Posted by Ravager4 (1627 posts) - - Show Bio

Disclaimer: I do not own any DC characters or locations. All rights belong to DC Comics. I do, however, retain the rights to all characters and locations of my own creation, which include: Rebecca Chavez, Holly Sanders, Apathy/Ruby, Sophie, Jeremiah Belmont, Michelle Blanchett, Isaiah Slaton, Michael Kubrick, Zaria (as well as her Celarian race), Shao Shen, Trance, Police Chief Gerald Palmer, Officer Stevens, Officer Harrow, Emilia Marconi, Francis Baldoni, Arnold Pavoni, Senator Thomas Greene, Agent Croft, as well as Silverstone City and all its interior locations of my own creation.

Rating: T+

Note: In the second to last arc, Holly and Lyta are kidnapped by a mysterious woman and thrust into the midst of a high end human trafficking ring. Ravager, along with her new crime fighting partner, race against the clock to get them back before the girls slip away for good!

Side Note: Uh, okay, yeah, this arc ended up being much longer than I planned. Not necessarily because a ton of stuff happened, just... I ended up writing a lot. As such, it's the longest single part arc I've written to date, at 9 chapters. Also, as such, I really only skimmed it when editing for typos and such, so chances are I didn't catch everything, nor is it written as well as it could be. So, keep that in mind when reading, and if anything really bad jumps out at you, point it out to me and I'll fix it. Just one more story arc to go, then the final few wrap up chapters!

All Chapters: http://www.comicvine.com/forums/fan-fic/8/ravager4s-fan-fic-archives/660884/#1

Chapter #89

Ext. Warehouse – Night

A crisp, cool breeze gusts gently through the city, typical of a quiet, October night. A light coating of grey slush covers the ground, the result of an early snowfall mixed with driving rain. Several men hurry back and forth between the warehouse and a large box truck parked out front, though they don’t pay much mind to the deep puddles. Time is of the essence right now, and they can’t afford to be tiptoeing around a little water. This delivery needs to go out as soon as possible, before someone tips off the cops, or worse.

One of the guys, Danny, is a newcomer to the operation, only there because his buddy told him it would be some easy money. Come in for a couple of hours, help load up the truck, make a hundred bucks. It seemed like a simple enough deal at the time, but now he’s not so sure. He’s heard the rumors, after all, that the capes of Silverstone are back in full force ever since a couple of months ago. It’s not just that Ravager chick anymore, either. Rumors have been circulating about another woman in a hood and cloak who teleports. Get that? Freaking teleports! As if it couldn’t get any weirder, there’s supposed to be a third one now, some indestructible broad that bullets bounce off of.

Danny hasn't ever actually seen any of these costumed crime fighters himself, but then he’s never actually been involved in something like this before, transporting boxes of god knows what kinds of drugs, well past midnight. Knowing his luck, though, the one time he does, those vigilantes will show up. It’s almost guaranteed.

Danny: Hey, Ted, how much longer you think this is gonna take?

His friend, Ted, utters an annoyed sigh, as the two head back into the warehouse for another load.

Ted: Relax, shouldn’t be more than another half hour. What’s got you so nervous anyway?

Danny: Well, you’ve heard the talk, right? What if those crime fighting chicks show up and-

Ted: Oh, for the last time, dude, they’re not gonna show up. We were careful, you got that? We picked the right time, the right location, the right everything. I’d be more worried about the cops showing up than those loonies.

Grabbing another box, Danny breathes out an unconvinced sigh and slowly shuffles his way back outside.

Danny: I hope you’re right, man. I really don’t feel like running into them. Not tonight, not ever.

Ted: I swear, Danny, you are such a girl.

As the two emerge back outside into the loading area, they suddenly pause, noticing the other two loaders lying down on the ground behind the truck, unmoving. Ted hurries up to the truck to set down his box, then kneels down to check on their two unconscious friends.

Ted: What the hell? They’re out cold!

Danny: Aw man, I knew it! I told you! I’m getting out of here, dude, this isn’t worth a hundred bucks!

Dropping his box, Danny turns around and sprints away, arms swinging wildly. He wants to get as far from here as possible. No way he’s going to let himself be-

Thump!

A sudden crack explodes across the back of his skull, crumpling him unconscious to the ground. Emerging from the inky shadows next to him, a female figure coated in a metallic shell looks down and shakes her head in clear disappointment. With a brief sigh, she casually brushes off her hands and then brings her attention to the one man remaining.

Heart pounding in the midst of panic, Ted reaches into the back of his pants and pulls out his handgun. Even as he aims it at her, though, hand shaking and unsteady, he knows it won't do any good.

Ted: Stay back! I’ll shoot!

When the woman continues to approach him, he fires. Of course, the bullets ricochet like ping pong balls off her metallic skin, exactly as he'd feared. Huffing out a breath of utter hopelessness, Ted stands there and hangs his head; there's no point in running.

The woman comes to a stop in front of him, pausing only briefly to shake her head at him, then grabs the gun from his hand and crushes it with a single squeeze.

Becky: You know, shooting at a woman is really impolite.

Ted: Uh… s-sorry?

Becky: I’m sure you are. Now, be a good little boy and go to sleep.

She delivers a single, hard chop to the side of the man's neck, dropping him in an instant. For a moment, she worries that she might have put too much force into the blow, but a quick examination of the unconscious body reveals a steady pulse. It had taken Becky quite a bit of practice to get a firm grasp on her newfound strength levels. In order for a blow like that to simply knock someone out and not, for example, take his head clean off, she has to really hold back.

Becky: Well, I’d say that was simple enough. How’d I do?

From atop the truck, another figure walks into view, hands on her hips.

Ravager: Hmm… I give it a B+.

Becky: What, that’s it? Come on, that had to be at least an A-.

Ravager: Could have been, if you didn’t forget about the guy in the truck. If I didn't taken care of him, he’d have gotten away.

Becky: The guy in the… oh, right.

Ravager: Hey, don’t sweat it. You’re getting better.

Ravager pauses a moment to remove the faceplate of her helmet, revealing a pleased smile painted across her face. In a single, deft motion, she leaps down from the truck and lands softly on the balls of her feet. After straightening herself out again, she takes a few careful steps over to Becky and leans in close, pressing their lips together gently. The cold feel of Becky's metallic lips sends a pleasant chill down her spine, the kind of chill that makes her tingle in all the right places.

Becky: Well… at least I didn’t level half the warehouse by accident?

Ravager: You mean like you did last week?

Becky: Hey, that place was condemned anyway. If you think about it, I actually saved the city money from having to demolish it.

A soft chuckle finds its way out of Ravager’s throat, as she slips her faceplate back into place. Her voice resonates with a tin echo from behind the metal mask.

Ravager: Spin it however you want, you still got a C.

Becky: I thought it was a C+?

Ravager: It was, but then you went and ripped a hole through that person’s car when you chased down the last guy, remember? I took off points for that.

Becky: Oh… right, I forgot about that.

Ravager: And that's why I'm the one keeping track of your grades.

Reaching down into one of the compartments of her utility belt, Ravager pulls out a small phone. It isn't her normal phone, instead keeping this one around specifically to use while dressed up as Ravager. Only a small handful of numbers are stored on it, and this time her finger drifts over to the first speed dial button. Pacing several steps to the left, she waits patiently until the man on the other line picks up.

Ravager: Hey, Palmer. Yeah, it’s me. Listen, send down a couple squad cars to the old warehouse on Holland Street. Got you a box truck full of drugs and the guys moving it. Yeah, I’ll tell her. See you soon.

Hanging up the phone, she turns back to Becky and folds her arms across her chest.

Ravager: Palmer says hi.

Becky: Oh he does, ah? He just saw me a few hours ago, too.

Ravager: Probably still not over the whole you being alive again thing. Coming back from the dead tends to have an effect on people.

Becky: Ha, I suppose. You should have seen the looks I got on my first day back on the force. You’d think those guys saw a ghost. Hell, Stevens kept poking me with a pencil most of the day to make sure I was really there. Of course, he backed off when I crushed the pencil into powder.

A small smile snakes its way across Ravager’s face at the thought of Becky flipping on Stevens.

Ravager: You know, we should really consider getting you a costume or something. Maybe a codename, too. Just because Palmer and a couple other guys on the force know your identity, doesn’t mean everyone in the city has to.

Becky: What, the shiny metal skin not enough? Come on, you can’t even tell it’s me when I’m like this. And what would I call myself? The Super Metal Chica? Or maybe Silver Nanite Girl? Oh, how about The Shiny Avenger?

Ravager: Alright, alright, I see your point. You’re fine as is.

Becky: That’s what I thought. So, where’s Ruby, anyway?

Ravager: Working the East District, I believe. Something about investigating a string of weird murders involving razor blades and a hack saw.

Becky cringes slightly at the thought.

Becky: Sounds riveting. She coming to the party tomorrow?

Ravager: Well, I would hope so. She said she’d pick up the cake on her way there.

Becky: Ha, so she did. Should be fun, ah?

Ravager: If you don’t mind looking after a bunch of hyperactive, preteen kids, sure.

Becky: That’s why you got us girls to help you. God knows you couldn’t handle it on your own.

Ravager lets out a small, snorting laugh, hands coming down to her hips.

Ravager: When you’re right, Becky, you really are right.

Ext. Silverstone City Park – Day

It’s a big day, of course; what twelve-year-old girl’s birthday isn’t a big day? Any excuse to have a big party, open presents, and stuff yourself with cake is a good one in a kid’s eyes. For Holly, it’s no different. Not since her last birthday has she had a chance to get together with all of her friends like this, and she made sure to takes advantage of it, inviting literally everyone she’s even remotely friends with. The more people that attend, the more presents, after all! That and it makes the party games (which, for Holly, consist of things like flag football. Screw pin the tail on the jackass) a lot more exciting.

Of course, being responsible for twenty or so kids is more than a handful. If Rose had to do this herself, she’d probably go insane. Fortunately, she has the likes of Becky, Circe, and Ruby to help her out. Ruby is especially advantageous; if things ever get too out of hand, she can always make the kids calm down with her empathic abilities. That is, of course, when she actually gets there. As far as they know, Ruby is still downtown picking up the cake.

Lyta: Holly, I’m open! Throw it!

Holly isn’t like most girls. While others her age are more concerned with dolls, pink ribbons, and pretty dresses, she’s into things like sports and martial arts. Spending the last two and a half years being raised by Rose probably had a bit of influence on that, but still. That being the case, most of her friends are actually boys, with the exception of Lyta -- by far her best friend -- and a few other more tomboyish girls from her class.

Right now, said kids are engaged in a heated flag football game, with Holly acting as quarterback and leader of her team. As Lyta breaks out into the open, Holly pulls back the football and launches it through the air. It’s far from a perfect spiral, of course, but it reaches its mark, if a little overthrown. Still, Lyta manages to come down with a spectacular one handed grab in the end zone (a feat quite possibly aided by the girl’s magical ability, but there’s no need to mention that to anyone). It’s still a cause for their team to erupt with excitement, while the opposing team can only bow their heads in disappointment.

Holly: Nice catch!

Lyta: I know, it was pretty awesome, right?

At a nearby picnic table, the three present adults watch the game carefully. Circe leans back in her seat and folds her arms, smiling proudly.

Circe: Did you see that? My girl scored a goal.

Becky: It’s called a touchdown, and yes, we all saw it.

Circe: Touchdown, of course. That’s what I meant.

Becky: Suuure you did.

Walking around the side of the picnic table, Rose holds one hand to her hip, while pointing absently at the food items in front of her, making sure that they have everything in order.

Rose: Okay, we have sandwiches, chips, potato salad, pizza, cheese and crackers, juice, soda… am I missing anything?

Becky: Relax, girl, we got everything on the list. Sit down and watch the game; Holly’s team is dominating.

Rose: Alright, so then we’re just missing the-

Ruby: Cake, right?

Appearing behind them, Ruby casually walks over and places down the large chocolate cake on the picnic table in front of her.

Ruby: Got it right here. All twelve candles, too.

Rose: Oh, there you are, good. Alright, so I guess that’s everything. You guys want to help me getting this stuff ready for everyone to eat?

Becky: Yeah, just a second.

A quarterback sneak this time, and Holly really starts to put on the moves. The other team doesn’t have a prayer of catching her flags, not with the way she’s darting around and spinning. Within seconds, she breaks away and scores another touchdown, much to her own teams delight.

Becky: If I didn’t know any better, I’d say your girl hexed the other team or something.

Circe: If she did, then she’s putting her power to good use.

Becky: Ha, by cheating at a football game?

Circe: If you got it, flaunt it. That is how the saying goes, right?

Becky: Uh… something like that. Anyway, let’s help with the spread.

Turning back around to the picnic table, Becky and Circe focus their efforts in assisting Rose and Ruby with organizing all the food. When the kids finish their game, they'll be wanting to dig right in. Said game is just about over, of course, with how far ahead Holly's team is. The kids are still having fun, though, so for the time being, the game presses on.

Holly’s team is back in possession now. Holly drops back for another pass, her sharp eyes carefully scanning the field for an open receiver. Lyta breaks away from her defender again, waving her arms for the ball. Spotting her friend wide open in the end zone, Holly winds her arm back and launches the ball… promptly overthrowing her intended target by about ten feet. Well, they can’t all be perfect passes.

Lyta: Aw, I’m not that tall, Holly!

Holly: Sorry!

The oblong ball bounces awkwardly across the ground, rolling behind a collection of bushes near the park gate. Huffing out a small breath, Lyta hurries over to look for it. She looks around for a few minutes, searching high and low for the pigskin, but for some reason she can't find it anywhere. It's as if the thing up and vanished into thin air. A few moments later, Holly arrives to help search.

Holly: What’s taking so long over here?

Lyta: I dunno, can’t find the football. I thought it rolled over here somewhere.

Holly: It’s probably stuck in one of the bushes.

Pushing around to the back of the bushes, Holly looks around carefully, but she, too, finds nothing. As the two girls continue searching in confusion, a calm, smooth voice, thick with a French accent, interrupts them.

Voice: Are you girls looking for zis?

Glancing towards the sound of the voice, they see a very young woman standing there; she can't be older than nineteen or twenty. The woman is dressed in clean, business attire, including a silky red blouse and long black pants. A narrow pair of glasses sit atop her nose, framing around her sharp, green eyes. Her long blonde hair is pulled back into a ponytail, with the end hanging over her left shoulder in front of her. Extending one arm, the woman holds out the missing football.

Holly: Oh, hey yeah. Thanks.

As she goes over to take the football away, however, the woman teasingly pulls it back.

Woman: You really should be more careful where you srow your toys.

Holly: Um… thanks, I guess. We’ll keep that in mind.

Woman: So, what are you girls doing out 'ere on zis fine day?

Lyta: Can we just have our ball back? We’re not supposed to talk to strangers.

Woman: Euh, but of course. You girls are very smart, non? Never know what kind of people you might meet in a big city like zis.

Holly: Right… you want to give us the ball, please?

Woman: Why, certainly. 'Ere, all you have to do is take it from me.

Extending her hand forward again, the woman gives a small smile, as if daring one of the girls to take the football. Lyta furrows her brow, looking at the woman curiously. Finally, she reaches out to grab the ball. The instant her hands touch it, however, she falls forward to the ground, unconscious.

Holly: Lyta!

Before Holly can make a move to come to her friend’s aid, the woman extends a single hand and touches her on the shoulder. Much the same as Lyta, consciousness quickly leaves her, causing her to crumple to the ground.

Woman: I sink you girls will do nicely.

Back at the picnic table, Rose is in the middle of setting up the candles on the birthday cake when one of Holly’s friends suddenly rushes up and starts pulling on her sleeve.

Boy: Ms. Wilson! Ms. Wilson!

Rose: Oh, what is it?

Boy: It’s Holly and Lyta!

Blinking a couple of times, she looks up curiously and carefully scans the area. That’s when she realizes that she doesn’t see Holly or Lyta anywhere. Circe, too, is now standing and looking around.

Circe: Where are they? Where are our daughters?

Boy: Over there! They were over there!

He points over near the park gate, specifically out at the nearby street.

Boy: They were looking for the ball, and then they started talking to this woman, and-and-and then she took them!

Panic begins to set in. Rose takes a closer look at the street, and that’s when she notices a woman dressed in red and black slamming closed the side door of a large white van, with the words ‘Blanchett Limelight’ written on it. In an instant, Rose is sprinting across the park towards the van.

Rose: Holly!!!

Becky: Dios mio, the hell is going on?

Ruby: I… I don’t know. Circe? Hey!

Circe, too, is running after Rose, heading straight for the van. By now, though, the woman is in the front seat, already starting up the engine.

Circe: She took them! She took the girls!

Chapter #90

Ext. Silverstone City Streets – Day

With a shrill screech of the tires, the white van pulls out of its spot on the side of the road and speeds away. By the time Rose races through the park gates and makes it to the street, the vehicle is already a small dot in the distance. Holding her hands to her head, she takes in a deep, slow breath to stop herself from panicking.

Rose: No, no that didn’t just happen. Tell me that didn’t just happen.

Circe, on the other hand, an individual who is normally able to remain surprisingly calm in these kinds of situations, fails to keep her composure.

Circe: She took them! She took our daughters!

Running her hands through her hair, Circe paces around briefly, and then moves towards Rose. She reaches out, grabs Rose by the shirt collar, and pulls her close.

Circe: Why are you just standing there?! Go after them! Do something!

Rose: Calm down, Circe, I’m trying to think.

Circe: Calm down? Our children were just kidnapped! How do you expect me to remain calm?

Rose: Circe-

With a soft exhale, Rose lifts her hands and presses them to her friend’s cheeks, trying to offer some sort of comfort. Despite the comfort she's trying to give, however, she feels the same stinging sense of anxiety beginning to bubble in her chest.

Rose: -we will find them, do you understand me? We will get them back.

Swallowing a knot in her throat, Circe utters a small breath and takes a step back, then holds a hand to her forehead.

Circe: You’re right, of course you’re right. Our girls will be fine… they know how to handle themselves. I daresay that woman made a grave mistake in taking those two.

A short moment later, Ruby and Becky arrive next to them. The other children from the party linger somewhere behind, as if unsure whether or not they should approach the adults right now. Most of them look confused, wondering what happened. After all, they’re there for Holly’s birthday party… so where’s Holly?

Ruby: Would someone mind explaining just what on earth is going on?

Rose: It’s Holly and Lyta… they were just kidnapped by some nut-job woman in a white van.

Becky: What?! Who? Who took them? I swear I’ll tear her arms off!

Rose: We’re not sure, but we’re going to find out, trust me on that.

Ruby: Well I should damn well hope so. What kind of demented person kidnaps a couple of kids in the middle of the afternoon?

Digging into her pocket, Rose pulls out her phone and starts dialing.

Rose: All kinds, Ruby. Anyway, the party’s over. Can you and Circe work on getting these kids home? I have to make a call.

Int. Parking Garage – Day

The van slowly rumbles through the mostly empty parking garage, stopping only when it reaches the fourth level. After waiting a few, brief moments, the woman steps out of the vehicle and casually walks around to the side. She slides the door open, and then raises a finger, causing the two unconscious girls inside to suddenly float up into the air and drift out of the van.

Turning around, the woman makes her way towards the exit, which leads directly to an elevator attached to an adjacent building. Holly and Lyta continue to float in midair behind her, following exactly where she goes. Finding her way into the elevator, the woman presses the button for the top floor and waits calmly for the ascent.

Int. Blanchett Limelight – Day

The elevator doors open, leading directly into a large office, brightly decorated with all the latest fashion trends. Mannequins wearing elegant dresses and other outlandish garments line a red carpet walkway that leads up to an ebony desk at the back of the room. Abstract sculptures dot the sides of the room, nothing more than metal shapes open to interpretation. in front of a large window wall that overlooks the city. The far wall is one giant window, offering a stunning view of the city skyline beyond.

Sitting behind the office desk is a calm woman with long black hair coiling around her shockingly pale face. Though having reached the ripe old age of forty some months ago, her looks defy that age, retaining a certain sense of mature beauty. She wears a low cut top that fits around her torso rather tightly, specifically to accentuate her assets, and a skirt that barely finds its way halfway down her thighs. This is Michelle Blanchett, head of the Blanchett Limelight Fashion/Modeling Agency.

As her assistant approaches the desk, Blanchett's eyes shift upward to look at her.

Blanchett: You were gone for quite some time, Sophie... you don't normally take that long. I trust you were successful?

Sophie: Oui, Madame. I found two for ze price of one. Would you like to inspect zem?

Blanchett's gaze carefully moves over the two girls floating beside her assistant. They both appear to be around twelve years old, which works well enough. The prime age would be fourteen, but some of her clients do prefer younger girls. Besides, they’ll grow into that age eventually, of course. Releasing a soft breath, she stands up and moves around the side of her desk, arms held behind her back.

Blanchett: Straighten them out a little. I want to get a good look at them.

Sophie: As you wish, Madame.

Instantly, the two girls go from floating aimlessly to stiffening into a rigid, upright position, arms and legs straight at their sides. Holding a hand to her chin, Blanchett begins circling around them, looking closely.

Blanchett: The blonde should prove to be quite valuable; blondes have always been quite popular. But the other one… is her hair purple? That can’t be its natural color… though if it is, she’ll fetch quite the fee from our clients with more exotic tastes. Hmm…

Moving back around in front of them, Blanchett folds her arms. Her eyes narrow, drifting slowly back and forth between the two girls.

Blanchett: Both seem rather well developed for their age, as well. Always a plus. Sophie, I daresay you’ve outdone yourself this time.

Sophie: Merci, Madame. I do strive to do my best.

Blanchett: Yes, so you do. Go ahead and take these two to the others. We should have a full shipment ready for delivery tomorrow.

Sophie: Oui, right away.

Giving her mistress a polite bow of the head, Sophie turns and heads back towards the elevator, Holly and Lyta following closely behind.

Blanchett: Oh, and Sophie?

The woman stops momentarily, looking back over her shoulder.

Blanchett: After you’re finished, you may join me in the sauna, if you like.

Sophie: You are too kind, Madame. I will return shortly.

Int. Underground Storage – Day

When the elevator doors open this time, they lead into a sub basement level of the Blanchett building, to an area where the projected stock is kept until ready to be shipped out. The conditions of this holding area are actually quite pristine, more like and underground, four-star hotel than anything. Each child is offered their own room, complete with television, a bathroom, shower, a refrigerator kept stocked full of food, and a dresser full of clean clothes.

Of course, this lavish treatment is but a ruse, designed to keep the children complacent until the time comes when they are shipped away to potential clients. They aren’t even allowed to leave their rooms, which makes it a prison, no matter how well one dresses it up. Still, Blanchett does her best to make sure that they are well cared for until that time comes.

Sophie stops at the last door on the left, at the end of the corridor. She opens it, then walks inside and floats the girls across the room, dropping each of them on one of the two beds. After waiting for a brief moment, she snaps her fingers, and in an instant the girls awaken, lurching upright with deep breaths.

Sophie: Welcome, girls. Do try to make yourselves at ‘ome. Just don’t get too comfortable; we will be shipping you out tomorrow.

Holly: Shipping us… what? Who are you? Where are we?

Sophie: My name is Sophie, and I ‘ave brought you to your new ‘ome, at least for ze night. You will be given a more permanent residence in good time.

Lyta: You kidnapped us!

Sophie: Euh, I would not call it zat. I have merely… relocated you for ze time being. You will be given a ‘ome soon.

Lyta: We already have homes! We have families! Takes us back, right now!

Sophie: Oh, I am afraid I cannot do zat. You see, Madame Blanchett is very strict, and she simply refuses to let any of you go. Zat would cause a loss of profits, and we can’t have zat, now can we?

Holly: Profits? Profits? You’re selling us?!

Sophie: Oui, in a sense.

Lyta: I don’t think so! You’re gonna take us home right now!

Lifting her hands, a surge of crackling energy rapidly builds up in Lyta's palms. Sophie only has time to lift an eyebrow before a web of lightning bursts forth from the girl’s fingers, striking the woman square in the chest and throwing her backwards across the room. For several moments, Sophie lies there motionlessly on the floor, scant wisps of smoke billowing from her charred clothing.

Holly: You got her! Awesome!

Lyta: Yeah, well she shouldn’t have kidnapped us. Come on, let’s get out of here.

As the girls start hurrying for the open doorway, however, Sophie suddenly sits back upright, apparently unharmed by the lightning blast. With a simple wave of the hand, she sends the two girls flying back across the room, pinning them against the back wall. Instinctively, Lyta’s hands begin to charge again with magic, but with another wave of the hand, Sophie extinguishes the energy.

Sophie: So, I see we ‘ave a little witch. Zat could be problematique, non? I fear we must find a way to fix zat, else our clients won’t be too happy.

Holly: Stop it! Let us go!

Sophie: Désolé, but I ‘ave already said why I cannot do zat. Now, your friend 'ere must go to sleep for ze time being, until I come back wiz a more permanent solution.

Walking forward across the room, Sophie lifts her hands up to press them to the side of Lyta’s head.

Lyta: No! Stay away from me!

Sophie: Bonne nuit, ma petite.

A second later, Lyta’s eyes roll into the back of her head. She slumps forward fast asleep, a rush of air bursting from her lungs. Sophie then extends her hand, causing Lyta to float across the room and land gently on one of the beds, her head resting against the pillow.

Holly: If you hurt her, I’ll kill you! You hear me? I’ll kill you!

Sophie: She is un’armed, merely asleep. I will be back later to wake 'er up, you ‘ave my word.

Holly: Screw your word, you... you stupid b*tch!

Sophie: My, my, zat is no way for a young girl to speak.

Holly: Yeah, well my mom says I shouldn’t swear… but she’s not here right now.

Breathing out an annoyed sigh, Sophie places her hands on her hips and shakes her head.

Sophie: In any case, I must be going now. Try to relax, ma petite. It will make sings easier.

And with those parting words, she turns to walk back out the door, pausing only briefly to snap her fingers and allow Holly to fall back down from the wall.

Sophie: Au revoir.

Int. Silverstone Central Police Station – Day

Becky: You have to do something, now!

Leaning forward in his seat, Chief Palmer holds a hand to his head, while repeatedly tapping the fingers of his other hand in front of him. Rose and Becky stand in front of his desk, poised over him and yelling; it's all he can do to concentrate, let alone get a clear grasp on what they're telling him.

Palmer: And you're sure about this? You actually saw this woman take the girls?

Rose: I saw enough. One of Holly's friends pointed her out clear as day as the person they'd been talking to, and then she took off in a van! What more do you want?

Palmer: I'd like to have more to go on than circumstantial evidence before we go knocking on someone's door and start throwing around accusations of kidnapping.

Rose: Circumstantial, my ass! Who else took them, huh? The freaking phantom stalker of Silverstone Park?!

Uttering a small breath, Palmer slowly rubs his temples. He's beginning to feel a headache coming on.

Palmer: I know it's likely, given what you've told me, but you didn't actually see her take them. Simply having a possible suspect doesn't make a person guilty, and it's not enough for a warrant.

Rose: Would you listen to yourself? Chief, this is Holly we're talking about here. You know her; Lyta, too. Sh*t, you've been to their soccer games for f*ck's sake.

Palmer: Rose, believe me, I want to find her. And when we do find her, I'll nail the b*stard who took her so hard that he'll be staring at the inside of a cell until goddamn judgment day. But you're not giving me enough to go on here. We need to conduct a proper investigation; there are procedures for this.

Becky: Forget procedure! We know who did this! Jueputa, we gave you the name on the side of the van, now just go after the b*tch!

Palmer: May I remind you, Chavez, that in spite of your recent and miraculous resurrection, and your nightly vigilante escapades, you're still a cop? Or have you forgotten that? We do things by the book.

Becky: Since when the hell have you ever cared about the book? Hell, you've been working with Rose for over a year now help clean up this city, and she hardly operates 'by the book'. Why can't you just let us do what we do best? Let us go in there and grill these assholes for Holly and Lyta's whereabouts!

Palmer remains silent, slowly bringing his hands in front of him on the desk and clasping them together. His gaze lowers, a long, tired sigh escaping his lips.

Rose: Chief, what the hell is going on here? It's like you don't want us going after this Blanchett woman. What's so f*cking special about her?

Palmer: It’s not that she’s special, it’s just… it’s complicated.

Becky: Well then, by all means, enlighten us.

Palmer: Michelle Blanchett owns the most prolific and profitable fashion and modeling agency in the country, arguably the world. That in and of itself isn’t the problem, of course; it’s more than that. She’s a very powerful woman, has a lot of pull in not just her own industry, but just about everywhere.

Rose: Uh huh, so what, money is power? Big deal. What’s that have to do with us not storming her building and nailing her?

Palmer: You have to understand, Wilson, Blanchett is notorious for going out of her way to step on people to get what she wants. She's vindictive, spiteful, and power hungry, a plain lethal combination, and that isn’t exclusive to the fashion world; her lawyers could give Lex-friggin-Luthor’s a run for their money. If we start going in and tossing around accusations of something like kidnapping at her and we’re wrong, or we can’t prove it, not only do we fail to expose her, but she will do everything in her power to destroy us, whether it be financially or by reputation.

Throwing her hands up in the air, Becky paces back and forth for a moment, a breath of frustration bursting from her lips.

Becky: Dios, so you’re saying we’re just supposed to sit around and do nothing?

Palmer: No, I’m saying we need to be absolutely sure. If you think that Blanchett might have had a part in kidnapping Holly and her friend, then we need proof, and we’ll need to conduct a proper investigation. We’re not going to arrest the woman on speculation. You got that?

A brief wave of silence washes over the group. Rose folds her arms across her chest and looks off to the side, shaking her head slowly. She doesn’t want to admit that Palmer might have a point, but there isn’t a whole lot else she can do. As sure as she is on this, as much as she feels it in her gut, Palmer’s right. They don’t have any proof.

Rose: Fine then.

She suddenly reaches out to grab Becky’s hand, starting to pull her out the door of Palmer’s office.

Rose: If you need proof, then we’ll get you proof. Just be ready to back us up.

Palmer: Wilson… don’t you do anything stupid.

Rose: Don’t worry, Chief. I’m just gonna get my daughter back.

Chapter #91

Int. Underground Storage – Night

Sophie quietly opens the door,, stepping forward into the room and flipping the light switch on. In her hands, she carries a very unique device, made to resemble a dog collar. It is, of course, much more advanced and high tech than a simple collar, with a very specific purpose. After closing the door behind her, she quickly heads across the room towards one of the beds, where Lyta sleeps soundly.

Sophie: Alright now, little witch girl. I have a solution for you.

Before she makes it to the girl, however, a sudden thought her to pause. Curiously, she looks around the room, her eyes examining things closely.

Sophie: Wait… where is ze ozer one?

Holly: Right here!

Springing forward from behind, Holly delivers a hard kick to the back of the woman’s knee, Sophie's legs buckle, but she catches herself on the edge of the bed to maintain balance. Her efforts don't serve her well for long, however, as another stiff blow explodes across the side of her face. Sophie down to her hands and knees, only to then recoil at a third blow, this one driving straight into her gut.

Holly: You let us go, right now!

As the young girl winds up for another strike, however, Sophie lifts a hand. Instantly, Holly’s body goes stiff and flies across the room. She hits the wall with a hard thud, dropping to the floor a second later. Uttering a soft groan, Holly slowly sits upright. Her head throbs slightly, a dull, steady pulsing between her eyes. Sophie, meanwhile, rises back to her feet and takes a moment to straighten out her glasses.

Sophie: Zat is no way for a young girl to be'ave.

Holly: Well maybe I wouldn’t have to behave like this if you didn’t kidnap us!

Grumbling with frustration, Holly springs back to her feet and runs straight at the woman. With another simple wave of the hand, Sophie sends her crashing into the wall again, this time holding her there.

Sophie: Stay.

Holly struggles for a few moments, trying to break free from the invisible force keeping her in place, but it’s useless. It feels as though a massive hand is pressing her tightly against the wall, and the grip is unyielding. When she finally gives up, she looks over to see Sophie slipping the strange collar around Lyta’s neck.

Holly: Hey! You leave her alone!

Sophie: Zis will not ‘urt your friend. It is simply to keep ‘er from acting out, so she will be more… complacent for ‘omever purchases ‘er.

Holly: No, you’re not going to sell us! That’s illegal! And mean! You can’t treat kids like this!

Sophie: Do not worry, ma petite; our clients are very wealsy people. Zey will take good care of you.

Holly: Take good care of us? They’re buying us! That makes us their slaves! So they can... they can do… things to us.

Sophie abruptly stiffens and goes silent. For a long moment, she simply stares at the wall in front of her, eyes going out of focus and demeanor slackening. Holly watches curiously, tilting her head to the side narrowing her brow. Finally, Sophie holds her arms around herself, as if needing a warm body to hug, yet finding only herself for comfort.

Sophie: Oui, zey will… most likely do many sings to you. But zey will… zey will love you.

Tightening her jaw, Holly swallows back a lump of nausea in her throat.

Holly: If you know what they’re going to do to us, then why are you helping them? Why are you doing this to us?

Sophie: Because Madame Blanchett wishes it.

Holly: And if she wanted you to jump off a bridge, would you do that, too?

Sophie: Oui, if that is what she wanted. I live to follow ‘er command.

Pausing, Holly furrows her brow in confusion.

She's like a robot or something... programmed to follow her master's orders.

Holly: You can’t be serious.

Sophie: Euh, but I am serious. If Madame Blanchett wishes it, I make it ‘appen.

Holly: Why?

Sophie: What do you mean?

Holly: Why do you listen to her like that? Can’t you think for yourself?

Sophie: I… of course I can sink for myself. I simply choose to follow Madame Blanchett’s orders.

Holly: But why? What did she ever do for you?

Sophie: She… saved my life.

Holly: And that’s why you help her ruin other children’s lives? That’s why you kidnap them and sell them to people as slaves?

Sophie: Oui, zat is why.

A brief moment of silence passes between the pair. Holly stares at the woman, blinking several times in disbelief. Eventually, she slowly shakes her head.

Holly: Lady, my mom says I shouldn’t talk badly about people, but you are so messed up.

Sophie: I am not sure I understand.

Holly: Your whole thought process is just… wrong.

Sophie: I sink zat is a matter of opinion, non?

Holly: Uh uh, not in this case.

When Sophie doesn't respond, instead glancing off to the side and holding her arms tighter around herself, Holly's eyes soften.

Holly: What did that woman do to you?

She doesn't receive an answer, not at first. Sophie fidgets where she stands, shifting her weight several times and looking down at the floor. Gently, her eyes close, an attempt to stop the small droplets from leaking down her cheeks. She fails, though, as the tears continue tracing a wet path down her face.

Sophie: She did… nussing. She saved me. Zat is all.

Holly: It’s okay if you want to talk about it. If she did bad things to you... you can tell me. I had someone do bad things to me once, too…

Breathing out a long, heavy sigh, Holly lowers her gaze sadly.

Holly: I know what it’s like.

For a brief moment, Sophie glances back at the girl, as if contemplating whether or not to say something. She opens her mouth, but pauses, then looks away again.

Sophie: Je suis désolé… I cannot say anysing. I… I must go. Your friend will wake up soon, I promise.

She leaves in a hurry, heading out the door and locking it behind her. Holly drops down to the floor a second later, the invisible hold releasing her. For a long moment, she just sits there, staring at the door. As a cold, numb sensation begins to spread through her body, she bows her head and tucks her knees up to her chest, holding her arms around them.

Int. Blanchett Limelight – Night

Becky's fingers firmly tighten around the metal cable, as she easily hoists herself up through the elevator shaft. Ravager hangs off her waist, arms hanging on tightly as they ascend. Given Becky’s phenomenal new levels of strength, lifting both Ravager and herself upward proves to be a relatively simple task. It’s something that she still has trouble believing at times, how strong she is, though such disbelief is squashed whenever she accidentally rips a door off its hinges, or something of an equally embarrassing nature. The amount she has to hold back on a daily basis to make sure she doesn’t tear through walls like tissue paper is astounding. Fortunately, her strength is greatly reduced when not coated in her nanite shell, like she is now, but can be still a major headache at times.

Ravager: How much farther?

Becky: I think we just passed the twentieth floor.

Ravager: So thirty more to go before we get to Blanchett’s office.

Becky: So you’re not completely useless with math, I see.

Ravager: Well, you know, when you were gone I had to help Holly with it. I learned a few things.

A soft laugh emerges from Becky’s throat, as she continues to scale the elevator cable.

Becky: You’re sure the elevator isn’t going to suddenly activate, right? That could cause problems.

Ravager: It’s disabled, don’t worry.

Becky: And the security cameras?

Ravager: Also disabled. We just have to worry about not being seen by anyone.

Becky: Shouldn’t be a problem, then. That Blanchett woman got off work hours ago, and I doubt she hires security guards to sit in her private office all night.

Ravager: Not like it matters. We see any guards, and we do what we do best.

A smirk curls its way across Becky’s metallic face.

Becky: A huevo.

When they finally reach the top floor, Becky positions herself in front of the elevator doors, effortlessly pulling them open. She then steps into the large office, which looks more like a fashion museum than anything. Letting go, Ravager walks a short ways away and holds her hands to her hips. Her gaze gradually scans the area, obtaining a firm grasp on their surroundings.

Ravager: Interesting setup she’s got here…

Becky: You know, I will never understand the fashion world.

Moving up to one of the nearest mannequins, she disdainfully examines the shiny, gaudy garment.

Becky: Wouldn’t catch me dead wearing something like this. Looks ridiculous.

Ravager: Well it’s a good thing we’re not here to shop, then. We’re here to look for clues.

Heading down the long carpet, Ravager approaches the desk near the back of the office, right in front of the large window wall. With a small, contemplative breath, she sits down at the desk and turns on the computer.

Ravager: While I’m looking through her computer, check the drawers for any hard evidence.

Becky: Somehow, I don’t think she’d leave behind a paper in her desk that could tie her to recent kidnappings.

When Ravager slowly glares back up at her, Becky holds her hands up and joins her girlfriend behind the desk.

Becky: But hey, I’ll look anyway.

About twenty minutes later, the two haven’t found anything that can help them find Holly and Lyta. While Becky’s already gone through everything in the desk several times, Ravager hasn't found anything on the computer other than financial statements, fashion concepts, model profiles, and other such useless information.

Becky: I’m beginning to think we aren’t going to find anything here. Maybe we should just go straight for Blanchett herself and force her to give us some answers?

Ravager: Save that as a last resort. As much as I hate it, Palmer was right. Accusing someone like that of a crime is a big deal, and if we go after her directly, and we’re wrong, it won’t end well for anyone.

Becky: I just hate having to be so passive aggressive about this. I mean, this is Holly and Lyta. They’re counting on us. Circe’s counting on us. Mierda, everyone’s counting on us, it seems.

Ravager: You think I don’t know that? Sh*t, Becky, Holly’s my daughter for crying out loud. I want to get her back more than anything… but if we screw this up, then we might never find them.

Becky: I know, I know…

Ravager: But trust me, if we find out Blanchett is behind this, I’ll hit her so hard she’ll be spitting out teeth for a week. Now keep looking.

---

Down in a lower level of the building, Michelle Blanchett lies back against the edge of the large bathtub, which is really closer in resemblance to a hot tub than anything, complete three separate faucets and multiple air jets. The hot water rises up just past her chest, soothing her tired body, while a light fog of steam fills the bathroom.

The bathroom itself is incredibly sleek and high end, with gold and silver fixtures, a marble floor, mirrored ceiling, even a waterproof television hanging from the wall in front of her. Right now, though, she isn’t watching television. She’s merely sitting back and relaxing, enjoying the feel of the hot water soaking into her soft, alabaster skin. After several minutes of peaceful silence, she raises a hand and snaps her fingers.

Blanchett: Sophie, be a dear and get me some soap.

Sophie, who had up until now been waiting quietly off to the side, heads over to the nearby towel closet and opens the door. Several containers outfitted with all sorts of bath supplies, everything from soap and shampoo to bubbles and bath salts, hang from the back of the door. She grabs the first bar of soap that she sees from one of these containers and brings it over to her mistress.

Sophie: ‘Ere you are, Madame.

Blanchett takes the bar of soap from her, only to then pause and stare at it scornfully.

Blanchett: No, not this one! Uck, I hate the strawberry scented soap.

With a casual flip of the hand, she tosses the bar back over shoulder. Sophie catches it deftly in one hand.

Blanchett: Bring me the pomegranate.

Sophie: Right away, Madame.

She replaces the original bar of soap back in the closet, then grabs a different bar, bringing it to the bathing woman. This time, Blanchett takes the soap and begins to wash herself.

Blanchett: Now, shampoo. Apple scented.

Once again, Sophie returns to the closet, grabbing a large shampoo bottle. She then kneels behind Blanchett at the edge of the tub and grabs the bucket next to her, a bucket filled to the brim with warm, steaming water. Without warning, she dumps some of the water over the woman’s head, to wet her hair. Instantly, Blanchett recoils, coughing and sputtering.

Blanchett: You stupid girl! How many times have we been over this?!

Turning around, she rises up from the tub a bit and delivers a biting slap to Sophie’s face, then sinks back down to her previous position. Sophie just continues kneeling there, staring down at her and showing no change in emotion.

Blanchett: You don’t wet my hair until after I give you permission! Now, since you’ve already gone and done so, you may proceed with scrubbing.

Swallowing briefly, Sophie takes the shampoo, squirts a small amount into her hands, and then begins to scrub Blanchett’s hair. Once she finishes soaping herself up, Blanchett relaxes back against the edge of the tub and utters a long, satisfied breath, eyes closing.

Blanchett: Much better.

After several minutes of scrubbing, Blanchett flippantly waves one of her hands.

Blanchett: You may rinse now.

Sophie quickly obeys, taking the bucket of water and gradually pouring it over the woman's head, to remove all the suds from her hair. When finally she is completely cleaned, Blanchett rises out of the tub and steps up to the bathroom floor.

Blanchett: Robe.

Sophie brings her a soft, fluffy bathrobe, holding it open for her to slip into. Even as she wraps it around the woman and ties the sash tightly around her waist, the robe barely comes midway down Blanchett's thighs.

Blanchett: Thank you, my dear. If you continue to behave, I may even let you join me next time. How does that sound?

Sophie: Très bien, Madame. I will be on my best behavior.

Suddenly, the two are interrupted by the sound a shrill, incessant beeping. Narrowing her eyes, Blanchett walks over to granite sink, where her mobile phone vibrates across the smooth surface. Clicking it on, she holds the phone to her ear and utters a very annoyed sigh.

Blanchett: Yes, Jake, what is it?

Jake/Phone: Uh, Ma'am, sorry to interrupt you so late, but you may want to take a look at something. I'm sending the feed to your bathroom monitor now.

Turning towards the television screen, Blanchett watches as it flickers on, revealing a security camera feed of her office. In said office, two familiar individuals are rummaging around her desk, one on the computer and the other searching through the papers in her drawers. Instantly, her expression sours.

Blanchett: What are those two rodents doing in my office, Jake?

Jake/Phone: I, uh, I honestly have no idea. We think they may have infiltrated the building some time ago. We found the security cameras disable and were able to bring them back online fairly quick, but we still can't get the elevator to respond.

Blanchett: Of course you can't. Fine then, I'll handle it. But as my chief of security, Jake, I expect you to prevent instances like this. Screw up again and you'll find your ass out on the curb, have I made myself understood?

Jake/Phone: Yes, Ma'am, of course. Very sorry.

When she hangs up the phone, Blanchett exhales another long breath and slowly looks over to Sophie.

Blanchett: Sophie, why do you suppose the local super heroes are digging around my office?

Sophie: I... I don't know, Madame.

Blanchett: Could it be because they suspect me for something? Say, kidnapping, perhaps?

Sophie: I don't see 'ow-

Blanchet: When you retrieved our latest two girls, Sophie, did anyone see you? Could anyone have known you took the girls and connected you to me?

Sophie: I... I...

Blanchett: Speak up, Sophie! Did you f*ck up or not?!

Swallowing a hard lump in her throat, Sophie slowly bows her head and closes her eyes.

Sophie: I-I might 'ave, oui.

Smack!

Blanchett delivers a staggering backhand to Sophie's face, causing the young woman to stumble back against the sink. Sophie holds the edge of the sink tightly, barely able to maintain her balance as the sting of the blow flares across her face. Slowly, she lifts a hand to her now bright red cheek, and stares down at the floor, not daring to look her mistress in the eyes.

Blanchett: How many more times, Sophie? How many more times are you going to screw up?!

Coming forward, Blanchett reaches forward and grabs the sides of the woman's face, forcing her to look straight forward.

Blanchett: I saved you, don't you remember? I'm the one who gave you a better life. I raised you. I showed you love. And this is how you repay me? With utter incompetence?!

Sophie: F-forgive me, Madame. I-I will fix zis.

Blanchett: You had better.

Sophie sniffles, once again lowering her gaze and blinking the tears away from her eyes. Seeing this, Blanchett's demeanor suddenly softens. Leaning forward, she tenderly kisses the younger woman on the forehead.

Blanchett: My dear Sophie... you know how much I hate having to hurt you. But sometimes... you just don't leave me any choice.

Sophie: Oui, Madame, I understand. I... I'm sorry.

Blanchett: And I forgive you. Now, go and clean up your mess, hmm? Show those intruders what happens to those who mess with Michelle Blanchett.

Chapter #92

Int. Blanchett Limelight – Night

With a long, frustrated sigh, Becky pushes the bottom drawer of the desk back in with a loud slam. Rising back to her feet, she folds her arms callously across her chest and shifts her eyes over towards Ravager.

Becky: Fifth time I’ve been through her desk. There’s nothing here.

Ravager: I’m starting to think you’re right…

Moving the cursor across the screen, Ravager closes out of yet another dead end file. She’s been through most of the documents on the computer now, yet she hasn’t found a single piece of useful information.

Becky: I told you we weren’t going to find anything this way. No kidnapper is going to keep a record on their crimes.

Ravager: Normally, I’d agree with you. But consider the woman behind it. What possible purpose would Blanchett have to kidnap a bunch of children? She doesn’t need the petty cash she’d get from a ransom, and there can’t be any revenge involved since we’ve never crossed the woman before.

Becky: It could be for selfish reasons. Some kidnappers take children because they can’t have one of their own and they get desperate.

Ravager: Then she would have taken a much younger kid, probably a baby so she could raise it herself. It doesn’t make much sense to take a couple of twelve year old girls who know what you did and will hate you for it.

Becky pauses a moment, uncomfortably shifting her weight and glancing absently off to the side.

Becky: Well, there is another reason why some people kidnap older children…

Ravager: I know what you’re going to say, and I don’t want to think about it. But if that is the case, then there isn’t a damn place on this earth where Blanchett can hide from my wrath, that’s a promise.

Suddenly, the soft hum of a moving elevator finds their ears. Confusion setting in over them, the two woman slowly glance across the room at the elevator doors, to see the numbers above beginning to light up one at a time.

Becky: I thought you said the elevator disabled.

Ravager: It was.

She hesitates a moment, gaze drifting up towards the ceiling to a security camera pointed straight at the desk. A small red light glows next to the lens, indicating that the camera is up and running.

Ravager: And so were the security cameras. We took too long.

Becky: Time to go then, ah? I say we pay Blanchett a visit next. Her penthouse is just three blocks from here.

Lurching up from her seat, Ravager pushes the chair into the desk and quickly powers down the computer. In spite of their predicament, her body remains calm, cool. She’s been in far more nerve-wracking situations before than being caught breaking into an office. No cause for alarm.

Ravager: At this point, we may have to. Let’s just take of the wayward security guards first, then we can be on our way.

Becky: Now that I can do.

Ravager takes point, hurrying across the floor towards the elevator. The moment that it opens, she’s ready to strike. It’ll be quick, brutal, over before they goons inside have a chance to react. At least, that was the plan. One thing she should have learned by now, though, is that things almost never go according to plan. As the number fifty above the doors lights up, Ravager prepares to spring into the elevator and attack.

She never gets the chance.

Right when the doors begin to slide open, a powerful, invisible force pushes violently through the air and collides into Ravager’s chest. A surprised puff of air bursts from her lungs, as her body lifts off the ground and flies through the air, spinning wildly. She crashes through several of the nearby mannequins, shattering the fiberglass figures into countless, glittering shards. Shortly after she rolls to a stop, Becky comes to a harsh landing nearby, sliding straight into one of the abstract sculptures. The metal structure teeters momentarily, and then finally topples forward, landing with a crash atop her.

Becky: Alright…

Groaning, Becky pushes the sculpture off her with a single hand, sending it spinning into the wall next to her.

Becky: Wasn’t prepared for that.

Ravager takes a brief respite to gain her breath back, sucking in several large gulps of air. When the throbbing in her chest finally ceases, she pushes her way up to her hand and knees, then slowly rises up to her feet. When she looks back over to the elevator, she momentarily freezes at what she sees. Or rather, whom she sees.

Ravager: You…

Sophie: Oui, moi.

The woman takes several casual steps forward, calmly brining her fingers upward to straighten out her glasses. It’s the same woman from the park, Ravager’s sure of it. The hair is the same, the clothes are the same, the body type is the same… but now that she gets a real good look at her face, a strange grip of surprise begins to set upon her.

She looks… my age. No, younger. She can’t be out of her teens.

Ravager: You can’t be… Blanchett?

Sophie: Non, I am not Madame Blanchett. I am ‘er assistant, Sophie.

Becky: Well, Sophie-

Standing straight on her feet, Becky begins marching towards the woman. Her hands tighten to fists, arms lifting slightly in preparation to attack.

Becky: -you took two girls from the park today. So, here’s the deal. You tell us where they are and I won’t rip your freaking arms off.

Sophie: Non, I do not sink so.

Without even turning to give Becky a look of acknowledgment, Sophie lifts a palm and holds it straight out. Instantly, Becky lifts up from the floor and careens through the air with almost disturbing force into the wall next to her. Given her now considerable levels of durability, however, the impact barely dazes her, and in a short moment Becky is standing again.

Becky: Come on, is that the best you can do?

Ravager: Becky, calm down. We don’t know what we’re dealing with here.

Becky: She took the girls. I don’t care who or what she is, I’m stopping her right now!

Sophie: Zat would be most unwise.

Ignoring the warning, Becky sprints across the room again. This time, Sophie raises her arm and causes the metallic woman to fly straight upward, crashing violently into the ceiling. With another sweeping motion, she sends Becky plummeting back to the floor.

Ravager: That’s enough!

Slowly, Sophie turns her gaze, eyes locking onto Ravager.

Sophie: Non, not yet. You broke into Madame Blanchett’s private office. Now, you must pay ze price.

Ravager: We only broke in here because you kidnapped two innocent girls!

Sophie: I am afraid I don’t know what you speak of.

Ravager: Oh bullsh*t! I saw you at the park today. I saw you take my daughter and her friend. You’re going to tell us where they are and what you’ve done to them, or so help me…

Sophie: So 'elp you, what? What do you intend to do to me?

Becky: We’ll start by knocking those teeth out of your pretty face, how’s that?

Breathing in deeply, Becky slowly rises back to her feet. The actual pain is very mild, but a dull numbness spreads throughout her body regardless. Whatever force this Sophie woman had attacked her with is incredibly powerful, to say the least.

Sophie: What Madame Blanchett does is none of your concern, but I assure that you will not find 'olly or 'er friend 'ere.

Ravager stiffens at the statement, eyes narrowing coldly behind her mask.

Ravager: So then how did you know her name?

With a brief intake of air, Sophie’s mouth opens partially, as if about to speak. She hesitates, though, no words finding their way out of her throat. Instead, she pauses, thinking carefully and blinking in surprise. Eventually, her gaze lowers towards the floor, as she gradually realizes her mistake

Sophie: I… oh.

Ravager: Yeah, oh.

Sophie: Well, zis is embarrassing.

Ravager: Don’t worry; you won’t be embarrassed much longer.

Reaching down to her belt, she fumbles her fingers around inside one of the compartments momentarily. She pulls out a small, round pellet, cracks it open, and then throws it straight at the woman across from her. Sophie notices the tin object flying towards her and reacts instantly, holding up a hand to stop the pellet cold in the air.

Ravager: Becky, eyes!

A bright, blinding flash lights up the area, allowing only a brief second for Ravager and Becky to shield their eyes. Sophie, on the other hand, is unprepared for the flash, staring straight at the pellet when it goes off. She recoils backwards, stumbling over her own two feet and holding her hands up against her face.

Sophie: My… my eyes! I can’t see!

Ravager: That was the whole point!

Lunging forward, Ravager swings her arm forward widely. The sweeping blow strikes Sophie square in the jaw, knuckles cracking against bone. With a startled and pained cry, the woman falls back to one knee, clutching her cheek.

Sophie: P-please, I can’t… I’m sorry! Stop!

Becky: You kidnap children and now you’re sorry?

A scowl twists across Becky’s silvery face. She marches forward, standing over Sophie for a moment and then reaching down to grab her by the front of her blouse. Effortlessly, she lifts the woman up with one arm and then pushes her up against the elevator. The doors dent inward upon impact, eliciting a pained cry from Sophie’s throat.

Becky: It doesn’t work that way! You don’t just get to apologize and walk away!

Ravager: Becky, careful. Remember your strength.

Becky: Relax, I haven’t lost control. Yet.

Sophie blinks several times. All she sees are vague, hazy shapes in front of her. She squints, trying to better identify things, but her vision is only slowly returning.

Ravager: Why did you take the girls, Sophie?

Sophie: I… I do nussing unless Madame Blanchett wishes it.

Ravager: So then she’s the one who had them kidnapped?

Sophie: Oui… zem and many ozers.

Ravager: Wait, there’s more?

Sophie: Oui.

Becky: Why? What does she want with them?!

When Sophie fails to answer right away, Becky pulls her back a few feet and then once again slams her against the elevator doors.

Becky: Tell us!

Sophie: Please, I cannot say! Ze Madame will… she wouldn’t like it.

Ravager: Sophie, you need to tell us why Blanchett took them, and you need to tell us where they are.

Sophie: Non… please, I can’t.

Ravager: Sophie, it’s alright. You just need to-

Sophie: Non! I said, NON!

Another massive wave of invisible energy bursts forth, ripping Becky’s grip away from Sophie’s blouse. Uttering a surprise gasp, Becky tumbles backwards and smashes through several nearby mannequins. Ravager, however, receives a much larger impact. An unseen hand reaches out and grabs her, dragging her across the room. She tries to struggle against the vice-like hold, but there is no escaping it, not until it releases her of its own volition.

The large window wall behind Blanchett’s desk explodes outward in a cascading shower of glass shards, as Ravager crashes through it. For the briefest of moments, she hangs there, suspended in midair. Then, without warning, she plummets, fifteen hundred feet of empty, open air between her and solid pavement.

Becky: ROSE!

Springing up to her feet, Becky sprints forward towards the shattered window. She doesn’t think, doesn’t hesitate; she simply reacts. No more than three seconds after Rose began her descent, Becky leaps out of the building and follows.

Ext. Blanchett Limelight – Night

Ravager twists her body around in midair, looking downward at the rapidly approaching ground. With the air whipping around her so quickly, she feels as though she’s descending into a hurricane, a hurricane with a concrete bottom. Though her descent takes mere seconds, to her it drags on, feeling more like hours. All the while, her heart thumbs away in her chest, panic beginning to set in.

Not good, not good, not good!

It's the only thought she manages to formulate in her head, repeating it over and over again to herself like some kind of desperate mantra.

Becky: Rose!

A sudden flare of shock surges through her body. Twisting back around, she sees Becky plummeting through the air behind her, with her body straight and rigid, arms down by her sides. She descends like a missile, quickly closing the distance between them.

Rose: What the hell are you doing?!

Becky: Just... hold on!

By the time Becky reaches her, they're only a brief two seconds from impact. Instinctively, Ravager's body tenses up, preparing for her life to end in an explosive mess of blood and bone. But Becky grabs onto her tightly, and suddenly a cold tingling spreads its way across her entire body in an instant. In the last moment before they smack against the pavement, Becky flips them both over, so that she lands first with Ravager held in her arms.

When they finally hit the ground, the sidewalk shatters, opening up a small crater beneath them. Small chunks of concrete spray in all directions like shrapnel from a grenade, causing the few passersby to run away screaming, as if afraid they're under attack. No one's sticking around long enough to determine just exactly caused the miniature quake that just blew apart the sidewalk. Once they're gone, the street is empty. No cars, no people, just Ravager and Becky lying in a human sized indent on the pavement.

For a long, quiet moment, Ravager just stares up at the sky. She blinks a few times, not really sure if she's still alive. Then, slowly, she sits up. Though a dull pain throbs throughout her entire body, it isn't that severe. In fact, she's able to roll over to her hands and knees without much difficult. After taking another second to suck in several deep breaths, she glances down at herself to finally notice the hard, metallic shell coating her body. Within moments, however, the metal cracks apart and begins to melt down into a liquid-like state, dripping onto the sidewalk.

Ravager: Well, that's... nifty.

Becky: Hrrngh...

Slowly, Becky begins to sit upright. Having taken the large brunt of that impact, her body is in a worse state. The only plus side is that her body is now built to handle damage like that. Regardless of the intense pain flaring through her chest, she will be fine.

Becky: Madre de Dios... promise me we'll never do that again, ah?

Ravager: Right... promise.

Another soft groan of discomfort exhales from Becky's lips, as she leans over and holds her hand to the silvery pool in front of Ravager. Instantly, the same metallic shell around her own body begins to liquify, all merging together and then absorbing back into her skin. Now back in her normal form, Becky staggers up to her feet and sucks in a deep breath.

Becky: Okay, so we learned two things tonight. One, Blanchett definitely has Holly and Lyta, along with god knows how many others. We have find them, and we have to free them, no matter what it takes.

Ravager: No argument there. Come on, let's get out of here and figure out a plan.

Swallowing back a nauseous lump in her throat, Ravager rises back up to her feet again and arches her back, cracking loose several tight knots. Then, she holds an arm around Becky's shoulder and begins walking with her down into the nearest alleyway.

Ravager: So what's the second thing?

Becky: Telekinetics really suck.

Int. Underground Storage - Morning

Lyta sits next to Holly on the edge of the bed, staring down at her hands with a certain emptiness in her eyes. For the hundredth time, she splays her fingers and concentrates, trying to summon her magical energy, and for the hundredth time nothing happens. Finally, she gives up, hanging her head and burying her face into her palms.

Lyta: It's no use. I can't do anything.

Holly: Are you sure? Maybe you could-

Lyta: I said I can't!

Holly recoils slightly at the bitterness in her friend's tone. She doesn't understand the first thing about having magical powers or what it would feel like to have them taken away, but apparently it is a very difficult aspect for Lyta to deal with.

Lyta: I... I'm sorry. I didn't mean to yell, I just... if I could use my magic, I could get us out of here. Why can't I use it?

Holly: It must be the collar that Sophie person put on you last night.

Leaning forward cautiously, Holly gently pokes at the metal choker clamped firmly around Lyta's throat.

Holly: I wonder if I could...

Her fingers carefully grip the sides of the collar. Once she has a firm grasp, she brings her other hand up to take hold of the opposite side. Then, she makes an attempt to pull the thing apart, concentrating on seam where it comes together. Her fingers fumble briefly, pushing and tugging at the metal band, until suddenly she yanks it just the wrong way. A stinging electrical shock sparks to life, surging into her fingertips and through the rest of her body. With a startled yelp, she recoils backwards and stumbles to the floor. Lyta, too, suffers from the same shock, sliding forward off the bed and landing on her hands and knees. Unlike, Holly, however, whose pain ended the moment she let go, Lyta cannot escape the shock ripping into her body.

Holly: Lyta!

Lyta: It hurts! Make it stop!

Eventually, it ceases on its own, roughly fifteen seconds after it started. When the pain finally leaves, Lyta collapses to the floor and curls up into a ball, body shaking and twitching. Her eyes squint shut tightly, wet tears seeping out down the sides of her face. For several long moments, the only sounds she makes are frightened, pained sobs.

Holly: Oh my god, Lyta, I... I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to- I didn't know it would do that.

Crawling her way across the ground, Holly sits at her friend's side and gently lifts her up, holding her arms around the girl in a comforting hug. Lyta instinctively buries her face into Holly's shoulder, while reaching around with her arms to return the embrace.

Lyta: I don't like it here... I want my mom.

Holly: I know, Lyta... but it'll be alright. I'll protect you, I promise.

And abrupt slam interrupts their tender moment, as the door to the bedroom bursts open. A thin, pale woman with long dark hair steps inward. Her movements are elegant, graceful, as if gliding across the floor. Behind her, a more familiar woman follows. Sophie gives the two girls a brief, careful look, then immediately bows her gaze towards the floor.

Blanchett: Oh, good they're already awake. Saves us the trouble of getting them up.

Holly: Who are you? What are you doing here?

Blanchett: My dear, you don't need to know who I am. All you need to know is that if you do exactly what you're told, we'll get along just fine, and no one has to get hurt. Do you understand?

Holly doesn't answer, instead holding Lyta closer, defensively. Raising an eyebrow, Blanchett takes a step forward and holds her hands to her hips.

Blanchett: Don't feel like saying anything now, hmm? Fine, we don't have time to talk anyway. Sophie, see to it that they shower and change. We leave in an hour.

Sophie: As you wish, Madame.

Blanchett gives the two girls one more hard look, her eyes lingering over their bodies much too long for comfort. Then, she turns and leaves the apartment, swinging the door closed behind her. Sophie glances back over her shoulder briefly, before bringing her full attention to Holly and Lyta.

Sophie: Let's go, girls, time to get ready. We will be giving you a new 'ome very shortly.

Chapter #93

Int. Slaton Enterprises - Day

An ominous, foreboding silence hangs heavy over the office; a calm before the storm, so to speak. The blinds are drawn down over the windows, casting most of the room in shadow, save for a series of small slits of light. Pungent wisps of cigar smoke billow up form the used butts smoldering in the ashtray, choking the room in a thick, grey haze. Hovering over the desk, a man with slicked back, salt-and-pepper hair stares carefully at his phone in front of him.

This man, dressed in a clean pressed business suit, is Isaiah Slaton, an esteemed and highly accomplished businessman. Normally, he is quite the patient man, but as the afternoon drags on, that patience begins to wear thin. The call should have come an hour ago, yet that disdainful woman chooses instead to make him wait. He does so hate it when she makes him wait.

When at last the phone rings, Slaton narrows his eyes at the phone and slowly reaches out to answer it. His hand pauses momentarily, allowing it to ring several more times, until finally he decides to answer.

Slaton: I expected your call over an hour ago.

Blanchett/Phone: Yes, yes, so I had some things I needed to take care of. Besides, you’re a big boy. You can handle a little wait, can’t you?

Slaton: Do you have the shipment prepared?

Blanchett/Phone: Don’t I always? Quite the selection this time around, too. Our best in years, I’d say.

Slaton: Is that right? I look forward to… examining the product, then.

Blanchett/Phone: Just remember to keep your hands to yourself, this time, lest you spoil them. Remember what happened last time. Our clients don’t want to bid on damaged goods.

Slaton: You let me worry about that.

Leaning back against his chair, Slaton kicks his feet up on the desk in front of him and gazes emptily at the far wall.

Slaton: I trust you’ll be here in time?

Blanchett/Phone: Quite. My assistant is taking the shipment up there shortly so you can prepare them for tonight. I’ll be meeting you later.

Slaton: Your assistant… you mean that Sophie girl? How is she doing?

Blanchett/Phone: She’s a stupid, naïve girl… and yet, she’s my stupid, naïve girl. No matter how many times she screws up, I can’t stay mad at her.

Slaton: Hmph, if you ever get sick of her, send her my way. I wouldn’t mind a new… assistant.

Blanchett/Phone: Ha, you wish. She belongs to me, Isaiah, no one else. Even if I did get sick of her, she still has her uses.

Slaton: If you say so. I’m surprised, though, that you kept her around after she grew up. Last I knew, you preferred younger girls.

A soft laugh echoes in over the phone, followed by the slam of a car door. The familiar sounds of a busy city street follow.

Blanchett/Phone: Preferences change, Slaton. I raised the girl, pulled her off the streets. We have a… connection.

Slaton: Of course you do.

Blanchett/Phone: Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to be- yes? What is it?

Slaton listens carefully, sitting up straighter in his seat. He can hear muffled voices in the background, voices directed at Blanchett, but he can’t make out what they’re saying.

Blanchett/Phone: No, I don’t see what- hold on a moment.

The woman exudes an annoyed sigh from her lips, briefly bringing her attention back to her phone.

Blanchett/Phone: It appears I may be delayed a little while. Sophie should still be there on time, so be ready for her arrival. I’ll see you later.

A small frown slowly forms its way across Slaton’s face, as the line clicks dead. Breathing outwardly, he lowers the phone and places it back down on the desk, then casually leans back again in his chair.

So much to prepare for, and Blanchett feels the need to be ‘delayed’. She’d better have a good reason.

Ext. Silverstone City Streets – Day

Quickly slipping her cell phone back into her purse, Blanchett lifts her gaze at the two officers in front of her, eying them contemptuously. She doesn’t recognize them, which isn’t a good thing. Over the years, she’s managed to pay off quite a number of cops to leave her alone, but these two don’t appear to be one of them. Unfortunate, but it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Blanchett: Now, what is it you wanted with me?

Becky: We just need you to come down to the station with us, answer a few questions.

Blanchett: Am I being charged with something?

Stevens: No, you’re not being charged with anything. Not yet, anyway.

Becky: But we would hope that such a respected woman as yourself would be cooperative with local law enforcement, when requested.

Blanchett’s gaze shifts between the two officers curiously, as if trying to decipher their thoughts. Several moments later, she exhales a long sigh and lifts her shoulders with an indifferent shrug.

Blanchett: Very well, I have a little time to spare. If it’s all the same to you, though, officers, I’d prefer to take my own car; I can’t have some tabloid printing up a story of why I was being taken away in a police car. You can follow me, if you like, make sure I don’t flee.

Officer Stevens briefly glances over at his partner. Becky merely rolls her eyes and flippantly waves her hand, while turning to enter their squad car.

Stevens: Very well, we’ll follow you back to the station. I assume you know the way?

Blanchett: Why yes, I assure you that I do.

Int. Silverstone Central Police Station – Day

Blanchett sits calmly at the lone table in the middle of the interrogation room. She leans forward, opening her purse and pulling out a compact makeup kit. Without a care or concern about where she is or why she’s there, she casually begins to touch up her makeup, carefully examining her reflection in the mirror.

Rose: How long do you suppose she’ll stay that calm?

In the next room, the small team of Rose, Palmer, Becky, and Stevens stand around in the darkened interior, watching the woman closely from the other side of the large two-way mirror. While Palmer stands straight and stiff, his arms folded firmly across his chest, Rose and Becky lean close to the glass, eying the woman intently. This is the woman responsible for Holly and Lyta being taken. This is the woman they’re going to burn to the ground.

From the other side of the room, sitting lazily in a fold-up chair, Stevens widens his mouth in a long, tired yawn, before answering her question.

Stevens: Give it another hour. Maybe two. Once she starts sweating, then we can grill her for some answers.

Palmer: We may not have that much time. We’re holding her now, sure, but we haven’t charged her with anything. We can’t charge her with anything, not yet. Since she’s not being charged with anything, she’s free to leave at any time. If she decides to stop cooperating, we’re out of luck.

Becky: He’s right. We should go in there and starting talking her down, get her to confess and tell us where she’s keeping those children.

Palmer’s eyes slowly turn towards her.

Palmer: With all do respect, Chavez, I don’t think you should be questioning her. Technically, you shouldn’t even be on this case, since you’re personally involved.

Becky: But, Sir-

Palmer: No buts. You’ll have to sit this one out.

Rose: Then I’ll do it. I’ll have her talking in ten minutes. Hell, I’ll have singing.

Palmer: You’re not even a cop anymore, Wilson. You have even less of a chance of going in there than Rebecca. You’re lucky you’re even sitting back here with us.

Clearing his throat, Stevens begins to straighten himself in his seat. He opens his mouth as if to say something, but before a single word even leaves his throat, the Chief is on him.

Palmer: And before you even speak, Stevens, need I remind you that you have one of the worst track records in interrogation? I’m not letting you anywhere near that room.

Becky: Jueputa, then who’s supposed to question her?

Palmer: If the few detectives in this department weren’t busy on other cases, I’d have them in here. But, in the meantime… I’ll handle it.

When the door to the interrogation room opens, Blanchett quickly flips her compact closed and places it back into her purse. Sitting up straight, she smoothes out the front of her blouse and folds her hands in front of her on the table, while her eyes ever so slightly shift upwards to look at Palmer.

Blanchett: Afternoon, officer. What can I do for you?

Palmer: I’m hoping that you can answer a few questions for me, Miss Banchett.

Blanchett: Please, call me Michelle.

Palmer pulls up a seat on the other side of the table. He sits straight and rigid, arms resting calmly in front of him.

Palmer: Very well… Michelle. Now, are you aware that there have been a growing number of kidnappings in the city over the past few months?

Blanchett: Oh yes, I’ve heard about it on the news. It’s just awful, isn’t it?

Palmer: Quite. Did you also happen to hear that, most recently, two girls were taken from the park yesterday afternoon?

Blanchett: No, I’m afraid I didn’t hear that one. Sounds terrible.

The chief’s eyes narrow sternly at the woman. He knows a facade when he sees one, and this one is paper-thin.

Palmer: I have several eyewitness claims that one of your vans was parked outside the gates that afternoon. Reports also say that your assistant, Sophie I believe her name is, was spotted entering the park at around the same time those girls were taken.

Blanchett: Is that correct? Well, Sophie does love the park; I think she’s taken a liking to feeding the ducks at the pond. Between you and me, that girl is quite easily amused. I think she might be a little slow.

Palmer: And does she often visit the park in the middle of a workday?

Blanchett: My employees are free to do what they wish during their lunch break, so long as they’re back at the office on time. So, yes, I’d say it’s not out of the ordinary.

Palmer: And did you know that one eyewitness in particular claims she saw your assistant loading two girls into her van when she left?

At this question, a delightfully amused chuckle emerges from Blanchett’s lips. Forming a wide smile across her face, she leans back in her seat and folds her arms across her chest.

Blanchett: Well then I’m afraid that this witness must have been mistaken, because that is wholly impossible. I think I would have noticed if Sophie returned from her lunch with two kidnapped girls loaded into a van that we use multiple times throughout the day.

Palmer: I see. That’s interesting.

Carefully scribbling down a few notes on his notepad, Palmer presses his questioning.

Palmer: I say it’s interesting because we’ve been told by a very reliable source that your assistant all but confessed to kidnapping them. She even knew one of their names, when the story and the identities of the girls had not yet been released.

Blanchett stiffens in her seat, expression quickly souring. No longer is she smiling with amusement, but instead glaring with scorn.

Blanchett: I assure you, such a thing would be quite impossible. Sophie was with me all last night; I kept her working late, and she never left my presence. She could not have confessed such a thing to anyone without me knowing, especially considering she committed no such crime to begin with.

Gaze hardening even further, she slowly leans forward against the table, her eyes locking on coldly to Palmer’s.

Blanchett: Or do you mean to tell me that perhaps one of your little hero pets illegally broke into my building last night and coerced a confession out of her? Is that what you would have me believe?

Her statement causes Palmer to shift slightly in his chair. He crosses one leg over the other, tilting his notepad and writing down another few words. For now, he ignores her question and moves on.

Palmer: And where is your assistant right now? I’d like to ask her a few questions, as well, see if she can corroborate your story.

Blanchett: She’s unavailable right now; I have her running an errand. Even if she were available, though, I would not have her come down here to suffer such accusations, as I have.

Palmer: No one’s accusing you of anything. We’re just talking.

Blanchett: Insinuations, then. Either way, we are quite done here. If I’m correct, you haven’t actually charged me with anything, meaning, by my rights, I am free to leave when I want. You’ve already wasted enough of my time, and I have a very important meeting in Gotham tonight. So, if you’ll excuse me.

Pushing herself away from the table, Blanchett stands up quickly and grabs her purse. She doesn’t give Palmer a single glance as she storms out of the room, slamming the door loudly behind her. Once she’s gone, Palmer exhales a long breath and turns to look over at the mirror behind him.

Palmer: Could have gone worse.

From behind the mirror, Rose slowly glances over at Becky.

Rose: Did you hear what I heard?

Becky: Si. We’re going to Gotham.

Int. Rose’s Penthouse Suite – Day

Circe: You’re going to Gotham?

Standing there in the middle of the apartment, Circe watches as Rose quickly packs the Ravager equipment into a large, sturdy duffel bag. Becky lounges on the couch behind them, next to Ruby.

Rose: That’s where Blanchett is heading, yeah. Chances are, that’s where that Sophie girl is, too. If we’re lucky, they’ll lead us right to our daughters, and the other children. If not, we can corner them and get some real answers.

Circe: Then I’m going with you.

Rose pauses, looking up from her duffel bag and giving Circe a surprised gaze.

Rose: What do you mean you’re going?

Circe: You heard me. I’m not going to sit around again while my daughter is out there in trouble. How many times have I relied on you to help her? How many times have I sat back and waited for other people to solve my problems for me? Not this time!

Rose: But Circe… I mean, you’re not… you can’t…

Circe: Yes, Rose, I know I have no power, and no skill. Thank you oh so much for reminding me. You think I care? How can I be a good mother if I can’t even protect my daughter?

Rose: Circe… I get how you feel, really. But you can’t come with us. We already know that Blanchett has a girl with telekinesis trained to attack for her, and there’s no telling what else she’ll pull on us. You’d only be putting yourself in danger.

Circe: I told you, I don’t care! I just want to help my daughter!

Standing, Rose carefully walks up to the woman and puts a hand on her shoulder. She breathes out a sigh of understanding and looks deeply into Circe’s eyes, trying to offer some form of comfort.

Rose: I know, Circe. But you won’t be much help to her if you get yourself killed. We’ll find her, I promise.

Circe shrugs away from Rose’s touch, arms folding angrily across her chest. She turns her back, taking several short steps and glaring at the floor.

Circe: You’d better.

Sitting up in her seat, Becky offers a reassuring nod, hands clasping together in front of her.

Becky: We will, it’s a promise. Now, are we ready to head out or what?

Rose: Just a second, yeah. Ruby, think you can handle the city on your own for a while?

Ruby: I did when you were retired for three months, didn’t I?

Rose: Right, just help Palmer continue his investigation; see if anything turns up around here.

Ruby: You got it. Now, get out of here and go kick some ass.

Chapter #94

Int. Slaton Enterprises Basement – Day

The large elevator glide open swiftly, with an audible ding to announce their arrival. Cautiously, a group of twenty or so children shuffles out into the small lobby. The children range from age eight to sixteen, both boys and girls. They look around nervously and huddle close to each other, as though it gives them some semblance of safety. Some sob to themselves, terrified of their impending fates. They sniffle and blink their wet eyes, wiping away the rivers leaking down their cheeks. Others hang their head in silent contemplation, distant, broken expressions plastered across their faces. None of them speak, though. They've already learned what happens when they speak.

Sophie: Zis way, children, follow moi.

Moving quickly to the front of the group, Sophie waves them along. They largely hesitate, giving each other careful glances, until finally dragging their feet behind them and following. The lobby they move through looks like any other lobby you'd find in an office building like this, except for the fact that it's built underground. Two couches sit on either side of the central space, along with two end tables, both with stacks of magazines. Near the back of the room is a large reception desk, behind which stands a short, portly man with glasses. He leans forward, as the group approaches, and gives Sophie a welcoming smile.

Receptionist: Ah, Miss Blanchett's assistant, yes?

Sophie: Oui, zat is correct. I am 'ere wis ze shipment.

Receptionist: Yes, yes I can see that. Looks like a lively bunch this year.

Sophie: I sink our clients will be very 'appy wis it, non?

Receptionist: Well, go on ahead. Mr. Slaton is waiting to conduct his own personal inspection so he can determine how to organize tonight's auctions.

Sophie: Merci, Monsieur. Come, children, time is short.

As the group continues to shuffle its way forward towards the long corridor in front of them, Holly takes a few steps back. She reaches out to tightly grab Lyta's hand, then pulls her back in front of the reception desk. With the receptionist now preoccupied with his computer, and the girls both shorter than the top of the desk, they go unnoticed for now. Holly leans in and holds a finger over her lips, then quietly whispers to her friend.

Holly: Just follow my lead.

Placing her hands gently against the top of the counter, Holly suddenly jumps upward, pulling down with her arms and using her momentum to fling her body through the air. She lands on top of the desk with a loud thud, causing the receptionist to lurch back with a shocked yelp, his hand flying to his chest and eyes wide. She doesn't give him a chance to do much else, throwing herself out him wildly with her elbow swinging forward and cracking the man across the side of the face.

The receptionist stumbles backwards, tripping over his chair and plummeting to the floor. Holly is on him in an instant, landing on his chest and bringing both hands high above her head. With a viciousness the likes of which she's never had to show before, she brings her hands down and delivers two powerful chops, one to either side of the man's neck. His eyes go wide momentarily, before rolling into the back of his head, unconscious.

Lyta: Whoa.

Peering around the side of the desk, Lyta blinks in astonishment.

Lyta: Holly, that was amazing! You are so awesome.

Holly: Just did what I had to do... now come on, let's get out of here quick.

The two girls hurry back across the lobby towards the elevator. Holly's finger repeatedly clicks the button to make the thing open, each passing second feeling more and more like an eternity. When finally the doors open, they desperately stumble inside. Frantically, Holly pushes the ground floor button and then takes a few steps backwards, watching as the door closes in front of them. As the elevator begins to rise, Lyta utters a long, relieved breath, and smiles broadly.

Lyta: We made it!

Holly: Now we just need to get out of here and contact our moms. I know this city, too. I can get Batman here to help free the other kids.

Lyta: Wait, you know Batman?

Holly: Yeah, he and my mom are pretty good friends.

Lyta: Wow... sweet.

Suddenly, the elevator trembles. In seconds, the emergency breaks go on, screeching loudly as they grind to an abrupt halt. Holly and Lyta hold on to the sides carefully, looking up at the flickering light above them.

Lyta: Holly... what's going on? Why did we stop?

Holly: I... I'm not sure.

And then, the elevator plummets down the shaft. The girls scream in terror, certain that they're about to flatten against the ground when they crash land. Before the lift smashes into pile of twisted steel and cables, however, it rapidly begins to decelerate, coming to a slow and easy stop. Then, the doors fly open. An invisible force wraps around Holly and Lyta, yanking them through the air back out into the basement lobby. When they finally come to a stop, they hover there in midair, Sophie standing calmly in front of them. The young woman's eyes narrow at them in annoyance.

Sophie: You should not 'ave done zat.

Holly: Let us go!

Sophie: You are beginning to sound like a broken record, non? Repeating again why I cannot let you go would be, 'ow you say, redundant.

Lyta: Our moms are going to find us, you know. And when they do, they're going to hurt you.

Sophie: Non, I don't sink so. Soon enough, you bos will be 'alfway around ze world in a new 'ome.

Holly gives the woman a long look, tightening her jaw and swallowing a hard lump in her throat.

Holly: You don't have to do this... you don't have to keep hurting people. I know you don't like to.

A soft breath exudes from Sophie's lips. For a brief moment, her gaze shifts off to the side.

Sophie: You are wrong, ma petite... zis is sumsing I must do. Sumsing I must always do. For what it is wors... I am sorry.

Holly: Saying you're sorry doesn't make up for what you're doing.

Sophie: Oui, I know. But it is all I 'ave. Now come... Monsieur Slaton awaits.

---

Slaton paces slowly back and forth across the office floor, his eyes drifting carefully from child to child. His gaze lingers a little longer over the last two, the blonde girl and her violet-haired friend. Their attempted escape did little to delay the proceedings, yet it was still cause for annoyance. He'll have to keep a close eye on those two; they're trouble.

Slaton: You weren't exaggerating, Sophie. This crop is simply exquisite.

Sophie: Merci, Monsieur. Madame Blanchett and I utilized all our resources to bring you ze very best that we could find. I sink your clients will be most impressed, non?

Slaton: Yes, quite. Now, let's see...

Bringing a hand to his chin, he pauses momentarily to think. Suddenly, a twinkle of revelation comes to his eyes. He snaps his fingers and points at Sophie, smirking.

Slaton: Yes, here's how we'll do it this year. Organize them by age first, gender second. We'll bring them out two at a time, one girl and one boy, then let the bidding commence as usual. But, we'll add a buyout price to entice our clients to purchase each pair outright for a greater fee. Set the buyouts at a twenty percent increase over last year's averages, and we should be able to increase out earnings by a significant amount.

Sophie shifts slightly, holding one arm up to her shoulder and slowly nodding.

Sophie: Zat sounds... like a good plan. I'm certain Madame Blanchett will approve, when she arrives.

Slaton: Good, good...

He breathes in a deep, heavy gulp of air, then paces back and forth in front of the group once again, his shiny black dress shoes clacking methodically against the tile floor as he goes. After a brief second of contemplation, he begins pointing out various individuals.

Slaton: When you bring them to their chambers to prepare for tonight, pay special attention to her... her... him... her... him...

He continues pacing, eyes shifting back towards the end of the line. His icy, twisted gaze settles firmly on Holly and Lyta.

Slaton: And those two. I have a good feeling about them, so make sure to dress them up nicely.

Sophie: As you wish, Monsieur. Right away.

Int. Dressing Room – Day

Holly: I'm not wearing this.

Sophie: But you must.

Holly: I don't care what you say, I'm not wearing it.

Standing in the middle of the small changing room, Holly holds the white flowered sundress out at arm's length, as if trying to keep it as far from her body as possible. Her eyes glare contemptuously at it, a bubble of nausea building up in her gut just at the prospect of having to put something like this on again.

Sophie: Zis is what you 'ave been given to wear. Monsieur Slaton demands it.

Holly: I don't care what that bad man in there demands! I'm not wearing it!

Sophie: I don't understand, ma petite. Why can't you just put it on?

Holly: I told you before that another bad man did things to me a long time ago. Well he made me wear dresses just like this! Just looking at it makes me so... so mad... I am never, ever, never wearing another dress again!

Crumpling up the dress into a ball, she whips it across the room and then folds her arms across her chests with a pout. Her breaths ease in shakily, stuttering as she tries to calm herself down. She clenches her jaw tightly in attempts to fight back the growing numbness knotting itself in her throat, and her rage-filled eyes already glisten with small pools of tears that threaten to spill out down her cheeks.

Sophie: Euh... I see.

A brief, awkward moment of silences passes between them. Sophie shifts her weight, holding her hands out in front of her and clearing her throat.

Sophie: Is it... I mean, do you wish to talk about it?

Holly: No, I don't want to talk about it! I've already talked about it. I spent so long just trying to forget it. It's in the past. That bad man is gone; my mom killed him, and he can't hurt me anymore.

Sophie: Well, zat is a good sing, non? I am glad 'e is no longer able to 'urt you.

Holly: What the hell do you care?! You're trying to sell me off to someone else who'll do the same things to me! And not just me, to my friend, too, and all those other kids! Don't try to act all sympathetic and pretend you care! All those people out there who abuse us kids like this, those people you're selling us to? You're just as bad as they are!

For a moment, Holly's words have a striking effect on the young woman. Sophie recoils, as if physically struck, eyes going wide and mouth hanging open a little. At first, she appears stunned, unable to formulate a response. Shortly, though, her eyebrows cross and a scowl slashes across her face.

Sophie: I am nussing like zem! Zey are animals! Monsters! Zey... zey should all be locked up, or worse!

Holly: You're lying, trying to trick me. If you really thought that, then you wouldn't be helping them. You'd be trying to stop them.

Sophie pauses, blinking several times at the girl. With a huff, she crosses her arms across her chest and glares at the floor.

Sophie: I can't! I... I must listen to Madame Blanchett.

Holly: Look, I dunno what kind of sick hold you think she has on you, but you don't have to listen to her. You can help us.

Sophie: I wish, I could, ma petite... I wish I could. But ze Madame is... I owe everysing to 'er. No matter 'ow 'orrible she is, I... I cannot disobey.

Holly swallows a tight knot in her throat, sucking in a deep breath through her nostrils. Slowly, she shakes her head.

Holly: She really messed you up, didn't she?

No answer. Sophie merely bows her head, bringing her arms up to hold around herself. Then, she turns away and gingerly steps over to the door.

Sophie: I will... find sumsing else for you to wear.

Ext. Gotham City Streets – Night

Ravager paces frantically back and forth across the rooftop, brimming with anxiety the likes of which she hasn't known in a long time. She hates waiting around like this, hates not being able to do anything. Yet, she knows that she has to, if they want any hope of discovering where Blanchett disappeared to, and hopefully where the girls are being held.

Becky: Anything yet?

Ravager: Not a thing.

Becky: Well, it's only been five minutes. Maybe she's working on something important? Batman did say it might take a few minutes to connect you.

Ravager: I know, I know, it's just-

Suddenly, a shrill hiss of static blares loudly in her ear. It cuts out a moment later, followed by a strong, female voice.

Oracle/Comm: Well, as I live and breath. The infamous Ravager.

Ravager: And the all seeing Oracle. Pleasure, really.

Oracle/Comm: Batman tells me you're in need of my services.

Ravager: It would certainly be appreciated, yeah. I need to know where Michelle Blanchett is. She was supposed to be coming here for a meeting tonight, but we don't know where.

Oracle/Comm: And here I thought you'd give me a challenge.

Ravager: So you can help?

Oracle/Comm: Just let me run through my system files, see what I can dig up around the city. A high profile individual like that won't go unnoticed around Gotham.

Ravager: Right, thanks.

Giving a silent thumbs up to Becky, she casually turns over towards the building parapet and looks down at the city streets below.

Oracle/Comm: So, Dick talks about you a lot, you know. Says you've come a long way.

Ravager: Oh does he, now? That's funny, because he talks about you a lot, too.

Oracle/Comm: Is that right? And what does tall, dark, and mysterious have to say about me?

Ravager: Oh, you know, he says lots of things. I think I recall him mentioning that you'd look good in white.

Oracle/Comm: I see... and what exactly are you trying to say there?

Ravager: You're smart; you'll figure it out.

A brief pause follows, before Oracle's voice returns over the line.

Oracle/Comm: Ah, here we go. Michelle Blanchett was scheduled for a meeting at Slaton Enterprises tonight. From what I can gather, she arrived just a short while ago.

Ravager: Don't suppose you could give me the address?

Oracle/Comm: Already sent you the coordinates to your helmet's GPS.

Ravager: How did you...?

Oracle/Comm: You forget who you're talking to?

Ravager: Right... thanks.

Oracle/Comm: I also heard that you might need some backup. Had a nasty run in with a telepath?

Ravager: Something like that... but really, we're fine. There's no need to send any of your Birds.

Oracle/Comm: Oh, my Birds are busy with the mob right now. But I still found another couple of lovely ladies to help you out.

Ravager: Er... that's great, really. But we don't have time to wait around for-

Oracle/Comm: I already sent them to your position five minutes ago. They should be there soon. Play nice, now.

And with that, the line goes dead. Ravager blinks a couple of times, then holds her hands to her hips and slowly shakes her head.

What on earth does Dick see in that woman?

Becky: Uh, Rose?

Ravager turns her gaze. Becky stands just a few feet away, staring over at the other side of the roof, where a dark, caped figure crouches atop the parapet. Squinting her eyes, Ravager cautiously walks forward to get a better look at the woman. It doesn't take long to realize just who the new arrival is affiliated with, judging from the black suit, cowl, and bright red bat symbol across her chest.

Ravager: So... which one are you?

Batwoman: Call me Batwoman. Oracle said you two required aid.

Ravager: We don't require it... but I guess we'll take it. Where's the other one? We don't have time to sit around here.

That's when she's feels an ever so slight tug on the long hair coiling out the back of her helmet. Slowly, she turns her head to see another woman standing behind her and gently holding a few stray locks of her hair. This woman wears a suit and tie, trenchcoat, and fedora cap. Oh, and she doesn't have a face, either.

Question: White hair... curious.

Ravager: Please stop doing that.

The woman's fingers suddenly release their hold on Ravager's hair. Tilting her head up, the Question stares intently at her. At least, she thinks. It's hard to tell when someone's staring at you when they don't have any eyes.

Question: I think we know each other.

Ravager: Uh, yeah, you're the woman with no face... we met a long time ago, remember? You were trying to ask for Wonder Woman's autograph?

Question: I remember, but that's not what I meant.

Taking a few careful steps forward, Becky leans in close, blinking intently at the woman.

Becky: She doesn't have a face... why doesn't she have a face?

Ravager: Wait a minute... say something else.

Question: What am I supposed to say?

Ravager: I know that voice...

Of course she knows that voice. She spent three years around that voice in Nanda Parbat. Well... relatively, anyway.

Ravager: ...Renee?

Question: Question.

Ravager: Uh, yeah I asked you a question. What's the answer?

Question: Now that's a good question.

Ravager: Okay, now we're just wasting time.

Question: Are we?

Ravager: ...you're enjoying this way too much, aren't you?

Question: You have no idea.

Batwoman: Alright, that's enough.

Jumping off her perch, Batwoman comes to a soft landing and slowly straightens herself out to full height, cape draping around her body.

Batwoman: We have a job to do.

Question: To Slaton Enterprises, as I understand. Should be fun.

Chapter #95

Ext. Strees of Paris, France – Night

Ten years ago...

Store Owner: <Damn it, come back here!>*

(*translated from French.)

The bakery door bursts open, as the large, portly man races down the street. Snowflakes brush past his face, icy air stinging at his face. A short distance from him, a young girl with short blonde hair sprints away from him, clutching a baguette firmly against her chest. She glances back only briefly at him before quickening her pace.

Store Owner: <You have to pay for that!>

Soon, the distance between them grows. By the time she turns the street corner, the store owner has slowed down, leaning forward and pressing his hands to his knees. He takes in deep, exhausted breaths. By no means is he in the proper shape to be sprinting after a fleet-footed thief.

Store Owner: <Damn kids...>

The young girl gradually slows her pace down to a brisk walk. Already, the icy air begins to numb her throat, but at least she got away. Briefly, she pauses to look around at the people walking by, going about their business and paying her no attention. She doesn't come here often, to the nicer parts of Paris, but when she does she always takes time to marvel at the fancy clothes and expensive jewelery that these people wear.

<They're so lucky... To be able to afford such nice things, it must be... wonderful.>

But her? She can't even afford one lousy loaf of bread. Glancing down at the baguette, she quickly tears off a piece with her teeth. She chews the bread slowly, savoring the flavor. Even if it does taste a little stale, it beats digging through the trash for rancid leftovers any day. A small, tired sigh exudes from her lips, as she swallows, eyes drifting emptily to the ground. She knows she can't eat a lot of it right now; this single baguette might have to last her the rest of the week.

Turning another snowy street corner, the girl quickens her pace until reaching a particular back alley. She looks around briefly, making sure that no one is watching her. Of course, no one pays any attention to her. No one ever pays any attention to her. Quickly she darts into the alley, behind a dumpster and next to a large pile of empty cardboard boxes, with stacks of used newspapers nearby.

<I guess this will have to do for tonight...>

She carefully sets down the baguette on one of the cardboard boxes, while opening another and turning it on its side. Then, she spreads out a few of the newspapers inside it, creating a makeshift sleeping area. There should be plenty of other newspapers here to keep herself warm tonight... at least, she hopes so. The night is already cold enough, and with the snowflakes steadily drifting down overhead, it only threatens to get colder. As she grabs her long loaf of bread again and prepares to settle in for what is sure to be a very unpleasant night of sleep, several voices resonate from behind her.

Homeless Boy #1: <What do we have here?>

Homeless Boy #2: <Looks like a little girl lost her way.>

Homeless Boy #3: <That's a nice looking loaf she's got there.>

The young girl turns around in a panic, clutching the baguette close to her heart. The boys are older than her, maybe thirteen or fourteen, and much larger, too. It's an uncommon occurrence, homeless folk stealing from other homeless folk. On the streets, it's a constant struggle for survival, and sometimes you have to dirty your hands to see the sun rise again.

But she can't afford to go another week without food. The constant pangs of desperate hunger already burn uncomfortably in her gut. She needs this food. She can't let them take it!

Girl: <This is mine! You can't have it!>

Homeless Boy #1: <Don't make this difficult, alright?>

Walking towards her, he reaches out to grab the bread. A quick kick to the shins, however, abruptly forces him to jump back on one leg.

Homeless Boy #1: <Ow! Stupid girl kicked me!>

She wastes no time in taking hat opportunity to run from them. Turning tail, she sprints down the length of the alley, hoping desperately that she'll come out to another street where she can lose them. Unfortunately, these boys aren't as slow as the store owner she'd run from earlier. They're able to keep pace with her, even close the distance. By the time she turns the corner, they're almost on her. She can see the mouth of the alley ahead, can see people walking by down the sidewalk. She's almost there!

...and then she feels them on her. A blunt force explodes into her backside as one of the boys tackles her, dragging her to the ground. Desperately, she tries to hold on to her baguette, but the second boy effortlessly tears it from her arms, leaving her to clutch empty air. The third boy kicks her, hard. His worn, beaten shoe deflects violently off the side of her head, causing an explosion of bright lights in front of her gaze. She blinks, dazed, strength beginning to leave her.

Homeless Boy #1: <Stupid bitch! Should have just given it up!>

A second kick drives into her ribcage. She cringes, crying out loudly and curling into a ball. She's too young to handle pain very well, stomach already beginning to bubble with nausea. By the time the third kick strikes her, she's already sobbing and coughing in pain, wet, cold streaks staining her cheeks.

Homeless Boy #2: <Ha, look, we made her cry!>

Girl: <Stop it! Please... please stop it!>

Homeless Boy #3: <Gonna cry for your mommy? Go on!>

Girl: <I said... STOP!>

As her scream erupts into the cold winter air, a rush of invisible energy explodes from her body, rushing in all directions. Suddenly, the boys lift from their feet, flying like missiles into the wall behind them. One boy hits the wall headfirst, neck snapping with a sickening crack. His limp body tumbles back down, landing face first in the snow, unmoving. The other two boys, while shaken and in need of a change in pants, manage to crawl away in a panic.

Homeless Boy #1: <Sh-she kill him! The crazy bitch killed him!>

While the other boys scramble back to their feet and sprint out into the streets, the young girl slowly sits up. She blinks several times, a mix of shock and horror over what she'd just done twisting itself across her face. A cold knot forms in her throat, and she swallows it back with great difficulty. She cannot for the life of her tear her gaze away from the dead boy just five feet from her.

Girl: <How did I...? That isn't possible... what did I do?>

As she stares, utterly mesmerized by the boy's corpse, a silky smooth voice calls out to her.

Woman: Well, well, what do we have here?

The young girl slowly turns her head. Her heart skips a beat at the sight of the woman. Long dark hair, deathly pale skin, bright red lips, and such an amazing figure fit into the most elegant dress she's ever seen. Only one word can describe this woman.

<Beautiful...>

But her English is nearly non existent, and so the woman's soothing words go understood to her ears.

Girl: Que? Je ne sais pas Anglais.

Woman: Oh, of course, where are my manners? <Can you understand me now?>

Girl: <Yes... who are you?>

Blanchett: <My name is Michelle Blanchett.>

Girl: <You're beautiful.>

An amused chuckle finds its way out of Blanchett's throat. She curls her soft lips into a smile, while one hand comes up to rest on her perfectly shaped hips.

Blanchett: <Thank you, dear. And what can I call you?>

Sophie: <Sophie... my name is Sophie.>

Blanchett: <Well, Sophie, it is a pleasure to meet you. I saw what you did.>

Instantly, Sophie's eyes widen, expression contorting into utter terror.

Sophie: <No! I didn't mean to do it! I swear! They... they were hurting me, and I just got mad and... and then that happened! I didn't mean to kill him!>

Blanchett: <Calm yourself, Sophie. I don't care that you killed the boy.>

Sophie: <You... you don't?>

Blanchett: <Not at all. In fact, I care about you. I see that you have a very special gift, Sophie... I would like to see more of it.>

Sophie: <What do you mean?>

Blanchett: <I mean, I'm offering you to come with me.>

Taking a small step back, Blanchett motions towards the street, where a shiny black limousine is parked. The driver waits patiently, holding the rear door open.

Sophie: <That's yours?>

Blanchett: <It is. As a matter of fact, I was just on my way to the airport. I'm heading back to America, you see.>

Sophie: <You live in America?>

Blanchett: <That's right. If you like, I can take you with me and give you a new life. A better life. What do you say?>

Sophie: <I... I don't know if I should.>

Despite her apparent hesitation, however, Sophie's nerves are tingling like wildfire with excitement. The prospect of being miraculously taken off the street by a wealthy woman in a limousine is simply unbelievable!

Blanchett: <From what I can see, you have nowhere else to go. What do you have to lose?>

Int. Michelle Blanchett's Penthouse Suit – Night

Twelve hours later...

When the door opens, Sophie's eyes go wide. Never before has she ever had the opportunity to set foot in such an amazing, lavish home as this. She had seen glimpses of wealthy lives before, yes, but she'd never been a part of it. All that appeared to be changing, though.

Blanchett: <This I where I live. And as of right now, so do you. Do you like it?>

A huge grin forms its way across the girl's face. She runs across the apartment, carefully inspecting everything. Eventually, she finds herself in the living room, where she promptly throws herself down on the large, white sofa, snuggling against the soft pillows.

Sophie: <I love it! This is amazing!>

Blanchett: <That's good, I'm glad you like it. However, if you're going to be living here, we will need to work on your English.>

Rolling off the couch, Sophie stands up straight and gazes out the large window in front of her and at the Silverstone City skyline beyond. A brief moment later, she turns and hurries back over to Blanchett, throwing her arms tightly around the woman.

Sophie: <Thank you so much! I owe you everything!>

Blanchett: <You're quite welcome, my dear. Now...>

Widening a gentle smirk across her face, Blanchett reaches down with one of her hands and tenderly strokes the side of Sophie's face.

Blanchett: <...let's get you out of those old clothes.>

Int. Slaton Enterprises Bidding Room – Night

Present Day...

Blanchett: Sophie? Oh for Christ’s sake, Sophie, wake up!

Snapping out of her daze, Sophie blinks and lurches up straight in her seat. She pauses momentarily, glancing around the small, darkened room.

Sophie: Oui, Madame?

Blanchett: You were daydreaming again. Honestly, I don't know why I put up with you sometimes.

Sophie: Désolé... I will be more alert.

Blanchett: Good, because the festivities will be starting soon.

Taking in a deep breath, Sophie rubs her eyes. She can't believe she actually drifted off like that again; she'd been doing it more and more lately, fading out and daydreaming about the past. Blanchett doesn't like it very much when she does. Right now, though, she has to remain attentive. It's her job to keep track of the bids, after all, and she can't very well do that if she's half asleep.

Carefully, her eyes shift around the room, moving first past Blanchett, and the to Slaton, who leans back in a large leather armchair, one leg crossed over the other. On the table next to him, a spent cigar butt smolders in a filled ashtray, adjacent to a half empty glass of whiskey. As the coordinator of this annual event, he is full prepared for things to commence.

The room they're in is not a large one, just space enough for the three of them. The large glass panel making up the wall in front of them looks out into a staging area, some ten feet below. Encircling the staging area up above are ten more similar glass panels, each one leading into another private, darkened room. There, their clients have already arrived and await patiently for the bidding to begin.

Blanchett: How much longer?

Slaton: Five minutes. We're giving our clients a chance to get settled. Once they have their drinks, we can bring out the first pair.

Sophie: Who is ze first pair?

Slaton: How should I know? I don't bother to learn their names; that's your job. The only thing I care about is that they look nice and our clients place generous bids.

Sophie: Euh... oui, of course.

Going silent, Sophie returns her gaze to the table in front of her, specifically the glowing laptop screen. She watches the program carefully, as various indicators light up next to certain names. Within several minutes, each name is lit.

Sophie: Zey are all ready to commence.

Slaton: Good. Bring them out.

Down in the staging area below, the doors on the far wall slide open, revealing a young pair of children. Behind them, a muscled thug in a business suit shoves them forward. Though the boy is an unknown, the girl is strikingly familiar. No one possesses has such violet colored hair, after all.

Lyta stumbles forward to the center of the stage, followed closely by the other boy next to her. Her eyes shift around nervously, gazing up at the dark windows above her. She can't see any of them staring at her, but god she can feel them. Nausea abruptly bubbles up within her small, shaking body, as she swallows back a cold knot in her throat.

Slaton casually presses a small button on the side of his arm chair, activating a speaker system and allowing his calm voice to resonate over the PA system.

Slaton: Bidding for the girl will begin at two hundred thousand. One fifty for the boy. But remember, we've added a new feature this year. The buyout for the complete pair is two point five million. You may begin.

Lyta: No! Let us go! Please!

Of course, she receives no answer.

Lyta: I just want to go home! I just want my mom!

Sophie lowers her gaze to the computer screen again, trying not to listen to the girl's frantic cries. She has to concentrate on the bidding.

Sophie: Sree 'undred for ze girl. Two 'undred for ze boy. Four fifty for ze girl... six 'undred for ze girl. Four for ze boy. Seven 'undred for ze girl.... eight fifty for ze girl.

A sudden bell chimes in from the laptop's speakers. Sophie blinks, surprised.

Sophie: We 'ave a buyout.

Slaton's lips curl into a pleased grin.

Slaton: Excellent. Take them to the waiting room.

The large goon down below reaches forward and clamps his iron grip down on either child's arm, pulling them back towards the doors.

Lyta: No! Let us go! Don't do this!

Her cries go unheeded. Within moments, both she and the boy she'd been partnered with are gone.

Slaton: Bring in the next pair.

When the doors open again, a different thug pushes in the next two children. Holly glances back at the guy and glares coldly at him.

Holly: Quite pushing!

Slaton stares for a moment, rapping his fingers methodically against the arm of his chair.

Slaton: A schoolgirl outfit? Really? I specifically ordered this one to wear the flowered dress.

Sophie: Désolé, Monsieur... but she simply refused to wear ze dress. I had to find sumsing else for 'er.

A gruff, annoyed groan puffs from his lips.

Slaton: I don't like it; it's too... gimmicky. But too late now, let's get on with it.

His finger firmly presses down on the intercom button once again.

Slaton: Bidding will start at four hundred thousand for the girl, three hundred for the-

Holly: NO!

The young girl suddenly springs into action, throwing herself backwards at the guard behind her. Her attack is unexpected, taking the man by surprise. A surprised grunt escapes his lips when her elbow drives into the center of his gut, causing him to stagger down to one knee. Quickly, he reaches down to grab the gun holstered in his pants, but his fingers never even graze it. Holly's foot swings up sharply, catching him in the jaw and sending him toppling backwards. She's on him in a heartbeat, exploding her knee into the bottom of his jaw and snapping his head back hard. He goes limp nearly instantly.

Holly: You're not going to sell me!

Blurry figures appear in the darkened glass frames up above, surprised bidders coming forward for closer observation. Soon after, their muffled voices throughout the staging area, some shocked, some intrigued, and others angered. Holly takes several steps back to the center of the stage, looking up at the shadowy forms. The boy accompanying her, meanwhile, has taken to cowering against the far wall.

Slaton: As you can see, this one will require some... taming. Keep that in mind when placing your bids.

Removing his finger from the intercom button, Slaton instantly turns his gaze towards Blanchett.

Slaton: Get someone down there to restrain that girl. Now!

Blanchett: Sophie, if you would be so kind.

She doesn't respond at first, her eyes instead drifting down towards the defiant young girl down below. Eventually, however, Sophie does stand from her seat, while sucking a large, slow breath of air into her lungs.

Sophie: Oui, Madame, I will-

CRASH!!!

Without so much as an inkling of advanced warning, one of the glass window panes encircling the staging area shatters, exploding outward in a downpour of countless broken shards. Holly cries out, turning her body and covering her eyes for protection, but fortunately very little of the glass pieces reach her. With a sickening thud, a middle aged man with slicked back hair and a three thousand dollar suit slams into the stage, not getting up.

By now, the other clients are in a panic, faces pressed up closely to their windows and staring down at the mayhem. Smoke then begins to fill the room, a thick grey haze that rapidly obstructs a view greater than several feet in front of them. Slaton is on his feet now, fingers tightly digging into the arms of his chair.

Slaton: What the hell is going on?!

Blanchett: I don't know, I can't see anything down there! Sophie, damn it, do something!

Sophie: I- I can't see, eizer. I don't know what-

Smack!

Blanchett's backhand slaps violently into the side of Sophie's face, whipping her head to the side.

Blanchett: Then what good are you?!

And that's when the smoke begins to clear. Ever so gradually, the staging area comes back into view, complete with two figures that were not there when the smog first appeared. Standing back to back, with Holly safeguarded between them, are Ravager and Becky. Slowly, Ravager's gaze moves up towards the window panels above them, hands reaching up to grab the sword hilts crossing behind each shoulder. Becky simply pounds her fist into her palm, a sharp, metallic clank echoing across the stage.

Ravager: Alright-

Becky: -which one of you sick motherf*ckers is next?

Chapter #96

Int. Slaton Enterprises Bidding Room – Night

Holly's eyes instantly brighten at the sight of her mother. Even Becky came to help save her! Seeing both of them standing there, back to back and ready to put some serious hurt on, filled her previously desperate, frantic heart with a new height of excitement and relief, the likes of which she hadn't known in a long, long time.

Holly: Mom! Becky! I knew you'd come!

Becky: Damn straight we came. Now who wants their ass kicked first, huh?!

Ravager: Stay behind us Holly; we'll take care of things.

The doors at the back of the room abruptly slide open, allowing a small group of thugs to rush into the staging area. They each carry a small pistol, already pointed and ready to fire. Unfortunately, the poor b*stards might as well have brought popguns. Becky charges them, giving them no other choice in target. Bullets rip through the air, ricocheting harmlessly off her metallic skin and doing absolutely nothing to slow her down.

She clotheslines the first guy she comes to, spinning him through the air. His body crashes limply against the far wall, sliding back down to the floor with a sickening thud. She turns to the next nearest goon and sends her fish crashing into his face, effortlessly unhinging the man's jaw. By the time she kicks the third guy up through one of the glass panels up above them, the other guard turn tail to retreat.

Guard: Get outta here! They're crazy!

Becky: No you don't!

She gives chase, closing the distance between them in a matter of seconds. When she catches up, she tackles the first man she sees. They hit the wall, crashing straight through it in an explosion of steel and plaster. The entire floor quakes at the impact.

Ravager: Holly where are the other kids?

Taking her mother's hand, Holly starts tugging her along, leading her out the staging area doors.

Holly: They're back this way!

She pauses briefly, glancing over at the other boy nearby.

Holly: Come on!

Watching the group flee through the doors, Slaton moves quickly up to the glass wall in front of him, staring intently. His arms shake violently at his sides, hands curled to tight fists. Turning his head sharply, he glares at Blanchett, eyes burning hatefully.

Slaton: What the f*ck is this? Who are they?!

Blanchett: Just a couple of pests, nothing to worry about. Though, to think they'd have the gall to follow me here...

Slaton: Nothing to worry about?! They're ruining everything! Stop them!

Blanchett: Sophie, make yourself useful, for once.

Sophie: Oui, Madame.

The young woman immediately rises from her chair. Holding her arms out, she begins levitating her body towards the glass wall, and with a simple thought causes the pane to shatter outwards, allowing a clear path down into the staging area. Before she can pursue, however, the door behind them quite literally explodes inward, at the mercy of a mini explosive. Slaton dives to the side barely avoiding the projectile, but Sophie isn't so lucky. With her back turned, she doesn't notice it in time to get out of the way. When the door cracks across the back of her skull, she plummets ten feet through the air and lands with loud smack against the floor.

Blanchett: Oh for heaven's sake, what now?!

Two heads poke their way into the open doorway, one wearing a dark cowl with long red hair, and the other a fedora cap and no face at all.

Question: Looks like we got the right address.

Batwoman: I do hope we're not interrupting anything.

Slaton: Goddamn it!

Slaton's face twists into an even more intense scowl, as he reaches behind his back to grasp the gun ticked into his pants. But by the time he brings the weapon around to take aim the the two intruders, the faceless one is already on him, kicking it out of his hands. The Question follows up with a crippling palm strike to the bottom of his jaw, pushing him backwards. Her spinning roundhouse kick catches him squarely in the chest, launching him out of the open window and plummeting the ten feet down to the floor below. Twitching and coughing in pain, he makes no move to get up.

Question: Hmm, I think I may have over done it.

Blanchett: Sophie! Sophie, I need you!

The one dressed like a bat is already halfway to her. Blanchett stumbles backwards in a panic, throwing up her arms desperately to defend against the kick aimed at her head. While she deflects most of the impact, her feet twist together, balance escaping her. She reaches out, just managing to grab onto the side of the window frame to keep from following the same fate as Slaton.

Blanchett: Sophie, damn it! Get up!

Sophie utters a pained groan, rolling over on the floor. A heavy pounding assaults the back of her head, as she pushes her way back to her feet, but she tries to ignore it. Her mistress is in danger and requires her help, so she... she must go help.

Sophie: I am... on my way, Madame.

Batwoman: Lady, you really don't want to make this any more difficult. With what we got you on here, you're in for a world of hurt already.

Question: Actually, I wouldn't mind so much if she wanted to make it more difficult. I could use the workout.

Before they can make another move on Blanchett, however, the two crime fighters abruptly lift off their feet and rocket backwards into the wall. Sophie levitates back through the shattered glass wall, a single hand outstretched. For the first time since developing her power, her eyes bright blue glow while using it.

Sophie: Leave ze Madame alone!

The two woman struggle against the hold, but the grip is unyielding, pinning them firmly against the wall.

Batwoman: I take it... we found the telepath.

Question: Telekinetic.

Batwoman: What?

Question: She's a... mmf... telekinetic. Telepaths have telepathy. She's using telekinesis.

Batwoman: Please, what telekinetic have you ever come across that didn't also have telepathy?

Question: Well, that's... a good question.

Sophie: Enough!

Both Batwoman and the Question suddenly recoil, throwing their heads back and screaming. A sharp, electric pain begins to crawl its way up the backs of their spines, spreading through their skulls.

Question: And there's the... ggaaargh... the answer!

Blanchett: Sophie, that's enough. Stop wasting your time with those two, just put them out of their misery and go after the other two!

Sophie: Oui, Madame. As you wish.

Question: Any time, Kate. I know you... have something up your sleeve. You do have something up your sleeve, right?

Batwoman: You know me...

Gritting her teeth, Batwoman curls her fingers inward, pushing down hard on a small button on the palm of her glove. Instantly, a the sonic device built into her utility belt goes off, emitting a high pitched, shrill, deafeningly annoying whistle. Sophie suddenly staggers, hands coming up to her ears. She drops to one knee, squinting her eyes shut and screaming. Both the Question and Batwoman drop back down to the floor, the telekinetic hold releasing them. When they land, both immediately bring their own hands up to their ears, as well.

Batwoman: ...always with a plan!

Question: Not quite what I had in mind!

Batwoman: Hey, it got the job done! Let's finish her before-

Sophie: STOP IT! STOP IT!

And then, both women are in the air, again. This time, they hit the wall and go straight through it, landing violently back out in the hallway. The shrill siren abruptly cuts out, leaving the room in a cold, dead silence. Sophie sucks in several large gulps of air, slowly straightening herself out again and lowering her hands.

Sophie: It... it stopped. Sank goodness, it stopped.

Blanchett: Yes, that's.... just lovely.

Blanchett brings her hands down from her ears, staring carefully at the new hole in the wall. Her attention turns quickly, however, as she scurries over to the broken window pane and begins to lower herself down into the staging area.

Blanchett: Come, Sophie! We have to stop the others from escaping!

Int. Slaton Enterprises Basement – Night

The door to the waiting room bursts inward with a loud crash. The unconscious body thrown into the door slides violently across the floor until coming to an abrupt halt by smacking against the far wall. The group of children within the room run back in a panic, staring first at the unmoving thug on the floor, and then toward the open doorway.

Holly: Everything's going to be okay!

Running into the room, Holly waves her arms over at the door, calling attention to the two woman standing there. Almost instantly, the entire group shrinks away in fear. Ravager and Becky carefully step into the room, lowering their guard to clearly indicate that they mean no harm.

Ravager: We're not here to hurt you kids. We're here to help.

Becky: Si, we're gonna get you outta here.

The trust comes gradually, reluctantly. The children move forward cautiously, giving each other nervous glances. None of them want to go along with another couple of adults they know nothing of. What if these two women are just as bad as Blanchett? Or even worse? Yet, at the same time, they know they really have no other choice. They either trust oddly dressed women, or wait here to be sold.

Ravager: That's it, come on. Let's go.

Blanchett: No one is going anywhere.

All attention turns instantly back to the open doorway. Michelle Blanchett stands there, hips cocked to the side and a sinister smirk cutting across her face. Sophie stands next to her patiently, awaiting orders.

Ravager: You... I'm going to tear your teeth out one by one for all of this, you hear me?

Becky: Not before I do the same to her fingers. And arms.

Blanchett: Your threats are amusing, but petty. After what happened last time, I would have expected you two to learn. It appears I vastly overestimated your intelligence.

Ravager: Well that's the thing about us. We're slow learners.

Becky: But damned if we don't hit hard. Just wait until we get our hands on you, ah?

Blanchett: Too bad you won't. Sophie, be a dear.

Sophie: Oui, Madame. As you wish.

Int. Silverstone City, Circe's Apartment – Night

Circe's feet shuffle frantically across the floor of her apartment, as she paces back and forth. Hands clasped behind her, she keeps her eyes planted firmly downward, too engrossed in her thoughts to look anywhere else. A growing sense of nausea bubbles strongly in the pit of her stomach. It hadn't been much, at first, but now she's just about ready to double over and poke her guts out.

Something is wrong... I can feel it. Something with Lyta... She's in trouble, more now than before... I know she is.

Abruptly, she comes to a stop, standing still. A twinge of pain tingles in her chest, and in seconds she drops to her knees, hand clutching at her heart. This isn't a physical pain, though, no. This is something deeper. Emotional, spiritual, metaphysical, whatever the hell you want to call it. Something is most definitely wrong.

Circe: Lyta... please be safe. Please be...

As her words trail off, Circe slowly lifts her gaze, first at the wall in front of her, and then up to the ceiling. For a long moment, she just stares blankly forward, vision going out of focus. Eventually, her fingers clench into fists, and jaw tightens.

Circe: I am sick of this, do you hear me? I'm sick of waiting around in worry, useless. What kind of torment is this supposed to be, reduced to being able to only hope that my daughter comes back to me safely? I should be doing something about it!

No response comes, of course. She hardly expects them to be listening to her, of all people.

Circe: You know I'm not one to pray. And I know we never got along, not with any of you. But please... I can't do this any longer. If I can't protect my daughter... what good am I?

Another long pause descends over the apartment. Circe continues waiting, hoping – or rather, praying – that one of them will respond. As the minutes tick by, however, it soon becomes plainly apparent that her prayers are not going to be answered. Not now, not ever.

Circe: Well fine!

She bows her head again, holding a hand to her face and shrinking down closer to the floor on her knees. A numb, tight knot quickly forms its way into her throat. She can't even swallow it down, instead allowing it to sit there as she wallows in self pity and loathing.

Then, something extraordinary happens. A bright, heavenly light beams down at her, opening up from the ceiling. Circe lowers her hand in surprise, just staring at the the floor. She fears that if she looks up at the light, it will disappear, just an illusion. She can't bear to have that kind of hope crushed upon her. When the voice calls out to her, however, she promptly lifts her gaze in awe.

Awe. There's something I never felt as an all powerful sorceress. But now, I... there is no other word for it.

Athena: Circe. Your prayers have been heard.

She can't bring herself to speak for the longest time, only able to stare at the goddess' face looking down at her from the glowing beam of light above.

Athena: We understand you wish the ability to protect your daughter.

Circe: Yes, more than anything. I gave up my power, my immortality, everything about my past life, all so I could raise her properly. But what point is there in that if I cannot protect her? What kind of mother does that make me?

Athena: We understand your concerns. You are, however, still under close watch by the gods. In spite of your parole, your past crimes have not been forgotten.

Circe: I have lived up to my promise! I've done nothing criminal! Or spiteful, or cruel, or anything. I've lived to love my daughter. I... I have changed. For the better, I think.

Athena: So you have. The sincerity of your plea is genuine, and the goddess Aletheia confirms that you speak the truth about your intentions. You wish not to harm, not to maim, not to kill, not to control. Rather, you wish only to protect.

Circe: My daughter... she is my everything. I want to keep her safe. I must keep her save.

Athena: And so you will.

The light begins to glow more intensely, so strong now that Circe is forced to lift an arm upward to shield her eyes. No longer can she see Athena's face, as the light engulfs her, warms her. Soon, her entire body begins to surge with a sensation she hasn't known in a long, long time.

Athena: For the protection of your daughter, we grant you this gift, Circe. Use it wisely, for we will be watching.

Chapter #97

Int. Slaton Enterprises Basement – Night

Becky and Ravager hold their ground, preparing for whatever this woman decides to throw at them. When they fought before, they had been uninformed. Sophie’s powers had taken them by surprise, but not this time. This time, they know what they’re dealing with, and they aren’t about to give her a chance to get the upper hand this time. Ravager turns her body slightly to the side, shielding her opposite hand as it reaches down into a compartment on her utility belt. Her fingers grasp one of the flash pellets, which had been effective before.

From what Ravager could gather then, Sophie can only maintain her telekinesis when concentrating. Break that concentration, or keep her from being able to concentrate, and she loses her edge. This time around, she intends to break the woman’s concentration early and press a relentless attack, giving her no opportunity to focus. Doing that, they should be able to stop her before things get too out of hand.

Sophie: You two should not ‘ave come ‘ere. I sought that you would ‘ave learned from our last meeting, but now… zis will not end well for you, non?

Becky: Speak for yourself, chica. You don’t have a building to throw us off of this time.

Slowly, Sophie raises a hand and points it at them.

Sophie: I do not need to srow you off a building to ‘urt you.

Ravager: Neither…

Spinning her body around again, Ravager whips her arm and tosses the flash pellet. The small, round device rockets through the air, straight at Sophie.

Ravager: …do we!

This time, however, when the pellet reaches its target, Sophie catches it in a single hand and squeezes down. From the center of her palm and leaking through the gaps in her fingers, a bright white light surges briefly and then extinguishes. She then opens her hand and allows the spent pellet to plummet to the floor.

Sophie: Non, not zis time.

Both Becky and Ravager then abruptly fly backwards through the air. They hit the far wall hard, causing a web of thick cracks to slash across the concrete. Ravager clenches her fists tightly, struggling against the powerful psychic grip, but just as last time there is no way to break free. Becky has better luck, slowly and strenuously pushing herself away from the wall inch by inch. But before she can do anything to significantly resist the pressure pressing against her, Becky’s arms go limp, and once again she smacks firmly against the wall.

Blanchett: Excellent work, Sophie. Now, break their necks.

Holly: No, stop!

The young girl forward and stands with her arms stretched out at her sides. She knows what Sophie can do with that power of hers, she knows that her mother and Becky are in trouble.

Holly: Please, don’t hurt them!

Sophie: I… am sorry, ‘olly, but I must. Madame Blanchett-

Holly: I don’t care what she wants! That’s my mom and my friend you’re hurting!

Sophie: Zey got involved when zey should not ‘ave. It is zeir own fault.

Holly: Their own fault? They were just trying to help me! Because they love me! You’re the one who kidnapped me! You’re the one who’s selling children like slaves! This is your fault!

Becky turns her head, giving Ravager a curious look.

Becky: What’s she doing?

Ravager: Shh, let her talk.

Ever so slightly, Sophie hesitates. Her hand lowers, eyes gently narrowing at the girl.

Sophie: My… fault? Non, zis is… zis is not my fault. I just do what I am told! Ze Madame is the one who did zis, not moi!

Blanchett coldly turns her glare towards Sophie.

Blanchett: Watch your mouth, you stupid girl. You don’t talk to me that way.

Sophie: Euh… Je suis désolé, Madame. Forgive me.

Holly: Would you listen to yourself? Why do you let her talk that way to you?

Sophie: She… speaks like zat when I am out of line. When I make a mistake. When I… deserve it.

Holly: Why do you deserve it? Because you don’t want to take her crap anymore? Because you’re actually thinking for yourself?

Blanchett: That’s enough, girl. You’d do well to shut your pretty little mouth. Sophie, enough chatter. Just kill them already!

Sophie: I… I must listen to ze Madame… she saved me. She raised me… she loves me.

Holly: You call that love? She yells at you, she hits you, she… she did other bad things to you… that’s not love, Sophie. That’s abuse.

Sophie’s hand lowers even more, now barely raised up past her waist. The psychic hold on both Ravager and Becky slips, sliding them back down towards the floor, yet not completely releasing them yet.

Blanchett: Don’t you listen to her, Sophie!

Holly: My mom says that if you love someone, you should never hurt them. But if for some reason you do, you should always apologize. How can she love you if she always hurts you and never apologizes?

Sophie: I… I don’t…

Blanchett: Sophie… I order you to attack them. Now!

Holly: She’s just using you, Sophie… she abused you and manipulated you for years, and now you're just a weapon for her… but you don’t have to be just a weapon. You can be your own person.

Blanchett: That’s it!

Moving forward, Blanchett reaches into the back of her skirt and pulls out a small handgun. It isn’t big or flashy, but it’ll still kill just as well as any other. She brushes past Sophie, giving the young woman a harsh shove.

Blanchett: Stupid girl, you can be so useless sometimes. Goddamn waste of space, that’s what you are. Have to make me do everything.

Then, Blanchett aims the gun forward, pointing it straight at Holly’s face. The girl goes stiff, eyes widening.

Ravager: No! Don’t-

BLAM!

Ravager: HOLLY!

Holly cowers back, arms raised up in a desperate attempt to protect herself from the shot. She stands there for several moments, before slowly lowering her arms and peeking her eyes open. She doesn’t feel like she’s just been shot… in fact, she feels no pain at all. She soon realizes exactly why, as she notices the bullet from gun hovering in midair, still spinning rapidly, just six inches from her.

Sophie: Non! I won’t let you ‘urt zem!

Blanchett: Sophie, what the hell are you going?!

Sophie: Sumsing I’ve always been too afraid to do. Until now.

With a sweep of her arm, the bullet suddenly changes course and rifles its way through the air. Blanchett has no time to react before the projectile rips into her shoulder and clean out the other side. A shocked, pained cry erupts from her throat as she crumbles to the floor. She clutches at the wound tightly, but can do nothing to stop the bleeding.

Blanchett: Damn it! Sophie, how could you… aaargh!

Sophie stands over the fallen woman. A scowl quickly forms its way across her face, wet, angry tears already beginning to leak down her face.

Sophie: You promised to take care of me! You said… you said you would give me a better life!

She extends a hand, pointing her palm downward. Blanchett’s body instantly lifts upwards several feet, only to then come crashing back down with astonishing force. The bleeding woman screams, face twisting with agony.

Sophie: You said you loved me! You said I would be ‘appy!

Once again, Blanchett hovers upwards, then slams against the floor.

Sophie: But I was miserable! You ‘urt me! You abused me! But I… I never said anysing. I sought I owed you sumsing for taking me off ze streets. I convinced myself zat I deserved everysing you did to me…

The third time Blanchett crashes into the floor, her body starts going limp, twitching. She blinks sporadically, gazing up with a blank, glazed over look on her face.

Sophie: …every time you 'it me, every time you… you touched me, I had to say to myself… Zis is just sumsing I’m supposed to do. You saved me, so I 'ave to… 'ave to let you do zese sings to me…

This time, Sophie raises her arm and sends Blanchett higher into the air, well above her head.

Sophie: But zat wasn’t right. None of it was. You took… advantage of me. You did… ‘orrible sings to me. You are a bad woman, Madame… a very, very bad woman.

Just as Sophie prepares to bring her arm down and send Blanchett slamming into the floor one final time, she feels a gentle hold on her wrist. Her gaze shifts slightly, slowly coming down to see Holly standing there.

Holly: It’s okay, Sophie. You don’t have to hurt her anymore.

Sophie: But she… she deserves it. For everysing she did to me, she…

Holly: I know. Believe me, I know. But killing her doesn’t solve anything. You stood up to her, and that’s enough… she can’t hurt you or anyone else again.

Sophie pauses, gradually bringing her hand down. Blanchett’s battered body follows suit, coming to a gentle rest on the floor. A numb lump suddenly knots in her throat, accompanied by a nauseous wave of remorse and guilt.

Sophie: I am… so sorry, ‘olly… for everysing I did, I…

And then, Sophie collapses down to her knees. She buries her face into her hands, shrinking down and sobbing. Holly doesn’t even hesitate. She moves forward and warmly wraps her arms around the woman, a selfless offer of comfort and compassion.

Holly: It’s okay… everything will be okay. I promise.

Ravager slowly walks forward, arms folded across her chest. Standing next to her, Becky watches the scene closely for a long moment.

Becky: That really is one special girl you got there.

Ravager: Yeah… she really is.

Soon, two other figures appear in the doorway. They look around inside the room briefly, carefully observing.

Question: Hmm, looks like we missed the party.

Ravager: Hey, how did things go on your end?

Batwoman: Took down everyone still floating around. Got Slaton and his clients tied up and waiting for the Gotham PD to find them.

Ravager: Good… then we can finally get these kids out of here and end this nightmare.

Becky: Uh… Rose?

Becky’s eyes dart around the room frantically. She turns several times, carefully inspecting each child in the room.

Ravager: What is it?

Becky: I don’t see Lyta anywhere.

Ravager’s heart skips a beat, leaping up into her throat. She, too, now scans the group of children for any sign of Circe’s daughter. But, just like Becky, she finds nothing.

Holly: Lyta… oh no. She went ahead of me. Someone already bought her before you guys got here!

Becky: What?

Ravager: F*ck! So then where is she now?!

Sophie slowly looks up at them, rubbing her fingers into her wet eyes in attempts to dry them.

Sophie: She… she would have been brought back ‘ere to wait for ze one who purchased ‘er. But, if… if ze buyer already came to take ‘er, zen… zen she is gone.

Ravager: No… no, no, no, no! How do we find her? How do we get her back?!

Sophie: I… I don’t know. Ze clients always kept zeir identities anonymous, and Monsieur Slaton’s system designed zeir bank transfers to be untraceable.

Becky: What are you saying? That we have no way of finding her now?

Sophie: Oui… zeir is no way I know of to get ‘er back now.

Ext. Gotham City Airport – Night

The limousine pulls up to a stop on the tarmac, just a short distance away from the small, private jet. When the driver opens the side door, a firm hand pushes the two kids out. Lyta stumbles to her hands and knees momentarily, while the boy, Nathan, falls flat on his face. Sliding out of the vehicle, the tall man looks down at the pathetic sight and shakes his head.

Esteban: Get up. We’re leaving in five minutes.

This man is Esteban Juarez, a very rich and powerful man in his home nation of Mexico. Though playing the part of clean businessman, most of his funds come from the local drug trade, a system he’s managed to amass near total control of.

Lyta: No… please, I just want to go home.

Esteban: You are going home. Your new home. Don’t worry, niña chiquita, you will be very happy. I’ll take care of you. Both of you.

Nathan slowly pushes his way back up to his feet. He shivers, panic and fear spreading through him like wildfire. Briefly, he contemplates making a break for it, but then his eyes catch sight of the large gun holstered to the man’s waist and he promptly reconsiders.

Nathan: Why are you doing this?

Esteban: Because, I bought you fair and square, si? You are mis hijos, now. You will come to like it, in time. I have others like you back home, too. Muchos amigos for you. Now, get on the plane!

Suddenly, the sky opens up with a boom of thunder and lightning, with no clouds and no warning of any such weather. Esteban shields his himself with his arms, as a hot bolt of lightning strikes the ground in front of them. A woman stands in its wake, appearing seemingly out of thin air. Her long, pinkish hair flows elegantly in the wind, along with the long, revealing robes that adorn her body. Esteban stares in wonder, taking several cautious steps backwards.

Circe: They’re not going anywhere with you.

Esteban: Qué diablos?

Lyta: Mom!

Circe: Yes, Lyta, it’s me. Stand back, while I deal with this insect.

As Circe advances forward, Esteban pulls his gun and aims it at her. With a simple have of her hand, the gun instantly melts down into liquid metal. Esteban recoils, pulling his hand back and screaming in pain as the hot metal burns the flesh away from his hand.

Esteban: El diablo! El diablo!

Circe: No, I'm not the devil.

With a simple snap of Circe's fingers, the man collapses to the ground screaming. Countless skin boils begin springing up across his face and hands, some bursting within seconds and leaking thick, white pus.

Circe: But I'm certainly no angel, either.

Esteban: No... no please... I beg you!

Circe: Begging will get you nothing from me.

Raising her hands, a surge of crackling energy jumps between her fingertips and brightens up the night air. Esteban desperately crawls backwards, whimpering as each motion causes another boil to pop and ooze.

Esteban: No! NO!!!

Thirty seconds later...

Circe lowers her hands, turning away from the charred mess on the tarmac. The only thing left of Esteban now is the horrible smell of melted flesh and singed hair. And now, with her daughter safe, Circe's appearance alters. Her clothing magically morphs from flowing, sorceress robes, back into a pair of plain blue jeans and a white sweater. Lyta cautiously approaches, gazing in wonder up at her mother.

Lyta: Mom? You... you have you power back?

Circe: Yes, so long as it is to protect you, dear child.

Dropping to one knee, Circe holds her arms out and smiles a broad, warm smile. Lyta returns the grin, running forward and lunging into her mother's arms.

Lyta: I love you, Mom. So much, you have no idea.

Circe: Oh, I believe I have some idea.

Holding her arms around her daughter, Circe leans forward and gently kisses the girl's forehead.

Circe: I love you just as much, after all.

Nathan, the other kid present, stares blankly at the woman, having no idea what to say or do around her. He did just witness her fry a man into ash, though considering the man had been about to take him and the other girl on a plane to who knows where, he isn't all that broken up about it. Still, his lips simply refuse to move. When she finally looks over at him, he stiffens up straight, arms tightening at his sides.

Circe: What's your name?

Nathan: N-Nathan...

Circe: Hmm, a fine name. Would you like to go home, Nathan?

He slowly nods his head up and down, eyes still wide.

Nathan: Y-yes... I miss my parents.

Circe: Then let's get going. I believe I can call a cab.

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Morning

Rose sits forward on the sofa, head buried in her hands. Becky stands next to her, arms folded and foot tapping methodically against the floor, while Holly curls herself up on the armchair.

Becky: Still nothing?

Rose: Nope. She's not answering her phone.

A long, exhausted breath seeps out of her throat. She lifts her eyes, yes dropping tiredly.

Rose: All the better, I suppose. Telling her that we couldn't find her daughter... probably something that should be done in person.

Becky: Si...

A long moment of silence passes over the living room. Shifting her weight tiredly, Becky abruptly plops herself down on the couch. She reaches an arm around Rose, holding the woman close.

Becky: You think that Sophie girl will be alright?

Rose: I hope so... can't imagine how messed up she is after a decade of abuse. With any luck, the therapy sessions will help sort her head out, now that she's free of Blanchett.

Becky: Should have just sent her to Belle Reve or something.

Rose: No, she deserves a chance to be her own person. Any crimes she committed were a direct extension and result of her abuse. Holly showed us that much.

Turning her head calmly, Becky gives the sleeping girl a long look.

Becky: So she did.

A knock at the door suddenly draws their attention away. Rose blinks, glancing back over her shoulder at the front door. With a tired yawn, she reluctantly stands up from the couch and ambles slowly down the hallway.

Rose: Who on earth could that be this early?

Becky: I don't suppose a pizza man would be too much to hope for, ah? Dios, I'm starving.

When she opens the door, however, they're greeted to the sight of Circe standing tall and calm. Rose's gut twists with a knot of anxiety, knowing now that she'll have to inform the woman about Lyta. She isn't looking forward to it by any means.

Rose: Circe...

But before she can get the words out, another individual appears. Lyta pokes her head into view, looking around her mother and into the apartment.

Lyta: Is Holly awake?

Rose: Wh-wha? Lyta! You're- I mean, you- how...?

Lyta: My mom's pretty much awesome, that's how.

Circe: We'll explain everything shortly, though first I could use some breakfast. May we come in?

Rose blinks dumbly several more times, until finally shaking out of her daze. An exasperated breath finds its way out of her throat, as she steps back and waves them inside, smiling widely.

Rose: Of course, come on in.

#1 Posted by Comiccrazeraze (427 posts) - - Show Bio

@Ravager4: Hey i really enjoyed reading this good work!

#2 Posted by Ravager4 (1627 posts) - - Show Bio

@Comiccrazeraze: Thank you, glad you liked it :) If you're a first time reader, I highly recommend you check out the rest of the series, too. You might just enjoy it!

#3 Posted by Comiccrazeraze (427 posts) - - Show Bio

@Ravager4: THIS!!!! I shall do.

#4 Posted by primepower53 (5686 posts) - - Show Bio

@Ravager4: Read this last night. WHY DIDN'T I COMMENT?

Stupid lack of sleep.

OH MY GOD THIS IS SO GOOD YOUR WRITING CAN MAKE ANGELS ORGASM! (Yeah I went there. :P)

#5 Posted by Ravager4 (1627 posts) - - Show Bio

bump