In the halls of Academia
Disclaimer in part one
A/N: This is the Nolan version of the DC 'verse, superheroes are going to be really rare, and pretty much all in Batman's power class. So... Green Arrow is probably out there somewhere, but Superman and Green Lantern are definitely not (except as comic book characters themselves).
Timewise, this takes place between the first and second movies.
Oh, and thanks for reading and reviewing!!!
The universe sucked Faith down, spun her around and around, then spit her back up and smacked her in the face with a hard, flat sledgehammer covered in white linoleum.
Groaning, the girl blinked, twitched, and finally managed to roll over so that she was staring at the ceiling instead of the floor.
"Ow." Her nose hurt, courtesy of the faceplanting-into-the-floor thing, though obviously she'd suffered worse and lived through it. Reaching up with one hand, she raked the hair out of her eyes and squinted.
" The room she was in was actually quite dim, with nearly all the florescent lights turned off. Even so, her poor head felt like a really strong, really energetic person was pounding on it with a hammer. I've felt that spinning thing before,
she thought to herself in the spaces between the spikes of pain. Twice before, even; once from the thing the Mayor left for me and then again when B... put us back.
Eyes squeezing shut, she tried to forget about that last part. One thing was certain, however: neither of those times had left her hurting like this--the pain was so bad it seemed to radiate down from her neck and into her spine, arms, and legs. Every bone in her skeleton aching, she gritted her teeth and sat up, scanning her surroundings as she did so.
It was a largish room, with the sort of sterile look and feel that instantly told her that this was a place people worked, not a place where someone lived. The dim lighting made her think it must be nighttime, which hopefully meant she wouldn't have to deal with anyone demanding to know what she was doing in their office or whatever.
"Because I have no
idea what I'm doin' here... or how I got here." The pain in her bones had receded slightly by that point, so she eased herself up to stand beside a counter. There was ample light for her Slayer's eyes to make out the objects that were laid out there. Bits of old, roughly-carved stone and metal; the sort of thing she'd before, lots of times. Now, though, every piece had a neat little tag attached to it, with strings of letters and numbers printed on them. Across the way were large, blocky devices that seemed to be part microscope, part microwave oven. Stacks of computer printouts were sitting here and there, but when she picked one up and glanced at it, the bar graphs and techspeak meant nothing to her.
"Screw it," she told the room as she tossed the papers aside. "How about I just get out of here first, huh? Anything else can wait for later."
Whatever had happened, wherever she'd been taken, her carryall hadn't made the trip with her. That meant no clothes, no money, no nothing except what she was wearing and carrying. Which was a shame, sure, but it did leave her with something useful.
Her hand went to the small of her back, and she slipped the knife free of the sheath clipped to the waistband of her jeans.
The Mayor's knife, her
knife. The wickedly-barbed blade gleamed softly in the dim light, and she found herself breathing a little easier as she moved towards the door.
Wherever she was, whatever was going on, nothing seemed quite as dire so long as she had the option of slicing and dicing anybody stupid enough to get up in her face.
It was a college.
Faith had been wandering around the building for several minutes now, and that much at least was clear. She'd peered into darkened labs, she'd looked out of the (non-opening) windows, she'd put her fist through the glass front of a vending machine and scored all the candy bars she could eat (only two, as it turned out--her stomach was still uneasy in the aftermath of whatever had brought her here). She'd also found a bank of elevators, which unfortunately seemed to be locked down for the night. Standing there, however, faint sounds reached her ears, and she cocked her head slightly to listen.
Voices, faint with distance and intervening walls, but to her more-than-human senses they provided a clear indication of how to get out of the building. Holding her knife down at her side so as to be ready, but less conspicuous, she padded down the wide hallway and turned left.
What she found was another elevator, this one the freight-type that had extra-wide gates that went up and down, instead of the normal kind that opened to either side. Turning her head to listen, she found them nearer and clearer, but not too
near. Sheathing her knife for the moment, she took hold of the heavy gate and pulled it slowly upwards, stopping when she had just enough room to duck down and slip through the opening.
Inside was--nothing. No elevator, no floor, just a long, looooong drop to the bottom of the shaft. She'd expected as much, having seen setups like this one in some of the older buildings back in Boston, and she took care to keep her boots firmly on the two-inch wide ledge that circled the shaft. Pushing the gate back down, she crouched there in the chilly darkness, peering down at the people far below.
"--Swear if you drop that one more time, I am so
gonna kick your ass."
"Promises, promises. It's not my fault these things don't have, you know, handles or anything."
Down at ground level, something like eighty feet below her, she could see two guys wrestling something large, intricate and heavy-looking off of the open cargo-elevator platform and out into whatever area the safety gates opened out onto down there. From out of her line of sight, a woman's voice came faintly.
"Sorry, Josh. The half-million dollars they charge for one of these babies doesn't include the easy-grip handles; those cost extra." A moment later the owner of the voice walked into the elevator. Looking straight down, Faith couldn't make out much besides long blonde hair, but the girl projected the attitude and assurance of someone who is (A) very hot, and (B) very much knows it. "God, what I wouldn't give to see the professor's face when he finds all this stuff gone." A surprisingly girlish giggle followed, even as she was shoving sealed cardboard boxes into the arms of three more guys who came briefly into Faith's view.
"You're sure he won't know it was you that took this stuff, Bella?" one of them asked, accepting his load and trundling off with the air of someone who had already made lots and lots of similar trips already.
"Won't matter," she told his retreating form. "He won't be able to prove anything. Besides, I need to scale up production; there are tons
of orders coming in now, and there's no way I can keep up when I have to do everything here after classes are over, and without getting caught by somebody I forgot to pay off." She combed her hair back from her face, running her fingers through what looked like a thick, waist-length mane several times before suddenly calling out. "And for the hundredth time, stop
calling me Bella! I can't use that any more; those stupid movies ruined
"Yessss, Annabellllllle!" came the reply, in a chorus of male voices accompanied by laughter.
High above, Faith's eyebrows lifted. Huh. Okay, blonde girl and her friends are robbing the place. Is this my problem?
She snorted softly to herself. Um, I'm thinking 'No'. Learned my lesson back in Sunny D; mind my own business, leave the hero stuff to the stuck up little bitches that are actually good at it. Or... yeah, whatever.
She leaned back against the wall, careless of the killing drop directly under her toes, and prepared to wait. The carefree way the thieves were acting told her that they weren't especially worried about getting caught; probably the campus rent-a-cops had been paid to look the other way. All Faith had to do was wait till they finished with the stealing and left, then she could go down and leave through the loading dock or whatever was down there. Then I can get busy with... what? Finding whoever zapped me and dealing them some extreme pain? Okay, that does sound like fun, but what then? It's not like I had any big plans, other than maybe going down to L.A. to look around and see what it's like there. Main thing is to keep my head down, try and stay out of sight so those Watcher's Council assholes don't keep sending their goons after me. If I can do that for a few months, maybe then it'll be safe to--
Her head snapped around, and she shifted position slightly, staring downwards. Muffled shouts echoed up the empty shaft, along with a distinctively girlish shriek of terror. More thuds sounded, though none of them were strong enough to actually shake the metal framework under her hands, as the first one had. Either somebody dropped something that went 'boom', or else that was a stun grenade.
Her dark-crimson-painted lips curled back from her teeth, though she wasn't aware of it happening. Screw that, it WAS a grenade.
A group of renegade Sunnydale police officers had tried to kill the Mayor once, after they figured out some of what was really going on in the town--Faith knew
what a grenade sounded like. What she was going to do about it, if anything, was a whole other thing.
"Not my problem, not my problem, not going to go down there, not going to--"
A gunshot sounded, the acoustics of the shaft bringing the noise so close it made her jump. Another shriek came close behind, and Faith moved before the decision finished forming.
"Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck, FUCK!
Her first step carried her out into open space, and the rushing air had just enough time to lift her hair from her shoulders before her boots slammed into the thread-thin ledge that encircled the shaft two floor below where she'd started. A continuation of the same motion sent her into space again, crossing the shaft as she angled downwards to hit another ledge two floors lower. An observer would have seen it as one continuous zig-zag descent, over in moments and ending with the dark-haired girl landing in a crouch in the center of the elevator platform. Her knife appeared in her hand in a motion so quick as to seem magical, and she stalked forward.