Chasing a Castle

October 29, 2018:

The Black Bat ventures to New York City to fulfill a promise, and asks Sloane Albright for help with a case.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Batman, Batgirl, The Punisher


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

You'd think a parking garage might be more dangerous in an invasion, but oddly enough the demons have gotten so bored with cars they pretty much steer clear. Really, there are so few people to fuck with they leave these concrete fortresses almost completely alone, which has in turn meant it's a great place to once again keep your car. If, of course, you can navigate the destruction that took place in the initial invasion onslaught.

Burned out hulks of cars sit like rotting bodies, some smashed to pieces, with glass strewn every which way, it's a mess. But an industrious SHIELD Agent and fish-person could make it work. But here at the end of a long day of demon fighting and protecting the innocent, the SHIELD SUV sits untouched, a welcome respite that promises to carry the weary home. Or would, had not a shadow grown across it as it's owner approached, two spines of darkness rising from the shape of the head that will be visible from somewhere behind the Agent of SHIELD.

Another demon? Most wouldn't bother to be this quiet. But there is something else that casts such a profile. Something well known as an urban legend made form, but not for this urban landscape. In Gotham, the profile would be utterly unmistakable. To the informed, it may still be. There is a palpable, grim calm to that shadow. A pressing intensity that escalates in the moments between notice and action.

Has The Batman come for Sloane Albright?!

At a cursory glance, it's a little weird that a SHIELD agent — even a metatype — is on the streets alone during the invasion, but by the strictest definition Sloane Albright is off the clock; it does little to keep her from hitting the streets on the regular to check on folks whom need aid the most; the wounded, the weak or infirm, and those that have been hiding in shelters. She likewise has a list of addresses prepared for her by Dani Moonstar, being folded and tucked into the inside pocket of her jacket: Students at the Xavier school that haven't been able to get in touch with family members in town, checking in either as a courtesy call or tracking down those that fled their homes.

The SUV's clearly a company car, what with the emblem on the doors, though if the 'scene' were checked thouroughly, there are at least six five gallon buckets (food grade) in the back, with lids, clean and unused.

And then there's Sloane: She's been on the streets for awhile, her ginger red hair still tied in a high ponytail but a little bit of a mess; she has the tell-tale scuffs and scrapes of someone who has been out there as much as possible to help ensure that New York keeps running in it's own idiosyncratic way. Her cropped jacket is a little beaten and worn on the seams, right hand still wrapped in dirtied bandages and gosh is there certainly a gun strapped to her leg in a tactical holster.

The parking garage's silence is … less than comforting, at least with how things have been out there. The slight chunk heel on her suit's footwear and the sound of jingling keys are all she really hears.

She's not psychic, but she gets that creeping, nagging sense of something strange behind her. 'I swear, if someone else is in here…' she thinks to herself.

And the shadows oblige.

Twisting on her heel in a swift move, her left hand snaps backward to conjure and hold a swirling ball of water; undoubtedly a projectile if she were to shape and release it.

It takes her a moment to see the form, understand the shadow and the shapes, and then have a whole lot of emotions rush into her head at once because wait is this /the/ Batman? Brows scrunch. He's pretty short if so. Her arm lowers, her stance settling into some kind of cautious but neutral idle. Whoever trained the Inhuman was good at their job.

"I really hope you're not just cosplaying in the middle of this shit," Sloane finally says, less in jovial quip and more out of exhaustion.

The shadow that meets Sloane is every bit the stark silence of the legend, but it doesn't take long to realize this is not the Batman. Too short, smaller in every way, really, and the mask she wears is devoid of eyes or a mouth of any kind. When that cape parts, spread across the ground like an ink stain that moves out of respect for the one that commands it, the differences become clearer. Whoever she is, she is cut from the same cloth, but not the original. Whoever she is, she does not seem particularly afraid of water.

The general air of being unimpressed is a family trait, you see, and Cassandra learned from the best. That is, she learned from her new family. Still, there are some things that cut through it all. Curiosity is one of them, and it's something that the red head says that brings her chin tilting up slightly. But the mission comes first.


A folder hits the ground, tossed from under her cape with a motion almost too fast to follow. Three pictures smear across the ground like a slideshow, and each of them has a singular iconography that will draw the eyes in: That of a bone-white skull painted on black.

"Frank Castle."

Ever a creature of few words, and not by some measure of menace, but unfamiliarity, she still manages to convey what she wants in a way only someone from the Bat-Family can. Silence follows that name, an offer for Sloane to fill in the blanks, but never does The Black Bat stop looking at her and through her, eyes sliding over water held to strike and muscles singing with exhaustion.

The cape parts; limbs, voice, and now the stature makes more sense. Sloane's taking every note she can in her head on the costume, unsure still of who this person is — or could be — until the folder is flicked out, hitting the ground and sending a few photos free. Flicking the water ball to the side, releasing her control on the element and allowing it to splatter on the ground, her attention turns to the folder.

"Yeah, I've heard of him," Sloane says, lowering into a squat. She's staying balanced, fiery orange eyes forward as she picks up the folder and flips it open— she doesn't bother with the scattered photos, as they would be too much of a distraction. Instead, she focuses off and on on the contents of the papers.

How did she get this information? Shit, is this girl legit?

"Vet, family died, we know all of that. What's your interest?" she asks, clearly a little bit cagey.

Inside are a smattering of police reports, eye witness statements, the kind of thing someone with a little computer know-how or someone on the inside can pry from a police computer database. Nothing deep background. Nothing like what SHIELD might have buried in their electronic vaults. The silence that passes in the time it takes Sloane to toss her water aside and read in earnest continues after her question, but for few of the reasons anyone might expect.

It's more than just trying to pick apart the words and figure out which sounds to make in return. She's reading Sloane to fill in the blanks, to make sense of what she doesn't verbally understand. In the meantime, she picks up far more from the scaled hero than she'd ever let on in just those few words shared between them. Earnest. Stalwart. Heroic.

It reminds her for just a moment, of someone else she'd seen, in the gleaming city across the way.

Someone who wears red and blue and refuses to fail in the face of exhaustion.

When she speaks again, it is with perhaps a solemn sort of confidence, her gaze sliding down to the photographs and her mind spinning backwards to the conversation with Barbara.

"He needs help."

Such a short statement, filled with quiet determination and yet it could mean any number of things. But Cassandra knows that, and elaborates the best way she can, if not exactly on the subject of why she is interested. "Need SHIELD's information. All of it."

A flash drive lands in the open file. No, it does not have a bat symbol on it.

At first, she looks doubtful, but then the magic words come up: 'He needs help.'

"I don't know a lot about the case. Plus, we've been a little…" Sloane's bandaged hand gestures in a fairly nebulous manner. There's dirt and blood behind the gauze. "Busy."

A hand lifts to scratch at the back of one of her long, tapered ears, tilting her head as the next few pages are leafed through. She hasn't spoken to Jessica since TCLEC, she remembers, but both the agent and the PI have been busy in their own rights.

The flash drive lands on the papers. Tired eyes lift from the papers to the batgirl, frowning a little bit. "Don't ask for much, do you?"

Picking up the flash drive between thumb and forefinger, she gives it a quick study before letting it fall into the palm of her hand, holding it safe. "Look…" she starts with a sigh.

"I can't make promises. I'll dig into it a little bit and ask around but I don't know how much I'll be able to find out… or give. What do I call you?"

When Sloane gestures up and around, the sliver of night from Gotham doesn't visible look, but once the Agent of SHIELD tells her she'll help, that seems to be enough to draw a comment about the surroundings, finally looking around at the trashed parking garage, and a few fires burning in the distance. Sirens call, from block to block. Military and police forces on the move as mayhem rains and a few good people try to make a difference. Maybe it's a little bit of Hell on Earth. For the Black Bat, it's something else entirely. Finally, she looks back to Sloane.

"Just like home."

She looks like she's going to turn to go, to leave the conversation at that. No calling card or further instruction to muddle the mixture.

'What do I call you?'

Words are important. She's learned this, after a time. Batman and Barbara and the rest have tried to help her understand how they aren't just lies meant to cover the truth of the body. They're the projection. What you want people to know about you, because not everyone can read intentions or emotions like they read letters on a page. If only she could read letters on a page, maybe she'd understand completely.

"Black Bat."

A pause, and Cassandra tilts her head ever so slightly, calling back to something Sloane said early.


'Just like home.'

It doesn't take a body reader to understand the look on Sloane's face right now: Worry. Gotham has it's own troubles, she knows, but she hasn't been there enough to get a grasp on it first-hand. Maybe she should, when this is all over? It depends on how much time she has if — when — this gets resolved.

Closing the folder, picking it up and tucking it under her arm, the inhuman's weight rolls back to her heels before an easy rise to her full height.

"All right. I have a feeli—"


The young scaled woman stops. "Uh— people wearing costumes. For fun. … Uh. Look, I don't know how on the level you are, so my brain went to first assumptions. Sorry— I'm tired."

But, not tired enough that she won't check up on Black Bat as soon as she gets the chance.

Sloane's eyes briefly drift down while she tucks the flash drive into her jacket. "So I'm guessing you'll contact me or something?"

It's not like she doesn't understand the fear she's seen on the citizens of this city. It's all too familiar. New York had it's own troubles, own history. On some level Cassandra knew that, but knew it wasn't like Gotham, well, until now. Maybe worse now. It resolved her to stay a night or two, to lend a hand. It'll be her payment to the tired Agent, part of the trade, but she'l never tell her. Sloane will just have to figure it out like everyone else when SHIELD inevitably gets a bulletin about Batman or an associate moving around New York City and sending demons straight back to whatever Hell they've come from.

As Sloane explains Cost-play, it immediately clicks. Barbara had told her about this. A night, very soon, when people everywhere would dress up as things. Creatures. She can understand the mistake, fear is the currency the Bat-Family deals in to ply their trade, and so it would not surprise Cassandra to know someone might dress as a Bat-person for… what was it called?

Right. Halloween.

Sloane asks her question, but she does not get an answer, and by the time her tired eyes drift back to the space where the Black Bat was, the scaled woman will have found herself in elite company, subjected to another hallmark of Batman and those who would follow in his footsteps.

The silence that follows in her disappearing act is almost startling, no hint of her passage, their conversation, or the Bat's escape left in it's wake. Just the sound of the city leeching back in, inch by inch, and the soft flicker of an overhead light.

It doesn't take long for her to look back up and realize that Black Bat is actually gone.

Her head tilts, eyes widening, pupils tweaking as she struggles to peer the darkness and look around the parking garage. Everything is silent and still until it's not; the sound of the city returning to her ears and giving the SHIELD agent a moment to re-acclimate to the sounds of … everything.

Sloane's heard of this— it's like a trademark move, at this point.

After a long moment of silence, flicking a few strands of ginger red back away from her face, Sloane just utters one word:

"… Cool."

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