|Hunting Hearts and Minds|
|What: Batman and Batgirl track down Domino, looking to connect the dots left by Bane's nefarious activities.|
It's been a hideously long week for some people. It started right here in Gotham, ended up in California, and now Domino's right back in Gotham. There's a whole new collection of emotional baggage to drown out with alcohol and anger, despite heavy fatigue she doesn't go straight to a safehouse to crash but instead hits a local bar that's still open at this ungodly hour then helps close it down for the night. With as much driving as she's had to do this week, she doesn't bother driving. It's a cold evening, but she doesn't care. It's still weather that she can walk in. That the street is completely empty and most of the city has long since gone to sleep is just another perk of being up late.
It's hard to say when Domino picked up a second shadow. Perhaps a stop for refreshments, at a corner grocery, a gas station... anywhere with security and internet, it could have tipped off the Oracle's recognition software. From there, it's an encrypted stealth band beamed straight into the Network, and the Team is on it. All that bat-prefixing? Media bullshit; Batman doesn't stand for that pandering narcissism on his watch.
The Dark Knight /knows/ how Domino operates, with some detail at this point: he makes a habit of finding everything he can on people who fire a high explosive device at him. Even if he has come to understand the situation was somewhat.. complicated by emotions and battlefield distortion, to put it mildly-- or more simply, for those watching at home: Batman destroyed Domino's very nice car.
Now, that careful study of everything the underworld and INTERPOL knows about the mercenary comes into play in letting her get far, far away from that closed bar, the apartments surrounding it, any population on the street at all. In fact, it's his intention to silently follow his quarry back to wherever she's hiding for the night-- other heroes rush in, the Batman? The Batman lurks, learns, waits for the perfect opportunity.
Letting her relax, drink, tire: it's bread and butter. No one has ever accused the Caped Crusader of playing particularly fair in his vigil.
One might think that the Batman casts his own shadow with the matching peaked ears and flutter of scalloped cape. But the figure is too small, too slight to be *his* shadow. No, the Batgirl perches just behind the silent Bat, echoing his lack of conversation. Behind dark lenses in her full facemask, she too watches his quarry. She hasn't done this for a long time. The long shadow. All she normally needs is a moment of surprise and those she's dealing with are taken care of. But there's a big difference between street thugs and Domino, even if Batgirl doesn't understand the nuances. Her head turns, just a bit, gaze shifting to the larger bat, taking her cues from him.
Normally, the albino is much more alert than this. To a point of nearing paranoia. Tonight, the local vigilantes catch a break. She's beyond caring about what happens at this point, hands plunged deep into trenchcoat pockets as she walks a respectably straight line for the amount of liquor she's slammed back over the last few hours. Quite the constitution in this one, though she'll be feeling it in the morning.
Safehouses are, fortunately, easy enough to acquire. The nearest one is one of her oldest of haunts in Gotham, a concrete-lined basement within an old factory that may as well have served double-duty as a bomb shelter many years back. Fitting, really, considering that it contains its share of ordnance.
Down an alley, in through an old door, down through a grate in the floor and into the sub-level. Only one room is occupied, though there are a few exit options. Dom's never been one to corner herself, it's a rookie mistake. Know your surroundings, know all of your exits, and, whenever possible, always deal yourself a winning hand. This space is simply furnished with a table, a worn out couch that doubles as a bed, some medical equipment, and a collection of wooden boxes and metal bins for all of her own gadgetry. Most of it's of questionable legality.
Considering her shadows, her luck's not off to the greatest of starts tonight.
There are few in the world who can match the Bats at stealth and reconaissance; it's one reason they're still alive. Much less functional in their chosen role. Even seasoned veterans are often surprised by the Dark Knight-- and his unassuming but deceptively intimidating protege. Of course, liquor and fatigue help. So does capable, equally uncanny aid.
Most of the delay once Domino drops down into her subterranean safehouse comes from simple, intentional wait. That much more to this particular game, something beyond the stalk-and-kill Cassandra Cain was trained for-- bred for. This hunt, it's something deceptively deep and cagey, from an angle men like David never seem to understand. It's the Dark Knight's little contribution to changing the world.
It's easy to discern the basic layout of that structure from the thermal and electromagnetic imaging gathered of the area from cowl and aerial surveillance-- easy to watch Domino use that entrance from nearly a block away, nigh-invisible against the night. She's given five, ten minutes to settle in-- let down her guard. Then, that single room would be joined by another form dropping down the grate with no need for the ladder.
The Dark Knight's cape is thrown out with a flourish, a whooshing rush of air announcing his presence fully. No secrecy, then-- theatricality, on the other hand. "Domino." There's just a beat, the Dark Knight's form stepping to the side, not so much to make room for Batgirl as to draw Domino's gaze away from the entrance. His voice is deep, ominous but unthreatening-- projected in firm tones.
"I think we need to talk. Leave the guns holstered, and you might even like what I have to say."
When Oracle first brought Batgirl in, she didn't know a lot about the young woman except that she could fight. That's what caught Barbara's attention. Since Batgirl's started working with the vigilante set, other skills have come to light. In a manner of speaking.
Quiet as a whisper, despite the long cape, Batgirl follows her namesake over to the building and over to the grate. She waits, as he makes his entrance with movement and sound before she drops down, just another shadow cast by the Batman. She lands in an easy crouch despite the drop and slowly rises up to her feet. The words are just noise, and the Bat is exceptionally hard to read between the costume and his control, but she's gotten used to him over the past few months so she can still discern the meaning of what he's telling their prey.
A few pills are taken to kill the pain which is bound to hit her sooner rather than later, Domino dropping heavily onto the aged couch with a grimace and a moment of rubbing at the bridge of her nose. A curse is muttered under her next breath, motions sluggish as she peels the trench off of her shoulders then starts to undo the mass of straps and buckles making up both her gear harness and her boots.
The timing is ideal. She's just starting to roll out onto the couch, weapons tucked out of sight yet within easy reach as she flicks the light off and drapes an arm across her eyes.
Then, she's not alone.
"Took your sweet fucking time," comes the merc's tired voice. "Look, you've waited to corner me for this long, already. Can't it wait another night? I'm so not in the mood for this."
"Difficult to say." The Batman's answer to Domino's first question is direct and frank, if not particularly helpful. It's easy to lose Batgirl in the flourish of the Dark Knight's cape, to hide her in his broad frame's wake. It's almost like they've done this more than a few times, before. "You met the mercenary. The masked man. Did he strike you as patient?" There's just a trace, the slightest hint of impatience dropped solely into the final word of the query, almost certainly intentional-- but most wouldn't notice that subtlety, the Batman's stage persona is a nigh-perfect mask of its own.
"Do -I-?" Rather than ornery, though there's certainly /that/, there's an undertone of bemused, of all things. "You bugged Jim Gordon's phone, sold out the Commissioner of the GCPD. That's serious time. He was kidnapped, interrogated. Tell me I'm reading your file right when I say I /know/ you want to get on the right side of this, fast."
The surprising(?) thing is, Gotham's Silent Guardian remains genuinely hopeful of this good will, even whilst being vaguely threatening and halfway to omniscient. Also: Thanks, Oracle.
Batgirl is often the stick, her talents best used to deal with the riffraff while the Bat talks to the person with information. But there's only Domino here, and so Batgirl can devote the full of her attention to observing. She edges to the side enough that she can see Domino and 'listen' to her, though the the HUD in her cowl started to do its translation for her into ASL. She stands so very still, her cape falling over her shoulders and shrouding her to the floor, hiding that bright yellow symbol.
"So in other words, this is going to take a while," Domino replies in the end with another tired exhale of breath. The two cowled individuals can probably see her moving about a lot better than she can see herself, slowly sitting upright then reaching to turn the light on again. It seems clear enough that no one here is pining for a fight, and she has to deal with enough scary things lurking within the dark as it is.
Not that the light does much to illuminate the dwelling. Shadows remain aplenty.
One hand is held up in silent protest, though she's not even looking at the Bats when she does so. Batgirl is unnoticed yet, mostly because Dom knew she was going to blind herself with that light. "Hold up there, kiddo. Masked merc? Don't know who you're talking about. He sounds like bad business, which would explain why he sent a lackey to finalize the deal."
Not off to the best of starts, but hey.
"You've done your homework. Yeah, I bugged his phone. Never sold him out, though. I don't get in the habit of disclosing this shit with others, but I know your rep," she says while reaching for, of all things, a bottle of water lying nearby on the floor. Ready to roll for when she wakes up tomorrow.
"The job was bizarre, even for Gotham." Another reason why she doesn't mind sharing some details regarding it. "I was tasked with keeping an eye on the Commissioner. I was supposed to help make sure that he stayed -safe.-" Which is why she was on the rooftop the night that Jim had been found strapped to that spotlight. And why she was spotting him at the GCPD headquarters through the scope of a sniper rifle.
"Thing is, I don't know who took 'im from the hospital," Dom continues while pawing at her face with the heel of a hand. "Got there too late. Some crazy bitch ran over my car in an H1 Alpha, then some freak with green hair took an RPG to it. Far as weird jobs go, it coulda gone better." She still got paid for her time, though.
"So there's my side of the fence. Run it past Red Hood sometime. Now can we finally get this mess sorted out so you can realize that I'm not the enemy? You can be an exceptionally expensive pain in the ass when you want to be."
"You planted customized data mining protocols on the mobile phone of a police Commissioner in Gotham City. What did you think the intel was going to be used for? Most legitimate inquiries would go through other channels, I'd expect." Charming her is not high on his list of priorities, but he's at least clear on his disbelief in regard to her innocent messenger act.
Through narrowed eyeslits, sardonic tones, the larger Bat is not entirely sold at all-- Domino is responsible for what happened to Jim Gordon, what might still happen to Gotham City, as far as Batman is concerned. That puts her in an awkward place indeed, though it's not really culpability that drives him-- luckily for the albino mercenary.
As Cassandra steps one way, the Caped Crusader moves the other, consciously revealing his trump card-- a combatant nearly his equal-- to his potential foe. It's a silent sign of trust as crystal clear as the come, with the gesturing palm that comes with it. Even if that hand is armoured in an ultramodern, reinforced gauntlet-- as his chosen words make clear, their ceasefire is conditional.
One thing in Domino's favor? She offers no shortage of information, much as they might disagree on the semantics of her level of participation. She's not the one he's looking for; perhaps not even the type at all. There's plenty of truth there that the Bat already knows, enough to tell him his instincts were right-- or near enough the mark.
"Jim Gordon was interrogated and threatened for the duration of his capture." Batman coolly, grimly informs Domino (and simultaneously, doesn't really). "We're likely looking at a terrorist plot and the intended murder of good people. Maybe a lot of people." Even discounting his own hide. "I need that contact." Normally, that kind of bluntness is just unwise interrogation practice.
Cooperation changes a great deal. "I had no way of knowing your car wasn't part of the heist. Disabling means of escape was not an optional priority." It's not really much, as apologies go.
As the Batman steps to the side to reveal her, Batgirl's next step brings her forward and more into the light. Her cape pulls back a bit, the yellow outline emerging from the dark folds. Her steps are silent, and only the leathern flutter of her cape makes it clear she's not some sort of ghost. A lot of the details are beyond her particular concept of 'language' but she picks up enough to know what's going on. That faceless mask is turned towards Domino, the light glinting briefly on the dark lenses that hide her eyes.
Domino snorts once, "It's -Gotham- we're talking about, here. Tell me about one thing in this damned city that -is- legit. If I was supposed to ferret him out to get caught then why was I told to keep him alive and out of harm's way? Yeah, something managed to get through, not proud of the fact but I still managed to make sure he came back in one piece.
By the time she finally looks back at the Batman, she hesitates for a moment. "..Shit, I'm already seein' double." In its own twisted way, it's really quite flattering. Gotham's very own guardian brought backup, just to talk to little ol' Domino. It's nice to know that her reputation around the city amounts to something.
Hearing that Gordon got interrogated over what happened, slipping right between her fingertips like that? It's enough to make her swear under her breath again. "Nothing's ever simple..." With one graceless push she comes away from her knees and rolls out until she's slouching way far back against the couch, arms draped out across the back of it. It is her personal space, after all.
"Glad the rocket missed its mark." Apology right back atcha, buster. It doesn't take a genius to know that working with you is in everyone's best interests. You've been letting her work under the radar for all of this time, could have stepped forward and intercepted her operation months ago. At the very least, keeping neutral footing with this crew will be good for her own business. "I'll give you what I've got."
Even if that means getting called in to lend some fire support. Not a fan of placing innocents in harm's way, this woman.
"All the better reason to vet your clientele more carefully." Batman has had similar conversations too recently in his recollection. There's that moment where the Dark Knight isn't studying Domino, or actively cateloguing her abode, but simply pondering something farther away. It's easy to miss, for that matter. "If I thought you intended to hurt Gordon, we'd be having a much more morbid conversation." Droll, the Caped Crusader. Yet accurate enough.
Yes, he's done his homework-- and while he'd perhaps readily come alone, Batgirl is rather admirable insurance. Not that he'd likely tell the girl that, as such; the role of the apprentice is to learn, to support, to perfect an art. Every art, if possible.
"Maybe we can keep this from escalating if we move fast." He's quick to include Domino in the equation. Maybe he figures she still owes him a few favors for not dropping her in the courthouse with a file implicating her in a half-dozen felonies. Maybe that aggressive edge is just what he expects from the mercenary.
Maybe he's actually talking to Batgirl, always careful to keep his posture turned, angling his silhouette towards her so she can translate his own words as easily as Domino's.
Batgirl doesn't try to add commentary. She learned quickly enough that most find her silence to be intimidating. Her signing? Not so much. But while Batman doesn't read body langauge with the same breatheless ease she does, the slight turn of her frame and tilt of her head still speaks volume to him. Does he want her to stay as a guardian bat on the woman? Though undoubtably, her silent presence might start to wear on the merc.
Dom's quick to hold up a hand to try and ward off Batman right then and there. "I -do- look into these things before I accept a job." You know. Usually. "I couldn't find any dirt on the guy that passed me the papers." Although, he did do some peculiar things. Things that, frankly, seem like -rookie- mistakes. Hardly the work of some criminal mastermind. It just doesn't add up, there.
She figured this might be coming. Getting pulled into things by proxy. That doesn't mean she isn't going to make a fuss about it. "Hey now, I didn't agree to anything more than passing some information your way." Maybe the feeling is that she owes the Bats something. They can damned well push her for it. Three guesses what happens to her rep in this city if she's seen flying with the cowled types.
"You can say something, you know," she finally tells Batgirl. "I get that you're going for the whole creep factor here, but it's lost on me."
"Hard to know what his tie is to all this; may indeed just be a messenger." Batman has already concluded the client Domino dealt with? -Not- the mastermind. Of course, it's possible he's entirely wrong ascribing it to Bane, as well: but Gordon's kidnapping and the masked man's knowledge is just too conveniently timed not to form the crux of the Dark Knight's working theory of the case.
"One way or another, I'll find out." It's not so much threat as intention, solemn statement of duty. "I'd worry a bit less about what you agreed to, and more about making this right." After all, she's not exactly got clean hands in Gotham, and the Dark Knight knows it-- rather directly. "You don't want to be on my bad side." Or the littler, quieter version's, for that matter.
A glance is paid to Batgirl, and back to Domino, "She doesn't talk much." The Caped Crusader vastly understates. "But I suspect she thinks even less of the kind of man who took Gordon than -I- do." Which is downright scary, whether Batgirl's looming intimidates or -not-!
Batgirl's stature makes looming hard. Really, it's hard to be intimidating at all except she borrows from the Batman's mystique with the costume. As Batman mentiones what she might thing, she brings her arms up to cross over her chest in mute declaration of her feelings on the matter.
"I'm certain that he is," Domino confirms. "Guy's name is Orion. Didn't say who he was working for, only that 'the big guy' had apparently threatened to kill Orion over a matter of being bored. Real sweetheart, whoever he is." Typical thuggish talk, though. Right?
Yet again a slightly defeated look passes over her, apparently being roped into this in a roundabout way. Wonderful. "I could say 'right back atcha,' but let's forgo the pissing contest portion of this debate. There's no need for us to be throwing fists at one another." Because you guys don't use guns. Your loss, far as she's concerned.
The other woman's demeanor, and change of posture, suddenly brings a sound of amusement out of the merc. Amusement that quickly turns into laughter, which just as quickly turns into a muted "Ow..." as it hits her headache like a trashcan lid to the temple.
"Word had been that there 'might be some crazies from Arkham' interested during the run. I'm guessing the idiots that blew up my car had some connection to that one. But, this Orion guy wanted to know any details about people like that as quickly as possible. If you ask me, someone higher up knew something big was going down. They used Gordon as bait to see what came out of the shadows then called me in to document the whole shebang. Maybe he's feeling out potential competition. Possibly allies to recruit."
After a period of silence and more rubbing at her forehead, Dom quietly adds "I've still got Orion's number." How quickly the one doing the documenting can become the slab of bait. Orion can probably take a guess as to who ended up selling him out.
Batman mirrors Batgirl's stance, crossing his arms over his chest and steadying his own stance, turning cowled gaze back towards Domino as she speaks. Those blank, white eyeslits narrow with surprising expressiveness as he takes in the words. It's a name he has heard before. One that reinforces his impression of another player caught in a game they don't fully comprehend.
"From the sound of it, the Joker blew up your vehicle in his escape." The Bat offers up, free of charge. After all, she's given him plenty of useful information-- and just letting the albino pay off her debt isn't really on Batman's agenda, tonight. "Do you know this.. Orion.. outside this job?" The Dark Knight inquires simply, Domino's amusement doing next to nothing to lighten his own demeanor. Nor does he bother to argue that she's dangerous, and a poor enemy to have; there's more than one reason this conversation is even happening, after all.
The Dark Knight may not quite agree with Domino's analysis of motivation-- but neither does the Bat speak on that topic further, immediately. His eyes remain narrow, brow furrowed behind his own mask, however-- it's hard to shake the feeling that the progressive crisis response is exactly what interests their foe, in this case.
For most, hearing Orion's name would ring some bells. But the sounds don't mean anything to Batgirl and so she doesn't bat an eye. Not that it could be seen behind that mask. When Batman repeats it though, with his own connection to the news Batgirl had brought back, it gets her attention. There's the slight cant of her head, peaked ears making the small movement seem larger. She saves her questions for after though, because her impressions of Orion were fairly positive.
"'The Joker,' charming," Dom mutters. The next question is answered first with a shake of her head. "Never heard the name before," she says in complete honesty. "Kid popped onto the grid out of nowhere. Probably hand-picked me for the job, too. Orion's a half-wit, wouldn't take me two hours to remove him from the game."
Wait a second here, girl. Remember who you're talking to. More of those 'we don't kill' types.
"Find him, stand on his toes with some proper enthusiasm, you'll get somewhere. He seems more like the squealer than the 'take it with me to the grave' sort."
Once more she looks back to Batgirl, asking "Can I get you a drink or something? Seriously, sweetie, you're looking bored to death over there. Do I need to blow something up to get a reaction out of you? 'Cause that could be arranged," she teases with a lopsided grin.
She -did- have quite a lot to drink not that long ago.
Oy. "Look you two, I'm only gonna pitch further downhill from here. If you've got more questions, lay 'em out. Otherwise, could we pick this up some other night?"
/Why/, precisely, Orion and Domino were chosen for this task remains a half-shrouded mystery for the Dark Knight, but one thing is clear.. "I don't think either of you were selected for your zealous devotion to the cause." To say the least. "He may be even more alarmed at what's being put in motion than you were." Even if his selection was, perhaps, largely to keep Domino in the dark despite due diligence.. and the trail left odd and erratic, to say the least.
There appears the faintest hint of amusement as the Caped Crusader retorts softly, "Blow something up. Assuming she didn't just stop you prior to detonation." A realistic outcome, to Batman-- which says something, considering how much he at least appears to know about and respect Domino's own deadly abilities.
"However you want to spin the attitude, we both know the man who took Gordon is someone you don't want in the game. Let's keep it simple." Easier to pretend they're on the same page, that way, for now. "We'll be in touch."
Batgirl's head cocks over the other direction at Domino's offer of a drink, and then tilts forward a bit in mute amusement at the blowing-things-up bit. When Batman suggests she'd stop Domino's explosive plans, the diminuative figure sketches a small two-fingered salute towards the pale one and starts to move back over to the grate that they dropped in through. She doesn't even say goodbye as Batman marks their impending exit, just one hand comes up, fingers together and palm forward to give a short wave. Really, what does the Bat do to these kids??
The question isn't asked, so Domino doesn't answer it. But, she has an idea why she had been selected for the job. It all comes down to the woman's reputation. Even with a spotty loyalty and a history of ditching some jobs after having accepted them for some reason or another, she can bring something to the party that no one else has managed to come close to. No matter the odds that wind up facing her down, she still manages to pull through. Something like that could be quite handy for going toe to toe with the worst that Gotham has to offer. Surviving an attack from the Joker, for instance. Loyalty is disposable, but trying to shake this woman from her objective? When her mind is set, there is very little which is going to get in her way.
Being able to get by with half-assing nearly a quarter of all of the jobs she takes on is just another one of the perks.
"At least she'd have something fun to do," Dom says with that smirk held. "You're right, though. Gordon's a good kid." Yeah, she called the old guy a kid. Probably best to roll with that one. "Anyone wanting to run him through the wringer is not someone I care to deal with. But, this is your operation. I'm not makin' another move on it."
At least, not unless you decide to make her. As for contacting her, you can use your own means to find her. Business cards are there for people that need them.
The playful salute is passed right back to Batgirl, Dom watching her leave with a slight grin. "She's adorable."
Somewhere in the process of exchanging salutes with Batgirl, in expressing intentions and small talk, Domino is left-- momentarily-- seemingly alone with the deceptively small figure. Where, precisely, the Dark Knight goes, and when... well, that's one of those tricks of the trade that /she/ wouldn't reveal if she knew, and neither does he.
There's the faintest shift of breeze, rustle of armor and fabric, but it seems almost planned that way to draw eyes back to a now-vacated space, other questions, more complete theories held for the moment. After all, ceasefire isn't trust; trust is a rare commodity in the Batman's world. Fun has little to do with it for any of them. Usually.
And when one would let their vision shift, to chase the soft whisper and rustle of the man already gone, the smaller Bat makes her exit as well. Likely expecting it, Domino isn't left entirely grasping at straws, the trembling edges of Batgirl's scalloped cape just disappearing from sight. And never once a peep.
Suddenly, it's back down to one. It's a good trick, frankly. A real good trick. If Dom could learn it, you can bet that she would want to.
"About damned time," she mutters under her breath, capping the water then flicking the lights off. Time to sleep the rest of the night off so she can start tomorrow off miserable and late.