The Boy Who Chose the Chase

July 02, 2018:

A poor kid, late teens to early twenties, was hunted down and killed in the streets of the East End by a myserious new killer. Heroes and vigilantes appear to investigate.

Gotham - East End Streets

A dark alleyway in one of the poorer parts of the East End of Gotham.


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

It was only a day after a local bussinessman had asked a trio of women to look into a series of strange killings. Really, he had only asked Scandal but he did not mind the help of others, including Catwoman. Scandal had told the pair that she was going to look into a few more things and would get back in touch with them. Now, only one day after she was in a nearby district checking out the scene of a previous murder. She and Nightwing had been speaking about this very murder when something had caught both of their attention.

In the distance, an eerie howl could be heard. Screams and fear were dancing in the night. An old beggar was seated in a puddle of his own fear. His mind racing for explanations. He had left the Bowery for East End looking for something tasty. A bit of spare change maybe…and instead all he had found was death and fear. Even as the last gurgling scream of a young man could be heard above them, Scandal was already running for the nearest way to get out of that underground and run down neighborhood to run up to the perhaps nearly as nasty east end streets.

Those arriving at the late night scene wouldn't find anyone to save. No, this was not a happy comic book ending where the heroes swooped in at the last moment. This was a macabre moment, captured in gruesome detail by crimson rivulets sprayed across a brick wall. The look of pure desperation captured upon the still warm face of a boy in his late teens, maybe early twenties. His throat a mass of chewed tendrils and ripped pieces that once carried life and now only signify death. His back right leg splayed in a similar manner. Hamstringed. That's the word one would use. He went down running. He put his back to a wall…then died. Whatever did this terrible thing. Whatever forced the last moments upon this victim has departed.


Murders are usually things Tom Judge stays far away from — and not solely because he doesn't have the cleanest track record on file. Divorces, finding stingy alimony-owing ex-spouses, missing cats — they're more his style. Still, a paycheck is a paycheck, and the ex-priest has to pay his bills somehow.

The tall, thin man looks about as far from authoritative as one could get. He wears a loose collar of an ex-priest, sure; but everything else about him, from his long jacket — oddly with a burnt hole in one of the sleeves — to the antique-looking double-barrel silver cross that swings from his neck, to his slouching method of approach while regarding his phone's map screams 'civilian'.

At least he's not trying for the stealth approach, because it would be utterly ruined by the wracking cough that makes it sound like he's been smoking a pack-a-day, abeyed only when that scream echoes throughout Gotham's streets. It's probably the coughing that means he arrives late to the crime scene and not, you know, the debate that definitely goes on in his head that involves returning pretty immediately back to New York, grabbing a bottle of something strong, crawling into bed and forgetting about this whole mess entirely.

But, there are bills to pay, and it's with some sense of reluctance that one Tom Judge, ex-priest, definitely no hero, appears at the far end of the street, a reluctance in his cast as he eyes what is almost certainly a now-dead body. Of course, being first on a crime scene is never good: it looks pretty bad, in fact, especially since the man reacts with the air of one resigned rather than horrified at the brutal end of the victim.


Screams. Screams are not a rare enough sound in the Gotham evening, not for the vigilante in black and blue who abandons the murder scene in the Bowery quick enough. Screams mean trouble, but that howl, that howl is no stray dog. No ordinary sound so common to the hot, humid Gotham summer nights. As soon as he is able to, Nightwing is back on the rooftops of the city, almost at once falling into that loping, ground-eating stride as he moves with an undeniable certainty across the ledges of the East End, honing in on the scene.

Too late of course. Too late to prevent another tragedy, too late to do the victim any good. Not in life at least. But perhaps not so late to insure that this grisly murder spree will continue unabatted. It is certainly not hard to f ind the scene at least. Most stay away of course. Gotham residents are good at ignoring this sort of thing. They know better than to want to get involved. And just talking to his usual informats this evening is enough to let Nightwing know that this is a little different. Everyone is afraid. Everyone seems to sense that this is a little different.

From his rooftop perch he stares down at the scene, at the young man left there, a young man left to spend his last moments in fear, terror and pain. Eyes narrow behind that mask as he studies the body — hamstrung of all things — to keep him from getting away. To be hunted down like a beast.


Heavy footsteps rapidly echo out of a nearby tunnel. The source of them, a dark haired young woman who is running. She quickly duck into an alleyway. Her heart is pounding a mile a minute. Quickly she slips between a pair of garbage cans. Her body goes transluscent and then drops. A simple looking clear puddle looks like one of the cans is leaking.

A non-descript suv A man wearing black and yellow peers out down the alleyway as he hunts for his quarry. Not seeing his target, the black SUV keeps rolling.

Once the SUV Rolls on by, The puddle reforms, taking her more human appearance. Then there is the scream. "Oh gods I hope they didn't take someone else…" She whispers but, something was truly unsettling about the whole thing. She quickly starts moving toward what would be among the most horrific scenes she's seen in recent memories.

"Oh gods. What happened… This… It doesn't look like someone got stabbed. It looks like an animal got this person!"


Murders in Gotham are a dime the dozen. Grifter heard it was even worse before the Bat, but seriously? Okay, it is not as bad as Mexico City or Calcutta, but still the worst city of America.

He keeps meaning to move to New York now he is reasonably sure the DEO is not going to try to murder him, but somehow he keeps delaying it. One more case, one more contract, one more bounty to cash. He will never admit he maybe feels this is the city he deserves. Denial is an art for Grifter.

Now, running into a corpse with the throat open like that makes the old mercenary unease. Bad enough to do something that rarely ends up well. Vigilantism does not pay the rent, he has found. And yet there he is, red bandit mask on her face and doing the patrol thing on the rooftops like an idiot.


Midway through her own run, Scandal Savage had slipped on her usual mask. She wasn't gonna be seen at a scene fully uncovered face. Sure, some people might know her face, some might even know her mask…but most who would describe what they saw of her wouldn't know her. So, she's got her mouth, jaw, and nose covered as she does her best to keep up with Nightwing. They both have a similar destination.

Upon arrival, Scandal takes in a sharp breath and then some random girl in a leather jacket and jeans says what everyone is thinking. She looks up at Tom First though, staring at him and squinting her eyes. She pretty obviously doesn't trust him right off but he's not covered in blood so he isn't likely directly involved in this…probably.

What they all see is a blood trail leading from near the entrance of the alley to this spot. A boy, slumped against a wall. Throat torn free from where it should be and no where to be seen. Eyes lifeless and filled with the terror that were the moments leading up to this point. Sweat still fresh on his body from the exhertion he went through.

"What do you think?" She asks, only glancing up a little toward the area above before looking back down. She glances briefly at Gwen and says, "You probably should run along, girl. This really isn't for prying eyes." She then glances to Tom, "You though…what are you doing here?"


Tom Judge is not a person used to looking upwards. Certainly not used to being around folk that tend to hang out on rooftops, anyway. Oblivious to most of the observers, he takes what is a visibly reluctant step closer — and stops, when he hears a voice nearby — gaze drawn towards Gwen. There's no wariness in his regard of her, and he rolls his shoulders as if to release whatever tension is lingering there.

"Yeah, animal. Heard this isn't the first time, around here — been a few like this?"

Deaths aren't uncommon in Gotham, granted. But deaths like this? His gaze, deliberately, skips over the worst of it, the entrails, the splattered blood, finding the young man's face and studiously not looking at the torn remains of his throat. He takes a step closer, crouches down — grimaces at Scandal's question. "Could ask the same of you," he observes, with a flickered glance, taking in the mask with a briefly wry twist of lips. But he doesn't — instead, he turns back towards the body.


For a moment Nightwing lingers on the rooftop, looking down at the alleyway, those starlite lens inserts in his mask easily cutting through the gloom even if they cast the world in a green glow. Already the scene has begun to attract a crowd. For all that most residents know well enough to stay inside and lock their doors at the first sign of trouble, this is Gotham. There are plenty who have the opposite instincts too.

Pursing lips slightly, he glances towards Scandal and chooses to give away his position. "I'll have to look into the order of the killings. Last one with the bow, this time the beast. I wonder if they all go back and forth like this," he says quietly before leaping from his perch, using a nearby fire escape to slow his fall before landing in a crouch a short distance away.

The man approaching the body gets a sharp look, a once over though Nightwing doesn't interject yet, instead moving closer himself. "I'm going to assume you know enough not to contaminate the scene," he says quietly, stopping a few feet away and instead drawing out a camera. Again he slowly circles the now lifeless body with a certain clinical detachment, at least to those who don't know him well, snapping a number of different shots from different angles. Though every once in awhile his gaze flickers up towards the rooftops. He won't be the only one interested in something like this.


"Are you kidding me? I've been running for the past hour. Do you really think I am wanting to run anywhere?" Gwen retorts. "Also I'm pretty sure its not going to get any worse then this at this point. Besides. I always have nightmares how is this going to make things worse?" She shakes it off and looks around. The streaks of blood make her ill. Quietly she begins moving.

"Whatever did this, I think it whent this way? maybe? Or did it come from this way. Is there any way of telling if this person was attacked here?" She is definitely not a detective.


This..did not take long. No more than a full day's worth of time has gone by since the encounter with Dinah, Scandal, and Julio, and now there's another death that seems to fit the bill of what's been going around. Loathe as she is to get too deeply involved with some of this, if Catwoman is serious about helping make the East End a safer place for people, this may be one of those things she's going to have to deal with.

The motorcycle has been left somewhere a few blocks away, giving the cat burglar room to maneuver across the rooftops without bringing attention to herself by way of noise. Besides, who ever heard of a cat attempting to be stealthy and making a racket in the process? Not this one.

Once she's in the area, mutliple other voices can be heard with her only a couple stories up, and then she spots someone else descending toward the street below. "Nightwing?" she murmurs to herself, frowning. "Great. One of the Bat Brood. Well, it might be better off that way." She draws nearer, not yet moving to join anyone.


Grifter is confused. This murder has drawn a couple pose of interesting characters, including a cape. He recognizes Scandal from her reputation. Nightwing from descriptions of drunk crooks and the ranting of certain mob bosses.

He has yet to spot Catwoman.

Cole's own mask includes nightvision, but not vision enhancements, so he is not sure if there is anything interesting to find out examining the corpse. Instead he sneaks, maneuvering to get closer and maybe listen.


As people gather around, the man known as Tom Judge is using his power of psychometry on the teen. They may only catch a reaction from him and nothing more. Only Tom gets to relive this terrible set of moments, thoughts, and feelings.

*FLASH* Looking through the eyes of someone in terror can be disorienting. Eyes darting this way and that, heavy breathing, fear. An old man in the way. A bum. Trash! Out of the way!

*FLASH* Gasping for breath. An alleyway! A way to keep moving but…so tired. Horns honking. Screeching tires. No time to look. Gotta reach the alleyway, gotta keep moving!

*FLASH* It burns! The pain. Who is screaming? Is it me?! Why won't my leg move? I'm falling! The ground…the ground. Right in front me. I gotta keep moving…

*FLASH* A low growl…a dragging scraping sound. No longer is vision coming from the eyes of the victim. A teen boy. The dead one. Right in front of you drags himself along the ground. He pushes into the wall. He slips to his side. Then a shadow moves before the boy and…red. Everywhere.

*FLASH* What's happening? I can't…see too well. I gotta keep run…runn…gotta escape. It…is warm on my chest…why is it so warm. Why am I crying? What is that gurgling sound? Wait, it isn't warm. It's cold. So…cold. Why…

End of Tom's sight.

Even as Tom spends a moment in the past. Scandal is about to respond to him incredulously when she looks to the girl, "Then just stay back and let them do their job." She herself is carefully looking down the alleyway for any signs of others besides the obvious. Signs of prints. Signs of…anything.

For her part, Gwen is no detective but her roaming eyes notice one thing. The blood doesn't start at the end of the alleyway. It starts about 5 to 10 feet in. And it's droplets till it gets near to the corpse when it is obvious that this poor guy dragged himself to that wall before he was killed. At least that's what it seems like.

The pictures Nightwing is getting paints a picture. A grizly one. This kid. He was killed likely through that torn out neck. The leg wound was just to hinder his movements. To trip him up and slow him down. The throat is ripped out and missing for the most part. Nothing else was eaten though there appears to be some kind of claw marks on his chest as if something was pinning him for a moment to ensure its target.


"Uhh…" that's probably not a very comforting response from Tom to Nightwing's pointed question of him.

Either way, it doesn't stop him; the ex-priest is doing some weird shit, clearly. He leans in towards the body, not touching but close, breath held, fixated for a moment — gone still. He makes a vague noise, first, and then a gargle as — with an abrupt and violent movement, he pushes back from the body, attempting to thrust himself away. It lands him half on the ground braced with one hand, legs still moving as he scrambles back, breath rapid, eyes wide and pupils dilated with an obvious fear response, his hands reflexively pressing against his chest as he lets out a scream that sounds — eerily and almost exactly like that one that drew everyone here in the first place. The whole thing takes maybe ten seconds, and then he's panting, shivering, gaze glazed and distant.

"Fffffuuuu," is about as coherent as the tall, thin man gets for a moment. And then whatever it is devolves into a coughing fit.


The unknown girl winces as she ignores the tongue lashing she is getting. She's gotten far worse from people for far less. Slowly her feet carry her along the alleyway. Her gaze falls on the blood trail. "Oh my gods…" She winces as she begins walking back towards the others. following the trail.

"This guy… He dragged himself here. Whatever attacked him scared him enough to cause him to try to get away even after he had his throat ripped. This is a nightmare!"

Fear… As she looks over the now dead man her mind races, rushing to her own personal hell. Her body shifts between clear and solid.


Animals kill of course. It happens all the time. Man doesn't always properly respect the natural world and sometimes they pay the price. But very few animals kills just for the sake of killing. They do it because they feel threatened. They do it because hunger drives them to it. They don't do it for pleasure. They don't do it just because they like it. And that is what looks to have happened here. In one of the largest cities in the nation a teenager was stalked, was chased and hamstrung. Had his throat ripped out of his body. Not out of fear, not out of hunger. Seemingly just because the creature could. No, not a normal death, no matter what the GCPD report might ultimately say.

Crouching to get a few more snap shots, at least until the angle of those pictures is somewhat obscured by the man's presence close to the body, Nightwing finally lowers the camera, a small frown creeping over his expression. Before he can chide the man again however he goes through that violent reaction, recoiling from the grisly scene. And that scream, so familiar, so close to the one that echoed through the streets of the East End just moments before. "Hey, are you alright? What happened?" he asks, concern temporarily replacing annoyance at the unexpected intrusion.

For the moment at least, it would appear that the rooftops and those present don't take priority for the Dark Knight's protegee. But clearly he is his former partner's student. Situational awareness is never ignored and quick, darting glances keep an eye on the shadowed ledges above, just as they dart about the rest of the alley. "Calm down," he says quietly. "Whatever did this, it's gone now." That might comfort others. It does nothing to ease Nightwing's concerns however.


Catwoman positions herself for a better view of the alley, a brief adjustment made to her goggles to activate the night vision setting to assist. What she sees due to this makes her frown, and then there's the scream from someone in there. "Damn it," she mutters. Nightwing's already in there, and the glance back out of the area indicates to her he might have swept eyes right over her.

Either way, she isn't staying hidden for long. A forward vault down to the surface, combined with a landing into a rolling crouch follows, then she rises to her feet and strides slowly into the mouth of the space between the buildings. "Let me guess. Another attack," the costumed woman states, on the edge of exhibiting calm and something a bit less so, a hand ready at her side, where the whip rests. "Why the scream?"


Yes Nightwing, Grifter is right there, spying.

Busted. The mercenary is clad in a black tactical vest and tan cargo pants, handguns in shoulder holsters. The red mask conceals his face, but not his blond hair. Nightwing might have heard he has been seen a few times in Gotham in the past nine months.

And then a Catwoman appears too! "Jesus, it is a convention and I didn't get invited?" Well, he inviting himself, climbing down the building with the ease of an Assassin Creed character. Maybe not as quick and acrobatic as Catwoman's jump, but still surprising. "So what do we have here? A killer with a trained pack of attack dogs?"


The myth of Batman being everywhere at once? People have sworn The Bat has been everywhere in the city at times. A myth that Batman perpetuates. Gang wars are nothing new to Gotham, with them accounting for a good number of Gotham killings.

An alley murder loosely associated with a pattern… that tends to get the Bats attention.

There's a slow, eerie storm coming in at this point in the night; a light drizzle pattering on the broken and old concrete on the alleyway. Lightning can be seen in the distance. In a few seconds, a bolt of lightning flashes, illuminating the night sky.

Up above, in a dark corner of the rooftops, the very distinct silhouette of The Bat, with his cape, can be seen, that cape fluttering in the wind as red lensed eyes stare down into the alley from the distance. Batman stays still, as the Batsuit, Batman himself, and the Batcave process the information for a virtual crime scene. Muttering to himself, Batman talks to Alfred, "We have one Black SUV leaving scene. Tag it for surveillance." Alfred replies, "Of course, Sir."

He stands there. Unmoving.


For Tom, what just happened is all too real. For Scandal, she whips over toward him and she already has one blade out. Her eyes whipping left and right, "What the heck?!" She is in danger mode. Old Mercenary reactions. She is prepared for an attack almost immediately but it is clear fast enough that it is only Tom freaking out for some reason. She stops confused and then blinks at Gwen even as she pulls the blades back in, "Anyone else…seeing this?" She points at Gwen and tilts her head, "What are you?"

Scandal looks over at Catwoman and nods to her, "Yeah, I agree." She then looks over at Tom and shrugs before looking back to Catwoman, "He was doing something near the body and then…" She shrugs and gestures at him. She looks back at Grifter and shakes her head, "I honestly don't know."

As the lightning flashes and rain starts to drizzle and Scandal frowns before looking up with a blink at something nearby, "Umm…" She isn't looking directly at Batman but something caught her eye up there. Her eyes darting around the area above. This whole thing has her on edge.


For those used to the human condition, the speed of Tom's change emotional reaction — going from clearly terrified to grumblingly resigned moments later — is in no way natural. And yet that's what happens — the ex priest's pupils contracting back to normal, rapid breath dissipating between one inhale and the next, leaving only that lingering sweat on his forehead as any indication that something happened.

Tom's still getting his breath back — trying — when he becomes aware of Nightwing's presence with his camera — twitching briefly. He coughs again, flexing hands, clearing his throat as a hand presses to his eye for a moment. "Yeah. Sorry, just a — uhh — flashback." He jumps, briefly, at Catwoman's voice nearby, swallowing. "Just—" he doesn't even bother to try and repeat it, this time. Clearly, he's not telling the truth, the whole truth, so help him.

Here's a thing that's probably not recommended immediately after a coughing fit: lighting up and taking a deep inhale of a cigarette. Clearly, Tom has little regard for what's 'recommended', since he's puffing away even as he climbs, slow and painfully, to his feet, leaning one arm against a nearby dumpster, watching the others move around the scene, hunching his shoulders and half turning his body to shield his cigarette from the drizzle that starts up. "What's with all the masks? Some ball thing going on?" He's shooting for a casual, wry tone, but underneath that is a threat of something uneasy all the same.


Gwen shakes it off when she's questioned. "Oh… Sorry. Bad memories." She shudders and then realizes what was happening. "Oh umm your guess is as good as mine." She frowns and focuses making her body appear to be normal again.

Turning her attention back to the blood skids. She moves to where they started again. Her gaze goes around the corners. She's trying to see anything or anyone who may or may not have seen the attack.


The advantage of having all the best toys is that even as Nightwing snaps those shots of the crime scene, they are already being uploaded to the Bat Computer to be enhanced even further, to be poured over later for any details that might be missed. And it's not exactly like this particular scene is the best sort. Too many people for one. Not to mention no police presence yet. And given that this is the East End, not the best timetable when they'll arrive. Though given the screams — first the victim and now Tom — there is little doubt that someone will have already called them. This might be Gotham, but not even the soundest sleepers and those thoroughly determined not to get involved can ignore that.

The man who just had the little fit gets a wry smirk from the dark haired vigilante at the denial that anything is wrong. Sure, he buys that, absolutely. "If you say so," he offers quietly, the disbelief in his voice not veiled in the least. But whatever else, Nightwing is sure he's not responsible so he gets a pass.

Instead he turns back to the body, a small kit slid out of one of the compartments in his gauntlets as he carefully approaches the body, careful to avoid the blood splatter or any other small bit of evidence that might prove useful. The grimace on his face is hidden by the shadows of the alley as he collects a few samples from the body — as careful and professional as any C.S.I tech. Only then does he straighten, turning back towards the mouth of the alley.

"I'm going to see if I can find any sort of witness. Anyone who saw anything at all," he says flatly as he passes Scandal. Gwen gets an arched brow as he passes, a flicker of curiousity lighting on his expression. Curiousity that will have to wait. People are dying afterall. For their parts Catwoman and Grifter get faint nods as he passes. "Another attack," he agrees to Catwoman's comment. "Not the last either I expect if we don't deal with this quickly. "And I think that this might be a little more serious then someone with a rabid pack of dogs." Unlike before, however, the rooftops are now studiously ignored. No point in bringing any attention to he who lurks above.


Taking an assessment of her surroundings, combined with what she sees, leads to Catwoman with an open frown. "This is no time to be making jokes. Someone's been mutilated here, and I'm guessing it's just like the other stuff we've been hearing about." She reaches up to finger along her own neck, pausing at a small cats-head necklace worn, then she eyes the others.

"I'm going to get out of here. Seen all I need to." Besides, Nightwing is here, and she's more than familiar with the way Batman likes to show up and keep an eye on things to think he isn't already nearby. "Maybe I'll see something on the way out, but this spot looks under control." Maybe she's a little spooked, but she's making her way out of the area, back to where she's left her motorcycle.


Grifter grunts in response to Nightwing words. He is looking careful for animal tracks. But in a city those are hard to spot, moreso at night. And it looks it will be raining soon. He has seen people killed in attacks by wild animals before. But not in the middle of a large city. And not without plenty witnesses.

So he actually would agree it is not a normal pack of dogs. More serious? Well. Joker killed a hundred citizens a few weeks ago. Four killed in a few days is mild. But it is a weird kind of murder. He has a bad feeling about this.

"What's in for you, lady?" He nods at Scandal. "Are you with Tranquilo?"

That goes as greeting for a fellow merc. He spares a few seconds to check the woman's reaction and then steps back. "Well, I am going to check the neighbor myself and call it a night. I am no detective, just…" He shrugs. Tonight he was just a concerned citizen. But that is not something he would say out loud. "Good hunting," he decides, as farewells.

Grifter sneaks into the closest alleyway, just going the opposite direction Batman is lurking. Surely just a coincidence.


"Tag the new girl as well." Batman notes over the intercom. Then, he's gone, running silently over the rooftops a few feet away from the edge to keep out of sight. The distance closed quickly, before Batman drops down into the alleyway.

There's a slight current from above as The Bat drops, his cape switching to parachute mode as he nears the ground. Ending with a thump and a knee down to the ground as he expertly takes the impact and lands, Batman stands, those red eyes taking in those around him. "Nightwing." The voice mask is clear, but his tone sounds friendly underneath; a greeting. Tom and Gwen both get intense stares from The Bat as he examines them, his body statuesque… the red lenses covering his eyes not at all helping with that impression. Behind the cowl, medical and social systems work out the patterns of the two. Breathing. Heartbeat. Eye dilation. Particles. The information displayed on the VR HUD on those lenses as Batman himself reads their body language clearly.


Giving Tom a bit of a wide berth, she stares at him carefully even as she walks toward the end of the alleyway, too. SHe looks at where the blood starts and says, "I'm no detective but that boy was hamstrung right here…" She looks where he lay still and shakes her head, "A fighter…he wanted to live." She nods her head softly and frowns under her mask, "Hunted down is no way to go. At least he didn't give up." She nods her head and then frowns even as Gwen and Nightwing go looking out the alleyway.

Gwen is the first to spot it. She's looking for it, looking for something out of the ordinary. It is only after she spots it that Nightwing notices it, too. Tom might be an ex-priest, but a not so ex-priest, one of the local priests from the nearby Catholic church is kneeled down in front of a beggar at the mouth of an alley across the street. The poor man is sobbing and holding himself tight. He appears terribly distraught even as the priest tries to find some way to bring the poor man comfort.

Those pictures taken will later reveal that whatever killed this poor teenager, probably fresh out of High School (if he even graduated) was big. Very big. Easily had to have a head on it like a grizzly for the size of the bite.

As for Scandal, she looks to Grifter as he leaves and says, "I'm doing it for Julio…yes." She nods her head and then states, "Be careful…" She shakes her head and then her ears perk. She turns quickly again and is staring at Batman. Scandal takes a step back and eyes him carefully. Of course, she doesn't even get a word out.

From no where in particular and yet seeming to come from right behind each of those here, even those at the end of the alleyway hear what sounds like a young girl humming, then a bit of laughter from her. Then the laugh that follows is by no means that girl. Those who search aroudn with their eyes do not see a thing despite this seeming to come from all around.


Tom takes another deep (and clearly satisfying) inhale from his cigarette that is soon ruined by the cough that, for a moment, has the tall, thin ex-priest leaning heavily on the dumpster, half bending over. It passes soon enough, and the man runs the sleeve of his jacket across his face afterwards. He watches Nightwing's obvious competence in taking samples from the scene, frowning — hard to say whether at Nightwing specifically or just in general.

"There was a man," he says, before the masked figure departs, with obvious reluctance. "Maybe a street or two back — he," a subtle shift of head indicates the victim without looking at him, "Passed at least one road — a old homeless man sitting amongst trash. Might've seen something." He doesn't bother trying to explain how he knows this thing. Who could resist such a tempting offer of a clue, after all? Undoubtedly he's counting on that to put off any demands for answers he's not sure he can give.

Great. Another masked figure. Tom eyes Batman warily; his body language isn't difficult to read — he really isn't trying to hide his unease, nor his reluctance, nor his sudden desire to leave that is probably no particularly shock, given that freakness humming-and-laughing from nowhere. Straightening from his slouch, he pushes straight, clearly intending to get the fuck out of dodge. Creepy bodyless laughter is right on the top of his Do Not Want list, just underneath Any Fucking Demon.


The rooky heroine looks at NIghtwing curiously before she notices the priest and the freaked out man. Quietly she moves toward them. "Hello, I am so sorry your night is so bad, may I ask what you seen?" she asks softly. She's trying to be as nice as she can be as she gets the information.

As she turns to look to Nightwing who is obviously the much more experienced in this life then she is. Sadly its about that point that the Caped Crusader drops down in front of her. "Ahh!!!" She lets out a soft scream and without thinking her body goes clear and she drops into a puddle. "Please don't take me back!"


"Cold comfort to his family," Nightwing says quietly as he passes Scandal. It's something, that he fought. But he never should have had to. To die like this, surrounded by so many people. And still to die alone. It's not fair. But then few things ever are. It's a harsh lesson, but one that most learn all too soon.

Gotham's Dark Knight gets a nod, the dark haired vigilante's expression serious, his customary humor driven away by the grisly scene around them. "This could be a bad one he warns," quietly, briefly — a more thorough report can come later. But then his attention is pulled away by Tom's words. Once more he stares at the man, this time his features expressionless. Maybe marking himm, maybe judging the likelihood of the truth of his words. Leads come in all shapes and sizes. They aren't all created equal, but this case is… different. Maybe it will take odd leads to get to the bottom of something that is plainly so wrong.

As if the reinforce that, there is that laughter and Nightwing whirls, scanning the alley, those lens inserts in his mask cutting through the shadows like it's not even dark out. But nothing, just that haunting voice out of nowhere. Eyes narrow and he flashes a brief look towards Batman before backing slowly towards the priest, the troubled man and the interesting young woman. Only to get one more surprise. You'd think the night would have enough of them. "Uuuhhh. No one is going to take you anywhere you don't want to go," he says, feeling just a tad awkward addressing a puddle. He's done a lot, seen a lot. That's pretty new.


The puddle is ignored. Batman hasn't seen that one before, and Nightwing appears to be trusted to handle that.

The Bats attention is on Tom, who professes knowledge of events… and is now running.

Only the Bat isn't GCPD.

With lightning fast reflexes, his right forearm is extended, and a line is fired up into the alleyway. "Sourceless." Batman gives to Nightwing, matter of factly, before the grapnel end adheres magnetically to a fire escape, and The Bat activates the line, pulling him into the air at an angle. With a deftly calculated move, the grapnel is released halfway up and retracted back into the gauntlet launcher… with Batman using the momentum to directly intercept Tom as he tries to leave the scene.

Landing with his back to Tom, Batman stays on one knee as he speaks, that black cape obscuring Batman, "You have information I require." The dead tone of Batman notes. Batman is intimidating at the best of times… but his tone is neutral… almost matter of fact. The legendary Dark Knight isn't turning his considerable attention on him in a hostile matter at least.



Scandal shakes her head as this seems to be breaking down to people going their separate ways. She looks across at Nightwing and then at Gwen and blinks a few times. SHe shakes her head and then looks past as Batman chases Tom and then she takes in a deep breath. She then starts walking toward the opposite direction she came from. Potentially immortal is one thing but she's not keen on testing it. If they are gonna be distracted, she's gonna be gone.

The beggar only looks up briefly and then starts to cry again at what he sees, eyes closing. The priest there looks up, "He is distraught. I don't know why. The poor man is devastated by something. Do ye have any idea what?" An irish priest? Yes. Yes he is.


It's a good thing Tom's already peace'ing out, because a girl turning into a puddle of… girl is all kinds of fucked up, and that's saying something, given the ex-priest's every other day typically involves some horror climbing out of Hell to try and have a chat with him.

One, two, three sidesteps, and then he's at the mouth of the alley, and long legs moving to take him away from the scene. He's already thinking about how to give up this case while still retaining the check from the client — after all he has spent some hours, even if they've been horror-filled — on the case already.

And then Batman happens, dropping right in front of him.

"Fuu…uck," he half-yelps as he stops dead, cigarette dropping from suddenly nerveless fingers and… of course, just his luck… rolling right into a growing puddle of water. "Shit."

His expression is both resigned and annoyed. "Me? I… I just rocked up to the scene before that other girl," he jerks a thumb vaguely back towards the crime scene. He could mean Gwen or Scandal or even Catwoman, being hopelessly non-specific. "I uh, have somewhere to be." That place is clearly far the fuck away from here. His gaze flickers past Batman, as if determining whether he can get past, but he clearly has some self-preservation, since he thinks better of any attempt.


The puddle starts to reform and collect into a jelly like mound before taking her more human form and returning to looking normal again. "Sorry, Mister. I've had a really messed up few years." She shutters and shakes her head." Then the irish priest speaks up. She turns to look at him and frowns.

Quietly she steps toward the priest and the out of sorts homeless man. "A person was attacked by something. It is really not pretty. I totally can understand why this gentleman is messed up. I'm probably not going to be sleeping very much from what was seen. I just need to know if he seen what attacked. Its really important."


Divide and conquer? Maybe not. Division of labor might be more fair. And less intimidating. Nightwing is happy to let Batman deal with the man with his strange behaviors and obvious lies. The situation at the mouth of the alley is probably best handled with a slightly more delicate touch. Or at least less intimidation. That's more up his alley. Though, between the hysterical homeless man and the young woman who appears to be able to dissolve into a puddle of water it's not clear that he didn't draw the short straw afterall.

"Understood. I don't think you need to worry about any of us here, tonight." That might be a slight exaggeration. The streets are plainly not safe and plainly there is a story here. But the time for prying will be once there is no longer someone ripping out throats or sticking arrows into seemingly random passersby.

Turning back to the priest and the terrified man, Nightwing studies him for a moment, nodding absently at Gwen's comments. "I'm not sure how much we're going to get out of him right now I'm afraid. He's terrified, assuming that he's not in shock," he says quietly, sympathetically as he studies the homeless man for a moment before turning his attention back to the priest. "Is there a shelter nearby? Some place we can get him out of the heat? Get him something to eat? If he saw something we need to know what it is. It's important. And I don't think he's going to say much right now."


"You're going to have to do better then that." Batman gives, judgment in his tone.

Clearly, The Bat is not fucking around tonight.

He stands, walking over… and right into Toms personal space as the Bat looks down into his eyes. Normally 6'2… the Batsuit gives Batman a good few inches of height, which Batman uses to good effect as he sets his jaw in a 'taking no bullshit' demeanor. "People are being murdered, and I'm going to find out why and stop it. You withholding information? That doesn't help my case, or yours." He leans closer, inches from the face of Tom.

"At all." Those red eye lenses squint at him. If Batman wasn't trying to intimidate the man before, that's clearly out the window now.


The Priest, for his part, has lived here for nearly 60 years. He's been around Gotham a time or two. He's seen plenty of terrors and terrible things. So, a puddle lady only has him arching an eyebrow. All creations are of God, after all. He simply nods to her and looks to Nightwing, "I think ye are right but…I doubt he's in shock. I think he's more simply shocked by what he saw or heard…" He nods his head, "I will take him to the nearby church. We have a small area where we house wayward souls when they are needin' it." He then gestures to the man's arm and nods to Nightwing, "Help me get him, if you will."


Grudging reluctance lines every part of Tom's body, and he makes no attempt to hide it, scowling at the Batman as if he's personally responsible for some portion of the horrible-ness of the evening. His fingers briefly clench at his sides as the Gotham vigilante steps up towards him. He's seen worse, but he's not entirely immune to the Batman's intimidation. He is, after all, a scrawny, thin example of a definitely-not-hero.

"I sometimes can see what the dead have seen," the ex-priest finally says, grudgingly. "It isn't always useful, and it's almost always a horrific pain in the ass, nightmare waiting to happen." He runs a hand through his hair, the burnt hole in the sleeve of his jacket showing the skin beneath for a moment as he does so. "The boy was being chased by something. He'd been running for a long time. Whatever it is…" he takes a breath, and between one and the next it's more stream-of-consciousness than recanting a tale, voice twisted with pain: "It gets his leg, and he's screaming. He hears a growl, and he's dragging himself desperately away, and then a shadow passes over him and then… it's on his chest and…" he takes a breath. It isn't quite the fear-pain-panic response of earlier, but like an echo of it, before it fades, abruptly.

His shoulders are tense, and he plants his feet. He's preparing himself to not be believed, clearly, as he fumbles for a cigarette, failing to light it twice before the flame finally kicks in. "Look, I told you everything. Now I just want to get away from the creepy fucking child laughing thing, okay?" Because: not okay.


Gwen gives a little frown. "I don't know Gotham at all. I have no clue where he could go. I was trying to get away from some really nasty people when I found the body." She shudders over the whole thing. Her attention goes to the homeless man. Quietly she pulls out what little money she has and gives it to him. "Hey. Be safe out here, mister. No one should be out in this heat like this."

She then looks up in time to see a black SUV moving in the distance. Its not the same one as before but it doesn't seem to really matter to her. "Ummm. I need to go. I can't stay here. I… I gotta get back to New York." She starts backing away, Terrified. She starts running towards the tunnel where she came from.


"I might be in touch later." Batman replies to Tom after a solid five seconds of reading the man. Batmans seen people like this before; they hate their abilities and run away from them as best they can. Nonetheless, Batman steps beyond Tom… and places a hand on the nook between shoulder and neck. The armored gauntlet easily felt as Batman silently places a nanotech tracer into the mans shirt and skin through the fingertips, "keep out of trouble." Batman gives in half warning-half statement, before he steps back into the alley. The rain storm is starting to pick up slightly, which means evidence might start to be washed away if he isn't quick. Batman can be seen at the end of the alley coming back, his black cape swaying in the wind slightly.


Of course he was counting on the fact that the local parish probably had something suitable for this. He doubts he's in shock too — he doesn't appear harmed — but Nightwing doesn't want to take any chances. He might be afraid of something entirely unrelated of course. Or maybe the screams spooked him. But something tells the dark-haired young man that he saw something. And that something is a lead that they desperately need. Before this escalates any further.

"That sounds perfect. Thank you Father," Nightwing offers with a brief, humorless smile, lending his aid to get the terrified man to his feet. Which is exactly when Gwen takes off. Even if he wants he's not really in any position to chase her down. And it's hard to argue with her instincts. It would appear that the streets just are not very safe at the moment. "Lead the way Father. I've got him," he assures the man, more or less carrying the only potential witness they have.


Tom's, "Please don't," is pretty genuine and only a tad wry in response to Batman, as he exhales smoke. If anything, he seems surprised by the hand to his shoulder, and, completely oblivious to the tracker, looks relieved, already moving to find a way back to New York and whatever bottle might be waiting for him.

Clearly, Batman has him well pegged. "Not much chance of that," he's muttering, of trouble, as his long strides take him as quickly as he can manage away from the scene of the crime.

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