late afternoon, May 2
I have to finish telling you what all happened! OK! So, this morning…
It is way early in the morning, I’m sleepy, and the Butler is waking me up with breakfast – except, I don’t have a Butler.
I sit bolt upright, panicked. I am not in my own room, or my own house for that matter. The Butler is this old stiff-neck looking guy in full butler regalia. I mean, he has the coat and tails with the bow tie and the whole bit, right down to the English accent. The bedroom is like, Victorian or something, four-poster bed, antiques everywhere, printed wall-paper and lamps and stuff you DON’T find at Walmart. Even the floor was like this single continuous piece of polished marble with an area rug that must have been 20 feet across. He offered me breakfast again, it was on china and delivered on a silver bed-tray. I must be in the twilight zone, whatever that is,…
I am in so much trouble! I don’t even know where I am, not really! Time to focus, Robyn! Last night, I kidnapped the Bat and Blackwing from the Police. A sweet move, even if I do say so myself! Then the Bat’s car took us all for a ride who knows how far to this hideout. I guess the warehouse hideout by the waterfront was all bogus: way to go Detective Robyn! So I’m at the Bat’s real hideout now. That’s not the same as knowing where I am. At least I am still dressed as Robyn, that’s one for me — I think.
The Butler brought me pancakes with melted butter and maple syrup with orange juice, my absolute favorite! Great, eating this will give me a moment to figure out how much trouble I’m in. First I need to know what time it is. The clock says 8:13. That’s not good. That means Dad will already be off to work, impossible to reach. My mother will be out playing tennis or shopping or something. She may have called my cell phone to see if I stayed the night at Suzanne’s house. My cell is turned off. I switch it on. I choke down my pancakes while it does its power-up thing. There are no messages or missed calls, good.
As I get out of bed, the Butler reappears to get my breakfast tray and he asks if I “require a bath.” I notice he is studiously avoiding looking directly at me. He stares directly at the tray when he reaches for it, turns a little too quickly away from me once he has it, and never looks directly at me even when speaking to me.
“Um, no, I have to get home, I’m late for school!” I lied, hoping he wouldn’t catch me in it.
His eyebrow went up, “Very well, I ‘ll get a car.”
“No! I can’t drive, I’m not old enough!”
“Good Lord, miss!” he exclaimed in rather calm alarm. He forgot himself in his surprise and looked directly at me for a moment. Recovering, he stood erect and looked straight ahead of himself, holding his line of sight above the top of my head. “Do you mean to tell me you are not of age, that you’re a minor?”
“Sorry! I’m so sorry, I don’t mean to cause trouble, but I want to get home and I don’t know what to do….” As I said this, I was bouncing as animatedly as I could, arms clasped in front of me. He didn’t even flick a glance down. He clearly understood what looking at me would do to him and he was not going to let it happen. I was actually grateful. It was going to be nice to have an intelligent conversation with someone as Robyn.
“Well now, since you do not, in-fact, wish to get to school, but rather you wish to get home, time is not as imperative as you would have me believe. Since you are under age, it is probably your parents you are concerned about offending rather than school officials.”
I was busted. This old guy had me cornered in no time. “Actually, no,” I admitted. Might as well come clean. “My Dad never sees me before he leaves home in the mornings, and Mom leaves me on my own all the time anyway. I’m just scared.”
“Young lady, you needn’t be scared! I am hardly a match for anyone capable of effecting the escape of two highly prized vigilantes from the very clutches of over two dozen Police officers!”
I was shocked and babbled a question about how he knew. “It was on all the news channels, Miss! You are quite the sensation!” He paused a moment to let me absorb that and recover, then continued. “I understand you are in the habit of stealing motorcycles,” he stated matter-of-factly. “Perhaps, after I see to the needs of Masters Bat and Blackwing, I can deliver you to a place from which you might purloin a suitable one?”
“I guess so,” I answered. I really didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t walk, home, I didn’t even know where I was. Then it dawned on me, “Could you take me to where I left my motorcycle?”
“You mean you own your own motorcycle?” he asked.
“Not really,” I said. “I took it from a gang that was trying to beat me up.”
“Of course! Now come along with me. I must attend to the Masters and I’ll not be leaving you unescorted to snoop about. Besides, you may yet be of assistance.” He led me a little way down a gorgeous hallway into a beautiful, huge bedroom where someone was asleep.
“Wait here,” he instructed as he handed me the tray from my breakfast. He crossed over to the bed and covered the man’s face with a mask; that’s when I realized it was Blackwing’s face I just missed my chance to look at! I would not make that mistake again. When we “check on Master Bat” I will have my little eyes peeled!
“Take this please,” he said, holding out Blackwing’s breakfast tray. It had the remains of a light meal on it. On the other side of the bed was a stand with medical equipment on it, with a couple wires connected to Blackwing’s hand. He looked like he was going to be OK, but the steady beep of the monitor was eerie in the lush appointments of what I now realized was a mansion. The Butler looked at the display briefly and pronounced it, “Very good!” Then picked up a phone and pushed a single button and waited for a moment before saying, “Sir, I will be bringing your rescuer with me when I look in on you momentarily.”
So much for keeping my eyes peeled, that had to be a heads-up to cover his face.
What followed was the Bat’s obvious displeasure that I could hear but could not quite make out, coming over the phone. The Butler barged right through the verbal torrent, cutting it off with, “Very good, Sir! I’ll be right there!” With that, he cradled the phone and led the way back out into the hall and down to another spacious bedroom where the Bat was sitting up, scowling across the room at us as we came in.
“No need to adopt that manner, Sir! She bloody well rescued you two from a tight spot! Thanks to her you are receiving proper care instead of being ignored by the staff of some prison hospital! Now give me those utensils and try to be civil, Sir!” He swept into the room and cleared the food-service from the bed, adding it to what I already had. Just exactly how did I become the Butler’s assistant again?
“He’s really quite grateful to you, Miss – aren’t you, Sir?” he prompted.
I was distracted; there was a large TV in the room showing video of several Police and ambulance workers being interviewed. They were talking about me rescuing the Bat and Blackwing. There were dash-cam videos of the rescue, and descriptions, good ones, of Robyn: what she looked like, how big (small) she was, what she did, how she sounded. Some of them could not describe the car beyond “big, black and fast”. One of the ambulance guys didn’t even remember Blackwing as one of his patients, but me they all remembered in great detail. Not only could I not hold normal conversations as Robyn with people who could see me, but apparently every detail about me was burned in memory forever. I was clearly not going to be a “mysterious” superhero. Some Ninja I was going to be.
The mayor was making no-comments, the District Attorney’s office was promising prosecution. American Gladiator said I was probably a coward like the Bat and Blackwing and that I would hide, but that if he ever saw me, he would take me down like any other vigilante. I was officially in major league trouble! The only bright spot was Commissioner James saying something about if I was on the Bat’s side, then I couldn’t possibly be a menace.
Somewhere back on planet Earth, a voice was calling me, insistently. “Miss?!?!” The Butler was looking sidelong at me with this questioning look on his face.
“Uh, Rae-, um, Robyn!” I stuttered.
“Yes, Miss Robyn,” he said, averting his eyes, “You were being addressed.”
“Oh, I’m sorry! What?” I stammered. I’m so sure I was making this really great impression on the Bat like this. You are blowing it Robyn! Get a grip!
“How old are you?” the Bat asked me. His voice came out the deepest darkness, out of some fearsome place, speaking with clarity that could not exist in any place normal sound came from. Him I could see clearly. He was looking right at me, not avoiding me like the Butler.
“Fifteen.” I tried to look him right in the eyes, or eye slits, rather. When I did, I felt like I was being searched thoroughly, like I had no secrets left. A chill swept over me as if I were suddenly out in the cold. I was scared; of nothing, of everything. I shivered and looked down at the trays I was carrying, afraid to look at him again. I looked at the TV again. It hunted me. In one night, my entire life changed. I was no longer happy-go-lucky Rachel the JV cheerleader who moonlighted as the Bat’s number one fan. I was a known vigilante, searched through and through by the hero I admired, and hunted by the Police who were harmless to me only yesterday. Now I couldn’t even look at familiar things like TV. I felt trapped.
I looked back at the Bat who was still searching me. He knew I was just a girl. He knew that I didn’t have any real experience. He knew I was scared. He knew everything about me, I felt it.
I also noticed that while he was looking directly at me, he was watching the TV behind me. His attention captured everything.
“Thank you,” the Bat said, and I knew I was dismissed. I was stunned. A wave of relief washed over me. I survived the Bat’s scrutiny, somehow. The more I understood about him, the more terrifying I knew he could be. I knew now why bad guys virtually shriveled up and collapsed when they saw him; why when I tried it, I had nowhere near the same effect. I wondered about this Tor guy again. He wasn’t even dented!
The next thing that I was conscious of was the Butler escorting me into the kitchen where he directed me to, “put those on the counter!” I put the trays I was carrying down on the counter.
“This way, Miss Robyn,” he prompted, ushering me to what looked like the door of a broom closet. He opened it, revealing a small servant’s elevator, which we entered. He closed the doors and moved an ornate lever which caused the elevator to go down.
Almost a minute later it stopped. He opened the doors and I stepped out into the huge cavern where I first met the butler. Across a chasm, that incredible car sat on its platform facing away from us, aimed at the roadway into the tunnel that led back the way I came in last night, the single foot-bridge providing the only access. To get to it, we passed several tables, cases, displays, and a very impressive wall of monitors that all seemed to be connected to a central computer system.
On one of the tables I noticed the utility belts I retrieved from the Police last night. I stopped and looked at them, then reached for them.
“Young lady! You’ll leave that alone, if you please! Its very dangerous!” He was looking at me, the stern expression on his face told me how serious he was. As he looked at me, the sternness of his expression slipped, just a bit.
“I’m sorry! I wasn’t going to steal it,” I told him. “I know what’s in there; batarangs, smoke grenades, concussion grenades, magnesium flares and swing-line!”
His expression slipped another notch or two in the process of allowing his eyebrow to rise just perceptibly. “Yes, Miss. Then you,… understand,… why you must leave it alone.” His voice was softening with each phrase he spoke. He was loosing control. I didn’t want to do that to him. I really was enjoying being talked to intelligently. I moved to stand on the other side of the table that held the utility belts, taking advantage of the shadow cast by a stalactite to help protect him from the effect of viewing me directly. He was visibly relieved. Able to maintain his remaining composure, he steeled himself and looked away at some distant point. “I did not mean to accuse you, of course you wouldn’t steal it. I merely wish to warn you of the dangers.”
“I’m sorry too! I just wanted to look at them. I am just amazed at all the things you can put in there!”
He considered his next move for what seemed like several moments, then said “Very well, come with me.” He led me into a side chamber I had not seen before. It was expansive, with the entrance partially finished: the floor and walls smooth and white for a few feet before giving way to the natural cavern. There was a row of cabinets along one side. The Butler opened one of the cabinets to reveal several shelves, most of which were filled with bins sitting on them. One shelf, near the middle, had yellow belts and a bin full of yellow cartridges that clipped to the belts. The other bins in this cabinet clearly had all the non-dangerous stuff. I saw batarangs, swing-line, lockpicks, miniature oxygen re-breathers, earplugs, nasal gas filters, chemical torches, sample collection bags, view lenses that would fit in costume masks and all sorts of wonderful things that I never suspected but suddenly made sense for the Bat to have.
It occurred to me that The Bat might be as normal as anyone else! He used his brain and a lot of tools to help him. It was a like Sensei taught me, “A Kunoichi uses many tools to do her job.” Now I was really impressed. The Bat did all the terrifying and wonderful things he did, and he might not even be a MetaX!
The Butler began to explain in generic terms that all the tools had to be small enough to be easily carried and not get in the way, yet functional enough to serve a purpose, and I began to feel bored. I paid attention though, mostly because I saw an opportunity. He was studiously not looking right at me, but he had weakened a lot. I didn’t really want to take advantage of him, but I did want something to complete my costume, and this was just the place to get it!
“Sir, could I have one of those belts? And some of those storage cartridges? Please?”
He froze. He realized he had been taken in by events and had let his guard down. He was vulnerable to my request and I could see him struggle against it. I pressed gently, “I’m not asking for anything dangerous, honest! I just need a place to carry the tools I already have!”
I was scoring points. Since I already had the tools, he wasn’t giving me anything new. That would ease his mind. And I needed them: he could help me with something I needed, and he could do it so easily. I reached in and took a belt and put in on, slung at my waist so that it drooped low on one thigh. Next I took a hand full of the storage cartridges and put them on the belt. “What do you think?” I asked.
He looked at me. “Remarkable!” he answered.
I took my swingline and batarangs out of the places I had them stashed and began to try to put them in the little cartridges, but I didn’t really know how to get them to fit. The Butler couldn’t stand it anymore. It frustrated him to see me fumble. He took my batarangs and showed me how to collapse them. They collapsed! Then he put them in the cartridges on my belt and took my handful of swingline from me. He tsk-tsk’d and threw it out, replacing it with new line from one of the bins in his cabinet. He said a proper vigilante should not have to spend her time salvaging used swingline in order to fight evil! Once he had loaded the line into my belt cartridges, he pronounced me, “all set,” then had second thoughts and gave me a handful each of line reloads and collapsed batarangs. “There!” he finished.
I had seen the Bat swinging many times. I had seen how he extracted the line from the cartridges, attached it to a batarang in mid-air and cast it at an anchor-point with the line trailing out of the cartridge behind it. He could even use the cartridge opening to cut the line once he had enough. Now I was equipped to do the same! I felt like a new Vigilante! I was ready to take on the night. I was ready to go!
I knew from my brief meeting with the Bat just how little I knew about fighting evil. If Sensei could be my Mentor and teach me the skills I needed, the Bat could be my Mentor, too. He could teach me what to do with those skills. My road was chosen. I had some hurdles to get over, not the least of which was winning the Bat over. I knew he respected what I had accomplished last night. He already had one student, and he might just be willing to take me on, too!
Before I realized what was happening, I was seated in that incredible car and the Butler was closing the passenger door for me. Apparently he was over whatever it is I do to people. He climbed in the driver’s side as gracefully as I ever imagined anyone could and directed me to fasten my seatbelt as he fastened his.
“What kind of car is this?” I asked as he started it up.
“Why Miss Robyn, it’s the Batmobile!” he answered. Then this remarkably kind, gentle old man,… hit the gas.