6597/A Spot of Trouble!

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A Spot of Trouble!
Date of Scene: 17 June 2021
Location: Gotham City Zoological Park
Synopsis: 6597 Having picked up on a plot to steal the six newest members of the Gotham Zoo -- a sextuplet of Cheetah Cubs -- the Outsiders Balm, Red Robin and Arsenal, The Shadow and Haunt are in for a spotty situation when dealing with armed theives. Special guest appearances by Bart Allen (Impulse), who contains the rest of the crowd and zoo animals. The writer made Tim sad, but Balm fixed it.
Cast of Characters: Phoebe Beacon, Tim Drake, Natasha Cranston, Roy Harper, Nicolai Codona
Cast of NPCs: Bart Allen

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    It is a slightly-less-than-gloomy day at Gotham City's own zoo! There is cheery pop music playing in pockets along the paved walkway between exhibits, broken up into different biomes and varieties of animals. Walking past the North American exhibit which has everything from a couple of borrowed caribou and musk oxen in a covered exhibit, resting beneath an outdoor air-conditioner and among buckets of ice, through the South American exhibit with a jaguar who was pacing in his not-quite-updated enclosure and the favorite capybaras lounging with a bunch of giant tortoises and onto the crown jewel -- the African Wildlife. With its reticulated giraffe collection, the herd of zebras and the lion pride, the gentle behemoths of their Elephant herd and -- in a specially built nursery -- the sextuplet cheetah cubs were snoozing, giving their hard-working mom a much-needed break and nap. It's hard work pushing six wet fuzzy jellybeans!

    There are balloons, an ice cream stand, a small fast-food stand and a bunch of tables and chairs in a plaza near the nursery, in cheery Gotham Black and Yellow umbrellas.

Tim Drake has posed:
    When word comes down the wire that someone is looking to buy a set of cheetah cubs, Tim has to marvel at it. Sometimes it feels like the universe is really just out to get him. Which is maybe a bit presumptuous; surely he and his Gotham-local Outsider friends aren't the only ones who have talked about the darling fuzzy little additions to Gotham's zoo, but it just... it feels kind of personal, okay?

    Honestly though, Tim can't remember the last time he's come to the park. (Which is a lie. He was 9 and it was with his parents; he doesn't want to remember it.) And it's not as if Red Robin's here for a recreational visit, perched as he is in a hidden spot atop one of the staff buildings that gives him a clear line of sight to the cheetah enclosure, huddled under an overhang that gives him some shade under a surprisingly sunny Gotham sky. He's pulled a set of binoculars from his utility belt and he's been scanning the crowd for a good while now, but this isn't an overly rigorous stakeout. Mostly because it's daytime, which does affect his ability to properly case the place (though he did some recon last night). But also because he has homework due for his Additive Manufacturing course, which he's working on via the hard-lite computer project over his left gauntlet.

    Don't tell Batman about his misuse of vigilante equipment, okay?

He's listening to a lecture that he's piping through his suit comms, but the volume is low on that. Mostly he's hoping to retain the information through osmosis, or something.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
        Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

    Cheetah cubs are adorable and highly exotic -- and illegal to own in almost every state in the US. But there are always those with more money than morals, and those willing to provide them with what they want for a remuneration.

    Unfortunately for them, they've more greed than sense, and one of them will soon regret bragging to his girlfriend about the big score he and his pals are planning to make within earshot of a waitress who just happened to sport a blue girasol ring.

    That was all the warning Natasha needed to set her network into action, and a bit of sleuth work, and one or two quiet interrogations of snitches and fences yield the identities of a few freelancers that were planning to move up with a 'big score' and how much they'd paid to get information about the Gotham Zoo... And so, The Shadow Knows.

    Unfortunately, Natasha's information isn't quite sufficient for all the details, but she's reasonably sure on their timetable, and so an entirely ordinary cab passes by the Zoo's entrance, slowing down as it looks for a possible customer -- and no one notices one extraneous shadow without an owner flitting along the pavement and through the entrance...

Roy Harper has posed:
Roy Harper definitely does not know, however.

Roy's mostly just here to do the important combination of stuffing his guts entirely full of as much fried dough as possible and, of course, hitting on girls. Preferably both at the same time. Does he have his Arsenal gear packed away in his backpack? He sure does, even managed to get it past inspection by a very sleepy looking security guard with some serious Dad bod.

He has his trucker cap turned around backwards and a pair of shades on. When he catches the barest glimpse of Red Robin atop one of the buildings, the other vigilante only noticeable to Roy because he recognizes the color combination on a bit of cape, he gets out his Outsiders communicator and gets on channel. "Breaker, Breaker, Little Bird, this is Big Beaver, do you copy?"

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    Balm was nearby. Not only does she have a vested interest in keeping the zoo a safe place for everyone (the personal visit she got of the "bat cave" with a lowercase-b and feeding the giraffes not withstanding), the hooded healer was keeping a low profile on a nearby roof. She had opted for the armor this time, her focus was watching the security team. She had her own staff compressed down, though her gloved hands were fiddling with one of those plastic snakes you can get for an extremely overpriced $4 in the gift shop. Hers was moulded to look like a hog nosed snake, but inexplicably had rattler fangs.

    She hears the chatter on the Outsiders band, and gives a brief snort.

    "Now I'm dying to know, what am I?" she asks.

    Meanwhile, the Outsider on the Inside, Bart AKA Impulse, is hard at work being a zookeeper and down below, answering questions about the spotted hyenas in one exhibit nearby, wearing brown shorts, brown shirt and a ballcap with the Zoo's insignia on it. He is notably not on the band; that's why Balm's over his shoulder.

    Suddenly, the cheery pop music playing in pockets that wouldn't bother the animals stops. No one seems to notice the shadow without an owner, unless Tim or Roy are canny enough. The security team in their office looks confounded a little bit, someone tapping away at a keyboard within the office.


Tim Drake has posed:
    Two heartbeats. "I copy." Though Red Robin is going for serious and unamused, he can't stop the lift of his voice at the end there. Look, they're at the zoo, those cheetah cubs are adorable, and they're backdropped by pop music. Even in Gotham, this is not the right setting to be able to pull off the whole Bat grimdark thing; maybe Bruce could, but Tim isn't quite there yet.

    He lifts his binoculars for another sweep of the area, mostly focused on the people passing by. At one point he spots something, which he attributes to a strange flicker of light, but there's something niggling at the back of his head; for now, though, the Shadow's arrival goes fully unnoticed by Red Robin. "You happen to have some gear in that backpack?" he asks, but it's less a question, more an assumption that Red Robin feels pretty darn confident making. "...wait, was that a funnel cake? Did you get the one with the Pop Rocks on top?" His stomach gives an envious gurgle as he thinks about the wilted salad he ate from Gotham University's canteen.

    Cue the music cutting out. "Heads up. This might be what we've been waiting on."

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    Natasha notices the music stopping as well. The thugs must be making their move. She starts making her way to the Cheetah enclosure, keeping an eye out for any suspicious activity.

    The crowds are something of a hindrance -- they can't see her, so they also don't know to move away from her, and she doesn't want to alert anyone to her presence just yet -- so it's slower going than she prefers for now.

Roy Harper has posed:
Roy Harper scratches his head as Phoebe adds her voice, "Sheesh, did we all show up here? Uh, I guess you'd be...Little Bee? As in, floats like a butterfly, stings like a?"

"Yeah, of course, I'm never unarmed. Gimme a few, somebody give me a heads up as to, like, where the trouble's heading and who I need to put an arrow in?"

He ducks into a port-a-potty after doing some search around, adding in at the end, "Hell yeah I did. Saw some stupid crank stick his in a soda, the thing foamed up and shot all over his face like a friggin' volcano. Money shot, BOOM, right on the boardwalk, baby."

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    "You know, with the amount of physical work you *do* Red, you can indulge a little bit. I'll split one with you." she offers, and then the music is replaced. It's not cheery at all; but a line of robotic vocalization warning for your safety, due to unexpected circumstances, all personnel and guests should proceed to the nearest emergency shelter. It repeats in English, Spanish, Tagalong, Japanese, Mandarin -- it's not normal Zoo procedure

    And then there's a siren, as all the electronically secure doors in the zoo unlock.

    Emergency exits are now unalarmed, as are the staff doors into buildings like the infirmary, the storage facilities and the nursery are now unguarded and accessible to anyone without a keycard.

    There's also sudden screaming from somewhere as the polar bear in its exhibit was able to push open its door to go back inside as someone was cleaning its indoor enclosure.

    The silverback gorilla hops over a log and pushes it way into the ape house exhibit.

    And a trio of Iberian wolves begin to make their way across a walkway.

    Security is busy grabbing guns to try and lock down the animals as another tries to get an override going to get the security systems back online.

    To the left of Tim's vantage point, a leopard is testing the emergency team entrance to its enclosure. It's looping a heavy paw around the side and trying to push the button like it's seen keepers do.

    Clever girl.

Tim Drake has posed:
    Red Robin's comm is still hot, so both Roy and Phoebe hear him give a quiet, almost despondent sigh. "I don't usually go for sweets," he admits. "But fair foods are pretty universally nostalgic, aren't they?" That isn't an acceptance of Phoebe's offer, but just the same it isn't a refusal, either. Who knows, maybe by the end of this Tim will have to explain powdered sugar dust on his uniform to Alfred.

    "Cheetah enclosure. We've received credible information that someone from the private sector is looking to buy a matching set of six. No information on timeline, but we're assuming it's going to be so--" The warning starts to blare, and then the sirens, and Red Robin tabs over to the live feeds from the security cameras across the park. "Hope you're a quick change artist. We've got trouble."

It takes a few seconds, Red Robin rapidly swiping through the various cameras, for him to get a sense of the situation. "Safety locks on the enclosures have been released," he says, as he leans forward to look over the edge of his roof perch, towards the Big Cat section of the park. His eyes widen behind his mask and he fires off a zipline, getting down to ground level swiftly so that he can press himself against the door to the leopard exhibit.

"Zoo security is moving to contain, assist as best you can; the safety of the staff and visitors takes precedence." How strong are leopards? He's just one guy, with no Laura Dern in sight to help him hold the door closed. Hopefully not stronger than the industrial-strength adhesive that he pulls from his belt and starts spraying along the door jambs to seal it shut.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    A moment later, a chair is firmly wedged against the door, with its back lodged underneath the handle to prevent it from opening -- and the tall, black clad figure that Tim hadn't seen until it was suddenly putting the chair there looks down at their work before turning to Robin.

    "... That should hold, for now. I take it we're here for the same reason?" the figure asks almost conversationally - if you're chatting amicably with an otherworldly monster.

     "I wasn't able to verify how much access they'd managed to obtain. This will be more complicated than I'd anticipated; I hope you've brought backup..."

Roy Harper has posed:
Roy Harper jams on his costume, "Nostalgic, Double R? Are you secretly forty five under that mask? I'm eighteen, what'm I gonna be nostalgic for, diapers and sippy cups? C'mon, bro," he says.

He kicks open the port-a-potty door and knocks it off its hinges, stepping out bow in hand and almost gets trampled by a group of escaping zoo patrons, "Hey, watch it! Oh shit, wolves!" he cries as he sees exactly why the people are running so quickly.

He reaches back into his quiver and draws out a gas grenade arrow, shooting it into the ground in front of the wolves. It sets off, sending a greenish cloud back to flood over them, "Boy, I hope that stuff works on all species."

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    On the rooftop, Balm was shortly joined by Bart, there's a short exchange, and then he's gone again.

    "Impulse is moving to get the released animals under control and working the crowd; some of them are on a skip day and may be more aggressive than usual. That's going to keep him tied up but he's confident he can do it without anyone suspecting anything. He's going to be absent from comms."

    She moves, extending her own staff to use as a pole to vault herself onto another building.

    "Who's got a feed on the nursery?"

    The leopard snarls at Tim, its eyes going wide and reaching through to try and grab at his hand with those deadly claws, when the chair is placed by The Shadow. Even the leopard looks surprised by the sudden appearance, gives a hissing, snarling sound, and backs down.

    "I see smoke -- in two places. Arsenal?" she asks, taking advantage of her higher point as she climbs on top of a gibbon exhibit. Theres gibbons beneath her who curiously look up. She curiously looks down at them

    A second round of smoke has poofed up near one of the emergency exits. Teargas, as people with assault rifles raised and gas masks come in to secure their escape route, beating a path towards the Cheetah nursery!

    Two people are coming in the side now, from within the park; they have a trio of baby carriages and are unfolding small dog crates to stuff their spotted targets in!

Tim Drake has posed:
    The Bat-adhesive (it's not really called that) does well to glue certain antagonists in place but this is a leopard we're talking about, and the labyrinthian expanse of Tim's random-possible-helpful-facts brainspace supplies that they can carry more than 200 pounds of dead weight, which may or may not translate to door-opening strength. So Red Robin is thankful for the timely assistance he receives from the Shadow. He gives them a sharp nod and a quick, "Thank you," before he's on the move, grapple gun coming off his belt.

    "They're definitely in the zoo's security systems at the very least," he says, both for the Shadow's benefit as well as the rest of the team's. Within seconds he's alighted on another roof, and he spots the smoke that Balm calls out. He's already looking through the feeds on his screen as he says, "I have camera access. We've got hostiles coming in from the emergency exist, they're armed. Mask up, they have tear gas."
    Swipe swipe swipe. He gets back to the feed looking over the cubs. "Our kidnappers are in the nursery." Pause, no more than half a second. "Catnappers. We need to take down the hostiles first, let's rendezvous in the side path near the exit." And then he's on the move.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    The Shadow nods, letting go of the chair as the adhesive sets in. "I'll meet you there," comes the reply -- and by the time Robin is secure on the rafters and has a chance to look down again, the Shadow appears to have vanished.

Moving through the crowds while shrouded is even trickier when the crowds are starting to panic, and eventually Natasha is forced to make a couple of quick jumps to get to the rafters herself to make any progress.

    As she goes she consults her mental map of the area -- once they've secured the cubs they'd still need to get to their getaway, which means they'll have to go through /there/...

Roy Harper has posed:
Roy Harper starts to jog towards the rendezvous point with a relative ease, jumping over the knocked out wolves and drawing another gas arrow. He only has a limited number of those, however, so he's not too eager to fire. He stops along the way to stare at the large YOU ARE HERE map and tries to navigate where exactly they are.

"Not all of us have memorized every map in the atlas, Little Bird," he says. "And yeah, of course it was me, I took out the wolves. Humanely. AS in, they're not dead just sleeping. I think I can just walk around the walrus, he doesn't look too agile to me..."

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    "Meet you there. It looks like Impulse has crowd control settled. The keeper has contained the Polar Bear with an emergency bar over the door -- they're sorted out, but it looks like the flamingos are making an escape. They can walk a bit, not too concerned with them.

    Balm gives a running report from her perch, and then goes on the move. A few people from Gotham stop and ask her for pictures -- which she does not stop for -- and she reaches into her sidepoutch to drop a mask on below her domino. O2 sensors light up. Cheery!

    "Good thinking on the wolves; and yeah, be careful of the walrus -- they move way faster than expected in some cases, and the male is aggressive." she confirms, and then makes her way around, and skids to a halt.

    "Ah. Might be late to the party, guest decided to take on an escapee on their own -- let me take care of this situation."

    The Way is secure. The men with gas-masks are now coming through to The Shadow's area where she waits in the rafters. They are armed with guns and knives, though the tear gas is beginning to dissipate.

    The two in the cheetah nursery quickly stuff the cubs in the crates, and then the crates in the baby carriages -- and pull blankets over them. "Go, go, go!" one states to the other, and there's a tiny little scream as one gets its paw jammed in.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    Nicolai was a little surprised when that nondescript phone Red Robin left for him the other night dinged to indicate an incoming text message. He was nearby, little creepy that Red knew that, but he takes that little bit of information and sets it aside for later.
    It's some fifteen minutes after the text was received that he's pulling up in the Zoo parking lot on his Hayabusa. Okay... so here's the zoo, now what?
    He fires off a quick reply, <<Okay, here, now what?>>
    Creepy tracking or not, really, who can say no to baby cheetahs?
    While he's waiting for some sort of response, he pulls off his helmet, straps it to the back of his bike and heads through the front gate. He even pays to get in and asks, "Where would I find the big cat enclosures?"
    Of all the crimes he's stopped, of all the situations he's been in... this is starting off to be one of the oddest yet.

Tim Drake has posed:
    By the time Red Robin drops down onto the ground at the rendezvous point, he has a mask covering the lower half of his face, filtering the air he breaths. "Do what you need to do," he tells Balm over comms as he pulls the camera feeds back up. Another bout of swiping, and then he's rattling off directions to Arsenal to get him there as fast as possible, because yeah, that's fair. The worst part is he totally had the zoo's map memorized before this whole cheetah theft thing came up.

    "They've already made the grab; the cubs are secured in crates, hidden in baby carriages. I'll try to keep tracking them." And only then does he check the text message notification that's been pulsing in the corner of his HUD. <<Armed men at the southwest emergency exit. How's your GSW?>>

    He doesn't move yet. The Shadow is an unknown, so he can't factor in how much help they'd be in a fight. He waits at the point, crouched down out of view.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    Guns and knives. Heh. Natasha allows herself a moment of anticipation as the vanguard passes beneath her, then drops right on top of the ones in the middle just when the trailers are looking behind to see if their exit is still clear.

    One major downside of most light body armour is that it explicitly covers the front and back of the torso -- and is therefore of limited use against someone landing boots first on your collarbones. Natasha declines to give any of them time to react, and grabs the nearest one by the wrist, twisting their arm in a judo throw that sends him flying into the backs of the vanguard before fading from sight into the fog with echoes of mocking laughter...

Roy Harper has posed:
Roy Harper arrives just in time to see the Shadow weigh in on the action, switching his arrows out for a good old fashioned arrowhead, "Whoa, nice moves, dark stranger!" he says. He dives and lets loose an arrow, aiming for a kneecap as he glances over at Red Robin.

"Yo, man, go get the little fuzzes, me and the disappearin' dandy got this, bro," he says, ducking a punch from another guy and responding with a sharp headbutt to crunch the dude's nose, "Ow! That shit hurts, bud!"

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    The person in the ticketing booth blinks a moment at Nicolai as he asks at the gate.

    "Ah... I'm... sorry but the zoo's closed?" they comment, "... there's kinda a situation in the African enclosures in the middle of the zoo--" the ticket person comments, and then ducks back down.

    "I am moving to Metropolis. I bet you Superman never has to deal with *teargas toting cat burglers* toting *ar-15s!!*"

    Balm can be heard calling a command to someone, something like 'please stop harassing the cassowarries! They *will* disembowel you!' followed by the sound of wind and '... oh thank you Impulse...

    The Shadow strikes first. There's a distinct CRACK as collarbones bust beneath the weight of The Knowledge of what darkness lurks in the heart of men. The wrist is grabbed of the next flunkie, who is thrown bodily (with a Wilhem scream as appropriate) into the vanguard, causing errupting cursewords unfit for the Y7 crowd, before an arrow is loosed and the next sounds come from one of the vanguards in a scream. Hope he didn't plan on being an adventurer!!

    Another gunman goes down after the headbutt! The remaining three vangards turn and open fire in Arsenal's direction, since they can't find the source of the malevolent laughter!!

Tim Drake has posed:
    Well, okay, we're doing this, Red Robin supposes. It's the inherent risk of working with unknowns, though he's not at all averse to accepting outside help. Out of the Batclan he's actually one of the best at doing that, so long as it isn't related to any of his personal issues.

    His entrance is nothing as dramatic as The Shadow's. One second he's not there and the next he is, the tip of his electrified bo staff whirling through the air aimed at the nearest gunmen's head. Little bit of concussion, little bit of tazing, it's all good in Red Robin's book. He doesn't stick around for a follow-up, though; to Arsenal he gives a nod of assent and then fires a line that drags him back up into the air. <<Shadow figure and vigilantes in red and grey/teal are allies.>> is the next text he sends Nicolai's way, and damn him for being able to text with proper capitalization and punctuation while also literally leaping over rooftops and all that.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    The Shadow blurs back into visibility backhanding another of the vanguard in the face while directing a stomp kick at the instep of the next man, followed by a shove that sends him into the final gunman.

    With the entire vanguard at least temporarily occupied, the Shadow takes a moment to look at Roy, blue eyes blazing with intensity as they meet green.

    "I have this under control. They were expecting to take the cubs to a buyer; find their getaway vehicle and see to it it never leaves," comes the swift instruction before the figure turns into a spinning crouch that sweeps the legs of the final gunman just as he was regaining his balance. "Go."

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    "Well, damn, not my day is it?" He turns to walk away again after a quick salute offered the ticket taker. He fires off a text along the way. <<Good, be there in a sec, maybe 10, 15 tops.>> Good enough anyway for what Nicolai decides to do next because his aching physical self will be no where near the action. It would take him awhile to make his way to the southwest emergency exit on two solid legs on the solid ground over fences or whatever other obstacles are in his way with the front door closed to him, but that's not the only way he has to travel.
    Here's to hoping no one decides to go exploring the wooded area at one end of the parking lot. He's pretty good at finding 'safe spots' to park himself in situations like this. He can count the times he's wound up in a hospital ER or a morgue on one hand, so that's saying something right? Honestly, it's not him that suffered in those situations so much as it is the people around him when he suddenly came back to life? That's never easy to explain.
    He lays down on the ground, covered by quite a bit of undergrowth lets out a deep breath.
    Ten seconds later, seriously, it's that quick, he's in his astral form whispering in Red Robin's ear. <<Haunt's here>>. He can't really *speak* to the living in this form, but he can plant simple suggestions in their heads.
    The implanted suggestion is backed up by the fact that the air around Red is suddenly chill enough that he can see his own breath. That cold air departs along with Haunt and settles around the area where the fight's happening.
    The suggestions he can implant in this form are always simple enough, but sticking with the absolute most simple instructions is always the best. Sit down, for example, is easier and takes less effort than... you want a cup of coffee or you have to go to the bathroom. So... he zips from bad guy to bad guy repeating the same simple suggestion in each one's ear. "There's something behind you!" It's a simple tactic really, meant only to distract long enough for the good guys to get in their licks. It's a lot easier to hit someone when they turn away to look for the something that isn't there and don't see the hit coming. "Your shoe's untied... Your nose itches... There's something in your eye." From one to the other and back again, each suggestion is cause for the goons to need to *do something* to make the suggested problem right. Back and forth, 'round and 'round... "That girl last week gave you crabs." That's gotta itch right? He's fast too, he's from one to the next just as quickly as he can get the words whispered.

Roy Harper has posed:
Roy Harper stops, drops and rolls, not because he's on fire, but in order to avoid fire, getting himself out of the way of the incoming attacks from the remaining flunkies and letting him close the distance as he gets close enough to them, lashing out a couple of well-aimed kicks to the kneecaps, only to find that the Shadow had already intervened and taken out the rest of them while he was duck-diving..

"Hey, laughin' gas, thanks for the help," he says, pushing up and brushing some dirt from his knees, He breaks into a run and goes chasing after Red Robin, "That's one spooky bitch!"

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    Balm's voice comes over the Outsiders comms: "Red, tell him he's not allowed to create callsigns. Callsign rights revoked. Rude." Of course, it's good natured as the gray-and-teal armored not-a-Bat hops over a Dippin' Dots stand.

    "Company on your six." she states, hanging back and to the side

    From the position of the exit, six more gunmen are coming up, taking aim and staying outside that raftered place where all the fighting had currently occurred!

    "Kill anyone wearing a Halloween costume! THose cats get in the van or else!" bellows a voice from their walkie-talkies, as the Zoo security team manages to get the locks back online. There is now an alert coming from the rigged-open emergency exit (along with the few that are still in use).

    And from behind the group now comes the two with the three baby strollers, looking confused when the goon on the ground nearby begins to complain about his crabs that bitch gave him.

    And then they look up and see the guns on the other side, and the two draw handguns on their own, pointing them at the costumed vigilantes, one popping off a few shots at Balm, who rolls backwards and upsets the whole cart of Ice Cream Dots of the FUTURE -- TODAY!

Tim Drake has posed:
    A shudder runs up Red Robin's spine and he twists his head to look over his shoulder, but no one's there. Right. Yeah. Okay, this is not unexpected, he can deal. "The armed hostiles are priority; the park's not evacuated yet. Make sure no civilians get caught in the cross fire." Is Haunt still there? Well, Red Robin can still see his breath, so that might be a good sign. He might be talking to himself, but he dresses up in a cape and runs across rooftops, it's hardly the strangest thing he's done today. "Also, Arsenal, your callsign rights are revoked."

    Though spooky not-bitches (he can't even bring himself to use the word in his head) do seem to be a bit of a theme for the unfamiliar vigilantes he's been running into, lately.

    He gets himself back down to ground level, planting himself in-between the men trying to extract the cubs in the carriages. "It's not safe for your little ones here," he says, with a practiced head-cock to communicate his derision since he can't do it with his eyebrows. And then he's a flurry of movement, tucking himself into a roll so he can close the distance between him and the goons. As he pops back up, pushing off the ground with a grunt of effort, he drives a fist up towards the chin of the guard shooting at Balm and then uses the follow-up momentum to try and knock him down.

    "Balm, status!"

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    Soon enough, it might start looking like an episode of the Three Stooges times five down. This guy stopping to scratch his nose in the middle of a fight, that one spinning around suddenly to see nothing, that other one digging a finger into his eye, one suddenly ducking as if something flew over his head, and that earlier complaining one digging unabashedly at his junk.
    To add chaos to the commotion, small items not nailed down begin to shake and rattle before rising into the air. A discarded can on the ground, rocks, mulch, branches, trash from any nearby cans, it's all fair game. It's as if someone whipped up a little cyclone to go with the cold air around the gunman. ...that someone would be the truly unseen ally on the scene, Haunt.
    It's all meant to distract, keep them from firing their weapons at least for a moment, and give the batfolk an upper hand.
    <<You just stepped in dog shit, there's a spider in your ear...>> Random and ridiculous and each one designed to require an action to make it 'go away'.

Roy Harper has posed:
Roy Harper snorts, "Nobody can revoke my rights. I'm a revolutionary! Death to censors!" he barks back at Red Robin.

He cuts low in his own right, drawing another gas arrow and cutting loose, figuring he can take out anybody who hasn't been disabled yet. One good thing about having a team is that there's usually enough ass-kicking to make swift work of the baddies, although sometimes it meant fights were over too fast. Still, saving litte kitty cats, that was like gold star hero work.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    The vanguard team is, sadly, no longer in a position to respond to their leader, as the final member is busy having their face - briefly - introduced to the nearest wall courtesy of the Shadow.

    Once he drops, Natasha picks up the angrily buzzing walkie-talkie and flicks the transmit button.

    "Those cubs won't be going anywhere -- and neither will you, Dommie," Natasha replies over the thugs' own comms channel with a mocking chuckle. "Everyone already knew you were a fool. But /Gotham/, Dommie? Did you really think you could get away with it under the Bat's nose? That no one would Know? Heh heh heh heh heh heh..."

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    "One to the chest. Armor got the worst of it. Uuugh. And I'm covered in chocolate dots." the teenaged healer states, very dryly, after Roys commentary of Death to the Censors. Her feelings might be a little hurt.

    The young woman sweeps forward then, moving in tandom with arrows slinging, bullets launching, and there was a moment where there as a brief strike of red from her shoulder that paued her -- her condensing staff dropping from her hand and rolling -- but the Aura she carries gets stronger as she brings that shining staff into being. Which puts her on a timer, Tim would know, but she was able to take another direct hit to the armor without stopping as she brought hte lightstaff around and knocked one of the gunmen unconcious

    Tim is still facing off one man with a gun and a carriage -- the other guy is complaining that there was a GODDAM SPIDER IN HIS EAR GET IT OUT HE DOESN'T WANT TO BE IN THE NEXT SCARY STORIES MOVIE GET IT OUT GET IT OUT -- and the rest of the gunmen are brought low.


    He's not happy, but not forthcoming.

    "FINE. Forget you bitches, Imma just kill the cats!"

    ... Tim, being closest, may note the smell of an electrical fire.

Tim Drake has posed:
    Neither Arsenal's returning snark nor Balm's confirmation of her status gets an outright reply from Red Robin, who is too busy grappeling the gun away from what is apparently the sole remaining guard who isn't either incapacitated or... hallucinating? He gives that one up to Haunt's invisible presence even though he doesn't quite understand the whys or the hows. Hey, if it works it works.

    He pushes himself away to give himself the space to extend his staff and go for a stunning strike instead, sweeping it in an arc, and then the smell hits him. It's pure instinct that has him darting to the nearest carriage to try and rip the blanket off and get at whatever means they've used to stow the cubs away. Because on the inside he's absolutely the kind of person who'd fling himself in harm's way for tiny baby animals.

    Here's to hoping the general flame retardant nature of his suit is enough to protect him. "Fire, help me out!" he calls out to the others.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    His job mostly done with the gunman, Haunt responds to Red's request in the only way he can in this form. Zip... literally less time than the blink of an eye and he's right there with Red Robin. It's a fact the other man might suss out when the air turns frigid around him and anything within about a ten foot radius of him. Colder, colder, colder... Red's eyebrows might even get a little frosty! Just a little cold snap to try to counter some of the heat coming Red's way. If need be, if anything important actually catches fire, he'll channel all the energy he can into the frigid air to make it colder still, he'd rather his new friend wind up a popscicle than a crispy critter.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    The angry shouting only serves to elicit another peal of that unnerving laugh. "Don't you Know, Dommie? Can't you guess? Ask your associates about why they wanted out of New York, if you'd like -- but I recommend you hurry, while you still have any left..."

    The Shadow drops the handset into the nearest garbage bin as she nears the emergency exits, fading out of view again.

    There's only so many places you can park a number of vans near the Zoo without drawing attention, and with only one emergency exit overridden... Dommie never was all that bright.

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    What good hero wouldn't put themselves in harm's way for endangered baby animals?

    Balm turns on her heal, dismissing her staff, teetering a little before she breaks into a run to get to Robin's side.The fire retardant works well enough to suppress the fire, but there is an awful lot of smoke.

Dommie was never all that bright. There is a man trying to throw a van into gear, but he's never driven a standard, and the van is definitely not an automatic shift.

Tim Drake has posed:
    Where there's smoke, there's fire is generally a good rule of thumb, but Red Robin knows they might have a scant few moments to free the cheetah cubs before whatever mechanism is trying to alight goes from smouldering to blazing. The sudden intense chill in the air is an excellent counter to the heat that's likely already being produced, and it gives him a window of time where there aren't any external forces robbing his fingers of dexterity.

    So he manages to rip open the collapsible dog crates that he finds underneath the blanket, and then... Red Robin has an armful of squirming, unhappy baby animals.

    Ones with sharp teeth and claws.

    Scratch that. Here's to hoping the general flame retardant and armored nature of his suit is enough to protect him.

    Balm's coming to cover him but it's three to two, so he struggles to maneuver both cubs into one arm so he can rescue their sisters/brothers. "Did we lose our unidentified backup?" he calls out, but doesn't actually have time to look around and see if the Shadow is still kicking around.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    As frustrated and angry as he is, Dommie doesn't immediately notice the tapping on his window - and when he does, at first his reaction is to look up, snarl at whoever is annoying him to go away, and go back to trying to drive.

    It takes another few seconds to sink in that the person doing the tapping was wearing a slouch hat and a scarf concealing most of their face, but by the time that realization sets in the Shadow has already punched through the glass, grabbed him by the collar and dragged him halfway out the window before slamming his head against the door.

    "As I said, Dommie..." the Shadow chuckles, leaning in close to make sure Dommie can understand him. "... You aren't going anywhere."

    Another 'gentle' slam of his head against the side door to make sure he won't wake up any time soon, a brief look at the dashboard, a quick twist of a few wires -- and the car alarm starts wailing while the Shadow disables the ignition, then turns to walk away. Robin can take it from here; it's best not to overstay one's welcome in the city claimed by the Bat...

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    Aiding in his Atral form is both a boon and a pain in the ass. Not much can touch him like this, not from the side his allies are on anyway, but they also can't see or hear him. Communication breakdown sucks. No little quips or comments, no banter or teasing. Oh well, he'll just keep doing what Haunt does... keeping things chill until the threat is passed.

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    The threat is mostly passed. Balm hasn't registered the coolness yet, too focused on what was going on with the cubs to regiter the cool. Besides, she still has the gas mask down, and it's keeping her warm! She pulls the cats from her team leader's arms, "Get the next ones--" she states, leaning down and taking her pack off and pops cheetah kits into a sack.

    Dommie is no longer happily trying to get away. Instead, he is hanging half-way out of the van, not going anywhere fast and ready to be picked up.

    Haunt's work is still visible, the sweeping flotsam and jetsam hanging around, the men whimpering, sliding in and out of vigilante induced headaches and whimpering regarding stepping in dog shit, ants in their pants... or crabs

Tim Drake has posed:
    Wrangling cheetah cubs is just another thing to go on Red Robin's resume, he supposes. It's weirdly wholesome, even if the cubs are meow-yelling and trying to bite through his gauntlets--"Hey, ow, watch it,"--as he hands them off to Balm. "Yeah, I got it."

    He goes in for the next crate, eyes pinched behind his lenses as one of the fuzzy jerks in this one is an extremely enthusiastic kicker and nearly claws his cheek open. "I'm trying to help you!" he tells it, even though he knows it doesn't understand.

    "Haunt, if you're there, thanks for the assist. This is Balm." He shrugs at her. "Pretty sure this guy I ran into is here. Hopefully. I left my EMF reader at home otherwise." Hahaha no he didn't. There's definitely one in his belt.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    For just a second, just a blink, the temperature PLUMMETS. That's all the affirmation Haunt can give as to his presence. When the cubs are rescued and the danger is past, he'll zipline it right back to his body. Here's to hoping it's where he left it and here's more to hoping that it's not being examined by a coroner called the scene of a 'dead body' found.
    Whatever the case, his physical form sucks in a deep breath and he's back. So long as he's alone, he fires off a text. "You're welcome, later we talk about how you knew I was close." It's not that he doesn't know, he's not tech stupid. He's just not sure how he feels about being kept tabs on.

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    Balm looks up to where she is containing the cats in a sack, and she winces at the narrowly escaped clawing of a cheek -- but feeling that sudden cold was an uncomfortable and *surprising* experience!

    "Ah... hello, Haunt, thank you for being awesome and terrorizing people?" she asks, questioningly, adding the kicker to the mewling sack, and then quietly to Tim she whispers: "I am calling you out on that and surprised there isn't one built into your mask."
    The very last one isn't very lively. It's the one that was the last one shoved in. Its paw is hanging at an unnatural angle.

Tim Drake has posed:
    The spike of cold drives the breath out of Red Robin, but he supposes it's answer enough regarding Haunt's whereabouts... in some sense, at least. "We'll talk later." Any incoming text message notifications will have to wait.

    "The mask can't do everything!" Red Robin replies, almost defensively. Sure, his mask doesn't have quite the same capabilities as a full cowl, but he's weighed the pros and cons. He shakes his head at her as he rescues the last cub, and this one is practically limp in his arms. Immediately he kneels down, placing it on the nearest stable surface--which in this case is the ground--and covers its fuzzy chest with his hand. Obviously with the gauntlets on he can't feel much but the material thins at the fingertips so that he has some sensation, and first he tries to determine if the cub is A. breathing and B. has a solid heartbeat.

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    The kit is down. Its paw is twisted. It's heartbeat is low, barely registerable. Its breathing is shallow. Trauma, smoke inhalation, anxiety attack -- the cheetah is absolutely a nervous creature. Shock to it system.

    Balm is wrangling the five in the sack, but she pauses, and looks over at Robin, looking at his body language before she realizes --

    "-- Robin?"

Tim Drake has posed:
    Sue him, Tim is absolutely a bleeding heart underneath the cape and body armor and Bat-mythology. His jaw works and then he twists his body so that he's not in-between Balm and the cub, who he's still half-cradling. "It's hurt. The paw, I think, and possibly some smoke inhalation. Not dead but I think it might be dying."

    He looks back down and frowns. Another thing bubbles up from the part of his brain that hears something random and squirrels it away for the winter that is this precise moment: "Did you know they assign companion dogs to cheetahs that are born in zoos? It helps with their anxiety."

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    A year ago Red Robin had regarded a young woman sneaking out of a skylight with a patched-over gray coat and asked her what she would be willing to do to help Gotham.

    A week later she was in armor.

    Phoebe Beacon looks at the kit, and her eyes go wide behind her own domino.

    She comes over, the meowing pack over her shoulders and to the ground, spilling little cheetas who are curiously sniffing around as she breathes out.

    "Give me the medical feed." she states, outloud, hoping her domino would be able to read what Tim is.

    "O2 is low. Damage from smoke inhalation -- you're right. Shock and bodily trauma --" she hands the backpack to Tim.

    "I'm going to need a ride back." she tates quietly, and she draws down to the wee little kit.

    And she holds its head in her hand, so very gently.

    Phoebe breathes out. Her shoulders relax. The aura around her keys up further -- the weariness of the fight would fade from Tim's muscles. Lactic acid fading. Muscle fibers knitting. Adreniline relaxing.

    THere is sorrow, but even in sorrow and worry, there is Hope.

    Robin would notice her glow is stronger, because although the aura is fuller, the focus of the Light within Phoebe is on the little cheetah cub. Its chest rises and falls deeper. Its paw untwists. Its bluish-gray eyes open, and it gives the loudest most indignant MREEEEEW!

    And Balm falls to her butt.

    Right back at you."

Tim Drake has posed:
    He knows what he's asking without actually asking, and clearly so does Phoebe. Red Robin nods up at her and then moves to the side to give her space to work, saying nothing, but he's watching intently. Not with bated breath, though. There's trust, there, enough that the worry is already bleeding away, replaced by the calm focus necessary for tactical decisions that come inevitably during the post-op comedown. Triage. Liaison with local authorities. Cleanup.

The pack is taken and set aside, his attention split between the little tussle of uninjured cubs who are hopefully still wee enough not to, you know, make like a cheetah and run off, and Balm. The light grows, his eyes narrowing slightly, and then he snaps his hand out to steady Phoebe as best he can so she doesn't fall *all* the way over. "Good job," he says, voice quiet, serious. He squeezes her shoulder once before he stands.

    Now it's the cleanup. Hopefully someone who works at the zoo is nearby that he can wrangle into taking care of the cubs.

After a moment, he looks down at his teammate. "...what's your favorite flavor of Dippin' Dots?" he asks.

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    "You are splitting a funnel cake with me. I don't care if you put bacon on it." she mutters, but Balm gives a slight grin, reaching up to put her hand on Tim's.

    She breathes out, and lifts up the new mewling, hungry cat (because healing is hard work!), and she steadies herself before standing.

    A couple of the toughs who had guns now do not have guns. Anyone who was not tied up is now neatly tied up. There are more people here than there should be at last count, and one of them has a sticky note with Bart's handwriting: "GONNA GET ALL THE FOODS MEET YOU ON THE ROOFS"

    Meanwhile, there are a couple of zoo handlers who are poking their heads around the side, looking at the now smouldering baby carriages and wrangling crawling baby cheetahs, who move at a quick crawl and are still getting their legs. Tim would have an easy time assembling them together, especially as Balm grabs up one, along with the healing (and very squeaky hungry!!) one.

    Pictures are being taken from cellphones as braver (or dumber) people come out of hiding.

Tim Drake has posed:
    And now Tim is smiling. "Nah, I'd rather have the chubby unicorn funnel cake. Come on. It has whipped cream and pop rocks on it." He goes after the sprightliest cheetah cub who has immediately set off to have its own adventure, maybe to visit the dolphins. That's always the best attraction. He scoops it up and holds it like a baby, and rather than trying to claw its face off (that was clearly one of its brothers and sisters) the cub just stares up at Tim.

    Who stares back.

    And that is how a semi-fuzzy pic of Red Robin, looking gentle and quietly wondering as he rubs the back of a cheetah cub's ears begins to circulate the internet, with the requisite memes about heart eyes and soft boys accompanying it. Oof. That's going to be fun to explain.

    Some time later, once funnel cakes have been consumed on the roof and sticky sugar has been scrubbed from his gauntlets, Red Robin texts back: <<It's just the parental controls. That's why you can't look at any age-restricted content.>>

    Then, a few moments later: <<I'm joking, there's no lock on the phone, but please don't use it to watch porn. That would be really awkward for me.>>

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    Phoebe totally recorded the picture of Tim holding a cuddly baby cheetah. He probabably has the footage of Phoebe nuzzling the cheetah cub she healed before the cubs are turned over to a very speedy Zookeeper.

    Fried food is consumed, and Phoebe looks in both awe and horror at the junkfood monstrosity that is a Chubby Unicorn Funnel Cake. It has a side of strawberry poptarts.

    The zoo is restored. Gotham's finest take Dominic "Dommie" Smith and his crew for SO MUCH CRIME.

    The day is saved by Balm, Red Robin, Arsenal, Haunt...

... and The Shadow.

    And late in the night, a dark figure pauses at the window to the nursery to see six little fuzzies -- just to make sure they're all right before speeding off on patrols.