An Accord

March 25, 2018:

Batman brings Cassandra in from the cold of the winter storm. After some initial investigation, An Accord is struck. Spoiler observes and helps.

(Backlogged to Feb 8, during Demon Bear storm)

Batcave

Characters

NPCs: Alfred Pennyworth

Mentions: Iron Man

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

*

It isn't often that Batman finds a curiosity like Cassandra… but when he does, he doesn't hesitate on the matter. So, when Cassandra was pulled up into the Batwing, they took a detour to be sure they weren't followed.

Then, Cassandras' side of the canopy is completely blackened out, before the Batwing turns hard, heading right for the Batcave.

By the time they arrive, Cassandra will have no idea where she is as she feels the Batwing land… before the canopy turns clear again, and opens, revealing one of the few landing platforms for Batmans aircraft… and the Batcave itself.

Batman himself is dressed in the winter white suit still… and keeps it on as he looks to Cassandra. "Can you understand me?"

*

Cassandra remains unusually calm as they travel. Even having the world blanked out apparently isn't enough to throw her. the level of tension in the girl's frame increases but other than watching her surroundings she doesn't rail against the treatment or even complain.

Soon enough Cassandra is face-to-face with Batman again. she watches him as he speaks to her but doesn't respond to the words in the slightest. Ember eyes narrow very slightly but the girl doesn't say a word, instead keeping her attention firmly on the man in front of her. She cants her head slightly to the left, studying Batman from head to toe and then looking off into the Batcave.

Cassandra can't help it, perhaps. She points at some of the imposing artifice within the cave.

*

His jaw is concealed still, so her lack of response could be being mute… nonetheless, Batman starts to walk over to the main section of the Batcave, and over to his suit donning station next to the Batcomputer.

His suit isn’t nearly as tank-like as Iron Man, but there’s no denying the benefits of mechanical outfitting assistance… or of an armored suit designed for agility for a martial artist as experienced as Batman.

In this case, he hits the concealment mode button on the control station for switching suits though, a black dome fitting over the station as mechanical arms do their work alongside Batman to remove the wintergear armor matrix… and in about a minute, the dome switches off, revealing Batman in his normal black and red suit, jaw exposed in the half mask/cowl.

Then, he turns to regard Cassandra… his demeanor one of calm analysis, before he goes over to the Batcomputer, and types out a few words which pop up on the screen.

*Can you understand this?* Big and clear on the Batcomputer monitor.

*

Cassandra glances at the screen when there is movement and then dismisses it immediately. Apparently the words haven't registered on the girl. She walks forward slowly when Batman begins toward the main section of the Batcave. For now Cassandra keeps her distance slightly, those deep brown eyes widening slightly as she takes in her surroundings.

A breath is taken and then slowly exhaled. At no point does Cassandra drop her careful breathing or her slightly defensive, prepared stance. She's very disciplined for a girl who is, bluntly, gawking like a tourist at her surroundings.

*

All of it is noted, and then Batman starts to walk over to one of the bigger platforms; this one has a dome over it.

Hitting a few buttons, a holographic interface shows up, and Batman hits a few shapes, obviously doing something… before he goes to the arch into the dome… and gestures inside to Cassandra.

Looks like she's being invited inside.

*

Cassandra watches Batman's gestures and pauses for about a second before proceeding after him into the dome. She keeps her hands at her sides and doesn't hesitate other than to take one last look at the fantastical Batcave that she is now leaving behind for other surroundings. The girl remains remarkably quiet throughout all of this, not just in voice but also in motions. At least the girl seems to trust Batman, whether she understands him or not.

*

Both their surroundings twist and 'reform' as an alleyway is 'set', and about a dozen thugs of various gang affiliation pop into existence as robotic servitors march out of alcoves and take on their appearances… before they stop completely. Then, Batman holds up three fingers, and three of the thugs spring to 'life'.

They have human like mannerisms and expressions, along with voices, so as they walk over to Cassandra, they can be read… to a point.

Then, one takes a punch at her. A left hook.

*

Cassandra jumps initially when the shift happens, staring into the darkness as her entire world twists and reforms. then, however, the scene becomes something recognizable.

Never hesitate. It's been drilled into the girl time and time again. She has no opportunity to waste time wondering what happened or how it /could/ happen, and instead Cassandra barely has time to lift her hands into a perfunctory guard before there are three men on top of her.

Cassandra dodges the first punch by swinging her left leg backward, studying the way the figures move curiously. It seems to be something of a curiosity for her, such that she doesn't immediately retaliate. When Cass does, however, the results are explosive. All three are assumed hostile. One can make this presumption by the way she lunges into a power strike, kicking the 'thug' in the shin, following with a series of punches to the chest, and then intending to lob them quite forcefully through their compatriots.

Cassandra doesn't hesitate, she doesn't pull punches, and she doesn't slow down. It's just not how she was trained.

*

The servitor robots are knocked around very easily… to the point that when she throws them into one another. Then, Batman goes over to examine the 'damage'. There's an LCD screen on the front for it, even.

"Definitely trained… but no speech?" Batman gives, his body language still for a moment, before he stands up and turns to regard Cassandra. "Lip reading?" Batman inquires, looking right at Cassandra.

*

Cassandra takes cues readily enough, so she is absolutely watching when Batman speaks to hr. The fact that he is rewarded for his efforts with an attentive but blank stare probably ells him all he needs to know. The girl watches as he interacts with the servitor bots, then her gaze shifts to the many inactive ones for a moment. She frowns, biting her bottom lip.

*

Then, Batman looks to the rest of the servitors… before he speaks, "Active overwhelm mode, set to rookie difficulty." Then, Batman looks back to Cassandra as suddenly the remaining servitors start to 'reform', that holographic matrix turning them into more gang enforcers… before she watches as /more/ robots comes out of the alcoves… some have shields. Some have guns.

Some are giant brutes.

And they keep coming.

The exit behind her continues to be an option, though, and she won't have too much trouble. Batman is simply checking her mentality and stamina.

*

It seems that stamina and mentality have been beaten into Cassandra over the course of long, grueling hours. She doesn't fight like someone who was trained. The way Cassandra places herself so carefully- so that there's always a line to the exit but her back is against something solid - shows experience. She uses the alcoves, the shields, and even the larger robots to break her opponents into groups. And then Cassandra proceeds to demolish them.

For all that the slender Chinese Martial Arts master keeps the exit as a viable avenue her mindset doesn't appear to allow the possibility of retreat. She shrugs off blows that would leave most trained fighters gasping for breath, fighting in, around, and among the various oncoming enemies. Sometimes she grabs a shield to block a blow or separate two enemies. But Cassandra always keeps moving.

The use of the 'giants' might be most intriguing. Cassandra sometimes lets them flank her. She easily evades their blows but just having one on her left or right restricts the number of incoming enemies dramatically. Defeating them becomes less useful than keeping them alive.

'Bodies' continue to pile up. Batman is going to need to use a higher difficulty. Or more robots.

*

Unfortunately for Cassandra, the robots 'taken down' are recycling by mechanical arm, given minor repairs by the automated factory complex below, and brought back in.

This, effectively, means an unending fight… but now that a baseline has been established, Cassandras' vitals are monitored remotely.

For now, Batman doesn't interfere. He keeps off to the side, arms crossed, as his VR lenses give him real time data of the fighting.

*

After awhile Cassandra is sweating profusely. She hasn't slowed down yet but it's obvious that without water or rest she'll eventually be worn down. an unending fight could go on a long time but she is finite even if the robots are not. Which is why, it seems, the girl has concocted a plan.

Heart rate. The only real indicator is the spiking of Cassandra's heart rate as she drops one of the large bots onto a couple smaller, unfortunate shield bearers. As they fall Cassie permits herself a couple breaths and a second of relaxation. Other robots close. The mechanical arm comes down… And Cassandra leaps.

A mechanical arm, like any gathering of servos and motors, has joints. They are required for the act of manipulating things, particularly moving objects which might end up in odd places like 'damaged' robots. Cassandra launches herself directly at the foremost of these.

If it's going to keep bringing new robots then obviously it needs to be taken out of the fight. Her kicks make a pretty convincing argument.

*

Then, Cassandra starts to break the replacement arms… "Stop simulation." Just before Cassandra managed to hit the arm, it pulls away… and the robots drop their holo-matrix, stand up, and go back to the alcove.

"Clever, if misplaced." Batman notes dryly… to himself, before he watches Cassandra.

*

When the robots stop Cassandra is left to breath heavily, turning to survey the room around her. She studies everything and finally Batman himself, remaining silent and- for now- perfectly still. Her expression is one of wide-eyed exhilaration. Adrenaline. She isn't quite sure if she won or lost. So the girl waits, as if half-expecting another troop of robots to descend from the sky.

*

Then, "Activate wave mode, interval one minute." Batman gives as he watches Cassandra, "Set difficulty average. One difficulty League in each wave."

*

Batman starts to speak and Cassandra looks in his direction. She hasn't shown signs of understanding his words before but she immediately adjusts to a defensive stance as he is calling out orders. Perhaps it's simply instinct. It is, at the very least, a confirmation that the girl is ready to continue the trials. even if the sweat is trying to drip into her eyes.

*

"One wave only." Then, about a dozen robots come at Cassandra of various size and direction. The difficulty is fairly uniformly just a bit better compared to the other one… but there's one in there that's a /lot/ tougher than the others… and Batman is very interested in assessing that fight.

*

Cassandra assesses the robots coming at her immediately. It's a very different attitude from her earlier conflict. Where she was previously fighting each of them on equal terms, taking down each bot in her own time, right now Cass has a purpose. she wants to fight the high difficulty bot just as much as Batman wants her to. she isn't even really paying attention as she dismantles the first couple of bots. Cassandra starts toward most powerful bot leaving others strewn around her. For the first time she doesn't leap into a preemptive assault. This is worth evaluating carefully.

*

With the rest down, the League level bot has a decidedly different profile… this one looks programmed with some actual martial art movement.

It's not /quite/ like a real fight, but it's close enough that Cassandra will probably work up a sweat. Robotic reaction times are robotic reaction times, after all… but robots can only account for the 'human' factor so much.

*

League of Assassins difficulty, however, is the difficulty Cassandra trained at. it is quite literally the baseline her skills were honed and measured. This fight isn't as one sided as the other. Punch, block, counter punch. Kick to the shin. Robots are quite tough and this one is no exception. that might explain why looks so satisfied when her enemy finally drops. Cassandra manages a false throw, then kicks it hard in the leg until it falls. It leaves Cassandra sweating, breathless, and exhausted.

*

For now, the simulator is quiet… and Batman is 'visibly' impressed. "Activate relax mode." Batman grates the voice modulator still on. The air becomes a bit cooler for Cassandra to calm down, and robots bring in a small kitchen set, complete with comfy chairs and food and water. The robots themselves slip back into their alcoves… and the Dark Knight sits down at the table, activating the commset in his helmet, "We have a guest. She's of the 'hidden' variety, so please be sure to leave it at the stairs." Batman gives over the Manor internal net to Alfred, before he goes quiet, studying Cassandra. "You have impressive training." Batman compliments Cassandra.

*

Cassandra pauses for a second and then she nods in response to Batman's words. It's hard to tell if she understood him precisely but the meaning seems to be understood. The girl takes a deep breath then looks over at the kitchen set. She moves to stand beside a chair and - waits. For permission to sit and eat? Sweat is pouring down Cassandra's forehead and along her neck, soaking her collar. No one can fight that hard and not react physically. But she seems to be in fairly good shape, all things considered.

*

A level above them, the faint purr of a stealth engine might be heard. If Batman is monitoring that GPS in his HUD, he'll spot Spoiler rolling in with his ride… or is that the ride is rolling in with her?

#SpoilerAlert - Steph has no idea which it is!

*

The VR lenses and the earset in his helmet alerts him to the approaching Spoilermobile (HA!) and he sets his intercom to speak with Spoiler, "Spoiler, the girl from the street is in the simulator, so keep your costume on." Batman warns her, before he looks to regard Cassandra again.

It's already established he isn't understood… so he gestures with a hand to one of the chair, offering a seat in what he hopes is welcoming body language. Then, he hits the intercom to Spoiler again, "Our guest can't speak or read. I'm reasonably sure she can read body language… but that's it."

*

Cassandra bows politely, then takes the seat when it is offered to her. She sits down and takes up the water immediately. The fact that it is quickly being rained shouldn't come as a surprise given how much she's lost just inside of the simulator. For someone who doesn't appear to be able to speak (certainly not in English) Cassandra at least has fairly good table manners. She's only paying half an eye of attention to Batman now. The girl actually has a remarkable appetite for her size. Must be all the exercise.

*

"Acknowledged. I'm on my way," Spoiler replies into Batman's comms. He can hear her curiosity in her tone of voice. It won't take her long to park the car (get parked by the car), and then on her way down to where Batman and Cassandra are.

*

For now, Batman just… watches Cassandra. He's very good at body language himself… and Cassandra has demonstrated obvious intelligence in both fighting and in knowing she needs to hydrate. She's trained so well, and no one bothered to teach her to read? A faint frown forms at his lips at the implications.

The elevator to the Manor stops audibly, and Alfred come out with three course plates. "Your dinner is ready. Enough for three. I took the liberty of adding enough for Spoiler as well, Sir." Alfred gives over the Manor intercom. "That will be all." Batmans tone making it clear he doesn't want Alfred seen yet, "Very good Sir." The sound of the elevator turns back on as he heads back up.

"Spoiler bring them over. Our guest is famished." Batman gives in order to Stephanie, never moving his eyes from Cassandra.

*

Cassandra straightens in her seat once she's finished with what is in front of her. The slender Chinese girl orients herself on Batman, scrutinizing his features in a careful, relatively unconcerned way. her body language is- complex. She's unsure of what is happening but oddly used to being dragged into dark places and thrown into sudden combative tests. She's always evaluating how her opposite moves and studying his reactions but doesn't follow spoken statements outside of a general sense. When Spoiler is called for Cassandra looks up and waits patiently for another person to join them.

The clearest thing about Cassandra is that she's hungry. That is the sort of universal trait that is easy to identify. She also seems to be friendly, which is a good place to start.

*

The aubergine batling Avenger pauses as Alfred appears and when the tray is offered over she takes it. Ordered to bring the food over, Spoiler does so, setting with tray down without Alfred smooth finesse but without spilling anything either. her body language is easy to read: Spoiler is curious and openly deferring to the Batman. Even for permission to sit and join them.

Purple batling needs food.
…..not as badly as Cassandra.

*

There's a gesture over the table, "She'll take one." Batman offhandedly orders. "She has all the signs of being raised to be a weapon in a war," Batman states. "This has all the hallmarks of League of Assassins upbringing… except for the lack of literacy or speech." Batman continues his stare at her. He's fairly expressive of having a distaste for whoever ruined Cains childhood. Batman, at least, choose to turn himself into a weapon after his trauma. "We'll have to do a profile on you…" Batman concludes to Cassandra.

*

Cassandra nods slowly in response to Batman's statement. She relaxes just a hair further and reaches out a hand to take some of the food she's been offered. A smile is finally ventured for Spoiler's benefit, though it is brief and fairly perfunctory. Cass seems to be used to sitting at attention for long periods. One might also think she isn't usually given very long to enjoy her food. She's really quite efficient about it. The girl looks up slowly to offer a nod. Assent, apparently. She keeps her elbows close and her body slightly leaned back. It's the posture of someone who might be attacked from behind and needs to be ready to leap clear of the table.

*

Plates served as Batman dictates, the frown of concern and shock and sadness are all clear in her posture and in the frown of her purple-black painted lips.

"What did you want to do, Batman?" Spoiler asks, setting a plate in front of him before sitting down with one of her own. Spoiler's attention flits back to Cassandra, watching how the girl is sitting, the tension in her frame, but she's not as skilled as they and so can not fathom what's causing it.

*

"Right now… training, profiling. This is a rare case." Then, Batman takes out a camera in a pouch in his utility belt, and aims it at Cassandra. "We need more context before I make a decision." He's a second from hitting the button, unless Cassandra moves.

*

Cassandra doesn't move at all. She actually pauses with food in hand and holds perfectly still, watching both Baman and the camera while every muscle is stilled. She isn't even breathing, in fact, lest it might disrupt the photograph in question. Spoiler gets a brief glance but then Cassandra's eyes are back to Batman.

Cassandra does not, however, smile.

*

Spoiler watches the exchange, a rather dainty bite of the meal being taken. She nods, acknowledging Batman's comments even if she's not really sure what she could do to help other than keep an eye out and report in.

*

*Click* *Flash* The camera looks fairly low tech, but fancy. Wouldn't do to lose one somewhere, after all. Then, he's standing up and walking out of the simulator room, "I'll be at the Batcomputer." Batman states, "Keep an eye on her, make sure she doesn't break anything. She can stay in the main section or here… not anywhere sensitive." Batman notes to Spoiler as he heads for the stairwell down to the main section of the Batcave… and plugs the camera in.

The picture uploads, and automatic search programs and algorithms begin to scour databases and the internet for a match to the picture. Without a name to go on, it'll take a few minutes longer then usual. Batman isn't on the level of Oracle… but he's a competent computer expert himself.

*

News hits. That's what comes up. She was caught in the edge of a photograph involving some unknown hoodie wearing vigilante taking down a street gang in Chinatown. The people living there seem to have formed a unified front, however, and no one told the reporters anything about who it might have been. This is the good news.

Cassandra doesn't exist. When one says that they do not mean it literally, of course. It is simply that she does not have any accessible birth records, legal records, passport, or proof of citizenship. If she is a weapon or assassin one might expect that the young woman would therefore have been set up with a corresponding identity. Cassandra has literally nothing.

In the mean time Cassandra looks over at Spoiler and tilts her head slightly. She takes a deep breath and then lowers her bag to the table in front of her. A deep breath follows and she pauses for a moment then withdraws a notepad and a pen. The girl points at the piece of paper in front of her and starts to sketch.

The bots earlier had had some characteristics of the League of Shadows. It must have inspired Cassandra because the drawings are unmistakably of their warriors.

*

At the table with Cassandra, Spoiler watches her, having given Batman a silent wordless assurance that she will watch the house guest. Paper and pen produces, Spoiler leans forward with her head tilted to try to see better.

"What are you up to…?" she asks, pushing up to move to a closer chair so she can see better. A flip of her lenses and Spoiler's cowl starts recording what she's looking at… and transmitting it to the Batcomputer.

"This is a very nice drawing."

*

"No records. No identities…" Batman sounds very matter of fact, but this case just went from rare, to probably unique. You don't train a weapon, then not give them a way through the grid. Soldiers, spies… they still need a way to under under the radar if suspicion, and Cassandra would tick off all the red flags if she was arrested.

"Spoiler, bring her glass over. Fingerprints might bring up something." Batman says over the intercom. Then, the picture pops up, "League trained? They'd give her an identity. Something else is going on." Batman concludes.

*

The drawing is set aside and then Cassandra begins on another. She seems to be working with a great deal more care this time. Something intricate, perhaps. It's being shielded with the young woman's arm. When her glass is being taken Cassandra will look up and briefly frown but she doesn't actually object. It's simply made clear she knows it's something to keep an eye on. Empty or not. The young woman bites her bottom lip for a second. She tilts her head slightly, then crumples the piece of paper up and shoves it across the table. Cassandra begins again.

*

*

"Been busy…" Batman notes to himself. He keeps his red lenses on the screen, "Spoiler, you can go. This will probably take a while." Batman dismisses her… before he steps up the staircase and over to Cassandra in the simulator again, "We have work to do." Batman has a resolute, 'this situation offends me on many levels, and I'm going to help you' feel to him that Cassandra can clearly read. He once again offers his hand, his cape flaring slightly from the sudden movement. "First, we see if you can handle basic language. Then, we see about discovering your past." Batman concludes.

*

Cassandra nods in response, locking eyes with Batman. She bows her head slightly in a classic gesture of thanks. It seems that they have an accord.

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