A lone crossbow bolt soars across the Gotham skyline. Aim steady and true. Attached zip-line whirs through the air, followed by the subtle hum of metal slicing through the night. All else is silent, canceled out by the cacophony of city noise as the pointed end of said arrow finds its mark. Right on target, it connects with the side of a building a couple hundred feet away, embedding itself into the wall.
A shadow emerges from out of the darkness. Dressed in purple and black, the masked woman readies her stance on the edge of the rooftop. Eyes narrowed. Lips set in a scowl. Crossbow steady.
There's a lot that goes into grappling building to building. The Batman makes it look so easy, most would never stop to think. How many pounds per inch your cable can safely hold without snapping. Wind velocity. Speed of decent. Proper maintenance and lubrication. Timing. It's all about timing... You see, you're only as good as your gadgets and wits. And that's on a good day if you're lucky. Usually it's one or the other... Like she said, Batman makes it look easy. Hell... She makes it look good.
The slightest hint of a smirk crosses her scarlet lips. Press play and begin.
You won't get much closer until you sacrifice it all... ALL...
Bat out of Hell, the girl leaps from the rooftop and swings clear across the night sky.
You won't get to taste it with your face against the wall... WALL... WALL...
Rush of adrenaline. The wind in her hair. Skin-tight leather and the sting of the brisk breeze whipping at her face. God, she lives for nights like these.
"Zzzt... Did you really have to rewire the links to the comms JUST so you could play your iPod through the speakers in your cowl?" A stern yet feminine voice cuts in to her headset.
"What? You don't like Muse?"
The voice on the other end of the relay audibly sighs at the Huntress' unwelcomed wit.
"Zzz... Do you have to play it so loud?"
"You're no fun, O." The Huntress teases. "Come on. Let loose. Have a little fun! OH! The chorus is coming up. Sing it with me, girl!" She takes a deep breath. "Ohhhhhhhh... One, two, three, four, FIRES in eyes. And this CHAOS it defies IMAGINATION! Five, six, seven, MINUS nine lives..."
"You've arrived at your destination."
"That's not how the song goes."
"H! You've arrived at... Zzssttttss... zzzttzz..."
"O? Oracle? You there? Dammit."
An inky shadow against the dark Gotham backdrop, the Huntress flies through the night towards her intended destination. An arms deal at the corner of Lexington and Holt. Rooftop. A couple of minnows in the Gotham underworld, hoping to make it bigtime. Little fish. Hardly sharks. And while they, themselves, aren't too concerning, the merchandise they're packing... Taking these thugs down and their heat off the streets should be enough to get in good with daddy. Not that she gives a rats ass what he thinks of her, of course... A simple seek and destroy. Simple being the key word. Nothing's ever simple. Not in this town.
Something or someone cuts her line and suddenly she's falling. Plummeting towards the rooftop below. It's the one and only time she wishes her uniform came complete with a cape. Then she could just glide her way to safety. Instead, she tucks and rolls, hitting the surface of the gritty roof hard but balanced. She'd trained for things like this. She's a natural. When one's father is the Batman, one trains for anything and everything. You do what you have to do. What you need to survive.
Whatever it takes.
Bringing herself up into a crouching position, she finds herself surrounded. Ten men. Big. Armed. Angry. Heavy crates of stolen goods. Looks to be military grade. At least now she knows where they're getting this stuff. And oh look... an EMP gun. So THAT'S why Oracle cut out so quickly. They fried her comms.
"No one's coming to help you, little girl." The man with the EMP so smugly declares. He steps front and center, perhaps the leader of the group. He's sure as hell sure of himself enough to be, at least.
The Huntress gets to her feet. Without her ever-present watchdog keeping tabs on her, she's free to do what she likes. There's no holding back. She cracks her knuckles and grins.
"Funny. I was just about to say the same thing to you."
Fists raises, she pounces. Ready to strike.
Hand meets alarm. Hard. Resulting in a fizzling mess of wires and broken, melted plastic. The third one he's destroyed this week.
Klarion the Warlock tosses in bed, groaning as he rubs the sleep from his eyes. The battered alarm clock sizzles beside him and to its right on the nightstand sits a plump little tabby, unamused but prepared for the strike. He tells his master it's time to wake. Klarion responds by yanking the covers up and over his head.
"Dumb cat! It's still dark!" The overgrown child whines.
Teekl sighs and rolls his brilliant green eyes.
"Dark or not, it is time to wake and ready yourself for your big meeting today."
The warlock stirs, obviously intrigued by his familiars curious musings. He arches a thin, pointed brow.
"Yes. The one you made me promise not to let you forget..."
"The Wayne Foundation."
Teekl breathes a heavy sigh and hops down off the nightstand and onto the floor. Tail swishing haughtily to and fro as he exits the bedroom.
"Kidding! Just kidding..." A muffled laugh escapes from under the covers. "Sheesh... So serious."
Klarion draws back the covers and sits himself upright, although lazily. He runs his fingers through his hair and casts the framed photo at his bedside a groggy grin.
"Good morning, Kitty."
After Kitrina's death, most of her worldly possessions were donated off. A few key pieces such as her catsuits and the like were divvied between Selina and Bruce. Klarion's nomadic lifestyle didn't allow him to keep much, but then again, Kitrina never was much for personal effects. An outcast herself, most of what she'd owned at one time or another belonged to someone else. She'd stolen most her life. Strip away the diamond necklaces and pearls and you don't have much more than a couple photographs and a rather large pile of clothing. So he kept what he could. A couple blouses that still held her scent. That is until he inhaled it all away... That red frilly pair of panties he'd stolen from her so very long ago. And the few photographs she'd kept on her nightstand. The ones of her and her friends at that boarding school upstate. A happier moment in her brief but meaningful life. Captured in time. Looking at the pictures now, his one regret is that they'd never had their picture taken. Even in all the time they'd spent together. Not a single one.
He gets to his feet, placing a hand atop his favorite photo of her smiling face.
"Today's the day." He says warmly down to her, as if she were actually there. "I can feel it."
It's been close to a year now since he'd hit rock bottom, since he had that little chat with Bruce Wayne. Ever since then, he's been working towards his goal, his plan to help his people ascend to the surface. An idea that has faced many adversities along the way. Road block after road block. Red tape after red tape. Then out of the blue, he'd received word that the Wayne Foundation had taken interest in his cause. Hopefully his meeting today will help turn things around.
Hand dipping into the waistband of his black boxer briefs, Klarion scratches at his belly. Head back, he lets loose an exaggerated yawn as he makes his way out into the living room portion of his studio apartment. It's a quaint little living space in the lower east side of Manhattan. Not much to look at, but it's home. At least for now. Besides, he's squatted in worse. Sure beats the sewers, anyway.
Walking past the television, it turns on as if the device has a mind of its own. Channels flip erratically. The game station hums to life. Governed by red magic, a controller hovers midair. Teekl hops up onto the well-worn couch, watching the spectacle before him as his master steps into the bathroom, not bothering with the door behind him as he begins his morning ritual.
As if possessed, a coffee pot begins brewing on its own accord. A frying pan sets to work on breakfast, a slave to its invisible master opening the fridge and cracking eggs into its sizzling surface. All while the witch hovers over the bathroom sink, toothbrush in hand. He controls all there is around him with the greatest of ease. Going about several different tasks all at once as if it were mere childs play.
Water rains down on him from inside the shower as he monitors the TV through his familiar's eyes. Klarion presses all the right buttons from a room away, battling an opponent online for the glory of the win. An explosion onscreen makes Teekl's whiskers twitch upward into what can be perceived as a smile on his furry little face.
"Bum bum buuummmm..." Klarion bellows, arms raised victoriously in the air as he steps out of the shower, dripping water all over the floor. "Another win for the Warlock!"
A towel flies across the bathroom, lifting from its spot hung on the wall to wrap around the witch. Once dry, clothes from every which way, scattered throughout the apartment, come to greet him as well. The young man needn't lift a finger, he holds out his arms and his magic does the rest. Starched white dress shirt envelopes him, buttoning on its own. Next comes the skinny black tie. Then that form fitted suit jacket with the crimson red lining. A classic combination. Much like the very first suit she'd picked out for him.
A comb runs itself through his wet hair in an attempt to tame its unruliness. He slicks it back. Suave and sleek. It lasts for but a moment. Long enough to get a sly grin in before the raven locks spring out of place. Those two trademark devilish curls unfurl from the rest of his coiffure. No matter what he does, he'll never be able to tame such chaos.
Pants in hand, he steps into them one leg at a time. Magic does the rest. A zip and a button as he makes his way out of the bathroom and into the living room to take a seat on the couch beside his bestest little buddy in the whole wide world.
Two plates of sausages and eggs hurtle through the air, coming to a rest in the duo's laps. Klarion picks up his fork and shovels a heaping mound of food into his mouth as the game controller continues hovering and playing its ghostly game to the pairs amusement.
It's a bachelors life. Simple. One day at a time. There's dishes in the sink and dirty clothes on the floor. Sure it could use a woman's touch. As can he... But it's good and honest. A work in progress towards something better. Maybe one day he'll open himself up again to someone who can love him, but for now he's as close to happy as he's been in a long time. For now, his heart still belongs to her... And for her he will do anything to make her proud.
Whatever it takes.
"I hope you're proud of yourself." A deep baritone booms from somewhere within the cave.
The Huntress hops off the back of her motorcycle. Removing her helmet, she shakes out her long, raven locks.
"If this is about me messing with Oracle's gear so that I can listen to my music, look I'm-"
"You broke protocol, Helena." The Batman interrupts in that uncanny no-nonsense tone if his. He steps out of the shadows, revealing himself to the light. To anyone else, he'd appear almost menacing as he makes his way towards her in grand flare.
Helena stares at him dumbstruck, her mind trying its best to fill in the gaps.
"Sooo... I take it this isn't about the iPod."
"This is serious, Helena."
"I'm BEING serious!" She defends against her father. "I have no idea what you're talking about!"
The Dark Knight glares down at her, those cold steel eyes cutting through the darkness of the cave.
How can he possibly put into words his worry and concern for her. His fear and his love. He'd just gotten her back and dares not lose her again. It would absolutely ruin him. He'd be devastated should anything happen to her. Sure, he could tell her that. Make her understand where it is he's coming from. But talking about his feelings isn't exactly one of his strong suits. Nor is it hers. Instead, they square off. As they've done so many times before.
"You're to maintain an open line of communication at all times." He growls.
"And I did! It's not MY fault that guy had an EMP disruptor."
"Then you leave until you can get your comms back online and working."
"Leave?!" She cries. "Months of planning and you'd want me to retreat? And why? Because I don't have O breathing down my neck?"
"What if you required backup?"
"I don't NEED backup! I didn't need any help. I did just FINE tonight on my own!"
"FINE?! You call sending ten men to the hospital tonight FINE?" Batman shouts in return. "One of which is in critical. So congratulations, he'll be eating through a tube for he rest of his life. That is if he even wakes up."
Helena folds her arms across her chest and juts out her hip. Eyes narrowed, she pouts.
"The hospital is better than the morgue, right?" She huffs. "It's not like I KILLED anyone tonight."
Her tone is sarcastic and drips with spite.
"And that makes it ok?"
Through slitted eyes, Bruce stares her down. Defiant, unwavering, she glares up at him in return.
It doesn't take the world's greatest detective to sense the change in her since her return. It's as if she's a different person. Someone else entirely from the young, free-spirited young girl he once knew. It's as if all the light has drained from her eyes. All the joy and the life. As if all that was good in her had died. In its stead, such a bitter creature of darkness and night. So much violence. So much anger. So much like him. Cold. Calculating. Short fused. Hot tempered. Bull-headed. Stubborn...
Bruce sighs. These yelling matches are becoming old and tiresome. He'd do anything to get his little girl back. Anything.
Whatever it takes.
The hooded figure turns abruptly, cape billowing behind him as he leaves.
"Get dressed." He calls from over his shoulder. "You have a busy day ahead of you at the office."
Today's the day.