Job, Interrupted

December 07, 2016:

The Winter Soldier really hates trying to work around Gotham's most brooding fixture.



NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

"All I really need is an address. Business or personal." That's how the hour of ten o'clock at night started for Jim Ford, middling business owner and secretary of the Gotham Antiquities Commission, and that's how it's still going, five minutes later.

Ford probably should have seen it coming… though then again, the buildup had been so gradual it hadn't at first seemed all that threatening, or even out of the ordinary. Especially for Gotham City. A couple other people working on— or associated with— the Antiquities Commission had reported their homes broken into, their belongings rifled through. Over time a pattern emerged— information specifically about the upcoming auction sponsored by the Wayne Foundation was always taken— and then the Commission started to take the matter a little more seriously.

Then Rob Carter, one of the Commission's antiquity authenticators, got straight up attacked while visiting his daughter at university. He got away— due to assistance from some crazy kung fu girl he did not know, or so he claimed— and since then, it's been quiet while Carter's paperwork oozes ineffectually through hte cesspool of Gotham PD.

Up until now. Lucky me, Ford thinks, dangling by a cord wrapped about his ankles from a fire escape. I get to break the ice.

The man responsible for Ford's plight occupies the fire escape itself. Street clothes. A half-mask temporarily pulled down around his neck. He's finishing a cigarette— a leftover vice still nursed by a man who predates the anti-smoking campaign. "Your public records are tragically incomplete," the man observes in a sigh of smoke, leaning on the railing with folded arms. One arm makes a decidedly off sound when it hits the metal: a dull thunk, muted through his jacket. "Names only. Job titles. Cell phones. Cell phones? Really."

His head turns and he spits away the spent cigarette. The mask gets pulled back up, covering the lower half of his face again. It's so dark Ford never got a chance to look while the mask was down.

"You have a proper list of commission members somewhere, don't you? I only need to know about one."


Whatever Ford is about to say is forever lost to history. There are two simultaneous, distinctly different noises— one of them a whirring that resolves into a sharp *crack* of steel against steel. The crescent shaped weapon is so sharp that even after severing the cord, it embeds itself in the metal of the railing.

The second is a *pop* and whirr of a cable flying at Ford. It wraps twice around his /other/ foot in the moment before the cord is snapped, so when the fellow starts his plunge, he's bound by another long, impossibly thin rope. His descent turns into a fair graceful arc as he swings like a pendulum, screaming all the way, and rather neatly slams right into a pile of garbage at street level. Dignity and butt bruised, certainly, but unharmed from the very expert intervention.

And the sponsor of that intervention appears at the corner of Winter's vision. Many would think he just appeared from the blue, but the assassin's expertise would certainly key to the fact that the man used a blind spot and the natural noises of the city to make the approach by creaking inches— so when he turns white-lensed eyes onto Winter, it's less an apparition than the startling realization that the mannequin in the display is actually a /person/.

"You have bigger troubles than a list of plutocrats," Batman rasps, his cloak streaming behind him from his low crouch at the edge of a higher rooftop— yet somehow it keeps his hands and feet mostly concealed from view.


Ford sure does start to say something. He's overflowing with the willingness to say something. He's seen the guns, his blood is pounding in his ears, he doesn't really need any more convincing. He's just a secretary! This is way out of his pay grade.

Fortunately for him, someone intervenes. It's not the gentlest intervention, but it's certainly better than being wrung out for information like a towel— and then probably killed afterwards. His aggressor straightens up, suddenly alert, as his erstwhile captive swings suddenly free and into a pile of trash, courtesy of that ruthlessly-sharp weapon that slams into steel several inches from his right arm.

Metal gears whir and grind faintly with the movement of the Winter Soldier's left arm as he uses it to wrench the the weapon free. He identifies it moments before he identifies its thrower, emerging from the dark like a wraith.

You have bigger troubles than a list of plutocrats, the Batman says.

"This is why I hate working in Gotham," is the muttered reply, before with a muted shriek of his left arm, he returns the weapon at its owner with unnatural speed and force. He knows better than to expect it to actually have any effect against its own master; it is primarily a distraction for his swift leap over the railing of the fire escape, two stories straight down, in a blatant attempt to recover his fallen target to drag it bodily off somewhere else.


Batman leans four inches to the right, the Batarang sailing past him and into the Gotham night— no doubt it'll end up on eBay, like many of his abandoned gadgets and devices. When Winter moves, Batman moves, leaping at an angle to maintain his altitude on the rooftops— let Winter fall to the streets. Batman will maintain the high ground.

Most men would consider the fifteen feet between buildings a treacherous enough gap— Batman breaks into a running start and with a spectacular explosion, leaps across the open, jagged space between the buildings. His cloak remains flat and streamlined, turning him into an arrowing dart. Even in midair, though, he whips another Batarang at Winter— this one aimed at his left leg, and filled with a dense payload of immobilizing security foam. He takes an extra tenth of a second to get the proper lead on Winter's free falling trajectory before loosing it.

He fetches up against the side of the building with a grunt of effort, legs coiling to absorb the impact, and grabs the edge of the roof with one gloved hand. A surge hauls him onto the asphalt rooftop and he breaks into a run, shadowing the fleeding Ford's path out of the alley as the fellow kicks and stumbles towards freedom.


Ford has by now recovered from the entanglement of the trash. It's amazing what a regular man hopped up on adrenaline and terror can power through. The glimpse of his attacker coming after him— and THE BATMAN coming after his attacker— is, combined, way too much for him to handle. He yanks himself free and starts half-stumbling, half-running for it.

The Winter Soldier shoots one look back up at Batman, then reconfigures mentally. Mission first. He leaps over the side of the railing and straight down. It will be trivial for him to catch up to the fleeing target once he's down—

— which is why it's a good thing the Batman's second Batarang tags the Soldier on the ankle as he descends. He lands agilely— and then sticks, the foam adhering savagely to the pavement. Normal men would growl, curse, emit some sort of sound of frustration or expression of pique. The Winter Soldier looks down in complete dispassion, a machine regarding an obstacle to an imperative.

His left arm seizes onto the corner of a brick building. And with a twist and haul, he tears himself free.

This is precious time lost. His target is by now reaching the end of the alley, guided silently by the spectral figure of the Batman shadowing him overhead. The Winter Soldier starts after, first at a slow, hampered walk, then ramping up into a swift lope as more of the foam is shaken away. A glance upward is taken. The Batman is too canny to be in line of sight, too canny to give up his height advantage, but…

A sidearm spins into his hand. He aims, an obvious low trajectory to cripple rather than kill, for the fleeing target's lower right leg, and fires.


Winter's bullet rips through Ford's calf, and the man stumbles to the ground with a cry of pain, fetching up hard against the rough asphalt and tearing his hands and knees on the coarse pavement.

A second later, another Batarang whips through the air in a flickering, silent arc, aimed for the back of Winter's gun hand. An LED on the back of the Batarang flickers a sullen red— twice— and then it explodes with ear-bludgeoning percussive force as the flashbang goes off. A microsecond later it goes off /again/ as secondary mini-charges go off in a dazzling pyrotechnic display, phosphorous leaving dazzling green and red sparks to fly and flicker in the air like demented fireflies.

Batman lands heavily near Ford's feet, cloak pulling forward to obscure him from view, and puts himself physically between the civilian and Winter.

"Run," he growls at Ford— a single monotone that's enough to slash through the man's pain and whimpering terror and encourage him to crawl and then, half-limp, half-hop away as fast as he can leave a bloody trail behind him.


Target down. The Winter Soldier's eyes narrow in, pinpoint attention on his downed objective, as mechanical as camera lens focusing.

Then something catches his eye. His gaze opens back up and the first thing he sees is that telltale flicker of an LED, the twice-warning rapid pulse of something about to explode. The Soldier freezes as that visual cue hammers something in his mind much older than deeper than the killing algorithms that run his day-to-day operations. They had that exact same frequency on the signal for old mine detectors—

— mine —

The Soldier turns his left shoulder into the blast to, inexplicably, shield his eyes and body alike with his left arm. At that close range, even miniature explosives should shred flesh— they certainly still put paid to the left side of the assassin's jacket. The reason he had such a reflex becomes obvious as the flash fades and the smoke clears, however. Exposed is the dull shine of raw, reinforced metal instead of flesh, and the fire-scarred image of a star.

This is Ford's chance to run, as Batman makes amply clear. The man is plainly terrified of both his attacker and his rescuer and needs no second encouragement… though he's lived in Gotham long enough to have something stir in him at finally meeting the Batman. Enough that he stammers out what he knows— "He wanted— Carter. Rob Carter!" —for his rescuer to hear before he drags himself off, bleeding, into the night.

The Winter Soldier slowly lowers his titanium-steel arm with a soft whir of its inner workings. His indifferent, empty eyes consider Batman and the changed circumstances of the situation with all the emotional affect of a server running algorithms.

"More than one way," he murmurs, and unhooks a grenade from his belt. But instead of throwing it at the protector facing him down… he turns to his right and aims to smash it clear through the window of the nearest residential apartment, plainly willing to play fast and loose with some lives to get the Batman off his back.

He's off and moving in the next second, in the opposite direction, plainly finished with direct confrontation for the evening.


Batman's cloak flies open when that grenade gets palmed, and in the moment when Winter cocks his arm and primes the explosive, his fingers flicker to his utility belt. Grenades are slow, heavy, and not designed with speed in mind— Batman's gear is the opposite of that.

Hitting a one-pound chunk of steel, in full throw, would be impossible for most men. Deflecting a one-pound steel fastball with a few ounces of titanium, simply physically impossible. But Batman primes his own explosive batarang— with a flickercrack of his wrist deploying it a certain way, a motion he's practiced a million times or more— and hurls his own explosive at the grenade.

The batarang smacks full into the grenade and explodes with a terrific *whump* of force. The grenade, diverted off-course, flies into a pile of trash. Already, Batman's ducking behind his cloak, hauling it up to cover his face and engaging the piezo-electric currents that turn the thin, whippy cloack into a stiff impact absorbing sheet. The secondary explosion of the grenade going off is ablated somewhat both by the damage of the batarang's impact, and the pile of trash. Fragments of steel pepper Batman's cloak, leaving him unharmed.

When he rises, Winter Soldier is gone.

Batman steps into the shadows, checking a drone in the sky to ensure he's not being flanked by Winter. Once he's reasonably sure that Winter's quit the field, he moves to collect a sample of the explosive, shredded remains of the leather jacket, and then— to go find the man bleeding and tracking a path on the pavement.

He wants that bullet, too.

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