14: ...Get Ready to Cry
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Chapter Fourteen: …Get Ready To Cry
Bruce had made it very clear that he was not to leave the Tumbler under no circumstances.
But Richard did it anyway.
He did not sense any danger immediately around him, though he knew that it was near and at the ready. He just wanted to have a quick look around. That was all.
The Tumbler, which had seemed to get through the projectile hurtling plants without any damage, was not unscathed after all. There were dents in the metal where the spikes had hit, and scratches also. Seeing this was enough to get Richard back into the Tumbler, the top closing securely over his head before he dared breathe a sigh of relief.
He didn’t know why he felt the things that he felt, especially when no one else could. He did not know how he knew the things he knew. He couldn’t explain it, even though he had, at times, dwelled on it a lot. There were times when he wished he didn’t see or know or feel the things that he did. He wished he was just a normal boy, but normal was not something attainable to him it seemed, so he had to deal with what he had been given, and use it to the best of his abilities.
His grandmother had told him once that the eyes were the windows to the soul and that even when you thought you could see clear through that glass to the person within, to the secrets they were hiding, sometimes it was not so. Sometimes, the glass was foggy or dirty, and things could be hidden very easily when ones’ view was obstructed. She had also told him that his eyes were like diamonds and diamonds cut through glass. It hadn’t made much sense to him then, but it was starting to the older he got.
He had a feeling there was something inside that building that he needed to see, something that he needed to know existed because it would be crucial that he know it later, but he was not about to walk into that place. That was for sure.
Batman took a moment to take in what exactly it was that he was seeing, because it was rather hard to believe, even for him, who had seen a lot of things thrown at him by the criminal underground that called Gotham home.
There was no doubt about it: they were tiny mechanical penguins, two dozen of them by his estimation, waddling out of the dark corners of the room. They might have been kind of cute if they hadn’t each been carrying a very real gun, and they weren’t trained on him.
What new villain had thought these things up?
He didn’t have much time to ponder, because all at once, the sound of all 24 guns cocking at once resounded throughout the room. He looked to his left, where the Joker, very much dead was swinging back and forth. Batman could tell, with only a cursory examination, that it was not the hanging that had killed him. The hanging was post mortem. Someone had snapped his neck. He thought back to what Willow and Buffy had been talking about: the Joker being possessed or something like that. If that was true, then who – or what – had killed him so efficiently?
He didn’t have time to ponder. Bullets began to reverberate all around him, ricocheting off the walls. A few hit the body dangling beside him, but, much to his surprise (and elation) none of them came close to hitting him.
This wasn’t much of a trap. In fact, it seemed as if it were only meant to keep him here.
Deciding that since they weren’t trying to hit him, he could get out of the room, he dove for the door, and as he suspected, the mechanical penguins adjusted their positions to keep from hitting him. With the sounds of guns still firing behind him, he ran full speed until he was outside. The Tumbler sat before him, and when he got close to it, he saw, much to his relief, that Richard was still inside.
“Has Buffy called?” He asked, getting inside the vehicle.
Richard shook his head, but then his eyes went wide. “She is in danger.”
That was not what Bruce wanted to hear.
The dust got into Buffy’s nose and mouth, and she coughed as it did so. The stuff was itchy and she could feel it all around her, on her skin, in her hair, and all over her dress.
She waved her hand in front of her face, and then she jerked her head up. The guy, Crane, was watching her closely, waiting for her reaction.
Bruce had told her about this stuff and when this guy, Scarecrow, had sprayed him with it. It was some sort of weaponized hallucinogen.
At that moment, Buffy convulsed – and then she sneezed.
That was obviously not the reaction that the Scarecrow had wanted to see.
“It didn’t work?” He asked out loud, his voice sounding incredulous and a fearful.
“If by ‘work’ you mean piss me off, than, yeah, you succeeded,” Buffy snapped, brushing herself off with her free hand. “If you mean ‘work’ as in sending me into mind numbing fear, then ya failed.”
Crane pulled the burlap off of his head, and calmly, though Buffy clearly saw his hand shaking as he did so, brushed his hair back from his face. “Well, well, well. I must admit that I had my hopes that it would work no matter what he said, but I am not too terribly surprised that it did not. You are, after all, a Slayer, but it was worth a shot.”
“You bring me into a room full of weapons, all of which I am very good at using, and throw that junk in my face,” Buffy stated, shaking her head. “Boy, are you a dumbass.”
“Like I said, I am not surprised that you are not affected. So, I have a little insurance policy.”
A panel off to Buffy’s right slid open, and by the snarls, glowing yellow eyes, and disfigured foreheads, she was pretty sure a fang gang had arrived. Glancing down at herself, Buffy knew she was not dressed break and enterish, but she hadn’t foreseen the need to be. At least the dress was not tight fitting from the waist down, giving her some leg room. Wouldn’t be very ladylike, but then slaying never was meant to be.
She tossed her champagne glass at Crane’s head as he hightailed it out of the room. She missed him, the glass shattering against the door. She heard the lock being thrown. She knew, as well as he did, that she could break that door down, but not with a pack of vamps eager to feed at her back, and into a room filled with Happy Meals on legs. And besides, what would they think of Mrs. Bruce Wayne kicked down a heavy door and yelled at them to run before the vampires made them their early night snack?
Kicking off her heels, she dashed around a few display tables, going straight for a large axe on the far wall. Pulling it down, she hefted it in her hands, getting a feel for it. A little heavy in the axe head, but not too bad. Definitely useable.
“Okay, you bunch of overbites,” she said, turning to face the advancing vampires. “Me Slayer. You slayees. Any questions? No? Good.”
The first vamp that charged her ended that charge a pile of dust that, if she hadn’t closed her eyes, would have blinded her. She spat out dust, ignoring the eewww factor, and prepared for the next attack.
They attacked her two at time this go around. She managed a quick glance, and though they were moving fast and in and out of the deep shadows of the room, she guessed there were about nine more of the creeps beside the two that were almost directly in front of her. Her back was against the wall, and the axe, while not heavy for her, had a long handle, almost as long as she was tall, and it was awkward to wield in such close proximity to the wall and the wall mounted displays around her. She knew she had to get back to the clear area in front of the door, but getting there was not going to be easy.
She swung the axe with all her might, and luckily managed to behead the vampire coming at her from the right, while the handle swung around and knocked the other one off the display table he had been climbing over. Hiking up her dress she made a mad dash across the room, her fist finding another vamp in the face right before another one shoved her, pushing her to exactly where she had wanted to go. She rolled, coming up to her feet, but her dress got tangled, and face planted into the wall hard.
Shaking her head to clear it, she managed to get her to feet once again, only this time a vamp grabbed her by the back of her head and slammed her face into the wall with such force that she saw stars, and felt blood run out of her nose and drip down.
How did one get blood out of velvet?
Using the wall as leverage, she placed both feet on it and shoved backwards. The vampire fell, and she somersaulted over it, landing on her feet, and immediately kicking out at the next vamp in line, shattering his kneecap, and sending him tumbling into another two.
Spinning, she caught another with her left foot. Completing the spin, she came down on said left foot, and swung her right out in another kick, this one round house, and another vamp went flying.
She may not have been properly dressed for slaying, but the dress billowed around her in a neat way as she spun. That was something for it, right?
She reached over and pulled a long pole out of a broken case (why couldn’t the people outside hear all the noise that was going on in here?) and broke it in half over her knee before sticking both sharp ends into two different vamps, dusting them. She backed back up toward the door, twirling both ends of the pole in her hands dexterously, taunting the vampires to come on and try it.
“That will do!”
Buffy turned to find Cobblepot entering the room from the same secret panel that the vampires had. The vamps looked around in confusion. As if of one mind, they paused for only a moment before deciding to continue their attack.
“I said that will do!”
Cobblepot reached into his jacket and produced a metal disk about two inches thick. Tucking his cane under his arm, he used both hands to turn the top and bottom of the disk in opposite directions. It began to pulse, and he tossed it farther into the room.
There was a blinding flash, and Buffy shielded her eyes. It only lasted a moment and when it was over, she looked to see that the vamps had all been dusted.
“An ultraviolet bomb, of sorts,” Cobblepot stated before she could ask. He waddled farther into the room, surveying the damage that had been done to the room. “My employer wanted to see if your Slayer abilities were still up to par. I believe it is suffice to say that they are. He will be pleased.”
“Your employer?” Buffy tossed the broken pole down on the floor and collected her purse where she had lost it on her tumble from one end of the room to the other. Checking to make sure, she was glad to find that her cell phone was not broken. “Let me guess: The Immortal. Or does he prefer to be called Ra’s Al Ghul?”
“I do not believe he has a preference, so call him what you will.” For a short, tubby guy with a beak for a nose – literally – he spoke well. His voice, as well as his manner, was very congenial and genteel. “As for you, my dear, I suggest you get yourself presentable once again. It would do no good for the wife of Bruce Wayne to go back out to the party looking like she had just been in a fight.”
“It is nice that you care so much,” she snapped, picking up her shoes. “First that Crane guy tries to drive me all scardy fraidy cat, and then you send vamps in after me. It is nice to know I am appreciated.”
“On the contrary, what would the people think if they knew that you were a slayer? They would think you were insane. Just like what they would think if they found out your husband was the Batman. Can you imagine the scandal?” He went about the room, shaking his head as he did. “Why, they would put the both of you in Arkham. And then what would happen to your daughter, or that boy that you have taken in? You must think of them.”
“Is that a threat?” Buffy clenched her hands into fists.
“No, that is not a threat,” Cobblepot stated. “I, the Penguin, do not make threats.”
The Penguin? Now why didn’t she see that one coming? It was as plain as the nose on his face.