Catching Up

Catching Up

 

Just a word of note. Lilith and I co-wrote this one. She took care of the parts involving Jon, I took care of Catwoman. The ideas didn't gel just right, but I couldn't pull all the Jon stuff and still have some of the story make sense. So, consider this a look into one character who can have an impact later. There is more, but it is the section I pulled out. At some future time I or Lilith will finish it out and then you can see Batgirl. Until then, enjoy.

And yes, I'm going to continue with the "Cat" puns for titles.

Author's Note: A Retroactive Continuity, or Retcon if you will, is the altering of previously known facts in order for the universe to conform to new story lines. This is mine. This is a retcon of the story of Catwoman's life. Detective Comics owns the character of Catwoman, and Lilith owns the copyright to Jade of the Green Lantern Corps. Catwoman in the photo is Michelle Pfeifer.


Dropping the morning paper on the breakfast table, I took a moment to calm myself. The Catwoman had made the news again. For anyone familiar with the technology, the details were there as to who was responsible for the crimes being committed. It was my tech, my theories, and my thesis that had provided the so-called Feline Fatale with the vast majority of her talents.

The police and the public all thought that she was a metahuman, but I knew different. She was a fraud, a petty thief, and using my ideas and a semester's worth of my life to supplement her income and endanger the lives of anyone that crossed her path.

I eyed the tea kettle while I powered up my laptop and checked the email. Still no answer.

It had been three days since I'd emailed portions of my thesis Mimicking Metahuman Powers Using Next Generation Technology to myself at my NYCU address. I had an excellent memory, so it wasn't difficult to recall specific segments of what I spent day and night, month after month accomplishing. I even visited several of the websites and accessed a number of the files that I knew were being monitored by the woman known as Jade of the Green Lantern Corps.

I stood by our agreement and didn't delve any further into the subject she'd declared taboo until existing technology had caught up. However, we needed to talk and she hadn't left any means of contacting her, which resulted in my somewhat well-meaning deception.

The whistle on the kettle began its high pitched crescendo, so I left the computer and set the tea ball full of dried green leaves at the bottom of my cup before pouring the hot water on top. I still hadn't broken the habit of morning tea, even after moving from Japan.

I'm sure you can imagine the discrimination I faced: a family with the Chinese name of Cho immigrating to Tokyo. It was awful. No matter how I tried to fit into the society based on Honor and Shame, I was never one of them. Soon after completing my secondary education, I wished my family well and immigrated to New York, New York on a student visa and attended NYCU. In three years I had acquired my Bachelors of Science and went on to work on my Masters in Electrical Engineering.

That's when I met Professor Kyle and my life took a turn for the worse. It wasn't his fault. At the start of the semester, the metahuman known as Jade revealed herself to the world and I was intrigued by the concept of certain humans acquiring talents and powers above those of mortal men, all on the basis of a specific gene encoded into their system by nature.

There were only around 6000 people that had the chance, that would received talents so they could do something for the betterment of mankind. I was so naive at the time. I was also brilliant. That's where I came up with my thesis.

Why should the world have to wait in order take advantage of the possibilities when the knowledge to use technical means to improve ourselves existed at that moment. I had the knowledge, all I needed to do was put it down on paper.

Then Jade came and took it all away.

I understood her reasoning and conceded her point. Once technology becomes known, it can't be erased. It was how the atom bomb came to be. And if there was one thing the students in Japan knew about, it was what could happen when one of those devices goes off in a heavily populated city.

There were ethics involved when scientific and technical advances came to be, and I was an ethical person.

"Got enough for two?"

I nearly knocked my cup over when the familiar female voice sounded behind me. Spinning to the side, I saw Jade standing there, with the green glow that was normally around her body, dissipating. "Green Lantern!"

I bowed, at a forty-five degree angle, to show her respect. She smiled and returned the bow.

"Call me Jade, Jon. Please."

I nodded and tried to calm my heart from beating so hard in my chest. She was exactly as I remembered, which made my cheeks redden. It was difficult not to have a reaction to so beautiful a girl wearing what amounted to a green and black latex bodysuit.

"You received my message, Jade?"

She smiled again. "You could have emailed me, you know."

My mouth dropped open. I was about to tell her I didn't have her email address.

"You might want to check your address book on your email client for Emerald Flashlight Lady." She shrugged. "I think it's better to keep a low profile so I don't get spammed."

Her eyes ticked to the cup of tea and I jumped to retrieve another cup. Giving her my tea, I prepared another for myself. "Would you care for some Dim Sum?" It was tradition to have little snacks with tea that didn't consist of refined sugar and flour.

She shook her head. "The tea is fine, thank you."

Nervously I squeezed a dollop of honey into the tea and tried to think of my prepared speech.

"I'm assuming you were contacting me about The Catwoman."

I nodded. "Yes, her crimes are escalating. I'm afraid she's really going to hurt someone eventually."

Jade sipped at her cup and looked thoughtful. "There's not much I can do at the moment. Theft is not really in my jurisdiction. If it's going on right in front of me then I can do something, but otherwise..." She trailed off.

"As I thought," I said. "Perhaps one of your teammates? The American Dream, maybe she can do something?"

Jade didn't look too enthusiastic. "I'm sorry Jon. I really don't have much of a say in what she does. We each have our own specialty and area of influence. Only in times of crisis do we form the team and pool our collective talents."

That point was expected as well. I'd thought out as many arguments as I could and made sure I could counter everything so as to lead her in the direction of my goal. Sipping silently at my cup, I let a grim look drop over my face.

"I have an idea, but I need to do some more research first. Can I email you in the future?"

She smiled over her cup. “I wouldn’t have left you an email address if you couldn’t. But I think I can do better than that.” Her ring glowed briefly. There on the table between them sat a copy of her ring.

“This is a ring that will let you communicate with me, and only me. There are others out there that act as cell phones for all of us, and as costume machines, but since I don’t want you getting involved in the fights we are doing, this will only communicate with me. Just hold the ring up, speak my name and you will be connected to me. You can even subvocalize and talk to me if you need to.”

Jon took the ring and pulled it on his finger.

Catwoman looked over the warehouse she had been hired to break into. She was taking her time since it made no sense to rush into an unknown area without looking carefully to make sure she wasn’t caught.

It’s a good thing that I’m paranoid, whoever owns this place is just as paranoid as I am. Talk about secure.

The place was literally crawling with security. There were ten different exterior security guards that she had counted so far, all disguised to look like workers who also had concealed arms on them. She spotted multiple cameras covering a number of different approaches, all of them focused on the ‘easy’ means of ingress.

She turned the gain up on her ears and scanned around for conversations she could eavesdrop on, but nothing was immediately forthcoming. Either they weren’t talking or they didn’t have anything to say.

She kept scanning frequencies to find the one they were using as their tactical communications channel. She didn’t have much hope of being able to exploit finding that information even if she found it. If it were her, encrypted radio signals would be the order of the day. Even if she did find the signal, all it would sound like to her would be static without the encryption key.

A fee of $50,000 had come into her bank account, with instructions to email a specific address with a PGP encryption key. So she created her own encryption key, sent the public half to that address and got a garbled text back.


“Dear Catwoman,” it read once she decrypted it,

“I wish to retain you for an assignment. There is a facility located at the address I’m attaching to this document. I wish you to break into it, download their server ‘Lab1’ and send me the contents. I will tell you now that it is a pharmaceutical laboratory.

“I have sent a ‘good faith’ payment of $50,000 to your account, with a further payment of $200,000 once the contents of the server are delivered to me. Your standard methods of sending the contents are sufficient for my purposes.

“I look forward to doing more business with you in the future.”

The letter was unsigned, and the email address was obviously a throwaway. She had tried backtracking the email route, but she didn’t have the means to do so. Perhaps Professor Kyle would have more ideas.

Once again she expected a trap, and she took the necessary precautions.

She had meticulously filmed nothing for the cameras as she found them, and had broken into their circuitry to hardwire the loop to hide herself in, but hadn’t activated it just yet. It was all set up and waiting for a signal from her.

This was going to take some fast work and precise timing. So once she was fully ready with the false camera signals, she activated the loops and made her way to the warehouse and inside.

It took her hours, and she came closer than she had ever wanted to think about to getting caught. Whoever that company was, they were GOOD. High security, random patrols, well lit areas that made it hard to hide and more met her once she was inside. She had to spoof more cameras, work her way down to the server area, and finally download the server into her onboard storage. She just copied the information, not really caring about what it actually was, and once that was complete, she made her escape.

She was able to get away clean, since all she was doing was extracting the data, not trying to analyze it or decrypt it. It turned this into a high-tech snatch and grab.

Once back at her “lair” she copied the information from her onboard storage to the hard drive she had purchased to load the info on. As per her normal routine, she boxed it up and made sure that it was ready to go into the mail.

She would keep a copy of the info for archival purposes and delete it only after the final payment made it to her account. If something happened, she didn’t want to have to break in there again and have to steal it all over again.

Naturally her curiosity got the better of her and she started looking through the contents once she had a chance.

There were lists of experiments and files on their progress and experiments. She was stunned to see that they didn’t have any encryption on the files themselves, but reasoned that it was probably attributable to the “higher ups” wanting to have executive oversight on the projects, so they were kept in clear text on a secure server.

She had actually tried to hack into the system physically because it wasn’t online in any manner. There is no way to hack into a computer that is not connected to any other at any time, so she had to go and physically pull the information down. It was clever of the people who owned that info, but it left them vulnerable to internal sabotage.

Finally she got bored and closed down her netbook and covered the suit up under her regular clothing.

Professor Kyle picked up the package and took it out to his car with him. He would drop it off at the UPS Store on his way home.

He kept an eye on the funds in Catwoman’s account, just to see when the final payment was made. He was a bit stunned to see that even with purchasing the tech he needed, paying the other engineers back for the stuff he got from them, he still had about $2 million in the bank. That was more than enough to do almost anything he wanted to do, including setting himself up in his own private lab, quitting the university and just...falling off the grid.

It had been two days since he put the data in the mail. The package should be arriving at its destination soon. He figured that the address he had sent it to was fake, but it wasn’t his concern as to what or where the data they stole was going to.

He had kept looking through the copy of the data he had, just to see what all was there. He had developed some microscopic robots, commonly called nanites, that he had injected into himself that gave him full access to the suit at all times. With that done, he didn’t have to rely on the contacts in the hood anymore, nor did he have to rely on the goggles to enhance his vision. He had programmed the nanites to take over the interface between the suit and his body, making it several thousand times more efficient. He no longer had a HUD display in his goggles, now the nanites projected the information directly on his retina. He had even programmed them to take up residence under the layers of his skin and to deform somewhat to make his disguise complete. With those dedicated nanites changing the geometry of his face, he could lose the extra padding in the suit, then drop the lower half of Catwoman’s mask.

He wasn’t sure about the idea Catwoman had to really give him breasts by using a combination of nanites and silicone, but it was something to think about. It would not be difficult to slowly inflate them over time and to remove the fake breasts on her outfit. The problem came when there was no longer a way to store things in the suit.

Tweaks to the suit and its function became normal. After every “mission” the Catwoman did, Stephen went over the specs and the diagnostics and made any improvements he could think of. The result of this was a suit that behaved almost as though it was his skin while he had it on. Servos had been replaced by micro machines, and no one else could use the suit except him. One of the security routines was to check the DNA of anyone who had it on and to electrocute someone who was not a match to his DNA.

To do that, he had to map his own genome, and was shocked to find that he possessed the metagene. He wasn’t sure how it happened, but he was pleased to see it.

He stopped his idle scrolling through the information in the suit’s memory. Right there in that directory, there was a mention of the metagene. He started looking closer.

Hours later he came to a shocking conclusion. This ‘warehouse’ he had broken into was a government research lab. There were all kinds of entries in there about various research into the metagene and how to activate it. There were chemical formulas, experiments on animals, video of results, and even a start to finish film of American Dream’s transformation from a male to a female bombshell. Careful notes were made in the files about how to isolate the metagene in others, how to activate it, results of activation for American Dream, and various other notes.

Stephen turned off the HUD display being projected in his eyes and returned his attention to his class. They were in the middle of Semester Finals, and he had not caught anyone cheating, but where engineers were concerned, anything was possible. He called up the displays of the various micro cameras around the room and looked at the footage. He honestly didn’t care that much about someone who did cheat, but if they were sloppy enough to get caught, then they deserved to be expelled. An Engineer should be competent enough to not get caught.

He stopped watching the feeds and started monitoring the wireless waves in the classroom, checking to see if any microcomputers were accessing the Internet. While he didn’t spot anyone surfing the Internet, he did catch an anomalous signal emanating from one of the students. It was on a wavelength that wasn’t supposed to carry a radio signal in the ELF range. Most often those wavelengths only carried radio markers or position signals, just a slow “beep” to let others know that someone was around. He had also heard that the ELF band was used to communicate with submarines in the extreme deep water. This signal seemed to be even below that wavelength, on a frequency that theoretically could carry a signal, but in practice usually didn’t.

It was so odd that he spent a few minutes tapping into the signal and trying to see what it was.

Accessing.

Stephen jumped slightly. The voice had sounded directly in his ears. While that was normal and it was part of his suit/nanite’s powers, he didn’t have voice capability set up on his suit.

What the hell?
The voice was an alien sounding monotone, one that probably wouldn’t be produced by anything Microsoft had come up with.

Unauthorized access detected. Illegal access of communications used by the Green Lantern Corps, and violation of Section 18, subsection 4 of the Corps Galactic Charter, Persistent attempts to hack this signal will result in prosecution. This connection is terminated.

His mind was in a whirl. The Green Lantern Corps? Those assholes? Have I stumbled on the wireless connection that Jade uses? And why is it in this classroom?

He sent out some delicate probes using the suit’s capability to track and isolate radio signals, to try to isolate who the access was emanating from. After a couple minutes, he managed to track it down to Jon Cho.

Why am I not surprised? It figures that Jade would recruit Jon to help her out after she stole all that information. I should really just send that essay out to everyone just to spite her.

Instead, he ignored it.

If Jon was accessing the Internet or the Green Lantern’s computers on that frequency, it was novel enough to ignore. He would have references available once he was in the real world, and there was no need to fail him simply because he was taking advantage of that now.

Besides, with tenure, he could set his own standards for what was cheating and what was not.

He made some notes on a notepad nearby, more to keep the students on their toes than to actually do anything. He had discovered a long time ago that the guilty usually gave themselves away by acting guilty.

He went back to reading the information on metahumans that was contained in the files he had downloaded.

Three days later, Professor Kyle had gone through all the information in those files about metahumans. It was extensive.

The greatest discovery that he had found was a formula for an injection to activate the metagene. I wonder what my power will be. He had called in some favors from the Chemistry Department to get that injection synthesized. He had to do it in pieces, giving part of the formula to one person, part to another and the last to a third so that he could combine all three at once to make the final formula.

That was complex to do without telling them why he wanted it.

Just to make sure, he re-read all the notes on the formula. He didn’t want any surprises when he injected himself. Maybe with this I can abandon Catwoman and just be Professor Kyle, working on my own, using my powers to help the police take care of the criminals in the city. There’s certainly enough of them.

He lay down on a cot that he had bought and installed in his lab so that he could catch naps when possible. He had made sure to void everything he could and given himself an enema just to make sure he didn’t mess himself. He also took all his clothing off so that he didn’t destroy it.

On the one person they had used this formula on, the Government had stated that it changed his sex to female. That’s how American Dream came to be. But one of the other side effects was to regress her in age, so that might be a bonus.

He has also studied the accounts he could get his hands on about other metahuman emergences. While many of those included the metahuman changing sex, it wasn’t always the case.

He lay down, strapped his legs to the cot and put the strap across his chest and forearms. He then took the syringe and injected the chemical into his thigh. He pulled the syringe out and tossed it before the formula took effect.

Then he dropped into the Tenth Circle of Hell.

Some timeless time later, it was over. The body that was left was fuller, rounder, more shapely. Hips had filled out, chest narrowed, the shoulders slimmed.

Straps removed, then moving to a mirror. A vagina and breasts. In that second, Professor Stephen Kyle ceased to be, and Catwoman was now the owner of the body.

It took some time, but fifteen hours later, she knew what was happening. The metagene was active, but since there wasn’t much change from previously, apparently it had already been active. When the chemical compound combined with the already active gene and the nanobots, it did something and changed the body’s sex to female.

She drew some blood and checked to see if there was some way the nanobots could be reprogrammed to change the sex back. Professor Kyle was too useful to simply discard him like this.

A few hours later, she knew that it would be impossible. As far as the nanobots were concerned, she was female now. There was nothing to be fixed.

Damnit. This is HIS body, not mine. I was just using it on missions. Now I have a severe problem, I need a mundane identity to get by in this world. Shit.

She spent a few moments pulling the storage breasts from the suit. She had to re-route the pheromone pump and outlets to be under her arm since there was no longer a false breast to contain the tank.

She made sure that the chemical formulas for the pheromones and also the knock-out lipstick that Kyle had been working on were in the suit’s memory. A few minutes of destroying computer records and making sure that nothing had been left behind and she was finally satisfied that she was ready.

Time to disappear.

Professor Kyle had made contingency plans to vanish, and Catwoman made those plans into reality.

The netbook was easily packed, and more and more stuff was packed quickly into just a few cases. All the important things were soon ready to leave. She had needed to make a last minute adjustment to the suit, to reflect her new DNA sequence. She had stared putting on her suit, and it gave her a warning to cease or it would electrocute her.

With the new gene sequence in place, it was only a few minutes to put on the suit. Everything was ready and all the cases were moved to Professor Kyle’s car. It was very late at night, and she no longer had to make sure that she was protecting Professor Kyle.

Combine a few chemicals, leave a section of Kyle’s lab to look like it was an accident, and then get the hell out of Dodge.

Soon enough, a flash and a small woosh came from behind her, signifying that the lab was now on fire, with everything being destroyed.

A bit later, she pulled up in front of Professor Kyle’s secondary lab. Everything was removed from the car, right down to the owner’s manual. She then went through everything and put back just enough information to show that the car belonged to Professor Kyle. She put everything else into the lab and secured the lab with all the security that he had designed. Retinal scans later, the lab was secure and she left. She got behind the wheel of the car and started driving. She stopped and got the cadaver that Professor Kyle had set up to be like him, dental records and bone fractures would show that it was the same, and the facial appearance and the fingerprints wouldn’t be readable. She placed the cadaver in the driver’s seat and then got into the passenger side.

She reached over and started the car, then reached over to put it in drive. She stomped the gas and soon his car was screaming along the road above the dam at 90 miles per hour. She drove from the passenger side, pushing the gas and brake with her foot. Soon she saw her chance.

A crane was nearby, and with the crane a cable to haul things up and down with. She kept the speed constant and set the cruise control. Then she leaned out the car and shoved the steering wheel so that the car moved and went over the edge.

Whip out, snapped forward to catch the hook, and she was free of the car. It screamed over the edge and slammed into the reservoir and sank from sight. A few moments later she was scaling up the crane cable and soon was safe someplace else. Only a few minutes later, she was running back to her new lab/lair.

News of Professor Kyle’s death made the second page, below the fold the next morning. She hadn’t expected it to be front page news, and she was gratified to see that it was important enough to put where they did.

Speculation among the reporters was that it was a case of him going off his rocker. They had interviews with various people talking about how much of a recluse he had become. They had done a pretty thorough job of making it look like Professor Kyle was not in his right mind, and Catwoman couldn’t really say that he wasn’t.

Well, he was a useful cover for me, but now I have to figure out how to live without him. All the medical tests I could do show that I’m fine, and that tallies with the notes from the lab, but the result is that I am here all the time now.

She didn’t know what to do, so she kept her suit on and spent the day figuring out how to just live. She didn’t need a can opener when her claws could just cut the cans open, and she didn’t really need much variety. Carnivorous lifestyle left only a few things she wanted to eat. Open a can of tuna, dump it into a bowl and put it down near her waterbowl and eat.

She started thinking about how she was going to do the whole “I don’t have an identity” thing. Accessing records was easy enough with her computer, but making the necessary documents to back up her story seemed very hard to do.

I don’t think I’ll worry about having a “legal” identity. I can do almost everything I need to as Catwoman.

The ensuing night had shown her a few things. She could change colors of her hair, her eyes, her nails and her skin tone. She could reshape her body somewhat to take on new contours, within a certain limit. She could look like she gained 20 lbs, or that she could have another three inches or so, but not much more. She didn’t actually change mass, the nanites just moved it all around. She tried an experiment with getting as short as she could, and she wound up at 5’ 2” with a 38 EE chest. Her breasts hung nearly to her hips, and she looked like almost any dowdy housewife. Her hair color was a mouse brown, and her eyes were a muddy brown. She looked heavy.

She still weighed 160 but it was distributed much differently. When she changed back to herself, she grew to her standard 5’ 10” with her 36 C breasts. Her waist narrowed to 24 inches and her hips slimmed down to her normal 38 inches. She tried pushing it the other way to see how big she could get.

When she topped out at 6’ 4”, with her 34 A breasts and her 22 inch waist, she looked like an emaciated supermodel with cherries in her shirt pockets. She could see fashion photographers the world over wanting to do shoots with her. It was a model of femininity that she didn’t like.

Well, this ability will certainly come in handy to keep a disguise going. Just become Ms. Suzy Homemaker and no one will think that she’s the Catwoman. I don’t think I’ll be doing this that much, however. It hurts too much.

Having flesh and muscle and bone redistributed around her body took a bit of time, and it really hurt her a lot. She understood in principle that the mass had to go someplace, but when the little robots grabbed a few molecules of bone and put it in a different section of her body, that didn’t feel good. She might have to set up some purpose built nanites to block the pain signals to her brain if this was something that needed to be done often.

You know, this could be really good for a quick escape. Break in do the whole robbery thing as Catwoman, then get out, pull the hood down, change to “short shit” and walk off with a shopping cart full of crap. No one would look at a homeless bag lady as the crook if that bag lady was shorter than the crook. This has possibilities.

Something else she had noticed, Professor Kyle’s talent for making things seemed to have come over to her. He was gone and she somehow had all his knowledge and talents. She would sit down and suddenly there would be a sketch in front of her for a new device or addition to her suit. Just her sitting and thinking about it, apparently her subconscious had designed a pain-blocking nanite. All it would take is constructing it. Which didn’t take long at all, really.

Another injection, and she could change shape, within those limits, without pain, which meant she could speed up the process. Taking two days to practice, she found that at the extreme end, she could change from Mis. Dowdy to Catwoman in about 5 seconds. It was only during the transition that the pain blocks worked to keep her from feeling it, she still hurt when she burned her hand.

Look out world, you haven’t seen anything yet.

Back on patrol for rapists and thugs, she had gotten to know the rooftops of a lot of the downtown area very well. Since she no longer had to worry about keeping up appearances with Professor Kyle, she simply spent most of the day in bed in her lair, and then grabbed thieves and rapists off the street at night. Many women had her to thank for them going home with their clothing intact.

She had developed a new set of restraints. They were just plastic zip ties like the police used, but it had an additional part that was a third loop. She had about 20 of them injection molded in her lab, and then slid into the hamstring pouch on her left leg. When she caught someone now, she knocked them out, then cuffed their hands behind them, then used the third loop to make a hog-tie. She felt like a rodeo wrangler at times, seeing how fast she could tie someone up.

It certainly kept the bad guys where she left them. She could even leave off doing her “trademark” on their body since the cuffs themselves had her cat’s eye stamped into them. It certainly told the cops who had caught this person.

She did have a bit of a scare at one point. She dropped off a fire escape to confront three guys who were attacking some little girl for her purse. While taking out those three didn’t take much effort, the other five that had surrounded her made her a bit apprehensive.

She looked around. “So, brought the whole gang boys? Think that the eight of you can take me?”

The thug that looked like a leader spoke up “Shut up, bitch. We ain’t here to listen to yo’ mouth. Take her!”

The five started moving in, tightening up and getting closer. Her eyes narrowed. She could get away, but she spotted three guns among these creeps and another five knives. She would get clear, but she couldn’t take the girl with her.

She turned on the pheromone pump and did a summersault onto the back of one of their homeboys, to spread the scent quickly. He grunted when her boots impacted on his back. “Boys, don’t you know it’s not chivalrous to come at a girl like a gang of thugs? You need to do it one at a time.” With that, her whip was out.

One swing wrapped the end of the whip around one boy’s neck. It locked in place to itself making it impossible for him to get it free. She didn’t want to kill him so she didn’t make the coils contract, she just used him to throw into the body of the guy that was running up behind her. A quick whip-crack later, and she had her claws out and ready. She lept for one of the remaining kids.

She really had to hand it to these kids, they would have been really intimidating and would have a good chance of getting away with this if she was a normal person they were strong arming. However, she wasn’t the expected lady.

The next guy tried to dodge, but her real goal wasn’t him, but the guy next to him. She landed where she intended to, next to his accomplice. She could see his brain go blank as he got a whiff of her scent, and you could almost see the blood drain from his head to his other head. She raked him down the chest and arms, then kicked him in the crotch for good measure.

That left two up and moving. The leader was advancing, but the other thug turned tail and ran as fast as he could. She turned her attention to the leader.

He had his gun out and was brandishing it at her. Apparently just having it made him feel like he was a big guy. She walked slowly up to him, hips swaying as she walked. His face went blank and to the infrared vision she had thanks to her suit, she could see the heat disappear from his head and face. It was almost laughable.

She kept advancing, slowly, sensuously, until she moved inside the range of the pistol. She carefully took it from his hand and quickly disassembled it into the slide, the pistol grip, the barrel and the magazine. Which she then dropped in front of his astonished and lustful eyes.

He came at her, lust in his brain. She palm-struck him in the nose with her left hand, breaking his face. He screamed and fell back against the alley wall. She moved over to him and grabbed his shirt front, then hauled him up.

“Why did you set this trap for me?”

“Cus word on the street is that anyone who gets Catwoman will get fifty grand as a bounty. An you’re a chick and not so tough.”

She head butted him in the face. He shrieked like a little baby.

She had her tail snake around his ankles to keep his legs occupied and immobilized while she interrogated this genius. “Not so tough because I’m a girl, hum? Well, I think we can discard that notion pretty quickly.”

He couldn’t nod fast enough.

“Who is paying this ‘bounty’?”

“Don’t know. Just word is out that you are worth a lot of money.”

“Good. Well, you can’t have the money, but I will leave you with a reminder.” With that she pulled him close and kissed him full on the lips.

At first he was too stunned to react, but pretty soon he got the message. Seconds after that he was unconscious on the ground and the police would be picking up seven new crooks who tried to accost a young woman in an alley. All their drugs were still in their pockets, and if they didn’t have any, they soon had stashes of Meth or Rock. But their money was gone, and their guns were all broken.

She spent the rest of the night going from area to area looking for more trouble. Sure enough, Brilliance was correct. There were other groups looking to trap her. She saw three other scenes that were traps once she looked over the scene with her infrared vision instead of just her low-light vision.

Someone really wanted her badly.

Now the question was “Who”?



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