Gabriel Silverback

Chapter One Dark Thoughts 3

Chapter Two Sitting Where the Mountain Men Go. 11

Chapter Three The Stench of Excess 24

Chapter Four Unprepared. 31

Chapter Five Sewer Rats 43

Chapter Six Daggers Drawn. 51

Chapter Seven Trouble in Store. 62

Chapter Eight Chapter and Verse. 71

Chapter Nine Suffer the Little Children. 93

Chapter Ten And The Next Train Stops At. 107

Chapter Eleven Pro's and Con's 113

Chapter Twelve Countdown 120

Chapter One Dark Thoughts

His eyes were wide and staring, his breathing rasping gasps.

His tongue probed her lips.

The smell of her leathers potent in his nostrils.

His questing hand found the opening devices of her costume, a costume that portrayed that nocturnal creature, that of a bat.

The leathers slid apart allowing him to feel her naked skin.

She shrugged it off her shoulders and allowed it to slide off her perfectly formed breasts.

He followed it down, his tongue curling around the pert nipples.

It probing her navel.

She tasted sweet.

She pulled it over her curving rump allowing it to side to the floor.

She drew him upward and pulled off his T shirt and undid the belt of his pants.

Her cowl still protecting her identity she wrapped a naked limb around him.

He convulsed in ecstasy only to be brought back to earth by a polite knock on the door.

"Tommy. Time to come down for supper." His step mother called. "And don't forget to wash your hands."

Tommy lifted the leather cowl off his face and put it on the naked head bust with a sigh.

Tommy had made it himself but it was nowhere as good as the original.

Plastered on the walls were images and newspaper cuttings of the object of his desire.

Tommy was tall and could easily pass for someone older than his fifteen years.

But there was something of the night about him that put a shiver down his Step Mothers spine.

If only he could see what was occurring over on the main precinct house of the town of Gotham.

A man stood next to the searchlight on the roof and looked up at the symbol that played on the cloud.

A symbol of trust and respect between two equally amazing men.

The symbol of a Bat, its wings outstretched.

The man was Assistant Commissioner of Police James Gordon OBE.

The man who brought the feuding Mafia families to book.

As always he felt a moment of worry. Was this the time he would not appear, his body laying in some dark alley.

Then there was the faint sound of swishing silk.

"Hello my friend its good to see you." He said .

"And you Commissioner." Was the hoarse reply.

Gordon turned his head to the right to see his friend.

He called himself The Bat but to the public he was always Batman the hero of the night. The Dark Knight.

He towered over Gordon, who wasn't a slouch at five foot ten but Batman was six foot six.

He was dressed in a black costume that mirrored his mighty frame beneath. But Gordon knew it was knife and almost bulletproof.

A dark blue cape and a cowl that mimic the face of a Horseshoe Bat finished the chilling ensemble.

On his breast was a duplicate of the symbol that played on the cloud.

He was a man at the peak of physical fitness and Gordon knew he had a sharp analytical mind to match.

There was the sound of silk once again this time to his left.

He turned to be confronted by a female version of Batman, Nights Wing.

He had watched over the last two years her change from a child into this beautiful young woman beside him.

"Hello Uncle James." She said with a beaming smile that always lifted his heart.

"I thought you had moved to Florida." He said returning her smile with one of his own.

"I was visiting when I saw the symbol and thought I'd pop over for old times sake." She kissed him on the cheek.

"I'm glad you did child."

An explosive crack of a bullwhip sounded by his ear.

He turned to see a figure in dark brown, almost black, leathers that hugged her body closely.

The costume had been made by stitching smaller sections of leather together and set off by a long brown leather frock coat.

The hooded cowl represented that of a cat.

Though she preferred The Cat for a name everyone called her Catwoman.

Catwoman had been a notorious cat burglar with a passion for jewellery.

Batman had several run ins with her before she handed herself into him.

She apologised for her thefts, admitting she only did it for the thrill of it, for the challenge.

She returned all the jewellery she had stolen and much to everyone's surprised she was given a pardon. The people she stole from didn't press charges as they had gotten their gems back.

From then on she worked with Batman and occasionally Nights Wing. The forays on her own were always against animal parts being smuggled for use in medication or illegal animal trading.

The bullwhip in her hand twitched like a cats tail.

She slinked sexily over to Gordon and gave his ear lobe a lick before purring loudly as she joined Batman.

"Well all hail, the families all here." The officer leaning on the rail said sarcastically.

The officer was detective sergeant Bullock. A broad lump of a man that had the crumpled appearance of an unmade bed.

Bullock scratched his heavily stubbled chin.

Bullock hadn't time for the mystery man and women popping everywhere. They were dangerous vigilantes that should be locked up as far as he was concerned.

Though even he had to admit that Batman got results.

"We are now Bullock." A girls voice called.

Stepping out of the shadows was a girl in her middle to late teens.

She wore a skin tight black cat suit with golden gloves, knee length boots and belt. The cape and hooded cowl was a minimalist version of Nights Wings.

On her breast was a copy of the bat signal the laid so brightly on the cloud.

Her flame red hair cascaded down her shoulders.

"You!" Batman was not pleased to see her. "Don't you understand you are a risk to yourself and others. You're far to young."

Nights Wing snorted.

"That's rich brother considering the age of the one you are training up to replace me."

"That's the point, I'm training her."

"Then train Batgirl because as sure as eggs is eggs she isn't going to go away any more than Batwoman is." Night's Wing countered.

"She has a point my love." Catwoman purred.

"Very well." He turned back to Gordon. "Commissioner?"

Gordon called over his shoulder to the lump at the rail.


"Family squabble over is it?" He said with a laugh. "We've got gangs of kids all over the city doing break-in's, pick pocketing and stealing from shops."

"Is that what you called us over for Uncle James?"

"Yes but not exclusively. Bullock carry on."

"These aren't the normal kids stuff. They are highly trained and the raids are well planned.

We haven't nabbed anyone yet because as soon as we get close to them they shoot down into the sewers and we just don't have the man power to comb that maze."

"They say they are being controlled and trained by a character called the Sewer King who has two crocodiles as guards." James finished with a plea. "Can you help Batman?"

"If he can't, me and short stuff there can." Night said taking the proffered file.

"The next thing we need your help on my friend is a spate of murders on young women.

Prostitutes, college students and a young mother have been murdered so far.

We've a serial killer on the loose."

"Any similarities that would point to one person carrying out all the murders?" Batman asked.

"Yes. All the women had sex just before or just after death but more importantly they were all red heads." Bullock passed over the file. "The housewife was wearing a red wig because she had alopecia. He wrote an apology in her blood on the wall using her finger."

"The victims were selected at random.

We have had the support of the press to suppress the story for now but we can expect them to keep quiet much longer." James explained as he turned to look over the city. "Find him Batman, find him and stop him."

"Your wasting your breath Jim they've already gone."

"Yes I know but they still heard me." He switched off the searchlight. "Don't think we've given up on these cases just because I've asked for their help Harvey. Clear your desk off anything else and concentrate on these two. I want them stopped."

Bullock smiled at the chance of beating the Bat crew to an answer.

"Yes Commissioner."

Tommy came down the stairs to the kitchen where his father and his step mother was waiting.

The small house was out in the suburbs in what would ,at later times, be called commuter belt.

On the walls were nautical memorabilia including in the lounge a huge eight spoke ships wheel. All testament to his fathers desire to go to sea in his own boat.

Duncan, his father, was a burly patrolman of medium height, with a serious expression.

He nodded at the boy.

His Step mother was like his father of Irish descent.

She was willowy with normally neatly coffered red hair.

Tommy's mother had died two years ago to TB. His father had done his best to bring him up, but with his job, it was inevitable that Tommy was shoved pillar to post between his aunts and granny.

Six months ago Duncan began seeing Angela and a month ago they had got married but not before Duncan got Tommy's blessing.

Actually Tommy got on well with Angela but couldn't help joking darkly with her.

She was a red head about ten years younger than Duncan and twice the age, at thirty, of Tommy.

He sat down at his place at the table bowing his head dutifully as his father said the grace.

His father was a police officer and it was his turn to walk the grave night shift this night. A task that didn't appeal to any of the police officers.

The supper was a little more substantial than normal to give Duncan something filling for the cold night.

When Tommy looked up from his meal he noticed for the first time how beautiful his step mother looked especially now that she had tinted her hair a lustrous red.

With a stare that he knew unsettled her he pulled out from his pocket a switch blade handle.

He held it up so she could see it.

He pressed the button and it flashed open to reveal the comb.

With an act of shear vanity he arranged his hair.

He saw with a smile her shiver.

"You going out tonight son?" His father asked as Angela helped him into his uniform coat.

"Yes. I'm going down to Gino's coffee house to meet up with the crew. There's a red hot jazz band playing their tonight."

"Okay Tom. But don't be back too late, you know how I dislike Angela being on her own when I'm on nights."

Angela gave a look as if to say she much rather be on her own than spend it with her macabre step son.

"Okay dad." He turned to Angela and gave her a dark look. "I'll be back later Angela. I'll let myself back in so you needn't wait up."

He wondered if her hair smelt sweet and if her breasts were as full as they looked.

Perhaps he'd find out tonight.

Perhaps she will want to play.

Perhaps he will accidently catch her in the shower.

He licked his lips as if relishing the moment.

Chapter Two Sitting Where the Mountain Men Go.

Batgirl was in a dark alley by her trusty old motorbike when Nights Wing joined her.

"You use that thing?" She asked disparagingly shacking her head. "Stay out of trouble while I get my bike then follow me out of town. "

Within minutes she reappeared on a powerful Indian motorbike.

What followed was serial as she followed her new friend through the concrete and glass valleys. Motor vehicles moved out of the way and at policed patrol crossings the Officers waved them through as if the were emergency vehicles.

Soon they were out in the leafy suburbs where the rich and famous have their mansions.

Suddenly Night turned on to a forest track with a squeal of tires and a roar of her powerful engine.

Batgirl followed a little more circumspective but still managed to keep Wing in sight.

She watched in horror as her fellow heroine accelerated straight at the cliff wall only to vanish from sight.

Bracing herself for impact she followed only to find herself motoring down a long tunnel that led out on to a narrow bridge with shear drops on either side.

Up ahead in a car parking area was Night leaning casually against her bike.

"Well done you didn't bottle it." She smiled warmly.

Batgirl parked her bike beside Nights. It looked dainty against her beast.

She got off and picked up and draped over her shoulder a neat shoulder bag.

"We've got to get you a better ride." She turned and led her up the stairs to the next platform. "But first lets organise you with a better costume. One that's going to protect you.

Get your gear off while I get some of my earlier costumes."

Reluctantly, nervously she pulled down her costume revealing a naked athletic body underneath.

She stood there, cold, with her hands covering her breasts and her ladies bits with only her bat like cowl on.

"Always wear a good pair of knickers and a good supporting bra. Don't worry about visible panty line the crooks will be too bothered looking at your fists than your tush." A strangers voice said.

Up above her on a level where a series of machine sat was the owner of the voice. A slim woman wearing a Batman inspired costume.

The costume was black with dark red accessories, boots, gauntlets, belt and a large bat shape over her ample bust. The inside of her bat cape was also red, a red that matched her long shiny red hair. On her face was a domino face mask.

Batgirl recognised her, she was called Batwoman.

Batwoman gave a little hop and a skip and somersaulted to her side.

"Have you got a change of clothes in that shoulder bag?" She asked sizing the girl up.

Bargirl nodded mutely.

"I suggest you put on your underwear."

Batwoman said with a gentleness that Batgirl felt she didn't deserve.

"I couldn't agree more." Night said wheeling out a rack of costumes on to the next platform up. "Good to see you Batwoman, but I thought you had relocated to Coast City?"

"I have but Batman is letting me have a few things for my own cave."

"Right. How's Montoya? How's the Question?"

"She's fine. She's already settling in. She got a transfer to the Coast City Police Department and starts next week." The two women gave each other a sad smile. Remembering how close Batwoman's lover came to a breakdown trying to hide their love for each other. "With my clout we've a mansion in the suburbs as well as an apartment in town. The whole of the central staff transferred to Coast without a murmur.

"I'm not surprised considering how good the climate is." Night replied.

Coast city nestled either side of the Weymouth river as it emptied into the sea. Basking in its own micro climate that keeps its weather clement all year round, unlike Gotham which was cold and wet, or dry and baking hot, depending on the season.

Batwoman led Batgirl up to where Night waited with the rack.

Though she was now in a decent set of underwear she still felt very nervous.

Batwoman pulled out a costume that comprised of a short dark red dress with green edging, a green cape, bat shaped buckle to its belt and pumps.

"No I don't think so." She said adding when she noticed Batgirls relief. "It was my cousin Betty's. She was to be my sidekick like Night is to Batman but after a few adventures she decided the hero game wasn't for her."

"What is she doing now Kathy?" Night asked.

"Oh she's married with adorable twin girls. She does freelance writing for women magazines." Kathy put the costume back on the rack as Night pulled out a set of black leathers.

The two women fussed around her with costume bits and pieces coming and going until they were finally satisfied.

Like Nights costume it was padded in all the places where a blow could be dangerous.

Two knee boots of dark blue gave way to a black leather costume mirroring the athletic body beneath. Around her waist was a yellow belt full of specialist equipment.

The gauntlets, bat inspired cowl and cape were of a dark deep blue but there was a problem. To put on the new cowl and cape required her to remove the old one, revealing who she was in doing so.

She hesitated.

"Shall we Rachel." Kathy asked with a broad smile.

"I don't see why not especially as I worked out that Barbara was the Batgirl." Rachel replied.

"Sorry?" Batgirl said trying to cover up her reluctance.

"I knew who you were by the third time you popped up to help us." The smile grew wider. "After all I am the sister of the Dark Night Detective.

Come on Barbara don't be shy. All together now."

All three women took off their cowls but it was Barbara who stood opened mouth.

She recognised the two women instantly.

Rachel Wayne was Nights Wing, the aid to Batman. She was a millionaires due to her connections to Wayne Industries run by her brother Bruce. Though now she was branching out on her own.

Kathy Kane was Batwoman. A compatriot and rival of Wayne Industries. Her own business had made her a millionaires several times over.

"Let me introduce you Kathy, our own Batgirl, AKA Barbara Gordon, the daughter of deputy Commissioner James 'Jim' Gordon and sometime right pain in the rump."

The two women exchanged air kisses with her.

"Now down to work." Rachel crossed to a partition on which a map of the city was pinned. She opened the dossier that lay on the table beneath it. "Barbara called out the locations from the police reports and I'll mark them on the map."

"I'm afraid I must be off girls I've a plane to catch at midnight." Kathy pulled up her cowl and bounced down the tiers to her own bat inspired car. "Tell Bruce I've marked the equipment he's letting us have ready to be shipped out by Wayne Industries."

With that the car roared into life blowing flames from the exhaust. With a squeal of tyres she was gone.

An hour later the two women looked at the map with bleary tired eyes.

"Help me with this will you." Rachel pulled out a scrolled map out of its tube. "It's a map of the sewers on a transparent sheet. We need to lay it over the city map."

"These kids are being reported everywhere in the city." Barbara said sliding her edge of the sheet over the map and pinning it in place.

"Yes true but if you look there's a higher density in four spots, here, here, here and here."

Barbara nodded as she saw what her companion noticed.

"And what do you know they match up with the four access ways to the main sewer."

"And how will that help? We know they go down the sewers."

"Yes but we couldn't monitor everywhere at once. Now we have only four main spots to monitor." Rachel yawned. "It's getting late and your father will be getting concerned. Can you navigate your way back here for nine o'clock tomorrow morning? No on second thoughts come to the house as I'll want to run something passed Bruce first."

"Yes I can."

"Well in that case good night Batgirl."

"Good night Night's Wing."

Soon Rachel was alone pondering how the two upstairs in the house will react when she tells them she had exposed their alter ego's.

Mind you up stairs in the house things were not any clearer.

Bruce, dress in casual wear and smoking a pipe, had the lissom form of Selina in her silk night dress under his arm cuddled into his side.

"Where do we start." He said tapping the dossier on the coffee table with his pipe stem.

He had methodically removed the contents and arranged them in piles.

"That's the trouble with serial killers that seem to hit at random.

The victims have no obvious connection but their must be one, unless he is killing indiscriminately." Selina said sitting up and pulling a report towards her. "The methods of killing range from a knifing to open heart surgery by an amateur."

Their was a loud grunt and a snore from the fireside chair opposite.

Sitting curled up inside it was a fourteen year old girl in pyjamas with a heavy weight Chemistry book on her lap.

Selina and Bruce smiled warmly at Bruce's ward Miss Robyn Grayson of the Flying Grayson's circus troop.

Selina rose up and slinked over to her and shook her gently.

"Wake up Robyn dear it's time for bed."

The girls eyes flickered open and she gave a mighty yawn.

"Sorry." She said. "I must have dropped off."

She stood up and kissed first Selina's and then Bruce's cheek.

"Good night Auntie Selina. Good night Uncle Bruce."

The door to the room opened and Alfred the butler walked in with a tea tray containing teapot, milk jug, three cups and a plate of cookies.

"I have taken the liberty of turning down your bed Miss Robyn." He said in his English accent.

"Thank you Alfred. Goodnight Alfred."

"Goodnight miss." Alfred looked around for somewhere to put the tray down. "Miss Rachel has already gone to her bed and wishes you all a good night.".

Bruce carefully moved the paperwork over so Alfred could put down the tea service.

Alfred carefully poured out the teas to each persons preference before pouring one for himself.

He pulled up a chair took a ginger nut cookie and sat down.

"Now Master Bruce what are we about tonight?"

"It's these murders Alfred. Each victim is murdered a different way. The only connections is they were all red heads." Bruce told him.

"Perhaps that is all the connection we require." His manservant offered.

"I hope not because if it is we're going to have a devils trouble trying to find him."

"You're forgetting about the odd one out." Selina said. "Like the rest she was having sex just before she died or just after which isn't a pleasant thought. But she wasn't a red head. She had lost most of her hair to alopecia and what there is was grey. She was wearing a red wig."

"The murderer then used her finger in her own blood to write an apology."

"I see sir. From this photograph of the poor woman there seems to be a number printed on the forehead."

Bruce studied it for a moment with his magnifying glass.

"2120791812." Bruce sat back. "A telephone number?"

"If it is its not one I recognise." Selina said.

"21 20 79 18 12." He crossed to the bookshelves and got down the family bible. "It could be a biblical reference."

"With numbers like that I seriously doubt it but its worth a try." Selina was looking at the photographs of the dead women carefully. "Wasn't biblical Jezebel a red head and what about Mary Magdalene. They were both supposed to be prostitutes weren't they."

Alfred leaned forward and showed Selina a section of an incident form.

"As you can see Miss Selina those numbers were found on another of the victims."

"Yes but on the arm this time."

"Apparently the face was to ruined to do it there." Alfred said dunking his cookie into his rapidly cooling tea.

Bruce after a few minutes study closed the bible.

"No nothing there." He replaced it. "Those numbers are significant I'm sure of it."

"I am sure of nothing." Selina moaned. "Other than their hair there seem to be no obvious connection."

"How does he select his victims?" Bruce mused. "Does he spot a red head and follows her till there is a chance to attack."

"He is very through Master Bruce. When he dissected the second victim and crushed her heart in his hand he was wearing her gloves and clothes.

When he left her apartment he would have been spotlessly clean. Forensics are of the opinion that he showered himself to remove any blood traces and cleaned the cubical with strong bleach to remove any evidence." Alfred told his Master and Mistress.

"I'm going out to see Mary Lund so don't wait up." Bruce decided.

"You're going to see your favourite prostitute are you!" Selina growled.

"Now don't get jealous Selina." Bruce said defensively. "I want to warn her so she can pull any of her girls that could be targets."

"Me jealous? Never." She laughed. "Especially as I'm going with you."

Albert stifled a laugh turning it into a cough.

"Both of your vehicles are full of petrol and prepared. I'm assuming you wish to take the cars?" He told them.

"Yes I think so Alfred." Bruce said with a grin.

"Your costumes and equipment are on the stands beside the vehicles ready for you."

Selina kissed Alfred's cheek.

"You're a miracle as always Alfred." She purred.

The old man blushed.

Bruce pressed a button hidden in the surround of the fire place and a wood panel sprung open. Inside was a small elevator.

"See you later Alfred." Bruce called as he shut the gate and pressed the button to descend.

As the gears ground out their descent the panel swung shut.

A time later two unique vehicles pulled up by an apartment block in the more well to do part of town.

Batman got out of his low slung jet black vehicle and spoke into a small microphone.


With a clanking sound panels slid over each other turning the car into a metal replica of a coiled wood louse.

He crossed over to the other car with its stylised feline shape.

"I'm going on to the Kitty Kat club to warn four of my girls, my darling." They bizarrely gave each other a tender kiss before she raced away.

"She's going to be the death of me." Batman muttered. "The sooner we are wed the better."

He push open the doors to the apartment block and entered.

The caretaker looked up from his paper and did a double take that made his cigarette fall out of his mouth.

"You should pack up smoking it isn't good for you." Batman said dryly. It was only after he disappeared up the fire stairs that he allowed himself a deep chuckle. "Hypocrite."

Soon he was outside of apartment 571. He knocked an agreed set of knocks.

The door opened and a small willowy woman peered round its edge.

"Batman, come in. Would you like a drink?" She asked leading him into the tastefully furnished front room.

"Thank you, but no."

"What can I an innocent hardworking woman do for the great Batman. For you I'd come out of retirement." Mary Lund said with an alluring smile.

Mary Lund ran a successful group of prostitutes. There were high class hookers, and those that frequented the street corners, and everywhere in between.

A mutual respect had sprung up between them.

Mary may be a madam but she really cared for her girls. She had them checked for VD every month and insisted they were clean of drugs.

She even helped when a couple of the girls fell pregnant by accident.

It was this care that made Batman seek her out.

"Have you any red heads on your staff?" He asked using the eponyms for her girls.

"Yes I've four Batman. Why?"

"There is a serial killer on the lose Mary. He's targeting red heads from all walks of life but your girls are an obvious target."

"I see." She rested her chin on her fists deep in thought. "Kathy is confined to bed in the apartment upstairs with flu. Angela has a dose of the clap and can't work till she's clear again."

She got up her expensive negligee swishing behind her.

She picked up the phone and dialled a number.

"Clarisse? Do you know where Anne and Cynthia are?"

Clarisse was one of the older women she used as a 'Maid'.

There was a chatter of the voice on the phone.

"Right when they have finished with their clients pull them off and get them over here on the double.

Yes it is serious. Apparently there's a scum bag who doesn't like their hair colour."

She paused a moment and listened to the voice on the other end a moment.

"I don't care if they are doing a double header for the Prince of Wales. Pull them.

On second thoughts get them to your place and then put them in a cab for here.

Thank you Clarisse."

She looked up to say thank you to Batman but he had already gone.

"Right dearie." The woman was naked and laying on the bed her body wide open. Loose loops tied her hands and feet to the bed posts.

Her face, like her body, was hard from years of service.

The clients hand roamed over body, gently caressing her nipples and private places.

His hand teased the loose rope noose around her neck.

She grunted as he entered her and began to thud into her flesh.

His lips found hers unresponsive, her body unyielding.

"Not so hard but hurry up I've another client in an hour."

A sound of displeasure slipped past his lips as he came ever closer to that moment of release.

Harder and harder, faster and faster he went.

"Stop, stop. Get off me you bastard." She screamed in pain as he bruised her private flesh.

She tried to pull her hands and feet free only to find the loops tighten with her efforts.

He looked up into a face that shone with lust and hate.

She tried to scream but the knot of the ever tightening noose was already crushing her windpipe.

As her feet gave the dance of death he reached the epiphany of lust, his whole body shaking with release.

He looked down at the dead body and smiled a sickly smile of pleasure.

It was ten thirty when Tommy got back in.

"I'm back Angela!" He called but when he didn't get a reply an evil smirk came over his face.

He climbed the stairs quietly.

It was one of Angela's routines to have a shower before turning in for the night. As he reached the landing he could hear the loud sound of the showers spray.

Quietly and carefully he push open the door enough to see the shower cubicle.

He could see her naked body moving backward and forward as a shadow on the shower curtain.

It parted allowing Tommy a glimpse of her naked body standing under the stream of water.

He could see the water running of her pert breasts and down the flat plane of her stomach to the valley of her femininity.

His body reacted painfully to what he saw and what his imagination created, being trapped by his clothes.

She turned off the shower and pulled open the shower curtain. She noticed the door not being completely shut but there was no sight of Tommy. Then she heard the front door being open and shut.

"Angela I'm home." She heard Tommy call from downstairs.

Angela stepped out of the shower and called out to Tommy below.

"Tom be a love and make us a coffee will you. I'll be down in a minute." She began briskly towelling herself off.

"Will do. Do you mind if I don't join you. I'm tired and want to go to bed." Tommy called, his body calmer, less aroused. All this week his father was on nights so he knew that his opportunity would come.

She would wear the mask for him, he knew she would. She would succumb to him.

He wanted, no needed, her to find him.

When she had, he knew they would make love, she wouldn't be able to resist him.

He pulled out the flick knife handle out of his jeans and pressed the button and the wicked blade sprang open.

She had to come to him hadn't she.

Chapter Three The Stench of Excess

Barbara arrived at the Wayne mansion dead on time to be met by Alfred.

She was led into the morning room where the Wayne's were enjoying breakfast.

"Have had anything Barbara?" Bruce asked with a warm smile.

"Just some toast." She felt awkward like a beggar at the feast.

"I took the precaution of laying a place for Miss Barbara." The old retainer pulled a chair out for her.

As she sat he fussed round her for a moment.

"I managed to find out your breakfast requirements from your fathers housekeeper." The man actually picked a piece of invisible fluff from his arm. "Apple juice is by you elbow as is the black coffee. Your scrambled eggs and two rashers of bacon will be with you in a minute.

While you wait please help yourself to cereals."

Robyn gave a quick laugh at her discomfort.

"You'll soon get over it. He really is that good."

A few minutes later he brought her bacon and eggs.

He looked round the table and once satisfied everyone had what they needed he pulled out a chair and joined them at the table.

"Bruce can we borrow Alfred for an hour or so this morning, well just after breakfast actually."

"That's down to Alfred, Rachel, we haven't anything pressing at the moment."

"I must admit I am intrigued as to what the task will be I'm required to help with." The old man gave a warm proud smile.

Alfred was a slim six foot Brit that had dark hair receding at his temples. He wore his butlers clothes well as if he was born to wear them.

"I need your make up skills Alfred. I want you to make Barbara, Robyn and I look like street urchins.

If we are going to investigate and explore the hot spots where these child thieves are we need a good disguise.

And your skills with the Stratford Theatre Players makes you perfect to do the job."

"Well." Alfred said a little embarrassed.

"She's got you there Alfred." Bruce said to cover the mans blushes.

"Rachel is to old to pay a street urchin surely?" Selina said with a worried frown.

Everyone fell quiet and scrutinised Rachel.

"Will you stop staring at me like that." Rachel protested.

"I could go instead." Robyn said.

"No chance girl, you can forget that." Bruce said determined to protect his ward but he couldn't have imagined everyone's response.

"I'll keep an eye on her." Offered Barbara.

"We both will. Besides brother you have been training her up to do this very job."

"I must admit Master Bruce that an older child trying to look after her younger siblings would look more realistic."

Bruce looked at them calculatingly then nodded his head.

"Very well but at the first sign of danger you get out of there. Do I make myself clear?"

"Understood. It's just a quick look see. If you remember were all going to the Children's homes fund raiser this afternoon at three."

"Right while you three investigate the sewers Selina and I will have a look at the victims bodies at the morgue. I want to see those numbers for myself."

Elsewhere a less palatial breakfast was being eaten.

Tommy sat patiently as Angela teased the fried egg out of the skillet and on to his plate.

His father sat opposite him looking tired and a little distressed.

"A bad night?" Angela asked concerned.

"Another one was murdered last night." He said wearily.

"Oh God. Did you see her?"

"I was the one who found her." He shivered. "It wasn't nice. She was a high class escort. When she didn't clock back in, the Madam became concerned.

She went round to her apartment and found her murdered.

She came out screaming straight into me.

The bastard had hung…"

"… her upside down with her head inside the toilet pan under the water." The pathologist told the two impressive figures before him.

"But I take it she didn't drown?" Batman asked.

"No she had no water in her lungs." He uncovered the body. "If you look at the wrists and ankles you can see some abasing and bruising. I should imagine that she was tied down."

"What's that around her neck Andrew?" Catwoman asked her cats eyes mere slits under the rooms bright white lights.

Andrew, the pathologist, lifted the bodies chin.

"She was throttled with a thin rope. It was that which killed her." He covered the body up. "And yes before you ask she was bruised in the genital area suggesting she was raped before or during being throttled."

"No numbers stamped on her head?"

"No Catwoman but like some of the victims she has had hair removed along with a bit of scalp."

"I hadn't heard of that." Batman said irritated.

"It has happened on only a few of the bodies. So we didn't realise its significance." He crossed to the doors of the cold room where the bodies are stored. "But the numbers are a different matter."

He opened three of the doors and slid out the body's on to waiting gurneys. He then uncovered their heads.

"These three like the other five have been killed in an assortment of ways and again like the others were displayed in a macabre manner."

Batman leaned closer and studied the bodies carefully, missing nothing. Noticing the faint marks around the cheeks and the nose.

"The first one had the numbers stamped on her forehead, the next the neck and the last on her right breast."

"Moving down their bodies." Batman observed.

"Did they have some hair removed?" Catwoman asked as she critically examined the hair of the nearest.

"On these three no. The other five have no stamp marks but do have hair taken. and that is not the only difference."

"Go on Andrew." Batman stood up.

"I shouldn't say this but I suspect that we are dealing with more than one killer. The other five where, how should we say, experienced in sexual matters, whilst these three were certainly not."

"This one was most certainly a virgin. Nicola Farage" He read of the tag attached to her big toe. "She's sixteen and from what we could get from under her fingernails was raped outside where she clawed at the grass.

She was spread-eagled in the bottom of a rowing boat." He covered her up and slid her back inside the cold chamber. "This one, Nigella Sturgeon, was a school teacher. She was a lesbian so again you could class her a virgin." He slid that one back. "And this last one is a random attack in her home, a Mrs Bella Longly. She has the most bruising. She put up quite a struggle.

She was three months pregnant."

He slid the last away.

"What do you make of the numbers?" Batman asked.

"I have no idea as I'm not cryptologist, that's assuming that is a proper word.

The print method is a different matter. They were made by a John Bull printing set.

You slide letters and numbers into a rubber stamp holder. You dab it into a tin of solid ink, then stamp the paper your going to date or number.

You can get them from any corner drug store. But if you do find it have a look at the first number on the stamp, it has a tiny piece missing."

"Thank you Andrew." Catwoman said.

"On the desk are duplicates of my notes and photographs." He turned to face them. "If you have no further need of me, I'll return to my medical practice and see some alive people for a change. Please lock up when your done."

"Thank you Andrew I know how much of a risk your taking doing this for us." Batman said clasping the mans hand.

"You saved my life that night. It's something I can't forget."

"Consider this as repayment in full."

"We'll see.

Find out who's doing this Batman before they up the stakes."

With that he left the two crime fighters alone.

Outside he could see the burly frame of the cleaner mopping the floor.

"Conchita don't bother with the prep room and mortuary tonight as I suspect they will be needing it again later."

Conchita gave Andrew a snagged tooth grin.

"It's okay I understand you no want me to go in body room. It's okay I do office instead."

"That fine Conchita. See you tomorrow."

"Yes I see you tomorrow Doctor. Good night Doctor." The cleaners eyes twinkled with merriment.

As she entered the office with her buckets and what not's her hat slipped off her head revealing the bald pate beneath with a few wispy red strands.

"We've a copy cat killer but how did they find out? The press has kept a lid on it." Batman asked rhetorically.

"Could the press be where we are looking?" Catwoman crossed over to the open skylight and cracked her whip explosively.

It coiled around the stanchion that held the window open gripping tightly.

Catwoman lithely climbed it out on to the roof.

Once she had freed her whip a batrang sailed passed her ear to wrap itself around a smoke stack trailing a slim cord.

With a whir and a clunk Batman was winched through the skylight.

"Theoretically only three press personnel know of the murders. That's Chief editor Perry White, Crime desk Subeditor Clara Kent, both work for the Daily Globe in Metropolis, and we have their chief reporter here in Gotham Louis Lane." He retrieved the batrang. "Here at Gotham PD it's on a need to know basis."

"But that can be a larger group than we would wish." Catwoman purred stroking the ears of her cowl in a cat like seductive manner. "Where to now lover."

"A good question, one that I don't have an answer to as of yet, but I will."

Moments later they were free running over the Gotham skyline.

But fate can sometimes play an unexpected hand.

One that none would expect.

Chapter Four Unprepared.

Rachel, Barbara and Robyn got off the bus and looked around as if in awe.

Their faces were dirty as were their patched clothes. Their clothes were slightly to big for them to give the appearance of being undernourished.

Alfred had worked wonders making them look gaunt.

Robyn clung to Rachel's hand is if petrified by all the bustle around them.

The girls had picked their spot with care. It was close but not too close to the main sewer entrance.

Barbara put a flat cap on the floor before them and then she and Robyn sat down.

Rachel positioned herself beside the other two and began to sing sweetly.

It was surprising how many people stopped awhile to listen and put money in the hat. One blousy woman put in a dollar bill.

Rachel sighed. It wasn't these good people she wanted to attract.

But she needn't have worried as they had already been spotted.

Two boys in their early teens and a girl of about ten sidled over.

"What are you doing here." The oldest swaggered.

"Is it your spot, we can move on?" Rachel said with fear in her voice.

"I don't want to move it's warm here." Robyn said truthfully. She was sat by an air vent that pumped warm steamy air around them."

"Nah he mean why are you begging." Another said.

"My mum's not well and we need money for food." Rachel sniffed.

"I'm hungry." Robyn moaned.

"Shush Robyn." Rachel bent down to count the money in the hat and was secretly pleased with how much they had amassed. "You're not going to steal from me?"

"Nah." The boy said again. "Come with us and we'll take you to get some food."

A few minutes later they were down in the sewers following their new found friends.

They led them down through a labyrinth of tunnels that twisted and turned back against themselves.

Eventually they came out into one of the main sewers.

In flickering rush lights the girls could see around fifteen children queuing up at a large kettle over an open fire to get their ration of broth and stale chunks of bread.

Though the thought of eating it made Rachel want to gag she queued up as instructed for her portion.

Three girls in their middle teens ran the soup kitchen with stern expressions and quick fists.

Once the trio had got the food they huddled together in a dark corner.

The soup had been made out of a mixture of chicken and beef bones and much to the girls surprise was quite filling.

The bread was another matter entirely, it had to be soaked in the hot broth for quite awhile to be soft enough to eat.

"I've managed to remember the route in, which will come in handy" Rachel whispered.

"So have I." Barbara told her.

"Ahm." Robyn said. "So had I till those last few turns. Come to think of it why was there so many turns, I'm sure I recognised some of the passages from earlier."

"That was because they were taking us through the same passages over and over again." Rachel said licking her fingers. "It was done to disorientate us and to shake of anybody trying to tail us. Shush now."

Robyn snuggled up against Barbara's side and yawned.

"The Sewer King will be talking to us soon, tonight maybe. He's got jobs for us I suspect." One of the boys who brought them down told them. He was called Christian and looked less starved than the others.

"Job's!? Job's for my Daddy?" Rachel said excitedly. "Mummy say's he just need a chance to prove himself. He goes to the docks each day but sometimes he only get a few hours work."

"No not that sort of work. Work for us, thieving and that."

"Oh I don't know about that its against the law isn't it." Rachel said worriedly.

"Yeah but the adults have their stuff covered by insurance so they don't lose out." Christian said trying his hardest to make them feel at home. "I thought the same as you until the Sewer King trained me. When he tells you all about it, it just makes sense."

"Is that him?" Robyn asked pointing to a man standing in the shadows slapping his wooden club into his palm.

"Nah." Christian said fearfully. "That's Baron his right hand man. No one crosses the King or Baron and lives to tell the tail.

He comes looking for new girls to play with.

Keep down and don't look at him.

One of the girls wouldn't play with him and he lost his temper. The girl was pushed through her families letter box in strips before leaving her head hanging from the door knocker."

"We've got to go home or mummy will worry. Can you take us back Christian?" Rachel asked nervously.

"Yes okay. Can you comeback tonight?"

"I don't know. It's too far for us to walk back here."

"Go to the main drain entrance by Newark and 4th. Do you know it? It's a couple of blocks away from where you live in shanty town."

"Okay I will sneak out but I don't know about the other two."

They were suddenly aware of the hulking form of Baron.

Baron was tall, about six foot 6 inches, and heavily muscled. The fetid smell of sweat soaked tatty finery and rotting teeth struck them in the face like being hit by a Turkish wrestlers jock strap wrapt around a brick.

He smiled a thin sickly smile.

"What have we here Christian, fresh meat. I hope you haven't been holding out on me boy, it'll be the end of our little friendship if you have." He used the club to lift up the boys head and stare into his eyes. "Well have you?"

"No sir, absolutely not!" Christian was physically shaking for all the calmness in his voice. "They are new, me and Tommy Atkins, found them busking by the big red."

"Busking well I don't see any instruments." He lifted the club over the boys head.

"Please sir if it pleases you we are singers sir." Rachel said politely.

"That's how we found her. Singing she was." Christian relaxed a little as the club was put away.

"I believe you, so help me God, I believe you boy.

Singers are you, well give us a song" He turned to the unwashed masses, the other children and bellowed. "Silence!"

A heavy silence occurred like closing the door to a noisy room. It was through and swift.

"What would you like me to sing?" Rachel asked.

"I don't know do I, just something nice."

"A lullaby?"

"Yes a lullaby!" He snorted angrily. "For Christ sake just sing something!"

Rachel took a deep breath and began to sing, the harmonies echoing down the tunnels making it sound as if she was singing in a Cathedral.

Then Robyn joined in, her soprano voice blending effortlessly with Rachel's lower timbre.

Lots of the children, like the lost boys in Peter Pan, curled up where they were and fell asleep.

When she had finished she could hear the murmuring and low buzz from well over half of the children as they sighed and snored in their sleep. The rest were having difficulty in staying awake.

The Baron eyed Barbara with a scowling look.

"She don't say much does she."

Barbara looked up at Rachel and began signing. Her hands flicking through the shapes at a rapid rate of knots.

"She says that if she had a voice she would sing for you too."

"Yes I can read signing thank you though not as fast as that." He turned to face Barbara and spoke loudly and slowly. "You can join our spies. They read lips and get us vital information that way."

Barbara signed back fiercely with a face like thunder.

"She says. 'I'm dumb not deaf and stupid'."

"Yes I know." The big man looked a little embarrassed for a moment before the leer came back into his eyes. "Yes the three of you will be a pleasant way to pass the night, especially you my dear. You wont be able to say no."

A boy ran up with a grubby bit of paper between his filthy fingers.

"Baron the King sent this note. He wants to see you right away."

The huge man delicately took the piece of paper and appeared to scrutinise it.

He nodded and gave it back to the boy.

"Tell him I will be right over." With that he returned the paper to the boy and sent him on his way.

He turned to the girls.

"I'm sorry but your 'Entertainment' will have to wait."

As he turned to go Barbara stumbled into him.

With a sharp 'Tsk' Baron extradited himself from the situation.

"Are you alright Sister?" Rachel asked with a puzzled frown.

Barbara signed franticly.

"Oh I see."

She turned to the nervous boy.

"Will you show us the way out please Christian?" Rachel asked.

The boy nodded and led the way.

Taking a less circular route they soon reached the surface and made their way to the bus stop, making sure they didn't lose their tails.

Rachel was an expert in tailing someone and an expert in knowing when she was being tailed.

Two fourteen year old boys followed them to the bus stop and on to the bus.

It didn't take it long to enter the poorer run down section of the city.

At last the girls got off the bus.

They were in what was called shanty town. They left the run down tenements and walked between rickety wooden shacks into a patch of woodland.

The boys split up, one going through the wood to the right of the path while the other took the woods to the left.

Very quickly they came out into a glade where a small shack stood surrounded by poor vegetable patches.

"Mummy we're home. I got you some money."

Less that five minutes later a large busted woman came out of the shack and pegged on the washing line some of the girls clothes.

She looked around wearily, stretching her back to ease the knots in it showing the fact she was in late pregnancy.

The woman re-entered the shack and pulled off her head scarf to reveal Rachel beneath.

"They were still out there but once they saw I was pregnant they moved off. And talking about that get me out of this thing." She slipped out of the pinafore to reveal a rubber costume designed to make her look pregnant.

The two girls got her out of the fat suit to reveal her tatty waifs dress underneath.

"Now what?" Barbara said. "We can't go out of the front for fear of being spotted."

"We go out the back." Robyn pushed a button which made a section of floor slip away to reveal steps down into a large basement.

"Batman and I created this place for when things got to hot and we needed a bolt hole." She explained as she led them down into the room below.

"I can't imagine either you or Batman needing a bolt hole somehow." Barbara said for the first time practically all morning.

"My God the woman speaks!" Robyn mocked. "Is this the result of some unknown cure or is it a mental aberration."

"Why did you decide to act dumb Barbara?" Rachel asked.

"I didn't know the song you sang ,and I would have if I'd been your sister, so decided to be mute to hide the fact."

"Well thought out and you can use signing to communicate privately with us." Rachel secured the trap door they had descended through. "As for a bolt hole. If we can't get back to home base for any reason we can work out of here."

As she spoke the girls stripped off and washed away the dirt and make up and removed the rubber prosthetics that made them look related.

They then redressed in their Bat costumes which Rachel and Robyn brought down from the hidden cache upstairs.

Two motorbikes were propped up on their stands ready for use.

Robyn jumped on the back of one.

"Off! You haven't passed your test yet."

"Test sweshed. I don't need one." Robyn said cheekily.

"Yes you do." Nights Wing Rachel told her in no certain terms. "You'll ride pillion with me, Batgirl will follow on the other one."

Robyn stamped over to where a small workshop was sited. The bench top was covered with intricate circuits and odd tools.

Robyn caught a glimpse of herself in the full length mirror and was vain enough to take a second look.

She wore a black figure hugging suit like Nights Wing but with a red R symbol on her right breast. She didn't have a bat inspired cowl instead a dark red domino bat shaped mask. The inside of her cape was a dark red like her knee boots and the stomach area of the costume.

She nodded with satisfaction.

The three of them were soon riding at full speed along a tunnel which stopped suddenly to emerge in the wood.

They roared back onto the road and flew passed the bus stop where they had disembarked.

The boys were play fighting in the bus shelter opposite and thankfully didn't take any notice of them until they were well out of sight.

Angela was in the shower as usual before turning in for the night.

The water cascaded of her body and made eddies at her feet.

It ran along her breasts and formed mini water falls of her nipples.

The watcher could see her shadow play on the shower curtain. He quietly took off his clothes and crept closer as she luxuriated in its sensual flow.

He parted the curtain and stepped in behind her making her jump.

She turned and faced the intruder before saying with a grin.

"Oh you naughty boy. Oh you are a big boy aren't you."

Questing lips and tongues found and caressed each other as both bodies gave in to their passion.

Up in the swish part of town there was a fashion parade for charity of the designs created by Rachel and her college friends.

Bruce looked again at his watch for the umpteenth time in the last two minutes.

"Don't worry Bruce she'll be here. She wouldn't want to miss an exhibition of her designs." Selina said to stop him worrying.

There was a sudden rustle of clothes as the three girls pushed through to join Bruce and Selina.

They looked wonderful in their posh frocks and jewellery.

"Your cutting it fine aren't you?" A relieved Bruce rebuked Rachel.

"There's a reason for that brother but I'll tell you later. I'm going to help the models get ready."

The models were students at the faculty that were willing to help.

The clothes were shown by a model for each design.

"Welcome to the 'War Child' fashion show.

The War Child charity was set up after the Great War to help those children orphaned by war, so dig deep." The MC was a local auctioneer with a marvellous patter.

The first was in day wear, the next in evening wear, etcetera, until lastly Rachel in a beautifully simple wedding dress graced the catwalk.

The bodice was panelled in mother of pearl with a golden cord crisscrossed over the top with pearls.

Once all six designs had been shown the models came back out so the bidding could begin.

"You have just seen the first designers creations and it is up to you to bid for the garments, remembering that all proceeds go to the War Child appeal fund.

What shall we say for the morning wear. Who will start the bidding at 100 dollars?"

Bruce looked across at Barbara and noticed she was putting on make up to cover the slight marks on her face from the cowl.

Typically Robyn was with her trying to act grown up.

The doors to the event burst open and a swarm of rag a muffin children poured in.

The party goers thought it was all part of the show but Bruce and Rachel knew otherwise.

The children distracted the guests and jostled some allowing others to pick pocket bulging bill folds and purses. Watches, rings and bracelets all disappeared in seconds.

Bruce's highly trained senses felt an attempt to get his bill fold.

He spun round and made a grab at the girl. She must have been covered in grease or something as she slid effortlessly out of his grip.

Rachel had flown off the dais and tried to catch a couple but she had even less luck as the children swayed out of her reach easily as she was constrained by the dress.

Suddenly realising what was occurring Robyn and Barbara leapt into action, but it was too little too late.

As quickly as they had entered they had gone.

At first the crowd applauded thinking it was part of the show but as soon as they had realised what had really happened the remonstrations began. Several of the hot headed guests had to be calmed down.

It took an hour before things were calm enough for the show to carry on and another hour before it came to a spluttering close as the police arrived to take statements. Apparently there were many raids by the children this night.

Rachel still in her wedding dress, followed by Barbara and Robyn crossed over to where Bruce and Salina was standing.

"Now what do we do brother? We didn't cover ourselves with glory did we?" She said wistfully. "We've got a meet with some of the gang at midnight at the shanty town entrance. Apparently there's something big going down."

Bruce looked at his watch and grunted.

"Okay meet up with them but keep your wits about you, I have a feeling that things are coming to a head." He glanced at Barbara. "Get a new cowl, one that's not so tight this one left a pressure mark on your face."

"Thank you Bruce." Barbara said. "I wondered what the marks were."

"We'll head in from the main sewer entrance on Squires." Selina told them softly. "Go on get lost."

The three girls faded away into the crowd.

"I hope you have made the right choice sending them in that entrance alone my love." Salina said worriedly.

"You said we should trust them and I'm doing just that." Bruce said dismissively.

Something nagged him but he just couldn't put his name to it.

Jim Gordon crossed over to join them with a worried scowl on his face.

"Have you seen Barbara at all I've lost sight of her."

"She's with Rachel and Robyn. Rachel has taken it badly that the show was used by these child thieves so she's gone home with Alfred." Salina told him, which wasn't far from the truth but she just didn't tell him that they were going out again.

"Are you alright Jim?" Bruce asked concerned for his friend.

There were no secrets, other than the obvious ones, between these two men.

"There has been another one." He had told Bruce all about the murders earlier and the fact Batman was on the case. "Bullock is there now. I hope you can excuse me but I have got to go."

After he had gone Selina got under Bruce's arm and looked up into his face with a simpering look on her face breathed.

"So have we my darling."

They both looked around where the police were making lists of what had been stolen in those short moments the children had flooded the room.

And they melted away into the darkness.

The darkness was their home but were they enough to stem the tide of evil this night.

Chapter Five Sewer Rats

The three girls made their way from the safe house down to where the main entrance to the sewer was dress once more in their tatty clothes.

Rachel whispered to the other two.

"We've got company. Two of the boys have been following us since we left the house."

"Yes I spotted them and there's one shadowing us up ahead." Robyn said stopping to pull up her tatty sock.

When they reached the sewer entrance they sat down to wait. The girls didn't try their old ploy of begging while Rachel sang. They were in an area where the people were only just scraping a living and would have little extra to give beggars.

"Ready." A boys voice said from the shadows of the sewer entrance.

"Yes." Rachel confirmed.

Once more they were taken through the labyrinth of tunnels that crisscrossed the city above them.

Eventually they came out into the main sewer.

There was a large crowd of children waiting for their instructions. Six older children organised the others into lines like they would have been in if they were at school.

The girls sat down with other children who were not in the lines.

Standing on a pipe was Baron and two heavy weights, all three carried baseball bats as clubs. In front of them was a twisted figure in a wheel chair. The Sewer King.

Standing just behind his wheelchair was a tall spare shape of a man.

"Children the Sewer King is pleased with you. The raid on the home of the fat idle rich was a success.

The jewellery and money will put food on the table for many weeks. Do not be sad for those wealthy people we stole from. They have their gems and other pickings insured, so they do not lose out on the deal." The mans voice was as thin as his frame.

He bent as if listening to the Sewer King for a moment.

Rachel could see clearly that the man in the wheelchair didn't speak.

The speaker stood up and cast an eye over the assembled children.

"Who's that?" Rachel asked a boy.

"It's 'Mouth Piece' now shush."

"A two o'clock in the morning you will raid the Lakeside railway station. Specifically the two first class only trains to Chicago and to Harrisburg. These are sleeper trains so raiding them shall be quite literally child's play.

Now get some sleep my children you are going to need it."

With that Mouth Piece wheeled the chair off the makeshift dais and into the sewers darkness.

Children hunkered down in their groups near the smoky braziers and fell asleep.

Baron had unfortunately spied the girls and was making his way across to them an evil look on his face.

"Well, well, all three of my little angels made it." His face was lopsided.

It was a sight that Barbara knew to well. It was the sign of a stroke.

Baron was suffering a mild form of it called a T.I., Temporary Infarction, or something like that.

"Follow me." He said. "And no dawdling."

They were led through several tunnels into a old signal hut that used to be used by the underground trains before the line was modified and this section shut down.

A slack faced girl opened the door for them. Her eyes were devoid of any emotion, her body showing the marks and bruises of her many beatings.

"Ah Angelica get my guests a drink. An I'll have my special why you are at it. The girls are going to be my entertainment for the night."

The girls had separated and were examining what they had found in the cluttered room.

In the corner was a drink cabinet stocked up with alcohol and drugs of different kinds.

Around the room were displayed numerous treasures on an eclectic set of furniture.

On display were the spoils from the children many raids.

Baron picked up a necklace and put it around Rachel's neck.

It was a gaudy affair made up of strings of pearls, a diamond and ruby centre with Sapphire droplets.

Rachel lifted her hand to it in what appeared to be delight.

"For me Baron?" She said breathlessly.

"Could be if you're a really good girl?" He said kissing the nape of her neck.

Rachel shivered with revulsion but Baron saw it otherwise.

"Getting excited are we my girl?" He laughed.

To Rachel's horror he began to lift up the tatty dress she wore. Underneath was her clear and clean flesh. If that was exposed before they were ready there would be hell to pay.

Robyn ran across to his side and wrapped herself around his arm.

"Don't I get to play?" She simpered.

"Yes, yes off course you will, patience girls." He gave a dirty chuckle. "There is enough off me to go around."

The girl they had seen before crossed over with a tray of drinks in fine crystal goblets. Barons own was in a cut glass whisky glass.

"Just a little pick me up to help us to last the night."

The girls took the glasses and pretended to sip at the dubious liquid within.

Rachel was sure they were some form of Mickey Finn but how they could avoid drinking it she couldn't imagine.

The answer to their dilemma came from an unlikely source.

There was a solid thumping on the door of the signal box before it was opened up by the visitor.

It was Mouth Piece.

"And what brings you here to disturb my peace." Baron growled.

"I can see what that peace is going to be." The thin man sneered.

Angrily Baron grabbed the baseball bat and brought it to a stop a few centimetres beneath Mouth Pieces chin.

"Remember your place!" Baron barked his face bright red with anger. "You were brought in to be my brothers voice after his stroke and nothing more."

"When do I get paid?"

"When I tell you and not before. We follow my brothers plan." Baron snorted. "Whilst the police are chasing the kids on the trains we'll be breaking into the strong room of the First National Bank and get away with a million dollars in untraceable notes."

"They want paying Baron or they will down tools." Mouth Piece moaned.

"If you have put them up to this I will see you suffer." He turned to the girls. "I've got to go out for awhile so you'll have to make your own fun till I return."

The three girls collected together to decide what to do next.

"We've got to bust up the bank raid somehow and stop the children robbing the trains." Robyn said.

"We have got to make up our minds before he comes back and who knows what happens."

Barbara had wandered over to where the emotionless girl sat with the tray in her hand.

Without thinking she signed to the girl.

The girl opened her mouth to show how her tongue had been crudely cut out.

"What happened?" Barbara signed.

"I upset him. I talked to much." She signed back.

"That is just wrong. You must get out of here."

"And do what. How many people would hire a mute drug addict wretch like me."


"I am fed the drugs if I am good but if I'm bad It is withheld from me. The cold turkey, the craving is to much to bear." She moved the tray to reveal the pistol in her hidden hand. "He didn't lock the gun cabinet tonight. I could shoot you all then Baron would love me again."

"Do you really believe that?"

"No. Just go." She signalled with the pistol.

Rachel had poured the drugged wine away just in time as the two men returned locked in a heated discussion.

"You get them working harder we must break through tonight and on schedule" Barons face was red from suppressed anger.

"Just don't stand there do it."

Mouth Piece hurried away.

Baron turned and grabbed Barbara and began to rip off her clothes.

"You don't want her not with me around." Rachel called as she slinked over.

Baron swung a slap at her that only narrowly missed. She flinched as if struck.

"Want to play it rough? I'm up for that master." Rachel called but it was to late.

The half naked form of Barbara gave away their subterfuge.

He stared at her clean and bruise free skin before roaring like a maddened beast.

Barbara's foot slammed into Bishops knee making him lurch to one side .

This gave an opening to Rachel who gave two bladed hand strikes at his ribs.

The blows only irritated him further as he started to crush Barbara in a bear hug.

Robyn had swung behind the couple where Barbara was striking out with karate blows to the neck.

"Swing low sweet chariot." She sang as she landed a painful blow to Barons genitals.

He threw Barbara to one side and made a mad grab for Robyn who only just avoided his grasping hands.

Suddenly the big man collapsed to one side. The right side of his face was slack and foam flecked his lips. His right arm and leg became useless to him dropping him to the floor.

His voice was slurred.

He was having a stroke.

The three girls jumped into action.

"We need to release the bleed. Reduce the pressure to the brain." Rachel said professionally. "There's a Kukri, a Ghurkha soldiers knife on the table. Get it please?"

A second ago they were fighting each other for survival now they were fighting to save his life.

The barrel of a gun appeared in her vision.

Rachel looked up into the poor girls face.

"You've got to let me try and save him?" She pleaded but to no avail.

Barbara signed to her Rachel's words but it made little difference as the girl forced them out at the barrel of a gun.

As the girls reluctantly moved away there was the loud sound of a shot being fired followed by another.

Unable to stop her Barbara ran back to the hut.

Inside the girl was lying on top of Baron her head close to his. She had shot him in the mouth before firing a bullet through both their heads.

Barbara stood there a moment shaking before running back to join the others.

Rachel lead them deftly through the tunnels to where she had the foresight to hide their costumes.

The three girls changed in total silence.

Barbara tried to stretch the cowl so it didn't make a mark before putting it on.

"What are we going to do? Which group are we going to try and stop?" She asked as they trotted out of the sewer past a dozing drunk.

The man shook his head to clear it and immediately swore off the booze. To celebrate he took a long swig out of the bottle of rough cider.

"I've no idea." Rachel said.

The girls entered the abandon warehouse and crossed to their bikes.

Rachel crossed to a support pillar and opened the secret compartment revealing the red phone inside.

"Hello Alfred it's Rachel. Is Bruce and Selina there? No? Can you get a message to them we need to meet up." She hung on for a few moments. "Yes I know the place. We'll leave now."

She put the phone down and crossed over to the others.

"There's been another red head murder." She told them as she climbed on to her bike and kicked it into life.

Soon the three of them were roaring out of the warehouse and down the road to their rendezvous.

The clock was ticking down someone s life. But who's.

Chapter Six Daggers Drawn.

The phone rang and the Deputy Commissioner James Gordon answered it.

"Gotham police. Gordon here."

He listened for a few moments.

"How many children are going to be involved? As many as thirty. I see." Gordon lifted his feet allowing Conchita to sweep under them. "What's their target? The luxury trains out of Lakeside? I'll pull all the officers I can spare and liaise with Child Care so we are ready for them."

He listened for a moment.

"Yes we have had another body. A young school kid this time. She was found in her fathers butchers shop drained of blood and hung up in the freezer on a hook.

I'll let you have access once tonight's over."

Jim Gordon pondered a moment and then picked up the phone again.

"Bullock I need you to take charge of a stake out at the Lakeside station."

Bullock relit the stub of a cigar and puffed away in thought for a few moments.

His investigation of the Red Head murders had required him to trawl some nasty areas of the underbelly of Gotham but he felt he was getting somewhere. He was narrowing it down to only a few manic individuals.

Six to be precise.

He stood up and called out over the police staff at their desks.

"Heads up people we've a big one going down tonight." Silence fell over the group. "Tonight at two o'clock in the morning those irritating sewer kids are going to raid two of the millionaire expresses. So any thought you had for an early night you can forget.

I want a map of the station. Lyle try city hall. And I don't care if you have to pull all of them out of there cosy beds.

Michaels get Captain Lewis to join us with his uniforms.

Alison contact the children's welfare office and have them prepare to deal with around thirty children." He looked at their faces wondering what they see when they looked at him. Did they see a dedicated officer or a reckless loose cannon who had been passed over so many times for promotion that it no longer stuck in his craw.

They had only a few scant hours to plan in he only hoped it would be enough.

Duncan put down the telephone.

Angela could tell it wasn't good news from his demeanour. He wouldn't be sharing her shower tonight that was for sure.

"Bad Hon?" She asked.

"There's been another one, a fifteen year old butchers daughter." He shook himself and rotated his shoulders as if he was settling some heavy weight. "I've got to go back on duty there's something big going down at Lakeside tonight."

"Not tonight surely it's the only day off you've had for a fortnight." Angela wasn't happy wasn't happy at all.

"I've no choice darling. Apparently Nights Wing and Bat Girl are going to be calling the shots."

Tommy lifted his head up from the book he was reading and gave a slight smile.

Angela helped Duncan dress in his uniform and gave him a kiss goodbye before strutting into the lounge in high dungeon.

"It's not fair Tommy!" She ranted as she threw herself into her chair like a petulant child. "At this rate I'll have to move into the precinct house just to get to see him regularly."

She knew she was acting like a spoilt child but it felt so good to let it out.

"Comes with the territory I'm afraid." Tommy said as he lazily turning over another page of his book.

"What are you reading anyway?" She asked.

"Hmm. Oh the book. It's H. G. Wells 'War of the Worlds." He looked across at her and smiled. "I'm having difficulty reading it because of the style of writing. I've also got to read Brahm Stokers 'Dracula'. I've got to do a project on how those two books influenced the modern day Science Fiction and Horror writers."

"That sounds quite heavy."

"It is. Did dad say when the thing at Lakeside was going down?"

"Two O'clock why?"

"No real reason just curious."

Lakeside was built appropriately enough close by the side of a large boating lake. Lakeside challenged Grand Central City in New Amsterdam for the record of being the largest in the US.

It was laid out on three levels. The lowest level served the Subway trains and the high level trains that moved the public around the city.

The middle level dealt with the commuter and local trains from the surrounding areas and villages.

The top level is where the intercity and interstate trains ran from including the two millionaire trains which took the business men who, for whatever reason couldn't go by air.

The top levels concourse was a tribute to the Art Nuevo movement with its angular patterns and blocks of colour.

"I'm off to bed Tommy see you in the morning."

Tommy put on his coat and quietly opened the front door. As soft footed as he could he made his way down the driveway. He stopped to look back to see the bathroom light on and Angela's shadow playing distortedly against the bathroom wall as she prepared for her nightly shower.

He smiled a lecherous grin.

Up in the bathroom Angela soaped herself up still annoyed with Duncan being called back in.

Duncan was a good man and an excellent patrol officer. Nearly all the shopkeepers and small business's knew him by first name and they also knew he was there to give a helping hand.

Duncan knew the children that were a little way would as opposed to being down right evil.

He was respected, relied on and even loved by his patch. They had taken him to their hearts.

The door to the bathroom opened and the shadowy form slinked in on silent feet.

The water ran off Angela's neat full breasts and down her taught stomach and athletic legs.

She was beautiful the watcher decided. The flick knife clicked open as a hand stretched to pull back the curtain.

If anyone was outside the house, walking their dog perhaps, they may have heard a scream cut short.

The First Northern Bank was one of several that clustered together in the finance sector of the city.

Down at the level of its vaults a group of men worked doggedly on well aware of the threat Barons muscled bound brother, Duke, represented.

They had drilled holes through the concrete creating a large strange binocular shape in the wall.

In testament to how tough the work had been was the scattered blunt and broken drill bits.

Duke had them pause.

They only needed one more hole drilled and the whole section could be pushed through allowing access to the strong boxes of the very rich and to the cages where pallets of new currency laid.

"We wait till two then we're in. We want those kids to have enough time to draw every Police Officer to Lakeside leaving us clear to get some easy pickings." Duke had found his brother when he hadn't turned up to lead the safecrackers. He had found him dead, locked in the embrace of one of his little girls.

Stoically Duke shrugged it was how his brother would have wanted to go, during sex with one of his girls. The fact that Baron had been shoot didn't register with him at all.

So Duke had taken over the attempt on the bank vault while his brothers, the twins, Earl and Count ran the raid at the train station.

Considering the time it was the station was far from empty. Small groups of people milled around.

Sitting on a bench reading the evening paper was a burly unkempt man. Mind you Bullock had read the same page over and over again until he knew it by heart.

His officers were in place covering the numerous entrances and exits to the concourse and the two platforms where the targeted trains were.

Suddenly he heard a grating sound and a sewer cover was lifted up and pushed to one side.

Two muscular men wielding base ball bats climbed out and secured the concourse. Then, like a stream of ants pouring out of a damaged nest, the children appeared.

It was happening so fast that it caught Bullock on the back foot. The children actually bustled him stealing his watch and billfold but thankfully not his warrant card or his gun which still nestled in his shoulder holster.

The children poured down the platforms and onto the trains with great screams of delight and laughter before rampaging through the carriages. Crashing open the doors to the sleeping rooms that were unlocked and dashing through the dinning car with its plush seats and piano.

What they found to their utter confusion was that there seemed to be nobody on board. The carriages of both trains were empty.

Suddenly the trains lurched and began to move forward.

"Off the train." Yelled the leader of the pickpockets but it was to know avail the auto locks clamped down with a solid thunk.

Looking out of the windows they could see the two millionaire trains leaving. The brainier ones amongst them realised that they had been duped. The trains they were meant to hit were leaving from totally different platforms.

Some of the children began to cry.

Those in the first carriage of both trains heard the door to the powerful engines open and there was either Batgirl or Nights Wing depending on which train you were on.

The locked cabin doors opened and the police officers, detectives and Children Society workers drove the remaining children toward the first carriage where they were to be processed.

A scream ran through the carriage that Batgirl was working in.

Two children had somehow got behind her and out of the doors she entered through.

She spun round and through the door in a blink of an eye.

On the buffer was a small girl screaming almost incoherently and it took quite a few moments to work out why.

Hanging from the coupling chain was Christian, his left foot was tangled up with his dropped satchel just a few inches from the carriages wheel.

She grabbed the little girl and yelled at her over the clacking of the wheels.

"Get me the strongest of the boys. I'll need his help to save Christian."

She shoved her through the doorway.

A few moments later a big boned fifteen year old girl came out and crouched beside her.

"The boy wouldn't come. The coward. What do you want me to do?"

Batgirl was into much of a hurry to argue.

"I need you to hold me. I'm going to have to go down head first before he goes under the wheels." She explained. "You're going to have to hold my legs."

Batgirl laid flat out over the chains while the girl braced her feet against the buffers.

A boy leaned out and took the girl around the waist, another girl did the same to the boy until a small chain of the larger children was created.

"Take the strain… Now!" Batgirl dipped her body from the waist into the gap between the engine and the carriage Just as Christian's hand slipped off the chain.

She caught his hand a split second before he would have disappeared under the wheels.

His hand was slippery from sweat making it hard to keep a grip.

With a herculean effort that brought a scream from her lips Batgirl lifted him back to the chain where he grabbed on easing the pressure on her arm.

"Right Christian when I say so I want you to let go of the chain and grasp my arm." She steeled herself for his weight. "Now!"

Christian let go and grabbed her arm threatening to pull it out of its socket.

"I've got you. Hold on I've got you. The other arm. Now!"

The pressure over her shoulders and cross her back was incredible.

Slowly, carefully she unbent her frame pulling up Christian as she did so. She felt her body being pulled back into the coach dragging the boy behind.

When she regained her feet she realised what the children had done. They had pulled them in.

"Thank you kids." She said as she stretched her back to ease the knots in it.

"We will take over now Batgirl." A youthful female officer said as the Children Society ladies had all the children sit down.

The train slowed and came to a stop before reversing back into the station into a different platform.

In the concourse Earl and Count soon realised something was wrong when the children didn't reappear laden with their spoils.

With great roars of steam four trains left the station at the same time. Two of them were the children's targets.

They looked over at each other puzzled.

Bullock got up, folded his newspaper and wandered across to Earl.

"Good Morning." He said convivially as he pulled out his warrant card. "Your under arrest."

Earl swung his bat round driving the detective back a few steps.

Duncan slipped out of his hiding place and pulled out his nightstick. He could see Count's shadowy shape ahead of him.

He swung the stick with venom at Count's head. To his amazement Count didn't react to the blow. He didn't collapse or stagger. He swung round to face this new enemy.

Duncan blocked the crashing blow from Count's bat.

The two men circled each other looking for an opening.

There was no doubt about Count's strength it was evident from the power of his blows.

Duncan was driven back until he had his back to a pillar. Duncan had managed to hit his target three times but it seemed only to make Count angrier. Duncan spotted an opening and managed to give Count a glancing blow to the chin.

Count's eyes glazed over and he dropped to the floor with a massive crash, totally out for the count. How was Duncan to know he had a glass jaw.

Duncan took a shuddering breath and stood gasping for a moment before squatting down and putting the cuff's on him.

Bullock pulled out his gun and aimed it at Earls head.

"As I said you're under arrest. Now we can do this the easy way or the hard way it's up to you."

With a bellow of pure rage Earl dropped his head and charged.

Bullock barely got out of the way in time.

"I take that as a vote for the hard way." He quipped before yelling to the other officers. "Don't stand there get him!"

Earl wasn't in any mood to go quietly. Soon he was surrounded by six officers all warily trying to disarm him.

Earl roared obscenities at them.

One officer ventured to close and received a smashing blow from the baseball bat that broke his arm for the pleasure.

The five officers were now in front of him leaving the way clear for Bullock to close in from behind.

Spinning the gun round he gave Earl a blow with the butt that shook the detectives arm.

For a few seconds it was if nothing had happened with Earl's bat knocking out another officer. Then suddenly his eye's rolled up in their sockets and he dropped to the ground poleaxe.

"If you want it done do it yourself." Bullock grinned. "Well don't stand there cuff him before he comes round.

The two dummy trains pulled back into the station.

"Head's up. When these kids get off the trains they are going to be pretty scared and may try and make a run for it. Bearing that in mind I want you to escort them to the school buses outside."

He crossed over to Duncan.

"That leaves me and you and a couple of wet behind the ears cadets to put them in the Black Maria Duncan." The men grinned more in relief than in joy.

Once the children were on the buses and the black police van had taken Earl and Count away the officers were stood down.

"We did a good job here tonight!" Bullock called to them over the din. "This is how it should be. Thanks for all your help. Now go home and get some shuteye before we get down to filling out the reports."

There was a groan from the assembled mass of officers.

"I'd like to add my thanks to those of Detective Sergeant Bullock for a job professionally done." The Captain of the Police added. "Go home and rest those who are not on shift. Those on shift join me back at the Precinct House for instructions and the beginning of the paperwork."

In a few moments the station was empty given back to its daily rhythm like existence. Like a giant lung breathing in life to the hulking city.

Chapter Seven Trouble in Store.

Duke had given the instructions for the final hole to be drilled dead on two in the morning.

With a high pitched scream that put all their teeth on edge the massive bit cut through the last bit of concrete.

Suddenly there was total silence as the drill was withdrawn.

Without a word Duke signalled them to push the cut out section through. It landed inside with a loud crunch.

Jemmy one of three bag men chosen for their slimness was the first to wriggle through.

He leaned back into the hole.

"All clear Duke." He whispered through the gap.

"Right. Break open the safety deposit boxes with the oxyacetylene cutter we're sending through. You other two break into the cages holding the used notes that were due for incineration and put as much as you sensibly can into the ten holdalls. Remember we've got to be able to carry them down into the sewers."

The three safe breakers worked like a well oiled machine. In minutes of breaking in they were sending the spoils back through the hole.

Every so often Duke would stop to examine a fine piece of jewellery or bearer bonds.

Duke didn't feel any remorse or guilt in what he was doing. As far as he was concerned he was merely redistributing to those in need basically his pockets and those of his brothers.

The rich people were well insured so they wouldn't lose out.

He smiled as he twirled a fine jewelled necklace in his stubby fingers.

There was a sudden crack sound like that of a pistol shot.

Duke pulled out his own pistol instinctively.

The fun was about to begin.

Inside the safe Jemmy 'The Flame' turned from the batch of safety deposit boxes he was opening, the torch flame still roaring. There in the shadows stood a distinctive shape.


"Naughty, naughty." She purred as she executed a perfect gymnastic walk over into the deeper shadows cast by the cages. The horsehair bull whip swishing through the air like an agitated tail.

"Boss we got trouble! The Cat's here!" He yelled through the hole.

"Then bribe her with this." Duke threw the beautiful necklace through the gap.

Jemmy caught it and let it sparkle in the dim light as it hung from his fingers.

"Cat Lady look what I've found and there's plenty more from where that came from." He called.

"Haven't you heard I've given up on that game." The reply came from closer too.

"You, never! You can take the Cat out of the jewellery but never the jewellery out of the Cat." Jemmy called as he motioned his two compatriots to close in on the voice.

Suddenly she appeared out of the darkness in a flying leap to land crouching on the floor. "You can't kid me. You were the greatest of us second story men, us safecrackers. There wasn't a Peter that you couldn't crack."

Jemmy swung the necklace back and forth in a hypnotic fashion allowing the light to glint off the stones.

Catwoman's eyes watch it swinging back and forth. She slowly, erotically, stood up and slinked over to his side purring loudly.

She reached out and took the gemstones from his hand pausing only to lick his ear.

Her movements were catlike. Her head moved one way then the other as she looked at the stones.

"They are so beautiful." She purred stretching her slim body up until she was on tip toes. "It is such a shame that I must give them back."

With a flick of her wrist the bullwhip cracked out hitting the wrist of Jenny 'The Knife' sending the weapon flying from her fingers.

"What makes you think I would share with you anyway." Jemmy swung round with the cutting tool in his hand.

The flame roared out but Catwoman had pirouetted away.

Jenny had pulled out a large jagged knife.

"It's time we gutted this poor pussy." She yelled advancing on the shape in the shadows.

The shadow moved to reveal the third in their group. 'Ragdoll'!

So called because of his triple jointedness that allowed him to go through such small spaces. Handy for a burglar.

He ran loose limbed over to her side. Jemmy joined them with the acetylene blow torch in his hand.

Duke had removed his ugly blunt nose pistol from his waist band and crouched down to get a good view into the bank vault. He steadied his arms against the hole's sides to give him a stable platform for his shot.

Jemmy saw what the boss was up to and gave him a slow nod of understanding.

Then just as abruptly there she was speeding across Dukes line of sight. He began to squeeze the trigger when something whirled across the space striking the pistol hard knocking it from his hand before embedding its self into the wall by his head.

A metal boomerang in the shape of the Bat Signal was stuck fast.

Duke spun round picking up his pistol of the ground as he went.

"Get your Gat's we've got company."

The five remaining thugs picked up an assortment of weapons. For the sake of clarity we will call them Thug 1 to 5.

4 had picked up the long drill bits in either hand and was expertly moving them around his body. 1 and 5 picked up their machine guns while 2 and 3 armed themselves with pistols and knives.

"Do you honestly believe that is going to stop me?" A gravelly voice called from the darkness.

The two machine gunners gave short bursts that lit up the area briefly. Their prey was nowhere to be seen.

Inside the vault things were not going any better.

Catwoman's whip cracked over their heads more than once but she was to fast to get a clear bead on.

The cutters flame only interfered with their abilities to see into the gloom and Ragdoll had vanish to who knows where.

Then suddenly there she was coming down the aisle toward them with that swaying sexy walk. Her high heeled boots clicking as she moved.

The whip trailed along behind her, swishing across the floor like a cats tail when it's angry.

Jenny spun a small knife in her left hand. Catching it by the blade momentarily she launched it at her adversary.

With incredible speed Catwoman plucked it out of the air and threw it into a stack of bank notes for burning leaving it vibrating there.

But Jenny hadn't left it to just the thrown knife to do the dirty work. She charged in her large knife slashing the air in front of her to catch the Catwoman off guard.

Unable to move away Catwoman resorted to a flailing hand to deflect the intended knife thrust. The knife blade whistled passed her ear.

Her balled fist drove into Jenny's stomach forcing the air out of her body with an explosive gasp.

Catwoman rolled free of her falling body and lashed out with the whip at Jemmy, or more precisely the hand that held the trigger of the torch.

The flame roared into existence catching the whip alight.

Moving rapidly she flashed the whip at the piping for the sprinkler system above his head. It made a flaming arc before wrapping itself around the pipe.

Once secure she used it to swing at Jemmy. He tried to raise the trigger again but his adversary was moving to quick and landed feet first in his chest.

Jemmy slammed into the open safe deposit boxes behind him and fell down at Catwoman's feet!

With a swift movement she turned out the flame and secured the acetylene torch.

As she stood up she turned to face the recovering Jenny she twisted her wrist and the whip, now out, came free, dropping to the floor.

Suddenly out of the two foot square hole where a safety box had been shot two hands. They gripped her throat and began to throttle her, holding her in place so that Jenny could stab her with her recovered knife.

Meanwhile on the other side of the wall things were getting worse.

Batman stood in the darkness of the sewer looking for a tactical advantage. His hand went to his utility belt and a bolus dropped into his hand. A slim cord that split into three with weighted ends.

He began whirling it around his head until it became a blur. Then he released it at thug 1. It hit the machine gunners legs the weighted ends making sure it wrapped around him making him overbalance and crash to the floor.

Another Bat shaped Boomerang buzzed across the space and jamming itself into the second machine gunners barrel rendering the weapon useless.

Batman then took advantage of the confusion to leap out into the group.

With two accurate karate blows the two weapon toting thugs were disarmed. Another two strikes and they were out for the count.

The thug with the drill bits attempted to impale Batman on the sharp ends.

Batman stood very still then at the last minute turned sideward's allowing the giant metal screws to pass in front and behind him.

His right hand shot out and smashed into the thugs chin.

He staggered back but didn't fall.

Duke tried to get a clear shot. His gun barked only to successfully shoot one of his own men, thug 2, killing him.

Batman kicked the gun out of Dukes hand and delivered a blow to the side of his head. Duke was no slouch and knew all about fighting especially dirty fighting.

He rolled with the blow taking the sting out of it.

His powerful arms swung round Batman's waist and lifted him off the ground with crushing strength.

He was out to break Batman's spine.

Batman in agony rained blows on the man even drawing blood from a cut lip. All that happened was that Duke increased the pressure.

In agony Batman jabbed his thumbs into Dukes eye sockets. The thug let go with a scream.

Batman tried to push his advantage but was thwarted by the manic scream of Thug 4 trying to impale him on the huge drill bits.

Batman suddenly dropped down and slid along the floor under the drill bits into number fours legs.

Falling backward 4 cracked himself on the head in an impact with the bricked archway, knocking himself out.

Batman did a backward summersault over the charging Dukes head and bounced off the wall, twisting in midair to land on Dukes back.

The extra weight added to the speed of his charge made Duke overbalance and come crashing to the ground.

There was a short wrestling match before Batman managed to get his fingers on the pressure point. With a bladed hand blow to the spot Duke went limp and was easily handcuffed.

"Cat are you alright?"

While Batman was fighting the other side of the wall Catwoman was having her own problems.

The Ragdoll was choking her from his hidey-hole inside a safe deposit box draw.

Her eye sight was dimming and she knew she hadn't much longer to go as Jenny bore down on her with a heavy serrated bladed knife.

Catwoman pressed the thumb of both hands into the centre of her palms. There was a soft click and her claws sprang forth over her finger tips.

Swiftly she clawed Ragdolls hands turning them into a bloody mess.

Ragdoll screamed in pain and let go.

Catwoman dropped into a crouch and with claws slashing leapt at the rushing knifewoman. The claws on the left hand caught and held at bay the knife while the right hand slashed across Jenny's face.

Though she didn't make contact it was enough to pull Jenny up short.

With a sharp twist of the wrist the knife was pull out of Jenny's hand and clattered onto the ground.

Jenny had barely enough time to register this fact before Catwoman delivered a punishing uppercut.

Dazed Jenny staggered backward shaking her head to clear it.

"My husband taught me that one, but this is all mine." She rolled forward picking up the whip as she went. As she stood up again the whip cracked out around Jenny's legs.

With a sharp tug Jenny went crashing down onto the floor.

Laying there stunned Jenny couldn't raise any defence as Batwoman chained her to the cage of one of the money rooms.

Catwoman spun round to deal with Ragdoll but he had gone leaving nothing bar a bloody smear on the wall near an open ventilation duct.

She then went over to Jemmy and dragged him beside Jenny. Chaining him to Jenny.

"Cat are you alright?" Batman called worriedly through the hole.

"I'm fine my darling but I'm afraid Ragdoll has got away again." She was purring with satisfaction.

"That doesn't surprise me. He's been a pain in all our sides these last few months."

Once satisfied that their adversaries were secure they went up and out of the sewers.

There they met up with Gordon and his boys in blue.

"All yours commissioner." Batman told him in his disguised voice.

Gordon signalled to the uniformed officers to enter the sewers.

"We found Baron and the poor girl. What could she have gone through to do what she did?" He asked rhetorically. "We went to where you said the Sewer King and Mouth Piece were but they had already gone."

"It is going to be harder next time we meet. Baron and his brothers are basically brutes but Mouth Piece is another kettle of fish entirely." Batman mused. "The Red Head latest victim?"

"I've arranged a viewing with the Coroner at ten thirty." Gordon said quietly. "Be invisible if you know what I mean."

"We know what you mean. We'll leave you to it Jim." Batman very rarely used Gordon's first name but when he did it made Jim very proud to know this mysterious man.

The clock was striking three as they drove away in the Batmobile together.

Duncan quietly opened the door to their house and entered. He took off his shoes so he could walk quieter, so he didn't wake the household.

He refrained from turning on the lights and after managing at last to hang up his coat he padded into the front room to pour himself a medicinal scotch. The nights work had left a terrible taste in his mouth.

After three steps something on the carpet tripped him up sending him sprawling.

With a muffled curse he got back to his feet and turned on the desk lamp.

He turned round to see what had tripped him. There in the limpid pool of light was the reason.

He screamed in absolute horror and pain. Collapsing to his knee's at the sight.

His night wasn't over it had barely begun.

Chapter Eight Chapter and Verse.

The radio crackled to life in Batman's sleek speedster.

"Cars 25 and 31 proceed to 31st and Elm. House 21. The owner has just found his wife's body. She's been done by the Red Head killer. Ambulance and medic are on the way. Over." The dispatcher said unemotionally.

"This is Car 25 receiving and understood. I don't know how long we'll be in getting there Sergeant, that whole side of town is gridlocked due to an accident between two petrol tankers. Over."

"This is Car 31. Same problem for us Sarge. Over."

"Do the best you can. It's one of our own boys. It's Duncan, Duncan Finnan. Over and out."

In two police cars curses were sworn by the officers as they tried to manoeuvre through the blocked traffic, blues and twos playing, trying desperately to get to their friend.

"That's not far from here. If the patrol cars can't get through neither will the medics." Batman said as he negotiated the back alleys at speed. Then suddenly they were out in the suburbs and within moments they were pulling up at the house.

The door was part open but for decency sake Batman still knocked.

They made their way into the living room to find something from a horror film.

laying on the floor was Angela spread eagled in a cross shape and then nailed onto the sailing ships great wheel.

There wasn't a spare bit of skin that wasn't covered with the stamped numbers. Her eyes were taped open and blood was encrusted around her crutch. Evidence if any where needed of the violence of the rape.

She was nailed to the wheel through her wrists and ankles.

Though it was difficult to see, the faint marks around her face were still evident.

Duncan sat cradling Angela's head in his arms as he sobbed.

It was Catwoman who crossed over and gently lifted the bereft man to his feet and comforted him.

She knew Batman had difficulty dealing with grief whether it be his own or someone else's and took control.

She looked down at Angela's body cold anger in her heart when she noticed something. A movement in her neck and another.

"She is still alive. Duncan she's still alive." Leaving Duncan to his own devices she dropped down beside the wheel and delicately laid a questing finger on Angela's neck. "Yes there's a pulse. Weak and thready, but a definite pulse."

Batman knelt on one knee beside her.

"Duncan." He called to the bemused man. "Phone the ambulance service and get an eta, the Estimated Time of Arrival."

Duncan rushed to the phone and dialled.

Batman carefully felt around her neck.

"Her throat has been crushed we've got help her breath." He looked round for anything he could use before dropping the new invention the Biro Ballpoint Pen from his belt pouch.

He stripped it of its ink cartridge to leave a hollow tube.

He nodded to Catwoman who extended her claws.

"Just here." Batman pointed.

With a shudder Catwoman cut into Angela's throat with her diamond sharp index claw.

Blood foamed and bubbled out of the hole as Batman inserted the shaft of the pen into it.

Angela began to breath a little easier.

Batman looked at the nails that attached Angela to the wheel.

"I'll have to cut them off as close to the wood as I can get so not to inflict any further damage." His hand went to his utility belt and he pulled out a flexible serrated lace affair.

"Batman they say they can't get here for at least another thirty minutes to an hour." Duncan was shaking.

"Then we haven't any time to lose. Lift her hand up as best you can Cat."

She did so allowing Batman to loop the cutting lace around the iron nail.

Rapidly he began sawing his way through. "Monitor her life signs?"

"We've still got a pulse. Breathing shallow but easier." Catwoman reported.

Duncan cradled Angela's head as best as he could.

"You're going to be fine darling. Just stay with me. Don't leave me, please don't leave me." He sobbed.

"Through!" Batman said as the metal parted.

Catwoman gently move Duncan round so they could get access to the other hand.

Soon that one was free too but there was a problem.

"It's going blunt. I don't know if it will cut the ones going through the ankles." He told his partner.

Getting access to the nail that held Angela fast was difficult because of her ankles being so close to the wood.

"Life signs?" Batman barked.

"Weak pulse and low breathing but stable." Catwoman reported.

"I've got to take the chance." He nodded to Catwoman.

She lifted the first ankle up a little making Angela moan in pain.

Duncan could hear the blade rasping against the metal of the nail.

Time was elongating as the saw kept catching on the nail.

Then he as through but the saw was now toothless and useless and there was another ankle to go.

Batman threw it down in exasperation.

"You've got to save her Batman, please save her?" Duncan begged.

Catwoman pressed the centre of her palm in the gloves and the claws extended.

She looked at them critically before she selected one and with a grunt of pain pulled it loose. Sucking on her finger to stem the blood flow from the nail bed she passed it over to Batman.

Her nail was rock hard and as sharp as diamond.

Batman used it to score the last nail that held Angela to the wheel. It cut deep into the surface of the nail until it had created a groove. A groove the flexible saw could fit into. In moments he was through.

"Duncan go and check on the eta of the ambulance please?" Catwoman asked.

"We haven't time for all that. We'll use the Bat car." With one swift motion he had Angela in his arms and was approaching the door out of the property. "Well come on!"

Batman and Catwoman jumped into the front while Duncan had Angela propped up beside him in the back of the sleek, black, sports car. In moments it had sped away.

At the Royal Free Saint Michael Hospital a certain doctor was tapping his way across the main concourse with his blind man's white cane, his PA and nurse following on just behind.

Suddenly the doors crashed open and the staff and patients got a view they wouldn't forget. That of the Dark Knight, Batman, striding in with a nude woman in his arms followed by Catwoman and a police officer who's eyes were red from tears.

"What on earth is going on?" The doctor asked loudly.

"Doctor McNider its Batman. I've got a critically injured woman here. She's been tortured and raped." He called.

The doctor turned to the petty nurse in her whites who was a step behind him.

"Myra get hold of Doctor John Jones and have him comedown right away please? Except no excuses." He sniffed the air catching an aroma on the breeze that he recognised, before carrying on. "Nurse Juliet is side room 21 still vacant?"

"Yes Doctor." The short Junoesque nurse replied.

"Good. Lead them to it please?"

Catwoman crossed over and gently took the mans hand.

"Can I be your eyes doctor." She said carefully laying his hand onto her forearm.

"Thank you that is most kind. Err um I don't even know your name."

"It's Catwoman, Doctor McNider." She grinned a natural smile. Then she added in a low whisper. "Or should I say Doctor Midnite."

"No you shouldn't, but you can tell me the extent of her injuries as we go."

Doctor Midnite was one of a group of Mystery Men and Women that had sprung up all over the US and Great Briton.

Thirty minutes later the good Doctor and his faithful partner Myra were in a deep discussion with the husband, Duncan, and Batman and Catwoman just outside the side ward room.

"We have stabilised her for the moment. Once we are satisfied she will be going into the theatre to have the nails removed.

We've giving her fluids and pain relief intravenously.

I'm not going to lie to you, I honestly don't know how much damage has been done to her hands and feet. She may not be able to use them again."

Duncan broke down and with gentle words Myra and Catwoman led him a little way away.

"Is there nothing that can be done?" Batman asked.

"If I could do the operation I would. I might be able to see perfectly in total darkness but my theatre nurse and anaesthetist can not!" Charles McNider was angry at himself for not being more able to help.

Doctor John Jones exited the side room.

"She's stable now. Her pulse is stronger and her blood pressure is steady if a little high." Doctor Jones was a strange looking man.

He was totally bald right down to his eyebrows and eye lashes. He was slim, some would even say gaunt. A feeling exaggerated by his height. He stood a good six foot nine.

His skin was anaemic looking, with a strange green cast to it, that gave the impression he was ill himself.

But what was certain was the gentleness and concern mirrored in his deep violet blue eyes.

"Take her down to theatre six John, Doctor Anatine is waiting to begin. I'll be in the viewing gallery to advise."

The young doctor nodded and set to work getting Angela down to the theatre.

He paused by Duncan and gave his shoulder a squeeze.

Instantly Duncan stopped sobbing and his face became calm.

Charles carefully rested his hands on Batman's powerful arm and on Catwoman's lithe one.

"Go home the pair of you, there is nothing more you can do here. Just find the man who's done this and stop him doing more!"

"We will Doctor. Will you as Midnite be joining us in our search?" Catwoman asked.

"No I'm needed here. I am setting up a special ward in the main Royal Free, Saint Christopher's, in New Brunswick, in the S.T.A.R.R. Labs research section to aid and repair damage to us so called Mystery Men. I'm here touting for the best medical staff." He smiled up at them. "I hope you never need me."

"So do I Doctor so do I." Batman said quietly to his retreating back.

A new day was dawning and who knows what the future had to offer.

Nine o'clock at the MacDonald Bread and Cake shop.

A tearful young woman sat in an old battered fireside chair with Catwoman kneeling beside her.

"Jenny." She said softly. "Tell me all about your friend. She was more than a friend wasn't she?"

The poor girl nodded and looked at the floor in shame. Catwoman put her hand under Jenny's chin and lifted it up.

"One day soon you won't have to hide your sexuality. Don't be ashamed of it, be proud that you found such a love as…"

She pause to let the girl fill in the blank.

"Alice." Jenny said.

"Yes Alice."

"We loved each other." Jenny sobbed. "The only way we could be together was to run a business together. Her dad runs the butchers shop next door. It seemed perfect."

"Can you tell me what sort of business you were in?" Catwoman used a tissue to wipe the teenagers tears away.

Jenny nodded.

"We had the backing of our dads to run a delivery service. We made cakes, Danish pastries, bagels and sandwiches."

"Do you have a list of people you deliver too?" Batman asked.

"Yes. We deliver to all the police stations on the east side. We have a contract with the police federation."

Batman lent forward scaring the poor girl.

Catwoman put a hand on his arm and shook her head slightly.

"Do you deliver to the main Precinct House?" Catwoman asked.

"Yes that was always the first one on our list."

Catwoman gently took the poor young woman into her arms and whispered into her ear.

"You have been a very brave girl. Don't worry we will find who did this to you and make them pay."

"Good." Was the sobbed reply.

Next door was the butchers shop, Cameron's Butchers and Deli, where the forensic team were already at work.

Bullock lazed untidily against the window.

He gave his crooked smile.

"Well, well, the flying rat out in the light."

"Any news for us Bullock?" Batman asked totally ignoring the insult.

"I've narrowed the suspects down to four.

John Green, paedophile, abused three ten year old boys, released for good behaviour. He's vanished off the radar.

Michael Prayed suspected of grooming school girls for sex. We've no evidence to convict him. Lived on the lower eastside with his wife, a fiery Hispanic, who is suspected of aiding and abetting.

Lastly George Plumber a high level lawyer. Suspected of running a child sex ring but again no proof.

The Commissioner knows about the list and has asked me to pass it to you. Why I haven't a clue? I've covered more ground than you fancy pants."

He reluctantly passed over the list.

"Last known addresses are on there."

"Bullock?" Batman asked. "Check all the victims to see if they have ever been in the main Precinct House these last few months, please."

"What all of them?" Bullock asked irritated.

"Yes. Alice is a natural red head who visited the police houses on the east side. Start there, and have a look to see if any of the police officers and auxiliary staff have worked out of more than one of them."

"Thank you Lieutenant." Catwoman slinked over to him and ran a clawed hand down his cheek making him blush, which in Bullocks case was not a pleasant thing to see.

Ten O'clock.

Andrew pulled back the cover off the body on the mortuary slab.

Batman flinched and looked away for a second. He had seen many dead bodies before but nothing like the one on the slab.

She had been split open from crotch to neck and hung from a hook in the freezer like the pig carcases around her.

Batman could taste the bitterness of bile in his mouth as he looked back.

"Please be to God that she didn't die that way!" He said his voice showing clearly his horror.

"Well I can answer that prayer Batman. See these marks on her neck." Batman leaned forward to take a look at the bruised flesh. "She was throttled like the others."

"Was her hair clipped?" Catwoman asked pointing at the cloth that covered the top part of the head.

"A bit more than that." He removed the cloth. "She's been scalped."

It was a gruesome sight and both the hero's were glad when she was covered up again.

"Our adversary it getting bolder." Batman said.

"Either that or she has nearly finished the wig." Catwoman added.

In moments they had gone.

Satisfied Andrew turned to the cleaner.

"Could you do the office today please?" He asked.

"Yes I will do this for you." She said as she began to close in on him with her mop.

Eleven O'clock.

The conservatory at Wayne Manor.

Bruce sat in his rocking chair looking shattered whilst Selina sat in the opposite one with the Times news paper turned to the crossword puzzle page.

Strangely the mental exercise helped her to relax.

She was muttering to herself as she tried to answer the new type of crossword in the paper.

"If number twenty one is 'E' then five is 'S' or 'T'."

The door out into the conservatory opened and Alfred came through with a silver tea service with three fine china coffee cups on a silver tray.

He crossed to the white Italian garden table and slid the tray on to its mesh like surface.

He poured three coffees just how they liked it before passing them over. The third one he picked up himself along with a Garibaldi cookie and seated himself at the table.

"Well Master Bruce, Mistress Selina, where do we go from here?"

Bruce ran a hand down his tired face.

"I haven't got a clue at the moment." Bruce replied.

"I've been thinking about those numbers and have come to the conclusion we are looking at a to complicated a solution." The old valet said.

"Don't you think I haven't thought of that!" Bruce spat angrily.

"You are obviously in need of proper rest. We can continue the conversation later sir." He got up to go.

Selina looked daggers at her fiancé but Bruce didn't need any prompting.

"Sorry Alfred. It's been a hard twenty four hours." Mollified Alfred sat down. "You were saying old friend."

"I has come to me that the number's refer to letters of the alphabet a lot like Mistress Selina's crossword in the Times."

"Sorry I don't understand." Bruce was puzzled.

Selina spread the crossword she was working on over the table beside her weighing it down with their coffee cups.

"It's called 'Code Breaker' darling." Selina traced her fingers over it." Instead of blank spaces for letters the grid is filled with numbers and those numbers correspond to letters of the alphabet. Beneath the Quiz word is a line of numbers which you fill in with letters as you go along. As you can see they have given three letters to start with."

Bruce nodded but still looking a bit perplexed.

"As you can see I've deduced by the number of times it has appeared that number twenty one is 'E'.

When I have all the letters I used them to crack the secret message and could win a hundred dollars."

Bruce laughed.

"Could it really be as simple as that." He wrote down the numbers onto a piece of paper Alfred passed to him.

The numbers he wrote down were,21 20 79 18 12.

"I don't think we have enough letters and words to work it out." Selina sighed as she looked at them.

"If he wanted us to work it out he'd keep it simple like using the alphabet straight." Bruce said as Robyn came into the conservatory with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice in her hand. She crossed over to join them.

"If that's the case then 21 is 'U' and 20 'T' but where does that get us with the next number being 79." Batman concluded.

"You're doing it wrong." Robyn said. "They use codes like that in my Sherlock Homes supporters fan magazine."

"Have a look and see what you can make of it Robyn dear." Selina's eye's had changed to the cat like slits, her feline alter ego wore.

"Well let's say each number represents a single number. So it's not twenty one it's two and one, B and A. The next number 2 must be combined with 0 as there is not letter '0'. So that's a 'T'. 79 must be separate numbers so they are letters 'G' and 'I' that leaves the numbers 18 and 12 which as single letters would be 'A', 'H', 'A' and 'B' now that doesn't make sense so they must be double number letters, 'R' and 'L'.

The whole thing must be therefore B.A.T.G.I.R.L." Robyn looked up into their faces with a cheeky grin not realising what she had spelt out. "Well I did learn from the best."

Her smug smile vanished off her face when she realised something was seriously wrong.

"What? What?!" She said confused.

Selina pointed to the word Robyn had spelt out.

For a second she didn't see it then it came to her.


"And Barbara is red haired." Bruce said in horror. "And so is Rachel."

"I'll see if they are still in bed. After last night I wouldn't blame them." Robyn said as she dash back into the house.

Bruce led the other three back into the lounge to where the photographs of the victims lay.

"See those faint marks on their faces." He pointed at several of the photographs. "I knew I'd seen that mark before. It was on Barbara's face when we were at the fashion show. It was caused by her mask being to tight."

"He made them wear a cowl. He was pretending they were Batgirl." Selina said worriedly. "We need to keep her safe here till we can find and stop him."

If she was worried now then things were going to get much much worse.

Robyn burst back into the room her face white with fear.

"She's not in her room and the bed hasn't been slept in." She said breathlessly. "I popped into Rachel's but she's not there and her bed has not been slept in either."

"She's a red head too." Catwoman gave voice to all their fears.

"With your permission Master Bruce I'll go down and see if their transponders are working?" Alfred asked.

"Their what?" Robyn asked.

"Transponders are tiny transmitters built into our costume's so that Alfred can monitor our movements and arrange a lift out if needed." Bruce turned to his old friend. "Yes please Alfred. We'll take the motorbikes."

"As you wish sir."

At that very moment the telephone rang.

Alfred picked it up.

"The Wayne Residence." Alfred's body stiffened warning them that there was problems. "I see Commissionaire. I will pass you over to Master Bruce sir. Just one moment please."

Alfred pressed the mute button so Gordon couldn't here what was being said.

"The Commissionaire is worried about his daughter as she hasn't contacted him. He wants to know if she was still with Mistress Rachel."

Bruce took the phone and pressed the mute button once again.

"Hello James what seems to be the trouble?" He said warmly.

"It's Barbara. She hasn't come home and she hasn't telephoned me. Is she still with Rachel, Bruce?" His voice mirrored his concern. "I know they were together at the fashion show."

"I'm afraid we are both going to have to have stern words with both those young ladies. They have both gone over to Metropolis to give a private showing of some of Rachel's designs. No need to worry they are in Carla Kent's capable hand's."

"Forgive this stupid old man, what with this red hair killer on the loose I just let my imagination run away with me." Bruce could hear the relief in his voice. "If Rachel telephones you could you get her to remind Barbara to phone me."

"Of course I will James."

A minute later Bruce put the telephone down.

"I have just had to lie to an old friend and I didn't like it one bit." He took a deep breath. "Robyn work with Alfred and monitor our radio messages. See if you can open up the radio circuits in their cowls."

"Where to my darling?" Selina asked as they crossed over to the hidden doorway into the Batcave below, her eyes cat like slits.

"We go back to Duncan's house." He said his face grim.

Duncan's house lay undisturbed by the police.

Batman used the phone to contact the hospital and Charles.

"How did it go Charles?" He dreaded the reply.

"It went very well. She's in a side room to recover. She hasn't regained consciousness yet." Charles moved out of the cleaners way. "We are cautiously optimistic that there will be no lasting damage to her hands and feet. She's been lucky."

"We'll drop round later to see how she is. Is Duncan still there? How about his son?" Batman asked.

"No he's not here, in fact I didn't know he had a son." Charles told him. "One odd thing though. John found her hair covered in soap, a shampoo of some sort."

"Thank you Charles will see you later."

He put down the phone and told Catwoman the news.

"At least she came through the operation successfully." Catwoman said.

Batman squatted down beside the ships wheel that Angela was strapped too.

"Cat could you do us a favour please?" He asked.

"Yes, what do you want me to do darling." She purred loudly.

"Angela's got soap in her hair, shampoo." He said as if that explained everything. "The chances are she was attacked in the bathroom and dragged down here. Will you have a look please."

Batman took a small vial and tweezers out of his belt pouches and set to work teasing a piece of fabric out of the wood.

Catwoman stooped and kissed him before disappearing upstairs.

Padding softly Catwoman entered the bathroom to see it in disarray.

The shower curtain was partly pulled down at the business end where the controls were.

On the floor were several cleaning products and body washes. There was obvious signs of a struggle with the linen basket upset and clothes scattered.

Catwoman slinked out of the bathroom and went into the major bedroom.

In a closed plastic bag with a zip was Duncan's dress uniform, shirt and tie.

The whole room was incredibly tidy, with everything having its place and everything in its place. And yet for all that it was a warm cosy room. A happy place.

She crossed the landing.

Downstairs Batman tested the weight of the wheel before lowering it again.

"Bat!" Catwoman yelled down from the landing.

"Cat?!" He yelled back.

"Can you come up here please? I think you ought to see this."


In a few strides he was upstairs with her.

"Angela was attacked in here, the bathroom. She was taking a shower that's why her hair had shampoo in it.

She was half throttled here and then dragged in here, the boys room."

She led the way into Tommy's room.

On the walls were pin ups of film stars and sportsmen like you would find in any teenagers room.

The bed was a total mess.

"It was on the boys bed where she was raped and almost but not quite throttled to death." Catwoman walked over to an easel in the corner on which a board was propped. On it were several pin ups.

Catwoman gripped it and turned it round to reveal…

"Batgirl." Batman said horrified.

The board was covered with newspaper reports and photographs of Batgirl.

"He's the one that has killed those women that had the numbers stamped on them."

Batman said picking up a empty rubber stamp and block ink.

"And this is where the mask used to be." Catwoman put a clawed hand onto the bald head of the bust that sat on the table.

She moved it only to find that it had a secret draw which popped open at her claws touch. Inside were photographs.

With a shudder she passed them to Batman. They were photographs of the victims laying naked except for a crude bat mask. Nearly all but one were dead when the photographs were taken.

The first one showed a woman holding her breasts in what she hope was a provocative manner while she licked her lips.

"The first victim. She was a prostitute so probably play acted for him. She didn't know what was coming." Batman said staring at the image before putting them away into his belt pouch. "We've got all we need from here. Let's go."

They were by the motorbikes when Alfred's voice came through on their ear pieces.

"Calling Batman and Catwoman over."

"We hear you old friend." Batman replied into his hidden microphone.

"Ah there you are Batman. I have been trying to get you for the last ten minutes."

"The building must have cut off the signal."

"Yes quite. To get down to brass tacks. We have located the homing signals of both Batgirl and Nights Wing sir."

"Good. Can you direct us to them using our transponders Alfred." For the first time in all this he dared to have a glimmer of hope.

"Yes sir I could but you will have to tell us which one you want to go for."


"The young ladies appear to be at differing ends of the city."

"Alfred this is Catwoman. Is their anyway you could direct us if we split up."

"Yes Catwoman. It is what I was going to suggest. I can direct Batman to one whilst on a slightly different frequency Robin can direct you to the other."

Catwoman looked up into her partners face.

"It may be the only chance we have." She pleaded.

"Okay let's do it."

He took Catwoman in his arms and kissed her.

"Come back to me safe. Come back to me safe!"

The returning kiss was more passionate.

"You too darling, You too."

She jumped on to her motorcycle and with a screeching 360 degree turn roared off in to the city.

Robyn deftly directed her through the traffic until she arrived at her destination. An old used car lot that was full of rusting carcasses of cars.

Being mindful of not wanting to alert the potential kidnappers she took her foot of the gas and coasted to a stop.

In front of the lot was a tall wire fence. She looked at it for awhile in that strange cat like manner of hers. The whip swishing over the ground.

With a sudden flick it wrapped itself around the lighting post on the other side. On silent feet she scrambled cat like up the wire next to the gate post. When she reached the top she launched herself into thin air and swung over the tops of the burnt out wrecks to land on the roof of a hut.

"You must be standing over the top of Batgirl." Robyn said in her ear.

Cat stretched and with another flick of the wrist freed the whip. She walked to the edge of the shed and like a prize gymnast she did a lay out with a full twist to land in a crouch facing the door.

She walked carefully to the door and pressed a sensitive ear to its surface.

She could hear nothing.

With ultimate care she opened it and slid in.

The room was dark with a dank musty smell. A quick looked round confirmed that though dusty the room had been used a short while ago.

Dropping into a low crouch she examined the footsteps in the dust. Puzzled she noticed that the foot prints went out of the room but only hers showed anyone coming in.

She opened the door and followed the spore to where a mound of black leathers lay.

"I've found Batgirls clothes minus her cowl." She reported back.

She began to pick them up to take them into the light to examine them when she noticed a thin wire coming from underneath them to the faint winking red eye of a bomb.

With incredible speed she dropped the clothes and turning her body it stretched and lengthened. Fur erupted from her skin and the fastest land mammal was sprinting away.

40mph. The bomb clicked.

50mph. The fuse fired.

70mph. The bomb exploded.

The Cheetah dropped behind a cars body and reverted to Catwoman as the shock wave shook the vehicle breaking its remaining windows.

Catwoman lay there panting for awhile whilst voices bombarded her head set.

"It was booby trapped. A bomb was connected to the underneath of the clothes. And yes I'm fine just a little winded." She panted. "I'm going to have a good look around."

"Be careful Cat." Bruce's voice showed his concern. "If your not happy pull out."

"The girls lives are at stake so that isn't an option Bat. Besides which you look after yourself. Night wing's costume could have been trapped too."

"I will. Over and out."

Catwoman moved the debris from the hut and went back inside. She traced the foot steps across the floor to where a threadbare carpet lay.

She twitched it aside to reveal a hatch. A square of hinged board with a central ring bolt.

She twisted the handle and felt the weight increasing as it came free. She gently lowered it to reveal a ladder into the sewers below.

She cautiously climbed down the ladder drawing the hatch shut over her.

Batman sat on the rafter and scrutinised the scene below. The transducer had led him to a disused wharf by the river Goth which gives Gotham its name.

From his lofty perch he could see Rachel's costume lying in the centre of the empty and dusty floor.

Part of him wanted to dash down and prove it wasn't her costume but knowing in the pit of his stomach that it was.

Once satisfied that there wasn't any one in the vicinity he swung down on his rope to land solidly on his feet. He rose up like a black clad ghost in a graveyard.

He knelt next to the neatly folded costume and checked it for traps. It was similarly wired as the one that Catwoman had triggered.

If it wasn't for Catwoman warning him he could have easily missed it in the gloom.

Working diligently and calmly he defused the bomb.

Like Catwoman he spotted the footsteps in the dust and followed them to a door. He paused putting his own foot besides that in the dust. As he lifted it he could see he had made a similar mark in the dust.

He grunted his approval.

The door was unlocked and led to a staircase down into the sewers.

He slipped inside and cautiously descended down the steps.

John Jones examined the chats on the end of Angela's bed and grunted in satisfaction. As he left he gave the cleaner a nod of recognition. She smiled up at him and moved out of the way.

Outside he crossed to where Duncan and Charles and Myra waited.

"She has come through the operation well and we have every confidence she will make a complete physical recovery." The smile John gave them was warm and comforting. "I think all three of you should rest. She's in good hands."

Chapter Nine Suffer the Little Children.

Batman and Catwoman were back out of the sewers and having a brief but heated discussion.

"Why have you called us out of the sewers Batman?!" Catwoman asked sharply the whip twitching angrily over the ground.

"The sewers are a labyrinth that would take us hours to search. We need help with this one and I know just who can."

"I had their spore in my nostrils. I could follow it easily." She snorted.

"Not down there you would, it would be over powered by other smells." Batman was irritated by her reluctance to listen to reason.

He picked up the radio phone on his bike and waited for his friend to pick up the receiver.

"Commissioner I need your help."

"What can I do?" He replied.

"I need the Sewer Kings children?"

"We've got them all in a school gym for processing. Why do you want them?"

"The red head killer was got Batgirl and Nights Wing down in the sewers."

"You've got them? I'll have a school bus take them to you." It was to James's credit that he didn't question Batman on why he needed them and how they were going to get them back.

"Have groups of them taken to the following locations, where Catwoman , Robin and myself will be waiting. We need Bullock and some of PD's finest to take on the fourth location."

"I'll personally take in Bullocks group Batman."

"See you at the centre." With that he replaced the receiver and prepared to wait.

His ear piece crackled.

"Robin to Batman I'm in place."

"Understood. Take care girl. Don't take any risks."

"That goes double with me." Catwoman called through.

Alfred's plumy English tones came over the airwaves.

"I've managed to patch in the circuits in the girls cowls but it all depends if they are still connected to the power pack in their waist belts. If not all they will have is a few minutes of power."

"Will they be able to hear us do you think?" Catwoman asked.

"It's possible now that I have connected them into the circuit."

"Good. We are coming for you girls."

Soon the children were swarming like locus down into the drains taking the guardians of the law with them.

Batgirl came too her head throbbing from the blow it had sustained. Keeping still as if still unconscious she took stock. Her costume had gone save her cowl but thankfully she still wore her underwear. So some decency had been maintained.

Her arms were stretched out above her and from the pain in her shoulders she was obviously hanging from them.

She could feel the coarse rope biting into her wrist and chaffing her ankles.

Carefully she opened her eyes.

She was in an abandoned piece of sewers that connected with the subway trains. Every so often she felt the air displaced by the underground train flowing round her and heard its low rumble.

It was fairly dark with only a couple of wall torches shedding any light.

Batgirl noticed what appeared to be a huddled figure sitting opposite her in the gloom.

It's silence and stillness worried her.

"Hello. You've had your fun so how about untying me." There was response, no reaction at all from the figure in the dark.

She tried again.

"If you're a fan of mine I could arrange a trip to the Batcave?"

Again there was no response.

Batgirl began swinging on the rope until she had enough momentum to stand upside down with the rope clasped tightly with her shackled feet.

She didn't know how long she could keep it up so she knew she had to act fast.

Her hands were now level with her face allowing her to use her teeth to unthread the knot.

Expecting to be discovered at any moment she worked franticly until she was free. She dropped down and held the rope tightly in her unfettered hands a moment before dropping to the floor. Landing softly she set to work on her feet getting them free.

She could see her shoulder bag on the stairs its contents partly spilled on the third step up.

She dashed over and swiftly dressed in her everyday clothes hidden in the secret base of the bag. She was putting all the spilt items back in the bag when she heard Batman coming through the hiss of static from her ear piece.

"We're coming for you girls."

A thrill of relief came through her. She hadn't been forgotten. They would stop at nothing to get to her. She had to remain alive and that meant getting out of the area.

She ascended the stairs only to find the way blocked by a brick wall.

She hurried back into the area and began to investigate the cluttered mess that had surrounded her.

Catwoman stopped at every fork in the tunnels and sniffed the air trying to trace any note of their quarry.

Children were coming and going reporting which sections they had covered and going to new sections.

The time it was taking was irritating the hell out of her but she had no option but be patient.

Robyn, being more their age, was getting far more support from the children than the others so was covering the ground more quickly.

The police were the slowest of the groups but all of them were making headway.

Duncan had a cup in his hand when all hell broke loose. Alarms began screaming and lights flashed.

In mere moments John Jones was leading a crash crew in with the most up to date resuscitating equipment.

Duncan stared through the window numb in horror, so much so that he could have sworn he had seen Jones's hand lengthen and vanish into Angela's chest and begin squeezing her heart.

Then it was over.

Jones was about to pull the cloth over her face when he spied something. He signalled a nurse to give him some tweezers.

Delicately he probed Angela nostrils before pulling out a tangled mass of red hair from each.

He opened Angela mouth and probed deep into her throat pulling out another mass of hair.

Delicately he turned her head to reveal a bald patch.

He covered her head.

She never had a chance in her state. She choked to death on her own hair.

Duncan dropped to the floor in agony the hot tears coursing down his cheeks.

Emotions rage in him, anger, sorrow, helplessness but the strongest was despair.

The red hair killer had taken his life from him and a resolve to take his life grew in him.

Thirty minutes later he was in the sewers following Bullocks group his revolver in his hand.

Batman and Christian descended a set of stairs into the main sewer where the remains of their encampment lay scattered about.

There in the centre was Mouth Piece and the Sewer King.

Mouth Piece looked bedraggled and very nervous. The Sewer King sat calmly in his wheelchair looking at the pair of them.

Thinking that Batman was coming for him he gave a panicky command to the seated figure.

"Stand up!"

The huddled figure in the wheelchair unfolded to reveal a six foot Mr Universe, but his eyes were strangely blank.

Mouth Piece like many criminals before him suffered the equivalent of verbal dhiaorear when faced with the Dark Knight.

"I've been the Sewer King ever since he had the stroke that robbed him of his senses. I became his mouth piece but it was my plans they followed not Baron's" He pulled out a snub nose pistol and shakily pointed it at them. "I may not be able to stop you myself but I can certainly stop the boy.

Don't stand there destroy him!"

The Sewer King lurched forward with a beatific smile on his face.

Batman swiftly threw a Batrang at Mouth Piece knocking the gun from his hand before blocking a heavy blow from the man mountain before him.

With no emotional controls the Sewer Kings blows were with all his strength. Batman staggered back a step before getting in a few thunderous blows of his own.

The big man smiled as if playing a game and leaped forward to get Batman in a crushing bear hug.

Batman could feel his very ribs creaking under the strain his breathing becoming more difficult.

Suddenly Christian was beside him holding up a large gem stone for the Sewer King to see.

"Pretties." The boy said. "Lovely pretties for you to play with and there's plenty more look." He opened his other hand revealing a mix of semi precious stones glinting in the light.

The Sewer King dropped Batman and ever so gently took the stone.

"What's your name? Mine is Chris." The boy was playing a blinder.

The man pointed at his chest and said in a slow slurred voice.


"Well King here are the rest of the pretties. Now you sit there quietly and play."

"Yes I play." He sat down and lifted each stone up to his eye. "Pretty."

Batman put a hand on Christian's shoulder.

"Well done lad." He said.

"My brother is like that that's why I joined the Sewer King to get money to look after him."

"There must be better ways." Batman said as he crossed over to the whimpering Mouth Piece. "You my friend are the scum of the earth but what am I to do with you?"

"Let me go would be nice."

"I don't think so."

Three children came into the section they were in.

"I'll stay with them Batman till you can come back for them." Christian offered.

Batman pulled out a pair of police handcuffs and handcuffed Mouth Piece to a pipe.

"Thank you Christian. Don't trust a word he says boy." He bent down and stared deep into the mans eyes. "You better behave or I'll have King deal with you!"

It was an empty threat but Mouth Piece seemed suitably cowed.

"Jules, Sally take Batman to the next section." Christian ordered.

They nodded and came forward to take Batman's hands which embarrassed him no end.

Batgirl crossed to the wall and took down the wooden torch and used that to investigate the area.

She crossed to where she had earlier thought their was a seated figure hoping against hope that it was her costume.

The torches flickering light cast weird shadows over the figure seated there.

Tommy sat staring ahead.

It took Batgirl a moment to realise that his eyelids had been cut away. In the centre of his forehead an eye shaped section had been removed exposing the brain.

He had been riveted to the chair through photographs showing the Bat masked women that were killed.

"He came to get your Autograph the stupid boy." A man's calm voice came from the shadows of the stair. "So I had to bring him too. I broke into his house and found his mother in the shower. It seemed to be a gift from heaven."

He gave a chilling laugh.

"Afterwards I planted evidence incriminating him. It was so easy.

He had a crush on you do you know that."

Batgirls torch illuminated the boys genital area. She flinched and tried not to throw up when she saw what had been done to the poor boy.

"It seems to me that you are a coward. Only a coward would prey on women." Batgirl taunted. "They couldn't hit back but I can. Fancy your chances."

"Oh you stupid young woman."

Batgirl could just about see him in the shadows. She saw something flash as he fire the riveting gun.

She threw herself to the ground just in time as it whistled over her head.

Leaving the torch on the ground she crept away pulling a small pistol affair from the hidden pocket in the bag.

He could hear the man laugh as he circled round to get behind her.

Another rivet smacked into the wood of the table where she had been.

She listened as he circled round to get a better shot.

"You were to be the last, my crowning glory, so to speak." He moved closer to where she hid. "I knew you would work out the stamped code and come for me."

She tried to slowly edge round but in the gloom she hit a metal bar on the floor sending clattering into the distance. Another rivet made a meaty thunk near her head.

"But what a bonus when I found Nights Wing. She put up quite a struggle but the anaesthetic eventually put her under."

The sound of a train rumbled in the background.

He stopped and checked his watch.

"There is a secret train that carries money from bank to bank every Tuesday and Friday. Poor rich kid Rachel Wayne won't to be able to get out of the way in time. What a shame.

Oh yes I know who she is but you you're a mystery and I don't like mysteries."

Batgirl suddenly realised that he was herding her toward the edge of the clutter. Trying to force her to make a dash across the open space.

"So you got Rachel hanging in the path of the money train." She said out loud in the hope that Batman could hear her.

The ear phone in her cowl crackled and whistled.

She heard Batman's voice over the whine.

"Understood Batgirl."

"Try and keep him talking. We're closing in." Catwoman added.

"This train. How did you find out about it? I've never heard of it."

"Oh it's surprising what you hear when your polishing the floor. Only a few people know about it and where it is. The poor driver wont be able to stop in time."

Another rivet flew passed her head and embedded it's self into the floor.

"She's spread eagled over the mouth of one of the tunnels you see. And there are so many tunnels that you haven't a chance of saving her.

Oh but its you that I want. Such tender soft flesh ready for my knife. You'll be mine to play with, to abuse.

Months of pleasure. You'll pray for death but I will keep you alive."

With horror she realised he was getting a sexual high just thinking of what he was going to do to her.

She tried to circle round to her right but was stopped by another rivet.

She tried to circle left only to be stopped again by a rivet.

She was trapped. He was just toying with her.

She had to play for time.

"What makes you think she isn't going to get herself free." She called silently moving forward.


"I shouldn't underestimate her."

"She won't wake up until the train is coming. I gave her quite a shot of Pentobarbital unlike you." He was countering her move. "You made is so easy to follow you to your motorcycle. Darted you from my blow gun but this idiot boy stupidly tried to protect you so I had to dart him to.

I had just got the pair of you into the sewers when Nights Wing turned up looking for you. What a bonus that was one I couldn't ignore."

"You must be stronger than you look to get all three of us down here."

"Who said I did it alone." He cackled with laughter again. "I brought the boy round and forced him to carry you down while I took Nights Wing."

Something fell from the ceiling twisting and turning so it could land on its feet. A large fawn Mounting Lion stood there staring coldly at him.

He swung the clumsy riveter at the cat but it was so much faster. It launched itself at him transforming in midflight into Catwoman.

She lashed out like a Puma protecting her cubs.

She raked his left cheek with her claws as he turned away from her allowing her to sail passed. She hit the ground and spun round on the spot to face her adversary.

"Come on Kitty, Kitty. It's time you were neutered." In the corner of his eye he saw Batgirl raise up to rush him.

He swivelled fired and returned to face Catwoman in a moment.

Catwoman moved her head cat like as she slinked forward.

"Bat I've found him. Trace me." She yelled.

The whip cracked out and wrapped itself around the gun. But he out thought Catwoman and wrenched the whip out of her hand before she use it to disarm him.

He fired again and again but Catwoman swivelled, danced and jinked out of the way.

Behind him Batgirl nursed her right arm where the rivet had grazed her drawing blood.

Three times Catwoman tried to close the gap and was forced back. She did a front roll and picked up her discarded whip in the process.

It flicked out but this time for his legs. He jumped over it.

"Batgirl high, low!" Catwoman called.

Thinking the injured girl was behind him he swivelled round ready to fend off an attack from that quarter only to find himself looking down the barrel of a pistol.

Duncan stood beside his mutilated son his eyes empty of all emotions save one revenge.

"You've killed my wife and son. I've nothing to live for!" He pulled back the trigger. "Come on kill me!"

The rivet gun and pistol fired simultaneously and two men crumpled to the floor.

Duncan lay dead with the rivet sticking out of his head.

His adversary lay opposite blood seeping out of his mouth.

Batgirl pulled herself up and hid as police officers flooded the area.

When the Commissionaire and Bullock arrived Catwoman was putting her leather coat around Batgirl.

Batman dropped from the ceiling in a bird like swoop with a young boy hanging from his neck.

He turned to the Commissionaire and Bullock as he gently landed.

"We've captured The Sewer King and Mouth Piece haven't we Tim."

The boy stood mouth open a moment staring up at his hero before he replied.

"Yes Batman, you stitched them up real good."

"Tim can you take some of the officers back to Christian and the Sewer King?"

"Yes will do Batman."

With that he scampered away with six officers in tow.

"Bat we've got trouble." Catwoman interrupted.

"He's put Nights Wing across a train tunnel!" Batgirl told him agitatedly.

The colour drained from his face.

"I thought she was here?"

"She was but he moved her. She's spread-eagled in the tunnel that they use to move currency from place to place. A secret tunnel."

Batman turned and saw both Tommy and his father and cursed.

"We have saved Angela. There was no need for this."

Batman's face grew cold.

Bullock was kneeling beside the other corpse.

He looked up.

"It's Michael Prayed. I'd recognise that face anywhere." He said.

Batman looked at Tommy and felt guilty for judging the boy so badly.

"He just wanted my autograph. Everything else was planted on him to throw us off the scent." Batgirl said.

"I know of the money train Batman but I have no idea when it runs and where the tunnels are." James told his friend.

As he spoke the waft of air and the rumble of a subway train could be felt and heard.

"It's coming from the top of the stairs but there's no way through. A brick wall block's the entrance." Batgirl told him.

"But if it is sealed off how come we can feel them and hear them so clearly." Catwoman mused.

Batman crossed to the stairs and mounted them.

"Because it's not sealed off." He reached out a hand and touched the wall. It felt wrong under his probing fingers. "It's made of wood like a theatre scenery screen."

He pushed it and it swung open on hidden hinges.

Batman, Catwoman and Batgirl led the way through into the dark tunnel beyond.

They were in a disused service duct that ran parallel to the subway tracks.

Straight away they hit their first dilemma, do they go up or do they go down.

"I'll take some officers with me and go down." Batgirl told them before leading four officers down into the gloom.

"Brave girl." James said.

"I know." Batman replied.

The train rumbled passed reminding them all that at any moment the money train could be leaving its depot on its murderous run.

A race against time had begun.

The Death Train prepared to leave it station.

Chapter Ten And The Next Train Stops At.

At Mount Pleasant the private station under the Royal Bank of America a steel subway train sat weighting for the signal to turn green.

A small fork lift truck was putting pallet boards of ten and fifty dollar bills on to it.

The train was a two foot narrow gauge one with three trains consisting of cylindrical lockable steel carriages.

The train, the brain child of a Boston industrialist, ran from the main reserve to any of five banks in its loop.

The trains were heavily guarded and once the steel shutters locked in place practically thief proof.

The last

Batman powerfully walked up the incline with Catwoman ranging up ahead trying to get any sense of where Night Wing was.

Another train rumbled passed pushing the air in front of it like a piston.

Batman's heart twitched in anxiety as he prayed it wasn't the death train.

Catwoman signalled for him to follow her through a archway.

The arch way led up to a short platform between the rail tracks. All of them stopped them as a subway train thundered passed.

After it had gone Batman lead them to the other end of the platform and down into the service tunnels again.

"He couldn't have taken her far Bat." Catwoman said. "Even if he had help."

"I know, I know Cat."

Night's Wing came to with a foul taste in her mouth and a woozy head.

It took a few minutes to come too and realise her dilemma.

She was hung in a 'X' cross shape just inside the tunnel over the track of the Money Train station that served the Goldberg bank.

Her aching arms and legs told her that she had been hanging there for some while.

She could remember quite clearly what had happened.

She had collected her motorcycle and had ridden round to where Batgirl waited on hers. She had just entered the dead end when she saw Batgirl collapse with a dart in her neck.

A boy who was nearing Batgirl rushed forward to protect her but had fallen to a blow to the back of his head from a four by two piece of wood.

Night's Wing catapulted off the cycle to land in front of the man with plank of wood.

There was a phut noise from behind her and a dart pierced her cheek. She passed out within seconds as the Thiopentone drug took effect.

She suddenly felt a rush of warm air from behind her and the distant sound of a subway car.

She threshed about in panic as she realised what her fate would be.

Closer and closer it came before roaring through the tunnel on the other side of the wall. Its passage made the wall shake causing the ropes that held her throw her around.

Taking a deep breath she forced herself to calm down.

Putting all her concentration on to her right wrist she twisted it back and forth in an attempt to slide it out.

The rope chafed and burned the skin creating numerous small cuts. The blood made her hand slippery but it still couldn't escape the rope.

Then she heard Batman's voice come through faintly in her earpiece over the statics hiss.

"Night. We're coming for you. Hang on." There was a pause. "Sing our favourite song so we can find you."

Nights Wing frowned for a moment before realising what he was asking her to do.

If she felt stupid hanging in the path of a train singing it didn't show in her voice.

"Amazing Grace how sweet the sound…" Ludicrously the song sung so sweetly filled the space and filtered down the tunnels into the station on the Subway system making people waiting for the next train look round for the busker.

The last sides of the train were shut down and locked. Each section had the correct amount for each destination.

The guards piled into the cramp conditions of the final open carriage.

The guard blew his whistle and waved his green flag.

With a loud puttering of the diesel engine and the squealing of wheels the train begun its journey. Its rendezvous with fate.

Further down the line Nights Wing was still singing only now it was a set of nursery rhymes.

"Three blind mice, three blind mice…" Her voice petered out as she felt the warm smoky air rushing out of the tunnel ahead of her and could see the rails beneath her vibrate.

There was a sudden squawk in her ear.

"Night! Night!" Catwoman voice was in total panic.

"I am here but the train coming." She screamed. "hurry!"

The train began to pick up speed rattling along through the twisting tunnels that curved their way around the skyscrapers foundations.

Hot steam was pushed ahead of it as like a piston in an engine as the train passed through spaces not much larger than its self.

It roared through a station ready to crush anything in its way. It's snow plough like front made of stainless steel was polished to a shiny silver mirror like surface.

Nights Wing would see her own image charging toward her.

More franticly did she sing, and the more panicky she fought to free herself as the vibrations in the track increased.

She could hear it now as the breeze from the tunnel grew in intensity.

She was going to die but she was dammed if she was going to the undiscovered country without a fight.

He naked body was soaked with sweat.

On and on it came, uncaring and unaware of its destiny.

Running out of the tunnel at the far end came Batman and Catwoman.

Catwoman was changing her shape into a cheetah so she could get to her faster. Her adopted cub was in danger and like any mother she would sacrifice herself for her child's safety.

Two small razor sharp discs dropped out of a pouch into Batman's hand from his utility belt. With a flick of the wrist they flew across the intervening space to cut the cords that held Nights Wing right hand and right foot.

Night's Wing sagged and swung to one side.

Two more disc dropped into his hand.

As he flicked his wrist there was a mighty roar as the train hurtled out of the tunnel and in a second the train had gone to rattle into the distance with a pair of metal discs embedded in its side.

Batman screamed and dropped to his knees.

He was too late, those few seconds to late.

Catwoman changing as she ran, back into her own form, dropped to her knees and took her lovers head in her hands.

James and Bullock stood stunned.

Bullock, cold hearted Bullock, felt an out pouring of empathy for the two hero's huddled together in front of them.

Welfare officer Judy Lyn was tired after spending hours trying to collate all the information they had gained from the children. She had worked out of the main Precinct house with the archivist placing the children to the missing lists.

She had nearly lost some when the cleaner had knocked the folder to the floor, but no harm was done.

She walked up to her apartment door and put her hand into her pocket for her keys. Much to her surprise they weren't there. She tried another pocket only to get the same result.

She then noticed that the door was open.

Cautiously she pushed it fully open and foolishly entered.

"Hello." She said groping for the light switch. "Anyone there."

"Yes." A voice behind her said quietly.

A few heartbeats later their was a scream that was cut off like someone shutting a door.

Another soul was condemned to hell.

Chapter Eleven Pro's and Con's

Batman was slumped down on his knees staring at the tunnel opening his heart twisted in grief. He could make out Rachel's still tethered left hand and foot twitching.

Catwoman held his head and was offering tearful platitudes.

Slowly he got up and began to turn away.

"Twitched?" He said softly to himself.

"Twitched!" He screamed as he turned and thundered down the platform.

Just before the end he gave an acrobatic leap to land on the other side of the tracks.

As he heaved himself up into the opening he could feel the damp warmth of the air blowing against his face and hear the rumble of the return train through the tracks.

The train was coming and there was so little time.

A small knife made short work of the ropes that tied Rachel's remaining limbs. He peered around the rim of the archway, dreading what he would find.

There in an inspection pit laid Rachel in deep shock.

When Batman cut the tether's attached to her right limbs she has swung down and back into the tunnel. She had swung into an engineers inspection hollow. She shot out her right hand and foot to stop her rebounding back into the trains path but that left her left hand and foot still bound and painfully twisted.

The train thundered passed missing those exposed limbs by mere centimetres.

When Batman cut the ropes she dropped into the inspection pit.

But once again the threat of the train entered their minds as it roar toward them.

Outside on the platform Catwoman and the police watch in horror as Batman disappeared into the darkness.

There was a sudden bang as a grapnel on a wire flew out of the darkness and anchored itself into the ceiling above them.

Before they could really take that in Batman was swinging across the gulf , Nights Wing clinging onto his back.

As he landed on the platform the train screamed out of the tunnel.

They had made it with a split second to spare.

One of the young officers took off his blue coat and proving that chivalry wasn't dead draped it over Nights Wing's body.

Three people nodded their thanks, three great hero's. For the first time for many of the officers they realised what Batman and his team risk, on their behalf, to keep the city safe.

There was no easy exit from the station so they had to turn and retrace their steps to where Batgirl was found.

Jim Gordon seemed drawn to Batgirl and draped a comforting arm over her shoulders unknowingly giving succour to his own daughter.

When they reached the room it was to find both of the victims covered up and lying on the floor.

Batman looked down at them in sorrow.

"I didn't get to tell him that his wife was recovering." He said.

Bullock looked uncomfortable which was not unusual for him but there was something in his stance that rung alarm bells.

"What?" Batman asked angrily.

"She was murdered in the hospital. Someone cut off some of her red hair and blocked her nose and throat with it." He explained.

"Did he know?"

"He must have. He wasn't part of our contingent. He must have followed us." Bullock shrugged.

Batman knelt beside the still forms of the father and the son.

"I will avenge you. Know this I will avenge you!"

He stood up and became ice cold.

"Do you recognise the killer?" Batman asked as they made their way out of the sewers with three bodies carried on makeshift stretchers and two traumatised young women wrapped in coats that were to big for them.

"Yes." Bullock said. " Michael Prayed. Though it looks like he has been through a rough time. I barely recognised him he's so thin."

"You will have to excuse me if I don't show any sympathy." Catwoman snapped angrily.

They came into the stretch tunnel where Christian sat all alone staring ahead unblinkingly.

"Christian?" Batman touched his shoulder.

The boy toppled over onto his side quite dead.

Mouth Piece and the Sewer King were nowhere in sight.

Heavy hearted Batman lead them out of the sewers into the pale morning light.

Up ahead was a blacked out van.

Alfred's voice cracked in their ears.

"I have picked up the young ladies motorcycles Master Bruce. Do you wish me to transport them home."

"Yes please Alfred." Batman whispered into his built in microphone after glancing at Catwoman and the girls for conformation.

Wearily the girls crossed to the van and got in. They wound down the window and passed out Catwoman's and the police officers coats to Catwoman.

Catwoman crossed to the young officer with his coat and ran the back of her hand down his cheek purring.

"I am in your debt and will aid you when I can." She laughed as the young man blushed.

As James sat down at his desk the telephone rang.

"Yes Gordon."

"Hello daddy sorry I didn't phone but we had a breakdown between Metropolis and Gotham. We were in the back of beyond." Barbara lied. "It took us two hours walking to find a motel were we could stay for the night. It was to late by then to phone you."

"If that ever happens again phone me, regardless of what the time is and I'll get a patrol car to pick you up." He said sternly while inside he was almost crying with relief. "When will you be home?"

"Another hour I think daddy."

"I'll be waiting for you."

"Thanks dad."

James put the receiver down and ran a hand over his tired face.

He picked up the receiver and dialled a number.

"Dispatch, Gordon. Could someone bring my car round please? Thank you. Yes I will be at home if I'm needed."

He put the phone down and picking up his jacket made his exhausted way to the door.

No one would have their day in court but he was satisfied with the outcome.

But as Barbara put down the phone it was obvious that Batman was far from satisfied.

"I'm going home Bruce if that's alright with you?"

Bruce was standing in the French windows doorway his pipe cold and ignored, his face set in deep thought.

He turned and gave her a warm affectionate smile.

"Of course you are. You have been through enough as it is." He said softly.

"You and Rachel have been very brave. Now go home and rest." Selina said. "Alfred will you take Barbara home?"

"Of course Mistress Selina. I have taken the liberty of adding a secret panel on your motorbike to hide your new costume in. We will take the truck so we can take the motorcycle with us." Alfred led her away with cheerful banter to ease the memories of what had happened and worse of all what might have happened.

Rachel was asleep in the winged back chair.

"Darling?" He asked Selina quietly so not to disturb his sister. "Do have that list that Bullock gave us with the list of suspects on?"

"Yes I think so." She crossed over to a wood panel and opened it to reveal her Catwoman costume hanging there. She looked into the pocket of the long brown coat she wore and pulled out the list. "Here it is."

She shut the panel and crossed to the table and laid it open on its surface.

The pair of them scrutinised it for a few moments.

"What do you suggest we do? Visit them all?" She asked.

"No not all just one." He laid his finger tip on the one he had chosen. "Michael Prayed was the one who stamped his victims not the one who snipped their hair."

"Couldn't he have done them both to play a sick game with us?"

"I think not. While he laid dead on the floor another one was killed.

Judy Lyn.

She was found roasting on a spit over her bonfire in her garden. A neighbour came round to complain about the smoke. Her hair had been snipped." He told her.

"So who do you think is doing it?"

"His wife?"

"We can't just jump to that conclusion. Remember though they thought she was abetting him they couldn't prove it."

"I think she was involved." He crossed to the phone and dialled a number. "Andrew it's Batman sorry to call so early. The women that were killed by the hair taker. Yes that one. Were they raped?"

He listened intently for a moment.

"There was no evidence of semen? Could they have been raped by a woman using a false member."

He listened intently again.

"Yes thank you. Sorry to have disturbed you. Oh and my best wishes to Danielle."

The examiners mistress could hear ever word and couldn't help but laugh.

"Thank you Batman!" She called out knowing he would hear before snuggling up to Andrews back.

"Is their nothing that man doesn't know." He groused before willingly submitting to a barrage of kisses. Each one more passionate than the previous one.

Bruce put the phone down a thoughtful look on his face.

"Andrew told me that the bruises could have been made during the rape by an unyielding object, but he isn't certain."

"It fits your theory." Catwoman conceded. "What do we do know?"

"We pay her a visit and while we are on the way we'll drop in and see the rest on the list just in case.

The search had begun but the clock was ticking down to zero. Death on his white horse waited patiently at the rendezvous.

Chapter Twelve Countdown

The mansion of George Plummer sat back from the main road up a long drive. An impressive white colonial building it exuded wealth.

George had received many gratuities from the film and theatre stars he had successfully defended, not to mention the Mafia bosses he had kept out of jail.

A party was taking place.

In the ballroom and the pool the guests were enjoying themselves. Drugs and booze flowed liberally.

Most of them were almost naked.

What was the most unsettling thing was the number of children under ten years old scuttling about totally naked for the guests sexual pleasure.

Another was the fact he could recognise some of the guests as high ranking politicians

George dressed in a toga with a laurel wreath around his head was being fed grapes by two naked nymphs as he watched a boy being abused.

There was a almighty crack and the wreath flew from his head.

A suited doorman whipped out a pistol only for it to fly from his hand as a Bat rang hit it.

A black shape dropped in front of George. It slowly stood up and stared at George with cold eyes.

"Ah Batman. I don't think I invited you to my little party so you must be trespassing.

Get out before I have you arrested!" The lawyer smirked.

"And expose what you are doing here? I think not!" Batman breathed.

"This is a party of consenting adults." George said calmly which infuriated Batman further but then George knew it would.

"What about the children? Are they consenting adults or are you going to hide them too?"

"Children? Ah the children playing in the toy room all perfectly innocent. At least they will be by the time the police arrive."

A red clawed finger appeared at his neck and drew a little blood as it was drawn across his neck.

Catwoman growled in his ear.

"You use the children as sex toys. Why shouldn't I take you down?" She was incensed at what she could see.

"And why not. We are showing them real love. We make sure they are happy making us happy." He said with a crocked smile. "The law I believe on the age of consent states they must be twelve and above which I believe the majority are but there is the always the possibility of them lying."

"Bullock have you heard enough?" Batman said into his little microphone in his hand.

"Yes Batman."

The curtain at the back of the room billowed as Bullock and his fellow officers filed in.

"They are all yours save George he's ours."

"I demand under my civic rights to be questioned buy a true officer in the presence of my lawyer and not a flying rat."

Bullock ignored him as if he hadn't spoken.

He and the other officers fanned out and enclosed the panicking guests.

Batman turned and towered over the lawyer blotting out the light from the ceiling light.

"You I will chat and you will tell me everything. Or?" He looked pointedly across at Catwoman who slouched erotically in an armchair filing her claws.

Fifteen minutes later Bullock rejoined them and noticed the now cowed lawyer fumbling with his robes.

"Well this lot will keep us busy for some time. Well the vice squad at least." He puffed on a French cigarette he had taken from a packet on the desk. "Are you finished with him?"

"Yes." Batman smiled a humourless smile. "But I should put that cigarette out if I were you, otherwise you'll have arrest yourself for drug taking."

Bullock stopped in mid puff and removed the offending article from his lips. He stared at it a moment before stubbing it out on the teak coffee table.

"I thought it was to good to be true." He muttered.

He looked up but the two of them had gone.

"Come along Mr Plummer. I'd advise you to get a good lawyer but somehow I think that would be an insult." He pulled the Georges hands behind his back and handcuffed them. "George Plummer you are under arrest for offenses on a minor. You don't have to say anything…"

The apartment of John Green was in a nice condominium that stood over looking the river Goth from where Gotham gets it's name.

John Green had a good medical practice in the more well to do part of town. Since his release from prison he had been a changed man, literally as he had changed his name. He had booked up regular meetings with a therapist and had carved a good career for himself as a doctor.

"Hi honey I'm home." His girl friend Juliet was the best thing in his live and one of the reasons he had reformed

He had moved to another area changed his name and appearance making sure Juliet knew nothing of his past.

"Through here darling. We have visitors." Juliet called from the kitchen.

As he entered the room his stomach sank at the sight of Batman and Catwoman.

"What can I do for you? A medical problem perhaps?" He asked sounding far calmer than he was.

"Advice Doctor Johnson. We are working with the GPD over a series of murders and we need you're knowledge of Plastic Surgery. May we ask you some questions?"

Batman looked across at the man in women's clothing pointedly. "In private perhaps."

Irene Johnson was an exotic creature and that was no lie.

He stood at leased six foot tall and had a mass of curly blond hair cascading down his back. All of it real.

Irene was slim with the toned body of an athlete. He was wearing a see through camisole over a red Basque, black knickers and fishnet stockings and he looked amazing. Very feminine. He could pass for a woman with ease. The only things that were a give away to the trained observer was the size of his hands and feet.

"Don't worry about me dear I'll be invisible." Irene said.

"Why don't we get acquainted Mrs Johnson." Catwoman said.

"Irene dear, you really must call me Irene."

"Irene." Catwoman corrected herself.

Soon the two of them were chat away ten to the dozen as if they had known each other for years.

"John Green." Batman mused. "A long way from Doctor Daniel Johnson."

"Why are you here Batman. I've paid my debt to society. I'd be a fool to reoffend with all this going for me." He gave a shudder as he remembered the events leading up to his arrest.

"Can you tell me where you were over the last three nights? It's just a formality you understand." Batman eyed him critically.

"Let's see. Two nights a go we were at the Dorchester hotel for a meal with a couple of rich clients. Last night I was at home here and tonight I had a hospital visit to see the results of a piece of breast enlargement surgery I had carried out earlier."

"Did it go well?" Batman asked for want of anything better to say.

"Yes it did actually. I've a meeting with the military tomorrow night over being part of a team here, and over in England, dealing with disfiguring battle injuries "

"I wish you well of that." He paused. "You have witnesses I should imagine."


"We are dealing with a serial killer who steals the victims red hair and a bit of scalp. What could they do with it? Could they insert it into their own heads for instance?"

"If the hair still had its roots on it is a possibility but you'd have to keep you new hair covered up to let it settle and even then I doubt it would work."

"And as a wig?"

"Yes that would be the best way I should think. After all we make wigs out of horse hair."

Batman stood up and shook Johns hand.

"Thank you for your help Doctor." He said earnestly.

"The names Daniel Batman and I will always be willing to help."

Batman nodded.

"Thank you Daniel. If you want to help you could do a few hours for the Royal Free. Ask for Doctor McNider or Doctor John Jones"

"I've heard a lot of good things about what they are doing there. I'll arrange that tomorrow." Daniel said earnestly.

The two hero's held a quick conference before going to their next target.

"He's not our killer." Catwoman agreed. "Irene was most forthcoming. Daniel assaulted the boys after his so called friends pumped him full of drugs.

He was so ashamed with what he had done that he refused to use the drug use being used as a mitigating reason for what he did.

He had turned himself in and that was taken into account."

"Yes he's turned his life around. A very brave man."

"A very brave pair."

Fifteen minutes later they were in the squalid area of town that was full of the Hispanic refugee's.

The houses were made of wood and were small often only containing two rooms.

The last known address of Michael Prayed was a ramshackle slum.

The front door hung crookedly from its frame and swung back and forth in the cold wind.

As they entered it was obvious that no one had lived here for months. Dust carpeted everything with a grey patina.

After a cursory look they exited to find an old woman waiting for them.

Her face was full of character with its deep creases and deep tan. She wore funereal black and had a gorgeous hand made lace shawl around her stooped shoulders.

"Hello mother." Batman said respectfully. "Can we help you?"

She said a few words in Spanish to which Batman replied in the same language.

The old craggy face burst into a radiant smile.

"Your Spanish is good Senore Batman but not as good as my English."

Catwoman spoke fluidly to the woman.

"When Michael Prayed came home the men were ready for him. They drove out him and his wife. Conchita was the power in the home. He would obey her out of fear. She beat him for the smallest of mistakes."

"Do you know where they could have gone? It's important we find her. The police have his body in the morgue and they need her to officially identify him." Catwoman asked.

"No, no one knows where they went nor do we care." She made a rude gesture. "But if she returns we will let you know."

Batman snorted angrily.

"I wish I could help you hero but all I can do is asked our people to look for her."

"Thank you Mother. Forgive my anger but she has killed several women already and I must stop her before another one dies."

After the hero's had roared off the old lady went home and dialled a secret number.

"The sleeper awakes."

"The waking ear hears." Came the reply.

"Sandman Batman and Catwoman are hunting for Conchita Prayed. She no longer is here but she must be found as she has killed women already."

"I see." The gas masked figure replied. "I will put out a call on the net in Gotham and will let you know what we have found.

The waking ear rests."

The old lady replaced the receiver and looked at the ring on her finger. The Sandman had helped her with her granddaughter and the payment was to become his agent. The owner of his ring.

Evening was falling when the two hero's eventually arrived in the Commissioners office.

On his desk was a scroll sprinkled with fine sand.

"The Sandman has paid you a call Jim." Batman said, carefully unrolling the scroll.

He read it twice before telling the others of its contents. "Batman. It has come to my ears that you are looking for a Conchita Prayed. She has changed her last name twice, once to her maiden name of Duarte and finally to that of Rodriguez, her grandmothers name.

The last piece of evidence is that she lives somewhere in Harlem.

Sorry that I couldn't be of further use.


"You know the Sandman?" Jim asked.

"He's helped me on a couple of cases in New Brunswick. He's no criminal that I can tell you." He sighed and turned to the Commissionaire. "Let's have another look at the victims of the hair cutting."

He laid each of the victims down.

"Patty Ward Prostitute."

"She was brought in here for questioning over stolen jewels but was released due to lack of evidence. To be honest I couldn't see her being involved." Bullock told them.

"Alexandra Meers shop lifter."

"She was brought here for processing before her court case."

"Bella Langley Housewife."

"She came in a couple of times to complain about her neighbour being drunk and abusive. That was at the Third Precinct."

"Angela Officer Duncan's wife."

"She's been in a few times to join in with Officer Lamar's self-defence class in the Tenth and Main precinct."

Batman added a couple more to those on the table. These women were a cook from their canteen and a children's officer.

"What they have all got in common is one thing. This Precinct building." Jim said a worried note to his voice.

"Bullock?" Catwoman slid closer. "Did you find any people, staff or victims that work from more than one precinct office."

"Yes and they are not as many as you would think." He passed the sheet over.

Catwoman studied it for a moment before passing it over to Batman, pointing at a particular entry.

"May I use your telephone Jim?" He asked.

"Of course help yourself."

He picked it up and dialled the operator.

"Hello. Yes. Could you put me through to the Royal Free Hospital please, thank you." He paused a moment as the clunking and burring of him being put through came over the receiver. "Hello can I speak with Doctor McNider or Doctor John Jones please."

Their was a few more clicks until a voice came over the phone.

"Doctor Jones."

"Hello Doctor Jones it's Batman. I wonder if you could help me?"

"I'd be honoured to help you. What do you want to know?"

"Who do you have to do the cleaning?" He asked.

"Just a second Batman. I'll ask the Matron." Batman could hear him in the distance asking the Matron. "Hello Batman. We use two companies one for the deep cleaning of the wards and the other for cleaning the public rooms and corridors."

As he passed over the information Batman sighed and then thanked the man and put the receiver down.

"Well man spit it out." James said flustered by Batman's demeanour.

"Our murderer and murderess had to be invisible, so they could see their victims and hear what we were doing." Batman explained. "We know Michael Prayed was laying a false trail with the printing on the bodies to set up poor Tommy."

"But how can anyone be invisible Batman?" James asked.

"By being the sort of person that gets overlooked. A cleaner." Batman told them.


"They can potter around dusting, washing the floor and nobody really see's them. It was a perfect way to spot their victims."

"Duncan told me all about his boys fixation on Batgirl. There was a cleaner doing the table I'm sure there was." Bullock said.

"And there was a cleaner outside of the ward room Angela was in." Catwoman remembered.

"Yes this company here 'El Greco' down at the water front near the main drain and the subway cross over's." Batman's eyes gleamed in the lamp light. "I think we'll pay it a visit."

"I'll get a few of the boys and follow you." Bullock said.

"Let's not get too heavy handed. It's just a theory at the moment. By the way do any of you know the names of their staff?" Batman asked.

The others looked blank at him.

"I thought not. Coming Cat?"

"I wouldn't want to miss it Bat darling."

In a few moments they had gone leaving Bullock and Jim behind.

"I've just remembered her name. It is Conchita." Jim said with dawning realisation. "Bullock get that team together and get ready to move out in five minutes."

"Yes Commissionaire." He was off at a run.

"I pray we are right." James took out his pistol and checked it was loaded before walking out to join Bullocks crew.

The warehouse looked deserted and tatty. Pipes dripped water on to the uneven ground.

Ranks of cleaning materials were against one wall while trolleys were parked neatly against the opposite wall.

The whole building was in semi darkness save for the small office in the corner from which a solitary light shone.

Batman and Catwoman swung down to the floor gracefully.

They crossed quietly to the door of the office taking up positions on each side of the entrance.

With a nod Batman grabbed the door knob and threw it open.

Inside they found a series of photographs of the women who had been killed.

As they moved forward they broke a cord at shin height.

Batman grabbed Catwoman and bundled her out of the door and onto the floor just in time as the explosive went off.

"A schoolboy mistake." He grunted angrily to himself as he helped Catwoman up only to hear the click of a pistol.

His hand dropped to his belt and twisting round threw the Bat Rang at the figure standing in the gloom.

It clunked into the mannequin hollowly.

"I knew you would come for me eventually so I've rigged this death trap for you."

The whole of the factory floor was lit up showing a mass of trip wires crisscrossing the floor. "I activated them when you survived the bomb."

Conchita walked out on to a platform half way up the wall.

Her dumpy frame was still dress in her cleaners outfit, the scarf loosely around her head.

In her hand was an ugly blunt nose pistol.

She stretched her hand across and turned off the lights plunging the rest of the factory into darkness. The only light was from the weak lamp over Conchita's head.

The two hero's stood stock still to allow there eyes get accustomed to the darkness.

Catwoman's body shape altered slightly to accommodate her Cat's eyes.

Batman clicked a pair of lenses into the eyeholes in his mask.

Catwoman nodded to her lover before doing a black flip over the top of the first set of wires.

Batman let out a blast of ultrahigh pitched sound that reflected of the wires giving him a detailed view of the wires nearest to him.

Carefully he began threading himself through them.

Twice he got hooked up and had to very carefully reverse without setting off the device.

Catwoman slid gracefully under the next set of wires. She was making her way across to the wall and the racks.

Like a dancer she twisted and turned, pirouetted and leaped over the wires.

Batman had got half way to the opposite wall when he spotted an advantage.

He pulled a strange gun affair from his belt. Took aim and fired.

The explosive charge fired a small harpoon like bullet trailing a wire straight into the ceiling half way between himself and Conchita.

Catwoman was at the top of the shelves crouched ready to leap.

With a blur of action Batman swung across the gap to land in front of Conchita as Catwoman leapt across from the shelves to join him.

They stood up slowly to confront the murderess. She greeted them with a smile.

Her pistol was aimed straight at Batman's head.

"I am a crack shot. I taught myself after the police hounded my husband till he had his breakdown. I vowed to get my vengeance" She laughed.

"So you killed those women? Why what possible reason have you to destroy them they are innocent."

"Innocent! I don't think so they gave the police succour and they dared to flaunted their hair. But not anymore." She took of her hat.

Batman and Catwoman were both taken aback on her head was a scalp all sown together to form a wig.

She grinned a manic smile.

The resulting article was hideous. The hair was mismatched with scarlet beside deep auburn next to ginger.

The hair was neatly trimmed but was still shocking to see.

The hammer of the pistol clicked back.

"You may kill me but you will never live to tell the tale. Catwoman would seek revenge and it wont be an easy death."

"No you are right but you are powerless if it is her I am targeting." The gun shifted to aim at Catwoman who's claws had extended over the top of her fingernails. "I'm leaving with her and there is nothing you can do about it."

"Do you think she will let you."

Catwoman's whip swished across the floor and cracked out taking the wig off her head.

Her bare head showed the many scars and bald patches that the alopecia had caused.

She screamed in rage and then she fell ominously silent.

The trigger finger tightened.

The double doors of the warehouse burst open to reveal James and his crew piling in.

"Stay where you are the whole place is booby trapped." Batman yelled.

The ominous clicks of rifles being prepared filled the air.

"Give up Conchita you haven't got a chance." James yelled.

"And why would I do that." She yelled. "Just so I can go to the chair."

In one motion the gun swivelled round and was pushed into her mouth.

"No!" Batman yelled jumping forward to tackle her but it was to late. She slumped to the floor quite dead.

No one was saved.

The rain of terror was over but somehow Batman was dissatisfied. It had taken far to long to achieve the final solution two many had died.

With sadness the hero's turned away.

It was over.


The priest of the small church of St Nicholas waited sadly at the door as the three hearse's pulled up at the gate.

Officers in their dress Blues wearing white gloves lined up behind the vehicles and slowly with impeccable timing they withdrew the coffins and put them on their shoulders.

Inside the church sat regimented lines of policemen and women, some openly weeping, heads bowed in respect.

Bruce, Selina sat quietly with Rachel, heads bowed in prayer.

Charles McNider sat behind them with John Jones.

The right hand side of the church was full of the great and the good paying respect to the brave officer and his family.

Barbara sat tearfully on the left beside her father.

As the coffins entered the church to the sober sound of the organ they stood as one.

The coffins were put on the trestles.

Duncan's dress cap was laid on top.

A sprig of Lily of the Valley was laid on Andrea's and a single rose on Tommy's.

And the mass began.

Gordon got up and with a voice full of emotion talked about Duncan.

There were readings and prayers before the final journey.

The policemen lined up beside the grave.

Rifles were put on shoulders and the salute fired. A lone bugler played the last post and then the crowd made their way out of the cemetery.

That night the Bat signal flared out from the precinct house.

A meeting of two men entrusted with the safety of the city each respecting the other took place as work once again called them together.

And a dark shape reared up over the city's skyline.

The Dark Knight.