❯ In the Shadow of the Bat – Spoiler: Revealed ( Chapter 6 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Spoiler: Revealed

The woman clad in black moved soundlessly across the rooftop, her purple cape flowing in the night breeze. Waiting until she was near the figure crouching there on the roof she said, “I was sorry to hear about Superboy.”

Robin seemed quite unsurprised as he turned, black hair cut short as he met her eyes. “Thank you,” he said, unfolding from his crouch in his new black and red costume. He looked at her searchingly, “Is that you under there?”

Spoiler willingly pulled the hood of her costume back and removed her mask, revealing her dyed black hair and the familiar features of Stephanie Brown. “You look good, Tim,” she said, the Gotham breeze stirring her hair.

“Damn,” Tim Drake murmured as he stepped forward to hug her firmly, the gesture a odd mix of friendly and the tinges of their former romance. “Damn it,” he murmured as they drew back, “I thought you were dead!”

Steph smiled wryly, “Black Mask nearly pulled it off. A friend got me out of the city, and it took a while for me to recover.”

Tim’s eyes narrowed a moment, his detective’s brain quickly making connections. “Leslie Thompkins,” he deduced, “she faked your death?”

“Hmm,” Steph smiled slightly, not confirming or denying it. “I need to know something,” she said softly, “what happened to Batgirl?” Tim seemed to wince slightly as she continued, “I haven’t been able to find her, and the few contacts who seem to know anything seem to be too scared of her to talk.”

Tim sighed softly, looking away out at the towers and rooftops of Gotham. “She’s gone bad,” he admitted reluctantly, “it seems like she’s leading the League of Assassins.”

“Not possible,” Steph said after a moment.

Tim shook his head, his expression serious, “I had a run in with her myself. She killed her father, Kain, and wanted me to join them too.”

Steph nodded, her eyes narrowed. “Tell me what happened,” she asked intently, “I need to know everything.”

Tim recounted in as much detail as he could their encounter even as he gazed worriedly at Steph. “You aren’t going to do anything rash, are you?” he asked.

Steph gave him a look that could only be described as withering. “Trust me, I learned my lesson from playing with Batman’s wargames file,” she said dryly.

“Sorry,” he said. A moment’s pause and he added, “If you are going to act, let me know. I’d like to help.”

Steph put her mask back on, stretching a bit as she readied herself to move. “If I am going to look for her, I think it’d be on my own,” she confessed.

“Oh?” Tim frowned.

Steph drew her hood up, leaving her face in shadow. “She was my friend,” Spoiler said simply, “if I am going to reach her, it’ll be with that.”

“Either way,” Tim said, putting his own Robin mask back on, “be carefull.”

Without warning Spoiler leapt, her cape billowing out as she said, “Will do.”

Tim jerked, almost firing off a batline to catch her, then he saw her cape fill with air, slowing her fall as she fired off a cable of her own and swung out into the Gotham night. “That’s no homemade costume,” Robin murmured, “there’s some serious tech in that suit.”

Spoiler felt a certain amount of satisfaction at surprising Robin, but that feeling was soon buried by her mixed feelings about Batgirl. Cassandra Cain had been a close friend of hers, both of them outsiders in Batman’s family, as well as feeling a degree of opposites atracting. The quiet, intense Cass had drawn Steph to show her fun and games, and they had discovered much enjoyment out of it.

‘But could she really have gone bad?’ Spoiler wondered as she reached a rooftop in one of the more run down section’s of Gotham. Gracefully she touched a hidden keypad, fingers flying as she entered the codes and the skylight opened to her home and headquarters.

The attic wasn’t terribly high tech, other than the roof access. There was a small lab where she made the gas mix she used in her belt capsules, smoke bombs and a work bench she tinkered together batarrangs and other pieces of gear. Off to one side was her bedroom, including wardrobe and a make-up table for any disguises she needed on the job.

‘Wonder how Batman and the others would react to my robbing the crooks I bring in of their money?’ Spoiler wondered as she hung her utility belt on it’s rack. Deciding not to draw on Leslie’s money in sponsoring her activities she had decided to fund her operation by stealing drug money as well as other illegal funds, a morally questionable decision.

Dressing in street gear she headed downstairs to her cover apartment and identity, the freelance artist Steph Black, and smiled as she greeted friends in the building. “Hi Holly,” Steph nodded as she passed the brown haired woman on the street.

“Hey Steph,” Holly Robinson smiled back, her lover Karon by her side.

Continuing on Steph ducked into the coffee bar on the corner, scanning the place for friends and contacts. Seeing who she wanted Steph cut across the room, smiling slightly as she sat in the booth as she said, “Hi Cat.”

Catalina Flores gave Steph a wary look, the black haired older woman drinking her coffee in a casual manner. “Something I can do for you?” she asked flatly.

Catalina Flores was a ex-superhero, something that Steph could relate to, but Cat had gone bad. Adopting the identity of the Tarantula she had been a hero in Bludhaven, but had allowed herself to be manipulated by Blockbuster for her own reasons. Worse, she had killed Blackbuster then hooked up with Nightwing, using the man to escape the ‘Haven afterward. Ultimately Nightwing brought her in, and in a strange twist of fate she had been away from the city when it was nuked by the Society.

Steph took a roll of cash from her pocket, setting it down hidden from view bu Cat’s cup. “Just some information,” sde said evenly.

Cat covertly collected her money, sliding it away. In a much more friendly manner she asked, “How can I help?”

‘How far they fall,’ Steph thought but carefully kept any of her critisim from showing on her face. “I’m looking for information on Batgirl, the full face mask version.”

“Huh,” Cat shook her head, “you do not want to mess with her, ma’am.”

Steph smiled wryly at the woman’s unconscious respectful tone. “That’s up to me to decide,” she answered calmly.

“There’s lots of stories, but most agree she’s some kind of ninja,” Cat mused, “maybe a refugee from the League of Assassins. She was taken in by Batman, supposedly, but couldn’t fight off her dark nature.”

‘Cat’s a bit of a romantic,’ Steph thought with amusement.

“According to rumors Batgirl’s back with the League, maybe running the place,” Cat said. She frowned, “Supposedly there was some kind of war in the League, but the stories say they’re back up to full strength.”

“They based in Gotham?” Steph wondered.

“You think the Bat would allow that?” Cat raised a eyebrow questioningly.

“Heh, good point,” Steph acknowledged.

“I have heard rumors of a place in the college town of New Carthrage,” Cat added, “not far from Gotham.”

“Thanks,” Steph nodded, “if that pans out, I’ll give you a bonus.”

Cat hesitated, “I never ask what you do with the information I give you….”

“Yes?” Steph asked.

Cat took a nervous breath, “Would having a costume coming along help?”

Steph looked at Cat in surprise, then smiled slightly. “Not this time,” she said, “I’m pretty sneaky. But thanks for the offer.”

“You’re welcome,” Cat said, looking down into her coffee then taking another drink.

“I’ll remember it next time,” Steph flashed a grin as Cat smiled back.

‘Well, that was unexpected,’ Steph mused later at a small café where she usually grabbed a late dinner or early breakfast, depending on how one looked at it. ‘Wonder if it would be worthwhile to take her on as a redemption project?’

“Did you want a milk shake with that?” the waitress asked curiously.

“Hmm,” Steph looked up, just in time to see it was a trap.

The cold gun the woman held fired with a howl of sound, freezing the seat but not Steph, who leapt clear just in time. “Now,” the woman in a remarkably sill parka and bathing suit declare, “die at the hands of Lady Chiller!”

“You have got to be kidding,” Steph kicked out visciously, sending the gun flying as the girl cried out in pain.

Backing away fearfully Chiller said, “Ah, can we start over?”

Lunging forward Steph grabbed her and demanded “Why?”

“You… you spent marked bills belonging to the Shark’s mob,” Chiller whimpered, “they wanted you dealt with.”

‘Guess stealing mob money wasn’t such a hot plan,’ Steph mused. “Let your buddies know not to try this again,” she purred.

“Or?” Chiller weakly asked.

“I’m keeping the freeze gun,” Steph answered, “and I’ll freeze their balls off.”

“Right,” Chiller squeaked before leaving in a hurry.

‘Just what I needed,’ Steph sighed, retrieving the gun, ‘still, you can’t say my life isn’t interesting.’

To be continued….

In the Shadow of the Bat – Batwoman and Question: Catching up
In the Shadow of the Bat – Batgirl: Hard Choices