Disclaimer: I do not own any DC characters or locations. All rights belong to DC Comics.
Note: Alright, so as an effort to condense and organize my fan-fic chapters, as well as spread their release apart so I hopefully acquire more comments, instead of putting out so many at a time that nobody wants to keep up with them, I'm going to be now releasing my work by story arc, consisting usually of about 6 or 7 chapters each. As the first step in that, I'm going back to my previous chapters and sorting them by story arc, too, which I'll be putting up in blog posts like this one. The others will follow shortly (including a brand new bunch of chapters I just finished today). This first story arc sees the beginning of Rose Wilson's solo adventures, shortly after leaving the Teen Titans, and covers Chapters #1-7 (as well as a short #0). She ends up in Gotham and teams up with Batman (Dick Grayson) to stop a new threat. Please enjoy! Also, a special note to those of you who have already read it, I rewrote a specific part (the part that covers why Rose left the Titans, in particular the scene where you-know-who dies), to make it a bit more dramatic and hopefully not seems as lame. If you want, let me know what you think about the changes.
Rose Wilson: The Ravager
Int. Bank – Day
Bank Teller: Next
The line of customers shuffle forward, boredom plastering their faces. It's a bank, no one wants to be there longer than they have to. They just want to get in, do their business, and get out. One young woman in particular, with long white hair and an equally colored eye patch over her left eye, steps forward to the counter and lets out a disinterested sigh.
Bank Teller: How can I help you today?
Rose: I'm here to close an account.
Bank Teller: Oh? Well, we're terribly sorry to be losing your business.
Rose: Trust me, you're not losing much.
Bank Teller: Well, anyway, I'll need your account number and your identification, and we can take care of it right away.
Rose digs into the pocket of her leather jacket and pulls out a wallet, searching for her driver's license. Behind her, the bank doors open; three men in ski masks hurry inside. One of them pulls out a shotgun, cocks it, and fires a round up at the ceiling. People scream and duck for cover, terrified.
Robber #1: Everyone on the ground, now!
Rose slowly looks up from her wallet, annoyed.
Rose: You must be joking.
While everyone else in the bank scrambles to find the floor as instructed, Rose merely stands there, unmoving. She is really not in the mood for this right now. Like every customer in here, she just wanted to do her business and get out. As she stands there, simmering in her annoyance, one of the bank robbers walks up to her, pointing a gun at the back of her head.
Robber #2: Hey, did you hear me? On the ground! Are you stupid or something? You want to get shot?
Rose: I really just wanted to close my account today.
Robber #2: Well tough $&#%! Now, get on the ground before I redecorate the counter with your brain!
The man never gets a chance, as Rose suddenly moves from the path of his gun. He fires once out of panic, the bullet striking the wall behind the counter. The last thing he remembers before blacking out cold is the white haired woman's hand chopping into the back of his neck. As he goes down, the other two bank robbers look up from their work behind the counter. One of them goes for his shotgun.
Robber #3: $&#%, don't just stand there, man, shoot her!
The robber reaches his shotgun and aims it to where Rose had been just a second before. But she isn't there anymore; instead, she's launched herself over the counter through the air straight at him. He tries to lift his aim in time, but he's too late. She's on him in an instant, moving faster than a normal person should be able to move. With two well placed shots to the neck, he, too, drops like a bag of lead bricks. The only remaining robber is in a near panic after seeing this woman take out his buddies so quickly; he fumbles for his pistol.
Robber #1: Goddamn psycho!
He manages to get a shot off, but Rose has already rolled away behind a sturdy desk for cover. What the robber doesn't realize is that she took his friend's shotgun with her. Before he gets a chance to aim another shot, buckshot rips into his left thigh, eliciting a scream of pain as he collapses. Rose leaps over the desk and silences him with a firm jab to the head with the butt of the shotgun.
With the gunmen subdued, she returns to her spot in line at the counter, while the other customers and employees quickly work to get things back to normal. The bank teller behind the counter looks over at the unconscious robbers in shock, already scrambling to dial 911.
Rose: After you're done calling the cops, I'd really just like to close my account.
Ext. City Street – Day
Rose sits on her motorcycle, staring down at the small amount of cash in her hand.
Three-hundred twenty-five dollars and thirty-two cents? I could have sworn I had more... I really need to budget better. Maybe I should stop spending so much on booze.
With a disappointed sigh, she stuffs the money into her wallet and reaches for her helmet, slipping it over head. Revving the engine, she takes off down the street, heading for the on ramp to the highway.
So, Rose, you got a full tank of gas and a few hundred dollars to your name. Where should you go now?
She works her way onto the highway, guns the engine and speeds past several cars; they're all going too slow for her taste. Several minutes into her travel, she glances over at a sign as she passes it. It reads: Gotham, 200 miles.
Ext. Gotham City Streets – Night
You shouldn't be here, Rose. This is their territory. They don't need you here. They don't even like you, not really... Then again, who does, after what happened? The little guy might be happy to see you, but he'd be the only one.
Rose stops her motorcycle outside a tall building, looking up near the top. She's been driving around for most of the night, even hit up a bar for a while, just trying to contemplate what to do next. She knows she can't stay in Gotham, not for long anyway. Then again, she still doesn't know where she's going, and she can't just keep driving around aimlessly until she runs out of gas. Plus, she only has a few hundred dollars; she isn't going to spend any of it on some crappy motel if she doesn't have to.
She takes another long look up at the building, then drives around the corner to find a relatively safe place to leave her vehicle for the night. Knowing her luck, though, it'll be gone and stripped by morning. Taking her helmet and duffel bag with her, she doubles back in the direction she came from.
Shouldn't be a problem getting into, either... I mean, if the Riddler once broke in, I'm sure I can manage just fine.
Int. Wayne Tower's Penthouse Suite – Night
A small sound in the night calls Dick Grayson from his sleep. His eyes flicker open, and he's up in an instant. He listens carefully; maybe he imagined it, maybe it was a dream. But no, there it is again: the clink of a glass, the shuffle of feet, the sound of a microwave humming.
Dick: The hell?
Quickly and silently, Dick moves through his penthouse, keeping to the shadows and searching for the intruder. He sees a light on in the kitchen, makes his way over. The refrigerator door is open; someone is on the other side, rummaging through it. He waits for the culprit to pull back from the door, then strikes hard and precise, a sure-fire knockout blow.
Dick's attack hits air, as Rose turns her body and entangles her arms in his, pulling him towards her. He stares at her in surprise for a few moments.
He pushes her back, freeing up his arms. She simply walks back to the counter, taking the glass she'd set down earlier and filling it with water from the faucet. He glares at her the entire way.
Rose: Really, is that any way to greet a guest?
Dick: Rose, what are you doing here?
She shrugs, taking a sip of water and then reaching for the microwave, as the timer beeps.
Rose: Just passing through. Needed a place to crash for the night and I figured you wouldn't mind. I mean, hell, this place is plenty big enough.
Rose: So, you always have Chinese takeout for dinner? Because your fridge is stocked full of it.
Dick folds his arms, continuing to glare at her. He's not pleased at her presence in his home.
Dick: You know, they've been looking for you ever since you disappeared. This makes it, what, the tenth time you've left the team?
Rose: Something like that... hey, you want an egg roll? I'm not going to eat both.
Dick: They're worried about you.
Ignoring him, Rose take a bite of the fried shrimp on her plate. She holds a piece up to him.
Rose: Sure you don't want anything?
Dick: Stop evading the subject.
Finally, she stares back at him, a distant look in her eye. She sighs, turning away and throwing the piece of shrimp back onto her plate.
Rose: Oh yeah, they're real worried alright. They made that perfectly clear when they chewed me out. I've never seen them that furious, you know. Wonder Wench wants my head on a pike, and Tim won't even look at me.
Dick: They're your family, Rose. Family gets angry at each other every once in a while, but that doesn't mean you should run away every time it happens.
Rose: Tell them that. I seriously doubt they were very sad to see me go; couldn't have taken any of them by surprise, anyway.
Moving forward, Dick places his hands on her shoulders, looks her square in the eye.
Dick: They're still your family. I know you hate to admit it, but that's the truth deep down, right? They will forgive you, in time.
Rose shrugs his grip away, takes a few steps back and leans against the counter, staring into her glass of water.
Rose: You think it's their forgiveness I'm worried about? I took off because of what I did. Not them, me. It was my decision, my call, and look how it turned out. I'm just saving them the trouble of having to put up with me anymore.
She reaches down to her plate and lifts up one of the egg rolls, taking an angry bite out of it. She swallows, washing it down with a gulp of water.
Rose: So, can I stay here or are you gonna kick me out, too?
He gives her a long look, then eventually releases a defeated sigh and drops his hands to his side.
Dick: Fine, you can crash here. But just for a few days, until you figure out what you're going to do. Understand?
She takes another bite, this time smiling.
Rose: Sure thing.
Rose: So, what are you doing here, anyway? Shouldn't you be, I don't know, patrolling the city and looking for some bad guys to beat up?
Dick: You caught me on my night off.
Folding her arms over her chest, she raises an amused eyebrow at him.
Rose: Didn't realize Batman had nights off.
Dick: The original one didn't, but he was obsessed, worked himself near death half the time. I'm not like that; I know the importance of keeping your body and mind fresh.
Rose: Well, aren't you worried about criminals running rampant, while you're up here snoozing?
Dick: I'm not the only bat in Gotham, or have you forgotten?
Rose: Right, right... you got Batgirls, Batwomen... a real infestation.
Dick: And Oracle runs her Birds of Prey on the other side of the city. We have things covered.
Rose: And yet you still can't stop street crime. Amazing.
He slowly narrows his eyes at her
Dick: I'm going back to bed.
Rose: So, where do I get to sleep? I'm sure your bed is plenty big for the both of us, right?
She lifts an eyebrow, smirking playfully at him. He simply stares, pointing across the penthouse to the living room.
Dick: You get the couch.
Rose's expression instantly slackens, a frown forming.
Rose: You're no fun, you know that?
Dick: Goodnight, Rose.
She lets out a sigh, watching him leave the kitchen and finally disappearing into his bedroom. When the door slams shut, she goes back to eating her dinner in silence.
Int. Wayne Tower's Penthouse Suite – Morning
Dick walks out into the kitchen, dressed in fine clothes and drying his hair with a towel. Rose is already up, busy helping herself to his food by cooking up breakfast, and dressed in nothing but a long towel wrapped around her body.
Dick: So, judging from the underwear you left hanging up, I take it you found the shower.
Rose: Oh, yeah, don't mind that. I'll get to washing my clothes after I eat.
Dick: Could have at least picked up the towels you left everywhere...
Rose: Yeah, yeah, all in good time.
Dick: Do you really plan on eating all this?
He points out the fact that Rose is cooking up a rather lot of food, surely more than one person could, or at least should, eat.
Rose: Noticed you had a home gym over there, so I figured I'd get a workout in this morning. I'm stocking up on energy. Besides, some of it's for you; that is if you even want to eat together.
Dick: That's... nice and all, but I really have to get going. I'll grab something later.
Rose: Right, right... gotta play up the whole rich boy persona to the media.
Dick: It's... not quite like that. It's complicated.
Rose: Complicated. Obviously.
She turns from him, starts flipping the pancakes over on the griddle.
Dick: And what exactly do you plan on doing today?
Rose: Dunno. I'm sure I'll figure something out.
Dick: Well, are you staying or leaving?
Rose: Not sure on that either. Might hang around for a couple days.
Dick: In that case, you're coming out with me tonight.
She glances back at him, raising her eyebrow.
Rose: Out, out? Like-
Dick: Like on patrol.
Rose: Oh... Gee, Grayson, you sure know how to get a girl's hopes up. Sorry to disappoint, though, but I don't really do the whole 'rooftop-to-rooftop crime fighting' thing.
Dick: You'll do it as long as you're staying here. Or did you think I was going to let you mooch off me without pulling your own weight?
Rose releases an annoyed breath, slouching forward as she removes the griddle from the stove and dishes the pancakes out onto her plate.
Rose: Sure, fine. See you tonight.
Dick: You do have your equipment, right?
Rose: Of course I have my equipment. I don't go anywhere without it.
Dick: Alright, then, I'll be back. I expect you ready to head out no later than ten.
Int. Bar – Day
The bar is quiet this early in the afternoon, only three people present. The bartender, busily hand washing glasses, stands behind the counter, while an old gentleman sits near the back, quietly enjoying his drink. Rose sits at the counter, lazily holding her glass and taking small sips every now and then. She's technically not old enough to even be in a bar yet, but the man behind the counter didn't examine her fake ID very closely.
Brilliant, Rose, she thinks to herself. You're strapped for cash and supposed to be budgeting your money, yet here you are wasting away in a bar at three in the afternoon. Couldn't even wait for happy hour.
The door to the bar opens a few moments later, activating the jingle of the small bell hanging above the frame. Two men walk in, both dressed in fine business suits, not the normal kind of attire one would think to wear to a bar. It makes Rose, in her black leather jacket and blue jeans, look sorely out of place.
Man #1: Marty, you got everything ready for us?
The bartender looks up from his work, immediately puts the glass and dishcloth down.
Marty: Sure thing, Danny, come on around back.
Danny: Go with him, Gavin. I'll stay up front and watch things.
The bartender and the second man disappear through a side door, heading into the back of the bar. Rose glances up from her glass, watching the door swing closed behind them. Her gaze then slowly moves toward the one remaining man. She eyes him for a moment, before finally turning back to her drink and taking another sip. Danny walks calmly up to the counter and turns around, leaning back on his elbows.
Danny: Bit early to be hitting the bar, isn't it?
Rose: I could say the same to you.
Danny: Nah, I'm here on business. Not looking to get plastered.
Rose: Me neither. Just... keeping myself occupied.
Danny: That so?
She doesn't answer, simply taking another sip.
Danny: You look like you got a few problems on your plate.
Rose: Hmph. More than a few. Nothing you'd be interested in, I'm sure.
Danny: Well, I wouldn't say that. So, what's wrong? Family? Guys? Money?
At the mention of money, Rose moves her gaze, turning her head slightly to look at him. The action lasts only a second, before returning her attention back to her drink, but it doesn't go unnoticed.
Danny: Aha, so it's money, is it?
Rose: Maybe. Why do you care?
Danny: Oh, no reason. Just... my boss is always on the lookout for some potential new, uh, employees, and you're just the kind of person he's looking for.
Rose: What kind of person? Female, or just desperate?
Danny: Ha, maybe a bit of both, yeah? Seriously, though, if you're interested... I could put in a word.
Rose: You're not some kind of pimp, are you?
Her comment elicits an amused laugh from the man. He smiles, shakes his head.
Danny: No, no, course not. Look, here, I'll give you my card. You feel like making a little cash... you give me a call, alright?
He digs into his suit pocket and pulls out a small business card. Deftly, he passes it over to her between two fingers. Rose stares at it for a few moments, then gingerly takes it from him, looks it over. In large lettering, the front reads: Daggett Industries. She flips it over, noticing the name 'Daniel Costello', and then a phone number beneath.
Rose: Sure... we'll see.
A few moments later, Marty, the bartender, and Gavin, the other man in a business suit, return from the back. Gavin is carrying a large box that makes repeated clanking sounds inside, as he carries it; probably some bottles of alcohol or something.
Danny: Well, see you around.
He gives her a little wave, then heads outside with his buddy. Rose glances down at the card again and frowns at it. She's not stupid; everything about that man, from the way he spoke to the way he acted, just felt wrong. Call it a gut reaction. Whatever kind of quick cash he had been referring to, it can't be anything legal, and she doesn't have any desire to get involved. Still, there's never any telling when something like this can come in handy. So, for now, she tucks the card away into her pocket and finishes up the last of her drink.
Ext. Gotham, East End – Night
Dick Grayson, in the cape and cowl of Batman, and Rose Wilson, in her Ravager gear, both wait silently atop one of the many flat rooftops in Gotham's East End. Batman watches the front of a particular building carefully, watching for any signs of activity. Ravager, on the other hand, leans back on her elbows against the rooftop's parapet, bored.
Ravager: So, where's the brat, anyway? I was actually somewhat looking forward to seeing him.
Batman: Damien had prior obligations to take care of. He won't be joining us tonight.
Ravager: I see... shame.
Another few quiet moments pass between them. They've been sitting here now for close to thirty minutes, just watching the same building, as if something were supposed to happen. Running out of patience, Rose releases a long breath.
Ravager: So, let's see... you have Batman, Batgirl, Batwoman... and then Robin. I don't know, seems a little out of place, if you ask me. Why not something like... Batboy?
Batman shoots her an annoyed glare, one telling her to be quiet. Ravager frowns, folding her arms firmly across her chest.
Ravager: Well, sorry. Just trying to make conversation. What are we doing here, anyway? Shouldn't we be roaming the whole city instead of just sitting in one spot?
Batman: There have been reports lately about suspicious activity in this area.
Ravager: Uh, this is Gotham's East End. Isn't, like... the entire place full of suspicious activity?
Batman: More suspicious than usual.
Ravager: Uh huh... Well, you are the expert, so whatever you say.
Needing a way to pass the time, Ravager reaches over her shoulder and unsheathes one of the swords crossed over her back. She holds the blade up, carefully inspecting it. Within a few seconds of examination, she notices a small smudge and carefully scrubs it clean.
Batman: I really wish you used less lethal weapons.
Ravager: Right, because bat-shaped shuriken are any safer. All it takes is one misplaced shot to strike some poor guy's artery and whoops, you've gone and killed him.
Batman: Theoretically. But I don't miss.
Ravager: Yeah, and neither do I. Trust me, I've had enough practice to know where to cut someone without killing them.
The pair continue surveying the building. Within the next ten minutes, a white, windowless van rolls up out front and backs up towards the small garage off to the side. Several men in hooded jackets jump out and get to work, a couple heading inside, while a couple more remain behind and open the van's rear doors. The door to the building opens, with another few men there to greet them.
Ravager: Kind of reminds me when we were working together in Blüdhaven, remember? Back when you were going by 'Renegade'. Gotta say, that costume looked a lot better than this one... the cape is blocking my view.
Batman: I remember. That's back when you were still brainwashed by daddy.
She glares at him, frowning.
Ravager: Uck, don't remind me.
Batman: Get ready, we're going to act shortly.
Narrowing her eyes, Ravager follows his watchful gaze over to the front of the building he's been watching. The men are busily bringing out large boxes from the garage and loading them into the back of the van.
Ravager: What's so suspicious about a bunch of guys loading their van with boxes?
Batman: Because it's sixty degrees out, and they're all wearing heavy jackets with the hoods up.
Ravager: To conceal their identities... right, but still-
Batman: And the one standing watch at the front door is carrying a mini uzi.
Batman: Attention to detail, Rose, one of the first things I taught you. Or did you forget that already?
Ravager: Oh, shut up. Let's just get this over with.
Batman prepares their attack; he reaches into his utility belt and pulls out three small smoke pellets, tossing them directly into the middle of the group. A small hiss hits the air, as they release the thick blanket of choking haze over the surrounding area. As the men begin running around and coughing, trying to gain their bearings, Batman points his grappling hook across the street to the opposite rooftop, then glides down into the group, landing feet first into the man with the uzi.
Ravager is right behind, though she doesn't have any fancy gadgets to make as cool an entrance. Still, she isn't one to be outdone, moving through the smoke and picking the men apart with strong, precise blows. She might have attacked a bit harder than she needed to in order to subdue them, but she isn't too concerned. As long as they go down and stay down, she's satisfied.
When the smoke clears, Batman and Ravager are standing above six unconscious men. The whole attack took barely more than a minute, plenty of time for them to do what they do best. Ravager lets out a bored yawn.
Ravager: Is this all you do here? Hardly a challenge.
Batman ignores her, instead moving around to the van's rear doors. Reaching forward, he begins to undo the latch so he can open them.
Batman: Let's find out what they were trying to move.
At that moment, a sudden flash runs through Ravager's head. She sees the van, and Batman opening the doors. There's a gunshot; a man waiting inside with a shotgun. Batman goes down, he's bleeding... and then the brief flicker ends. Her mind is in the real world now. In a near panic, she snaps her head in Batman's direction, just as he begins to pull the doors open.
Ravager: Get down!
Throwing herself at him, she pushes Batman aside, just as the shotgun fires. Instead of hitting him, like in the vision that ran through her head, she feels the buckshot ripping through her armor and tearing into the meat of her left shoulder. As they tumble to the ground, Batman whips out a batarang and still manages to throw it with perfect accuracy, striking the gunman's hand inside the van.
Rather than attempt to recover and get another shot off, the man closes the rear doors again and moves up to the front. The van starts up in a hurry, and within moments, it's taking off down the street. As it turns the corner, Ravager gets a good look at the side; in large letters, it reads: Daggett Industries. Grunting in pain, she rolls off Batman and holds a hand to her bleeding shoulder.
Ravager: Goddamn it!
Batman: Hold still, let's see it.
He takes a few moments to examine the damage. The armor reduced most of the impact, but her wound is still leaking bright crimson down her backside.
Batman: It's not that bad, but we'll still have to get you back so I can remove the buckshot and properly clean it. Come on, put your arm around my shoulders.
Ravager: $&#%! Watch it, that frickin' hurts!
Batman finally gets her to her feet, supporting her weight against him. Reaching to his belt, he clicks a small button and starts moving them into a nearby alley. The batmobile would be on its way now.
Batman: How did you know there was another gunman inside the van?
Ravager: Precog, remember? I saw it before it happened.
He turns his gaze, looking at her curiously.
Batman: I didn't realize your precog activated for anyone other than yourself.
Ravager: Yeah... neither did I.
Int. Bat Bunker – Night
Dick and Rose have retreated to the sanctity of the Bat Bunker, the current functioning Batcave, located beneath Wayne Tower. They're in the upper levels of bunker right now, at the medical station. Rose lies flat against the padded exam table, the back of her costume open and exposing her injured backside. The flesh just below her shoulder is torn open from the shotgun blast, though it's nothing compared to what it could have been, had she not been wearing armor.
With a strong light shining down directly on the injury, Dick carefully works to remove the large pellets of buckshot with a long pair of sterilized tweezers. He keeps a cloth nearby, using it to mop up any excess blood that oozes out whenever Rose's muscles twitch from the touch of the invasive prongs. Each metal pellet that he picks from out her tattered flesh, he tosses in a small dish just within arm's reach.
Though she flinches slightly each time the tweezers dig in, Rose makes no sound, no audible gasp of pain. Whatever pain that she had felt after receiving the initial injury appears to have subsided; either that, or she simply refuses to show it.
Dick: You should really consider upgrading your armor to make it bulletproof. A little Kevlar goes a long way.
Rose: Oh sure, I'd love to. But in case you haven't noticed, some us don't have the means or the funds to acquire new gear whenever we feel like it.
Dick: Then, maybe I can help you out, design you something myself?
Rose: Appreciate the offer and all, but I don't need anymore favors from you. I mean, you're already letting me stay in your home.
Dick: Rose, you just took a bullet for me. The least I can do is improve your armor for you.
Letting out a sigh, Rose shrugs her shoulders absently. She flinches briefly, causing a sudden spurt of blood to seep out of her wound; Dick quickly dabs it up with his cloth.
Rose: Don't worry yourself over it, really. I'm not worth it.
Dick ceases his work for a moment, raising his gaze from her shoulder to the back of her head. A frown forms on his face, followed by a heavy sigh.
Dick: Rose, how do you expect others to like or respect you when you hold such a low opinion of yourself?
Rose: Really, Dick? A lecture is the last thing I want right now.
Dick: I'm just saying-
He goes back to removing the buckshot from her shoulder, digging the tweezers into a particular deep entry point. Rose's fingers grip the edge of the table suddenly, tensing up.
Dick: -you don't give yourself enough credit. I mean, yeah you can be obnoxious, self loathing, and rather grating at times-
Rose: Gee, don't sugar coat it.
Dick: -but you're a much better person now than you used to be, whether you see that or not. Just the fact that you blame yourself for what happened back with the Titans, it shows a level of maturity that I used to doubt you'd ever find.
Rose: What are you talking about? How could I not blame myself for that? It was my fault, there's no way around it. What happened then... it was my doing, and I have every right to suffer for it.
Dick: But that's what I mean. Yeah, it was your fault. You made a mistake, and people paid the price for it. But you're accepting the responsibility of that mistake, and that's where the maturity comes from. There was a time when you would have thrown blame at everyone other than yourself, but not anymore. Now, you're owning up to it.
A silence passes between them. Rose crosses her arms in front of her on the table, resting her chin against them and lowering her gaze to the floor. She wants to argue with him, tell him he's wrong, but she can't think of any witty or biting remark to make.
Dick: My point is that you've come a long way from the impulsive brat you used to be. You should be proud of yourself.
At his words, a long sigh escapes her lips.
Rose: Proud of myself, right... maybe when I'm not getting innocent people killed.
Rose: No, don't, please. Just don't. No matter how much I've matured, it doesn't change what happened. I still have to live with it.
Dick: It's not a crime to forgive yourself, you know. It was a mistake; a pretty bad one, sure, but we all make mistakes. I'm no exception.
Rose doesn't answer, instead allowing an uncomfortable silence to consume the Batcave. The only sound is the steady metallic clink of each pellet that Dick pulls out of Rose's shoulder and tosses into the dish. Eventually, Dick speaks up again, deciding it better to change the subject.
Dick: So, was that the first time your precog ever activated for someone else?
Rose: As far as I can remember, yeah. Only goes off, usually, when I'm in battle, when someone's attacking me. For it to kick in when something's about to happen to someone else... well, it's new.
Rose: What? Don't give me that silence, I know when you're contemplating something.
Dick: Well, it is possible that your ability is evolving somehow, no longer restricting itself to activating only when your own well-being is at stake. For now, it seems as though it's beginning to extend to flashes of when others are in danger.
Rose: When... anyone is in danger? Because, that could get annoying real fast, with how much crap happens to people everyday.
Dick: Not necessarily everyone... perhaps just those you care about.
At the implication, Rose flinches, turning her head and eying him.
Rose: Hey, I don't... I mean, it's not like I care... that much. Because, I don't. Not really. You're just... good company. That's all.
Dick: I wouldn't think anything else.
Rose: Are you almost done back there, by the way? Or do you just enjoy staring at my backside that much?
Dick: Just about... last one. And... got it.
The last pellet hits the dish with another echoing clink. Dick takes the next several minutes to stop the bleeding completely, then clean and sterilize the wound, before applying a dressing and carefully covering it with bandages.
Dick: There, all set. Just don't strain yourself for a while.
Rose: Please, I've always been a fast healer. Give it a few days, and I'll be good as new.
Pushing herself up on the table, Rose takes a moment to slip her costume completely back on. Dick respectfully turns his attention elsewhere during this time, and she can't help but frown a little when she notices this. For whatever reason, he had always been able to completely ignore or reject any sort of advance she made.
Granted, most of the time she was simply having her fun, teasing him to get a reaction, but even when she was being somewhat serious... he never took the bait, not once. Perhaps he could just always sense that she never had anything more than the physical aspect in mind, and for that he would never accept her advances.
Dick Grayson, ever the gentleman.
Rose: So, this is the famous Batcave, huh?
Dick: The second one, actually. When I became Batman, I moved it from... it's original location.
Rose: Right, and one can only wonder where that might have been.
Dick: Anyway, you stay here, recover. The lift over on the far side of the bunker will take you straight up to the penthouse; the access code is 367814.
Rose: And where are you going?
Dick pauses a moment, taking time to put his cape and cowl back on.
Dick: I'm going back out. The night isn't even half over.
Rose: You know, I'm injured, not crippled. I can still-
Dick: Don't worry about it, just take it easy, alright? Besides, I thought you were against the whole 'rooftop-to-rooftop crime fighting' thing?
Rose: Well, I... whatever, just go. I'll be here when you get back.
Dick: Right, see you later.
He heads for the stairs that will take him to the lower levels, where the Batmobile is waiting for him.
Dick: Oh, and Rose... don't touch anything.
Rose folds her arms and frowns, as Dick disappears.
Rose: Don't touch anything... like he thinks I'll break something...
Groaning quietly to herself, she grabs her Ravager mask and starts walking towards the back of the cave, with every intention of returning to the penthouse. About as quickly as that intention goes through her mind, however, she decides to further explore the Batcave. She takes time to examine the garage area, containing a whole assortment of different bat-vehicles, as well as the training area, and what appears to be a research area, complete with a large, multi-screened computer.
Eying the computer curiously, she holds a hand up to her chin and inspects it closely. She's sure he won't mind if she uses it for just a few minutes... Before she can even make the attempt, however, an abrupt voice interrupts her.
Voice: I believe Master Dick told you not to touch anything.
Turning around quickly, Rose snaps her gaze behind her to see an elder gentleman in a black tuxedo, carrying a silver tray with him.
Rose: Who the hell are you?
Alfred: Alfred Pennyworth, longtime friend and butler of the, um... Bat Family.
Rose: So, being Batman apparently comes with its own turndown service... interesting.
Alfred: May I offer you something to eat or drink, Miss Rose?
Reaching up to the tray he's carrying, Alfred lifts the cover to reveal a steaming bowl of soup, a plate of biscuits, and a hot cup of tea. Rose eyes it warily.
Rose: Uh... as appetizing as that looks, I'm not really that hungry. Think I might just head back up to the penthouse.
Alfred: Shall I escort you to the lift, then?
Rose: I remember where it is, thanks.
Marching away from the butler, she heads up the stairs to the back of the cave, where the lift is located. She can't help but notice Alfred idly following her. The lift opens at the touch of a button, and she steps inside to find a large panel of numbers next to the door. She lifts her finger for a moment, just staring at them.
Alfred: Anything I can help you with?
Slowly, she glances toward him.
Rose: ...what was the access code, again?
Alfred: The access code is 367814.
Rose: Right... uh, thanks.
She swiftly punches in the proper numbers, then leans back against the wall.
Rose: Later, Jeeves.
Alfred: It's 'Alfred', actually.
Rose merely shrugs, as the lift doors close.
Rose: Alfred, Jeeves, whatever. They're both butler names.
Int. Penthouse – Night
Rose lies back against the couch, staring at the small white card in her hand. It's the card that she was given earlier that day, in the bar. Her eyes keep focusing on the big lettering of 'Daggett Industries'. It's the same company name as the one she'd seen on the side of the white van fleeing from them that night. There had to be some kind of connection; it was too coincidental to be... well, a coincidence.
Just forget about it, Rose. Don't worry yourself... let the Bat People take care of it, it's none of your business. You're just passing through, remember?
Flipping the card over, she brings her gaze to the name 'Daniel Costello' and the phone number beneath it. She feels her better judgment telling her to just toss the card and be done with it, but she can't bring herself to do so.
Or... you could play off your hunch, have a little fun, and solve this thing all on your own. A small smirk slowly forms on her face. Yeah, that sounds like a much better idea.
Ext. Shipping Warehouse – Day
Rose drives her motorcycle up to the front of the warehouse, slowing to a stop and giving the front of the building a long look. Several men are outside, sitting by the entrance and playing cards on a small crate. Unlike last night, this time she's paying attention; she spots the top of a handgun stuffed into the back of one's pants. She presumes that they're all similarly equipped.
So, armed guards in front of a back alley shipping warehouse, down by the docks. Not suspicious at all.
After her initial inspection, she hits the throttle and closes the distance between her and the front of the building. She comes to a halt right in front of the men playing cards, then reaches up and removes her helmet. The thugs glance up at her warily, hands reaching for their firearms.
Thug: This ain't a place for pretty dames t'be wanderin'. Get goin' back the way ya came.
Rose: I'm here to see Danny; I called earlier.
The men's hands suddenly relax, moving away from their weapons. They give each other curious looks, whispering to each other for a couple moments. One of them nods commandingly, causing another to get up and head inside the warehouse to get Danny.
Thug: He'll be right out... y'know, when Danny said he was expectin' company, you ain't quite what I imagined.
Rose: Oh really, and what exactly did you imagine?
The man lets out an amused laugh, his lips curling into a lecherous grin.
Thug : Just, y'know... not you.
Rose rolls her eyes in annoyance, proceeding to now largely ignore him while she waits for Danny to arrive. Fortunately, she doesn't have to wait very long. The warehouse doors open a short moment later, with Danny walking into view. He smiles broadly, as he sees her.
Danny: Aha, I knew you'd be giving me a call. I just didn't expect it so soon, yeah? Welcome, welcome!
Rose: Well, you said it yourself, right? I got money problems.
Danny: Good, that's good. I mean, that you came to see us so soon. We just lost a few guys recently.
Rose: Lost a few guys... how exactly?
Danny: Nothing to worry about, I assure you. Let's just say, we had a bit of a... rodent problem. Now, come, come, I'll show you inside.
He leads her into the warehouse, bringing her past the loading docks and into the main storage area. Rose makes a mental note of everything she sees; mostly just various workers using forklifts and pallet jacks to move large crates around the building. So far, it looks like an ordinary warehouse, but there's something else going on behind the scenes, she knows. This is just the front.
Danny: So, we got a delivery going out soon, lot of boxes that need to be moved. I don't judge just because you're a woman; you look plenty strong enough to me. Think you can handle a bit of heavy lifting?
Rose: Not a problem.
Danny: Excellent, just what I like to hear. I think you'll fit in just fine around here.
Reaching a hand out, he gives her a friendly, firm pat on her left shoulder, right on top of her wrapped wound. A sudden, raw jolt of pain flares through her, but she makes no indication of it. She merely grits her teeth, choking down any audible utterance of pain she might have given. Taking a deep breath, she lets the dull throb work its way out and finally disappear.
Rose: So, judging from that card you gave me, I take it you work for Daggett Industries?
Danny: Yes, yes, right under Mr. Daggett himself, in fact. Right now, I'm in charge of overseeing most aspects of this operation, making sure that everything goes smoothly.
Rose: What operation is that, exactly?
Danny: Mr. Daggett has ordered a very large shipment from a particular supplier. I'm here to see that we get everything we need, and the supplier gets everything he needs.
Rose: Wait, if you're the ones that ordered the shipment, why are you making a delivery?
Danny: Ah, it's a little more complicated than your average order. Mr. Daggett ordered a very special product from an independent supplier. The only problem is that this certain product is difficult to make, and the materials are not usually readily obtainable. However, Daggett Industries possesses an ample supply of these materials. We provide the supplier with the materials, he uses them in the creation process, and we buy back the completed product at a discount.
Rose: I see... guess that makes sense, but why not just hire this supplier, whoever he is, and have him make the product for you directly?
Danny: We tried that, but he was very adamant about not being tied to any big business. Prefers his independent work, he said.
This entire operation has criminal activity written all over it, Rose is certain. There are too many oddities for it to be entirely legal. Now, she just needs to figure out what exactly this special 'product' is, and find a way to stop it, or at least a way to expose the operation itself.
Rose: And this shipment, what's in it that makes it so special?
Danny: Sorry, can't say. That information is restricted... just do your work and don't ask too many questions about it; you'll get your pay at the end of the day.
The two continue through the warehouse and head through the rear exit, where a windowless white van is already waiting; it's the same van from the night before. Sitting in the driver's seat is Gavin, who she recognizes from the bar yesterday. He's tapping his fingers on the steering wheel, impatiently.
Danny: Gavin, I got you some help. Make sure to get this to Mr. Crane on time, yeah?
Gavin's only response is a simple thumbs up. Danny gives him a flippant wave and turns back to Rose.
Danny: Alright, go with Gavin, help unload the delivery, then come back here and we'll see if we can find something else for you to do, alright?
Rose: Sure thing.
She gives him a quick wave, then heads around the other side of the van to get in the passenger side door. By the time she's buckling up, Gavin already has the engine started. Within seconds, he's shifting the van into gear and taking off.
Ext. Ace Chemical Processing Plant – Day
The van drives up to the front gates of Ace Chemicals, slowly coming to a halt. Gavin shifts into park, then hops out and hurries forward to open the gate, while Rose waits in the van. Rose leans forward in her seat, taking a good look at the chemical plant. The place looks more than a little run down, with a rusted exterior, dirty and broken windows, and chains padlocked across the main entrance. It's seen better days.
Once the gate is open, Gavin returns to the van and drives through, stopping briefly to close the gate again behind him, and then continuing around towards the back of the plant.
Rose: If I didn't know any better, I'd say this place was closed down.
Gavin doesn't say anything, instead shrugging his shoulders. Raising an eyebrow, Rose folds her arms and leans back in her seat.
Rose: You're not very big on conversation, are you?
Again, no response. Rose releases an audible sigh and turns her attention out the window, as the van moves past large storage tanks behind more locked gates. Signs in front of the metal fences warn of electrical danger, though she doubts they're still active. The van finally rumbles to a stop just outside a small, fenced off area behind the main building of the chemical plant. Strings of barbed wire coil around the top of the fence, and the door beyond that leads into the building is large, heavy, made of metal.
Gavin: Wait here.
Rose: Sure, now you talk.
Tapping her fingers absently against the passenger side door, Rose watches Gavin get out of the van and make his way through the small gate of the fence. He stops in front of the heavy door and pounds his fist firmly against it several times, then waits. Several moments later, the door pushes outward, opening. Two men are on the other side, both equipped with automatic weapons strapped over their shoulders. After a brief conversation, thy two men eventually give Gavin a nod of confirmation and wave him on inside. He hurries back to the van and gives Rose a gesture to get out.
Gavin: Now, we bring the boxes inside.
He opens the rear doors of the van, revealing a stack of twenty sturdy boxes. When he picks one up, the contents within clank against each other, and Rose listens carefully to the sound. Sounds like... some kind of metal containers holding liquid inside, maybe. She can't be entirely sure from the sound alone. Grabbing one of the boxes, she heaves it into her arms and follows Gavin into the building.
Int. Ace Chemical Processing Plant – Day
Though her left arm is weakened at the moment, coupled with strong throbs of pain, her enhanced strength compensates, enabling her to show no signs of injury while carrying the heavy load. However, she can feel the warmth of blood beginning to ooze out from beneath the wrapping, a direct result of the strain. Fortunately, her leather jacket hides that, as well.
As they make their way through the chemical plant, Rose observes the activities inside carefully. Though the place has been shut down for over a decade, someone has decided to set up shop. She notices several more armed guards like the ones from before walking around and supervising, while other men in white coveralls, rubber gloves, and breather masks, handle various chemicals.
Gavin: Over here.
He turns a corner and leads them into an area off to the side of all the work. One of the armed men is waiting there for them.
Henchman: Stack the boxes right over here, neatly against the wall. Emphasis on neatly. And make sure you're careful; we don't want any accidents like last time.
Gavin: We'll be plenty careful.
Henchman: Good... then hurry up and get out of here.
Gavin: First, Mr. Daggett wants to know how production is coming. He's getting impatient.
Henchman: It's going just fine. This stuff isn't exactly easy to make, you know; it's not a simple process, and after the last time the boss got busted, he lost his entire stock. He's doing things the best he can with what you're giving him.
Rose looks over from setting down her box, her intrigue peaked. Her hunch is only further proven at the mention of this guy's boss being 'busted' in the past. Definitely illegal activity.
Gavin: Just make sure this stuff gets out soon.
Henchman: Uh huh. Now, get moving; the boss is watching.
The two men glance up towards the catwalks above. Rose's gaze follows, where she spots a tall, lanky figure standing in the shadows of the dimly lit building. She tries to get a good look at him, make out any features she can, but Gavin interrupts her.
Gavin: Come on, we have more boxes to move.
Rose looks back at Gavin, who's already heading back out to the van. She begins to follow him, while taking another brief glance up at the catwalk; the shadowy figure is gone.
Looks like you have some work to do tonight, Rose.
Int. Ace Chemical Processing Plant – Night
Getting inside had been easy enough; for all the effort taken to securely lock all the entrances and exits, nothing had been done to cover up the many broken windows on the second story of the building. With her agility and skill, reaching one of those many entry points had been easy. Granted, her injury still throbs painfully, and she can feel the fresh wrapping already beginning to soak through, but she pushes through it. Now isn't a time to let a little scratch slow her down.
She had contemplated informing Batman and the other vigilantes of Gotham about what she'd discovered earlier that day, but instead had decided against it. There are plenty of other crimes that they can be stopping, and this isn't anything she can't handle herself.
As she lands quietly on on of the upper level landings, she takes a moment to make sure that her Ravager costume is securely in place, from the mask to the swords adorning her back. When satisfied, she quickly moves throughout the dark chemical plant, keeping low and in the shadows. She remembers the general layout of the place from earlier, and navigating through the straight corridors is easy enough.
Slowly easing open a set of doors, she peers into the room beyond, allowing a moment for her eyes to adjust. She recognizes it as the main processing area, where she and Gavin delivered the boxes. Her goal right now is to find those boxes and get a good look at whatever is inside. Maybe with a little information on what materials they're using, she can later figure out what they're producing.
Moving along the catwalks, she pays careful attention to the area below. A few dim lights are on, casting long shadows around the corners of various machinery. Though the workers handling chemicals have apparently all gone home, she still sees quite a few armed henchman roaming around the area. Whoever is running this operation isn't taking any chances with intruders, no matter what time of day.
Ravager navigates the network of catwalks until she discovers the stack of boxes that she helped deliver. There are significantly fewer than before, with the contents of most of them likely already having been used up. But, there is still enough for her to investigate. Dropping down gracefully to the floor below, she quickly presses herself up against the side of a chemical vat, watching as a guard's shadow gradually approaches from around the corner.
Being as silent as humanly possible, she subdues the man when he comes into view, swinging a well placed palm chop to his neck. He goes down instantly, falling like a bag of bricks. She catches him to keep him from making any excess noise, then lays him down gently out of the light. With no other thugs in the immediate vicinity, she at last makes her way to the stacked boxes. While she can rip apart the thick cardboard like tissue paper, she doesn't; that will only alert the other men of her presence. Instead, she swiftly draws one of her blades and uses the razor edge to cut through the tape of one box, allowing her to open it normally.
Ravager's eyes narrow at the contents within. Reaching inside, she lifts out a small, torpedo shaped canister, the only opening of which is a small valve at one end. Rolling it over in her hands, she notices a label with a skull and crossbones on it, as well as an exclamation point inside a red diamond. She shakes it, hears the sloshing of liquid inside.
Don't know what kind of chemicals these are, she thinks to herself, but it must be some pretty heavy duty stuff, if the warning labels are anything to go by. Question is, what are they using it to make?
Before she can contemplate any further, however, she is interrupted.
Gunman #1: Hey! Who the %&$# are you?!
Ravager's gaze snaps towards the direction of the voice to see one of the armed men standing about ten paces away from her. He's already starting to raise his gun.
Ravager: Oh, hell.
By the time he gets his shots off, she's already darting back into the shadows. The man runs forward, looking around frantically, but he doesn't see her. Before long, he's joined by a few of his buddies.
Gunman #1: $#%&!
Gunman #2: What is it? The hell you shooting at?
Gunman #1: I don't know, some chick in a crazy looking costume. I think it's one of those Bat freaks!
Gunman #3: %&$# man, are you serious?
Gunman #4: Alright, no big deal, just spread out and find her. We got the guns, remember?
Gunman #1: Yeah, right, of course. Sorry, she just spooked me, is all.
Gunman #4: Just get your head in the game, man.
A few seconds later, the men split up, spreading out in various directions to cover the entire power chemical plant. Unfortunately, splitting up is the worst thing they could have done. Ravager is an expertly trained fighter, with enhanced physical attributes and a precog ability to alert her of attacks before they happen. These guys are nothing but a bunch of scared thugs with guns. They don't have a chance.
Ravager doubles back around the processing area, sticking closely to the shadows. She moves silently, her footsteps light. Then, she begins taking them out one by one. She actually fights at her best when surrounded and forced to pull out all the stops, but this works just as well. Pouncing out from the darkness and brutally taking down each man with crippling knockout blows is almost as satisfying.
The first two are relatively quiet take downs. The third one, however, manages to get a couple of shots off before she brings the handle of her sword down on the top of his skull. The remaining gunman turns around frantically at the sound, his eyes darting to and from each shadow like a nervous kitten.
Gunman #1: Guys? You there?
He eases forward, keeping his weapon pointed in front of him with his finger already brushing against the trigger, ready to fire at a moment's notice.
Gunman #1: Hey, come on, somebody say something!
The last thing he sees before everything goes dark is a white haired figure lunging down at him from above. He screams, feels a powerful blow explode at the back of his neck, and then goes down. Ravager looks at his unconscious body briefly, then marches back toward the canisters she had been examining before.
Ravager: Should have just done that from the start... this Dark Knight stuff is easy.
As she kneels down again to reinspect the chemical containers, a precognitive flash runs through her head. She sees someone coming at her from behind, a hand lunging forward at her. She's already turning around, crouched low and bringing her own fist around to strike the would-be attacker.
Ravager: Sneaking up on me? Don't even think-
But before her fist can connect, she turns face-first into a green cloud. Instantly, she reels back and begins coughing, as the gas, or mist, or whatever it is, begins to burn the inside of her nostrils. It takes her only a few moments to recover from the initial shock, though her eye then begins to water as the chemicals get in under her mask. Her vision starts to go blurry.
Ravager: The hell?
A grating, rather horrifying voice speaks out to her, the very sound causing her heart to thump faster and faster.
Voice: That's it, take a deep breath. Let the fear consume you.
Stumbling back a few steps, she turns towards the voice, having to strain her vision to see. The entire building around her appears to be quivering, squirming. Are those cockroaches skittering along the walls? Thousands and thousands of cockroaches... and the floor is beginning to spread with thick pools of blood, with crimson droplets raining up toward the ceiling, against gravity.
She knows that none of this can be happening... it's too bizarre, too unreal. Yet, she sees it all plain as day, and it makes her heart pound in her chest. Is she losing her mind?
Voice: How does it feel? Is your hair standing on end? Has your heart leapt into your throat?
That's when she sees him. Or it. Her entire body tingles with a sudden quiver of fear, as the figure looms above her, some kind of horrible abomination. It has limbs made of straw, covered by old, tattered clothing, and a head of burlap fashioned into a hideously twisted face, complete with bugs and maggots crawling out of its eyes and mouth.
The creature takes a step forward, and Ravager takes a step back. She wants to turn and flee, but her body doesn't obey her will; ice cold fear has gripped her heart, and it isn't letting go.
Ravager: Wh-what... what are you?
Voice: I am the thing that lurks in every dark corner of your mind, the thing you try desperately to outrun in your nightmares-
The abomination leans in close, grinning; a cockroach falls out of its left eye hole and lands on the floor.
Voice: -I am the Scarecrow!
Ravager lets out a desperate cry, lurching away as the Scarecrow reaches out for her. She crawls backwards hurriedly, trying to get as far from it as possible. Her heart only beats harder, faster.
Scarecrow: Tell me... are you afraid?
Chapter #4 Preview: It's Ravager vs. The Scarecrow! Can Rose overcome her fear and uncover the true meaning behind his partnership with Daggett Industries? Also, what event led to her leaving the Teen Titans in the first place, inevitably bringing her to Gotham? Find out in the next chapter of Rose Wilson: The Ravager.
Int. Ace Chemical Processing Plant – Night
She shouldn't be afraid. She's faced worse than this and never cowered back like a frightened rabbit before. So, then why does ice cold terror claw at the depths of her very soul? Her short breaths are numb and rapid, while goosebumps raise up all across her body, even beneath her rather warm costume. As the Scarecrow moves forward, closer to her, she feels a wet streak falling from her one eye. The terror has her in tears.
Christ, I really am losing my mind.
Ravager sees the attack coming, but her body doesn't do anything to defend against it. She's frozen in place, rooted to the floor in horror. The blow lands across her face, a whipping punch that snaps her head to the side. She falls back to the floor, a sharp pain flaring through her cheek. Desperately, she forces herself to move and begins crawling away again, eventually scrambling back up to her feet.
Another blow strikes her, this time a kick ripping into her ribs. It isn't a terribly painful kick, though it causes her to stumble. She reaches out toward the wall with her left arm in attempts to keep herself from falling, but the action emits a sudden, violent strain on her shotgun injury. A gasp of pain rushes out past her lips, her arm going limp and body smacking against the wall.
Scarecrow: What did you think was going to happen, Girl?
He emits a terrifying cackle, coming forward and swinging a backhand across her face again. She lurches back, spinning against the wall and dropping to her knees.
Scarecrow: That you'd just come in here, expose my operation, and get away without consequences?
This time, it's another kick to to her torso. It's a vicious blow, but her armor absorbs most of the impact, thankfully.
Scarecrow: I haven't seen you before. You're obviously new to Gotham, so allow me to show you how things work around here.
A hard stomp comes driving down onto the back of her left shoulder, battering directly into her injury. She feels the wrapping pop and warm blood spurting beneath her armor, oozing down her arm. Her whole body locks up for a moment, twitching as she screams and grabs at the wound. She curls up on the floor and quivers, nausea bubbling up deep in her gut.
Scarecrow: Oh, what's this? Did I hit a... tender spot?
Ravager glances up, sees him now holding a long wooden cane, with twisted, horrified faces carved into the bark. She scrambles forward, but can't get away as he swings the cane hard into her left shoulder. It hurts; it doesn't feel like it's made of wood, more like steel. The Scarecrow swings the cane again, this time nailing the bottom of her jaw. A bright flash of light appears in front of her face for a brief moment, and the next thing she realizes, she sprawled out on the floor, gazing lazily upward.
Scarecrow: So, tell me, how are you feeling? On a scale of one to ten.
He winds up the cane again, delivers a hard shot to right shoulder.
Scarecrow: Ten being 'like crap'-
A shot to her knee this time.
Scarecrow: -and one being 'like death'.
Get it together, Rose! You can't take much more of this!
The Scarecrow grips the staff with both hands, raising it up above his head. He swings it down, aiming to smash it straight through her skull. Fighting through the pain and mind numbing fear, she rolls to the side just in time, avoiding the blow.
Fight it. It's just fear. It doesn't matter how afraid you are, you can fight it!
Scarecrow: Ah, still got some life in you, after all. Good, it'll make this all the more satisfying.
The Scarecrow runs at her now, swinging his cane wildly with all his might. Ravager ducks below the attack, slides to the side and scrambles back to her feet. With every movement she makes, her entire body throbs with stiff pain, but she ignores it. It isn't the pain she's worried about, it's the paralyzing terror, which she's finally beginning to work through.
Ravager takes in a deep breath, trying to steady her nerves. She turns in time to see Scarecrow running at her again, his maggoty mouth curled into a horrific grin.
It's just fear, Rose. You can beat it... don't let it be the death of you. Just... fight it!
This time, when the Scarecrow swings his cane, she ducks below it and rushes forward, closing the distance between them. Her heart thumps rapidly in her chest, but she fights around it. Her body flares with stabbing pain, but she works through it. Uttering an angry shout, she brings a palm strike forward, driving it straight into her enemy's face.
The Scarecrow grunts, stumbling backwards. Ravager doesn't stop there, continuing her assault. She lands a kick to the midsection, an elbow to the sternum, then a powerful cross to his jaw. He falls to his back, howling in pain as he tries to get away, but she's already on him, sword drawn. With one deft motion, she thrusts the point of her blade into his shoulder.
Scarecrow: AHHHH! Stop! Take it out! Take it out!
Ravager: So, on a scale of one to ten-
She slowly twists the blade around, ripping apart the flesh of his shoulder.
Ravager: -how do you feel?
The Scarecrow begins to whimper as the pain takes hold. He squirms, trying to get away, but the sword pins him firmly against the floor. Realizing the predicament he's suddenly found himself in, he frantically reaches into his shirt, fumbling around for something. Ravager notices this, reaching down and grabbing his wrist.
Ravager: What do you think you're trying to do?
As she yanks his arm back, she doesn't see the device he's now holding, not until it's too late. She hears the small hiss of a valve being opened, followed by a thick green cloud wafting forward straight into her face. Reeling backward, she removes her sword from the Scarecrow's shoulder and begins coughing again.
Scarecrow: I think... you need a larger dose.
Oh, #$&%! Damn it!
It's the same green mist that first induced her overwhelming terror. Her breathing goes rapid, keeping in pace with her frantic heartbeat. Darting her gaze around the room, she catches sight of the Scarecrow running off, holding his injured shoulder. She tries to chase him, but the nightmarish hallucinations begin to increase tenfold.
Fighting against the ever more powerful fear, she turns and starts running. She can't stay here, not in this condition. Not only is that cold, frightening sensation in her heart growing stronger by the second, but her entire body feels as though it's just been hit by a truck. She'll just end up getting herself killed.
With a limp in her stride and her breath heavy, Ravager looks around desperately for a way out. Everywhere she turns, however, she finds a new, horrifying sight. Reanimated corpses, hellish creatures, walls made of tormented human faces... It's like trying to navigate a fun house straight out of Tim Burton's worst nightmares.
Eventually, she locates a window on the far side of the plant. She doubles her pace, trying not to let the explosive pain in her knee slow her down. Leaving the frightening images behind, she dives through the window and tumbles outside.
Ext. Ace Chemical Processing Plant – Night
Ravager hits the ground hard, broken shards of glass raining down around her, peppering the ground. It takes her a long moment to force herself back up to her feet; she can't keep her posture straight, the pain is too great. Instead, she hobbles, limps forward with her shoulders slouched, left arm dangling limply at her side.
That's when she hears his voice.
Deathstroke: You don't look so good.
Ravager's eye goes wide, a surging jolt of shock and horror ripping through her. It can't be possible! She turns quickly, praying that she doesn't see him standing there. But she does. There he is, her father, dressed in full costume and standing stationary with his arms clasped behind his back, just glaring at her.
Ravager: N-no... not you... it can't be you!
Deathstroke: Oh, it's me. You didn't think that you could run from me forever, dear daughter, did you?
Her father begins to walk toward her, but she pulls back in a panic.
Ravager: No, you... you're not real. You're just... just another hallucination. You're all in my head.
Deathstroke: Is that so? Tell me, Rose, if I'm just in your head... then what are you so afraid of?
Ravager swallows a nervous lump in her throat, continuing to backpedal, as he advances towards her. She watches him carefully, waiting for any sudden movements. That's when he pulls one of his hands out from behind his back to reveal a fully loaded syringe.
Deathstroke: You remember my serum, don't you?
Ravager: No! Keep that stuff await from me!
Deathstroke: It's time for your shot, Rose.
Breaking away from the overwhelming fear rooting her to the ground, she turns and runs again, desperately trying to get away from him. She races around the side of the chemical plant, fighting to keep her balance as her battered body threatens to give out. Without looking back, she mounts her motorcycle and guns the engine. She can barely hold on to the handlebars, but she doesn't care. She just wants to get away from here as fast as she can, away from this nightmare.
Ext. Gotham City Streets – Night
Lights and sounds zip by, as Ravager pushes her motorcycle faster and faster down the road, passing other vehicles when she shouldn't be, running stop signs, and being generally reckless. Her heart is racing even faster now, despite apparently being free of the hallucinations from the chemical plant. She can still feel the effects of that fear inducing gas wreaking havoc on her body and mind. If she can just get back to the Batcave, maybe Batman can figure out what the hell is going on with her.
When she rounds the corner of the street, her eye suddenly widens in surprise. Standing there, directly in the middle of her path, is Deathstroke, holding his syringe. She jerks on the handlebars in a panic, causing the vehicle to fall and slide on its side. The abrupt action forces her to let go, sending her skidding across the street at a wild pace, eventually rolling to a stop by slamming into a newspaper dispenser.
Onlookers scream in shock, some rushing over to see if she's alright, and others just trying to get away and avoid the scene, not wanting to be involved.
Onlooker #1: My god! Did you see that?
Onlooker #2: Is she alive?
Ravager very slowly begins to move, pushing herself up to her hands and knees. She tries to stand, but stumbles down a second later, too shaken to find her balance.
Onlooker #3: Miss, are you alright? Can you hear me?
Onlooker #4: For Christ's sake, someone call an ambulance!
Ravager: Fine... I'm... fine.
One of the more helpful persons approaches her, offering assistance. He reaches out, placing a hand on her shoulder and trying to help her up.
Onlooker #5: Why'd you do it?
Ravager: I... just lost control. No big deal.
Onlooker #5: No, really, Rose. Why did you do it?
She flinches at the sound of her name, lurching away from his grasp. When her gaze finds him, her heart nearly stops, a numb lump forming in her throat. Standing there, in his torn costume and with burns covering a large portion of his body, is Bart Allen, the former Kid Flash.
Kid Flash: Why'd you have to go and get me killed?!
Ravager falls back to the ground again, holding a hand to her head and shaking it.
Ravager: No, no, not you, too. I didn't mean... it wasn't supposed to happen... I swear, I wasn't trying to...
Kid Flash: Oh sure, you didn't mean to, but that doesn't really help me, now does it? Look at what you did to me, Rose, look!
Closing her eye, she turns away and shakes her head, crouching lower and whimpering.
Ravager: I know what I did! Just... stop, please! I don't need this! Just go away!
And then more voices join, all chastising her. She flinches again, snapping her eye back open and daring to look up. There they are, the rest of the Teen Titans, all standing over and glaring down at her.
Red Robin: I told you not to go in, didn't I? But you disobeyed, and look what happened!
Wonder Girl: You are unbelievable, Rose. What the hell were you thinking?!
Superboy: You got a lot of people killed. You got our friend killed.
Raven: You should have known better... should have listened.
Beast Boy: Even when you try to do good, you just screw everything up. What's wrong with you?
Ravager closes her eye again, now holding both her palms up over her ears. She shakes her head, trying to make the hallucinations go away.
Ravager: Stop it! Stop it! Shut up!
Police Officer: Miss, calm down!
Letting out a sharp breath of air, she looks up again. The Teen Titans are gone, and in their place are a group of pedestrians watching curiously, as well as a couple GCPD police officers, their squad car parked just a short distance away.
Ravager: What are... who are you? What's going on?
Police Officer: Miss, you've been in an accident, you probably have a concussion. Just calm down, and we can get you some medical attention.
Though her heart is still pounding rapidly, Ravager lets her guard down. These aren't hallucinations, these are real people. They aren't here to frighten her... But as the officer reaches out to help her, his face suddenly twists into a horrible, deformed scowl. Instantly, she pulls back screaming.
Ravager: No, stay away!
Police Officer: Ma'am, please, just calm down. Don't do anything-
With another frantic yell, she spins around and delivers a hard kick to the newspaper dispenser, denting it inward.
Ravager: Just make it stop!
Suddenly, a dark figure descends from the rooftops and comes at her. Another nightmarish hallucination, she's sure. But she can't do anything to stop it before it stings her in the neck, releasing its venom into her. Within seconds, she feels her body slackening, relaxing. Then, everything goes dark.
Police Officer: Batman?
Batman: Everything is under control, Officer. Just a sedative.
Police Officer: Is she going to be alright? She took a pretty nasty fall.
Batman: She'll be okay; she's a lot more resilient than you'd think. She just needs to rest and recover.
Police Officer: So, then she's with you?
Police Officer: Well, alright, I guess. But really, we should still get her to a hospital, and I'm gonna have to fill out a report on the crash and-
Batman: You just let me worry about it, Officer. Have a goodnight.
And with that, Batman makes his way over to the shadows of a nearby alley, carrying the sleeping Ravager in his arms. Another figure is in the alley waiting for him.
Robin: Well, she looks like she had one heck of a night. Amateur.
Batman: We need to get her back to the bunker, treat her injuries.
Robin: Looked like there was a little more wrong with her than just a few bumps and bruises.
Batman: Yes... seems like she was hallucinating. She was frightened, panicked.
Robin: Hmm... Scarecrow's fear gas, you think?
Batman: That would be my best guess, but we'll have to analyze a blood sample when we get back to be sure. And when she wakes up, she can tell us just what happened to her tonight.
Chapter #5 Preview: How exactly did Rose get Kid Flash killed, and what implications did it have with her relationship with the rest of the Teen Titans? More is revealed in the next chapter!
Int. Bat Bunker – Night
Rose dreams that night, while Dick works to patch up her wounds. Even when knocked out cold, her mind suffers from the lingering effects of Scarecrow's fear gas. Her eyes flicker rapidly beneath her eyelids, fingers twitching and jaw clenching. She can't escape it this time, there's nowhere to run. All she can do is lie there and suffer her nightmares...
Ext. San Francisco, Central Police Station – Day
Three months ago...
A swarm of cop cars are gathered around the station, lights flashing. Officers stand behind their squad cars, staring at the building and waiting. Hostage negotiations haven't been working, and the perpetrators are starting to get impatient. Snipers haven't been able to get a clear shot, either. As far as hostage situations go, though, it's pretty normal. Or at least, it should be. But the victims aren't just nameless civilians, no.
This time, the hostages are some of their own, fellow police officers that were taken when their very own station was assaulted by several heavily armed men. They fought back, sure, but they weren't prepared for it. The gunmen overpowered them and set up inside the station, barricading themselves inside. They won't come out, they said, until their demands are met. The negotiator is on the phone with them now, trying to settle things.
Negotiator: If we can just all calm down here, I'm sure we can get everything sorted out in a timely manner. We just need to-
Gunman/Phone: No! Quit stalling, man! We're sick of you stalling! We told you, we want our buddies released from prison. That's it!
Negotiator: I assure you, we're doing everything in our power. But, it isn't as simple as you think, we just need more time.
Gunman/Phone: No more time! Just get it done, or we start shooting people!
And with that sentiment, the man hangs up.
Police Chief: That's it, I want this situation ended, now. I won't have police deaths on my hands, not today. Send them in.
Another officer looks over and nods. The Teen Titans have been on standby now for the past twenty minutes. Hostage situations aren't normally what they're brought in to deal with, but given the urgency of the situation, they were called in to put a quick end to things, if needed. Now that standard negotiations have failed, it's their job to put a stop to this.
Red Robin: Alright, we want to be quick and precise. There's no reason why there should be any casualties. Bart, I want you in first to disarm them. Make sure they can't hurt anyone.
Kid Flash: You got it.
Red Robin: Once their weapons are gone, it should be pretty standard. Get in there and bring them down. Wonder Girl, Superboy, you take the east entrance. Kid Flash and I will take the front. Beast Boy, Raven, take the west entrance. Ravager, you take the rear.
The Titans hurry off to get into position, waiting for Red Robin's orders to commence the attack. However, they're soon interrupted by one of the gunman's voices coming in over a bullhorn.
Gunman: I sure hope you costumed freaks don't intend on storming this place. That'll only get everyone killed. The entire place has been rigged with high powered explosives; any of those doors open without my say-so, and boom!
The man laughs smugly, before the his voice cuts off from the bullhorn. The Teen Titans discuss the situation over their headsets.
Kid Flash: Okay... so what's the plan now?
Red Robin: We'll have to think of something else. If the place is really rigged to go up, we can't go in. We risk the hostages dying in the blast.
Ravager: Or he could be bluffing. I mean, come on, you really think they had time to set up that many explosives in the past hour?
Red Robin: It's definitely possible, and it doesn't matter if they are bluffing, we can't take the chance. Our job isn't just to stop the bad guys, Rose, it's-
Ravager: -to save the hostages, right, I know. But come on, you don't really think these guys are serious enough to be suicidal, do you?
Red Robin: I can't answer that, I'm not a psychologist. Either way, I don't want to take the chance that-
Ravager: You know, for a leader, you really don't like taking chances. I thought being a leader meant making hard decisions? Doesn't that mean taking risks?
Red Robin: Risks, yes, but not unnecessary ones. We can still find another way around this.
Wonder Girl: What if Raven teleports us inside with her soul-self?
Raven: That would not be advisable... we do not know the specific nature of how these explosives are set to go off, if they do exist.
Red Robin: She's right; if they're rigged with proximity detonators, we could end up setting them off the moment we materialize.
Ravager: Well, hurry up and figure something out quick. Those cops are still in there, and the gun toting psychopaths are going to start killing them soon.
Red Robin: I haven't forgotten that, Rose, just give me a minute!
Ravager: Screw it, I'm going in. They're bluffing, I know they are.
Red Robin: Do not go in! I repeat, do not go in, Ravager, that's an order! Even if there aren't explosives, Kid Flash goes in first to disarm them!
Ravager: If I go in there, they'll be shooting at me, not the hostages, and I'm more than capable of handling a few idiots with guns! Or, when no explosives go off, then you send him in and we handle things. Just trust me on this.
Red Robin: Ravager, I'm warning you, don't go-
Ravager: Oh, shove it.
Int. San Francisco, Central Police Station – Day
Ignoring him, Ravager pushes the rear door open; it isn't locked. When nothing explodes, she steps inside to the center of what looks like a collection of offices and glances around.
Ravager: See, nothing to worry-
And that's when she spots the blinking lights, coming from small metal devices attached to bricks of explosives.
Ravager: -oh $#@&!
She instantly dives into cover, just as the explosives go off. The thunderous booms deafen her for several moments, leaving behind a loud, annoying ringing deep her ears. She isn't quite certain of what happens next, only that the walls and ceiling begin to collapse above her. The only thing that saves her from being crushed is the heavy metal desk she crawled under just before the chaos.
When everything is quiet, Ravager pushes her way out of the rubble, coughing as she breathes in a thick plume of smoke. It takes her a moment to get her bearings, looking around in a daze. The room she's in is up in flames, with half the structure obliterated by the explosives. She hears a hissing static over her headset, no doubt the other Titans trying to reach her. It won't do them any good, though, she can't make out anything they're trying to say.
Rolling over a pile of burning wood to the floor, she coughs again and crawls back up to her feet, trying to find the exit. It's difficult to see through the smoke and fire, but she knows she can't be that far away from making it back outside. Before she takes three steps, though, another section of burning ceiling collapses directly above her.
A yellow blur moves in from out of nowhere and pushes her out of the way. A small grunt escapes her lips, as she falls to the floor, just barely escaping the falling rubble. When she looks back to where she was a moment before, she sees Kid Flash lying there, his leg trapped beneath a heavy beam. She immediately gets up and runs over to hm
Ravager: Bart! The hell are you doing?
Kid Flash: Oh, you know, just saving your beautiful behind.
Ravager: You should be helping the hostages, not me. That's our job, remember?
Gripping the beam in both hands, Ravager forces it up off Kid Flash's leg and moves it aside. She then offers him a hand, helping him to his feet.
Kid Flash: I already checked on them. They're dead, Rose; the hostages, the gunmen... all of them.
Ravager feels a numb sensation begin to form in the center of her gut. She bows her head, letting out a heavy sigh.
Ravager: %#@$... I really screwed up on this one.
Kid Flash: Yeah, but we can discuss that later. For now, let's just get the hell out of- OW!
The moment that he puts pressure on his leg to run, Kid Flash recoils in pain, hopping on one foot.
Kid Flash: Crap, I think my leg's broken. I can't run on it.
Ravager: Hold on, Freckles, I got you.
Throwing his arm over her shoulder, she allows him to lean against her for support, then starts walking with him through the smoke.
Ravager: I'm pretty sure the exit is somewhere over here.
Kid Flash: Somehow, that doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence.
Ravager: Shut it.
Within a few moments, the partially blocked doorway comes into view, about fifty feet away through the smoke and fire. Ravager leads them both towards it, trying to quicken their pace.
Ravager: Where the hell are the others, anyway? I mean, I'm grateful and all for your help, sure, but wouldn't it make more sense to send in the invulnerable duo?
Kid Flash: Superboy and Wonder Girl are trying to keep the whole building from going down, and the others are trying to handle the riot.
Ravager: Riot? What are you talking about?
Kid Flash: The cops, Rose, they're in an uproar. You just got a bunch of their friends killed and they're p@#&$d, not just at you, but the Teen Titans as a whole.
Ravager: Well $%@#, is was just an accident.
Kid Flash: A pretty big one.
Just as they're nearing the exit, the whole building begins to shake. The walls quiver and the foundation groans, while more and more debris begins to fall from above.
Ravager: I thought you said they were holding the building up?
Kid Flash: Well they can't keep it up forever, move!
Ravager picks up the pace, going as fast as she can while dragging along the injured Kid Flash. A mere five paces from the doorway, a large burning section of ceiling caves in, crashing down above them.
Kid Flash: Look out!
He pushes her forward, super accelerating his limbs to send her flying. Ravager lurches over the burning rubble pile in front of the exit, going airborne.
Ext. San Francisco, Central Police Station – Day
She lands hard on the pavement outside, sliding a few feet before coming to a stop. Groaning, she starts to push herself back up.
Ravager: Geez, Bart, what the hell were you-
When she looks over her shoulder, however, she doesn't see him there with her. That's because he never made it out of the building, instead sacrificing himself to make sure that she got out in time. All she can do is watch as the police station crashes in on itself, engulfed in an ever growing inferno.
She stands there, stunned, just staring at the flames. She doesn't even notice the other Titans approaching.
Beast Boy: What's going on, where's Kid Flash?
Ravager: He... in there...
Wonder Girl: You left him behind?!
Ravager: No, I didn't! I swear, I was helping him and he-
Red Robin: Helping? You were helping?! You're the one who set off the explosives off in the first place! I told you not to go in there, Rose! I gave an order!
Superboy suddenly flies forward, heading straight for the wreckage and digging through it. Wonder Girl joins him a second later, throwing aside large pieces of debris as if they were made of paper mache. The leaping flames surrounding them don't hurt at all, though their clothes are beginning to singe. Fortuantely, they find Kid Flash shortly afterwards. Lifting up a large beam, Superboy tosses it away and then reaches down to lift up the barely breathing Kid Flash. With on short leap, he and Wonder Girl exit the wreckage, with Superboy placing their friend on the ground gently.
Superboy: Bart! Can you hear me?
The only reply he gets is a few pained coughs that emit sprays of crimson droplets. Screaming angrily, Wonder Girl reaches out and grabs Ravager by the throat. Tears glisten in her eyes, reflecting sparkles of firelight.
Wonder Girl: What the hell is the matter with you?! Look at what you did, Rose!
Beast Boy: Cassie, hey! That isn't the way to deal with it, let her go!
Ravager makes no attempt to escape, merely choking in weak breaths as Wonder Girl's tight grip threatens to crush her neck. At the sound of Bart's pained wheezing, however, she lets go and turns back to their injured friend, kneeling at his side.
Wonder Girl: Raven, can you heal him? How bad is it?
Also kneeling at Bart's side, Raven brings her hands over his chest and closes her eyes, concentrating.
Raven: The damage is... extensive. I can try to heal some of it, but we will need to get him to a hospital as soon as we can. His increased metabolism will heal these injuries in a matter of hours, but they will not heal correctly... they may even heal fatally.
Another groan escapes Kid Flash's lips, his body cringing and starting to shudder.
Wonder Girl: We never should have let Bart go in after her! We should have just left her in there!
Wonder Girl: No, Conner, don't try to defend her! Her life isn't worth Bart's! If he dies...
Turning her back on them, Wonder Girl storms off in a fit. If she doesn't leave now, she might end up ripping Ravager apart. The others give Ravager a long look of their own, then follow to try and help with damage control. Raven, meanwhile, teleports herself and Kid Flash to the nearest hospital, to try and get him his immediately required medical attention. Only Red Robin remains, just staring at her.
Ravager: Tim, I-
Red Robin: Not now, Rose. Just... not now.
He shakes his head a couple times, then he, too, turns and leaves her. Ravager can only hang her head, never having felt more like a worthless screw up in her life.
Int. Titans Tower – Night
Bart passed away later that night. It was a race against time that they just lost. The surgeons tried everything they could, but there was too much damage, and his body was regenerating too quickly. While the external damage healed fine, the internal damage healed awkwardly, clumsily. He survived for another couple hours afterwards before his body started to shut down. The doctors pronounced his time of death at 11:54 p.m.
Head hanging low, Rose walks slowly down the halls of the tower, alone and isolated from the other members of the team. The only time they even spoke to her since the incident was to inform her of Bart's passing. She doesn't dare try to talk to any of them. Right now, she's their least favorite person in the world. They probably hate her more than any villain on the list at the moment. Of course, she doesn't blame them. She screwed up big time, and it resulted in Bart paying the ultimate price.
Now, Rose had never been Bart's biggest fan. The kid had always been impulsive, grating, immature... though, while she would never admit it out loud, she really did have a soft spot for him. Deep down, he'd always had a good heart, and he'd always meant well. Of course, she'd never told him that... she'd just never got around to it. Now, she never would.
She kept replaying the moment over and over in her mind, the biggest mistake she'd made in recent memory. Tim had told her not to enter the building. It had been a flat out order, and she should have listened to him. But she hadn't. She had thought she knew better, and instead ignored him. Her actions got Bart killed, and that's something she now has to live with for the rest of her own life. There was a time not too long ago where she would have been blaming everyone but herself, but this time she knows there's no way around it. It's her fault, plain and simple.
As Rose rounds the corner of the hallway, she hears voices coming from the main lounge of the tower. She comes close to the door and stops, hearing her name. Instead of entering, she remains there for a few moments, just listening.
Cassie: She's a menace! I knew that trusting her would be a mistake, Tim. I told you. Sooner or later, something bad was going to happen, and it did!
Beast Boy: You know she didn't mean it. We all know it.
Cassie: It's not about whether or not she meant it; she was reckless, hot headed, and arrogant. That arrogance got our friend killed!
Conner: I thought she'd changed... Heck, I liked her, I really did, but this... She got a lot of people killed today, not just Bart.
Raven: She knows this... I can feel it. She understands the mistake she made, and feels remorse... grief.
Tim: That's not the point, though... I don't doubt she feels sorry for what she did, but feeling sorry doesn't change what happened. She acted like a child, and the results were catastrophic.
Cassie: She shouldn't be here. She'll only keep causing problems for the team, and who knows who else will get hurt because of her?
Beast Boy: We can't just kick her off the team for one mistake, though. Yeah, it was a terrible mistake, and I'm not saying she shouldn't be reprimanded; Bart was a friend to us all, and his loss is...
Beast Boy: Yeah... But are we really just going to kick her out the front door?
Cassie: You sure wouldn't hear me complaining. You're forgetting, though, this isn't just an isolated incident out of the blue. Rose has a long history of destructive behavior, and you can bet it'll happen again if she stays. I don't want her here.
Conner: I know how you feel, but it still isn't that simple. It can't be...
There is a small pause before Tim speaks up again.
Tim: I wish this were a simple matter, but Conner's right... it's not. She has been an important member of the team for a while, but Cassie also has a point. Rose hasn't really ever... fit in, not completely, and her behavior has a history of causing problems. This latest incident seriously compounds those issues.
Beast Boy: Then what do you propose?
Tim: I... don't know. I'll think on it.
Rose is already walking back down the hallway again, away from the lounge. She can't sit there and listen to them talk about her anymore. Already, her throat is numb and nerves tingle hotly, feeling more and more like crap every moment. She clenches her jaw and tightens her fists, trying to make herself angry to cover up for the fact that her eye is beginning to dampen. She whispers quietly to herself, as she heads back to her room to start packing.
Rose: Don't waste your time... I'll make it easy.
Ext. San Francisco City Streets – Night
Rose takes one more look across the bay at Titans Tower, the dark structure dotted with a few bright lights coming from several different rooms. She doubts that they know she's gone yet; they seemed pretty keen on avoiding her for the time being. When she can finally stand gazing at the tower no longer, she turns from it and slips her helmet on, then revs her motorcycle's engine.
Rose: Later... losers.
On that note, she speeds off down the street, her destination unknown.
Chapter #6 Preview: How exactly does Dick feel about Rose's reckless behavior and her near death experience? And how will they work to catch the Scarecrow and stop his plot with Daggett Industries? Find out next time!
Int. Bat Bunker – Night
Rose awakens with a start, snapping her eye open and lurching upright with a quiet gasp. She's sweating, thick beads rolling down her forehead. After taking a careful look around, she realizes where she is and begins to relax. Glancing down, she notices that she's lying in what she guesses is supposed to pass as a Batcave hospital bed, covered up to her midsection with a blanket. Her costume is gone, with the only other coverage being a roll of white bandages wrapped around her ribs and chest. Questioningly, she lifts up the blanket for a brief moment to see that she's only wearing her underwear beneath, with a lot of other bandages and patchwork wrapped over her lower injuries.
Dick: Good, you're up.
Dropping the blanket back down, she turns towards the sound of his voice to see him approaching from across the room. She folds her arms across her chest and frowns at him.
Rose: So, you finally get me out of my pants, and I'm not even awake for it. Figures.
Dick: What were you doing tonight?
Rose: Right to business, huh? No fun at all, I swear...
Pulling up a seat at her bedside, Dick sits up straight and glares at her.
Dick: What the hell happened to you, Rose?
Eventually, she gives in, letting out a long sigh and shrugging her shoulders.
Rose: Just got a bit roughed up, nothing to worry about.
Dick: A bit roughed up? Rose, you got the life half beaten out of you. It's a miracle that you don't have any broken bones, but there's bruising across most of your body, your left knee is sprained, and the gunshot wound is worse than before. What happened?
Rose: Fine, you really want to know? I was just following up on a lead from last night. You know, those guys we busted that were loading the van? I tracked their operation down and went to investigate.
Dick suddenly grows cross, his eyes narrowing and posture stiffening.
Dick: And why didn't you tell anyone? We could have helped you.
Rose: Because I knew I could handle it on my own.
Dick: Clearly, you couldn't. You went off on your own, already injured, and nearly got yourself killed!
Rose: So what if I did, huh? The hell do you care?
Dick: Damn it, Rose, would you stop it with that?!
His tone is so severe and angry that Rose actually pauses, blinking in surprise for a couple moments. She can't recall ever hearing him sound like that before, at least not since she was under her father's control and fighting against him as a villain.
Dick: You don't get it, do you? You've built up this feeling that everyone hates you because of your mistakes, to the point where you don't even care about your own well-being anymore. You're so willing to go rushing off into danger to prove your worth that it puts yourself and others at risk. That's why the Titans are upset at you so much, and why Bart's death set off such a damn firestorm. If you just stopped to think for a minute, you might realize that the people around you actually do care about you. Instead, you're so busy being such a self loathing, narrow-sighted child all the time, that you can't see it!
Rose clenches her jaw, staring back at him. His words cut through her like sharp knives, hurting a lot more than any of her physical injuries. It's not the the sheer bluntness that hurts, though, but rather the truth that they carry. She maintains her glare on him for quite a few moments before finally lowering her gaze to the blanket.
Rose: So, what? You're telling me you care about me?
Dick: Believe it or not... yes, I do. In spite of all your mistakes, and all the times you've put yourself down, I know that you really are trying to do good. It might have taken me a long time to see it, and you might have some serious issues in accomplishing that goal, but the fact remains. I don't want to see you get yourself killed, Rose.
A long pause passes between then. Eventually, Rose raises her head again, meeting his eyes with her own.
Rose: I know a few people who might disagree with you.
Dick: They'll forgive you. Maybe not now, maybe not even soon, but eventually. Of course, it might make things easier if you actually went back and talked to them. Running away doesn't exactly help the process.
Rose: No... I mean, just not now. I'm not ready for that.
Dick: Just remember, Rose, only you can choose how alone you want to be. All you have to do to let people into your life is open yourself up.
Letting out a scoffing laugh, she mockingly rolls her eyes.
Rose: Gee, I'll try to remember that, Dr. Phil.
He just continues staring at her; eventually, she releases a small sigh and smiles slightly.
Rose: But really... thanks.
Dick: I'm just trying to make sure I don't have to drag you out of a ditch one of these days.
Rose: Oh, of course, just trying to be practical, right?
Seemingly doing the impossible, her comment actually brings a slight smirk to Dick's face. Before such a reaction can be turned into anything more, however, another person makes his presence known. Damian Wayne comes down the stairs in a hurry, marching right up to Rose and crossing his arms smugly over his chest, smirking at her.
Damian: Well, look who's finally awake! Had a rough night, did you, One-Eye?
Rose: You know, kid, I can still kick your ass, even in this condition.
Rose: Baby chick.
The two stare at each other for a few seconds, then both break out into grins.
Rose: You're still alright.
Damian: I'd say the same, but you look like you've seen better days.
Rose: Yeah, well, I did have a hell of a night. Speaking of which, what kind of psychos do you people breed in Gotham?
Damian: Only the best kind.
Dick: The blood analysis I ran earlier revealed that you'd been exposed to a heavy dosage of the Scarecrow's fear toxin.
Rose: Is that what it's called? Yeah, sounds about right; it messed me up something awful.
Dick: It's an extremely dangerous toxin to be affected by. It digs into your psyche and pulls out your deepest fears, amplifies them and causes hallucinations, resulting in panic, paranoia, irrational thoughts, and the like. Suffer through it long enough and it'll drive you insane.
An amused snicker makes its way from Damian.
Damian: Ha! You got your ass beat by a punk wearing a Halloween costume.
Dick: The Scarecrow's no joke, Damian, especially the first time you experience his fear gas. If you aren't prepared for it, he gains an immense advantage. Fortunately, I have a decent supply of the anti-toxin here at the Batcave, and I can inoculate you against it. That way, you'll be immune.
Rose: Good, then the next time we meet, he's leaving in a bag.
Rose: What? I was kidding. Mostly.
Dick: We still need to know where you were tonight. Where did you find Scarecrow?
Rose: Over at the old abandoned Ace Chemicals. He's got a whole team of people working to create what I'm now assuming is that fear gas stuff, and a whole lot of it.
Holding a hand up to his chin, Dick narrows his eyes, contemplatively.
Dick: What would he need with that much fear gas?
Rose: It's probably what Daggett Industries ordered from him. Turns out they're supplying Scarecrow with the ingredients, and then he's shipping out the finished product to them. Couldn't tell you why, though.
Dick: We'll have to figure out the connection if we're going to stop whatever they're planning. Damian, let's head back over to Ace Chemicals, see if we can find anything.
Rose: Good, I'm coming, too.
Throwing the blanket off herself, Rose swings her legs over the side of the bed and stands up, only to twitch as a spasm of pain ripples through her body. She staggers backward, forced to catch herself against the side of the bed. She feels like she's been hit by a train.
Dick: You're not going anywhere. You shouldn't have been out there with just the gunshot, but if you think I'm letting you out now-
Rose: Alright, fine, I get it. You guys go do the hero thing. I've probably had enough for one night anyway.
Dick gives her a long look, trying to make sure she's being sincere and won't try anything stupid. She just glares back at him and crosses her arms.
Dick: Alright, good. Damian, suit back up. And Rose, get your rest, we'll be back.
Rose: Uh huh.
Dick leaves, heading down a level in the cave. Glancing back at Damian, Rose notices him gawking at her strangely.
Rose: The hell are you staring at?
Damian: Uh... what? Nothing.
It takes her a second to remember that she's only dressed in her underwear and chest bandages, causing her expression to sour. She rolls her eye, emitting an annoyed groan.
Rose: Oh, for crying out-
She reaches back to the bed and grabs the blanket, wrapping it around her lower body.
Rose: I swear, I can only imagine what you're going to be like when you hit puberty.
Damian: What? I wasn't doing anything.
Rose: Just get going before I break your nose.
Within five minutes, the Batcave is empty, save for Rose. She continues standing there for several moments, then limps over to the counter nearby. With every step she takes, her entire body flares up with dull, throbbing pain. Dick hadn't been kidding; most of her body really is bruised, partially from her beating at the hands of the Scarecrow, and partially from her crash. Just putting weight on her injured knee causes her legs to buckle, and both her shoulders feel as though they're about to explode.
Rose finds a small mirror and looks into it, studying her reflection; a large, purple bruise covers a good portion of her lower jaw. She tries opening her mouth as wide as she can, and hears it click a couple of times before being forced to close it again in pain. A small groan escapes her lips, as she puts the mirror back down.
Rose: Christ, where are the painkillers?
She finds the small bottle a few moments later, popping off the top and swallowing down a few of the pills dry. Hopefully, that will help make moving around more bearable. Turning back around, she folds her arms and purses her lips, trying to think of what to do. She isn't about to just lie around in bed and do nothing. It doesn't matter how injured she is, that just isn't her style. Instead, she heads on over to the stairs and slowly makes her way to the training area on one of the lower cave levels.
As the painkillers start to take effect, Rose is able to handle a little more movement. She starts off slow, though, with simple sit-ups and one-handed push-ups, just trying to warm herself up. Afterward, she stands in front of the sparring dummy and unloads on it, letting out all her pent frustration, doubt, worry, anger, and so on. These past few months have done a number on her, and it feels good to just beat the tar out of something with no limitations.
She continues with this for the better part of an hour, brutalizing the poor dummy and finally finishing by breaking it in two with a vicious kick across the chest. For a few moments, she stands there, just staring down at the broken dummy and breathing heavily. Despite the painkillers, her limbs and joints are beginning to stiffen up, and she can feel the wetness of blood trickling down her left arm. Wiping sweat from her brow, she finally leaves and walks over to the nearby refrigerator to grab a bottle of water inside.
Dick: You're bleeding.
Rose chokes on a sudden intake of water going down the wrong pipe, turning to the sound of his voice. Dick is standing there, dressed in the Batsuit, but with the cowl pulled down, revealing his face.
Rose: $@&#, don't do that!
Dick: Sorry, didn't mean to... spook you.
Rose: You didn't spook me, you just... surprised me. Creeper.
Dick: Of course.
Rose: So, what did you and the little rug rat find?
Dick: Not much. There were a few traces of used chemicals originating from Daggett Industries left over, but it looked like they moved most of the operation already. Scarecrow must have acted as soon as you were gone.
Rose: Already? How long was I out?
Dick: Just a few hours.
Rose: Guess they worked pretty fast. Alright, so that leaves us with what? How are we supposed to find the Scarecrow now?
Dick: We might not have to. If he's really working for Daggett Industries, then we can bypass him and head straight for the source. Daggett is the one ordering the fear gas, meaning he's the one who's really behind whatever they're planning.
Rose: Right... hmm. And I think I might have a way to get the information we're looking for.
Dick: What's that?
Rose: Well, you remember how I said I tracked down the operation, right? I went undercover, working for one of Daggett's guys, the one running things. All I have to do is go back tomorrow, corner him, and get him to spill everything. After all, I can be pretty persuasive. And while you might not like operating during the day time, I have no problem with it at all.
Dick: Rose, you're still not in any condition to be-
Rose: Relax, I don't plan on jumping into a group of armed men and fighting with a death wish, or anything. I'll do it smart. Just give me some painkillers and I'll be fine. I promise, you won't be pulling me out of a ditch just yet.
He gives her a long look, trying to decide whether or not he should allow her. It doesn't take him long, though, to come to the conclusion that she'll go anyway, no matter what he says.
Dick: Alright, just be careful, okay?
Rose: Scout's honor.
Dick: In the meantime, you should probably head back up to the penthouse and get some rest before tomorrow. And maybe put on some pants.
Leaning back against the refrigerator, she crosses her arms and just smirks at him.
Rose: Don't pretend you don't enjoy the view.
Dick lets out a small breath, staring back at her. He allows the pause to linger a little longer than he should, before finally speaking up again.
Dick: Get some sleep, Rose.
Ext. Warehouse – Day
Ravager lies prone against the rooftop of a building adjacent to the warehouse that she visited the previous day. She figures it's better to go in her armor, given her condition. With as messed up as her body is right now, she isn't going to risk Danny getting a lucky shot in that cripples her, or anything like that. As it stands, she's loaded up with painkillers so she can actually move around without flinching every time she takes a step. No to mention, she also feels a lot more comfortable with her swords.
It won't be very difficult to break in and find him. She's already carefully observed the entire perimeter of the warehouse, and the only three men guarding the place are sitting in the same spot as yesterday, still playing cards and not paying much attention to anything else. Finally making her move, she descends down the short building and hurries across the alley between it and the warehouse. She enters through a side window, easing it open and dropping down inside a storage room within. Moving cautiously, she heads outside into a deserted hallway and begins to scour the place for her target: Daniel Costello.
For a person of her talents, avoiding detection is easy enough, even in spite of her injuries. Though not quite as well versed in the art of stealth as someone like, say, Batman, she gets the job done. These workers aren't exactly expecting an intruder to be snooping around, and their attention is focused on, well, their work. She's able to find her way through the building without any difficulty, allowing her to discover the man she's after fairly soon.
Ravager finds Danny sitting lazily in a chair in one of the side offices, away from the rest of the warehouse's activities. He's busy chatting on the phone with his back to the door, enabling her to sneak inside quietly and shut the door behind her.
Danny: Absolutely, Mr. Daggett. Yes, everything is going according to plan, even with the unexpected surprise last night. Mr. Crane repelled the intruder and promptly moved his operations elsewhere. Yes, of course. The shipment should reach you later this afternoon, then we can go ahead and proceed with the plan, yeah? Alright, I'll talk to you later, Mr. Daggett.
Ending the conversation, Danny spins around in his chair to hang up the phone. He instead ends up dropping it in surprise, as he sees Ravager standing there with one of her swords drawn. Letting out a startled gasp, he lurches backwards, nearly falling out of his seat.
Danny: Wh-who the hell are you?!
Ravager: I'm the one you're going to spill your guts to... whether literally or figuratively is entirely up to you.
Danny: What do you mean? What are you-
Ravager: Your operation. You're going to tell me everything that Daggett has planned with the Scarecrow's fear gas.
Danny: How do you- no, you're crazy. I ain't telling you $@%#!
Ravager: Why is it you buffoons always try to resist? It never ends well.
Danny: You can go to hell, you psychotic b#$@!
Ravager: Insulting the one holding three feet of sharpened steel? Not smart.
Instantly, Danny reaches back beneath his suit jacket, no doubt going for his gun.
Danny: Screw that, I got a-
Before he gets a chance to even finish his sentence, Ravager is on him. She leaps straight over the desk and sends her knee crashing straight into his nose, snapping it. Danny falls back out of his chair, clutching his now bleeding face and howling in pain. As he lands, Ravager mounts on top of him, holding the edge of her blade to his throat.
Ravager: Now, tell me everything you know, or I start cutting off appendages.
The look on his face reveals exactly what she had suspected about him; he's a coward, and he's terrified.
Danny: Alright, okay! I'll tell you everything!
Ravager's lips curl into a pleased smirk.
Ravager: That's more like it.
Chapter #7 Preview: Ravager, Batman, and Robin confront Daggett and the Scarecrow to put a stop to their plan! But will they be in time? Also, what's next for Rose after her romp in Gotham? Will she stay with the Bat Crowd, or continue to find her own way? Find out next time!
|Int. Wayne Tower Penthouse Suite – Day|
Rose and Dick are sitting together in the living room, she on the couch in front of him, and he in the armchair. She leans forward, going over a map of Gotham City.
Rose: So, according to Costello, they're going to be dumping the entirety of Scarecrow's fear toxin into the Gotham water supply.
Dick: With the city's water contaminated like that, it'll tear itself apart. There aren't enough police in Gotham to stop half the city panicking from their darkest fears.
Rose: Exactly. So, in the chaos, they're pretty much free to do whatever they want in the meantime. Looting will be especially rampant.
Dick: I can see the Scarecrow taking advantage of that, but I hardly see why Daggett Industries needs to get involved in something like this just for some small time looting. Doesn't seem like it would be their M.O.
Rose: It isn't. Once the city is infected, people will obviously be looking for a cure. Scarecrow already supplied them with it, enough to treat everyone in Gotham. A few days after the pandemonium, Daggett Industries claims to have discovered what the problem is with everyone, then they start selling their anti-toxin to hospitals.
A small pause drifts over the two. Dick's eyes narrow with concern.
Dick: They'll make a fortune, and not just by selling the cure; their stock will shoot through the roof.
Rose: When all is said in done, everyone involved in the operation is loads richer, and Daggett Industries will have more power than ever.
Dick: Not to mention, half the city will be in near ruins as a result. Aside from the likely property damage, I don't want to think about how many people will end up dead.
Rose: Well, it's a good thing we aren't going to let that happen, isn't it?
Dick: Did you find out when and were they're going to commence their plan?
Turning the city map around, she points at a specific spot.
Rose: Gotham Water Works, the water purification plant. It's the last place the city's water supply goes before ending up in the reservoir. They hit it there, and it'll only take a few hours before people start going into a frenzy. As for when, they decided to push things up to tonight, in light of my... intrusion last night.
Dick: And Costello won't be able to warn them?
A small smirk curls across Rose's face.
Rose: Not a chance. That sedative you gave me worked like a charm; he'll be sleeping like a baby until some time tomorrow. I locked him in a supply closet, too, just to be sure.
Dick: Alright, in that case, we'll be there waiting for them tonight.
Rose: Good... I'm actually looking forward to it. I just hope that Scarecrow freak shows up; I still owe him.
Dick looks up and gives her a hard look.
Dick: You sure you're going to be alright to come along? You aren't even close to being fully recovering, you know.
Rose: Don't worry, I'll be fine, just so long as I can numb the pain. Besides, I'll have you and Bird Boy to watch my back, right?
Sitting up straighter, he lets out a small breath and calmly nods at her.
Dick: Okay, just take it easy until tonight, then, at least. You take any more of a beating and you'll end up in a coma.
Rose: Which you'd use as an excuse to take my clothes off again, right?
Rose: Hey, I'm not judging.
Dick: You really are terrible.
Rose smirks again, teasingly.
Rose: I know.
Ext. Gotham City Water Works – Night
Several large vans and trucks drive up in front of the water purification plant, coming to a stop just outside the entrance. Doors open in unison, a whole team of men getting out and preparing to get to work. Each man is armed; they're taking no chances tonight. If Batman and his freaks decide to show up, they'll be ready.
A tall, middle-aged man in a clean business suit and neatly trimmed red hair walks up to the front entrance. Following him is a more wiry fellow with dark cloths, mussed up, greasy hair, and a paranoid expression on his face, as he glances around into the shadows nervously. He also favors his shoulder, wincing whenever he moves it too much by accident.
The front doors to the building open, a security guard appearing. He gives the two men a brief look, then gazes past them to see the others starting to unload small crates from their vehicles.
Security Guard: Well, you guys are right on time, I see.
Daggett: I'm always prompt. Is everything ready?
Security Guard: Yeah, sure. Alarm systems are shut down, and cameras are playing on a loop. It's just me here tonight, too, so you're all set.
Daggett: Excellent work, you did your part well. I promise you, we'll be in and out before you know it.
Security Guard: First, the, uh... payment we spoke about?
Dagget: Of course.
Reaching into his suit jacket pocket, he pulls out a fat envelope, stuffed full of large bills. With an indifferent expression, he passes the envelope over to the guard.
Daggett: Here you are. Now, get back to your post and... read the paper or something.
Security Guard: Right, of course, I'm gone. Thank you, Mr. Daggett, I promise no one will get a word of this from me.
Daggett: Yes... they'd better not.
The unkempt man next to him looks back over his shoulder for a moment, then turns again towards Daggett, giving him a concerned look.
Daggett: What is it, Crane?
Crane: The Batman... he'll show up. I have a feeling.
Daggett: Oh, a feeling, now I know I should be afraid.
Crane: I'm telling you, he'll be here. When you've been up against him as long as I have, you develop a sort of... sixth sense about it. Just make sure your men are prepared.
Daggett: Quit your worrying. Even if you did leave a trail for him to follow, we'll be done here long before he figures out our plan. Besides, you told me the person snooping around the chemical plant was some woman with swords. Last I checked, that's not Batman.
Crane: Yes... true, but still. Doesn't matter if she's new, we should still assume she has ties to the Bat. They all do, all those costumed lunatics...
A small shudder runs up Crane's spine.
Crane: After this is over, I'm getting out of Gotham for good. I'm thinking somewhere... warm. And no bats.
The two men head inside, soon followed by their team, carrying in the load of fear toxin. It won't be long until they reach the purification tanks and begin emptying the supply into Gotham's water supply. Meanwhile, across the street, three figures watch the scene from a nearby rooftop. This surrounding portion of Gotham is isolate, desolate, no prying eyes... except theirs.
Batman: They're in; paid off the security guard.
Robin: Hmph, throw a little money at people and they'll do anything.
Ravager: Yeah, well sometimes, when you only have a few hundred dollars, you'd be surprised at what you do for some quick cash.
Robin: Whatever, let's just get in there and stop them already.
Ravager: I'm with the kid, let's move.
Batman waits until all the men out front are gone, disappearing inside the building. A few moments pass, and then he finally nods, giving the team the go-ahead.
Batman: Alright, let's go.
Int. Gotham Water Works – Night
Batman, Robin, and Ravager enter the building at three different points, keeping in contact by radio. Ravager ends up going in through the rear entrance, working her way through various machinery and water tanks. She hears muffled voices echoing through the vents, somewhere in the distance. Sticking to the shadows, she moves into a series of long, dark hallways. Shortly after, she presses a finger to her ear and whispers quietly.
Ravager: Which way am I going, again?
The wireless radio in her ear hisses with a bit of static before the response finally comes in, crystal clear.
Batman: They'll be heading to the purification tanks near the center of the plant. Keep heading east through the building, then take the stairs up one level. You'll find access to the catwalks there, just stay hidden and wait for the signal when you're there.
Ravager: And what exactly is the signal?
Another hiss of static. Robin's voice, this time.
Robin: I wouldn't worry about that, One-Eye. You'll know it when you see it.
Ravager: Uh huh... if you say so.
Removing her finger from the comm, she continues heading east down the hallway. Eventually, she comes to a set of winding metal stairs leading upward. She briefly takes a careful look around the area to make sure that none of Daggett's goons are nearby, then heads up the steps to the upper level. Her footsteps are light and silent, alerting no one. At the top, she finds the door leading into the catwalks of the purification room.
Carefully, Ravager glances through the door's window and observes. Three men are patrolling the narrow walkways, one close by the door, another farther down the same path, and a third across from them on a separate one. Below them are even more armed thugs, standing guard on ground level while a couple workers begin opening the crates and pulling out large canisters of what can only be Scarecrow's fear toxin.
Ravager: Better hurry, a few more minutes and Gotham is in serious trouble.
Batman: I see them. Don't worry, they won't get that far.
Ravager: What the hell are you waiting for?
Batman: The signal.
As if on cue, bright red lights on the ceiling above begin to flash on and off repeatedly, joined by a loud, blaring alarm. Immediately, the men in the other room begin to look around in a panic, while shouting at each other in confusion. Batman wastes no time, tossing in a small handful of smoke pellets and filling the entire room with a thick cover. In seconds, the men down below begin to drop like flies, doing everything the can just to see where they're going, let alone defend against an attacking Batman.
With their attention drawn, Ravager bursts through the door and races out onto the catwalk. The first thug doesn't react nearly quick enough, barely even seeing her before she pounces and delivers a short series of strikes that drop him in a motionless heap. The second gunman fares a tiny bit better, managing to take aim at her through the growing cloud of smoke. Unfortunately for him, he never gets a shot off before her boot drives straight into his face. His gun fires a few times as he falls backwards, then goes silent. With one more followup strike, she knocks him unconscious.
A precognitive flash goes off in her head, an image of the other thug on the second catwalk unloading a whole clip into her backside. She's off and moving before he ever gets the chance, backflipping across the chasm between walkways and landing feet first on the other side. By the time the man manages to aim a clean shot at her, she's already kicking the gun out of his hands and then delivering several precise blows to his rib cage. As he doubles over in pain, she brings her knee up into his face, and then finishes him with a chop to the neck.
With the upper level taken care of, she looks down into the smoke below. She sees dark shapes engaged in combat, though it isn't very difficult to figure out which one is Batman; he's the one that's winning. There is plenty of gunfire, but they don't come close to hitting him through the haze. He's far too well trained, and they far too incompetent. Not wanting to be left out of the fun, Ravager dives forward off the catwalk and joins in, darting into the cloud and heading straight for the first figure that she sees.
The poor mook doesn't stand a chance, as her fist caroms off his jaw, followed by her knee exploding into his gut. The wind rushes from his lungs in a mix of surprise and pain, but before he can suffer the discomfort too long, her knuckles swing around and connect with the back of his head. He goes down instantly, unconscious. It's at that time she hears a voice shouting through the chaos. It isn't quite as distorted as she remembers it, but she knows who it is. She hasn't forgotten it so soon.
Crane: I told you he would be here! I told you he'd come!
Ravager whirls around in the direction of the voice, straining her eye through the shifting cloud of smoke. Then, she sees him, Jonathan Crane, standing near the back of the room and looking around nervously. Daggett is there with him, though seems to be more interested in trying to organize the riot than paying attention to Crane.
Daggett: Stop shooting at shadows! You're all running around like idiots; he's picking you off one by one!
Suddenly, another figure comes leaping out of the smoke, landing in front of him. It's Robin.
Robin: Hey, he's not the only one you have to worry about!
Daggett stares at the Boy Wonder for a few seconds in dumbfounded confusion. After all, what the hell is a little kid doing here, right? Getting over his initial shock, he then winds up and takes a swing.
Daggett: Little punk!
While Robin may be quite young still, he's been trained since he was old enough to stand to be an expert combatant. Daggett doesn't even realize what's happening; the next thing he knows, he's stumbling back with a sharp pain exploding between his ribs. A boot to the face then sends him falling hard to the floor.
Robin: Who's the punk now?
When Daggett tries to get back up, Robin responds in kind, with another series of perfect hits, leaving the man twitching on the ground and gaping for air. He's still alive, just temporarily paralyzed with a few well placed nerve strikes. At this point, Crane is off and running towards the exit.
Crane: I'm not going back to Arkham for this!
Before he reaches the door, Ravager is in hot pursuit, not about to let him get away.
Looking back over his shoulder, Crane sputters out a breath and picks up his pace, disappearing through the doors. Ravager bursts into the hallway beyond just a few moments later, catching sight of his figure rounding the corner in the distance. Normally, she'd be able to run him down in a few moments, being able to hit close to thirty-five miles per hour on foot, when in top form. But even without the pain present, in her present condition she's nowhere near capable of hitting her top speed. Still, she's gaining on him, she can feel it. Just a little bit more and she'll have him.
Suddenly, another alert flashes through her head, thanks to her precog. She ducks low, right as she rounds the corner, causing the steel pipe to sail high over her head and clang off the wall instead. Wasting no time, she follows up with a hard palm to Crane's jaw that sends him reeling backwards. A pained groan rushes out of his lungs, as he hits the floor.
In the same motion, however, he reaches into his coat pocket, pulling out his fear gas dispenser. As she lunges in for another attack, he sprays out a heavy green cloud right in her face. Coughing a few times, she steps backwards and uses her arms to brush the fog away in the air. Crane, thinking he has the advantage now, then pulls out his nightmarish burlap mask, slipping it over his head.
Crane: That's it, take in a deep breath, let the fear consume- oof!
Ravager cuts him off with a powerful punch straight to the gut, rushing the air out of his lungs. Before he can recover, she adds a side kick that connects hard with his nose, snapping it instantly. This time, he goes down and stays down, groaning weakly and not moving a whole lot. A growing blotch of crimson begins to soak its way through the burlap covering his face.
Ravager: Not this time, freakshow.
Walking forward, she stares down at him for a few moment and then lifts her foot over him. Slowly, she steps down and presses hard against the shoulder she cut through with her sword the previous night. Crane screams loudly at the abrupt eruption of agony ripping through him, until finally she removes her foot. He continues to whimper, however, something that gradually begins to grate on Ravager's nerves. Eventually, she aims a strike at the side of his neck and knocks him out cold.
Ravager: And now we're even.
By the time Ravager returns to the purification room, Batman and Robin have everything under control. Every last one of the men are tied up and either unconscious or delirious, including Daggett himself. With a satisfied smirk, she adds Cane to the bunch, tossing him over to be tied up with the others.
Ravager: Guess that takes care of that.
Robin: What took you so long?
Ravager: Just covering your loose ends, kid.
Robin: Keep dreaming.
Batman: Alright, enough. Let's finish up here.
Ext. Gotham Water Works – Night
The three walk back out the front doors, only to be greeted by an incoming swarm of cop cars. The cruisers screech to a sudden halt, their lights flashing like beacons in the dark. Ravager squints her eye and raises up her forearm to keep from being blinded. Moments later, doors open and officers are approaching them, including the commissioner himself.
Gordon: Batman! The hell is going on here? Our station picked up the alarm, said it was a break in.
Batman: Long story, Gordon. All you need to know for now is that the men tied up inside were trying to poison Gotham's water supply. I'll fill you in on the details later.
Gordon: You're serious? Damn, well thanks for the help.
The commissioner's eyes shift over to Ravager.
Gordon: Who are you?
Batman: She's with me.
Gordon: Oh, uh, alright then.
Turning back to the other officers, he starts waving them inside.
Gordon: Come on, men, let's get to work! And listen, Batman, I'll be in my office later when you want to-
He stops mid sentence, as he turns around again only to find that Batman, Robin, and Ravager have all vanished from the area.
Gordon: Batman? …I hate it when he does that.
Int. Bat Bunker – Night
Rose leans wearily against the counter in the medical station of the cave. The painkillers are starting to wear off, leaving her entire body throbbing and stiff with pain. She grits her teeth tightly to keep from groaning out loud, as she starts to strip off the top of her armored costume. Twisting ever so slightly in the wrong direction, a sharp hiss of air abruptly leaves her lips, forcing her to freeze up momentarily until the stabbing sensation in her ribs finally subsides.
Glancing down, she gingerly lifts up the bottom of the bandages wrapped tightly around her midsection to study the sickening black and blue marks beneath. Scarecrow had really done a number on her last night, even more than she'd first thought. Without the pills' effects to numb the pain, that fact was becoming pretty apparent. Taking in another breath of air, she looks around the counter, searching for them.
Dick: Looking for these?
Rose turns to the sound of the voice, seeing Dick standing there and holding the small bottle of pills. Most of his Batsuit is off, only the lower portion remaining. A few small dots of purple and yellow blotch his muscled torso. She catches herself staring, eventually shaking out of it, just as he tosses the bottle to her.
Rose: Uh... thanks. So what the hell happened to you?
Dick: Even a bunch of talentless thugs get a lucky shot or two in when firing automatic weapons into a smoke cloud.
Rose: You were shot? But-
Dick: Kevlar, remember? The suit's bulletproof.
Rose: Oh, right... well, that's good.
Walking over to the counter, Dick starts rummaging through one of the drawers, searching for another roll of bandages.
Dick: I think I might have a cracked rib, though.
Rose: Nothing the great Batman can't work through, I'm sure.
A brief moment of silence passes between, as Dick finds what he's looking for and closes the drawer. Eventually, he glances up at her and comes close, folding his arms.
Dick: You did good tonight, I want you to know that.
Rose: Yeah, well, I am pretty awesome, right?
Dick: Seriously, Rose. You're good at this, when you allow yourself to be; you just have to trust yourself. And when you make a mistake, learn from it, don't let it beat you.
Rose gives him a long look, taking in a deep breath and slowly letting it out. She thinks over his words; they give her comfort, something she hasn't had in a long time. An appreciative smile begins to form on her face.
Rose: You know, Grayson... when you're not being stupid, you're actually kind of smart.
Dick: Just want to make sure you know that you're not alone. You haven't been for a long time.
Rose: Yeah... guess I can kind of see that now.
Rose's expression shifts a little, softening. Her smile shrinks a little, but doesn't disappear. She finds herself leaning forward slightly, arms slowly lifting up and coming to wrap around his waist. His own expression changes, as well, now more of surprise than anything else.
Dick: Rose, what are you-
He doesn't get a chance to finish, as Rose's lips plant firmly against his own, silencing him. For the briefest of moments, she feels him sinking into the kiss, returning it. But, as she should have expected, it just isn't to be. Dick's own hands rise up and grab her elbows, pushing her arms away. He breaks the kiss, tilting his head back and breathing out a sigh.
Dick: Rose... you know we can't.
Rose: And why not, huh?
Dick: There's more than a few things wrong with it...
Rose: Not in my head.
Dick: Rose, I don't feel that way about you.
Rose: You said it yourself, though, you care about me.
Dick: And I meant that, but as a friend..
Rose: Ever heard of friends with benefits?
She's reaching now, sounding almost desperate. She had felt so close to him just a second ago, felt a need burning inside her, and now it seems that she isn't going to get it. Then again, she probably should have seen it coming. With a small breath, Dick raises a hand and places it tenderly on her shoulder, but at the same time gently shakes his head.
Dick: I'm not going to use you like that.
Rose: You wouldn't be using me...
Dick: Rose... I'm sorry, but no.
A long, disappointed sigh escapes her mouth. Rose pulls back, then shrugs absently and grabs the bottle of painkillers. She honestly doesn't know why she's so surprised; maybe a part of her actually thought there was something more between them. Just wishful thinking, apparently. Giving him an unenthusiastic wave, she walks past him and heads for the lift to take her back up to the penthouse.
Rose: I'm... gonna get some sleep. I'll figure out where I'm going in the morning.
Dick: You're leaving?
Rose: I was only supposed to stay for a few days, remember? Besides, as great as your place is... I'm getting tired of sleeping on your couch.
Chapter #8 Preview: What do you do when you're low on money and in need of some quick cash? When you're Rose Wilson, you enter an underground fight club and take on all comers. But there's something more to this fight club than meets the eye, as she'll soon discover. Follow Rose's adventures in the next installment!