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Night of the Hornet

Chapter 8: The Hornet's Nest

Disclaimer: DC or Warner Brothers or somebody owns the Bat. Ghod knows who owns the Hornet. Not me. And you'll see Satan in Sears buying snowplows long before anybody pays me to write this.

Slash: WARNING!!! Very Offensive Language!!!! Not Just Dirty Words!!!! Evil people are not PC!!! Also, yes, sex.

From the air-cam I get my first good look at the Hornet's Nest. Definitely digs to kill for. Big brick box with green shutters and white pillars out front. Maybe not quite the gothic pile I sometimes call home, but imposing in a chilly Federalist way. Real super-hero digs. Don't know what it is about Victorian architecture that makes men want to go around wearing masks, but there it is.

Very pre-war inside. International style and Bahus. Leather and wood. Lots of cash for no comfort. With all the money she stole you think she could spring for a new couch. No dice.

Library on the east side. The kind where no one reads the books. Big oak slab of a desk covered with files. Fancy french doors. Perfect to let in the light. And the Hornets.

"Good evening, Miss Bromley." A voice behind her ear. Claudia Bromley spins in the leather chair that had obscured her rear view. Her right hand claws beneath the desk for the pistol she believes is there.

"Ka.." The vision struck her dumb. That mask. That uniform. That..oh shit!..that gun! Her brain seemed torn between remembering how to breath and trying to remember how lethal the gas-gun was. "Wha.." Her fingers touched her hidden pistol. With a shake she struggled back to composure. "What are you doing here?"

"Did you not wish to see me?" His empty hand touching one thick file on her desk. "Such effort for a goal one does not desire."

Seeing his gaze elsewhere, she takes her chance. The moment the barrel clears the desk her finger clenches on the trigger, and again, and again. To her horror, the only sound is a hollow click.

Kato smiles, stepping back. "So unwelcomeing to an old friend. After all these years, is it still jealousy, or only greed?"

She drops the gun and jumps for the alarm button. On impact, it sounds. Security will be there soon. But when she looks up, the room is empty. Empty except for a small paper disk. The sign of the Green Hornet.

We watch her on the monitors, seeing and hearing through the bugs Kato has planted. Watch her guards arrive. Watch them leave, shaking their heads. Watch her check the locks, and find them closed. Watch her grab the phone and dial.

"Henderson. I want double security. Now. Yes, I mean tonight. NOW!"

She curses as she slammed down the phone. "Damn shack is full of tunnels. I thought Britt showed me all of them, but who knows. Panzy gook bastard. Always was full of tricky shit. " She reaches down for the card, but it's vanished. Shaking her head, she crosses the room to the wet bar. "Fuck him!" She pulls out a bottle and pours a hefty shot. "Somehow...somehow I can take care of this." The first sip of bourbon seems to clear her head. "Think! What does the bastard want? And can I afford to give it to him? Better", she smiles "can I make him think I'll give it to him. 'Cause I damn well will give it to him. Give it to him good. The next time I see that faggot there damn sure will be bullets in my gun." Slamming back the rest of her drink, she drops the glass to the desk.

She reaches for the phone. then pulls back. " No. No witnesses. Little Claudie handles this herself!"

Pep talk over, she straightens. I can tell from her posture she feels back in control.

Another drink. Number four. She's seriously worried and it shows. I was hoping she would go to bed and let the rest of us get some sleep. No luck. It's about 2 a.m., well into my boredom range, when she suddenly jumps into action. Grabs her keys and heads out the door. I almost hoped for a lucky cop, but what fools going to bust a Senator DUA? Besides, we had to find out where she was headed.

No visual, but the automobile tracer shows bright on our radar. Staying in town. Good. Harder to tag someone in the country. She drives fairly well, and at this time of night the roads are empty. Let that quiet my conscience.

The moment she passes her gate the Bat is back in. Perfect opportunity. The guards are all so dutifully staring outside. I split the screen to watch him. A quick check of her desk, her hidden cabinet behind the bookshelves, and of course the safe. Cash, a little coke, and some papers. That last must be interesting. He takes the time to photograph a few of the sheets. Incriminating, I hope.

Short drive. In less then twenty minutes she is stopped again. Inside parking. Computer says 14th and Riverway. Old Courthouse Square. The Hall of Records. Also the offices of Scranton, Bromley, Didrich & Witherspoon. Seems she dropped the practice but kept the key. Good perp. Walk on in.

Pick her up again when she crosses the security cameras. Broadcast model. Easy to tap. Second basement. Record storage. Fuzzy feed now, but I don't need much to know where she is going. Beeline straight for the magic will. Big relief that it's still there. (Thinks you!) Grabs it file and all and fires up the shredder. Thirty seconds and the will is legal linguine. She's halfway turned to leave when she catches sight of the card that dropped from the file. The mark of the Green Hornet.

No quite as steady a driver on the way home, but she makes it. One more drink before bed. Leaves the lights on. About time the bitch was afraid of the dark.

The 'dark' makes it home a little after she does. When she wakes up she'll find another card beside her bed. This time there will be a note. "Missing you." Yeh. But his aim is improving. I can't wait to see her face.

I have dinner waiting. Seafood pasta. Starch and protein. Strong tea with extra sugar. Kato's near the shakes from burning adrenaline. Fifty years out of practice at getting shot. Doesn't matter. On stage he was perfect. Bruce is hyped too, but he covers it better. More recent experience.

We go over what they saw of her security. I run tape of the monitor. Pull off pictures of her security goons to send to Oracle. Batman took a few more of the outside guys. Four in all. Two dogs. And this is her standard. 'The weed of crime bears bitter fruit'. Was that the Hornet? Guess she's afraid of running into someone like herself.

I dump the digital camera and send a copy off to Kent. Interesting stuff, Nothing as lethal as we'd like, but her coffin needs every nail that we can forge.

Thinking of forged, I place another call to our 'will' specialist. Nice thing about forgeries. You can get as many of them as you want. The now-missing testament should be back in it's file by morning.

It's past sunrise before we're finished. Kato goes straight to bed. He's tough, but he's still 70 something.

Bruce is too wired to sleep. More then usual for such a simple outing, but he's backing up someone new. Also, I think he feels strange with Kato being so old. This is a young man's game. Mostly. Garrick is older than Kato - I think. But it doesn't seem the same with speedsters. Wildcat's sort of immortal. Judomaster got suspended in time or something. Kato....he's just a guy. I try to imagine Bruce at seventy. I can't.

We try working out for a while. Necessary. We're both behind schedule. Bad idea. To much adrenaline for gymnastics and to tired for weights. Stupid time to risk injury. One more choice.
My favorite. I reach over and give him a great big kiss.

I know. I've sworn off the manipulation stuff. And Bruce promised to back off on the control. But there's also the responsibility to take care of a partner. And it's not like I'm faking it or anything. So if a good blow-job works for both of us? Go for it.

And he does. He always does.

That was one of our issues. One of the two biggies. Bruce doesn't like wanting something he doesn't own. I refuse to be owned. It got unhealthy for a while. But we are past that. We look out for each other, but out of love.

Much more relaxed, Bruce is working out with freeweights when Kato rejoins us. I have a CD in and am doing my long floor routine. Double cut of the Boss. 'No Surrender' and 'Dancing in the Dark'. One more reason I never considered the Olympics. The judges have crappy taste in music.

Kato joins us. Suited up. He goes through his warm ups while Batman brings him up to date. Then some mat work. Kato's still damn good, and the Bat loves learning a new opponent.

Bromley spends the day in her private office nursing a hangover and a severe case of paranoia. She'd searched her office for bugs first thing this morning. Found a few, but not ours. So we'd had her on the monitor like a soap opera all day. Oracle had tapped her phone, so we got to enjoy the various threats she sent to her less public 'employees'. Real fun. We even had her half believing the Hornet was back. At least she was willing to put a price on his head. Stopped herself, but still. I love the way panic turns the mooks stupid. I mean, she saw him dead. She buried him. We're not talking Superman here. Tim suggested she should pay herself. Brat.

Ikano Kato showing up in Copper Flats has triggered her net, but nowhere near soon enough for her to get a tail on him. She had her pet detective running the hotels. No imagination. Finds a few of the names Babs put out for him. Idiot. Alfred reports a watcher at Wayne Manor. Another looser doing park-n-peek. Amazing the bum is still in business. Oracle caught a worm check on credit cards, which was slightly illegal and totally ineffective. Like we carry credit cards that say 'super-hero'.

Actually, I think Batman does. Have a credit card. So does Kal-El. Some Justice League thing. American Express, I think. For when they don't have the local cash.

The double guards were in place at the house, but they weren't taking it seriously. From their talk, they took her for a ditz or a drunk. Maybe both. It should be easier to walk in now then it was last night. Called the police chief and had the local cops put on notice, but they were taking their attititude from the rent-boys. Made me embarrassed for my profession. Hey, if they screwed around enough, maybe she'd insist on a real cop. Detective John Jones, for instance. Maybe he should volunteer for this post. Or Detective Knight. He could keep a real close eye on her health. Hell, wish for Barry Allen while I was at it. The visual gave me a laugh. Like she'd let anyone she didn't own within fifty feet.

She even called some spook at the FBI. Who listened. Like they have some department of ghosts-who-came-back-from-the-dead. I thought it was a hoot. Batman took the names for later investigation. Tough luck. Brother should be more careful who he hangs with.

All told, she was right on schedule to make this work.

Seven o'clock. Bromley gets a ride to her club. Doesn't want to be alone. Good She's cut back on the booze and cleaned up for the show. Wont last.

Nice place. Twenties art-deco architecture with a yuppi designer veneer. Old money and new. Useful mix.

Senator Claudia Bromley in center screen. It's prime time as she meets and greets.

Air-kiss for Judge MacRae. Best keep the law happy. Even presidents fear a federal judge.

Handshake for Halpern. Real estate developer type. Major Bromley contributor. He needs her votes.

Air kiss for Anne Nagel. Editor of the rival Central Press-Times. Editors are honorary members of all these clubs, especially the ones with pretensions. Rule I learned from Clark. Never pick a fight with folks who buy their ink in barrels.

Smile at Mayor Caldon. Other party, but he loves the money she brings to the city. Count him as her ally. For now.

Shovel the charm. These folks are the powers of Central City and if it comes to a slinging match she damn-sure wants them on her side.

She picks at her salad. Busy chatting with the table. Second drink but she's maintaining. A smattering of applause. Not for the rubber chicken starting to be served. Tonights speaker is being introduced. Perfect time.

Two waiters approach with plates. No one even looks up. Too busy trashing the guest of honor. The older man is gone from the room before Claudia notices something wrong with her fork. Good girl. Look down.

Zoom in for a perfect shot. There, right on her plate. The seal of the Green Hornet.

They send her home in a taxi. Everyone is publicly sympathetic, but since the seal has vanished, they privately think she's nuts. Or a drunk. Which she is. I leave the tap on for a while. These shindigs aren't so bad when I go like this.

Eleven o'clock. She's had a few more drinks, but not enough to impair her driving. Her judgment, maybe. I didn't give a damn about that. But this will work better if she keeps the car on the road. Perfect time for a phone call from the past.

"Miss Bromley" She starts as if the voice was someone there " are you not glad to hear from your old friends? We have so much to discuss. So much past. So many......memories."

She's hitting the recording device on her phone. Mental note; aren't the silent taps illegal in this state? For a lawmaker she's a regular scofflaw. Won't work. Batman 'fixed' that to.

"What do you want." To the point. And to the tape.

"To talk. About old times.....and about the future. You have quite a future, I hear. The news people, they mention your name as a Vice President. Quite a high honor, would you not agree."

"I have no reason to deal with you." She tries for firm, but I think I detect a waver in her voice. I glance down at the panel. Speech analyzer confirms.

"You have many reasons. Forty million reasons." Give her a moment to let that sink in. "Let us start with say - fifty thousand. Tonight. The Straight Shooter's Road House. North end of the McNider Bridge."

"Or else?"

"Ahh. I see you have forgotten our happy past. I may have to remind you. Midnight. Tonight."

Perfect. He cut the link.

Batman had the monitor. I was watching over his shoulder. I stepped back as he stood.

She had the cash. In bundled bills in the library safe. Batman had checked it out before he had picked the amount. Dumb place to keep money.

We left Earl to watch her jump around. He'd call if anything happened to change the plan. But she'd be there. And we'd be there waiting. I did pause one moment to watch her play back the tape. No voice but hers. The look on her face was priceless. Some days I know why I love this job.

End Chapter 8

KKR - 2003

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