❯ In the Shadow of the Bat – Arrow on a string ( Chapter 8 )
There are those who do it out of duty. Some are bound by a obligation to family, or to the past. Cissie King-Jones certainly knew all about THAT one, having been dragooned into the lifestyle by her mother. Guilt, fear, there were uncounted reasons that people wore flashy costumes and went out into the world to save lives.
The rarest, of course, were those who had the calling. Something deep within them beyond guilt or duty that made them go out, night after night and put themselves on the line for their fellow men. Cissie never believed she had that, but maybe she was wrong.
The blonde haired woman dressed in brown ran across the rooftops, her cloak swirling around her as she drew her bow and fired with almost supernatural accuracy. The line whirred as it was dragged by the arrow between buildings then she leapt, using her bow to slide down the line to a nearby building. She landed with a soft grunt, then moved forward until she crouched at the edge of the building.
The cloak Cissie wore kept the light rain off her quiver of arrows and her bow, the hood covering part of her already masked face. Her costume was a relatively simple variation of a huntsman’s garb, with protective gloves and lightly armored shirt and pants, tough enough to stop lower caliber weapons.
“Robin to Arrow, you there?” the quiet voice came into Cissie’s earpiece, the familiarity of the voice oddly soothing.
“Arrow here, Robin,” Cissie confirmed through the microphone clipped to the lower part of her mask, “I’m in position.” She stretched her fingers, rolling her shoulders a bit as she added, “Thanks for calling me.”
“I figured you’d want to be involved,” Robin answered warmly.
“Heh,” Arrowette half smiled.
Once upon a time, Cissie had reluctantly followed in her mother, Miss Arrowette’s footsteps, but after an incident she retired. When a mentor she had liked and trusted had been killed Cissie went out in a new costume with vengeance in mind, nearly killing one of them but for the intervention of Superboy. Since that time she had refused to wear her costume, possibly afraid that she might be driven to that point again.
The building below them was quiet, the offices of a small internet provider who went bust after the net boom died, then was bought up by Lexcorp during the rebuilding of Gotham. It had passed through several hands since then, become more shoddy as it was left to rot, and now was a run down headquarters for a phone scam operation.
‘And a kidnaping,’ Cissie thought grimly.
Yesterday, a team of well equipped commandos had attacked the Elias School that Cassie attended, breaking into the dorms and kidnaping Greta Hayes, the girl formerly known as Secret. Cassie had taken up her bow for the first time in months to do battle, taking down three goons but the rest escaped with Greta before she could stop them.
Robin arrived soon afterward with several Titans, and they quickly agreed to work together to retrieve their friend. Studying the footage and questioning the captive thugs they quickly determined the identity of the kidnapers and their probable location.
“But why would a two bit science villain want her?” Cissie wondered aloud.
“He might think her powers are still there,” Cassie Sandmark, the heroine known as Wonder Girl replied, “or he might want to try figuring out her supernatural side. Either way, we’re getting her out of there.”
“Amen to that,” Cissie agreed.
“I’ve got the back door,” Rose Wilson said, “when does the party start?”
‘Ravager,’ Cissie calmly noted. The daughter of Deathstroke was a odd duck, for a Titan, but Cissie didn’t really feel that she was in a position to throw any stones. Besides, the woman was willing to help them in their hastily organized raid out of friendship with Robin, so she couldn’t be all bad.
“Everyone in position?” Robin asked seriously, as was his usual style these days.
“Ready,” Cissie answered as the others chorused their agreement.
Firing another cable arrow Cissie was off, sliding down the line before smashing in a office window, kicking out to drop a nearby guard. Notching a arrow she scanned her surroundings, then was off. Using the floor plan Robin had hacked she hurried through the halls, even as Ravager and Wonder Girl made a very noisy distraction attacking from the front.
“Nothing on the east side,” Robin said as the black and red clad hero appeared from the dimly lit hallway. “I think they’re in the former conference room, like we expected,” the black haired young man said, holding a battarang at the ready.
“But we came in the way we did to make sure,” Cissie smiled, shaking her head, “as thorough as always.”
“Thanks,” Robin smiled back as they hurried down the hall together.
‘Damn he’s cute,’ Cissie found herself noting, then she firmly dismissed that thought. Not only was Robin a bit too grim these days for her tastes, there was also the spark of something between him and Wonder Girl. Or at least, that’s how their long looks during the briefing had appeared to her.
They hurried down a hallway, stopping as Cissie carefully peered around a corner. “Two guards,” she murmured softly to Robin.
“Which one do you want?” Robin asked politely.
Cissie smiled slightly, “Right, he’s slightly farther away.”
“Let’s go,” Robin said, moving with a natural grace Cissie almost envied. He drew back and threw the battarang with incredible speed and precision, stunning his target then racing in to finish the job.
As soon as Robin moved Cissie was in position, drawing and firing once with a normal shaft to pin the farther goon’s arm to the wall, then drawing and firing less than two seconds later to sen a blunt, weighted arrow right to his forehead, knocking him senseless.
“No alarm?” Cissie asked tersely as she ran up to where Robin was busily binding up their two adversaries.
“No, they didn’t get the chance to trigger it,” Robin noted. He touched his ear piece as he heard a report from Ravager, “Looks like the majority of guards are still tied up with Wonder Girl and Ravager.”
“They all right?” Cissie asked, putting another arrow to the string of her bow as they heard a explosion off in the distance.
Robin smiled slightly as he answered, “Some suits of Lexcorp armor slowed them down, but that’s about all.”
Cissie looked at the armored door as she mused, “Do we wait for them, or…?”
“They’ll get here soon,” Robin examined the keypad connected to the door, “and to be honest, I want to make sure Greta is all right.”
“Then let’s go in,” Cissie said seriously.
Cracking open the casing Robin quickly hot-wired the access, then they took position. He hit the switch and they raced inside, Cissie firing at the nearest guard to knock the blaster like weapon out of his hands.
The large room had been hastily converted into some kind of analysis lab, A modified containment chamber in the middle surrounded by monitoring equipment and computers. Within the tube floated a unconscious Greta, her light brown hair flowing around her face as a oxygen mask covered part of her face.
“Who…?” the blonde haired woman turned, drawing her gun as a older figure in a lab coat ducked behind her.
“Valentina Vostok?!” Robin blurted in surprise even as he casually wind-kicked a armored figure unconscious.
“Who?” Cissie demanded even as she drew and fired quickly, using stun and cable arrows to winnow down the number of remaining guards.
“Former superhero in the Doom Patrol,” Robin ducked under a punch then uppercut, sending his foe sprawling even as he threw a battarang to shattered the containment chamber, shattering the clear plastic, “went into government service after she lost her powers.”
“This is a government operation?” Cissie growled as she hurried forward to catch Greta and pull her free of the attached monitors.
“Precisely,” Valentina said coldly, keeping her hands away from the pistol at her side as she said, “I’d recommend you leave.” She glared at them and added, “Now.”
Before anything else could be said the far wall crumpled inward, a figure in the distinctive green Lexcorp brand armor sailing by them to hit the wall with a thump. Wonder Girl smiled, the blonde in her distinctive red t-shirt and jeans, while Ravager looked sleekly dangerous in her blue and orange designed costume, twin swords drawn and ready.
“Not likely,” Cissie said, relieved to see Greta was breathing normally. She glared at Vostok, “Is this leftover DEO crap?”
Once upon a time the Department of Extranormal Operations had held Secret and several other superhuman teens captive in a Orphanage until the first members of Young Justice broke them out. The DEO later claimed that the kids treatment there had been abnormal and apologized, but the Young Justice members had always wondered about that.
“I can’t answer that,” Valentina smiled slightly.
“Wanna bet?” Ravager advanced on her, swords drawn.
“Ravager,” Robin gestured and she stopped. He faced Vostok and said, “You know what my mentor is like, and since I’m aware of you so will he. If either of us find out Greta has been so much as harmed, there’ll be consequences.”
“Capturing her was a waste of time anyway,” Valentina gave the cowering scientist a cold look, “as far as we can determine, she lacks the metagene.”
Greta coughed a few times as Cissie held her, then her eyes opened, looking a bit unfocused at first. “Cissie?” she murmured then smiled as she rested her head on her arm, “I knew you’d save me.”
A few hours later and Greta was back at the dorms thanks to Wonder Girl even as police and federal agents swarmed the buildings. “Think you scared her off?” Cissie asked, drinking some hot chocolate Robin produced from a cache on a nearby building.
“I think so,” Robin answered, “and I intend to pass the information over to Mr. Terrific at Checkmate, too. Should clip their wings pretty effectively.”
“Good,” Cissie smiled, her blonde hair flowing as she pushed her hood back.
Robin gave her a tentative look, “Any chance of you wearing that costume a bit more often? We could use you.”
“You know,” Cissie said after a moment, “I’ll think about it.”
To be continued….