Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby FaxModem1 » 2016-09-04 07:58pm

Just caught up. Rather enjoyable story so far.

Also, I love the reference to Batman Returns:

"Wow, there's more: 'Axis Submersibles Blockade North Atlantic at 90% Efficiency.' Ouch. 'Rapid Inflation in the Canadian Dollar', 'Saboteurs Infect House Pets with Rabies', 'Mind-controlled Flightless Birds Fire Rockets at Major Civic Buildings', 'Sewer-dwellers Use Bribery and Fraud to Steal Mayoral Election', 'Coca-Cola Proves Cancerous', 'Munitions Shipment Hijacked by Anarchists on Train - Variation Seven.' How many anarchists do you run into?"


Interesting to see Slade Wilson and Amanda Waller here. I'm very curious what Uncle Sam is up to.
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Stewart M » 2016-09-05 12:58am

FaxModem1 wrote:Also, I love the reference to Batman Returns:


Good catch! There's also a refrerence to BTAS:

Munitions Shipment Hijacked by Anarchists on Train


See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cat_and_the_Claw; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Claw_(Batman)

Link 2: "Red Claw and her men attack a military train on which the plague is being transported and guarded."


Incidentally, that two part episode (The Cat and the Claw 1 & 2) also introduces Maven who is seen her in Chapter 4. Her surname isn't given on the show, so I used the one of her voice actress.
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby LadyTevar » 2016-09-05 01:54am

Stewart M wrote:
Good catch! There's also a refrerence to BTAS:

And, if I'm not mistaken, a reference to ANOTHER Catwoman episode: "Cat Scratch Fever"
'Saboteurs Infect House Pets with Rabies
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Stewart M » 2016-09-05 08:59am

LadyTevar wrote:
Stewart M wrote:And, if I'm not mistaken, a reference to ANOTHER Catwoman episode: "Cat Scratch Fever"
'Saboteurs Infect House Pets with Rabies


That might be a coincidence.
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Stewart M » 2016-09-05 09:20am

Simon_Jester wrote:I'm going to have to stop saying this because it's getting to broken record levels, but you do a really good job with the Catwoman-Batman interplay.

Also, "this is what the philosophers call a quandary." :D


Oh no, you don't have to stop saying that.

Alternatively, if you want to share your feelings, feel free to add to the story's TV Tropes page. Seeing it grow is my one big reward for writing. Call me vain, but that's where I get my kicks (besides reading comments, of course).
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Stewart M » 2016-09-05 09:25am

Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Chapter 9: Horrors at the Bottom of a Pit

Colonel Abner Tanner's room was smaller than Amanda Waller's, but at least he was aware that the space was excessive. He stayed because there were certain things a camp's commanding officer just had to do, and one of those things was to stay in bigger quarters than his subordinates. He didn't have to enjoy it. If he compensated for this, it was by keeping the furnishings as spartan as one could without knocking out a load-bearing wall. He had a cot, a blanket, a footlocker, a gas lamp, a small sink, a small mirror, and an old phone which now didn't work.

Most nights the Colonel was asleep by ten, but tonight he was still awake, sifting through the backlog of orders and rosters stemming from the radical patrol changes. He sat on the edge of his cot, reviewing forms by lamplight with a stubby pencil. Organizing one hundred and seventy-four human beings every hour of the day was no easy task under any circumstances. Meeting the new priorities while allotting the men time to eat and sleep was an ugly balancing act. Double-checking that no building or shovel was assigned to two tasks at once added a set of pins to juggle. And providing enough slack in it all so that a cracked window or stomach ache didn't stop the whole operation could drive a lesser man mad.

Tanner had assistants for this sort of thing, and he was smart enough to delegate to his officers when he could, but there were still certain papers a colonel ought to review personally. When he had such a large pile he preferred to make a dent in it before bed. It was very boring, but he soldiered on. Every so often he would tap his chin with his pencil and stare at his letter wall. Tanner did have one set of decorations in his room: a hanging grid of twenty-four framed letters from his time in the Army. Most letters that a soldier kept were from mothers or sweethearts. Tanner's letters were from bureaucrats and hearing boards. The Colonel was sentimental in a way: he thought of each letter as punctuation in the story of his career - some were periods, many were question or exclamation marks, and a disturbing few were ellipses. Of course, the punctuation meant little without the prose.

The authors knew this. The letters were bland and vague in the fussy style of all embarrassing federal documents. They piled on terms like "our miscarriage of justice", "appraisals of your recent actions", "fit to reinstate at rank and grade", and "a plea of no contest regarding the aforementioned scenario". Most offered so little context and so few proper nouns that a stranger wouldn't have the first clue what specific events were being described. But Tanner knew what the coy authors weren't saying. He remembered every lurid story. He knew the context, and – to the eternal fear of certain figures – he knew every last proper noun.

In fact, when Abner Tanner looked at his letters, he didn't see "appraisals of your recent actions". No, what he saw was:

"As the only sober witness at the scene of the detonation, you're free to go."

"Sorry for the false incrimination again, here's a plaque. Have fun in Havana."

"We've negotiated with the Belgians; you can come home if we all agree that neither party at the wreckage technically declared war."

"Upon further investigation, the committee recognizes that all seventeen mules died of natural causes."

"President Coolidge assures us that you didn't mean to challenge him to a duel."

…and so on across the long wall. Some mementos made him smile, some made him cringe, but only one could bring a tear to his eye. His most cherished possession was a little wooden case displaying a burnished medal shaped in a bronze cross: the Croix de Guerre, awarded for gallantry in 1918 as a volunteer of the French Foreign Legion. Behind that medal was a beer-stained old telegram from 1920 informing him that because he was later discovered to be underage when he joined the Legion, he would not be allowed to display such a medal on his Army uniform.

Like most men mellowed by age and capable of recognizing irony, these days he thought it was sort of funny. He had given his life to the Army, but in that long career of mostly sitting behind a desk, the one medal he actually earned on the field of battle was the one they wouldn't let him wear.

And it was French, for gosh sakes.

He tried not to be bitter. C'est la vie, and whatnot. Actually, he was very fond of the French. The little bronze medal didn't remind him of the muddy trenches or the dysentery. It didn't even remind him of the medal ceremony. It reminded him of those golden weeks in Paris when Jean Claude, Neil, and the rest really showed him the town. The whole city was a party then. He had the best wine, the loudest dancing, and the latest mornings in his life. When Jean Claude recognized a certain implication of his youth and strait-laced upbringing, the wily romantic tried to trick him into one of Paris' busy cathouses. The young Tanner only realized why there were so many pretty ladies in dishabille at the last minute and escaped out a window.

His affection for the French ran deep. When their surrender was signed back in June, he nearly cut his hand crushing a glass of water. Those proud souls were being kicked and gutted by the bloodthirsty Ratzis, and this gnawed his conscience raw. He knew the news on the ground as well as anyone; the Brits were brilliant at that sort of thing and happy to share. He also knew that Fort Morrison was among the very few places where an American might ready the war effort in the meantime. Anything less would be disgusting. For that reason alone he hadn't left yet.

He heard crunching footsteps and a knock at the door. "You awake, Colonel?

The voice was Staff Sergeant Hank Jackson, one of the few men in camp near Tanner's age and a friend.

Colonel Tanner spoke back, "Yeah, Jackson."

"Then open up. Got news."

It was ancient military law that old sergeants could say whatever they wanted to their commanders in private if it saved time or saved lives. The Colonel stood and unlocked the door (he didn't feel he needed a guard). Staff Sergeant Jackson briskly pushed his way inside. He was a flinty-eyed curmudgeon with a paunch and Popeye's forearms. His polished shoes were no disguise; Jackson was the sort you never wanted to cheat at cards or meet in an alley. One of the main reasons nations had armies was to give mean bruisers like him someone else to pick on.

"Queer finding jus' came in, Abner."

"What's that?"

"Baker squad found an empty car parked in the woods south o' the Fort."

"A car? Whose car?"

"Don't know. Some two-door Ford. The message has already sped along to our lady guest," Jackson scowled just mentioning her, "but the radio boys didn't seem to think you were worth informin' at this time a' night. Lucky for you, I heard the commotion and thought I'd rectify that." The staff sergeant growled this in a way that made it clear part of his rectifying would involve having a long talk with the "radio boys" about their priorities vis-à-vis the chain of command. "For now, we got a pair o' gearheads trottin' down to this car as we speak. Should know more soon."

The Corporal crossed his arms thoughtfully. "Alright. I imagine Waller will react to this with her usual reserve and sense of proportion."

"Heh. Then we ought to be hearing a general alarm any-"

Suddenly, a tremendous horn erupted through the camp like an air raid siren. The two old soldiers stared at each other, bored and annoyed. Staff Sergeant Jackson waited for the noise to die down before continuing.

"-second now."

---​

Amateur detectives trusted their instincts.

Skilled detectives trusted only reason and observation.

And master detectives reluctantly trusted ... their instincts.

As the theologians said, pride was truly the greatest sin. Pride put unjustified faith in one's capacities, and the smarter you were, the easier a trap this was to fall into. It took a great dose of intellectual humility to recognize that the brain did half its work beneath the surface. This was bitter medicine for the thinking man because it meant losing control. The subconscious was a fickle beast from a distant land; it ran on its own accord. You couldn't graph an intuition. You couldn't peer review a feeling. Acting on "the willies" didn't hold up in a court of law.

Still, a wise man understood that his subconscious had many uses. It was always on, always finding connections and seeking meaning. And it ran on different gears than the familiar end of the brain, sidestepping the myopia and biases of old-fashioned awareness. In fairness to its detractors, translating instinct was terribly difficult. You only had that sense of unease, that tingle in your spine. What did it mean? What if it was wrong? The answer was simply, like all good things, that knowing when to trust your instincts took practice.

Batman had a substantial amount of practice and knew very well how to judge his instincts. But he still had just enough pride for it to annoy him.

The stuck door Catwoman so impetuously entered led to a cluttered mass in pitch darkness: a janitorial supply room. The sliver of moonlight from the doorway offered a scene of wooden shelves and buckets, but even before that it was obvious from the layers of scents: bleach, borax, varnish, and soap.

Something here made him uneasy. The skin on his hands and neck prickled. His gut flipped. There was something out of place, something dark. Batman scowled. He was tired of walls and secrets. It was well past time to rip this case open and drag it into the light.

---​

The stuck door Catwoman so smoothly entered led to a cluttered mass in pitch darkness: a big mop closet. The sliver of moonlight from the doorway offered a scene of wooden shelves and buckets, but even before that it seemed likely from the scents: bleach and a few other cleaning supplies.

As Batman wrenched the door shut behind them, she pulled out her flashlight and looked around. Yep, mop closet.

This was a huge relief. Catwoman knew the layouts of the sites she thieved down to the last power outlet. When blueprints or a preliminary stroll through were impossible, she could normally make a few safe assumptions based on the kind of building and other hints. But she had absolutely zero familiarity with secret military corpse stealing compounds. Entering a guarded site blind was one of the stupidest things a lady in her line of work might try. Who knew what lay beyond the door? It could be a busy hallway. It could be an occupied kitchen. It could be a shark pit. Really, mop closet was a best case scenario.

But of course, Grumble-face suddenly grimaced like he had eaten a pail of hot peppers.

"What's wrong?"

He glared around suspiciously. "I'm not sure yet."

"Great. Let's get going." Catwoman went to open the exit on the other side.

"Stop."

"You know we can't stay here."

"Just a minute." Batman retrieved his own flashlight from a belt pouch and studied the shelves. "I smelled something on the way in."

"There's a lot of smells. Let's move."

"This room's important."

"If you spill soup on the carpet."

"Stop talking."

"You-"

"Stop talking now."

Catwoman was about to respond with appropriate force when he stated to mutter at the bottles. "-Lanolin, formaldehyde, pH-neutral detergent, iodine-"

Catwoman looked over his shoulder. "What's this?"

He answered as he looked. "I smelled the formaldehyde. No janitor would need a bottle; it's mostly an embalming fluid. And there are other items that don't belong."

"Do they mean anything to you?"

Batman continued to search for a moment then turned, his face drawn tight. In his hand was a long scalpel.

"Unfortunately, they do."

---​

Minutes later.

Fort Morrison was never intended for combat and didn't have a formal war room. Colonel Tanner's office proved the next best thing. The hastily assembled pow-wow consisted of the Colonel, a scattering of officers, Miss Waller, and her constant shadow Lieutenant Wilson. The room was dark save for the illumination of a slide projector. One of the officers, Captain Roach, stood before the rest and was busy drawling lines and circles on a projected map of the Fort. The other officers occasionally interrupted with comments or questions.

Amanda Waller leaned over and whispered to Colonel Tanner, "Still think I overreacted?"

The Colonel quietly responded, "Frankly, yes. You had a footprint. Now you have an empty car. A car that, let's not forgot, isn't even on Fort property. Not exactly a smoking gun, Waller."

She raised an incredulous eyebrow. "You think the driver was lost and ran off the road? No one would park so deep in these woods without aggressive intentions. Might as well be spitting distance."

"I agree it's worth a reaction, but you're turning us into the Alamo. Unless they brought a helicopter, any intruders will have to come through the front door, especially on a night like this."

"I'm disappointed, Colonel Tanner. Reading your record one would never guess you possessed so little imagination."

"Looking at your record, Miss Waller, one would never guess you existed. Forgive me if I take your judgments on tactical matters with a grain of salt."

She gently smiled. "My record is as extensive as it is spotless, Colonel; it's not my fault you aren't cleared to see it. Although I suspect seeing a sequence of unblemished field operations would confuse you. I can't imagine you know what one looks like."

Behind them, Lt. Wilson chuckled. Though a clenched effort of will, the Colonel kept his response to himself. He was a man of honor, and there were certain things a man of honor didn't say to a lady.

The presentation up front quickly finished and the lights were turned back on. Colonel Tanner stood up and the rest of the room quickly followed.

"Thank you, Captain Roach. You know your orders gentlemen. Come morning, I'm sure we'll figure out what this is all about, but let's keep circling the wagons in the meantime. Dismissed."

The officers nodded and collected their coats and folders. Amanda spoke up. "Just one final note, if you please."

The Colonel gave a tired look but raised a hand for her to proceed.

"Officers, if we have infiltrators on site, and I strongly believe we do, this is a cause for maximum vigilance. Few of you have experience in the intelligence community, so you'll have to believe me when I say a hostile agent can be supremely clever. It was pure luck we uncovered that Ford in the woods tonight. I don't depend on getting lucky twice. In that spirit, we have to be ready for any trick. Maybe the infiltrators have cut a hole in the fence during a prior visit. Maybe they are in disguise as one of our own. Or maybe someone in our ranks has been coerced into aiding them-"

The officers responded with a chorus of angry denials. Amanda held up her hands for silence.

"I'm only saying to be ready for anything. I once attended a three-party meeting in the Polish embassy with a delegation from the Red Army. When the Polish diplomats wanted to speak privately, I noticed some of the Soviet officers excusing themselves to use the bathroom. Eventually, I got suspicious and forced the door open. The Russians were busy planting a microphone in the wall. They were spying on the meeting."

The only enlisted man present, young Private Fletcher, looked up from the projector he was taking apart.

"I guess that bathroom had a leak!"

There was utter silence in the office. Private Fletcher grinned and wiggled his eyebrows. "Get it?"

Amanda Waller closed her eyes as if in pain. "Private?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"How many pushups can you do?"

"Uh ... I'd say sixty-five, ma'am."

"Do eighty right now or you clean every latrine in camp for the rest of the winter."

The private gaped in fright and hopped to the floor.

The other officers walked out. The Colonel huffed and Amanda turned to him.

"I'm sorry, did I infringe on your authority?"

"Pun like that? I would've given him a hundred."

---​

Minutes earlier.

There was no light entering the mop closet, so Batman and Catwoman felt safe to leave. One the other side was a dark locker room with several shower stills and far too many sinks. It was a relief to be out of the cold, but the air was rank and humid. Every surface was chipped and stained. There was light shining under the far entrance. Presumably, anyone inside this strange building would have left with the alarms, but presumptions had a bad track record tonight. They huddled beside the door. There was no sound on the other side. Catwoman lowered onto her stomach and pulled out a very small mirror with a thin handle. She stuck her face up to the bottom gap and slid her mirror slowly under the door, adjusting the angle.

Batman tapped her shoulder blade.

Anything?

Catwoman shook her head and made a few gestures with her free hand.

Just a hallway. Twenty feet long. Nobody home.


He nodded.

They stood and quietly opened the door. They were in the middle of the hallway, equidistant from swinging double doors at each end. The hallway was crude like a passage in a cargo ship: bare walls and naked light bulbs. There were black skid marks on the tile floor: heavy carts obviously rolled through regularly.

Catwoman said, "Left or right?"

"The garage has to be ahead facing left and the heavier tire marks lead right. Whatever's being carried is dropped off and-"

She snapped her fingers under his face. "Short version?"

"Go right."

They crept to the swinging doors at the right end of the hallway. The other side was dark. Batman slowly pushed one open. They steadily aimed their flashlights around the room, producing a dim montage of haunting images. A stack of emesis basins on a shelf. A freight elevator. A large device Batman recognized as an autoclave. Shiny green floor tiles, scrubbed immaculate. The metal frame of a gurney. A handsaw.

Batman hit the light switch. It was an operating room.

He swiftly got to work searching through the drawers and cabinets. Catwoman leaned against the wall with a troubled frown.

"This is it, right? Dissections? Some sort of human testing?"

He didn't answer. She looked back through the door to make sure the coast was clear.

"Anything else incriminating?"

Batman didn't look her way, but she could see the edge of his frustrated expression. "Just surgical tools. But they've well-used, and formaldehyde isn't for the living."

She glanced across at him, her lips tight, eyebrows pulled together. "You ... you expected to find a place like this from the start, didn't you?"

It was hardly a question. He said nothing.

Looking at the floor, she pushed her point. "You knew since November. Not only something ugly, but this specifically. An-" she gestured for words, "-an abomination."

"There aren't many uses for a cadaver."

Catwoman looked up at him. "All these weeks as you put the pieces together, the whole time, you were imagining this happening. You wouldn't have been able to get it out of your mind. You were sure."

Batman stood in meditative stillness. When he finally spoke, it harsh and slow, like he was stifling a cough. "No. I wasn't sure. But it was always first in a short list of possibilities."

Catwoman never knew a person could sound so young and so old. She opened her mouth but there were no words inside. He stared evenly at her, expecting a response. She bit her lip instead. He ignored her and returned to work.

A clock ticked on the wall.

Reluctance and curiosity fought inside her, but for a cat there was no contest.

"Does it-"

He whipped around. "What?"

Catwoman hesitated.

He lowered his chin tepidly. "What?"

She tilted her head. "Does it ever hurt to be the World's Greatest Detective?"

He stared back and didn't answer.

---​

Two minutes later.

The Gotham Containment Influenza Laboratory was a long, single-story brick building with no windows. The name was an anachronism, but the building's current program was far too cautious for something as bold as a title, so the old one was kept officially. Everyone just called it the Brick. It was shaped like a brick and colored like a brick and made of bricks. Also, anyone who tried to run into it received serious head trauma. The whole Fort knew about the Brick, but less than thirty were allowed inside, mostly to assist the gaggle of civilians that cycled though every season, and none of those soldiers were talking.

Amanda Waller and Lt. Slade Wilson walked briskly toward its front entrance. She had work to do in her office in light of these intrusions, but it was also for safety's sake: the Brick was obviously the last building anyone could break into. She nodded to the checkpoint sentry and flashed her ID card. Lieutenant Wilson just strode past. Reaching her office near the front, she turned to him.

"Have them send someone to man my door; I need you on the offensive. Pick the search team you like best and lead it. Find these interlopers."

"And when my little gang doesn't keep up?"

"Whatever. Go alone for all I care, but if you get into hot water because you didn't bring backup, you and I are going to have a problem."

"Right."

She stared him in the eye with a serious frown. "And you better not forget the rules."

He dryly recited. "Better a prisoner than a corpse; better a corpse than a witness. I know the drill, mother."

"Real funny, Wilson. Go."

---​

Letting him have his silence, Catwoman walked in a circle around the room. "So what now? The elevator looks promising, looks like it was made to hold this gurney."

"Right, but it's loud and the search teams will see it moved. We should-."

"Don't worry, I know exactly what you're thinking."

Catwoman shut the lights off.

---​

There were many differences between a city dweller and a city infiltrator. Work hours. Social circle. Life expectancy. But the biggest difference was in attitude towards elevators. A city dweller saw an elevator as a boxy means of conveyance. A city infiltrator saw an elevator as an inconvenient stepping stone to a rope.

Like many freight elevators, this one was nearly skeletal, not bothering with wallpaper or mirrors or other comforts. It was a cage of metal latticework; they could look through and see the weights and pulleys in the shaft outside. Keen eyes and a flashlight showed that there was one stop far below them, three stories underground.

In no time, they found the maintenance hatch above and pulled up through. The two of them crawled over to the side and nimbly climbed down the elevator's exterior to the cables. Then they rappelled.

As Batman and Catwoman quietly descended, they began to hear a soft hum. When they reached the bottom, they turned on their flashlights and cautiously crept forward. It was a long hallway with several branching passages. The doors along the way had glass panes, and they swept their lights through as they passed. A few were offices, but most rooms were full of research equipment, some Batman didn't even recognize.

He frowned. "This makes no sense."

"What?"

"Excavating the elevator shaft and this basement took a lot of heavy equipment. It would be ambitious to get all the workers and tools you would need up a mountain like this today, but to do it with the means available in 1918? That must have been a massive undertaking. Yet there's no hint of it in the records. They built this level in secret. Why? And then to install power, plumbing, circulated air, and dozens of machines? The utilities in this building cost more than half the camp. I don't know what the original occupants wanted to do here, but it was more than study a disease."

Catwoman didn't respond. Whatever the story was behind the place, it wouldn't make what they were doing more forbidden. He could respect her priorities.

They were traveling in the general direction of the hum, and after several halls they finally came to a metal door at the end with no glass. They glanced at each other. Catwoman opened the door and found a lightswitch. The air was chilly here. The naked lamps above were greenish and dull, casting shadows in the corners. The whole space was cramped like a mine; the ceiling was a foot too low. Batman had to hunch to fit the ears of his cowl. There were scores of what seemed to be lockers on the wall, all three feet square. All humming.

Batman slowly rotated, putting together the room. "Wait," he paused a minute, staring into space and muttering, " ... four- ... five- ... six- ... seventeen ... seventeen ..." Batman's face started to tick back and forth like a man speed-reading without a book. His mouth moved soundlessly. Catwoman grabbed his arm. "Hey! What is it?"

Suddenly, his trance broke and his complexion burst into passionate rage. Batman could cover ground in an instant when he really wanted to. In three steps, he was at the nearest humming locker and grasped its handle.

Catwoman stepped firmly in his way and yelled in his face. "Seventeen of what?!"

Batman paused. In a split second, his body remembered that The Batman kept emotions so deeply in check that they died of malnutrition. The rage in his form disappeared, leaving the old glacial cool. He looked down at her, calm and lucid.

"These are freezers. There's sixty in the room, but only seventeen are active now."

She let go of his arm. "So?"

He nodded slowly. "It's all of them. They're all here."

"What? You skipped a step."

"Watch."

Batman pulled the handle of the freezer. There was a blur of icy air. Then a long tray swiftly slid out with a putrefying body on it. The grayed corpse was missing both legs at the hip and half of one forearm. Its dessicated face was shriveled and sunken. The stench was muted but profoundly unwholesome.

Catwoman didn't even try to hide her fit of dry heaving. "Oh, God." She bent double and gagged. This lasted quite some time before she caught her breath. She stared at the body numbly.

Batman looked strangely ambivalent, like an old hunch was finally proven. He closed the locker for her sake.

"I knew the the number was significant, but I didn't recognize why at first. It's the number of bodies that have been taken in Gotham. Seventeen. With the gear here, they'd get months of tests out of them. Now we have it. This is evidence."

Catwoman looked at him, looked at the locker, looked around the room, and dry heaved again.
Author: Batman 1939
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Simon_Jester
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-09-05 01:53pm

Stewart M wrote:Colonel Abner Tanner's room was smaller than Amanda Waller's, but at least he was aware that the space was excessive. He stayed because there... a camp's commanding officer just had to... stay in bigger quarters than his subordinates.
Uh, SMALLER than Waller's? That's actually likely, but then you'll want to rephrase this.

...

And, hm. "Janitorial supply closet" versus "mop closet." Shows the difference between a man who has never in his life even imagined being related to or socially tied to anyone who will ever, ever have to use such a closet... and a woman who's come closer than that.

Behind them, Lt. Wilson chuckled. Though a clenched effort of will, the Colonel kept his response to himself. He was a man of honor, and there were certain things a man of honor didn't say to a lady.
That was a fairly strong code back then, and I suspect Waller has been shamelessly capitalizing on it for twenty or thirty years. Hey, she's got to get SOMETHING back in exchange for having been stranded temporally as a black woman in the early twentieth century, rather than the late where she belongs.

The other officers walked out. The Colonel huffed and Amanda turned to him.

"I'm sorry, did I infringe on your authority?"

"Pun like that? I would've given him a hundred."
Awww. Now Waller and Tanner are doing it too!

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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby U.P. Cinnabar » 2016-09-05 08:32pm

Simon_Jester wrote:Uh, SMALLER than Waller's? That's actually likely, but then you'll want to rephrase this.


She took over the entire junior officer's club. He has a single room, though post commanders usually had a large house of their own deep within the post.
"When you send a man out with a gun, you create a policymaker. When his ass is on the line, he will do whatever he needs to do.

And, if the implications of that bother you, the time to do something about it is before you send him out."
—David Drake


"Oh, but you did! You turn on any of my crew, you turn on me! But, since that's a concept you can't seem to wrap your head around, then, you've got no place here. You did it to me, Jayne, and that's a fact."

—Malcolm Reynolds, captain of the Firefly-class hauler Serenity,in a nutshell

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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-09-05 09:07pm

Right, the problem is that the way it's phrased, the rest of the paragraph makes more sense if we assume that's a typo and that it's actually larger.

So the paragraph might, in my opinion, need more rephrasing to flow well in the context of Tanner having a room that is still large, although smaller than Waller's.

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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2016-09-05 09:12pm

My, Tanner has had an interesting career...

My favourite is probably "President Coolidge assures us that you didn't mean to challenge him to a duel." :D
"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes" When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy." - Lincoln.

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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Stewart M » 2016-09-05 10:36pm

Simon_Jester wrote:Right, the problem is that the way it's phrased, the rest of the paragraph makes more sense if we assume that's a typo and that it's actually larger.

So the paragraph might, in my opinion, need more rephrasing to flow well in the context of Tanner having a room that is still large, although smaller than Waller's.


Perhaps, though I can't see how to edit these posts.
Author: Batman 1939
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-09-06 12:44am

Yeah, we used to be able to edit posts in a few forums (mainly this one and the Gaming forum), but that went away with the change of board software, and the new management never switched things back to the way they were.

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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Stewart M » 2016-09-06 06:25pm

Simon_Jester wrote:Yeah, we used to be able to edit posts in a few forums (mainly this one and the Gaming forum), but that went away with the change of board software, and the new management never switched things back to the way they were.


Oh well. Then you'll just be forced to put up with my mistak .
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Stewart M » 2016-09-06 06:36pm

Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Chapter 10: Opening Moves​

When people thought about the guilty pleasures a crook might have, they imagined that heady mix of dames, dice, and liqueur normally confined to international waters. But this line of thinking was flawed: crooks loved their vices, but they sure didn't feel guilty about them.

No, to embarrass a crook, you had to look at what he valued: reputation. He couldn't be seen as a preening sissy or a slack-jawed oaf; the other crooks would give him no respect. To get respect, one had to maintain a sense of cool disinterest. So what was a crook's guilty pleasure? Vanity. Some of the biggest fans of crime stories were criminals. Rumor had it John Dillinger visited the moving pictures at least once a week to watch reels of himself with a big bag of popcorn and a smile on his face. Gangsters and stick-up men loved hearing tales about gangsters and stick-up men.

This generality did not extend to Catwoman. She liked the cinema fine, and the radio serials and the dime novels - just not crime thrillers. Okay, the tough-guy mob dramas could be fun, with their long coats and their speakeasies (though if she wanted to watch the antics of a pack of Mafiosos, she could just as easily ask one out to dinner). No, the worst by far, the truly unbearable, were cat burglar stories.

To begin with, Catwoman didn't need anyone to romanticize her job. It was flattering, but she already knew she was svelte and clever. It would be enough if they could give a little appreciation for her craft in the process, but nine in ten scriptwriters had no idea what they were talking about. Reading the adventures of a pulp thief was like watching a screen carpenter make a fine mahogany table with a meat hook and a plunger. Sure, a dunce who had no clue what woodworking looked like might be impressed, but all the carpenters in the audience would throw their drinks at the screen and demand a refund.

Yet the part Catwoman resented most was how easy they made it look. Not the technical skills necessarily, as distorted as those were, but the overall flair that fictional thieves seemed to have in spades. They never sneezed or tripped. They could take their sweet time on every job. They always had something witty to say. Whether swinging from a chandelier in the palace of the Dauphin or breaking out of jail in Mississippi, they never broke a sweat.

This rubbed her the wrong way. True, she could make it look that easy, but that was the point: only she could make it look that easy! Was that vain? Of course not. They were making a buck off her style! Well, her and a few peers she could count on one hand. Yes, on a good day Catwoman could breeze through locked windows and guards and wall safes like she wasn't even trying, and she loved it, but it took tremendous practice and focus to look that casual. They never showed that. Her work was great, but it was work. And once in a while, even the best get blindsided and land on their metaphorical rump.

For instance, Catwoman had never heard a radio play of a classy lady-burglar sent gagging after being shown half a frozen corpse in a secret morgue. There really wasn't an opportunity to be witty or saucy in that situation. She offered a silent prayer of thanks that she rarely ate before a mission.

Batman watched silently as she recovered. If a bystander was injured, he administered first aid. If they were well, he ignored them and moved on. Catwoman didn't fit into either of those categories at the moment. He frowned. Science demanded experimentation with sufficient sample size, so he would give it more time, but so far his null hypothesis was right: working alone was much easier.

He said, "I'll stay and catalog the remains. You should ... investigate those paths."

Catwoman slowly got her bearings, head limp, stomach twisted in knots. She recognized the merciful gesture and managed a grateful nod. Neither was in the mood for eye contact (or his hollow equivalent).

"Yeah." She coughed. "Sounds like a plan."

---​

Game theory was the study of strategic decision making. As the name implied, it often used card or board games as thought experiments to explore ideas of competition and cooperation. Game theory was only a few years old as a formal discipline and known chiefly by a small fringe of mathematicians and economists, most famously John Nash. If someone wanted to demonstrate exactly why tic-tac-toe was boring using elaborate calculus, game theory had the tools for the job.

But like many economic concepts, game theory proved lessons that smart people frequently figured out on their own. For instance, Lieutenant Slade Wilson had never talked to an economist, but he was awfully clever at what a game theorist would call "utility maximizing behavior".

His logic went like this: an intruder could either use the main hill entrance, the rear bridge entrance, or scale the perimeter somehow. Using either proper entrance was stupid. The rest of guards could handle a stupid intruder. But an intruder that scaled the perimeter might be smart. If an intruder was smart, then Wilson's unique talents might be needed. Therefore, even without knowledge of the intruder's mindset, Lieutenant Wilson knew to start his search at the perimeter.

When he left the Brick, instead of leaving the way he came, he detoured around the side of the building towards the nearest edge of the woods. Mulling over the acres of brush he would have to check, he nearly missed the one tiny detail out of place. There was a locked door in the back of the Brick. It hadn't been opened as long as he had been on base, but though the twirling snow, he absently spied a difference in the glint of the rusted brackets. Lt. Wilson was no detective, but he was a hunter, and a tiny shift in surroundings meant everything to a hunter. He stopped and backtracked a step to take a closer look.

He was right! The screws on the upper bracket were bent and nearly skewed off the door. Was it always like that? Obviously the door was old, but for some reason he didn't think so. What if- ... wait ... something else was wrong. He peered around.

There! The padlock was open and the latch was loose! He was sure that was new. You could only close the latch from the outside. Anyone who entered would necessarily leave it was undone, and it probably meant they were still inside.

He was about to throw open the door but thought better of it. Might as well do this the right way. He sprinted to the Brick's front.

"Walgrave! Cortez! Haney!"

The door guards stared at him.

"The intruder's in the Brick."

Private Walgrave raised an eyebrow. No one wanted to cross the scary lieutenant, but when a man had to stand in three inches of snow at midnight there were certain things he just didn't care about.

"Look, sir. I'm sure we would have seen someone."

Wilson's glare kicked up six notches. He would break that attitude later.

"The back door's unlocked. Cortez, keep manning this screening station. You stop anyone who comes out until I return. I mean anyone. Walgrave, pass the orders along to the vehicle entrance, and then guard the back door. Haney, go inside and protect Miss Waller's office. Let's move it! Now!"

---​

When she could walk again, Catwoman left the subterranean cadaver room and arbitrarily chose the first passage on her left. Anything to avoid the hum of those freezers.

The hallway was pitch black like the rest. Wanting to save her flashlight, she eventually found a switch that turned on more of those weak, greenish lamps. She wondered if everyone who worked here got eyestrain from all the poor lighting. Then she wondered if the place still used the same fixtures from its days as an influenza laboratory. It certainly looked like it hadn't had a fresh coat of paint in two decades. Ullgh. Catwoman loved to stroll around all sorts of old buildings in the middle of the night, but she never liked abandoned buildings and she never liked hospitals, and this place had all the charm of an abandoned hospital inside a crypt. She preferred hanging off a skyscraper to getting stuck underground any day of the week. One felt like life and freedom; the other felt like, well, the opposite.

Thanks to the creepy lights, Catwoman saw a number of doors branching off the the hallway, but only one was open. Hmmm!

---​

Daniel Brewster had been a few months away from being Doctor Daniel Brewster when the Army sent a man around to the university's graduate pool looking to fill a research post. Daniel was a patriot and the money was right. He was on the first bus to Gotham state. The Fort was somewhat of a shock, but as a graduate student he was used to living in humble conditions.

Daniel wasn't the only one in his class to apply. The Army picked him for a reason. He was a discount genius, brilliant in that limited sort of brilliance the world of science always needed to polish off the leftover problems in fields the name brand geniuses – the Einsteins and Von Neumanns – already trailblazed when those legends moved on to other topics or died. In other words, Daniel was smarter than anyone you knew. He was not smarter than everyone you knew.

And right now he was asleep.

The room Catwoman found at the end of the hall was clearly a testing center. There was a grid of desks and workbenches. Rugged metal shelves along the sides held a variety of heavy tools. But the room's focal point was an empty cement chamber at the far end. It was dug into the wall like a bank safe with its thick door sitting open. Every surface inside was scorched and pockmarked. Heights, radii, and other distances were stenciled on the cement walls in faded black paint. Lurid caution signs surrounded the chamber, warning all sorts of gruesome fates for those poor stick figures who failed to close the door properly or forgot to ventilate. Daniel Brewster was slumped over his desk close to this chamber, bow tie askew, his head resting on a crumpled lab coat.

Catwoman saw all the details of the room - and him - when she turned on the lights. It was unbelievable to her that anyone could have slept through the sirens earlier, but tonight was proving full of surprises. Having to work around a sleeper was a challenge, but it wouldn't be her first time. Catwoman turned off both the lights in the hallway and in the room, then stepped gingerly inside, slinking to the nearest desk. She aimed her flashlight in a drawer and saw a neat folder of technical documents.

Then she realized that she had no idea what to look for.

Catwoman had a decent working knowledge of the legal system, especially as it applied to her typical felonies. Sure, she never needed it - that would mean actually seeing a courtroom - but it seemed like a prudent thing to know, and she was a bit of trivia nut anyway. However, the sort of case they were here to build was way out of her league. Short of a signed confession, what evidence could bring down a military conspiracy? Would a stack of research papers help? Which ones? That seemed like the sort of deep arcana only familiar to a handful of top-flight Justice Department attorneys or, well, Batman.

She could grab a random pile and hope for the best, but that seemed like an awfully big gamble. She sure didn't have time to read them all. Besides, the longer she stayed, the better chance Mr. Labcoat would wake up. That would be-

Catwoman looked up and blinked.

Wait a minute...

There was a type of thief who tended to see and solve problems in straight lines. They didn't bypass obstacles, they smashed them. If they needed information, they didn't sneak around for clues, they found someone who knew and convinced them to share. Catwoman wasn't a fan of this school of thought. She found it vulgar and lacking in finesse. With a little caution, she could easily do five jobs without meeting anyone, let alone confronting them. That was how you survived in the business.

That said, Catwoman could appreciate a few of those less elegant skills right now. She wished Batman were here. (first time for everything); he was a master at this sort of "personal motivation". But, it might be fun to try something new.

---​

Daniel Brewster awoke to find the lights in the laboratory on. He rubbed his eyes.

How long have I been asleep? Got to stop dozing off in the laboratories. Probably missed dinner.

He shifted his head to see ... a thigh? He blinked.

Did someone leave the vent off again? I'm tired of all these hallucinations. And these lights are going to give me eyestrain.


Squinting, he looked again to see that it was indeed a thigh - a thigh connected to a hip, which was attached to a torso and then an entire human frame, all clad in a fetching violet. He struggled to make sense of this, as his IQ was still trying to rev up past room temperature. The figure was evidently female? Scratch that, it was abundantly female. Lord, I've been stuck on a mountain too long. What was she doing here? What was a 'she' doing here? With one unfortunate exception, the Fort was entirely male.

Catwoman sat on the desk beside Daniel's mossy-haired head, tapping his shoulder. Happy to see a response, she hoped off and crouched at his eye level.

"Hi!"

The few working circuits in Daniel's brain clicked feebly through rationales and came up short. His eyes swam as he tried to focus on her. "... Eug?"

"Don't worry about it. What's your name?"

"De ... Darangels ... Ss ... staggen."

"Nice to meet you, Darangels Ssstaggen," she said with a straight face as she read his name tag.

"What'a do? Where'a ger?"

"Great question. The Gotham Sanitation Board is just doing a quick run-through of your operation here, and there's a few concerns we'd like to talk about."

Daniel groggily stood up. He realized he was about to bump into his uncomfortably close visitor and stumbled backwards. Still a young man in the presence of a young lady, Daniel tried to make the maneuver look smooth. He settled for leaning against the desk and crossed his arms.

"You're not ... I don't think you're supposed to be here. I'm ... I'm getting to go get-"

She held a finger to his lips. "You might like me if you got to know me. After all," she unsheathed a claw under his eyes, "people seem to appreciate my sharp wit." She turned a little and let him see the flamethrower on her back, "And my glowing personality."

He leaned away from her claw and frowned, more confused than scared. Catwoman sighed. Okay, that was corny. This interrogation shtick is harder than it looks.

Finally, Daniel managed to parse words together. "Where'd you get the flamethrower? That's our only prototype."

"I found it on the shelf."

"Well, you better take that off. You don't even know how to use it."

She reached back and grabbed the gun-style nozzle. "True, but ask yourself: if I make a mistake with this flamethrower, is that more or less dangerous than me using a flamethrower correctly?"

He moped. "Guess that's an academic distinction."

"Well there you go! Let's get down to brass tacks..."

---​

Batman spent roughly twelve seconds examining each refrigerated corpse. It was less time than he preferred, but it answered the meaningful questions, and he was on a deadline.

The causes of death were blatant: munitions and other battlefield hazards. The details weren't perfect; he would need a full lab and an hour to distinguish between, say, a face destroyed by a 60mm mortar shell and a face destroyed by an 81mm mortar shell, but it only took a glance to know it was firepower you couldn't find on the street.

The time was mainly to confirm identities. Batman knew the pictures and dossiers of the seventeen victims by heart, but bodies looked more and more alike past their expiration date, and it didn't help if their faces were gone. On the other hand, he didn't need to match them all; two or three would be sufficient. A proper investigation would shut the site down and do justice to all the deceased through the proper channels. The legwork was their job. He just needed to get the process started.

The biggest dilemma was what to photograph.

When it came to nightly operating expenses, Batman was a surprisingly low-cost enterprise. Flashlights were cheap. Binoculars were reasonable. Lab chemicals were cheap in bulk. Fists were free. He modified the car from off-the-shelf parts. His gear was essentially an eclectic fuse of police officer and spelunker, two professions not known for lavish budgets. There weren't many handheld tools that offered a superior version with extra zeros on the price tag. A ten dollar hammer did not strike with ten times the force of a one dollar hammer.

An exception to this rule was his camera. Batman didn't operate within the justice system. In the long run, his value would be severely limited unless he could guide those professionals who were allowed to make arrests or display evidence in court. When Batman didn't have a suspect to hand over, the best alternative to prod along the cause of justice was a photograph. There was plenty of precedent in the city's court system for using 'found' photographs to incriminate, regardless of where the photos came from. Unfortunately, typical consumer cameras were large and took blurry photos. Small cameras were expensive. High quality cameras were very expensive. A small and high quality camera cost a small mint.

Batman didn't just own a small and high quality camera; he owned six.

Still, even such a masterful gadget needed film, and film took up space. He had to prepare for anything tonight. Regrettably, that meant he could only fit one roll. Every shot had to count.

---​

Lieutenant Slade Wilson ripped off the back door of the Brick with a firm tug. He was trying to open it silently, but you can't win at everything.

Flanking him were Milo and Colt squads, fifteen crack military policemen he fortuitously found en route to the front gate. This was a fine team, and a tolerable substitute for doing the job alone. His orders to them were clear: wait five minutes for him to do a covert reconnaissance, and then sweep in if he hadn't returned. This served three purposes. One, if the uninvited guest was still inside, the top priority was capture, and that was a delicate maneuver he could handle best alone. Two, the building had many paths; someone needed to cover the exit in case the intruder came back. And three, if he succeeded and returned in time, then it wouldn't be necessary to update the security clearance on all these men who weren't allowed to see inside the Brick. That would be a major inconvenience.

Wilson crept inside. He knew the rooms by heart and didn't need a light. First, he eased through the mop closet and the locker room. The he crept down to the operating suite. Empty, and the elevator's still here. At the other end of the short hallway was the garage. He stayed in the shadows, which was easy with its pair of weak lights. Briskly circling the area, he checked around and under the small convoy parked there. All empty.

The last section of the ground floor were offices. He stalked down the hallways, checking each of the doorknobs. Every unoccupied office was supposed to be locked. He avoided the final turn to Waller's office; it protected by Private Haney (he could hear the young soldier's breathing). That was fine, it was one area he didn't have to clear, and a jumpy kid like Haney might do something stupid if startled.

The sweep didn't take long to finish. Every door was locked. That left the basement.

There were two ways into the basement: the freight elevator in the operating suite and a staircase in the office complex. He had just over a minute left until his backup entered. He took the stairs. In the darkness, he glided down each flight, footsteps as silent as oil on silk. The air grew cooler. He pushed his senses through the space around him, tensed for the weakest sound or movement. Steadying himself, Lieutenant Wilson nudged through the door at the bottom.

---​

When Batman gathered enough evidence in the morgue, he decided to follow the path opposite the one Catwoman had ventured down. Splitting up was unsafe, but he had to know what else was here and there was too much ground to cover. The doors in these hallways had no labels; he chose one at random.

Inside, he found a spacious room mostly filled with a large transparent tank of water. It could've been in the city aquarium, but instead of fish and seaweed, the water contained a strange set of pulleys, chains, harnesses, and buckles. Clearly, heavy objects were meant to be manipulated inside. The rest of the fairly well-lit room had an assortment of closets, tables, and benches. He saw diving equipment hanging on the wall.

Walking around, Batman pondered the uses of such a place.

Then he heard a noise. Sqeeek.

---​

Lieutenant Wilson passed through several hallways until he found a door with the lights on inside, the Dunk Lab. He's here. The cautious soldier hugged the wall and unholstered one of his matte silver M1911 pistols. But as he strode forward, Wilson stepped on a stain from some ancient chemical spill. Man and gear together weighed two hundred and fifty pounds; this marginal new friction was just enough to cause his boot to sqeeek.

The Lieutenant grimaced and paused. Two seconds later, he saw the light in the Dunk Lab shut off. He shook his head, disgrutled. No more element of surprise. Now he had to breach a door with an unknown hostile waiting for him somewhere in the dark. Less than ideal.

Wilson pulled a thin red flare out of his bandoleer and readied his trench knife. Standing alongside the door (in case the intruder took potshots through it), he reached over and stabbed the wood twice in a rapid staccato until he broke a new hole in the door. Then, with a shower of angry red sparks, he lit open the flare and tossed it through this hole. He could see a vivid glow around the edges of the door frame. It had to be blindingly bright inside. Capitalizing on this, Wilson kicked his way in, pistol drawn. Shielding his eyes, Wilson scanned the lab, but he saw no one in the glare. Wilson frowned and turned on the lights. The big room seemed the same as always, save for a sparking flare on the floor. But as he stepped through the doorway, he noticed something odd under him.

There was something wrong with his shadow ...

---​

Batman stood precariously atop the sturdy door mantle, balancing on the edge of his heels. He hoped whoever was making noises outside hadn't noticed the light before he turned it off. When a flare flew in, he knew this was not the case. The flash almost shocked him off the door. He turned his head and waited for the spots to disappear. Then a huge soldier burst in. Still, Batman knew it was possible that the soldier would perform a cursory glance and leave without looking up. Then the huge soldier turned on the lights.

Batman leaped.

A knee to the back of the head was the obvious solution, but it might be fatal, which ruled out obvious solutions to most of Batman's problems. His alternative was more exotic, a flying headlock.

Amazingly, the soldier ducked a moment before impact, hunching his shoulders and avoiding the "lock". Batman still landed on his back and they both fell. The Dark Knight hadn't even touched the floor before twisting into a ground maneuver. He found leverage and readied a vicious armbar. The soldier's huge arm stretched for a painful instant and he dropped his pistol, but the man had unexpected range of motion and bent out of the hold, pushing himself away.

Batman followed. They struggled to their feet, trading grapples and elbows. The soldier finally made space with a short headbutt and filled it with a front kick. The front kick was a versatile tool, often used like a jab - to force distance as much as to cause damage. Batman caught the impact in his guard and skipped backward a few paces.

The combatants finally eyed each other.

Batman analyzed. Calm eyes. Linebacker's physique. Classic southpaw boxer's stance. Good footwork. More a technician of violence than an artist. Lieutenant's bar. Multiple scars on face and hands. White hair, few wrinkles - late 30's, but heavy mileage in his years. He's awfully old for a lieutenant; didn't get there the normal way. Evidently alone, but not here by accident. A lone wolf? Not reaching for his other sidearm yet - either stupid or under orders. Judging by the trick with the flare, not stupid. Weapons on every pocket and belt loop; the hardware should weigh him down, but he seems to compensate exceptionally well. Possibly stronger than me; still slower.

Slade analyzed. Big for a spy. Weird outfit, pretty sure even the krauts aren't that gaudy. Who is this guy? Lunatic, maybe? He's quick though, literally got the drop on me; that hasn't happened in awhile. Decent wrestler. Has a cape on for some reason; should weigh him down, but he seems to compensate exceptionally well. No gun: good, can end this clean way.

Their shadows danced in the lurid red light. Then the breath ended. Both leaped forward: Slade with a diving tackle, the intruder with a flying knee. The knee was glancing, kept them at arm's length. The men landed and lashed out. The caped man ducked Slade's hook and raced in with a palm strike to his throat. Slade flinched. Ouch. The strike forced a cough out of him - harsh and throttled. The caped man followed with two rib shots, deflected Slade's recovery jab, and crushed his nose with a dynamite elbow.

When elbow hit nose, there was a soft ripping noise. Stars lit up his eyes. He knew it was broken. That hasn't happened in awhile either. The Lieutenant threw up a guard and slid back. The blow felt like it had torn the rest of his face with it. Tiny streams of hot blood already rolled down his chin. With a modest mental effort, Slade willed the pain away and cleared his vision. This was getting interesting.

The intruder didn't offer a chance to rest, but sprung towards him with an axe kick. Slade grinned inside. Points for bravado, but that's just cocky. A move so huge and slow was obviously meant as a finisher, but Slade wasn't nearly finished. He ducked and tripped the invader with a low sweep. Slade's move was beautiful, taking the caped fool off his feet with slapstick exaggeration, but then the victim spoiled the fun, catching himself inverted and rolling out of it. Slade tried to stomp on his fallen foe three times while he was down. The first bootprint landed solidly on the intruder's arm, the second slid off the cape, and the intruder caught his ankle the third time as he rose. Slade pulled back and circled. The intruder held the stomped arm a little loosely but seemed unconcerned.

Neither opened with a flashy attack this time. They kept their heads down and boxed.

Fast volleys of jabs and crosses flew from each side. Plenty landed; none killed. Slade finally hammered home a strong left cross to the center of the stranger's forehead. The stranger rocked back from the blow but returned just as quickly with a roundhouse. Slade spit out a gob of swallowed blood in frustration. That mask must be padded. He's not slowing.

The intrepid soldier finally found an opening and stepped in to send a message with a hard gut punch, but the opening was a trap. Quick as a snake, the intruder caught his fist and turned it inwards, wristlocking him off-center. Then using that caught fist, he pulled Slade into grapple range and dropped for a double leg takedown.

This is getting annoying.

The takedown was textbook. Batman was sure that smacking into a hard floor wearing a bandolier and a sword had to hurt. He crouched around to finish with a collar choke. But in that instant before the choke closed, Batman felt a threat brush his abdomen. He hopped up just in time, dodging the long knife the soldier had unsheathed on the way down. The man kicked as he stood, keeping Batman at a distance. When the soldier he got to his feet, he unsheathed a navel saber in his off-hand.

The soldier coughed, his breathing labored from the broken nose. "Alright, Bela Lugosi. Get on your knees or I cut 'em off."

Batman kept his fists up and said nothing. It was unwise to rush a swordsman of unknown skill.

The soldier flipped the sword so to the blade pointed down like an ice pick.

Batman raised an eyebrow. That ... wasn't supposed to happen.

In his years spent practicing the martial arts, Batman had learned many helpful tips. For instance, if a stranger assumed a fighting pose so unorthodox that no sane master would teach it, there was a 98% chance the stranger was an idiot about to fall on his face. However, there was always that 2% chance the stranger was a passionate combatant who spent a lifetime inventing a fearsome new technique with advantages no one else had the patience or creativity to develop. In this case, the safe response was to run.

Batman had the sneaking suspicion this guy was in the 2%.

The soldier rushed forward, leading with the knife. Batman was forced into a guarded retreat, dodging the knife thrusts and the precise backhand cuts of the sword. The Dark Knight's gauntlets each had a spine of steel spikes along the outside of the forearm. As the assault pushed closer and faster, he began to catch and deflect the blades on his arms, but he didn't trust any of his usual counters against such a deviant grip. He had to stay on the defensive.

Tang. Tang. Vvvrrringg. Phrick. TangTangTang. The angular screech of metal on metal was half-deafening. Batman found the knife-work admirable, if over-cautious, but the unique sword dynamics kept surprising him. Each swing felt like it came out of nowhere. He couldn't out-think it, only surviving by making a chain of close saves fueled by dumb reflex (though "dumb" for the Caped Crusader still had ten thousand hours of practice behind it).

Finally, miraculously, a stab approached a hair too slowly. Batman weaved left and swung his cape ahead, batting the knife arm away.

Some people thought cape fighting never existed. Others though it was a dead art. In truth, the cloak was a valid fencing accessory in any era when a brigand might try to stab you, something the soldier learned with a brief surprise. He tried to recover by swatting with the sword, but Batman had already launched a trio of side kicks: to the shin, to the arm, to the chin. The final blow was staggering. In haste, the soldier threw his long knife. Batman leaned away as the blade flew by his arm. This was enough time for the soldier to flip the sword back to its classic angle and grip it with both hands. Batman tried to approach but his foe burst forth with barbaric energy, taking surgical swipes.

With the soldier's prodigious strength, Batman knew the sword could chop off a limb, but two-handed swings with a saber were unbalanced. He would overstep soon.

Four more furious swings, each tighter than the last. Batman dodged them all. Then an artful thrust. Batman slid past and tried to grab the leading arm, but the lieutenant had expected that and brutally shoulder-checked him, feinted with a cut to the ear, and planted a boot in Batman's chest.

Briefly airborne, Batman struck the water tank neck-first. The soldier went for his spare pistol, but before he could take advantage of the distance, he found two batarangs sunk into his shoulder. The soldier barked in surprise and annoyance, struggling to pull them out. As soon as he did, a righteous uppercut rocketed through his jaw. Batman followed with a clinch, trying to pull the massive lieutenant to the ground.
But the enraged soldier was too strong. He threw the Dark Knight aside with a hateful sweep of his arm. This was followed by a blur of metal. Batman felt a cut open across his gut. The Dark Knight rolled backwards, picked up the dying flare, and pitched it from a knee. The soldier intercepted, cutting the flickering tube in twain without slowing pursuit. A fusillade of saber attacks pushed the Caped Crusader ever backward until he was suddenly pinned against a desk.

The soldier lifted the blade behind his head and set to bring it down like an axe. Batman braced himself, readying to catch the saber between his crossed arms.

The blade fell. Batman immediately pulled his forearms tight, trapping the saber. The soldier drove down, applying his impressive mass to cut past the obstructing arms. Batman redoubled his effort to resist the sword. But the strike was a deception. As Batman pushed harder to deflect the blade, the soldier simply let go. Lacking resistance, Batman's struggled against nothing, leaving his arms above his head.

With a blazing quickdraw, this time the lieutenant brought up his pistol before Batman could react. He stuck the barrel into Batman's ribs and grabbed a handful of fabric near the cowl.

Between two warriors, the understanding was mutual: checkmate.

Batman slowly lowered his hands. The sword fell. He heard yelling nearby, footsteps outside the door. Then a wave of bodies flooded his vision, dragging him to the floor.
Author: Batman 1939
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby LadyTevar » 2016-09-06 09:54pm

Ouch.
Time for Catwoman to save his butt?
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby FaxModem1 » 2016-09-07 12:03am

That was a wonderful fight.
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby U.P. Cinnabar » 2016-09-07 12:17am

LadyTevar wrote:Ouch.
Time for Catwoman to save his butt?


Time, I think, for Rich Boy to meet Amanda Waller.
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And, if the implications of that bother you, the time to do something about it is before you send him out."
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby FaxModem1 » 2016-09-07 01:10am

I have a couple guesses on what the US Army is doing given what DC has in their universe, but I will save them in case I'm actually right and don't want to change the direction of the story.
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby U.P. Cinnabar » 2016-09-07 01:52am

FaxModem1 wrote:I have a couple guesses on what the US Army is doing given what DC has in their universe, but I will save them in case I'm actually right and don't want to change the direction of the story.


Does one of them involve trapping the ghost of a famous Confederate cavalry general in the hull of a tank?
"When you send a man out with a gun, you create a policymaker. When his ass is on the line, he will do whatever he needs to do.

And, if the implications of that bother you, the time to do something about it is before you send him out."
—David Drake


"Oh, but you did! You turn on any of my crew, you turn on me! But, since that's a concept you can't seem to wrap your head around, then, you've got no place here. You did it to me, Jayne, and that's a fact."

—Malcolm Reynolds, captain of the Firefly-class hauler Serenity,in a nutshell

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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby FaxModem1 » 2016-09-07 02:30am

U.P. Cinnabar wrote:
FaxModem1 wrote:I have a couple guesses on what the US Army is doing given what DC has in their universe, but I will save them in case I'm actually right and don't want to change the direction of the story.


Does one of them involve trapping the ghost of a famous Confederate cavalry general in the hull of a tank?


You know, it didn't, but Haunted Tank being Amanda Waller's secret weapon would be hilarious.
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2016-09-07 04:34am

Damn, Slade actually beat the Bat one on one. Not a lot of guys can do that.

He and Waller together make a good match for Batman. Waller being one of the few who might be able to match his brains and resources, and Slade being one of the few who can match him physically.
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-09-07 06:07am

Plotwise, the problem is that Waller would almost certainly unmask Batman immediately, given that everyone's behaving intelligently and competently, and that Waller's a government agent.

That would in turn create some problems, especially for a writer who thinks he might want to create a sequel. ;)

So I speculate that Batman will not actually encounter Waller, or at least not under circumstances that place him in her power for more than an extremely short length of time.

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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2016-09-07 06:10am

In both Justice League and the Spoiler
Suicide Squad film
, Waller does find out what Batman's day job is.

But she'll keep it to herself if she has reason to do so, like Batman getting some leverage over her.
"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes" When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy." - Lincoln.