This story is part of the DC Mayhem continuity.
“So, you heading to the bar later?” Jason asked, as he walked slowly along the office building corridor.
His friend, Earl, walked beside him, hand resting casually on the gun holstered to his belt. “Nah, I gotta get home to the wife, soon as the boss lets us go for the night. She'll kill me if I come in past midnight again. I swear, she'll use any excuse to accuse me of cheating.”
“Heh, and that's why I'm not married,” he replied. “Women, they're too high maintenance. As far as I'm concerned, they're good for one thing and one thing only, and I get plenty of that without a committed relationship.”
“Oh sure, that's nice and all, but you got no companionship,” Earl said. They turned the corner of hallway, continuing their rounds. “Sure, Denise can be a real paranoid bitch sometimes, but she's good to me.”
Jason just shook his head. “Whatever you say, man.”
As they moved down the corridor, watchful eyes followed their movements from above, through the slits in the air duct. Ravager had crawled her entire way through the ducts on this floor, after scaling the interior of the elevator shaft, and as enhanced as her natural abilities were, even she wasn't immune to annoyance and over exertion, not to mention the subtle creeping effects of claustrophobia. She took deep breaths, though, to calm her nerves, waiting patiently for the security guards to disappear around another corner. Finally, she eased open the cover of the vent and dropped down below to the floor. Standing straight, she took in a deep breath of fresh air and then looked around. Dark, quiet... pretty much to be expected at this time of night. As far as she knew, though, her target was still here, and so she pressed onward down the hall.
She had been all over the country this past year, chasing lead after lead that might bring her to her father, the man she desired revenge against. It had been slow going, though. Not only were her investigations cumbersome and annoying, but she had Cassandra to look out for, as well. Between teaching that girl how to read, write, and speak (a process that had made painfully little progress thus far), interrogating Slade's former clients, and traveling from city to city, there had been little downtime in her life recently. She knew she needed a break, but she wouldn't allow herself to take one. If she waited too long, the trail might go cold, and if the trail went cold there was no guarantee that she would be able to pick it up again.
Of course, with as many places as she had been during the past year, it seemed almost... insultingly ironic that she now found herself back in Gotham, the city where she had started. She felt like she was going in circles at this point, and she didn't like that much at all. Still, she knew she'd break open her investigation eventually... it was all just a matter of time. And patience. It was that constant thought that allowed her to keep her poise as she marched towards the thirtieth floor corporate office of Daggett Industries. Roland Daggett, another one of her father's former clients, had used Deathstroke's services on numerous occasions. With any luck, he would know where he was now.
When Rose kicked in the door to the office, the man sitting behind the desk at the end of the room bolted upright immediately, staring frozen at the girl marching across his floor. A white haired girl with a mask, armor, and two swords on her back was no doubt one of the last things he would have ever imagined barging into his office that night.
“What is this?” he asked, taking cautious step backwards. “Who the hell are you?”
“That's not important,” she said, moving straight up to the desk. She drew one of her swords in the process, flipping it around in her hand. “But I know who you are, Roland Daggett. I also know that you've hired the mercenary known as Deathstroke in the past, on three separate occasions to guard various illegal imports across seas.”
“You don't know what the hell you're talking about,” he muttered, reaching his hand towards the intercom on the corner of his desk.
Ravager brought the edge of her blade down with lightning quickness between his hand and the intercom, preventing him from reaching it. “I wouldn't do that if I were you. And don't play stupid, I have written records of your contracts with Deathstroke.”
Slowly pulling his hand back, Daggett frowned. “So what do you care, anyway? That was more than fifteen years ago.”
“I'm looking for him,” Ravager said, narrowing her eyes. “My search brought me to you... I figure he might have contacted you again to let you know his services were on the market again.”
“Are you out of your mind? I haven't heard anything about that man since the last time I hired him.” Daggett took a small step back, his hand slowly moving down to his side and behind his back. “As far as I know, he's retired. Or dead.”
Ravager shook her head. “Not according to some other sources. He's been working again, though I don't know for what... If he's back in the business, someone has to know where to find him.”
“Well, I'm not that person, sorry. Now, if you'll kindly leave me to my business, I have a lot paperwork...” His fingers suddenly gripped the handle of his pistol stuffed in the back of his pants. He pulled it free and swung it around in front to shoot at the intruder, but before he ever got that chance Ravager caught his wrist, twisted the gun out of his hand, then snapped his elbow in the opposite direction it was meant to go in. Daggett toppled against his desk a moment later screaming, his crippled arm flopping uselessly at his side. “F**k! My arm! You broke my goddamn arm!”
“You're the one who tried to shoot me,” Ravager said, with a small roll of her eyes. “Idiot.” She then moved around the side of the desk and brought her blade near his throat. “If you don't know anything about Deathstroke, I'm willing to bet you know someone who does. You're well acquainted with the other dirty scum in the city, am I right? All you cockroaches tend to crawl around together, from my experience...”
“I swear... I swear I don't know anything, you crazy b*tch.”
Ravager shook her head, gently tsk tsking at him. The edge of her sword moved a bit closer, just drawing a trickle of blood from his throat. “Wrong answer.”
As the blade pushed even closer, Daggett closed his eyes and threw up his one good arm in protest. “Alright, alright! Thorne... Rupert Thorne, try him. He heads one of the local mob families here in Gotham, I know he's in the business of hiring guys like Deathstroke on occasion. He might have what you're looking for.”
“That's a little better...” Ravager muttered, pulling her blade back a little. She only did so momentarily, however, as she reached to grab her other sword. Pulling it free, she then brought them both around his neck in a scissor-like pattern. “Now I can get rid of you without feeling too bad.”
“Wait, what? No!” Daggett cried, backing up as far as he could against the desk. “I told you what you wanted to know!”
“You say that like it makes a difference,” she said, without the slightest shift of tone in her cold voice. “You're still a lying, cheating, murderous piece of scum. I've found that the world is better off without people like you.”
“No! Please! I'll- I'll do anyth- is it money? I'll give you money! Whatever you want!”
She simply shook her head. “Sorry, don't need money. Now, just suck it up and take it like a man. At least try to go out with some dignity.”
As she went to make the killing motion, however, a tiny blur ran across the room and grabbed at her wrists. The tugging did very little to actually move her swords away, but the realization of who it was made her hesitate. Standing there, desperately trying to yank Ravager's hands backwards, was Cassandra Cain.
“Cass, what the hell are you doing here?!” she exclaimed, pulling away slightly. “What have I told you about following me at night? You're supposed to be at the hotel!”
The girl said nothing (well, because she couldn't say anything), and instead pushed herself between Ravager and Daggett, arms held out wide at her sides. Then, she firmly shook her head.
“Cass, get out of the way,” Ravager said, trying to move past the girl. “I have a job to do here.”
But Cassandra didn't listen. She brought her hands forward, planting her palms firmly against Ravager's chest and shoving.
“What the hell, Cass? Let me by!”
Again, the girl shook her head.
“Cass, get out of the way!”
Ravager paused, dumbfounded. She had to take a moment to make sure she had heard correctly, blinking back at the girl in shock .”You... spoke.”
“No... kill,” Cassandra said, shaking her head again. “No kill.”
“You don't get it, I have to do this,” Ravager said, giving the girl a hard stare. “You don't know what kind of man this is. He's no different than people like my dad... or your dad.”
But Cassandra held strong. “No.”
A long moment of silence passed between them. Ravager stared into Cassandra's eyes for the longest time, those steely, adamant eyes. Yet, as fierce as they were, there was also a hint of desperation in them... as though she were pleading for Ravager not to go through with it. With each passing second, Ravager felt the knot in her stomach grow just a little tighter, until finally she forced herself to look away and step backwards, sheathing her swords.
“Fine,” she muttered. “Have it your way.” As she walked back around the side of the desk, she turned to give Daggett one more look. “But you stick around, I'm sure the cops will love some of the dirt I have on you. Take care, now.”
About an hour later, Rose lay back against the lone bed in the hotel room, just staring at the ceiling. It seemed pointless getting a room with two beds, when Cassandra had taken up the habit of sleeping with her. (No, not that way, get your mind out of the gutter). Ever since their first night together, the only way Cassandra could get through the night without any nightmares was with Rose sleeping beside her. Perhaps she just felt safer that way, more relaxed. Whatever the reason, she very seldom slept alone now.
Across the room, Cassandra sat in the chair near the table, staring at the carpet and swinging her legs gently back and forth. She knew that Rose was upset with her, but it wasn't her fault, really. She hadn't meant to make her angry. She hadn't meant to follow her that night. She just... didn't like it when Rose went out and left her alone in the room. Not that she couldn't handle being alone for a few hours, that wasn't it. It was when Rose came back, how distant she was, how... sad she looked, or frustrated. Cassandra suspected that Rose's nightly escapades had begun to take their toll, and if she didn't step in to help her, then... well, what kind of friend would she be?
“Sorry for yelling,” Rose said, still staring at the ceiling.
Cassandra looked up slowly, bringing her legs to a stop.
“I just... I wasn't expecting you to be there,” she continued. “You weren't supposed to be there...” Breathing out a heavy sigh, she brought a hand to her forehead and closed her eyes. “You don't like it when I kill someone, I get it. But you have to understand that sometimes... it just has to be done.”
“No.” Cassandra was on her feet now. She made her way over to the bed and lay down next to Rose, staring at her with knowing eyes. “No... kill. Ever. No... rree... reaaz...rayzin.”
“Reason,” Rose corrected, glancing down at the girl. “You mean 'no reason'. And that's a nice enough sentiment, but things just don't work that way. Not when you're me, not when you're dealing with my father.”
Cassandra was quiet for a moment. She looked away, gaze drifting idly up to the ceiling. Then, she rolled over slightly and wrapped her arms around Rose, nuzzling close as she often did before sleep. “No kill... please?”
“You really have something against it, don't you?” Rose asked, giving the girl a hard look. When Cassandra failed to meet her gaze, she exhaled and looked away. Eventually, she returned the embrace and wrapped her own arms around Cassandra. “Fine... I'll try, alright? But one of these days, when you're able... you're going to tell me what happened to you, okay?”
The only response she received was a tiny squeeze around her midsection. She took that to mean a yes.
(That's it for now. Look for Rose and Cassandra to return in the upcoming chapters of DC Mayhem: Secret Six!)