On the Waterfront

October 01, 2018:

Batman infiltrates a warehouse on the docks in search of a crime family. Catwoman interrupts it for fun and profit.

Red Hook - Gotham

Between residential and the Gotham River's warehouse activity Red
Hook is a squalid smear of homes, low brick-like structures and storage
facilities. The location is surprisingly stable despite the rundown, crime
ready look of the landscape. With a steady influx of harbor work, the
Warehouse District is predominately controlled by the Irish Mob of Gotham,
this whole area is sometimes referred to as "The Cauldron" almost every
business and residential complexes in the Cauldron are owned by some
criminal element or another that has ties directly to the Irish crimelords
of Gotham. The Warehouse district is busy, productive and secure, keeping
work in and out of Gotham's western shores very active.
Renfield Heights is a giant tenement complex here that sprawls out
along the short stacked buildings, warehouses and structures. The Gotham
Central Terminal is also situated here. If you wanted to get to any location
in Gotham along the monorail the best starting point is Red Hook.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

NIGHT

Even though Gotham has days and nights just like any normal US city, it seems like most people picture it at night. There are various Bat-like figures that now patrol the city and Batman feels as if he has trained them well enough to try and manage the general weird crime that seems to uniquely infest these streets. However, Red Hook is a nest of danger and mobs.

Up on a rooftop, Batman perches, careful to not be a shadow against the moonlight. He is dramatic, but he's not stupid. With narrowed eyes he watches some of the McKillen family hires offload illegal merchandise into a warehouse. There are guns, drugs and who knows what else in those crates.

He could take these and stop the shipment. But they are not the big fish. He wants a member of the family. So, he crouches, broods and waits.

*

Under the guise of night, the off-loading of contraband goes like clockwork. Professional, punctual, and scripted — it's how the mobs prefer to conduct their business.

They're ahead of schedule, by the look of how much already they're moving out of sight, into storehouse privacy — probably, within the night, one of the McKillen heirs will be down to take a personal count. Family of misers, who love their audits as much as they do their violence. No one skims off the top.

It's as clean a set-up as any for a Bat to intercept and take down.

It would be a shame if something happened to it.

A lean, slinky little shadow alights down behind one man stacking crates on a loader, watchful and inquisitive. It sways when he does, staying in his blind spot, weaving back when he does, thoughtfully crossing its arms, head tilted, looking down over his shoulder as he works. It takes its time, exaggerated and thorough, to strength expansively, because one should take the time to properly limber up.

Then he turns around and gets roundhoused in the face. Catwoman placidly toes the body aside.

*

Batman watches as this happens. The slinky shadow is not acknowledged for a little while until it starts to interfere. Then, the watching Bat mutters a curse and stands. This calls for an intervention. All his carefully laid plans are not completely out the window. Like a cat in front of a glass on the edge of a desk, someone has decided to bat the entire thing off the ledge and forget about the spills.

Catwoman is someone who is all timing and dexterity. Batman is a punch in the face. With timing. As far as he is concerned, his surveillance is now blown and so therefore it is time to engage.

A 'phht' of noise and then Batman is careening across the space and in a flutter of space, he lands on top of the next person in Catwoman's trajectory. Landing like a stone, there is little chance that the porter is still up, but just in case, he gives a quick and solid punch to ensure he is knocked out.

Then, he rises, full of menace and Bat-Cowl to look at Catwoman in the midst of her own take down. "Nice night for an infiltration."

For a rich vigilante, he can be sort of lame.

*

Most cats are solitary hunters —

And for that reason, Catwoman turns her head, momentarily taken aback: a split-second picture of surprise as she finds herself, albeit by whatever happenstance, to have a partner at her side.

And none better than —

"Batman," she declares, tasting the word in her mouth like it were some bite of a rich dessert. Pulling herself up to her full height, liquid-like, dressed in her concealing black and visor, the woman tilts her head and takes her leisure to look him up and down.

Her smile widens, a quick little shock of delight against her half-masked face. "Even better, now that you're here. Quite the coincidence, you lurking in my neck of the woods?"

Tap, tap, run her fingers against the point of her chin, armed with those hooked claws. She nips the tip of one of them between her teeth, thoughtful, before her smile graduates into a grin. "Not that I believe in coincidences. Were you following me? Makes a girl flush under her whiskers."

Soundless as ever, she slinks around him, perhaps testing to stroll into the Bat's blind spot. Catwoman steps along unconscious bodies, walking on them, not a care in the world. "No matter. I don't infiltrate. I reacquire. Be a dear and carry some of this for me? You have those strong shoulders."

*

"Catwoman." The counterpoint to her identification is met with a gravelly rejoinder. It's serious, backed by his straight backed posture that is so contrary to her own fluid gestures. He steps one way and then the other to try and block off her path.

"This isn't your neck of the woods," he tells her firmly. As far as he is concerned all of Gotham is his neck of the woods. "I've been surveying here for weeks." Her grin and flirting is met with little back and forth. "I should ask if you have been following me."

As Catwoman starts to move amongst the bodies, he reaches to to grab onto her wrist. "I'm waiting for the bigger fish," he tells her firmly. He knows that she does not expect him to help with the reacquiring, so this is all teasing. "You realize there is more than this shipment?"

Elsewhere, someone yells and the echo carries it, "Yo, Patrick, what the fuck is taking you so long, you lazy asshole?"

*

It isn't her neck of the woods, he says.

"Oh, but it is," counters the Catwoman loftily, through her smiling. "Neck, chest, pelvis, legs, and all. Nothing is beyond my reach. The sooner you come to understanding that, the sooner we can bypass these perfunctory courtesies and explore this little thing between us. I'll even concede you the ownership of this city you need so much — so long as you acknowledge my right to play with it."

He won't let her in his blind spot, no matter how much the Cat tries; she seems even to enjoy being blocked every way, though, true to her nature, she still tests and toys at his guard.

"Follow you? Gladly have, gladly will. Some other day. Tonight, however, is purely professional; I am a career woman, after all —" Catwoman begins to taunt, though her words stilt to her grabbed wrist. The action only seems to thrill her all the more, her grin widening, her green eyes behind her visor sharp and electric.

When it comes to the Bat, a little man-handling is more than permitted.

His question crooks her smile. "Realize? Maybe. Care? No. You can keep all their little guns — tasteless things. What I want is something very small. Very forgettable. They won't miss me. And it'll look better on me, I promise. Let a girl work?"

And then, the yell. It freezes Catwoman silent. Her green eyes cat-clock to one side, then stare straight back up into Batman's visor. There's that look on her eyes, like an armed weapon, that says: dare me?

"We're just out here, darling!" helpfully calls the Catwoman. "The Batman as well!"

*

Batman's eye slits narrow as he counter-circles Catwoman. "Your definition of play often includes illegal activity." And therefore, he must curtail it. "Gotham is not your scratching post."

As she tests and toys, he moves counter to it. This is generally banter and he can do this while quipping. Their movement stopped at the grabbed wrist, he holds on. He knows it will most likely end up with injury and yet he continues. "You know what I mean. There's more here than the crates. These people have been strangling the docks for years. This a chance to deal a blow to them." His voice does not plead, does not broker. Instead, he states facts while he holds onto the Catwoman and her notoriously pliant nature.

The yell then happens and things careen off the rails. Catwoman yells and Batman gives her quite the dirty look before he finally lets go of her and then leaps up toward a light fixture and precariously balances there.

The vulgar man comes forward, a pistol out and pointed around to prove himself. "Hello? Who's out there? Patrick? Where's those boxes?"

*

And then the Batman starts going on about 'illegal activity' and 'strangling docks', and somewhere amidst all that, Catwoman lets go a theatrical breath and tilts her head to one side, as if she were fatally weighed by a terminal case of boredom.

"You're lucky you're so cute," she points out, with no small part of charity: the Batman should feel humbled to receive so much of the Catwoman's patience. "Because some of these things that come out of your mouth — dull. You don't show your lady a night out and talk about work."

But she does not fight that caught wrist, despite those dangerous claws of hers; perhaps Catwoman enjoys stalking the boundary of danger. Perhaps Catwoman intuits that the Bat would bring little harm to her — aside from the harm in ruining her fun. Perhaps she just likes having added reason to stay so close to him.

But he asks just a bit too much of her magnanimous charity — honestly, to not rob the McKillen Family is madness! — and the Catwoman fights back without raising a single claw. It earns her a nebulous freedom, as he lets go, and she follows the Batman's retreat with a playful smile.

A risky gambit, and one that does not afford her much time to react against the approaching, gun-toting man. And for a cat burglar who operates around her enemies — not usually through them — well this is not her usual method of operation. Still, the Cat can adapt.

"Patrick's indisposed," answers a woman instead, light and noncommittal, dressed in black and — with cat ears. "And I'm without a dance partner."

There's a quick flick of her arm, and the crack of a bullwhip, as she snaps it — the length unravelling that long distance to try to painfully cut the gun out of his hand.

*

"I'm not cute," Batman quickly disputes, hand still on her wrist. Though, there is a quirk upward of his lips, though. While he is firm in his reasons for being here and not allowing her to interfere - more than she already has - he is not without humor. "You came here yourself, remember. If you don't like how I work, you'll have to find someone else to ambush in the middle of the night." Then, more seriously. "I'm here for a member of the family. And nothing gets taken off these docks until I find one of them."

While Batman does leave Catwoman to be the main diversionary tactic, he doesn't leave her alone and he doesn't wait very long before she bullwhips the man coming to check in on Patrick. "What?" He is surprised to see Catwoman there and he starts to back up in a panic, gun pointed right at her to shoot.

With a crack, the gun is wrapped up into the whip and yanked painfully from the man's hand. From behind him, Batman drops down and quickly sticks a dart of a knock out drug into his neck. The man's eyes widen and then he collapses onto the ground in a pile.

"There's more where he came from," he announces, though he's sure she already knows that.

*

Most sensible, sane sorts would balk — even try to cover themselves — from the assured danger that is a pointed gun.

The Catwoman is not a sensible, sane sort.

Where others would hesitate and shy back, she only seems to get more incensed — her smile widens, graduating to something fierce that shines the points of her teeth, as she faces down her own mortality. There is no greater rush in this world. There is no other rush in this world.

Snaring that gun away, she — holds as the snakestrike-quick work of the Batman doses the gunman unconscious. Still riding her adrenaline high, Catwoman shakes free her whip, weaving it prettily over her shoulders.

"Careful what you say, Bats. That sounds almost like a proposal. And you know where those go. You'll have to entice me with so much more to wear your ring." Her smile doesn't go anywhere. Hopping over the motionless body, Catwoman is all play.

She eels by, turning to flick the end of her whip playfully against his chest, like she would a feather toy with one of her many pet cats. "So I help you with your little problem, and I get first pick of the goods. Throw in a good night kiss, and… I accept."

The whip snaps out, and in moments, the Catwoman goes aerial, gaining purchase on a lamp post, and taking the high ground into that storehouse. With a slip of shadow, she slides into one opened window, twenty feet up from the ground. She doesn't make a sound.

*

The goons are left where they lay, unconscious but alive. Batman stays where he is, within striking distance of the people he just helped incapacitate to see what it is Catwoman will do. He knows her motives well enough to know that he must anticipate anything, everything as he does not know why she may actually be here. It may be for the good, sit may be for the McKillens. It may even be for the fun of it.

The whip flicks against him and he does not flinch, nor does he chase it. Instead, he allows a hint of a smirk, standing straight-backed and poised to dodge. "I know better than to propose anything." Then, the smirk fades to the face most seen by criminals. "And so I won't. This is not the black market and I am not here to deal—-"

His speech about justice and how she will not be the one to dictate the terms of this meeting are completely interrupted as her whip snaps out and whirls her upward and away from him. For a moment, Batman merely stands there, the stern expression turning into a disappointed frown. He didn't get to finish his lecture. However, he is then quick on her heels, shooting his own batarang upward to another window. It is not the same one that the Catwoman chose, but it is nearby.

Inside is a wealth of wooden crates and metal shipping containers. The warehouse's roof is high and scattered with dangling lights at decent intervals. The light is dim, overall, but dark shadows pool in the places where there is no direct fluorescent spill. There are guards as well as people taking stock of one of the larger containers near the back of the warehouse. Two figures pace and pick through the contents, marking things off. The man wears a dark cap. The woman keeps her bright red hair back in a low ponytail.

*

There is no quicker way in the world to chase the Catwoman off.

Just start a justice speech. Perhaps sensing it before it can even begin, she's off, vaulting aerially by the balls of her feet, and so attuned with the momentum and flexibility of her body that she slips soundlessly through little more than some inches of space in a window.

She also leaves before she can hear Batman denying their new, temporarily partnership. Can't hear it, never happened. No take-backsies.

Perched far above the storehouse proper, where both merchandise and its keepers wait below, and the Cat taps on her visor to heat-sense the body count.

Pulling up her visor, she turns her head, eyes catching that familiar swath of shadow not too far away — the Bat. Catwoman imparts him a quick wink. And mouths, silently: 'Bet you I get more.'

Biting her lip, unable to contain her merriment, the woman playfully crosses her arms back behind her head, and lets herself slowly tilt backward, as if ready to relax back onto some plush bed.

Instead, she falls backwards, straight down, catching herself by her hands, and with a deft twist of her spine, flipping away into one pocket of shadow.

It's not her usual MO, and certainly not her style — the cat who hunts without ever being seen, much less intercepted — as she waits behind boxes for one set of footsteps to come close. The woman is her first pick, whom she grabs silently, administering a blood choke until she goes still.

*

The warehouse is filled with crates and danger. Batman catches Catwoman's eye and then raises an eyebrow at her wink. As she falls backward, he stays where he is and watches her traverse the shadows to be in the prime position to grab the red headed woman. He does not dive into a situation without some reconnaissance.

The red headed woman calls out to the man as she holds a wrapped package and steps to place it right by Catwoman. "Kieron, I think half of this stuff is junk. Why are we risking a Gotham landing site? This is stupid."

The man in the cap remains where he is, checking things off a list. "Our normal dock is filled with demons. You want your pretty hair ripped out by hell creatures? Gotham's safer than Manhattan right now. Even with its local color."

The red head moves into the shadows and then Catwoman is there, grabbing her by the neck. The woman struggles giving out a gasp and an elbow backward. The package drops to the ground as she fights.

Taking this as his cue, Batman makes himself the target again. A silhouette against the warehouse lights, he flings his cape outward in what some may consider an overly dramatic fashion and lands right on top of the man in the cap. "Stay down," he tells him harshly. "And call off your guards."

Breathing heavily, the man Batman lands on, nods trying to gain the air to give the order. As soon as he has it, though, he shouts, "KILL THEM. FIND SHANNON." Shots immediately start to ping and course across metal and wooden crates. Feet pound as they run to find the woman Catwoman holds.

*

"It had better not be junk," answers the Catwoman, lowly, conversationally, to the woman she grapples in a choke-hold. "Few things I loathe worse —"

Strain thickens her voice. The sounds of gunshots ducks her head, senses immediately on alert. First thing's first. Time to dispatch the first.

Her clawed hand grabs a fistful of that red hair to collide the woman's head violently off one of those crates. Not one of the Cat's cleaner K.O's, but who's counting.

"— Than a wasted evening."

Crouching down, she reaches into one of the many pouches — one must wonder how they exist, on her outfit — to grab a handful of caltrops. And in a move learned by a certain Bat in attendance —

— Catwoman flings the small, sharp objects on direct, sparking collisions with the nearest, overhanging lights. She slips her visor down, activiating its night vision. Better.

Through Batman's sharp senses, he'll detect the Cat's quick, soft-footed approach. "Your authority is palpable, darling. I'll let you borrow one of my whips," she remarks as she breezes by, attempting to steal his tall shoulder as a convenient vault, flipping off his back to slingshot herself toward one armed guard. A smash of her feet seeks to put him down, where she slides low, taking cover from incoming gunfire.

*

Shannon, however, gets little chance to answer Catwoman's declaration. The Cat Woman is quick to render the woman unconscious and then laid down onto the ground. Her head collides into the crates and then she slumps to the ground. The package left by her unconscious body.

Catwoman's practiced toss crashes against the lights. With a loud and angry buzzing sound, many of the overhanging lights swing and blink out as the caltrops crash into the delicate glass of the lightbulbs. The back end of the warehouse descends into darkness. There are shouts of dismay and then the flash of gunfire as some of the hired guards simply shoot in panic.

Batman, however, smashes the man's head he crashed into against the ground much in a similar manner that Catwoman had to her prisoner. With a groan, his eyes roll up into his head and he lies still. Keeping a hold on his collar, Batman starts to stand just as he hears Catwoman's quick approach. His body tenses, as if expecting an attack, just as she expected they would and she vaults over him toward the nearest armed guard. As she passes over his head, she will hear his wry reply, "You, of all people, can't fault me for making things interesting."

Now, though, he drags the unconscious body of Kieron to a certain protected corner. Then, he follows Catwoman, leaping through shadow and light to take out those guards who are brave enough to remain.

*

The thing about cats — even when they pretend not to listen, they always hear.

And the Catwoman certainly picks up that sharp little comment from Batman. Mid-air, the instant before she tucks herself up in a roll, a hundred-watt smile brightens up her expression.

He truly — truly — is the most fascinating creature she's ever met. Damn him for it.

Though built for stealth, trained for it, as the fight goes on, the Cat seems anything but a soul meant for darkness and silence. Behind her visor, her eyes are bright, and her grin serrated into something reckless, drunk when it comes to staring down death. So few, true joys left for the terminally bored. So few, true tests to make the lonely, empty Selina feel half-way human —

Little by little, the gunfire thins. The Catwoman slides low, back arched, under one man's aim, only to flip herself back up, catching his head between her ankles, and letting the momentum take him somewhere — she doesn't care.

She deflects attention with her raking claws over crates in the dark, only to flip up and around like a wasp and sting another with her whip around the throat. True to some code in her — or perhaps greed is more the Cat's style than raw sadism — she stops short of the kill. But she knows how to make it hurt.

She stays close to the Bat amidst their close-contact, two-man battle, in the heats of moments flashing him her winning smile. "Don't we make perfect partners?" she laughs through the cacophony.

*

His objectives stashed away, Batman quickly helps Catwoman take care of the hired hands there to protect the stashes and their now unconscious employers. Without wishing to acknowledge it, the pair of them make quick work of those who wish to do them harm. There are sporadic bursts of gunfire, but before long there is little else to fight. They work very well in tandem.

As they fight, Batman gives Catwoman a bit of a look at her comment that they are perfect partners. There is no verbal response, but they continue to work through those that would shoot them down in quick succession in an almost choreographed sequence. and yet when all their foes lay unconscious at their feet Batman takes a breath and straightens. "That was well fought," he tells her. Now that the battle is done he surveys and starts to come up with the plan for what happens next: all business.

"I'll take the McKillen's to the police." The shipping containers and the boxes are sort of left there for her however, he gives her a look - he'll be disappointed if she takes it. Not that he truly believe that will do anything.

*

"And I barely broke a sweat," intones the Catwoman, with her usual humble, demure manner.

She makes a point of brushing some imaginary dust from one shoulder, turning her heel to push one concussed body aside. Animals, the lot of them. "It could be a repeat occurrence of you tried my side of things. Rather than running with your little Robins, trying to do the whole vigilantism thing — no profit in it, and dull — you could be at my side."

The Catwoman eyes the Batman, sidelong, through the lens of her visor. Her claws run the wood of crates. "So few could ever aspire to be my equal. I'd teach you to have a little —"

Her hand closes, and with the help of her claws, punches through one crate. The smash accentuates her next word: "Fun."

Curiously, the Catwoman pulls some of the contents free. And held between the tips of her claws — some small part, an illegal cartridge modification for some semi-automatic gun. Pretty, lethal parts for killers.

Worthless to her.

"Are you serious," she groans out loud, dropping it back in with distaste. "All this work, and —"

The Cat catches the Bat's glance. "Oh, don't give me that!" she grouses, playful mood soured. "It's all yours. Take it! —And I'm not doing this for you! Worthless junk — I'm not going soft or anything."

She looks at him a too-long moment more. Then, with a sniff, and a huff under her breath, the thief pushes off, lunging up one wall, and quick as a dart, seeing herself out.

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