Winter Solstice: Longest Night

December 22, 2016:

Batman follows the tracker implanted in Winter's Arm. Read in parallel with Winter Solstice.

New York, Brooklyn-- Gowannus

A decrepit old medical facility


NPCs: Winter Soldier, Hydra

Mentions: Dark Devil

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The tracer in the violent assassin's arm was almost too easy to follow.

Batman had kept careful eye on it from the second he'd disengaged to treat Dark Devil's injury. The wound had been so close to fatal— a chance of fate, a desperate application of skill— that had been all that had kept her from dying. She was left to recover in the BatCave under the auspices of a watchful Alfred.

Still. Too close.

Winter had kept to the protocol that Batman had suspected he would. Without the tracking device, Batman himself might have had trouble tracking him. Down into the sewers, through four blocks of subtunnels, a dangerous and illegal trip through a subway tunnel, up onto 4th, a long run through back alleys— interspersed with prolonged, deliberate stops, including four hours where the tracker had gone completely still while Winter hid in a dumpster to throw off any potential pursuers.

From the comfort of the Batcave, Batman had tracked every step.

With Dark Devil stable and recovering, Batman had left the cave— mere hours after his fight, and with little rest— to continue the chase.

Now, perched across the street from the abandoned warehouse, Batman makes himself one with the shadows. An IR laser dances against the window, invisible to anyone not wearing specialized sensory gear; transmitting every word, every vibration, to Batman's headset. And a small drone, floating on silent wings, floats closer for a better view— it clings to the edge of an exterior window, a little glassy eye positioned for a perfect view of the interior of the office.

Despite himself, Batman finds his estimation of his violent foe creeping upwards a notch as the Winter Soldier endures the sort of torture that is meant to break men. To kill them. His body twitches once in sympathetic recollection, knowing full well the agony of someone attempting to reprogram the offtimes fragile bounds of the human psyche.

The words. Names. Locations. He makes detailed mental notes of all of them, even though his advanced software suite will never forget a word. No alarm on his features as they destroy the bug. Bugs are meant to be found and destroyed. Even their discovery is a calculated maneuver. Flush the enemy out. Force them to react.

Winter Soldier's reaction is a /bit/ more than Batman even expected. One man nearly dead and down before Batman can even react. He starts to swing into motion, but the Winter Soldier is clearly off-script. The assassin is off into the night through a side door, leaving Batman no means for pursuit.

He's on to more interesting game.

Leonard and Richard make their calls. Batman greedily devours every word— every name, recording every utterance for posterity. Enough to earn both men a lifetime in a cold, dark cell, perhaps.

But those are for the crimes to which they'll answer to the American People.

They still need to answer to the Batman.

The power abruptly goes out, leaving the men in darkness. Flashlights are produced and they run for the main doors— locked. Side door— jammed shut. Nearing the windows in desperation, they explode, and the ancient leaded glass sprays them with thousands of fragments to draw blood and create fear. Confusions. Misdirection. Elemental fears of being overrun, of monsters at the edge of the campfire light, of predators thrashing the bushes.

The two men fall back, cowering, flashlights flickering in every direction— and then both of them fall simultaneously on a figure cowled entirely in the night, in a cloak that seems to swallow light and permit only blackness to exist.

Two white, hard slits of light— angular, pupil-less eyes— flicker and land on the two sobbing, terrified men.

"I have some questions," Batman growls, in a low rasp that is punctuated by the last collapse of the windows.

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