|What: Batgirl and Robin investigate a different kind of crime in Gotham.|
In Gotham's brighter, less desperate uptown neighborhoods one could almost forget the sea of crime that the City is. New buildings and revivified factories make pricey residences for Gotham's elite and boutique stores and galleries sell the kinds of things that nobody but a rich idiot wants. It looks nice on the outside but it has its own brand of scum, white collared villains untouchable but no less monstrous than their downtown cousins. That is tonight's business.
Atop a brownstone mansion waits Robin, outfitted in his new costume and his arms folded across his stomach. He keeps a watch, eyes flickering this way and that as he waits for his occasional partner in (fighting) crime. Everything is already in place for tonight. Now all that is left is to spring the trap.
It's the flap of leatern wings on the night's breeze, something that the new 'Batgirl' hasn't yet quite learned to silence. Then the soft thump of booted feet landing before she rises to her feet. She definitely doesn't look like Barbara did as Batgirl. Too thin and lean and she lacks that bright red hair. The half-mask leaves her lower face and eyes exposed and so Damian can see the smile as she gives him a small pass of her hand in a wave as she joins him. She definitely seems to notice the new attire, giving it a critical look and nod of approval. Then, with a bit of a grin, she signs, 'Colors bright.'
Robin signs back one word, 'tradition' and then crouches to point at the roof of a converted factory across the street. Not quite as tall as the building they're on, their perch affords them a clear view through the skylight in the building's loft apartment. In the apartment, a trio of men sit at a table around a great pile of money. They seem to be counting it while one taps away at a laptop computer. Another sign is offered by Robin. 'Thieves'.
There's thoughtful frown that curves Batgirl's lips. Tradition isn't something that she particularly understands. Wasn't part of any culture that she was raised in. But she can see what it means to him and so she nods. She steps up onto the parapet and then drops into a crouch. The cape falls about her comfortably, and there's a dangerous, intimidating set to her in the costume that is another thing that she and Barbara likely didn't have in common as Batgirl. Damian is given a glance as he signs and then another nod. Her hands easily unfold from where they were tucked into the shadows of her cape to 'speak'. 'Talk you them?'
“In a way,” Robin answers, a malevolent little smile crossing his face as he lifts a hand to point at the crook using the laptop, “That one is Austin Claridge. He's been running a boiler room talking the elderly out of their retirement funds. The other two are Clay Winston and Aloysius Byrd - junior level executives at Claridge's day job, Manticore International. When they're not helping Claridge swindle the old they've been selling military surplus to North Korea.”
He knows what he's saying means precisely nothing to Cassandra, but he seems to feel better laying out the reasons for why they're out tonight. To make it clear to her he simply shakes his head and signs that they are 'bad men' and that they're going to 'scare' them.
Most of it really is complete gibberish to her. Even if he had signed it out, well. The names mean nothing, nor the jobs. Words, empty and meaningless. But she picks up on his meaning. That they've decieved. That they're hurting people. And that they're going to stop them. She also knows that Damian speaks as much to center himself in what they're doing as anything else. Treating her like he would a normal partner instead of trying to change just to cut down on extraneous information. It doesn't hurt anything and... the sound of his voice has become familiar. She gives him a nod and a fluidly signed, "You I follow."
“Yes,” Robin answers, signing the general meaning of his words as he does so, “You will enter by the living room window silently. Position yourself to keep them from escaping into the elevator. I'll enter via the skylight and make an ... impression on them.” He then pauses, waiting for her to process the information before tacking on 'no kill' and 'measured responses'. He'll make Batman proud yet.
Batgirl gives a short, emphatic nod at the 'no kill' part. She doesn't even have the tendency towards maiming that Damian likes. There's no pleasure or amusement in their pain, just a focus to stop them. She gives Robin a thumbs-up, amusing herself at using the gesture and then she lets fly a batarang with decel line and she's leaping away. Looks like she's already gotten the hang of how to swing on those thin lines. She lands on the moulding that makes a thin ledge around the building, clinging to the brick facade as she makes her way towards the living room window. She knows just how to move, how to slip through the many Gotham shadows that if Robin wasn't watching for her, he might have missed her at first.
Really, sneaking into things is part of an assassin's stock and trade, and Batgirl is very, very good at that. Being quiet. Going unnoticed. Getting into places. The window is worked free, and she slips in quieter than a mouse. She takes up a position to be able to cut off any escape and then looks to the skylight. A penlight is kept cupped between her hands, so only Robin sees the double flash of light signalling she's ready.
A small smile cannot help but emerge on Robin's face as he sees Batgirl's improvisation to cover up for the lack of radio communication between the pair. He nods his head at her, stepping away from the glass and back into the shadows of the rooftop for the moment.
“This Colonel Sook guy is a real pain in the ass,” says the blow-dried, spray-tanned Clay Winston, flicking through a thick wad of notes, “Insists we follow a bunch of rules any time we meet him. Thinks he's buying state secrets or something. Nobody's missing the junk they're buying. Even Melton hasn't noticed and he's the tighest ass in the history of tight asses.”
The other two men chuckle, Claredon opening his mouth to say something when a sudden explosion right above their heads cuts him short. The glass, shattered into tiny granules by the blast, rains down on them and Byrd falls out of his chair in shock. Before they can even turn their surprise into words Robin is descending, landing in a fearsome crouch amidst the piles of cash on the table.
Batgirl stays in the shadows near the exit, but all eyes are on Robin and the people he's dealing with. How he handles them. How they react. Their bodies speak to her things that their words won't say, even if she understood them. Also of interest is the satisfaction, even delight that Robin takes in his 'work'.
The men at the table speak all at once, their words a mix of surprise, disbelief and genuine terror. 'What the hell?' 'Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!' 'Just a kid?!' 'It's the freakin' Bat-Kid!' Robin seems to relish their fear and confusion, rising slowly to his feet and pounding his fist into an open palm with an audible smack.
“Which of you is Claredon?” he asks, looking at the one he already recognizes as Austin Claredon, “We need to have words.”
“Him,” Claredon pipes up immediately, pointing at Winston, “That gu-OOF!'
As Claredon tries to climb out of his seat and throw one of his partners under the bus, Damian's foot suddenly finds his chin and he goes tumbling back into the kitchen. It isn't hard enough to knock him out but the man is lying on the kitchen floor with a fount of blood pouring from his nose.
“Oh no, I think /you're/ Claredon.”
As Robin turns on the ringleader, Byrd decides to make a break for it. He leaps to his feet, running into the living room and straight for the elevator.
One moment the the way is clear. Escape, and freedom in sight as Robin certainly isn't paying Byrd any attention. And then she's just *there*, between one blink and the next. There is the peaked ears of the bat, the sweep of the cape, but the figure is too small. Too slight. Too female. She doesn't stand braced for Byrd's rush, or striking an intimidating pose. She stands with the cape draped down, hiding most of her body. Just part of the Bat symbol is visible across her chest, the rest obscured like a bat-shaped ghost. She's timed her appearanced so there's not really any time for Byrd to change course, and all she does is simply slide to the side by mere inches, hands emerging from her cape to grab Byrd's arm and redirect him head-first into the wall.
Byrd lets out a panicked cry, attempting to fight Batgirl off but there is nothing he can do. He is slung around just as she wishes him to be, crashing headfirst into the wall. He hits it hard enough to put a hole in the plaster, slumping forward into a semi-conscious pile at her feet. He's a rich brat who may spend all his time at the gym but he's not a fighter. He goes down like a sack of bricks.
Meanwhile, Robin has stepped off the table to loom over Claredon who is scrambling away from him and back towards the refrigerator. His eyes are wide, full of panic.
“You might have been able to sidestep the S.E.C., Claredon, but you won't sidestep me. You can consider your little scam over.”
Behind Robin, Winston has climbed to his feet and surreptitiously fished a gun out of the inside pocket of his coat. He's already raising it to point at the back of the kid's head. On the floor, Claredon suddenly shouts:
“Clay! No! He's a kid!” Child murder is not something Claredon wants on his rap sheet.
“I'm not going to Guantanamo for some punk,” Winston replies, a crazed look in his eyes. Robin is already turning but he might not be fast enough.
There's no thinking. No hesitation. No doubt. Batgirl's fingers flip out a pair of batarangs even as Winston is pulling the gun. She can see it all. The intent. The conviction. That his aim is dead-on and one thing she's learned all too well, other people don't dodge bullets half so well as the new, unsanctioned Batgirl does. There's the flick of her wrist and the bat-shaped metal goes end-over-end through the air with an accuracy that seems so perfect that it must be a lucky shot. It's difficult, dangerous, to try to hit someone's hand just right to make them drop the gun and not fire it accidentally. And she never hesitates.
Winston drops the gun with a clatter, bringing his blood-soaked hand up to his chest as he howls in pain. The batarangs are deeply embedded in his flesh. Not enough to cause permanent damage but the wounds will need stitches. Robin turns around in the same instance, bringing his fist up under the would-be gunman's jaw. Clay is literally horizontal in the air for a moment before he crumples to the floor, sobbing quietly. Robin gives Batgirl a brief hand gesture, equating to: 'Bind him.'
Robin has another fish to fry, crouching down at Claredon's feet as he grins up at the man. His quarry too terrified to do anything, all he can do is watch as the Boy Wonder tightly ties his ankles with a length of decel line. He stands up, moving to tie the other end to the refrigerator handle. All the while he speaks to the man.
“Now, I have extreme confidence that you're not going to be up to your old tricks anymore. But, what I /do/ need from you is some information. Your boss at Manticore is up to much nastier thing than you and your comrades here. You have around three seconds to tell me.”
“I-I can't,” Claredon answers, finally speaking up, “They'll kill me.”
“Oh, no, Austin,” Robin answers, a malevolent chuckle in his voice.
The kid lifts his boot and kicks the refrigerator heavily. It wobbles a moment before it topples backwards out the window, the line quickly unfurling and whipping out after it.
“I'm going to beat them to it.”
Batgirl moves with a quiet efficiency, stepping over to tie up the two that Robin doesn't need to interrogate. While it doesn't look like she's paying much attention at all to Robin and Claredon, that's where the bulk of it is. There's no twitch in her hands as he implies he's going to kill the man. She just knows that he's lying to threaten the man.
“Bezmelnizin! Bezmelnizin! Jesus Christ, his name is Bezmelnizin!”
Even as Claredon is opening his mouth, Robin is already passing a batarang through the decel line that is swiftly growing taut between the man and the fridge. The specially-designed edge slices through the rope easily, a second later it vanishes out the window and is followed soon after by a noisy crash in the alleyway down below.
“Good,” Robin says quietly, crouching down to slap Claredon almost playfully across the face, “Now, are you going to sell any more false shares?”
Claredon shakes his head.
“And are you going to return every penny of this money to the people you stole it from?”
Claredon nods his head.
“And am I going to come back and slit your throat in your sleep if you don't?”
Claredon pauses, looking terrified for a moment before nodding quickly.
That said, Robin reaches up to pat the man on the shoulder and, in the process, pinches him precisely at the base of his neck. A brief upset of blood to the brain is enough to make the man pass out harmlessly, falling backwards.
Batgirl rises as she finishes tying up the other two while Robin gets the information he wants from Claredon. Through it all she never flinches or cringes. She looks so calm, even amidst the violence and the fear of those around them. As Claredon passes out she looks to Robin and, in complete contrast to that eerily calm demeanor, gives him a smile and a thumbs-up with a quizzical tilt of her head. They did good? One thing that the crooks can comment on. The next generation of Bats? Play rough.
“Well done,” Robin says quietly with a nod, standing up and stepping over the unconscious Claredon, “The police are on their way. There's not enough here to have them all locked up but this amount of money is bound to raise some eyebrows and our friend there is up for unlawful possession of a firearm.”
The Boy Wonder moves swiftly around the apartment planting small, barely visible devices under picture frames and inside phones. Bugs to funnel information back to the Batcave. They're bound to start talking when they come to and there'll be information that Robin would like to hear.
He pauses a moment across the room, looking left and right to make sure nobody else is watching and then? He returns Batgirl's thumbs up.
Batgirl's smile goes all the way to her eyes, making them glitter a bit with her amusement. This isn't something she's had before. A friend. A task that uses her skills and yet there are no demands for her to take things to that final step. Finally, she feels like she's doing something really worthwhile.
“Come on,” Robin tells her, moving to one of the apartment's windows and opening it so he can crouch on the ledge, “Time to go. I want to do some legwork at Manticore before morning.”
He's onto something, it seems, and he's bringing Batgirl along with him. Like it or not, she's in this to the end now.
Batgirl gives Robin an emphatic nod, following after him. She certainly isn't going to try to back out. While the details of the white collar crime are something she has trouble grasping, apparently she doesn't need those details. She trusts in Robin that they're going to do something for the good. And that's all that matters. Looks like Robin's got a sidekick of his own.