Birds of Prey
Disclaimer: I do not own DC, Marvel, or any other characters outside of OCs.
Note: To expand towards the rest of the Earth-52 universe, I have chosen to include chapters featuring the Justice League and Avengers as the main characters. If there is enough support in the future, the story could be expanded towards the origins of the two groups and the history that led up to this point. So if you want to see more Justice League and Avengers in the future, please review and continue supporting the effort.
Justice League: Night Shift
Neo Gotham City – January 6, 21:16 EDT
The East End – An underdeveloped part of Gotham laden with poverty, crime, prostitution, and the circulation of illegal drugs. Despite all the things that had been done to further advance Gotham City into the refurbished Neo Gotham City; the East End was the only thing that hadn't changed in over eighty years. This was due in large part of Bruce Wayne's attempt to preserve the infamous Crime Alley to remind the city of Gotham what it had lost and – unknown to its inhabitants – where the legacy of the Batman began. But by leaving the East End untouched for some many decades, it had become the central location for Gotham's lowest and deadliest criminals, who had long ago divided territory within the area. One of the territories being the Gotham Docks, where a large gathering was taking place.
Men and woman of Gotham's underground poured into Warehouse 22 in droves, quickly finding a seat on the many stacked benches around the spacious building. In the center of the warehouse was a mahogany table facing a crude statue of Lady Justice – one side painted black the other white – holding two scales in both hands. Tied down to a chair behind the table by what seemed to be an inescapable knot was a woman garbed in a pitch-black bodysuit equipped with armored plating to protect her arms and legs, a pair of electric wristbands, and compartments strapped to her thighs to store her gear. Her face was masked by a bulking helmet that ended at two points on top and had two narrow ruby-red lenses to see through. (Andrea Black – Catwoman)
Try as she might, the Cat couldn't maneuver around enough to free herself – they wanted to make sure she didn't go anywhere. Catwoman finally ended her attempts when everyone had taken their seats and the warehouse doors slammed shut, drowning the building in intimidating silence. All eyes were now at the base of the crude statue to the woman whose back was turned to the audience, flipping a silver dollar consistently in her hand.
"I've worked so hard to make it this far." The woman said in a low key. "All my struggles, my pain, my suffering – the empire I had built up from the depths of this suburban rat hole." Sighed heavily. "But there is always someone trying to stop us."
"Not anymore!" The same woman proclaimed with a deeper, gravelly voice. "When we kill the bitch, Neo Gotham will understand who's in charge! We're going to be calling the shots from now on!"
"We should be fair though." The woman returned to her normal voice. "We have a moral obligation to under hold justice in this lawless city."
"Morals? Justice?" The woman spoke in her dark tone. "We will decide what real justice is after tonight!
The woman finally turned around to face her audience, stepping into the light for all to see. She seemed like a normal woman, but had taken efforts to cover herself in body paint – the right side white and the left side black – and had shoulder-length hair that was also divided, leaving the right half emerald-green and the other half fiery-red. Her clothing of choice was tailcoat with a high collar that barely covered her breasts and left her midriff exposed, a pair of business pants kept in place by a leather belt, and a pair of high-heeled shoes. In accordance to her personal style, her clothing was colorized as followed: the left side white with the right half black. (Duela Dent – Two-Face)
"Court is now in session!" Two-Face yelled, earning a raving applause from the audience. "The good people of Neo Gotham City versus…"
"The good people?" Catwoman remarked sarcastically, earning a one-sided glare from the judge. "Who are you trying to fool with this mockery of a trial? If you think you're gonna take me out with this ridiculous kangaroo court, you're even more insane than usual."
"Oh, you're not the defendant." Two-Face proclaimed casually, leaning closer to the cat burglar. "You're the attorney." "As I was saying: the good people of Neo Gotham City versus Kitrina Falcone."
"What?" Catwoman exclaimed fretfully.
Just as her named was called, two of the schizophrenic woman's henchmen cared carried a young girl – who was kicking and flailing defiantly – to the second chair at the wooden table. She was possibly only a couple years older than the Flash's sidekick with shoulder-length light-auburn hair and a particularly nasty bite, which she used on one of the goons arm. She was dressed in a stone-grey shirt with black paw prints, a pair of faded jeans, and pair of pitch-black combat boots – hey, a girl needed to look tough in this city. After a lot of fighting and clawing from the scrappy girl, Kitrina was finally restrained to her seat, hissing as the ropes burned against her skin. Underneath her mask, Catwoman was shooting a dangerous glare in Two-Face's direction.
"Hey, Andrea, here's a silly question?" Kitrina said slowly before exploding. "What the (bleep) am I doing here?"
"First off, where did you hear that word?" Catwoman questioned sternly. "You weren't supposed to learn that until you were twelve. And second, I have no idea. But…I have a feeling we're going to find out soon enough."
"Kitrina Falcone…" Two-Face said solemnly, pacing back and forth with her coin flipping in her hand. "Daughter of Alberto "Holiday" Falcone, granddaughter of Carmine "The Roman" Falcone…" "And a real pain in the ass!" The crowd jeered at the pre-teen gangster, who was fruitlessly struggling in her seat. "Since the time of our fathers…" "Meaning OUR fathers…" "The Falcone Crime Family held more than half of Neo Gotham under their control…" "Something that should be rightfully ours…" "And now, after the…tragic deaths of many of its prestigious members…" "That leaves the little kitten the sole heir of the Crime Family."
"Did you know about this?" Kitrina questioned; the black cat remained diligently silent. "So not cool! I could be running the mob now!"
"As the last child of the Falcone Family, she has full control of their territory..." Two-Face continued undisturbed. "And bumping her off makes it open season on their turf!" The crowd roared strongly."So here's my question to you, good people of the jury: should we let her off with a warning…?" Her hand swiftly dived into her coat pocket, aiming an automatic pistol between Kitrina's eyes. "Or should we just kill the bitch?"
"Objection!" Catwoman shouted angrily; Two-Face retaliated by backhanding her with her pistol.
"Overruled." Two-Face replied calmly.
"If you harm even one hair on her head…" Catwoman growled dangerously. "I really will make you two-faced."
"Let's see what the coin has to say." Two-Face remarked. The schizophrenic woman brought to attention the silver dollar she always carried – one side normal, one side heavily scarred. Flipping the coin into the air, the mock courtroom watched in silence as the currency glided above their heads before slapping into the palm of its owner's hand. Two-Face stayed for a good minute until… "This court finds the defendant…" "Guilty!"
The warehouse exploded into cheers. Killing off the last Falcone meant that Two-Face was one step closer to creating an empire greater than that belonging to Roman "Black Mask" Sionis. And everyone under her would have their own share of the spoils…until she flipped the coin and bumped you off. But still, a life without risks wasn't one worth living. With the barrel pressed firmly against the girl's forehead, Two-Face steadily pulled back the trigger, wanting to savor the sense of helplessness the cat was feeling. But her taste for dramatics ultimately proved to be the downfall of Duela Dent. From high in the rafters, a black and red object twirled from out of the darkness and curved around to snap against Two-Face's wrist. A quick murmur of confusion passed over the makeshift courtroom. Clenching her injury, Two-Face looked down next to her discard weapon and found – to her dismay – the signature tool of Neo Gotham's hero.
"The defense would like to call its first witness." Duela fell back on her behind as the newly Caped Crusader dropped from the shadows of the rafters, landing firmly on the mahogany table. "Would the Batman please take the stand?"
"Batman!" Two-Face screamed.
Did anyone ever tell you that you have perfect timing?" Catwoman sounded relieved. "Ooh, sporting a new costume, I see. Not bad, not bad – very menacing and mysterious, but don't you know capes are so 2012?"
"I've been getting that a lot." Batman smirked. "I don't care what you say; the cape's cool.
"What are you idiots standing around for?" Two-Face screamed, finally pulling herself to her feet. "Kill him!"
There was a hint of uncertainty present in the audience – many of them had already fought against the Batman and typically took a quick trip to Gotham Mercy General before on their way to Blackgate. Many of the more sensible henchmen ran away with their tails between their legs, but the unfortunate few that stayed jumped down from the benches at full force. The Dark Knight did a quick mental count. Forty-two street thugs armed with miscellaneous items versus one man in a cape and cowl didn't really seem fair – perhaps he should fight with his eyes closed.
From either side, two of Two-Face's goons came running with metal pipes broken off from the walls. The Caped Crusader effortlessly blocked the blunt objects with his forearms, bending them slightly, and wrapped his hands around to relieve them of their weapons. With a quick spin of his cape, the Dark Knight managed to confuse the goons until he found the opportunity to nail them in the head with their own weapons. Around the same time, one of the few female stepped softly behind the bat with a pocket knife in hand and stabbed between the hero's shoulder blades. But the Dark Knight had noticed her presence a while back and pulled the one of the pipes behind his back to directing the small razorblade. While the woman stumbled, Batman quickly turned around and bashed her across the face twice with the pipes before kicking her abdomen, sending her tumbling to the wall. Terry was starting to feel like Nightwing, but felt that he should stick to what he did best and discarded the pipes.
One of the hulking thugs tried to kick the Dark Knight, but the bat easily caught the goon's ankle before driving his boot in the man's crotch, effectively disabling him for the rest of the night. If there was one thing that Wayne taught him, it was to be as brutal as possible no matter how much of a low blow it is. Batman had just finished knocking out a minion by popping his shoulder when he heard three clicking sounds ringing one after another. The bat turned slowly – it was astonishing that he had failed to notice the cache of ammunition in the corner. Wayne was going to kill him if these guys didn't. Thankfully, the dumbbells were still loading their weapons, which provided Batman with the opportunity to open one of the compartments of his belt. A cloud of thick, grey smoke was released into the air and the minions were thrown into a coughing fit; Batman's exo-suit had a built-in filter. Quickly dashing through the haze, Batman jumped and slammed his heels into the stomach of one of the gunners, using him as a kick off point to flip over the other two and slam his fists over their heads.
There was no denying it – the bat was too good. So with the intention of escaping bodily harm, Duela Dent tried crawling away like a toddler in the middle of all the confusion. She had just escape the smokescreen before her vision was clouded by a pair of black boots. Almost hesitantly, Two-Face looked up, staring into steely gaze of Catwoman.
"Going somewhere, Dent?" Catwoman said playfully with her hands on her hips.
"How did you…?" Two-Face murmured.
"Kitrina's good with knots." Catwoman replied knowingly, pointing to the child holding the broken ropes like a trophy.
This wasn't going at all like she planned. For the first time since she could remember, Two-Face immediately disregarded the coin toss and jabbed her hand into her other pocket to pull out her second pistol – she always carried a pair. But before she could pull the trigger, her arms were pulled behind her back and forced to release her gun. Looking around, she came to the sudden realization there was not one, not two, not three, but nine Catwoman circling the suddenly defenseless crime lord. She forgot that this version of the cat thief was a metahuman as opposed to her normal predecessor.
"Bad girl…" Catwoman purred triumphantly, kicking the pistol to the corner. "If you can't play nicely, you'll get your toys taken away. Girls, think she needs to be put in time out for a little while."
"Hey, hey, wait a minute!" Two-Face stammered fretfully as the army of cats lifted her into the air. "What the hell are doing?" "You better put us down right now!" "We'll kill you for this, bitch!"
The dark suited cat burglar clapped her hands for a job well done – she had been meaning to pay Dent back after ripping her off on that heist a few years back. But while her replicas were stringing the schizophrenic woman up to the crude statue by her ankles, the black cat did show some slightly worried for the Dark Knight's health. These concerns proved to be baseless as the smokescreen settled and the Caped Crusader emerged unharmed. Though the same couldn't be said about the piles of wounded henchmen moaning pathetically on the floor.
"You are full of surprises, you know that?" Catwoman said teasingly.
"I figured you could use my help." Batman commented.
"You're right." Catwoman said, taking a sudden interest in her hand. "I think I broke a nail back there."
"Cute." Batman remarked blandly. Two-Face was screaming something about cats and a piñata, but was ignored. "I need you to come with me, Andrea. It's important."
"So forward." Catwoman said in mock amazement. "Don't you have a fiancé? You know: crawls walls, shoots webs, and wears gaudy spandex?" The Dark Knight narrowed his eyes dangerously, meaning she should stop their playful banter before someone got hurt – mostly her. "All right, all right, let me just drop Kitrina off at our flat and we can talk there. And…what about Ms. Split-Personality?"
"I already called Detective Yin before I arrived." Batman informed, calling up his holographic computer as proof. "She'll be here in about ten minutes and she says it would be preferable if we were gone. Well, mostly you being a cat burglar and all."
"I'm flattered." Catwoman snickered, picking up Kitrina before following the bat into the darkness of the night.
On the opposite area of the East End district, the crime rate in the streets was lower than anywhere else in the region, which was contributed to two reasons. The first was because it borderlines with the nicer areas of Neo Gotham City, meaning police were more active. The second reason was because the infamous Catwoman regularly patrolled the rooftops in the area and would kick the crap out of anyone that would so much throw litter on the streets. And in the heart of this section was the Nine Lives Longue – not as glamorous as the Iceberg Lounge, but it was a good place to find cheap drinks and risk flirting with the sexy barkeeper, Andrea Black. One could only imagine how customers would react if they knew the one serving them was the one kicking their asses.
Andrea had bought the Nine Lives Longue when she was eighteen when she finally got – stole – the money needed to leave her father and strike it on her own. She typically lived alone in the flat above the tavern until a year ago when she took in Kitrina after saving her from her abusive uncle. Speaking of whom, the little gangster was settling herself into bed as Andrea made sure her charge was comfortable for the night. Andrea had removed her helmet when coming home; she could easily be mistaken for Cassandra's older sister due to the similarities in their appearance.
"I don't know what you were thinking going out in the middle of the night." Andrea scolded. "It's no wonder Two-Face's goons managed to catch you. I'm just amazed they hadn't thought about snapping your little neck if their boss didn't say so."
"Hey, I can take care of myself." Kitrina huffed indignantly. "I used that move you showed me and took six of them down before they caught me." She looked away when her caretaker shot her a knowing look. "Fine, it was only four. But I still kicked their asses!"
"And I'm proud of you." Andrea claimed, ruffling the girl's hair. "But next time, know your limits." With that being said, the heroic cat burglar crossed the room and turned out the lights. "Night, kid."
The preteen didn't return the gesture and turned her back to the Catwoman, obviously pouting over her treatment. Though she tried to act tough, she was too young and too cute to be taken seriously. The black cat closed the door behind her and made her way downstairs to her place of business; she could use a good hangover after the night she had. Unfortunately, she forgot that she was serving a tall, dark, and dangerous customer tonight, who was hanging out at the counter with her helmet. But she was grateful that she had the pleasure of waiting on this Batman instead of the old timer – at least he knew how to have a good time.
"So, what can I get ya, sir?" Andrea said as she walked around the counter, playing the role of the lovable bartender. "Whisky, gin, tequila, Bloody Mary, Screwdriver. Might I recommend the Agent Orange – the guys with the glowing rings and orange jumpsuits really love that one."
"I'm not here for a social visit." Batman ended sternly; so much for a good time. "I need your help, Andrea. More specifically, I need Catwoman's help.
"The mighty and powerful Batman needs help from a common thief?" Andrea remarked teasingly, deciding to mix herself a drink if the bat wouldn't join. "I never thought I'd see the day."
"We both know you're no common thief." Batman stated. "You've pulled off hundreds of high-profile robberies in twenty states before you were even eighteen and never once have you been caught – Not even with Superman and the Flash on your tail. Even Salina Kyle and Felicia Hardy have that kind of track record. I need your thieving expertise of yours for a mission."
"You want me to break help you steal something?" Andrea shot a confused expression; the Dark Knight just grimace. "It's tempting…but what's in it for me?"
"I saved your life twice – both with Two-Face and with Hush." Batman answered knowingly. "And if I didn't pull a few strings, you would have never gained custody of Kitrina and Wayne wouldn't be giving you the funds to take care of her. You owe me, Andrea. And you back out now; I could take everything away with just a word – Kitrina and all."
"Are you blackmailing me?" Andrea sneered dangerously. While the Dark Knight remained unaffected by her heated glare, the black cat suddenly smirked and chuckled slightly. "I didn't think you had it in ya, bats. I almost regret letting you get away. Now…" She picked up her helmet, locking it tightly with the rest of her suit. "What's the job you have in mind?"
Metropolis – January 7, 0:32 EDT
Metropolis at night was radically different from the streets of Neo Gotham: the city was relatively quiet, the atmosphere wasn't depressing, and the air was breathable. If it wasn't for the fact that Gotham was his hometown and the blue Boy Scout flying around, Terry would seriously consider moving here. But right now, he needed to focus on his objective. The bat and the Cat were hovering around the parameter of the LuthorCorp building in the Batmobile, which had been converted for stealth mode for the operation. He really needed to thank Wayne for the upgrades.
While the Dark Knight kept his eyes focused on the uh…"road", so to speak, Catwoman was fiddling with the onboard computer for information on the LuthorCorp building. Thanks to some assistance from Oracle, the dynamic duo was able to attain as much intel on the security measures without alerting living computer, Indigo.
"Hmm…" Catwoman hummed thoughtfully, flipping to the next page. "Standard security cameras at every hallway, three hundred plus security guards on duty, inferred and ultraviolet sensors on the rooftops, each window is electronically locked and fitted with shock function to prevent high-rise entrances, and every electronic in the building has a different password that changes every five minutes. I gotta hand it to Luthor – she doesn't slack off when it comes to security. The place is locked up tighter than Croc's jaw."
"You can see why I've had so much trouble getting in." Batman said, slowly settling the Batmobile on a nearby rooftop. The bat and the cat jumped out and the Dark Knight activated the stealth function once more – he did need someone to jack his car…again. "So what's the plan? Try to bypass the security on the roof or maybe plow out way underground."
"You're thinking too complex." Catwoman purred. "We're just gonna walk in through the front door."
It was another boring night at LuthorCorp – nothing exciting ever happened at Metropolis at night. The villains here weren't like the freak at Neo Gotham that liked using the shadows and stuff. For this reason, it was easy the security guard to lean back into his chair, kick his feet up on the desk, and catch up on the news with the Daily Planet. He had just finished reading the article on Superman and Nightwing defeating the Superman Revenge Squad when suddenly, the front doors slammed open and snapped the guard's attention up. He found himself staring at a woman with lengthy-raven hair wearing one of LuthorCorp security uniforms – he sighed exasperatedly.
"Gee, Janet, do you have to be so loud." The guard groaned. "Ya nearly gave me a heart attack."
"At least we'd have something to do." The guard named Janet moaned, leaning against the front desk. "The night shift is so boring. I wish something exciting would happen for once.
Ask and ye shall receive. While the two guards were locked in idle chat, neither of them had noticed the black cat that had entered the building unnoticed and was crawling along the ceiling like a Spider. Catwoman kept herself flat against the surface of the ceiling and stopped moving briefly when the security camera was aimed in her direction. It was touch and go for a while, but the cat burglar managed to get close to the camera and open the paneling on the side. The cat aimed her wristband at the I/O socket, connecting the two together by a thin cable. Catwoman monitored her wristband until it signaled her with a tiny red flash – mission accomplished.
Now that the cameras were taken care off, there was still the matter of the security…not a problem. The two were so relaxed into the conversation that neither of them had noticed the black cat crawling overhead until it was too late. Catwoman dropped down from the ceiling and grabbed them by their heads – the man with her hands and the woman with her feet – before slamming them together. The two dropped like dead weights and probably won't remember what happened when the wake up. Now that everything was taken care of, the cat burglar casually walked over to the door and let the brooding Dark Knight in.
"I take it you took care of everything." Batman said, referring to the unconscious security.
"We made it inside the building and all video feed is now on a continuous loop." Catwoman informed, holding out her wristband to bring up her own holographic computer. "We'll be able to move without being caught by camera footage. But we still have to worry about roaming security and there's still the problem with the changing password."
"Already taken care of." Batman stated, bringing out his computer once more. "I had Oracle hack into the LuthorCorp mainframe through your exo-suit and she managed to build a multi-frequency cryptographic sequencer that adapts to every variable in Luthor's encryption key. No matter what the password is, I hack it."
"Have you ever considered changing careers?" Catwoman asked teasingly; she was once again on the receiving end of the famous Bat-Glare. "Can't blame a girl for asking. But if this whole superhero thing doesn't work out, I know this great place when they have a vault full of rare Peruvian diamonds." She pressed a few sequences in her computer, bringing up a small-scale map of the LuthorCorp building. "What you are looking for is on the forty-eighth floor in Luthor's private databank. All the information that isn't in the LuthorCorp mainframe should be there."
"And that where we'll get our answers." Batman said, running past with a flourish of his cape. "C'mon."
Using Oracle's handy cryptographic sequencer, Batman managed to gain full access of the elevator to take them to the forty-eighth floor – it was more convenient than the stairs.
But as they leisurely made their way up the building, they were unaware of how their actions reflected in the security room. The head of security was eying the monitors with an expert eye that came from years of experience. All the images looked the same and showed nothing suspicious, but the times were something to be concerned of. While most guards never notice it, the time on the bottom right corner of the video kept repeating over and over – someone was trying to throw him for a loop. Nice try, but not great. A chorus of squelching noises could be heard coming from the room, but if anyone dared to look inside, they would find that the head of security had vanished without a trace.
Though it was heavily fortified from the outside, the security wasn't all that impressive on the inside once they took out the security cameras. There were the few four guards the dynamic duo met when exiting the elevator, but that was handled with a quick jab to the jaw before stuffing them into a nearby janitor closet, which was rather weird since LuthorCorp didn't have a janitor. And finally, after using the cryptographic sequencer given by Oracle, the bat and cat entered the most secure facility in the building: Lena Luthor's personal computer database.
The room was really quite spacious than expected – stretching thirty feet in height, length, and width – with at least twenty rows of technologically advanced supercomputers. Most of them didn't even look like they were built on Earth, which is probably true considering Lena's relationship with the infamous Brainiac. As they walked through the range of workstations, Batman's curious nature permitted him to peek at one of the nearby monitors. He didn't see anything too sketchy: due dates, financial income, business revenue, and what appeared to be an article from her private diary. The Dark Knight walked away – even he knew it was a bad idea to read another girl's diary and Spider-Girl still hasn't forgiven him of that little incident.
It was Catwoman who noticed that all the mainframes were connected by a web of neon-green circuits interwoven on the floor, slowly tangling together towards the center of the room. All the circuits led to a wide cylinder that connected to the floor and the ceiling, seemingly connecting every electrical device in LuthorCorp. Batman grimaced when he learned that circuits were all connected by an enlarged version of Brainiac's symbol – Lena seems to hold in high regards.
"Looks like this kitten's got the cream." Catwoman purred, bring the bat's attention to the only keyboard in the room. "Well, Bats, I say my work here is done. So get whatever the hell you came for so we can get out of here." She refocused her attention to the Brainiac symbol. "This place is really starting to creep me out."
Don't go turning tail just yet, Black." Batman warned, kneeling towards the underside of the panel. The Dark Knight withdrew a hidden wire from the wrist of his Batsuit, connecting it to the I/O circuit hidden at the bottom. Instantly, the cryptographic sequencer went to work decoding Lena's elusive password. "Lena's firewalls are a bit stronger than the rest of the building, so it will take some time. In the meantime, I need you to keep an eye out for anyone…"
"You were saying?" Catwoman grumbled in annoyance.
They could hear the guard's weapon clicking into place – he wasn't gonna waste time with idle threats. Though they were highly trained to dodge a speeding bullet, they didn't want to run the risk of damaging the computer and losing the data. Or worse, Bruce would take the damages out of his paycheck. Temporarily disconnecting the computer, the bat and cat duo raised their hands slowly and turned around to face the guard. He was a tall, dark-skinned man with a bald head and eyes that showed years of experience. The expression of surprise was plain on all of them as everyone in the room recognized each other.
"Ethan Bennett?" Batman and Catwoman said shockingly.
"Batman? Catwoman?" Ethan sounded surprised, lowering his gun slightly. "What are you two doing here? Scratched that – what the hell are you doing here together? A hero and a thief just doesn't seem right."
"We could be asking you the same thing, Bennett." Catwoman retorted. "Last time we say you, bats turned you into an ice sculpture and handed you a one way ticket to Arkham Asylum."
"I got early parole for good behavior." Ethan informed. "I was nominated for a reform program called the Suicide Squad that gives super criminals like me a chance to make up for all the crimes we committed. Ms. Luthor gave a job as head of security because of my background and because of my…special talents."
"Listen, Bennett, it's not what you think." Batman said urgently. "We know Luthor is up to something, but we can't figure out what it is until we look through her files. She may look like a good person, but I know she's been behind a lot of underhanded dealings. If I can just look through computer, I can get my proof."
"Sorry, Batman." Ethan apologized honestly. "I'm grateful for what you tried to do for me in the past, but I've got a job to do. Now we can do this the easy way or the hard way."
If there was one thing he liked and hated about Ethan Bennett, it was his dedication to getting the job done right. And as much as he hated fighting a former upstanding citizen, what he needed from that computer was more important than past friendships. With his hands still where Bennett could see them, Batman pulled a batarang from the hidden storage at his first and flung the projectile before Bennett realized what happened. The Batarang snapped Bennett's gun in two and Catwoman, never missing an opportunity to claw someone, rushed forward and slashed across the man's face. Batman could have told her to stop – that attacking him directly was pointless – but she was never one to listen.
The black cat's claws through Bennett's face like a warm knife to butter, never once flinching. The former criminal simply stared as the cat burglar cautiously took a step back while the tears in Bennett's appearance merely molded themselves back together. Seeing as how his only weapon was broken and they weren't going to back down, Ethan thought that he might be at liberty to use his…special talents. After all, Ms. Luthor did say by any means necessary. Knowing that he wouldn't be judged by his actions, Bennett focused himself and allowed his natural chemistry go to work. His skin morphed into a pale-gray color and his body warped into a misshapen mess: his feet splattered on the ground, webs of gray connecting his body parts, and a twisted feature around his face. The last thing to take for was his mossy-green eyes, which were glaring daggers at the Dynamic Duo. (Ethan Bennett – Clayface)
"Oh…" Batman started
"Crap…" Catwoman finished.
"I tried to warn you, Batman." Clayface said threateningly; his voice deep and garbled. "You should have listened to me sooner. Now I am going to asked you to leave the building in peace…" The clay creature displayed his hands, converting them into needle points. "Or in pieces!"
It was rather pointless in asking since the earthen shapeshifter didn't allow them the chance to answer. He sliced his razor-tipped hands, which Catwoman eloquently backflipped away from and over her caped comrade. Batman, armed with a batarang in each hand, drove forward to meet Clayface head-on and locked against his spiked hands. However, Clayface was more crafty than most of the villains the Dark Knight faced against – second only to Inque. With caped crusader distracted by his hands, the shapeshifter formed a fist in his stomach and blasted Batman in the abdominal region. The bat was thrown back into the central databank, clinging to the computer panel for support.
While Batman tried to regain his composure, the clay criminal pulled up his right hand and formed an enlarged mace with his fist. Clayface pulled back in preparation for a devastating blow when he felt a pair of familiar claws cut deep across his waist, segmenting his upper body from his lower regions. The earthen shapeshifter relocated his face towards the direction behind him, leering at the black-suited feline flashing her claws teasingly. It didn't take much for Clayface to reattach himself to his limps, but the idea that he was humiliated like that didn't suit to well with him. This kinda think never happened when he was a cop…well, not often.
With a deep grunt, the muddy security guard crafted two extra pairs of arms along his sides and stretched them all at once for the black cat. The professional thief cut two of them into ribbons with her claws, but quickly shifted to bobbing and weaving around the murky snakes. Coincidently, the limbs that missed her were transformed into snakes and curved around for a stealth strike towards the back. It was good fortune that Andrea had built her mask with a rearview visual to watch behind her or would never have noticed. The cunning cat expertly backflipped over the mud serpents and gracefully landed on one of the workstations. Clayface glared darkly as he pulled himself together – he was wearing himself too thin.
But while the clay warrior took a moment to collect himself, the cat spotted an opening. She reached into one of her compartments and withdrew what looked like a silver handle – and not the kind you see in that old space movie. Pressing a button on the base, the handle released a lengthy electric current to take the shape of whip; an homage to the Catwomen before her. The black cat with the aim to rival Artemis, Catwoman lashed the electrified whip directly between Clayface's eyes, sending a current through the entirety of his shape. But as opposed to the painful screams she was expecting, the earthen ex-criminal ignored the electrical surge and retaliated by stretch his hand to grab the thief around her waist. The unfortunate barkeeper was pulled face-first into the floor – her tool tossed carelessly to the side.
"I must have fought against the Batman dozen times!" Clayface garbled. Though the cat fruitlessly tried to break free of his grip, the ex-criminal only continued to cover the rest of her in clay. "You think I haven't learned how to break the weakness!"
He had finished coating the thief's limbs in clay and was moving to cover her helmet until a silver pellet dropped from the ceiling and landed in the middle of the pile. Not a second later, a loud snap was followed by a thin layer of ice suddenly expanding around Catwoman's cage. Fearing the imminent danger, Clayface ripped himself away just before the substance was completely flash frozen. The clay no longer maintaining its firmness, the cat thief shattered the substance thanks to the enhanced strength feature she included in the exo-suit. While the cat kicked back to her feet and cartwheeled to safety, Clayface shifted his form to face the Dark Knight, who was holding a handful of what he need to be freeze capsules.
"But it looks like you haven't learned how to break this weakness." Batman remarked.
"Batman!" Clayface roared.
The Dark Knight tossed the rest of his freeze capsules, but the earthen creature flung miniature balls of clay to meet the weapons in midair, freezing upon impact. Good thing, too, since throwing flash freezing technology in a room filled with computers might not have been the best idea. Clayface dissolved his legs into a serpentine tail and reshaped his hands into a pair of battle axes as he slithered for the caped crusader. The Batman ducked twice under the swinging blades and jumped out of reach when the clay guard brought both hands overhead. As he came back down, the Dark Knight pulled back his fist and smashed it into the side of the ex-criminal's chest. As expected, Clayface was undisturbed by the assault and instead found a chance to lock the caped crusader's hand inside his body. With Batman sealed into place, the earthen security guard wrapped him into a bear hug and attempted to smother the hero in his substance.
"What was the point of that?" Clayface frowned, steadily covering the Dark Knight. "You can't hurt me with bare fists."
"I know." Batman smirked confidently.
Clayface looked genuinely confused, but the sharp hissing in his head told the story – game over. From his spider webbing from his chest to his feet to his hands to his head, every inch of his clay-formed body was flash frozen by the hidden freeze pellet Batman had implanted. You would think after falling for the same trick three times, the man would learn by now. The caped crusader pulled back his fist and shattered Clayface's frozen arms to break free just as Catwoman sauntered up to the ice sculpture.
"You really need to chill out, Bennett." Catwoman purred.
Without much of a warning, the black cat performed a spinning kick to the statue's face, breaking his head off from the rest of his body and sending it flying to smash against the wall.
"That was harsh." Batman commented.
"Cats don't like to be cornered." Catwoman remarked.
"What in the name of Colu is going on in here?!" Lena's irritated scream echoed in the room. "I get a call in the middle of the night saying two freaks in tights were breaking into my – oh, it's you two. Never mind."
Batman and Catwoman visibly stiffened as Lena Luthor and her assistant, Indigo, appeared around the corner with exasperated expressions – well, Lena was exasperated and Indigo remained indifferent. Batman at least had the decency not to stare at the fact that Lena had entered the room wearing a pink, see-through nightgown and a pair of pink, fuzzy slippers.
"Might I ask what you two are doing in my private database?" Lena demanded with her hands on her hips. "I thought I told you I gave all information concerning the incident with Weapon X and Dr. Rice."
"Yes, you do have a lot of evidence working for you." Batman coughed awkwardly, doing his best to keep his eyes on Lena's face. Spider-Girl was going to kill him if she ever found out. "But there are still some parts still missing; particularly any involvement with the Weapon Plus Program. Dr. Rice seems insistent that you had a bigger had than what you had claimed."
"Dr. Rice has operated behind my back for years." Lena sighed. "But if you really don't believe me, then take a look for yourself. The password change two minutes ago, so the new one should be 'Kandor' if I recall correctly."
The Dark Knight narrowed his eyes suspiciously – she gave that up way too easily. Nevertheless, Batman reconnected his computer with Lena's personal database and used the password she provided, gaining instant access to her files. There were millions of scattered notes on various subjects, so he filtered the data to only show files containing 'Weapon Plus'. After taking a full million to scan over everything, the closest thing he came to finding was an article on Weapon X and Wolverine – it was taken from an internet information site. This couldn't be right. According to Superman, Luthor should have hundreds of dark secrets stored away. He didn't exactly like the Kryptonian clone, but he knew he wasn't a lying. That could only mean that Lena had outsmarted him…again.
"Your clean." Batman grumbled, disconnecting the cable.
"I hope your satisfied." Lena in a dignified manner. "Now I must ask you to vacate the premises before I call the authorities. You're lucky I don't press charges against you."
"We'll just get out of your way." Catwoman said smoothly, shoving the Dark Knight out the door.
Since there was no point of being stealthy anymore, the bat and the cat decided to take the elevator back down to the lobby. A woman in a business suit working the late shift received quite a shock when the doors opened for a pair of superheroes in black costumes. Despite how awkward everything seemed, Batman nodded politely and Catwoman waved to the woman before stepping inside and pressing the lobby button. The elevator was silent with tension that everyone seemed afraid to break…ok, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration.
"Well, that was a big waste of time." Catwoman commented irritably. "We went through all the trouble and we didn't even find anything."
"Sometimes it's the lack of evidence is all you need." Batman replied seriously. "Luthor may think that she has covered all her bases, but there are some details missing with her story. She may be smart, but she's not a good liar."
"Whatever." Catwoman scoffed.
"Um…" The business woman said uncomfortably, earning stares from the heroes. "I…I like your costume."
"Really?" Catwoman said happily. "Thanks. I made it myself."
Batman groaned – this was gonna be a long trip.
Back at the computer room, Lena was finishing the last security measurements for her private files. The Dark Knight had managed to break in with minimal resistance – Bruce Wayne clearly had some involvement in this. Meanwhile, her assistant was diligently sweeping the fractured pieces of Clayface into a nice little pile.
"That was too close." Lena mumbled agitatedly under her breath. "If Bennett hadn't called, I wouldn't have been able to transfer the files out of here in time. The Batman is getting more resourceful everyday – clearly Qwardian technology isn't going to cut it. Maybe I should consider acquiring some of that Oan technology. Indigo, remind me to put that on my to-do list."
"Yes, ma'am." Indigo answered, collecting the last of the security guard.
"And thaw Mr. Bennett, would you?" Lena requested. "I'd hate to have to explain to Waller why one of her Suicide Squad agents was turned into an ice sculpture in the middle of the night."
"Yes, ma'am." Indigo obeyed. "Oh, one more thing, Ms. Luthor. Mr. Oroku Saki called a little while ago. He wishes to inform you that the Weapon Plus files have been successfully transferred to the Saki Industries databank and have been secured under Mr. Saki's private access code."
"Good, good, tell him to hold on to those for a little while." Lena commanded, finally feeling a sense of relief. "The Batman is still suspicious, so it wouldn't be safe have to those around in the meantime. Inform Mr. Essex that he will be working directly under Oroku Saki until an unspecified date."
"Yes, ma'am." Indigo answered.
"We are on the verge of a breakthrough not even my father could have foreseen." Lena said with certainty. "And nothing, not even the Justice or the Avengers, can stop the future from coming."
Please, read and review – just one would be nice.
Real Name: Andrea Black
Aliases: Black Cat, Queen of Thieves, Kitty, Lady Nine Lives
Relatives: Multiplex (Father), Kitrina Falcone (Adopted Daughter)
Affiliation(s): Batman Family Occupation: Professional Thief, barkeeper
- Self-Duplication: limited to nine clones
- Olympic-level acrobat and gymnast
- Technical expert and inventor
- Performance enhancing exo-suit
- Encyclopedic knowledge of alcohol
- Unbreakable record of escaping arrest
- Assigned protector of Gotham's East End
- Child support provided by Bruce Wayne