(2014-05-05) Canary Cries For Silence
Canary Cries For Silence
Summary: Karen Starr's charity event in Gotham's Convention Center is happening. Dinah Lance has done all the arrangements for the flowers. And then bad guys show up to ruin the evening. Heroic shenanigans ensue.
Date: 2014-05-05
Related: Flowers Needed For Event
NPCs: Various mostly nameless NPCs, including the rich and influential, and the criminals
Scene Runner: Power Woman
Social/Plot: Plot

It is the night of the big charity gala, and the Gotham Convention Center is hopping with activity. Caterers are bustling about, preparing food and drinks. Event staff are preparing guide ropes, check-in tables, lists and sound systems. Live musicians are assembling their instruments and warming up. The loading docks at the rear of the convention center are the most active spot of the entire facility right now, although in half an hour or so it is expected that will all change, as the important - and hopefully generous - personages invited to tonight's event will start arriving.

Out on the main floor of the Convention Center, Karen Starr is decked out in her choice of ensemble for the evening, walking the floor to check out all of the decorations and arrangements, while going over her speech, preparing for this evening herself just like everyone else. Her outfit for tonight is a sleek blue women's pantsuit, with a white poplin blouse and a scarlet silk scarf as an accent. Given her natural height, she's making due with simple two inch navy pumps. Her only visible jewelry tonight are tiny gold studs in her ears and a small gold digital-face watch on her left wrist. She is wearing StarrGaze glasses, of course.

Dinah arrived early, of course, with a group of helpers (recruited from a local boxing gym with the promise of pizza) to set out the plants. With everything in place and her help dismissed, the short blonde just lingers in the background to handle any unexpected issues. She mentally reviews the inventory of extras and supplies in the back of the van, looking secure that everything is covered.

For her part, Dinah is dressed up for the event as well. A white sleeveless blouse buttons up to the throat, tucked into black dress slacks that fit tight about the hips before billowing out about the ankles. The heeled boots are polished up, and at a glance would look like a pair of pumps beneath the slacks.

Karen continues her circuit for a minute or two more, bringing herself around to where Dinah stands, looking over the completed effect of all her hard work. "Dinah." she offers, smiling as she reaches out both hands to take those of the shorter blonde. "You were right, of course. The pieces you've chosen are just amazing. This place really looks great, and you take all the credit for this. Thank you." She releases Dinah and turns, standing beside the other woman as they look out across the convention hall space together. "Quite the beautiful jungle out there. Here goes hoping it all has the right effect on our visitors."

Dinah returns the smile, giving Karen's larger hands a light squeeze in response to the praise. "Well the event is all yours, Karen. I merely provided the window-dressing." She looks about as the taller woman turns, offering. "It looks like you've attracted quite the crowd already. I think you're in for a good evening."

Karen smiles and nods. Indeed, as the two women watch, the last of the event staff are starting to make themselves largely scarce, or at least only more subtly present, as the time nears for the attendees to start arriving. Soon the vehicles will start pulling up out front, and valets will be helping folks from their cars, then seeing them parked safely, while other staff check them in and show them their way inside, ushering them to their seats. "I sure hope you're right. I just wanted a chance to thank you for everything you've done to help make this a success." Karen has certainly made a point of expressing her support and appreciation to everyone who has been helping to make tonight come off, and Dinah could be no different.

"I'll have to head out there and start mingling with the guests, soon. I hope you'll stick around a while, maybe enjoy the show and the meal. You certainly deserve it." Karen offers, proud to share this evening with Dinah. She gives the smaller woman a wink, squares her shoulders, and heads out into the crowd. It is her show, after all.

Dinah folds her arms over her chest and grins at the wink, offering. "Thanks, Karen. And good luck tonight." She lets her gaze linger over the sharp outfit before it's back to work. Watching the arrangements as the guests filter in, she's keeping mental track. Nothing damaged, nothing in the way of the paths. Yep. Looks good so far. And now that she looks around, she does have to admit that the greenery looks good.

The event certainly gets started without a hitch. Within forty minutes or so, the convention hall space is filled with glittering notables and business people from Gotham and much of the tri-state area. They mingle and chat amongst one another quite naturally, as most such folks do. Meanwhile, the catering staff moves amongst them, providing trays of various fingerfoods for nibbling, and drinks upon request. Alcohol remains the social lubricant of choice at such functions, although there are more than a few sticking to water or natural juices, including Karen Starr. Karen moves amongst the crowd gracefully, greeting each person by name and engaging them all in bits of brief but meaningful conversation. The StarrWare smart glasses and her powerful cellphone certainly help the process of keeping up to date with who is whom, and what will be meaningful to them.

Behind the scenes, everything continues to go off without a hitch. There's no reason for anyone to think anything is amiss when a group of catering staff move through the kitchen to the back, opening up one of the freezers and then opening a cooler inside. There's no reason for concern as two of the valets climb out of the latest cars that they parked and start making their way back towards the convention hall, detouring only slightly along the sidewalk, heading towards the location of the key power junctions for the building. And no one is any the wiser when a catering delivery truck pulls through the perimeter and parks at the back, its reinforced suspension disguising just how heavily loaded it is right now.

The time for Karen's opening remarks is fast approaching, but she hasn't yet made it to the front to start asking folks to find their seats. That should be any moment now.

Dinah is another who's sticking to flavored mineral water, albeit mostly because she's technically working tonight. Still, with a small plate of goodies stashed discretely nearby for munching, it's turning out to be a good night for the florist as well. Dinah's practiced eye notices the shift in the catering staff, but her brain isn't on anything resembling high alert tonight. At least not for anything that isn't a botanical emergency. As the time for Karen's opening remarks comes, Dinah turns her attention towards the podium. And looking for the hostess.

Not yet having spotted anything - she's so busy being social, no one can really blame her - Karen makes her excuses gently from the latest folks she was talking with, and pulls back to make her way up towards the front stage and the podium, as she keys and taps into the microphone and public address system with her Bluetooth. "Thank, ladies and gentlemen, for coming tonight. Please, if you can make your way towards your seats, we can get started."

After Karen's announcement, the guests start milling about with a bit more purpose, making their way apart from one another as they head towards their respective tables.

Meanwhile, the catering staff who were on the floor are slowly receding back out of the crowd towards their rally points at a few different bars and inside the kitchen. In all of that movement, other caterers start making their way out from the back, milling in amongst the others as the moments pass. They stay attentive to the crowd, as any good waitstaff should, but their intent may not quite be the same.

Dinah watches the shift as well. The hostess takes the podium, guests move to where they're supposed to be, the catering staff moves to their planned rally points. Yes, everything is moving like a well-oiled machine. She smiles a little, turning to pick up something that looked really good on the tray a few moments ago. Now, however, she eyes it a bit suspiciously. Is that -really- caviar?

Just as folks are getting settled in their seats, as Karen is activating the projectors to put up the displays for the show, things go wrong.

First, the power flickers and goes out. The lights drop, the projectors die. A few red-tinted emergency lights pop up, shedding much-reduced illumination, just enough to make out the outlines of folks moving rapidly to and fro around the room.

Next, the sounds of rattling chains can be heard from the direction of the doors.

And lastly, the sounds of a few shots can be heard ringing out, around the room, before a single voice rises up above the cacauphany. "Alright! All you rich fat-cat bastards, shut your mouths! Sit out, shut up, behave, and we'll all get out of here soon enough. Anyone gets stupid, and people are going home in body bags. Got it!"

Well, crap. These guys weren't on the guest list!

Dinah blinks as the lights go out right as she crunches down on the caviar cracker. Well that's not good. Then there's chains, and a gunshot. Well there goes the evening…

The florist looks around, squinting to help her eyes adjust to the dim lighting. The doors are are chained and it's difficult to tell how many bad guys are here. No cops. No security. Just a street vigilante with nothing but her quick wits and good looks. Not even her fishnets.

Crap, indeed.

Stepping out from her discrete hidey-hole, Dinah calls out loudly. "Say, um, fellas. I'm neither rich nor fancy. Just one of the help, here. So if it's all the same to you, I'd like to skip off and use the little girl's room. 'Kay?"

Oh sweet fancy Moses, better be playing this right or she'll go from 'hired help' to 'hostage' to 'martyr' just that fast.

"Freeze!" comes that authoritative voice, shouting above the screams and murmurs of terror and confusion in the crowd. "Everyone stays put, or people start dying!" The rattle and clank of more than a few various weapons being cocked or otherwise readied can be heard. These guys are at least trying not to be messing around.

Still standing on the stage, right where she was when all of this began, Karen doesn't figure she can move much at all without being noticed, given the dim red lighting. But that same dim red lighting shouldn't be enough for anyone to get a good bead on what it is she's doing, which gives her a tiny bit of freedom. First things being first, she sends out a message to the police, informing them of the situation. Of course, she has no way of knowing how quickly the GCPD can get on site to try to handle this, but she figures they need to know.

Next up, Karen notices that her friend, Dinah, is being quite ballsy, pushing the boundaries on the goons trying to hold everyone hostage. She can't do a great deal to help her, but she might be able to do a little bit. She reaches up to lower her StarrGaze glasses, and tiny pulses of heat vision streak out, disabling a couple of the emergency lighting stations, increasing the darkness around, hopefully making it harder for the badguys to find Dinah. And then she lets loose with one more, slicing through one of the chains on the set of doors closest to Dinah's position, with a rattling clank as the chain slips free and falls to the floor.

Around Dinah, the diminutive blonde vigilante in civilian clothing should be able to make out about half a dozen folks riding herd around the outside edges of the convention center floor on her side of matters. This implies about the same number on the other side, if she could get there.

All Dinah notices are the couple of emergency light stations flickering out, conveniently close to her. She can't see heat vision beams, and it'll only occur to her later that Karen is likely making a phone call on her glasses. She hasn't attracted too much attention yet, so she eases into the dimmer shadows.

Pressing her back against the wall, she finds a nice place behind, of all things, a large fern. And she waits. The goons are watching the guests in the center of the room. As one passes, the blonde strikes swiftly. Can't be any mistakes on this, or she'll be heard and people will start dying. Judo chop to the base of the neck, rabbit punch to the kidney. He can't even grunt as he falls. Catch the gun, then ease the body down quietly. Pop the mag and leave the gun.

Yeah he'll be found, but she'll worry about that later. One down, and only about eleven or so to go. Easy-peasy.

Since no one can hear Dinah's swift, sure movements in her attack, or the fall of her victim, no one knows anything has happened. It's only one of the nearly dozen perpetrators, so even they don't notice his absence with any alacrity. Instead, they continue to surround and secure the hostages.

"Alright, you rich bastards. Here's how this is going to go. Two of my people will be moving among you, from group to group, table to table. Fork over your cash and jewelry, along with your cellphones and pagers. No one gets cute, no one gets dead." comes that authoritative, ominous voice. They're not happy that two of the emergency lighting stations seem to have shorted out, but they're continuing with their heist regardless.

Indeed, barely discernable in the darker conditions, two of the gun-toting goons break off, pulling out sacks from their belts, and start moving around the hostages. One is gathering and demanding cellphones, clearly an attempt to prevent anyone from getting cute with communication to the outside, and to neutralize anyone who was taking photos. The other is demanding wallets and jewelry. So far, at least, no one is getting stupid enough to start a scene with them.

Up on the stage, Karen Starr is likely going to be one of the last to get accosted or robbed. Meanwhile, she's doing a lot of communicating, as surreptitiously as she can, to provide intel to the GCPD. The camera in her custom StarrGaze glasses isn't strong enough to get good facial recognition shots in the red-tinted darkness, but she can play back the video from before the lights went out, and provide estimated locations of everyone inside the Convention Center. And the GCPD crisis team isn't even on site yet as all of this data starts rolling in.

For her part, Dinah keeps low and quiet as she works the perimeter with her own agenda. Creeping along, she drops the clip from the first thug's gun into a potted plant and sights in her next target. A smooth dive-roll brings her close enough for a sweep-kick. Getting out of the 'blackout' zone, he actually spots her approach and brings the gun to bear. Then his feet are knocked out from under him and he cracks his head on the table going down.

It was sort of discrete but not exactly quiet, unfortunately. And one of the nearby perimeter thugs notices. Gun lowered, he approaches slowly as well. "Alright, you…" he growls at the guests sitting at the nearest table while Dinah crouches out of sight. She comes up on his blind side, one hand gripping the wrist holding the pistol. An open-handed strike under the arm makes it go numb, and a deft twist backward bring his forehead sharply down on the table. "Ohmygosh!" she calls, as a few more thugs turn her way. "I think he slipped on something!"

The first sound of one of the goons going down doesn't immediately raise a room-wide alarm, but when Dinah's next victim visibly goes down while approaching hostages, they get very tense. The sounds of weapons ratcheted to the ready sounds around the room ominously, as that dangerous voice sounds again.

"That's it! We can rake the money off their damned corpses easy enough. I told you morons not to try anything. You didn't listen. Just remember, this is your fault."

Karen doesn't have a lot of options right now. She cannot allow people to get killed, not even to keep her very important secret identity. But she's been doing this for a while, and those instincts tell her what to do to both accomplish her goals - bringing these bastards to justice /and/ saving the hostages - without sacrificing her secret. Hopefully.

"Wait, please!" Karen calls out, even as she lowers her StarrGaze glasses again, letting loose with heat vision to melt the shoes of a couple of goons, bonding them to the floor. A couple other tiny bursts fuse trigger mechanisms or warp gun barrels, ready to cause misfires and jams. And a gust of breath knocks the one goon close enough to draw a bead on Dinah at almost point-blank range across the floor and into a column, giving the blonde the opportunity to move before he can act again.

"No one wants any trouble. Please." Karen calls out towards the leader. "There's no need for this to get any worse. Just take what you want, and leave us alone." She's doing her best to disarm the tension of this situation. Momentarily, at least.

Well that tears it. Dinah doesn't actually -see- what Karen is doing, of course, no more than anyone else does. All she sees is that this is going to go south pretty fast. She ignores the guy who stumbled in favor of a different, more radical plan. No time to warn the civilians, and no real point in it. Maybe they'll just think it's the alarm system or something.

Over the years Dinah has developed a good deal of control over her meta-power, and it's paying off today. The cry is not intense enough to kill or seriously injure, but anyone without superhuman resistance is really going to wish they were somewhere else before they pass out. Guests, thugs, staff, everybody.

Drawing a deep breath, Dinah Lance lets go a sonic scream.


Karen's interjection - and actions - at least earn a few moments delay, as the leader of the crew doesn't immediately tell them to fire. Clearly, he's considering it; they didn't come here to commit murder, just robbery, after all. And that's all the opening Dinah, the Black Canary, needs.

The screech causes everyone in the room to stagger, hands almost without exception flying to cover ears. Even Karen does this, as her super-hearing is so sensitive that even her great resistance doesn't leave her invulnerable in the face of this. Wincing, staggering, most of the hostages and goons drop after a matter of seconds. A few manage to hold out a bit longer, but not many.

Seeing this, Karen of course decides the better part of valor is to collapse like everyone else. Windows shatter. Her StarrGaze glasses crack and splinter under the force of that sonic scream. The tall blonde just kneels down and curls up on her side. In the dark, few would ever notice that it wasn't quite the boneless slump to unconsciousness of everyone else in here.

Less than ten minutes later, there are the sounds - not that anyone here but Dinah and Karen can still hear anything at all - of small explosions, as the GCPD crisis intervention team breaches, using the data Karen had been sending them. Having not been able to raise Karen, or anyone else, they charge in fearing the worst. And at first, it seems like that is precisely what they find.

That worked well, actually. Dinah expects that the police are on their way. What she doesn't know is how quickly they'll arrive. Is there enough time to tie up all the bad guys? Not likely, even if she had enough zip-ties. On the other hand, she knows the Cry is debilitating and nobody seems to be going anywhere.

Discretion overrules, and she trusts that the GCPD will bring adequate reinforcements so that she doesn't have to blast everybody again. Giving the place another looking-over, Dinah curls up into a little ball on the floor and plays possum… listening intently.

When the GCPD crisis intervention team sweeps into the convention center, they are swift and efficient. Anyone they can clearly identify as a perp - holding a gun, or very nearby - gets cuffed even as they are sweeping, checking for pulses, affirming that no one - miraculously - is dead. A few of those closest to wherever Dinah was when she screamed show signs of some bleeding at the ears, which clues them in that some sort of sonic attack was used.

Once the area is secure, medical teams are called in to check on everyone. The first of those examinations come to an end as the first few folks start to come around, groaning. With hearing still iffy, communication is a challenge. Still, the cops have had time to prepare for this, so they flash badges and make calming gestures, keeping everyone in place as evidence techs sweep the place with cameras and a portable laser scanning rig.

By the time the majority of folks are coming to, they're ready to let them get up, and move them out of the convention center to vehicles waiting outside. Everyone present, it seems, will be taken first to the hospital for examination, and then to the station for questioning and statements. The last few goons will be identified in this process, and a reasonably complete picture of what transpired will emerge for the officers, including the fact that apparently one of Gotham's costumed vigilantes - probably the mysterious and ageless Black Canary - happened upon the scene and took action before they could get there. Comments are made, not all of them positive. But one voice - Gordon, he said his name was - indicates he's pretty pleased, all told. And would love, it seems, to meet the amazing lady still doing all of this after over sixty years.

For her part, Dinah does a credible job of pretending to be groggy and hard of hearing once she's roused. Her 'recovery' is fairly swift, of course, and she waves-off the medical attention as best she can. Mostly so she can listen to the commentary and follow-up. A small smile touches her lips at Gordon's mention of wanting to meet the Canary, but she keeps it mostly to herself. Looking about the place, she'll seek Karen's gaze most of all. Searching for signs of discovery.

Karen too seeks out Dinah, checking on her friend the amazing florist, while giving away nothing of any awareness she might have - quite a bit, in fact - about Dinah's involvement in the handling of this situation. She's careful like that. She does explain - apparently struggling to keep her voice down but be heard while they're suffering hearing loss from the Canary Cry - that she managed to call the police while she was stuck up on the stage, and fed them all that information on the layout and such. The police aren't shy about praising that effort, either; it enabled them to plan their breach and entry before they ever arrived on scene, greatly increasing the speed of their efforts.

After all of the statements are given, all of the questions answered, the civilians are offered rides home, or back to the Convention Center for their vehicles. Interestingly enough, the charity rakes in several million dollars, apparently from those impressed by Karen's resourcefulness and proof of the usefulness of technology. Lives were clearly saved.

And Black Canary gets all the credit she deserves. Obviously, she is one amazing lady.

The one remaining mystery doesn't get brought up where others can hear it. The forensic crews eventually discover serious heat damage done to several of the emergency lighting units, and to a few shoes and such around the place. No one has any idea what could have caused this.

Does Dinah figure that Karen did anything other than make a call on her fancy glasses? Nope. And on another level she's pleased that it wasn't -just- the Canary here tonight. Yes, Dinah is certainly glad there was a resourceful woman here who knew how to use her tech resourcefully.

So after everyone has mostly cleared out and the place is thinning rapidly, Dinah finds Karen and approaches her quietly. "Some night, huh?" she asks softly. "Hope this didn't ruin your cause."

Karen hugs Dinah and smiles. "Some night is right. And nope, didn't ruin anything. Apparently our guests were rather impressed with their survival tonight, and decided to give generously." She's pleased as punch, obviously. "I'm really glad that you're OK. I was pretty worried for you, when I heard that scuffle over where you had been standing. All's well that ends well, though. Right?"

"You know, that Black Canary is one impressive lady. She took out all those creeps, but didn't have to kill a one of them. And no one else got seriously hurt, either. I owe that lady a lot. Of course, with my luck I'll never meet her again, but still."

Dinah returns the hug quite warmly, then shifts to rest a shoulder against a wall while they're talking. Grinning wryly up at the taller woman, the more Karen talks the more Dinah grins. "Listen, Karen, if you ever -do- wanna meet the Canary I'm sure I can set something up. She and my mom were pretty close, after all. But she's a bit skittish, as most vigilantes are these days. It'll have to be after dark and someplace discrete." She pauses, then arches a blonde brow. "You interested?"

Karen does a pretty good job of pretending amazement. "Seriously? Wow, that must be pretty awesome." she interjects. "Honestly? I'd love to meet her. But probably not tonight; the lady has a lot of important things to do, I'm sure. But maybe someday. Or some night. Even some night soon." She grins sheepishly. "Hope she won't be too irked if I ask for her autograph. I mean, after all, she's one of the /originals/."

Dinah chuckles at that, and for a moment she -almost- spills the beans. It's just about too good to resist. She nods, then, and adds. "Sure thing. I'll pass the word and set up a meeting for you. Though I've gotta say, I hope you're not too disappointed. She's not one of the -original- originals, after all. THAT lady's gotta be ancient or something." Yeah, mom would be proud.

"So … she like, took over for the original one?" Karen queries, not too disappointed but clearly curious. THat's an interesting bit of news she hadn't fully expected. Then again, none of Jor-El's journals mentioned that cry, and she sure as heck didn't imagine that tonight. "I'd still want her autograph." She smiles. "You take care of yourself, Dinah. I'll see you again soon." Karen offers the last as if she doesn't live in a different city, down the east coast, and come from all the way across the country; as if it would be normal to just 'pop by' to visit Dinah.

Dinah nods at that, watching the taller blonde's reaction. "I'll be sure to pass it along. And you can ask her directly once you two talk." she replies. "Sounds like you've got a lotta questions, Karen." And then she offers a finger-wave. "You take care as well, Karen. And I'm glad this worked out so well for you. You know how to reach me, so next time you're in Gotham you'd better call."

"You know I will." Karen offers, with a smile. She gives a little finger-waggle wave of her own, and heads towards the waiting towncar, ready to take her to the train station. Time to go, it seems. "See you soon." she murmurs, not quite suppressing the smile.

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