Wishes and Promises

October 16, 2015:

Nightwing and Bluebird investigate a warehouse to find clues. And it gets worse.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The warehouse in question is next door to the slaughter they found just a few days ago. Nightwing, in his research, discovered that there was shared ownership there and decided to extend his search beyond the original grounds. He also decided not to be so arrogant as to go it alone. Since she's been with him most of the steps along the way - and, frankly, because he liked her company - Nightwing invited Bluebird to join him.

He's waiting for her just outside, his motorcycle carefully parked and disguised. The place is in shadows and seemingly abandoned, as records show it to have been uninhabited for the last ten years or so. A relic kept on the books for tax purposes. That is, until it changed ownership six months ago in a very quiet transaction, the same one that bought the slaughterhouse next door. A slaughterhouse where man and pig were sewn together to horrific consequence.

Dick feels a shudder run down his spine at the memory.


It didn't take long for her to suit up and go out, making sure Cullen's homework was done and checking for anything or anyone lingering outside of their building before she flies off into the night on her own bike, the engine re-tooled to something a little more quieter even though it looks as busted up and put together as it is. Free parts are free parts. Free parts that get into Harper's hands are working parts.

Her approach to the building was met with a little apprehension, the bike parked next to Nightwing's, kickstand hitched to allow the bike to rest on it's own as she takes the few paces to jog towards Dick, though not as fast nor eager. "Please.. please tell me this isn't what I think it is.."


Dick Grayson glances over at Bluebird, his eyes hidden behind his night-vision lenses, giving a soft blue cast to his vision and their appearance. "Well, tis the season, after all. Other people go to haunted houses and get scared by fake skeletons and pretend blood. We're gonna try the real thing and hope nothing leaps out and possesses us. And, hopefully, we can find some evidence along the way that'll help us get a lead on our cult," he says.

"Thermals say there's nobody inside, so at least there's that. Provided they're not disguising their body heat somehow…" he says.


"Figures something like this all would happen during Halloween." Harper comments, her fingers reaching back behind her to draw her pistols from her holster. They weren't real guns in the sense that they fire bullets, but they were fashioned to fire tasers while giving people the shock factor of.. nearly believing that they're shot. Harper was a dick that way. "No one inside. I don't think they have the tech to mask their body heat. So far, what I've seen is shotty jobs and everything nearly done manual. Nothing high tech." Beat. "Yet."

She tilts her head to the entrance of the warehouse. "Well, Nightbling. Let's go."


Dick Grayson grins and does, indeed, lead the way. The two figures make there way through the gap in the wire fence and quickly make there way up to the building itself. There's some more of the ominous graffiti to be seen here - notably the word "MEAT" scrawled on one wall in a crimson that one hopes is paint. There are also a few stylized pigs, bloated, sick looking things with odd proportions and strange lumps. The artist has talent to go with their sick imagination. You hope it's their imagination.

Nightwing pries off a few boards on one of the windows and slips inside, drawing a flashlight from his utility belt and turning it on, flashing it around. "All clear," he murmurs back. The room itself seems to be relatively mundane, a few old crates in the corner, dust everywhere, the scuttling of rats in the walls. Typical Gotham. So far.


Harper follows along, keeping her pistols aloft, finger upon the trigger and ready to aim and shoot if need be. The acrobatics were fine, waiting outside with her back to the wall, guns raised slightly as if she were in an action movie ready to shoot and fire should a fight break out. Hearing all clear gave her the go ahead to slip inside, pistols soon returned to her holsters, a slight frown deepening upon her face as she murmurs quietly. "What is it with these people and that word?"

"Almost makes a girl want to go vegan. Did you see the graffiti outside?"


Dick Grayson nods softly, "Yeah. I think they're somehow marking their territory. Which means that there's somebody to read it, somebody who knows what it means. That or they just get bored in between being psycho butchers and decide to kill time doing a little doodling," he shrugs.

They move deeper into the warehouse, passing a few more storage rooms that don't seem to add up to much. When Nightwing enters the larger warehouse space, however, he gives a low inhale. "Jackpot." he says.

There, in the center of the room, is a makeshift altar, a large concrete slab. Dangling over it is a large hook, attached to some sort of mechanical device. Both are stained over with blood and gore. Bones are scattered around the slab and, notably, a few feet away, a large chair sits on a dais. Some sort of throne.


"Either or.." Harper's voice lowers, keeping her eyes peeled upon the darkness. She doesn't have the tech that he does in her suit, so she's relying on the light that shines from his flash-light, and attempting to attune her ears to the silence. She follows him along, keeping at his back and watching it at the same time, her words quiet. "You do realize that this isn't what Batman would call laying low, don't you?"

As they enter into the large room, Harper's fingers curl into fists, her nose wrinkling ever so slightly as she takes a few steps ahead of Nightwing to approach the altar with hesitant steps. This… this was disgusting. Inhuman and nearly insane. How she slept at night.. it was anyone's guess. "It looks like someone was watching.. watching all of.. you know.."


Dick Grayson smiles slightly, "Nobody breaks Batman's rules more than Batman does. That's the thing about rules - they apply until they don't," he says. He moves closer, getting a good look at the altar and reaching to his utility belt. He takes a few scrapes of the blood he finds with a small razor, tapping off the flakes into a vial for later examination.

"I'm guessing the chair belongs to whoever's leading this merry band of nutcases," he mutters, "Which means if we find any DNA or hair samples on it, they likely belong to him. Prints, too, although that wood isn't exactly a spectacular surface for fingerprints."


"Yeah, but they're his rules to break. This guy they're talking about, Cain.. leveled a whole building just to kill people." And has. She watches as he collects the evidence, her head lowering just a touch to shift along her utility belt. She breaks out a small pair of glasses, putting them upon her face which makes her almost seem like a masked scientist. It even had little magnifying glasses to go along with it, and as she moves towards the chair, she crouches to shift the recepticles to see if any particulars were left.

She may be old school with that, but she's resourceful. "I'm checking for hair, will try to finger print in a moment.." She purses her lips just a touch, then draws in a breath. "I was at that clinic before.. you know. Not too long ago."


Dick Grayson smiles. To others, Batman often seems like a god on high, able to lay down the law and expecting to be followed. Dick has known Bruce a lot longer than most of them - he respects and loves Bruce, perhaps more than any other person. But he also remembers that he's just a man and he isn't perfect. Dick was there when he made more mistakes than he does now. "I'm not going to leave this to lay because of Cain. Too many people have already died as a result of these…freaks," he says. "We'll deal with Cain. But I have to keep working the case."

He lets her continue to collect the evidence, since she has a scientist's eye and is doing a good job of it. He shines his flashlight around, trying to see if there's anything else worth investigating. He raises an eyebrow at the comment. "Oh yeah? They do good work there." he says nonchalantly.


"I know.. but.. maybe I should be afraid. You know? If someone did something to Catwoman like they did, he's got to be really something." She reaches into her pouch to pull out a pair of tweezers, picking off a stray hair from the seat cushion to place into the little baggie. "But you're right. I wanted to bring it up then but it didn't seem like the time. But.. I'm sure he knows."

Her mentioning of the hospital had nothing to do with his real identity. "I'm just.. musing. I found it pretty cool that Batman frequents the clinic that Mr. Grayson took me to. Like.. hey. I'm one of the in crowd now. Not from being shot.. but.. you know.. visiting the haunt. Getting orders, taking orders.. feels kinda good."


Dick Grayson nods, "He usually knows," he says with a wry grin. He finds a crate and pries it open, wincing at what he finds inside. "Found some of their…instruments," he mutters. Inside, there are cleavers, knives, saws, even a couple of massive mechanical screws, all of them apparently having seen no small amount of use. He winces sat the smell and quickly shuts the box again.

"Mr. Grayson?" he says, unable to entirely keep the surprise out of his face. "That guy's sort of the young and handsome bachelor type. He probably doesn't think of himself as much of a mister. I mean, unless he's a boring stick in the mud type, I guess."


"Figures. He probably knows what cereal I like." Harper grins a little, finishing up with her collection of evidence, then stands and approaches him as he opens the box. Her head draws back, a hand pressing against her nose, other hand reaching up to snag the glasses from her face. "Ugh.., we're taking all of this, right?"

The mention of Grayson had a little blush tint to her cheeks, though thankfully, the mask she wore hid all of that. "Yeah, he is. But.. I guess it's a show of respect. The dude saved my life. He deserves a Mister." She chuckles a touch, then moves to take the crow bar, prying open another crate, only to be met with straw. "Anyways, I don't know if he's a boring stick in the mud or whatever you call it. But he's good people."


Dick Grayson nods, "We'll take a few samples. Tip the cops for the rest. It's surprisingly easy to access what they have in storage anyway," he says. Not to mention he still had plenty of friends on the force and could probably just walk into the station and go where he pleased, as Dick Grayson, cop on leave of absence. He thought about taking up the badge again. Maybe.

Inside the straw, packed carefully, are masks. Pig masks, sewn from actual pig-skin, each of them carefully dried and formed by hand. The stitching is immaculate, showing great care and consideration in how they're made. "Spectacular," he mutters.

"Good people, huh? You don't have a little bit of a crush, do you, Bluebird?" he asks, his voice slightly teasing.


"Alright.." Harper pulls out her phone, using her gloved hand to sift through the straw, taking pictures of the masks inside, then fowarding them to Nightwing's phone. "Well, I don't know the stance on police working with vigilantes so I think we should take whatever we can get." She snaps more pictures, then hoists up the crowbar to toss towards him.

The mention of a crush though? Had her turning away, her head shaking just a touch. "No.. I mean he's not bad. Like.. would I date him? Sure. In a heartbeat." Why she was telling him this was anyones guess. But, the fact that she barely had any friends she could call on and talk to probably played into that.

"But.. I guess what I'm trying to do.. it just doesn't factor him or anyone else in. I have my brother to take care of and make sure he's safe. And then the city. And then everything else in between. Who has time? The heartbreak ain't worth it."


Dick Grayson nods, "In Gotham, the law has learned to take whatever help they can get. SOmetimes not so much, when the Commissioner's office wasn't in friendly hands, but Gordon's always been good to us," he says.

He considers what she says and frowns slightly. He doesn't like lying, he never has. It's one thing to protect your identity from strangers, from those outside the circle. But Harper was more and more becoming one of them and the longer the lies continued, the less pleasant the aftermath was going to be.

"You've got to let yourself live, too. I understand the obsession, wanting to focus on doing the work, not complicating things. But I've tried to live that way and it's…unhealthy."

He won't bother to mention that it's exactly the thing that Bruce does and the one primary way in which he doesn't want to imitate his mentor. Bruce has to be a symbol - but sometimes you have to remember you're human, too.


"Yeah.. seems like they need to." She closes up the next crate, then moves towards a freezer in the corner, which was padlocked in three different places. The spectacles were pulled down again as she magnifies the lock, her fingers digging into her pouch to retrieve her kit, lifting the lock to give a slight bit of a frown..

"Look at you. Lecturing me." She turns a little, watching him through her lenses. "I know it's unhealthy but really. I have nothing else but my family. This family.. whatever this is.. and.." She shrugs her shoulders. "Don't think I want to risk anyone elses life, even if they're a JR. Playboy millionaire." She chuckles a little. "Besides, it's a school girls dream. He seems like he likes the model type. Like.. big blonde hair, high heels.. I got purple dyed hair and I wear snakebites." She'd show him, but that would be giving away her identity.


Dick Grayson smiles. Of course, he knows her identity already and that, too, hardly seems fair. Bruce would remind him that it wasn't about being fair, it was about being secure. But Harper wasn't a threat to them - she wasn't going to betray them or give them up. "I don't mean to lecture. I'm just speaking from experience. You get burned out. Hell, you also stop being as good at the job, because it's eating your brain and sometimes you have to…take a break. Otherwise, it all starts to mingle together."

"And purple hair and snakebites are pretty sexy, for millionaire playboys or anyone else. People are attracted to what they find attractive, regardless of their background," he says.

He's going through a third crate when he pulls out a roll of paper. As he draws it open, he finds the coming attractions poster of a travelling circus. It's a few years old, but drawn in a vintage style, a throwback to 19th century carnival days. Most notable, however, is the Freak Show, a cavalcade of wonders presided over by none other than a character known as "Professor Pyg". The caricature that accompanies the title sends chills up his spine.


"A lot of things can burn people out though. Video-gaming, working.. y'know, all that crap." She continues to unlock the latches upon the lock, tossing them aside as she glances over towards his back. "Well.. if you say so.." The compliment itself had her eyes stinging, her cheeks flushing a deep red as she pulls up the freezer lid. Without looking inside, she turns around.. leaning her bottom against the freezer to consider him carefully. "So.. you.." His stillness causes her a little bit of an alarm, leaving the lid of the freezer be as she slowly approaches him. "What is it?"


Dick Grayson turns and holds up the poster to show her, "Think we've got a name for our guy, at any rate." he says, letting her take a look at the thing. "Seems like something worth trying to track down. Especially if it's been anywhere near Gotham recently. The more we can find out about this guy, the better," he says.

He leans up against the freezer, too, sighing and running a hand back through his hair. He hates this case, so god damn much. "So what?" he asks, crossing his arms over his chest and reaching into his utility belt, getting a granola bar, "Want one?"


Harper reaches out to take the poster from his hands, studying it briefly with a wrinkle of her nose. "Professor Pyg? Him?" She asks.. then shakes her head. "You gotta be kiddin' me here.." Who in the hell names these people? The Joker, Two-Face.. Penguin.. Professor Pyg.. It was just plain batshit insane. But then again, Gotham. It has Batman, Nightwing.. and now Bluebird!

"Great." She folds up the poster as best she could, then tucks it in between her belt and hip, taking a step forward to give a shake of her head, yet her black-latex gloved hand held out. "Yeah, gimme."


Dick Grayson extends his hand, offering iup a granola bar. Chocolate chip, his favorite. Sure, they were healthy, but there was no need to go nuts. Anyway, sometimes you needed a bit of a sugar rush. "Does seem a little bit on the nose, doesn't it? But silly name or not, he's pretty well past being underestimated," he says. He takes a large bite and chews for a moment.

"Thanks for coming to help me," he says softly. He was the one who chose to go independent, to stop being Robin, but he misses having a partner sometime. Sure, he could call on Tim or have Barbara in his ear, but it's not the same thing. He and Bruce are good now, mostly, but they'll never be what they used to be. Dick's not a kid anymore and he's just never going to be a hundred percent comfortable taking orders - at least, without question.

"You've got a knack for this stuff. Maybe we should see about getting you some forensics training."


The granola bar was plucked from his fingers, ripped open and taken a bite of. "Yeah, it does." She mutters through her chewing, only lifting up her mask just a touch just to do so. "We gotta be sure if that's him though, we can't go accusing the .. man.. thing.. to make sure it really isn't him." She takes another bite, then offers up a little shrug of her shoulders.

"Hey, it's no problem. Not like I was doing much anyways. And I want to see this through to the end, so no biggie." She reaches out to lightly pat his shoulder, then gives a bit of a shrug. "Sure.. I think that'll be co—.."

Mid-sentence, she happens to look inside of the freezer, seeing a swath of hair. That hair leads to a face, and many other faces pressed against it. The eyes were taken out and switched it seems, for each severed head had no two same eyes. And some of those eyes looked almost unnatural. Their mouths were hung open and mutilated, noses torn to shred as well. Almost as if they were experiments of someone trying to mimic.

The sight alone was enough to make Harper turn to try not to lose whatever bits she had swallowed, her hand immediately covering her mouth as she wretches quietly.


Dick Grayson follows her eyes and winces as he looks, quickly slamming the freezer shut, "God damn. Sick fucking bastards," he mutters under his breath. He brings a hand down hard on the freezer in anger. Then he turns and kicks, driving his foot through one of the boxes full of straw, giving it a few repeated blows until the box is shattered, spilling its contents uselessly onto the floor.

"I'm so tired of finding this bastard's victims too late," he says, trying to catch his breath and putting his hands on the edge of the box. "When I finally get a hold of him, he's going to wish he'd never been born."


Harper takes a few steps away from the freezer, her stomach in knots, looping jumping and turning as Nightwing goes off on a fit, one that actually shakes her just a touch. The granola bar was forgotten, tossed aside as she takes a step forward, reaching out to grasp him by the elbow, her fingers curling along the crook to tug and pull him away from the freezer.

"We gotta go.." He could feel her hand trembling as she tries to pull him, she didn't want to, she tried to hold onto an aire of strength. "C'mon, we gotta call this in but we gotta get out of here."


Dick Grayson nods, feeling her arm on his bicep as he tries to bring himself back to a semblance of sense, "Yeah. Yeah, you're right," he says, shaking his head. "We've got enough. I'll check on the police reports to see if they find anything we missed," he says. Easy enough to call in an anonymous tip. He steps away and puts a hand on her shoulder, "Thanks," he says, giving it a squeeze.

"C'mon, you remember where my safehouse is? I'll get you a drink. Yeah, I know you're not old enough…you earned it tonight…" he says.

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