4777/The Beast's Gambit

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The Beast's Gambit
Date of Scene: 18 January 2021
Location: Chinatown - Founder's Island
Synopsis: The plans of the Beast's Paw come into greater focus as they manage to successfully achieve at least part of their objective with burning of Chinatown and the trap to provoke more violence between the gangs of Gotham. Still, heroes like Batman, Batwoman, the Shadow and the unlikely Harley Quinn prevent the loss of life from being as great as it could have been.
Cast of Characters: Bruce Wayne, Harley Quinn, Carmine Falcone, Natasha Cranston, Jason Todd, Kate Kane

Bruce Wayne has posed:
The Festival of the Dragon is a popular annual tradition in Gotham's Chinatown. It is an opportunity to get out and experience the local Asian enclave of the city, that main throughfare of which has undergone an almost magical transformation as the street has been bedecked in decorations, most especially rows and rows of colored, hanging paper lanterns that cast a warm glow over the street below. Vendors of all sorts offer a variety of traditional foods or good luck charms and throngs of people flock to the streets to watch the parade of colorful dragons, the elaborate costumes or puppets guided along in a procession that glitters and sparkles beneath all those twinkling lights above.

In sharp contrast, just a mere block away from the festivities there is another gathering going on, one much less celabratory in nature. One with a darker intent. The Street Demonz were somewhat dubious about the invitation. Conducting business so close to so many people? They might not be the brightest hoodlums in Gotham, but they're not that dense. Not to mention that this is Ghost Dragon territory. Why deliberately antagonize another gang? But the peace offering from the Beast's Paw was just too tempting. The array of weaponry being offered up as a token of respect -- and an apology for everything that happened at the docs several weeks ago -- was not an opportunity they could pass up.

The parking lot that they wait at is all but packed, a tribute to the popularity of the festival. Of course the actual attendant has been tied up and left in the little booth which is now manned by one of the Demonz. Even with the unusually busy night a section near the back of the lot has been left clear and a small collection of vans has gathered, an assortment of shifty looking types waiting with growing impatience. "This was supposed to go down fifteen minutes ago. Five more minutes and we pack it in," one of the pacing Street Demonz says impatiently as he paces in front of the parked vans, peering out at the street everytime the sound of a car passing reaches them, squinting through the gloom to try and determine if the Beast's Paw has finally arrived.

And in the darkness other eyes, hidden eyes watch the Demonz as they gather, leaning against their vans, bathed in the still lit headlights. Eyes that have already started to encircle the gang...

Harley Quinn has posed:
Harley's time as the clown princess of Gotham is long gone. Well..., maybe a bit over a year gone, but still gone. It doesn't mean she still doesn't have contacts around, or doesn't enjoy participating in some of the festivals. Like the Dragon Festival! Messages had been sent to the usual suspects, Ivy, April, Spiral.., even Aimee. But they had all either not been available or not too interested.. PFfftttt!

"Traitahs, all of ya!" Harley speaks to her phone while she walks not too far from the parking lot, having parked her nice little yellow jaguar close enough. She was dressed to party, her usually pale face now even more pale, traces of red in her eyes and cheeks, very much in line with the kabuki way of painting one's face. Hair up in pins and dressed on a pair of yellow overalls.

"Well, I will party all by myself, get smashed with cheap beeah.. Yep, good plan." She spots the suspicious looking characters over by the parking lot and asks loudly. "HEY, WHAT'S THE WAY TA THE PARTY!?"

Carmine Falcone has posed:
     These meetings were not always the most secret. Not in a town like Gotham where the walls have ears. Through the shadows a group of figures dressed in all black stop off by a dumpster at the edge of the festivities. Each one is dressed in a thick trench coat and fedora. They're high in spirits and looking from one to the next as they stand in the shadows. Among them is one figure whose face is hidden completely in shaddows.

     He reaches down to his pocket pulling out a lighter embossed with a twin headed eagle with arms outstretched and brings it up to his cigarette stuck in the corner of his mouth. The amber glow of the embers reveals a pencil thin moustache of one Mario Falcone. His eyes are like that of a hawk narrowing down on a field mouse as he looks across the parking lot the sides of his mouth curling into a smile.

     He takes a long drag from his cigarette as one of the boys opens the nearby dumpster pulling out several bags of trash from within. A combat knife is taken out from his boot and the bags are cut open revealing tactical vests and automatic rifles. Each of the men takes their time to pass them out one to the next stuffing them beneath those thick walled trench-coats hidden in the dark of the alley.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    After their last venture into Gotham had not one but /multiple/ party crashers, the leaders of the Paw made at least some attempts to plug their information leakage -- occasionally by plugging the people who were found to do the leaking -- but the problem with good opsec is that you need to build it in from the ground up, and it's harder still to fix issues when you don't know the actual cause.

    ... And worse, after their screw-up certain parties who weren't even aware them in the first place now Know to pay attention -- And their security isn't remotely as good as they hoped.

    "... I need a better way to communicate with the Batman," Natasha chuckles to herself as she checks her gear in the passenger's seat of Benny's cab. Benny laughs. "... Right, like he's got some kind of Bat-Phone you could call him on? 0-800-THE-BATMAN?"

    "Just drive, Benny," Natasha replies, although she can't quite suppress a smile as she reaches for her hat. "Chances are he already knows of this, but it'd still be the polite thing to do..."

    With all the festivities going on, nobody pays attention to just another cab pulling up by a curb, and driving away again in search of his next fare, as the Shadow flits away and toward the meeting...

Jason Todd has posed:
The Red Hood is one of those waiting in the shadows too. The gangers were sloppy doing things out in the open like this, but hell if they were going to give him a free shot, why not oblige. Set up on a building with good sightlines to the parking lot, Red Hood watches the thugs gather only to groan inwardly as Harley walks right into the middle of things. "Wonderful," he didn't care if the gangers all died but despite their past he actually gave a crap if Harley got dead. "Damn it," he curses as he pulls his duffle bag over and drags out the rifle inside, hurriedly readying it to provide a bit of long distance cover to the former Clown Princess of Crime.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
Out on the street the festivities continue, music and the sound of the crowd filling the night air. And of course that colorful procession of dragons that seemingly come in all different colors, those under the long costumes making the display seem to ripple and dance as it proceeds down the street past the onlookers. It is certainly attention grabbing, which might very well be the point this particular evening.

Just as at the docks, that lack of security seems like it is going to doom this particular transaction as well. You would think that criminals would learn, wouldn't you? Of course, it is possible that they have learned. Very well.

As Harley strolls by on the way to the party one of the Street Demonz on the very edge of that circle of light cast by the idling vans glances her way when addressed. A sneer slides over his face though he takes a moment to look her over. "Do I look like your travel guide. Shove off. Before you regret it," he barks back. All big and tough, that's him. As if to emphasize that threat he moves his arm just enough to let the light glint off the gun in one hand.

While it might be a more typical concern, that it will be the Batman, or one of the other vigilantes that seem to spring up like weeds in Gotham finding out about these meets -- like say, the Red Hood -- that is not the only threat is it? No, there are plenty of other competing criminal organizations. While Falcone's men make their preparations to intervene nearby, they aren't the only ones. All those headlights might push back the dark and make the Street Demonz feel better but they have another effect. It takes away what little night vision they have. They never see the darkly-clad figures that begin to slink through the parking lot around them, staying out of those circles of light going after the sentries the Demonz have left alone at the fringes. Like, say the man hassling Harley. One moment he is standing there, trying to intimidate her. The next moment his words cut off in a gurgle and the sound of a man falling to the ground is the only further sound.

A number of buildings overlook the parking lot below, their rooftops providing a vantage point of all that is going on. Atop one of them -- a rundown apartment building by the looks, a solitary figure crouches, peering through a nightscope, watching as the scene below progresses.

Out near the main strip on another rooftop a much more familiar silhouette perches as well, cape drawn in close to him as he scans the crowd. Whenever a large number of people are gathered together in Gotham there is the potential for trouble. Indeed, it seems to attract it. The Dark Knight knows well about the meet nearby -- indeed, he bugged the area hours ago and he listens in closely while in another part of the city Oracle is no doubt recording it all...

Harley Quinn has posed:
"Woah, chil big boy. We got no beef heah. What's with the iron anyway? This ain't the place foh it..." Harley starts to say to the guy. Really! Some people have no manners! But not being a criminal anymore it means she doesn't punch the guy down. She is becoming CIVILIZED.

But she is just about to continue on her way, turning her back on the man to wander to the party itself when there's that gurgling sound. She turns immediately.

She blinks once in surprise as she registers what just happened. "IT WASN'T ME!" she shouts..., and then looks around. Noone in sight. Oh crap. Suddenly she feels very alone and in danger.

She tosses herself down to the ground next to the body, looking under it's belt for his GUN, his body a shield to whatever may be out there.

Carmine Falcone has posed:
     That shout has Mario's boys in black moving in with their suppressed rifles at the ready. The group of mobsters are already moving in towards where the scream had come from. Of course they think someone else is going after the goods. They just don't realize how many people are going after the goods.

     They move at almost a run with rifles at the ready. Well trained and worn down as only the most professional mugs wind up surviving in Gotham with a Bat running around the city for more than a weekend, and Mario's personal security were some of the best and brightest in town.

     Mario moves up beside Harleyquin, those italian leather shoes costing easily more than most mansions in gotham. He takes a pause as his men move already to start their way into the parking lot to lean down and offer her a leather glove clad hand and a warm smile of pure white teeth.

     "Need a hand there?" His thick Gotham accent shining through with the slightest hint of italian as he kicks a pistol towards her open hand.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
The other thing having that many headlights does?

Cast lots and lots of shadows.

     Sure, the immediate inner ring is brightly lit, and sure, there are perimeter guards... But then, there always are. Moving unseen, Natasha looks on as the Ghost Dragons are starting to slaughter the demons, and sighs inwardly. As far as she's concerned they lost any claim to her sympathy when they chose this life, but this is Gotham -- the Bat's territory, and therefore the Bat's rules.

Besides, the Beast's Paw are running late. Might as well get some work done in the meantime...

    One of the Ghost Dragons is quietly moving into position to kill his next target when he's suddenly grabbed from behind himself, a powerful hand clamping down on his mouth to stifle his shouts while an arm presses down on his carotids until he passes out...

    Natasha stows his body somewhere reasonably out of the way and heads for her next target.

    The arrival of a number of heavily armed goons gives her pause, however; this dance card is getting a great deal fuller than originally planned, and judging by the way they're interacting with Dr. Quinn they're not here for the meet either... She /really/ needs to establish some line of communication with the Bat if she's going to operate in Gotham more often.

Kate Kane has posed:
    There was a time where down in the crowd of the festival you'd find one Kate Kane, doing her best to be both respectful, and the life of the party. Many a venue dreaded her impact on their open bar in those long past evenings.

    Nowadays, the only parties she brings herself to are those that happen in back allies and parking lots like this. Crouched down to minimize her silhouette amongst the night sky, the blood red of her cowl's wig flowing silently in the wind. She's far enough away that plain eyesight won't tell her all the things she needs to, and as such, the optics on her cowl have zoomed in to compensate, counting and tagging the various gangsters crowding the lot.

    A Bat's eye view of the situation is likely to give her more information than any attending crowd wants, but despite being ready to leap into action at any moment, Batwoman lingers like a fashionable gargoyle, until a certain voice tells her it's time.

Jason Todd has posed:
"Huh?" Jason says as one of the dark clad figures comes out of the shadows to take out the man threatening Harley. He lifts his eye from the scope to take a wider view flicking on the nightvision on his helmet. There were more figures slinking through the shadows, knives glinting in hand. Ghost Dragons.

A smile spreads under Jason's helmet. "Time to even the odds," he says eye returning to the scope, he raises the barrel from the men in the lot to the lights above it, taking a series of quick shots to put them out of commission, broken glass tinkling in the newly made darkness. "Good hunting," he wishes the Ghost Dragons as he picks up his rifle and starts moving to the next rooftop trying to avoid someone zeroing in on his position by the sound of his previous shots.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
Just a block away the crowds continue on celebrating without the slightest knowledge that nefarious deeds are going on nearby. To add to the celbratory feel of the evening the sky is suddenly illuminated by the first of the fireworks displays, vibrant colors exploding in the dark heavens above in bursts of reds, yellows and greens. These however are just the first fireworks of the evening. And by far they are likely to be the most enjoyable...

Up on his perch, Batman tilts his head to the side. While his gaze remains fixed on the festivities below, scanning the crowd, he is clearly listening. In all likelihood to what is being transmitted from that parking lot. He hesitates for just a moment and then he is leaping from his perch, a grapnel appearing in his hand as if by magic, fired off as he swings across the street -- just a dark shadow overhead as he begins to wing his way in the direction of that meet. "Oracle, if there is anyone else in the area give them a head's up. Looks like this Beast's Paw has setup another trap."

Harley won't have very much trouble finding that gun. It's still clutched in the man's hand. Or it is until Mario helpfully kicks it towards her. Down on the pavement beside him she might notice the slowly growing puddle of dark liquid. And the grusome red trail across his very slit throat. It's a safe bet those shadowy figures aren't Bats then. They're not normally the throat-cutting types... well, most of them at least.

"Hey Dar? Dar... you see anything man?" the lead Street Demon calls out, turning away from the van when 'Dar' does not offer any reply. "Dar?" he calls out once more, squinting through the darkness. "I knew this sounded like bullshit," he growls. "Weapons out boys," he barks, gun immediately in hand as he tries to find just what's going on. And while the dark makes it difficult, he can just barely make out the shape of Mario and his goons with those tell-tale fedoras. "There!"

The Ghost Dragon's mentor, their leader is King Snake. And if anyone knows about using the darkness to his advantage it would be a blind martial artist. Of course, as quiet as they are, as skilled as they are, there are others present that are more so. They slink about the parking lot using those shadows, using that cover to conceal them, wielding knives and swords so as to make their kills silently. Those that see through the shadows can note the submachine guns strapped to their backs, but those are a last resort. And now they split up, one group closing in on the flank of the Street Demonz while the other half start to circle about, ready to make their move on Mario and his men.

But their numbers begin to thin as the Shadow lives up to his name. And the silent approach of the Ghost Dragons are turned against him as one goes down, taken out neatly and tucked away with none the wiser.

And then what little light is offered by the scattered light stanchions that dot the parking lot are suddenly taken out, the pools of orange light pouring down to the pavement below snuffed out with only the sound of tinkling gass spreading across the ground to note it. And the sound of those gunshots. They might be noticed by those down below, but with the exploding fireworks nearby those busy celebrating are likely none the wiser.

So once again a trio of Gotham's criminal groups have been brought together in one place. And the Beast's Paw hasn't even made it's appearance yet. Possibly because it has no intention to. Possibly because only a single agent of the Beast's Paw is here this evening. The solitary man up on his rooftop perched, crouched low with only a nightscope, watching as all the players gather in the parking lot below. Reaching up to the ledge in front of him he grabs the device resting there and flips a switch...

...while down below on the underside of a dozen or so cars countdowns are triggered, seconds rapidly vanishing as the explosive devices that are nestled there prepare to unleash their surprise...

Harley Quinn has posed:
With Harley now on the ground the first thing she sees is Mario's shoes. Italian? She wrinkles her nose. "Man ..." she says, ".. ya stink o' gangstah from heah ta Brooklyn.." she gets the gun when it's tossed her away, glancing up at the Falcone mobster and then the ones behind her. Great, a gang fight. This ain't her dance though. But .., she might as well not let people DIE for no reason. "Whoevah snatched this guy used a knife, I didn't even heah him so ya boys betta think well if ya wanna go in theah.." she warns, checking the gun's clip.

It's when the lead Street Demon spots them. "And nah, don't think those awhe the guys ya have ta worry about.."

With that said she looks up as the lights get popped up, pursing her lips in thought. Someone else intervening? Still, she shouts over to the lead Demon, "HEY, GET THE F OUT. YA BEEN MADE!"

She shoots a couple of times up to the air and goes to find some cover. No need to catch a stray bullet, or a sudden knife to the neck. "Get outta the street, slick!" she tells Mario.

Carmine Falcone has posed:
     "Stink is a nasty word," Mario offers with another bit of a smirk as his boys get into position ready to push up and make the most of a good thing, before they're spotted. "That said I respect a woman able to speak her mind." He looks down towards the blood. "Thanks for the tip." Lowering his handle on the SMG in his hand. As he gets ready to fire only for that next bit to come his way.

     He lowers his gun back down as he starts to fall back motioning for his boys to do the same as they pull out some covering fire. There's still plenty of time to make sure those goods go to their 'rightful owners' and the night is but young still.

     "All the time in the world" Mario offers as he puffs away on his cigarette rattling off a few rounds to try and put the other gangars back into cover walking backwards.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    ... They've been made, yes, that much seems obvious. But who by? Natasha incapacitates another one of the Ghost Dragons, gently lowering his body to the ground... And while she's at that level, a blinking light catches the corner of her eye, underneath the nearby car.

Right next to the gas tank.



    ... Of course, chances are the moment she alerts everyone whoever set this up will detonate ahead of time. On the other hand, there's no way to tell from this angle how much time is left. Or how many other cars are wired like this.

    "Fools!" thunders the Shadow's voice across the entire area. "You've all been set up. These cars are rigged to blow! GET CLEAR!"

Kate Kane has posed:
    The lights popping out as Jason's rounds hit them proves to be the impetus for Kate to start the festivities proper. She leaps a mere fraction of a second after Bruce does, her position on a higher rooftop a bit further away affords her an easier trajectory.

    Her leap from the building is a momentary freefall, as she builds up speed to a point- before her arms fly out to her sides, catching her cape and causing it to hit the wind and turn her downward momentum into forward momentum in a movement that, without the training and reinforcement from the rest of the suit, could have harmed her greatly.

    Rocketing forward, Batwoman's entrance into the parking lot is as sudden as it is shocking, to those that can see as she does: In the dark. She breaks minimally, twisting to let the cape's semi-rigid structure catch the air full on such that when she lands on the goon she lands on- and, certainly, that is absolutely what she does- she doesn't kill the man.

    She does, however, hurt him very much. The strike is brutal, and the crack of his sternum when her boots impact it are more telling than anything else. The news that the cars are rigged to explode doesn't surprise Batwoman, whom starts tagging vehicles and locations through the cowl, and feeding that back to Oracle.

    Her bet is that if they're lucky, Barbara can handle the bombs. She doesn't leave until Bruce does, so she's following his lead.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
Out on the nearby street the celebration continues uninterrupted. Fireworks continue to light up the sky in bursts of color and sound and the oohs and ahhs of the crowd below cut through the general chatter. The march of the dargons continues unabated, making it's way down the street but bringing up the rear is one last dragon, done up in red. It trails behind the rest of the procession but as it dances down the street under the performers beneath it, that head angles upwards and a great gout of flame shoots from it's mouth, illuminating the street for a moment -- moreso -- and bringing a hushed gasp from those nearby before a burst of wild applause.

The Dark Knight lands on his chosen perch overlooking the parking lot below just in time to see and hear those street lights snuffed out, plunging that strip into near darkness. As dark as the city ever gets at least. Eyes narrow behind the cowl, but there is no spotting who is responsible now so instead he turns his attention to the heightening conflict below. Before he can swoop down however that great gout of flame rises up from the street behind them. It might be a festival, it might be a celebration, but that sort of display seems distinctly wrong...

Look at that. Harley is actually trying to prevent a fight instead of gleefully instigating one. Will wonders never cease. Will her words have any impact on the gangs? Well, Falcone's men seem inclined to take her warning to heart, beginning to back away from the conflict and out of the ambush that those slinking Ghost Dragon assassins had circling around them. That's at least a partial success all on it's own. Way to descalate things Harley. It's a whole lot easier to believe that she actually used to be a psychiatrist now.

Even the Street Demonz seem to take her words to heart and instead of unleashing a hail of gunfire towards Mario and his men they take a step back, glancing around at the darkened parking lot and muttering amongst themselves. "Screw this and screw those Beast Paw bastards. Pack it up boys. It's time to get out of here," the lead Demon says as the crew starts to retreat towards those idling vans -- the only source of light in the lot now.

This is Ghost Dragon territory and there is a price that has to be exacted for infringing upon it. With both groups of intruders starting to beat a retreat the shadowy figures abandon their subtlty, reaching to unsling those submachine guns as they abandon their knives and swords. A handful of shots ring out into the night, clinking against cars near to Harley and Falcone's men and shattering one of the windshield on the Street Demonz vans.

Which is when the Shadow's voice cuts through the noise and confusion with its warning. This is all a trap, all designed to kill them all. And there is little doubt who is responsible for it.

If there is violence in the city, sooner or later one of the Bats is likely to make an entrance. Tonight is no different. No doubt Batwoman's brutal takedown will make an impression -- so much of what they do is designed especially for that. But very abruptly this has turned into less of an opportunity to sweep up dozens of criminals and more into a rescue operation. Even this criminal scum deserves better then to be blown up. "Batwoman, focus on getting everyone out. Oracle, blanket all frequencies. Try to keep any signals from being sent in this area..." the Dark Knight starts to instruct over the secured com frequecy.

Which is when the first explosion rips through the parking lot. An SUV near the entrance of the lot abruptly explodes in a pillar of flame that lights up the night, gas igniting and splashing about, starting a half dozen other fires. For a moment that SUV takes flight before crashing back down to earth... right ontop of the attendant's booth and half-way across the lot's entrance. The desperate thug inside throws himself aside at the last might.

The Parking Lot is definitely not plunged into darkness any longer...

Harley Quinn has posed:

That's Harley heroically tossing herself away as bullets start peppering the area near her, she running from her cover who was supposed to protect her from the Demons! But with the Ghost Dragons flanking that cover isn't no good no more! Talk about crossed fire! So now she runs through the battlefield, dodging bullets like it was nobody's business (luck, really).

But she still has a gun! So she tosses right into the face of one of the Dragons shooting at her. Take that! It sends him crashing back to the floor and she then saying. "Run, you fools!" she even tries to put in a sagely tone. It worked for Gandalf right? But it comes out as a rather high-pitched thing.

But to get away from the Dragons? Means she gets right close to the Street demons. From the frying pan and into the fire. Not that she stops.

"Keep runnin', dump the vans!"

Carmine Falcone has posed:
     The bullets ring out aimed for the center of mass. The Falcone goons manage to take it like a champ, a few wide shots no problem for the crew as it bounds off their armor. Mario is full of bravado as he holds his SMG under one arm and gives off a spray and pray to protect his men's retreat.

     "Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough you big palooka's" Mario starts rattling off rounds to protect his boys. He's confident in his protection and confident that even if he winds up in jail his lawyers will solve the rest, though the bomb threat has him still pulling backwards.

     There's only one problem. Three shots hit his ballistics vest which should be no problem. Low caliber high protection. But that black shirt begins to look a little wet.

     Mario buckles forward coughing onto the ground one of his mobsters rushing to his side. "Boss!" As he drops his gun. Mario Falcone drops his gun with a clatter against the ground red running down the sides of his mouth as he spits up blood onto the cold asphalt another round punching through his armor like tissuepaper.

     Another of his boys runs over attempting to drag their boss from the front lines of combat as his hat falls off hitting the ground large holes in the front of what was supposed to be heavy duty ballistic armor.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    Natasha is entirely too busy scrambling for cover - and carrying the unconscious Ghost Dragon - to take tally of what else is going on for a moment. She stows the Dragon somewhere away from the cars, then turns back to assess the damage. A three-way all-out gunfight, especially with more rigged cars in the bargain, is a bit too much for her to stop on her own. Where /are/ the Bats? It's not like them not to be on something this big like sharks on a bleeding seal...

Kate Kane has posed:
    Intimidation is really the only route for this. The Shadow has warned them, the cars are exploding, the lights are out, and a Bat is here. Kate is a bit more... Okay with criminals dying in explosions than Bruce is, but it's his city. She follows his rules.

    "RUN." A heavily distorted voice exclaims, flinging her cape up in a rather primal display. She steps off of the goon she'd crushed, and plucks him up, lifting him over her head with a level of ease that seems disproportionate to her size, making her seem inhuman. It's hard to judge technique amidst explosions and gunshots.

    The man above her head, she bodily throws him at a pair of retreating compatriots of his, ensuring that they have to choose between escaping with their fellow man, or continuing to fight amongst themselves.

    Then, her attention goes to the gunfight- amongst the darkness, with the fire of an ex-vehicle the only light, she assumes that they just need to be... Politely assisted with an agreeable ceasefire, so that calmer heads can prevail amongst, you know. Carbombs.

    Batwoman unsheathes several sharp, blood red batarangs, and with an expert flick of both wrists, sends them flying at guns and hands alike. It might not be enough to stop -all- the shooting, but if and when another car detonates, or Batman arrives, it'll likely bring that firefight to an end. She hopes. People need to start /running away./

Bruce Wayne has posed:
Out on the main street through Chinatown things are not quite as festive any longer. The sound of gunfire in the night air might be missed, covered up by the explosion of fireworks overhead. But the explosion from a block away cannot be covered up quite so easily. The fire from the dragon's mouth help to distract from the sudden plume of light and smoke that begins to rise up over the buildings lining the street but much of the music and chatter from the crowd dies away as that explosion sounds. Then another follows seconds later and the beginnings of a panicked murmur begins to run through the crowd. That quickly grows to screams as the fire breathing dragon is abruptly hurled aside and a half dozen men with flamethrowers straped to their backs begin to take aim at the nearby buildings, gouts and bursts of flame beginning to set the street on fire.

Chinatown -- the Ghost Link territory -- is going up in flames.

Harley's words, the Shadow's warning and even Batwoman's intimidation seems to have the effect that was intended. The Street Demonz ignore their vans, no longer backing away but turning tail and running, right past their getaway vehicles, pouring out of the parking lot on the far side. Falcone's men look to be doing the same, at least until their leader is brought down in a hail of bullets, that body armor failing him when he needs it the most, leaving him to be dragged away as cars explode around them and Mario's lifeblood leaks out onto the unforgiving pavement.

Even the Ghost Dragons seem to descide that survival trumps revenge and those last bursts of gunfire abruptly cease as they begin to run for their lives too, away from the line of exploding cars.

A second car explodes just moments later, filling the parking lot with another sudden plume of fire and smoke as the gas tank goes up, hurling the burning metal into the air before it comes crashing back down. A third quickly follows, adding to the fire and smoke and chaos but no more as it seems that Oracle's solution has finally taken effect.

These are always the choices that end up haunting him. Even as he swoops down to do what he can to hasten the gang's out of the trap he can hear the first panicked screams coming from a block away. Innocents in danger. While the men and women below -- with a few small exceptions - are anything but. BUt he is here now, and they need help. So when he lands he hits the ground running, tackling a pair of fleeing Ghost Dragons to the pavement just as the third explosion goes off beside them. His cape is draped over them as fire rains from the sky around them, the special material not catching flame though left scorched. Then he has them on their feet, leading them away. In a perfect world he would have the time to take them out too, but that's not his priority now. He's sure that Oracle has already alerted the necessary emergency services, but they are closer. "Leave the gangs Batwoman. We need to get people out of the burning buildings." Nights like these. They are what lead to trouble sleeping, to the brooding of whether they could have done something different.

The scope of the the Beast's Paw gambit becomes increasingly clear. Lure as many of their enemies into one place as they and try to blow them up. And insure that anyone who might readily stop them is out of the way while they burn down the businesses of Chinatown -- depriving the Ghost Dragons of their protection racket revenue stream.

Harley Quinn has posed:
Explosions, people running, screams. It sends her back to that point in life when she was one of Gotham's menace. She lets out a bit of a giggle, which is *very* out of place in the middle of all this chaos.. Or maybe it's the only thing that makes any sense. At least to her! Yet quickly enough she is waving towards the Bats and Shadow if she can spot them. "I get out foh a while and ya guys let this city go to hell..!" clearly this is all the Bats fault ...

Though she hears those words. People in danger inside burning buildings...? Well, she might as well *do* something. So she starts running..

"Hey, weren't ya supposed ta be blonde...?" she asks of Kate's hair. She is getting all confused with all the batgirls!

But focus, Harley-san. She runs towards one of the burning buildings, all ready to help where she can.

Because there's being a criminal and then there's being someone who burns people alive.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    Harley has the right of it -- just because they're criminal scum doesn't mean they deserve to burn alive.

    Natasha abandons stealth and follows the blonde psychiatrist to the nearest burning building, pulling a spare scarf out of her coat. "Not quite as good as a gas mask, but drench this in water and it should keep the smoke out of your lungs," she offers, then checks the nearest door for heat before kicking it in.

Kate Kane has posed:
    Kate doesn't have to be told twice. Reaching down to her belt and plucking off an odd gadget, she holds it up and at an angle. With a press of a trigger, two wired bolts are fired out of either side of it, lodging in the road behind her and into the wall just within the window of the nearest burning building.

    A whirring motor ferries her along this path into the building proper, where she disappears- her free hand coming from her belt with a strange apparatus that she fits into her mouth. It'll keep her safe, at least, but she doesn't have more than the one.

    It isn't long before she's doing what she can, bringing those that are on this floor back towards her zipline so that they can be ferried out of the building- but that'll only help this floor, and her presence isn't needed as soon as someone's done the deed.

    So, deeper into the building she goes, hoping that some smoke grenades might be usable to put out enough of the flames to secure a more reliable exit route.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
The procession of dragons is in tatters and the crowd flees up the street, away from the men wielding flame throwers who are busy setting the neighborhood on fire. The music gone, the sidewalk stands and carts hawking food abandonned, the festival has certainly been brought to an unceremonious end. If there is one small relief is that it is mostly businesses that line the street and while a few shops and restaurants might still be open, most are closed. Of course some feature upstairs apartments so there are still plenty of people to help evacuate.

The Street Demonz don't hesitate to scatter, tearing off through the night and away from both the trap and the small horde of vigilantes that have appeared. At this point surviving, getting away, those are pretty much the only things they are concerned with.

The Ghost Dragons are another matter. This is their neighborhood and these are their people. They might not care about them as individuals, but they do care what they represent. It isn't just Harley and the vigilantes who will be trying to evacuate the locals. They won't be plunging into any burning buildings, but at least they will be clearing the surroundings one.

Falcone's men continue to drag their downed leader away. "I don't think he's going to make it," one chimes up. "You want to tell the boss we left Mario behind to burn? Keep draggin'," another barks back. "What the hell happened to his armor? It should have stopped those bullets..." a third adds. Maybe someone wanted Mario Falcone dead. Looks like they got their wish.

Entering through the back as they do give Harley and the Shadow at least something of an advantage. It is the front of the storefronts that are burning. That gives them precious time -- maybe minutes, perhaps only seconds. The heat of nearby fire is evident and the cool of the night evening is banished by smoldering warmth as soon as they get inside. Stairs lead up to a handful of apartments and remain, for the moment, thankfully both fire and smoke free. The doors easily give away beneath their efforts, the apartments beyond filled with families that cower back at the intrusion. Though as the crackling and groaning of the building as important structural walls begin to burn, they tenatatively start forward towards their unlikely rescuers.

Batwoman's solution certainly provides the possibility for a quick egress for the inhabitants othe building she dives into, the zipline looking steady enough though more then a few of the upstairs inhabitants look... wary. Still, desperate times right? WIth her prompting and assitance they begin to gather up and slide to safety, mothers and fathers clutching children in their arms as they slide to safety.

And the smoke bombs? They at least seem to suck up some of that oxygen, slowing the spread of the flames as their fuel supply is dampened down.

Like the other Bat on the scene, the Dark Knight utilizes his grapnel to wing his way back towards the main street. He goes for the opposite side however and as he flutters overhead, that cape spread out to cast his silhouette, it is enough to have the mercenaries below abandon their flame flowers and disappear into the night. The damage is done however, and like the rest he plunges into a burning building to help rescue the residents still trapped.

The night air fills with a more hopeful sound as approaching sirens and flashing lights suggest that the Gotham Fire Department is only moments away...

Harley Quinn has posed:
Turns out that water is a precious commodity where it comes to fires... But there was a festival going on! So that also means stalls with food and .., there she goes. Water. She pops one open, soaking the scarf in it before swiftly following after the Shadow. And while she may not be that great where it comes to not getting burned she at least has more strength than that smaller body would suggest.. So.., doors? Obstacles? They get trampled beneath!

"Hey, theah's people ovah heah!" she tells the Shadow, then gestures for the families to make their way over.

"Come on! This way!" she tells them. She goes to one of the kids to pick it up from the ground and urgently spurs them on.

And then she is running out with the kid, coughing on her way through.

"I am gonna mess up those bitches with flamethrowahs when we awhe outta heah..." she promises.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    The Shadow growls agreement. "They will not get away with this, comes the reply as a crying child is unceremoniously lifted over one shoulder. "First things first, however -- we have lives to save. We can hunt those responsible down later."

    Several round trips later, the sound of approaching emergency services signals her cue to leave, and between one moment and the next, the dark-clad figure is gone.

    She'll have to get in touch with Batman later, it seems...

Bruce Wayne has posed:
By the time that the Gotham City Fire Department rolls up the only ones left on the street are those that have fled the burning buildings. Families are huddled together in the cold evening breeze, watching as homes and businesses blaze, a matter that is helped as hoses begin to pump gallons of water on the problem. But for many the damage is done.

Still, it could have been much, much worse. Thanks to the efforts of Harley and the Shadow, of Batwoman and the Dark Knight a lot of people who could have been burned alive are able to huddle with their families. That is something, though whether or not the fire exacted a death toll will have to wait until all the fires are out and the buildings can be properly investigated.

Back at the parking lot it is something of a different story of course. A half dozen or more bodies do litter what remains of that site and dark blood stains the pavement where a smattering of Street Demonz and one or two Ghost Dragons lay amidst the burning cars fires, dark puddles of blood illuminated by those flames.

Only a dark stain remains from where Mario Falcone was shot. Who knows just what the fallout will be from that when the Roman discovers just what happened, when he finds out who sabotaged the body armor that failed to save his boy.

Like the others, Batman and Batwoman will no doubt make themselves scarce as the authorities finally arrive on scene, having done what they could. What does seem clear is that the Beast's Paw continues to be a threat, a growing one. Clearly they are not done with Gotham and while they might not have succeeded and completely wiping out the Ghost Dragons or the Street Demonz they have definitely wounded them both. And a wounded animal is always at its most dangerous.

To be sure the Dark Knight will have to find a way to speak with the Shadow again. He might even have to thank Harley for her efforts. But the jester should probably not hold her breath waiting.