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  1. #1
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    A Very Gothic Cinderella

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    I have had an anonymous request to re-post the earlier Midwinter stories that were posted on the old boards, so, without further ado, Olivia’s first appearance….


    A Very Gothic Cinderella

    Or - The little glass slipper


    Part 1

    MONDAY NIGHT

    “We all wear masks sometimes, Madame. Even you.” said the actor playing Percy Blakney.

    The girl looked for the remote to turn off the TV; it was getting late, time to get ready.

    She searched through her cloths scattered on the floor. She wasn’t particularly tidy; she got enough of that at work. Laundry was never at the top of her ‘to do’ list and things lay strewn about everywhere. The maps and blueprints were still on the desk, but those she planned to get rid of very soon. There was no point risking them becoming exhibits ‘a’ through ‘g’ at a trial.

    She found the remote underneath the bland dark green cleaning uniform and clicked off the television, even though she almost wanted to keep watching. She loved The Scarlet Pimpernel. A&E had done a good job with it, but she had never seen any version, on stage or on film, that had been half as good as the book. Idly she reflected what she liked best was that the main character was so sneaky.

    And he never got caught.

    She didn’t plan on getting caught either. Not that she was about to go and rescue people from the clutches of Mademoiselle Guillotine or any other instrument of death. Oh no, she had something much more elegant and glamorous in mind. It would be enchanting, and perhaps even a bit legendary, if she succeeded. If.

    As she got ready for what she hoped to the first of several escapades she glanced down on the items that had spilled out from her purse after throwing it down after getting home from work. There was security tag with her picture facing up on it. ‘Olivia Midwinter’ said the nametag. Almost every day she wore the tag, not that anyone questioned a girl with a mop and vacuum cleaner in that awful dark green cleaners uniform.

    She grinned too herself. Pretty soon, she thought, security systems were going to be tightened, since that was the knee-jerk reaction to a robbery. Lock the barn door after the horse has left - or been absconded.

    Robbery. She, Olivia Grace Midwinter, was about to cross the line over to breaking and entering, larceny, possession of stolen goods, and possibly destruction of property. It’s gonna be great, she thought.

    As she got dressed she scornfully thought of others with their costumes, gags, and gimmicks. Honestly, did they want to get caught? Probably, most of them were insane. Well, she wasn’t insane and didn’t want to get caught, and (hopefully) wouldn’t. When everything she needed was in the inconspicuous shopping bag she calmly went downstairs and onto the street, just another pedestrian, hoping her face didn’t reveal she felt like her stomach was full of butterflies. She wondered if grandpapa had ever got nervous before doing a ‘job’. Then she reminded herself of the old saying; fear is a good thing, it means you’re paying attention.

    *******************

    When she got to the jewelry store it was already fast approaching the witching hour. Causally she went into the restaurant next door and used the public rest room. On the end stall she taped an ‘Out of Order’ sign on the door. Inside she pulled off her long brown skirt and gray sweater and stuffed them in the bag. Underneath she was wearing a skintight catsuit she had dyed herself. It was a blend of mostly grays and blacks, among other colors. ‘City camouflage’, she called it. For she had realized the nights were not pure jet-black, but rather an endless medley of shifting colors. Over the catsuit that fit her like a second skin she already had the dark sleeveless vest jacket on that had been her father’s. The vest had pockets practically all over it, and in each she had already stashed what many referred to as the ‘tools of the trade,’ most of them inherited from her grandfather.

    Over her feet and most of her calves were the tall black boots that had once been her mother’s. As a little girl she had clomped about in them, so small was she then that they practically came to her waist. ‘It’s Puss in Boots!’ her mother would exclaim delightedly. ‘How can I help you marquis?’ Olivia would pip back, pronouncing the foreign word ‘more-key’. Now they fit perfectly, for she had the same feet as her mother, petite and dainty. On her hands she pulled on a pair of black leather gloves that came past her wrists.

    Next she wrapped her hair around her head. She had already put her long, dark blond, slightly curly hair in a braid before she had left. Now she pinned it in place and completely covered it with a dark gray wool cap so that not a strand was visible. More like little Furball, she thought to herself, then that other d.i.d.

    For the final touch, the face, Olivia opened the old face cream jar and began to apply the special mixture she’d made. The main ingredients were ashes and charcoal, mixed with some oils and creams, with a touch of walnut juice, to make a dark paste. When she was satisfied that not a square inch of skin was showing she left the bag in the stall and crept out the bathroom window.

    ‘Catwoman, eat your heart out’, she thought.

    *******************

    Later, back in pedestrian mode, as she walked up the steps (the elevator had broken several months ago and never been fixed) she wanted to laugh out loud. Grandpapa would have been most proud. A successful crime completed! ‘One down, five to go,’ she thought as she twirled the ring around her finger. It was going to be a wonderful week, ending with what was surly going to be a night to remember, if all went as planned.

    She admired the blue and clear stones in the hallway light. ‘Absolutely wonderful’, she thought.

    Back inside the apartment she saw on the news she’d lucked out big time in that the Bat crew and GPD had been tied up all night with one of Joker’s escapades. No one even knew the ring was gone yet. ‘Just wait’, she thought contentedly, ‘just wait’.
    >^_^<

    Panther

  2. #2
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    Part 2

    TUESDAY EVENING

    Bruce was reading the evening edition of The Gothom Times in its entirety. He tried to read papers and watch the news as often as possible to try and stay one step ahead of things, or at least keep up with the world. One article in particular caught his eye:

    Gothom Jewelers reported this morning a sapphire and diamond ring worth 30,000 dollars was stolen sometime last night. The break-in had been well carried out as none of the alarms had been set off. It was the only item found to have been stolen, and in its place in the showcase a crystal thimble sized shoe had been placed. As of yet the police have no suspects or leads.

    Was Selina back in town? he mused. A silent operation like that was her style, but not the removal of only a single item. She had never been discriminatory when it came to rocks, and never been known to leave something behind, least of all a shoe. He doubted it was any of ‘The Regulars,’ as Batgirl had once jokingly referred to the inmates of Arkham; they all tended to leave their tracks all over the place, and usually demanded an audience. He sighed; it must have been either a petty crook that got scared off before taking anything more … or someone new in town. This I don’t need, he thought.

    *******************

    Nightwing and Robin were on patrol that night when Nightwing spotted something suspicious in an alleyway below them. A dark figure had entered one of the stores bordering the alley, and not through the front door.


    They followed the midnight shopper in. “I don’t think those belong to you,” commented Nightwing as he saw the person carefully lift a pair of emerald earrings.

    “I was wondering when you guys were going to show up.” Close up and from the soprano voice it was easy to see that the camouflaged person was female. She placed the earrings in one of her many pockets and before ether vigilante could react she performed a tuck, roll, dive and run maneuver that left both of them snapping their heads around to see which way she’d gone.

    Fifteen minutes later even Nightwing had to admit the thief was well and truly gone, as well as the 25,000 dollar earrings. Robin was about to leave the store when he saw something. He stooped to pick it up.

    “Well?” asked Nightwing, coming around the corner.

    “She’s gone.”

    “Any chance of finding her again?” he demanded sharply.

    “Well, she left something behind.”

    “What?”

    Robin opened his gloved hand. In his palm was a tiny crystal … shoe.

    Either ominously or ironically, Nightwing couldn’t decide which, the clock began to chime midnight.
    >^_^<

    Panther

  3. #3
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    Part 3

    WEDNESDAY MORNING

    That morning Summer Gleason reported on the robbery, “…The thief evaded captured by the dark knights. She is being linked to the robbery the other night due to the fact small charm sized glass slippers were found at both crime scenes and both involved valuable jewelry. This ‘Cinderella’ has not yet been identified and-”

    Olivia clicked off the television. Hook, line and sinker, she thought cheerfully.

    *******************

    WEDNESDAY NIGHT

    She went through what was rapidly becoming a routine that night. Putting into practice the theories she had literally learned at her grandfather’s knee was also getting easier. Unfortunately, for her, the dark knights also were faster. However, she was ready for them.

    They caught her just as she had just picked the lock to the case that had housed the silver necklace with the large ruby pendent. Robin, Nightwing, and Batgirl didn’t announce their presence; instead they circled her and came up from behind as she bent over the glass case in the act of putting down the slipper.

    Nightwing was about to clasp a pair of handcuffs on her when she suddenly turned around and blew a handful of some sort of powder into their faces. Instantly they were all suffering from a paroxysm of sneezes.

    “Pepper!” Nightwing managed to choke out between sneezes. They all doubled over, their windpipes desperately trying to get rid of the irritant particles.

    *******************

    Valued at one hundred eighty thousand dollars, Olivia was sure as she unclasped the necklace back at home that she would never have a richer neck than that.

    The problem with most criminals, she thought, was they didn’t plan enough, or have their goals set down. She chuckled as she realized she was practically sprouting health class claptrap. She glanced at the old ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ cartoon she’d clipped out and put on the fridge. In it Hobbes philosophically advised Calvin, when his friend complained about homework: ‘Until you stalk and overrun/ you can’t devour anyone.’ It was rather like her grandfather’s motto: ‘Think it through’. Every time she had visited him in the nursing home she had seen those words on the plaque he had nailed on the wall despite hospital regulations.

    She carefully placed her latest ‘acquisition’ in the safe hiding spot where she had put the others – the last place anyone would look – her jewelry box.

    If grandpapa were here, she thought, he’d probably approve but give me ‘the speech’. The speech was something she’d heard so many times she knew it by heart. It was practically his whole life story filled with anecdotes about people all probably dead at that point, and it always ended with the refrain ‘…and once you start, you can’t stop. Be careful what you choose Olivia. Remember, it’s in your blood. Also, one mistake is all it takes. And always, always-’ ‘-think it through!’ she’d often finish for him, and the two would laugh and eat candy cigars (and Grandpapa would hide the real ones Olivia had smuggled in to him with the candy ones) until the nurse came to shoo her away.

    *******************

    “It was weird, she didn’t take anything else, even though she had plenty of opportunity to.” Robin spoke; all four of them were reassembled much later that evening in the bat cave.

    “Yeah, she pulled that old pepper trick,” said Nightwing in a grudgingly respectful voice.

    “Oh?” asked Batman.

    “Uh huh, the oldest one the book.” Nightwing rubbed his nose, “Make the opponent so occupied with their own face they can’t follow you as you calmly walk out.”

    “Finished,” said Batgirl from the computer with a resigned sigh. “I crossed checked and doubled checked just about everything I could think of. There’s absolutely no connection between the jewelry, the stores, the storeowners, the employees, the frequent customers, the recent customers, the former jewelry owners, the metalworkers, the jewel cutters, the mines or the mine owners. The ring, necklace, and earrings are all valuable items, but none were the most valuable in the stores – but there’s no chance of any containing kryptonite, magical properties or anything else in that line. Fairly well known items, but not famous. They’re all just…” Batgirl hesitated before voicing her opinion, “…well – pretty.”

    “What about the crystal shoes?”

    “They’re all exactly the same, and because of the small eye hocks on them, its logical they all came off the same charm bracelet. But I couldn’t find a bracelet like that anywhere. Due to the quality of the shoes, this isn’t some cheap thing you get at the mall either. Probably old.”

    “So what your saying is basically it’s just another dead end?”

    “Yeah.”

    Batman was worried. Normally he’d say this Cinderella girl was just another crook, of the same garden variety he dealt with everyday, but he was nervous for several reasons.

    (1) There wasn’t a whisper anywhere on the streets of someone trying to fence what had been stolen.

    (2) She seemed to be definitely trying [and succeeding] at making a name for herself; that was the attitude people had when they wanted to settle in the underworld of crime.

    (3) And most perturbing of all, she hadn’t been caught yet.

    She was good. She had the patience and the brains to plan. That meant she was dangerous. But Batman wanted to know why. It wasn’t for the money, that’s for sure; if so she’d have taken lots more by now. It seemed he could only wait. He’d bet the batcar they hadn’t seen the last of her.
    Last edited by Panther; 03-17-2003 at 09:57 AM.
    >^_^<

    Panther

  4. #4
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    Part 4


    THURSDAY EVENING

    That night before going out Nightwing put a small tranquillizer gun in his utility belt. She wasn’t the only one who can play tricks, he thought, his pride rather wounded. “Tonight Cinderella is going to be Sleeping Beauty,” he proclaimed confidently.

    As midnight approached Nightwing prowled the jewelry section of town, crisscrossing back and forth over the stores again and again. He had already stopped two carjackings, a mugging, and three vandalisms when he saw the familiar shrouded figure.

    Inside the store Cinderella had targeted a diamond tiara. Ah, she thought with a grin, the crowning triumphant, and she lifted the tiara up.

    ********************

    Batgirl came in to find Nightwing unconscious on the floor, his own tranquillizer gun next to him, empty, and a small glass slipper on the pillow where the tiara had rested.

    “Nice going, idiot,” she said giving him a nudge with her boot. He groaned and slowly sat up, blinking his eyes. He looked up and saw Batgirl. “Hoist on your own petards?” she asked mock solicitously.

    “I hope Cinderella’s step-sisters beat her,” he grumbled.

    ********************

    After she had put away the jewelry she surveyed the slippers left on the bracelet as if contemplating an art exhibit. The bracelet had been her mother’s. Her mother had given it to her after she had told her the fairy tale of the twelve dancing princesses; the story of twelve princesses who mysteriously wear out their shoes every night despite being locked in their communal bedroom and the one brave lad who discovers why, frees them all from a curse, and wins the hand of the youngest princess. There had been a shoe for each. Now there were eight left. She wondered what she’d do with the rest when she was finished, since she wouldn’t need all of them.
    >^_^<

    Panther

  5. #5
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    Part 5

    FRIDAY MORNING

    Summer Gleason went on about what was now rated the top news story of the day; “Once again police report another robbery by the person becoming widely known as the ‘Cinderella Thief.’” The reporter paused to smile, showing off every one of her perfect white teeth. “The police have only been able to identify her as an 18 to 25 year old woman, of 5’5” or thereabouts stature. Nothing else can be discerned about her due to her attire.” The screen showed a slightly fuzzy black and white picture of ‘Cinderella’ caught on a security camera.

    “This time the item was a diamond tiara valued at 250,000 dollars.” The screen changed to a file picture of the tiara. “And once again,” she went on, “a tiny glass slipper was found in the place of the stolen article. Police suspect she will strike again and warn the jewelry district to toughen security.”

    Olivia turned off the TV and burst out laughing.

    *******************

    “Hey Olive Oil!” It was John Norton, one of the security guards at the Gothom Historical Museum. Since Olivia saw him every morning as she came into work they had quickly gotten to a first name basis. This was his standard greeting to her, which she thought was kinda cute, in a grandfatherly sort of way.

    “Hey Johnny, how are ya?” she called back.

    “’Can’t complain. And yourself?

    “’Fine as kind.” She assured him with a smile.

    “Hey, how about that new robber – Cinderella?” he asked nodding at the tiny television screen.

    “Yeah, sounds like another weirdo to me,” said Olivia, setting up her mop and bucket.

    “I donnno, I mean, she hasn’t got caught, that’s a new one for those weirdoes.” He sounded puzzled as he took a sip from his coffee.

    Olivia struggled to keep a straight face. “Mm hmm – where do you think she’ll strike next?”

    He shrugged. “Don’t look at me.” Now Olivia really struggled to keep a straight face.

    *******************

    As the clocks approached noon that day it may have been lunchtime for most, but there was still some work for her. She casually finished mopping the special exhibition hall and placed a ‘Caution: Wet Floor’ sign in the doorway. She paused in front of the showcases where the dresses hung on the mannequins. ‘…a dress for Cinderelly…’, she thought with a hum and a giggle.

    *******************

    In the evening edition of the Gothom Times that night Olivia read:

    The ‘Cinderella thief’ has struck again, but has taken a sharp divergent from her pattern. The target this time was not jewels but a valuable period costume from the Gothom Historical Museum. And rather than at midnight, the item was taken at noon, but still the token glass slipper was found in the exhibition case where the dress had been. The break-in occurred while most employees were on a lunch break. The dress was a French Renaissance style, from the Royal Dress Collection, valued at almost five hundred thousand dollars.

    She placed the latest clipping in her scrapbook. And now, she thought, for the final touch, and everything would be in place.
    >^_^<

    Panther

  6. #6
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    Part 6


    SATURDAY EVENING

    Nightwing finished reading yet another article on that little miss Cinderella and angrily crumpled up the newspaper. It seemed almost inconceivable to him that a little-snot-nosed-petty-thief-chit-of-a-girl was getting away with all this. He and Barbara were in his loft.

    “So, it appears there's just one thing left.” Barbara said nonchalantly into the uneasy silence.

    “What?”

    Barbara mentally noted before answering that both Bruce and Dick had the same mannerism of lifting one eyebrow when curious. “All Cinderella needs is a pair of shoes and she’ll have a complete outfit for the ball.”

    “Ball? You don’t think…”

    “Veronica Vreeland’s Masked Charity Ball? Why not? It actually makes a lot of sense.”

    “Don’t tell me there’s an actual pair of glass shoes in this town?”

    “No, *but* the designer quarter of town is having a special fashion convention featuring some of the latest styles by the most well known designers including Channel and LL. See,” she handed him pamphlet, “it was part of today’s junk mail.” The pamphlet listed designers and gave blurbs and pictures of what would be featured, such as special exhibits of custom made items, including specially crafted shoes....

    *******************

    At that very moment ‘Cinderella’ was admiring the last two items. The shoes were gorgeous and even in the dark the various diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires they were studded with sparkled. Her careful research had shown a midnight run would have been impossible, but she had no problems lifting them earlier. All that mattered was she get them, and leave another slipper behind.

    As she placed the shoes with the dress in her closet ‘Cinderella’ mused to herself how she could rationalize her actions. She couldn’t really, but she had her reasons, and she wasn’t like other felons out there; she had a plan. She had heard about this masked charity ball thing a while back. The more she had thought about it the more she had wanted to go. It sounded like it could be something from the fairy tales her mother had read to her oh so very long ago. Her first thought had been ‘Girl, fuhgetaboutit.’ But then the germ of an idea refused to go away, and blossomed into the Master Plan.

    The first barrier had been a ticket. Obviously she couldn’t afford the extravagant price for the fundraiser, and she didn’t want to sneak in. She wanted to make an entrance, and she did have a friend who could forge ID’s and other paper items. For a price he could do the ticket.

    Also, to make an entrance she needed an outfit. Not just any outfit, something fit for a princess. And then she heard about the Royal Dress Collection coming to the museum… Her mind became set, and after much careful planning, she was ready for her ‘shopping spree’. She had quite enjoyed herself as she selected which jewels would best accentuate the dress. She now glanced around the apartment; everything was green-for-go for Sunday.

    *******************

    “Well?” asked Nightwing, impatient for whatever information Bruce seemed to be almost ready to divulge to the rest of them. Soon after he and Barbara had reached the fashion convention only to find they were too late, Bruce had radioed for them to come back to tell them something.

    “I’ve been examining her technique.” Batman sat at the bat computer, in his ‘detective mode’. They all knew ‘her’ meant ‘Cinderella’. “Its refined, not something a person new to crime would use. Everything except for the trademark shoe is borrowed from someone else. It took me a while to remember who it was, because I never actually dealt with him. He was long before my time.”

    “’Care to fill us in on the matter?”

    A few taps on the keyboard and a file came onto the screen of the bat computer. “Oliver Midwinter, a thief from post-World War Two Europe, mainly Paris. He was so incredibly adapt at his... ‘trade’ that the Parisian newspapers dubbed him Le Chat. Catwoman could have taken pointers from him.”

    “And you think ‘Cinderella’ is a copycat of the Cat?”

    Batman didn’t answer straight out, he flicked his eyes, unnecessarily, over the file again, and said, “He had a son, Alan. Alan and his wife, Lydia, died fifteen years ago in an earthquake. Oliver raised their child until he was forced to go into a nursing home.”

    “Can this cat guy be questioned?” asked Robin tentatively.

    Batman sighed, “He died three years ago. His grandchild’s name is Olivia; she lives here in Gothom.”

    “So just send the police to her address and have her arrested,” said Nightwing impatiently

    “On what charge? With what evidence? And what proof?” asked Batman dryly. Nightwing opened his mouth, closed it in the face of logic, and settled for just glaring. “Face it, there’s not a judge in the world who’s going to sign a warrant either for a search or an arrest based on the fact a thief is using techniques that may resemble this girl’s grandfather’s.”

    “How did the police finally catch him then, if he was so good?” asked Nightwing.

    “He attempted to rob a rich American tourist living in Paris and was caught when the man retuned home earlier than the Cat had anticipated. He would have already been long gone anyway, but the liqueur cabinet had been left unlocked and a cigar box left out. He couldn’t resist. Like the hare from the fable, he stopped to toast his success before it had been won.”

    “So what can we do?” asked Robin.

    “Catch her before the clock strikes midnight at the ball of course,” said Batgirl and proceeded to explain her reasoning to Batman and Robin she had earlier to Nightwing.

    “Oh, Alfred,” Batman said later as the faithful old butler came down bearing a tea tray, “it looks like Bruce Wayne will be attending that charity ball function after all.” Only this morning he had been asking Alfred to help him think of an excuse to getting out of it.

    “Very good sir. And may I inquire what you will be dressed as?”
    >^_^<

    Panther

  7. #7
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    Part 7


    SUNDAY

    Dick and Barbara walked into the ballroom arm in arm. They made a splendid couple. The theme of the night was mainly ‘gothic’, and they fit in perfect with most of the crowd, many of whose costumes had been made by the same designers Nightwing and Batgirl had been trying to help out last night. The two of them could have stepped out of an early Gutenberg edition illustrated bible. Barbara was a white robed angel with gild tipped wings and a halo, and would have looked very angelic, except her grin seemed to spoil the innocent affect.

    Dick was decked out in a motley red and black outfit, with a velvet black cape and matching cap. He had applied a shifty looking black moustache and goatee along with the customary horns - an absolute devil. All he was missing was a piece of parchment stating: ‘Faust, sign on dotted line’.

    Tim looked both adorable and sulky in his Robin Hood outfit. ‘I look like Peter Pan,’ he had grumbled earlier to Alfred as the butler had placed the feathered green cap on his reluctant head. ‘And I can’t even bring in a bow and arrows set!’

    Barbara had joked she knew a good place to rent a white horse if Bruce planned on going as the proverbial knight in shining armor. He had been very closed mouth about what he was going to be. It wasn’t until he arrived that the gang found out along with everyone else. His date – Darla, or Denise, or Danielle, or Deborah, or Delilah or whatever the society girl’s name was had come as a typical damsel, dressed in a gauzy pink dress that laced up the front like a sneaker and had one of those hat things that looked like dunce caps with ribbons.

    Dick chuckled softly as Bruce stepped out of the limo. “Perfect,” he murmured to Barbara.

    “It’s soooo him,” she replied.

    He was, down to the last detail, cloak, hat, pipe and all, Sherlock Holmes.

    Veronica Vreeland, sporting honey colored braids almost equal in length to Rapunzel’s, had come as Queen Guinevere, and her latest boyfriend was resplendent as King Author: golden crown, red cloak, and a scabbard. He also wore a yellow wig and beard that completed the whole ensemble perfectly. However, Veronica happily left him (how fitting) to coerce Bruce into a dance.

    “Bruce! I’m so glad you could make it!”

    “Who could resist a party with the perfect hostess residing?” asked Bruce in his social mode. “You’ve done a wonderful job organizing all this, Veronica, I always tend to delegate.” This from a man who routinely insists on doing separate patrols by himself, thought Dick. As Bruce was led onto the dance floor he glanced around and saw some members of the GPD were already there.

    Bullock had come as Henry VIII. “How appropriate,” someone had snickered. Montoya was a court jester (sorry DoE!) which Barbara thought might just have been her elf costume from the Christmas stakeout slightly modified.

    Against his own wishes and after much persuasion by his daughter, Gordon had come as a knight in shining armor. He was wearing a rather pained expression, either from the weight of the armor and chain mail or the fact a large elderly society woman dressed as a peacock refused to relinquish his arm. Bruce recognized several other GPD members, including a beatnik, Merlin and the Gray Ghost.

    As Bruce danced with Veronica he spotted Mrs. Foxx, dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, dancing with the Big Bad Wolf. “Shelia, long time no see. Where’s Luscious?”

    “Right here,” sighed his most trusted and often most harried employee, lifting up the wolf mask. “You have no idea how uncomfortable this thing is.”

    “Bruce,” said Shelia, “you really must save a dance for my daughter,” she pointed her out, dressed in Victorian costume, gossiping with Rames, the sorcerer’s apprentice, Richard III and a Greek goddess.

    “I’m surprised I was able to drag her here tonight. Ever since gradation,” (their daughter had recently gradated from Harvard’s School of Business), “its been nothing but work, work, work. Of course, I barely understand what she says anymore, due to the mix of technical talk and that awful Boston accent she picked up! Every other word out of her mouth either has to do with computers or is ‘wicked something’” Shelia rolled her eyes in exasperation but then eagerly went ion to say, “She’s convinced she’ll have her own company up and running in less than five years. She’s got the name all picked out, too – FoxxTecha. I’d watch out Bruce or you’ll have some fierce competition soon,” she said with a laugh.

    *******************

    “She’ll be here,” Dick said with more confidence than he felt to Tim. He had been watching the entrance closely all evening, but still no sign no of her. Now a musketeer and the Swan Princess came through the double doors followed by The Phantom of the Opera and the goddess Basset and all of them descended down the main staircase.

    And then – there she was. He gasped. It was she, cleaned up and ash free, blatantly wearing nothing but stolen goods. She was a walking illicit dealing pawnshop. She was wearing the stolen dress, and yes, it was her size, and blended in perfectly with the night’s theme. She seemed to glide rather than walk down the stairs. A satisfied smile tugged at her lips due to the number of heads turning in her direction. Who would have thought a thief would dare display her success so obviously? No one they had ever come up against had ever been THIS open, not even Joker or Catwoman, and they were both very flamboyant.

    The necklace, earrings, ring and tiara twinkled as the various jewels and metals caught the light. The dress was floor length but there was no question in his mind what was on her feet. The question was: what would happen at midnight? And he still couldn’t see her face. She wore a fancy mask that somehow managed to cover her whole face yet still show off all her purloined jewels.

    “May I have this dance?” Dick asked. He had no worries about it look like he was abandoning Barbara because Zorro had already escorted her onto the dance floor.

    “Who could resist a dance with zee devil?’ she answered, affecting a French accent just for the heck of it. She mentally reminded herself not to forget it. He gazed down through the eyeholes of her mask and any lingering doubts flew away, the eyes were the same icy blue he’s seen before.

    “Your outfit looks familiar, but I’m not quire sure what you’ve come dressed as.” He said in a questioning voice, deciding on playing cat and mouse with the Cat’s granddaughter.

    She answered, “Cinderella of course.”

    “Well Cinderella, you look lovely,” he said in a slightly patronizing voice.

    “Oh, monsieur, you are too kind, I am just one more fleur in zee garden.” Which was partially true, despite the brief fuss when she had come in, many of the women, such as Cleopatra and Marie Antoinette, were dripping in far more jewels than her, and everyone was decked out in splendid costumes.

    “Tell me Cinderella,” Dick asked conversationally, “what is your real name?”

    “Keep it at that. It ezz much nicer zan my real name.” They moved further away from the crowded center of the dance floor as they bumped into the Lone Ranger and Pocahontas for the third time.

    They danced some more until they heard a: “May I cut in?” It was Bruce. After having done the obligatory social round Bruce finally managed to come over to where their query was.

    “Of course, Sherlock,” said Dick.

    “Thanks, Lucifer,’ said Bruce only slightly sarcastically.

    “It was a pleazzure, Beelzebub,” purred Cinderella mock sweetly before focusing her attention on Bruce.

    As they started to dance he asked, “And you are…?”

    “Cinderella,” she answered, keeping up the French inflection.

    “Like the fairy tale heroine or the recent thief?”

    Olivia laughed, but didn’t answer.

    “I wonder,” Bruce mused, “why do you think she’s going through all that thieving and theatrics?”

    “Perhaps she got fed up with zee cleaning and her fairy godmother never showed up. I’ve been keeping tabs on her. It’s amazing how much she’s gotten away with. All together what she’s stolen is worth approximately 1.3 million dollars. Of course,” she went on, “that price ezz just the retail value; it’d probably be more if it all went at auction. And most likely the value will have increased on all items because of the added anecdote she has given zem. I can hear it now,” she mimicked a Sotheby’s auctioneer voice: “And what will the first bid be on this diamond tiara? Please note, ladies and gentlemen, it was one of the items stolen by the legendary Cinderella thief.”

    Bruce frowned, from her words she sounded like she knew she was going to get caught, and didn’t care. “If she were going for legendary she should have chosen another town,” he pointed out.

    “But where else could I-uh-she have found everything she needed? Gothom is renowned for its jewelry district and designer quarter, not to mention this was where that one of kind dress was located.”

    “What about the city’s reputation for an intolerance for law-breakers?”

    “The thrill of zee chase,” she said with a shrug. Bruce was close to becoming irritated and down right angry at both her audacity and complete lack of either morals or conscience, but there was something so…well, childlike and innocent about her, like a little girl play-acting fairy tales with her mother’s cloths and jewelry. Mentally he sighed, the police and courts would have to deal with her, even she could expect no less after what she had pulled tonight, on top of everything else.

    “Are you aware that the entire jewelers and fashion district are talking of banding together and hunting Cinderella down? They’re quite upset.”

    “I’m sure. It’s awful having your confidence in something broken, as well as your locks. Tsk.”

    “Do you think she’ll slip up as soon as she gets exhausted from this robbery a night pattern?” asked Bruce.

    She said, after seeming to consider her word choice, “You’re right, that would get old real fast; perhaps this week was, well, a getting it out of the system, of sorts.”

    “Not much of an excuse for stealing stuff that doesn’t belong to you,” he pointed out.

    Cinderella remained silent.

    *******************

    Tim made his way to the refreshment table. After squeezing in between Beauty and the Beast and almost tripping over the train of Queen Elizabeth’s dress he found himself feasting his eyes on platters heaped with finger foods. A fierce looking pirate served punch and with his one eye glared at Tim, as if warning him not to pull any funny business.

    *******************

    “Tell me,” Cinderella suddenly asked, “are you une member of zee police or an insurance investigator?”

    “Neither. But I do have a lot invested in this city.” Bruce paused and then said, “You don’t have to do this Olivia,” he said bluntly.

    She briefly startled at the sound of her real name but quickly composed herself and retorted, “You have no idea what I’m doing.”

    A samurai tapped Bruce on the shoulder, and he graciously allowed him to cut in. He planned to observe her from the bar or refreshment table, but was promptly surrounded by a dozen of debutantes and a bevy of beauties, all having recognized him, even though Olivia hadn’t, or at least acted like she hadn’t.

    *******************

    “I’m sorry, I have to be going,” Olivia said several dances and partners later to King Author.

    “Worried your ride is going to turn into a pumpkin?” the young man asked with something that she surmised was supposed to be a smile, but looked like the stereotypical elitist sneer.

    She laughed, “Something like that.”

    *******************

    Bong, it was the first stroke of midnight and Cinderella was nowhere to be seen.

    Bruce signaled to Barbara, who hastily made her apologies to the Saxon she had been dancing with. Dick saw and was forced to abandon the cute Arabian princess he’d been chatting up.

    “Split up,” ordered Bruce, and the three set off in different directions. Alfred had already escorted out Tim earlier for appearances sake, but when Bruce reached the first side exit he found Robin already slipping in amongst the shadows.

    “No one’s come out this way, but I think I saw someone go upstairs, I was about to check it out.”

    “You cover the parking lot, I’ll check out the upstairs,” ordered Sherlock. Robin obediently took off. Bruce ran down the hall and as he ran in and out of shadows up the stairs he pulled off the plaid cloak; underneath was, of course, the bat suit, and he pulled on the black pointy-eared cowl.

    Upstairs one door was slowly closing be it self, as if some had just entered or left. He went in to see he was too late. The room was some sort of trophy room, many antique rifles, stuffed animals and various rewards were on display. The seventh Cinderella slipper had been carefully placed on one of the display pillows.

    This time there was also a note that read: ‘Close, but no cigar. [Signed] Cinderella.’ It had been taped to a now empty cigar box. On a hunch he inspected the liquor cabinet; the cupboard was now bare.

    Batman looked up when he saw a movement from the corner of his eye. A floor length drape was fluttering in a breeze coming though a now open window. Upon looking out the window he saw her exit out of the room had been a la Rapunzel.

    *******************

    Cinderella ran out to where the valets had parked the guests’ cars. “Always know how you’re leaving”, she muttered to herself, yet another piece of sage advice from grandpapa. Her target had been picked out well before hand and the copy of the key she had managed to have made after much planning and some stealing was already in her purse, along with the tools needed for hotwiring, just in case.

    She jumped into the front seat of the corvette. As she was orienting herself and pulling out the key copy she suddenly turned around and dragged Robin, who had just been perched behind her, into the front passenger seat. Borrowing Nightwing’s trick she gave him a sodium penethral injection and then gently set him on the grass beside the lot.

    “Mirror, mirror, my sweet dear/ its so true objects are closer than they appear,” she said to her reflection the review mirror.

    *******************

    The corvette peeled out, burning rubber. Correction, the very-hue-of-pumpkin-orange-corvette peeled out of the parking area.

    Guests who had gathered at the earlier sounds of commotion form Veronica when she found out she had just been robbed now rushed out to see what caused this noise.

    “She stole my car!” exclaimed Cleopatra, fuming and livid at what she clearly took as a personal affront.

    *******************

    Needless to say, there was a wild car chase though the streets of Gothom, but the corvette might as well have turned into a pumpkin because at some point they lost her and couldn’t find her again. Nightwing was the last one to give up the chase.
    >^_^<

    Panther

  8. #8
    Panther's Avatar
    Panther is offline Elizabethan Spy
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    Epilogue


    MONDAY MORNING

    When Gordon came into his office that morning he found the stolen dress draped on his coat rack, the necklace and tiara hanging around the hat spoke, and the ring and earrings in a pocket. The sparkling adornments twinkled in the morning sun as well as the shoes, which lay on the floor at the hem of the gown. An envelope had been pined to the dress. The words ‘To the knight in shining armor’ had been written on the envelope. Inside there was a set of car keys and a handwritten note that read:

    Dear knight in shining armor,

    I believe you may have been looking for these items, my apologies for any inconveniences I may have caused. Would you mind terribly returning these baubles to their rightful owners? They must be worried sick. Do be careful, your coat rack is now worth one million three hundred thousand four hundred sixty dollars. Plus tax.

    I am also most dreadfully sorry about “borrowing” the car. You can have someone pick it up at Gothom Regional Airport. The spare keys are included in the envelope if you need them.

    Sincerely (n/t)

    Cinderella


    P.S.

    Tell Ms. Vreeland her grandfather would be appalled by the lack of attention given to the liquor cabinet – it needs restocking.


    *******************

    “So she didn’t keep anything she stole before last night?” Tim asked Barbara later that night.

    “Note a single rock,” said Barbara shaking her head in disbelief.

    “They had no meaning to her. They were all just part of the costume, and diversion. The main pint of ALL of everything she did was that cup. That was all she wanted. The rest was just showing off,” said Batman.

    “Why?” asked Robin.

    “To annoy us,” said Batgirl, amused.

    “’Sure succeeded,” said Nightwing, not amused.

    “The cup,” continued Batman as if he had not been interrupted, “was what the Cat had failed to steal in Pairs. It was a prize for first place in some hunting competition; due to the fine crystal it’s made of and the precious stones along the rim and base, its not without worth, but I suspect she saw it as more than that. The American who won it and discovered the Cat was Veronica’s grandfather. The ball was a good opportunity to steal it, so she took both opportunity and trophy.”


    *******************

    On a beach a young blond lay on the sand soaking up sun. “Here’s to you, grandpapa,” she said, holding up a cup like the trophy it was and toasted the aquamarine sea.

    As her grandfather had always said:

    Think it through.

    A young man with the typical lifeguard type body walked by. Time to find a prince and live happily ever after, she thought with a wicked grin.


    The End.
    >^_^<

    Panther

  9. #9
    katfairy's Avatar
    katfairy is offline Soprano of Doom
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    Beautiful. I like her attitude.

    And poor Nightwing- he does have a habit of getting doped up when she's around, doesn't he?
    I can smell your spicy brains.

  10. #10
    Phantasm's Avatar
    Phantasm is offline Bittersweet Symphony.
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    LOL!

    A wonderful read. It was just lovely.

    "Don't forget us when you're famous!"


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