Night over Gotham City was still more than two hours away. Nevertheless, the dark figure in gray and black was already out searching the city. A crime most monstrous was in danger of becoming even more so.
“Twenty possibilities down, only a hundred more to go,” the young woman beneath the cape and cowl thought as she looked over the waterfront. “Something like this would have to happen when Batman and Robin are out of town. I could really use that keen analytical mind of his.”
Shielding her eyes against the light of the dying sun, the woman popularly known as Batgirl climbed the water tower to gain an even higher vantage point. As she climbed the ladder, she mentally reviewed the material the Police had given her a few hours before when she had answered the call they had put out for Batman and Robin.
Sometime around noon, five men, heavily armed and totally ruthless, had invaded the Pee Wee Daycare Center in Midtown. Pee Wee was the most exclusive and fashionable daycare facility in the city, used by both the very rich and famous. In their wake, they had left two security guards dead, another badly wounded and kidnapped Kathy Wilson, the two-year old daughter of Mark Wilson, President of Wilson Electronics.
Or so they had thought. Like the plot of a bad movie, they had grabbed the wrong toddler. The little girl they had made off with was the daughter of a mid-level secretary at Wayne Corp, who attended the prestigious center on a company grant. Her name was Kathy Willis and bore a striking resemblance to her more celebrated playmate, right down to the embroidered name on their matching jumpers.
The resident Police Psychologist that had been on location said that there was a high probability that the kidnappers would kill the little girl once they discovered their error. So far, the Police had managed to keep the real identity of the little girl out of the news reports, but that could change at any time.
One of the now dead security guards had managed to take down one of the abductors before succumbing to his wounds. No one had yet been able to put a name to the face of the body now in the morgue, but Batgirl was certain that the answer to their search could be found somewhere in his personal effects.
One of the things in his pockets had been a brand new folding map of the city. That and a few other items gave weight to the idea that he wasn’t a Gotham native. Opening the map to its full length and width, Batgirl had noticed a slight crease in the paper. An indication, at least to her, that the map had previously been folded in such a way as to display just the south side of the waterfront. Specifically the quarter mile area known as Drake’s Wharf. Since the map was new and she couldn’t find any other markings, the red headed crimefighter thought it was a clue worth pursuing.
The Captain in charge of the investigation, however, hadn’t put much credence in the theory and didn’t even keep the map. Batgirl couldn’t help but think that if it had been Batman who had made the observation, it would’ve been taken more seriously.
In her real identity as Barbara Gordon, Batgirl had met Captain Jason Clarke at a few police functions she had attended with her Police Commissioner father. Her first impression of him had been that he was a horse’s ass, owing his position more to political influence than to any real investigative ability. Now, after actually dealing with him in an official capacity, she revised that opinion. It was, she now decided, unfair to the horse.
Still, with nothing else to go on, the Darknight Damsel head for Drake’s Wharf, hoping against all the odds that she was making the right guess. So far she had covered a quarter of her search area without success. The closest thing to criminal activity she’d come across was a pair of high school boys getting blow jobs from two dockside hookers. As she passed from one rooftop to another, she paused for a second and had looked on the four of them.
Racing onward, she wondered if the young men realized that down here by the docks, the two women on their knees sucking them off might very well have cocks of their own. Hopefully they’d remain ignorant in the illusion.
It stood to reason, she decided as that image faded from her attention, that if the kidnappers hideout really was in this section of town, then it would most likely be in the most deserted part of it. Most of the businesses in the neighborhood had folded over the years as Gotham lost much of its maritime trade to more tax friendly ports.
The block Batgirl now scanned from her water tower perch contained an old clothing factory, a Greek diner and what was once a social club for longshoremen. Every tick of the clock brought her closer to disastrous failure, not to mention the still real possibility that she might be on a wild goose chase after all. Still what else could she do but press on?
Carefully, she focused her small high-powered binoculars, first on the factory and then the diner. Both looked like they hadn’t been occupied in years. The boarded up club didn’t look any better.
Her gaze passed over the one remaining window and under the years of grime that covered it, Batgirl could just make out the long forgotten name of the club - Drake’s Anchor.
Her heart raced wildly as she once again pictured the small collection of paraphernalia that they had removed from the pockets of the unlucky kidnapper. In her mind’s eye she focused on a half used pack of matches. The cover of which had born the inscription, Drake’s Anchor.
Fast as she could, Batgirl dropped down the side of the building and made her way across the street, keeping to the shadows as best she could. The small alley beside the abandoned social club was filled with assorted piles of rubbish but was still manageable. Skillfully the black caped crimefighter made her way to one of the back windows. Scraping away a small bit of the filth covering the plate, she was able to take a quick look inside.
As fast as her heart was beating, it came to an abrupt stop as she spotted two men in the supposedly deserted building. One was dressed in a green shirt and blue jeans, the other a white shirt and black slacks. Both matched descriptions of the men who had been at the Daycare Center.
Moving further down the alleyway, Batgirl looked through a second window and saw the object of her search. The little girl was stretched out on an old cot, sound asleep and seemingly oblivious of what was going on around her. At the foot of the folding bed sat a third man. Tall, heavyset and bearded, he was leaning back on a chair with his eyes closed.
“Batgirl to Gotham City Police,” she whispered into a small powerful radio she had removed from her utility belt as she retraced her steps back up the alley. “Batgirl to Gotham City Police.”
On her third try, one of the Police Dispatchers came on the line and Batgirl reported what she’d found. She winced at the very condescending attitude of the dispatcher’s voice as he warned her just to continue to monitor the situation and let the professionals handle any rescue.
“Well then the professionals had better hurry up and get here,” she thought as she broke down the connection and took another look into the main room.
A third figure had now come into view, this one wearing a brown leather jacket. That accounted for all the hunted men. The original two were now leaning on the old bar, a couple of open bottles of beer and the cardboard containers holding the rest of the six-pack resting between them. The new arrival was reading a newspaper and listening to a small radio.
Batgirl examined the back door to the building. The lock was old and rusty and it took only a few seconds for her to cut through it with a tiny battery powered saw.
Dropping the blade back into the appropriate compartment on her belt, the dark clad woman’s attention was suddenly diverted as she thought she saw a flash of movement on the low roof above her.
Before crossing the street, she had gotten a good look at the layout of the roof above her. There were two octagon shaped skylights to let in natural light, one large and one small. The only access to the roof seemed to be a ladder attached to the back of the building a few feet from where she was standing. At least where it would have been had someone not stolen it for its metal value a long time ago.
Batgirl stood motionless and silently scanned the empty air above her. She saw no further evidence of movement or heard any sound of it either.
“Next I’ll be jumping at shadows,” the Maid of the Night silently said to herself as she dismissed it as the result of a sudden sense of foreboding. A feeling she tried to quickly shake off.
From another part of her seemingly endless collections of gadgets, Batgirl produced a small cylinder and sprayed a highly effective lubricant on the rusty hinges of the long sealed door. Then, slowly and silently, she opened it and slipped inside.
Carefully measured movements carried her to an almost uncomfortable closeness to her quarry. Only a dozen feet and a cheap plywood partition separated them all. If all went well, the GCPD would show up any minute and while they provided a distraction, she would be able to get the little girl to safety.
Batgirl’s prior sense of apprehension suddenly proved prophetic as the radio station the men had been listening to began to broadcast a news report. A report that blew the lid off the secret the Police Department had been trying to keep all afternoon.
“Motherfucker!” the man in green cried out as he tossed the bottle he’d been drinking from to the floor in anger, shattering it. “Now what the hell do we do?”
“I’ll tell you what we do,” his closest companion bellowed as he pulled a .38 special from a belt holster. “We get rid of that little brat and get our asses out of here!”
The third member of the group enthusiastically agreed, producing an automatic pistol from beneath his leather jacket. He had never been comfortable with the operation to begin with, but had tossed aside any misgivings in anticipation of the immense payoff to be reaped. Now with that gone, his first concern quickly shifted to his personal survival.
As two of the three men turned in the direction of the storeroom where she had observed the sleeping toddler, Batgirl rolled three marble sized spheres out onto the floor. The small orbs exploded into expanding spheres of blinding white light. The intensity of which was so powerful that they burned themselves out almost between heartbeats.
Yet even that small span of time was enough as Batgirl emerged from behind the false wall, sending a batarang sailing across the room to find its mark on the furthest of her targets. The impact of the heavy weapon was enough to send the hoodlum to dreamland.
Not even waiting for it to land, Batgirl whirled around and sent a booted foot into the midsection of the large man to her left, knocking both the wind out of his chest and the gun out of his hand.
Using his bulk to stop her forward momentum, Batgirl reversed her turn in order to bring her attack to the last of her immediate adversaries. It was a move she’d used successfully countless times in the past. But as with any tried and true practice, the unexpected was always a possibility.
As she pivoted on one leg, the movement of her body caused her to shift a few inches to the left. To the very spot where an unfair fate had deposited the residue from the beer bottle that had earlier been thrown to the floor.
Suddenly without the support the successful completion of the maneuver required, Batgirl lost her balance and collided with the gunman. Both of them crashed to the dirty floor, their arms and legs interlocked.
Finely tuned reflexes responded almost automatically as Batgirl disengaged herself and started to scramble back to her feet. Her luck went from bad to catastrophic as she looked up and found herself looking down the barrel of a pump action shotgun. The last of the gang, the one who had been dozing in the back room, heard the noise of the brief fight and had rushed out to investigate.
“Oh God!” Batgirl thought as she froze in place.
In the space of a single breath, she analyzed the situation and the possibilities of escape. The distance between her and the final gunman was too far for her to cover before he could pull the trigger. The same held true for the distance between her and any possible cover. There wasn’t even any chance of pulling a miracle out of her utility belt.
“I’m dead,” she told herself, the very admission of the fact causing her heart to freeze.”
“Give my regards to hell, Bat-bitch!” the gunman laughed as he began to slowly apply pressure to the trigger.
He had always been a small time crook, just hired muscle in other people’s gangs. Now that was all going to change. Let them talk about the Joker, Killer Croc and the Penguin. After tonight, all of them are going to run a distant second to Rory Cross - the guy who fragged Batgirl.
“Do her, Rory,” the man in the leather jacket, who had finally lifted himself off the floor, called out. “Blow the fucking cunt’s head off!”
Out of the corner of her eye, Batgirl could also see one of her first two victims recovering his gun from the floor as well. Her odds had just gone from impossible to hopeless.
Still her muscles tensed tight in anticipation. She would go down fighting, if only to gain more time for the GCPD to show up and save Kathy.
An explosion shook the air and for a half second, Batgirl thought it was the shotgun going off. She moved with the sound, surprised to realize that she wasn’t dead. A shower of glass fragments made her realize that the explosion had come from above, shattering the larger skylight. Through the now open roof dropped a dark, lithe figure.
“Batman, thank God!” the redheaded adventurer thought as she rolled out of the way of the deadly fusillade, a downpour that also caused all of the gunmen to shield their faces as well.
To Batgirl’s amazement, the figure that landed with a soft thud in the center of the room was dressed not in black and gray, but a rich, deep purple.
“Catwoman!” she said loudly in amazement.
The master thief wasted no time with introductions, grabbing the shotgun from the hands of the would be Bat-Killer, slamming the stock back into his face. Twice her size, he returned to anonymity as he slumped to the dust-covered floor.
Shaking off the shock of her near death and Catwoman’s unexpected arrival, Batgirl returned to the action. Using a karate move she’d first learned as a teen, she quickly incapacitated the thug who had so urged her death.
Too late she saw the last gang member still on his feet point his gun in the direction of Catwoman. The Feline Fury was making a beeline dash for the room holding Kathy Willis, unaware that she was still in peril.
Tossing herself at the gunman with all of her speed and strength, Batgirl only managed to slightly deflect the gunshot. She made sure, however, that there was no second round as a crushing blow sent him to join his fellows.
“Catwoman?” she called out as she turned and saw her rescuer sprawled out on the ground.
Racing to her side, she let out a great sigh of relief as she found the purple clad woman still breathing. In fact, except for a small tear in her cowl and a streak of blood across the side of her face, the cat burglar seemed unhurt.
Next she completed Catwoman’s goal and checked on Kathy. Thankfully, she had somehow slept on through all that had happened and was unhurt.
The sounds of sirens finally filled the air, followed by the squeal of brakes. The GCPD had finally arrived.
“You men fan out to the back,” the voice of Captain Clarke filtered through the cracked front window. “The rest of you follow me.”
Stepping back into the main room, Batgirl looked at the bodies scattered across it, centering on that of the unconscious Catwoman. Even though she knew there might be outstanding warrants on the arch-criminal, she couldn’t just leave her to be arrested. Not after she had saved her life. Whatever the reason for her sudden appearance, there was no denying that she had done just that. The law was the law, her father had always told her. But sometimes justice required harder choices, the Batman had said as well.
“Oh my head,” Selina Kyle softly moaned as she opened her eyes and attempted to jump up in her bed, causing a quick flash of pain from her left temple.
The fact that she was in a bed, and not one in the prison hospital, surprised her almost as much as the fact she was no longer in costume. Instead she was wearing a simple blue nightshirt with two white kittens playing with a ball of twine on the front. Suspicious eyes took in her surroundings.
The bedroom looked as if it had been furnished out of a mail order catalogue, simple yet impersonal. Moving slower this time, she sat up on the edge of the bed. The pain in her head was less intense, letting her rise to her full height.
She spotted her familiar dark purple jumpsuit laid across a chair on the other side of the room. It took no time at all for her to decide that whatever this place was, it was time for her to leave.
Moving across the room, the dark haired woman paused for a second at a large mirror on the wall. Her hand reached up to touch the small bandage just above her left ear. Lifting it gently, she noticed that the small wound beneath it had been expertly cleaned. Small as it was, there probably wouldn’t even be a scar. Running her hand through her closely cropped black hair, she smiled when she found no other evidence of injury.
She pulled off the nightshirt and tossed it to the floor, standing for a moment in only her panties. She exhibited a firm, lean body that would’ve been the envy of any professional athlete. Half a lifetime of working on her body had toned it to near perfection. Her breasts were of an average size, but perfectly shaped. A sports bra built into the catsuit normally held them in check. The rest of her body was just as carefully sculpted, bringing to mind the old phrase, lean, mean fighting machine.
After years of practice, it only took her a minute to don and adjust the skin tight jumpsuit. It amazed her that even her weapons were still there.
Catwoman, as she tried to always think of herself once in costume, opened the window and saw that it was an easy jump to the next roof. Easy at least when she was in top form, something a sudden pulse of pain from her head reminded her wasn’t her present condition. It was a brief, low-level pain, but still enough to give her pause.
“If you really want to leave so much, the stairs are a lot easier,” a familiar voice said from behind her.
Catwoman quickly whirled at the sound, her claws extended as she assumed a defensive stance. The voice did indeed belong to Batgirl as she had guessed, but the woman in purple didn’t expect to find the crimefighter carrying a serving tray with various drinks and food.
“You really should have a bite to eat before you go,” Batgirl said as she put down the tray at the table. “I might not be the world’s greatest cook but I can order take out with the best of them.”
More than a little confused, Catwoman assumed a calmer position, then walked over to the table where Batgirl was standing. Her eyes never left the woman in black and gray as she picked up a small finger sandwich and took a bite of it.
“Not bad,” Catwoman said as she finished her taste.
“I’ll pass along your compliment to the deli on the corner,” Batgirl said as she picked up a can of soda and sat down in a large comfortable chair. “Have a seat,” she added, motioning to the adjacent chair. “The doctor said you should at least rest a little before you take to roof hopping again.”
“Doctor?” Catwoman inquired.
“Well, I wanted to make sure the bullet that grazed you really didn’t cause any damaged,” Batgirl explained. “She said the worse that you’d have is a little headache.”
“I think I might question her definition of little,” Catwoman said with a cautious smile as she took a fruit drink from the tray and sat down opposite her unexpected hostess. “Not to sound too ungrateful, but why?”
“Why all this you mean?” Batgirl asked, “Why this and not a holding cell at police headquarters?”
“Something like that,” Catwoman said as she took another bite of her sandwich.
“Well I guess the simple answer would be that it’s in very poor taste to arrest someone who just saved your life,” Batgirl said.
“To be honest, I was there for the girl,” Catwoman replied. “Saving your life was just an accident of timing.”
“Well it was an accident that I’m very grateful for,” Batgirl said, her voice quite sincere.
“You’re welcome,” Catwoman smiled.
“Curiosity makes me want to ask why you were there in the first place?
“Well to also give a simple answer,” Catwoman replied. “The little girl’s mother and I grew up together. She didn’t trust the Police to care about just another poor kid. I haven’t seen her for years, but she still knew how to get in touch with me.”
“I can appreciate friendship like that,” Batgirl said as she finished her own sandwich. “It says a lot about a person.”
“I guess I should ask about this place,” Catwoman asked as she indicated the small studio apartment they were in. “I’m assuming that this isn’t where you really live.”
“No, I guess you would call it a safe house of sorts, just an place to use when you need it.”
She wasn’t about to explain that the entire building was owned by a subsidy of Wayne Enterprises and was one of a dozen scattered around the city. Batman had given her the location of them a few years ago to use as she saw fit.
“I guess it serves,” Catwoman commented as she took a longer look at her surroundings. “Is this where you and the Boy Wonder used to come and do the nasty?” she laughed.
The question caught Batgirl completely off guard. She’d almost forgotten about their one brief prior encounter during a robbery at the Gotham Museum. An encounter in which, among other things, Catwoman had revealed knowledge of what Batgirl had thought a well kept secret. Automatically her mind flashed back to that night a few years back.
It had been one of those nights where nothing was going right. She had ended her relationship with Robin only days before and had gone on patrol alone. Responding to a silent alarm at the Gotham Museum, she’d interrupted a robbery in progress. The two low caliber thugs who had tripped the alarm systems went down without her breaking much of a sweat. She had just finished tying the two of them up when the lights went out around her.
“Who’s there?” Batgirl called out as she spun around in the dark, reaching down to her utility belt for a pair of infra-red lenses.
Her only response was a soft feminine laugh. Followed a moment later by the muffled sound of a pair of boots hitting the floor. Batgirl turned in the direction of the noise but before she could do anything, a blinding light exploded in her eyes. It was disconcerting to have her own tactics turned against her.
Batgirl’s disorientation only lasted a few seconds, but it was enough for the new arrival to grab her from behind and slip a silken cord around her wrists, pulling it tight. She heard the laugh once more and then the overhead lighting came back on as the emergency generators kicked in.
Illuminated by the twin rows of track lighting that covered the opposite walls, her assailant stood revealed. Clad in a skintight dark purple jumpsuit that looked like it had been literally poured onto her body, the intruder also wore a tight fitting cowl with small cat ears. Up to this moment, Batgirl had only seen her in artist’s sketches, but there was little doubt to her identity.
“You’re the Catwoman!” she said in an excited voice.
“Congratulations. Did you figure that out all by yourself?” Catwoman laughed.
Confidently, the purple clad huntress strode over to where Batgirl had left the inept thieves. Slowly she shook her head and lamented on the sorry class of criminals these days.
“Wouldn’t you just know it,” she said as she walked over to the large glass case where a priceless and rare Egyptian cat emerald was on display. “I spend over a week casing this place. Then two hours hiding out after closing time in a very uncomfortable spot. Finally an hour bypassing all of the alarms, only to have one of these idiots trip the last of them less than ten seconds before it would’ve gone dead. Some days you just can’t win.”
Picking up one of the flashlights the bungling burglars had dropped, Catwoman swung it in a wide arc and smashed open the display case.
“Sometimes the simplest solutions are still the best,” she grinned as she reached into the case and picked up the gemstone.
Dropping her prize into a small bag attached to her belt, Catwoman moved over to Batgirl, stopping when their faces were only a few inches apart.
“I hear you’ve been screwing the junior Batman,” she said. “I admire your taste. He’s both cute and a pretty nice fuck.”
Batgirl didn’t know what to answer. Her only thought was that if public knowledge of her relationship with Robin had reached that far, then she had ended it just in time.
“I was his first, I don’t know if he told you that,” she whispered in Batgirl’s ear. “So every time he gets you off. Every time you feel his tongue in your pussy. Think of me cause I’m the one who showed him how it’s done.”