Night of the Hornet
Chapter 5: Distant Humming
Disclaimer: Everyone you recognize belongs to someone else. Even the folks you don't recognize. I they were mine I would treat them better.
Slash: Just relaxing, so relax already.
By the time we reach Copper Flats I know more than I ever cared to about mining silver. And about mine claim law. And mine management. And about early cold war politics. We also covered mine construction and explosives, but that was interesting. Go up to sit second seat while Bruce lands the place. Just a formality. He hates my driving.
There is no hanger space. Proof that we are ten miles from nowhere. Bruce follows what passes for tower instructions, taxi-ing over to park on one side of the field. A tight fit. The small Lear jet is still twice the size of anything on the field. Mostly civil air and a few crop dusters. The only thing bigger is a fire plane with forestry service markings. It has the lone hanger. We end up parked out in sight of everyone and his brother. The only good point is that we are also within sight of the only hotel in town. Long two-story stucco box. Asphalt lot and a pit of Clorox in concrete passing for a pool. The Flyon -Inn. Hardly the Hilton, but it keeps us near our plane and our gear. I'd rather sleep in a hanger.
Whole town is 'in sight', Four buildings. Five, if you count the 'tower', which is a two story prefab with a wind-sock on top. Hotel, gas station with parts shop, general store advertising 'cold beer', and a post office. None of which look to be doing any business. A few houses farther out I saw from the air.
We, at least, are doing business. The plane is still rolling when a jeep pulls alongside.
Nice paint job, current model. Carrying our Mining Engineer. Twenty-something in starched jeans.I recognize him from his picture. He jumps out and meets us at the bottom of the ramp.
"Hi. I'm Charlie Orsdale. Van-Orsdale Metals and Mines." He shakes my hand. He is practically shaking his tail, he's so eager to make a good impression.
"Dick Grayson." A pause. I'm not on his list of people to impress, but he doesn't want to blow me off either. Not until he knows for sure that he can. " Mr. Ikano Kato, and my boss, Bruce Wayne."
No clues. Let him take his chances.
"Mr. Wayne. Such a pleasure. Everyones delighted that you're taking an interest in the Silver Ghost. Really, there's so much potential in this area. Silver is headed up, and with new techniques, I want you to know that..."
I tune him out. Bruce lets him run, but doesn't bother to listen. He's heard the speech before. If Charlie says anything of interest, Bruce can remember it later. I focus on the terrain. Flat red dirt and dead brown scrub. Seriously hot. And on the driver. Seriously blonde. She exits the jeep slowly, and with a good deal of style. Wide green eyes with laser targeting. Ignoring me with the same ease that she ignores her business partner, she focus on Bruce.
"Mr. Kato. Mr. Wayne. " She brings out a smile that ought to be registered. "I'm Elizabeth Van. Call me Liz."
A 'girlie' handshake. One that passes, but leaves you feeling you really should have kissed it. But subtle. She is good.
"It's wonderful what you're doing for this community."
Not that he's done anything yet. Who cares, it sounds good.
"If there's anything I can do; show you around, introduce people, I'd be delighted. I'm a Nevada girl, you know. My folks have a ranch up north."
Anything social where she can show him off like a charm bracelet.
I'm not jealous. Just nauseated. I used to wonder how Bruce could tolerate it, until I realized that he literally does not notice. He's not oblivious, exactly. He's too well trained as an observer to miss anything. It's more...syncophancy is like gravity. Always there. You know it exists, but you don't notice it.
She's doing a great job. Keeping Bruce Wayne in the center of her charm, including Mr. Kato, not cutting out her own partner completely...hard work totally wasted. Bruce is a great guy to work for - or a merciless bastard. It all depends on you. The competent and loyal are cherished. The others aren't around long enough to complain. Not that he doesn't have some real friends, even outside the cave. It's just that competent and loyal comes first. Always.
While they natter on, trying to impress the boss, another vehicle drives in. Cadillac pickup truck. Heavy engine sound. As new as the jeep, but with a lot more road. Gun rack but no rifle. Grey Mountain blankets over the seats. Bruce doesn't turn. Doesn't have to. I have point. I hear Kato sniff. Car snob. OK, so Mercedes builds better heavy trucks. Maybe the owner was into buying American. Truck pulls up on the far side of the jeep. Wind burned man in Levi's and Pendelton gets out. Lace up workboots. Not a cowboy. Real pawn conch belt. Black hair under the grey. Deep tan. Hard to date him. A true local, with as much road wear as his truck. Probably as tough an engine too.
"Hey" Pronounced with the a on the end. Definitely local. His gesture manages to include everyone. Impressive. "Eddie Begay. Pleased ta meet ya". I knew that name, as he expected we would. Manager for the Silver Trail, the closest Argente mine still in operation. Someone for Bruce to meet, but not someone who has to come meet Bruce. Either he's just a plain nice guy, or he really wants to hand off the Silver Ghost. Could be both. Handshakes all around. Firm. "Let's get this show inside and out of the sun. Luggage?"
What I bring down, he grabs and throws in the bed of his truck. Hardly necessary. We're standing within a hundred yards of the front door. But smart. I like his style.
The rest of us walk while he drives, backing his tailgate to the front door with cheerful disregard for the concept of lawn or road. Not that much of either is evident. Then he leaves it there. No one in the hotel seems to object. Obviously not many more guests expected.
He pushes until everyone's settled in the hotel bar. Dark and a bit shabby. Pool table and beer clocks. Tough looking fifty-something guy wiping glasses. Decent operation. Looks like it sees more business then the hotel. Seems to replace the lobby, since except for the bartender the whole floor is empty. Begay orders beers all around , then leans down the hall and shouts for the manager. Different, but it works. Another local by the accent, she bustles in to hand out beers and keys while happily running Bruce's platinum card. I head up to the bartender and ask for a Zesti. Not a problem. He recognizes I'm working. We talk. Turns out he's married to the manager. They run it for her folks. I was right about the scarcity of other guests. Apparently, we are it. Except for the forestry service folks currently out in the field. Gives us our choice of rooms. I put the engineering pair down by the so-called pool, then pick the far end for Bruce, Mr. Kato, and myself. For the 'quiet'. Like a hundred feet will make a difference in this wasteland. Still, it is the end nearest our plane.
While they settle in I place a call to the local sheriff. He knows my name, which means either that he read his faxes or that we were hot local gossip. Likely both, but my bets on the gossip. Local law's never thrilled about an outsider in the jurisdiction, but he's being polite about it. Silver means jobs. If Wayne Enterprises brings those, then its citified owner can bring a flashy bodyguard and no grief given. Nevada is an open carry state, with automatic concealed permit for peace officers, but the sheriff could have made me sign in. He spared me a drive over to Perdition, so I have no complaints.
Our three locals look like they might settle into the bar at least through lunch, but Bruce has a way of getting action. As soon as the luggage hits the rooms Van and Orsdale are loaded back into their jeep along with a box lunch, and we are off to the Silver Ghost. Seats are tight, so I volunteer to ride with Eddie Begay. Good choice. He has some great stories of the silver rush days. All bull, I'm sure, but still great. Turns out to be older than he looks. He remembers the death of the Hornet. Tells me all about it. I don't even have to ask. Guess not much else has happened lately, cause that is the great local legend. His version gives the perps as moonshiners, with no mention of Elliot Ness or atomic bombs. No mention of the Green Hornet or Kato either. Just lots of local heros, with the old sheriff's posse and a big shootout. Forget the facts. Storytelling is an art. His keeps me interested until we reach the mine gates.
There is the usual shuffling around you get with civilians. The mine engineers had clearly been out the day before. The lift is working, and appropriate lights and hard hats have been left just inside. Begay takes the lead, herding Bruce's pricey consultants before him like sheep. Reasonable analogy. Cheerful Charlie is till trying to impress the money men with insights he doesn't have, while blondie is posing for the Miner's Gazette Swimsuit Edition. Must have been a fun ride. Bruce acts patient, but he's not. Figure these two for short careers. Miss Van seems glued to Bruce, so Begay and Kato go first, leaving me to bring Charlie along in the rear. Good plan. Follow someone who knows what they're doing.
For an abandoned mine I'd guess it to be in fine shape. Shoring looked steady. Equipment well oiled. Ventilation worked quietly. My respect for Begay goes up another notch. His prep crew had done their job. A constant odor of guano, but that I'm used to. We keep the Batcave clean. Filtered air and water, sonic varmint controls, but once you leave the work area... it's a cave. Caves have bats. Bats shit. You learn to ignore it.
The usual tour. A decent sales pitch, but Begay can spin a yarn. I half listen, paying more attention to planting bat-bugs and sonic markers without being noticed. Checking spots with my micro Geiger counter. It helps that Orsdale basically ignores me, having figured me for hired muscle. Works for me. 'Miss Nevada' is 'active listening' on Bruce. She wouldn't hear the Batcopter if it landed on her. Poor Bruce. Sometimes he suggests he should just 'come out' and hope it puts an end to the bimbo brigade. But he knows it wouldn't. It would double it.
Begay gives a first class tour. Upbeat but honest. At least, if he lies outright I don't catch it. Keeps us to the upper levels, but shows enough of the actual operation to keep it from being a total dog and pony show. Gets Orsdale making optimistic noises, at any rate. With what Bruce could pay, I figured Orsdale would gladly mine snow in Sudan, but maybe reopening this place really is a good idea. Nice thing for the locals if it is. I'll ask Bruce when we get back to the hotel.
We head back to the surface for lunch. Turkey sandwiches and potato salad, washed down with Zesti. Not exactly the Pennyworth diet. Bruce will be on tofu for a week when he gets home. I take mine and scout the terrain while Bruce and Kato sit and looked interested. Low ground. Makes sense. It's a mine. For us? I call it a draw. Hard to defend, but good for concealment. Lights show farther than you think in a desert night. Here...with the doors closed it should be safe to work with the shaft lights on. I stroll down the old road a bit, checking out a few ruined shacks. No threat, possible hiding place.
After lunch Begay hikes everyone around place, pointing out the secondary shafts locally and some supposedly interesting geology in the distance. I'll take his word for it. I think the real purpose is to wear out the city folk and get us back to the bar for drinks before dinner. Out of mercy I let Kato ride back with Begay. Bruce needs it more, but it would take a crowbar to pry off 'Betsy Boobs'.
The ride back is grim. I view it as endurance training. With Begay out of earshot, Charlie and Liz are desperate to figure out which way Bruce is thinking on the mine deal. Desmond could have hired them for interrogators. Bruce smiles and makes positive noises, which makes Cheerful Charlie practically giddy. Mental note. I don't care what Bruce does with the mine, but Van and Orsdale are O*U*T of the deal. I saw where her hand went.
I pass up a wet dinner for a wet shower. The manager brings her husband's Blue Plate Special up to the room so I can eat while I work. Chicken fried steak with home fries and biscuits. Extra white gravy. Ritz apple pie. Cholesterol heaven. I figured I can work it off. Will, if Bruce has anything to say about it. And he will. I also get to hear all about his dinner order. Broiled chicken and rice. No desert. NO booze. Her husband disapproves - loudly . "Man caint stay healthy if he don't eat." I must remember to tell Bruce.
Touch base with Babs. Cassandra called her from Hawaii. She made it over OK and is settling in. Nothing much in Gotham, thank God. Azeral is behaving. Huntress is watching some probable gun runners in Bludhaven, but thinks it can wait. Tim has called in. Said his friend is checking out the Bromley place. Nothing more yet. Maybe by morning.
I take off my shoes and sack out for an hour. In this biz you sleep when you can. Wake when I heard Bruce outside the door.
"Nothing major. Tim's secret agent is still out." I watch him undress, fatigue showing in his careful movements. Dead tired, and he still hangs his clothes up - perfectly. Thank God Alfred only got me when I was nine. Old enough to resist indoctrination. "Lay down and I'll rub your back." He does.
He needs it. I may have flaked out on some of my college classes, but I paid attention in Physical Therapy. Close attention. Get in the vigilante business and, unless your Superman, you're going to spend time in rehab. I grab the lanolin and start on his shoulders. Bruce won't touch the stuff because it softens calluses. Doesn't worry me. I'm not as skilled at Karate as he is. To much strength involved. I depend more on the judo styles. And my sticks. He needs it, though, for the skin flexibility. He's a big man for a gymnast. With more then twenty years of strength training. High muscle density. Heavy bones. He can't risk stiffening up. Well, I smile to myself, not his back at any rate.
"What time do we go out?"
"Two. Bar closes at one."
OK. An hour for the drunks to pass out and the good people to go to sleep. Sunrise at 6:15. That gave us three hours of heavy dark. Tight but doable.
"Holding up." I knew it must have been rough on him, coming back to the site of Brit's ... assassination. Walking those tunnels. Even if we hadn't gone down to the destroyed level. The ghost had his own ghosts, and they walked here. "He'll be ready."
"Tell him to sleep. I'll wake him at 1:30"....
It was rough on us too. I roll him into my arms. Not much time, but enough. I rumple his trousers, but it doesn't matter. He has better thinks on his mind. And on his cock. Like my lips. I am always amazed by the miracle of that velvet flesh filling and lengthening. So much so that it distracts me until the rough tug of denim brings me back. Bruce, rotated and paralleled so his cheek reaches my thigh. Buttons are harder then zippers, denim stiffer them wool. I raise my hips, letting him push fabric away from the goal of his desire. I am hard already. an the first damp stroke of his tongue across the head brings out a groan.
Bad thing. The walls in this place are thin.
I stifle my cries with the nearest thing at hand. His cock. Taking it deep into my throat, I let the sensitive flesh absorb the vibrations wrought by it's owners mouth. A mouth which responds with more and stronger licks. Which brings out more moans and whimpers to tease his eager rod. Precious feedback, and all too relished, because within seconds we are both spurting, to frantic with pleasure and haste to be subtle.
A moment to breath, then I kick my jeans off my ankles to land at the foot of the bed. I pull off Bruces shirt and trousers, shaking then lightly before folding them one-handed over a chair back. Alfred would be appalled, but... I urge my tired lover up to the pillows,and into my arms.
"You sleep, Bruce. I'll stay here."
End Chapter Five
KKR - 2003