Gotham City, NY
June 4, 2003
Kennedy Hansen, newly Called Vampire Slayer, lover of the beautiful, talented and unquestionably wonderful witch and also newly Called Vampire Slayer, Willow Rosenberg, and general all-around badass bitch, paused as she stealthily made her way along the edge of the roof of the currently vacant warehouse she was checking in the course of her recently initiated nightly patrol.
She, Willow, Vi and Andrew had come here to Gotham City to take possession of an inheritance bequeathed to Giles by a former Watcher, and to check out concerns the British man had that Gotham may be the site of a new Hellmouth. So far, her patrol hadn’t borne out that fear, but...
But there was…something…nearby that was pinging lightly on her supernatural radar, and Kennedy wanted to make sure that she had as accurate an idea of where it most likely was so that she didn't accidentally blunder into it and possibly alert it to her presence prior to her being ready to attack.
While she agreed, in principle, with the Scoobies' general operating principle that not all demons were necessarily evil and deserving of immediate extermination, not fighting a multi-front war was always a plus. Just ask Mr. Hitler or Napoleon how they feel about the idea.
Clem could actually almost be considered a big cuddly semi-demonic teddy bear, once you looked past his floppy ears, sagging skin and all the tentacles behind his face. And based on the dealings she'd had with the demon community here in town over the course of the past three nights of patrol, the newly Called Slayer knew the odds that whatever it was she'd probably be meeting up with would be at least reserved and/or standoffish, if not downright antagonistic or hostile, were a lot more probable than not.
It was a shame Willow couldn't be here with her, to possibly help identify her potential prey, Kennedy reflected. But picking up that book collection which Giles' friend had bequeathed him was the primary reason for them to be here in town, after all, and if the only time the library curator could meet her and the Englishman was now, then that was the way it had to be. Besides, Kennedy knew it wasn't as though she were going to be taking on some massive throng of vampires or demons or anything – it was just the one demon, or maybe some sort of demon hybrid, judging by the strength of the vibe she'd detected, and with the brashness of youth Kennedy figured she could almost certainly handle that all by herself.
Either way, she'd check things out, and if this whatever-it-was looked like some sort of King Kong or Godzilla type creature, then she'd call Willow and Giles for backup, and wait for them before taking any action. Vi and Andrew were on the other side of town, and most likely would have their own problems tonight. The brunette figured her girlfriend and the head Watcher would be more than enough to help her take down anything up to, and including, a Master vampire.
Kennedy knew a lot of people thought she was arrogant, but she really wasn't – she simply knew her own capabilities quite well, and she was confident enough in herself that she had no problem taking whatever actions she thought were necessary.
In her mind, that wasn't arrogance, that was just reality.
Once she'd determined the position of whatever it was she was sensing, and moving carefully and as silently as she could, the dark-haired Slayer resumed her patrol, heading towards the currently unknown figure that was either prey or...something else.
Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. the Batman, a.k.a. an Immortal whose First Death had resulted in his Quickening incorporating all the strengths of a vampire demon before casting the damned creature back down into the Abyss, paused in his surveillance of the Leipzig gang's activities in the warehouse across the street – when he heard the almost imperceptible scrape of a foot against the gravel covering the roof of the warehouse he was using as a temporary surveillance position, and he looked back over his shoulder to see a dark-haired young woman in muted clothing crouched by the far edge of the roof.
Even as an absent thought of appreciation flitted through his mind regarding the impressive increase in the keenness of his senses he'd gained since his inadvertent exposure to that new drug, Orpheus, last month, Bruce noted that the girl's hazel eyes were fixed on him in much the same manner a lion might regard a gazelle – as a potentially lethal snack on their future menu.
This was no innocent, casual bystander.
"Who are you, and what are you doing here?" Bruce growled at the intruder, using the combination of harsh snarl and intimidating tone of voice he'd perfected for his alternate persona.
Surprisingly, though, the teen – he judged his visitor to be approximately nineteen years old – didn't seem fazed in the least by his question, and she threw her own back at him.
"That's exactly what I was going to ask you, Tall, Dark and Growly," the girl stated as she rose from the half-crouch she was in to her full height, which barely came up to his chin if Bruce was judging things properly.
"Nothing that concerns you," the Batman informed her, while giving her one of his best 'you don't want to mess with me' stares, which also didn't seem to bother her in the least, he noted analytically.
“I’ll be the judge of that. And what’s with the costume?” Kennedy demanded, looking the masked leather outfit up and down. “You got some sort of S&M fetish going here, or what?”
Whatever Bruce had been about to say with regard to that was stillborn, as he heard the sounds of the warehouse entry door across the street rumbling open. Silently cursing, Bruce broke off the staring contest with Kennedy as he glanced back to see several of Leipzig's lower-level thugs begin driving two nondescript white vans from within the cavernous space inside the warehouse and out onto the street, heading north at a speed well within the speed limit and which wouldn’t draw any untoward attention.
As Bruce turned to begin heading towards the access ladder from the roof to street level, the brunette moved to interpose herself between him and the ladder, as though to prevent him from leaving. This did not endear her to him in any way, shape or form.
“Get out of my way,” the caped crusader ordered the Slayer in no uncertain terms.
"Wrong answer, buddy," the girl said, shaking her head as she then began stalking towards him.
"You're not going anywhere until I get some answers to my questions," Kennedy declared firmly as she gave Bruce the same sort of look he gave the would-be hardcases he typically ended up dealing with most nights of the week.
Ignoring the girl's challenge, Bruce continued walking forward, intending to gently push her aside if she didn't move out of his way, while mentally noting just how courageous she was to continue standing up against him, especially since it was just the two of them present, with no one to possibly intervene should he actually turn out to be anywhere near as daunting and frightening as he'd labored so keenly to make the image of the Batman seem to be.
When Bruce was only a few feet away, and was just beginning to extend his right arm towards her, the brunette surprised him, with both her reaction and her speed, by quickly reaching out on her own and grabbing hold of his arm and twisting it to the side as she simultaneously slammed a small, but nonetheless solid, fist into his ribcage, knocking him backwards two steps.
'What –" Bruce grunted as he instantly regained his footing, astonished both by the power of the blow (it felt as though she had at least cracked, if not broken, a couple of ribs, despite the body armor), and by the fact that it had been delivered by this little slip of a girl! And considering the fact that he had become superhumanly strong after his inadvertent exposure to Orpheus, the fact that this girl appeared to be even stronger than he was…was more than a bit disturbing.
But what was even more incredible than the fact that he'd been staggered by the tiny brunette was the fact that she was now actually attacking him!
His Quickening rapidly healing his fractured ribs, Bruce reflexively avoided the flurry of surprisingly strong blows Kennedy was now trying to rain down on him, and he redirected the brunette's arm past him - adding just enough force as he pulled her forward into a tumble.
Taking advantage of the opportunity he'd created, the newborn Immortal broke into a run, hoping to be able to make it down the ladder quickly enough to allow him to get to the Tumbler and then hopefully catch up to the gang members' van, to see where the next facet of their drug operation was located.
Unfortunately, Fate is quite frequently a fickle bitch, and Bruce's plans were quickly disrupted.
Kennedy reacted instantly as the – possible demon, half-demon, whatever the hell she was facing – headed past her in an curiously unhurried charge, and she knocked aside her opponent's arm as he tried to push her aside, before immediately following up with a punch that forced him back a couple steps.
Taking the initiative, the Chosen One then threw another half-dozen punches at the costumed demon- and she was actually surprised the amazing agility her opponent possessed, as he managed to avoid all of her attacks.
Worse, at least from Kennedy's personal perspective, the demon had managed to take advantage of her momentum to pull her off-balance and into a tumble, allowing him to move around her and go after the humans he'd obviously been stalking when she'd first located him.
Kennedy had no idea what sort of demon this creature actually was, especially since she'd never heard of any kind of demon dressing up in any kind of costume, let alone whatever sort of armor this thing was wearing – but the fact that it was definitely spying on the humans who'd been working in the warehouse across the street from where she'd found it made it clear to her that its intentions towards that particular group of people wee NOT benevolent in the least. The fact that the guys in the warehouse were obviously scumbags didn’t enter into her thoughts. If they didn’t ping her Slaydar, that meant that they were ‘innocents’ to be protected.
And based on the information she'd gleaned from listening to Andrew's long-winded oratory about the Scoobies' history and the various Watchers' diaries she'd borrowed from Giles' collection and read during her time in Sunnydale, Kennedy knew that demons didn't stalk people because they were curious to learn about human culture and civilization.
No, not at all. Demons stalking people was always of the bad.
She and the other Potentials had been Called to help protect people from all of the nasty things that went lurked in the darkness of the night, and she wasn't about to tell her honey or anyone else that she wasn't up to the task
So, that meant that this particular demon or whatever it was, was going down. Hard.
Kennedy rolled on her shoulder and was back up on her feet a fleeting fraction of a second after the demon had taken her down, and back on its trail an instant after that, her enhanced vision allowing her to pick out her adversary's form despite the lack of adequate street lighting in this particular section of town.
The Slayer was across the rooftop in a flash, leaping at the creature, the short sword she'd strapped to her back now out and poised to strike, since she was looking to take it down as quickly as possible.
The decision to kill her opponent was a surprisingly easy one to make, all things considered.
Bruce spun to the side, alerted by the barest whisper of a foot scraping across the tar paper covering the roof of the warehouse – just in time to see a sword whip through the space his neck had occupied a bare instant earlier.
The freakishly strong young woman he's considered merely an annoyance a moment before had just upgraded her threat level to psychopathic would-be murderer, and Bruce knew he needed to deal with her as quickly and expeditiously as possible.
Palming a small canister of Mace from one of the compartments on his utility belt as he dodged a second slash by the young woman, Bruce sprayed the aerosol fully into his assailant's face and took advantage of her surprised choking and momentary blindness to kick the sword from her grasp. Then, unfortunately overconfident of success, the Batman stepped in and drove the reinforced knuckles on his gauntlets into the girl's ribs several times.
Unfortunately, however, the girl (if that was what she really was – he'd never met anyone, male or female, who was nearly as strong and fast as she was) had truly phenomenal reflexes, since Kennedy reacted at virtually the same instant that he hit her, and her own powerful ,if poorly aimed, punch – to his jaw this time – again knocked him back, staggering, just as she had done just a few moments before.
Realizing that this time, she had indeed broken several ribs with just the one hit to his ribs, and had nearly broken his jaw with the second hit to his face, Bruce chose to exercise the better part of valor, and backed away from the girl's wildly flailing punches as he gave her one more shot of the aerosol, before pulling out his rappelling line and one of his batarangs.
Attaching one end of the line to the batarang, Bruce spun it twice around his right arm before unloosing it at his opponent's legs, and then quickly pulled back on the line as it looped around the seeming young woman's legs, unbalancing her and yanking her off her feet.
Bruce never noticed his Quickening healing his broken ribs as, taking advantage of his opponent's momentary incapacity, he turned and ran to the edge of the roof, sliding down the emergency ladder fastened to the outside wall and then quickly heading off towards where he'd parked the Tumbler he'd appropriated from Lucius' design group.
The masked vigilante really had no idea of what it was that he had just been fighting, aside from the fact that it was definitely a lot stronger than he was, at least as fast, and clearly had no compunctions about committing homicide as Kennedy’s scream of frustration echoed off the walls of the neighborhood’s buildings.
One thing Bruce Wayne had had instilled into him in the course of Henri Ducard's training was that you don't fight blindly, unless you have no other choice. First, you learn all you can about your opponent: their strengths and their weaknesses, their preferences and dislikes, their habits and their inclinations.
Then, once you know all those things, you can plan accordingly.
Frowning underneath the mask as he headed after the drug dealers’ vans, Bruce noted to himself that the old childhood proverb might be trite, but it was quite true, and exceedingly accurate.
He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.
Port Adams area
Gotham City, NY
Many hours later
Rupert Giles was greatly reminded of the ‘good old days’ in Sunnydale, if you could call such calamitous times any such thing, as he listened to Kennedy rant about the demon she’d gone up against last night.
The meeting he and Willow had attended had gone fairly well – the library curator had handed over the book collection without any undue fuss – and both Vi and Andrew had had a fairly uneventful evening as well. Alright, the red-haired Slayer had slain a Sathari demon that she and the Watcher-in-training had stumbled across, but compared to what Kennedy had encountered...
“All right, let’s start from the beginning. Just calm down and tell me what you can about this creature – *without* any interpretation of its actions. Just the facts, please, Kennedy,” Rupert cautioned the newly Called Slayer as she opened her mouth to reply.
Kennedy exhaled, and attempted to calm herself down. "Okay. Well, that thing looked human-shaped underneath the masked costume, but it was stronger and faster than human – although not up to Slayer levels, I’m pretty sure of that much. It wasn’t a vamp, either – y’know, no boasting, and it didn't seem to recognize me as a Slayer, plus it didn’t use lethal force while fighting me, even though it was a pretty good close-quarters combatant. Uh, and it used modern technology like Mace and it warned me to get out of its way; it seemed fairly focused on the humans in the warehouse across the street. After breaking off the fight, it managed to slip away fairly easily, which I figure indicates familiarity with the area."
“Anything else?” Vi asked, frowning.
“Um...oh, yeah! I’m certain I broke some of its ribs during the fight, but that didn’t slow it down at all - and then there was this weird mini-lightning I got a brief glimpse of – around its mouth, after I hit it in the face – before the demon ran off. I never saw anything like that before, that sort of blue-white electricity,” Kennedy recalled.
“Curious,” Andrew remarked, aiming to appear like a sage contemplating the mysteries of the universe, but actually appearing more like a dork attempting to deal with something utterly beyond his understanding.
“Yes, very,” Giles frowned, wondering why the mention of blue-white mini-lightning was ringing a very faint bell somewhere in the back of his mind. Then he dismissed that, turning to the fifth member of their group. “Willow? Do you have anything to add?”
The witch and also newly Called Slayer nodded. "From what I’ve been able to determine, what's developing in Gotham isn't a Hellmouth, since it has a significantly different energy signature. But it's also not something which we can just ignore, either, since the odds are the thing Kennedy encountered last night was drawn here to it. I think... I think maybe we should call in reinforcements to help figure out what exactly it is we’re dealing with –”
“You don’t think we can handle it ourselves?” Kennedy quickly interrupted, a look of concern on the brunette Slayer’s features.
“It’s not that,” Willow told her placatingly. “It’s just that I’m wondering whether all this might be related to that Slayer dream Xander had last week, somehow. You remember, the one with all the Star Wars themes?”
“Indeed,” Andrew recalled. "That was the one with all the Jedi Knights, and Princess Leia, and where I was See-Threepio on board the Millennium Falcon, rendering invaluable aid to the Watchers Council," he noted with a pleased smile on his face.
“Willow, I hardly see how that might be related to the current situation. Or that, um, Methuselah Stone which you a-and Xander have been looking for,” Giles scratched his head in confusion.
“Still – I think it might not be a bad idea to have Xander stop by here, y’know? I mean, it couldn’t possibly hurt to have some more Slayer firepower present, and I know how much he’s been wanting to find that crystal doohickey thing to wake up that Cordelia girl,” Vi spoke up.
The members of Team Slayer looked around at one another, and seeing that there were no objections, agreed to send for the original Heart of the Scooby Gang – especially after Willow mentioned the First Scooby’s history of practically being a demon magnet, during the days of yore.
The thinking was that, if nothing else, Xander’s presence offered the probability of significantly decreasing the time it would take to track down the creature Kennedy had encountered last night.
If only they could have known what would happen, though, when Xander Harris and Bruce Wayne would finally meet...