2012-02-12 - Bat & Bat

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Bat & Bat
Summary: First the Batmobile, and now the Batcave. Cassandra's night of many firsts continues, but this time the true surprise does not lie in store for the runaway assassin; but for the Batman himself. Both of them.
Who: Batman, Cassandra Cain, Terry McGinnis
When: 2012-12-02
Where: The Batcave


THE BATCAVE

Hidden underneath the legendary Wayne Manor is The Batcave, the true home of Bruce Wayne. In this living cavern are the devices of the mythic Batman, who stalks the streets of Gotham City like an urban legend in the night, rooting out the wicked, superstitious, and cowardly lot from the good people who live their lives in peace. The Batcomputer, the Batmobile...and more pressingly, the tools to repair those high-tech crime-fighting devices.

Which is exactly what *this* Batman is counting on.

The Tomorrow Knight didn't have much trouble entering Wayne Manor; all he had to do was think like Bruce (and avoid a couple close run-ins with some of the infrared), tap the Batcomputer with the IFF signal, and slip in cloaked through one of the windows and down into the cave's entrance. Once there, he'd managed to locate the...well.../precursors/ to the suit's repair devices, stripped off his damaged batsuit, and started patching it up as best he could.

So here he is, in all his glory - Terry McGinnis, Batman Beyond, the Tomorrow Knight, the Dark Knight Of Gotham Future...in his jacket that won't exist for thirty-five years, his pants that won't come into style for thirty-seven, his shirt that won't ever be in style, and a pair of goggles strapped over his head, working at the suit fervently with tools he's only seen the descendants of. Terry's hunched over the belt at the moment, patching up a particular set of circuitry as best he can without any real supplies.

Terry really didn't want to have to do this, either. The patchwork wasn't what he needed - he *needed* repairs, not 'stringing the suit along' - but he wasn't about to risk the old man finding him here and now. Who knows what that could do to the time stream? No, definitely better just to sneak in, wipe the records of his visit clean, fix the suit, and sneak out.

Then again, every plan that comes into contact with reality deviates from paper.


The Batcave is something of a batcavernsystem, as a whole. Those who coin batterms never really care too much about accurate parlance, however, Batman has found. It stretches, in varying widths and depths and heights, out to the jagged coastline. To the wall of sheer rockface that passes a curve in the mountain road. Up a long, winding tunnel to the grandfather clock Terry uses to access it, much like Bruce tends to. Of course, from this end, as that, it looks like something of a dead end unless one knows when to look. It's the curving, ascending tunnel that runs out to the concealed drawbridge that opens out onto that near-forgotten little backwoods road above Gotham that springs to life, now. The sound of engine, and turbine, and the grate of rock as the steel and mountain portal slides closed behind the batmobile.

In Terry's day, the road was closed. The entrance, sealed save an emergency escape. In Terry's day, the batmobile had long since gotten forcibly retired. The batwing, the batboat... well; if we're honest with ourselves, Bruce: dwindling fortunes, ability, and the all-in-oneder that was the batmobile of McGinnis' possible future made it a logistical decision that had to be made. Entire wings all but shut down, quiet and useless. For one thing, the forlorn ocean overlook a few hundred yards away occupies a landing pad for one of the most advanced jetcraft ever created by mankind, these days.

The batmobile is somewhat retro even today, a throwback to what worked from the earliest machines, and a replacement of what didn't, all crafted into an armored rapid deployment tool so formidable it has a reputation - and voice - of its own. That voice screams through the cave, a familiar, even reaffirming sound for many who would be in it. A sound Terry's never heard before, except in recordings.

It brings the sleek black supercar of an APC down squeeling to its platform in the expansive heart of the cave, the canopy sweeping clear. Within, there are... two passengers?!? The Dark Knight, and a homeless girl in a much too large coat?

It's to be expected that McGinnis took the moments to stop actively tinkering as they arrived, but the Bat immediately notes things out of place, repairs being made, and seeks the vigilante present. He motions for Cassandra to follow, moving away from the platform as a piston cycles and lowers the - well, that particular - batmobile into the cave's recesses for maintenance.

While the alarmingly spry - and stacked - 'old man' surveys HIS cave for interlopers. Albeit, he still expects Robin or Batgirl, maybe even Nightwing someday. He mostly leaves Ms. Cain alone for the moment. It's a lot to take in, isn't it?


Nights come few bigger or more confusing than this one, even for one with the honed mind and implacable will of a League assassin. Though were she her mother, or even one of her acolytes well into their twenties... well. If Cassandra were any other brutally-efficient killer trained in a distant, highly secluded Tibetan monastery, she wouldn't be approaching this incredible sight via the VIP's entrance.

The only similarity she bears to her former compatriots as she enters the Batcave lies in the subtleties of her every motion. The shrieking of heavily engineered tyres may herald her approach alongside Gotham's present-and-correct protector, but that's where any ostentacity ends. Even in her almost comically oversized coat, plain sweatshirt and filthy corduroy pants she moves like a ninja. Slipping from the vehicle's door through the hiss of hydraulic steam, she blends in immediately because the eye seems to refuse to take her in; were she on a street corner, most eyes would look straight through her. Why should they do anything more?

For her part, Cass takes /everything/ in. Beneath the messy tangles of her raven fringe, shadowed eyes peek with the wideness of startlement but the hungry intelligence of a razor mind as she stares about the cave, sinking inside her coat a little further in reaction to the grandeur of this place. Stories don't do it justice, her gaze panning across technological marvel and craggy stalagmite alike, drifting and drifting until... her eye lingers briefly over a workbench, similar to the others. And yet, not.

Her mouth opens, though no sound emerges.

Glancing at the Bat, she quickly slaps a hand against her thigh, then nods toward it.

Surely it's not his work-- someone who walks like he does, talks like he does...

They'd never leave it in such a mess.


Slag.

The minute he hears the car pulling up, Terry freezes. He yanks the suit off the worktable, letting the tools clatter to the floor, and immediately goes to find cover. As much as he'd like to stand there and gawk at the Batmobile, Bruce finding him right now, like this, would cause *problems*. So he's hidden himself away in the garage, putting on the suit one piece at a time as the Batmobile pulls up to a halt. Every so often he peeks out from the garage, to make sure Bruce hasn't gone too far from where he thought the old man was, and puts on another piece of the suit.

Without the whole suit, after all, he can't really turn on stealth mode and get out of the cave, and if he can't turn on stealth mode and get out of the cave, he's risking serious temporal damage, probably. Booster hadn't been too clear on that - something to the effect of 'listen just stay put and don't cause trouble' had been about all Terry'd gotten, and 'if anybody finds you don't say it was me'.

Terry really wishes Booster'd been a bit less vague now.

Move and cover. Move and cover. Terry was glad for the training - the training Bruce had given him in the future, though he was fairly sure Bruce would never believe *how* he was using it. Old Bruce. Not this Bruce. This...disturbingly young Bruce.

Yeah, that was kinda weird.

Terry rolls under the nearest car, pressing himself flat as he attempts to pull on the second glove. He's almost got the whole suit on, he just needed to get the cowl on and he'd be set, he could stealth, he could get out of the cave, home free, no temporal disturbances, no distortions, home free, that's right, /home/ /free/.


Problem. Bruce's style of stealth is notable by its absence. No sound, obscure line of sight, use agility and instinct along with precision timing to coordinate movements with changes or vulnerabilities in the perimeter and perceptions of those one is hiding from. No... if Robin were in the Batcave, he'd not be hidden. It wouldn't be quiet. The last vibrations of the fallen tools wouldn't still hang in the air. There's a heavy, wide-edged batarang, more a nasty bludgeoning and thrown weapon than anything, already in his right hand, flicked from its compact fold to full, perfectly balanced combat readiness before an eye can blink.

The Dark Knight hands it smoothly off to Cassandra. Apparently, he's that sure the girl's not in on this. His other hand goes to his belt as he calmly advances. Unhurried. Patient. Sweeping every crevice, noting every detail, patiently tapping in an uncannily long sequence of memorized digits into a hidden interface. Terry would know the sound of a full lockdown, by now. He'd know there's no getting out.

More presses, fog rises all through the cave, its passage and trends revealing even the Detective's own masterful steps. He frowns, he frowns big. "Dangerous game." He warns. It's not the first time he's been infiltrated... but the security here is only half the reason it's rather safe. In the winding tunnel leading to the grandfather clock, a figure notes the Dark Knight's motion, and slips unseen back into the shadows themselves, fireplace poker still held at the ready. Alfred must have observed Terry in the cave briefly before Batman even arrived.


Living from street to street, gutter to gutter, does not entirely lack advantages; at least in the way it strengthens mind and body, honing the senses needed foremost - and perhaps only ever - for survival. Cassandra's childhood training, those years of unending trauma, prepare her for the batarang. It's an unfamiliar shape, but the balance is tested with a gentle flex of her forearm, and she nods in mute affirmation; it's something she can handle, use to the full potential it offers. Cold and professional, particularly so to the eye of a stranger, she eases into one heel, shifting onto the ball of the fore foot.

But it's something else entirely that sharpens her senses as she creeps in deft, catlike movements - ironically enough, given the shape of the evening that led her here - up and around the workbench vacated by Terry. While Batman sweeps in his own direction, she focuses not on inferring the interloper's location-- because if it were one of hers, if she was wrong about what she told him, in the Batmobile, it wouldn't matter how far they thought on it. There'd be a plan within the plan. All that can be relied on...

For the second time tonight, it's the animal.

Cassie's ears are keen from nine years of listening for every nearby scuff or scrape, from forcing herself to discern the potentially harmful - or deadly - noises from those of rats or cats, passing cars or even pedestrians too set on their normal life to even notice the unfortunate snipe sleeping beside a storm drain. It's important to pick up EVERYTHING; no sound is too small, but even moreso to filter. Combined with her League training she knows; a footstep made in stealthy intent, by someone who is spooked or seeking escape, is vastly different from any other, when nuances are plucked out one sonic thread at a time.

She quickens her pace subtly, a human radar.


/Slag/.

Terry didn't know who the girl was, but she was admittedly far from his mind at the moment. With the fog rolling in and making Terry's attempts at cloaking impossible, it was seriously looking like he'd have to give himself up. But if he did that, the timestream was potentially maybe under serious threat of rupturing maybe!

Slaggit, Bruce, why did you have to be so freaking *thorough*?

The stealth was no good now. Only option was to try and get out outside the fog's field of 'footprints'. Terry slams on the hood and rolls out from the under the car immediately; he flips himself to his feet, leaps upwards, and latches onto one of the stalactites with his claws, pressing up against it as hard as he can. His feet dangle for a moment before he flips upwards, hanging upside-down against the point when the rock and the ceiling meet, on the other side of the rock from the place he'd jumped. Bruce would notice the spot immediately, might even catch the dark shape going up; Terry knew that much, knew Bruce well enough to know that he'd immediately check over by that spot. So he keys on the cloaking device and leaps to the next stalactite, as silently as the suit allows - which is pretty damn silent, but not quite silent enough to evade Cassandra's senses. He moves to the next, then the next, finally stopping between a particularly large pair of them.

Okay. That was good. He had some distance between him and that spot, and the suit was quieter than a mouse in a church. And he was cloaked, he was cloaked for the moment, so he should be fine. Even if they knew where he should be, they couldn't see him if he was *invisible*, and as far as he knew, Bruce's current suit didn't have the ultraviolet cowl. He was pretty sure that wouldn't be invented for another twenty years.

Of course, that doesn't matter, because the cloaking fails about five seconds later, shorting out with a stealth-betraying "kzzzzkkkt."

Terry mutters, inelegantly, in his 'Batman' voice, "/Slag/."


Invisible or not? Picking a path undetected back through the perimeter Cassandra and the Batman of /to(k?)night/ immediately set up would be nearly impossible for any man or superbeing. In Terry's case, he's right about the Dark Knight catching the flicker of motion; not a dark shape, though, momentarily illuminated by the leaking energies and incomplete baffling of the Beyond Batsuit's damaged hull. It's enough to lock the Dark Knight's gaze to a point, to keep Terry's movement options ever in his periphery. The cowl cycles frequencies, tracks the suit as best it can from moment to moment after the Tomorrow Knight goes invisible. Where does he get those wonderful toys?

Well. Wayne Enterprises is one of the world's foremost R&D firms, and while Wayne Combat Solutions has never manufactured or developed a lethal weapon, it's /the/ leading edge in prototype body armor, reconaissance, sensor, self defense, security, and... you get the idea. So many revisions in a well-funded development cycle. So many prototypes and silent back channels. He's easing two black pellets, similarly personally re-engineered from long forgotten military R&D for.. someone somewhere, into his hand now. The Caped Crusader never looks right at Terry, as if bat-watching, but he keeps him in view nonetheless. Getting a fix on his movements, his position. In the dark, for such brief instants, it's hard to say but... maybe this -is- one of his?

"Stand down before we /take/ you down." The Dark Knight intones evenly, when Terry apparently decides the jig is up. Batman agrees. "Who are you, what are you doing here, and /where/ did you get that suit?" Something just screams that he better /like/ all three answers, too. Did we mention the 'we'? Yes, apparently.

EARLIER THAT NIGHT:

"I need to know now. Running, or fighting?" The Dark Knight seems ready to depart, facing the urchin in the alleyway, offering her a choice. She moves forward, Bruce's oversized overcoat snapping behind her, boldly /striding/ to the Batman. Her gaze never leaves his, not for one instant, as she crosses the distance and then abruptly, with a devastating grace /twists/ into her right hip. Her left arm flies out, propelled by the centre into a strike that very few men could stop or evade - even telegraphed as it is. Behind her thrusting palm, her mouth is a taut line, eyes dark and hard.

It's not an answer, but it is. Communicating without words, the Batman steps -into- the blow. It's even more scarcely pulled, a blow that would wind most who took it, by the time it thuds into the protected center of his batsuit. It's not the advanced military sneaksuit technology amplified to the next level. It's not the gauntletted hand that comes to rest over her wrist too gently to have -really- deflected the force of the motion. It's his own, centered focus, momentum, timing. In that instant, he's in a place that she cannot penetrate, perfectly poised to retaliate. Which, of course, the Dark Knight doesn't.

"Then I'll teach you how to hold that line."


Sadly, Cassandra's hearing is far from a superpower, or she'd have some legitimate chance of tracking Terry's progress from the car upward. As it is, her talents are almost entirely countered by the technology of the suit... though the operative word is 'almost'. There's likely not a grown adult male in the world who can roll from beneath a car without leaving at least a faint aural trace, the soft scuffing echo of his motion sounding like an alarm to one who's waiting for exactly such a thing. But he's out of easy throwing range; and by the time she tracks the noise back to its source, he's already moved on.

She doesn't even head to the precise location. It's safe to assume they're dealing with someone smart, which leads logically to someone quick; and capable too. She's never been here, is still taking in the locale, and it's confusing and disorientating. Either the person they're tracking has been here many times before - and knows the precise nature of the Bat's threat - or they've simply done a lot of research.

But if they're so good, why would they leave the workbench in such a state? Why give themselves away?

To the little drifter's mind, furiously working past the nagging ache of her bullet-wound, the answer is obvious. Because they're confident in their abilities. That leads her either to a probable ambush, or the contingent hope that their quarry is OVER-confident; and then their own hubris will be their undoing. They'll have failed to plan for something, believing themselves clever enough to---

She's in mid-step, fore foot hovering, when the electronic hum alerts her like a thousand-watt klaxon.

Her body is in motion before she has tracked the interference visually, coat flowing around her until it suddenly, violently /snaps/ in tandem with the setting of her stance. That same motion sends her weapon-bearing arm up and outward, arcing to the very point that she should release-- and then it all comes flooding back, that same material protest of her oversized garment echoing back to the alley, carrying with it in an instant the entire exchange that ensued, until Batman's firm, powerful words boom in her ears.

The batarang strikes the air hard, and is immediately retracted, a flick of the wrist bending it back against her forearm. The raven-haired runaway - no longer running - sinks her posture, tightly winding into her abdomen and tilting the centre against her left hip, simultaneously opening the right qua. She's ready to throw, poised, the controlled ferocity of her gaze locked onto the source of that uttered curse.

But she holds, and the Bat's voice booms out. This line is his.


Of course. Of course Bruce couldn't just let things be, of course he couldn't see the batsuit and assume that it was something he didn't want to know about. Bruce Wayne didn't have things he didn't want to know about. Bruce Wayne wanted nothing more than to know everything, and that was, in this specific situation, a fatal flaw for Terry McGinnis's unfortunate circumstances.

He was pretty sure the old man was going to find him. He was pretty sure from the moment he'd jumped that he'd get found, that he was just buying time. The cloak's shorting was, ultimately, just the inevitable being un-delayed. So now, he had to think of answers.

Terry puts on his best Batman voice - which is, all things considered, pretty good, the same low, gravelly sort of tone Bruce has going, if not literally Bruce's own. He closes his eyes for a moment, trying to figure out how to make one of the world's greatest detectives /not/ want to solve a mystery involving his own house being broken into.

...yeah, this might be a problem.

"I don't suppose 'it's complicated' is the answer you want, Mr. Wayne," the Tomorrow Knight says, a note of actual, serious hope in the Dark Knight's voice. There's also a heavy amount of respect at the name 'Mister Wayne' - as much as Terry thought Bruce was a crazy old man, he was a crazy old man with *incredible* skills, and it would be absolutely wrong to say that Terry didn't look up to him. "But I'm not here to hurt you. I'm not here to hurt anyone. I just..."

"I just need to repair the suit. And then leave. And then I'll..."

Terry goes silent for a moment. His posture sinks a bit. He already blew it, didn't he? Batman saw him, and so did that girl. He's already been revealed. So...if Booster was right...it didn't matter, now.

Then again...from what he knew of Booster Gold...he really, really hoped he was wrong.

Terry drops. It's a sheer drop, and would probably be pretty impressive if it wasn't in front of Batman and Cassandra Cain; he lands, both hands above his head, and kicks away some of the fog gently so they can get a good look at him.

The Tomorrow Knight suit is a batsuit. There's no question that it's a batsuit; the sleek black coloring, the red chest emblem, the cowl and its ears, the elegant simplicity of the tool and its obvious multitude of uses made it abundantly clear that it was a batsuit, had to be a batsuit, couldn't be anything *but* a batsuit. And it probably wasn't imitation, either; a glance at the circuits exposed by the damage would be enough to tell anyone looking that this was something that didn't even *exist* yet, wouldn't exist for another twenty years. The technologies in this suit were ahead of their time.../way/ ahead of this one.

Terry glances over at Cassandra. "I didn't know you were so popular with the ladies," he mutters, before returning his gaze to Bruce. "I'm Batman. Not you, I mean." Terry's hand slides down to his face for a brief moment before immediately returning to the air. "I'm not...Bruce Wayne, that's obvious. I'm...Terry."

He's acutely aware that he's babbling, but that's okay, because he's pretty sure 'explaining yourself to me if you ever travel back in time and get caught repairing the suit in the batcave' wasn't covered in Bruce's curriculum.

"As for what I'm doing here, I'm...fixing the suit you gave me. Although, I gotta admit, old man - your workbench is kinda lacking." Terry bends down and picks up a screwdriver, raising it up. "A screwdriver? Seriously? What is this, the dark ages?"

Even in danger of being taken down by his own mentor, Terry just can't resist making a smartassed remark.


"I'm /Batman/." The Dark Knight intones firmly, firstly. It's hard not to take him entirely seriously. It's kind of like when elderly, sad and lonely Bruce gets angry, except backed by as yet undauntable will and the formidably tempered ability to /kick the ass/ of just about anyone who doesn't take him deadly seriously. Or who keeps spouting his OTHER name at him in this suit without EXPLICIT permission. ... never mind that he probably sort of already GAVE Terry permission. That's a whole different issue, at the moment.

That issue is that he's never even met this guy, yet he's clearly here in some kind of future batsuit. Batman would call it inconceivable, and rightly so, but he knows better. It's still rather shocking and difficult to /believe/. "Of course it is. I don't have the parts to maintain a sophisticated piece of equipment I haven't /built/ yet." His 'lacking' workbench. He says it drily, like McGinnis should really know better than to have made the crack in the first place. Like he doesn't get the joke. It's pretty much the same perfectly deadpanned bullshit now that it is then.

"Take off the suit, stand down, and keep your hands where I can see them at all times. -If- I find enough to convince me you're for real, maybe you and the suit both get to leave in one piece." The Dark Knight is getting to offer all sorts of abundantly fair deals, tonight. It's anyone's guess whether he's being straight up, or still thinks Terry's got more than bats in the belfry. Either way, at least he's humouring the Tomorrow Knight instead of going for the kneecaps?


It strikes her far harder than the other bullet she's taken tonight...

Because this one hits her right between the eyes.

"W--"

It's the most Cassandra Cain has spoken in a very long time, the actual span lost in the lapse of traumatic memory, though it may indeed be that she was in her cradle - attempting to childishly frame what little she could - when the last actual syllable left her lips. It's a single letter, a little upturn at the end, and a stammering pause... but it's something. A testament to her shock. Shaded hazel eyes dart sidelong, her stance utterly unmoving but attention uncharacteristically torn from the quarry. It's the first time that Batman-- it's the first time that /Bruce/ will have seen her let her guard down without forethought.

But then it all comes together. The coat, sweeping about her toned, scarred body, lapping against the floor - the only truly, flawlessly kind gesture she can remember experiencing directed to her and her alone. Her life since, defined by the tiny good deeds she's attempted to accomplish around the city - albeit silently, and as invisibly as she can, trying to make up for what's been done. To prove herself worthy. Is this the kind of thing that Bruce Wayne orchestrates? The game that Batman plays? She's encountered him twice since, cowled, for the first and second times in the space of years sleeping rough.

Setting aside the train of thought that follows, she decides...

The important thing is to /see/ the truth. See with the eyes; understand with the eyes.

It's what she knows best.

Keeping one wary eye upon the fallen stranger and the other very intently on the Bat, she lowers the batarang, slipping it with a very smooth and deliberate motion into an oversized pocket - no sudden movements. As she approaches, she scans the caped vigilante one last time, trying to pick out the nuance of form hidden beneath layers of tough, armoured hide. By the time she stands beside him, she feels certain this is right. It's what she needs to do. She's a lot shorter than he is, and she sinks a little further, supplicating herself rather dangerously... it goes against her every instinct, it really does. Her every instinct, bar one.

She promised to trust. She promised. She's never made a promise before.

Her hands lift to either side of her face, miming a tight grasping motion at the base of her cheeks...

"Wayne?" She asks, her voice unnatural, lips and mouth not used to phrasing.

And then she pulls an imaginary cowl up, and back, her gaze sternly boring into his all the while.


>>>TO BE CONTINUED... TUNE IN NEXT WEEK - SAME BAT TIME, SAME BAT CHANNEL!<<<