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Sharp: Part III
Light forced its way into Curare’s eyes. She groaned and put her arms against her face, trying to block out the annoyance. Right now she didn’t care; every part of her body hurt, and she just wanted to rest and make it all go away.
Then she remembered who and where she was.
With training-enhanced quickness, she grabbed a dagger from her belt and threw it at the first form she saw. Then she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and looked up to see Batman sitting in a chair looking very surprised, her dagger sunk into the cushion a couple inches from his neck.
Curare sighed and rubbed her eyes again. Fortunately my aim was not back yet. Wait…fortunately? She growled softly and clenched her fist.
“Nice to see you, too,” Batman said.
“Where’s Mutro?” Curare asked, still covering her eyes.
“Jail,” Batman replied matter-of-factly.
“Jail!” Curare exclaimed. The hand moved from her face and she glared at Batman. He just silently stared back at her. Curare growled and threw up her arms in exasperation. “Why are you here? You do nothing right.”
“I saved you,” Batman said. “Mutro would have killed you. Had I not come, you would be dead right now.” He looked away. “I almost didn’t come.”
“Then why did you?”
Batman looked her in the eye for a few moments. “For the immense gratitude I would receive afterwards,” he finally said.
Curare huffed and got out of the bed she was lying in. His remark confused her, but she put it in the back of her mind and took to examining her environment. It was the same hotel, but the room layout was different. “Where are we?” she asked.
“I hacked us into another room,” Batman said. “I figured we didn’t want to stay in a room with a broken window.”
Curare walked to the window and looked out at the city. The sun was setting, casting a soft red glow on the city. “We’ve lost time,” she commented.
“It’s not my fault,” Batman said. “You were sleeping the whole day.”
Curare shivered in anger. How dare he act superior to me!
Batman stood and walked over to her. “I searched Mutro’s room and found this message for him. What do you make of it?”
She snatched the printout from his hand without looking and brought it to her face. As she read, her eyes widened in surprise. The Society of Assassins is gathering? This move is unprecedented. Undoubtedly, it is meant to draw me in. She sighed. I did not want to battle the whole Society, but this may work to my advantage. She scanned through the note again and looked at the name of the person who sent it. All other thoughts left her mind as she read that one word. Fire brewed in her heart and she clenched the note in her fist.
A deep growl issued from her throat as memories flooded back. She was interrupted by a hand on her shoulder.
“Are you alright?” Batman asked.
She turned to him and relished the way he shrunk back in fear at the fierceness in her eyes. She tossed the note back to him and turned to the window. “Our path is plain,” she said. “We leave for soonest flight to Qari.” She reached out and opened the window.
“Where are you going?” Batman asked.
“…to get some fresh air,” she said, and then she was gone, leaving Terry with more questions.
In her dreams, she twisted in torment. It was the same room, hadn’t changed a damn bit. The cold metallic walls locked her in. This was her prison, many hours at a time. She had learned to force herself to sleep, in order to give herself an advantage. But it still wasn’t enough.
The door slid open, revealing the metal jungle around her room. Pipes, platforms, and cables stretched and criss-crossed all around. It was her playground, how she got her daily exercise. She knew that if she didn’t leave her room, a gas would appear that would give her a nasty headache when she woke up. She had no choice but to venture out.
Not that she needed one. She could see the form of her tormentor, barely visible in the shadowy room. She could even hear his voice. “Come on out, Blueskin,” he said, mockingly. “Who knows, you might actually touch me today.”
Curare growled and drew her sword for what seemed like the millionth time. What was the trick this time? Were there hidden dart launchers? Perhaps self-coiling cables that would wrap around her when she grabbed them. Every time it was a new trap, the one thing that always kept her from succeeding. But she knew that the one time she got close enough, when she finally killed him, she would be free.
Her lithe, teenage body leapt out into the arena. As soon as her foot touched the platform, an electric shock ran through her body. She gasped in pain, her sword slipped in her hand, and then it was gone. She caught her breath for a moment, wondering what had happened, when the shock came again. She jumped and held onto a cable above her head. Her mind quickly grasped the situation: timed electric pulses were being sent through the entire structure. Not only did she have to concentrate on reaching her captor, but she had to count the time between shocks so she wouldn’t lose her edge. It was doable.
She concentrated on his form in the shadows and attacked. The two played a game of cat and mouse, chasing each other through the steel jungle and jumping every several seconds. The slightest error would cost either of them. Curare’s mind was strained, trying to keep track of when the next pulse would come in addition to maneuvering and dodging the darts her tormentor shot back at her.
Eventually, she came close enough to see his black suit and brown hair. He realized her proximity and turned to face her. They engaged in a furious swordfight, both participants jumping as one to avoid the electric shocks. Many years of this torture had honed Curare’s moves, for she had learned from many failures.
At one point, her opponent jumped early. Responding to his moves, she jumped as well, parrying his two thrusts, but electric pain wracked her body when she touched the metal again. He was unaffected. As she fell to the ground, the painful truth entered her head that his rubber boots were protecting him the whole time. She knew what was coming next.
“You trusted me!” Mikael yelled in disgust and struck her across the head. Her body was flung onto a lower platform, where a fresh shock tortured her body. Then he jumped down and temporarily ended her agony with unconsciousness.
Curare woke with someone shaking her arm. Her body was cold with sweat. She turned over, taking in the sounds of the airplane, and looked at Batman.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
She brushed away his hand. “Of course,” she replied.
“You were shaking in your sleep,” Batman said. “It woke me.”
Her eyes narrowed in anger. “And why should I care?” she asked venomously.
Batman sighed and walked away. Curare turned back over, cursing herself. That was the strongest dream she’d had in years. Normally she was able to keep her training far from her mind, but the fact that he would be there must have rattled her. She sighed and wrapped her cape tightly around herself. It would be over soon.
Batman sat and watched her quiet body. He didn’t care how much he didn’t like her; no one deserved to have a nightmare that bad. It had sounded almost like Curare was fighting someone. He wondered if it had to do with the name on the note. Mikael, he believed it was. For some reason, that name had sparked her fury back at the hotel. Whoever this guy was, she hated him more than Batman!
Batman leaned back against the cold wall of the airplane. He had sent Ralek’s net gloves to Wayne, along with a note explaining how things were going. As he leaned his head against the cool metal of the plane, he wondered what was happening back home. He felt a pang when he thought of Mom, Dana, and the others so far away. As he looked at the sleeping assassin across the plane from him, he hoped that he would make it home alive.
An alert sounded in Batman’s visor. He stood and addressed Curare. “My GPS sensor says we’re here,” he said.
Curare flicked her cape off of her and stood up. For a moment, Batman saw the fatigue in her eyes. She seemed almost human then. But the moment was quickly gone as Curare regained control of her facial features. He wondered what she was hiding under that mask, if she felt just as nervous as he did.
“I feel the same way before a chemistry test,” Batman offered.
Curare stared at him. “You are the most imbecilic person I have ever met,” she said. She then reached down, cut a hole in the plane floor and jumped out. Batman followed her. He spread his wings and glided along as Curare deployed her parachute and fell with him.
Batman took a moment to admire the landscape. There wasn’t much to admire. Desert stretched as far as he could see, broken only by a small settlement a couple miles from them. “Is that where we’re heading?” Batman shouted to Curare. She merely nodded back to him.
The Society of Assassins’s gathering place was not near any airport. Apparently, the Society had arrived earlier and traveled together to their hideout. For Batman and Curare, she insisted to take the quickest route by jumping mid-flight and landing nearby.
Batman watched Curare, floating so self-assuredly. He couldn’t resist the temptation to rattle her, just loosed her up a bit. He triggered a batarang into his hands and threw it at Curare’s parachute. The lines attaching her to the swelling fabric snapped and she plummeted, eyes wide in surprise. Batman swooped in and grabbed the lines, grunting softly under the added weight.
Curare proceeded to curse vehemently at him. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she exclaimed.
“I just thought you needed to lighten up a bit,” Batman replied.
“I will kill you,” Curare said in a low voice.
From anyone else that would have been an innocent joke. “I thought you needed me to help you fight the Society?” he asked hopefully.
“I don’t want you dead; that doesn’t mean I like you,” Curare responded.
Batman remained silent as he carried Curare to the ground. When they landed, she turned, whipped out her sword, and cut off one of Batman’s cowl-ears. He barely had time to react.
“Let that be your lesson,” Curare said, pointing the sword threateningly under Batman’s throat. She then turned and started walking towards the village.
Conversation was dead during the journey to the small village. Batman wondered if he shouldn’t have pulled that stunt with her. You’re toying with dangerous things, he reminded himself. One wrong move and you’re dead.
As they neared the settlement, small children ran out to greet them, unfazed by fears of curiously dressed strangers. The children laughed and ran in circles around them. Batman couldn’t help but smile at their requests in a language he couldn’t understand.
So far from the world and they still are innocent, he thought.
A blond-haired girl tripped and fell in front of Curare. To Batman’s amazement, she tenderly picked her up and set her back on her feet, patting her head. The girl smiled, missing teeth but making up for it with feeling. Curare laughed softly and patted her head.
Batman walked up beside her. “So you do have a soft spot,” he said.
Curare stood and looked at him. “Why do you care?” she asked.
Batman stared back at her. “Were you young once?” he asked.
She huffed, turned, and walked towards the village. “Your lack of tact never ceases to amaze me.”
I’ll figure you out yet, Curare, Batman thought.
Stares followed the uncanny duo as they walked through town. Batman felt a little uneasy by the attention, whispers behind barely open doors, but Curare retained her passive exterior and no one bothered them. Their destination was easy to locate. Batman pointed and Curare merely nodded in reply.
The building seemed ridiculously conspicuous. The steel cubical structure towered over the other ramshackle houses in the village. Batman wondered why a highly secret organization would choose to hide here. Then he looked around at the empty desert and ceased his wondering.
Before they crossed the street to their target, Curare jumped up onto a nearby house. Batman followed her. A shout of surprise and disgust sounded from inside, but the speaker didn’t press her point. Batman knelt and scanned the building with the binocular feature of his visor. Curare did the same with her experienced eyes.
He turned to her. “There seem to be no guards,” he said.
“Not human ones,” Curare said, still examining the walls. “Look closer. Try to find dart launchers, hidden rapid-fire cannons, anything that can be used against us.”
Batman turned back to the building. It was three stories, with a balcony stretching around the second and third floor. The small windows didn’t appear to have locking devices on them. No figures moved behind those windows. The building seemed empty. As Batman scanned, the gray exterior blended into a non-descript blur. “There’s nothing there,” he muttered under his breath.
“There’s something there,” Curare muttered back. “There has to be, unless…”
She turned and faced Batman. “They want us alive,” she said. “They’ll draw us in and ambush us. It looks fine on the outside, but the building is filled with dozens of dangerous assassins. Don’t let the innocent exterior fool you. You are entering into the fight of your life.
“I will not protect you. I will not rescue you. You are on your own. It is kill or be killed in there. No mercy will be shown to you. You are merely an obstacle that is in their way. Expect every possible trick. Expect every possible attack. Only then can we win.”
“Nice speech,” Batman said. “Does the next line go: ‘This is your last chance to back out’?”
Curare whipped her sword and cut off Batman’s other cowl-ear. “You back out now and I’ll kill you,” she said.
“You know,” Batman replied, “I kinda liked those ears.”
Curare sighed and shook her head. “Are you ever serious?”
“Then I’d stop enjoying this job.”
“This isn’t about enjoyment; this is about self-protection.”
Batman stood up. “Right. Then was your assassin job for self-protection? Did you enjoy that?”
Curare scrunched her eyes in irritation. “My reasons are my own.”
Batman sighed. Did he really expect an honest answer? “So, when do we go?”
Curare tensed her legs. Batman saw what was coming. “You really need to work on your teamwork skills,” he commented.
“Bite me,” Curare responded. Then she launched into the air, soaring across the street with a gas grenade in her hand. She tossed it through the window and followed through the broken glass into an erupting yellow cloud. Batman took a deep breath and followed her.
Inside the cloud of yellow gas, Curare’s senses scanned the hallway. The gas grenade would have triggered any motion-sensing traps, and there didn’t seem to be any further traps in the area. She stopped to develop a sense of direction and heard someone else enter through the window. She tensed for an attack, but relaxed when she saw it was Batman.
The gas dissipated and Batman and Curare resumed breathing. “Nice entrance,” Batman said.
But Curare wasn’t paying any attention. Two men were standing at a corner of the hallway. They were identical, from their facial features to their plain black outfits.
“Is this our welcoming party?” Batman joked.
“The Oldonso twins,” Curare muttered, then leapt into battle.
One twin shouted and rushed towards Batman. Batman tossed two batarangs, but the twin dodged them both and swept a kick at his head. Batman blocked with one arm, but the other leg swung around and collided with Batman’s side. Batman grunted, then grabbed both ankles and swung his attacker into a wall. The twin placed his hands against the wall and kicked up with his legs, crashing Batman’s head into the ceiling. Batman fell to the floor while the twin landed on his feet.
This guy’s way better than I am, Batman thought. I’ll have to level the playing field.
When the twin attacked again, Batman activated the electroshock lining in his suit. His fist touched Batman’s suit and instantly drew back from the shock. “How cheap of you,” the man said, and twisted his wrists, causing two knives to extend from them. Batman stepped back as the twin swiped his arms and grazed Batman’s chest.
“Just a scratch,” Batman said, poising himself for another attack.
“With poisoned blades,” the twin replied, stepping back and confidently crossing his arms.
Batman felt his muscles start to tighten. He tried to move his arms, but they seemed frozen and numb. The twin smiled at Batman’s growing dismay, and then his eyes opened wide in surprise. Batman closed his eyes as Curare’s blade came into vision. He heard the twin die.
Something sharp pricked his skin and he felt his muscles relax again. He opened his eyes and saw Curare toss a small needle to the ground. “You’ll be fine in a second,” Curare said. “That was the antidote.”
Batman lashed out and shoved Curare against the wall. He tried not to heave at the twin’s dead body. Curare’s eyes showed surprise and annoyance. She kicked up and kneed Batman in the stomach. He doubled over in pain as Curare pushed him away. “What is wrong with you?” she asked.
“Stop killing people!” Batman shouted.
“He was trying to kill you,” Curare said, as though this all was painfully obvious to her. “What more appropriate way is there to strike back?”
“You tried to kill me once, too,” Batman shot back. “Are you saying I should have killed you in return?”
There was a silence. Batman, breathing heavily, picked himself up and stretched his arm where it ached. “Doesn’t sound so good from the receiving end, does it,” Batman said.
“Don’t act superior to me,” Curare said coldly.
“I’m not,” Batman said. “You’re a better fighter than I am. You would have beaten me last time if I hadn’t had some help. Your skills are better, but your heart isn’t in the right place.”
“What heart?” Curare said, spreading her arms in exasperation. “How can you care so much?”
Batman was surprised by her question. “Because…people care for me, I guess,” Batman replied. “Didn’t anyone ever care for you?”
Hard anger came back to Curare’s eyes. “Not anymore,” she said. “They’re all gone.”
She started walking past Batman. “Where are you going?” he asked.
“They stole my life,” she said. “The only reason I stayed with the Society was to hone my skills, so eventually I could kill the one man who took everything from me.”
“Whatever he did,” Batman pleaded, “he doesn’t deserve to die. Put him in jail, so he’ll languish for the rest of his days.”
“I’d rather see him rot in hell!” Curare said, then took off. Batman gasped as she sprinted away from him.
I can’t let her do this, he thought. As he ran after her, he wondered what motivated him so much to help her. Why do I care so much? Because beneath all her anger, she’s the saddest person I’ve ever met, and she’s making the wrong choice.
The two raced through hallways, flying past gray doors and empty windows. Batman fought off the pain creeping up his side. For how long she’d been running from the Society of Assassins, Curare’s stamina hadn’t suffered. As they rounded another corner, Curare creeping further away from him, he wondered how he would restrain her and if he should in a den of assassins.
Finally, she burst through a door and into a large central chamber. Batman followed her onto the third-floor balcony overlooking a long conference table where the Society of Assassins was gathered. They turned and shouted in surprise as Curare leapt over the railing and raised her sword over her head, completely silent. Batman ran up to the railing and yelled after her, arm outstretched, but it was too late.
Curare landed on the table and sliced at the nearest person. Her blade passed right through her holographic image, leaving no impact on the gasping woman. Curare’s eyes shot open and scanned wildly around the room as holograms of her former fellow assassins winked off. Then cables shot out of the table and wrapped around her, pressing her sword against her side. She squirmed and tried to cut free, but the electric shock made her cry out in pain.
Batman watched all this in bewilderment. Then he felt something prick his back and he fell unconscious as a shape moved past him towards Curare.
to be continued...
|Part II<--||Back to Batman Beyond||-->Part IV|
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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.