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Night of the Hornet

Chapter 10: Twice Shy


Disclaimer: Catch on! I'm a pauper! No cash, no harm, no foul.


Slash: How much energy do you think these boys have? OK, maybe just a little.




Noon briefing.

Gotham still quiet. Huntress thinks the runners may move soon. Minor problem. If we're not back, Azeral will give her back-up. Might mean a few more broken bones, but.... Also Robin, if he can 'break out of jail'. Tim likes Hellena. They work well together.

Cassandra reports everything still quiet. No one has backtracked Ikano Kato to Bob Lee - yet.

Babs diversion is working. Carlins been getting his frequent flyer miles. Quite a bill there. Hope he puts in his expenses early.

No sign of Lady Vic. Gotham or here. Might mean she turned down the hit. Might mean she slipped though our net. Might mean someone else is on the job. Clock is ticking but we can't change course now. Risky to wait. Riskier to fail.

Final call to Kent. 36 hours to splashdown and we are committed.

Batman and Kato decide on the sub-garage for the final showdown.

Bromley may know about the tunnels. She may even use them. We'll just use them better.
Kato points out another of the Hornets bolt-holes. A nice false wall with plenty of seating space behind it for the press. Inquiring minds and all that. All a polite distance from the closet we aren't supposed to know is there. Maybe Kent can arrange to 'accidentally' run into the door when it's all over. We all know how clumsy he is.

Earl lays out the new floor plan. Tonight we install a few 'toys'. Full mike and cameras. Black laser sensors. We will own this terrain.



I rig some rings. Can't fly here. Roofs not tall enough for a net, and I'm to smart to practice without one. But after a week I need to get off the ground.

Give Kato some practice with the de-cell lines. Just for fun. He's no gymnast but judo teaches balance. And how to fall. He gets it. Bruce joins in and we run a few easy catches. Showing off. So what. Everyone loves the circus.

Put on my jeans and go out to run a few 'errands". Glad Earl remembered to pack a road bike. Road survey of the Hornets's Nest. Security is crap. I spot all the cop cars on the first run. Slow down along the fence. That gets the dogs barking. Two Dobermans. Not well trained. Remember the trank gun. Keep them from getting hurt. I like dogs.

Nice day for a ride. Crisp but clear. Wind clears my head. Bruce loves his cave, but too much time indoors and I start to get itchy.

Drive past Blockbuster's Video, which gives me an idea. Can't risk my card but I'm carrying cash. Yep. Big tray of used video's. We have some on the plane, but those are Alfred's selection. Which mean's totally useless. For now. Wouldn't mind watching 'Midsummer's" with Bruce, but not in company. No. This time I'm looking for some 'family' fare.

Stop at the 7-11 and pick up some Frosted Coco Bombs on the way back. Something tells me I'm going to need the chocolate.



Midnight. Zero hour minus 24.

Batman and Kato and Earl will do the set up. Which leaves me on monitor duty. I'm a little nervous about Earl. He doesn't move as well as the pros. But...he is the engineer. And this is Kato's show. Kato and Earl for the tech, and the Bat to get them in and out unseen.

They manage. I would have preferred the JLA transporters, but that's not on just now. See if Babs can lay down a little diplomacy.

Babs calls. Seems Huntress was right about her gunrunners. Tried to ship their shit out just after midnight. No chance of Robin, so she went in with the Angel as backup. Worked, but it's a bloody mess and Gordon will be pissed. Couple of pincushion mooks, and Azrael took some mooks hand off with that damn sword. Time the Bat had another little chat. With them both. Still. Hospital time is not quite deadly force, so they're still justified. Batman's problem. Thank God. Another call for Babs and diplomacy.

I know why John needs chocos.



Early night. No trouble with the set up. They're back by 2 a.m. Earlier than expected. Guess her guards are even worse than I thought.

Gives us time to watch a video. Big bowl of popcorn and lots of cold soder. I have a real weakness for bad action movies. Probably not enough TV while growing up.

He'd never buy one himself. To low-brow. Alfred wouldn't have it in the house. But if I start one Bruce will watch it with me. Gives him a chance to point out someone elses mistakes. This one was grim. Death and maiming and exploding buildings. A real family comedy. Think Ikano felt a bit weird at first, but he got into it. Fun to shout at the actors. Toss popcorn. This ones a perfect choice. No plot. Lots of improbable stunts. Lots of bad science. Even Earl relaxed and snarled a few times at the tube. And Roy said I don't know how to kick back and have fun.

More important, it finally breaks through the tension and lets Bruce get a good night's sleep. Sex is good, but laughter is better. He needs it.



Day two. 10 a.m.

Coco Bombs for breakfast. The start of a great day. I guy can only live on oatmeal and waffles so long.

Three hours hard training. Nautilius and free weights. Sucks, but I need it. Five hundred pushups, five hundred on the bar. Road trips are hard on the program. Then floor routine. Then horse. Then bars. Then rings. Always leave the good stuff for last.

One hour working my falls with Ikano. He's good, in incredible shape for his age. Not certain I would want to meet him on the street. I reconsider the Bruce-at-seventy question. God no. Don't give him any ideas.



Noon.

Our representatives of the press arrive. Lois and Clark and Jimmy Olsen. Nice and public on a LexAir flight. Check into the Marriott - Central. Credit card and all. This is one story that needs a paper trail.

Linda Park West arrives a few hours later flying United. Hard to resist that pun. TV coverage is good and besides we owe Wally. She's not exactly hard press, but the last thing we want is 'investigative' reporting.



A knock on the door. Earl glares at the alarms, but I already cleared the approach from my screen. It's Jimmy Olson. With pizza. Pineapple, sausage, and extra cheese. Good stuff.

It's great to see Jimmy again. I don't have much chance to get to Metropolis any more.

More nasty looks from Earl. So. Earl hates seeing 'civilians' in the 'cave'. Hell, Earl hates anyone who isn't the Bat. He'd have me out if he could.

Screw Earl. Kevlar or no, Jimmy is one of us. They just work plain-clothes on Team Superman.

I've still got the Claudia Bromley show on the main screen, but she's in reruns. We split it with a baseball game and kick back. He catches me up with the Metro gossip. All the dirt on friends I don't see much these days. I'd love to get in another game of pool at the Solitary Cyclist, but between work and Wing it seems like there's just no time.

Knights vs. Giants, and for once the Knights aren't having their asses handed to them. Good for me. I have ten buck riding on this with Sargent Amy. Not that she loves the Giant's, but like any good 'Havener nowadays she hates the Knight's. Another five with Jimmy. Looks like next pizza's on me.

Bruce comes by and steals a piece. He likes pizza. He just can't bring himself to order it.

Monitor duty's actually fun with Jimmy there. He's got this strange twist of thought that makes it a weird game. He's warped sometimes, but he's always fun. It's his idea to use the directional mikes to put the Hornet hum in her ear. We nail her in her office while she's greeting Mothers Against Drunk Driving. No one else can hear it. It's real.

We nail her again in the ladies room. Get to see her scramble for the mike. Fat chance. This is Bat-Tech. Her face is priceless. Jimmy's right. People are always more fun with their pants down.

Clark drops by. Eats the last of the pizza. More sniffs from Earl. Don't know if Earl know's who Clark is. Don't think so. Kato doesn't, so it's all 'Clark' anyway. Wouldn't make any difference to Earl. He's probably the only man on the planet who wouldn't roll over for the blue-and-red. He likes the Bat and no one else.

Me? Clark I like. Superman was my boyhood hero, but that's..being a kid. Everyone has someone. At least Superman is real. Bruce swooned over a TV show. Dead serious. I never make Gray Ghost jokes.

Bruce goes off to do Bruce Wayne things. Lucius wants to buy some radio stations. To go with the TV station he got last year. He says its to diversify. I think he's just pissed because Bruce wouldn't let him go after the Daily Planet. As if. Don't care what it looks like, Bruce is not suicidal.

Clark goes over to talk with Kato. Not like an interview. This story goes to Lois. More like he's just curious. Makes me wonder just who Clark's boyhood hero's were.

On the way out, Jimmy talks Clark into planting a Hornet right in the middle of her windshield. While she's driving. Superspeed can be a real trick. I worry she'll freak, but Clark promises to catch her if she goes off the road. I make him promise to wait until she's off the freeway.

Lois and Linda? They're at the hotel doing lunch. Chick thing. Hair and nails. Probably going stare-down over the story. They're both sort of aggressive. In a good way. But they take this whole press thing so seriously. So does Clark. Once you know him. He's quiet, but he's real. I know Bruce thinks the whole reporter gimmick is some weird persona thing, but I hang around the Met more than he does. I don't think so.



Eight p.m. Zero hour minus four. Press check in. To many people to be invisible but who cares. It's too late for warnings. Earl has two junkers waiting. One way ticket. We'll ditch them down the road. With any luck we won't need them again.

End Chapter Ten


KKR - 2003







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