Not For Sale: Bane of All Freedom

Summary:
October 28, 2014: Light Where It Shouldn't Be Sparks Attention

Burnt Chemicals — Gotham


Characters

NPCs

  • Sparky
  • Hex
  • Ghost

Mood Music:
[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VP9I8ZUwKpc]


Night fell on Gotham hours ago. And, like most nights, it game with a vengeance. The smog-filled daylight cascaded into a starless, moonless evening, shrouded in layer after layer of heavy encrusted industrial waste emitting form the smoke stacks all around the Gotham's core chemical plant only conceal this area further in the dark of the night.

One of many chemical plants, Burnt Chemicals has been out of operation for some time. In fact, the building had been condemned nearly a decade ago. But the industry never picked up again.

The dust that surrounds the building, consequently, is something else. Inside, however, looks very different. Light reflects from surface to surface — white upon white in a constant ricochet of light.

Five bodies, seemingly dormant and hooked up to IVs line the edges of the room. The rocking of mechanics and scans on the bodies, imply something is going on.

"We can only collect the acid when she cries," Sparky reports to her boss. "Consequently, I've suggested a heavy dose of hallucinogens in order to acquire the tears. Don't worry though, we will harvest the chemical and find its properties. She did cry tears through the museum floor — " she explains. The rest of her team lingers in the corners of the room.

The man known only as Bane was a relative newcomer to Gotham, an industrious individual with an inscrutable past and a formiddable mien only further enhanced by the stories propagated between hushed glances in the dark. Wasting no time inserting himself into the city's notorious criminal element, his presence was like the swift receding of the tide before a tsunami. The abandoned building was but one of the operations he oversaw, a facade as convenient as any other for the moment.

The imposing creature heard Sparky's report with crossed arms, his expression hidden behind the full-headed mask he wears. "Very well, keep them sedated-heavily." He emphasizes that point, only a touch of accent creeping through, "I do not need further complication to this operation." His eyes scan briefly over the prone bodies in the room, mind wandering back to when he were one of these poor wretched. Strapped to a gurney, subjected to experiments beyond his control..

But it was different. He endured, was made stronger by the experience, and patiently waited to take his revenge on his tormentors. If these poor souls could not do the same, they simply weak.

"Continue harvesting them at regular intervals." He commands, off-loading a clipboard of reports to the lead researcher, "I want as much simple as you can obtain in order to provide an analysis, and I want it within 48 hours. There is no excuse for delays in schedule."

The dark-haired woman, with her grey-blue eyes nods once. "Of course, Sir." Her dark eyebrows arch upwards. "I will speak to the team and ensure they understand that the sedation is imperative." She turns on her heel and treads back towards the girl who they'd taken earlier that day. "I want you to try a different container. Something that could hold hydrochloric acid. If we're to analyze it, we need to successfully collect it — " she snaps.

Outside, the streets of Gotham buzzed with rumour. Words that echoed from one alley to the next about something transpiring in Gotham's industrial region. Robin, for his part, had stepped along smokestacks and rooftops, hidden in a veil of darkness to watch and listen and seek.

But the long-condemned building sparked Robin's attention. He paused at seeing lights on inside. "Oracle. Robin here are you seeing — " but even as the words escape Robin's lips, something becomes obvious. "Dead zone," he mutters quietly.

Tim pads to the centre of the rooftop, thankful that the building has a skylight, and he peers downwards, into the chemical building. His eyes widen as deja vu settles in. He's seen a similar set-up before. ON the docks. Some weeks before.

He reaches to his belt and extracts his cell phone. But if the comlink isn't getting a signal, it's unlikely the cell phone is.

Inside the room, however, some of the equipment reacts to something unseen. The beeps on several of the metahuman monitors get double signals. "I think we have an echo," Hex, a twenty-something, states as he flicks one of the monitors. "Did someone try to use their cell phone?"

"Very good." Bane summarized, and leaves them to do their work. He was not the overbearing sort of operator, who greased the wheels of his projects with threats, vulgarities and other base methods. The aura of command was more than sufficient to motivate most, and for those who were not…the consequences of failure were known. That was enough.

The foreigner is about to take his leave without further issue, but for the ping that registers on the medical equipment. Pausing a half-step at the doorway, he turns just over his shoulder at the young worker. No one here had use their cell phone, "Do not concern yourself with it. Keep working." And then he stepped out.

Down the stairs, out a side-entrance and into the adjoining alleyway Bane went, scanning the desolate surroundings with a predator's keen eye. Robin should have a perfect bird's eye view of the man-large, imposing and possessed of the primal movements of a dangerous foe. He didn't move out of view just yet, waiting a few moment before his back turned to the hidden vigilante, stepping deeper into the alley.

Robin actually curses when he sees Bane. This is precisely the kind of situation where he needs backup. Ever since he was VERY much a BOY wonder, Batman insisted on calling for help (probably because of Jason's death, but who's to know for sure?). The sheer size of the other man is enough to remind Tim of how much smaller he is.

His fingers press to his ear. "Help — Oracle, please hear me," he murmurs. "I need backup. Please see my position — please." Leaving the children in the room underneath him, however, is also not an option. "Call Gotham PD. Repeat. Call Gotham PD…. please."

Tim sucks in a deep breath. He silently hopes that Babs heard any of that. Swallowing hard, his gaze turns to the skylight where he counts at least four unfriendlies and five victims.

Five on one between the unfriendlies inside and the one outside. One at a time, he reminds himself. He steps to the ledge of the building and mutters again, "Oracle please, I'm begging you, hear me — "

For a moment, Bane seems to do nothing else. He stand there, back turned, staring down the end of a vacant alley. Perfectly immobile, he seems a statue cast out of a man, a silent sentry for the dusky, dank in-between passages of Gotham that presided over crimes both petty and obscene. Though he says nothing, he hears much, sees much, feels much.

Prey was on the wind.

"Why don't you come down?" The man finally says in the midst of Robin's pleas, "I assure it will do you little good to run, and this meeting is overdue besides. I wish to speak."

He turns around and looks straight up, directly at the Boy Wonder, "Do not keep me waiting. Patience is my strength only when I will it so."

Obviously Bane doesn't know Robin very well. Getting away is something the Boy Wonder has been taught to do. Tim, for his part, stands on the ledge. "We can talk from here," he calls back, maintaining a relatively safe distance from the other man.

His arms cross over his chest and he manages a dour tug of his lips thanks to the grim scene literally beneath his feet. "Quite the operation," he notes with a wrinkle of his nose behind his mask.

His hands absently drift to his belt, taking mental note of what exists clipped to it at easy reach. Maybe he can stall all of this so Oracle can get the message. She's a whiz at all things tech. Take out the static, take out the noise, and maybe he, and the kids inside the building, can be found.

His lips purse lightly. "What are you doing with them?" he nearly demands.

Bane crosses his arm, but doesn't seem to take any other action at Robin's refusal. For now, it seems enough that he does not flee. "Very well." The mercenary inclines his head, his poise remaining fixed and coiled, like a loaded ballista pointed straight at the crime fighter's person. The mask makes him unreadable, and his voice show a similar leverl of discipline as well-cordial enough, but with the confidence of assured strength beneath it, "A necessity." He says regarding the ones locked below.

For Robin's question, he shrugs, "That is your job to figure out, is it not? Knowledge does not come freely." Every moment Robin makes is noted, catalogued and filed away as Bane holds conversation, stepping slightly aside from another angle.

"You are one of his soldiers, yes?" He asks in spite of what he just said, "The Batman."

Tim squints behind his mask. In a way, it's almost disarming to have an actual conversation, drawing Robin to the edge of the building. He settles onto it, setting on its edge while still watching the large man's movements. "I work with the Batman," he affirms. Not Batman, but THE Batman.

But then, even that's tenuous at this moment. "Among others," he adds. "There are a lot of people looking into your — " there's a pause while his eyes hone on the large fellow " — efforts." His jaw tenses.

He shifts again, pushing himself to a stand. He can't let his defences down too much.

With, for, under. Bane's unchanged posture suggests he bears little concern with how Robin defines his partnership to the Batman. Still, the confirmation earns the slightest nods. An associate of The Batman. One who had seen him, been trained by him, whose words would be heard by him. For a stricken instant the shadow of a screeching, winged beast flashed behind the former prisoner's mind, the demon of his childhood nightmares cresting above the waters of his subconscious.

It would have to do.

"I am aware of such things-do not presume to educate me, boy." The edge in Bane's voice sits as comfortably as a knife might in his hand, honing to a measure of respect, "Yet you have dared to look closer than all of them. A bold choice…or a foolish one. Perhaps both." He raised an arm, and with that Sparky-who watched the exchange from a window-took action, electrifying the roof Robin sat upon and forcing him to make a change of ground.

Bane waited with a careful, deliberate cracking of his massive knuckles, "One way or another, we shall see."

"You won't get away with it," Robin hisses. "They'll all get closer. You've walked too close. Too close to trouble."

BZZZZZZZT

The power that Sparky conducts through the walls of the building surge through Robin, and, having stood on edge, he can feel his balance failing. His body vibrates with the shock, and he can feel his footing change. The surface beneath his feet gives way to air. And Robin is free-falling.

He doesn't come to right away, and the free-falling is both shocking and disarming as he tries to shift his angle of falling. The cape finally catches the air shortly before the ground.

THUD

It's not quite enough to give lightness to the landing, meaning that Robin hits the ground hard. He groans as he presses himself up to his feet. Quickly his fingers trail to his belt and he tosses two smoke grenades towards the large man. Maybe he can give himself a bit of a screen from the large man.

"You suffer from a error in perspective." Bane continues speaking even as Robin rolls and falls from the roof, his eye never leaving the young crimefighter, "One I shall now correct for you."

"It is not I who walk too close to danger. I /am/ danger. Danger, threat and more. I risk nothing for what I am, yet you and your people risk everything by provoking."

Not that it mattered, truly. Such conflict, Bane reasoned, was inevitable..even desirable. He had come to Gotham for this very reason.

The youth's recovery isn't one, to speak frankly. Only the most trite of disappointments characterize Bane's gait as he strides forward, heedless of the smoke that pours from the tossed grenades as they expend themselves, "I 'get away' with nothing. This is no shadow game I play, but a declaration of intent. And you…you shall be my messenger." One massive hand reached forth through the mist, grasping for the boy wonder. Even if Bane can no longer see him, he knew precisely where he was, seemingly unaffected by any other characteristics of the smoke-blocked by the mask, perhaps?

"But first, a test."

The moment the pellets were released, Tim's fingers track to his belt and curl around the metal cylinder so familiar to him. With an abrupt shake, the bo staff reaches its full length. But the hand that grasps him isn't met with a firm strike because it catches Robin entirely off guard. With a gasp of breath, the Boy Wonder is tugged out of the smoke.

But as he's pulled forward, the staff strikes hard and true towards the large man. "No test — " Robin objects as he follows through with the weapon he's become so skilled at.

He follows through with the weapon again, spinning it once in his grasp as he shifts his weight towards Bane, possibly to catch the large hulky man off guard and prompt Bane to release him.

As Bane pulls Robin forward the other's bo staff does indeed strike true, the blunt end of the weapon sailing a in perfectly arced blow across Bane's face. There's the satisfying, slightly yielding /smack/ of physical contact followed by the halting movement of the larger man's masked face as it jerked to the side in a refreshing remind some physical laws still held sway over the man, reinforced when the second blow and snaps his head to the other side.

Despite such ferocity, his grip on the willful crimefighter does not yield. Instead, Bane's head turns back on him with onerous effort of a titan's steely regard, his chin slightly tucked in a gesture both deferential and frighteningly serious. "You have been trained well. Good." His grip tightened, ridiculous muscles tensing as the man twisted with all his might about his torso while pulling his arm back, "Now, let us see how well you fly."

Bane proceed to /toss/ Robin like he were a shotput, granting the Boy Wonder his hard-fought freedom, albeit not in a form he was likely to prefer. The wall at the end of the alley would approach at a terrifically high speed, the pounding presence of the criminal's thundering footsteps no far behind.

THUD

Brick vibrates against Boy Wonder, causing decrepit pieces of mortar to trail down to the ground in a pebbly cascade, creating a thin layer of dust over Robin and his uniform. The bo staff falls against the ground as its master loses grasp of his weapon.

CLANG

He groans hard on impact and can feel the wind knocked out of him as he collapses to the ground. He tries to catch his breath, ribs aching with each inhalation. Determination and, perhaps, desperation prompt him to peel himself off the ground despite the bruising he's already feeling around each of his muscles. Adrenaline is a wonder drug. And, thanks to Bane, Robin has spades of it.

His hand reaches out to clasp the staff. "Oracle, if you can hear me, please send backup — " the sound of static continues to deafen Tim's ears.

There's a moment he considers retreat, but the image of the children on the other side of the wall is enough.

Robin runs forward, lunging at the large hulk of a man, staff wielded angrily in front of him. While he might not have Bane's strength, he's quick and agile (not as agile as Dick, but AGILE). The staff swings towards the man's head and then his legs.

The bigger they are, they harder they fall…. right?

Bane certainly has size, strength, and the sheer presence of physical intimidation. Any one with eyes could see such obvious facets.

Unfortunately, as Robin is about to learn, the presence of those qualities does not necessarily indicate the lack of others.

Thinking nothing of Robin's attempt to radio for back-up, other than to find it mildly amusing, the towering menace proves capables of frightful reactions now that he has ascertained the vigilante's element-his head instinctively jerks back as soon as the feels the whistle of air before the bo strikes, missing him by inches. Anticipating the lower strike as well, he'll left his leg to let it pass beneath, then /stomp/ straight down with his foot before the long weapon can crash into his still-standing leg, planting it in that ground with the surety of earth's own grasp.

Should Robin not do something quickly to resolve his weapon situation or abandon, he'll find a powerful backhand from Bane headed right across the face, followed a by a punch to the gut with enough force to through him right back into the wall on a direct hit. The strikes are deliberate, methodical, and precise; products of a mind intuitively trained for brutality rather than flailing strikes of some mad brute.

Even so, they are as the first two rocks to precede a landslide compared the to rain of blows Robin will suffer if he does not find a way to escape that hellish corner.

Bane's strength is something Tim definitely can't combat. Nor does he try. The lost weapon is certainly a blow, but Robin has been training for years with Batman. He's fought alongside as a protege and partner for long enough to know to expect retaliation. The backhand barely catches Robin's face, pressing his lips against his teeth — prompting a thin spray of blood from the Boy Wonder, and the punch to the gut grazes rather than truly strikes as Robin goes on the defensive. His body curls defensively into itself and his elbows protectively move towards his hips.

It's there he can feel it. His last opportunity at a weapon. The taser presses between his hip and elbow. There's no time for batarangs, no time for precision, just the last ditch effort of his very electric weapon against a much larger foe. A single hand drops, and he knows within instants that he's literally going to be caged against the wall.

Tim grasps the weapon and aims it to zap his opponent.

The young knight has some wileyness about him. Good, Bane thinks-it would be beyond disappointing for one so thoroughly trained by The Batman to fall before him easily. Yet fall he will.

Though the convicts punches did not find their marks, they have done their purpose-the boy has been blooded, an appropriate overture to the coming symphony. Having no reason not to press his advantage, Bane closes the distance between he, Robin and the wall of the alley even further, his arm rearing over his head with the finality of a Judge's gavel..

Just as Tim manages to fire the taser into his mid-section.

The darts land right in Bane's oblique abdominals, electricity surging over him in wattage more than suffficient to put a man down. A normal. Bane stands his ground, the vaguest sussurations rumbling out of his mouth seeming to be more from /anger/ than pain as his hairs bristle, crack and smoke (only mildly) from the electrical surge.

The blow delivered, he continues to stand there like a steaming, shadowy sentinel, holding pose just long enough that Tim might think the man had actually passed out on his feet.

And then he moves.

A powerful arm swats the taser out of Tim's hand, while the other comes in to /grab/ the crimefight viscerally by the face and slam him against the wall once, then twice, then thrice. "I said you would bear a message for me." His voice remains in check, authoritative and primal at once, "And I /will/ have you do so."

For a moment, there's a flicker of hope that something has worked against the very large man. Robin leans forward and spits blood from his mouth, spraying the pavement with red to match his uniform. The pause has breath entering Robin's lungs a little easier, and, with those breaths, he can feel the adrenaline beginning to dissipate. And as it does, every muscle of his body begins to scream. Getting solidly thrown agains the brick wall was bad. Beyond bad. He's hurt. And he still needs backup; he still needs help.

The kids. His head turns towards the brick building and its awful secrets. He still needs help with that. Too many against him. And he's already feeling it. His eyes blink hard as the taser is swatted from his grasp, but there's no time to react.

Pain sears through Robin's head. The ache of it consumes every piece of him. The words and slams fall on deaf ears. And, for Tim, the world goes black. Definitely concussed.

In the Clocktower, Oracles green gaze is concerned. It's been at least 20 minutes since Robins last check in and she's worried. Noting an unusual amount of static on Robins comms channel, she filters it but with little effect.

Sitting back in her chair, arms crossed, Oracle considers the options before nodding sharply to herself and sitting forward again.

The glow from the screens reflect on her glasses as she checks which assets are on the grid. There are two within distance of Robins last transmission.

Hands moving over the console, Oracle pulls up a specific address and enters a message to Jericho Trent, specifying the assistance required, Robins last known location (Ace and a comms channel to communicate with her on. Managing the communications with Jericho…. will be problematic, he only knows her as Babs.

The 2nd asset is easier and a wry smile touches Oracles lips. Tapping her communicator, she activates the app on Vorpals phone. "Keith, this is Oracle, Robin is in trouble."

"No doubt you think me a cruel man." Bane speaks softly, so as not to further perturb Tim's likely sensitives consciousness further, "But in truth I am merciful. Allow me to explain."

His knee finds the young vigilante in the gut.

"I have struck you only as I might strike a child."

The boy wonder is lifted up and set back against Bane's neck in want parlance commonly calls 'The Rack', the pressure of Bane's flexing arms building to discomfort and pain.

"I have left you your eyes, so that you may describe me." He thrust himself back into the wall, "Your ears, so you may hear me." He spins up the alleyway, delivering vertigo and nause, "Your tongue, you may tell of me.

He drops his bloodies quarry to the ground without ceremony or grace, settling his boot over Robin's head and, after letting the uncertainty linger, withdrawing it.

"And lastly." He crosses his arms, "I leave you your body, so that you may face me again one day." His head inclined, red-lensed eyes surveying his opponent dispassionately, "But first, the Batman will see you. He will witness my work, and he will ask what man has done thing. You will tell him. You will tell him everything to saw, all that I did, and will spare no detail."

Bane leans in close, his voice halting to just short of a whisper, full of menace and restrained fury, "Then you will him that I come for him. That I shall hunt him as the jaguar hunts the hare in the tall grass. You will tell him the war is upon him, and this city the field of battle. That he will be tested, tried, weighed and measured until he stands the end of that long, bloody, painful road. That is where shall find me, with judgment in my hands."

The giant's hands clench into tensed fists, then release.

"You will tell him that as, of tonight, no place in Gotham is safe."

Keith O'Neil happens to be at the Gotham Arms tonight, packing up a few things to take over to the Titans' Castle. When the StarkPad goes live, he is there in less than a second. Or rather, Vorpal is, because the young man performs the incantation the moment the words 'Robin' and 'trouble' (synonyms?) are said.

So it is the cheshire cat that looks at Oracle's virtual self, for the first time in many weeks. "Tell me where and I'm there, Oracle," he says, zipping up the neck of his uniform. "Vorpal returns to active duty."

Locating Tim had been a piece of work. The electronic jamming made an actual fix on Tim's location near impossible. Fortunately for the hacker, he's got some experience with this. Jamming like this has to be low powered, short range, otherwise the FCC followed shortly by a lot of people with very large guns would descend on the place en masse. Locate the jamming, get a good idea where to look for the ones being jammed. That was much easier and once he was in the area, thermal vision told him where to look.

Jericho's bright amber digital wings - formerly feathered but now batlike, no it has nothing to do with Gotham - fold in as he sets down above near the area where he can see the thermal signatures of someone getting worked over. There's a leather sheath slung behind his back and a pair of automatic sidearms at his belt. On the way over he had time to look up 'Robin'. He got a bunch of pictures of someone making out with Harley Quinn.

Really? He's being asked to come assist that?

Oh boy.

"On site." He murmurs into his own scrambled comms. "And just… what the hell is this?"

The ringing in Robin's ears clears up just as he takes a knee to the gut. His eyes squint behind his mask trying to bring the world back into focus as he gasps for breath, clearly winded from the blow. His eyes track back to the brick building that he'd so foolishly refused to leave.

He groans loudly when he's lifted into the air, and exposed to the The Rack, and every muscle in his body screams against the blows to which he's already been subjected. The Boy Wonder's face scrunches around the mask in a tight grimace. The words are heard, perhaps not listened to, but certainly heard.

The metallic taste in Tim's mouth has him spitting on the ground again. "You'll… never.. best.. Batman.." his mumbles through his bloodied mouth. "I'm.. not.. a.. message… boy…" he heaves another breath and tries to press himself upwards. But he fails, collapsing back on the ground with something between a self-deprecating smile and a grimace.

As Vorpals form appears on her screen, Oracle smiles. "Vorpal, Oracle. Nice to have you back. Robins last known location was Ace Chemicals, proceed with caution. Jericho Trent is also onsite. Report in when there. Over"

Her eyes brighten when Jericho's communications are received in a scrambled format, leaving her free to use her own "Mr Trent, this is Babs. What are you seeing and can you find Robin?"

Bane watches Robin's eleventh hour show of bravado until it is finished, shrugging his massive shoulders with a titching air of irrelevance, "On that count, we shall see."

Having no reason to wait around for the boy wonder's friends to pick him up, the criminal proceeds back into the building and issues orders.

"Pack everything up." He demands, "Including them." He gestures to the subjects, "We're abandoning this site immediately. Everything will be moved out via the tunnels beneath the basement. The way will be closed with bombs, the building burnt in 20 minutes." With that, he turns his back, "Begin now."

"Chemicals." Vorpal mutters. He knows where that is. "I'll be there as fast as I can." He takes his phone out and puts the modified bluetooth earpiece on. The phone goes into the zipper pocket at the right hip, because POCKETS, guys. This, he does so he can be in direct contact with Oracle, as he does not have fancy comm system yet.

He needs to remind Robin about that. "On my way-" the cheshire cat jumps out of his window and plummets to the ground, only to take off into the sky as a judicious use of Rabbit Holes uses gravity and holes in reality to give him wings where no cat ever flew. Ace Chemicals is far, if you go by car, even by grappling hook. But when you can punch connected holes into the fabric of reality within line-of-sight, and when you're high above Gotham, it was hardly that far at all.

Traveling through interconnected holes is more or less a roller-coaster ride, and it is simply exhilarating to Vorpal- it has been weeks… a month? since he's been able to travel this way. Unlike Jericho, he has no thermal vision, but he is a cat, and he also has the hearing of a cat. When he arrives at the area, he catches the tail end of Bane's speech and it is not hard for him to follow up on it. He lands on his feet, all grace and feral.

"Oracle, I am on site. No visu-" he stops, though, as his eyes focus on the area. To him, the shadows are not an impediment. There is a hint of someone down an alley… "-going into radio silence."

He vanishes into thin air, becoming invisible. He's going to investigate the perimeter and inch towards the alley, and then towardws the building should he find nothing in the alley. There was no reason to alert anyone to his presence, if he could keep the element of surprise.

Jericho flicks the case on his back open as he approaches Robin on foot. "Babs…" His voice is dry but he doesn't sound exhausted the way he did when Babs last spoke to him.

"I've got eyes on your Clown Lover." Yeah, he's already read the articles and trending twitter feeds. Perks of being a cyborg. The leather case holds what looks like an oversized multitool folded up. The hacker flicks at that, revealing a handle and pulls it out as it unfolds into a wicked looking blade.

He kneels, blade in hand to check Robin's pulse. "He's down, but his vitals are stable."

Aspect cannot be a comforting sight, glowing amber eyes, batlike wings of the same light and blade in his hand, kneeling over Robin, fingers on the Boy Wonder's neck. "I've got more thermal inside. I'm going to have a look." The cyborg murmurs, rising and moving to the nearest door as he calls up the building plans.

What Bane says is law.

"You heard your commander," there's no mercy in Sparky's voice, no gentleness or request, just the cold detached voice of a soldier in a much grander army. She touches the wall and the lights begin to flicker, a gentle reminder that there shouldn't be any power in this particular old, abandoned building. Her chin lifts and she peers up at the skylight with some unspoken question. "Take the specimens. We'll reconvene at the echo base through the tunnels."

Hex has already started packing. They knew they'd be moving the moment the kid was spotted on the roof. "Boss why're w — "

"Insubordinate," Sparky hisses towards the young man. "Move. Or suffer the consequences of your inertia."

Ghost focuses his attention on the specimens themselves rather than the materials and hospital equipment that Hex pays attention to. His hands grasp each, and then he dematerializes, taking them down the tunnels with him.

The site itself is a series of five beds — one of which has just dematerialized with the aptly named Ghost — and scads of hospital equipment. Vitals are monitored.

The sole woman in the room, Sparky, points to one small girl on the end, "Don't touch her tears, they're deadly."

Oracles eyes reflect the level of relief she experiences when Jericho reports in. "Thank you Mr Trent, but he's not my Clown Lover. If you could refrain from using my name for the time being, though, I would appreciate it. Please let me know what you find".

And then back to Vorpal "Vorpal, Oracle. Robin has been found in the alley, please make your way there. Jericho Trent is investigating the building. Over"

Vorpal frowns and drops from the rooftop and onto the alley, making a beeline now that he has the information. Indeed, he comes upon a Robin. "Damnit, Bird," Vorpal mutters, kneeling next to the downed Titan and becoming visible. He checks his vitals. "Oracle, I'm with him. He looks like hell… pulse is steady but he could have internal bleeding for all I know." He rests the side of his head on Tim's chest, letting his ears listen to see if there is anything amiss. "Where can I take him?"

"New York!" Jericho calls back halting beside the door. He'd been about to turn and shoot at Vorpal but saw him checking vitals. Sort of people who leave clown loving teens bloodied and beaten in alleyways don't do that. "There's a clinic in M-Town on Avenue C. Ask for Doctor DiLucci and tell him that Aspect sent you."

Turning his attention back to the door in front of him he does a quick examination of the door. Standard, solid, but he's long since gotten used to gaining entry in these sorts of things. His traces brighten as he enchances his strength, going blueish, then he leans back and kicks, moving in quickly.

The noises outside have Hex muttering, "We're blown. We need to move it. Forget the rest, we can get more of the kids later. They were easy enough, even with those adults protecting them — "

"Your commanding officer gave you an order," Sparky corrects as she touches the wall. "Take two more. The one with the tears." With one hand on the wall and the other reaching forward, she aims to zap the room's entrant with a quick jolt of electricity. She hasn't been ordered to use lethal force, they are, after all, under orders to be merciful. For now.

The war has only begun.

Ghost rematerializes and reaches for another one of the kids — the girl with the acid tears, to be exact. He dematerializes again.

Oracle hasn't heard Aspects instructions to Vorpal. "Vorpal,Oracle. Have you made contact with Jericho Trent yet? Stabilise Robin until you do. Over."

Oracles frame is tense, as she waits for an update from Jericho but she knows that patience is better than interrupting an asset in the field.

"Wait, aren't you the crazy winged guy—" Vorpal stops. No time to argue with crazy winged guys. "Jericho Trent? Is that his name?" Keith says to Oracle. "He's the guy who got into that fight with the chicken woman… anyways, I'm here and I'm trying to listen to his vitals," His other ear is still against Tim's chest, checking. "Trent wants me to take him to a hospital in M-Town. Do I follow that, or do you have a better dropoff?"

He's trying to sound professional, but concern keeps creeping into his voice. There is no telling the extent of Tim's injuries, not without some equipment. All he can do is transport him safely.

He reaches over and, yes, tears off the cape with a quick cut of his claws, because that cape is going to get in the way. He slides both arms under Robin and slowly begins to stand up, so as not to give him a jolt. Flying through the Rabbit Hole wasn't an option, he was going to have to walk through them using platforms so as not to jolt him around.

Glowing steps appear in front of him as he gains altitude, using his chaos magic to create an ever-replenishing and disappearing supply of steps hovering in the air. As he waits for Oracle's orders, he decides that the best thing to do is get him off the ground as soon as possible. Whatever did this to him might still be around…

And although Vorpal has to fight down the anger and the desire to revenge himself upon whomever beat his friend up like this… he needs to get him to safety.

The zap would probably be enough to put down anyone with a relatively normal physiology.

Jericho, as has been observed in many situations, isn't normal. He staggers back, shaking his head to clear his vision. The blade in his hand folds back until it resembles a kind of… rifle?

"Got a situation here. Engaging hostiles." It is a rifle! Or something similar. You can tell by how bullets are coming out of one end as the hacker's wings flap, sending everything in the room that isn't nailed down flying in a burst of wind as he snaps bursts of lead off at Sparky and her compatriots. Unlike them he has not been told to use less than lethal force, and he's got no particular sense of mercy for people who do this kind of thing.

In fact, really, the last set of people who he caught doing this kind of thing, he tortured by demon. And werewolf. It got ugly.

Sparky hits the deck at the round of fire. Her efforts, however, aren't nearly quick enough and a bullet clips her arm, spraying blood and causing the usually stoic woman to yelp. Dust covers her front from the floor of the plant, yet within seconds both her and her compatriots disappear — plucked from existence by the ever materializing and dematerializing Ghost.

The Ghost takes them through the basement with no effort — sinking through the floor.

This does mean, however, that they've effectively left three of their specimens behind — small comforts.

A quiet beep from a nearby console, however, begins to countdown from 30. Probably not a good thing.

As soon as he reaches rooftop height, Vorpal can move surprisingly fast while simply walking, when every other step is met with a platform and a rabbit hole spanning distances captured by the sweep of an eye. Mutant town closes in very quickly.

"Permission to stay with him, Oracle?" Robin may be a Bat-Kid, but he was also a Titan.

The gunplay could probably be heard outside. Jericho, unaware of whatever it is Catwoman's escaped love child is doing out there, moves quickly over the the console. "Babs, I've got a problem here. Got three immobile victims and a count down to what might be a self destruct here. I'm linking in now but if you can find a way into the system I wouldn't at all object to the help."

The numbers continue to beep backwards beginning the slow descent to 0, when inevitably bad things will happen. None of the victims make any motion or seem to have awareness of where they are. The IVs to which they're hooked up keep them in a steady stream of unconscious.

Receiving the feed from Jericho, Oracle brings up a screen and starts entering commands. All of a sudden, lines of code start scrolling in the window and then stop, one line blinking… "Mr Trent, I think I've found a back door, details being transmitted to you now. Can you work with that?"

Tapping her comms unit she speaks to Vorpal "Vorpal, Oracle. Please stay with Robin, I'm sure he will appreciate that. And thank you for your help today. Over"

"My pleasure, Oracle. I call dibs on lecturing him when he wakes up, though. If I'm not allowed to die, then he doesn't get special treatment." He sees the address coming closer and closer. Jericho's instructions are clear in his mind, so it is not long before Tim is on track for emergency treatment.

The Cheshire stays with him. He's not sure how much he is supposed to trust anyone in there, but he knows Tim probably wouldn't trust anyone because BATMAN IS BATMAN. So… a touch of Cheshire magic accompanies the Boy Wonder as he is treated. Should anyone remove his mask, they will find that the Boy Wonder is really… Nicholas Cage.

Because illusions make life worth living.

Jericho frowns as he focuses. He's working the keyboard of the device but only to give himself time. Oracle can watch him on her screens, watch him slip into the system. Thirty seconds isn't enough time for even a very, very good hacker to suss out what a program does and take it apart with the delicacy this probably requires. So he goes for the next best thing, selectively killing power to the components its affecting and isolating it from the processor. The program can hang in no-processor-resources purgatory until it's safe to examine it more closely and disable it. And Jericho would like the chance to do that, certainly, partly because it means nothing will have potentially exploded or killed the people behind him and partly because you can tell a lot about a programmer by his code. Even if he can't use it to identify the perp - and he'll certainly try - he'll definitely be able to recognize it if he sees it again.

The code works marvellously and the countdown ceases. Despite that, there's a rumble from underneath them like something has caved in. Evidently there were multiple charges of some sort in the world below. Regardless, the victims seem safe — unconscious and in need of medical care, but safe.

The lines of code aren't familiar, but the system may yield more than just code. While the data is encrypted, with some work, Jericho may be able to get more information on who did this to these people. And perhaps equally important… why.


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