|Falcone's War: East River Pirates|
|What: Batgirl comes across a new face while out on patrol.|
Though it is far from the usual hubs of crime, this sleepy little neighborhood on Gotham's East River is clearly seeing some unusual attention tonight. The shops have closed up for the evening and most of the residences have no lights in the window. It seems that everyone has decided to go to be tonight rather than enjoy the nightlife.
That is, everyone except for the men down by the river. Six men dressed warmly stand on a dock, flashlights in hand, and wave at a shadow out on the river. Before long, the shadow reveals itself to be a fishing trawler of some sort chugging up to the bank. One of the men calls out for the boat to stop and the driver abides. Soon, the rest of the men are lashing the trawler to the dock with heavy ropes and climbing aboard.
“Move it, move it,” a heavyset man with a five o'clock shadow demands as the others climb aboard, “Crates off the boat and on the truck. We got half an hour.”
Nearby, it's headlights extinguished and it's engine cut, a grimy truck waits with the rear doors flung open.
Batgirl doesn't have a set route, or a given 'territory'. When Robin's about she tags along with him and when he doesn't turn up then she heads out by herself. Tonight's brought her down to the East River. Not following crime, but just moving from rooftop to rooftop, enjoying the tumbling freedom of movement above the streets.
She lands in a light crouch, catching her breath when the activity at the river catches her attention. She hunkers down lower, keeping her profile small and in the shadows as she watches, trying to discern if this is actually something she should intercede with or if it's legitimate. She can usually tell by how the people are acting those doing illigal things tend to be nervous and watchful.
Down on the boat, the men disappear below deck only to return not long after carrying heavy-looking crates. They pass them off the boat to others waiting on the dock who, in turn, carry them over and deposit them in the back of the truck. The heavyset man looks to be in charge, chomping on a cigar and checking his watch as the other men move the shipment.
“Speed it up,” he demands, frowning, “Hey, Murphy, tighten that damn line or you're gonna – hell!”
The loosened line causes the boat to drift away from the dock, sending one of the men tumbling over the side. His feet splash in the water as he clings to the side of the boat, calling out noisily for someone to help him.
“Pull him up,” demands the leader, running forward and pointing his cigar at the man hanging off the boat, “Shut the hell up, Murphy. You're gonna wake the dead.”
The way the men hold themselves, they're nervous of being caught in the act.
And being nervous about being caught usually means they're doing something wrong. Batgirl eases down through the shadows, dropping from her perch like liquid, hitting ledges and outcroppings until she hits the ground. Then, on sneaky batfeet, she makes her way towards the truck that they're loading the crates onto, peeking into the cab.
In the cab, the driver sits with a MAC 10 in his lap and his knees bouncing up and down nervously. He drums his fingers on the wheel, peering out and muttering something about amateurs. After a moment he reaches into his pocket, producing his cell phone and flicking through the text messages therein. His attention drawn away from the dock. That's when things begin to fall apart.
Down at the dock, one of the men carrying crates towards the truck lets out an angry shout, followed by the clatter of him dropping his crate. Then, the sound of flesh striking flesh noisily and painfully. The man carrying the crate collapses backwards, rolling down the embankment and lying unconscious on the shore.
“He's up there!”
On the boat, automatic weapons begin to fire. Silenced, but without suppressors, the flashes from the muzzles briefly illuminate the night. Leaping from the truck and darting deftly and gracefully down the path towards the dock is a man clad in black and gold, though any view of him the brief lighting grants is fleeting. A cape trails behind him, flapping through the night as he seems to almost sidestep the bullets.
Most might react with surprise. Hesitation. But to Batgirl everything happening at once is par for the course. She doesn't need to stop and assess. Se just slides herself into the flow of violence. The door of the truck's cab is opened, a right cross to the jaw to put the driver down and then she's flowing up in a gravity-defying summersault to the roof of the vehicle to use it as a platform to start putting down the gunmen. She jumps for one, a kick also a springboard to send her tumbling to the next. A sweep of feet and a rising uppercut and she's sliding on. She knows where they are, what they're doing and going to do and like a dancer, she moves between them. She tries to keep tabs on the black-and-gold figure, but stopping the shooters is her priority.
As Batgirl makes short work of the gunmen on the dock, the men on the boat see when they're outmatched and quickly throw off the lines keeping them tethered. Chugging quietly through the water, the boat begins to steam away from the docks as the men on board hit the deck and look over the side only to take poorly-aimed potshots at their assailants.
The figure in black and gold is quick, however, and even as the ropes are thrown he's already charging the dock with little regard for being shot at. As he passes closer to Batgirl she gets a better look at him, he's wearing form-fitted armor plating with metallic, gold bands upon his wrists, waist and neck. His face is concealed behind a mask with holes for his eyes and mouth, his dark blonde hair free at the top. A black cape with golden lining flutters out behind him.
The man leaps off the dock, landing on the side of the boat and quickly pulling himself over the edge. The men on the boat start firing at him in a panic but he moves swiftly, fist driving through the windshield of the trawler's cabin to knock out the driver.
As the last of the guys on the docks fall, Batgirl is rolling to the side to stay out of the path of those hastily flying shots. She sees the black-and-gold figure go sailing over her and a foot hits a support. Pushes her into a reverse roll and up to her feet and into a flat run. Faster. Faster. The golden one is pulling himself on board as she launches into the air, a batarang thrown with trailing line to help her close that widening distance. Her toes catch the rail, but that's enough. She tumbles down the length of the boat, away from the cabin, to start laying out those with guns in a simple economy of movement that never hesitates for fear of being shot.
The guys on the boat are hardened criminals, sure, but they aren't squat against this kind of assault. The man in black and gold makes short work of the gunman at the front of the boat and the driver while Batgirl swiftly makes unconscious the others at the rear. With the sound of gunfire and fighting finally dying down, the man in black and gold strolls around to the cabin and calmly begins piloting it back towards the dock.
“You handled yourself pretty good back there,” he calls over his shoulder, eyes fixed on the dock, “I didn't expect to see anybody else out this far.”
As the bodies fall to the deck unconscious and the immediate danger passes, Batgirl makes her way back towards the front. She gives the man in gold a respectful berth, but she doesn't seem tense. She watches him as he speaks, even as he doesn't look over to her. His words get no answer, just the quizzical tilt of her head.
“Not talking, huh? I can respect that. I like to keep an air of mystery about myself as well.”
The man steers the boat back towards the dock, pulling the keys from the ignition and dropping them onto the floor. That done, he turns about and moves to the side to sling out a rope and lash the trawler to the dock once again.
“Drug smugglers,” the man announces, nodding at the unconscious thugs, “Been tracking them for a week.”
He pauses at the edge of the boat, considers something and then turns about to offer a hand to Batgirl, “I'm Rhadamanthus.”
Batgirl hasn't moved, letting him talk. Letting him lash the boat. But her attention stays on him. Those silent eyes. As he steps up to her and offers her his hand, her own emerges from the fall of the scalloped cape. Despite her size, her grip is strong. There's a flicker of something in her eyes as he offers his name and for the first time there's hesitation on her part. As he lets go her hand, she replies. One hand fingerspells 'Batgirl' with that fluid, almost too-quick way she has. Like the series of movements is a word, and not individual letters being made.
“Oh, alright,” Rhadamanthus says apprehensively as he watches her spell out her name, having trouble reading it but spotting the symbol on her chest as she does it and he links the two clues together, “Oh, you're Batgirl. Nice to meet you.”
When the boat is in place, he slings himself over the side and back onto the dock. As he goes he picks up a cell phone from the unconscious leader, dialing 911 and putting it back in the man's pocket without saying anything.
“The police should be here soon.”
Batgirl's movements slow as it's clear to her that Rhadamanthus is having trouble following. For her, having to sign is already like sending smoke signals. Slow. Clumsy. Having to slow it down makes it even more cumbersome. She takes her time, what seems like eons to her. 'No see you I here before.' While she signs slowly enough this time, it might not be any easier for him to follow her disjointed attempts at communication.
“I haven't seen you, either,” Rhadamanthus says with a half-smile, pausing to watch Batgirl's hand signs and reading them haphazardly, “I'm new in town, though.”
He pauses a moment, moving about the scene to take samples of the evidence. A small phial of the drugs in the crates. Hair samples from the unconscious thugs. Some spent bullet casings. He takes photographs of the dropped firearms with a small camera.
Batgirl isn't the detective sort, and so while she watches him with interest, she doesn't collect any specimens of her own. She's still a blunt instrument, best used in putting down the badguys. Finding them or their higher-ups? Well, it's good that the rest of the folks with bats and birds on their chests are better at that. Patiently, she waits until he's done, or between things enough to watch her signs. 'Where you from?'
“That'd be telling,” Rhadamanthus says with a chuckle, finishing up his collection of evidence, “I know who you work for. I admire his work but I don't want him tracking me down just yet. I have a feeling that he wouldn't want me operating in Gotham and, well, I think I belong here just as much as he does.”
Does Batgirl work for Batman? Well, that's the question, isn't it? But not one she's going to ask or argue with this person that she just met. She drifts after him as he finishes up, hands moving in that smooth, graceful but hardly delicate manner, despite the 'girl' part of her name. 'Do you what now?'
“Well, I'm going to get out of here before the police arrive,” Rhadamanthus says with a half-smile, looking off at the distant road where the police cars will likely appear any minutes, “I'd suggest that you do the same. It was good working with you, Batgirl.”
'Wait.' Batgirl signs, her haste making her signing a bit fast again and with some effort, she slows it back down. He can obviously 'read' her signs, and so she asks him. 'Spell you name?' She wouldn't even be able to recognize it if someone asked her. But the flow of movement, the signs, she can remember.
Rhadamanthus looks hesitant for a moment, as though he doesn't quite want to give her his name. However, something compels him to acquiesce and he spells out his name for her slowly using the finger signs he watched her use before.
In her borrowed costume, Rhadamanthus can see the faint smile that touches Batgirl's lips, and she repeats back the series of letters with ease. Then, she doesn't 'say' anything. The words are still foreign to her. Crutches. Even when made into something she can grasp. Movement. Instead her own farewell is simple. The pass of her hand in a short wave and the slight tilt of a nod to him. Then she's throwing out a line and pulling herself back up towards the rooftops and into the shadows ofthe night. It's where Bats prefer to be.