Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Vasilissa the Beauty (Part 10 of 12)

Sasha sat outside Bruce Wayne's office, trying to concentrate on her studies.

It was useless. She was tired, and very intrigued about Bruce Wayne.

Questions raced through her mind. Why did he have that subterranean facility at Wayne Manor? What was all the equipment for? And why were Bruce Wayne and Alfred so interested in Gotham's criminal underworld?

A thousand thoughts raced through her mind, as she looked up, and saw a beautiful Eurasian woman enter Wayne's outer office, and go up to Mrs. Jones and begin to talk quietly.

As Bruce Wayne's bodyguard, Sasha had to consider the possibility that anyone who tried to get near Bruce Wayne could be a threat -- even a beautiful woman who had already been screened by Wayne Enterprises security.

"Please, it is urgent. I must see him. Tell him I'm here, he'll see me," the woman insisted.

Just at that moment, the door opened, and a tall, muscular figure looked out from the inner office.

"Bruce!" the woman cried out.

"Talia?" came the answer, as the woman rushed to Bruce Wayne and embraced him, kissing him passionately.

Devastated, Sasha tried to look back down at her homework, but her eyes would not be torn off the sight she was now seeing.

"Mrs. Jones," Wayne began, somewhat out of breath, "please...."

"Your schedule is clear for the afternoon, Mr. Wayne," Mrs. Jones answered rather routinely. It was not unheard of for Mr. Wayne to have important lady friends visit his office.

Wayne and his visitor stepped inside his office; uncharacteristically, Wayne forgot to thank Mrs. Jones before he closed the door. Sasha looked up. Through the window next to the door, she could see Wayne invite this woman to have a seat, and Sasha could see the woman dragging Bruce over to the sofa in front of the big window.

She slammed her book shut.

"Are you okay?" Mrs. Jones looked up, startled.

"Yes," Sasha smiled, "it's just a frustrating lesson I'm having to learn here. Think I'll take a break, and freshen up in the ladies' room."

Mrs. Jones smiled.

"It's my sister, Bruce. I need help finding her."

"Well, I can have some of my people look into it. I'm sure we'll be able to track her down. But, if she doesn't know you, how do you plan to show her that you are her sister?"

Talia smiled slyly. "I have something that was her's when she was a child." Opening her bag, Talia pulled out a worn doll, and handed it to Bruce.

Touching the doll, Bruce Wayne went through that transformation, as he realized its significance. He looked at its back -- there was a small hole in the back, just big enough....

"A beautiful day outside," he whispered, drawing Talia's attention to the window, as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small device shaped like a bat.

"It is, indeed, Bruce. It reminds me of Moscow," she smiled at him, then stood up to look out the window.

That was the opportunity he needed....

The tall man with the greenish complexion looked at his watch. It was after 10:00 already.

"Welcome to the party, Frankenstein, have a good evening," the doorman smiled, a security guard behind him.

"Actually, I'm Frankenstein's monster," the tall man with the greenish complexion answered, a slight British accent evident. "She's Frankenstein," he added, nodding to his date.

Confused, the doorman looked at the young lady. More than a foot shorter than her escort, it was impossible to tell by her costume that she was not a man.

"I was about to compliment you on your costume," a heavy voice said to the monster, "but if that's a young lady, then that's the best costume I've seen so far. She certainly looks like a man."

The comment came from a tough-looking man not dressed in a costume, but in a nicely-tailored and expensive-looking suit. Apparently, he was supervising activity at the door.

"Thanks," came the feminine voice from under the costume.

"Enjoy your evening," he said, already looking at the next people arriving.

"Thanks. Happy Halloween!" the feminine voice of Dr. Frankenstein replied, an Eastern European accent now detectable.

Meanwhile, a wolfman was now entering.

"Happy Halloween," he gruffly said.

"Happy Halloween, enjoy your evening," smiled the supervisor.

The doorman looked up: the whole crew from The Wizard of Oz was now converging on him. He half expected to see some dwarfs with them, but he instead noticed a tall, dark figure lurking behind them, smiling at him. Trying to be pleasant, he smiled back, but inside he was wondering: What the hell was he dressed up as?

"The party's a big success, Mr. Falcone."

The Boss smiled. "Dr. Frankenstein over there is an actress."

Rick looked back at the Boss. "That's a girl?"

"A good-looking one," the Boss answered. "Does Shakespeare downtown." He smiled again. "The monster works in the Mayor's office."

Rick smiled, too. The Boss was enjoying the evening.

Rick looked off towards the door. It was hard to see what was going on, so he looked at the closed-circuit television, instead. There in the doorway was another Dracula, just behind a bunch of people dressed like characters from some show he had seen as a kid... what was it again? The Wizard of Oz! This Dracula looked different -- not dressed in a white shirt with a red tie, like the other two, but rather dressed in all black, with something on his head. And the cape came to within inches of the floor, but was not straight and even across the bottom, like the others were -- this cape had semi-circles at the bottom, ending in points.

Rick stepped closer to the television, and turned it up some.

"Enjoy your evening," the Tin Man was being waved in.

Rick listened closer. They were talking to Dracula, but he couldn't make out what was being said.

He looked out the window again. There in the middle of the floor was a guy dressed in a green suit, complete with a green mask. He had short, red hair, and his green suit had question marks all over it. What was he, Rick thought, some kind of leprechaun?

He looked around some more. There was a ninja stepping out to the dance floor with a giant insect of some sort -- or maybe an extraterrestrial, it was hard to tell -- and off beyond them was a girl that was really getting some attention. She was dressed all in black, complete with a mask. Rick looked closer. She was dressed up like a cat! Rick noticed all the guys looking at her. She was wearing skin-tight vinyl and was carrying a whip. She had a remarkable figure. She would even rival Cleopatra for beauty! he thought. Speaking of Cleopatra, Rick wondered, where was she?

Rick smiled again, as he glanced back at the Boss, who was busy talking with two very beautiful young ladies. Nice party, Rick thought.

The elegant-looking woman looked at the funny-looking leprechaun in the green suit with question marks on it, and smiled politely; he was looking at her. Deep inside, she really wanted to roll her eyes, but had long ago learned to keep her real feelings buried deep, and to be careful about what she showed publicly. The leprechaun smiled back.

Her eyes continued surveying the room. There was a belly-dancer, who, despite the skin she was showing, just couldn't compete with a woman who showed almost no skin at all. This woman was in a skin-tight black vinyl suit, with high heals and a whip. She looked nice, and had a following of men. Impressive, the elegant-looking woman thought.

Next her eyes landed on a wolfman, then some wimpy guy dressed up as some kind of a mad scientist.

This time she rolled her eyes outwardly, then glanced up toward the ceiling, and quietly muttered, "Oh, please, send me a real man!" She closed her eyes and sipped her champagne, savoring the way the bubbles danced in her mouth.

"Cleopatra, I presume?"

The voice was quiet, but confident, a raspy whisper. It was the kind of voice that got someone's attention.

The elegant-looking woman turned, and looked up. The dark figure was over six-and-a-half feet tall, and was dressed in all black.

"And you are...?"

The figure smiled at her. "I'm Batman."

"Nice to meet you, Mr. Batman," the woman smiled. It did not appear obvious or deliberate, but her demeanor was flirtatious, an odd mix of the confidence and insecurity that come from knowing what men want, and having experience giving it to them.

"Nice party."

"Yes, it is," Cleopatra replied, looking around. "Are you here with anyone?"

"Not with anyone," the figure replied. "Looking for someone."

"Aren't we all?"

"I'm looking for someone who shares my interest in dolls."

Cleopatra looked up. That was an odd thing to say, she thought.

"Why dolls?"

"Dolls can be magical, a link to a loved one, returning what has been stolen from a person who is left behind by an untimely death," the figure explained. "Don't you agree?"

"You're interesting," Cleopatra commented, trying to appear casual and somewhat disinterested. She sipped her champagne as she looked around.

"But when the doll itself gets left behind, then what does a person do?" the figure asked.

Cleopatra squirmed, remembering her doll. It had been her connection to her mother, a gift from her on her deathbed, before Cleopatra herself had been taken from the small town she had lived in all her life, and presented to the outside world.

Summoning her strength, she looked up.

"Do I know you?" She studied the figure's face, which was mostly hidden by his mask, so she looked into his eyes, and there she got lost, then, recovering, began to introduce herself. "My name is...."

"Vasilissa," the figure interrupted, holding out his hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you."

She gingerly shook his large, gloved hand. "And your name is...?"


Cleopatra paused, studying Batman. "Yes, I believe you mentioned that," she smiled as she sipped her champagne. "Where do I know you from?"

"You don't."

"Where do you know me from, then?"

"A little doll told me about you, and about the men you work for, the ones who brought you to Gotham City."

Vasilissa looked uncomfortable. "Are they friends of yours?"

"Not exactly."

"You know," she said, pointing around with her finger, "they have this place under constant electronic surveillance. They have television cameras and microphones. Everything we say and do is being recorded."

"I understand they are having some technical difficulties at the moment."

Vasilissa looked up behind and above the figure, at one camera, the location of which she knew about. You had to know where it was to see it. She looked for the red light indicating it was recording, but the light was out.

"Like I said... technical difficulties."

It was as if he could read her mind. "So what did this doll tell you about me?"

"That you were lost in this place. The doll asked me to rescue you."

"You are interesting," she looked at him again, studying him closely. "What did you say your name is?"


She nodded slowly, sipping her champagne.

"How would you like to disrupt this business of theirs? Keep them from doing this to any more little girls, ever again?"

"I'm listening," she said, sipping her champagne. This was a set-up to test her loyalty, she decided... and she knew how much The Roman appreciated loyalty -- and how he punished betrayal. By reporting this....

"Your doll will be joining you soon. It will be bringing you a gift."

Hearing this, she forgot her thought from a moment before, and Cleopatra was now hanging on every word of this mysterious figure.

"The gift is a communications device that you can use to summon me. Press the green button for a routine meeting, press the red button if you are in immediate danger. There is no way to cancel the meeting once you have pressed one of the buttons."

"What if I use the device to set a trap for you?"

"Then your doll will be disappointed in you; and so will the doll's creator."

Unnerved now, she struggled to maintain her composure.

Suddenly a popping sound could be heard, and some startled shrieks in the background, as electrical circuits short-circuited and several lights went out. The tall, dark figure did not so much as flinch.

"Like I said, technical difficulties."

Maybe this wasn't a set-up.

"Who are you?"

"I'm Batman."

More popping could be heard, and more lights went out, as Vasilissa looked around at the confusion.

"It's all right, ladies and gentlemen. We just blew a circuit breaker. We'll have it fixed in no time. Meanwhile, please enjoy yourselves," a voice called out loudly from up near the stage.

Vasilissa looked back, but the dark figure was gone.

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