9425/City Fall: Black Mask

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City Fall: Black Mask
Date of Scene: 04 October 2019
Location: Sacred Martyr Church, Central Heights
Synopsis: The Question and Shadow interfere with a gang meeting in Gotham. They manage to disrupt the Shredder's plans, but it comes at a cost.
Cast of Characters: Shredder, Question, Shadow
Cast of NPCs: Penguin
Tinyplot: City Fall

Shredder has posed:
    New York City has an open declaration of control from the Foot Clan. They've claimed responsibility for 'cleaning up' the city, and following the public and brutal execution of several minor gang bosses, crime has become more...fluid. For the average citizen, it even might be a little safer. Fewer gang shootouts are happening, muggings seem to be much more localized.

    Gotham's tensions, inversely, have risen a bit. Black Mask and Penguin have gained quite a bit in the control department, but it's not made everyone happy. The crime peace is tenuous at best. The result is that while open war has not occurred in Gotham, there is rumor of uprising.

    For those who are clever or connected, there is a meeting called in the old Second Martyr Church. It's supposed to be a big meeting, as well. Several of the local gangs have been arriving quietly over the last half hour, and it might look like mass is about to happen. Someone has had the power turned back on to the building, and Penguin and Black Mask stand at the front as allies of the foot fill the house right, and the holdouts fill the house left. It's time that everyone have a talk.

    The evening air has just started to turn, sunset an hour past, and the smell of rain hangs on the air. Outside, a smaller drug ring approaches the rear door to the cathedral, checking for the Bat, as many criminals in the city are accustomed to doing. Not that it usually helps.

Question has posed:
Crouched on the rooftop across the street from the church like some urban gargoyle, crouches Vic Sage AKA The Question. His body still, save for the flutter of his overcoat in the breeze, the faceless man watches the parade of people as they enter into the supposedly abandoned church.

"Interesting." he mutters to himself, the hint of steaming breath on cold air escaping form where the lips should be behind his faceless visage. "Looks like this is the place. I should go get a closer look."

Shadow has posed:
    Evolution is a wonderful thing. The process of natural selection allows population groups to adapt to local threats. And after years of operating in Gotham, most criminals have learned to watch the skies and nearby rooftops for suspicious caped figures.

    They have not yet learned to count the shadows on the ground.

    Still, they pass unmolested. There will be time to strike terror into their hearts later, but for now the Shadow's purpose is to learn how they feel about the current situation.

    Once inside, Natasha picks a convenient shadowy corner to lurk in and settles in to wait and hear.

Shredder has posed:
    The gang passes in. On the unallied side of the cathedral. The musty smell of mold fills the air, and half of the lights are burned out. Another flickers in the back.

    "So, the prestigious and the elite," Ronan announces, his black skull mask over his face. "Everyone has turned out it seems, or at least, most of us." There's always some that don't come, naturally. "I hear that some of you are worried about the control the Foot has in Gotham," he declares. "That you are afraid of what happened in New York happening here." He steeples his fingers as he walks in his white suit across the stage. "I can't speak for the Shredder," he admits, "But the Shredder has given our good Penguin and myself the role of managing this city. As you all know, I'm something of a debutante regarding management, and I don't let resources go to waste. And I am rather adverse to false images. So let's hear it out? Who wants to lose their livelihood to the Shredder?" All of the unallied, naturally, give a collective dissention in response. "I thought not."

Question has posed:
Rising from the crouched position he was in, The Question starts to move in the direction of the fire escape but stops short as something catches his attention.

Pausing in place for a moment as his head cocks to the side much like a dog's, the faceless one hrms to himself. "One of these things is not like the other...." he utters in a little sing-songy voice that might best be used in a children's show. "One of these things doesn't belong. Someone's shadow is missing their body. I wonder, does Peter know what you are up to, shadow?"

The errant shadow now in his thoughts The Question finishes his move to the fire escape, and in a series of maneuvers that don't involve actually walking down the steps ends up on the ground with a soft *thud* as his feet touch the pavement. "Let's see where the shadow goes."

Shadow has posed:
    ... Interesting. On the one hand, this confirms what the Shadow had already surmised - that the Shredder was outsourcing day-to-day control to the local gangs - although it's always good to have firsthand confirmation. On the other, in one breath Black Mask is claiming allegiance to the Shredder and in the next he calls for the dissenters.

    It doesn't make much sense... Unless he's planning to make an example of them.

    She silently draws her pistols. The Shadow is /not/ a Bat; if ruthless criminals decide to shoot one another she doesn't feel compelled to protect them from themselves. But if this /is/ Black Mask's plan then shooting one or two of the would-be executioners just before they fire will set off a lovely brawl and crossfire that'll go a long way to eroding faith in Black Mask's ability to maintain order, and by extension weaken Shredder's hold on the city.

Shredder has posed:
    "Well," the Black Mask continues, "I'm not interested in that either. You know the poor and weak of this city, they depend on us," he reminds them. "What sort of shepherds would we be if we allowed it to degenerate into chaos? The Foot has given us a unique opportunity. Several have already seized upon this opportunity. In New York, as unfortunate as the events may have been, it brought order. Here, we don't need to have the same sort of bloodshed or feuding."

    A criminal stands up. "Sionas, you forget some of us don't like being told what to do. We live outside the law because we like our freedom and independence. Signing up with the Foot would be just another leash. Another set of rules." There is a general agreement that seems to come from that side of the room. It seems that both the Shadow and Question have gone mostly unnoticed, though a door guard starts to step out, not having seen the Shadow, looking out over the same entrance for anyone who may try to interfere, giving the Question a little bit of an obstacle before proceeding.

Question has posed:
Following the body-less shadow, The Question strides towards the church quietly. His head lowered and the fedora pulled down low he could almost pass as one of the gangsters at first glance, if any of the criminals are of the suit wearing variety. "Sorry I'm late." he utters to the guard as he approaches, "I had a close shave, but I am here now. Everything already started inside? I'd hate to miss all the fun."

Shadow has posed:
    Natasha can't help but scoff silently at Black Mask's angle. Does he really think thinly veiled references are going to make his threats any more palatable? Especially towards the criminal element of Gotham, which manages to persist despite Batman's presence?

    This situation has a lot of potential for rapid escalation. Good.

Shredder has posed:
    As the Question makes his play for entrance, the door guard looks a little confused, but he's fooled by the assumption, one of the Penguin's men, none of them have ever been known to be all that sharp. "Yeah, I think they're talkin' now. Allies on the right, everyone else on the left," he instructs, since he clearly doesn't know who the Question is.

    "Now listen," quacks up the Penguin. "You all want money, right? You want to do things your way, the Foot's making that happen for all of us." He lifts his umbrella, jabbing it at the resistors. "Even you that haven't signed on, you are getting the benefits, there's nothing to gain by holding out, and everything to gain if we work together. How long has the Batman and his stooges picked us off one by one? But together? Together they wouldn't stand a chance. Together we could root them out of the city, and be rid of them forever, because we'd all be united. You want to not look over your shoulder? You won't have to if you shut down the Bat? So which would you rather deal with? Hm?"

Question has posed:
Nodding to the henchmen, The Question walks right past the guard. "Thanks." the faceless man utters as passes and slips into the back of the church, sticking to back of the room Vic take a position on the left side of the room, in the corner.

Taking a position next to the unknown shadow and leaning against the wall, and casually reaching into the pocket of his overcoat, The Question thumbs the 'record' button on the digital recorder situated there in order to get a bit of material for his next broadcast. "Ok, let's hear what you have to say, gentlemen." he says quietly.

He turns, looking towards the shadow that doesn't belong, "So. Come here often?"

Shadow has posed:
    ... And before anyone can answer, sinister laughter fills the church, echoing off the walls and ceilings as the lights appear to dim and flicker.

    "Heh heh heh heh heh... United? Together? You don't know the meaning of those words, Oswald. The only time you scum manage to unite is when someone forces you to at the end of a gun - or a blade. But you think you can ignore the boot on your neck as long as it lets you pretend to be in charge over the rest of them, don't you?"

    "Kill the Bat?" the voice continue in that mocking tone. "That's been tried before. How well did it work out for those who did? Do you really think the Foot can succeed where even the League of Assassins failed?"

    "But by all means, let's have an answer to your question. Who /would/ you rather deal with? The Bat might terrify you and beat you into a pulp, but at the end of the day, while you might be in jail... You /will/ still be alive."

Shredder has posed:
    There is a looking about, "We got an infiltrator," Penguin says with a frown, scanning the room with his monacle. "Boys! Find that voice and shut it up."

    "But he's right," One of the dissenters says. "So why would we want the Shredder instead of the Bat?"

    "Because the Shredder is already here," Black Mask answers. "And so is the Bat, so who would you rather put yourself against?"

Question has posed:
The outline of a brow raises behind the faceless mask of The Question, face still turned towards the spot where the 'shadow' speaks. "Well, this should be interesting."

Question turns his attention to the room at large as Oswald speaks, a low and slow sigh escaping from his lips as he loosens up his body expecting violence even as he speaks loud enough to be heard, "So, who exactly is Shredder anyway? I mean, the Bat is a known element. What do any of us really know about Shredder." I mean, might as well get information if he can.

Shadow has posed:
    Another peal of laughter echoes through the church. "And there's the truth of your argument, Sionas. Beyond your empty promises of benefits and the freedom to do as you will as long as you obey the Shredder. Beyond the merits of 'unity'. You've bent your knee to the Shredder because you fear him, and in return he lets you call yourself his 'governor' if you can convince the rest of this scum to follow your lead..."

    The nice thing about churches, from Natasha's perspective, is just how /many/ shadowy nooks and crannies there are, and the more people are milling about trying to find someone, the more confusing the shadows on the walls become, rendering her even harder to find as she moves around.

    "I admit, the Shredder chose his patsy well, Sionas. A wiser crime boss would have realized the offered crown came with a leash. But you've been mediocre so long, never quite managing to become /anyone/ important. The offer of /finally/ getting the prestige you think you deserve must have been irresistable."

    The voice seems to come from just behind Black Mask's shoulder now. "And so you make up your flimsy justifications of mutual profit and security to pretend that you had any choice in the matter, or that you ever considered saying 'no'... And to pretend to yourself that you're anything but a mediocre patsy who'll be the first to fall when the Shredder's plan comes crashing down..."

    Laughter echoes through the church once more. "Mark my words," the voice suddenly booms, filling the hall entirely. "The Shredder will not, /can not/, protect you from the Bat. None of his promises will benefit you, and all you'll gain is another reason to look over your shoulder -- and a great deal more to fear."

Shredder has posed:
    Ronan narrows his eyes, trying to identify the location of the voice, as it seems to come from over his shoulder, he spins, pulling his pistol and firing reflexively. "Damn ghost, as if you know anything!" He wheels around, the smoking pistol in his hand, which has caused a great deal of uneasiness in the ranks.

     "If we have to worry about the Shredder, but can gain something, how's that different from when any of us do business? There's always risks," calls out one of the allies. "I don't want a war here."

    The Penguin slaps down his umbrella, sending a certain hush for a moment. "The Bat has always been a problem," he agrees. "We are used to dealing with him." He takes his clammy hands and gestures in the direction of where Question made his query. "The Shredder, however, is far more dangerous. It's true. It's all about risk and reward. Look at Ronan and I. Have we been hurting? Do you think the Shredder is so powerful his eyes are everywhere at once?" There is a certain air of uncertainty. Several of them have come to believe that yes, in fact, he can see everything at once. The master of the Foot has built up an image that is not unlike the bogeyman.

    "Well he's not," Penguin declares. "He only has so much attention. He wants to build a network that will span the globe. And has made a good start of it at that," he nods, that pointed nose tilting. "The Bat is always against us. Shredder is not. He's already here. You act as if any of us have a choice in whether we deal with the Shredder. We don't. We only have a choice in HOW we deal with him." He waves his umbrella. "You hear that, ghost? You want to split us up, probably one of those pesky vigilantes that sides with the Bat, I shouldn't wonder. Go tell him we are ready to fight back!"

Question has posed:
"Oh, keep talking..." says Vic from under the mask as he reaches down at pats the recorder in his pocket. The gunshot, however draws his attention back to the stage and the two criminal leaders up upon it.

"YOu don't want a war?" says Vic as he starts to move along the back wall, keeping to the edge as he moves down the left side. "Do these things ever turn into anything but? Has there ever been a meeting of the minds like this that hasn't ended in bloodshed of one sort or another? No. Either someone here will take offence and pop a cap...oh, wait..that already happened didn't it? Or Batman or someone from his group will likely show up and bust up the party...if they haven't already? You want some free advice? Leave, before someone gets hurt here. Deal with the devil you know rather than the ghost you don't, not that I am not interested to see what happens if you don't."

Shadow has posed:
    More laughter. "'We', Oswald? Who is this 'we' you talk about? Do you seriously expect anyone to believe that your part in this will be anything more than standing as far back as possible and yelling at your flunkies to "get him!" and running away when you're out of cannon fodder?"

    "You're a coward, Oswald. You cover it up by calling yourself "canny" and citing risk and reward... But there is /no/ reward you're willing to risk your /own/ skin for. You talk of 'uniting to get rid of the Bat' but all it is is you just trying to get as many warm bodies between yourself and any actual danger..."

Shredder has posed:
    Black Mask frowns behind his disguise. "Bah, listen, all of you," he says. "You know that I've done well here. You all can. But if you turn down the Shredder, he might in fact be at your door. If you do that, you can expect no pity from me, because you had your chance here and now. So you can side with whoever is playing the intimidation game, and..." he spots The Question. He narrows his eyes. "Who are you?" he asks. He glances over at the allied side. "Ladies and gentlemen," he announces, returning to a more casual attitude. "I do think somebody is trying to take us all for fools. Perhaps we should discuss this as soon as we root out the bad apples in our bunch." He points at the Question. "Get him, bring that one up here, he's not one of the rest of us!" None of the rest of them have an absent face.

Question has posed:
Well, it was only a matter of time before the jig was up. Vic knew this going in. However, instead of turning tail and running, or even getting into a fighting stance and duking his way out The Question does something...questionable. He just lifts his hands up and casually strolls towards the stage. "A good question." he replies to Ronan as he makes his way towards the stage, "Let me know when you figure it out. But ask yourself this, Ronan, am I the one you need to worry about? After all, I'm just asking questions."

Shadow has posed:
    "Petty threats now, and promises that they'll regret not listening to you? You don't appear to need any help to look the fool. But since you insist..."

    Seemingly from out of nowhere, a hand closes around Black Mask's wrist, yanking hard just as a foot sweeps his legs out from under him. By the time he hits the floor, no visible trace of his assailer remains.

    "You asked who I am, and how I know you? I am the Shadow. And. I. /Know/."

Shredder has posed:
    Not to be simply dismissed, Roman's own hand comes to clasp around whatever invisible force grips him as he hits the ground. "Damn fool!" he pops up. He snaps his fingers, and the doors to the cathedral all shut, his own goons slamming them closed to cut off the exit routes. He points back to the Question. "Take him," he orders, pointing at the vigilante. "We'll see how your friend likes your questions and making cheap shots while he watches your eyes popped from their sockets. "Hear that, Shadow? You hide in anonymity, a coward like all the other heroes. Afraid to face the likes of us face to face. Using cheap tricks to intimidate. He picks himself up off the floor, trying to maintain control of the room.

    Meanwhile, the Penguin scoots to the side of the stage, and waves for a large body guard to get closer to him so the same won't occur. A blade snaps out from his umbrella, and his beady eyes scan the room.

    Naturally, the Black Mask boys are moving toward Question. It seems that this has become a show, but at the same time, almost every boss in the city has their own weapons drawn. A recipe for an incredible mess.

Question has posed:
"Eyes? Really? Haven't you been paying any attention?" says The Question as he looks at Black Mask from under his fedora. "But fine if we must do the dance, let's dance."

As soon as one of the Mask's goons is within range, The Question suddenly drops from his standing position and snaps out a leg towards that goons abdomen, following up with a punch that aims...just a big lower.

Shadow has posed:
    "Again with the 'we' while you send your lackeys out to get beaten up on your behalf, and your oh-so courageous would-be co-viceroy is bravely cowering behind the biggest pile of muscle he can rustle up..."

    There isn't even the hint of a warning this time as a brutal drop kick slams into Black Mask's back, propelling him clear off the stage.

    Go on, then. Show us all that you're not afraid to hide behind your goons..."

    Natasha is taking a possibly dangerous gamble, she knows, but the opportunity to call Black Mask's bluff was too good to ignore.

Shredder has posed:
    The goon grunts as Question delivers a blow to his gut, and then...well, a bit lower. Clutching the family jewels, he stumbles backward, falling into a pew seat.

    Penguin grits his teeth as Roman is thrown from the stage, a crack in his mask appearing as he tumbles up against another pew. "There!" he points to where Roman was grabbed. The two large body guards, taking their pistols, start rapidly firing at the location, the stage whizzing with bullets as they try to hit the invisible target.

    It seems to be the last straw for the tenuous peace, and a shot rings out. And another. Puffs of smoke start to fill the chapel as rounds cross the aisle rather than sacraments. War. Of course, the Question now is directly in the crossfire between the two sides. He may be a target, but now for both sides he is just one of many targets.

Question has posed:
Getting shot at isn't something that The Question has plenty of experience with, but usually it isn't a church full of gang members firing at him. Thankfully, he isn't the only target so the amount of lead flying his way isn't as plentiful as it could be. He rushes off the stage even as bullets start to pepper the stage, keeping low and maneuvering to keep the other goons between him and the rest of the church as much as possible as he dives off the stage towards Roman, twisting mid-air to end up feet first towards the Black Mask, the mask itself being his target.

Shadow has posed:
    And so the tentative truce dissolves as it always would have -- in a bloody free-for-all. Natasha keeps a low profile as she makes her way to the Question's last location - she's confident no one is likely to spot her any time soon, but right now she has more to fear from unaimed fire than aimed -- getting shot by accident would, if anything, be more embarassing than getting shot by deliberate aim.

    ... Of course, too many casualties wouldn't be productive either; she needs plenty of surviving witnesses who'll tell what happened and thoroughly bury Sionis' and Cobblepot's credibility among the gangs of Gotham. After all, they'd organized the meeting and promised both safe conduct and security, but it was their own bodyguards that started shooting first.

    A quick touch to the comm at her ear puts her into contact with Oracle. "Oracle. Shootout at the Sacred Martyr church. Multiple gangs, free for all. The police were probably bribed to look the other way for the gathering, but this is too big for them to ignore." She glances around for a moment. "Doesn't look like anything bigger than automatics and SMGs. Make sure the cops wear armour."

Shredder has posed:
    "Raaah!" Penguin growls, and opens his umbrella as a shield. "Time to get out of here," he declares. "I do believe this meeting is adjourned." He starts to back his way to the exit of the chapel through the side door, sliding the blade back into its place and pushing another button to extend the gun attachment.
    Roman, though he is not the master of martial arts that Vic is, tucks to the side as the attack comes toward him, rolling out of the way and pulling his pistol. "And what is the mask you wear?" he asks. "I think THAT would be a good question," he says, trying to immediately fire at the hero.

    The bullets spray as chips of wood splinter free from pews, and one of the stained glass chips is punched out as a round goes wide from a wounded shooter. Then something rather new happens. Something that may be a question indeed. The main door is kicked in to the chapel.

    It's the Shredder himself that has arrived. He was not about to be far away with his current dissatisfaction regarding the state of Gotham. Oddly, though, no phones have called out, and most of the fire arms are small caliber pistols, not a lot of noise for the outside.
    The steel armor is framed by a series of black clad warriors. It causes Penguin to cease his retreat, and Roman to cease his firing, both looking at the arrival. Not all of the shooting stops, but a few within the ranks of either side are distracted by the entrance.

Question has posed:
Diving out of the way as Roman opens fire, The Question's coat takes the brunt of the gunfire adding a few new holes to the billowing cloth as he dives behind one of the pews to take cover.

"That is a good Question." the faceless hero replies as he kicks the pew towards the firing gangster, "I ask that one all the time, so far I haven't found the answer. What about you?"

The sudden silence of gunfire is noted by Vic, but it would be foolish to take his eyes off his target, so instead he moves around, trying to get an eyeline that shows both Roman and the rest of the church, including the new arrival.

Shadow has posed:
    Well, well, well. The Shredder himself in the flesh, blood and steel. This just became even more interesting...

    For just an instant more, everyone's attention is on the loud entry into the church -- and in a flicker of shadows and sleight of hand, by the time Sionis remembers he was fighting someone without a face, there's only empty air, with not even a mocking chuckle left behind

    Meanwhile, Vic finds himself being guided by a hand on his arm while everyone around him seems to be paying no attention whatsoever as they walk past.

    "Stay quiet or now; the less I have to work to keep their minds clouded the easier this will go," the black-clad figure guiding him murmurs. "They have enough explaining to do as it is. It would be rude of us to interfere..."

Shredder has posed:
    The Shredder extends his hand toward the dissenters, and closes his fist. There is a sudden turning of the guns toward him, and the ninjas rush forward. The first one forward takes a bullet that knocks him down, and the one behind pulls out...a grenade launcher? There is a distinct *thump* as a projectile launches. It's not a grenade, though, it's a giant smoke bomb, one that covers the side of the chapel where the dissenters are taking cover with a thick gray smoke.

    "I find a man without a face to be a man who does not know who..." he slows as Vic disappears "...he is..." Though the mask hides his face, it doesn't take seeing it to show that Roman is a little confused.

    Ninjas leap into the smoke, gunfire sprays out from it, along with screams as people find their last voice within.

    Meanwhile, the other side of the room watches in silence, a look of stunned uncertainty among them, a few looking between each other as if seeking understanding.

Question has posed:
The gentle pressure on his arm causes Vic to glance towards the hand on his arm, as the soft voice utters her commands. He silently dips his head in a singular nod, following the direction to stay silent for now. He follows the lead of the now visible, to him at least, shadow as she leads him to wherever it is she is leading him.

Shadow has posed:
    "They were dead men walking the moment they decided to attend this meeting," the Shadow murmurs, forestalling any impulsive reaction by Vic. "Remain quiet for now. Observe."

Shredder has posed:
    It is several seconds, in which the Shredder seems unconcerned to move, even when a bullet buries itself just to the side of him in the door jam. As the smoke begins to clear, five of the eight ninjas still stand, and none of the dissenters.

    The Shredder walks forward casually, unconcerned. Hearing a sound, he looks down, finding one of the men wounded, and he unceremoniously grabs him by one arm and hoists him out of his position and up against the side of the pew to face the others. "Black Mask, Penguin, show yourselves," he orders.

    Roman stands up, dusting off his suit, and the Penguin closes and lowers his umbrella, ambling forward. "We had it under control," The Penguin insists. "We had interference-"

    "This is Gotham, the successors to the Bat interfere frequently, I would have expected you to be accustomed to this," he cuts off the defense. He looks at the man in his grip, gasping for air through a punctured lung. "You, do you submit to me?" he asks.
    The man through gasps nods, "Yes," he grunts. "I'll submit."
    "When you were first asked, you had something to offer me and you withheld it. Now you have nothing I need, but you wish for me to spare you. To protect you. Why would I want someone like you?" The tekko-nagi claws slam forward from his other hand, piercing the man under his chin and driving up into his head. There is a sudden spasm as his nervous system responds, and the claws are pulled free again, the body falls from the side of the pew, blood pouring from it.
    "Those who have nothing to offer will be given nothing," Shredder tells the congregation. "No alliance, and no quarter." He looks at Roman and Oswald. "And those who cease to have use will be given nothing else. This alliance is for the strong, and for the loyal."

Question has posed:
As the Shredder moves to kill the man, Vic's first reaction is to move forward which is the exact impulsive reaction The Shadow was attempting to forestall, and he does...but only a fraction of an inch as The Shadows' words reach his ears and register in his brain. She's right, there is nothing he can do at the moment except be another among the dead.

He turn to her, the blank face showing no expression save for the crease of the brow as it furrows before he turns his head to look as the body slumps to the floor.

"Batman would have done something." he mutters quietly, "He would have at least tried? By just standing here and watching while this guys kills people in front of us, are we any better than they are? Are we worse?"

Shadow has posed:
    "I," the Shadow replies to Vic, "am not the Bat. I forced no one's actions, today. I made no one's choices for them. All I did was show them the true face of what they were dealing with." Blue eyes - all that's visible, between the crimson scarf and the dark slouch hat - crinkle in bitter amusement. "I'd think you'd find that appropriate. But now it's time for the final act. Be ready to leave..."

    Laughter echoes through the room once again - cold, cruel, mocking. "Behold, your benevolent, /caring/ new overlord," The Shadow adresses the remaining gangers, their voice echoing from one wall to another despite the fact that Vic can /see/ the figure is standing right next to him. "Behold, his chosen viceroys. Such dignity. Such authority. Such /unity/" The last word is all but spat, seeming to come from right next to Oswald's ear, causing him to jump against his beefy bodyguard again. "Such /courageous/ leadership. Surely, they can not fail to lead you to greatness and prosperity..."

Shredder has posed:
    There is no outward sign of shock from the Shredder other than the shift of eyes in the direction of the Penguin. He doesn't make any moves toward the voice. "The voice of the vigilante. Thinking that simple words will deter me," he comments casually and dismissively. "Those who are most useful will rise to the top," he comments. "I reward success without hesitation. But now, there are more important things than a lone dissenter to be concerned with," he declares.

    He looks back at the bodies. "We will arrange them into the sign of the Bat. The father may be dead, but the children still seek to impede the operations of this city." He glances back to the gathered criminals. "There is already speculation to their morals without his leadership. Let us give substance to those speculations. The Bat's coordinated allies are nothing more than another dissenting gang of rabble. They will be dealt with like the rest."

Question has posed:
"Neither am I, doesn't mean we should be killers or leave people to be killed does it?" says Vic as a small sigh escapes from the faceless visage.

As Vic watches the proceedings as they occur the muscles in his body tense, fighting against the mental chains that are keeping them from springing into action. He looks up at The Shadow as she speaks, before turning his eyes back to the human Cuisinart. The Shadow is observant enough to tell that Vic is fighting the urge to leap into action and do something....anything.

Shadow has posed:
    More mocking laughter, causing rustling in the ranks as it seems to move among the gangers. "Words lost you this battle the moment you entered these premises, fool," the Shadow retorts. "Look at your 'loyal' followers. How many of them are fondly reminiscing the days when the worst they had to fear was a beating from the Bat?" Another chuckle, fluttering over the bodies even as the genin are starting to move them into position. "And those wise enough not to show up to your 'invitation' will soon know how little your word is worth."

    More laughter, moving down the central aisle. "I told your lackeys before and I'll warn you again now. Gotham is not yours to claim. You'll find nothing but ill fortune here..." The laughter fades out into the night outside -- and as it dies out, the first faint hints of sirens can be heard approaching in the distance.

Shredder has posed:
    The stone countenance of the bladed warrior seems unmoved by the warnings. He waits for the laughter to fade, and the mildly uncomfortable silence that follows to run its course. Many of the gang members look around for the source, but not Shredder.
    "That claim has been made of every place I have ever conquered," he says. "They were always wrong, despite bravado," he tells those before him. "Which is why that voice remains hidden, and does not strike. Move the bodies." He starts to walk toward the main entrance, and the remaining ninjas do as they are told, each taking a corpse and hoisting them up and walking toward the main entrance.

Question has posed:
The Question's fists ball, the leather of his gloves gently creaking with the movement giving a half second indication warning that he is about to move.

"Enough!" he yells, launching forward towards Shredder unknowing or caring if The Shadow's cloak covers him anymore. The normally calm and collected Question has given into his rage with a yell, launching a flurry of blows at the Ninja in the way of his intended target.

Shadow has posed:
    Natasha curses to herself as Vic gives in to his noble - but unwise - impulse, but keeps herself shrouded. One more fighter won't make a difference, but if she remains unseen she might be able to effect a rescue if things go too badly. She pockets the camera she'd been using to stream events to Oracle's servers and moves into position.

Shredder has posed:
    As Shredder sees the appearing faceless foe, he is quick to respond. "Excellent." A bladed wrist guard coems up for the first two blows so that the fists strike the blade for a self inflicted gash, but there is no time for them to be examined as the immediate response comes in the form of a forward kick toward Vic's form, enough force behind it that it could knock most men back first toward the pews.

Question has posed:
The pain that Vic must suffer as he punches the blades on the wrist guard doesn't appear to slow him down any. If The Question is one thing, it is tough. Though it is obvious that the cuts draw blood, as the red viscous fluid starts to flow and drip freely from his gloved fists, Vic's single minded resolve doesn't allow him to stop or suffer.

The Shredder's kick lashes out, and Vic's years of training with the best of the best allow him to maneuver out of the way from the full force of the blow connecting. Lines of red appear on the man's torso as the blades on the legs carve grooves where they sliced into The Question during his dodge. In retaliation the faceless vigilante lets out a scream and moves to smash his already abused fist into the knee of the extended leg.

He may not win this fight, but he will at least go down fighting.

Shadow has posed:
    As the fight progresses, Shredder becomes quickly aware that something isn't quite right - he somehow misses feints that by all rights he should see coming from a mile away until it's almost too late for him to dodge; precise strikes and kicks don't quite land where he intended. He's still winning - this man is no match for him, skill against skill - but for some reason he has to work for it more than he should expect to...

Shredder has posed:
    As Vic slams his fist into Shredder's knee, there is a natural physical reaction as it strikes the nerve cluster. In response, he grunts, and twists to slam his right fist into the ribs. A fist that has claws along it. The aim was to stab the hero through the lung from the side, but due to the unknown perception altering, he aims too far back, and so the claws are aimed at passing behind him, and only the fist being able to make contact. His eyes narrow, realizing that such is not what it should have been. and beneath the shozuko, his cheek twitches as he tries to distinguish what just went wrong.

    Of course, in the distance now, the sounds of sirens start to wail.

Question has posed:
Grunting with the force of the blow to his side, Vic staggers back, unknowing that the Shadow's intervention just likely saved his life. He maneuvers himself into a defensive stance a few feet away, bleeding fists held up as they drip crimson onto the floor below. "Sounds like the Calvary is almost here, can opener. Care for round two?"

Vic reaches down and triggers the button on his belt that releases the gas held within. Most of the time, the gas is used to help in the removal or adherence of the faceless mask he wears, but it also acts as a smoke screen of sorts. Much like the Ninja used when they first entered. As the smoke billows out and surrounds the two, Vic pushes his advantage towards the Shredder, launching a foot towards the already injured knee in an attempt to hobble the villain so he can't escape as easily.

Shadow has posed:
    Safely hidden in the shadows, Natasha winces at the beating Vic is taking. She keys her comm again. "Have Benny stand by for a pickup to the Nest. This one is going to need medical attention once I get him away..."

Shredder has posed:
    The Shredder is in pain, no doubt. The blow to the knee was most definitely not comfortable. He closes his eyes as the smoke goes off, and uses his other senses in the fight. The technique of godan. Not a move, more of a sense in and of itself, to be aware when blind of danger around himself. The knee kicks up as the foot comes forward, causing the blow not to land on a blade, but to clang against the steel shin guard.

    The return blow is like lightning. The thing about smoke, it works both ways, and upon closing his eyes, he tunes his spirit, enabling him to negate the effects momentarily of the perception alteration. Punch punch. The claws on both hands jab forward one after another into the Question's mid section, followed by a shove to throw the hero away from him. "The police come, and it is not yet time for us to be revealed," he announces, forcing his foot to plant naturally on the floor, not to show weakness to those who just witnessed the fight. "We will have this city, and no self-proclaimed savior will stop us." He turns, not even looking back in the direction of the Question, and makes for the primary exit. Surely there has not been as much time as he would like to have his deception posted regarding the bats, but he hopes to have at least secured some of his followers that might have waned in their support.

Question has posed:
The blades sink home into Vic's torso with a sickening squelching sound as the faceless vigilante staggers back, clutching at his abdomen in an attempt keep himself from being totally disemboweled and to not end up with his guts spilt all over the floor, only to be then shoved away and to the ground where he remains.

"I may not stop you..." says Vic, as he tries to stand, one arms still wrapped around his gut while the other supports his weight to get into a leaning position, "...but make no mistake about it, you will be stopped." The last sentence is punctuated with a sickly, wet, cough.

"Someone will.." Vic starts to say before he slips into unconsciousness from the pain and blood loss.

Shadow has posed:
    And the last thing Vic feels before losing consciousness is an arm around his waist first keeping him from falling, then lifting him up /entirely/ too easy for a human...

    Benny barely lifts an eyebrow as the Shadow manhandles a bleeding unconscious body into the back seat. It isn't the first time, and it won't be the last. "To the Nest, Benny," Natasha instructs him, removing her hat and scarf. "And don't mind the speed limit - we'll need to hurry."

    "You got it, Boss," Benny replies, putting deed to word and pedal to metal, pulling out of the alley while about a block away wailing sirens and flashing lights surround the church and its macabre contents...