Clouds filled the night sky, their dark shapes
pushing against each other, them upwards, the peaks pushing against each
other, fighting for dominance of the night. Spires thrust up into the smog
and swirling weather, topped with crosses and angels and grimacing
gargoyles, sharply contrasting with the hi-rises and jutting balconies of
the hotels, the rooftops circled by wrought points of the gates mimicking
their rooftop cousins, reaching for the sky. The moonlight reflected off
metal as the figures made their way to the heart of the commotion of
architecture, where a sprawling museum stood, long flags of purple shot
with gold announcing the next exhibit, lions perched in silent sentry at
the steps. A long teal rope slapped against the museum's roof, a small
grappling hook catching at the end. Others followed, the group moving
across them, walking tightropes of cord. As swiftly a they were all across,
they came together in the middle of a large skylight, producing small
packages from the folds of their black costumes, setting them in a pattern
of a butterfly, pressing them to the skylight, standing back quickly. The
glass began to vibrate, then shattered, cracking, falling a few inches and
hovering, then flying upwards as the tiny devices netted the pieces and
flew off to dump them somewhere far away.
They rappelled down the gaping hole quickly, scattering out in a planned formation, setting down small boxes that spewed out light gray smoke, lines that flew across the floor and through the air, reflecting off mirrors and connecting in a complex web. A slim figure stepped forward; his black hair tied back neatly, a thin white streak racing through the jet black locks. His face was tilted, flat, Japanese. He took off his dark glasses and handed them to a young woman at his side, who bowed and joined the others. He took a deep breath and kissed a tiny silver pendant at his throat, a crescent moon, a trinket of his mother's.
He crouched, and launched himself, flickering over the lasers and under them, twisting and turning like a cat to land softly before a display case with a long golden glove within its blue velveteen depths. Thick leather thong straps wove through holes in the glove, so it could be fitted on the arm, easily moved and placed back again, and he licked his lips. He placed a tiny spider looking thing against the glass and winced as it pulled the glass away slowly, melting and cooling it until a large hole, wide as his arm appeared in the case. He reached inside, rubbing his gloved finger against the metal thumb, removing the tiny microchip that would warn of the piece's movement, and pulled the glacier cold golden glove towards him, careful not to hit the edges of the glass case. He fitted it to his arm and turned slowly, jumping forward again, repeating the series of twists and turns in reverse, landing only a few inches from the place he had left. All in all, it'd taken 7 minutes.
He motioned to the girl, who gave him his glasses back, and then to the troupe, who carried various artifacts and treasures from other wings, specific things. They began their trek upwards once more; scattering once they'd reached the roof, to meet in different locals, though eventually all those wonderful old things would make their way back to him.
In his stuffy study he looked at the golden thing strapped to his arm, and tilted it up to the light, watching the metal reflect the beams onto a far wall. The young girl who'd kept his glasses bowed, kneeling at the doorway, her eyes downcast. She waited nearly half an hour before he noticed her standing there; laying his arm down on the arm of his velvet backed chair, pointing his toes at the marble floor.
She stood and slipped through the flower petals tossed over the white and black squares of the floor, her bare feet thin and long. She held up a folder, and broke the seal along the edge with a long sharp fingernail, a tiny sliver of white make-up sliding off unto the black paper. Dressed as a geisha girl, her teeth blackened, Kasumi did not present as intimidating a figure as she normally would, which was why Toung made her dress this way. She was still a virgin bride, as she had been when her father offered her to Toung all those years ago. To pay off a bad debt. Oddly, she was one of many in this house.
Toung opened the folder, reading as she set his glasses on his nose, carefully tucking the chain from one frame over his right shoulder. He liked the style of these more wore them like a pocket watch. "I do not like this news, Kasumi. It tells me things I do not wish to hear. Startling things. It would seem our friend Carlos does not wish to give me the Dragon's Horn given to him for safe keeping. What would you suggest we do?" His crisp accented voice rang out in the stillness, reverberating off the walls. She closed her eyes, and uttered a short prayer. Answering Toung's questions often proved ... painful.
"If it were my decision, husband, I would send some to retrieve it. By stealth, not force."
"And why is that, lotus blossom?"
"If he were to find it missing, honorable husband, it might make him nervous. He would compensate you for your loss, and would also be sure to keep his word from now on. Perhaps even believe in the Horn's curse."
"Interesting," he said, in Japanese. He switched over between English and this language often, irritating her. A native of New York, she had never bothered to learn anything other than Spanish. Japanese was ideally an easier language than English, but she was finding it harder than anything she had tried before...and it was becoming harder every day.
"Did your father ever try this method?" He asked in his language, and she spent a full minute finding the words to respond. When he spoke it, she heard the English in her head, but still had to speak his language back to him.
"No, he was too..." For a frantic moment she sought the word, her eyes wide her heart beating faster, then relief hit her as she discovered it. "He was too timid. Afraid."
"Ah. I will think on your suggestion. Was your visit to include anything else?" Back to English.
She sighed softly, so he would not hear. "Hiore asked that you be informed of the location of a ... Dargos Tear? It is en route to Egypt, where it will then be shipped to your base of operations in Tokyo. And that there has been another sighting."
Toung cursed and she bowed out quickly, her shuffling steps heard only by the walls.
Timmy looked up as the bell that hung over the door chimed, announcing a new visitor. The man blocking the moonlight was a thick six foot something, with dark dark brown eyes, and black hair pulled into a loose ponytail that reached just past his shoulders. He would be a handsome man, Tim thought, if it wasn't for the long jagged scar that ran down his face from the space above his right eyebrow to his chin. It was white, a blemish against his Italian skin, and stood out most in the soft light of the tattoo parlor.
Garrote smiled, his navy painted lips parting over perfect white teeth, a curl from his azure wig falling over an eye, making him look almost like a drag queen gone pirate. He stood up on six inch heels, towering over the dark man as he walked into the shop, holding out a white gloved hand. The good Detective, never to be considered anything other than a gentleman, took it and leaned over it, giving it a brush of his lips. Garrote laughed, and Timmy smirked.
"Hey, Jarvison. What brings you here?" He asked, and Garrote gave him a glare meant to make him wilt. Garrote thought he might have a chance with the Italian Stallion that was Anthony Jarvison, and the last thing he wanted was Timmy scaring him off. Course, Timmy was pretty sure that the queen had as much chance as a snowball in Satan's hand. But he'd never tell him that.
"Stopping in, Timmy, you know," Tony said, pulling off his dusty black trench coat and setting it on Timmy's chair. He sat down there, and smiled. "Got a break in the case, finally. Piece of the Ghost herself."
Garrote gasped, his hand flying to his mouth, staining his glove. He looked at Timmy, and mouthed a few curses. This wasn't good at all.
Timmy kept his face straight though, to his credit. After all, when you wear the white makeup and the can and a half of hair spray, there were certain things expected of you. An image came with the black eyeliner. He pulled out the tattoo gun and the tray of pristine disposable needles, and sat down behind the open back chair where Jarvison rested. Bringing out the inks, he set his hand against his chin.
"The Ghost, huh? You sure?" He asked, as if he were talking about nothing more important then the weather. Jarvison tensed a moment, then relaxed as Timmy's hand came down between his shoulders, the needle laying against his upper back. The buzzing began, and Timmy started working on the large Celtic cross that was already taking up more skin than was probably necessary.
"Yeah. Nice section of skin off her foot. We're guessing it was the left one. But I'm betting on the right," Jarvison confessed, like a little kid that'd been caught peeking through a hole into the girl's locker room. He'd been tracking Ghost for years, and finally he had a big break. DNA would tell him everything he needed to know. He'd finally put whoever this psychopath was away, and then he could move on. There was no reason for someone to run around burning their name into criminal's hides, it was the job of the police to catch them - and if they got a little messed up on the way to the station, well ... that was just the way things were. These "superheroes" just got in the way, to his way of thinking.
The bell chimed again, and there she stood. Timmy's hair was half across his face, so he didn't see her there, but Garrote did.
Keth was devoid of the makeup of her costume, and had shed the long skirt for a pair of leather shorts and thigh high black stockings. A naturally pale woman, her skin stood out bright white against the silk and leather, her blue eyes surrounded by black kohl. The drag queen always did think she was a snappy dresser, though this time, she may have outdone herself. He considered going straight - briefly.
"Hey, Garrote," she said quietly, sliding into his chair, the silk hose whispering against it like a choir of angels sighing. Timmy knew she was there, but figured that since she didn't know Anthony, she wouldn't talk to him until his customer was gone. Her arms were bare, and there was a noticeable space where the dragons and roses had been ripped apart, presumably by the bullets.
She smiled at Jarvison, who was nearly gawking at her, and Timmy smiled from between his black tinted lips.
"What're you getting?" She asked, propping up her arm on the arm of the chair, winking at him. Garrote chuckled, and started up the needle, he knew the pattern well enough that he could ink it with his eyes closed - not that he would.
"I have no idea," Jarvison replied, sneaking a glance back at Timmy, who quickly sobered up his expression. "I cut a deal a while back. He doodles, and I don't look at it."
She laughed. "Sounds like he got the better end of the deal. At least with Garrote, I get to borrow clothes, too."
Jarvison laughed, and Timmy smiled again, though inwardly, he was groaning. You know, Keth, don't you? You know it and you're playing a game. She laughed again, and said something else, but Timmy wasn't paying attention, trying to focus on the tattoo, to block her out.
Keth peeled back the layers of gauze as soon as Jarvison was gone, smiling slyly at Timmy. She inspected the ointment covered design, and grinned.
"This is great work, Garrote. You know this pattern by heart."
Garrote laughed, and shrugged. "You're a great canvas, Keth. But what were you thinking?"
"I have no idea what you mean," she said icily, and took the dressing off entirely, then began sloughing off the salve.
"The Italian Stallion, little lady. Jarvison. You knew who he was. You know what you could've done too," Timmy said, his lips parting in the smile that Keth usually gave him when she was about to be condescending. "Jarvison is out to put your ass in jail, Keth. You don't talk all nicey nicey to the guy who wants to put you away."
"Oh, is that who that was? I had no idea," she said briskly, and stood up. "There's a few things I need from your room, Tim. If you'd be so kind?"
Timmy sighed, and followed her up to his room, pulling out his ring of keys from the chain on his belt. Garrote would close up shop downstairs, he had his own keys.