Author: Nightwingess PM
Disclaimer: Don't own the characters Stephanie Brown or Cassandra Cain or anyone else from dc comics...don't arrest me :D Stephanie Brown was on crowd control duty somewhere in China, no big deal...apart from the fires consuming the city she was escorting citizens out of...things get a bit...hectic...dangerous... and a little bit of Cassandra Cain too!Rated: Fiction T - English - Suspense/Drama - Stephanie B. & Cassandra C. - Words: 2,531 - Favs: 1 - Published: 06-16-12 - id: 8222859
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Alright Steph, you've got a handle on things, utility belt full of crap, or half full…maybe a quarter…crap." Her breathing was labored as she struggled to find anything useful in all those damn pockets. Two days on the job without sleep, proteins bars for breakfast, lunch and forget about dinner…now she felt like falling onto the concrete and staying there, watching the fire….no that was out of the question. Cass was leading the people out, out into the mountains while she choked to death on smoke inside a burning building…how had it come to that exactly? Anyone in the batfamily would say Cass would be the one in the fire and Steph would be the one talking to the people. Made sense with Stephanie being a people person, a talkative chatty girl with a sunshine drenched personality and an endearing humor, both of which could easily assure panicking civilians. Cass was the assassin, enough said.
So what had happened exactly?
At first, they were both leading the people out; if anything it was crowd control. It was Stephanie who caught sight of someone running to the fires; Cass got caught up breaking fire hydrants to shower the flames with water…mist spreading the streets with each one she managed to break, although she wasn't as fast as she ended to be and she knew this, so she focused herself, trying to find a rhythm, a pace that could give her time…she didn't notice her friend running after the straggler.
"Sir this way!" Stephanie shouted but he kept running.
"Hello, do you want to be barbeque!" He stopped then and started muttering things in a language she couldn't fully comprehend, not surprising; they were in China although his Chinese wasn't one she had heard before, it must be another dialect and so months learning mandarin and Cantonese were somewhat useless, fantastic.
She did a quick round of charades, gesturing to the fire as her explanation why his current choice of direction was not a smart one. He pulled out a card in his hand, an ID with the label of some corporation she didn't know, it was in another language and the logo was unknown to her. He tugged at her arm, wrinkles in his forehead forming in his panic. She sighed and followed him into the blazing hot flames towering over 5 story buildings.
They entered a steel building with a flat roof, he used some sort of key card to unlock the doors and then they went down, farther and farther down stoned corridors that did not match the modern entrance in which they had come from…no it appeared to have a medieval-esk feel to it. She ignored her instincts that told her to watch out for ghosts and her internally squealing at the possibility of spiders jumping out at her.
The man tripped several times, Stephanie struggled to keep him awake as he looked weary and as she held him up by his waist, she could feel his skin go cold. After a few more minutes of running, they reached a room full of gears turning slowly, rubbing against each other in increasing pressure; loud clanking noises echoed across the room hurting her ears.
Smoke blew from the underbellies of each machine. It was unbelievable hot, like the surface of the Sun, or at least that's how Stephanie felt, always the one to exaggerate, that aside it was painfully boiling.
The man pointed to the lever, he started pulling it down, as hard as he could. After a second to roll her eyes because it just had to be a lever, she joined in, both trying their hardest to push the metal piece down. They were at it for a good 6 minutes when a metal beam from above fell and hit the man's arm, he screamed out in pain, she stopped to help him up. Once he was on his feet, she pulled off her cape to hold it over him; he started crawling back, terrified with eyes that said "nothing can be done."
She shook her head and gestured to try again but he mouthed out what she could only interpret as "no" before taking off out the door.
"Well thanks for leading me down here sir, you're a real sweetheart!" She shouted after him. It was getting hard to breathe but she couldn't leave, that much she knew. The thousands outside were going too slowly, hundreds of them would perish in the flames…and maybe, maybe this lever was the key to saving them.
"Let's hope so." She said rolling her eyes because there was no "us" here, only here…alone, afraid, but determined.
She rubbed her hands together and pulled. Her hands kept slipping off the lever now…rummaging through her belt yielded no luck and she knew the situation was getting worse every second she stayed. Forget the smoke inhalation that could suffocate her, the fire would give her a heat stroke and she'd die burning unconsciously on the floor…
"Unconscious, that's a comfort." Her eyes shifted from left to right, looking for a tool, anywhere…think like a Bat she thought, look for tools in things that wouldn't otherwise be thought useful…Her head titled up to see where the beam had fallen, there were others coming down, they looked heavy, heavy enough…
She climbed her way up, two gears at a time, her rubber soles holding up nicely with good contraction, a small blessing in the heat as she could reach the top faster. Another blessing were her gloves, resistant to the heat; this small favor allowed her to climb up without stopping. Once at the top, she shot her grappling hook out, it wrapped around a beam 4 seconds away from collapsing. She looked down, then up again, the best she could do was an educated guess, as the beam started to fall, she tugged to the left and outward. It caused the beam to land on the lever, slamming it downwards, snapping part of it off. The fires ceased entirely as a cool steam filled the area, some sort of safety guard perhaps.
"Well…that was easy." She jumped down, exhausted, ready for a nice long nap when another beam came swooping down, she had no time to move, only look as the edge came to her at an angle, the beam itself cut down her neck, down her back and the impact of it's movement pushed her down with two other beams falling on top of her.
The beams hit against one another in such a way she only felt them across her back before they bounced up and crisscrossed. Still they blocking her, and one rested on her leg…As she laid on the ground with her head throbbing, she heard voices calling out, voices she hadn't heard before with all the noise of winding gears and her own adrenaline blocking out the sounds.
"Help us! Someone!" She started to move but her back must have been cracked in several places as she felt excruciating pain radiating from each vertebrae. She laid her head back down and sighed. Maybe if she just gave herself a few minutes…her eyes drooped down, her speech seemed a bit slurred…she was talking to herself…
"We're going to die!" She started to move again, this time gritting her teeth. This must be what death feels like, she thought…nothing new to her having been tortured by Black Mask; this whole ordeal was a cakewalk in comparison. She felt for her stick, pulling it out from a pocket and pressing a button to extend it, she pushed it against a beam, harder and harder until it lifted just enough for her to roll out, not without a few more cracking noises from her bones. Once free, she pulled herself up, nearly falling down again from the pain.
"Where are you!" She shouted, stepping closer to where she thought she had heard the sound.
"Down here!" She followed the sound, they kept calling for her, she followed their voices step by step, wondering what the hell she was doing and what the hell was going on exactly. These people spoke English yes, but all with accents. Were they being held here against their will or were they some sort of scientists that got stuck here? What even was this building? Clearly it had started all the fires in the first place but that man…he must have worked here, it wasn't his intention for this to happen, unless he felt guilty and changed his mind?
"Are you there!" They screamed. By then she was next to them, they were in some sort of containment room, with a glass case like that in sci-fi movies, each one wearing a lab-coat, thus her theory could very well be true. Each one looked sickly and afraid, trapped in here for whatever reason…perhaps they were seeking refuge from the fires but now circumstances had changed and their sanctuary had turned into a prison.
"Please let us out, there's a gas leaking in!" One of them walked over to her, she smiled, placing her hand against the glass, the epitome of hope, hope in Stephanie….how Stephanie would save her life. Using all the strength she could muster, she attempted to smash the glass in between her and them with her stick.
"It's alright, I'll get you out." They nodded at her, some skeptically but they had no choice, she was their last hope.
"Tell me what to do." She lowered her pitch without thinking, her whole persona having taken that of Batman himself, serious and put together despite all the chaos.
The woman, the most levelheaded it seemed, spoke up, her voice soothing, most likely to keep her colleagues relaxed.
"We don't know, the keypad malfunctioned, there's nothing…" She trailed off, trying to be careful not to aggravate those around her. Some start pulling at their hair; others were on the floor rocking back and forth. It looked like a mad house with one sane person, and a broken bat kid staring at them like an attraction at a zoo.
"Ok then." She started searching for buttons, a board of buttons because surely, at least in Stephanie Brown logic, there had to be one in high tech places like this keeping people prisoner.
She found it a few feet away, now the question is which to press...the fact that the machine wasn't working properly only made the task harder. She barely had time to look at all the colors before she heard a heavy swooshing sound. The gas was being released faster than before.
"God have mercy!" Someone shouted as they fell to the ground, their body twisting in agony, the others, who had not already been in fetal position, fell shortly after that, all reaching their hands for the glass.
"Plan B!" Stephanie shouted in panic; she pressed all the damn buttons, slamming her fists into them, looking for a way, any way. If only Tim were here…she wanted him for plenty of reasons, to hold her, to fix things, to use the cool collective mind of his and solve everything…to find a way.
"There has to be a way." She whispered with tears forming in her eyes. She didn't want to cry, she didn't know what to do…nothing made sense, 10 minutes ago, or was it 15? Maybe 20 minutes ago she was outside, safe in a way and then here and now…this and none of it made sense, too fast, too fast. Too fast to think of a next move that is, this is what she lived for, her whole being, her reason for existence, to serve humanity with her own life, her actions…to change things for the better. She thrived in helping others.
"Hope." She bit her lip feeling the pain, the adrenaline fading and only sadness…sadness creeping in...but no, she had to figure out something, anything, she had to have hope that things would change…she had to…
"There has to be something!" She jammed the stick into the center of the board, pulling it and reaching her hand down, electrocuting herself in the process, to yank wires out, it was all she could do, destroy this machine and hope, she looked up and saw their faces growing pale, only one still somewhat standing, the woman had her hand trying to break the glass with a push, the other at her throat, choking and…
"I won't give up!" Stephanie's voiced boomed over the faint noises of the captives, struggling for breath. She felt pathetic and at the same time she knew her hope was all she had, the only thing that ever got her through anything, ever. Despite the pain with her cracked bones, her lungs filling up with anything but air and her concussion lulling her to sleep…she had to keep going, she couldn't let her knees buckle under the weight of her body…she couldn't give in…
Hope…hope and...a light?
A blindly blue light, she shut her eyes but reached her hands out, and in doing so she felt something slip onto her finger…a beautiful sensation ran through her body like a rejuvenating fall into blue water, refreshing, renewed and ready. All the roaring flames fell behind in the crisp aura of the light.
"Holy crap!" She screamed as her spoiler costume changed into that of a Blue Lantern, she hovered above the ground, in shock but she didn't take the time to understand what had happened, she pointed the ring to the glass sent out a blast, a blast that shattered the barrier, the woman fell down, Steph caught her before her body touched the shattered pieces. She picked up all the captives with her light, flying, shooting up much like a star, a blue star sailing through the flights of stairs until she saw the real stars above.
Once outside she sputtered, falling to the ground, her body still weak from her injuries. A few minutes later Cass came running down to find her friend passed out on the grass, on the other side of her were a group of people. The flames had stopped abruptly a few minutes ago. She looked over their bodies, half were dead, the others barely breathing…
"Steph." Cass nudged her gently; she could hear the blonde mumbling, "are they alive" and things of the like. Cass pulled her into her lap and stroked her hair, wondering what had happened, where she'd been. A trail of blood leaked from Stephanie's back, a scar would form in time, an ugly scar. Cass pulled off her cape, cleaning off the wound, it was the best she could do.
Whatever the case, the fires had stopped, lives were saved and Cass knew it was because of Stephanie Brown.