Disclaimer: I do not own any DC characters or locations. All rights belong to DC Comics. I do, however, retain the rights to all characters and locations of my own creation, which include: Rebecca Chavez, Holly Sanders, Apathy/Ruby, Sophie, Jeremiah Belmont, Michelle Blanchett, Isaiah Slaton, Michael Kubrick, Zaria (as well as her Celarian race), Shao Shen, Trance, Police Chief Gerald Palmer, Officer Stevens, Officer Harrow, Emilia Marconi, Francis Baldoni, Arnold Pavoni, Senator Thomas Greene, Agent Croft, as well as Silverstone City and all Don'tits interior locations of my own creation.
Note: The sixth arc in my Ravager series to be remastered into prose format and edited to make it better.
My Fan-Fic Archives: http://www.comicvine.com/myvine/ravager4/ravager4s-fan-fic-archives/87-79374/
The bedroom was dark and mostly quiet, save for the soft glow of the digital clock on the bedside table, and the steady patter of rain against the window. Clothing littered the floor; a jacket here, a pair of jeans there, a bra slung over a chair, a shirt tossed across the room, underwear near the hamper. Rose lied calmly on her side in the bed,lifting above the sheets. She took in a deep breath, feeling Becky's chest heave against her backside in a steady rhythm.
“Alright, so that was...” She couldn't find the word for it.
A small chuckle brushed its way out of Becky's mouth, as one of her arms latched firmly around Rose's waist. “Fantástico.”
“Yeah, fantástico...” she repeated. “That sounds about right.”
“Ah, it's been quite some time since I've had a night like that,” Becky said, bringing a hand up to gently brush a strand of hair out of Rose's face.
“It's been... never, for me,” Rose admitted. “So, I would like to apologize a little for my, uh... inexperience.”
Becky laughed again, then moved in closer and kissed her lips gently along Rose's neck. “S'alright. Just means I have a lot to teach you.”
“And something tells me you'll be more than happy to.”
“Oh yes, very much.”
Rose inhaled another deep breath, her neck curling a little against Becky's light kisses. Bringing one of her hands up, she grabbed Becky's and interlocked their fingers. “So, about me coming back now... and about you knowing who I am... I suppose we're going to have to figure out what to do about it, right? How to handle things.”
“Mmm... I suppose we are,” Becky said, breathing out a long sigh. “What did you have in mind?”
“Well, you know I'm Ravager. Or The Blade, whatever.” Rose held Becky's hand a little tighter, gently rubbing her thumb along the woman's smooth skin. “And you know why I am... I do it to help people. If I'm back here, I'm going to keep helping people, and in the best way I know how.”
“Somehow, I figured you would. It's in your blood at this point, ah?”
“Pretty much,” she replied. “I know that what I do isn't within the confines of the law, but it works. Most of the time. I'm just letting you know right now that I will be putting that costume back on, and I will be trying to help this city again. I'll understand if you don't want to be a part of it.”
“Please, I'm already a part of it, just by keeping the secret.” A wide grin then curled its way across Becky's lips, as she leaned in to give a few more tender kisses to Rose's neck. “Not to mention, sleeping with the person behind that mask generally compounds my involvement.”
Rose snorted out a tiny laugh, giving a grin of her own. “Good point. So you're okay with it, then?”
“As long as you keep helping people and doing good,” she said, “and tell me all about your nightly adventures... then yeah, I'm okay with it. I can even help you.”
“Help me how?” Rose turned her head a little, looking back over her shoulder. “Becky, I'm not going to take you along and put you in that kind of danger every night, no way.”
Becky shook her head. “Ha, no. I meant I'll keep the police off your back, at least until you build up your reputation again. They still haven't forgotten about you.”
“Oh, right... thanks.”
“Speaking of which, you plan on coming back to the station? I have to say, I miss having you in the car with me.”
Releasing a long breath, Rose slowly shook her head. “Nah... It just wouldn't feel right. I thought about it, but I don't think I can really be a cop again and still do what I do. Plus, I already resigned from the place, and trying to get back on the force again would be too much of a pain in the ass.”
“Well, I suppose...” Becky said, pursing her lips slightly. “But then what are you going to do as a day job now?”
“I'm sure I'll think of something eventually,” she replied. “Right now, though, I'd rather concentrate on cleaning up some of the messes I left behind. It's time for Ravager to make her comeback.”
“Oh, about that... there is something I should probably mention.”
Rolling over onto her other side, Rose gave Becky a close look. “What is it?”
“Well, lately... a lot of strange things have been going on around the city, and the station in particular,” she explained. “The corpses of mob bosses have been showing up all over the place, the investigations are being handled poorly, case files are blank, and then I've had a ninja and a fellow cop try to kill me in the past few weeks.”
Rose's eyebrows raised in surprise. She was leaning up now, supporting herself with her elbow against the mattress. “Are you alright? Who tried to kill you?”
“Ah, yeah, I'm fine. Nothing I couldn't handle. Some chica dressed up as a ninja broke into my apartment and tried to stab me, but I got to my gun first... she didn't have much of a chance. And then there was Stevens, he tried to shoot me right in the middle of the station.”
“The middle of the station?” Rose furrowed her brow, eyes shifting with concern. “Seriously?”
Becky nodded. “Si, and that's not even the strangest part about it. Right before he drew his gun on me, he said something about me getting too close, and that 'they've' been watching me... kinda freaked me out a little.”
“Well yeah, I don't blame you. Did they interrogate him, find out anything?”
“Oh they tried, yeah. But he insisted that he couldn't remember anything. Don't really know where they took it from there, but you can bet he doesn't have a badge anymore.”
“Wow...” Rose let out a heavy breath, glancing down at the mattress. “I mean, I knew Stevens was an odd one, but that... I don't know what to make of it.”
“All I know is that something is very wrong about this whole situation,” Becky said. “Something that isn't getting resolved the normal way.”
Rose raised an eyebrow at her, grinning slightly. “Why Becky, are you asking for my expertise?”
“Don't worry,” Rose said, nodding reassuringly. “We'll figure it out. In the meantime, you're staying at my place.”
Becky smirked playfully “Hey now, we just got together. Taking things a little fast, aren't we?”
“Very funny. I'm talking about your protection. My place is a lot safer than here.”
“Hmm, how much safer?” Becky asked, lifting a finger to her lips.
“Well, considering Batman built my security system...”
Becky snorted out a laugh, bowing her head. “Ha, alright, point made. In that case, you can help me move my things there tomorrow... on one condition.”
Rose narrowed her gaze, curiously. “And what's that?”
Rising up from the mattress, Becky rolled over on top of Rose, who shifted slightly onto her back. Hands coming down to Rose's wrists, Becky leaned forward and gave her a long, gentle kiss, before pulling away and smirking. “Just that you don't plan on going to sleep yet.”
Rose and Becky sat at the kitchen table of Rose's penthouse, pouring over the notes that Becky had made during the past month, regarding the recent strange happenings. They had moved over some of Becky's things earlier, mostly clothes and a few personal belongings. As long as this was going on, with people having already tried to kill her twice, Rose didn't want Becky going back to her regular old apartment, where she was vulnerable.
“These notes are pretty extensive,” she said, tapping a pen against the table. “You've done a lot of work.”
“Yeah, it kept me pretty busy,” Becky replied, lifting one of the papers closer to her face. “Plenty of strange crap going on, and I'd bet my life that it's all connected.”
“Most likely...” Rose paused, staring a little closer at the page in front of her. “So you said that the first person who attacked you was someone dressed up like a ninja?”
“Just like that guy we found in the warehouse, the last time we went on duty together. Definitely not a coincidence.”
Becky nodded. “He wasn't the only one we saw that day, remember. A couple of his buddies went and took him away.”
“Right,” Rose muttered. “And the man I fought later that night, Shao I think his name was, mentioned something about that guy being one of their ' lesser members'. Question is, members of what?
“A super secret underground ninja society of assassins?” Becky suggested, giving an amused grin.
Blinking, Rose looked up at her with stern expression. “I wouldn't joke about that... there actually is one of those, and it's nowhere near as humorous at you'd think.”
“Oh...” she said, scratching her cheek. “Well, maybe that's what we're dealing with?”
“I suppose it's possible... though, the last I heard, the League of Assassins was basically at war with itself. Still, I'll add it to the list of possibilities.”
“Don't forget that freaky looking metal device you pulled out of the guy's head,” Becky added. “Jueputa, I wouldn't want one of those things drilled into my brain.”
Rose pressed a hand to her chin, nodding. “I haven't forgotten that, but I really don't have any idea what it was. I've seen some scary kinds of tech in my day, so it could be anything. What I'm curious about is those two detectives you mentioned, Kubrick and Riggs. They're the ones handling the cases with the dead mob bosses, right?”
“Yeah, and they give off mucho creepy vibes.” Becky shuddered a moment, shaking her head. “That, and they haven't been handling their investigations the way I'm used to, when dealing with detectives on crime scenes. Add the fact that all their case files I checked were mostly padded with blank forms, and I'd say they're definitely involved somehow.”
“About those blank files, did you mention them to anyone?”
“Just Chief Palmer,” she said, with a small shrug. “He said he'd look into it, but I haven't heard anything back from him yet.”
Bringing a hand to her chin, Rose thought for a moment, staring down at the notes in front of her. “Alright, I think I know where to start.”
Ravager leaned over the edge of the rooftop, gazing down at the East District street below. Her target walked casually down the sidewalk, hands stuffed in his pockets and a cigarette smoking between his lips. As he began to distance himself from her, Ravager continued moving, jumping over to the next rooftop and following him.
“He's heading to the shadier part of town,” she said. “I'm in pursuit now.”
A brief hiss of static came in over her ear piece communicator, followed by a familiar voice. “Okay, yeah, copy,” Becky said. “This set up is really cool, by the way.”
“Si, everything looks good.” Back in Rose's penthouse, Becky sat in front of the large computer screen, eying a large map of the city. “I'm following you on the map everywhere you go. You are the blinking dot, right?”
Ravager chuckled. “Yeah, that's me.”
“Then yeah, it's good,” she said. “Thanks again for letting me help.”
“I know it's not much, but at I wasn't taking you out with me.”
Becky sighed. “Too dangerous, I know.”
“But at least if anything happens to me, you'll know right where I am.”
“I'd personally rather it not come to that.”
“I wouldn't worry,” Ravager said, smirking. “I'm good at what I do.”
“One of these days, though,” Becky added, “you're going to teach me some of those moves. No way am I going to date someone who can beat up a ninja and not learn a thing or two.”
A small smirk came to Ravager's face, as she descended into a nearby alley. “We'll see.” Peering out of the alleyway, she watched as her target made his way across the street and entered a building. Glancing up at the glowing neon sign of said building, her gaze narrowed slightly.
“What is it?” Becky asked.
“He just went into The Fuego Lounge,” she said.
“Oh, the strip club?”
Ravager straightened herself a little, eyebrows lifting. “You... know it?”
A brief pause came over the line. “I, uh... might have been a few times.”
“Didn't take you as the type.”
“The type to enjoy naked women?” Becky rolled her eyes, uttering a small laugh. “No, definitely wouldn't make sense for me.”
“I meant the type to want to hang around a male dominated environment,” she explained, “while watching a bunch of emotionless pin up dancers prance around on stage and cater to the drunken pigs.”
“Um, that really isn't a problem at The Fuego Lounge.”
“Because it's a lesbian strip club,” Becky said. “It caters specifically to gay and bisexual women. The atmosphere is completely different.”
“Oh.” Rose paused, scratching her head. “Well then that raises a pretty big question.”
“Yeah...” Becky uttered. “Why the hell did Detective Kubrick go in there?”
Ravager pushed the door open, glancing inside. It looked like some kind of back hallway behind the dressing rooms. She heard voices coming from farther down the hall, most likely the workers getting ready to perform, or whatever they do. Easing herself inside, she closed the door behind her and moved cautiously forward. She couldn't afford to be discovered just yet.
“Good call on the back door,” Ravager said. “I'm in.”
Becky's voice crackled over the comm a second later. “Any sign of Kubrick yet?”
“No sign of anyone yet. I'm still in the back of the building, nothing much here except a few boxes and a coat rack.”
“Well, be careful in there.” Becky paused a moment, then added, “And please don't go spooking any of the girls. They're good people, I don't want you giving them a heart attack.”
Ravager raised an eyebrow. “Only been here a few times and yet you know that the strippers are good people, huh?”
“Wha- uh, n-no, I-”
“Okay, I used to be a regular!” Becky exclaimed. “It was just a phase! Qué mierda, what do you want from me?”
Ravager grinned widely to herself. “To hear you flustered.”
“You're smiling right now, aren't you?”
Stopping near the end of the hallway, Ravager peered around the corner. She noticed a couple women in various states of undress walking to and from a couple of the side rooms. The problem now was that the only way to get to the rest of the club was to walk straight through this area, which she couldn't do in her current costume. Moving back behind the corner of the wall, she thought for a moment, eye scanning the surrounding area. Her gaze fell on the nearby coat rack, an idea suddenly coming to her.
“Think I found a way in,” she said, reaching forward to take one of the long coats off the rack.
Tugging her mask off, she stuffed it into the coat pocket, then removed her swords and hid them off to the side. Then, she pulled the coat tightly around herself, effectively concealing her armored costume. This should at least keep some attention off her.
Moving around the corner again, she walked straight through the women's area, keeping her head down. She received a couple passing glances, but most of the women didn't even notice her. Soon after, she pushed past a small curtain and entered into the main area of the club.
Glancing around, she took a brief moment to soak in the atmosphere. It really was different than a normal strip club... the music wasn't as mind numbingly annoying, the patrons weren't as rowdy, and everything seemed a lot... calmer. Yet, there were still three separate stages, each occupied with a stripper, and quite a number of customers enjoying the performances.
“Anything?” Becky asked.
“Not yet...” she breathed. “I'm only seeing strippers and the women watching them.”
“Well it isn't a big place, he has to be around there somewhere.”
“Wait, hold on.”
Her gaze fell on a table in one of the corners of the room, way in the back. At that table, she spotted Detective Kubrick sitting and speaking with someone, a woman in a red blouse and black skirt, with small, narrow glasses and blonde hair tied back in a braid. They appeared to be in a deep discussion about something.
“Alright, I have eyes on him,” Ravager affirmed. “He's talking to some woman.”
“Any way to hear what they're saying?”
Ravager shook her head. “Not without getting right up next to them.”
A few seconds later, though, Kubrick and the woman got up from the table and started walking towards the other side of the building. Ravager's gaze followed them carefully, watching as they went through a door labeled 'employees only' next to the bar area. Casually, she made her way after them, waiting for the bartender to be distracted with a customer before sneaking through the door herself.
On the other side, she found a long staircase heading down into the basement levels. As she headed down those stairs, she pulled out her mask again and slipped it back over her head. She then shrugged the coat off and threw it behind a stack of boxes.
Probably safe to go in costume now. With or without it, I'm not supposed to be down here either way.
Ravager slowed to a stop when she heard voices. Holding a finger to her ear piece, she whispered through her comm. “Going silent for a few minutes here.”
“Copy,” Becky replied. “Be careful.”
Ravager pressed herself up against a wall, peering around it into a long corridor. At the very end of the hallway, she noticed a door slightly ajar, leading into a separate room. That was where the voices were coming from. Remaining silent, she crept forward towards the end of the hallway and listened carefully.
“And exactly how long after implantation did this occur?” Kubrick asked.
“About seventy-two hours, give or take a few,” the woman replied. “It worked fine before that, but then she just dropped dead.”
Kubrick uttered an annoyed grunt “I see... looks like we keep running into problems. First I've heard about this particular one, though.”
The woman breathed out a heavy sigh. “You know I want to be involved, Michael, but I can't subject my girls to it if they're going to keep keeling over like this.”
“Believe me, Madelyn, we'll work on a fix. Faulty stems aren't good for the plans, anyway. Having puppets to control only works as long as the puppets can be used... dying seriously complicates that.”
“You come back with ones that work, and my girls are yours,” Madelyn assured. “Until then, I'm not going to keep exposing them to... this.”
“Of course,” he said. “I'll report back to Shen immediately and give him the update.”
Ravager's eye narrowed slightly at the mention of the name. Shao Shen... So he's the one in charge? Good... I still owe that guy a serious beating.
“You do that,” Madelyn said, the sound of her footsteps nearing the door. “I have to get back to work, in the meantime, then figure out how I'm going to clean up this mess...”
Ravager quickly slipped back through another nearby door, hiding in the shadows of what looks like a storage closet. The figures of Kubrick and the other woman appeared in the hallway a moment later, walking back towards the stairs. Within a couple minutes, they were gone, leaving Ravager alone in the basement.
“Did you get all that?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Becky said. “Any idea what they were talking about?”
“Not a clue, but I get the feeling I'll have a better idea when I check out what's in that room.”
Moving from the closet, she turned into the other room, flicking on the light. It didn't take her long to notice what the two had been talking about, her eye going wide at the sight. She just stared, unable to utter a word.
“What is it?” Becky asked. “Do you see anything?”
But all she could do was keep staring. My god... this is sick.
Ravager swallowed, taking a step forward and kneeling down closely to inspect the scene. Her stomach churned a bit, but she forced the nausea down. She had seen some gruesome things before, but this was right at the top.
“Rose?” Becky said, voice crackling over a hiss of static on the comm link. “Hey, you there?”
Ravager shook herself out of the daze. “Yeah, sorry. Was just... thinking.”
“Well, what is it? What do you see?”
“It's... a body. I'll spare you the details.”
“It's that bad?”
Ravager swallowed. “Yeah.”
The body belonged to a young woman, probably one of the strip club's dancers, judging from the conversation Ravager had just overheard. The only problem was, the entire back of the woman's skull had split wide open, like an overripe melon. Brain matter splattered everywhere across the floor, but not even in a solid state. Anything inside her skull had liquified, draining out all over the floor in a bloody, sticky pool. Her eyes had also disintegrated, running out of her head in long, wet streaks. It was as though the contents of her head had just... melted. And then exploded.
Moving forward, Ravager examined the body closer, taking close observation of the woman's head. Aside from the gaping hole in the back of her skull, nothing else appeared out of the ordinary... until she saw something rather familiar. Pulling back the woman's ear, her gaze narrowed.
“Well that's interesting.”
“You find something?” Becky asked.
“There's a small hole just behind her ear,” she said. “Same spot as that needle device I pulled out of the other guy's head.”
“So you think that whatever happened to her has something to do with those devices?”
Ravager nodded. “Looks that way. My only concern is the purpose, though. They mentioned using people as puppets.”
“Wait... you don't mean, like, mind control or something, do you?” Becky asked. “Is that even a real thing?”
“We live in a world where people can fly, shoot lasers out of their eyes, and lift a jet-liner over their heads,” Ravager stated, lifting an eyebrow. “You seriously need to ask that question?”
“Well I don't know!” she exclaimed. “I'm still new to this whole... superhero thing. I don't know the kinds of stuff you deal with.”
“I know, I know.” Ravager sighed, lifting a hand to her forehead. “Sorry, I just... this whole situation is bizarre.”
“Now that I already figured out.”
“To answer your question, though, yes, it could be some form of mind control,” she explained. “Only, it doesn't look like they've perfected it, yet, judging from... this.”
Becky breathed out a long sigh. “Dios Mio... it would certainly explain why Stevens suddenly went loco on me.”
“And why a family man living on Levitt Street was moonlighting–or daylighting, rather–as a ninja,” she added. “But the question is why? What are they trying to accomplish?”
Reaching into one of the compartments on her belt, Ravager pulled out a miniature camera and began taking pictures of the scene. Any evidence was good evidence at this point, especially a dead body. She could add it to their notes and go from there. As she stood there clicking the camera, however, a voice suddenly cut her off.
“Who the hell are you?”
Blinking, Ravager slowly turned her head to see Madelyn, the woman who had been speaking with Kubrick, standing there in the doorway. “Oh... well hi there.”
“What are you doing down here?!” she yelled, taking a step forward.
“Shouldn't I be the one asking you that question?” Ravager asked, tucking away her camera. “You really should learn to clean up after your messes.”
Perfect, now I can take this b*tch down and squeeze some answers from her.
“Wonderful,” Madelyn muttered, “now I have to hide two bodies.”
With an angry growl, the woman charged forward. Ravager merely smirked, ready to put the hurt on... but what she saw in her precog made her suddenly duck and flip out of the way. As the woman swung her arm, it opened up, revealing it to be a cybernetic prosthetic. A long, razor sharp blade suddenly extended from the woman's wrist and swiped forward, just missing Ravager's neck.
“Jueputa, what's going on?!” Becky shouted, voice echoing in over the comm.
“Just a minute!” Ravager replied, ducking below another slashing strike. “Little busy right now!”
Ravager danced off to the side and reached back over her shoulder for her own blades. That's when she remembered that she had removed her swords earlier so she could disguise herself in the coat. “Sh*t!”
The woman charged again, this time thrusting the arm blade forward. Fortunately, her actions were wild and undisciplined, making it easy to evade. Turning her body out of the way, Ravager then lunged forward and tackled the woman. They landed hard on the ground, causing Madelyn's breath to rush suddenly from her lungs.
Another wild swing came in. Ravager ducked below it, then reached her hands out to grab the woman's arm, the one with the blade. In one hard, twisting motion, she bent it the wrong way, causing it to snap like twig. The woman didn't cry out with pain, considering the arm was robotic and likely didn't contain any pain receptors, but at least her main weapon had been neutralized.
The woman raised her other arm this time, trying to land a punch, but Ravager caught the fist, followed by a vicious headbutt to the woman's face. Now, Madelyn felt pain, nose going crooked and nostrils spewing crimson down her face. For good measure, Ravager delivered a hard knee to the woman's gut, then lifted her up and shoved her against a wall, cracking the plaster.
“So, you want to try that again?” Ravager said, narrowing her gaze.
“Who the... f*ck do you think... you are?” Madelyn uttered, spitting out a spray of blood from her lips. “You goddamn c-”
Ravager dealt a swift elbow to the woman's face, silencing her. “I'm The Ravager; remember it.”
“What do you... what do you want from me?”
“I want answers,” she said, her fingers tightening around Madelyn's collar. “And you're going to tell me what I want, or that broken nose will be the least of your worries.”
Letting out a long breath, Rose pushed open the door to her penthouse and tugged her mask off. It had been a long night, and she was just about ready to turn in. Uttering a small yawn, she walked into the kitchen to find herself a drink. Before she could even make it to the refrigerator, however, she felt a gentle pair of arms coming around her from behind, and an even gentler kiss on her neck.
“Welcome back,” Becky said.
Breathing inwardly, Rose paused a moment to turn back and give Becky a proper kiss. “Thanks.”
“So, here's a question, how the heck to you make it all the way up to the top floor of this building without anyone noticing you in that costume?
“Easy, I take the elevator from the parking garage, brings me right up to this floor,” she explained. “Not too many people wandering around down there at three in the morning, and even if there are, I'm good at keeping out of sight.”
“Hmm, still sounds risky to me,” Becky replied, pursing her lips.
“I've managed this far, haven't I?”
“Becky smirked. “So you have. Anyway, what are we going to do about this? What that woman said...”
The woman that Rose had interrogated, Madelyn Stravos, had revealed some rather unsettling information. Though Madelyn didn't know many specifics, she did mention that she had been recently contacted by Michael Kubrick, an old friend of hers now working for a man called Shao Shen. He offered her a future position of power in exchange for a few favors, one of them being to offer up her workers as subjects to his new neural devices.
Those devices, the ones that drilled into a person's brain, not only allowed control of the victim, but also increased biological functions, everything from cognitive functions to physical ability. As for what Shao was trying to accomplish through such means, Madelyn had not been informed of.
“We keep digging,” Rose said. “That's what we do. Whatever Shao is up to, I'm going to find out, and I’m going to stop him. Kubrick is still our best lead at the moment, so I'll keep following him, see what I can find.”
“Hey, you're not the only one who can do something here, you know.” Becky folded her arms, her gaze stern. “You're forgetting, I work at the same station as Kubrick. I can look in on him there.”
“No way, I'm not letting you get anymore involved in this any more than necessary.”
Becky narrowed her eyes, frowning. “Then what would you have me do, huh? Just be useless and sit here at night, talking to you over the radio? Come on, Rose, let me help you.”
“They've already tried to kill you twice,” she argued. “I'm not going to keep putting you at risk like that!”
“Rose, my life is already at risk everyday, just by being a cop,” Becky said. “Every time I put on that uniform, I know it might be the last. This isn't any different. Not to mention, you can't be Ravager during the day. That's a whole sixteen hours that you aren't investigating. Please, let me do what you can't.”
Releasing a long breath, Rose leaned forward against the counter and held a hand up to her head. She closed her eye momentarily, then shrugged her shoulders and brushed her fingers through her hair. No way Becky was going to let this go; she was too stubborn for that.
“Alright, fine,” she said. “Just... please, be careful, alright?”
A small smile came to Becky's face. She moved in and gave a light kiss, then rubbed a hand on Rose's back. “I'll be careful, promise. Now, come to bed.”
Becky worked quickly, rifling through all the papers in each desk drawer, hoping to find anything useful, anything out of the ordinary. She didn't know how long she had, so she couldn't afford to waste any time. Kubrick might be out on a case right now, but if he came back to find her in his office, things definitely wouldn't end well.
Hearing someone walking down the hall, she glanced up over the desk for a moment and froze. Fortunately, whoever it was kept on walking. Breathing a sigh of relief, she returned to her searching.
Nothing written down in his desk... maybe his computer?
Moving up into the desk chair, she wiggled the computer mouse to disperse the screen saver, surprised to find that the computer wasn't password protected. Digging through the computer’s files, however, she didn't actually find anything very suspicious, just the standard documents she would expect a detective to keep on his computer... except for one thing. Buried deep in the folder containing his personal case notes, Becky came across a folder named only 'X'. Giving it a curious look, she brought the cursor up and double clicked it.
More documents, most of these untitled. She opened one of them and quickly scanned through it, then another. Her heart began beating faster with every word that she read. This was the kind of information she was looking for. Only problem was, she couldn't go and sit here reading it all; she'd have to bring it back to Rose's place, then they could sort through it all there.
Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out a flash drive and stuck it into the computer's USB port, then quickly copied the files over. A short few moments later, she yanked the flash drive back out, closed out of the folder, and then headed for the door. Halfway across the office, however, the door opened. Becky froze, heart skipping a beat, as Detective Riggs appeared. For a moment, he paused, just staring at her.
“What are you doing in here?” he asked, taking a step forward.
“Oh, I, uh, was just... looking for Detective Kubrick,” Becky said, moving slowly around the man. “Was, uh... going to see if he wanted to grab dinner some time, yeah.”
“I don't think he'd be interested...”
“Oh, no, sure he would,” she assured “I mean we totally have a connection and-”
“Oh, uh, ha, imagine that...” Becky swallowed, clearing her throat and scurrying towards the door. “Guess I don't need to worry about it, then. I'll just be going...”
Smooth, Becky, real smooth! How did you not notice a wedding ring?
As she left, Riggs gave her a very long look, then walked around behind the desk. When he saw that the computer's screen saver was off, he narrowed his eyes and reached for the phone.
“It's Riggs,” he said, as a voice came over the other line. “Yeah, listen. We have a problem.”
Hovering over the computer, Rose and Becky closely examined the files that they pulled from Kubrick's office. The room was dark, the only light coming from the glow of the screen, which flickered every now and then, as Rose scrolled down or opened a new file.
“So you grabbed these off his computer, huh?” Rose asked.
“Uh, yeah...” Becky said. “Was pretty surprised it didn't have a password, to be honest.”
“No use worrying about it now, we have the files.”
And boy were these files ever revealing. Though they didn't give all the answers, there was plenty of new information. Kubrick wasn't really a member of the Silverstone City police force, for example. Well, he was, but he wasn't just that. He was a sleeper agent of sorts, for an organization referred to as the Fist of Shadows. The files didn't go into detail on the organization itself, though it did describe some of their plans.
“They're killing off mob bosses to take control of organized crime in the city...” Becky murmured, eyes narrowing at the screen. “Weeding out the competition.”
“And then using those neural stems to sink their fangs even deeper, gain control,” Rose said. “Only the devices aren't ready yet, which is why they've been testing them on nobodies. Until they can make stems that don't fail, malfunction, or otherwise kill their victims, they're not going to be attempting to advance their plans.”
“Do I even want to ask what those plans are?”
“I can make a few guesses...” Rose paused, tapping a finger against the desk. “Hold on, I have to make a call.”
Closing out of the folders, she opened her video conferencing software, putting out a call to Gotham. It wasn't too late yet, so hopefully he'd be there... Fortunately, he was. Though they had to wait about five minutes for a response, soon enough a familiar face popped up on the screen. Well, half a face, as Batman's suddenly appeared, in the Bat Bunker.
“Good, you're still there,” Rose breathed.
“Caught me just as I was heading out,” Batman replied. “What is it?”
“Whoa...” Becky leaned closer over Rose's shoulder, eyes going wider. “I still can't believe you're friends with Batman. That's actually really cool.”
Batman's gaze narrowed. “Who's that?”
“Oh! Lo siento, forgot to introduce myself,” Becky said, clearing her throat. “Rebecca Chavez. It's a real, uh, honor to meet you... um, sir.”
“Just Batman, is fine,” he said. “I've heard about you, though, Rebecca. Glad to see you two worked things out.”
Becky grinned, holding an arm around Rose's shoulder and giving a brief kiss to her cheek. “Oh, we more than worked it out.”
Rose cleared her throat, briefly averting her gaze in embarrassment. She hadn't really been intending to mention that to Dick just yet... but oh well.
In response to this, even the mighty Batman shifted slightly, eyes slowly widening. “I see...” He paused a moment, straightening himself in his seat. “So, what is this about?”
“Just a question,” Rose said. “What can you tell me about a group called the Fist of Shadows?”
Batman narrowed his eyes, thinking. “Fist of Shadows... sounds familiar. Let me check.”
In an instant, his fingers were flying across the keyboard, using that super powerful Batcomputer to its fullest. Within minutes, he pulled up the information. “Interesting...”
“What is it?”
“According to my records, the Fist of Shadows is a sub-sect of the League of Assassins,” he explained. “When the main group began warring with itself for control of leadership, a smaller collection of members broke off for good and began their own organization, the Fist of Shadows. I don't have much more information on them, since I haven't come across them myself. I can, however, add that they still hold similar beliefs as their former allies, but go about it in much different ways.”
Rose pressed her lips together, leaning forward. “Don't suppose the name Shao Shen is familiar?”
“Well, add it to your records,” she said. “Because I'm pretty sure he's the leader of this Fist of Shadows. Crossed him once before... it didn't go well.”
“I'll add the name,” he replied, typing his fingers across the keyboard. “Before I go, do you want any help dealing with this? I can have someone on the way tonight.”
Rose shook her head. “Not yet. So far, things are pretty under control. If I do need help, I'll call again.”
“Alright, then I'll leave you to it. I have to get going.”
“Wait, hold on!” Rose pleaded.
Batman lifted an eyebrow, not that one could see it beneath his cowl. “Yes?”
“How, uh...” Rose paused, pasture slouching a little. “How's Holly doing?”
At this, Batman gives a very small smile. “She's doing well. Looking forward to seeing you again.”
“Yeah... I'll be there soon as I finish up this case. Tell her I said hi.”
“Will do,” Batman said, giving a firm nod. “Anything else?”
“Just one more thing.”
“Stop picturing me and Becky in your head.”
Batman went quiet a moment, clearing his throat. He folded his arms across his chest, frowning at her. “...goodbye, Rose.” The screen went blank a second later.
Becky pursed her lips, shifting her weight slightly and putting a hand to her hip. “Well, interesting guy... not as scary as I would have thought.”
“Should have seen the first one...” Rose said, with a small laugh. “Anyway, time for me to get a move on. I get the feeling it's going to be another long night.”
Releasing a long breath, Michael Kubrick stepped out of the dry cleaner's and made his way down the sidewalk. Another malfunctioning stem. Just fantastic. That was not what he wanted to deal with right now. Shao was already getting impatient at the slow development; he wanted better results, something he could use without running the risk of killing half the people they implanted. The technicians were working as fast as they could, though. Shockingly, fine tuning a way to control and enhance brain functions wasn't as easy as Shao believed.
In the meantime, Kubrick had to keep other people's noses out of their business; Rebecca Chavez, for example, a woman who just didn't know when to quit. After the previous two attempts on her life, one would have thought that she would learn to stay away, but she just kept coming back. Unfortunate as it may be, now she had to be dealt with.
As he stopped at a crosswalk, waiting for the light to change, his phone rang. He pulled it out of his pocket, looking briefly at the name, and then answered, keeping his voice to a low whisper.
“What is it?” he asked.
The voice that came over on the other end was calm, yet eerily sinister at the same time. He thought he'd be used to it by now, but each time was like the first.
“No...” Kubrick sighed. “Things are coming along fine. It's just-”
The voice cut him off in mid sentence, words piercing like knives in spite of how relaxed they were.
“I don't know when they'll be ready,” he said. “We keep coming across more problems than we anticipated... yes, we're working on solving them... no, he doesn't know. I've been careful.”
And there it was, the subtle, yet very noticeable threat. A combination of insult and menace that chilled even someone like Kubrick to the core, and that was saying something.
“I assure you, sir, Shao doesn't suspect a thing. The stems will be completed eventually, and as long as he believes I'm working for him, you'll get what you want.”
The voice seemed pleased, or at least as pleased as a voice like that possibly could be. Kubrick's nerves settled down slightly. He wasn't used to that; usually he was one doing the intimidating, not the other way around.
Kubrick growled out a low breath. “Of course, yes... I'll call you when I have more information. Goodbye.”
Turning his phone off, he stuffed it back into his pocket and moved down an alley. Suddenly, he was really hungry; felt like he could eat a horse. After this next meeting, he'd have to stop somewhere and grab a bite. Breathing in deeply, he glanced back over his shoulder, then stopped outside a small door.
Tucked away here in a back alley right in the middle of the slums, it went unnoticed to the general public. But not to him. No, to him, this was a very familiar location. He raised a hand and tapped his knuckles against the frame. Two knocks. No more, no less. The small eye slot on the front of the door slid open a second later, revealing a blue pair of eyes.
“The sound of winter is cold,” Kubrick said.
The phrase was completely nonsensical, but it got the door to open. He gave the man within a simple nod, then pushed past him farther inside the dwelling. A brief walk through a narrow hallway, followed by a descent down a small set of stairs, and Kubrick finally appeared in one of the least known places of the city. It was no different from a normal pool hall, except that it also acted as a safe house for some of the lowest scum in Silverstone. Thieves, mobsters, murderers, rapists, and so much more, they'd all been known to frequent this place. Of course, that was only if they were lucky enough to find it, let alone be allowed inside. If you wanted in, you needed to make sure that the Silverstone underworld knew your name.
Kubrick moved past a couple of men playing pool, heading straight for the bar. The woman behind the counter gave him an amused look, mouth twisting into a half smirk, and hands going to her hips. She was dressed in torn, low cut jeans, and a half-shirt one size too small.
“Well, well, look who's back,” the woman said, grinning delightedly. “Just couldn't stay way, now could you?”
“You know me, Zaria. Once I get a taste...”
He loved the way she shifted her posture, hips popping out to one side and body leaning gently. If looks could kill, she would have offed him a long time ago. Everything about her, from the toned body, to her silky black hair, near perfectly shaped breasts, it all drove his senses wild. That body of hers was a canvas, too, tattoos in all the right places.
She wasn't a twig, either. She was built well, worked out, even threw a mean left hook. Not to mention, she was like him. Special. He had once seen her lay waste to an entire room full of guys just because she was bored. Bored. Normally, he'd only do something like that when he was hungry, but she was something else entirely. Zaria was his kind of woman.
“Oh I know.” Zaria leaned forward, spreading a playful smirk across her face. “You always come back for seconds.”
Kubrick let out a gruff laugh. “A little beyond seconds, aren't we?”
“Hmm, so we are,” she said, straightening her posture. “Best not let the missus hear that, though.”
Breathing out an indifferent grunt, Kubrick sat down in one of the seats in front of the bar. He rested his elbows against the counter, holding a hand over his wedding ring, as though it would suddenly disappear. “All part of the cover, Zee, you know that. Only thing Stacy is good for is keeping the house clean, and even then not so much. Your beautiful ass is the only one I need.”
Zaria grinned wider. “ Keep talking like that, and I might let you have it later. Now, did you come down hear just to ogle me, or do you have something important to discuss?”
“You know why I'm here.” Kubrick's eyes narrowed, expression growing stern. “Just letting you know the offer is still on the table. What I'm working on right now... it's big. Life changing big. I want you there with me when sh*t hits the fan.”
“Ah, right, the big plan. I told you I'd think about it.”
“And you've been thinking for quite a while.”
Zaria turned from him, grabbing a nearby washcloth. “That's 'cuz I haven't made up my mind yet.”
“I'm offering you something more out of life, Zee,” Kubrick said. “We won't have to hide anymore when this is done. We can be who we are. We can be what we are. And no one will be able to stop us.”
“You know I'm perfectly content with what I have now,” she replied, washing off the counter top with her cloth.
“And what do you have, really?” Kubrick frowned, glancing back over his shoulder at the other patrons. “An underground hangout infested by these fodder, these cattle. That's all they are: food. Yet we're forced to hide from them.”
“Yes, well those cattle also pay my bills,” she insisted. “When I feel like paying them, anyway.”
“Work with me, and you'll never have to worry about paying bills again.”
“Like I said, I'll think on it.” Throwing the washcloth over her shoulder, she folded her arms and gave him a hard stare. “Now, you want a drink or not?”
Releasing a slow breath, Kubrick leaned forward and tapped his fingers on the counter top. “Just a beer. You know my brand.”
“Coming right up.”
Turning around, Zaria moved towards the back of the bar. She bent low, reaching down for one of the ice boxes below the shelves, and purposefully sticking out her rear out as far as she could. Kubrick locked his eyes on her ass, hands held behind his head as he enjoyed the view.
Finally, Zaria slowly straightened herself and turned back around, sliding a beer bottle across the counter at him. “There you go.”
Kubrick smiled briefly, taking the bottle and raising it to his lips. Before he even got a chance to take a sip, however, a commotion drew his attention. He could hear pained shouts coming from up the stairs, back near the entrance. Suddenly, the man who had been working the door came tumbling down the steps, landing hard and rolling across the floor. Another figure then descended the stairs, at first hidden in shadows and then finally stepping into the light.
“Evening, everyone,” Ravager said, cracking her knuckles. “I hope I'm not interrupting anything.”
The two men nearest her abruptly charged. Ravager danced around their attacks with minimal effort, countering with a few hard blows that knocked them out cold. Three more men from the other side of the room came in, two wielding pool sticks and the third with a switchblade. Ravager caught one of the pool sticks and broke it in half with one hand, then kicked the man in the face, sending him tumbling backwards.
The second man swung his pool stick, but he wasn't any more successful. Yanking the stick from his hands, Ravager spun it around like a bo staff and pummeled the guy, dropping him to the floor. The third man, the one with the knife, somehow thought he'd fare better than the last four guys she beat up, and lunged at her. She simply turned to the side, swung the pool stick around, and bashed him in the back of the head. He fell unconscious instantly.
“So,” she said, tossing the pool stick to the side, “anyone else want to try?”
The few other remaining patrons quickly decided that they wanted no part of this woman, running around the sides of the room towards the stairs to get out. Ravager let them go; she wasn't after them.
“What the hell do you think you're doing?!” Zaria shouted, an almost inhuman growl erupting from her throat. “What gives you the right to barge in here and attack my customers?!”
“Technically, I only attacked the guy at the door,” Ravager explained. “The rest of them attacked me.”
Jumping up over the counter, Zaria landed on the other side in a crouch, a scowl on her face. She had that look in her eye, the one she got when she wanted death. “I'll bleed you like a pig!”
“Zee, calm yourself,” Kubrick said.
Glaring back at him, Zaria stood straight and curled her hands into fists. “But she-”
“I'll handle it, relax.”
Though keeping a hot stare on him, she backed down, taking a couple of steps back and allowing Kubrick to deal with the b*tch.
“Kubrick, right?” Ravager asked, cracking her neck from side to side. “Good, you're the one I want to talk to.”
“Oh, you wanna talk?” Kubrick took a step forward, rolling up his sleeves. “Sure, we can talk... but first, I'm gonna grab a bite to eat, if you don't mind.”
“Wasn't really planning on waiting around for you to order a meal.”
“Don't worry about that,” he said, spreading a grin across his face. “You won't have to wait long.”
Ravager stood there patiently, waiting for Kubrick to make a move. After all, he was just a normal guy, right? This really shouldn't take very long. A few well placed punches, maybe a broken kneecap, and she could start interrogating him for more information on Shao Shen and the Fist of Shadows. Unfortunately... things didn't quite go according to plan.
Kubrick grit his teeth, a pained grunt bursting past his lips, as his began to change. Muscles spasmed and grew, splitting his clothes apart. Thick hair, or rather fur, spontaneously sprouted all across his body, covering him from head to toe. His face elongated, narrowed, with his jaws coming together and forming a snout with razor sharp teeth, while his fingers extended and form equally sharp claws. Within a short few moments, the man Kubrick was no more. In his place was a beast, a monster, a... a...
“Hey, Becky?” Ravager said, taking a step back.
A small hiss of static came over her earpiece, followed by Becky's voice. “Yeah?”
“How's your knowledge on werewolves?”
“Uh... pretty limited? ...why?”
“Because I'm pretty sure there's one standing right in front of me.”
“There's...” Becky's words trailed off in confusion “Wait, what?”
The speed at which Kubrick blitzed her was astounding, far greater than a normal man. Guess that made sense, considering he was a giant wolf monster now. On the bright side, Ravager's own speed and reflexes were at a new level, ever since her training in Nanda Parbat. She reacted instantly, ducking below a sweeping claw strike and flipping herself backwards over a second attack.
“Yeah, about your detective buddy, Kubrick?” Ravager said. “He's a werewolf. Or a shapeshifter. Or... or something!”
Kubrick lunged forward again, snarling. Spittle dripped from his fangs, lips curled back. When he spoke, his voice was much deeper, scratchier. “ I will rip the heart from your chest!”
“Yeah, I don't think so,” she replied, darting around another claw strike.
This time, Ravager delivered a hard kick to the werewolf's face... which did just about nothing except make him angrier. Kubrick lashed his hand–or paw?–out to grab her ankle, before she could retract her leg. With an effortless motion, he swung his arm around and tossed her through the air. She managed to twist her body around in midair, controlling her flight long enough to land against the wall and push off without sustaining any injuries, but that didn't solve her wolf problem.
“So, does that transformation come with or without fleas?” she asked.
Kubrick growled again, charging in on all fours this time. He leaped at her, but Rose rolled beneath his grasp. In the same motion, she drew both her blades and sliced upwards, feeling steel rip open flesh. The werewolf landed awkwardly, hitting the floor and colliding with the wall. He wasn't down for long, though, returning to his feet a moment later. Though he was clearly bleeding, it didn't seem to slow him down much, as he ran forward again.
Ravager twirled around his outstretched claws and cut downward with her blades, slicing through the tendons of one of his elbows. This time, he howled with pain, clutching at the wound. He might be resilient, but a severed tendon was a severed tendon; he wouldn't be able to use that arm anymore.
“Alright,” Ravager said, crouching and spinning her blades around in her hands, “so are you ready to talk, or do I have to go all 'Van Helsing' on you?”
She really should have remembered to pay more attention to her surroundings. She was so concentrated on the menacing werewolf trying to bite her face off, that she didn't notice the next attack until her precog went off, and even then it was almost too late to get out of the way. Jumping back suddenly, she felt razor sharp claws slicing straight through her armor and tearing open several long wounds across her midsection. Had she not moved in time, her intestines would be on the floor right now.
“You never should have come here!” Zara shrieked, her voice wild and distorted.
Dropping one of her swords, Ravager held a hand to her wounds and looked back at the woman... or at least, the person who used to be a woman. While still feminine in appearance, most of her features had changed. Zaria's skin had become bright blue in color, now covered with what looked like tiny scales, while her mouth had widened and grown multiple rows of sharp, spiny teeth, like a shark.
Her body had grown, too, becoming taller and more muscular, causing her most of her clothes to tear off, while spiky ridges had developed along her backside. Add to that a long, whip-like tail growing out from the back of her waist, and Ravager had no bloody clue what the hell to make of it.
“What the f*ck are you supposed to be?” Ravager muttered.
The only answer she received was an angry, shrieking growl, as the she-beast lunged in again and swung wildly with her claws. Ravager dodged, then countered with another vicious sword slash. Only problem was, she hit air. Apparently, Zaria was quite agile, having no issue moving out of the way of the attack. No only that, but she was strong, too, a lot stronger than Ravager had anticipated. Zaria dove forward landing on top of Ravager and pinning her against the floor.
Not good, not good!
Zaria opened her mouth wide, exposing the multiple layers of of razor sharp teeth, then lunged in with every intent to tear open Ravager's jugular. Unfortunately for her, Ravager managed to twist her blade around at the right angle to place the sharp edge between herself and her attacker. Zaria bit down directly on the blade, and although her jaw strength shattered the sword, she recoiled with a howl of pain, as the razor edge shredded the inside of her mouth.
The grip on Ravager's shoulders loosened slightly, allowing her to slip out from beneath her attacker. She rolled backwards, popped back up to her feet again, and then... flew through the air, as Kubrick body-checked her through a wall and into the next room.
Slightly dazed, Ravager looked up from her backside just in time to see the werewolf standing over her and lunging in again. She just managed to get her arm up in time, feeling Kubrick's jaw clamp down around her forearm. At the same time, his claws sank into her side, puncturing straight through her armor and into flesh. Suppressing a sharp scream of pain, Ravager reached for her fallen sword, the one that Zaria had shattered.
With a deft motion, she thrust the short, broken point forward and stabbed the side of Kubrick's neck. The werewolf instantly released her and howled, staggering backwards through the broken hole in the wall. He knelt there for several moments, then yanked the blade out of his neck and threw it back at Ravager. Coughing blood, he slowly began to revert back into his human form.
Zaria, now also having reverted to her human form, hurried to his side. She spat out a large mouthful of blood, then helped him to his feet. “Michael! We have to get you to a hospital, now!”
“I'll be fine!” he growled.
“You will not be fine,” she said. “You're bleeding too much, and you don't heal as fast in this form. I'm not going to let you die.”
Grumbling slightly, Kubrick held a palm to his bleeding neck. She was right, of course. Even with what he was, he wouldn't last long like this without medical attention. “Fine. Still keep a change of clothes in the back?”
“Good, grab them.” Kubrick pushed her away, then walked over to the remains of his shredded pants. “I'm going to finish taking care of our problem.”
Pulling a gun from the pants, he stalked back towards the giant hole in the wall. When he made it into the next room, however, he didn't find anything; the woman was gone. Angrily, he beat his fist against the wall, fist crashing straight through the wood. “Damn it!”
Making her way up to a nearby rooftop, Ravager collapsed against the parapet and let out a grunt. She was losing blood, but not too much. Her armor, though it had been cut through like paper, had offered some protection, and the wounds weren't too severe. But it hurt. A lot. These weren't normal wounds. She'd had cuts and gashes like this before, and she knew how they felt. But these... they burned. Like fire.
F*cking werewolf, and... whatever that other b*tch was. Was not prepared to deal with that.
As she took in a few sharp breaths, the radio suddenly hissed against her ear. Becky's voice shouted over the comm, practically deafening her. “Rose! Are you there? What the hell happened?!”
“I got torn up by a couple of monsters, that's what happened,” she muttered.
“So, you're serious, then? A... werewolf?”
“Yeah, and some kind of demonic shark/lizard/alien thing,” she said. “I swear, if I run into a sparkly vampire next, I'm gonna be really pissed.”
“Dios mio...” Becky breathed. “Are you alright?”
Ravager shrugged, grunting indifferently. “I'll live. Might need to get patched up quick, though.”
“I'll have the first aid kit ready. Just- huh?” Becky's voice suddenly cut out in silence.
Ravager blinked, eye narrowing. “Becky?”
“Rose, uh, the power just went out,” she said.
“I got nothing, I'm stumblingly around in the dark here.”
Furrowing her brow, Ravager looked off into the distance. She could see the Silverstone Residential building from there, and sure enough, it was completely dark. “If something happened to the power, the building's backup generator should have come on.”
“Well there's -ow!” Becky stumbled, shouting out in pain. “Hijo de puta! I do not remember that chair being there!”
“Alright, just hold on,” Ravager said. “I'm not far. Be there in five.”
“Do you have any candles or anything? I could really use-” Her words cut out again, stopping in mid sentence.
At first, Ravager thought it was just a glitchy signal, but she soon realized that Becky went silent on purpose. A second later, she heard the sound of a gun being cocked. “What the hell is going on, Becky?”
“I don't know,” came the whispered response. “I thought I heard something.”
“What are you-”
“Sh*t, there's someone in here. I can hear him.”
Ravager flinched at the declaration. No power meant no security, no matter how advanced it was. No security meant that anyone could waltz right inside. But who was it? Did they come for Becky? How did they even know where to find her? Ravager's heart beat faster, going into full on panic mode. Ignoring the pain from her wounds, she sprinted across to rooftop.
“You see anyone and you shoot them, got it? I'm on my way now, I'll-”
Two gunshots went off. Then, she heard the sound of crashing furniture. A dazed grunt next, followed by glass shattering. And then static, as the communicator died. A numb sensation bubbled up in Ravager's throat. She ran faster now.
Hold on, Becky, I'm coming!
Ravager crashed through the front door, forcing it open. By now, the building's power had returned, allowing her to get a good look at just what condition her penthouse was in. The entire place was in shambles, ransacked to the fullest degree. Moving past the overturned furniture and scattered belongings, she made her way into the bedroom, flicking the light on. She found it much the same in here, as well.
Becky's gun lay on the ground, two shell casings nearby. Ravager knelt down for a moment to examine it, then looked behind her, towards the door. Two bullet holes in the wall. That meant Becky had missed whoever she was aiming at. But she didn't go down without a fight, either, judging from the scene. The bedroom was an even bigger mess, the entire place torn apart. Regardless of how well she had fought back, though, Becky was still gone.
Ravager suddenly thought back to the vision she'd had in Nanda Parbat, the one of Becky being beaten and tortured by someone for information. She had come back in order to make sure that didn't happen, but now it looked like coming back hadn't change anything at all.
No, no, no. I came back to prevent that, I'm not going to fail. I amnotlosing her!
Whatever it took, she was going to find Becky. But she couldn't do that in her current condition. Fighting through her worry and panic, Ravager stumbled into the bathroom and pulled out a first aid kit, while stripping off her armor. She worked quickly, trying not to waste any time as she patched herself up. She did a crude job of it, but it was passable for now. The worst of the damage was her mangled forearm; though she could still move and use it fairly well, her effectiveness with that arm was nowhere near top form, and it hurt like hell.
And why does it burn so much? Sh*t, feels like it's on fire.
She didn't dwell on it, though, returning to the bedroom and putting her armor back on. The biggest problem she had right now was that she didn't know where to even start looking. She didn't know who took Becky, or where they could have gone. With no power in the building at the time, it meant there wouldn't be any security footage, either. No leads, no way to find her. Unless...
Alright, please work.
Sitting down cross-legged on the floor, Ravager closed her eye and inhaled a deep breath, trying to calm and clear her mind. The vision she'd had before, it had occurred during meditation. She didn't know how it happened, but it had clearly been a form of her precog. So long ago, Dick had guessed that her power was evolving, and so it had. First to extend to those around her, and now to full on being able to see the future. But... was it a one time thing? Or could she figure out a way to make these visions happen? And could she control what she saw?
Taking in another deep breath, she felt the outside world beginning to disappear. She was retreating into herself, mind delving deep into her subconscious. Slowly, but surely, the world began to change. She opened her eye, witnessing fuzzy images coming into focus. Just like before, everything was washed out and colorless, a bit blurry even, but it was definitely a vision.
Standing up, Ravager moved forward, taking a careful look at her surroundings. Something was wrong; this place was the same as it was before. In the first vision, she'd been in some kind of large tool shed, or something of that nature. Now it looked like she was in a restaurant kitchen. Her heart skipped a beat. Did something go wrong? Was she seeing a different vision entirely, unrelated to Becky?
Damn it! Come on, this can't be wrong!
A sharp sound stung the air. Ravager's gaze snapped towards it, teeth clenching. Sounded like... a pained yelp. Straining her ears, she listened closer. This time, she heard a loud thwack, followed by another yell. And then shouting; a man, angry.
Swallowing a lump in her throat, she followed the sounds through the kitchen, coming out on the other side of large, swinging doors. She was the back area of the kitchen now; extra supplies, a sink, and a partially open door to a large, walk-in freezer.
Ravager ran to the freezer, throwing the door open wide. What she saw made her stomach twist in a knot. It was Becky, tied to the chair just as in her previous vision, only this time she was in worse condition. Knocked to the floor, several long cuts bled across her forehead, and her nose twisted at an odd angle, clearly broken. A large pool of crimson grew rapidly around her face, some from her nose and some from the large crack on the back of her skull.
The man administering this punishment slowly circled his victim, a steel pipe in hand. One end of his weapon dripped with fresh droplets of crimson. Ravager recognized this man now. She had seen him before... Riggs, she thought. Detective Riggs, Kubrick's partner.
“One last chance to tell me who you're working with,” Riggs said. “If you cooperate, I'll make it quick. Painless. Refuse... and I get to have a little fun.”
With a twisted smile, he took the end of the pipe and jabbed it between Becky's legs. A sickening, disgusting laugh chortled from his throat, as he dug the end of the pipe deeper. Becky grunted, closing her eyes and trying to crawl away, but it was no use. There was nowhere to go.
Son of a b*tch...
Ravager clenched her fists tightly, wanting more than anything to rip that man apart. But she couldn't do anything right now. This wasn't real, it was a vision. She had to find out where she was, had to get there before this happened.
Sprinting out of the freezer and kitchen, she headed through the main part of the restaurant until finally pushing outside. The city streets were blank, nothing more than a black, quivering abyss. She wasn't here for the sights, though. Turning around, she stared up at the restaurant's sign. It was blurry, too blurry to read. Taking in a deep breath, she focused, concentrated... The words slowly began to clear up. Just a little more...
Marchini's Italian Restaurant! Got it!
In the next instant, the entire world faded away, as Ravager came out of her vision back into the real world. Snapping her eye open, she lurched upright, a sudden stab of pain ripping through her ribs. She stumbled, but kept going, fighting through the pain. Couldn't let a few scratches stop her now.
Rebecca Chavez breathed outwardly, trying to come to her senses. Everything was in a haze, after that shot to the head. She couldn't even remember coming here... one minute, she was fighting tooth and nail against an intruder trying to kidnap her, and the next minute she was waking up here, in some kind of walk-in freezer. Where the hell was she?
“Rise and shine,” a voice said from behind her.
Suddenly, something hard poked the side of her head. She blinked, glancing to her right to see Detective Riggs standing there, holding a long metal pipe. A few more seconds, and things finally cam back into complete focus.
“Pendejo...” she uttered. “Keep that thing away from me.”
Crack! The pipe smacked into her shoulder, eliciting a sharp cry of pain from her throat. She swallowed, gritting her teeth and glaring back at him.
“Should have just left well enough alone,” he said, shaking his head. “You'd think after the first couple of times we tried to stop you, you'd get the message. But no, you just had to keep digging.”
“Well, I am a curious one. Didn't really think your sloppy work would go unnoticed, did you?”
Riggs scoffed. “Just needed it to go unnoticed long enough. Once you're out of the way, that won't be a problem.”
“How'd you even find me?” Becky asked. “I wasn't at my apartment.”
“Those files you stole from Kubrick's computer? They contained a very special virus. As soon as you uploaded them elsewhere, the virus infected your computer, and long as you were connected to the internet, we could track exactly where the virus spread to. Led us right to you.”
Becky's eyes narrowed. “Must think you're pretty clever.”
“I do my part.” Riggs circled around her, tapping the pipe against his shoulder. “Now tell me, who are you working with?”
“You ask that like you expect me to tell you,” she said, chuckling softly.
“We know she's come back,” he said. “The Blade.”
“Actually, she prefers Ravager. Just an FYI.”
Riggs leaned forward, bringing his face close to hers. “Who is she?!”
“Go to Hell.” Becky crossed her brows, moving her head a little forward and then spitting out a large glob of saliva into Riggs' face.
Riggs recoiled, wiping the spit from his cheek. “F**king b*tch!”
Then, he suddenly swung his weapon at her. Hard. The pipe caromed off the side of her head, knocking her straight to the floor. She landed with a thud, too dazed to even utter a word of pain. Instead, she just lied there, gazing up at the now spinning room. A warm trickle of blood began to spread through her hair, dripping onto the floor.
“Wrong answer,” Riggs muttered. “Care to try again?”
He held the tip of the pipe against her chin, eyes narrowing at her. She didn't say anything, mostly because she was still in too much of a daze to even think straight. He was patient, though; he could wait for her senses to come back.
But he never got that long.
Without warning, the freezer door flew open. A wild figure lunged at Riggs, knocking him to the floor and pummeling his face mercilessly with closed fists.
“Touch another hair on her head!” Ravager screamed. “I dare you!”
She was bloodlusted. Her fists don't stop, driving down against the man's face viciously, beating him to a bloody pulp. She felt bones cracking, blood spurting, and she heard his desperate cries, but still she didn't stop.
“I'll kill you, do you hear me?!” She clubbed her fist across his brow this time, severing one of his eyes from its socket. “Kill you!”
And she was killing him. She could feel it, feel his life slowly draining away as his face split apart farther and farther into a wet, bloody mess.
But then, she heard Becky's voice. “Rose! Stop!”
Her fist froze in mid swing, still raised high above her. She breathed in deeply several times, staring down at the man. Riggs' face was a nothing more than crimson paste at this point, but miraculously he was still alive. He uttered a few, agonized groans, followed by hoarse coughs filled with blood.
Swallowing a hard knot, Ravager stumbled back off of the man and sat on the floor, leaning against her hands. “Right... right, we still need him.”
“Si... he's done,” Becky uttered. “Now how about giving me a hand here?”
Once Ravager had untied her, Becky pushed herself up into a sitting position, teetering slightly as a bubble of nausea found its way into her gut. Holding a hand to her head, she closed her eyes and inhaled. “Oy, that smarts.”
“You alright?” Ravager asked. “You're bleeding.”
“I'll be okay...” she assured. “Just dazed. No big.”
“Becky, I'm sorry... I shouldn't have gotten you into this.”
“I was already in it before you even got here, remember?” Becky smiled lightly, trying not to let the pain show. “Besides, I'm the one who insisted I help.”
Ravager bowed her head, sighing. “And I let you.”
“Like you had a choice,” Becky said, breathing out a soft laugh. “I'm just glad you found me... how did you find me?”
“I'll tell you later. Right now, I need to squeeze a few answers out of mush face over there.”
“Then, we're going home,” she said. “I've had enough excitement for one night, and I could use a hot bath.”
“Mmm.” Becky's lips curled into a pleasant grin. “You and me both.”
Rose lied calmly on the bed, trying not to pay attention to how much of a mess her penthouse was in. There would be plenty of time to clean it tomorrow, and right now all she wanted to do was get some rest. The night had been far more eventful and painful than she had anticipated. As she sucked in a deep breath of air, she felt Becky's arm wrap around her, a light kiss pressing against her neck.
“Does it hurt?” Becky asked, tracing a gentle hand over the bandages wrapping Rose's naked midsection.
Rose looked down, flinching slightly at Becky's fingers. Even the softest of touches caused a strong, burning pain to tipple through her body. “Nah, it's fine, really... just stings a little. I heal fast, though, so don't worry.”
Becky inhaled a deep breath, cuddling closer and resting her chin on Rose's shoulder. “Think I'll take tomorrow off, help you clean up here. Don't really feel like going in with this headache, either.”
“Or with Kubrick still on the loose,” Rose muttered. “I messed him up pretty good, but with what he is... well, for all we know he could be perfectly fine by tomorrow. I don't think Riggs will be a problem, though.”
“Yeah... you really did a number on him.” Becky breathed out a sigh, glancing away momentarily. “Even after you tore his face part.”
“He wouldn't talk...” Rose said, shifting her eyes to the side. “And we needed that information. Plus, he hurt you. He was going to kill you. I wasn't letting him get off for that... so I did what I had to.”
“I know, but still... it was hard to watch.”
“Nothing he won't recover from in a month. Or five.” Rose cleared her throat, brushing her hair back over her ear. “The hospital will take care of him.”
Becky paused, bowing her head and slowly nodding. “Right... so what's the plan, anyway?
“Tomorrow, we go after their source,” she explained. “We know where they're building those stems now, so we're going to shut them down. And when I say we, I mean me.”
“No buts, Becky. Even I'm starting to get in over my head here.” Rose moved her gaze firmly back to Becky, locking their eyes together. “I am not putting you in that kind of danger again.”
Leaning up on her elbow, Becky frowned at her. “So what, you're just going to keep me locked up in a protective cage until all this is over? I'm not some helpless kitten that needs to be sheltered, Rose.”
“I almost lost you today!” she countered, sitting up straight in bed now. “And that was just to Riggs! What if Kubrick finds you? Or that monster friend of his? What if I'm not there to... I don't want you getting hurt anymore because of me.”
“So then teach me.”
“You heard me.” Becky folded her arms across her chest, glaring. “If I'm not capable of handling myself, then teach me how, teach me what you do. Everything you know.”
Rose let out a small breath, already starting to shake her head. “Becky...”
“You listen to me, Rose Wilson,” Becky said, pointing a finger directly into Rose's chest. “I like you. I really like you. And I want to be with you, no matter the risk, got that? I'm not going to have you feeling sorry for yourself because you can't protect me, because guess what? You're not always going to be able to. If you really want to make sure that your work doesn't get me hurt, then you teach me how to deal with it.”
For several moments, silence came between the two. Becky's stare was adamant, unwavering. Rose knew that look, knew when Becky wasn't going to let something go. Holding a hand to her forehead, she breathed out a long sigh and closed her eye.
Don't do it. You'll regret it. But she argued with herself. It would be for her own protection. It's not like you'd be taking her out with you every night.
Eventually, Rose bowed her head in defeat. “Alright, fine, I'll teach you. Eventually. Something like that isn't going to happen over night, it takes time... a lot of time. Hell, I've had a whole lifetime. But I have to move on those stems tomorrow, and I'm not leaving you alone again while this is going on. If I promise to train you, can you please agree to stay safe until this is over?”
Inhaling deeply, Becky pursed her lips, thinking. Finally, she exhaled her breath and nodded. “Si, I can do that.”
“Good... I know just how to do it, too,” Rose said. “But we can deal with that tomorrow. For now... I just want to get some sleep.”
The hospital room was dark and quiet, the only sound coming from the steady beeping of the heart monitor. Riggs took in a deep breath and slowly let it out, barely awake. The drugs they put him on had really taken him for a loop, but they didn't quite knock him out. The whole room was swirling, rippling... but at least there was no pain.
His thoughts were still clear, though. He still remembered the b*tch that put him here. When he got out, one way or another he was going to make her pay. First, he'd carve up Rebecca, maybe leave a few remains behind for Ravager to find. Then, when he got his hands on her... oh he'd have some fun alright.
As he lied there, lost in his thoughts, he didn't notice the door opening. He didn't even notice that anyone else had entered the room until a figure appeared above.
“Kew...rick...?” he mumbled, barely able to out a single word through his broken jaw.
“I heard you were here,” Kubrick said, folding his arms. “What happened?”
“Tat... itch... wit... duh swerds...” he uttered. “She... didis.”
“I see... yes, I can certainly believe that.” Kubrick paused a moment, lifting a hand to his chin. “But you did at least take care of Chavez, correct?”
Riggs ever so slightly shook his head. “She... stot ne...”
Kubrick breathed out a heavy sigh. “Couldn't even complete the one job I assigned to you... and she probably got the location of our base out of you, didn't she?”
All Riggs could do was slowly nod his head.
“Now look at you, lying in a hospital bed, useless,” Kubrick said. “Very unfortunate... Looks like we don't have need for you anymore.”
“Wha... wudda you...?” he groaned, shifting ever so slightly in his bed.
“Although, there is one thing you might be good for... I am still rather hungry.”
And then it happened. The man standing in front of him, the man known as Kubrick, transformed into a monster. That was the only way to describe it. A hulking mass of fur and claws, some kind of wolf beast. If he could scream, he would, but his voice caught suddenly in his throat. The last thing he saw was Kubrick's snarling jaws snapping down at him.
Rose worked her way around the living room, picking up overturned furniture, sweeping up broken glass, vacuuming, and pretty much cleaning every corner of the her penthouse. Riggs had really torn the place apart when he came to get Becky. Whether it was a product of their fight, or whether he was looking for something, she didn't know. Either way, she had several hours of cleaning ahead of her at least.
“So, are you okay with it?” she asked, holding the phone between her ear and shoulder.
A sigh came in over the line, followed by Dick Grayon's caring, yet also stern voice. “I still don't like it. Her coming here, I mean. I'm happy to help, you know that... but you don't really think she's going to buy that I'm a friend of yours in Gotham, completely unrelated to Batman, do you? She'll figure it out.”
“Yeah, well... maybe,” Rose said, lifting up a fallen picture frame and placing it back on the end table. “But if she does, you don't have to worry. She's a good person; she can be trusted.”
“I now you trust her with your secret, Rose, but this is different. This is bigger.”
Rose frowned, holding a hand to her hip. “What, you're saying your secret is so much better than mine?”
“That's not what I-”
“Look, Dick, please,” she said, breathing out a heavy sigh. “I need your help here. I don't want to risk losing Becky during this whole fiasco, I need her to be safe. I don't want to... I just... I like her, you know? I really, really like her. I...”
Dick uttered a sigh of his own, pausing a moment before his voice came back over the phone. “Alright, I'll do it. For you. If you trust her... then I will, too.”
“Thanks, Dick... really, I mean it.”
“Besides,” he added, clearing his throat slightly, “I have already run an extensive background check on her. She's clean.”
“You ran a...? Of course you did...” she said, shaking her head slowly. “Anyway, thanks again. Silverstone just isn't a safe place for her right now, not after the lengths they've gone to try and kill her already.”
“I understand,” Dick said. “And my offer still stands, by the way. Do you still not need help with this?”
“I'm... not sure.” Rose shifted her weight momentarily, bowing her head. “I thought I was fine, but after last night...”
She paused a second, clearing her throat. “Uh... well, what do you know about werewolves?
“I know it's a stupid question, just answer it.”
“Actually, it's not as dumb as you might think...” he explained, his tone growing contemplative. “I've encountered one before.”
Rose raised an eyebrow, sitting down on the couch. “You have?”
“Yes, his was Kyle Abbot...” Dick explained. “Although, I'm not certain if he was a werewolf in the sense most people think. Why do you ask?”
“Because I fought one last night,” she said. “Goes by the name of Michael Kubrick. One minute he was just a man, and the next he transformed at will, not exactly your full moon type.”
“And then there was that friend of his, some kind of shark alien chick. I don't know what the hell she was, but same deal. Perfectly human one minute, and then freak monster the next.”
Dick took in a small breath, thinking. “Well, I can't help you on the 'shark alien', but if this Kubrick is in fact infected with some form of lycanthropy, and isn't just a shapeshifter, I'd try silver. From what I've heard, it's like poison to them.”
“Silver, huh?” Rose said. “Pretty sure I can round up some of that.”
“Oh, and try not to let him bite you. That's how some strains of the lycanthropy virus are spread, through the host's saliva.”
Rose froze, her back suddenly stiffening. She swallowed, glancing down at her forearm, the one bitten by Kubrick last night. The noticeable physical damage had already begun to heal, which was pretty normal for her, and the regular pain had all but disappeared. But it still burned. Somewhere deeper in the wound, it was like fire.
No, can't be... just being paranoid.
“Uh, yeah, right,” she said. “I'll keep that in mind. Thanks.”
“You're welcome,” Dick replied. “Now, I'll be sending someone out to assist you later on. She'll be there tonight.”
“Alright, I'll keep a lookout. Becky will be by later, too. I'll give her the address.”
“Sounds good. Goodbye, Rose.”
When the connection clicked off, Rose gave another cursory glance to her bandaged arm, then stuffed her phone in her pocket and continued cleaning. A short while later, Becky exited out of the bedroom, hair wet and dressed in nothing but a towel, having just finished up a shower.
“So, what did that friend of yours say?” Becky asked.
“It's all taken care of,” she assured. “You're good to go as soon as you're ready.”
“And you're sure you'll be fine?”
Rose nodded. “No worries here. If all goes according to plan, this will end tonight. I just need to stop Shao... Kubrick, too. Once the head's been cut off, the snake dies.”
“Ah, but the head can still bite,” Becky said. “So be careful.”
“I will be.”
“Good.” Moving forward, Becky wrapped her arms warmly around Rose, smiling. She leaned closer, pressing their lips together in a deep kiss, and at the same time allowing her towel to drop to the floor. “Then before I go, let's have a little fun, ah?”
Leaning back against the rooftop parapet, Ravager looked up towards the sky. Any minute now, that was when Dick said his 'help' would arrive. Of course, he hadn't exactly been specific on who that person was. All she knew was that it was a 'she'. Probably Batgirl, which didn't exactly lift Ravager's spirits. That's just what she needed when battling a master martial artist, a werewolf, and a shark alien: an excitable, overeager spaz.
A short moment later, it appeared on the horizon. At first, it was just a small glow of light, but soon the aircraft approached into full view. It was the Bat-Jet, alright. Definitely Batgirl, in that case. Taking in a deep breath, Ravager tried to mentally prepare herself on how to deal with this girl, while she watched the jet hover momentarily and then descend to park itself on the rooftop. When the cockpit began to open, she pushed herself away from the parapet and walked towards it... only to freeze in mid stride when she saw the person getting out of the jet.
You have got to be kidding me.
Not Batgirl, no. A different member of the Bat Family, and one that was unfortunately very familiar. Her outfit had been modified since they last met, but the stylish domino mask around her eyes did little to conceal her actual identity. The rest of the costume was almost the same, all black with a gold bat symbol and utility belt.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Ravager asked, narrowing her gaze coldly.
“I was sent here,” came the indifferent response.
Ravager shook her head. “No, I get that. But why you?”
It was no secret that these two women didn't get along well. They'd had a long outstanding rivalry ever since their first encounter when Ravager had been assigned by Deathstroke – back when she'd been drugged and under his control – to kill Cassandra, Batgirl at the time. But Ravager had been young, then, barely sixteen. She didn't have the skill yet, nor the experience, and even though their battle had been near even, the older woman had bested her in the end.
They were able to have a rematch a couple years later, and by that time Ravager had grown in skill. But, even though Ravager had been winning that fight, the results were left inconclusive due to outside interference. Then, some time later, they had even worked together, albeit rather reluctantly, to take down their mercenary/assassin fathers. Needless to say, however, they had failed in that task, and didn't exactly leave on great terms.
So why on earth had Dick decided to send her?
“Batman... thought I could help,” Cassandra stated. “Problem?”
Grumbling slightly under her breath, Ravager turned away and began walking across the rooftop. “No, fine, whatever. Just try to keep up.”
“I can... do more than that,” she said, giving Ravager a firm look. “You know.”
Leaping down into an alley, Ravager made her way between the line of buildings, stepping around garbage and climbing over a chain-link fence. Naturally, Cassandra kept pace with her the entire way, with little effort.
“So what am I supposed to call you, anyway?” Ravager asked. “Or are there two Batgirls?”
Stopping, Ravager slowly turned her head to stare at the woman. “Uh uh, no way, I'm not calling you that.”
Cassandra lifted a curious eyebrow. “Why?”
“Seriously?” Ravager scoffed out a laugh, shaking her head. “Black Bat? Were you that short on ideas that you just took a color and threw it in front of the word 'bat'? It's almost as bad as Red Robin.”
“I don't see a problem,” Cassandra said, idly shrugging her shoulders.
“If you were that desperate for a codename, I could have come up with a few... like Batb*tch, for example. Yeah, I think that suits you.” Folding her arms, Ravager sneered slightly, trying to get a read on the woman. Cassandra's expression didn't change, though, remaining indifferent, stolid.
“Black Bat is fine,” she insisted.
Ravager rolled her eyes. “Whatever, it's still lame, and I'm still not calling you by it.”
“And Ravager is better?”
“Of course it's-- what the hell's wrong with Ravager?” Without saying anything, Cassandra simply turned away and continued down the alley. Ravager blinked a couple times, then hurriedly chased after her. “Hey!”
It all made sense, after she had learned from Riggs that the neural stems were being manufactured beneath the old S.T.A.R. Labs storage warehouse. The day she and Becky had searched this place and encountered that controlled guy dressed as a ninja, he hadn't been breaking in to steal anything; he'd been running home to his puppeteers. Had it been a test run? Maybe. Or just another malfunction that made him go running around the city in broad daylight dressed like that.
And how Shao had 'known' that Ravager would come back. He hadn't known at all. He'd just stopped by to check on progress, and they happened to cross paths. At least, that was how Ravager put it together now in her head. Either way, the plan was pretty straightforward. Get in, break up the operation, and get out. If Shao was there, then that was a bonus. It meant she wouldn't have to go hunting him down later.
The two women kept low, moving through the shadows and making their way to the side of the building. Cassandra paused a moment, glancing at Ravager curiously. “The woman you sent to Batman for... protection. A friend?”
“Oh, yes.” Cassandra nodded with understanding. “He said you were... a cop.”
“Uh, not anymore actually,” she said. “I meant the other kind of partner.”
Blinking, Cassandra gave her a brief, confused look. Slowly, a look of revelation came over her. “Oh... I see. I didn't think you were, um... with how you-”
“Incessantly flirted with any guy that moved? Yeah, I thought I was hetero to the bone, too.” Ravager walked up to the drain pipe on the side of the building, near the broken window. She gave it a little tug, then hoisted herself up against the wall. “But a little while ago, I realized something: why should I let something stupid like gender get in the way of someone I care about? Becky is... she's good to me. And I really like her. That's all there is to it.”
Cassandra shrugged her shoulders, climbing up behind Ravager. “I meant, with how you... slipped naked into men's beds.”
Ravager turned her head, glaring down at Cassandra below her. “That was one time. And I was drunk. And he kicked me out anyway!”
Cassandra merely held her stare, lifting a subtle eyebrow.
“Okay, it was several times. But I was only naked that once! Ugh, come on, we're wasting time.”
It was dark inside, as expected. Ravager clicked a button on her belt, causing the lens on her mask to switch over to night vision. How Cassandra managed to keep pace without stumbling over herself was a mystery, but whatever. After a quick descent down the stairs, they found themselves in the main storage area. This wasn't their destination, however. According to Riggs, the actual base was located in an underground cave system below the building, the entrance to which was across the room and down another set of stairs.
As Ravager and Cassandra made their way in that direction, however, they were suddenly interrupted. Ravager froze, as her precog went off, a hand flying out to Cassandra's shoulder to stop her. Kneeling down, she carefully inspected what appeared to be thin air. However, she could see it clearly now that she was paying attention: an almost invisibly thin line of wire running across the aisle in front of them.
“Trip wire,” Ravager said. “Rigged with explosives.”
Standing straight again, Ravager went to step over the wire, only to feel Cassandra's hand come to her shoulder this time and pull her back.
“A second,” Cassandra stated, pointing. “Behind it.”
Ravager looked down again, her gaze indeed finding a second trip wire, right in the path of where her foot had been coming down. Narrowing her eyes, she turned and gave Cassandra a small glare, then carefully stepped over that one as well. Without looking back again, she continued forward through the warehouse, carefully scanning for the entrance to the cave.
And that's when she realized that they weren't alone. Cassandra noticed it, too, suddenly tensing up and going on guard. It wasn't her precog that gave it away, though, no. Just... a feeling. A feeling that suddenly, something was different. Glancing upward, she saw them. A lot of them, standing atop the surrounding shelves and stacks of pallets, a grand total of at least fifty ninjas. Yeah, ninjas. For a brief moment, she felt as though she were trapped in a badly written comic book.
“You take the ones on the left, I'll take the ones on the right?” she suggested.
Cassandra nodded. “That works.”
The ninjas suddenly sprang down from their vantage point, coming at the two in swarms. A shame, really; Ravager had half been hoping that they'd do the whole 'one a time' thing. No such luck. Still, it wasn't anything she couldn't handle. She found that they all moved incredibly slow, relatively speaking. When they lunged in to attack, she barely even had to move to avoid them, countering with crippling blows. Likewise, Cassandra tore through her opponents with similar ease.
The two allies moved around each other, as the enemy group closed in on them. They covered each other's backs, assisted when needed, and kept the other alive. In spite of their overall distaste for each other, they actually worked surprisingly well together. Within several minutes, every last ninja lay on the ground, either unconscious or rolling around in pain, unable to stand.
“Not bad,” Ravager muttered, brushing off her hands. “For a Batb*ch.”
“Yes,” Cassandra stated, hands coming to her hips. “Not bad... for you.”
Ravager glared again, folding her arms across her chest. She couldn't decide if that comment brought Cassandra up a notch in her book, or down. “Right, well anyway, let's keep moving. We have to- Look out!”
After a sudden flash of precog, Ravager leaped forward and tackled Cassandra, knocking them both out of the way of an incoming attack. The large brown fur ball descended upon them, missing his target and instead colliding with the floor. Unfazed by the impact, the figure recovered and lunged in again for an attack, but Ravager was ready, swinging up one of her blades and forcing the assailant to back off.
“ Impressive, girl,” Kubrick growled. “But this time, I tear you apart!”
A second later, another figure leaped down from above, this one going for Cassandra. With little effort, Cassandra avoided the incoming claws, jumping back and raising her guard to defend herself against the new attacker. It was that Zaria woman, Kubrick's friend. And just like Kubrick, she had already transformed, in all her blue skinned, scaly, razor toothed glory.
“Werewolves and shark monsters,” Cassandra said, blinking curiously. “That's new.”
Ravager scoffed. “Tell me about it.”
Zaria shrieked, rushing in again for an attack. “I am a Celarian, you ignorant sow!”
Cassandra ducked beneath the incoming strikes easily enough, though she had to work for it this time. Zaria's motions were fast, vicious, and unpredictable. Well, unpredictable to anyone other than Cassandra and Ravager, both of whom had their own ways of figuring out attacks before they happened.
But Ravager wasn't dealing with Zaria. No, she had to contend with Kubrick, lucky her. With a bestial roar, Kubrick pounced forward, claws outstretched, but Ravager rolled beneath him out of the way. He landed on his hind legs, turning quickly and clawing at her again. Turning to the side, she flicked her sword out, cutting the underside of his arm. Recoiling, Kubrick, took a few moments to circle her, studying her.
“I guess you heal pretty fast,” Ravager said, holding her blade at the ready. “I could have sworn I crippled your ass last night.”
“One of the benefits to what I am,” he replied, a low growl grumbling in his throat.
“And just what are you, huh? Shape shifter, right? Thought the whole wolf motif was cool?”
If a wolf could sneer, Kubrick would be doing so right now. “I think you already know. By the way, how's your arm?”
Ravager flinched, glancing down briefly at her forearm, still bandaged tightly beneath her armor. Most of the pain was gone, sure, and she had regained most of its functionality, but that deep, dull burning still lingered, and it wasn't going away. Bringing her gaze back up to Kubrick again, she charged him. She wasn't going to wait for him to attack again, no. This time, she went on the offensive.
Kubrick was fast and agile, sure, but so was Ravager. He might have her beat on pure strength alone, but she had a lot of something he didn't have: skill. His actions were wild, unfocused. Hers were graceful, precise. She also had a secret weapon that she just happened to bring with her for this occasion. Ducking below another attack, she thrust one of her blades forward, piercing him through the shoulder. Kubrick emitted a howl of pain, but at the same time dug his claws into her backside, pulling her towards him.
That's what she had been waiting for. Reaching into her belt, she pulled out a small round pellet, something she cooked up earlier. Hitting him square in the face, the pellet exploded in a shiny mist that completely engulfed his head. Theoretically, it should take him down...
So long as it works... It had better work.
Instantly, Kubrick released her, reeling backwards and clawing at his face in agony. Low, scratchy growls of pain erupted from his throat, as the furry beast collapsed to the floor, twitching and slowly transforming back into his human form. He began to cough, spraying the floor with blood droplets.
“Wha- What did you do to me?!” he howled. “What is this?!”
Ravager let out a small groan, feeling the burn of fresh claw marks across her back. But she still managed a cocky, triumphant smirk, arms folding across her chest. “Ionized colloidal silver. Heard it was like poison to you guys... looks it's true.”
With Kubrick incapacitated, Ravager turned towards the other battle. She caught sight of them just in time to see Cassandra move underneath one of the monster's incoming claw strikes, and then deliver a crippling blow to the back of the neck. Zaria went down hard, landing flat on her face and rapidly changing back to her tattooed, human form.
Uttering a small, annoyed breath, Cassandra stood straight and brought her hands to her hips. She refrained from so much as grimacing, in spite of the several long claw marks slashing across her torso, showing no pain.
“So what took you so long?” Ravager asked, sheathing her blade
“Yours didn't have a... tail,” Cassandra explained, glancing down at the numerous scratches tearing open her suit. "With barbs."
“Hmph, fair enough.” Ravager stretched her back out, groaning slightly, and then continued through the warehouse. “Now, let's go stop these a**holes.”
The underground tunnels beneath the city were dark, dank, and quiet, about what one would expect. Where they had come from or who built them was a mystery, but Shao Shen and his Fist of Shadows had been using the cave system as their hideout. One would think that they'd string up a line of lights or something so they could see where they were going, but apparently ninjas could see in pitch darkness. Not even Ravager's night vision lens was helping, considering there had to at least be some amount of light, no matter how dim, for it to work. Here, there was just blackness. Instead, she and Cassandra were forced to glide their hands along the tunnel wall, using it as a marker to figure out where they were going.
Eventually, however, the darkness broke. At first, it was just a tiny glow in the distance, but the illumination gradually grew as they approached. Soon, they were able to see clearly, as the tunnel emptied out into what looked like a man-made hallway, complete with florescent lights on the ceiling, allowing them to see. The corridor was completely flat and empty, no doors or windows, no furniture, nothing. Just long white walls.
“And I thought a hospital was about as depressing as it got...” Ravager muttered. “They could at least throw up some pictures, or something, to spruce this place up.”
“Giving the enemy... fashion tips?" Cassandra asked, giving her a sidelong glance.
“Wha- no, I'm just thinking out loud. Shut up.”
Continuing down the corridor, they kept their eyes peeled for... well, anything, really. Not that there was much to see. The corridor had no turns, no bends, no markings, no nothing. All they could do was follow it straight to wherever it went, which turned out to be some kind of laboratory, or engineering station. Ravager didn't really know how to describe it, large room they came to was filled with all kinds of mechanical and medical equipment, tools, devices, and the like. As for the workers, they were nowhere to be found.
“Looks like this is where they made those stems,” Ravager said, taking a long look around the chamber.
“But they are not here... or the stems,” Cassandra said. “Batman said they control minds?”
Ravager nodded. “Yeah, something like that, though there's a lot more to it. All you need to know, though, is that we can't let Shao finish working out the kinks and proceeding with whatever his plan is. If it involves mind control, it can't be good.”
“Then we are late.” Cassandra held her hands to her hips, scanning the empty laboratory. “The workers aren't here... they don't need to be.”
“I think you're right... Come on, let's keep looking.”
Danny looked back and forth frantically, as the workers hurried to load the massive semi-trailer truck full of their equipment. He so did not sign up for this when that weird guy with the ponytail hired them. He was just a simple guy. He did the work he was paid for, didn't ask any questions. But being invaded by a couple of psycho-b*tches who wanted to beat the crap out of them was not in the job description! And now they had to relocate as many of the completed stems as possible before those two women got to them.
After all, the aforementioned psycho-b*tches had already torn through most of Shao's personal guard back in the warehouse. The security cameras had shown them as much. A few scientists and technicians hardly qualified to go up against that kind of crazy.
“Come on people, move!” Danny urged, throwing up one of the boxes into the back of the truck. “Faster! We have to get this stuff loaded and out of here before they show up!”
“A little late for that,” came a female voice from behind him.
Danny uttered a loud yelp, turning around to see both crazy women standing in front of the rear access tunnel that led back down into the underground workstation. He tried to run away, but a swift kick to the head from Cassandra knocked him out cold. He never had a chance.
Walking forward, Ravager cracked her knuckles and flashed an eager grin. “Alright, we can do this the easy way, or we can do it the fun way. What's it gonna be?”
Answering her question, the workers ran around in a panic, grabbing a few supplies on the way by and disappearing. A few of them loaded up what they could in the back of the truck before taking off.
Placing her hands on her hips, Ravager let out a disappointed sigh. “Man, I was really hoping for the fun way.”
"No need to... complain,” Cassandra said, heading towards the semi-truck. “We have what we wanted.”
Ravager joined her by the trailer, hands coming to her hips. “True... but my job isn't over, not yet. Doesn't look like Shao is here, so I still have a lot of weeding out to do.”
A voice from above, however, gave her other ideas. “Are you so sure, Miss Blade?”
“It's Ravager, actually,” she said, glaring upward.
THe man himself, Shao Shen, stood atop the back of the semi-trailer, arms crossed. At his side were two other ninja-esque goons, only these couple were garbed in red, instead of the traditional black.
So, either they're a step above the others, or they're red shirt fodder... Somehow I don't think it's the latter.
“Ah, my mistake.” Shao gave an apologetic bow, then swiftly straightened himself again. “Miss Ravager, then.”
Cassandra folded her arms. “This is the man who... beat you?”
“He's a lot tougher than he looks...” she muttered. “But it doesn't matter. This time, I'm ready for him.”
“I'm afraid your preparedness will have to be for naught,” Shao explained. “I've already defeated you, and have no interest in fighting again. You, however...” He was looking at Cassandra now. Jumping down from the back of the truck, he landed softly on the balls of his feet, maintaining perfect balance. “I see something when I look at you, something great. Perhaps you can challenge me.”
Cassandra raised her hands on guard, taking a fighting pose. “We will see.”
“So we shall. In the meantime, dispose of Ravager, please.”
On command, the two red cloaked ninjas leaped down as well, landing in front of Ravager and attacking. She jumped backward, defending from both sides as they came in. Yeah, they were definitely a step above the others. The way they moved, the way they coordinated their attacks... she'd never seen anything like it before. From what she could gather, they might only have been a small improvement over Shao's other forces on their own, but together they were quite amazing.
It was a good thing, then, that Ravager was no slouch herself. A couple months ago, this combo probably would have had her playing cautiously, defensively. Might have even beaten her. But now, it just made for a good work out. She didn't play it safe, didn't back away, no. She gave it her all. They came in hard, but she came back even harder, right at them. Her knuckles battered into jaws, boots crashed against bodies, broke bones. It took two minutes tops to put them on the floor.
Brushing her hands off, she took in a deep breath and turned back to where Cassandra had been fighting... and instantly let out a heavy sigh. Somehow, she had been hoping for a different outcome. Standing there with one hand clasped behind his back, Shao held up a dazed Cassandra, his grip firmly on the back of her cape.
“I see you have improved, Ravager. A pity, though, that it comes too late,” Shao said. “Your friend here put up more of a challenge than you did... though, not much more, granted.”
Ravager tightened her jaw, glaring. “Put her down, and I'll show you a real challenge.”
“I am afraid that won't be required. I have no further need to waste my time with you. Consider this one last chance to walk away; continue to pursue me, and I will show no such mercy again.” On those words, he tossed Cassandra to the floor and then began to move back towards the truck, closing the rear doors of it.
Frowning, Ravager sprinted towards him, ready to tear him a new one. “Like hell.”
Before she could get to him, however, a flash of precog flickered through her head. She jumped to the side, spinning out of the way of an incoming sword that would have taken her arm off. Or her head. The red ninjas were back on their feet, having recovered astoundingly quickly for how hard she hit them, and they don't show any signs of lingering injuries. Uttering an annoyed shout, she attacked the nearest one and beat on him repeatedly, this time making sure that he wouldn't wake up.
By the time she was finished with him, though, the large garage door to the building was open, while the truck rumbled out onto the street. The second red ninja hadn't even attempted to attack her, instead completely bypassing her and taking the driver's seat of the semi, while Shao hung onto the passenger door, staring triumphantly at her. Springing forward, Ravager took off in a dead sprint towards the truck. She just needed to reach the back end of it before it got too far away, then she could jump on and find a way to stop it. Just a little more...
On a good day, her top speed on foot was somewhere around thirty-five miles per hour. But that's only when she was in perfect condition. With nagging injuries from the past two days combined, she wasn't in perfect condition. She hit maybe two thirds of her top speed, managing to gain on the truck for a short while, even coming to within two arms length of it.
But then the truck finally began to pick up speed, putting distance between them. In a desperate attempt, she leaped forward, fingers outstretched in attempts to grab on... but she grabbed only air, falling flat against the ground. Just a couple more inches and she would have had it.
“Damn it!” she shouted, beating her fist angrily against the pavement.
Cassandra appeared a moment later, limping towards her. “You were right... he was strong.”
“Yeah, and now he's getting away!” she snapped.
“No.” Reaching to her utility belt, Cassandra pulled out a small device and pushed a button, causing a red light start blinking on it. "He isn't."
“A tracking beacon.” Cassandra looked to her, giving a very subtle smirk. “I have a jet... remember?”
The Bat-Jet zipped through the night air at astounding speed, racing off in the direction that Shao's truck had gone. They should be able to catch up to him shortly now, though Ravager wasn't too thrilled about the current seating conditions. Practically squashed behind the pilot's seat, she was forced to contort her body awkwardly in order to fit inside the cockpit. Needless to say, she had an uncomfortable frown on her face the entire way.
“You know,” she muttered, “with more money than he knows what to do with, I would think that Dick could install a passenger's seat in his vehicles.”
“The smaller jet... is faster,” Cassandra said.
“And why do you get the big comfy seat, huh?”
“You don't know... how to fly it.”
Ravager frowned, narrowing her gaze. “...alright, dumb question, admittedly. Just hurry up already, I'm not losing this b**tard again.”
“Can you beat him?”
“Please, I know I can beat his sorry ass.”
“Gee, try not to sound so convinced,” Ravager said, rolling her eye.
“He beat you once,” Cassandra explained, shrugging idly. “Beat me, too... and I have beaten you before.”
“That was one time. Back when I was, like, sixteen. I would have beaten you the second time if we hadn't been interrupted.”
Cassandra was quiet a moment, easing forward on the controls. “We will never know.”
“Hey, you want to settle things?” Ravager glared, leaning slightly over the pilot's shoulder. “Any time, any place.”
“Later. The truck... it's coming into view.”
They flew low over the highway now, above the overpass that ran through the center of the city. Fortunately, a large semi-trailer truck wasn't exactly the easiest thing to lose. Compared to the Bat-Jet, it moved along at a snail's pace. Cassandra moved the aircraft lower in over the truck, matching speeds and then flipping the jet over. Flying upside down, Cassandra hits a button on the dash, causing the cockpit to slide open.
While the seat straps kept Cassandra firmly in place, Ravager fell out immediately, twisting her body around and drawing her swords in mid air. Hitting the top of the trailer, she stabbed both blades into the roof, using them to stabilize herself and keep from tumbling off the side onto the highway. With a few moments of adjustment, she was able to stand up and begin walking across the top of the truck towards the front. Cassandra, meanwhile, flipped the jet back and followed from above.
Ravager moved forward cautiously, careful of her steps and swaying with each jerk that the rig made. What she was not expecting, however, was for Shao to suddenly crawl out the passenger side window and flip himself up onto the roof of the truck himself. His actions were almost inhuman, the way he launched himself through the air, maintained perfect aerial balance, and landed on his feet without so much as a stumble.
“You should have walked away, Ravager,” he said, striking a fighting pose. “I did warn you.”
“Yeah, yeah, so you keep telling me,” she replied, rolling her eye. “You know, I think it's really time someone shut you up.”
“By all means, you are welcome to try. Just remember that this time I fight to kill.”
Battling atop a semi-trailer truck speeding down a busy highway had not been what Ravager had in mind for her final showdown with Shao Shen, but there was no use complaining about it now. Keeping her balance, Ravager ran across the surface of the trailer and lunged forward, bringing her hand back as if to punch, but suddenly twisting her body instead to deliver a spinning kick. Shao tried to remain calm, uninterested, as he stepped back away from the attack, but she could see it in his eyes: surprise. He hadn't been expecting such an unorthodox approach.
Ravager didn't know if it was pure skill or some kind of enhanced ability, but Shao's combat speed was off the charts. If she had come straight at him with simple strikes, he'd likely block or dodge them all, just as he did before. In order to hit him, in order to beat him, she had to mix it up, instead relying on feints and decoy attacks. This time, she had him actually working to defend himself. She could tell by the harshness of his blocks, the wide look in his eyes... but in the end, he still blocked everything she threw at him.
Now it was time for Ravager to go on the defensive. When they fought before, Shao's counterattacks had been so viciously fast that her precog couldn't keep up. It had forced her to rely on pure skill and muscle memory, neither of which had been on Shao's level at the time. This time, however, she saw the whole fight better than before. Her precog still couldn't keep up, so she ignored it. Instead, she fought through sheer instinct and reflexes. The fact that her natural attributes were already enhanced beyond normal levels only aided her cause.
Ravager's mind was barely even able to process all the actions they made, a large statement considering he enhanced brain functions, but her body reacted just the same. Shao made an attack, she dodged. She made an attack, he blocked. So many actions, all in mere seconds, and neither combatant landed a blow. During one particularly wild exchange, Ravager pushed herself back a little too far, sliding across the top of the truck and very nearly falling over. She retained her footing, however, taking a moment to steady herself.
“I see you really have improved,” Shao said. He looked at her differently now, as if he'd developed a sudden new respect for her as a fighter. “And by much more than you could have accomplished in a mere month and a half... tell me, where did you learn all that in such a short amount of time?”
“Sorry, trade secret,” she replied, shifting her stance.
Shao narrowed his eyes. “Very well. In that case...”
Darting forward again, Shao leaped through the air, a risky maneuver on the back of a moving semi. And yet his precision was astounding, delivering a perfect flying kick straight at his foe. Ravager brought her hands up to block, but the impact pushed her back a step. That step happened to come at the same time the truck took a sudden turn, causing her feet to stumble a little to the side. In order to catch her balance, she fell to one knee, a hand coming down to stabilize herself. That was all Shao needed, spinning around with another whipping kick that smacked directly into her jaw and sent her rolling across the back of the trailer.
Suddenly, Ravager was falling. She just plain ran out of truck, sliding all the way off and plummeting towards the highway below. In a reflexive motion, her hand darted out for something to grab on to, fingers just barely managing to grip the handle on the rear doors. In the same motion, the latch unhooked, causing the doors to swing open. Ravager quickly struggled to get a better grip on the door handle, so she wouldn't slip into a very painful landing below.
Briefly, she brought a finger up to her ear and pressed down on her comm link. “Hey, Batb*tch! A little help here!”
Cassandra's voice crackled in her ear a moment later. “Since you asked nice...”
The Bat-Jet gradually swooped down lower, moving steadily to where Ravager hung off the side of the truck. The passing cars swerved out of the way, honking their horns, while drivers yelled profanity out their windows. One driver in particular threw up a middle finger at Ravager on his way by.
She frowned, bringing up her own middle finger in response. “Hey, screw you, buddy!”
When the jet was in proper position, Ravager pushed off of the swinging truck door and grabbed onto the aircraft. She very nearly slid right off, before finding a suitable place to get a grip. Cassandra then flew the jet higher, back up over the truck, where Ravager jumped off again and landed with a thud. Shao stood there calmly, waiting for her with his hands clasped behind his back.
“Welcome back,” he greeted.
Raising her hands again, Ravager took a fighting stance and inched herself towards him. Going against him in straight hand to hand hadn't been working so far, so she needed to improvise. If she could get him on the ground, then maybe... With a sudden idea, she charged him. Shao brought his guard up, preparing to block her attacks again. Unfortunately for him, she wasn't planning on throwing a kick or a punch, or anything like that, no. She figured he wouldn't be prepared to block her entire body.
Leaping forward, she lowered her shoulder and let momentum take her. Shao's hands raised in defense, but he figured out too late that she wasn't attacking by normal means. Instead, he took a few quick steps back and pushes his arms forward, trying to throw her away. But she adapted. Upon impact, she grabbed hold of his arms, disabling him from diverting her direction, and dragging him off his feet with her. They both fell to the top of the truck hard, rolling near the edge.
Ravager righted herself first, sliding into place over Shao, mounting atop him and giving nowhere to go. She rained down several, powerful blows, knuckles cracking against his face. She felt his nose break, lips split open... and then his legs suddenly come up and wrapped around her neck from behind, pulling her off of him.
This time, he made it back to his feet and lunged at her again, fist raised to deliver a crushing blow to her skull. But she was ready for him. Falling purposefully backwards, she grabbed onto his shoulders, planted her boot against his chest, and then flipped him up through the air over her. Shao let out a desperate cry, as he fell over the edge of the truck, just barely grabbing hold with his fingertips. Taking a few moments to gather himself, he kicked off against the side of the trailer and hoisted himself back up top...
...straight into Ravager's awaiting fist. She didn't hold back, either, throwing everything she had into the blow. Her knuckles smashed against the side of his face, knocking him straight to his backside and out cold. Breathing out a relieved sigh, she reached down and lifted the unconscious man by the collar, holding him upwards.
“I told you, didn't I?” she said, looking towards the jet.
“Yes... you did,” Cassandra replied. “Impressive.”
“Now come grab this a**hole. I have a truck to stop.”
Silverstone Police Chief Gerald Palmer stood calmly beneath a lamp post in the middle of Silverstone City Park, checking his watch. It wasn't often that he was called up in the middle of the night to come meet secretly with someone who claimed to have information about an underground criminal organization. He also couldn't fathom why this supposed informant would call his home number, instead of the police station, but the voice on the other line had sounded urgent. That being said, just where the hell was she?
That's when he saw the silhouette appear at the edge of the lamp light. The figure stood there a moment in the shadows, just watching. Raising an arm up above his eyes, Palmer tried to block some of the light from his eyes and get a better look.
“You the one I spoke to on the phone?” he asked.
“That's me, yeah,” came the reply.
“So why don't you step into the light, where I can see you?”
“I plan to, in a minute,” she said. “I just need you to not overreact when I do.”
He narrowed his eyes slightly, taking a step forward. “The hell are you talking about?”
On that note, the woman slowly walked forward, stopping only for a brief moment at the edge of the light and then stepping into it. She stopped about five paces away from the man, arms folded across her chest. Palmer's eyes went wide, instantly recognizing who it was.
“You!” he exclaimed, hand moving to his hip. “You're The Blade!”
“It's Ravager, actually...” she muttered. “People really need to start getting that right.”
Palmer drew his gun, pointing it straight at her. “Hands on your head, now! On your knees!”
Ravager sighed rolling, her eyes. “See, now that's overreacting.” With a motion far too quick for the chief to react, Ravager snatched the gun out of his hand, emptied the clip, and then popped out the chambered round. She then handed him back the empty shell of a weapon. “Wanna try that again?”
“What the...” Palmer lifted the empty gun, staring at it for a few seconds.
“I came here to talk,” she explained. “Not to get arrested.”
Palmer's gaze hardened. “You expect me to let you go after what you've done around here? Just because you disappeared for a while doesn't mean your crimes went with you!
“I can explain all of that, if you'll just listen. Are you going to listen?”
Pausing briefly, Palmer glanced down again at the useless gun in his hand. “Suppose I don't have a choice, do I?”
And so she told him everything, about how she had been forced to commit those crimes in order to save the life of a friend, about how she was the one who tipped them off about Jerry and his operations, and all about the Fist of Shadows, Shao Shen, Kubrick and Riggs' part in everything, and the mind control stems that they had been creating. She of course left out key details, though, including her identity, Becky's involvement, and the fact that Kubrick was a werewolf.
When she finished, Palmer looked about as confused and amazed as a man can possibly be, blinking back at her and running his fingers through his hair. “That is... quite the story, Miss...”
“Right, Ravager.” He cleared his throat, swallowing. “So, you're telling me that some secret ninja society has been working under our very noses to come up with a way to mind control innocent people to further their objectives?”
“That's the gist of it, yeah,” she said.
“Was likely being manipulated by one of the stems,” she affirmed. “He's a complete dunce, but an innocent one.”
Palmer lifted an eyebrow. “You say that like you know him.”
“I, uh... have my ways.”
“And you're telling me now that you want my approval to continue running around this city as a masked vigilante?” he asked.
Ravager shook her head. “Not really your approval, no. I'm going to be doing it either way. I'm just trying to get on good terms with you before I do. Believe me when I tell you that I only want to help this city.”
“And why should I believe you?”
“Because I stopped Jeremiah Belmont and his operations,” she explained. “Because I stopped the Fist of Shadows. Because I exposed two dirty detectives in your station. Because I have helped countless other people during my time here in Silverstone, and saved God knows how many lives.”
Palmer's eyes narrowed again, jaw tightening. “So you say.”
“Listen, I may not act within the strictest confines of the law, but that's what you need around here. If I've done anything, it's at least show you that there are some things that go on in Silverstone that the police can't always stop. I can do the things that you can't. Let me help you. Please.”
For a long moment, Palmer stared, studying her. Every instinct he had as a cop told him in his gut not to listen to her, to just throw the cuffs on her now and take her in. Yet, another part of him not only argued that he wouldn't be able to if he tried, but that she might also be right. If she truly did wish to help the city, and work with the police, rather than against them... well, she might just come in handy.
“Before I make a decision on this, you said something about capturing the leader of this... Fist of Shadows, or whatever?” he said. “Where is he now?”
Lifting a hand to her ear, Ravager spoke over her comm. “That's your cue.”
A short few moments later, the sound of an incoming aircraft reached their ears. Palmer looked up to the sky, as suddenly a bat shaped jet appeared overhead, hovering in place. “What in the Sam Hill?!”
The Bat-Jet then descended slowly, parking itself on the cement walkway. When cockpit slid open, Cassandra Cain exited through the top and pulled an unconscious and bound Shao Shen out of the vehicle. Without so much as a shift in expression, she tossed the man to Palmer's feet.
“Wait just a damn minute,” Palmer said, blinking his eyes a few times in disbelief. “You work with the Gotham Bats?”
“I know them, yeah,” Ravager stated, shrugging her shoulders. “Work together from time to time, when I need the assistance.”
“If it... helps,” Cassandra said, “Batman vouches for her.”
Palmer uttered a deep breath, rubbing his fingers against his forehead. “I, uh... I see...”
“Once you take in Shao, here, there's a semi truck parked off exit 29 full of those stems and other equipment,” Ravager explained. “I can also give you the location of their base; you can probably find some more evidence down there.”
Palmer glared down at the unconscious man for a few moments, then slowly turned his gaze back to Ravager. “I have to say... this isn't... I mean you're... not what I expected.”
“Yeah, I get that a lot. Do we have an agreement or not?
“An agreement? Right...” Palmer huffed out a short breath, shaking his head. “I'm probably going to regret this, but yes, we have an agreement. For now. But you ever give me reason to, and I will slap a pair of cuffs on you faster than you can say sorry.”
A small smirk came to Ravager's face. “You're certainly welcome to try.”
Taking in a deep breath, Rose stood in front of the door for a brief moment, making sure that she looked presentable. She didn't want to go worrying Becky by looking too roughed up after the past couple days, after all. Reaching forward, she pushed the door open and stepped inside the Gotham penthouse.
At first, she didn't see anyone in the immediate vicinity. It wasn't until she made her way into the living room that she found them. Sitting at the coffee table, Holly toiled away at a coloring book, while Rebecca lounged on the couch, watching television with Damian. On the other side of the room, Alfred was busy dusting the furniture.
“Well,” she said, “isn't this a sorry sight?”
All eyes immediately turned in her direction. Holly was the first to react, running over and partially lunging at Rose with a tight hug. Mute as she was, her greeting was wordless, but words weren't really needed.
“Hey there, Holly.” Rose wrapped her arms around the young girl, holding her close in a tight, loving hug. “Told you I'd be back, didn't I?”
Looking over from his spot on the couch, Damian sat up and folded his arms across his chest. “Heard you were fighting werewolves and ninjas... some people get all the fun.”
“Not as exciting as it sounds, believe me,” Rose said.
Placing her hands on her hips, Becky took a few steps forward and smiled. “So, is it safe to come back yet?”
“Yeah, everything is taken care of. Shao's in custody, Kubrick and Riggs are nowhere to be found, and the cops already raided their underground base.”
“Good,” Becky said, widening a grin across her face. “Because I really did miss having you next to me these past couple nights.” Coming forward, Becky leaned in and gave Rose a firm kiss, hands wrapping around her waist.
At this sight, Damian's eyes went wide, eyebrows lifting up. “Whoa.”
Alfred, on the other hand, barely shifted his expression, going from overall indifference to slightly less indifferent. “Oh my.”
Holly glanced back and forth between the two women, as their kiss came to an end. Confused, she began to sign her question. “You two are... together?”
“Uh... yes, yes we are,” Rose replied, clearing her throat. “Is that... alright?”
Holly merely smiled. “Of course! I like Becky. I'm happy you're together.”
“Ah, gracias,” Becky said, holding a hand on the girl's shoulder. “I like you you too, girl.”
Rose lifted an eyebrow. “Wait, you understand sign language now?”
Becky shrugged. “Sort of. Holly's been teaching me the basics. Can't really hold a whole conversation, but I got a little.”
Suddenly, Dick emerged from the kitchen, sipping from a glass of water as he approached the group. “Finally made it.”
Rose turned her attention, giving him a genuine smile. “Yeah, had to stick around for a couple days to make sure everything was taken care of. Wanted to be sure that the Fist was out for good.”
“Cassandra tells me you did good work.”
“Yeah, well... so did she. As much as I'm loath to admit it, she made for a decent fighting partner.” Rose paused a moment, then narrowed her gaze. “But don't tell her I said that.”
“Not a word.”
Rose then shifted her attention, glancing back and forth between Dick and Becky. The wheels slowly began turning in her head, until she finally realized that he was speaking to her about Bat related information right in front of Becky. “Uh... wait, you're...” A small breath escaped her lips. “She figured it out, didn't she?”
“Please, girl,” Becky said, holding an arm around Rose's shoulders. “I'm not stupid.”
“Right... I suppose you're not,” Rose said, with a small chuckle. “Er, sorry, Dick.”
Dick shook his head. “It's fine. You were right about her... she's a good person.”
“You hear that?” Becky grinned, standing a little straighter. “Batman thinks I'm a good person.”
Rose leaned in again, giving her a brief kiss on the cheek. “That's because you are.” Then, she turned back to Dick again and uttered a deep breath, a soft, appreciative smile coming to her lips. “And Dick... thanks again for looking after Holly. And Becky, too. Really... I mean it.”
“It was no trouble,” he assured. “You're a friend, remember? Friends help each other out.”
“And by the way-” Dick glanced over at Holly, lifting his eyebrows a bit. “-what have you been teaching that girl?”
Holly shifted her weight a little, trying to hold back a wide smirk (and failing miserably at it).
“She's got some real talent,” Dick explained. “Even worked as Damian's sparring partner for a while.”
Damian snorted out a laugh. “Pfft, she still has a long way to go. Can't even touch me.”
“I just want her to be able to defend herself,” Rose said, giving a small shrug. “It's a crapsack world out there, after all.”
“So it is,” Dick said, giving a small nod.
Furrowing her brow, Rose tilted her head to the side, a sudden thought coming to her. “You didn't dress her up as some kind of winged animal and take her out with you, did you...?”
Dick folded his arms across his chest, eyes narrowing. “Of course not.”
“Sorry, had to ask...” she said. “Never know with you Bat people sometimes.”
“Speaking of which-” Becky turned her head, giving Rose a long look. “-you haven't forgotten your promise, have you?”
“No, I haven't forgotten,” Rose said, breathing out a small sigh. “We'll start soon as we're back in Silverstone, alright?”
“Good, because from the sound of it, I'm already behind.”
Holly held her hands behind her back and smiled innocently, teetering back and forth on her feet.
“Just one more thing before we head out,” Rose said, bringing her gaze up to meet Dick with a long look. “We need to talk about some upgrades.”
A large black van rolled up outside the plain white building, a secure government facility in the middle of nowhere. Kubrick turned the key, shutting the engine off, then glanced up at his reflection in the rear view mirror. Most of his face was burnt, cracked and peeling. Sure, it would heal in time... but slowly. Silver had that effect on him. Next to him, Zaria sat with her legs crossed and arms folded. She stared out the window silently, frowning.
“Glad you decided to come with me, Zee,” he said.
“Yeah, well, it'll probably do me some good to get out of Silverstone for a while,” she replied. “Plus, I want a little payback after what that b*tch did to us.”
“Don't worry, with what we have planned here... everything will be better soon.”
“You'd better be right.” Zaria turned her gaze, giving him a sidelong glance. “This little meeting isn't going to take long, is it?”
Kubrick shook his head. “Should only be a few minutes.”
“Good,” she said, pushing the car door open. “Because after this, we're hitting up a hotel. I really need a good lay right now.”
Kubrick glanced at the men in suits surrounding him. He didn't know why these guys bothered to show up when he visited. It wasn't not like they could do anything to stop him if he decided to attack. Not that he would, of course. He knew his place, when it came to this. If the world was going to change, he certainly couldn't do it alone. No, this man was the one to do it. The one he had come to meet with face to face today. The one whose words gave him that nagging sense of intimidation, and yet at the same time, inspiration.
Zaria still couldn't quite believe what she was looking at. After all, when Kubrick had said that they were meeting a powerful man, she had no idea that he meant him. This man didn't have power in the traditional sense; as a matter of fact, she could transform into her Celarian form and tear him limb from limb if she wanted to. But she didn't. At that moment, she actually believed Kubrick's statement that this man would make things happen, especially when going to these sorts of lengths... just the fact that he was working with Kubrick behind the government's back was a sign of something big
“Good to see you, Sir,” Kubrick said, standing straight and tall.
“Yes, it's been a while, hasn't it?” the man replied.
Kubrick shrugged. “Been busy. But, I do have what you wanted.”
He lifted the box in his grasp a bit higher, allowing the man to remove the lid and reach inside to pull out one of the long metal devices, one of Shao's neural stems. The entire box was filled with them, more than enough for what they needed
The man gave the device a long look. “And these ones work, correct?”
“They should,” Kubrick said. “This is the latest batch that the technicians created, after correcting the problems from the earlier design flaws. They'll give you total control over the people they're implanted in.”
“And if they do still malfunction...”
“Then the host will die, naturally.”
“Works either way, I suppose,” the man stated, placing the stem back into the box. “I'll have your payment transferred to your account, as per our arrangement.”
“Much appreciated, Sir.” Kubrick gave a firm nod, retaining his straight, even posture. “I'd like to continue working for you, too, if that's alright.”
“Of course, not a problem. I could have further use for someone with your... talents. But what about your friend here?”
Zaria lifted an eyebrow. “Who, me? I'll work for you, too, if you'll have me.”
“Zee's cool,” Kubrick assured. “She's like me. Special.”
“In that case, welcome aboard.” The man gave a wide grin, glancing back and forth between them. “I trust the two of you will do your jobs well.”
Kubrick smirked. “I guarantee it.”
“Good. In that case, you two are dismissed. I'll be in touch.”
“Of course, Sir.” Kubrick reached his arm out, pulling Zaria close to him. As they turned to walk away, he brought his hand down and took a firm hold of her rear end. “In the meantime, I have a little business to take care of.”
Zaria's lips curled into a broad, pleasant grin. “Damn straight, you do.”
When the two were gone, the man looked back down at the box now in his grasp and then passed it off to one of the surrounding men in suits.
“Load this on the truck,” he ordered. “Have it delivered to the lab immediately.”
The Secret Service Agent took hold of the box and gave a firm nod. “Right away, Mr. President.”