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Sharp: Part II
By Cere

              Wayne rubbed sleep from his eyes. It figured. This was the first night he hadn’t watched over Terry, getting some rest instead. The kid enjoyed the sign of trust, and Bruce was feeling under the weather. No supervillain operations were expected tonight, so he’d instructed Terry to signal him if anything big happened. Apparently, something big had happened.
              Wayne shuffled down the stairs into the Batcave. Ace followed on his heels, excited by the activity. “Easy, boy,” Wayne said, easing himself into his chair. He pushed a couple buttons and found that Terry had left him a text message.
              Wayne’s eyes shot open as he read it. “He can’t be serious!”

              Batman arrived at the Wayne-Powers Airfield. He set the Batmobile to autopilot home and jumped out. As the Batmobile raced out of sight, he watched with a tinge of regret. Then he took a deep breath and turned around.
              Batman turned on his camouflage and walked among the planes and workers. The numerous products of Wayne-Powers Corporation were being exported to the masses around the world. Finally, he found Flight 117, just finishing loading. He ducked inside as the cargo door closed.
              Curare was sitting with her sword between her legs. “You’re almost late,” she said as the plane lurched to a start.
              “Almost,” Batman said, just as coldly.
              “Are you going to try to stop me?” she asked threateningly.
              Terry saw a disturbing gleam in Curare’s eye. “I’m still not sure why I’m doing this,” he said, “but I’ll help you.”
              Curare sat back and rested against the wall as the plane took off.
              Batman’s thoughts were interrupted by a voice on his cowl radio. “McGinnis!”
              I was hoping to skip this part. “Yeah?” Terry replied, holding his fingers to his ear.
              “What are you doing?” Wayne asked in a rage. “Why didn’t you consult with me first?”
              “I didn’t want to disturb you,” Terry said. “Besides, you said I could handle this night alone.”
              “I didn’t expect you to be in a plane with a deadly assassin.”
              “It’s okay,” Terry said. “I’ll be fine.”
              “Do you trust her?”
              Terry looked at Curare. She was twirling her sword, staring at the glinting edge as it spun.
              “No,” Terry said.
              That seemed to calm Wayne down slightly. Static started to creep into the line, signaling that he was approaching the extent of the cowl-link’s range.
              Wayne realized it as well. “Terry, what will I tell your mother? How will I explain this?”
              Terry smiled. “You’ll think of something,” he said.
              “McGinnis!” Wayne roared. His outburst faded away into a growing roar of static. Terry sighed and turned off his cowl-link. He was on his own now.
              He looked up and saw Curare staring questioningly at him. “My boss,” he said.
              “Your boss?”
              “Yes,” Batman said, closing guarding his words. “What does it matter to you?”
              “He sounded like a very easy master,” Curare said.
              “You have no idea,” Batman replied with a laugh. “He’s so strict, you’d swear you couldn’t do a thing right. There’s always one little problem in every action, something that could have been improved. I bet you couldn’t stand five minutes with him.”
              Curare gruffly picked up her sword. Fool, Curare thought. If he only knew.
              “We should rest,” Curare said curtly. “Tomorrow is a busy day.”
              Curare walked to the rear of the plane and settled down on the floor. Batman watched her warily for a few minutes, then turned on his camouflage and lay down. Sleep did not come easily.

              Mikael stepped up to the panel. So many years had passed. He ran a hand through his white hair to make sure it was in place. The attire he wore was perfectly planned to portray a strong image. Hopefully his speaking skills were still in good form.
              He pushed a button and stepped back into the hologram sensors. Images appeared on the large screen before him, the entire head of the Society of Assassins. Mikael scanned the faces. Some were familiar, while other faces were new ones he didn’t recognize. But they all knew who he was. Approving murmurs were passing among them. That was a good sign.
              Mikael waited until the voices had settled down. “Men,” he spoke, “we have a dilemma on our hands. I am sure you know of whom I speak. Our best assassin has now turned against us. It may seem difficult, but we can survive. This problem can be overcome.”
              “And do you propose how?” Akem asked.
              “You know me well,” Mikael answered. “Of course I have a plan. It requires us to make a gathering.”
              A storm of dissent rose, as Mikael had expected. He waited patiently as protests were spoken by many members. The Oldonso twins stepped forward to voice the common opinion. “We cannot do this,” they said. “It is our primary defense. If we convene together, she will certainly come for us.”
              “Exactly,” Mikael said, thrusting his fist to accent the point. “And when she comes, we’ll be ready for her. I trained Curare myself from her childhood. I know how she thinks. I am the only man that can help you.”
              More murmuring shifted among the group. They were uneasy, a trait common in their line of work, but he could see they were gradually agreeing with him.
              As the turmoil died down, Devon Bendi raised his voice. “Are we prepared to make a vote?” The response was positive. “And what have we decided?”
              The vote was unanimous. They would gather, to provide the perfect bait for Curare.
              Mikael gave them the location, along with orders to instruct every other assassin to meet there also. He then pushed the button and turned off the link. His shoulders slumped and he breathed a heavy sigh. It was begun. The hardest part was over. Now all he had to do was prepare and wait.
              Rain was falling outside his window. He could hear it through the curtain blinds. Opening them, he looked out at the sea of black, rolling clouds loosing their fury upon the earth. Mikael thought of Blueskin, his former pupil. Of all his students who could challenge him, of course it would be her, his most fiery pupil. He sighed and placed his hand on the cool glass. The corner of his mouth raised in a smile. He found he was actually looking forward to this.

              Unwillingly, awareness returned to Batman. The hard floor beneath his side, the steady hum of plane engines, it all forced its way into his consciousness. He opened his eyes and straightened in shock. A dagger was wedged in the floor right in front of his eyes.
              He rolled over, turned off his camouflage, and looked at Curare. She was sitting ten feet away from him, polishing her sword.
              “You breathe,” she said, and then returned to her blade.
              Batman sat up with a grunt, turning this little exchange over in his head. Curare could have killed him in the night, but she didn’t. She wants to intimidate me, make me think that she’s the boss, but I won’t let it work.
              “Are we there yet?” Batman asked.
              A sharp jolt as the plane touched the ground answered his question. Curare grabbed a bundle next to her and tossed it to him. Batman tentatively opened it and found an African style traveling cloak and hat.
              “What are these for?” he asked.
              “Do you expect to move around the city dressed like that?” she asked insultingly.
              “I have camouflage,” he replied. “I’ll move in stealth.”
              “And how do you expect to gather information? You would do much better if you blended in.”
              Batman grudgingly moved behind a stack of crates and pulled the clothes over his outfit. He took off his mask, positioned the shroud over his mouth, and stepped back into view.
              Curare smirked when she saw that Terry’s face was still covered. Then she bent down and cut a triangular hole in the bottom of the plane. “Come,” she said, “we’ve arrived.” She dropped out the hole, leaving Batman no choice but to follow her.
              Batman turned and watched as the plane rolled away from them. Beyond the airport, golden rays were stretching out from the eastern horizon. He turned back in time to see Curare walking away. He muttered softly and jogged up next to her.
              “So,” Batman said, “just how guarded is this headquarters?”
              Curare stopped and turned to him. “Headquarters? The Society of Assassins has no headquarters. It’s their main defense. Everybody is spread out all around the world. All group business is performed over the internet.”
              Batman froze. “Then why are we here?”
              “An operative by the name of Mutro Botho.”
              “You mean we’re taking everybody down one by one?”
              Curare merely turned and continued walking towards town. This may take longer than I thought, Batman thought.
              They sneaked past the security guards with no trouble and were soon walking through the bustling streets of the city. Batman struggled to keep next to Curare and not be lost in the flood of people moving towards their everyday lives. If they only knew who they were bumping into, Batman thought.
              “So,” he said, grabbing Curare’s attention, “what exactly are we looking for?”
              “It’s daytime,” Curare said. “Mutro’s probably holed up somewhere, sleeping.”
              “How do you even know he’s here?”
              “I had a rat tell me.”
              “A rat?” Terry asked. “With an endearing name like that, do you trust him?”
              Curare turned and looked him in the eye. “Enough.” She reached into her robes and brought out a picture. Terry saw a middle-aged man, dark hair and eyes, with features chiseled from years of hard experiences. “This is the man we’re looking for. I’ll search the underworld here, you do something else.”
              “Whatever happened to teamwork?” Batman asked, accepting the picture.
              “You’d hold me back,” Curare said. “I only need you to fight, not to find my targets. I have enough practice for that.”
              “I’m sure you do,” Terry answered.
              “In the rare chance that you do find something,” Curare continued, “use this radio to call me.” She gave Terry a small two-way radio. “I’ll call you when I’ve found him.”
              Terry took the radio and fit it into his ear. Curare quickened her pace and slipped away into the crowd. Terry sighed, took one last look at Mutro’s photo, and went his own way.

              Curare was relieved to see the sign still etched into the old wooden door. She always marveled at the audacity of Charles to use genuine wood in a door. It was almost as if it were protection, a warning that whoever owned this establishment had power and would strike down those who oppose it. However, Curare had seen enough to know the truth behind such symbols, that they were only fake shields behind which the wealthy usually languished and hid.
              And besides, money wasn’t power. Fear was.
              Curare entered and let her eyes carefully search the room. It was as she remembered it, with only the subtle changes of time. The bar was still there, plus the tables for groups to dine, as well as booths for important guests. With a confident stride, she entered the room and made her towards a non-descript door next to the bar. All eyes in the room followed her as she crossed the room.
              As she neared the door, the bartender stepped out from behind the bar and blocked her way. “What do you want?” he asked gruffly.
              Curare said nothing, but merely exposed her blue hand and the hilt of her sword. The bartender knew enough to graciously back away and allow her through. The people watching this sequence of events felt a sense of awe and fear, for only a small group of people would be so readily allowed through that door.
              Curare softly closed the door behind her and quickly scanned Charles’s office. It was still well kept, but small signs of untidiness were barely visible. Charles was starting to succumb to the stress of running a criminal empire. That was on her side.
              Charles himself was sitting behind his desk, rapidly typing at his computer. He glanced up when Curare entered. He still had that slick quality to him, in the way not one black hair was out of place and his suit fitted him perfectly, but small signs in his face showed her more of the story, especially how his mouth slightly twitched when he recognized her.
              “Curare,” he said, recovering quickly, “I was afraid you’d come.”
              “Then you know why I’m here,” she replied, keeping her strong stance.
              “So you’re talking now,” he commented. He still had that confident tone in his voice, an almost perfect control over his manner. His expression changed to one of regret. “He asked for protection, Curare. I can’t betray him. I have a reputation to consider.”
              Still trying to weasel his way out of this. She expected nothing less. Her sword sang as she drew it. “And I care why?”
              She froze at the sound of a gun cocking behind her head. “You should’ve asked nicely,” Charles said. “Now drop your sword.”
              Curare remained motionless. Her hands clenched tightly around her weapon. “I’m warning you, Curare,” Charles said, revealing his fear by letting the anger show in his voice. “If you so much as flinch, Gart will blow your brains out.”
              A local bodyguard, Curare thought, and he’s aiming at the head. She regretfully dropped the sword, being careful to keep her arms and exactly the same angle. The steel clanged as it hit the floor.
              Charles walked over and picked it up, looking over it lovingly. “That was surprisingly easy,” he commented.
              Curare only glared at him, waiting for the right time to strike. “What are you going to do with me?” she asked.
              “The Society of Assassins will be most grateful for your dead body,” he said, making his way back towards the desk.
              “Can’t say the same about you,” Curare replied. She watched the look of realization spread on Charles’s face, then struck. Her arm flashed backwards and held up the bodyguard’s arm as she bent down. The bodyguard fired out of reflex, but she was already out of the way and kicking up at his jaw. He fell to the ground, out of the picture.
              Curare turned to Charles and saw that he had dropped the sword and was gripping his arm where his bodyguard had accidentally shot him. Blood was dripping out from underneath his hand.
              Curare walked over and picked up her sword. “Where is Mutro?” she asked firmly. Charles merely spat at her. “Fine, have it your way.” She walked behind the desk and started typing at the computer. “I won’t kill you now,” she said as she worked. “I’d rather get paid for it. But when I do, I will definitely enjoy it.”
              Charles could only yell in frustration as Curare printed off a piece of paper and exited through the window.

              Terry tossed down the newspaper in disgust. He had searched through every periodical he could find, but he found nothing he was looking for. If Mutro was here, then he was probably on assignment. However, Terry couldn’t find any possibilities for his target. There were no important events going on right now, no dignitaries on visit, not even a business leader people were disgruntled with. It seemed like a quiet and peaceful city. But then why was Mutro here?
              If I can’t find any information as Terry, he thought, then perhaps I’ll do better as Batman. He walked into an alley and started to take off his cloak. He was interrupted when somebody pushed him face-first into a wall and pressed a gun against his head.
              “Cooperate and you won’t get hurt,” a raspy voice instructed.
              “I never was good at cooperation,” Terry said, and fired several batarangs. They ricocheted off the walls and collided with the mugger’s hand. He cried out in pain and dropped his weapon. Terry turned around and dealt with his attacker in two punches.
              “Shway,” Terry heard a voice say, “you’re Batman!”
              He turned to see a man sitting next to the alley wall, hunched over in his ragged brown coat, his face covered by a tattered hat. Judging by the voice, this guy sounded like he was in his twenties.
              “Don’t tell anyone,” Terry said, half jokingly.
              “I can’t guarantee that,” the man replied.
              Terry walked over, picked the guy up, and thrust him firmly against the wall. “What did you say?” Terry asked.
              “That won’t help,” the man replied. “Your face is already scanned and stored on a remote server.”
              Terry stared in bewilderment at the face he saw hiding under his hat. “How can that be?” he asked.
              The man took off his hat and pointed to his dark pair of sunglasses. “Visual sensors in these captured your face,” he said. “The glasses also house a satellite net connection, which I access using my net gloves.” He held up his hands, showing Terry the gloves he wore, made of a sleek, silver material. “Sensors woven into them detect the muscle movements in my hands, which correspond to which keys I would be pressing on a keyboard. I designed the system myself.”
              This guy gives Max a run for her money, he thought. “Delete that scan immediately.”
              His expression hardened. “You can’t boss me around.”
              Terry’s mouth pulled up in a smile. “Let’s talk.”
              Terry took off his cloak, slipped his mask over his face, and dragged the strange person up to an adjacent rooftop. The man huffed when he was set down, but didn’t make any attempt to escape.
              “Who are you?” Batman asked.
              The man stood and took a bow. “I am Ralek,” he said, “hacker extraordinaire and seller of information.”
              “What kind of information?”
              “My specialty is the underworld,” he replied. “Any information you want on organized illegal activities, I can obtain for you.”
              Batman circled around Ralek. “So you’re a snitch,” he said.
              “I prefer informant,” Ralek protested, with the manner of someone who’d corrected people many times before. “Numerous bosses and crime controllers rely on me for all their informational needs. In the underworld war, knowledge is the best weapon.”
              “Numerous bosses?” Batman said. “You even work for rivals?”
              Ralek shrugged. “Why should I limit my payment options?”
              Batman shook his head. “A dangerous line of work. What happens if they discover you working for their enemies?”
              “They won’t,” Ralek said confidently. “I operate under many different names.”
              Batman walked to the edge of the roof and looked out onto the city. This exchange was getting him nowhere. He needed to find where Mutro was, plus convince Ralek to take his identity off his website, and he needed to work fast.
              Batman turned and looked at Ralek. Ralek cleared his throat and began speaking. “I apologize for any inconvenience I may have caused you,” he said. “I have heard much of the Batman and have great respect for you. However, the opportunity for informational gathering was too good to pass up. In return, I will give you whatever information you want, free of charge. The price of your identity is reward enough.”
              Batman stared at Ralek, judging the sincerity in his eyes. “All right,” Batman finally said. “I’m currently looking for someone named Mutro Botho. Is he in the area?”
              Ralek’s eyes lit up. “Oh, yes,” he replied. “In fact, that’s why I’m here. Mutro’s hiding, waiting to spring a trap on a traitorous assassin known as Curare.” He rubbed his hands together gleefully. “I hate her guts so much, ever since she stabbed me during one of her missions. I can’t wait to see her fall.”
              Realization dawned in Batman’s head. That’s why I couldn’t find any targets here, he thought. Curare’s the target! She’s in great danger!
              “Where is Mutro staying?” he asked.
              Ralek made some quick motions with his hands, as though he were typing on a keyboard. “In room 54B at the Downtown General Hotel,” he answered.
              “Thanks,” Batman said. He made to leave, then turned around. “One more thing.” He ran over and snatched the net gloves off Ralek’s hands.
              “Hey!” Ralek protested, but Batman was already flying away.
              Wayne can use these gloves to hack into Ralek’s server, Batman thought as he flew. But right now, I have more important things to worry about. Curare’s in trouble.
              Batman made it several building tops before he stopped. Wait, what am I helping Curare for? Live by the sword, die by the sword. She worked in a dangerous business; she had it coming to her. Good riddance.
              Batman turned around and walked away.

              Curare stealthily crept down the hotel hallway. The dark yellow carpet made her eyes hurt, but she didn’t let it faze her. Her attention was focused on the third door to the left, with her senses scanning around her. A door opened to the right behind her, so she spun around and tossed a gas grenade. The cleaning maid slumped to the floor. Curare didn’t want any distractions.
              When she reached the door, she knelt and delicately ran her finger around the opening controls. A few cuts of her sword disabled the lock and allowed her to reach inside and disable the mechanical controls. She then quietly drove her sword between the door and the wall and gently pried it open.
              After the door was one inch open, she stopped and listened inside. There was a sound of steady breathing, as though Mutro was sleeping. No way, Curare thought. She pried the door open a couple inches and saw Mutro clearly napping on his bed.
              This was too easy, she thought. She scanned the room for several more minutes, but there was no one else in the room. She stepped off to the side and quickly pulled the door open, but nothing happened. Mutro was still sleeping, oblivious to the peril he was in.
              Curare chuckled softly and stepped into the room. Her movement triggered the dart launcher across the door, and heavy tranquilizer was delivered into her system. Curare fell to the floor with a heavy whump. The trigger also woke Mutro, who smiled gleefully at the sight of his prize.
              “I suppose I could wait until you woke and gloat over my victory before killing you,” he said, rising out of bed, “but I know from experience how dangerous it is to leave you any opportunity.” He grabbed the silenced gun next to his bed and aimed at Curare’s head. “Goodbye, Curare.”
              Suddenly, the window exploded with a crash and something hard knocked the gun from Mutro’s hand. He turned in time to see Batman fly through the window and a black fist approach his face.
              Batman closed the door, made sure Mutro was knocked out, and then checked on Curare. She was still breathing, but just seemed unconscious. He picked her up and set her gently on the bed. She should be able to fend for herself a while, Batman thought. I’ll give Mutro to the authorities, then come back here and wait for her to wake.
              He picked Mutro up and took one last look at Curare. I may hate her, but she doesn't deserve to die. With the Society of Assassins gone, she might actually leave people alone. I just hope that she appreciates this after we’re done. Then he turned and flew out the window.

              to be continued…

Part I<-- Back to Batman Beyond -->Part III

What did you think? Your feedback is welcome! E-mail me at cere_8@hotmail.com

Batman Beyond and all related characters are the property of someone else. This is a work of fanfiction and no copyright infringement was intended. Mikael is my creation. "Bendi" is a name given by me to the head of the Society of Assassins. Curare's past and deformity were invented by me and may not be true to the creator's intent.