1964-07-11 - Mixed Luck
Summary: Harper gets caught trying to sneak into Head Security…and comes out with a job.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
harper talia-al-ghul 


It's the middle of the night. Those odd hours when night and morning intermingle, and no one in their right minds, even the most dedicated of workers, is in the office. Even the security guards start to drift off, as the radio broadcasts turn to static, only a few stations still playing anything. It's the best time for Harper to work.

Building a reputation in a business where the best reputation is to remain unknown is a tricky thing. Doubly so when you're trying to stay under the radar of the people who trained you in the first place. So while Harper tries to be cautious, she can't always be too picky about the jobs she takes. Usually as picky as she gets is making sure that she's not hitting good people.

When Head Securities won the bid for a lucrative contract with one of the local banks, their competition wanted to know just how they secured the contract. They just didn't want to get caught looking into it themselves. Which is why they hired Harper.

Plenty of people would prefer to go in through the roof, but Harper's chosen the basement. So many tunnels in New York City, so many places to disappear. Of course, when disappearing is your talent…She's slipped into invisibility at the moment, padding quietly along the perimeter of a hallway.


And Harper might have gotten away with it if the basement was empty, but it wasn't. Talia comes down here to practice, truly practice, in the late nights when her people won't ask questions or look too hard. Where she can violently release on concrete, dummies and more without holding back. Pushing herself every extra inch quicker, losing herself to the passion and spirit of the fight. Not holding a single thing back. She's practically on fire with it tonight, so deep into the patterns of training she used to do when it was life or death under her father's direction. Only now, she's alone.

Or not. The woman stops abruptly in her tracks, hearing just slightly better than that of a human catching the fact that something is *off* in the hallway. It's not so much a sound, but the difference of wind. The absense of sound. A body is there and no one should be. Silent as the night, Talia shifts to the edge of her training room and hugs the corner, peering into the darkness of the hall without, hopefully, revealing herself yet. Just watching.


Harper steps through the darkness without the caution that comes from being unable to see. She has no need for vision; the heat of bodies serves just as well. And Talia, thanks to her practice, shows up vividly in the infrared spectrum. The young woman goes still, a breath held as she tries not to give herself away. But then, just how long can she hold it?


While Talia doesn't have infrared vision, she has that just deep sense and knowledge of the place around. It takes just a few more steps for her to pinpoint Harper in the darkness and, almost a split second later, there is a blade to her throat. Granted, Harper can jerk away, start a fight, do as she pleases, but Talia isn't striking deep yet. SHe's just holding that blade poised and in a place to threaten without harming. Yet. "…What are you doing down here, young one…" Talia's accented voice almost coos those words.


Stealth may be Harper's primary training, but that doesn't mean she doesn't know how to fight. Or how to fight smart. As Talia closes in on her, she lets out that held breath, sacrificing it in favor of speed. One hand snaps out to slap the knife away from her throat, while at the same moment, there's a blinding flash of light in the hallway. When it fades, it looks as though there are three women standing there…three short, sharp-featured red-heads in black fatigues with dark paint on their faces to try to disguise those features.

And in the moment of distraction the illusions may grant her, Harper slowly tries to back down the hallway.


It takes Talia a moment or two, Harper can get further away from her. The illusions are enough to make her pause, reevaluate, listen for more context clues and sounds that should be there and aren't. But just a handful of seconds, before the tall, olive skinned woman is dashing down the hall after Harper and not being gentle this time. There is no option to let her get away, but Talia is also intrigued enough to not just kill her straight out. She leaps, going for the woman's back, the intention being to take her down to the ground and pin arms as she does it. If she can at least get her off of her feet, she'll worry about the disabling later on. "You are very talented…" She breathlessly murmurs.


Slow is definitely not the answer here. Dammit. And yet, Harper stays carefully quiet, at least as much as she can before turning to take off down the hall. She's faster than she ought to be - faster than most people, if not superhumanly so. It's enough to buy her just a moment so that Talia catches her heel instead of her back. It brings her down all the same, but it brings her down kicking, and kicking hard. Again, harder than a foot that small should kick. There's a grunt that escapes her this time, but there's something even stranger still: the moment Talia touches the young woman, the whole world goes dark, as if she'd been blinded.


Well, that was inconvenient. Of course, blind fighting was something Ra's trained his daughter in from before she was even a teenager. Masks, smoke bombs, pitch darkness, it's how she's learned to rely upon her other senses so much more already. How she was able to hear or detect Harper at all among those illusions. So, while it means she doesn't see that kick coming and the cracking of her nose can be heard, blood splattering into the hallway below her, Talia *doesn't let go*. She holds on for dear life, trying to drag the woman closer to her while she pins that leg beneath her, twisting into as uncomfortable a position as possible. She still hasn't actually used that blade on her. It might be considered an act of mercy.


The blindness is a double-edged sword. While it means that Talia can't see, it also means Talia can't see any further distracting illusions Harper might try to throw at her to distract her from the fight. Elbows and knees fly, though there's a cracking sound that suggests either something has dislocated, or it's going to hurt very much the next day. But the girl isn't giving up easy. A last ditch effort, there's a sudden explosion of sound and heat right next to Talia's ear. There would be a blinding flash of light to go with it…if she could see.


The struggle is real. They are about evenly matched — Talia has years of experience on Harper and a bit of super something or other in her genetics, but Harper is younger, more actually gifted, and scared. So it's a struggle. Blood spills, joints crack and pop, at least once someone's head hits the ground hard enough to crack, but Talia keeps fighting. She winces against the sound of heat and light, but doesn't let go. If anything, that tells her she's going to run out of time, especially with her hearing quite so boxed now. So, she goes with what she knows. Bodies and joints. No more playing nice.

Abruptly, Talia's pulling Harper INTO her, using the girl's weight and momentum against her, and then spilling over top of her with one arm twisted behind her back. Hard pinned enough that if Talia moves forward, she will entirely dislocate the girl's arm. She leans over, breathing hard, some of her blood dripping from broken nose onto the girl's face. "I could have killed you. I did not. You have broken into my building. Explain. Yourself. You are the intruder here, young one…"


Harper pants, still silent, still unseen, still holding Talia in the dark of blindness even as she's locked into place herself. "Corporate. Espionage," she finally pants out, giving herself just a moment not to struggle, even if Talia can feel the tension in her muscles, held tight for the opportunity to make a break.


While Talia doesn't DARE let go, a little, bloodied laugh escapes her lips. She leans against the woman, a bit deeper, threatning to pop that joint without actually doing it. "Corporate… Espionage? Oh, my dear young lady… how deep you have gotten yourself." Talia shakes her head slightly, trying to blink, to clear her eyes, not to panic in worry about how permanent this blindness might be. "We could talk spy games and whom you really wish to work with… but I'd very much like my vision back first. A trick of yours, I trust?"


Harper grits her teeth against the push on her arm, but something is already giving a little bit too easily - perhaps that was the popping from earlier. One knee starts to push up, less in a conscious attempt to fight and more as a reflex against that added pressure. She's silent for another long moment, nothing but breathing, before the darkness fades from Talia's eyes, vision restored…along with a view of the young woman she's trapped. (Presumably, at least.) It looks like the girl from the earlier illusions, a sharp-featured young redhead with fair skin and a spray of freckles across her nose.


A faint breath of relief escapes Talia's lips, the first crack in her armor, showing that the blindness had scared her. SHe had worried it was permanent, not irreversable, but clearly she was wrong. Wide, dark eyes blink down into the freckled redhead's face and she lets up the pressure on that arm JUST enough that she doesn't completely break it yet. She wouldn't want this new, fascinating woman damaged. Her nose still drips blood, but it doesn't seem to bother her. "…And why corporate espionage? If it's the money, I promise you I can pay more. If it's the morals… well, darling, you're probably on the wrong side already."


"Little bit of both," Harper pants, an odd hitch to her voice. It's a flatness, the sort of affected lack of accent that comes from someone trying very hard not to betray an actual accent. Her shoulder already sits at an awkward angle, a dead giveaway that it was dislocated in the fight. "Someone wants to know how your firm picked up the National Bank contract. I guess they didn't think you'd tell them if they just wrote you a letter."


The woman looks down, gaze crossing over that shoulder and realizing it's already too late, she's just worsening the damage. Something in Talia softens then. A flicker of a moment. Care. She tries to wrap it back up, but there is still some heart under the surface. Weakness, but truth. She finally lets go, standing up abruptly, ready to attack again if she needs but hopefully she doesn't. She offers her hand opposite the woman's good arm to try and help her off the ground. "No, no…I wouldn't. But I can offer you better paying work… and someone who doesn't resort to vigilantes to conduct proper business."


Harper stays where she is for a long moment, watching Talia closely. Care or concern for her injuries isn't exactly something she's seen much of in the last several years. And any time she has it's been a ruse for something. But lying on the ground and hurting isn't going to get her anywhere either. Finally she reaches up to take the offered hand, pulling herself up in a smooth motion as she cradles her other arm close against her body. "I appreciate the offer - especially the part where you're not stabbing me - but I'm really not much for…paying taxes."


"…International consultant. I can put you under the multinational branch. No one knows where that money goes anyway…" Talia murmurs casually, looking half insane with the blood leaking down her face, dark hair in sweat dampened locks all around her cheeks, expression still beautiful and oddly exotic. She could be the cover model on a magazine if she weren't covered in all that blood. "…I am Talia Head. And you are?"


Harper takes a few deep breaths, eyeing Talia for a moment before walking slowly over toward the corner of the hallway, body angled to make it clear that she intends to set her shoulder against it. She braces herself for a moment, eyes closing, then pushes hard to pop the joint back into place. For just a split second, at the worst of the pain, the image of her flickers from the redhead, too fast to really see anything.

"Lux," she answers as she turns back to Talia, still cradling her arm against her body.


A slightly deeper smirk crosses Talia's lips, "I'd bet my fortune that Lux isn't really your name, but… that's not of importance right now. Right now, we have a few options… You have seen nothing. I'll patch the way you got in and handle my security. It won't happen again. You can disappear into the night and take whatever lessons with you. Or… you can take a business opportunity. And… a training opportunity. You fight well. Probably better than anyone I've met in this damned city so far. You could be better. You rely on tricks a bit too much… tricks are easy. What if you had all your tricks and all my skill?…Ah, but you would have to trust me for that…" BUt the offer is being dangled in the air.


"Tricks are smart," Harper corrects, pushing her hair away from her face. "Sometimes it's better to fight smarter than harder." She takes a few steps back, brows furrowing curiously as she watches the other woman. "What's the catch?" she asks. She's not running yet, even if it's clear she knows she probably ought to.


"Yes, they are smart… but they won't always save your life. You always need a back up just as effective as your tricks." Talia finally reaches up, using her bare arm to wash the blood from her nose and wipe most of it off of her face. The bleeding had slowed to nothing but a trickle now, even if the nose would need reset. "ANd the catch is you'll test every inch and system in this building for security so this incident doesn't happen again… and, if I find you betrayed me to another company, I'll kill you. You can work elsewhere. You just don't tell them what happens here. And I train you."


Harper seems oddly unsurprised by the threat of death, as if she's heard the same before and lived to tell of it. But the rest of it? The rest sounds interesting. "And once your business here is secure, you put the word out that my skills are ideal for just those sorts of services," she says slowly, her own careful counter-offer. "Your secrets are yours, but I won't promise exclusivity."


The dark haired woman's head ticks just a bit to the side, considering that negotiation and then giving a slow nod, "That…that I can do. I might even have one or two people in the city to introduce you to already, as long as your services prove true." Talia cracks a happy, wine dark smile across her full mouth, almost looking genuinely excited over this. It's been a while since she had a friend who was also a challenge. "I'd offer to start you tonight, but that shoulder should rest."


Harper nods once, stepping forward to offer over her good hand. "It should," she agrees. Outside the rush of the fight, her hand doesn't quite match the image she's put on - stronger, less delicate. The facade she wears is just that: a facade. "I'll show you where I came in."


"Thanks. Then you can show yourself out and come through the front door tomorrow. I'll be expecting you." Talia echoes after the girl. She then pad after her down the hallway, her motions silent as death, shocking for a woman who seemingly has no actual tricks up her sleeve. SHe's just very, very good. Trained terrifyingly well. And the CEO? There was probably more hiding here than some back room stock deals.


The mystery of it is no small part of why Harper has accepted the offer. Once you know there's a mystery, once there's a clear uncertainty, how do you just leave it in your rearview where it can come back and haunt you at any time? She glances over her shoulder, confirming that Talia is following, and moves down the hallways with certain steps. It looks like she knows exactly where she's going, which means somehow she had blueprints to study beforehand. Eventually, she reaches a storage room, moving a shelf of paper products out of the way to reveal an old steel door.


And off Talia follows, easily winding through halls she knows so well. Her brows arch as she sees the steel door and there is a slight grit to her jaw. "…this… was not in the building plans. No wonder it's not secured. Someone left a security hole, probably on purpose…" There is flint and anger behind Talia's voice as she says that, but she takes a moment to breathe through and shake it off. "Thank you, Ms. Lux… I will have this taken care of. I am now curious what other holes you will find. I am tempted to call you my little mouse." Talia winks at the girl. "But, off you go, little mouse. I shall see you come morning…"


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