A Catnapping

October 21, 2017:

The Catwoman of Gotham pays a visit to New York City. A hunch leads her to one abandoned apartment and a mystery.

New York City

Characters

NPCs: Thugs

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…


Imagine a cat.

Imagine the cat's tail lashing side to side in anticipation.

Now, imagine Catwoman, perched atop a building across the street from the apartment complex she's studied at different times over the past week. There's no tail, but there is anticipation.

She's been watching, looking for patterns, noting who comes and when, who goes and when, but there's always been one constant: no lights on upstairs in that top penthouse. Nobody home. She wouldn't usually take the easy score, but she had a feeling about this one. Waiting for traffic to thin out for a few moments, she swings into action - literally - courtesy of her whip wrapping around a street light, carrying her toward the side of the building in question. Then, she climbs.


The winds are tame tonight, making for easy approach to the upper reaches of the buildings old masonry. The brickwork among the window sills and balconies are easily ascended by one so practiced. By the reckoning of most would-be cat burglars this is an ideal, easy score. Most predators are opportunists by nature, avoiding difficulties if they can .. But not this burglar.

So far, so good. There is a balcony from the penthouse overlooking the street. Only the occasional passing car illuminates the railed ledge at all. There is only darkness through the windows save for the occasional blinking light of a digital clock not bothered to be set after some random power outage in the past. The drapes aren't even closed behind the locked windows, offering dark glimpses into the sizable home within.


While Catwoman loves a good challenge, a way of testing her skills, it's not always the best way to go. Risks are sometimes taken for the thrill of it, but every time is a good way to land behind bars in Arkham.

There'd been rumors about the occupant of the place, but nothing she could verify as accurate one way or another, only that there was almost certainly something of high value in there and the owner or occupant hadn't been around in quite some time. She ascends the side of the building silently and swiftly, the claws tipping her gloves making it easier to dig in, the soles of her footwear providing a tackier grip as well.

Then, she swings herself up and lands in a crouch on the balcony, the black of her outfit helping keep her from standing out. A look inside follows, night vision in the goggles already switched on, and she visually examines the framework of the windows for any signs of a security system.


The windows have basic security it would seem. Locked with a simple wire connection within the frames that will trigger an alarm if they're moved. Basic security precautions of the wealthy in the city but nothing terribly complex.
Through the window one can see various furnishings without blemish. Several bland paintings on the wall, the sort that realtors place to better sell the home. A decently sized flat screen across from the window in front of a comfortable sofa. A kitchen area in the far corner, along with a fireplace and a stocked bar. Several lamps.
However, for a tenant who must be reasonably wealthy to own such a locale there's an astonishing lack of ornamentation and expensive furnishing.


Catwoman rolls her eyes upon finding the wiring. The solution in this case is simple enough: don't move anything to set off the alarms. If it wasn't going to be as simple as a small hole in the glass to unlock the window and slide it open, it would have to be larger.

Quietly, she swings her shoulder bag around to the front and withdraws a suction cup device that is slipped over a hand, using it to press against the window while a claw from the other draws a circular shape in the glass, away from any wire or sensors. It's done slowly and quietly, and once the circle is completed she stabilizes it with her other hand, moving it inside the penthouse and down so she can lower it without it tipping over or shattering.

From there, the opening is just large enough for her to carefully step through, granting her access. Time for a look around the room, first to those paintings to check for anything like a safe. Of course, these are examined first to see if there are any pressure sensors or some other thing that would trip another alarm.


It's almost insulting.
No pressure sensors whatsoever. As it so happens there is blatantly a safe in the wall in the bedroom area.. Unlocked and empty. The bedroom is completely spartan with a fine line of dust on the otherwise pristine bed covers. Not a single article of clothing is in the closet or anywhere in the home for that matter.

Nobody lives here. Which begs the question .. Why are for armed men on the bottom floor guarding something that is functionally empty? Unless their true charge is not in the penthouse at all. It would be unbearably tedious to check the dozen other homes in the apartment complex for anything of value - not to mention take far too much time and the risk would be great.

A strange puzzle.


"Really?"

It's no more than a whisper, but the word might as well be spoken at a normal volume given how deathly quiet the room and penthouse is, how sparsely decorated it really is. Even her own quiet, measured breathing sounds louder than it is.

Nothing here. Nothing there. Nothing anywhere, really. It's on to the main living area, with the process repeated. Just enough things to make the place look livable, presentable, but nothing beyond that. There's not a single thing in the fridge, either. What's this all about, anyway?

Only once she's concluded the penthouse is a dead end does the cat burglar re-evaluate what her next step might be. "Damn it, it has to be the guards, but what are they down there for?" she wonders. No, she is not going to inspect the entire building, not in one night, but if they're down there and not up here…

"Well, shit."

Catwoman returns to the bedroom, exits the way she'd come in, and reaches into her pack for a resin of some kind, spreading it around the opening she'd cut. Soon, the gap is no more and she's making her way back to the ground.


As the cat burglar makes her way back down, a car pulls up and parallel parks a short distance down the street. It may seem irrelevant at first, except for the fact that the coated man stepping out looks like one of the hired goons guarding the bottom floor. He draws a grocery bag from the back seat and walks across, looking unalert as he makes his way to the main entrance of the apartment. He's utterly unaware of the stealthy thief some floors above him as he presses the call button.
"Got the booze, let me in you assholes." His voice carrying in the New York air. A buzz goes off as the door audibly unlocks. A crackling voice on the intercom can barely be heard, "Whatever. Get in here we're about to deal."

Must be poker night.


The lock on the door that prevents anyone from just walking in is something Catwoman may need to figure out. As fate would have it, just as the guard is approaching the front door, she's stationed herself near the edge of the building. This..might be the opportunity she's looking for. He's got a bag of groceries, there's talk of drinks, and it sounds like they're in the middle of a card game.

Why not? Nothing ever happens here.

A decision is made. While the stealthy way is usually best, sometimes? Sometimes the direct path is the one to take. Silently, she waits for the man to enter and the door to begin closing before she advances rapidly, resting a hand against the door to keep it from clicking shut again. It looks like it's closed, only there's just a fraction of an inch keeping it from locking. She waits just long enough to ensure all is well. Once it is, she'll open the door just enough to peek past it.


Often the question arises, how can guards be so terrible at their jobs? Spending an entire year day in, day out, guarding a location that absolutely nobody knows about due to its low profile where the very thing you're guarding pretty much never makes an appearance?
These thugs are getting free money and it's been months since they last cared much at all. So oblivious is the grocery laden man that when the door remains ajar he doesn't even notice. He keeps walking right in as he hefts the clinking, bottle-filled bag a little higher as he walks into the foyer.
The hallway beyond is short and leads to a small community area. Three other men are sitting down in well-used sofas placed around a square table. They wear crumpled, business casual attire with sleeves rolled up and necks unbuttoned. Smoking and huddled around a table filled with cash and cards.
"Hey git ovah here. You got my IPA or what?" A man waves the new arrival over who replies, "Why do yose drink that shit anyway?"

It's just another night for them. Completely oblivious to the world outside.


But it's not another night. Not at all. As stealthily as a cat, she sneaks in and the door clicks in unison with the bottles that jostle against each other. Catwoman finds a spot out of their line of sight, next to a stairwell, giving her a few seconds to assess the layout of the entry level. If they're not up there guarding the penthouse, what /are/ they guarding down here?

(Aside from nothing, evidently.)

Doors are given a glance. One must go down. The place surely has a basement. All she needs to do is find the right one and avoid notice.


There is an angle by the door that a very quiet, very still person can remain and be just out of sight of the table. Beyond the gathering are several doors. There are a pair of elevators on the exact opposite side from the front door. The door to the stairs are directly next. There are hallways at perpendicular angles to the elevators, likely leading to the first series of apartments.

The main area itself is well lit and filled with cigarette smoke. The bag is placed down and the gopher slides over a variety of liquor, beer and ale to various attendees as the air fills with the sound of gruff gamblers.
"C'mon, C'mon deal already. I missed the Yankees for this shit."
"You and yose Yankees. How much you lost on those losers anyway?"
"Not as much as you're about to lose fuckface, shut up and deal." A round of laughter and the sound of shuffling cards.

The defense of any lower floor is simple and straightforward. Just park a table of armed goons in front of the elevator and stairs and keep them there. It would be difficult to sneak around them due to the lack of shadows or obstacles to hide behind but not impossible.. They are completely oblivious and there is some line of sight cover behind the shallow sofas they're seated on.


Catwoman would grumble under her breath, but that runs the risk of being overheard. Reaching up to her goggles, she adjusts the night vision off so she can see normally, though it's enhanced. A few taps against the same side of the eyewear gives her quick snapshots of what she can see from her position after poking her head out just far enough to get a good look. These, she can analyze through a picture-in-picture function of the goggles themselves. Eat your heart out, Google Glass.

It gives her the opportunity to analyze what's what where they sit and play. There's the table, the sofas, an extra chair or two, the elevator doors, and the door marked 'Stairs' next to it. Easy enough to access, provided she can get there.

Now, the guards certainly don't look like they'd be any trouble, especially once they've been into the booze a bit, and here is where the challenge comes into play. She could toss a couple things into the group and distract them, perhaps knock them out, but she'll save that.

First, she waits for the right time, then she crawls forward on all fours to station herself behind the sofa in a low crouch, within no more than a couple feet of a pair of them. The door downstairs is not far away now.


"At least let me turn on the radio, Christ."
"You ain't turnin' on nuthin. I gotta think when I play and I ain't lettin' you distract me this time."
"You blamin last week on the radio?"
"Whatever. Just play."

After careful observation there is a ten second window on average after the first draw. Everyone stares at their cards, hunched over and thoughtful. The perfect window of opportunity to crawl over and behind one of the couches just in time before one inevitably folds or otherwise puts their cards down and is more attentive to their periphery.

"I fold. Bah. I gotta take a piss." Angrily rising from the sofa.. The very one a certain feline is crouching behind. He shuffles around the corner of the furnishing and steps away as the group snicker or sigh in turn. He doesn't even look down or behind him for an instant as he stomps towards the hallway, opens a door and steps within.
Another window should be opening up as the players order more cards.. The door to the stairs is no more than ten feet away.


The timing has to be perfect, and with Catwoman it is. So caught up are they on their card game, none of them notice her literally slink her way behind the sofa, her breathing all but silent as she waits. Then she waits for another hand, then a third before the one gets up.

In one hand is..something, just in case. With a short amount of time expected before he returns, which will put the back of the sofa in his line of sight, she makes her move while the others inspect their cards.

That door downstairs better not be locked.


Thankfully the door is indeed unlocked.
With quick precision the door can be cracked open just enough to permit one feline intruder within and closed afterwards.
No sounds or shouts of pursuit can be heard from the other side of the door. It seems entry was successful.. Of course going back out the way one came might be tricky, but that would be Future Catwoman's problem.
Present Catwoman is greeted with a flight of stairs, dimly lit by a bulb just barely in service. At the very bottom of the stairs is a simple door labeled 'Employees Only'. It is locked by a simple tumbler, hardly the stuff of legendary security. Whatever is down here, the owners were relying on complete anonymity to hide it. A lesser two-bit thief would have taken a single look at the guards and moved on.


The future can always be dealt with when it becomes the present. Doing it this way ensures no need to rush. Their card game could continue into the early hours of the morning and chances are Catwoman may have the run of whatever's down there. She allows herself, once she's safely behind the closed door, a moment to smile. Almost too easy, but the ol' adrenaline got going even for a stealth operation like this.

Now, time is on her side.Even with the one bulb struggling to illuminate more than a few feet around it, she flips the night vision back on before she reaches the door in question.

"…and kitty," is what she says upon reading the sign on the door, wetting her lips at the thought of the steps taken to protect whatever's behind it. Checking the tumbler, she comes up with the most basic of tools for this job: a lock pick. Rather than raking the pins inside the tumbler, she goes for the more trusted single-pin picking method, putting an ear up close to listen for the click as she tests how springy each pin is. Within no more than a few seconds, the lock opens, followed by the door.

In she goes.


Darkness greets her, while the lightswitch by the door could solve that problem completely choosing nightvision is a more subtle choice. Though light amplification systems work well in near darkness, total darkness is another matter. There's barely enough light filtering in from the hallway to give nightvision some illumination to work with, casting the basement in jade shadows.

Now things become more interesting. Rather than the expected moldy basement the environment is clean. Organized. There are a series of lock boxes along the far wall. The basement windows above have been sealed shut behind steel plates. The boxes seem to have small slots, the sort to insert small electronic key cards into. The strongest form of security seen yet. There otherwise seems to be no clue as to what is within. The only identification seems to be serial numbers for each.


It takes a few seconds, but Catwoman determines she's going to need more than the minimal light from outside the room, especially once she's shut the door behind her, keeping the lock for the time being. Finding the switch, she casts the room in actual light and adjusts the goggles again to compensate, raising a brow at the way the room is kept.

There's certainly something here, and after a glance is made toward the small windows set into the walls next to the ceiling, she takes a look at the lock boxes with their electronic security measures. "Now we're getting somewhere," she all but purrs to herself.

But, it's nothing for a master thief. There is a simple trick for defeating a digital lock that requires a key card, and she withdraws a small device with a cable and plug that connects to the locking mechanism's port, allowing her access to bypass the encryption and pull the codes from each one, whether they're all controlled by one master card or require different ones for each. If it works the way she's familiar with, each lock box will be accessible within the blink of an eye for each.


The improved light helps greatly. The walls are a sheer alabaster white, the floors a smoothed concrete. Each lockbox is roughly a foot tall and half as wide, plenty of room to store valued items of the nice and portable kind.
Without complication the electronic locks spring open to the sound of a sliding internal bolt, allowing the door to open upwards. Now we see what's behind door number one..

A stack of minted one hundred dollar bills. Five grand in total.
Nothing in the next two boxes.
A set of vehicle keys, unmarked.
Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
A black cat statue, museum quality. A small Star of David impression at its throat. Probably worth some money.
Nothing.
An external hard drive.
A box of assorted jewelry.
Nothing and nothing..

Hard cash is certainly nice as well as the baubles, but not too thrilling. Perhaps the true prize is the information on the disk?


Licking her lips again, Catwoman opens each lock box with the hope of a child on Christmas morning, looking for that perfect gift. The money itself seems like a no-brainer, but she checks each one first to ensure they're legit and there's nothing hidden in them such as a tracking device. It simply wouldn't do to have someone find her back in Gotham City because she was lazy about covering the bases.

The jewelry is..fine, but not the most interesting thing. The hard drive may or may not hold value to her, depending on the information it contains, but it may be worth a peek later on.

The main portion? The pièce de résistance that immediately grabs her attention at first sight? Why, it's the cat statue that quickly finds its way into her hands. "Oh, jackpot," she all but purrs, eyes gleaming behind the goggles as she turns the thing over in her gloved, clawed hands. "Beautiful."


The Cat's suspicion bears fruit as there are indeed tracking devices neatly folded within each individual bundle of bills. Mildly tedious to remove them one by one but the profits are direct.

The black statue certainly would be an excellent piece in some museum. It's features are sleek and smooth, polished as if it was made yesterday. There's an.. Indescribable sensation of age about it. Carved by the sensibilities of antiquity rather than a lifelike rendering.

What does not grab her attention are a pair of feline eyes opening behind her. Floating in mid-air with a cheshire's curiosity. The blue and golden eyes remain on her a moment, perhaps lost in thought. Only to disappear completely by the time the Catwoman turns around and considers how best to leave now that the coffers are plundered.

Future Catwoman's problems have now become Present Catwoman's.


Catwoman clucks her tongue as she deposits each tracker back in the lock box they were in, sans cash, organized neatly enough to be done tauntingly so. The money is hers now. Not a major score, but $5,000 is $5,000.

It's the statue that garners most of her attention, still in her hands after having dealt with the contents of the first box. "You're /old/," she says to it. "Somehow, I just know it. Well-made, though. You deserve a better place than being tucked away in here."

Then, she turns around with a brow upraised, one hand immediately darting to the whip's handle. The room may be small for it, but she's been in tighter places before. "Who's there?" She /thought/ she felt something, but it looks like it's just her. "Hnf. Nothing." Shaking her head, the statue finds a place in her shoulder bag, then after one more sweep of the room and a check to make sure the boxes are locked, nothing is left behind that shouldn't be, and the light's switched back off, she exits the room, shuts the door, and clicks the tumbler lock back into place.

Did those elevators go down here, or only to the ground floor?


The elevator indeed seems to go down to the ground floor as the set of sliding doors resides directly next to the stairs. After cleaning and returning the room to the state it was in prior, minus riches, the elevator doors slide open obligingly when the door opens.
Apparently the basement button on the panel of the elevator requires a key.. But ordering the booth from the basement itself seems to circumvent that necessity. Obliging that.

The panel gives her all seven floors to choose from. Which button to push?


Perhaps Catwoman could have simply used the elevator from the start, but she never left the penthouse apartment. Whether she'd have figured out the matter of the key or not seems irrelevant now. "Going up? Why use the stairs now?" She's been down there for a little while, and no doubt that card game is still going on with the guards increasingly drunk. They should be no trouble for her especially by this point, but why even alert them? It could be weeks before anyone even knows the stuff is gone.

Entering the elevator after she's called for it, the decision is made. 7th floor, all the way to the top. The guards may or may not have noticed the elevator going down, but chances are they're not paying attention. Either way, she's got a couple tricks ready to go if needed.


There are many ways to skin a.. An animal. While precautions were taken the basement was not exactly Fort Knox. Perhaps a more hardware minded individual would have simply cut through the metal plates over the basement windows at the street level for example? The point is now the Cat Burglar is just that much richer, now she only needs to escape with her spoils.
The elevator smells of only faint use. An alcohol scent is plain, perhaps one of the guards folded early and headed to bed? The machine rattles to life and hauls her upwards for a solid minute before coming to a stop on the top most floor. As the doors slide open the hallway beyond only has two doors. The top-most floor has been divided into four sections, one of which is the abandoned penthouse. At the end of each well-carpeted hallway are closed windows over small in-tables and potted plants. While these windows too are likely secured with wires as the ones in the penthouse, it's nothing that the Catwoman cannot handle.

It's just.. There's a sense that she isn't alone. Though there was no reply to her call the unmistakeable feeling of eyes upon her has not left since she first lifted the statue. However no matter how hard she looks and listens? Nothing.


Had she thought a bit further ahead, Catwoman might have checked the door to the penthouse and ensured she could simply come back up here to open it and pass through, but she already sealed the window back up as it is. The initial plan was not to come back this way, but in the interest of being undetected she decided on this path once she got in the elevator. When the doors open, thankfully not stopping at any other floors along the way, she presses herself against the side of the lift before ensuring nobody is out and about in the hallway.

With the coast clear, she bypasses any of the penthouses and moves for the hallway window. A quick check leads to a repeat of the same technique used to let herself inside in the first place, but she can't shake that sense that she isn't alone. The caution and skill used to 'open' the window and 'close' it again once she's outside, forced to be a little more careful about it if there's no balcony on which to perch, should give her the escape she needs. This time, she climbs up to the rooftop for a short time, looking around, waiting to see if that feeling lingers or fades.


As the Catwoman again feels the light New York breeze upon her as she perches on the rooftop of her latest conquest that sensation does indeed linger. There were no eyes in the hallway, none in the elevator.
Perhaps this run was so easy that she's looking for reasons to be paranoid? Success has a habit of breeding paranoia sometimes. By the standards of a master thief tonight's run was mediocre at best.. Though the statuette is certainly a fine piece of art at least. Surely the information on the hard drive must be juicy indeed to have earned such secretive security. Or perhaps the statue was stolen from some prestigious museum or private collection.. Though it's certainly not been in any news.
No. No matter how long she waits the sensation does not go away, nor does its source reveal itself. It must be nerves and just that.. Surely.


Frowning, Catwoman looks around yet again. She's rarely felt this way after a score. It's not that there's doubt creeping in. This is something different, like she's being observed. Crouching on the rooftop, she rummages around within the bag again and double-checks everything she left with before departing, making sure she hasn't missed any other tracers of some kind. Batman was good at sneaking a tracking device into things or onto a vehicle or, say, a boot, but that's not the feeling she's getting here.

"Get it together, Selina. This was a piece of cake. Get out of here, go over everything, and move on," she tells herself, adjusting the goggles which have been back in place by now. Crossing a few buildings, including the street once again, she descends into an alley and retrieves a trenchcoat along with the souped-up motorcycle she left there, the engine purring to life before she joins traffic en route to a safehouse elsewhere in the city. It's a bit far to ride back to Gotham City tonight.


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