2019-05-11 - The Numbers Say It All

Summary:

Batman and Catwoman go on a hunt to find the truth behind the murders that Batman is wanted for. And they find more than they bargained for.

Log Info:

Storyteller: Cessily Kincaid
Date: Sat May 11 23:03:56 2019
Location: New York City

Related Logs

None

Theme Song

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selina-kylebruce-wayne

With the rise of police presence in Staten Island, Batman has also started deploying his forces. He knows that he has to keep on top of this if he's to have any intention on finding out who is carrying out the Batmurders. Having left the cave earlier, Bruce took one of the cycles, just because it's easier to work in the city streets, and doesn't draw the attention that the car would.

Plus, it totally gives Selina access to the car. As much as he'd like to protect her from this, he knows he can't. She's family. And even if he tried, she'd do it anyway. Cats are fickle like that. Having decided to start out on opposite sides of the island, they're both working their way inward, listening to the police comms and talking to each other over the more secure two way.

«You did not have to take her as an assistant. Are you sure of this?» comes the question - as he races the bike along the main thoroughfaire.


It legitimately takes some self control not to put the Batmobile in Sports Car mode, but Selina has at least developed SOME non-crime-related professionalism over the years; though she can't contain a certain amount of glee as she races (safely!) through the streets in the newest Batmobile model. Her goggles are resting on her forehead as she glances at the equipment tuned into various frequences to pick up any relevant news that could arise. The situation is dire enough that Selina is taking this seriously, though she can't resist a bit of a wry smile as her dark knight paramour expresses concern that's rather mundane as far as their lives go.

"Oh, I'm not sure of anything." She says with merry flippancy, "You know me, Bat, things just sorta happen." Thievery, love, motherhood, crime-fighting, things like that. She sighs softly and, more seriously, adds, "She seems like a good kid. Worst case scenario I find a different temp job." Well, the ACTUAL worst case scenario is that she throws a hissy fit and outs Selina for the slightly shady ID she's working on despite shooting herself in the foot, but that's neither here nor there.


The police comms are filled with some normal chatter. But, … as has been the case the last few nights, the pattern becomes clear to both Batman and Catwoman.

"Unit 23, Batman sighting reported at 5th and Stevens. Please respond."

"Unit 23 here. We've got three more 'sightings' to check out first. We'll get there, but you may want to see if another unit becomes available sooner."

"Unit 24 reporting in. No evidence at Batman at the sighting. It was an alley cat. Moving to the next sighting."

"Unit 24, we confirm."

And on, and on it goes. The pattern is very, very clear. Police forces are streched to the breaking point with everyone reporting in 'suspected' Batman sightings. The public is jumpy, or eager to help. Afraid. Reacting like a mob, rather than a people. The Nightfall already had them in a twitter, and these 'Batman Murders' have put them over the edge.


"No, the worse thing that happens is that somone gets bored one day and says 'hey, want to see the cave?'" Of course, that could easily be Selina's name instead of someone, but that's not here nor there.

"They're confused. Disorganized." Batman rumbles. "They're jumping at shadows." There's a frown easily heard in his voice. As he turns the bike on a nearby thoroughfaire, he looks around him. "Keep off of the channels for sightings - we need to be looking for calls for possible murder, breaking and entering.."

Of course, there's settings for the comms to focus on those. Why?

Because it's how he kept up with Selina once upon a time.


Catwoman smirks faintly. "Well, for what it's worth, I *promise* not to show the new girl my claws and whip on a slow day." She says. She's still reeling a bit from Mayday exposing her identity, a bit; in the sense that it seems like a foolhardy thing to do. In fairness though, it seems to have worked.

"Right." She says in a slightly more serious tone at his order, turning a knob here and there with one hand on the wheel. She strongly considers asking if this thing is still tuned to hear about museum break ins and missing treasures, but she's not sure how she'd react to the answer. Pragmatism's the rule of law around here, after all. Instead she just notes, "Sounds like you're everywhere out there."


"All units be advised, 187 in progress at 5th and Vine. Repeat, 187, 5th and Vine. Suspect is Batman. All units respond. Repeat. All units respond, over."

The sixth victim, in as many nights. If not more. The other two incidents had multiple murders, and police are now converging on the area, swarming, like moths to a flame and they will be fanning out to cover the area as well.

The units each chime in as they respond in law eforcement jargon.


"And here I thought you kept the whips to the…" And then the call over the radio interrupts the moment. And any levity that the Batman may have felt is vaporized in a flash. It only takes a few moments to bring up the addres and synch it to their GPS. "You're closer, I'll be there in five." he responds, knowing that even wild metallic horses wouldn't keep Selina from responding first.

Turning his bike on 2nd, he's already making the move to head to 5th.

"Do not engage with the police, if you can help it. They're not going to just share information like they usually do this time. Unless you see a friendly face, stay back." Sure. Want to ask the wind not to blow while you're at it?


Historically, Catwoman will do what she wants, but she doesn't SET OUT to ignore sound advice. She just… does it when it suits her. "Got it." Is all she says with a frown, her cheer having tanked with that information as she swerves the Batmobile with a loud screeching of tires to suddenly change course and head towards the source of the trouble, in direct contrast to all logic and reason because… well, they wear the masks. Selina pulls her goggles down over her eyes and clenches her jaw, not-so-subtly hoping for an opportunity to kick the hell out of whoever's imitating her fiance.


Police sirens erupt and are all around, filling the night air and it's hard to hear anything else. Lights of red and blue flash intermittently in the distance as swaths of police forces move in to set up perimeters, investigate the scene, do whatever they can to try and entrap the Batman.

Then, Batman's voice breaks through the police radio. Later, when examined under the audio equipment within the Batcomputer, there will be no difference shown. Pitch for pitch, harmonic for harmonic, gruffness for gruffness, it /is/ Batman speaking.

"Stop. Hunting me." The comm on his end goes dead, and then chatter flares to life, as squads are required to report in.

In the chaos that ensues over the comm system, and as Selina arrives before Bruce several minutes later, there is a flicker of motion from the rooftop, dropping down to the alleyway, a sweep of a cape that is - untmistakably Batman's. And, the cape disappears further into the shadows.


When that familiar voice is broadcast, Catwoman furrows her brow in confusion, adjusting a knob or two with an uncomfortable look. "Bat?" She asks cautiously, broadcasting only to HER Batman, but thrown off by the identical nature of that familiar voice.

She must have misheard.

The roof of the car is already retracting as Selina slams on the brakes, screeching to a halt in front of the entrance to the alleyway and barely coming to a complete stop before she leaps out of the car, the roof automatically closing behind her as she chases after that single fleeting sign of her target, calling "Stop right there!" as she draws her whip with one hand, still coiled up in her hand.


Perhaps surprisingly, 'Batman' does pause, turning ever so slightly to stare at Catwoman.

If Selina hadn't just traveled with Bruce here, though, there'd be no difference in either visual, or audio, it wasn't Batman. Her Batman. New York City's Batman.

Even to her trained eyes of observation due to so many years as a thief, it /is/ Batman. Every ounce of him.

And, in a very Batman way, he simply stares at Catwoman, mouth set into an unreadable expression below the cowl, poised to take action - any of one hundred actions.

He waits her out.


Catwoman's eyes go very very wide behind her goggles, her mouth going slightly agape as she recoils at the sight that's utterly baffling in it's familiarity. "W-what the…?" She sputters, "Bat…? How did you…?" He COULDN'T have gotten ahead of her. Right? 'He's Batman' doesn't cut it as an explanation. But this is completely inexplicable.

Like any cat in a situation of anxiety and uncertain danger, Selina's claws come out. "What's going on?"


"How long have you known me?" Batman asks, in reply, in that terse, no-nonsense gruff Batman voice. "Keep the police occupied for a bit longer. There's something I have to do." He might be asking, but it's more like he's telling. Then again, when does Batman 'ask' for anything?

He doesn't even react as the claws come out, doesn't take a defensive posture, or react. His calm and collective cool - one of the very facets that make him so indimidating in any situation remain in tact, and in control.

Then, his hand moves to his utility belt, in a practical manner. He withdraws a cellphone, and tells Catwoman, "I found this on the rooftop. It was left behind by someone." Then, with an effortless toss it's airborne and heading towards Catwoman.


In the meantime, on the other side of Staten Island, Batman is braced on his motorcycle, racing for the scene - he's still three minutes out, the bike pulling along the side street as it arives at fifth and heading towards Vine as quickly as possible.


Well it *sounds* like him.

Five minutes, he said.

Catwoman doesn't move, paralyzed with uncertainty, which is a deeply frustrating feeling on a number of practical and psychological levels for a woman who prides herself on adapting to the situation. She catches the phone out of the air with her free hand instinctively, and looks at it. "Yeah, what's it… say- how did you *get* here?!"


'Batman' simply looks at Selina with a dead silent, inflexible stare. "Keep them busy," he reiterates a final time. And then whatever timeframe he is on is up, and without another word, gesture, or glance, the 'Batman' is turning, cape sweeping to move swiftly and silently a few steps, and then around the corner, and at least for a few heartbeats, out of sight.

Police helicopters begin to fill the sky, and Batman will hear over the comms, "Unit 23 is down. Repeat. We have two downed officers, three blocks from the crime scene." There's a heartbeat of a pause, "We need a truck," the same voice calls. That at least is a little bit of hope. The signal for a truck is a good one, at least in some small part. It means they're not dead. But they will need medical attention. Enough to call an ambulance.


And those 'three' blocks? Are just a hop-skip-and-building-jump from where Selina just encountered 'Batman'.


Arriving at the original scene, Batman leaps from the cycle, taking to the skies as he fires his grapple gun to grab rooftop ledge. He's not made the rendevous with Catwoman, yet - the new radio call grabbing his attention. If she needs him - she knows to call him - but for now, there's that unspoken trust between the two. Leaving Selina to her own devices, Bruce heads for the location of Unit 23.

Landing on the rooftop overhead, he's immediately looking for the police cruiser and it's occupants, his lenses furrowed into a scowl on the Bat's face.


Catwoman arches an eyebrow. "But you said to- WAIT!" She calls out as 'Batman' vanishes around the corner, hesitating for only a moment before she begins to chase after him, still clutching the cell phone in one hand. "The hell." She mutters and switches on her communicator. "Bat! If you didn't just run away from me in an alley, I need you on my location now!" She calls, "If you did?! … Then I'm not distracting a load of twitchy cops without a pole!"


As Batman spies the scene there are two officers down, one a female, blonde. The other, male, of darker skintone. The HUD would give him further information that both are indeed alive, the female only seems to be knocked out cold while the male has suffered numerous broken bones. Massive blunt trauma. The fact he's face-down ties in with the scene. The two officers were hit from behind, before either of them could react.

'Batman' is not on a communicator. But, as Catwoman further persues him, he just turns to her. Stares at her again. And, he says, calmly, "You really should've just done what I told you to." It's the same Batman voice, but now there's an edge to it. Like he's threatening an enemy. Like he talked to her in the old days, when he was adamant about bringing her to justice.


As Batman is getting the information from the two downed officers, there's a moment of relief that they aren't /dead/. However, the communicator goes off - and Bruce feels the blood in his body go cold. "Where are you?" comes the sudden snap of a voice, her Bat's voice - his tone suddenly turning as he moves from where Unit 23 is down and he's quickly trying to ping Catwoman's communicator.

"Get out of there!" That's an order - he's not asking her - he's telling her as he is pushes from the edge of the rooftop to go after her. And he feels something. Something he hasn't felt.. in a very long time.

Fear.


Catwoman gives her location, then immediately skids to a halt as the false Batman turns on her, hesitating for only a moment at the surreal shock of hearing her fiance's voice talk to her that way, before her expression twists into an angry grimace.

The communicator's on, but she might as well be responding to both of them as she snarls, "When has that *ever* worked out for you?" before she lashes out at the false 'Batman' with a ringing crack of her whip.


The whip cracks. It connects, solidly, with 'Batman'.

And it stays there.

'Batman's face begins to - change shape. It begins to widen. Raise. It loses it's coloration of the dark cowl into something soft brown. The mouth widens. Too far. Far, too far.

The bulk of 'Batman's frame begins to swell. Grow. Widen. Until it's arms and legs, each, are thicker than most trees that grow in the city unless they're in Central Park.

No longer Batman, the inhuman figure ripples as the clay of it's body begins to flow, freely in dribbles and droplets. "I've got this city reeling in fear," Clayface snarls. "You're not going to ruin that. Not this time. We'll have our revenge."

And with a sudden lurch one of Clayface's arms lashes out, growing in length and whipping out like an unending tendril to ensnare Catwoman.


Rooftop to rooftop. Batman is moving quickly. He's gotten theories on who might the false Dark Knight may be - but for now, he's leaping from one roof to the next - it won't take long for him to cover the three blocks from his location to where Catwoman's communicator is pinging.


Catwoman recoils when her whip sticks to the masked pretender, tugging fruitlessly at her whip as she grunts, "What the hell?"

And then 'Batman' begins to change, and Catwoman begins to step backwards, releasing her whip when her arm goes taut to give herself more distance as she watches in horror. "… Oh my god…" She whispers very slowly. When his arm lashes out, Catwoman leaps back, her voice taking on a guttural growl as she cries, "Karlo!!" before the arm ensnares her, lifting her off the ground and drawing a prolonged grunt of pain from the pressure around her body as she extends her claws and tries vainly to scratch at the substance enveloping her.


"Yes, Catwoman. It's me. I fooled even you." The hideous figure laughs, massive mouth distorted, the huge fangs within it showing. "This will be my greatest performance, ever." He lifts her up into the air seeming not to be bothered or even irritated at her useless clawing.

He squeezes her, hard. Not hard enough to crack ribs, but hard enough to make breathing very, very difficult. "Tell Batman to answer his phone when it rings. Someone wants to talk to him."

Then, he throws Catwoman away from himself, pitching her to fly through the air uncaring where she lands.

He slogs towards the sewer, and begins to slowly ciphon himself down into the depths of Gotham, knowing that Batman is hot on his heels.


Just as the last bits of Basil Karlo slog into the New York City sewer system, the shadow of the Bat shows over the alley way as he's arriving on the scene, his expression one of unreadable anger and a scowl that won't be removed anytime soon. He lands solidly in the alley, the soft flicker of the charge lights on the explosive batarangs already flashing.

"Catwoman!" he calls out, not breaking protocol, though his voice carries with it that slight twinge of worry that comes from the life he's made with Selina Kyle.


Catwoman cries out as she's carelessly tossed aside, smacking shoulders-first into a brick alley wall and slumping to the ground, clenching her teeth and rolling her head back with pain as she squeezes her eyes shut.

"Kkkgggnnn… Present…" Selina answers through her teeth, in obvious pain, her legs moving about for a second as if to try to get up before she quickly determines that that would be a very painful idea right now.


Karlo is gone, and would be at this point difficult to track. No doubt, though, he will surface again soon. And, at least one answer has been revealed of the equation.

And as Selina struggles to recover, a cell phone on her person begins to ring.


The ringing of the phone seems to prompt a new sharp grunt of pain from Selina who lifts the phone up shakily and says, "… It's for you."


The first thing Bruce wants to do is go into the sewers and go after Clayface - because yeah, he's hit on some nerves. Moving quickly to where Catwoman is down, Batman crouches down, taking in her condition to make sure she can be moved first. "We need to get you looked at." he rumbles, lenses dim as he looks her over. And then the phone at her hip goes off.

When Selina tells him it's for him, he reaches and takes the phone from her. "Turn yourself in." he rumbles. No pre-amble. Just a simple demand.


Luckily, the worst Selina may suffer are some bruises, and having the air knocked out of her briefly. Cats have nine lives, and they know how to fall. Karlo was using Selina to send a message - and it's never good to kill the messenger.

The phone continues to ring, the caller ID on it, blocked of course, listed as 'Private'.

When Batman answers, it's the same cold, bone-chilling voice.

"Three," it says, bereft of humanity, savoring the number the way only a true psychopath who seemed to only live for the thrill of ending another's life could. "Four," the voice paces.

"Five. Six.

There's a soft sigh of ectasy, savouring those numbers one last time. "How does it feel, Batman, to take so many lives? To feel the pulse of their veins at your fingertips as you press the blade to their throat? To feel that exquisette moment as you are joined, and their blood spills from the cold steel that splits them open and their life trembles as it passes in your hands?"


Once the phone is clicked on, and reception made, Batman turns on the speaker. He's not going to leave Selina out of this conversation. It involves them both. As it starts to go on about the deeds he's carried out as 'Batman', the silence from the other side is palatable.

There's no response that comes from the Bat. He just lets the man speak. His eyes meet Catwoman's lensed ones, and his hand is offered to her in a question of movement. The car is not too far away - he'll be driving her home. 'Who' is mouthed to his wife, she was able to get close enough for a visual.

In the meantime, he listens to the voice, his tracker snapped onto Selina's phone to start trace on it. He already knows that he'll try to hang up in time.


Catwoman lifts her goggles up above her eyes, wincing in pain, and looks to Batman, holding her side and drawing her legs up so her knees are in the air and her boots are planted on he ground. She eyes the phone with concern and irritation, noticing the change of voice with visible concern, and disgusted by what the voice is saying. 'Clayface' she mouthes in response, but shakes her head, 'Not this'.


Yet, the voice does not hang up. This time, it doesn't seem to care if Batman tracks it down or not. Sure, it's from a burner phone, but the tracer works it's wonders, begining to pin down the area even as it continues talking.

"Is that why you killed Dr. Adams, Batman? You didn't want him to be your physician at Ravencroft? I don't blame you. He wasn't any good at what he did. He didn't understand people like us, Batman. Why we live for the hunt. The moment."

The voice seems to pause, "I, wonder, though, who will you kill next? Will you start to turn on your famlly? Or, perhaps the police? Maybe the media? That lovely girl on the news does have such a -vibrance- to her, doesn't she? But I, Batman, I would understand your need to end it. To cut her cord. To sever her from this realm. To see that moment in her eyes when life leaves it. THat pristine moment that only lasts for a fraction of a second, but fills you with purpose."

"/I/ understand you, Batman. And soon the world will as well, won't they? They'll understand all of us."

Click.

But the tracer had enough time to work. To track the call, coming from Hell's Kitchen.


"Can you drive?" The question is simple - Bruce plans to send Selina home in the Batmobile - and bring the Batcycle to his location. He's apparently going to try to go to Hell's Kitchen alone. Karlo has the skills to be the Bat.. but this sounds far more personal than anything that'd he come up with.


Catwoman CAN, but she doesn't answer that question, quirking an eyebrow as she starts to stand up, "You're not seriously going alone?"


"What do you think?" comes Batman's simple response as he's already moving to let Selina lean on him as he's opening the autodrive option on the Batmobile.


Catwoman isn't necessarily injured - it's pain more than anything, albeit a lot of it - but she leans on Batman while inclining her head towards him. "I think you have a small army worth of sidekicks and Avengers who would all tell you this is a trap and chase after you."


"And someone else that would go if the situation were on her." Batman's response comes as he meets Catwoman's eyes. As the car arrives and he opens the door, he has every intention of putting Selina in the vehicle and sending her on her way. Unles she has other plans.


Catwoman eyes the arrived Batmobile, arches a brow, and steps out in front of Batman, turning around to face him. "So help me god, if you gas me again." She says with a frown, and pulls her goggles back over her eyes. She heaves a sigh and says, "Just get home safe." She says - acquiescing to all appearances - putting one hand on his cheek, another on his shoulder, and kisses him on the lips.

More importantly she puts a tracker on the inside nape of his cape, because she damn well knows he's liable to switch off his own tracking equipment.


It's clear the police are fanning now now, and radio chatter is all about 'no sign of the Bat', and 'area clear'. The police lights and helicopter scans have not yet left the area, however, and it's unlikely they will be giving up anytime soon with more murders on the table - they know and guess rightly that if they don't catch whose behind it, more will be coming.

Just like Batman, New York's Finest will be working much overtime tonight.

The good thing is that it leaves Batman unharssed, for the time being. But the Batmobile is a rather easily identifiable mark in the city. And it's likely that sooner, rather than later, someone on the road will be calling it into the cops.

Hell's Kitchen proves a quieter area than the immediate area around the murder scene. And, the information that the Batmobile provides leads Batman to a closed down tenanment off a sidestreet, boarded up and shut down by the health department. At least, mostly boarded up.


Returning Selina's kiss, Bruce doesn't gas her. Not this time. "I'll see you at home." comes the promise. And with that, Batman closes the door to the car and sends the woman on her way - not that she doesn't know how to override the systems. And the Bat goes dark. No comms, no tracking - just as she had predicted. Though her own tracker is pinging loud and clear.

As he's travelling towards Hell's Kitchen, he's already putting in the information to look up the owner of the building - the names of the latest victims, and working on the clues that the caller had left as he arrives at the abandoned building. From here, he'll be going on foot.


The things that would percolate in the mind of the Bat are those questions such as: How would he know about Dr. Adams' work at Ravencroft? There has to be a connection. That means there has to be a connection between him, and the Denver's too. Or, between Dr. Adams and the Denvers?

Which begs further questions — is Karo the one killing everyone? Or, is it this one? They must be working together. But why? Revenge on him? A likely enough scenario. Many, afterall, have a score to settle with the Bat.

… as the information comes back, the owner of the tenament appears to have been a 'Roger Bilksworth' who had been found dead in an alleyway after what police determined was a 'mugging gone wrong' six months ago. The tenament had already been in shambles before then and Bilksworth, at best, was a shady landlord by further court documents on file.


"Give me all tenents of the building in the last six months. Cross-reference with those treated by Doctor Adams at Ravencroft, and the Denvers family." He's still waiting on the final piece of the puzzle. He starts to cross reference those with the cases that Unit 23 came filed in the NYPD in the last six months - flagging anything pertaining to the Bilksworth death.

In the meantime, he also adds that in with who would have the money to afford Clayface's services.

He doesn't go to the roof this time. The front door of the tentament is kicked in, and the cloaked detective follows it in. Someone has clearly found the sore spotm and touched it. It's a good thing she's just his fiance, right?


Batman's answer comes in the second room he comes to.

Suspended from the ceiling is another one of his 'found' Batarangs. Something salvaged from years ago. Kept. Held in check. For this perfect moment.

The batarang is wet with blood that is thickening, quickly. A few drops of the stuff have landed onto a digital recorder that is still on, and the cell phone it was speaking into - another burner cell.

The batarang, however, holds that final piece of the puzzle. A grouping of five slashes in the traditional way, and then a single slash have been etched onto the batarang with another sharp insturment.

It clicks, forming a perfect picture in Batman's head, then, upon seeing that. The numbers. The counting. THe voice. The method of murder. Ravencroft.

Victor Zsaz.


There's a scowl.

Moving to the recorder, he hits the play button on it - figuring that there's another message from Zsaz.

And Batman waits, not yet turning on his comms. Not until he knows.


"You'll enjoy Ravencroft, Batman. It will be a lovely home for someone like you. How many more murders do you think you can manage before they send the Avengers after you? Perhaps once you're there, I will come and visit."

The recording cuts off, then. A simple message, but concise. But many questions answered.

But the police are still on the trail of the bloody knight, and it could be a matter of minutes, hours, or short days until Zsasz kills again.

And Karlo? He's no stranger to murder, either.

The game, while being revealed, has only become more dangerous.


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