❯ In the Shadow of the Bat – Birds of Prey & Question ( Chapter 4 )
Kneeling there on a rooftop, watching a building through binoculars, the faceless Question found a odd thought scampering through her head. ‘How does that costume stay on?’ Renee Montoya wondered beneath her mask.
The purple and black clad Huntress crouched beside the Question on the roof, her bodysuit clinging to her like bodypaint. In addition there was a large cut out revealing her muscled belly, thigh high boots and multiple pouches for various pieces of equipment. In short she was a dangerous combination of sexy and lethal.
“Your contact is sure about this?” Question asked gruffly, her simple business suit and trench coat obscuring her gender a bit.
“Trust me,” Huntress confidently replied as they both watched the warehouse below them, “she knows.”
‘She heard from Oracle, probably,’ Question silently mused. As a member of the Gotham police department Renee had heard rumors about an information service for super humans, providing assistance to those in need, and her own researches had dug up the name Oracle. “Is Black Canary around?” Question asked.
Huntress looked at Question in surprise, “How did you know about…?”
“I ask questions,” Question smiled slightly. “You’re partners, yes?”
“Something like that,” Huntress agreed. “Excuse me,” she stepped back, murmuring under her breath softly.
‘I really need to learn to read lips,’ Question thought as she return to looking out over the building, ‘wonder if she’s communicating with Oracle somehow?’
One of Thorne’s dealers had claimed there was a major deal going on here tonight, so Renee had gone to investigate as the Question. Along the way she ran into Huntress.. Tho more acurately you could say they got into a brawl. Huntress had a past association with the original Question, which may have had something to do with it, but either way she had attacked Question on sight. Huntress was a good, if undisciplined, fighter while Renee was more of a street brawler, but she held her own in part thanks to her training by Richard Dragon.
Huntress returned a moment later, her long black hair flowing in the breeze. “What happened to Vic?” she suddenly asked.
‘Yes, she knows I’m not the original,’ Renee thought. “Vic Sage died of lung cancer,” she said with real regret, “before I could get him to help in Nanda Parbat. His last wish was that I take up the mantle of the Question.”
“Damn it,” Huntress cursed softly. A gloved hand clenched into a fist, “Why didn’t he come to one of us for help?”
Renee hesitated a moment. “Maybe,” Question said gently, “because it was in his nature to think of others first?”
Huntress paused, her lips lifting in a slight smile as she remembered other times with the Question and said, “True.”
There was a flash of light within the darkness of the building as Question declared, “Something’s happening!” Raising her binoculars Renee zoomed in on the suddenly lit section, seeing two men lit by a small flashlight.
“What are they doing?” Huntress asked, pressing a switch on her mask and activating what looked like built in lenses.
“Looks like they’re exchanging money for a briefcase,” Question rose smoothly as she said shortly, “let’s move.”
Huntress leapt off the side of the building with a almost suicidal grace, her cape billowing out to slow her fall. She hit the ground and was off, racing towards the door they saw the men go inside the building through.
‘I have got to get me one of those capes,’ Question though to herself wryly as she climbed down using the emergency ladder bolted to the side of the building. After a moment she headed the other way, Renee hurrying towards the other door.
The man pushed open the door, his clothes dusty from the long out of use warehouse, as he said, “With these we can start making our name.”
‘Two of them,’ Question thought as she moved fast, rushing in to slug the first man as her trademark smoke swirled about them.
“Hey, what the,” the other man fumbled with the briefcase, popping it open to reveal several exotic looking weapons.
‘Crap,’ Renee instantly recognized the ray guns as Intergang issue, having run into them along with Vic. “Bad boy,” Question kicked out at the case and sent it flying into the darkness of a nearby alley, but not before he could grab hold of a gun. ‘Uh oh,’ Renee thought as she ducked the first shot.
The sound seemed to come from everywhere as the man staggered back with a cry, the gun exploding in a shower of sparks. Focusing past her pain from the boise Quesrtion moved in, giving the goon a right cross that send him crashing to the ground.
Turning to see the woman walking up the alley towards her Question asked, “Black Canary, I presume?”
“Huntress radioed me,” the blonde carrying the weapons case smiled, her simple black bodysuit clinging to her body as Black Canary continued, “she took down the weapons dealer but missed the others.”
Together, both women secured the unconscious men as Renee put a anonymous call into the Police department reporting them. “Good,” Question nodded as they walked away, “now we just have to hope Oracle can help find out where they got the Intergang weapons.”
“You know Oracle?” Black Canary looked intreagued.
“Heard of her,” Question answered honestly.
Black Canary reached up to touch her ear and listen to something only she could hear as a slight smile teased her lips. “Come on,” she said as she turned and lead the way, “Huntress will meet us on the roof.”
“More climbing,” Renee muttered, “great.”
A wind whipped across the roof as Huntress watched them climb up, the wind whipping her cape around. “About time you got here,” she said.
“What’s causing the wind?” Renee asked, the breeze making the Question’s trench coat flap about wildly.
As if on cue a helicopter seemed to almost appear from mid air, some kind of distortion field fading as it smoothly dropped, settling on the building’s roof. The door on the side of the copter slid aside to reveal a tall blonde in black leather military jacket and mini skirt, her grin infectious as she said, “All aboard!”
“Welcome to the Aerie two,” Black Canary waved for Question to get on board, “I’d like you to meet our pilot, Lady Blackhawk.”
Question blinked as she whispered, “THE Lady Blackhawk? As in World War Two?”
“Don’t bring that up too much,” Huntress hissed.
Clearing her throat Question smiled under her mask as she said, “It’s good to meet you.”
“Thanks,” Lady Blackhawk too the pilot seat as she added, “heads up, incoming message from the boss.”
‘How…?’ Question wondered before a soft glow appeared in mid air, soon resolving into a holographic image of a stylized full face mask. The mask was a icon that hackers around the world had come to know and respect, often striking covertly against the criminals of the world.
“Question,” the voice seemed to come from the mask, “my name is Oracle.”
‘Distorted voice,’ Question noted, ‘interesting.’ Aloud she said, “It’s a honor to meet you face to face, more or less.”
“Thank you,” there was faint amusement in the Oracle voice. Briskly she continued, “The gun sale you stopped….”
“Was Intergang imported weapons,” Question supplied calmly. “If they’re anything like the blasters I encountered earlier it’d be a bad idea if they hit the street.”
“One for the new guy,” Huntress whispered to Black Canary.
“We’re keeping score?” Black Canary chuckled.
“Of course,” Lady Blackhawk grinned.
“Enough from the peanut gallery,” Oracle said with what almost sounded like a laugh. “I don’t normally bring outside agents into a operation,” she said, “but you seem to be familiar with Intergang already.”
“We’ve had a few run ins,” Question said dryly.
“And if they’re packing weapons like those ray guns,” Black Canary noted a bit reluctantly, “we could use the extra help.”
“That too,” Oracle agreed. “Well?”
Renee thought a moment, but knew there was no choice. “I want to know why they’re trying this again after Vic, Batwoman and I stopped them before,” Question said firmly, “I’m in.”
“Then let’s go,” Lady Blackhawk declared as the copter started up then almost silently soared off into the night sky.
To be continued….
Notes: I’m pretty much ignoring the OYL disappearance of Dinah and replacement in the Birds by Lady Shiva. It can be assumed that Dinah, in this version, decided it was best to not follow Shiva’s path and remained a BOP.