1964-03-15 - A Murderer of Women: Chapter One - Bag of Bones
Summary: An apartment fire unearths something sinister.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
delphyne clark barbara batman diana 

"Mmmmhmm mmm.." The raspy voice echoes through the barely there apartment. An apartment that would almost look spartan if it weren't for the bleak and the dreariness that comes along with it. On the outside, it almost looks as bad, an old man in tattered and torn clothes, shuffling down the street as he drags a cart behind him. It was as if Holly could hear the sounds, the scraping sounds from outside, if it weren't for the thunderous drums that her heartbeat makes within her own body.

An amplified drip is what she could hear as she remains within the chair. Her dress was in ruins, tattered. Cuts were well placed along the body along with tiny little slits along the larger parts, as if someone were creating the surgeon lines in which they were to stitch, but done with the sharpest blade in the house. The house that was nearly bare, a lone table in a chair in which the man himself sits. Where he, or it could be a she, sits in a mask that covers his or her face, the eyeholes cut out to show sclera black, painted white with teeeth drawn in. "Mmmhmmm mmm Oooh.. ooh…" The raspy voice sings, right along with the cadence of her covered whimpers. Whatever makeup was on her face, it created a trail of dark sorrows down her swollen chin and cut lips that were bound by a cloth around the mouth.

"Almost finished. You were pretty. Not Elizabeth Taylor pretty but I'm sure one day someone could have made you feel wonderful." The voice croons. Holly muffles out a cry and a slight scream as the masked person turns to face her, her body beginning to buck within the chair due to fright.

"AHHHHHHHHHH! AHEHAHAHEHEHAHAHAHAHA!" The masked one bolts up, their long fingers extended towards the sky as they begin to dance, their body was limber and thin, a sickly thin, one that seemed to miss too many meals clad in black. "NO ONES GOING TO HEAR YOU! AHHHHHHHEHEHAHAHAAA!"

The masked one whips around, retrieving two sets of needles, and yet they were thick. Coiled through the loop, braided every so delicately to create a certain thickness and ridges that would hurt. He holds them upright, then clacks the together, along with a hop left.. a hop right.. and a quick strafe towards the poor bound girl as she slides the chair back with another muffled scream.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH Oh shut up! You ugly whore! Who doesn't want to be beautiful?! YOU DON'T WANT TO BE BEAUTIFUL DO YOU!" The masked one's voice becomes shrill, waving the needles threatening. "Well you don't have a CHOICE! If you had a CHOICE! You wouldn't be HERE!"

He takes a step closer, his presence a near loom.. "You are going to be my best work of art…"


The Comstock building was nothing to shake a stick at. A regular residential apparatus that houses at least four families with an office for the building manager on the main floor. Two of the apartments were vacant, and it wasn't due to evictions or the lack of being lived in, but with St. Patty's Day around the corner, two out of four of the families were vacationing with relatives over seas or city. But children were asleep in their beds. A man and a woman sat upon the couch while she knitted and he took care of the beer within his glass. Another family fought quietly over bills with strong gestures and even tones.

But below them was the smell of gas; gas that slowly begins to fill the maintenance closet. Gas that soon slowly begins to ignite itself due to the molotov cocktail that remained lit upon the middle of the floor. It was fast; a flashbang of fire that rocks the wayward foundation of the Comstock building. All points of egress blocked with chains around the door. Surely, no one is to get out.. not out of this hell.

The first to notice was already on their feet, the family that lived upon the ground floor. The phone was immediately picked up to dial maintence to figure out the problem.. and yet. No one seemed to answer. The phone that would have been picked up remains looped around the neck of the Night Manager, who lays upon the floor dead.

It doesn't take too long for the fire itself to get out of control, and with the people trapped in the wayward Comstock building, help was on the way.. but what would they find when they arrive?


Batman picked up the first signals on the emergency band radios, knowing immediately he was much closer than any of the assorted brigades. He estimated response time at fifteen, twenty-three and forty minutes, depending on which firehouse responded. The nearest police precinct was still nine minutes away and ill-equipped to deal with a fire.

He alerted Barbara of the situation, since she was on patrol with him, passing her a gasmask as he affixes one to himself. "Don't be reckless. Check the doors for heat. Watch out for open windows. The suit's fireproof, but not foolproof. You focus on the lower floors, I'll go high."


For her part, Delphyne was practicing her parkour on a nearby rooftop. When she sees the fires coming from the Comstock building, she blinks in surprise, and quickly scrambles down towards street level.

Narrowing her eyes at the smoke, Delphyne calmly tears off the right sleeve of her shirt, tying it over her mouth and nose to (hopefully) filter some of it out. Better than nothing, anyway.


Batgirl wasn't one who generally considered herself a fool, but that didn't mean she wasn't going to listen intently to the advice of her mentor. A quick adjustment to her hair tucked under the seam of her suit and she nods, strapping her mask in place. "Be careful," she calls back. An unnecessary warning probably, but still one that she'd give before she moves, headed to work her way from the bottom up. The gasmask was stiffling and the heat was opressive, but it could be far worse!


It was the explosion that caught his attention. Superman had a habit of floating above New York of late. Eyes closed. Listening to the whine of police sirens and ambulances. The daily emergencies handled by the city's first responders. He was one man and could not be at all of them. He considered the potential of the evening. The hope that it would be a quiet night. A mundane night where he might just foil a mugging. But it was not to be. He opened his eyes then and squinted into the night. The fire was already raging. This was no mere blaze. It was arson. Murder most foul. And he could hear the innocents' cry for help. In a flash, he broke the sound barrier with a distant peel of thunder high in the sky.


The first signs anyone would see is upon the top floors of the Comstock building. A large chair was immediately thrown through the window, which causes the smoke to fan out and the fire in that particular area to roar and flame hotter, coupled with the sounds of heightened shrieks due to alarm.

Batman would feel the heat, see the backdraft of the fires slowly building, the rolling flames peeling down the wallpaper to drop to the floor upon a heap to stain the wooden floors beneath. The ceiling itself was a danger, and it was a good thing that Batman had a mask on, for the smoke was thick and it was hard to see through the faint light that soon combusts. The apartment door upon the left was already broken open, the wood swelling from the heat and shattering into splinters. The door upon the left remains closed, but one could easily see the frantic poking and clawing of a cat beneath the doors, itching to get out. The family was there!

Street level, a crowd slowly begins to gather around the building, most of them do not go in to help, for they were in their robes and slippers upon the chilly near spring night, looks of worries upon their faces as one glances towards Delphyne with a point and a shriek of horror. "Don't go in there! They're already dead!" It was a warning. Taking the front door? Big no no. The glass itself was already starting to expand.. "UP THERE!"

A man hangs from the top floor, fanning a white sheet, they were in desperate need of help!

The lower floor near to where Batgirl was, was scorched and torched. One would think Batman was playing a cruel joke upon her, for the first thing she could possibly see around the smoke and the fire is a pair of feet, laid out upon the floor. A small ember of wallpaper floats down towards the upturned foot, lighting the flammable shoe on fire. Shockingly enough, the foot itself? It does not move..


Batman isn't above playing cruel games with his proteges. Facing the stark reality of loss, seeing the consequences of failure, of being too late? They would need to understand those all too well, to learn to face it, get up and put the mask on again the next night. But that wasn't the case today. Today, it was just a bad situation.

The lenses in his cowl shield his eyes from the worst of the smoke as he makes his way up the side of the building, a cable suspending his weight as he ignores the screaming man down. He finds a window that's already broken open, not looking to add to the oxygen seeping in. He tosses in a small sphere that, upon arrival, unleashes a thick, coating blast of flame-retardant foam in every direction, dousing the hallway on the other side and providing a way in. He sees an older man inside, struggling to put on his pants, "This way. Alert your neighbors," he says.

He glances up and sees someone streaking through the sky above. Iron Man, perhaps? Hard to say from a distance. At any rate, he needs to clear the stairs.


Delphyne glares back at the crowd, "We don't know that!" And with that, she charges into the building, untying her 'hair' as she does so. Since, well, that might just be an edge she needs as her snakes hiss and writhe about her head, the young Amazon getting her bearings in the building as she looks for signs of survivors… or even just a fire extinguisher, for starters.


Babs had been aware of the stark realities of life sooner than most, mostly due to her upbringing, but that doesn't make it any easier. It also doesn't mean that she can write off not moving as already dead. Shielding herself from the blaze she moves closer, trying to assess the casualty. Smothering the foot with her cape she moves in closer.


This is no bird. Nor a plane. The rocket of wind ends abruptly with a rush of air as Superman comes to a halt midair above the blaze. He takes a moment to stare at the house. Precious seconds seemingly wasted in simply looking.. then he moves into action.. swooping to snatch the man with the sheet from the window and place him gently upon the curbside with his neighbors. "I'll save the rest." He promises the man before taking to flight and entering the window with a crash of glass. "Everyone, come to me. Quickly." There's a beckoning to the family and a pleading look on his face.


It would be one of the many firsts of this night, the first of deaths that would plague the Comstock building. Once the slow building fire was put out by the cape of Batgirl, the smell of rotting leather would plague her nose. And the man? He was far gone from the world, the Night Manager, strangled with the phone cord. His eyes bulged out, not just from the strangulation, but there were scratches that lined the outside of his eyes with no blood that pooled through the scratches. It was clearly obvious that his eyes were extended postmortem to provide the effect of horror. If Batgirl wasn't made of sterner stuff, she'd throw up.

Batman was prepared, he came with the right tools to quell the fire within that particular apartment. The man who sat in a daze, slowly looked up to see the man in black, hopping upon one foot as he stumbles out the door. And through it. And down the stairs. He didn't alert anyone, he ran for the hills!

There was a cacophony of shock as Delphyne rushes in, part of the crowd with their eyes upon her, the other with their eyes to the sky as Superman flies in to the rescue!

'Who the hell?'
'People can fly now?'
'Uh.. her hair just moved..'
'Look, over there!'

The man who was just set down upon the curb clasps his hands together in front of his face, keeping his mouth shut to staunch any girly cries that would come out. He takes Superman at his word, and watches the back of the man as he bursts through the window upon the second floor.

Delphyne could see Babs from where she kneeled, she could also see a looming shadow of a figure through the smoke. One would think to run from it, to rush in their arms to be saved, but this one? It hangs back, those slow steps backing into the heat, and disappearing soon after.

Clark's pleas don't go unnoticed, the mother first immediately rushed herself and her young son to his arms. But the girl? She lets out a shriek!

"Mister Tibbles! We have to save him!" And up, off and around the corner she goes. The little girl has faith now, they were saved!


Batman rolls more of his fire-extinguishing grenades, these in the wake of the fleeing man and laying foam in his wake.

Then he started down the hall, door by door, measuring for heat, making sure not to make things worse as best he could as he starts to evacuate as many as he can.

"Batgirl, I have civilians making their way down the northwest stairs, make sure their egress is clear," he says into his narrow-band radio, broadcasting to the earpierce in Barbara's cowl as he shoos people along, half of them running as much from the sinister man in the cape as from the fire itself.


Delphyne blinks as she sees Batgirl, not recognizing her as someone from the papers or television. Though, she /does/ notice that figure in the shadows, lurking instead of seeking rescue… which is suspicious enough to her that she decides to go after it instead. Along the way she murmurs, "Get everyone out that you can." to Batgirl, not giving the woman a second thought just yet. Mainly because she's focusing on her current prey. Though a few of her snakes look at Batgirl, not hissing as they keep an eye on her while Delphyne moves through the smoke.


The body was grusome, but she couldn't stop just there. There were living civillians still in danger. Delphyne's passing? That makes her blink. The snakes were kinda noticable and raised a question or two. "Ohhh-kay…" she speaks before Batman's voice brings her back to reality and she keys her own communications. "Understood. I've got what appears to be a murder victim, strangulation. This was no accident."

The evidence might be gone by the time the fires are out, but that doesn't mean she wasn't going to report it to her mentor. Finishing her sweep of the lower levels and assisting any she might find, Batgirl moves to escort the citizens making their way downwards to a safe exit.


Superman flinches, his desire to stop the little girl from running off almost compelled him to snatch her. But first thing's first, "Hold on." Not that they need to as he grasps both mother and son by the waist and arches backwards to fly out of the window using his back to shield them from any debris. He floats directly to the ground where he releases them outside of the furnace that the house has become. "What is your daughter's name?" He asks of the mother even as he flies back up to the broken window and inside. He'll hear her call it out.. but for now.. he must find where she went.. and again he stares at walls. Sure, he could bust through them.. and collapse the burning house in the process.


The fire itself within the Comstock building was slowly rolling to a close thanks to the actions of Batman. While it's lost a lot of structural integrity, people were able to get out of the building safe on his end, naturally. Also, a common theme in heroing, the sirens call of the rescue teams were slowly begining to raise in volume. They were coming close. Batman's internal thinking had it right, they wouldn't have made it in time. They would have missed what Delphyne was about to find below.

Batgirl remained ever vigilant, but one small child wouldn't leave her behind. The little boy hung onto her cape like it was the last lifeline, or like it was his blanket. But either way, if he were pried from the womans side, he'd pitch a fit and grip tighter.

As the mom and boy were lowered to the ground, she quickly calls out.. "Annabeth!" Right at the back of Superman as he rushes into the building.

Annabeth was able to corral the little puppy, but a shriek she gives as a flaming pyre of wood falls down in front of her stops her in her tracks. Who would get to her first? The Batman or Superman? Either way, it seems that these two heroes were destined to meet!

What was not wanted, nor destined, was Delphyne. Following the shadowy figure towards the back of Comstock would lead her to an open door down the stairs. While most of the fire upon the second floor was out thanks to the foam, there was still a raging fire below. Why this shadowy figure decided to head down that way, it was anyones guess..


Batman hears the shriek and moves quickly. He'd been in the midst of about to strike one of the Comstock's residents, a local roughneck by the name of Hudson "Hawk" Washington, "Get pictures if you can," he says absentmindedly to Batgirl into his comm.

The scream means that Hawk gets left behind, though, to be picked up later as Batman moves into action, swooping over the heads of a few escaping citizens as he tries to get there in time to save the girl.


Delphyne keeps quiet, moving after the shadowy figure, though she winces involuntarily as he goes through a section that still on fire. She tries to move around so she avoids the flames, still determined to get to her target and get some answers for what happened here.


ROLL: Diana +rolls 1d50 for a result of: 39


Barbara herself was quick-thinking enough to snap a photo or two of the body, but they would have to be processed later. For now? She had civillians to get clear. The small children clinging to her? It was actually kinda endearing. Offering the young boy her best reassurence and patting him on the head before she turned him over towards the arriving ambulances. Hopefully his parents would find him, hopefully they'd made it out.


Flaming timbers do not phase Superman. He steps towards the girl, lifting the timber like it's a mere matchstick, and gestures for the girl to come. "Annabeth, quickly now. The roof might collapse any second. I'll get you out." His eyes pan around the second level but he sees only Batman.. a fellow he trusts is resilient enough to flee a burning building. And so he quickly takes up the girl and cradles her and her cherished pet against his chest as he flies out of the burning building through the nearest window, open or not. He lands, setting the girl next to her father and mother, giving the man an affirming nod.. a promise fulfilled.. then he turns his attention to the smoking house and the remaining fire.


The screech of the tires and many doors could be heard from the inside of the house. There were shouts, the only alarmed shouts coming from the rescue crews as many feet beat the pavement to get into action. Fire hoses were pulled out, attached to the hydrants, large wrenches the size of jim bob's arm were cracked out and put to the metal while two men grab the anchor and pull. Water begins to spurt through the end of the hose, while the other crews and police officers begin to gather upon the scene.

They held grave looks. But once they see the people usher out the building, a look of relief washes over them.

"Let's get this fire contained boys!" The Fire Chief calls out, and soon they get to work.

The little girl was wrapped up in Superman's arms until she was deposited with her family. The puppy yipped and yapped with excitement even though a little tuft of fur was singed from his tail.

The little boy, comforted by the pat from Barbara, became her new adoring fan who gave her leg a hug before he ran off to join his father in the crowd. The father kneels upon one knee, and wraps the boy up into his embrace, sobbing into the little mans shoulder. (Clearly, this guy was an asshole, he left the kid behind!)

Batman? Well. He's Batman, the Dark Knight. He'll get Hawk soon, mostly because Hawk himself gave Batman the finger as he slid into the throngs of the crowd that gathered outside.. never to be seen again this night..

Perhaps the biggest upset of all would come to Delphyne. For what she finds is.. well, quite possibly expected.

The basement was spacious, yet held the smell of smoke and fire that coated the ceiling of the area.. cracks and pits could be heard as the building itself creates it's groans and trembles due to loss of integrity. The rafters were starting to crack, and the figure hung near the back.. solid black. No eyes.. just.. a figment?

Clearly this was a trick of the eyes.. but that laugh that echoes throughout the basement was evident. It -was- a person. Quite possibly a living apparatus of something that -should- not be!

The most horrid thing, the thing that she'd bear witness to, are bones. Bones that pile high to the middle of the room, femurs, tibulas, skulls. Planted in supplication, all tied or quite possibly glued the spear that remained upon the middle of the room.

And atop of that spear?

Holly Dancer. Who's face remained plush, plump and eyes stitched with buttons. Her lips were painted red, but a criss-cross of black matted her lips shut. She had no ears. And the hair upon her head obviously did not match those upon her brow..

But the bag of bones had a beautiful crown..



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