Asphalt and Ablution (Pt.1)

The gates of Hell await us all, child…

She fought hard. She clung to every fleeting passion, every distant spark of light she could catch, hiding behind the emotions of others in her desperate gambit to escape the nightmare. But there was no hiding, no escaping. She could hear his voice echoing in every thought, the shadow of his presence fell wherever she looked. A dark, black void had drilled its way into her, and planted itself far beneath the skin. Her escapes, riding the hearts of others, was like trying to climb a mountain using twine, with the threat of falling to oblivion riding on her own heart.

When she saw again the dark alleys of Gotham, with the moon hidden behind overcast skies and street lights, she had no doubt the next round of horrors were fast descending on her. For the longest moment of her life, she lay curled up, cold, wet, and most definitely afraid. Then, the rain came, droplets soft against her exposed face and hair. A cool comfort of the longest night having passed her by.

She sat up straight, hand pressing down on the cracked pavement beginning to accrue small puddles of New England overcast. Her head snapped left, and right. She surveyed her new surrounding with the anticipation of another wave coming on, but it never did. Just the rain against her skin, and her clothes.

Sharon did a check on her uniform. Sure enough, it was intact. A little wet, but intact. And so was she.

Relief crashed upon her as she wept from joy, driving the pain out through her tears to mix with the rain. Her whole body shuddered in the cold, and pulled on her to take action, but in the moment all she wanted was to breathe, to feel the sky dash itself upon her once more as it cleansed the soul. Thunder rumbled in the distance, as if to welcome her back to the waking world.

She could barely contain her smile, her jaw aching no doubt from lack of use. She felt malnourished, and possibly lighter, so she would need food. Sharon nodded to herself. Yes, food is what she needed.

Looking around, she found a duffel bag propped against the wall next to her. Upon opening it, she found all her things, including her rifles, her body armour, her medic bag, and everything else that had gotten her into the city. Dressing in the rain was suboptimal, but she did it anyway, cloaked in the alley from view both above and around. No food though.

There was however, one thing off about her equipment, aside from the obvious fact that someone had gone and recovered it along with her and didn’t even seem to have the courtesy to leave an explanation. She found her radio had also been adjusted, no longer on the false bandwidth she had swapped it to before capture. Instead, it read “M" and then the frequency numbers. Someone had entered this channel, and then locked it into its memory.

Made her question what else was tampered with.

Regardless, she left the channel alone. This all seemed… odd. Wrong, somehow. She tried her nods, but they were still out of battery. The magazines were almost all empty, expected of course. How and why would someone share appropriate ammunition with her, even if they were rescuing her and had to ditch her somewhere. That last part could only be explained by their escape vector being traced, or her savior then became the rabbit to lead the hunters away.

She loaded up one full magazine for her Mk. 17 and racked the first bullet home. Whatever the case, she couldn’t stay here.

The radio crackled to life.

“Hey? You awake yet? Good God I hope you’re awake and not dying of something stupid like… frostbite.”

The voice was female, though it was no one she had ever heard before. She keyed up after them.

“Awake, and alive.”

“Hah!” the female voiced exclaimed, “Fantastic! Wonderful! Oh my God I totally thought this plan was gonna end badly! You’re still alive and not totally losing your mind from days on end of psychological torture!”

Well that was oddly specific. True, but still.

“Not yet anyway,” Sharon responded. There was no guarantee the channel wasn’t being traced, so no giving or taking locations, and she wanted to keep it brief as much as she could. “Keeping tabs on me?”

“Only by radio. Bastards started giving chase once they realized I wasn’t actually under orders to move you to a more secure location. Had to ditch the package and draw some heat off. Speaking of which, you should probably get out of there before they start getting nosey.”

Sharon nodded, saying “Can agree to that” off the traffic.

“Anywhere you had in mind for a rally point,” the female voice asked.

Not that she was going to share. Not on open airwaves. “Negative…” then she recalled a frequent focal point of her nightmare. “I forgot something in the city, I’ll respond with status once I find it.”

“Uhh, copy?” the voice responded. If they said anything more, it was lost when she shut off her radio.

Sharon turned her eyes to the skyline, and breathed a heavy sigh of fresh air. “I’m comin', just don’t be dead when I get there.” The shadows around her, between the fractions of a second it took to blink, shifted and warped, sending her skin crawling. For the briefest of moments, she was surrounded by shadows, the dark silhouettes of people.

Hell awaits.

She shook her senses out and took to the streets of Gotham, a wraith in urban camouflage, and made sure to grab some food on the way.

Graves watched with great pride as the SEAL disappeared from view, vanishing into the night.

“I have to admit, I still hold some doubts as to your plan, Miss Graves,” the dark and gravelled voice of Crane said, watching the results of her release. “She didn’t say where she was going.”

Graves responded with a slight nod, “She’s a professional. It’s not like we aren’t tracking her movement anyway,” she pointed to the red blip that marked her position in the city. “My only concern now is whether the discovers the plant or not.”

She turns to Crane, “Nice work by the way, with the plant. I was afraid I was going to have to fly one in for this.”

Crane shrugged, “It doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Speaking of, how will we know for certain if she actually leads us to the rest of them?”

Graves sighed. That was the biggest problem with this plan. There was no guarantee that she would, and she was still a wildcard among the city streets. Even after being liberated of the Bat, Gotham's array were often at odds with authority under Luthor, and there was no guarantee they wouldn’t pick up on her trail and try to remove the new ace in the city. Or worse, she would simply start hunting them on her own.

With her silence stretched, Crane filled the gap. “Should’ve let me put a killswitch in her.”

Graves chuckled. “Lets just see how this plays out.”

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