Shhhh...
Roleplaying Log: Shhhh…
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

The Birds of Prey go in to stop the Whisper Gang in Atlantic City. Nightwing and John Constantine make brief cameos.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: December 04, 2018
IC Location: Atlantic City, NJ
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 05 Dec 2018 06:34
Rating & Warnings: PG-13 (ish)
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits: Batgirl as the Whisper Gang
Associated Plots

You know what city is worst than Gotham City?

Atlantic City.

It has a storied history of gambling and crime, rife with periods of riches that collapse into periods of rags and ruin. It could never really get its feet under it the way Gotham had — its corruption always ran out, the rich always sucked it dry, and then it was left emaciated. High poverty rates, high suicide rates, high drug rates, high homicide rates — and all of this lost under the gleaming stagger of hotels and resorts that just can't shove enough glitz into a city to make it heroin chic.

At least Gotham could turn corruption and crime into a lifeblood.

The boardwalk — a once fertile ground of booze and money — is overshadowed by glitzy high rises, some of which are just as empty as the decrepit buildings that cluster together in their oceanside lots. It is lined with shuttered casinos that have become safe havens for squatters. The old stretch of beachside attractions — halls of carnival games, hot dog stands, and sideshows — are loaded up with signs that beg for patronage: For Rent, For Lease, For Sale.

Just a stone's throw from the beach is a sprawl of vacant lots surrounding a glass monolith that reaches for the skies. It had been part of the revitalization efforts a decade ago, but closed up almost six years ago. The empty hotel reflects the gloom of the night like reflective obsidian. Its windows are dark with several shattered anywhere between twenty and fifty feet from its base — almost as if it had been a target for childish stone-throwing games. There's something otherworldly about it — the empty hull of capitalism set in the center of a skeletal buildings and barren dirt.

Building's foundation is layers of a parking garage that is accessed by just two gaping maws at the ground level. The only way to get to the upper levels was trudging up an echoy stairwell that eventually lead to the unmarked door that lies between the twelfth and fourteenth floor. Rather than skipping the number thirteen, the architects of this empty hotel designated the thirteenth floor as the "utility floor" — housing security, housekeeping, and other personnel quarters.

The group gathers in the stairwell with Batgirl up several steps toward the fourteenth floor. She's in a low crouch in cape and cowl; her armor is looking patched and perhaps on its last leg. She has had a hard few weeks, and it's showing. She looks down from her perch toward the rest of the group. "Alright… remember… we have one Bell of Banishing." She really has no idea why John called it that. Shouldn't it have had a more ominous name? She gestures to the heavy bell with a tarnished metal bell attached to a blackened oak handle; it has been given to Kamala for holding. "Small radius, maybe ten feet… so we either stick together, or we're going to have to play 'pass the bell.'"

* * *

Dead GIrl had floated through the walls- through the stairs. She's slightly see-through as she quietly floats in place. She looks at the bell with rapt curiosity. "Ooh. It's all tiiiNnnngly~" she says, voice sing-song and sweet. "And the ghosts just *hate* it." she offers next. "Oh, they hate it so much. Especially Creepy Karen. That girl has issues." Dead Girl looks towards dead space- where no one is standing. "Doesn't seem to bother this dude, though. Look at you, Karl, you sexy beast."

Dead Girl seems to be pushed playfully- or at least she shifts into the wall and back out with a grin. Is she talking to herself? Is she actually talking to the dead? Hard to say. One thing is certain- she is, absolutely, a walking corpse.

"I like this place. Feels homey. Like a graveyard." Dead Girl then offers to her companions. "But, I'm sort of a fan of the whole moldering skeleton look and feel. It's kinda my steez."

Dead Girl quiets then, attention falling to the others here- taking them in with those baleful red eyes- eyes that glow with the balefires of the afterlife. Coupled with her surprisingly sweet and friendly smile they give her a certain special ambience all her own.

* * *

Normally perksome and chatty, Kamala — who hasn't been able to shake off the nickname of Sandpiper among the Birds of Prey (it's NOT EVEN A BIRD OF PREY) — is a little more solemn than usual. Almost grim. Evidently she's modified one of her suits to be a little more somber — much darker blues and burgundies instead of bright red and blue and gold. That, or Gotham (and Atlantic City) just make everything look more shadowy.

Her back's against the wall but she's not leaning: she stands up straight to listen to Batgirl, worrying the inside of her lower lip. She can't quite help casting the occasional glance into the empty space Dead Girl talks to. Would it be better for that girl to be crazy or actually talking to ghosts? But back to the boss.

She's gripping that bell, too. With something of a death grip. "I can get most places," she offers. "But I can't see in the dark better than anyone else, so if they cast Greater Darkness… does this actually dispel the darkness? Or stun them, or just make them run away?"

* * *

THEN

You know what Jessica Jones hates? She hates going into situations blind. Both literally, as in the first time she and the Birds of Prey encountered the Whispers, and figuratively, as in info-blind.

Since she's a PI, she set out to change that. She spent days finding anyone in Gotham who would talk to her (with a brief segue into dealing with a broken bridge). Reporters. Police officers. Rival gang members. Good, scared people in the neighborhoods the Whispers controlled.

Getting people to talk was hard, but sooner or later information began to shake out.

NOW

Dead Girl's antics don't seem to phase Jess, at least. She had a friend once who spoke to the dead, though…Elinor Ravensdale had not been dead herself. That bit's kind of new. Still, at this point she's not surprised by much, not even dead back-up.

But as for Barbara's comment?

"Christ, we stick together," says one Jessica Jones. "Nobody needs to get caught in the kind of bullshit we dealt with last week. As it is, when is splitting up ever a good idea when wandering deep into gang territory? As it is, as far as I can tell there's maybe 24 to 30 of them here. And maybe some guy named Leon "the Mouse" Horban. Couldn't get much on him, but point is? We really don't want to send anyone in a situation where any of us can get swarmed."

She glances to Kamala, too, and nods approvingly. The younger woman has an outstanding question. And she'd also had plenty of commiseration about dumbass bird names. But that's neither here nor there.

* * *

Dinah tugs on the wristwraps of her gloves, cinching them a little tighter for the umpteenth time. She's not really nervous. It's the sort of habit one gets into while waiting for Something Interesting to happen. Her clothing could pass for sports gear except for how it's been arranged and worn for personal protection. Carbon impact points guarding shoulders and forearms, flexible, lightly padded leggings, and toe-stomping combat boots wrapped up to her kneepads with more of that carbon fiber and sturdy buckles.

"Deep breath, Sandpip," Dinah murmurs. She rests a gloved hand on Kamala's slender shoulder reassuringly. Like Barbara and Jessica, she's exuding an air of controlled calm, her black domino mask concealing any signs of fear and uncertainty.

"We definitely don't want to get split up if we can help it," Barbara agrees, nodding at Jessica. "We'll do the rope trick again, at least until we're through the thick of it. Everyone tied off to at least one other person. I don't want anyone getting stuck behind while we move forward."

* * *

For the most part The 'Rad' Sparrow had been unusually quiet, and all through the Dead Girl's display her eyes widen a little and she eye-shifts to Jessica, who she's standing very close too. Of course, what Kamala says immediately draws her interest.

"Holy shit Sandpiper that's a good point."

Arnavi says this with a whisper and turns her attention back towards where she thinks the Magic Guy might be. "Hey Magic Guy, did you use a light spell of third level or higher on this bell?"

The Red Sparrow's annoying factor will manifest in a whole new manner when she's forced to keep her mouth mostly shut. No singing. No dancing. None of the dumb shit she does when her sensory abilities allow her to absorb the field of battle and a few other simultaneous things. This is dangerous, deadly, and these fuckeroos happen to be using abilities that almost nullify her own. Standing next to Jessica, she nods along with her reasoning. "Hmm, I can probably act as a backup. I can feel people move against the floor. So I'll do my best on callouts. But yeah, splitting the party is just inviting some bad shit to happen. Never split the party. Don't worry Power Pigeon, I'll be right here next to you, Sparrowangs at the ready. Oh uh…"

Arnavi swallows just a little, and then leans in closer to Batgirl. "Any chance you were able to get me one or two more Sparrowangs?"

* * *

«"Hold on, I have something for this."»

"Can you not?"

«"I've been preparing this all day. Give me this, would you?"»

"I'm really not drunk enough."

«"You asked me to look in on your little tea party. This is what you get. You remember that. You asked for this."»

"Believe me, I've been wondering why ever since."

<"Ha ha. Okay. Found it. Here we go.">

"I'm here. Going radio silent."

Katherine Rebecca Kane doesn't necessarily know where she's going with her life.

«"'10 Things Better Than a Trip to Atlantic City.'"»

"I hate you."

But she certainly knows this is not high on her list of places she'd like to end up.

The Batwoman was something of a late addition to this foray — and really, if she weren't so obsessive, she'd normally be much happier leaving the others to it so she could spend her time doing something else. In Gotham. Alone. But if there's anything true about the Gothamite vigilante (or Gothamite vigilantes, in general), she has a hard time letting things go.

And that is what brings her to the fourteenth floor of a stairwell in one of Atlantic City's many, fashionably derelict buildings that stud its depressingly squandered streets, hot on the heels of the other gathered vigilantes. Julia Pennyworth's voice crackles in her ear from the comfortable distance of (one of) the Kane's yacht(s), filling her world with banter even as she focuses her white-lensed gaze on the bell in Kamala's grasp.

"Right. No horror movie tactics. Understood," echoes the pale-skinned bat, ruby lips pursing together as she looks Arnavi's way. A long second passes by.

"Power Pigeon?"

"… Sparrowangs?"

«"Number One: 'Get sprayed by a skunk.'"»

"Great."

* * *

Barbara looks toward Kamala and Jessica both. She nods soberly at the suggestion to stick together, but that Bat Family pesmissism suggests that that 'stay close to each other' is not going to last long. "Alright, stay close, then." Then her shoulders lift and fall with a deep inhale and slower exhale. Her brow furrows beneath the mask of her cowl, and then she nods slightly. "Dispel. It won't stun, or slow the Whispers themselves." With a causal downward tip of her chin, she shakes her head slightly. "I haven't seen this thing in action, but Constantine has assured me it works." By her tone, she's at least put some credibility into that.

When Red Sparrow leans toward her, she perks up her brows with a wry little smile. "Oh, right." She straightens out of her crouch, standing a good three feet over the woman to fetch something out of her utility belt. She's fashioned Arnavi some new 'rangs that do, indeed, look like sparrows with their wings spread. She hands them over, with a wry smile. "Razors only, but I slipped a concussion in there. Use it wisely."

Then she pivots slightly to Kate, stepping slowly off the step so she's back on the landing, or just a step above it. She actually smiles to the Batwoman, offers a half-shrug. "They grow on you." Then she nods to Dinah to get the door, standing at the rear of the group for now.

When Dinah opens the stairwell door, it swings open with the softest shush of hinges. The tension in the air may have warranted a creak, but instead it… whispers. It opens into a dark, industrial-style hallway. The ceiling fluorescents are out, and the carpet is tight and berber style, and the walls are stark and bare. It's dark, but light comes in, in weird ways through the windows and the moonlit night.

There's no immediate attack, or flood of darkness, or anything at first. Just a quietness that seems to settle into the bones of the building and cause an eerie affect to those within it. Those with higher senses detect nothing, but it is a normal nothing, not an abnormal one. Once everyone files in, they are greeted with doors — some open and some closed — that lead into various rooms. One says: LAUNDRY. Another says: COMPUTERS.

About fifty feet up the corridor, something passes from one room to the next in a strange moving silhouette. It stops, looks their way, and just keeps on going without a second thought. The noise and air in the hallway change, and there's the soft sound of weapons being drawn deeper down the hallway just beyond where the silhouette stepped past.

* * *

Dinah holds the door open and checks, then beckons everyone forward. She flashes a handsign at Barbara— 'I'll hold here'. Someone should be sure that their retreat is covered, after all, particularly after the disaster that was their last sortie against these goons.

* * *

Dead Girl is more than happy to take point- after all, she's already dead. What are they going to do to her? Kill her again? That's not likely. She floats forward, almost like a shark- lazy. Waiting.

How she moves is very ghost-chic. Slow, floating movements that speak of grace, before she goes solid and steps quietly on the ground. Better to be a solid target, after all.

She remains silent as she stalks forward, several steps ahead of the others behind her- close, but not too close. Just incase she catches a bullet. "Oooh, shadowy.." DEad Girl whispers ever so quietly, watching whatever was moving in the distance with those red eyes. Curious. Quiet.

* * *

Well, if Constantine says so…

Actually, who the hell is Constantine?

Sandpiper flashes a quick smile at Red (RAD) Sparrow. When they're done with this tonight, she might have to see about getting a capes-and-cowls D&D game up and running. She does, too, watch Batwoman with some degree of wonder. Some of these women she's met before. Some of them she's just heard of, seen from a far distance. But Kamala has a good sense for when it's okay to take selfies and when it's a lot better to hold onto a magic bell, ready to ring it like a Salvation Army Santa.

She keeps against the walls, pressing herself against them and narrowing her body enough to definitely not be a humanish shape. Nevertheless, something down there sees them. Glancing back to her party — did they see it, too? hear that noise of metal sliding? — she grimaces. The hand that isn't holding the bell clenches, then points. The sneaky approach might have to get replaced with the GET 'EM plan, favored among Ghostbusters everywhere.

* * *

Someone might have just opened a briefcase full of something gold and illuminating in front of Arnavi Mehta for the way her expression when ACTUAL SPARROWANGS appear and make their way to her hands. Before she had just been using a few Batarangs that O.R.A.C.L.E had mailed her way. Now, she was legit. Now she was- "Holy fuck, canon now." She turns slowly to face Batwoman, who… what the fuck. She simply stares at the absurdly pale woman with the absurdly red hair, her head tilting slightly as she focuses in on every detail. It's a brief recon mission, because she has answers to Kate's questions.

She vans out the Sparrowangs, gives them the Vana White, and then sticks a thumb sidelong at Jessica, while mouthing 'Power Pigeon'.

"Hi I'm Red Sparrow, and these are my Sparrowangs." And then she puts them away after introducing herself to Batwoman, and finds herself perhaps lagging a little behind as they enter the hall. The movement of that shadow is all she needs to see to stop short, and then she hears them, all of the weapons readying. "Multiple baddies, they're getting ready. Clear the doors, hallway might become a fire zone." She says it without moving, staring down the hall, waiting for some small hint of an attack to come, because for her it will come in slow motion, and she can be the warning system.

* * *

Someone might have just opened a briefcase full of something gold and illuminating in front of Arnavi Mehta for the way her expression lights up when ACTUAL SPARROWANGS appear and make their way to her hands. Before she had just been using a few Batarangs that O.R.A.C.L.E had mailed her way. Now, she was legit. Now she was- "Holy fuck, canon now." She turns slowly to face Batwoman, who… what the fuck. She simply stares at the absurdly pale woman with the absurdly red hair, her head tilting slightly as she focuses in on every detail. It's a brief recon mission, because she has answers to Kate's questions.

She vans out the Sparrowangs, gives them the Vana White, and then sticks a thumb sidelong at Jessica, while mouthing 'Power Pigeon'.

"Hi I'm Red Sparrow, and these are my Sparrowangs." And then she puts them away after introducing herself to Batwoman, and finds herself perhaps lagging a little behind as they enter the hall. The movement of that shadow is all she needs to see to stop short, and then she hears them, all of the weapons readying. "Multiple baddies, they're getting ready. Clear the doors, hallway might become a fire zone." She says it without moving, staring down the hall, waiting for some small hint of an attack to come, because for her it will come in slow motion, and she can be the warning system.

* * *

They grow on you.

«"Number two: 'Marathon J. Jonah Jameson's podcast archive.'"»

"Believe me," Kate assures Babs, the right corner of her mouth taking a sardonic uptick.

"I know a little about that."

With that, the black-clad crime fighter steps up onto the fourteenth floor, taking up the rear of the group just in case of ambush. She slips into the dark of that corridor, scarlet locks fading into muted hues of overshadowed red within the dim lighting as she all but blends into the familiar comforts of that gloomy stretch with little more than a, "Batwoman. Red Sparrow's not bad, but we need to work on your naming schemes a bit," offered in passing to Arnavi as she surveils the floor.

Nothing unnatural about it. No immediate signs of hostility. Not even that primal itching at the base of her spine to set her on edge about the potential of a trap. To be honest?

It just serves to make Kate all that much more wary.

If nothing else, though, Batwoman certainly excels at blending in to the wealth of shadows. So silent is the redhead at this point that one might wonder if she's even still there, all but gliding through the hall as her lensed stare shifts from door to door, inspecting the labels with a scrutinizingly distant stare. She can't relax. Especially in a situation like this, where everything is telling her she should.

Which is why, when that faint form of a silhouette slips by, she pauses. She hears the sounds of drawing weapons. And she suppresses the grimace long enough to hold out a hand, thumb pointed downward in a silent tactical gesture, her free hand falling down towards where she stores her host of Batarangs.

Enemy sighted.

«"Number three: 'Spend a romantic evening with Kite Man. Hell yeah.'"»

She's starting to agree with Julia, now. And that's the worst part of all.

* * *

Batgirl gives a tight nod to Dinah, and a passing grip on her forearm. Then she steps into the hallway with the others. She takes up a position close to Kamala, hidden down low in a crouch near an opened door frame. She looks down the length of hallway to spot the silhouette as it goes past, and then she narrows her eyes slightly. "Alright, as we agreed, we stick toget—"

There's a burst of movement, like shadows have suddenly come to life in the depths of the corridor's gloom. Abruptly there's ten of them — men and woman both — surging forward. They are darkly dressed, but the passing light glints off the metal that surrounds mouths and noses and gets lost behind the ears. They move almost silently, though the floors do give weigh to their feet against the tight berber.

Weapons are varied: knives, baseball bats, lengths of thick chain, tire-irons, tonfa. There's no darkness that accompanies them, making it — in this moment — extremely ordinary. If you're used to being bull's rushed in a hallway.

A bat-wielder at the front of the surge swing hard toward Batwoman with enough force that if it doesn't connect with Kate, it's going to put a serious dent in the wall. The rest rush passed and become a tangle of bodies, masks, and weapons.

* * *

As it happens, Jessica Jones is quite used to Hallway Fights. Not as used to them as Daredevil, but she's been in a few. It's kind of a Defenders requirement. Everyone else is slipping into shadows and being…well. Rather slick. But when they get rushed she just…wades in. With no particular grace, what she's trying to do is break the first couple of weapons on her forearms, and maybe shove a couple into the walls to knock them out. She's definitely going nonlethal here. That first idiot they caught was a kid, after all.

* * *

It's handy being special sometimes. It's a source of awe to Kamala, frankly, that anyone tries this without having some kind of phenomenal cosmic powers. She wouldn't run into insane hallway fights if she didn't have some protection against getting stabbed or shot or… chained, or tire-ironed, or… tonfa'd.

Sandpiper's still clutching the bell. She's not knocking it into people's heads, not yet. There's no magic yet, after all, and she doesn't want to chance the bell running out of juice — or, for that matter, the gang figuring out what they're up to before the festivities really start.

So: instead, she stays flat against the wall, but her legs and one hand lash out to knock them down, pull weapons out of their hands. It may look a bit creepy, having a couple-inches-thick dark blue shadow with the occasional arm or leg coming out of it, but it works.

* * *

For those new to the Red Sparrow Show, it will soon become abu- "Wait, what? You don't… you don't like my name? But I have a red bir.. right… " This is the sound of heartbreak. Well, heartbreak, and a sudden rush of violence. Because for those new to the Red Sparrow Show, they will all see something wholly unbelievable: She is bad at fighting. Not criminally bad or anything, but there's no style to it, nothing other than a movie choreography's artwork stolen and re-purposed with strength that makes it all work. Without looking, she ducks under a swung chain, and then does a spinning kick that sends that particular Whisper powering into the wall hard enough to damage it. Her other hand catches a bat near the base, and she drives the top back into her attacker's face before wrenching it from his grip to slam it through both legs and send the ganger in a sudden heap to the floor.

They flood the hall, move among them, and Arnavi plays the dance well enough. Sortof. Almost.

A sudden burst of laughter overpowers the THUNKS and POWS and CRACKS. "FUCKING KITE MAN!!

What's that? Did someone spot KITE MAN here?!

POW!

Rad Sparrow is a little less rad when she takes a punch to the face, the blow knocking her to the wall and putting her on the backfoot to dodge and play catchup, and all because she took some time to laugh about something overheard.

"Oh god," she says to the man who punched her. "is KITE MAN your mom or something?! Holy shit I DIDN'T MEAN ANYTHING BY IT!!"

* * *

"Oh, hey, where'd you guys come froo…" DEad Girl wonders before she's hit in the head with another baseball bat. This one is true. "Okay, super rude." she says as the side of her head- crumbled- suddenly pops back out like nothing had happened at all. She kicks that guy- hard- right down the hallway. It seems this Zombie has some strength to her.

"Karl, what?! Not now- can't you see we're being.. Oh.. OH! Down below you say. Well." Dead Girl suddenly goes insubstantial looking back. "MOre of them below- I'll take care of it so they don't sneak up on you guys." she says, before sinking right through the floor as if it didn't exist at all.

A loud thump follows… and screams. Absolutely shrieks of terror and abject fear… do things feel a little colder all of a sudden? Probably not.

But below? Dead Girl is wreaking havoc in all those horror-movie ways they were warned not to follow- albeit from the side of the creepy ghost and not the side of the frightened blonde teens in questionable locations.

Another Thud. More screaming…. and then dead silence. Complete and utter silence.

After a few moments there is a report by radio. "Hey, is this thing on? Ice, ice, icicle. Bike, Bike, bicycle. Test, test, testing… Hey, this is the Ghost. I found like a weird room with circles drawn on the ground, and I don't mean cool circles like you get with a spirograph, but like creepy circles."

* * *

There's a certain benefit to always being on edge, to living like you're a soldier in a war. Besides the relationship problems, the family issues, the stress, and the various unhealthy coping mechanisms that all turn you into a functional disaster.

*CRACK*

*THUNK*

"Sit. Down."

… You're usually fairly prepared for an ambush.

This would be the sound of the first of the metal-masked gangsters that come charging for Batwoman, bat brandished and half-mask glimmering dimly in the faint light of the outside world. It's more than enough; when the bat comes swinging, the pale woman (not a vampire, no matter all the evidence to the contrary), -snaps- to the side with every intention of letting the blunt end of that bat hammer into the wall beside her. The dent, and the follow through, are more than enough for Kate to capitalize on an opening.

And with ruthless efficiency, she doesn't hesitate in grabbing on to that gripped baseball bat as the thug tries to yank it back and help him free it — by applying a helpfully excessive amount of force in the motion to send the butt of it driving straight into his throat.

By the time he's crumpling, Batwoman is already matter-of-factly claiming his weapon for her own use, sliding into the fray low to the ground to formally introduce her newfound friend to one of the gangster's kneecaps. And another's sternum.

She's in the middle of using that bat to ward off a tire-iron-swinging attacker trying to pin her to the wall when she hears the crackle of static inside her mask.

«"Number four: 'go dancing with' — oi, watch your left! — 'with Stilt-Man.'"»

"That one's — nngh — a bit of a miss."

Batwoman -shoves- her attacker backwards straight into the hired goon gunning for Arnavi, intent to drive a kick into both of them hard enough to send them toppling out of the room — and towards the flight of stairs beyond. Her gaze shifts towards Red Sparrow, scrutinizingly. New to all of this. Bright red lips pull into a thoughtful line.

"… Stay focused," she advises, as she pivots smoothly on her booted heel, discarding that bat. "You're not at the quipping level yet."

«"Ever the taskmaster — wait, do you mean her, or me??"»

No answer is forthcoming.

«"Cold."»

* * *

The Birds take the first wave on without a hitch. Bats and chains and knives all flash and snap and move around them; some strikes land, some miss, and several Whispers are already on the floor — and some of them are not in a state to get back up.

Kate's quip to Red Sparrow has Barbara smiling just before she ducks an incoming chain and instead catches it up in her gauntlet. She pulls the chain tightly on its gripped, dragging the Whisper down into a hard sidekick that tries to bury his stomach into his spine. "Hey, go easy on the Newbie. We're not all naturals like you, B.W.," she cracks back.

Batgirl ducks into the room she's near, but only after spotting that it has another entrance down its length. She moves quick, cape flying behind her in a whirl. When she ducks back into the hallway, it's to jump up to grab the top of the door frame and swing out with both feet to slam into a running Whisper and slam him back into the wall, still at a full run. He stumbles and staggers like a stampeding bull that's been knocked off course.

The Bat lands gracefully in the middle of the chaotic corridor, and she turns sharply toward a shadow that looms into sight at the very end of it's length. She is already thumbing out a concussion batarang, advancing a hard step to fling it out toward the figure. It whooshes, but the shadow ducks back into a neighboring room or down an adjacent corridor just as it catches the wall and then promptly explodes, cracking the drywall and bearing steel framing.

Then, it starts out low — barely above the perceptible hearing of most humans. The Whispers in the hallway start to join in with the sound. The bodies on the floors — those still barely conscious — press their lips together and start to emulate the sound. Some bubble it with blood at their mouths, but the intent is clear.

"Shhhhhhhhhhh…"

It builds on itself until it is coming from every single direction — except behind them. The shadows begin to thicken, to expand out like the walls are closing in. Windows become indiscernible, the moon and stars and glow of city lights vanishing. Those paying attention can see that it appears to be coming from five distinct points — one at the very end of the hallway and four more split across open doors in the hallway.

The little light there is is gone, and then the noise. It expands, and expands, and suddenly there's absolute silence. It is like being inside a thick blanket, covering from head to toe. The air feels harder to breath, ears clogging like being underwater. That primal hindbrain panics, the brain thinking it is drowning or suffocating or being covered in earth.

Batwoman's connection to Pennyworth immediately goes dead. So does their radios with each other, and Dead Girl is left hanging in silence.

It's stronger, more potent than it was in the sewers.

Batgirl's voice barely strangles out, "Sandpiper! The Bell!"

Bad news? They're not all exactly within that ten-foot radius… or at least Batgirl isn't.

* * *

"Circles? Shit. We should have brought John. I fucking hate magical shit."

Jessica didn't even realize it was magical. She might have brought some other stuff if she had. Even as she throws aside a tonfa she's broken over her forearm. She looks down at blood bubbling mouths and the sound of Shhhh, and says, "We gotta get down to where she saw that shit and disrupt it…"

She's about half in the circle and half out. Well…she just turns herself sort of to where she knows her friends aren't…and starts kicking, punching, and stomping to try to shut them up. She is panicking, but she's kind of used to working while she breaks out into cold sweats and feels ready to throw up. She won't look cool while doing it, but she makes up in ferocity what she gives up in cool points.

Hopefully.

* * *

For what it's worth, Sandpiper and Red Sparrow have very similar fighting styles — in other words, flail at the enemy until they give up. Luckily for both of them, they're rather potent punchers when they have a mind, and they definitely have a mind to punch the living (?) daylights out of the doofuses attacking them. And it works! It would probably work better if they had any idea what they were doing. As far as Kamala's concerned, three years of punching people has given her an excellent idea of how physics and leverage work. Maybe not so much actual /fighting/, mind.

But then… then the silence comes. It crawls over them like tar, like a thick and onrushing tide, and it's as if the shadows are curling around her neck and down her throat, and all the little Sandpiper wants to do is make herself incredibly small and chase the last mote of light back home.

That's not what happens, though.

/DING/

It's actually a really lovely sound. The note is clear, bright, like an alto intoning a single note that echoes through the dank corridor as if it were a cathedral. The golden sound makes a light of the same color as its quality: a sphere around Kamala's hand, ten feet around.

If the moment were less fraught, she'd say something about five-foot-radiuses and empowering this spell once she had the right metamagic feat. But it's really not the moment for that.

/DING/

She rings the bell again, and its light reveals another trio of Whisper slipping forward through the shadows. Their fingers curl, reaching toward the allies, and Kamala's face goes pale for just a moment before it sets into grim intensity.

/DING/

The first two tolls of the bell were Kamala ringing it with its own clapper. The third comes when she, in a panic, beans the nearest Whisper in the face. But then she's raising the bell, extending it, trying to maximize the number of people in its light even if it leaves her in the darkness.

* * *

On that third toll, the light illuminates into a room just off to the left of where Ms. Marvel stands. It catches the edges of someone just within the room, standing in what looks like the edge of a summoning circle burned into the carpet. The figure shrinks back a step, but then stalls as if somehow caught in place by some unseeing force.

* * *

"Oh. My. God! I was about to tell you I like your lipstick and ask who's blood you used to make it!! I'M READY CHAMP, GIVE ME ANOTHER SHOT!!"

This said, while shit-beating two whispers with baseball bats. "Pigeon, Piper, can yo-"

And then it begins. Oh yeah, she's closer to Barbara than the rest of them, and as it all closes in most of her senses go away. All but the sense of touch, all but the feeling of the floor moving as others move on it. Just as in the sewers, she felt everyone's gait just to know who they are when they walked, and as the abyss closes in she steps close to Batgirl, hooks her arm, and tosses her with all her might back towards the circle.

Barbara might even hear Arnavi speak to her, always eager to get the last word in, even as sound begins to drown into oblivion.

"Fly you fool!"

And… then the newbie was caught out beyond the perimeter, and she turns her sense of touch to feeling out a new, unfamiliar approaches. Of course, she expects to be bull-rushed and overwhelmed immediately, but Batgirl is worth at least four Red Sparrows - sometimes sacrifices have to be made.

* * *

Barbara Gordon flips the Coin of Ill-Advised Action and gets tails.

* * *

I was about to tell you I like your lipstick and ask who's blood you used to make it!!!

"Trust me — you don't want to know." «"She's adorable. Like one of those little toy poodles. Or maybe a pug."»

"I guess everyone's got to start somewhere, huh?"

The reply comes with hardly a beat missed on the heels of Batgirl's smiling remark and just vague enough to be applied to both commentaries (because Batwoman is a Damn Professional), delivered with a ineffably wry, (blood??) red smile that stands out all the more with skin as pale as Batwoman's. She looks over the fallen bodies — delivering an almost casual kick to the head of one who looks to be struggling to get up — before she takes a second glance back Batgirl's way.

"Looks like we're all clear here. Might want to press ahead while luck's on our—"

Shhhhhhhhhhh…

"… side. Shit."

«"Batwoman? What's going on? Ge i g s e eird s at he e"»

"Tuxedo One? Hey!"

«"Oi! D y u
ead m B oman? KAskkkkshhh"» Do you hear me? Tuxedo One! Dammit—"

And just like that, there is darkness.

It is all encompassing, that darkness. She knows the sensation of it well. Because there's a point, where you're sinking in an endless sea, where the light stops really reaching anymore. There's a point where all you feel is the cold and the dark and you realize you're drowning and part of you doesn't care anymore.

A flash of memories invades unwanted into Katherine Kane's thoughts as she feels that suffocating pressure bearing down on her. She can taste the sea salt burning its way down her nostrils to the back of her throat. The warm flush of blood working its way down her cracked skull. A hand reaching out to her.

Come. Drowning is easy. You already know the way, don't you, siren?
You just relax, and let yourself get lost in something bigger—

"nuh-no" Kate Kane mouths, unheard, into the soundless dark, shaking her head violently as she gropes her way through the darkness. She needs to focus. She needs something. Anything.

She gets it, in the flash of light.

In the sight of a summoning circle, and someone within.

In the glimpse of a vaguely Batgirl-like shape being hurled towards the circle.

"oh, you have got to be kidding me"

And, with that muted grimace of disbelief given, Batwoman finds her focus, chasing after it with abandon by rushing her way as best she can through the dark in pursuit of Batgirl, and the circle beyond.

* * *

Jessica, too, sees the guy in the summoning circle. She may not know much about magic (other than it's always bad news), but she knows the circle usually needs to be kept in tact and the dude in the center normally needs to keep doing what he's doing to do the thing. Thus it is that she snaps her part of the rope to get out of it, and then takes one of her flying leaps in that direction. She's aiming to just kick the guy straight out of the circle mid-leap. She is aware other stuff is going on, of course, but if she knows anything about magic users, it is this:

Strike fast, strike hard, no mercy, before they fire some other spell at you.

The crap that snapped her into a brand new life was very rife with magic, after all. She's had the laywoman's education, has taken the time to understand as much as one may. She's not out to steal anyone's thunder or anything…she's just got worries about wasting more than a minute.

* * *

Kamala rings the bell, and the shadows abruptly pull back, fleeing the perfect sphere around the bell that illuminates the hallway — but only in that ten-foot radius. Shock stalls the Whispers that have advanced in toward the Birds, and it gives those within Kamala's range the upperhand to strike.

Those not within the radius are left to their own as unseeable foes launch their attacks. Instincts honed by just being able to perceive are in panic mode, trying to make sense of where the bat strike came from, or the graze of a knife's edge. The worst thing about this is — particularly when you're working with others — no one can hear the sounds of pain that come when a hit strikes just perfectly.

For Batgirl, she is wishing she had finished her new suit. The purple motocross ensemble — complete with shock plates and a few more goodies that Lucius Fox has gifted because he's got a soft spot for all of Bruce's little batlings — is still hanging in the Belfry, waiting for the last touches.

Her black suit's plates — already weakened from the cutting-strikes from the demon beneath South Channel Island — do not hold-up as well as they could. Just before she's wrenched off her feet by Red Sparrow, she takes a hit from a bat too hard, and it does a number on her low back. Then she's feeling the weight of an arm around hers, and instinct has her twisting frightfully in the grip. It is only when Arnavi whispers those words does she relax enough to be hurled through the air. Please God, let my aikido training pay off.

But the hallway is not as clear as Red Sparrow remembers, or as Barbara remembers. The Whispers flood into the open shadow, moving quickly toward the Birds despite the ringing bell. Barbara barely gets a handful of feet before she's being snared out of the air, drawn straight to the floor where the bodily slam knocks a bit of wind out of her.

She gasps out a pained breath, and as if stemming from that slight arch in her body, there is an obvious burst of magic that radiates out from her, and then it inhales back into her, and with it, takes the very life force out of the Whispers that surround her. Even in the deepest shadow, Barbara is temporarily illuminated in dark violet, glowing like the filament of a black light lightbulb. The source of the illumination is something on her belt — a pouch particularly. Then she's back in shadow, and the Whispers collapse around her.

As Kate and Jess as one doubled-up flying force of pain hurls themselves in the direction of the summoning circle, the two slam into a body just within it. Hands grasp for Kate first, wrestling her. They hear a gasp, "No, don't!" And then a scream as the summoner falls out of the circle. The shadows abruptly thin in this room now that the summoner has been knocked from the circle, revealing that the woman beneath Kate does not bear the mask of a Whisper — though there's plenty of scar tissue that suggests she had at one time. Her eyes are bleeding as she screams; a talisman on her chest burns the skin of her sternum into a hot smolder of cooked flesh.

It becomes clear then: get the summoners, stop the darkness. There had been five sources of power, now four: two one the left side of the hallway, two on the right… and one down at the far center.

* * *

The Magic Guy, John 'Wait Who the Hell Is' Constantine, is seeing to important business at this very moment. The warlock smokes a cigarette, and lurks in the seediest parts of Atlantic City — not far from the Birds, as fate would have it. He's lined up with numerous other ne'er do wells playing on homemade pachinko boards. The kind that are even more rigged than the official ones, but everyone is too desperate or fucked up to care.

John loses his money gradually, pacing himself. Then he starts to hit— again, and again, and again, and then one more time. He's on track to quintuple his money in a few minutes if he keeps at it, but the magician walks away with a conservative excuse and a salute.

Constantine paces around the corner, plants his be-coated back into an adjacent wall, and closes his eyes. Constantine knows the moment is right even before he reaches out, senses the encroaching demonic power at the other end of the thread he traces. His murmur is a word of power, projected across the distance separating him from its endpoint in the span of nary an instant, echoing only to Batgirl's ears as the ancient coin in her utility belt flares to life.

~~
He'd stashed the antique currency in there before the team linked up, forestalled the -inevitable- questioning with a fingertip to Batgirl's mouth alongside an enigmatic, "Stacking the deck, luv." It answers, without answering, the looming /What is that, John, what are you doing, John?/. His life is struggle.
~~

The deceptively potent little battery drains its surroundings in that violent flash, drawing mystical power and spiritual essence not only from the Whispers, but from the encroaching darkness itself— it's a ravenous, gluttonous assimilation of mystical energy. Within the insulated compartment, the artifact steams quietly, aged and worn markings on its faces animated by coursing, dark magicks.

In the alleyway, amidst the irate protests as everyone -else- still playing begins to lose horribly, the Hellblazer pulls a nondescript flask from his breast pocket, and takes a deep, steady drink, punctuating it with the ebbing lengths of his cigarette. "I'm gonna cost you every. last. one." He murmurs, to no one in particular; or so it seems.

* * *

THEN (earlier that night) - Gotham - The Stacked Deck

Why do criminals always come to a place where criminals are known to hang out and… get hassled by angry crimefighters looking for information? It's a mystery, but it's also a tradition. Per tradition, Nightwing's arrival at the infamous pool hall provokes a fairly riotous bar fight, as various low-lifes object to the presence of a good-guy in their midst. It's the sort of thing that provokes a 'What, really?' kind of look from Dick, although he's not really surprised. It's tradition. A few patrons come at him with the usual, from pool cues to stools to bottles. Rather than going for his nighsticks, he catches the cue as its swung, shoves it back in the attacker's face, and then quick-taps the other two, one with each end. "Alright? We done with this? Where's Mickey?"

Battered and bruised, the thugs concede. 'Mickey' is actually Mykola Moroz, a wash-out Whisper who failed his initiation. He's already trying to sneak out the back when Dick catches up with him, snagging him by the collar. "I'm not going to have to get rough, am I? Again, that is?" The nod behind him to the groaning, half-conscious thugs seems to make up 'Mickey's mind. "All I need from you is information. The Whispers have something new going on, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. I need to know who's behind it, what the connect is. Someone old-world, probably. Just need a name."

Mykola is hesitant at first, but Nightwing jerks his collar tight, staring him down from behind his domino mask. "A name, Mickey."

"L-leon…. Leontij Horban. They call him 'The Mouse.'"

* * *

The light of the bell illuminated at least one of the ritual circles, not to mention… well, whatever it is that crackles out to effectively flick the lights back on in here. The cigarettey warlock works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform, apparently, but whatever he did, he's given the Birds of Prey a chance.

Well. Heroes are nothing if not opportunistic, right? …Something like that, anyway.

Kamala thinks fast: "Okay. This is gonna be gross and weird, but…" Did she have two arms before? Sandpiper now has /six/. With hook hands. One reaches toward each of the Birds: Red Sparrow, Batwoman, Jessica Pigeon-Jones, and Batgirl. One holds onto the bell. And one is just there because five arms would be weird, and Kamala might need to punch someone. Pretty much everyone has a beltloop or /something/, right? "If it goes dark again, I can pull you back. I'll stay here, be a beacon. Okay?"

* * *

It's hard for Arnavi to really understand what the mission is, being so separated from the fight behind her, but right now the mission is simply to survive. To that end, she uses the baseball bat she took from the last Whisper she encountered to go into a clubbing frenzy, leaping, spinning, and taking measures that let them know she is not as wholly blind in this mess as they like. And when the summoner is taken out, and the shadows buckle for just a moment, she hears some bit of it, some notion of what's happening.

It's only then she's hit from the side and powered into a wall, three coming at her at once, restraining her in an epic struggle that ends with two more piling on top. She shouts profanity at them, hoping they'll hear, she has no idea if they will, and in the end she does the only thing she can do: She reaches for her belt, and lets a lazy toss go.

One of the next two Whispers coming to jump on the pile pauses just short, pain in his knee driving him to the floor. Then the concussion blast goes off, shattering all the bones in that poor guy's leg and sending the whole of the gang pile scattering to the wall.

More flickering, more light. She pulls another two Sparrowangs, judges the angle, and lets fly.

The Red Sparrow was aiming for one of the only people not moving around, just out of sight. One of the poor summoners, who is about to have their ritual disrupted.

* * *

Hands grip at her. Pent up anger expresses itself in the way Kate Kane grips hard at some part of the person beneath her — the face, she thinks, she can feel the roughness of a scarred cheek on her gloved fingers — and just -shoves- downward with more force than she might normally. She all but snarls something, lost in the dark. She pins the body beneath her down until she and Jessica have taken them out of commission, until she feels the dark shirking away from them —

— until she hears the scream ringing in her ears.

And when Batwoman looks down, she sees wet smudges of crimson camouflaging themselves on the scarlet hues of her glove. Behind her mask, the Kane heiress blinks — and then smells that all too familiar scent of burning flesh in the air.

The woman. Her eyes are bleeding. Her skin burning. Her talisman —

"What the hell-?" mumbles the redhead, half to herself. Magic.

"Ugh."

She hates magic.

She quickly puts two and two together, however — as annoying as magic might be (and often is), Batwoman is nothing if not adaptable. The summoners in these circles are generating this enchantment. There must be more if this only partially alleviated the problem. Which means…

She feels a hand wrapping around her like it was a boa constrictor that wasn't even there before. She hears Ms. Marvel's explanation. Sees the world illuminate, enough to see the silhouettes of others in the distance. Her legs tense against the ground.

"Trust me—"

And off Kate goes like a shot, relying on honed instinct and shutting off that part of her brain that overthinks so she can just -act-. Just -fling- herself across the hall, -hurl- a pair of bolas for the ankles of one of those summoners on that side of the hall and then LEAP —

"I can deal with freaky."

— to acquaint the sole of her boot with the face of the other.

Weird is fine. Weird is acceptable. Weird is normal. You see some pretty weird shit when you're suffering from heat stroke in the middle of the Sahara.

She can work with weird.

* * *

Batwoman goes in one direction. Jessica Jones goes in the other. She doesn't even respond to Ms. Marvel's explanation. She saw her turn into a corgi once and take down the Hulk with the power of HUGS. This is not weirder than that. Not by a long shot.

She takes a flying leap towards the next spellweaver. Taking full advantage of the reprieve caused by Barbara's ace-in-the-hole, she just picks this one up. And hurls that one into the next one down the hall to take both of them out of their circles at once. She is aware they might also burn alive. All magic comes with a price. The bill always comes due. And when they choose to hurt innocents, well, that's pretty much just what happens. So she feels absolutely no remorse about this brutality whatsoever, makes no effort to save them from being hoisted on their own petard.

Knowing not everyone may hear her, she still calls out the report. "Two less!"

* * *

Batgirl still hears the echoes of John's voice in her head, and it takes her a second to get to her feet. She takes in the sight of the fallen Whispers around her — not all of them dead. She shivers slightly until she realizes where she is, and then her instincts kick in again. She turns, just in time to take one of Kamala's hands. She squeezes the girl's grip instinctively, anchoring herself by Kamala's presence — albeit a weird presence.

Then they go to work.

The three summoners are found in the same circles, and by just removing them violently from each barrier, they are met with screams of pain. With demons are involved, there is always a painful risk when a ritual is interrupted. When the last of the minor summoners fall, the shadows have thinned down into a single spot of thick darkness at the end of the hallway — where Barbara had thrown her concussion batarang and taken out part of the wall. It stands there, deep and ominous. Then a low sound starts to radiate from the depths.

Someone is laughing.

The shadows pull back, curling slowly around a tall and heavy set figure with pale skin and short-cropped white hair. His arms fold heavily at his chest, and he stands there with fingers of shadows still curling up around his arms and legs. Leon "The Mouse" Horban wears the same heavy amulet on his chest as the other summoners. When he speaks, his words are thick with an Eastern European accent, "Is that a Bat, I see?" Then he stops and points. "Two. Two Bats. How lucky." He gestures offhandedly to the others. "Sorry, I'm sure the rest of you are very important, too."

Then he smiles a crooked smile, the teeth in his mouth strangely sharp and slightly out of alignment. "But…" He shrugs one shoulder, and then throws out both hands in an aggressive motion that sends shards of solid shadow at the women.

One thing is clear: their radios are back and the suffocation has lifted. Whether or not that was a deliberate calculation is yet to be seen, because now they are being attacked by literal honed shadow.

* * *

THEN (a few hours ago) - Gotham - Somerewhere beneath the 8th street subway

Figures dance in the dark, briefly illuminated by the lights of a passing train, tossing a staccato pattern of dark and light between the rows of girders dividing the uptown and downtown lines. The sleepy commuters don't even notice the violence unfolding outside their window. This is not like the bar fight. Without backup, Dick has followed Mykola's lead and 'The Mouse's reputation into Whisper territory. Alone. They, in turn, have met him in force, forcing Nightwing to fight for his life. They come at him in twos and threes, with their knives and cleavers, all in iron masks… except one. A leader, or at least a lieutenant.

*CRACK**CLANG*

Nightwing strikes between them, hard and fast, aiming for pressure points and vulnerable anatomy. There's no time for civility or quippage. One's wrist snaps while a cleaver is blocked inches from Dick's face. The thug's close enough to throw a punch instead, hitting Dick in the gut. The unmasked leader charges while they grapple, ready run him through.

Kicking low, Nightwing sweeps the man who hit him, and falls with him, tumbling. The larger body trips the charging boss, and he stumbles into the soutbound tracks. A moment later and a foot pressures the man down, his face near the rail. There's a light further down the tunnel, getting closer. "Talk."

« Batgirl, Nightwing. We've got a problem. I found the guy we were looking for and, well, I -didn't- find him. He's headed to their base in AC- I think they know about your op.»

« Batgirl, Nightwing. You read? Hello? Do you read me? »

"Shit."

A few minutes later, the Nightcycle revs to life, tearing down 8th street headed south, and eventually, out of Gotham and onto the Garden State Parkway at about double the speed limit.

NOW

« *STATIC*…. -atgirl, Batgirl do you read? I'm closing on your position, they were jamming. His amulet, it's the amulet. »

* * *

As her comrades start sprinting (or in some cases, just viciously hurling projectiles) toward the summoners, Kamala braces her feet against the floor and walls. She can get really big, really stretchy, but she still has to deal a /little/ with things like mass and leverage. As luck would have it, though, nobody needs to get dragged out of chthonic darkness: Constantine's magic plus their smackdown of the summoners is right on target. Everything's going great.

And then the Big Bad shows up. Darkness wafts in his wake. Dude's definitely bad news. Not only that, he's SERIOUSLY RUDE.

"Hey!" Kamala withdraws her arms, schlupping them back into her body. "Learn some respect. You will learn to fear…"

"THE SANDPIPER!"

Kamala drops into a defensive stance. It's not a great one. It's about as good as someone might do who took a month of karate classes when she was nine. It's swiftly followed by Ms. Marvel…

…disappearing? Because as soon as some of those shadow-shards were a hair's-breadth away from her, suddenly she's just not there anymore. A keen eye /might/ notice something about the size of a shooter marble moving quite quickly from where she /was/, though.

"Distract him, guys," she hisses into her now-very-tiny headset. "I'm gonna show him the power of music."

* * *

"God I hate shadow mages."

Jessica takes a quick scan of the room. Looks to Batwoman. Notes her position. There's a moment where she catches the other woman's eye. There's a nod.

And then Jessica Jones is digging something out of her pocket she's not usually expected to have. After all, she looks like a bruiser, she acts like a bruiser, she registers at zero point zero on the magical talent scale, and sometimes, really, if you see her in a fight she doesn't even look all that smart.

She does look like a demented grasshopper as she leaps over the head of the shadowcaster, even as she crushes a big vial of holy water over his head. She thought she caught the whiff of sulfur when the others died, and that tells her he might just be vulnerable. And nobody likes getting suddenly wet. Or having a woman fly over their heads.

A woman yelling: "Hey! Dickface! Up here!"

Look, she is NOT required to come up with good lines for this.

* * *

The last body topples over in a hiss of pain and a bubble of searing flesh; Batwoman's not affording herself the time to let herself be distracted by those horrendous sounds of pain right now. Right now, she's excising out everything except what she needs to do to complete the mission. One of those things you learn, as a soldier.

One of those things you learn, to cope with problems you don't want to deal with directly.

To her credit, she doesn't suck in a breath as she feels the drowning sensation ease from her lungs. Any relief she might have, however, is short-lived as she traces those shrinking shadows back towards their source and finds —

Someone tall. Someone large. Someone —

SHUNK

"hhk"

It's reflexes and body armor that keep that jagged edge of shadow now jutting out of Kate Kane's midsection from doing damage to anything vital. Behind her cowl, green eyes widen, a choked sound spilling from her lips as she looks down. She can tell immediately. Clean through. Lodged in her abdomen. Feels cold. She ignores it. Ignores the way she wants to cough, wants to shout, wants to topple over. She lets the pain come as it will as her body tenses and a familiar voice breaks through into her ear, co-mingling with shouts of someone else.

«"-ate! Dammit, come in already! I swear, I'm gonna rip that bloody wig right off your-"»

"Hey… good to hear you, too. Now give me a minute, okay? I'm trying to keep my liver from falling out. I think… I've treated it badly enough as it is-"

«"Batwoman? Jesus tapdancing Christ, don't give a scare like — wait, what are you on about? What's your status??"»

She thinks, for a moment. The amulet, that other voice said. Kamala asks for a distraction. Jessica Jones is looking her way in that wordless way that still can communicate so much with a glance. She looks at that rotund, sharp-toothed monolith of a man.

And she grins.

"About to be better."

«"God dammit, that isn't even remotely an answer-"»

And like that, Kate is very pointedly ignoring Julia, nodding in silent agreement for Jessica's sake before taking off in an alarmingly straightforward rush for Leon "The Mouse" Horban. He's taller than her — easily larger by far. But the force by which she runs despite a piece of magic shadow jutting out of her makes the woman seem almost like a runaway train barreling for a poor pedestrian in the heat of the moment, bloody red lips pulled into a wild sneer and moving at speeds that must be causing unhealthy amounts of agitation to that injury with reckless abandon. She aims to capitalize on that distraction Jessica offers, as quickly and brutally as she can.

Which is why, as the holy water sprays overhead, Batwoman's left hand snakes forward like a bolt of lightning to ensnare that talisman. The left, of course.

"Yeah, dickface."

Because the right one is going to be put to better use to deliver a vicious right hook to the man's jaw -just- as she yanks that talisman backwards.

"Up there."

The punch isn't strictly necessary.

But she's just had such a day.

* * *

Flying women. Holy water. Kamala misses most of it as she sprints across the floor.

It's surprisingly easy, for the most part, to do things like dodge feet and avoid getting stomped. There's an awful lot going on, after all, around and about The Mouse.

(Seriously, who picks a name like that for themselves? Sheesh.)

With all that's happening in that hallway, it might be a little difficult for yet another person to fit, but when Kamala gets there, she's barely an inch tall. An instant later, though, the usually-diminutive girl suddenly gets a lot bigger than she was. Bigger than an inch, at least, but her usual size is still significantly smaller than Batwoman or, probably, Jess.

Still, she and the bell she holds in her upraised hand are as large as life.

"Hey!" she shouts. "Language!"

/DING/

Right in the noggin.

* * *

If anything, the water serves its purpose. The Mouse shouts out a curse, pivoting sharply toward Jess and misses the advance from Kate — and Kamala — and Batgirl.

Motocross boots run swiftly behind Batwoman and Jess when the two start to advance. She sweeps her own bolas from her belt, and as she run, spins it up into a whirl of wire and weights. Blood trickles heavily from her own wound — this one a deep puncture in the large muscle of her right thigh. She feels the searing, hot pain as she runs forward, but the adrenaline masks it — dulling it into something that will turn to a fire burn once she thinks about it.

She releases her bolas just as Kate lands a punch, and with it, rips the amulet from the man's thick neck. The leather cord strains and then snaps, leaving Kate with a burning source of potential in her gloved hand — she can almost feel it through the thick leather. It almost speaks to her, whispering dense, shadowy things — soft, almost inaudible promises of power.

The Mouse tumbles, toppled by the literal ringing of the bell from Ms. Marvel and the sudden sweep of bolas around his knees. He tumbles, hitting the ground with a resolute thud that seems to make the floors shake. All around the Birds, there is not a single Whisper left standing — some unconscious, some worse. There is not a lick of shadow to be seen — in fact, in comparison, the hallway feels impressively brighter.

Batgirl's leg screams now that she's stopped, and she drops heavily into the wall, sagging against it to get the weight off her leg. She focuses her thoughts for a moment, head drooped against the wall and eyes close. She looks like she's thinking — and thinking very hard. She concentrates on a single thought — something reassuring. Then she breathes out a breath, opens her eyes, and looks toward the other Birds.

"Sound off," she says, voice a bit tired.

First thing she hears is Dinah at the far end of the hallway at the stairwell door, "Well, that was fun."

* * *

And then, suddenly, there's a crash!

With a spray of glass a dark form sails through one of the windows. Nevermind about how this mysterious figure got up there. Did we say they were way high up before? Yes. Are we going to worry about it? No. Why? Comic Books (shh).

In any event, an acrobatic and well-toned form tumbles through the space, hitting the ground in a roll and then coming up in a fighting stance, a baton in each hand. It's Nightwing! And he's here to… erm, save the day?

Well, he's HERE. Definitely.

Of course, with his keenly trained bat-senses, Dick cannot help but quickly assess the situation. Bodies all around, badguy types laying on the floor in various states of injury. The Mouse, tied around the legs and thoroughly bell-rung. The various birds, be they surly, sandy, actually bats, or otherwise… are all seemingly in good health and accounted for. So in total? They won already. And he… missed it completely?

"Sorry, I got here as fast as I could. I found one of Leon's lieutenants and he told me- erm, well I guess you heard that part." His expert detective skills can probably discern this from the fact they are not currenly being murdered by shadow warlock people.

"Well… great! Looks like everything's handled. Great, great." Aw.

He puts away the batons, and claps his hands. "So, um, I didn't eat before I drove up here. Anyone wanna go hit an iHop or something?"

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License