Joined: September 4th, 2014, 11:07 am

January 13th, 2018, 9:05 am #41

Utterly and ruthlessly elegant. I can see how those 30 seconds of panic would help no-one.

Well crafted and well carried through.

Joined: October 6th, 2002, 4:49 pm

January 14th, 2018, 9:23 am #42

So, let's take it down.

Selina's frustration with Bruce's Antics during the heist is the final piece in coming the long way round. She was an inch away from grunting 'Impossible Man'.

Lois has a unique secret identity of her own. The only one without a Cape that has to maintain the role of Press Agent, Secret Wife, Confidant, and Pulitzer Winner journalist, all at the same time. The number of things she has to sit on, while being a major trendsetter in the information world. There's no way she'd break any of The Big Secrets, but there's no way she isn't tempted to come at something sideways. 

The Bruce/Selina Osmosis is sharp enough to know that, and willingly lay breadcrumbs, in much the same way a regular couple would give friends free tickets to a show. But it's a unique position; for someone fooled by a pair of glasses all those years. Nobody but Alfred has this much overlap between Crime and Couture.

It does, however, put an interesting point into view. When Dick/Barb got married, Bruce made sure that it was up to Alfred. The planning stages were all very background to the story. I wonder if Selina actually wants to plan the wedding. She's embraced the Protocol, and I wonder if this is why. In a new age of Gotham, where Joker will insist on being the Wedding Planner, and the Best Man alike, it's got to be something she wants to avoid, just on principle. Plus, what does Selina's Wedding look like? As she, oh so correctly pointed out, she doesn't impress easily.

Let's see, what else...

The line about how F-Up's have something to prove is more proof of Luthor's Blindspot. He's got more to prove than anyone else in the tale. The fact that Lex was looking at a disguised Bruce was less of a fear for me than the other wildcards and surprises sprinkled into the heists. Lex has been dealing with a disguised Bruce for at least as long as Superman. He hasn't recognised that chin yet.
I like that Selina was giving Supes a primer on various treasures. Selina is probably the only person alive to turn an Art History Major into a wildly lucrative career in the private sector. (Or at least, that's how she'd put it)

I love that the falling dominoes led to the bad guys drowning themselves. This is the Point of Batman and Catwoman. if you want to take down a crooked billionaire, stealing from them doesn't work. using the law doesn't work. They're just too good at gaming the rules. Who would have thought that giving a stolen item back would be the thing that brings down the house of cards?

It's the one move that guys like Luthor Villains can't conceive of, because if you have something valuable and/or powerful, why would you not keep it? To do good? Surely that's not a real reason.

One question though? What Bruce said about how Lex was with his own kind? Selina could say the same, if she was a Gotham Post character. All the Fortune 500 types take more money out of the world in an hour than Catwoman could get away with in a month, if she had a cat-themed moving van. And she actually looks conflicted about taking them to the cleaners. Just because of the Gotham Post telling Robin Hood stories? An interesting point, given that the 'Gotham Post' is also ringing the wedding bells at the moment.
Always a great time, Chris. Thanks for having us, and I'm glad you're not a criminal mastermind. Or that if you were, you're giving us deniability. 

Joined: January 19th, 2007, 8:04 pm

January 14th, 2018, 12:35 pm #43

Well now, what a wonderful treat to start off the New Year!  Finishing Pearl on the same day it started really does bring things around full circle!

If there were any lingering doubts that Lex views Bruce as a rival, this chapter would put them to rest.  From arranging the 'snafu' that put Bruce and Selina in the 'Alexander Luthor' Presidential Suite to removing Bruce from the America's Cup list, Lex constantly strove to put obstacles and inconveniences in the way of a man who personified the one thing he couldn't have: being born into a great family.  No matter what he did or accomplished, for all the putdowns he casts against those he views against his inferiors, that is something he could never obtain.  It's a recurring theme for someone whose jealousy and ego are amongst his greatest downfalls.  Though Bruce did find a fitting way to get payback with a (supposed) public tryst.  When even a Lex supporter like Blaine admires the answer he came up with, you know you're on to something.

I suppose a heist fic wouldn't be a true heist fic without a betrayal. Not that it was really a betrayal--after all the trials and tribulations, the adventures and the thrills--having Bruce backstab Selina would be completely unrealistic.  But I suppose he needed to go through the motions to see what it was like.  I sympathize with Selina, though: she was having jitters before the heist and to go through that heart attack was not funny.  At all.  And maybe I sympathize with that security guard who'd been tasked with monitoring Bruce, thought he lost him and briefly imagined the rest of his life in a low-end job (though clearly not as much as Selina).

My sympathies also go to Lois.  It's very interesting to see things from her perspective.  How she has to get the most out of her five minutes with any bigwig, the tendency of those bigwigs to be egomaniacs because they can. Lois knows that Bruce isn’t like that. She knows that he’s much more considerate than that. She also knows that if he does act that way, there must be a reason—be it a Bruce Wayne reason or a Batman reason. So she may feel obligated not to object, which can be more than a little frustrating. And then to find that Selina, despite being gracious enough to give her a few heads-up, is acting the same way… one can see why she felt the need to vent.

That rapid interchange between heists and Lex’s opinions on various people was most enjoyable, but not as much as Lex chatting it up with Tommy. I don’t say that because I shared Bruce’s fears of being found out. No, it was Bruce realizing he did too good a job when Lex was being so chummy… and Selina realizing she did too good a job when Tommy and Lex became BFFs.

I feel Clark’s pain about how confusing all this sailing and finance stuff can be. Yes, he’s an investigative journalist and learning about this kind of stuff is part of the job. Yes, Selina being so forthcoming is like finding the mother lode. But it can be very confusing for newbies nonetheless.

That being said, the payoff for all that learning is worth it. It’s the only way we can appreciate the genius behind the plan. Stealing all that artwork wouldn’t bring down the house of cards Lex had built up. Returning it was. Now the system that they had been hiding behind and making their fortunes with has turned against them… and there’s nothing they can do to stop it.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. I don’t know what’s next on the horizon, but I trust it will meet the high standards we have come to expect. Selina would have no less, after all.

Joined: April 6th, 2007, 4:00 am

January 16th, 2018, 7:50 pm #44

Thanks to everyone who's offered feedback (and especially the guy who found the coding leakage on the main site).

Oberten, "Utterly and ruthlessly elegant" made me smile from ear to ear.  Finest review I could wish for on this tale.  Blushing profusely, I thank you.

Stephensmat & Random, you guys covered a lot of the same territory: You nailed it about Lois, she has invented herself as much as the others in that foursome.  And what she does, the way she goes about it might not make sense to anyone else, but it works for her.  The angles from which she comes at things, they're uniquely hers and that's why she's the Lois Lane.

As for the wedding, I'll paraphrase what was said back in Chapter 1:  Bruce and Selina may not be that much older than Dick and Barbara, but the age difference is a significant one for something like a wedding.  Selina is content to leave more of the ordinary planning stuff to Alfred and the Wayne rolodex where planning an extravagant party for 300 isn't a once in a lifetime thing.  This (as you touched on) frees her up for all those details an ordinary bride and even Barbara doesn't have to think about, such as Mxyzlptk blackout dates and if there's a way to lock out shapeshifters that doesn't involve magic.

"He hasn't recognised that chin yet" is my new favorite line and you can expect to see me steal it at the first opportunity.  

But I should still clarify what Bruce meant about being with his own kind:  Yes, Superman and Clark have the same chin, but Lex is in a different mode when he's faced with Superman, his great superpowered nemesis, than he is with Kent, that journalistic pain in the ass.  Yes, Wayne and Batman have the same chin, but Lex sees the one as that business rival with the old money patina that the Luthor billions can't buy, while Batman is that inconveniently smart guy in the ludicrous pro-wrestler getup who kept the Alien from being as stupid as Lex hoped on 4 separate occasions.  In each case, it's a different Lex looking at that chin.  But with Wayne and Tommy, Luthor is in exactly the same mode.  He's in his tux, holding his scotch, sussing out if you have a connection to Earl Spencer and if there might be an angle in that for him.   So Bruce's worry is similar to when he saw Mrs. Ashton-Larraby dressed as Harley Quinn.  It was one thing when she was alone by the grandstand, it was another when she was talking to a tall thin waiter of Joker's build.  You never know what might spark a connection (and that's why he didn't risk accompanying Selina dressed as Catwoman without presenting himself in a Batman costume).

Who would have thought that giving a stolen item back would be the thing that brings down the house of cards?
EXACTLY!  Certainly not the people who impose that Simon simple street kid origin on Catwoman.  That creature couldn't play on this field any more than Matches could.  (Seriously, even poor Clark needed both Bruce and Selina briefing him, and he's no dolt --and neither is Random.)
And yes, I thought using the banks' self-policing operations against their customers was echt Bruce.  We have this operation (banks knowing their customers) that is crimefighting in nature (to prevent money laundering) but self-interested (the banks themselves lose the ability to exchange currencies if they're branded MLers).  So of course if something is tripped, they're going to act in their own best interests and kick out the problem children.  Re-purposing crimefighting to separate Lex from his money is just totally the Bat-brain.  It's the Bat-brain at its most Brucian battiness.
One question though?
Again, I should probably clarify some stuff that's muddled about Selina.  She is conflicted because she has absolutely no grudge against the rich and never has.  She has no desire whatsoever to take their stuff away from them simply because they have more than other people and "that's not fair."  She LIKES the rich having enough to squander on baubles they don't need, she LIKES them enjoying their privileges at these big parties, and she definitely likes that they're often so bored it's a thrilling event when their well-insured valuables get pinched (which we saw back in Wayne Rises.  It's something to talk about and dine out on). This isn't a position she takes in defiance of the Gotham Post.  She honestly feels this way and the Post honestly has it WRONG.

So she's done this to make a point: "You think Catwoman steals from the rich just because they have more stuff and gives to the poor out of some warped sense of fairness?  That's so wrong, I can't even begin to address it other than to SHOW YOU what it would look like if that's what I did.  See how this IS NOT like that other thing?"

But having done it, she feels bad because she doesn't want that woman to HAVE to sell the emeralds.  To steal the necklace fair and square, to know the woman would collect the insurance (nobody feels bad for the insurance company, sorry) and have the bragging rights to owning jewels worthy of Catwoman's attention, that's one thing.  But to make these people whom she doesn't hate or resent--who she is in fact one of as much as Bruce is--to make them have to downsize, eh, that's really not a heist she feels great about.  Yes, chances are if they're at that particular party, if they're investing with Luthor, they probably aren't nice people and probably do deserve the reversal.  But that doesn't mean she can't watch the emerald necklace go by in the middle of the hysteria and wince.  "Ouch, those are nice. Pity."

Nah, I'm no criminal mastermind and I'm sure the financial three-card monte described in this chapter would be obsolete since, oh, 2010 latest.  I hope.    

Yep.  Lex is a genius, probably one of the 5 smartest people in the world (though I hardly think THE smartest as Mr. Johns has declared), but he can be incredibly petty in certain very specific areas and Bruce hits the sweet spot on most of them.

I think you're the only one who remembered Selina's jitters on the flight in.  Bruce really COULD have taken that into consideration, couldn't he.  (jackass)   And yeah, the security guy got screwed, caught between the 1-percenters feuding.  (I suspect Metropolis is a crappy place to be a working stiff for that very reason.)
-Chris Dee

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Superpowers corrupt... superbly. -Cat-Tales: Identity Element

Joined: January 21st, 2018, 6:51 pm

January 21st, 2018, 7:12 pm #45

Regarding chins, I suspect that early on in his career Bruce being paranoid about being identified by his chin, but still liking being able to breathe with his mask the way it was started making discreet inquiries as the Fop strictly among trusted friends since he wouldn't want it to get out whether any of them knew a reputable surgeon who could make his jawline a little more...Super. Three months later there were half a dozen high end clinics from Geneva to Malibu that would do the Superchin for $20,000. If you bundled it with the controversial new "shoulder broadening" procedure they'd knock off $3000 of that.

Joined: February 8th, 2003, 6:55 pm

January 29th, 2018, 12:34 pm #46



Okay.  So the 'REAL' heist was liberating these already 'liberated' collateral items?  That explains my confusion, I was caught as flat footed as any other 1%er at this little gathering.

Its the fine crafting of all the little details that make a heist, and in this case a most excellent case of hitting all of them where they really hurt... in their continued ability to make money.  And proves that Lex is TOTALLY NOT the smartest guy around.  Thomas Pearl is.  Take that, ya egomaniac.
Hear that thunder rolling till it seems to split the sky?

That's every ship in Grayson's Navy taking up the cry-


-- "No Quarter", by Echo's Children

Joined: April 5th, 2007, 11:41 pm

February 7th, 2018, 10:14 pm #47

Hey everyone, just letting you know the ebooks (mobi for Kindle, epub for everyone) and print-quality PDF is now posted and ready for download. as always for the full selection, and an epub-specific link on the mobi site that opens the epub directly for people with the iPhone/Safari browser combo that works with that particular epub-reading app.