The David Cain Method of Turkey Carving

November 28, 2015:

(Backdated Nov. 26) The Batfamily Thanksgiving is interrupted by an uninvited guest.

The Batcave

The ultimate man cave of all man caves.

Characters

NPCs: Alfred Pennyworth, David Cain

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Thanksgiving Day. November 26th, 2015. Most families are usually sitting around a television watching American football or waiting eagerly for the turkey, ham, stuffing and yams. The Batfamily is not your typical model American family. Not model by any standards except perhaps dysfunctional.

"Keep going, Kane." Bruce's deep voice is clear, cuts through the cold and dim lighting of the Batcave. A location that was once upon a time a storehouse and resting place for the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. A nightmare turned haven Bruce discovered as a boy. Now it is the den of a man obsessed with justice and as such it had a new feel, a new look. It is a fortress, a crime-fighters lab, a high-tech invention center, a medical facility, a weapons armory, vehicle hangar and training dojo and much much more.

The gathering of the Batclan is right now standing on a cleft along the eastern wall where all of the workout equipment is located, some of advanced and capable of creating simulations much of it archaic. Something that has served it's purpose since the dawn of time. Like the 350lb stone that is being shoved around and lifted. An object Bruce does 10 reps with once a week in one of his rigorous sets. This cave was a second home for Dick Grayson for a time and briefly even Barbara when she was Batgirl. For Bruce, he dwells here. It feels of him. Cold, detached, focused, Spartan and dark.

The unpleasant and cold workout area aside there does lie an oddity and that is a table, set with a cloth and a large buffet of food. Turkey included and Alfred stands patiently beside it with wine in hand watching boredly as Bruce busies himself with his 'newest' recruit and obsession. Yes, all who enter here suffer the man's insanities. Kane's become a focus for physical honing as has Bluebird when the Dark Knight can find her, currently her mission in Arkham has her "safe".

Unknown to Bruce, Alfred has invited the others. He is insistent that they come even if briefly. For humanity sake. Not the world's but the Bats.

"Ahem, sir. For the second time, would you like to perhaps let Mr. Reynard freshen up before we eat…"

Grayson will recognize set 3 of Bruce's work out regimen. 15-minute flights with weighted jump ropes. 200 kettle bell high pulls. 10 sets of weighted ab work with medicine ball. 350-pound stone lift, 10 reps. 5-kilometer swim in wave pool and one handed handstands, no form breaks on training pillars.


Dick Grayson comes down via the upstairs entrance, clad in a black sweater and dark grey wool slacks. He isn't surprised to find Bruce hard at work, training yet another potential protege - the only thing less surprising would be to find him entirely absent and out on the streets, hunting criminals in the cold of the night.

"Alfred, I think you're supposed to invite me back to reminisce about the good times, not so that I can have sympathetic abdominal pains from memories of doing Set 3 over and over again. I think I puked for an hour after I did it the first time," he mutters. Still, he isn't about to turn down Alfred's turkey. He was considering going undercover in Arkham himself, to help keep an eye on Harper, but he wasn't -that- crazy!


It's not that Kane is out of shape. He's not. He's a literal old time blacksmith and excellent HEMA style martial artist for goodness sake, used to long days of working very physical work and long nights of putting that work to the test. He is, however, not in what might be called 'peak physical condition' by any stretch of the imagination. That requires both knowledge and time that Gotham's last druid typically doesn't have.

At least he can lift it. It's not like Bruce had to start him on something lighter. Of course it's straining the younger man. His arms burn (a familiar sensation though the intensity much like Bruce's is something new) and back screams as he moves the damn rock yet again. Whew. Okay.

Seven.


The cave does bring back memories for the wheelchair bound redhead. Good and bad - does she want to remember either or both? Who can really tell? Her life totally changed the day The Joker came visiting and she had to leave all of that behind.

For now though, Babs is amusing herself watching the show… She recognizes the regime having participated in at least some of it. "You don't remember those days with fondness, Richard?" she murmurs and takes a glass of wine from Alfred.

"I would prefer Kane freshen up before eat." Sweaty males at the dinner table obviously don't appeal to the redhead.


Phone calls were ignored, but messages were seen, read, and finally responded to once she took the deep breath and could muster calling Alfred back. What he said is what got her to come, not the invitation, albeit his cooking was temptation.

Descending the stairwell that leads to the Batcave the white dress bearing a satin sheen along the length drags in a small train behind heeled and sandal strapped feet, carrying her slowly down, stopping just mid-way to watch the repetition of training insanity.

Videos and at home attempts have nothing on this.

A single hand touches down to rest upon the olde metal banister that like serves for looks then true safety. At least she is not the only one that seemed 'overdressed' for the occasion, swathed in the new-age cut of Grecian attire, the back hanging open only to shift to expose in an arched 'v' from the small of her back to the side stretch of rib cage. Vertical straps stretch across the expanse of opening to bear small emblazoning collage, stretching to the front stretch of fabric held up by a loop around the slender column of her neck.

Hair is pinned and placed up to trail in a single collection of curls down to below shoulder blades in small individual gatherings that keep the shorter (torn asunder) stramds from falling free, leaving it to come together as very ethnic in entirety.

"Let him train. Makes the food taste that much better when you're nearly too exhausted to eat it." The voice calls before Diana descends further to stand beside Alfred.

"How long has this been going on?" She asks staring dead ahead and not at the old friend.


"Yes, Master Dick. That is one of my fondest first memories." The butler says dryly yet without any form of rancor. Alfred never has it. If anyone was the heart of the Batclan it was Alfred.

"I prepared your favorite as well, " Gloved fingers motion towards one of the sealed trays. Every year, even if Dick and Bruce are at odds Alfred sets aside a special dish for each of the 'children' - Babs included though, she usually spends her Thanksgiving with her father.

"Several hours, ma'am. They will be at it several more at this rate too… " A pleasant response to Diana from the elderly man.

"Heart rates still up… " Bruce was about to say about Kane while he sees Diana walking down the stairs, "All right."

"Kane, you can join me for set 4 on Sunday. We'll stop here."

He is impressed with the man's ability already, the years of weapon work and blacksmithing has built a great amount of strength in to the druidic vigilante. A good foundation. Some of them, like Cassandra come out of the gates already honed weapons. At times it is a pleasant surprise. More often not. What it takes to attain that level of physical competence is usually a lot of damage and conditioning. There are the rarities. Dick was an excellent specimen and perhaps the greatest natural acrobat Bruce had ever seen. Better than himself even.

Batman's musings end as he realizes he is staring at a kettle bell and not the others gathered, rudely perhaps having unfocused his gaze from Diana.
Which in fact was actually the opposite.

"I'm… glad to see all of you. I honestly forgot what day it was." Bruce glances at each in turn.

"Yes, sir. Even despite my constant reminders, notes and texts."

"That is what those passive aggressive post it notes on the fridge were? I suppose I should have read them." A small light grin appears on Bruce's features. He is not wearing the Batsuit but instead a light set of workout pants and a tank top and it's midday. He is either up early or past his bedtime.


Dick Grayson raises an eyebrow at Wonder Woman, "'Let him?' You must be new around here," he says lightly, stealing another piece of turkey with a deft hand and quickly getting a few bites in before Bruce and Kane come up from the training area. He grabs a seat, plopping down in it near Barbara, looking over at his fellow ex-protege and considering.

"I don't know if I'd say 'fond' memories. Important memories, edifying memories, memories full of learning. Happy memories? Well, I never got a smiley face sticker when I was done," he says. He doesn't sound bitter about it, though. He's been through his angry and rebellious phase about his upbringing and, at this point, he's his own man. No point in being sour about it. "It's okay, Bruce - you usually only remember when Calendar Man goes on a rampage," he teases.


The Fox puts the stone down. Carefully. Which is itself a bit of an 'exercise'. "Right then. Sunday." He huffs. Is he out of breath? Yes. You try that and not breaking a sweat. Then again breaking a sweat seems to be the point. Better to sweat than bleed as the old saying goes.

The arrival of Diana has the druid again looking about. Dick. Barbara. Diana. They're only missing a couple that he knows about. He'll join them… just as soon as he unstinks himself and gets his shirt back on.

As to Bruce's thanks? Well he's welcome but Kane didn't exactly come to celebrate the season. Still, happy side effect of that. "Be right back."


"Dinner at 5, is not passive aggressive last I checked. The picture I took before he brought it all down here was intended to be on the stripped turkey carcass and in the fridge waiting for you, if you did not partake." Diana states rather offhandedly as she settles into a seat and glances from one to the next with a placid expression and a slow blink.

"Oracle, Dick.. Fox." She states to each in kind with a nod in greeting. She already said 'hi' to Bruce. Pass-agg relayed.


"Diana." Babs gives the Amazonian a warm smile as the woman enters. "It's good to have you back amongst us." beat "And sharing the meal with us?" It's true she usually spends this day with her Father, but Alfred had been insistent.

Dicks comments get a smile as well "No one ever got smiley face stickers, Richard." and then to Bruce "Reading notes is usually a good idea."


"I did make your sausage and eggs in to a smiley face one day, Master Dick." Alfred chimes, "Perhaps it was too subtle and you were far too hungry to notice." A glance upwards and the Brit checks the ceiling, out of habit and to just make sure. There was no netting above them in this portion of the cave but it wasn't necessary. The bats did not roost in this part of the cave as it got too loud, at times too bright and the wall was treated so they wouldn't nest here.

Alfred's worry isn't about the possibility of bat droppings so much as he knows how much they love his chive and olive oil soaked chicken Goujons.

"Take your time, Kane." Bruce says calmly before walking up the small set of stairs to join the rest.

"Your father appears to be winning the polls. He should have ran for mayor at this rate." Bruce remarks to Babs while toweling himself off. His work out was light compared to what Fox was going through. "Cass is out. She probably forgot what today was as well… " Bluebird and Tim. The other two missing. No mention of them but he is quietly acknowledging their lack of presence. Sometimes these things can't be helped. That is their chosen life path. They're soldiers.

"You're looking well, Diana. I meant to get ahold of you… "


"Yes, Let Him." Diana finally responds belatedly to Dick, cerulean gaze taking to resettling on the man, bare shoulder rising and falling. "In the time I /have/ been around I have not seen many do anything they have truly not wanted." A slight pluck of fingers upon her napkin as she states as much but then pauses to return the smile to Oracle, "Thank you." But those two words meaning more in depth and circumference then just for the welcome at their table.

"It is hard to not win when you not only have the love of the people, but established trust and report. Gordon has earned his place and is a good man." Diana states, then slowly trailing her gaze from Babs to Dick. "Apples at this table, do not fall far."

When Bruce turns his attention to her and speaks of meanings her hand goes up, the vambraced appendage waving it off in a swift and clipped manner so say more then she even did in gesture alone. "It's fine, Bruce. I am here. Alfred did it for you." A skip of eyes from Bruce to Alfred and then back with a slow smile.


The druid does. Take his time that is. It takes him a few minutes to find the place down here for washing off since he is not planning on showering in the waterfall and a few more minutes to clean up, dress and come back. By that point folks should be pretty well settled. Someone should probably look in on Batgirl if only to make sure that the ice queens haven't found her. The upside of her not being here? No one is going to take his sword.

"Well everything certainly smells good. Hello Ms. Price." The amazon gets a proper greeting now and he nods to Dick and Babs whom were here before. "Kane, Babs. Everyone here knows my name and honestly being called Fox around here gets confusing… and makes me sound like a Doctor Seuss character."


Of course Babs has been watching her charges, she knows where they are and what they're doing. She's more worried for Bluebird at this point, heading into Arkham to chase down a lead. "Dad is very pleased, Bruce. And thank you Diana. It might be boastful, or prideful, but we need someone like him." she responds with a smile.

Dick will know that Babs is watching Bluebird, and if he knows of the brother, that she's watching him too.

Kane's return and comment has her smirking "No green eggs and ham for you today, though, Kane." beat "I see Bruce has you into the training regime."


Alfred goes to pulling out chairs for any who haven't sat down yet and waves them on, "Please, everyone get seated and Master Bruce shall carve the turkey. This is a rare day indeed. As a young man, Bruce never had many friends over. Ever the late bloomer."

Both of Bruce's eyebrows arch upwards at Alfred's humor but he goes without a response instead occupying himself with taking up a carving knife. "This city needs Gordon more than us."

"You a leg man, Kane?" New guest gets first pick.

As he cuts Bruce steals a glance at Diana studying her curiously, reading and profiling her after her exposure to Darkseid and their inability to actually talk to one another yet. It's a clinical gaze. Any concern in there is masked in the dicing of the fowl.
"Dick, whats Bluebird's status?"


Dick Grayson glances up at the question, having momentarily gotten lost in the bounty of food being laid out by Alfred. Being addressed directly, though, snaps him out of his tryptophan-anticipation, one hand scooping his black hair and tucking it behind his ear, "Preparing to go undercover at Arkham. We uncovered evidence that someone inside Arkham, either a clever patient or someone on staff, was working with the Pyg Cult from the inside. Selectively releasing certain prisoners, presumably to be inducted into the group once they were on the outside. She's determined to find them," he sighs.

"It's dangerous and I tried warning her off, but she's determined. I know Oracle's gonna be in her ear and I'm trying to figure out a way I can keep an eye on her myself…"


"White meat, if you please." Kane seats himself and rolls his shoulder. That'll be sore in the morning. Meanwhile he watches. And listens. Gotham is a busy city and Bat- er, Bruce's allies and protege's have problems of their own. It's good to know what's going on in case he's asked to help… or in case it blows up in their faces. He'd swear that the city's cursed some days but that's not exactly a laughing matter in his line of work.

"Careful in Arkham. I have business underground there myself in short order and there's a lot more on that island than meets the eye." Which is all he's going to say on that. Diana or Bruce may know what he's talking about. They seem like the nosy types.


"Kane, then." Diana states with a brief nod. Having seen the man in the mask and the man without but not separating them respectfully until otherwise allowed. In the lives of who and what they are, it is a -thing- of trust and comfort.

Diana is already seated, and instead of speaking much now, she just listens to their exchange in regards to Gordon and then when Dick speaks up her head tilts lightly to listen and when lips part to speak she seems to think the best of it and instead reaches for a glass of water and sips from it.

Her demeanor is more thoughtful, physically she is fine if not several pounds less than a month ago, but it is coming back from what it was a week ago at least. Scars are hard pressed to remain on her and some are simple white lines on olive skin left as well. The only outward tell is bound and tethered into her intricate twists of hair into the narrow bundle of curls.

Setting the water down though she reclines back when she does speak up. "If a warrior puts themselves in a place it is best to let them remain unless there is need for concern. Otherwise it is insulting. I do not know your Bluebird, but I have been enough around your Bats to know that your reputation is earned by individual deeds, which makes the whole the ward it is for Gotham."


"It's good that you're here, Alfred." Babs addresses the butler "to keep Bruce on his toes." There's only a few who would dare tease him like that, and Alfred seems to have it mastered.

She falls quiet as she Dick explains. "The best we can do for Bluebird, is to give her support and be available if … when" she'll concede that "she needs help." Babs opinion on telling the youngsters /not to do things/ is well known - tell them not to, and they'll run at it even faster. "Let me know if you need help, Richard."

"You be careful too, Kane." Green eyes settle on him. She knows what he's tracking… and it's dangerous. For … more than just him.

She's not missed the tension? between Diana and Bruce… and turns to the Amazonian "You look well, Diana." An unspoken question in her eyes, is the woman o.k? It wasn't easy recovering her … and the pair haven't spoken yet, either.


"Mm, she is used to the Narrows but not Arkham Asylum. That is a different level of insanity and danger. Stupid move going in there. " An intake of breath as he cuts through the white meat of the breast and dishes out a piece for Kane. "But you're both right Diana, Barbara… at least to an extent. Most we can do for now is support her where she needs it. Dick, shes at this point your charge and your responsibility, make sure you're ready to extract her if anything goes wrong or I call it." Yep, control freak issues shine through. Bluebird is one of them now and as such will have to deal with the overbearing Bat.

A leg ends up on Bruce's plate and he makes his way around the table to the rest. "Gordon's old guard will situate things and when they do access to Arkham will return to what it was three years ago. In and out for us will be easier again." Hugo's faction of the SRD and Yindel's anti-vigilante cops really shut the Bats out of a lot. Arkham Asylum being one of the first locations they got completely expelled from which considering Hugo was using it as an open stable for his experiments that is no surprise.

"Other troubles in Arkham? Almost half a dozen years ago Rob… Dick and I cleaned out a cult that was using the site for bloody ritual. They believed that it held supernatural power. If that is happening again we'll need to find a way to completely seal the under caverns of the island." We being Kane most likely. The network of vigilantes is stretched thin and they all know their areas of expertise and domains of operation.

Alfred ahems and holds out some apple cider to Bruce. A mild distraction technique and they both know it. The intensity of the Wayne heir slipping through and his own caretaker doesn't seem to be wanting any part of it right now. "You do look quite well, Miss Prince. Especially considering the trying times you have been through. I pulled this out especially for your arrival… " A wine bottle produced for her inspection and then opened as he starts to pour, "It is a Greek Agiorgitiko. It has a wonderful black-cherry flavor. I recall from your previous visits rather like your reds."


"Without going into too much detail, yes." Kane says as he starts to pass around the various side dishes. Oooh. Stuffing. Alfred seems to have outdone himself. He's about to go into more detail but that look Alfred is giving Bruce makes him think twice about it. No need to ruin thanksgiving dinner by putting out there that someone summoned the same avatar of slaughter that killed his old Circle to hunt down Barbara. And that he's ruled out every possible ritual summoning site but the one beneath Arkham which, yes, is a font of supernatural power and a very very dark one at that. If a Lord of the Feast was called to that spot who knows what was left down there.

Maybe he'll have Babs send an e-mail or something. So long as Bluebird doesn't go into the caverns though odds are good that she'll only run into Gotham's usual brand of unusual insanity. Which is terrifying enough but at least something that can generally be repeatedly punched in the face if you want it to go away.

"I'm sure you two will have it well in hand." He says to Dick as he passes some rolls to Barbara and watches with some interest the interactions between Diana and Bruce. Yes, it's fine for her to call him Kane though he gives her a quick smile, appreciating the respect.


There are warning signs flashing from each of them, and yet beyond the flashing red it seems that a solid red stop has been placed before their own attempts to go deeper, and most of the /tape/ is "official". Color Diana not-surprised. She has not much sway in what passes here though, as it is something she has left to Bruce and his unless she is needed, which she reminds lightly. "If any help is needed," Looking towards Babs. "You know how to reach me." Her methods may lack the stealth or tact they prefer, but they will be swift. Though the look with the question is met with a smile that even touches her eyes. "I am well. While I waited I even placed the 918 atop a manicured shrub, headlights up like a Christmas star. It'll get better."

The memory seemed to lighten some of the tension she did not realize her shoulders had been holding. But more-so they sagged when Alfred came to her side with the bottle of wine and began to pour, the smile wilted, but it was not out of ire or sadness, it was a gratitude that passed then when she cupped the glass in her palm with fingers straddling the stem and rose to place a gentle kiss upon the mans cheek. "Thank you. Your /Charis/ is eternally humbling."

Taking a few sides she already has turkey on her plate, a leg. Bruce's leg. When she rose to thank Alfred she took…no procured… it. Settling in to pinch it in fingers like corn on the cob and take a heart bite that threatens the integrity of white on that dress if any fell or dripped.

"Great feast." She states, dabbing at the corners of her lips with a napkin, a polar opposite of the hearty bite she took. Anything but dainty.

Wrong?

Nope. Not. A. Thing.


It takes Babs just a moment to divine what Diana just said about the 918 and she snorts softly, covering the laugh with a hand. Oh… dear. "Modern Christmas decorations, then? I'll be sure to admire them as I leave." At least it seemed to make Diana feel better. "I do and I shall, should be it be necessary." she offers a small smile to Diana.

Accepting the sides as they're passed to her, she's thankful Kane hasn't mentioned the next set of troubles that may beset her. "I'm watching Bluebird, Bruce. As is Richard." If anything goes wrong, they'll get her out. The redhead however is used to Bruces ways.

Just no one comment on the amount of food she's put on her plate - years of forgetting to eat regularly takes it toll.

With a glance at Alfred who is clearly trying to redirect the conversation to something less … business-y … she doesn't ask about the status of David Cain…


"You put one of my second favorite Porsche in a tree?" Bruce's jaw ticks and his mind filters through why Diana would do that beyond the obvious neglect and show of concern for her trial.
Oh. The model Chili Storm had a date with Bruce Wayne while Diana was on Apokolips. It was the 918 he drove for it. Touche and noted.

Subject hop. Car can be fetched later.

"Everyone served? Lets eat." One glance around the table to see if anyone insists on saying grace. He isn't usually one for it. His own religious flavor an influenced Buddhist and Agnostic palette tailored with a respectful nod towards his parents Catholic and Episcopal backgrounds. God is an absent entity in his life and many who suffer in Gotham.

KRAKOOM

As soon as the first table knife hits a plate there is a roar of fiery heated wind, explosive sounds and echoing booms. Alarms begin to ring throughout the Batcave and the lighting switches from bright whites to a strobe like red to white.

BOOM

BOOM

KRAKOOM

FRSOOH

BOOM

The cacophony of explosive sounds screams to life, hellfire blooms throughout the caverns of the Batcave in funnels. Debris begins to engulf the lower levels and dust along with smoke and fire blossoms lift spiraling upwards, underground levels and rising, roiling along the meshing, wires, netting. Fire spreads, incendiaries are going off. The bats. The bats are on fire and frantically spiraling in to one another and the equipment, setting everything ablaze in napalm and explosions. The side of the giant Tyrannosaurus Rex is crawling with burning masses of fur. An explosion in the hangars notifies them a half-completed Batboat just went up and is useless now. Molten slag and erupting mechanical parts. The cave is shuddering and falling in places.

"MOVE! EVERYONE MOVE! Get to the upper levels there is blast doo—-

Batman/Bruce is separated from them all as a giant rock smashes the dinner table in to shrapnel and screaming inferno bats plummet in to the eating area. Alfred vanishes opposite of Wayne in a torrent of smoke and fire. Auxiliary support systems are spraying foam and cryo-fluid to try and stop the spreading flame storm but its fast, faster than the machines are coming to life. Everyone is in danger.

Dick moves as quickly as he can, "BRUCE! ALFRED!" he calls out, watching the closest thing he has to family vanish in a split second of fire and brimstone. He follows his training though, and goes to the most vulnerable person first - Barbara. He moves to try and pick her up, trusting that Wonder Woman, as the most invulnerable and capable of them, will do her best to save Bruce and Alfred. He grabs a grapple from a nearby rack, lifting it iup and firing at the recessed area where the staircase down once was, trying to get Babs up and out of the danger zone.


Well crap. Now Kane wishes he hadn't left his sword down in the training area. The only thing he has on him is a pouch full of charms and the only reason he has that is because he learned fairly early during the Birdwatcher incident never to be without them. The druid grabs what looks like an inscribed rock on a leather thong out of it and crushes it in his hand while murmuring, throwing the resulting glowing dark red dust at Babs whose skin immediately becomes dark, touch and pebbly in texture. He's not sure how much that'll prevent her from getting burned but she's the least mobile of the group and with Bruce suddenly separated from them he's suddenly worried about her getting out.

Damn it. He is going to lose a sword after all.

"Dick! Diana!" Luckily Dick is already grabbing at Babs. He'll help. They need to get out, as the man said. Those are stairs over there, right?


"Which one is your first favorite?" A lofty rise of a brow as she glances from the half eaten leg of turkey to Bruce, and now the challenge is in those eyes, though it is hard pressed to see much - if /any/ laughter within them. The wine glass is lifted and brought to her lips, eyes closing and leaving Bruce then to pass a glance towards Alfred, now it hold apology in regards to her decorating, only after her appreciation is birthed on a warm smile.

Diana is about to say something but the Cave began to unravel then and turn into something very akin to a pit of hell. But that does not slow Diana's reaction that set in immediately. A chunk of what remains of that large dinner table is hefted and slammed down vertical in placement before Babs, Dick and Kane like a blockade, giving them some time to situate and make their designated escapes.

Once Dick has Babs she turns towards Kane and nods, her chin directing to the stairs as she speaks. "Dick, can you get Babs out of here safely? Kane…" Eyes seek to peer through the ashes and heated plumes of smoke… "Where is Alfred? Bruce!" The table is hoisted once more and spun to rest horizontally as she takes flight, offering Kane a hand if he needed it to basically lob him towards the stairwell and a better vantage for their missing allies, but Diana was not leaving the middle of it, not yet and while she is making cover for them but how long the solid wood will last against flaming bats that pelt against the makeshift shield like frenzied baseballs…


"Bruce!! Alfred!!" Babs arms rise to ward of the heat and flames… oh god! Feeling the familiar sensation of The Fox's charm as it touches her skin, she peers into the flames and smoke looking for the missing family members.

As Dick reaches for her, she shakes her head "We have to look for them, Richard…" She's torn … But there's Diana and Kane … she's not going to fight. Wrapping her arms around Nightwings neck "Go, we're going to have to watch for the bats."

—-

"Anyone alive? If not good I'm saving you from a worse fate if you're not dead. Stay dead for a bit. Let me take over. All of you idiots will just get in the way." David Cain's static muffled voice is audible. It is in the Batcave.

"Eptesicus fuscus or some crap. Big browns. Special big browns that you been genetically tampering, Bruce. Giant ass trained bats… kind of a liability really anytime anyone uses animals in war. World War II proved that but they had one crazy ironic idea that I just couldn't resist, Batbombs. I really hope you see the humor in this."

A pause.

"Look at this place… everything is bats with you, that ever get redundant? See, I got this idea once while watching you use some sonic thingy or maybe it was that spray. One of those but you called all these bats to you like Dracula but I know you are not Dracula, you're just a man, a deranged damaged little man. A sick twisted nutjob who thinks he can raise my kid up better than me? Keep her safer than me? You're wrong and I'm proving it." "

The source of the voice is visible through smoke and carnage. A drone. Hovering in the center of the cavern above the honeycomb of flaming wreckage below. "Diana? Wonder Woman? Wow. Didn't expect that. Who else is here? Whatever, doesn't matter. Take this as a lesson and a warning. Stay dead, stay out of Gotham, lie low. I got this. You will all just end up collateral damage. I can promise you that."

"Cain… if you hurt anyone…"

"ALFRED! Someone find Alfred… Diana, please, find Alfred." Bruce's raspy voice can be heard. He can't make himself shout, his body is half pinned under wreckage and fallen rock. "Zero-Five-India-Romeo-Echo."

"AIR FILTRATION SYSTEMS ENGAGED. VENTILATION set 100%" The Batcomputer's electronic voice and then a cool breeze assails the cave, cold starts to blow through the entire underground complex. Frost forming and soon even snow flakes… "Alfred… " Bruce's head drops in to the floor and he stops struggling, prone with one arm outstretched and hopefully just unconscious.

"SUBJECT Penny-1 located. Vitals undetected. Signal beacon projected." A red holographic image is fired out in to a wall of smoke that hangs above one of the ledges, the man must have fallen one layer in to the lower hangar bay. That is no healthy drop and it is all fire down there. "Vitals still undetected." The Batcomputer's feminine voice chimes again.


Dick Grayson moves the zip line up to get Barbara to safer ground, "You can't dodge the way you used to, Babs. Not a judgment, just the facts. You can help more upstairs - tap into the wifi up there and see if you can figure out how much is intact and how much can be used. The sensors the computer uses may be damaged, which is why it's missing Alfred. I'm going back down once I get you up there…" he says, gravity suspended momentarily as the pressure of the line sucks him up.


So much fire and smoke…

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