A New Monster, Bakeneko!

April 26, 2019:

Katsumi has had to make some tough choices to get by in Gotham, and it's lead to her becoming an underground pit fighter. And through that, Katsumi adopts the "Bakeneko" moniker. When suddenly, Spoiler crashes the party…

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Things didn't take much of an upswing. Katsumi's been confused, laying low, trying to understand her place in the world now that she's utterly and completely isolated. She'd gotten hungry. Starting to feel the effects of exposure. And it left her weak one day; exhausted. The very thing Spoiler had tried to save her from capitalized on her condition; a gang grabbed her off the street of Chinatown and overwhelmed her. The original idea was to sell her to one of the bigger movers and shakers in Gotham. But a couple thugs recognized her, and an idea was born. They'd put her to work in the underground fighting ring. Their spectators would have a cheap thrill and laugh. THEN they'd sell her off. Plus, it might break her irritatingly defiant spirit.

But things didn't go the way they expected. Katsumi even got paid for the show. The guy they threw at her went to the hospital - but he'll survive and continue walking. A sleazy booker approached her with guarantee for higher pay and quality fights, and she accepted.

The next day, Herukage found her. He had many questions. But there was no other way to survive, that Katsumi could see. And it doubled as training. And it was her element. That night, she performed again. She was paid.

The next day, she bought clothes appropriate to what she was doing. She ate. She rested in a hotel. And she chose to go back. Herukage did not approve.

As Katsumi made her way through the throng of musky, unwashed bodies roaring for bloodshed, her booker doing a fine enough job of keeping the rabble at bay. "You givin' any thought to what we discussed? Somethin' with a little more pizazz? A monster like you NEEDS a name," he explained, his free hand bobbing his cigar in her direction. Katsumi's magenta gaze remained on the cage ahead, lips a thin line for a few thoughtful seconds. "…Yeah. I did." As she murmured to the booker, the cage is unlocked and the girl steps inside. Armed with new information, the booker ran through the swarm of criminals to pass the information along to the announcer.

"Back again to tear apart the opposition! She came in nothing, but now we can't get enough! The demon! BAKENEKO!"

Dressed in a gray and black racerback sportsbra, black conforming yoga pants, combat boots, and fingerless fighting gloves, the Japanese girl lifted her arms to usher in the eager cheer of the crowd both lecherous and vile. And then her opponent was let into the cage, snarling and eager to break the considerably smaller girl apart.

Fast forward to present!

'Bakeneko' has the heel of her boot against the man's neck while he lies facedown on the concrete of the dirty 'ring', holding his left arm in the air and backwards in a standing armbar. With one hand. The other is motioning through the air, urging the audience to roar their approval of the pain she's putting him through. There's a smirk playing on her face, but it dims when the familiar chant of 'Kill! Kill! Kill!' begins to rise.

*

Underground fighting rings. They are a hive of scum and villainy and usually harbors other bits of organized crime. Things like drugs and human trafficking. That's what Spoiler has been tracking lately, looking for the place that was funding the human trafficking in and out of Chinatown in Gotham. She'd gotten into the building as the cry for Bakeneko rings out. By the time 'Neko had her opponent on the floor, Spoiler had positioned herself above the kingpin, her prey. When the chant for her to kill the man rings out, Spoiler looks over.

Yes, Spoiler will admit that for a heartbeat when she shifted her gaze from her target to Katsumi she was worried about how Katsumi would react. Behind her optics, blue-green eyes narrow before they slide away to reveal those narrowed eyes. Would the 'demon' listen to the crowd? Would the hero the girl wants to be shine through? Spoiler waits and watches.

The smirk dims. The motion is slight but Spoiler notices it. Her own dark purple painted lips smile. It's smile, it's fragile, it's genuine.

There is hope still, and all will be well.

Spoiler triggers the pulse she had rigged to kill the lights, and in the sudden shocked silence that falls over everyone that suddenly has all electronics cut out, her soft voice drifts in to fill the space.

"You always seemed a Dischord to me," says Stephanie.

Yes, Stephanie. The charge Spoiler had to use knocked out her own electronics for the moment. She knew how long she had until her gear cycles back up. She's timed it. It's too long if she got in trouble. It's not long enough that she can't get back to her bike if she really had to run for it.

Words spoken, her position possibly revealed, Spoiler can wait no longer.

The batling drops from the ceiling. LIke an angel of vengence, she lands on the low table in teh middle of the Traffic Leader's group and lays into them. The leader gets the first strike, a harsh bo staff to the temple - Spoiler got a new one! Thanks, Katsumi for bending the previous one! - to drop him to the floor before she's on the rest, acting as fast as she humanly can.

*

The Japanese girl's head turns one way, then the other, the pressure to act mounting in her. The arm she'd previously held aloft slowly sags down to her side. She can't do that. She can't just kill people. Even if it's the implied purpose of her power, it's a line she doesn't want to cross - one that goes wholly against her training, against her ethos! Wrestlers take care of each other! Or the good ones do, anyway.

Just as 'Bakeneko' moves her boot from the dude's neck to gives him a kick into his side to push him away, the lights suddenly cut out! Though she was starting to get used to this setup, she doesn't remotely trust these people enough to be in full darkness around them. She backs up a few steps, effectively blind-

THAT VOICE! It's such an earworm! And it's referencing Dischord? Wait, does she mean the thing from MLP? What a weird and random thing to say! Maybe not even to her! But that voice! ..Actually, the reference, too…

The lights come up again. Immediately, Bakeneko spots Spoiler drop down and start to light into things. She stands there in the ring, slackjawed, unsure how to act. Half the crowd is scattering and attempting to get away. The other half is crowding at the batling, pulling out knives and a couple guns.

*

Spoiler had gotten through the ones around the table when the lights kicked on. Her optics delay a full second in hiding her eyes from the world. The blue of her gaze focused and crystalline as she flips off her perch to get down and in the crowd. She immediatelly foot sweeps one, side-steps in a crouch to punch the side of another thug's knee cap to breaking. Her staff had been retracted when she flipped, and she uses it now as a baton in this much closer melee.

The batling stays low, using various thugs and positioning to keep them as human shields between herself and those guns while trying to close on their position to take them out. All while she's aware that she's wrapped her ribs, but they're tender and she shouldn't have done this tonight. She should have set one of the others to this task tonight and stayed in to let her rest and mend.

Bruce didn't have that luxury, once upon a time.

The others were all busy with their own things.

One of the missing girls was from her class. Having spotted Katsumi here confirmed all of Stephanie's fears, and this became personal.

"Spoiler Alert," she says, dropping another after breaking his arm at the elbow and shove-kicking him at another. The digital effect is back, signaling that her own gear was back online.

"Human trafficking makes you all less than scum, and teeth is too low a price for you to pay for it." Who is the monster? The one thrust into this life or the one that walked into it as a dilberate choice?

*

Did Katsumi do both? She wouldn't know how to even begin answering that. All she knows is that this felt like her only option and recourse.

The girl, hereafter in this context dubbed Bakeneko, bounds to the edge of the 'ring'. Her fingers hook through the links of the cage as she peers after Spoiler. "Are you still following me!?," she shouts at her, attempting to be heard over the commotion. She really doesn't know! And having some sort of context to frame this in would help her process! But at this time, the walls of the cage are keeping her very separated from Spoiler and the remaining swarm attempting to overwhelm her.

*

"No," Spoiler shouts back. It's not a smart move since it's a second that Spoiler should have used to keep moving. But she didn't. Instead, she responded to her friend, to the tension she heard and felt in that question.

One thug hits her, staggers her forward into another, and suddenly Spoiler's over run.

A gun shot.

The blonde falls and curls into a ball to try to protect her ribs as the gang proceeds to kick her while she's down.

*

The gun fires, and Bakeneko jumps! Spoiler is overrun in a hail of kicks, and Bakeneko squeaks! Slender fingers cover her lips, exotic almond eyes wide and worried. She dove into a mass of attackers, and now they're beating her up! Maybe killing her! Sure, Spoiler's the whole reason she's even out here, for turning the heroing world against her (presumably!), for forcing her to realize that she's incapable of being with ANY person, but she has no desire to watch her DIE! It's maybe self-deprecating, but watching this unfold is eating her alive.

"Stop it! Quit!"

Bakeneko grips onto the links of the cage. And then she's pulling at them. The interwoven metal wires begin to unwind and contort as they're pulled apart, Bakeneko's teeth gritting. And then suddenly: *CLANGK!* The cage is ripped open.

Katsumi had been trying to play her powers off. That cat is officially out of the bag now. But the sacrifice had to be made. Right? She hopes it had to. But once the gap is created, she lunges through, grabbing bodies and yank-throwing them away from Spoiler as she makes her way closer. Ultimately, she means to unearth the blonde from the swarm.

*

Under the hail of blows, Spoiler was trying for a flash bang. Training had her hiding her vulnerable spots. Numbers had the blows getting through anyway. Over the din, she can hear Katsumi yelling. She can hear the clang of the fencing.

Thugs go flying and the bookee stands, stunned, watching his money-maker display the fact that she was not entirely human, that the fights were very clearly rigged. He backs away one step at a time until he's clear so he can make a run for it. He might have to pay the piper if he stays, getting blamed for rigging unfair bets.

The thugs on Spoiler had been too focused on the batling to realize their numbers were thinning until one last one, foot poised back to deliver a kick pauses. Something was wrong, and he looks up to see Bakeneko before him with only the fallen and unmoving body of one of Batman's kids between them. In the sudden silence, Spoiler's slightly ragged breathing can be heard.

*

Bakeneko stands there, posture slightly hunched, fingers splayed, seeting through her teeth, and eyes burning dangerously on the one remaining thug. She steps over the fallen Spoiler to close the distance. She's smaller than the guy she's moving towards. But her gait carries the confidence of someone easily twice her size. And upon reaching her prey, her hand flashes out to snatch him by the collar. With a quick yank, her head tilts forward to ram her brow against his - carefully, to not dent a skull. But immediately after administering the hit, Bakeneko attempts to toss him aside and put her focus on Spoiler.

"Can you get up!?"

*

The words drift toward her from somewhere almost far away. Spoiler inhales, the motion cut short on a sharp half groan. Breathless, the batling moves to push herself up anyway. Staying still is dangerous. Staying down is life-threatening. The win if you stop getting back up. Trembling, Spoiler forces herself up, hand immediately going to her side. Her breathing is short and shallow. Her lipstick's smeared. Blood trickles down her chin from a split in her lip. Pain is etched into how she carries herself.

"….Trafficker," she rasps, hoping Katsumi understands, pretty sure that she won't. "Need to. Make sure he won't. Hurt kids again. Take kids. Again." Spoiler is not swaying slightly. You're swaying slightly.

*

Bakeneko looks lost. "Trafficker?," she asks. Her head turns to look at the remaining, fleeing inhabitants of the room. Even those who'd been previously tossed are deciding to cut their losses and bail. But she can't tell who Spoiler is referring to against all the others present. "You-.. wha-.. we can't deal with that right now! We've gotta get you out of here, stupid!"

Bakeneko reaches suddenly for Spoiler, aiming to smoothly sweep her off her feet and into a cradled position against her chest - unless Spoiler struggles too much.

*

The thought occurred to Spoiler to struggle, to finish the job. But she's injured, now well and truly injured, and the thought of struggle dies in the face of the pain from her ribs as she's swept off her feet. She tries to swallow down the moan. She fails, and the voice modulator renders it into a soft kitten-like growl, a tiny and helpless little unhappy sound.

"Roof. Bike. On Roof," Spoiler tries to say, eyes slipping closed before her head jerks and she forces herself focused again.

*

Bakeneko's head is tilted to look down at the girl in her arms, perplexed. "On the ROOF? A bike!?," she asks. But even after just asking, she begins trotting for the exit. The irony is perhaps that she's more or less chasing the remaining thuggery outside, rather than them effectively escaping. But outside, there's a series of metal steps in the form of a fire escape, which leads up to the rooftop. The Japanese girl begins trotting along, boots heavily thumping with each metallic step.

"What's the matter with you!?," she demands. "Jumping into that group!"

*

Each step is jarring, and Spoiler grits her teeth against crying out in agony. All she can do is try to keep her breathing shallow and light, hold her ribs as still as she can hold them, and hope it's enough to keep the ends of the crack she can feel rubbing against each other from slipping loose and sending one into a lung.

"Had to. Monster. Against monsters. No one else. Slave trade. Innocents hurt." Is it incoherent, her wording? her phrasing is sticatto, short and as jarring as those heavy steps that lead Katsumi to the roof where a sleek and high-tech hover bike waits. It sits, near silent, its engines humming softly, waiting for its rider.

*

"That doesn't make sense!," Bakeneko replies, clearing THAT right up. No, she doesn't follow the logic. But then, they didn't really tell her much of anything. It went from 'fight or die' to 'fight and get paid'.

Bakeneko trots Spoiler to the bike and awkwardly attempts to tilt her onto the device, frowning. "Picking fights with me. Picking fights with them. Is there anyone you DON'T start fights with?"

*

Spoiler sags onto the bike, whimpering aloud as the angle change further grinds her ribs. Her head is spinning. She knows the autopilot can get her to any of her pre-programmed destinations: The Cave, Her Den, Avenger's Mansion, JL Headquarters, Titan Tower. She's just pretty sure she won't be able to hang on.

"Ride." A pause. Prideful batling, head bowed, asking for help. "Can't. Ride. You." Complete thoughts are getting harder and only one thing is clear to Spoiler: "Concuss." And broken ribs, but you know… baby steps.

*

"What!?," squeaks Bakeneko. "I can't- I can't drive something like this! I don't even know how you got it up there! I never learned to motorcycle!" It's a verb. But the Japanese girl inches closer, inspecting the vehicle. "Should I- um, maybe an ambulance?" Call? Summon? Whatever one does to get one here in the States.

*

"No Ambu- Amb- No. Hold. Bike goes. Program. Auto. Pilot," Spoiler says, clinging desperately to consciousness knowing that falling asleep now could be more dangerous than the thugs. She'd have grabbed her adrenaline shot to force herself awake by now, but those jarring foot falls to get up here.

*

"Ahn-! But-!," ineffectually fusses Bakeneko. She's so uncomfortable by this. Huddle up with the girl who's caused her life to go into a tailspin? On a vehicle that apparently has autopilot? If it crashed and explodes, she may not be able to tough it out! And her clothes might burn up! That would be horrific!

Still making uncomfortable noises, Bakeneko tucks herself in behind Spoiler and takes ahold of the handles of the bike.

*

With Bakeneko settled behind her, supporting her so she doesn't slide off the side, Spoiler tries to trigger the commands in her HUD. She fails when her eyes refuse to open. A few seconds pass, the batling leaning heavily into the smaller body behind her. Her breathing is labored and shallow.

"Bike. Titan. Slow. Engage." The words are crisp and clear, forced so and sound like it's how she programmed the bike's voice recognition. A moment later the bike beeps it's acknowledgement. The engines flare to life, still a quiet hum but stronger than the near-silent idle. It lifts gracefully from the roof, turns in mid-air, and starts toward New York.

"Dont… let… fall. Trust, you. Can't… sleep. Cant… sta~…"

Spoiler's body goes heavy and limp, her breathing slow but still there, telegraphing that the batling has blacked out and is as weak and vulnerable as any mere human girl would be.

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