In the Shadow of the Bat Catwoman

In The Shadow of the Bat by Paul Cory; DragonCon 2012 © Paul Cory

Ah, but that particular shadow isn’t the Batman she knows but Azrael-Batman.

There are two significant flashbacks in to that historic (read: awful) moment when Selina met “Pheromones” aka “that thing in the Batman costume” aka AzBat.  In Armchair Detective, Selina relives it almost word-for-word as she races home at the news that Bruce is injured “like some poetic Twilight Zone hell where you’re trapped in the worst night of your life for all eternity.”

“On a catwalk?  My haven’t we changed.”
“And you.  From mere theft to terrorist blackmail…” 

If it wasn’t the worst moment of my life, I’d be hard-pressed to say what was.  That mechanized monstrosity of a costume, everyone assumed he was just overcompensating after the Bane injury.  There was no reason to think it wasn’t still Batman under the mask.  Not until that moment.  Not until he accused me of stealing nerve gas for terrorists.

The other is in Blueprints, when Fate – or perhaps Karma – very kindly reversed that first meeting for her.  Now living at the manor, as at home in the Batcave as Bruce himself, it is she who is lookng down from a catwalk – into the Batmobile hangar where Jean Paul Valley is doing the Bat-clan a favor, picking up a delivery of jet fuel…

She would never forget or completely forgive that first encounter.  She was getting a deadly neurotoxin out of circulation and he accused her of stealing it for terrorists.  The toxin was stored in awkward twenty kilo canisters—not unlike the tanks of jet fuel Jean Paul was unloading now.  Quite like them in fact, and she watched with a cruel, silent cat-smile as he unloaded tank after tank from the van and stacked them in the corner.

He turned finally, feeling the cold, malevolent eyes watching him.  Not a single word was said aloud.  There was no need.  The scene was such a perfect reversal of that first meeting, the words of that night replayed just as distinctly in both their memories: 

“On a Catwalk?  My, haven’t we changed.”
“And you.  From mere theft to terrorist blackmail, or at least an accomplice.”
“That’s not funny.”

It went on.  Silent.  Mocking.  Contemptuous. 

“That’s close enough.”
“You’re right. Close enough to realize you’re not him.” 

Selina gave a scornful half-smile, turned, and left the hangar. 

Pheromones. It was her pet name for Jean Paul Valley, because he lacked them.  He wasn’t good for much in Selina’s view, but this chance meeting did accomplish one thing: it suggested a way to proceed on the other pheromones matter.

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