Just a Play of Shadows

October 14, 2018:

Nightwing and Batgirl intercept some strange activity in Chinatown.

Chinatown, Gotham City

It's a small corner of Chinatown.


NPCs: Alice in Woundherland

Mentions: Blacksmith

Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

It is almost midnight, and the southern-most edge of Chinatown is ominously silent. In fact, most of the last few blocks between Chinatown and the Diamond District has taken on that eerie feeling of not quite rightness. It isn't an explainable feeling — just that small edge of the hindbrain that reports that finding shelter is advised, and if you can, barricade the door.

A heavy fog lays over the bay just to the east, and it begins its slow roll inland, curling over the harbor and piers and whispering its way into Chinatown. Weird shadows move in the fog — maybe just optical illusions of the brightening lamplight from the streetlights as they reflect on the particles of hovering water vapor.

The blue-framed OPEN sign on a corner dumplings and bar restaurant begins to hum gently, the neon fluorescents flickering slightly. Other florescent signs all over the street begin to do the same: all flickering and humming, and one or two burst with a sound snap of glass.

Batgirl is perched on the rooftop of a low banking building on this very street. She frowns slightly at the odd way the lights react to the incoming fog. Feeling the chill, she pulls her cape around her a bit tighter as if the material might hold back the gloom that seems to be creeping into this part of the city. Her high-point ears pick up the interference, beginning to hum in a low, almost inaudible range. It makes her tilt her head oddly, and she reaches up to press just at her temple to change the frequency of her comms.

"What is that?" She says aloud.


Gotham truly is a city that never sleeps, not entirely. Which might be great for those into that kind of thing, but it does mean that there is always the potential for trouble. And given that it is this particular city, that potential can run pretty high. Which means that it needs its vigilante guardians. And not just the boys in blue. Which of course means a lot of sleepless nights.

And that of course is what Nightwing is doing, trotting across the rooftops of Chinatown at midnight. The weather is cooling off, making it slightly more pleasant, but it is impossible to miss that sea of fog that is rolling in off of the ocean. It's actually quite a sight from this vantage point. Or it owuld be if he had time to admire it. Instead his skin prickles at the eerie feel in the air — a trick of the mind perhaps — and eyes narrow behind his mask as his gaze sweeps over the street below. A small frown creeps over his face as the crackle of shattering glass catches his attention, eyes drawn to a neon sign as one of the brightly illuminated letters is abruptly snuffed out. Almost at the same time he registers the same hum on the comm line, grimacing just a little. "You too huh? I was wondering the same. Alfred, could you have the Batcomputer run a diagnostic. There might be something wrong with the line."


Batgirl's blue eyes dart toward Nightwing at his confirmation. She frowns slightly as she taps at hte side of her cowl again, the low hum increasing in volume just a tick. She can barely hear Alfred as he speaks across the comms, his voice cutting in and out.

"Nightwing, I am no — the line is good. — interference isolat — diagnostics detect no prob — what do you see?"

Punctuating Alfred's question, from the west-end of the street, the lights begin to go out. There's a flicker, a shudder, and then a pop when each light source goes black. When the slow-moving wave of darkness comes to the first streetlight, the bulb hums loud and low, and then explodes into sparks. In the heart of the darkness, a long stretched figure appears to be walking along. It's almost hunched, giving the air of something tall and lanky strolling along with its arms swaying at its side.

Each approaching step increases the interference in their comms, and then the interference turns to a squeal that is almost deafening. Batgirl is gripping both sides of her head until she can tap the internal speakers in her cowl's ears off.

The fog continues its slow roll, and but it almost disappears into the darkness that stretches out from the approaching figure.


Yeah, that's not ominous at all. Lights going out, earpierces squealing and a thick cloud of fog rolling across the city like an invading army. Hopefully the rest of Gotham is as unusally quiet as Chinatown is tonight. It's not often that the residents of the city decide to stay at home en mass. But that might be convenient this time at least.

Of course Nightwing has other things to worry about for the moment, listening with growing concern as Alfred reports back on the status of their comm line. Or at least tries to, that interference seeming to swallow up every fourth or fifth sylable from the man. And then it all goes away in a burst of loud static and the young man's grimace takes on a definite pained caste as he fumbles for the earpiece, tapping it off. "Bloody hell," he mutters, glancing towards Batgirl across the rooftops with some concern.

Down below, something else attracts his attention though. That figure, barely distinguishable amongst the darkness that seems to keep pace with him, blotting out storefront lights and the lightposts in equal measure, plunging the neighborhood into increasing darkness. "Ummmm, that's not good…"


Batgirl meets that look with her own as she can barely piece together what Alfred is saying. She's had to silence her comms now, and so she stands slowly and steps quickly to get herself closer to Dick. "You ever see — "

The next explosion of streetlights is joined with a high squealing noise. Far behind the figure — perhaps three blocks back — the lights are slowly coming back on. Or at least, the lights that didn't completely destroy themselves. Doors are opening from that lighted region of Chinatown, people peeking out and then slamming the doors closed again.

Batgirl looks down at the figure when Nightwing hones in on it, and she looks on in confusion… and then surprise as the figure gets close enough for her to notice that its almost standing eight feet tall, as reedy as a bean pole, and as indistinguishable as a shadow. Within two more steps, the temperature in the area has dropped twenty degrees and their breath is coming out in clouds of fog.

"That's not good at all," Batgirl says in a soft, shivering voice. She glances across to Nightwing and then starts to unwind a bolas. She nods to him, conveying she will totally take his lead on this one.


Well that's just something you don't see every day. Whoever, whatever that individual is, it certainly doesn't look like it is anything natural. He's pretty confident in that the very least. Of course, the fact that the lights go out around it, that it seems to generate some sort of interference field and that it is turning a pleasant fall evening into a distinctly wintery one all adds to the 'this is not a normal person' vibe. Even the fact that as the… thing… passes through an area that the lights come back is of limited comfort.

Jumping in blind. That's not something that he likes to do. He only looks impuslive when compared to Batman. As a general rule, Nightwing's pretty big on having a plan too. He doesn't feel the need to prepare for every contingency of course and is a little happier improvising when needed, but still. Information is a really nice thing to have and they don't have that luxury here. This thing might not be truly hostile, but it doesn't seem too friendly either so the dark haired vigilante nods back to Batgirl, hopping up on the ledge of the building but not leaping down quite yet. "Toss 'em," he says quietly. With all that darkness, all that shadow, is it even really there? One way to find out.


And that's when she looses the bolas. The weighted ends spin, drawing the reinforced cord between them taut. It sweeps toward the ankles — or at least where Batgirl can best approximate ankles. It sweeps around the shadows, and tightens abruptly in multiple crisscrossing.

The thing begins to stagger, but it feels slow compared to previous experiences. It tips forward, almost like a felled tree. It slams into the ground, and shadows spill out around it. Shadowy digits like fingers reach out, grasping for the asphalt as it tries to pull itself forward.

Then its mouth opens, and light and captured energy spills out of its mouth, igniting the darkness around it. Only then does the humanoid features become bright — its nose and mouth are all shadowskin but they look like a very stretched human. And its eyes are bright, luminous blue as they look up toward Batgirl.

It screams, and from that scream, a blast of captured kinetic energy strikes where Batgirl stands on the edge of the building. Or was standing. She's dived out of the way, pitching into a roll as she hits the pavement below. Her head whips toward Dick just as the shadow creature turns its head toward Nightwing as if it had follows Barbara's change of attention.

It opens its mouth, bellowing out another blast of captured energy right at Nightwing's own perch.


Yup, definitely not a normal, every day phenomenon. See? They're already learning important information. Like the fact that it doesn't like to be tripped up by bolas and when it is it tends to reply with great big blasts of energy from it's mouth. Extremely valuable information. Not the most fun to gather mind you, but then while their nocturnal activities can be high on excitement they have always been a little low on the fun quotient. Well, at least most people would find it so.

Nightwing is a bit of an exception in that respect. He rather enjoys frantically diving and jumping about to save his own skin. Some would probably accuse him of having issues. He can live with that. So as that blast lashes out at the ledge where he stands, the darkly-clad vigilante takes flight. Not in the literal sense of course, though the way he leaps from the building's perch makes it look as if that might be what he intends. For a moment he simply soars out over the emptiness above the street but as his arch starts into a descent, the grapnel in his hand fires off, that jumpline firing off, embedding in a building across the street as he swings overhead. "You have a real attitude problem you know. This city is on a budget. We can't have some shadow fiend come wandering around, shattering streetlights. Do you know how much it costs to replace them?" he asks as he lands on the ledge across the street. "No, really. I'm asking. I have no idea." As he chatters away, he casually tosses a concussion bomb in the direction of the screaming fiend. Experiment number two.


"I could probably look that up for you," Batgirl replies now that she's recovered and back on the bright yellow soles of her very sensible motocross-style boots. She's reaching behind her back, pulling out the pair of tonfa that she keeps stowed back there in her sweeping cape. She glances up toward Nightwing at his banter, and for a heartbeat, she actually smiles.

Then she's turning back toward the shadow monster with its mouth full of light as it turns toward Dick fully. It's slipped from its knees to its feet again, and leaves Batgirl's bolas still on the asphalt, tangled up in itself — almost like it just decided to just slip free of it without undoing it.

When it stands, it looks a bit shorter — by at least six inches. It also seems less rail-thin and indistinguishable from shadow.

Speaking of darkness, a quick glance around shows that the world has lost its own definition around them, like they are standing on a totally black sound stage with no street, or buildings, or lights around them. The fog creeps and rolls unnaturally, as if produced from a machine instead of natural phenomeon.

The creature steps forward, gliding forward toward Nightwing. It doesn't reach for Dick as so much as just keeps advancing with its mouth open. With another gaping scream, it blasts the energy toward Dick. That third blast seems to shrink it another few inches.


Really, it's not the darkness that is disturbing. Oh sure, there is a primeval part of their hind brains that instinctively fears the dark. That's just built into humanity. They're not built to see in the dark and their other senses don't compensate for that lack of vision. So they surround themselves with light or hide themselves away within secure shelter until the morning light makes itself known again. At least most people do. But the dark is their friend, their ally. It lets them sneak unseen, lets them descend on the bad guys unnoticed to take them out before they can ever become a threat. Their little gadgets pierce it rather casually, letting them see as if it were day. At least they normally due. When it's obeying natural laws.

That does not seem to be the case at the moment. Normally Nightwing's starlite lense inserts in his mask light up the world as if it were day. Sure, in a greenish glow, but it's something. They also help mitagate fog, letting them see through the obscuring mists that they casually toss about for cover. But they don't seem to be working so well tonight. It's bizarre and slightly alarming, seeing the world literally fade to black. Not that the one-time Boy Wonder will let that show. "Now, now Batgirl. If you do his assignment for him how will he ever learn?" he chides, clucking his tongue.

When the creature continues to follow him, tracking him with that blast that he most definitely does not want to let strike home, Nightwing relies on his memory. The street below, the building where he stands, all of it has lost definition, faded out as if not even there. He refuses to believe that. So as that beam slices towards him, he leaps again, arms extended. Hurtling through darkness, for a moment finding nothing. Then solid feeling under his hands, grasping at the rail he can not see and letting out a breath he didn't even realize he was holding before dropping into that shapeless darkness below, hitting the ground running. There is temptation to whirl, to toss an electrified wingding at his pursuer, but he hasn't missed the fact that the shadowspawn seems to be shrinking with each passing second. Why do anything to help recharge him? "That all you got? I bet you have to use industrial strength mouthwash to get that taste out. Whew, and lets not even talk about the doggy breath vibe I'm getting off of you."


Barbara chuckles slightly behind the shadow monster at Dick, shaking her head ruefully. "I don't think he's here to learn anything, Nightwing…" Though Batgirl is taking a lot of careful notes on the way it moves, the way it reacts, and she frowns slightly when she notices that it's shrinking with each blast.

Another important note is that with each blast, it looks a bit more… human. The shadows sharpen, and the vagueness around its torso begins to look like shoulders, chest, and flowing hair. Its glowing blue eyes fixate on Nightwing, stepping forward two more strides toward his grounded self.

Behind it, Batgirl tests her own theories. She advances quick, lunging toward it with her grip loose and yet controlled around the handles. She swings one out, and it slams across the knee of the creature, causing it to stumble a bit. It spins sharply, trying to take out the Batgirl's head with a swipe of its shadowy hand. It breathes light onto Barbara, and she feels a sharp coldness almost take the breath out of her lungs. It screams at her, and she manages to just duck so it bores a hole a good foot into the asphalt.

"Whoa," she breathes in surprise, breath still fogged. Then she glances toward Dick briefly before she twists out of the way, getting on the same side of the creature as Nightwing as it turns sharply back toward them, now almost six and a half feet tall instead of its dizzying eight and its face accented with a nose and brow ridge.


Knowledge is power, right? This isn't the most enjoyable of processes, provoking it to try and see what it is capable of, but it is effective. All in all, Nightwing would prefer to be a little more proactive truth be told, but if the ol' rope-a-dope is going to work, he's willing to take what the creature has to give for a little while longer. It certainly seems to be shrinking the figure back down to a much more recognizably human shape. With the comm lines not functioning he can't upload the information as he gathers it of course, but their feeds should still be recording. They can always download it after the fact.

"Oh sure, make me be the disciplinarian again. Our little shadowbeast has so much potential if it will just apply itself. But nooooooo, you want to be the favorite," Nightwing retorts, wheeling back towards both Batgirl and the shrinking figure as it turns its attention away from him. He's leary about lashing out — they don't know if it feeds on light energy, eletricity, or who knows, sheer force, but that doesn't stop him from drawing his escrima sticks from his back, holding them in front of him.

"You getting tired ugly? Because we're just getting warmed up. Bring it."


"I'm always the disciplinarian," Batgirl shoots back as she ducks out from yet another blast of energy that explodes from its gaping mouth. This time, it takes out a fire hydrant and a blast of water explodes into the dark air. It is so cold that some of it freezes instantly, becoming shards of ice that hail back toward the ground like frozen peas. "Maybe it's your turn to be the Mean Parent."

Then Barbara takes a risk — a big one. She barrels forward, slamming her entire force into the creature as it is down to six feet now and almost human looking. The inhuman noise released from the creature has taken on a slightly more familiar sound of something grunting at impact. It spins, throwing Batgirl back into the street several feet, turning its back on Nightwing, and bares its back to him — the emblem of the Gotham City Roller Derby team looks like it is embossed in shadow on its back, and the vaguest hint of a hood is barely discernable in the darkness around its hulking shoulders.

Batgirl kips up with a dance of her cape, and she's staring into a gaping mouth of energy that looks like a human woman screaming at her in rage. "Uh… I… think it's a she…" And maybe, just maybe, human.


"Do we have to fight in front of the kid?" he shoots back, taking the moment of respite to study the rapidly shrinking figure a little more carefully. But just a moment. Afterall, while it might be complete preoccupied with Batgirl right now that's not a big improvement. He's not looking for either of them to get pulped tonight.

"The realization of who they are dealing with comes to him at roughly the same time as Barbara, the shape, those details beginning to coalesce as that ongoing scream seems to drain away the encompassing shadow that was obscure the identity of the shadow creature. They are still missing some very important information — like the specifics of just who she is, how and why she is doing this for example — but those can wake. The priority has to be on bringing this to an end before anyone else gets hurt and before there is too much more property damage.

So with her distracted, Nightwing acts. He leaps forward, but resists the urge to crack her across the head with one of his escrima sticks. Instead he takes a different tack, landing on her back, bringing both his weight and the force of his impact to bear. But he doesn't rely on that. The intent is not to bring her down to the ground. Instead one hand wraps around her neck, the other locking the chokehold in place. She likes to scream? Well then, lets cut off the air supply and see what happens.


Batgirl is ready to bring up her cape, wrap herself up in the high-tech and protective cloth that has stopped bullets before — and perhaps should stop pure energy. But the scream of energy doesn't come, and instead she witnesses with wide, black-haloed eyes as Nightwing grabs for the shadow woman.

The scream becomes lost in a garbled of breath in her throat, and the shadow woman reaches behind her over her head, trying to scrape and scratch and scrabble at Nightwing and his grip. She breathes in, or tries to, and its smothered in her throat and doesn't get to her lungs. The breath that's actually held in her lungs barely breaks free from her closed esophagus. Then she's stumbling, dropping to her knees and taking Nightwing with her until they are both on the ground.

Her humanity keeps coming back, the shadow-wrap of her skin and clothes fading into more definition. Her eyes are still a blisteringly bright and luminous blue, and her tongue and gums are luminous that make her teeth shine in her gaping mouth.

Her eyes roll back, showing off the bright white of her sclera. Then she goes limp beneath him.

Barbara breathes out a slow breath, sinking into a defensive squat. Her eyes glance up to Nightwing and then around them. The darkness has loosened its grip, and it becomes clearer that the radius of the woman's power has shrunk down to just this corner. She's now just barely shadowy herself.


There is not a great deal that Nightwing can do about her efforts to rake at him, at least not without loosen his hold on her. Something that seems less than desirable. So instead he trusts the awkward angle of attack she is reduced to, trusts the nomex/kevlar weave of his costume to provide some protection and focuses on shielding his face from her efforts to scratch at him, occasionally jerking away but never loosening his grip.

He can feel her struggles growing less pronounced, the sluggishness in her body that suggests that the lack of oxygen getting to the brain is beginning to have an effect but he maintains the hold, even when she topples over, simply allowing himself to sink to the ground with her. Even when she goes limp he doesn't let go, at least not at first, making sure that she is not simply faking it. Given the uncontrolled and unreasoned response from her, he isn't even sure that she is capable of deception. But better safe than sorry.

Finally however he gives a sigh and slips his arms free, wincing a little where the kevlar has been torn by her raking nails. Getting to his feet, he lets out another slow breath and rolls his shoulders. "Well, that was bracing. Any theories on what we've got her?" he asks, securing her hands behind her back and glancing around at the slowly shrinking circle of shadow that still seems to envelop them. "I'm not sure that Batcuffs are going to cut it here. We need a Bat-gag. The mighty Dark Knight is falling down on his duties, not supplying us with the proper gear. You know he has to have contingency plans for Black Canary. I'm sure Bat-gags are involved," he complains.


Even with her unconscious, the shadows still linger — no longer growing, no longer shrinking. Or at least, only shrinking with her breathes instead of with her screams. She lays on the ground, arms easily secured behind her back. Her hands are becoming more pale, shadows turning grey instead of staying hard black.

Batgirl stays back a step or two, readying for retaliation. When it doesn't come, she then slowly steps forward to drop into a lower squat beside Nightwing. She looks over the woman and then back up at Dick. She shakes her head with a slight rueful smile. "I think we're going to have to risk the cuffs and hope she doesn't wake up. I sadly do not carry Bat-gags with me." Her tone tries to hide the vague amusement there.

Then she peeks over the woman's face, and then frowns over the continuing sharpening body. "She's a derby girl," she says quietly, then her eyes widen. "I recognize her. This is Alice in Woundherland." Babs carefully pronounces the name so Nightwing will get the reference. "She's on the Lit Chicks." Which is of course the derby team that Barbara would route for, because it's all literary based.

Batgirl frowns. "I don't know her real name." She then hands Nightwing some bat-cuffs. "Pretty sure I've never seen her like this before."


It is not as if they are exactly awash in free time. It's hard to be an expert in everything and admittedly roller derby is not one of those fields. Ask him about the Gotham Knights or Gotham Griffins and he can probably have a pretty indepth discussion about how analyitics are ruining baseball. He knows a little something about the Guardsmen and the Wildcats. He's a fan of the Gotham Blades and gets out the hockey games as often as he can. But no, it is definitely a plus that Barbara knows something before he can only kinda stare at her as she goes into details.

"Alice in Woundherland?" he repeats back to her, a curious expression on his face. "That's awful. Clearly I have been missing out here," he says, shooting an accusing glance towards Babs. "How could you not making me watch this. The puns alone. You have definitely let me down here. I will forgive. But I might never forget," he says with mock sadness.

"Yeah, I was going to say that I had a hard time believe that this was her normal state," he admits. "Still, it might be something we want to look into. The rest of the team, any ties there," he muses thoughtfully, tapping at his earpiece and wincing as the static still sounds. "Whatever she is, she sure does a number on tech."


"We really need to expand your sports experiences, Nightwing." Barbara offers this with a slightly amused smile, accepting the accusing glance with ease. Her smile redoubles at the look. "I didn't think it would interest you. But, I might have been mistaken. I can take you to the next bout."

Then she tilts her head a bit looking down at the woman. She frowns slightly in thought, and then she looks up toward Dick. "We should take some samples," she suggests. "Get it forwarded back to the Cave and see if Alfred can run diagnostics." She then starts to pat down at the pockets of the woman's hoodie and jeans, just checking for weapons. On Dick's side of the unconscious woman's body, something glows blue in her hoodie pocket that Barbara doesn't notice yet. It appears to be capped syringe of bright blue liquid.

Each passing moment reduces the shadows around them and the shadows that envelop her. The light in her mouth from her luminous gums and tongue have almost faded entirely, but there's still some light under the lids of her eyes.


What can he say? If he wants rough and tumble he can get that pretty much every night of the week. He likes his sports traditional damnit. Unless there are puns involved. Because then he has a proud and noble reputation to uphold as the first Boy Wonder. "Much better. The healing can now begin," he offers in return with a faint smirk.

The amusement does not linger however. They do still have a very real situation here that needs to be addressed afterall. They are short on answers on just how this woman did what she did. Or why for that matter. "Good idea. It looks like the effects are fading. Lets give it a few more while we get what we need and then we can send a message to the GCPD dispatch. I think it would be better for all involved if it doesn't look like she can just open her mouth and obliterate a squad car," he notes drily.

As he starts to shift her, getting her ready to help Batgirl take the necessary samples, that's when Nightwing first notices it. The vial of bright blue liquid. Slipping it out of her pocket, he holds it up grimly towards his fellow vigilante. "Well, what do you want to wager that she is not just some mutant or meta. I suspect that we're going to find out that this had a little something to do with all of this," he notes quietly.


"Oh, good… I was worried that we would never be able to recover."

Then she nods slightly at Dick's observations about the receding effects. The woman looks almost normal now, though her eyes still glow faintly beneath her lids. Barbara has looked away now, gathering some sampling tubes and even a small syringe to take a blood sample.

Then she stops, turning to look at the glowing syringe and small, sharp needle still capped. Her expression changes to grim, and then… her brows furrow in confusion. "Nightwing… I think I've seen this before." She looks at it, and then back to Dick. Her voice drops into a whisper. "There were some guys moving drugs into Gotham a few weeks back… I saw one of the guys on the boat shoot himself up with something that looked just like that. He became like a miniature Hulk."

She then glances down to the woman, and immediately works faster to take the sample. Now she's worried it will dissipate before she gets a good sample. "I think you're right… I think we're dealing with something else entirely."


Greeeeeaaaat. That's just what they need. Some sort of synthetic compound that can turn anyone that takes it into a superpowered menace for a period of time. Because Venom wasn't bad enough. The humor disappears from Nightwing's features as she explains that this is not her first run in with this particular compound — or face it, potentially a drug. Because it raises all sorts of questions about how a something like this got from a drug dealer to a roller derby player if a sale was not involved. Maybe it will turn out that she has some other sort of ties, but no matter what, the implications are ugly.

"We better get some friendlies figuring out just what this little concoction is and what it can do," the dark haired young man says quietly. "Are their different formulations that give different powers or does it interact differently with whoever takes it. What's in it? How easy or hard is it to make it?" So many questions. So very few answers right at the moment. And none of the potential answers that they have are particularly good ones.


"Take the vial, I got the blood sample." Barbara presses a little square of gauze to where she just extracted some blood. That may rise some questions if someone was to really get curious, but this is Gotham. No one is going to be that interested in some drugged up roller derby girl.

She glances toward Dick now, and her expression beyond the cowl is serious. "We're not going to get answers to those questions here on the street. You get her secured, and I'll call in GCPD. Then maybe we can start trying to figure out what's going on." She grimaces slightly as she tucks away the samples into her belt.

"Though, we're going to have to pretend we're starting from scratch. That boat? It was the one that exploded… there was no way I could get a sample of what it was before it went up in flames." Though she really wasn't there to get a sample. Her throat tightens a bit around all she isn't sharing.


"Done. We can probably get some basic answers on our own but we might need to delve a little deeper to get much more. I doubt this will be your standard, off the shelf type of deal," he agrees quietly, opening up a compartment in his gauntlets and carefully stowing the blue concotion away until more knowledgably eyes can have their turn with it. Once that's done he turns his attention to the unfortunate woman, hauling her over to the mouth of the alley and fastening her to a drainage pipe securely, making sure that she won't be going anywhere until the GCPD arrive.

"Unfortunately, but it's hardly the first time we've only had a little to go on. A headstart would have been nice, sure, but we'll manage," Nightwing assures her confidently. And that is how they say, that. He's a detective. Batman has taught him everything he knows about observation, about reading people. And he is a whole lot more empathetic then his mentor. He can't miss that there is something that is not being shared. But they've worked together a long time. He has a pretty good handle on when to push and when to back off. And for right now at least, he has apparently decided that she is entirely to keep whatever it is to herself.


Using her hacked connections into GCPD, Batgirl puts out a call for the nearest patrol car to come down this way and pick up a secured woman. She leaves just enough details to make sure the cops know to put her in confinement until the rest of the drug, or whatever it is, wears off. Only once that is done is she back with Nightwing, glancing over the small amount of damage done by the kinetic blasts. Then she looks back to Dick.

"To be honest… I thought it had all been destroyed… the boat was mostly carrying heroin." Her mouth thins. "And the man who was in charge of the shipment is dead." She cuts a look to Nightwing and then retrieves her bolas, and secures it. Talking here on the street won't do, so she gets out her grappler. There's a hestitation there before she nods. "I thought this was over and done." Her expression turns tired. "Guess not." She nods up to the roof before she goes about prepping her grappler to get off streetside.


For the most part their actions are unofficially sanctioned by local law enforcement. Sure, enough cops resent their presence, resent what it means, resent the trouble they think the Bats attract to Gotham. But most are generally thankful to know that they are out on the streets and rooftops. That when things get bad there will be someone there to deal with it. That doesn't mean that they just hang around crime scenes without pretty good reasons.

For a change there does not appear to be any human casualties about the latest problem in Gotham. That's something. Property damage can be fixed, though no one will be thrilled about patching those holes or replacing those street lights. Still, it could have been worse. Like her, Nightwing does one last quick survey of the surroundings and then he is pulling out his own grapnel, the soft hiss of releasing compressed air sounding as those titanium tongs shot out, embedding themselves in a ledge overhead. Then he is rapidly ascending to that same roof leaving the street quiet and undisturbed once more.

"That might be something of a relief," the one-time Boy Wonder replies as they both get out of the streets. "If it is limited in production at least we can count on the fact that it isn't the next street drug. A couple of people having it sounds a whole lot better than hundreds or thousands snapping it up," he muses. "Don't worry, we'll deal with it. We always do."


When things get bad, but it has felt like everything has gotten bad lately. The only thing that Barbara Gordon can be thankful about right now is that there's no hellscape consuming Gotham. Except it's usual hellscape. Once she's on the roof, she observes the city streets from her perch. She looks over the streets as the night resumes, even if only half the streetlights glow in the wake of the woman's casual stroll.

She steps back, settling into the shadows of the near-by building. She crosses her arms loosely at her chest, now turned to face Nightwing. She reaches up to her comms, but does not activate them. She knows better, knowing she will need to do some troubleshooting before she just turns it on. But it's a nervous gesture, trying to find some stability.

Dick's comforting words do soften her expression a bit, and she nods to him gently. "Have to hope for a limited production, but that tells me whoever sold the drugs to Blacksmith had another buyer." She shifts slightly from foot to foot, and then down back out at the glow of Gotham City streets. "I don't think I can do this one alone again." She glances up at Dick. "I've been working a case… centered around this Blacksmith guy, and a shooting in Central Park in New York City. I thought it was almost done, but looks like there's a bit more to be done."

There's one silver lining here. Chances are, this has nothing to actually do with Castle which means she doesn't have to loop him in. "Think Batman will let us use the cave? I think we might need the Bat Lab." The corners of her mouth twitch slightly.


With the latest threat dealt with, Gotham is once more quiet, almost peaceful — at least if one didn't truly know the city. It's probably last for another few minutes at least. If they're lucky. Still, it's nice to have those few minutes to appreciate some of the better things about their home before everything becomes chaos and rampaging doom.

"Probably," Nightwing agrees, lips pursed thoughtfully. "We'll know a little better when we can look into our roller derby girl and see what connections she might have," he replies, ever practical before giving his head a shake and flashing a grin. "Hey, don't sweat it. That's what the rest of us are here for, you should know that by now," he teases, lightening the mood for the moment. "New York huh. We might want to double check there too, see if there have been any other similar incidents."

In the meantime though, they have an entirely different sort of lead to follow here, or at least start. That sly grin slips back over Dicks face and he starts to trot across the rooftop, back in the direction that he stowed the Nightbird. "Let us? Have I taught you nothing at all? It's far, far easier to beg for forgiveness then ask for permission," he points out. Besides, this is business. Bruce would totally be onside. It's not like they're borrowing the Batcomputer to play video games or something right? Not that he's ever done that of course. Ahem.


"I know. I've just…" Barbara shakes her head ruefully. "Ever just wanted to do something on your own to prove to yourself and… Batman… that you could? I've made some real crap calls lately, too." Like getting involved with Owen Mercer, like revealing who she is to Mercer and Cage. She trusts that her secrets are safe, but only the Family has ever known her secrets. Then there's Castle… something to worry about later. He's been silent for days now. "I have yet to decide if I declare this solo mission a failure or not.

She follows after Nightwing, her scalloped cape fluttering behind her. She then starts to smile a warm and familiar smile… Robin and Batgirl, seeking forgiveness instead of permission in almost all things that didn't have the scowling vision of Bruce Wayne looming over them.

"Sounds like you have a really good excuse for going to see roller derby, too. Time to investigate the Lit Chicks… and get your properly introduced to the best sporting events in all of Gotham."


It's clear that she's very earnest, but Nightwing can't help the small smirk that creeps over his face. Afterall, if anyone who understand exactly what she is going through it would be him, right? "I think I went through a couple full years doing just that," he replies, flashing her a grin as he falls into that easy, ground-eating stride, unfasted by the occasional tricky footing that presents itself when criss-crossing the rooftops of Gotham. In that, at least, he was made for this life. Impecable balance and absolutely no fear of heights. "You're a little smarter then I was a few years back. I'm sure you'll figure it out and if you don't, be smart enough to know when you need to ask for help. Well… maybe that's all easier then it sounds," he conceeds. "But you know what I mean."

It does not take long for him to reach the alleyway where the Nightbird is stowed, safely ensconced in the shadows behind a dumptster, pausing on the ledge there overlooking it. "Done and done. You can show me the ropes and maybe we can find out if this is isolated to our shadowy friend or if there are more users out there," he agrees with a nod. "But don't go overboard here. The Blades are where it's at. This is their year," he says confidently. Hint, it isn't.


"I know what you mean," Barbara replies gently, and then with a smile. She really does. Dick was always given a lot more focus when it comes to this life compared to Barbara. Maybe Bruce assumed with a dad like Jim Gordon, there were some things that she didn't need to be reminded of. Life as part of the Bat Family is not an easy one, but they are still here… still choosing this life over doing nothing. It means something.

When they get to the ledge that overlooks the Nightbird, Batgirl pauses there. She looks down at it, and then back over toward Dick. She reaches out, gives his shoulder a gentle nudge with her fists. "Thanks," she says gently, and she nods to the car. "My bike's a block over. I'll meet you back at the Cave and we can unpack this more, and then make a date for Derby." She pauses, and then turns back to Dick just moments before she intended to turn away. "Um. Better let Alfred know we're okay. I haven't turned back on the comms yet. For all we know, he's about to lose the rest of his hair."


It isn't always easy. Following this particular path of course. It means late nights and danger. It means near constant injuries. It means outright lying or at least obscuring the truth from good people. It's hell on the social life. In their case it also means a mentor that is difficult to deal with at times. A man of almost impossible determination and next to impossible expectations. True, he does not interfere nearly so much as he once did. He respects that they're grown-up now, that they can make their own choices. Still, he wasn't exactly thrilled with Dick when he revealed his identity to the Titans. It's pretty safe to assume he would be less thrilled with Barbara's associations. Ahhhh, the glamorous life of the Bat Family. It's not all punching demented clowns in the face.

"I'll let him know as soon as I'm in the car," Dick promises her at once, that ever-present grin flashed her way once more. "And you exaggerate. We might have half the Justice League descent on that part of town, but I'm sure he would simply order his hair back into place," he points out. And it would obey, if it doesn't want to get sniffed at in very British fashion. And really, no one wants that. "Catch you in a few," he offers, two fingers flicked from his forehead in a salute before he simply steps off the rooftop. The Crime Lab awaits.

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