"Before the Claws Come Out": With Gotham City in the midst of a long blackout, and a super-storm nearly upon it, Selina Kyle acted against her better judgment, and stayed in the hopes of infiltrating the home of socialite Arett Crocker.
- Bad luck. That's what happens when a black cat crosses your path, right?
- -- Selina Kyle
Appearing in "Before the Claws Come Out"
- Arnett Crocker
- Gotham City
- Archie's Groceries
- Crocker Tower
- Lola's Pawn
Synopsis for "Before the Claws Come Out"
With Gotham City in the midst of a long blackout, and a super-storm nearly upon it, Selina Kyle acted against her better judgment, and stayed in the hopes of infiltrating the home of socialite Arett Crocker.
Earlier that day, she had foolishly allowed her kleptomania to get the better of her in broad daylight, as she stole a bag on the street. The police were quick to give chase, but fortunately, as good as she was at stealing, Selina was also quite good at getting out of trouble. She had hidden in an alley, but when a small black cat's mewing threatened to give away her position, she held her breath hoping that the two cops on her tail wouldn't find her. Eventually, they gave up on their search, allowing her to actually look at her spoils. Unfortunately, she hadn't stolen quite what she'd hoped.
That night, she equipped herself with mountain-climbing gear, which proved to be just effective enough to get her past Crocker's security, and into the building.
As it turned out, the bag had contained that mountain-climbing gear, and Selina's friend and fence Lola was reluctant to give her any money for it - particularly given that nobody would care to buy sporting equipment in the middle of a blackout with a massive storm on the way. What people needed were supplies, and Lola warned that Selina would likely need the same. People had already begun leaving the city. Selina had even heard of people retreating underground to weather the storm. Most stores were boarded and locked down. Though she could steal food from those stores which remained open, Selina couldn't bring herself to do it - particularly not from Mr. Archeluta, who had done much to look after her neighbourhood.
Arnett Crocker, though, was not above that crime. He and some heavies entered the store, roughed up Mr. Archeluta, and stated that they would take all of his supplies for themselves, and he would have to accept what pay they gave him for it. Mr. Archeluta had tried to refuse, but there was nothing he could do. Selina, though, decided to take action, and raked her nails across the face of one of Crocker's thugs. Though he was impressed by her act, he was unhurt, and knocked her to the ground, warning that he would become more violent if she tried something like that again. Crocker emptied the grocery store not because he needed its contents, but because he wanted it, for the largest end-of-the-world party Gotham would ever see. Disgusted, Selina could not stand for it.
Once inside Crocker's building, Selina donned an elegant black dress and sashayed into the party, drawing surprised and salacious stares from the party-goers. Every one of them was a creep, as far as she was concerned. Besides Crocker himself, Selina noticed corrupt businessman Oswald Cobblepot and tantrum-prone actor Basil Karlo among those creeps. Crocker approached her, noting her beauty, but also the fact that he couldn't possibly have invited her - or he would have remembered her. Whispering in his ear, Selina responded that she was not a guest, but a gift. She suggested that they retire to one of his back rooms, where just ten minutes earlier, she had discovered with great displeasure, was where the drunken orgies took place.
As Crocker led her back to the rooms, he was interrupted by the same thug Selina had fought earlier, who warned that the man Crocker was supposed to meet that night had come. As Selina tried to hide her face from the man, Crocker told her to stay put while he attended to that business. Naturally, Selina chose to listen through the keyhole. Through it, she learned that Crocker had got his hands on some of the prototype batteries that the Black Mask gang had stolen from Gotham Wattworks the previous week. He had powered his own building with them, and he intended to sell the remainder. Unfortunately, her eavesdropping did not go unnoticed by the man she had attacked, and he dragged her inside. Without hesitation, Crocker ordered her killed. Smirking, Selina explained that while she had stolen the dress from someone in one of the sex-rooms, she had stolen a bullwhip from one of his other rooms, and she then used it to keep the thug back.
Selina was impressed at just how easily she handled the whip - and how quickly all the bad guys were knocked out when she used it. Satisfied, she took the batteries for herself, and - finding Crocker's safe wide open - helped herself to his valuables. With the batteries, she powered her own city block, helping the rest of her neighbourhood as well as herself. In the mean time, the experience of breaking in to Crocker's building had been exhilarating, and, with practice, she hoped she could become a master thief.
- This book was first published on November 27, 2013.
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