Birds of Prey Chapter 4: Magical view Feb 1, 2014 0:19:27 GMT -5 via mobile
Post by adrini on Feb 1, 2014 0:19:27 GMT -5
Ultimate Birds of Prey #4
Reinhardt Fullspeed Gaming Cruise Ship,
Thirty Miles off the Coast of New Jersey
“Why do I always have to play the part of the prostitute?” groaned Di to her uncaring compatriots.
Kate’s smile was all teeth and her stare far too appreciatory as it traveled up Canary’s scantily clad body, admiring a job well done. She had been the one to propose the plan. She had been the one to suggest it be Di in the crosshairs. And in the end, she too had been the one to select the fishnets two sizes too small, the micro-mini skirt ensemble, and all the tacky bangles to complete the disguise. It was all her fault.
Sprawled like the cat for which she took her name across a chair and its armrests, Cheshire shared in the enjoyment albeit it for slightly differing reasons. Her laugh echoed about their small cabin when she saw Di continue to pick at the tight mesh digging into her ivory white thighs. At her friend’s glare, enough to burn her to ashes if she had laser vision, she slipped her mask back over her face to hide her amusement. There just happened to be one tiny problem with that idea. The grinning feline face showed more shiny teeth than Kate.
“No, no. You’re wrong there, Canary,” Jade began, trying to mollify Di in a slightly mechanically filtered voice, “BW there is the one that always looks like a working girl. All that tight, black leather, the scarlet popping lipstick, and her stern gaze… She just happens to be more dom-influenced.”
“It’s not leather,” corrected Kate as she removed her look from Canary and turned it on her batsuit, “it’s a fiber mesh poly-“
“Yeah. Whatever you need to tell yourself to justify your wardrobe. Me? I like to be relaxed,” she patted her green robe with a slight taunt to the gesture.
“How do you even know how to dress me like this?” interjected Canary, forestalling any argument between the two others and getting the subject back on what she considered the second most important oversight of the night.
Kate showed off a pair of dimples as she averted her white-eyed gaze in a failed attempt to look demure. There was a merit to Jade’s observation. Batwoman looked stern and severe next to even a drill sergeant. The cape somehow made her already leggy appearance, larger and stricter.
“I know what men like?”
“My uncle has a very specific taste in women?”
Batwoman nodded. This time her smile was sincere instead of just an act. Didn’t make it less wrong while in the batsuit.
Di stopped worrying about her appearance for a moment. Her thoughts traveled to Robert Kane, media mogul, Beth’s father and by proxy, her employer. That mustached face that doted on his daughter so… There was no way. But then she thought about his ex-wife and realized the truth of the matter.
“Ew,” she finally managed.
The shuffling sound of Cheshire sitting up and staring at a point three feet left of Dinah attracted her attention. Jade’s movements were usually as precise and fluid as her mother’s. She did not get startled or surprised yet here she was. Might as well be a real cat with the way her mane of hair stood on end.
“Go time ladies. Six live ones including the target as predicted and they’re waiting for their lovely leading lady.”
This was what Canary considered to be the most important oversight of the evening. The mission required a four man team. However, they possessed no fourth man. Not one that she could see anyways and it would be just like Jade to play a joke on her even during a life or death occasion. Her only confirmation, or as close to it she could get on the matter, happened to be Kate’s just as sudden frown. Kate would never joke over something like this.
“I don’t know…” Di began.
“It’s simple. You go over there. You dance, you strip a little, you party with them a bit,” Cheshire rose to stand and check that her sais were secure while she went over the plan with excessive amounts of glee. “Then when they start to get handsy ‘cause they paid for a proper escort and not a stripper, you scream,” finger quoted, “because your Madame totally did not tell you about that part of the night.
“That’s Brand’s cue to kill the power. I pop into the room with Batwoman after you’ve left the boys with a night to remember and she does what she does best. Right, Miss Dominatrix?”
“You sure this Brand is really here?” Dinah asked, still filled with a pinch of reservation.
“It doesn’t mean he’s not here simply because he’s a dead man.” Kate answered instead.
“That’s usually ex…actly, What it me-means.” Canary rubbed her bare arms for warmth with a smacking of bangles. “It got cold in here quick.”
Her friends shared an unspoken joke. As did the flickering lights.
Zatanna walked to the local Mom and Pop block near St. Anthonio’s to pick up her weekly supplies. Walking was usually not the safest bet in the Haven but to be honest, public transportation wasn’t that much better in the evenings. Luckily for her, she learned so long as she kept her shoulders hunched and went about her business in a manner that suggested she would cut you first, the boys up to no good would leave her alone. Most of the time. She was after all lovely young woman in her early twenties. Some men saw the full lips and pert breasts and didn’t know better no matter what.
Her errands were almost wrapped up and she was ready to begin the short, don’t mess with me even though I have groceries trek back to her apartment when a second store drew her eye. As far as she could remember, the grocers had been single storied. What she saw countermanded such thoughts. The shop looked like it had been there forever. The brick was the same faded color as the one she just left. The roof was exactly the same size and shape she had seen when she entered.
Her feet led her to the tight stairwell off the side of the stores, in an alleyway, against her the orders of her instincts for self-preservation. A beaten oak door stood at the top. Not glass like every other store nearby. Definitely was wood, she confirmed, her fingers trailing across the decorative carvings scoured into its surface.
“The Tower,” she whispered to herself.
Inside, she found a wonderland. It was a treasure trove full of rare and wonderful tomes that burned to dust the only other store of its kind in Blüdhaven (Giles’s, across the Little Drawbridge to the Gallows). Some of the tomes she recognized from her grandfather’s library. The binding was so familiar she would swear they were the very same books with tricks you only heard the old timers and true magi speak of from her childhood.
"Miss." greeted an older man who had walked up to the counter. He pointed to a few cloth bags he had for sale.
"Thank you.” Zatanna couldn’t see where he walked out from, “This store, it's incredible." She sat down her groceries and swiftly grabbed a bag to fill up.
"Thank you." He said kindly, smiling gently like the noble gray grandfather he appeared to be. "You have a discerning eye for quality."
"Ethal has been pounding me all week." She looked over the shelf again. Three more books went into her bag. "I even put up having that creep who runs the other magic shop ogle me just so I could make a special order.”
"I prefer your show, your gimmick is exceedingly clever." He chuckled as the bag filled and offered her another one. "It has to take skill to speak like that."
"Thank you. Skill and practice" She clarified without a hint of hubris as the last items found their way into the second bag from the ingredients’ shelf. "My grandfather taught me, took years to master."
"It's a very classic trick, it's been a while since I saw it last. This it for you today?" He politely took the bags with her nod.
The man calmly sifted through the bags. Zatanna could see his lips move with silent words and for an instant felt as if someone had walked over her grave. Impossible. He was probably running the numbers in his head. She couldn’t see a register to help him after all.
"Is it less than a hundred-thirty?" she asked with more than a smidge of worry. In her haste, she forgot she had nearly spent all her money already and only had a hundred left hidden in her sock spot. It really was safer than a purse or wallet and had a feeling he didn’t accept debit.
"Just so." He smiled at her as she hobbled about on one foot for a few moments. "For such a pretty and excellent costumer, a gift in honor of her first visit to my little shop with hopes she’ll return soon."
He reached under the table and pulled out a gold and onyx ring, she smiled, charmed and put it on.
"It's a simple thing, but this is a simple store,” he spread his hands to indicate the shop. “Next time you need an edge, feel free to let me know. You’ll never have to special order here at The Tower."
"Thank you, Mister?" She offered her hand.
"Hall, Hector Hall." He nodded gentlemanly. "At your service."
Zatanna was nearly home, her mind racing with thoughts about the books and tricks, when she received a none-too-subtle reminder about something she had forgotten. Her stomach growled. She’d left her groceries behind.
Reinhardt Fullspeed Gaming Cruise Ship,
Fifty-two Miles off the Coast of New Jersey
Five men lay in various states of pained sleep soaked in rum and covered in stripper glitter exactly how Canary had left them. The sixth sat terrified in a corner while Batwoman put on her Tough Mistress act. They’d been pigs to the last man. They made crass jokes and laughed and carried on the way you’d expect most boys to act at on a party boat with a girl in a relative state of undress. Not a single gentleman among them.
Canary didn’t regret for a single second leaving them with a headache they’d not soon forget and fractured wrists or worst. She tipped one out of the chair he had collapsed in to take his place and rest her feet. The heels had been killer.
“I don’t see why I couldn’t have just screamed when they invited me in,” she muttered, wiping some of the glitter off her arms in annoyance. “Would have been quicker.”
“For the shits and giggles mostly,” answered Cheshire with a dry chuckle at Di’s complete look of indignation.
“For your amusement…”
“No. Not mine.”
Cheshire picked her way through the bodies and the room like she was pilfering the corpses on some long forgotten battlefield. With deft fingers, she pulled out pockets and shook out jackets, searching for something. The act would not be approved by Batwoman when she finally noticed.
A gasp of victory made Jade rise from her crouch beside the man who tried to grab a handful of Canary earlier. Whatever it was, was hidden from sight behind gloved hands. Soft clicks sounded with the oohs and awes of Cheshire’s gasps.
“I knew one would take pictures,” Cheshire laughed.
Di distinctly heard an echo from the music that had been playing.
“Oooh yes. Video too.”
“Those jackasses!” Di kicked the man at her feet in retaliation for his friend’s actions.
The man deftly trapped her ankle between his arm and chest. He looked up, a perfect vantage point from below, whistling appreciatorily. Surprise fading, Dinah readied to counter only for the man to let her go just as unexpectedly as his wakening. His jump to his feet was far more agile than a portly Jersey mobster should have been capable of. His speed and skill as he blocked her forearm strike left her worried.
Worry that grew when she found her face pressed to the floor and her arm locked behind her head. The man tsk tsked in disappointment. Cheshire stood as still as a statue, doing nothing to help her friend.
“Ya really have no spiritual sense do ya?” the mobster said in a Boston accent. He didn’t have that before. “Time to run ladies. Slight hiccup.”
A thump left the last man unconscious. “What sort of hiccup?” called Batwoman.
“Boat is owned by the R.F.G., Diamonds.” He let Di back up. “Didn’t realize until after I killed the power. They recognized the scream.”
“Damn,” Kate’s mask twisted in a frown. “Reinhardt Fullspeed Gaming… Obvious in hindsight.”
Cheshire hid away her treasure and readied her weapons without a hint of desperation. She had the least to worry about. The Royal Flush Gang would love to cage the Bat or Canary. The Cat would be sent back to her father and put on his tab. Lots of history behind the two.
“The ghost?” Di had to ask as she rubbed her arm.
“I prefer Deadman,” he checked his host’s pistol, hidden away in a leg holster. “Put ya wig back on, girlie. Lock and load. I know the way.”
The Deadman kicked open the door with the fat man’s leg. Reluctantly, the Birds began to follow his brazen charge.
Potter Avenue Apartments,
“Zatanna, your mother hasn't heard from you in a week. You know how she gets." John Zatara scolded. "We talked about this, we're a team. She can't win."
"I'm sorry, Dad." She put the phone on speaker as she began to sort through her findings, her growling stomach a fading memory now that her treasure was in front of her once more. "I just hit a full jackpot. Stuff grandpa used to have."
“New toys, good on you. Think they'll help your show?" He asked.
"Hell yes. Ethal is done." Zatara beamed.
“Good luck, my princess. Be careful." Her father knew her focus was elsewhere. "We love you."
"Love you too, Daddy."
Her father may have shared his father’s naturalized name but the love of magic had skipped him. He hung up and she turned back to the book at hand. A dove trick from the late nineteenth century, it was simple enough. One she had learned ages ago but with some minor variations. She grabbed a napkin from her supply box for the trick. The movements would be simple but elegant, the staple style of Zatara illusions for generations. She’d practice those before trying it out.
"RAEPPA EVOD!" She cried and opened her hand. The scarf fell to the floor a dove flew out of her hand and through the window. She swallowed, her eyes traveling to the dove cage in the corner of her apartment. She paid extra to put up with the complaints of neighbors. Now she counted one less than she had before.
Slightly shaken she gulped and picked up a deck of cards, telling her imagination to calm down. It was a trick of her hunger is all. A simpler trick would calm her beating heart. Guessing cards. She shuffled, the great Giovanni Zatara always told her to start with the basics. Moments later, she announced each card as each and every one came up correct. Fifty-two times in a row.
Zatanna threw the deck across the room. Her eyes closed tight so she wouldn’t see them fall. Ten breaths. Ten calming breaths. She knelt on her dirty floor and reached for the nearest card. “Three of clubs.”
The three of clubs stared back up at her.
"That's not right." She said, trying not to freak out. She just needed to eat; there was a show in five hours. What she was thinking, what she was thinking, was impossible.
Reinhardt Fullspeed Gaming Cruise Ship,
Seventy-four Miles off the Coast of New Jersey
A loud rebounding ring of a head smacking against the ship’s railing signaled the demise of another guard. They weren’t dressed up as playing cards but they had the distinct training given to the Pips and armed enough to take on Somalian pirates to boot. Fortune favored the Birds that they didn’t bring those weapons to bare. They were still worried about the customers.
Which was good. Dinah hadn’t looked forward to faced automatic gunfire as they dashed through the cramped corridors of the vessel. She’d worried for nothing.
“Anytime now!” she called out of the side of her mouth, eyeing an approaching man who had to be twice the size of Wildcat.
“Listen, Girlie,” Deadman yelled back, “I died before the sinkin’ of the Titanic. I’m doin’ my best!”
The birds fought off the guards and the disguised guests on the open deck as he readied a life boat. It was not the best Plan B given that their original escape plan failed. Batwoman had three still standing against her. They’d designated her as the largest target while Cheshire toyed with one at a time, going with the flow. Di, on the other hand, seemed to have discovered a Ten.
She ducked under the massive man’s blow, her bare footed kick bouncing harmlessly off his side. Shrugging off her blows to his stomach, he reached down to grapple her close where she’d stand no chance of winning if he smothered her and his wide chest said he could. She had no choice. She slid between his legs and cursed when she failed to kick his feet out from under him. The man was a brickhouse.
The Pip once again tried to draw her in close. Di kicked her legs up, letting him catch them in his grasp as she hooked her feet behind his head. A prayer that it’d work later, Canary used gravity to throw him stumbling against the railing and over the edge.
A glance over her shoulder showed the boat in position and the other Birds retreating to it. Di followed quickly to hop into it with nary a thought. Back on the deck, the guards began to regroup. Deadman was staying behind.
He looked straight at her. “Say hello to your mother for me.”
The Birds dropped with a splash.