embarrassing incident where she’d meant to go to Star City but wound up in fucking San Francisco; she can never keep track of these kinds of things. Without a wifi connection, excluded from her chassis both for security purposes and because she’s shit with technology, she’s forced to rely on a cellphone for things like GPS and predictably she fails to keep hers charged.
Once Huntress is onboard, worn like a murderous psychic backpack, she takes off, keeping to the streets rather than the sidewalk and lane-cutting at dangerous speeds. She’s as good as her word, rapidly blowing past sixty and going even further. It’s a hell of a lot faster than an Uber, or even a supercar given that the latter would still have to contend with traffic. Maybe flying would be the best option but it’s not like she has a built-in rocket pack.
It doesn’t take long for the transport to arrive once Huntress has made an official call-in for it. The chopper barely makes a sound as it descends from the heavens. With the person who leaps out to meet with them making even less sound when she drops out before the vehicle is even safely down. Obviously the leader of the group, she stands nearly a foot taller then the half-dozen agents who load out behind her. Not to mention the tech crew that come in next.
She isn’t there to play nice, there’s no kissy face exchanges, no jokes to be told or banter to be made. A snap of the fingers sends one particular trooper scurrying to the Huntress with a digital clip board in hand. We’ll need your initials here, here and thumb print at the bottom.
It’s possible for someone to look more offended by their proximity to Gotham City, but not by much. She’s doing them a favor by not showing it any deeper than she already is. The all black troops move with precision and expedience once the signatures are there. None of them care to speak to LadyTron. None of them care about Harper. Exactly one of them cares about Huntress and that lasts only until he’s procured her signatures. Then they all set about completing their task and escaping the Lead Agent’s notice as quickly as possible.
Another cluck of the tongue gets their attention though. A raised eyebrow reminds the man with the clipboard that he’s forgotten something. His apologies to Huntress are made as he’s hurriedly shoving a small case of the medicine Huntress requires at regular intervals.
As quickly as that the troops will have LadyTron loaded up. Leaving Huntress as the one affixed with the expectant look from the obviously impatient Agent.
It’s still there, or rather it’s not there – that violent urge to murder everyone in the vicinity, to rage against the machine. Ladytron just stands there when the troops come down, not scared so much as surprised by herself. She could punch the skull out of the back of any of these fleshies’ heads but she just doesn’t want to.
She doesn’t remember that she’s already done exactly that, about thirty or so times, in a simulation that had ultimately broken her will to mass slaughter. But the after-effects are still there, the mental programming intact even through the memory corruption. Nobody responds to her quips here, not even when she gets a little nasty with them. Well, nastier than usual. They just buzz-buzz-buzz like little human insects and she goes along with it because she doesn’t feel like fighting it, a testament to someone’s psychiatric and programming skills.
Offering a half-hearted wave to Huntress, she hops onto the chopper, occupying approximately one thousand imperial pounds of cargo capacity. Sometimes that’s inconvenient, given that she doesn’t take up much physical space she creates more strain on the engine than she really should, but in action she’s worth it. All the trash-talking, vulgarity and frequent sexual harrassment is worth it for someone who can throw cars and absorb gunfire, a cutting-edge weapon against xenos and supers in general.
A hammer, not a scalpel. And not even the biggest hammer around, sure, but she punches above her weight-class and can take a beating long enough for backup to arrive. Usually.
This wasn’t what she’d planned on doing with her evening. She’d had a meeting planned with some old friends of her father’s though she by what she’d had planned for them, they’d be happy if she canceled. If she had time and she showed up late, after this night, she’d be getting twice what she’d originally planned. Irritation made her shoulders tight, left her pacing in the clearing they’d been waiting in when the helicopter showed up.
The paperwork that was shoved at her was little more than formality for someone to cover their ass. She signed over the cyborg, fingerprint recorded, knowing that this was no doubt going to end up a problem later but at least it was fixing the current problem and getting it out of the place that it wasn’t supposed to be. Everything else was just clean up work later.
Angry brown eyes regarded the agent even as he passed over the pills, taking them with a snap of gloved hands as she tested the weight of the package before sliding it away in one of her pouches. Part of her was dreading the run back into the city, but that feral side of her brain was hungry for it, something to burn off all the pent up anger and energy that had been building up over the last week. Helena just wanted to go home, Huntress wanted to hunt and fight.
Hands moved to rest on her hips as she watched the last of the load up finish before she turned her head to look at the lead agent with one brow arched. She shouldn’t say what she knew she was about to say, but she did anyway.
“Harper Row. Some street kid found it. It’s cleaned up. But the kid is a builder. Smart. Worth keeping an eye on for the future. Anything else?”
There is a tight lipped look through those sparkling glasses at the Huntress. One that seems to both offer judgement and yet withhold it all at once. So far she’s not commented upon any of this. Maybe it’s not her place to do so. Maybe she just doesn’t have enough investment in what is going on to do so. More likely her presence here is merely a formality brought upon by so many resources being diverted away from the field in the States right now.
“You were followed. I don’t mean one of the damned drones.”
Okay. So maybe it is judgment after all? The Agent actually points. As bold as you please. Back toward the city. “Didn’t show up on any of our sensors. None of the rank and file noticed it either. We caught a burst of static, then I spotted a silhouette in the moonlight, right before we landed.”
“You’re being hunted. On your vacation time. We’ll be checking in more frequently. At random intervals. Wouldn’t want out investment to go down the drain. You’re dismissed, Huntress.”
The growl that rolled up from her chest was low and dangerous, giving rise to that dark passenger that Helena so often tried to keep contained in the recesses of her mind. But Huntress was so often a beast of her own, burning dangerously in the depths of those dark eyes.
“Keep things like that out of the city and I won’t have to show myself to be hunted.” Her voice pitched lower. “Nor am I concerned by what is hunting me.” Because she had her ideas about what it could be. Undetected. Hidden in the dark. Probably the same thing that she’d been hunting the last few days.
Dismiss yourself. she thought in her head as she turned, shifting the light around her as she vanished from sight and slipped back into the woods to head back toward Gotham. Though now her eyes and ears were open, drinking in the silence of the night without the damn cyborg distracting her. She’d always worked better alone. The solitary predator. Her senses stretched out, listening for every sound, every twitch of the world around her, because now it was her turn to hunt.
by Michele | Jun 24, 2018 | Chronicles
ST: Ra’s al Ghul had not mislead Damien when he provided the boy with the location of his Mother. Sandy Hook: Admiral Docks. This isn’t your average Warehouse district sort of Boat Dock. Considered to be one of the wealthier areas in all of Gotham, Sandy Hooks is most notably home to Gotham Stadium. It is the tourist district of the otherwise gloomy Gotham skyline. You won’t find any homeless people here. No dark alleys. Very little crime.
What you will find is the Admiral Docks, where the wealthiest members of Gotham’s Elite harbor their boats. We’re not talking about an industrial district. This is a well lit harbor, with Yachts ranging from personal pleasure boats to Bruce Wayne’s own super-liner that hosts the New Years Eve celebration each year.
Security for the Admiral Docks is a mixture of personal security provided by the society members who bring their boats in to port and Port Authority, which is the naval portion of Gotham’s Police Department.
Each Yacht in the Port is more elaborate than the next. With every rich family in the City seemingly out to establish their own personal stature in the community, by making their water-bound homes more and more lavish than the next. Searching them all would take days, if not months given how difficult it would be to acquire the proper search warrants.
Luckily Ra’s al Ghul didn’t need to worry about red tape. He provided Damien with the exact Vessel. Destiny. A super-yacht. The 174 meter Luursen-class yacht can accommodate a whopping 75 people comfortably for a six month cruise. Three times that number can come aboard for an evenings party. Even in the dark of night the Destiny can be seen from all angles for miles due to the halo-lighting that serves as both ego-massage and security because the illumination makes it impossible to approve even from -beneath the boat- without being seen even by the naked eye. In fact this miracle liner is known for that very feature, as it actually causes the water for nearly 100 yards to illuminate in such a way that passengers can see the bottom as if it were pristine coastal waters.
Nothing about the boat is amiss, to the naked eye. Though neighboring Yachts have been complaining of late about the loud music and party that has seemed non-stop for almost two weeks straight.
Damien: The harbor wasn’t exactly Damien had in mind when his grandfather told him where his mother was being held. And on board the Destiny, nonetheless. It wasn’t going to be easy, there was no real way to approach the luxury yacht stealthy. If he was going to get in at all, he was going to need help. First, he needed Timothy to get him a layout of the yacht. If they were going to go in, they needed to know exactly where everything was. Everything was going to have to be figured out on the spot. Damien wasn’t going to wait to see what happened with his mother.
Second, He was going to need backup. As confident as Damien was in his own abilities, he knew this was going to require help. Calling Dinah and Richard to come help him was … hard. Damien was much like his father in this regard, not liking to have to ask for help. And when he did, he despised it. It wasn’t going to take long to get towards the docks, going in by air, ground or water wasn’t going to matter. “Timothy.” saying all too calmly as he brought his younger brother on the comm. “Will you be able to turn off the halo?” asking as he started coming up onto the harbor.
“Also. I will require information about this yacht. And do make it quick. I will be onto harbor grounds in approximately fifteen minutes. You will be our eyes and ears, Timothy. The Oracle, if you will.”
Dinah: Normally? There’d be some razzing about the phone call. Maybe more than a little but the tone of voice made it clear enough that I should save the pushing for after this is finished. I don’t want Damien, or any of them, to think that I won’t help. Especially when I’m asked. Because lets face it, normally I’m much more the in your business whether you want me to be or not kind of woman. This isn’t exactly a private matter anymore. Not once the League turned up in the city. Now it’s all hands on deck, or at least all hands that are functional and capable, and I’m still wishing there were a few more to be counted among that number.
Good thing I never let myself get totally drunk. It’s not the night to be off your game in even the slightest.
“Is the Batplane still potentially in kamikaze mode? Air’d be the closest thing to a surprise entrance you can hope for with those lights, and that’s still not going to be a lot.”
Explains so much though. We’ve been over the rest of Gotham, so has the League I assume, and no one had found hide nor hair (Ugh, both have strong potentials with who has her) of Talia al’Ghul. No one thought to check the one part of Gotham that’s usually off limits, and so… of course the Joker would have selected it for his hideout. Insanity doesn’t equal stupidity, unfortunately.
ST: “The ‘Halo’ is unfortunately a hard wired feature. Someone will need to disable it from onsite. Giving you a layout of the Destiny isn’t a problem though. There are essentially six decks. With the upper most deck being a helicopter pad, deck two is the bridge. Deck five and six are maintenance and engine rooms. Deck two is where you’ll find the security system’s main controls, including the hard line for the Halo. Once you’re on the boat, if someone can jack me in I’ll be able to do more but for now I’m essentially your eyes in the sky.”
Timothy Drake-Wayne has been sidelined for the evening due to injury. He’s been incommunicado for most of the last two days recuperating from the brutal beating he received at the Iceberg lounge. Along with his own physical injuries, the hijacking of the BatCave systems have left the Bat-Family with only one functional computer system. The Nest, which isn’t something the rest of them can actually operate in the first place. Leaving him the nature one to play the role of Oracle for the evening.
On the flip-side of this is Dick Grayson, the man currently sporting the Batsuit, “We’re essentially down one Bat-Plane. While we were chasing down a certain Red Hood and stopping him from killing anyone else. The League assaulted Wayne Manor. They ransacked the entire place. PennyOne was controlling the plane remotely when they attacked. He was forced to leave it on auto-pilot. Giving our mysterious Hacker a timely opportunity to seize control of it and attempt to kill us all.”
“There is more than one way to go airborn though,” Grayson is quick then to gesture the two of them to his Cape. “It isn’t just for show… I’d be willing to bet that Damien’s cape still fits too. Maybe he’d like to trade the Hood in for a R, tonight?”
Catman: What has Thomas Blake been doing since everything went to shit? Retracing steps. Checking out old haunts and probably if he did not know any better, contaminating crime scenes, but luckily for the over worked, stressed out men and women of the law especially the CSI techs Thomas knew a thing thing or two about not contaminating crime scenes. For Thomas it was about getting what he needed references, deconstructing what happened, but what was in front of him.
Whether it was a broken table, skylight or anything else that was out of place. Scents that blended together that made for a nightmare for most could be pulled apart by Thomas. It was like looking at after images. He didn’t see people, his brain could fill in the images, but his sense of smell, his olfactory senses were on fire. Things that were familiar and those that were.
Birds of a feather and who flocked and didn’t flocked together could be made out. As could ninjas (he was being kind, because in the beginning it was kung fu mutha #$@%ers.) Those were new, but he was becoming familiar with them and their arsenal of weapons. They certainly liked their smoke bombs. If anything he was looking for clues, clues to help him piece together where to go next, what questions to asks.
The Joker was involved. It was evident by his pirate broadcasts. Word on the street is this is where it happened. He needed to be able to distinguish scents not to go running out into the city, but to add them to a growing and never ending repository of information, but these quiet moments of the lone cat slinking through the night allowed Thomas to organize information in a way that allowed him to ask simple questions. Questions that some would overlook, but others might go hmm.
Of the scents there were some that were unfamiliar. One that was expensive, yet exotic. The fragrance wasn’t anything you would find stateside, it was definitely outside the United States. It had to be the dame. Then there were others that were local could be Joker, but another, this one that was neither ninja, goon or Cobblepot made Thomas wrinkle his nose.
He knew that scent. He smelled it before. He tucked that away. The scent had no name attached to it, but the nose never forgets. Still, this is where the dame was snatched. It’s what he was thinking about as he left one crime scene for the next. There were people to talk to. This was normal. Insurance rates would go out for Oswald, but he’d reopen.
He always did. Why was he involved? Why did it matter? Firefly wasn’t anyone to him, not really.
Perhaps it was the nagging feeling of…where was the justice? If it had been him he’d be in jail, being told what a harm he was to society. Ninjas were in the streets menacing anyone that was caught in their path that happened to have some interaction with those that had been classified as the enemy, because they might know something. Bat’s was an asshole, but he was their asshole and there was something. This…this bullshit was something….Gotham was hitting new lows, even for Gotham and given that he was from Gotham Thomas Blake could say that.
In the middle of all that something stuck out.
Damien: Damien had chosen to gloss over the fact that he had killed Killer Moth, but it wasn’t something he regretted all that much. The man was useless. Hardly a match for Damien’s viciousness. But, that wasn’t the others appreciated so much.
“You are not funny, Richard. Besides, I believe Dinah wore it better than I ever had.” Damien said with a complete straight face and deadpan delivery. Did he just make a joke? Gunning it towards the docks, Damien didn’t stop for anything. Dodging between cars, surprising old ladies crossing the crosswalk. You know, what he normally would have done. “The League attacked Wayne Manor? Hmm. Interesting.” pressing his lips together as he continued zooming towards the harbor.
Storing that bit of information for later, Damien concentrates on the operation at hand. “Dinah. I will need you to take care of the lights. If we cannot shut off the lights, then the night will be much more difficult than it will need to be. What about lifesigns, Timothy? Can your eyes tell us how many guards we are expected to encounter? And maybe where Joker is holding my mother hostage?”
ST: “That is where I give you the Bad News,” as if the rest of what Tim had reported was Good News! “There are nearly one hundred life signs on the boat. Scattered pretty randomly, from what I can see. I can’t risk the drones going in close, with the Halo on, or they’ll blow the element of surprise. So I’m dealing with what I can give you from range. More than half of the life-signs are also pinging on the metal detectors, suggesting that they’re armed. But…
“I’m afraid that’s not the worst of the news. My drones are reading high levels of thermite, which isn’t necessarily an explosive of it’s own, but is a catalyst used to ignite explosives,” Timothy’s voice is actually shaky when he finishes speaking. “What I’m saying is. I can’t tell you who is an enemy or an innocent but what I can tell you is that Joker has rigged nearly everyone on that boat with dead man explosives.”
Dinah: “Sounds like a job for someone not named Canary, you lost me at hard wired…”
In reality, I’d followed the rundown of the yacht itself of course, layout and what’s where committed to memory as easily as anything else is. Except the operation, or use, of anything more complicated technology wise than my VCR. I can use computers, we just have a hate-hate relationship and when it comes to ‘jacking’ anything, especially something important, it’s not a job best left to me even if there’s no other options. I’d probably find a way to get his system herpes at a distance. Or just break whatever I was supposed to be linking. But I’m glad Red Robin’s not here. I’d tried ‘grounding’ him to the house that he’s bunking in with me, which had lasted until I’d left myself, and he’d only been briefly back since. As long as he’s not in the thick of the fight though, he can do his thing.
“Ttch. I was hoping to see you in the booties, Hood. I’m sure they make them in your color. And I wore it better than any of you did. But who wouldn’t want to get all up close and cuddly with Bats, here. You drop me in the bay and you’re getting another tally on your sheet…”
Any further comment or commentary about Damien’s plan gets cut off by Tim’s additional sunny information about our situation here, and the corner of my mouth pulls tighter, and tighter to the side in a grimace as he goes on.
“So. We need to get in and out, with minimal side trips for vengeance…” Yes, I’m making side eyes at you, Hood, “In as short an amount of time as possible. I’m assuming if I destroy in true me fashion the controls and lights then Red Robin’s not going to be able to help…?”
Catman: Thomas had been to the Iceberg a few times, it was usually for upscale clientele. He was familiar with most of the female staff in one way or another. He rather not go into how he knew them, but he was familiar with most of their scents and the clothing that Cobblepot had them wear. It was familiar. However, there was something that didn’t stand out, something that was more along the lines Joker’s people.
Quinn. Not that he didn’t have a frame of reference, but anyone that was there that talked said nothing about her. Despite all her problems, Quinn was not a shrinking violet. She was loud, obnoxious and usually draped over the Joker like a cheap suit. At least that’s what Thomas had observed and heard. However, this time there was no mention of her…at all.
Even more, he couldn’t recall seeing her during the Joker’s broadcasts. That didn’t add up. Not one bit. What’s a guy to do? Ask questions. Questions that could get him in trouble if he asked the wrong people, but there were people he could ask. Had they seen the Joker’s best gal. True they had their differences, and they sometimes went on the outs, but there was nothing on the street said that they were on the outs. What he had a was a peculiarity. One ne needed to uncover.
Here’s the thing. He was working at the deductive reasoning business. If the Joker and Harley weren’t on the outs then where was she? There was nothing from the regulars about her being seen or brought into the police department and she’s not someone you would overlook on the street. She stood out just like the clown.
However, everything about what happened at everyone looking at the Joker focused on what he was doing. Their attention was to the left, but what was happening to the right? What was she up to? Why wasn’t she noticed? Because she didn’t want to be. Took of her face and put on a mask.
She blended in. Change of pace. Less asking about Harley and more about Harleen.
Damien: “I will hardwire him into the boat, then.” offering as he listened to Tim. Though, that didn’t discourage him from coming in hot on the harbor. “Oracle. If I am to give you a up close look at these dead man explosives, will you be able to determine if you can disable them, or give us a way to disable them?” the information was bleak, but it wasn’t going to stop Damien from going in. Though, it wasn’t going to be in the usual way.
Getting through the harbor gate wasn’t hard, that was probably the easiest thing he’d done tonight. Coming within sight of the yacht, Damien would narrow his eyes. It was obvious which boat it was. “Do not worry, Canary. There is only one trip of vengeance, And that is ending when I bash my fist against Joker’s skull.” explaining. “And here, We were comrades at one point. Tch. I was thinking of inviting him to Thanksgiving Dinner.” Obviously Damien was suffering from some kind of head trauma to make such a terrible joke.
Or, maybe he was trying to be like them? It was hard to tell. Damien was hard to read at times. “Okay, Oracle. I will be on the boarding ramp to the vessel in…3 …. 2 …. 1” stopping the cycle hard when he gets just inside the halo light, Damien launches himself at the first guard. Hoping to draw the surprise of some the guards to him. “Patch yourself to my helmet to see what I see and advise.”
ST: “Alright, hang on tight then Canary,” Dick’s voice is not nearly so stern as Bruce’s, but there’s a timber to it when he’s wearing the cowl. “Let’s be clear about this, Hood. We’re here to get your Mother out, Damien. That has to be the priority. Saving Gotham for tonight means getting Ra’s his daughter back.”
Bruce would have never agreed to this plan. Not with so many variables. Especially not with Damien in such a strange place as he has been mentally of late. Bringing in help with explosives on every level would have just invited carnage. All but asking the Joker to set them off for no other reason than to take people away from the Batman. The trouble with Bruce’s method, tonight, would have been a failure to recognize that all of this isn’t about the Batman and his eternal fight with the Joker. It’s about Damien confronting his Demon. Maybe tonight that Demon wears the face of a clown, but it’s still the young man’s demons at risk here. The loss of his Father has the Hood going down a rabbit hole and this might be the last chance to pull him out of it.
The Batman’s arms enclose around the lithe waist of the Black Canary only moments before the two of them take in to the air. They were in a lofty spot, across the Docks at the Lighthouse Tower. It was not merely a point of vantage to see the scene before them, but offered an opportunity to take the high ground. With his cowl in place, Dick was able to track the Red Hood’s transit from afar. Making it an issue of timing, that put them in the air only seconds after Damien begins his count down. Their arrival cannot be before the Hood causes a distraction. True to his words the Cape that Dick wears is fully functional, with hardened spines that look to be seams snapping in to place. With the cape then employed as a glider it will allow Black Canary to choose her point of entry.
In all of their ears is Timothy Drake, “You’re on my main screen Hood. I’m going to use your helmet line a sonar. As you move through the boat I’ll ping and then cross reference with the blue prints. Your mother has to be on level three or four. Deck four is mostly bed rooms. The films that Joker was sending to the local news showed your mother on a stage. That means deck three. Near the aft of the boat. There’s a theater room there. They have live bands perform for parties.”
Now the Boat itself isn’t that difficult to board. Not for the Batman, Black Canary and especially not the Red Hood on his motorcycle. What might be surprising though is the lack of defense put up by the ‘armed guards.’ Even when the engine of the Red Hood’s bike garners their attention? They seem rather flat-footed about mowing him down with a spray of bullets.
Which is a mystery that gets solve in rather quick fashion, when the Halo goes out and the disco lights take it’s place. If you though the Halo effect was bright? This is taking that effect and adding crack cocaine to it. The Admiral Harbor lights up like New Years, in the middle of June. The party music that had been reported to the police as noise pollution before only cranks it up that much worse.
Oh, but that is not the strangest little bit of information that our ‘Heroes’ get once arriving on scene. One has to wonder: How did Ra’s al Ghul know where the Joker was holding Talia? That answer comes quickly. In the form of League of Shadows bowmen laying face down in the olympic sized pool on the main deck. Their blood has turned the pool a sickly shade of brown. The chlorine does very little to cleanse the stench of death from the air. It’s difficult to count how many of the Assassins have died, because their bodies are quite literally piling up in the pool.
Catman: Thomas would not go as far as to say that he cracked the case, but he had something he could work with. It’s not that he didn’t have other resources, but he rather not tip his hand if he didn’t have to. He also was unsure about where he stood. Could this be contained? If so, what then? If not, what then? Gotham hadn’t grinded to a halt, but it felt like a city had seized a bit with everything that happened. The wheels of progress were once again off the track in the worst way.
Even if this had the best possible outcome and Talia al Ghul was rescued there were individuals who weren’t too keen about the way things went down. If the ninjas had been acting alone at the command of their master it would be one thing, but there had been too many reports that the Hood had been at the front. The same Hood who was galivanting around with the Joker.
Everyone saw how long that lasted, in the progress someone last their life and yes everyone knew the Joker was insane, not excuse a fact and he may find his way to Arkham again to repeat that cycle, but what about the Hood? Is this the Justice people should expect now? Are the rules being rewritten? A new order.
The Bat had been seen, but…Thomas told himself to focus. He needed to take a step at a time. Rather than asking if anyone had seen Harleen Quinzel he asked if anyone had seen this woman. If they didn’t think about or she would be a random person.
Anywhere. Somewhere. Someone had to have seen the woman. He was hoping. Whether Gothamites wanted to believe all of Gotham was touched by crime. Some violent, some not so violent some that used the upper echelons of population to bring their operations into the light. They went legitimate , we as legitimate as they could. Others had understandings, which is why he spoke with everyone showing the picture of Harleen from an old newspaper article. They didn’t need to know that she now went about as Harley Quinn.
It was a simple, “Have you seen this woman.” Type of situation. She was running a scam, and someone got burned and Thomas was doing work to track her down, for a friend. It took a little time, because he slow walked it, he didn’t want to tip off the wrong people. If word got around that he was looking for Harley it could quickly get back to the Joker and he wanted to avoid that.
However, he got what he needed eventually. She had been spotted, in Sandy Hook of all places.
Dinah: “So help me God, if you taze me again right now…”
I know he’s not going to, so it’s a hollow and trailed off threat as I wrap my arms around Grayson’s suited form. Up close, it’s very easy to tell the difference between him and when Tim wore the suit, even though he was ‘enhancing’ a lot when he did, and certainly from their father. They’re all built very differently, which could be attributed to what they’re each individually good at I suppose. His ‘fun’ little prank while we were sparring was one thing, none of these guys are going to put down a comrade in the field, especially not when there’s only three of us. It might amount to suicide.
And speaking of which…
There’s a harsh noise not exactly under my breath as we glide over the pool, lit up like a psychedelic murder disco that says ‘Welcome! Party’s Right Here and We’ve Been Waiting for You!’
“So we’re doing Ra’s’ dirty work, in the name of family loyalty and Gotham. Just #$&*ing great. I don’t know if this is a compliment, or a convenient ploy…”
And in the end it doesn’t really matter which one, because clearly the League can’t get this done with the forces he was willing to commit, and the current state of the city just can’t continue. As we approach the helicopter pad, and the inevitable staircase downwards to the floor below, I jerk my head with a suggestive waggle of blonde brows.
When I’m close enough to make the jump, I just let go and do, tumbling into a booted run across the top deck to make my way towards a whole lot of surely delicate electronics that I’m going to play not so nicely with.
Damien: Damien’s response well, wasn’t a response as Dick told him they were there for his mother, and his mother only. Vengeance will have to wait. That simple fact made Damien’s blood boil. Once again, having to choose. It was the right decision, Damien recognized that, but it didn’t mean that he had to like it. Once he’s on the boat, he’s surprised to see the League of Assassin bowmen laying face down in the pool, upon piles of their own corpses in the pool. It was a disturbing sight, but didn’t faze Damien.
All this would bring Damien down to one knee within the bridge as he reached up to touch the side of his helmet to turn the sound dampeners on. Then something in his lenses to filter out the extra light. Though, it would take him several seconds for the light blindness to slowly fade away. Whatever Joker was doing, it was definitely slowing them down. “Oracle. Can you hear me?” asking, unsure if Tim would be able to overcome the additional sound and light at the origin. When his blindness faded, Damien’s vision would still be hampered. Though, he could only hope that Batman was able to overcome this.
“If you can hear me, Oracle. Can you turn the power off to the vessel? Maybe that will be sufficient enough to turn off the lights and additional music. I am unsure how much longer the sound dampeners in the helmet will be able to suppress the sound before overloading.” It was becoming clear as to why his father had such a hard time defeating Joker. There was no rhyme or reason to his methods. No pattern, just pure chaos. While even chaos had patterns, Joker seemed to defy those laws.
“Batman, Canary. Are you well?” asking as Damien worked on patching a stronger connection for Oracle.
ST: Now our group makes Three. Batman. Black Canary. Red Hood. Gone is the sound of Timothy Drake in their ears. Gone is the sound of one another in their ears. While there are three of them, they are now each very much alone.
The Red Hood has taken to the bridge, that was the plan. He’d volunteered to handle deploying Timothy’s technology that should have given the Boy Wonder access to the Vessel. However none of them had accounted for the instant radio silence that descends upon them at their arrival. Damien most of all was relying on Tim to give him information. Cut off from that he has only his own senses and those of his Red Hood helmet to rely upon. Immediately beneath the Helicopter Pad, the Bridge Deck is actually the smallest area where crew or passengers actually inhabit. Damien can literally see from one side of the deck to the next, with the only impediment to his vision being the singular ‘Room’ where the crew would go to take control of the boat. That’s where the Captain and Crew would be, if the boat was out of the Harbor sailing the ocean blue. Right now the Bridge itself has a myriad of crew members. Each one dressed in their uniforms. Though they’re each showing signs of abuse. Their faces painted, marred with makeup that has made each of their faces a mocking tribute to the Joker.
What’s more immediately recognizable is that Tim was right. They’re all armed. Each of the five man crew that inhabit the bridge is armed with some manner of firearm. And each of them are turning those weapons on the Red Hood.
The Black Canary’s roost upon the Helipad is actually the one place on the vessel with the least amount of eyes on it. But that is actually by design. As the Boat ‘Lights Up’ the Helipad is transformed in to a stage. With the biggest and brightest of the lights turned upon it. Colors of all sort wash over the pad, as blinding as the sounds are deafening. The purpose of chaos is often confusion, but the lights upon the Helipad do not remain all that confusing for once. Their swirling nature last only until each of the lights come to rest upon a single point. A spotlight, such as it is. With a single person standing in the middle of it. A woman. Who’s arrival seems all too timely, especially once Dinah realizes that this woman has put herself right in the path of the staircase off the Helicopter Pad. The red, purple and green tassels that waft in the wind have a similar effect to Batman’s pretty cape obscuring most of the visible sight of what armor and weapons the creature might be carrying.
To those not yet on the boat the sight of the Yacht has drastically changed. It’s ordinary white wash finish has taken on a purple and green hue. The soundscoming from the Destiny can reach as much as a mile away. Circus Music is certainly a way to rouse many a high profile millionaire in the surrounding boats. Anyone within range of line of sight might also notice, strangely, that the other guards are almost motionless all along the exterior of the Boat.
Catman: This was the last place that he thought he would find himself. When people came to visit Gotham it was usually this area that they visited. It is where Gotham Stadium was located. It was the part of Gotham that people wanted to have showcase across the world and it got its fair share of television time sadly Crime Alley and the like also got their fair share. If Crime Alley was the hideous child that you wanted to keep hidden under the steps then Sandy Hook was the one you wanted to show.
In other words, Sandy Hook was Marcia Brady, while Crime Alley didn’t even rate Jan, it was Cousin Oliver.
If Thomas had more to go on he might know where to start in this area of the city, but while he had something he didn’t know exactly what it was. There could have been a number of reasons why Harley had come to his part of town. He could ask around, but that would take time and time had been running out. Though when one thought about it despite the fact that Talia al Ghul had been snatched in the Iceberg, Sandy Hook would definitely be an area she might have been residing in.
It was a leap, but one thing that Thomas knew was that no one had heard anything about the Joker setting up shop in the usual areas. Maybe there was a reason for that. Perhaps to disappear they needed to hide in plan sight in the last place anyone would look for them. It was possible. Anything was possible. It could explain why Harley had been in the area.
Perhaps it was as simple as that. Not only had she removed the armor to appear as a regular person they needed something innocuous and wouldn’t draw attention to themselves. So many assumptions, but now that he had an area there were different questions that he could ask.
Was there anything out of the ordinary. Anything, nothing was too big or small. Was it business as usual in Sandy Hook or was something out of place? That was the question and while there had been no explosions, no terrible threatening people roaming the streets, there had been something.
Noise complaint. Nuisance. Noise pollution. Apparently, all was not well in Sandy Hook. Neighbors weren’t getting along. Perhaps they were having a bit of spat, but as Thomas dug into it apparently this had been going on for quite some time. Two weeks. Two weeks and nothing, but then again, the wealthy tended to handle certain matters amongst themselves. At least that what he was told, but two weeks. It was true that al Ghul had been missing for a week, but perhaps he should.
It’s what brought Thomas to the Admiral Docks in Sandy Hook. The source of the noise pollution. Thomas had seen it before they all had. It was a jewel of Gotham, but by the time he arrived it had gone from jewel to something out of a nightmare. If there was any doubt about where the Joker had set up shop it had vanished. Apparently, the murder circus had set up shop on the water.
Despite what this meant the first thought that Thomas had was, property values are about to hit the basement.
Dinah: The lack of communication and tech feeds? Not actually all that problematic for me. I know what kind of gadget suites most of the other suits run, heads up displays, data feeds, streamed access to the Batputers. Just because I avoid implementing them like the plague doesn’t mean I don’t have a general idea of what they’re all working with. The only thing I’ve used, and probably ever will use, is the earpiece for communicating with my partners, and on occasion some low light/no light lenses. I’ve heard enough bitching and moaning from Tim that I wouldn’t let him ‘set me up’ with something more efficient and top end when he did the latest iteration of my Canary ‘suit,’ not to mention the serious threats of bodily harm he got when eyeballing my bike, but in moments like this? I kind of thing it’s a good thing. I don’t feel crippled, or even that off, when the banter and insight cuts off.
Plus, I have a bit of a distraction in front of me. The lights, and the figure at least. The sound doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Being immune to the concussive force of my own powers doesn’t mean I don’t hear them.
They were waiting for us. Tonight, in fact, because I don’t buy that this one, of all people, was conveniently waiting just so for more than about five minutes. I doubt she has the attention span for it, really. That’s not even factoring in the lovely stage lighting, but I only spend so long wondering exactly how much of our system has been compromised, and where it starts. Or maybe someone just told them we were coming.
“Well, gotta say I’m a little surprised. I figured you’d be all for us offloading your boss’ distraction…”
Damien: When his vision came back, Damien turned around to see five men pointing their weapons at him. This wasn’t good. When they started firing on him, Damien did his best dance to dodge the incoming bullets. They were marred in Joker makeup, which means they might be doing this against their will. Which means non-lethal methods. Unfortunately, that didn’t apply to them against him. Though, he couldn’t kill them. Didn’t mean he could disable him. Diving behind one of the consoles in the bridge, he used it to take cover from the fire.
They were jamming all the equipment. Which meant that Damien had no idea what was going on. But, he had faith in his brother and Dinah to get the job done. There was a hope that maybe Tim could do something. But for now, he had to assume there was going to be no way in contacting his younger brother. It was a slight setback. Right now, Damien had to deal with five armed men, looking to make swiss cheese out of him. Sure, Damien’s armor was bullet proof. It didn’t mean he wanted to rush them and test just how bullet proof it was.
When there was enough of a pause, Damien would make his move. Getting onto his feet and staying low, he pulls out a small blade and runs around the edge of the console. Making sure to make it as hard as possible for the men to tag him. To keep them alive, he was going to have to slice the side of their knees in an attempt to get them to falter. It was the best he could do right now, because if any of them get a good shot in, things were going to become much… much different.
Helena: She couldn’t decide if she was more frustrated or embarrassed over the end of the evening. Frustration she could deal with, the other, not quite so easily. It left a lot of lingering questions she was prepared to answer, or could even answer. It also posed some larger problems and that on top of everything just soured her mood. Being reminded of to many things from her past made a seed of doubt dig its way into her brain, imbedding and growing. To many what ifs were running through her head as she unlocked the door to her dead father’s house and slammed it behind her. Leaning back against it she rubbed the but of her palm into one eye, her head was throbbing again in that knife through the back of the skull kind of way.
Dropping her purse on the entryway table she dug into it, pulling out her bottle of pills. Her hand was shaking, never a good sign, as she opened it and tapped out two of the contents and tossed them into her mouth. Dry swallowing the pills she tossed the bottle back inside her purse, taking it upstairs to her old bedroom to leave among the pile of her things that she’d still yet to go through. Which made her eyes slowly turn to the large locked storage box that she’d shipped over with the rest of her things.
Gotham was off limits. She wasn’t here in any official capacity. She wasn’t here to work. Yet she’d still packed her suit and gear. She hadn’t expected to need it but coming back here with what information she had been given she had planned on gathering more information about the vigilantes in the city. And Dick had left her to go deal with a problem at the docks, which lead to the possibility that those very same vigilanties would be showing up.
An hour later she was perched on the edge of a roof looking down over the harbor, googles down over her eyes as she zoomed in on the yacht just as the lights lit up in clashing colors. A frown tugged across her face and with a thought the air around her shimmered and she vanished from sight. Jumping down off the roof she caught the edge of the fire escape, swinging her around, slowing her descent before hitting the pavement silently. The police radio in her ear buzzing.
Moving further toward the docks she found a new perch on the roof of another yacht, the lack of chatter in her ear making her frown. The silent pop of the radio the telltale sign of a jammer. She drummed her fingers against her knee, the unsetlings sixth sense in the back of her head setting off more than a few warning signs.
ST: “Gee wizz, Mista Jay ain’t so distracticated as ya might think.”
The Cheshire smile is right at home on her sweet face. Dinah’s taller. Seemingly in better shape. Nothing about the heart-shaped face or the even heartier shaped bottom suggests that she might put up a fight against someone like the Canary. Yet there she is. In all of her grandeur. Posing, more or less. Directly in the path of the blonde vigilante. Making no effort to hide or simper. She’s bold and the mallet in her hand, trailing upon the helipad behind her? Is even bolder.
“Listen Tweety, what we have here is a stand-off. Not even the fun Mexican variety. What say we skip town. Couple gurls out on the town. Leave the boys to their toys and games? Maybe we can stop and watch the fireworks. Mista Jay does the best fireworks.”
Just below the Helicopter Pad is the Bridge and that is where Damien is encountering a whole new world of psychotic. He’s right to dive for the nearest console. He’s also right that there’s no way of knowing whether or not the bridge crew are acting upon their own volition or not. What he does know, right away, is that they’re trying to kill him. Gunfire erupts immediately.
Now when he emerges from behind the console there’s a selection of targets. The five of them have not spread out like professions. They’re huddling closer to the console than they should and when Damien takes the fight to them he’s quick to take one out at the knee. Immediately he gets a little more information about the crew, because they don’t hesitate. The remaining four simply shoot at whatever is moving. Including each other. He might not be employing lethal force, but the first person he takes out? Is dead shortly there after by the other men not caring who they shoot in their rush to hit Damien.
His helmet is filtering all of the insanity around him, but it isn’t blocking it off entirely. Now that he’s engaged directly, he’ll hear the men. Screaming. Not in rage, but in terror. They’re terrified. Of -Him-. They’re not attacking him out of rage or intention, they’re attacking him out of unbridled fear. Like he was a demon among their midst.
Not too far below them comes yet more sounds of carnage. After dropping Canary at the point she wished, Dick Grayson descended upon the boat as Batman. Neither of them can see what is happening, but there is no mistaking the sounds of combat below.
Nor can either of them mistake the sound of the first explosion for what it is either. Easily seen from -off- the boat. Something or someone just went up like the forth of July.
In the relative silence that follows the first explosion comes the maniacal cackle of the Clown Prince.
Damien: Damien can see it in their faces, though he can’t let emotion get the best of him. Did he want this man to die? No. He didn’t deserve this, he didn’t deserve to die like this.In complete terror and being shot down by his friends. As much as Damien wanted to save the man, he knew he couldn’t. It was something he’ll have to figure out later. But, right now, he couldn’t be distracted. Taking them down close wasn’t going to do it. Instead, he ops to use the console again as a shield, but he knows it wasn’t going to take long before their weapons completely tore through the already bullet riddled console.
When Damien heard the explosion, hopefully that would catch the men’s attention just long enough for him to throw over some gas pellets as he ran from the console as it wasn’t providing him with any kind of cover. He’d use anything as cover at this point, hoping the gas pellets would be enough to knock the men out. Damien was a man of order, He liked to do things in a certain way. Much like how Bruce did. There was a method to his madness. The Clown Prince threw all that into the air.
“I do not suppose you men are done shooting at me?” asking, waiting for the sounds of the men falling to the ground before slowly creeping up behind a sofa.
Hopefully Dinah and Richard were having a better time than he was.
Dinah: Here’s the thing about looking curvy and sweet and mostly just female: it gets you underestimated. A lot. Even when you’re carrying a Loony Tune-esque mallet in your hands. It’s one of the reasons that I walk around in glorified fetishwear, or maybe just underwear like I do. Being underestimated is a real, solid, and fairly dependable fighting tactic, especially when you’re aggressive enough to seize upon any and all openings that gives you. I’m not going to underestimate Harley Quinn.
“I suppose not, seems like he’s had plenty of time to plan a real party…”
Cocking my head towards the starboard side of the boat, I sweep a half gloved hand out in an inviting gesture.
“Pick up some margaritas on the way? Sounds great, after you…”
The gunfire erupting below isn’t unexpected, we knew most of them were armed coming in, and it means that someone’s engaged. From how close it sounds it could be either one. Then comes the explosion, that you don’t have to be able to see to hear, and maybe even feel. I don’t have time to stand around playing a waiting game here, so I sigh, and the hand returns to my fist.
“No? Alright then.”
I don’t normally like to give up ground. It’s always better to force your opponent to act so that you can react, and set the terms of an engagement but she’s already called it what it could be. A stand-off. And so I move, charging in on the side of the mallet so there’s less time for a wind up, and more opportunity to dodge its’ inevitable path.
ST: The fight in the bridge room ends up being short, if not sweet. Though the gas pellets do not have 100% effectiveness, they do take the proverbial heat off of Damien. One by one the crew men succumb to the toxic gas they inhale. But once the Red Hood emerges from behind the cover he sought, he’ll see that knocking them out did not save them from a gruesome ending.
One by one as the crewmen began to lose focus and consciousness, they took their own lives. Of the fives that were there when he entered three of them died from wounds inflicted upon themselves. One shot himself, to avoid the ‘Demonic Creature’ that would sure surface from the toxic cloud to eat him. Another slit his own throat in some sort of gruesome attempt to keep himself from inhaling the acidic cloud that Damien unleashed upon them. A third simply died, choking and wheezing upon the gas itself. He lays at Damien’s feet gurgling his last breathe in utter terror of the Red Hood.
Only one remains and he, the Captain of Yacht in fact, lays curled at the base of the doorway. Huddled around his firearm. Rocking back and forth, muttering some strange prayer for the help of God to protect him from these unearthed sea demons.
In any sort of real fight between Harley Quinn and Dinah Lance, the Canary wins. The only mistake that Dinah makes is in thinking that this is such a thing. She charges. Quinn ducks backwards, making no effort to truly engage. Instead as she dances back, a hidden switch on the mallet is touched and the floodlights rush to her co-star. The Black Canary gets the lights from all sides. All at once. The sudden unmistakable focus of those ultra high beams, meant to guide aircraft in from thousands of feet away.
She doesn’t attack Canary at all at first. In fact it’s quite the opposite. Blinding the Canary is just step one. Step two comes in the form of a string of fire crackers. Tossed at the pretty bird’s feet. Not just any fire crackers. I mean, they do read “BOOM” on the side.
Her giggling is pretty obnoxious.
Once Damien emerges from the Bridge area he’s going to be greeted with those lights and sounds. The circus is in town and it’s apparently right here on the boat. Below him, just a single deck down. Batman is facing an eerily similar situation to what Damien had faced. It’s nearly impossible to discern the difference between Joker’s actual goons and the hapless souls who just happened to be here innocently when Joker took over the boat.
Which has left Dick Grayson fighting a battle from all sides. Bouncing between upturned chairs, that once upon a time had been for use in the art of sunbathing. He fights an ever growing battle. Similar to Damien’s results, Dick has discovered that disabling the innocents merely causes the thermite that Tim pointed out, to ignite.
“They’re all wired! If they lose consciousness, they blow up. We can’t knock the civilians out! It’ll kill them.”
Which means the Batman is bound in a dance between the ones actively trying to kill him and the ones who can’t help themselves. The Chaos has them turning even on one another. Which is clearly what caused the explosion before.
“… they’ve all been juices… I think it’s Scarecrow’s fear toxins…”
Dinah: So we’re back to the crazytown stand-off it seems, and even though my eyes have started to adjust to the bright strobe effect that’s been bouncing and dancing all over the ship, I wasn’t entirely prepared for the intensity of all of those floodlights, all at the same time. A defensive arm isn’t nearly enough, or fast enough, to fully block them from robbing me of the full range of vision. Who needs all their senses in a fight… It’s definitely preferable but you just have to learn to use the other ones to compensate.
Speaking of seizing advantages, Harley wastes little time in an attack of her own, or what looks like one anyway. They could be nothing. They could also be enough C4 to blast me to Bludhaven in bits, regardless of what happens to the boat along with me. Naval safety doesn’t seem to be their concern, if the amount of thermite Tim had spoken of was any indicator.
I just don’t let them slow me down, after the stutter that blinding lights had caused in my gait, I pick up steam again, breaking into a sprint, orienting myself on that awful, grating giggling. That I know how to stop once I get my fists on her.
Damien: This was insanity in its most pure form. Thankfully Damien’s helmet was able to at least filter out the extra noise and strobing lights. “I noticed.” saying as Damien descended onto pool deck to help Batman try and contain and incapacitate them. “Then maybe we should not incapacitate them. Instead, may I suggest rounding them up like cattle in order to stop hurting themselves?” asking. Damien’s blood was boiling on high. But he was trying to keep his cool so that he could go confront Joker and end this lunacy once and for all.
Pulling out some rope, he hands Batman one end and hopefully they’re able to maneuver around the masses enough to try and tie them up without knocking them out. “Do you have any Fear-Toxin Antidote on you?” Damien wasn’t sure what Batman had exactly. Hopefully their plan worked. “Do you think you can get to the engine room, Batman? The bridge is out of commission and the only way to disable the vessel now is through a power switch in the engine room. Though. I have a feeling you may find more of these lunatics on your way.” commenting, Damien would then start towards where the theatre was. It was time to end this, and end it now.
ST: It might seem like a mad dash, but Dinah’s got a lot of things working in her favor. The rush of adrenaline, the sound of Harley’s laughter. Motivation in the form of Fire Crackers that are even now going off with the thunderous sounds of rifle fire.
What she lacks though, is premeditation. Harley has that in spades. Our Heroes have seemingly forgotten that Joker and Harley are each more than insane, they’re also brilliant in their own little ways. Harley, also known as Harleen Quinzel, happens to be a world class psychologist. Knowing for getting in to her client’s headspace in a way that most couldn’t even understand. Right now she seems to know, intuitively, that the Canary wouldn’t just let someone like her win without giving it her all. Why else would Harley be playing a game of keep away.
Which is working, if only because Harley is dancing away unencumbered by the light that threatens to take away Dinah’s vision. Unfortunately for Harley that only works for so long, before Dinah’s almost upon her and the giggling stops.
“Hey! Hands offa da merchandise!”
Dinah manages a single handful of one of those tassels. Now she just has to hold on to it when that Hammer’s handle thuds against Canary’s stomach.
Batman and Robin, by way of the Red Hood, are squaring off with a sizeable amount of terror-filled people. As Damien gets in close, he’ll see what Dick was talking about. These Civilians are scared, they’re lashing out at anything and anyone who gets close. No skill involved, but that’s where the actual trained goons are failing as well. They’re frightened as well, terrified just the same. Causing them to surrender their own training to that fear, giving in to it. Putting the entirety of that third deck in to complete chaos.
And the Batman’s already scary appearance is only making it worse. He amounts to a literal demon in their midst, not just ones their imagination conjure up.
Damien’s plan is one that Dick sees some sense in, but there happens to be a whole lot of downside in it. At the moment there doesn’t seem to be a lot of choice though. Bringing the Grappling hook in to play, he sets about assisting Damien in that very thing. Tying up as many of them as he can. At the very least it thins their numbers.
“Standard issue in any utility belt, but I don’t have enough for all of these people. That helmet of your’s should keep it out of your system, I’ve got the re-breather from my cowl. Canary’s unprotected though…”
Leaving Damien here sounds like a terrible idea, but neutralizing the boat’s power is an optimal plan. There’s little doubt that it’s not the best option, but nothing in this mad house is optimal. Finally Dick gives him a nod, he’ll get the power turned off.
“Hood, as hard as this is to accept. We have to get Talia off of this boat. There’s maybe fifty civilians here, but if Talia dies Ra’s will unleash the League on the whole City. Ten times is many people die if that happens.”
Damien: “Turn off the power and attempt to get to Canary. I will get Talia and take her off this boat. I know what Ra’s is capable of Batman. His blood runs within me. Also, maybe call PennyOne after you have turned the power off. Have him drop enough on everybody here.” Watching Batman for just a moment, Richard is Batman. There was no doubt that the cowl belonged to the right person. It was never for Damien to wear, but he would if Richard didn’t want to wear it.
Purging the thoughts from his mind, Damien turns and runs towards where the theatre is. Using their fear against them to create a path.
Talia had to be rescued. In his mind, Damien was working on an idea. An idea he didn’t like, He couldn’t fight the Joker and rescue Talia at the same time. So, he was going to have to go in guns blazing, if you will, to create enough of a distraction to grab Talia and then somehow blow out a section of the vessel to escape with her.
But, honestly. The idea was shakey enough.
If Joker killed Talia? That would probably be the straw that broke the camel’s back. It would be more than enough to drive Damien onto that path and never look back. Maybe even participate in the razing of Gotham. When he reaches the theatre doors, he doesn’t stop, instead he leaps into the air and kicks the door down tucking into a roll before popping back up, sword in hand.
Now, the final phase of this whole ordeal was about to end.
One way, Or another.
Dinah: Here’s the thing. You don’t stay in this line of ‘work’ without learning how to take a good bit of punishment, and being able to muscle on through it. I happen to prefer avoiding getting hit, while doing the brunt of the hitting myself, but there’s moments where things don’t go quite as I like. For instance, when I’m charging more than half blind at an opponent that I can only hear, and even that you can’t entirely trust because… these whack-os are all about show-biz tonight and I wouldn’t have been that surprised if it meant mics and speakers.
However, the handful of whatever this is, and the sharp ram to my midsection tells me I actually was heading the right direction. Hanging onto that tassel? Not a problem, if for no other reason than it’s getting a sharp yank as I fold forward over the handle of the mallet. Other hand going forward with the momentum of my run, following the ‘lead’ of the weapon down to the inevitable: one of the hands that is wielding it in the first place, and then a wrist so that when I twist around to that side, I’ve got a sensitive body part to torque along with me.
ST: While they weren’t able to secure everyone on the main deck, Damien and Dick did their best to secure as many as they could. There was only so much tether line between the two of them. It made for a slightly less chaotic venture for the two of them through different parts of the ship.
Dick’s path was less certain than Damien’s. Tasked with the unenviable task of getting all the way to the engine room, Dick understands that he doing the exact opposite of what Bruce would do. Bruce would -need- to go face the Joker. He would rationalize that this always going to be about Batman and Joker. Maybe he’d even be right, but the Joker knows. Somehow through all of his insanity? He knows that Batman is dead. Maybe not -the- Batman, but his Batman. He didn’t believe Timothy’s act as Batman and he’s unlikely to believe Dick’s anymore than that.
Damien on the other hand has a personal stake in this. One that will play out whether he’s involved or not. Losing Talia, without factoring in to the result would destroy him. Leaving only one choice, Dick has to trust his younger ‘Brother’ to do what is right. Because that’s really the only hope he has for the man’s sanity when all of this settles down.
So the Batman goes, not to fight to the Joker, but to find the power system that drives all of this insanity. Damien’s last sight of his brother is the cape and cowl descending a flight of boatsman steps. Sending a clown faced goon down before him, with a kick that jars the man to his very core.
“Tee hee. Holdin mah hand? Are we goin steady Tweety? How ’bout you give Momma a little sugar?”
Does that sound like a woman that is being twisted up like a pretzel? No, that sounds like a woman who enjoys being twisted up like a pretzel. Someone who’s had her arm twisted like that for kicks.
And Dinah was right. Sometimes it’s about muscling through the pain, other times it’s about enjoying it. Harley sounds almost happy to finally be in on some of the action. Dinah’s just getting warmed up too, when she undoubtedly hears the click.
That’s about all the warning she gets when the blunt end of mallet fires off like a rocket. Well, not -like- a rocket. It is an actual rocket. Having already been against Canary’s stomach, when the rocket fires it seeks to take Canary. Up up and away.
Oh and that arm? Yeah, well judging by the high piercing shriek of laughter Harley thinks of this like a Roller Coaster. If Canary hands on she gets to go for a ride.
Up until now Red Hood has managed to get through the majority of this Mad House unscathed. He got through the bridge somehow without being shot. He made it through with the Batman’s aide, what might amount to nearly a hundred fear-crazed people with knives, guns and explosives. All the way to the theater room, where he makes this super awesome kung-fun style entrance.
This, folks, is Red Hood. Damien Wayne. In all of his glory.
Right up until the Titanium Baseball bat hits the back of that red hood with a ‘ting‘ that sounds like a grand slam hit.
One to the ribs.
That one hits a knee.
One for the pistol arm.
“…stupid… fucking brat… don’t you get it? We are the same! He meant something to us… we needed answers. Who killed the Bat! Who took him from us?!”
Not so far in the distance? Damien can see his mother. Maybe not in the way he’s ever wanted to see her. She’s mostly naked by this point. Still hung to what looks like an over-sized dart-board. Which has been the obvious target of a game of throwing knives. Let’s just say more than few of them found the mark. If, between smacks of the baseball bat, he’s able to focus even a little? He’ll see that she’s actually still breathing. That may in fact be a bigger dishonor than anything else, because she’ll have to eventually awaken to see and feel what -all- has been done to her.
“Well. I know now. I know the truth … it’s the biggest Joke of them all…”
Dinah: Mother *%$&ing rockets.
When this is over, I’m going to go hunt down whomever it is that’s supplying these things to the city, and we’re going to have some words. And by words I mean I’m going to introduce them to every sharp, bony part of my body in rapid succession, and then do it a second, and possibly a third time afterwards. I wasn’t actually out to hurt Harley with the wrist lock. That had been to set her up for the hurt that was about to come when I put her down on our helipad dance floor.
Sorry Harls. No ride-a-long for you. At least not with me on this rocket-mallet. I let go of her wrist, and give the tassel in my other hand a yank, mostly to try to pull myself around and off of the forward movement of the rocket.
It’s short, but with my weight already back and off center, the force of that short burst ought to be enough to not only tilt me downwards, but the face-full of sonic energy might rock my opponent back, too, and maybe with some luck send her aim and her mallet up up and away. Prone isn’t exactly a great place to be, but I’m more than ready to kick anything that comes in range before I can kip back up again.
Damien: Joker didn’t have much in the way of strength that Damien, or even his father had. But, he wasn’t weak. So when the bat struck the back of Damien’s head, it nearly knocked off the helmet, but it also drove Damien down onto the floor where his ribs, knee and one of his pistol hands became greeted by the bat. The pain coursed through his body. Travelling at light speed, incapacitating him. But, every time Damien saw his nearly nude mother, he grew stronger. Grew angrier.
“Kill…” saying as blood dripped down out of his helmet. “Going … to kill you” growling under his mask. His head felt like it was on fire. Whatever was going to happen now, was going to happen on auto pilot now. When Joker stops his beatdown, Damien rolls away. But not before leaving a few exploding beads in his wake. Not enough kill him, but certainly surprise the living hell out of him. If they go off, the small force is enough to push Damien away even further from the psychotic clown.
Damien probably had a dislocated knee by this point, probably a cracked rib or two and a broken hand. But none of this was going to stop him from rescuing his mother. “Torturing the daughter of the demon would never get the answer you wanted, you psychotic lunatic.” pulling himself up, Damien can’t focus with the helmet on, so he tugs it off to see clearly. “You do not know the family you are trifling with, Joker. You do not realize the bounty that is on your head. The Demon will not stop for anything if you kill her.” slowly stalking towards the white skinned man.
“If you think Batman frightened you. Then you have no idea what true fear is. The Demon would kill you, Bring you back. Then do it again, for all eternity. Until your mind is so fractured, You will not even remember Batman. He will be just a memory that has lapsed.” stalking towards the Joker. “I will give you this opportunity to run, Joker. My fight is not with you tonight. Though, I will not hesitate to show you what real fear is.” saying as he changed direction to reach his mother.
“Come, Mother. It is time for you to return home.” Damien would keep his back towards Joker, knowing that Joker might strike him. Or run like the coward that he was. This scuffle with Joker was not over. He will pay his dues. Either by Damien’s hand, or by the League’s hand. This was his choice though. To rescue his mother and to take her home.
ST: What kind of world do we live in where a Rocket-Hammer doesn’t actually win in a game of one upsmanship between a couple of girls? A world full of crazy people, that’s what.
There’s this start of something truly beautiful. A little cheerful laughter, that turns almost mournful as the Canary is about to be sent in to outer space. Then a hiccup of, “…oh shit…” That comes just before the clowned smirk of Harley Quinn is turned in to a scowl of something akin to remorse.
Seconds later the Mallet of Mayhem is spiraling off in to the wild blue yonder. Leaving Harley’s dimpled face twisting in to a pout, that results in a foot stamp of petulance.
“That was mah favrit one! I clobbered Batgirl with that one… now you’re in for it…”
Then those wild, angry, blue eyes flicker to the wavering tassel. To the way Dinah twisted it as she rolled away. To the end that now tapers in a little loop around the …
“….but I didn’t wear mah parachooooootttt…”
The Joker might be unaware that his girlfriend is even now taking a short flight over Gotham Harbor, but he has other things to worry about. Beating the piss out of the Boy Wonder for one thing. Right now he’s too busy ranting to have immediately noticed the little beads or even care about what they do.
“… you think Ra’s al Ghul scares me?” His laughter is only interrupted by the beads exploding. Flinging the Joker away from Damien, much as it carries the Hood away from the baseball bat that was coming for him.
Coughing, wiping the blood from his chin, and using the bat as a cane to pick himself up from the wreckage of an overturned television filming stage. The Joker isn’t nearly done. He’s taken more than that in bathroom brawls for the soap. The dry laugh coming from his lungs is serious, not nearly so mocking as before.
“Ra’s is nothing, he lives off of fear. Fear that is over-stated. Look around you Hood. Look at the pool outside. Ra’s is over-rated. He couldn’t save his daughter. He had to send you. You and your second rate bat-knock-off and the blonde hooker. You’re a a regular justice league out there.”
“The only reason you’re even alive is because I need someone to know the punchline.” Twisting the handle of that bat, the fat end drops off revealing it to be a sort of mechanized shot gun. “It’s a joke. Don’t you even see it? Haha. This is why I need him. He’s my only equal. None of you even see it and it’s right in front of your faces.”
“Ra’s doesn’t care about his daughter. He already knew where she was. If was half as scary as you seem to think, why didn’t he bring the full League to rip her away?” Stalking toward the Red Hood, shotgun bat in hand. “He came to Gotham to get back what she stole. The Lazarus Pit you threaten me with. She stole it to raise the Bat.”
“But it didn’t work. Because there was no body. Ask her yourself ‘Red Hood,’ you clod. We’ve all been duped. Batman isn’t dead.”
The shotgun? Blasts a hole in the side of the boat. Big enough for Damien to take his mother and leap in to the Harbor. “… Talia had so much to tell me. I’m afraid I can’t let your friends take me back to Arkham yet. Not when I’ve got so much to do. Go. Carry on my Legacy, as the Red Hood.”
After all of this? The insanity of it all. Damien made it clear that he was letting the Joker leave and the Joker? If what he’s said is true, then he has no reason to stand and have one big last hurrah.
Damien really doesn’t have a choice after all. His back is to the Joker, brazenly. So all he really gets is to feel the Joker’s boot kicking him through the hole out in to the Harbor. He gets to hear the insane laughter. And watch from the Hudson River as the Joker sets the switch. Detonating any of the remaining bombs that can still go off.
How better to cover his exit?
Dinah: On the downside, apparently Harley wasn’t packing a parachute. Seems unwise if you’re going to walk around with a rocket mallet, but that’s just me. The upside? Her trip up, up and away has officially spared her from feeling the brunt of my irritation, and thwarted my plans of ending all that giggling with a couple well placed finger jabs. At least, it’s an upside if she knows how to swim, but that’s not as high a worry on my priority list right now as you might like to think.
Namely because the entire ship is now, apparently, exploding. The usual elegance of me rising to my feet gone all to hell because the vessel rocks, and roils, and moves beneath me. There’s no more attempts at getting to any controls, or lights, there’s just getting off this ship. And hoping that my companions are doing the same. Booted feet beat across the helipad, picking up as much speed as I can get, before launching myself over, and into the awaiting frigid water.
I can swim. Eat that, clowns.