The Otter stalks the streets of Gotham City, patrolling for those who sought to break the law. These were her streets. This was her city. She dashed down alleyways, ready to smash open the skulls of criminals against her tummy or snuggling them into submission.
Down one particular alleyway she spotted a group of street toughs mugging a couple. The otter sprang into action, karate chopping the weapon out of the hands of one of them and used her trademark belly smash. Her skills, finely honed from years of training in Russia, kicking in as she attacked each of them. She unleashed a flurry of blows on another suspect with her tiny fists before finishing him off with a roundhouse kick. A hooligan pulled out a switchblade and came at her, but she skillfully dodged the swipes before smacking him down. The fourth and final one tried reaching in their pockets for something, but The Otter launched herself at him, clawing him across the face as his gun falls harmlessly out of his pocket.
The Otter looks up to find that the couple has long since run away. There’s no time to rest, the police will surely be here soon and even with Commissioner Gordon’s Otter Signal calling to her nightly for help, the standing order was still to capture her on sight. Even if she wasn’t wanted by the police, there were still plenty of crimes to foil.
Months ago, she had received the first puzzle piece. Every day since, she had received a new one and despite all the efforts of the advanced technology Uhtred Enterprises has to offer, it had returned no clues. It took a while before The Otter and her faithful butler Alfrida were able to discern that the pieces were tied to crimes being committed around the city. At first, they started small, but they had gotten more brazen over time, lacking any sort of rhyme or reason. The only thing tying them together was their intention to sow chaos and a simultaneous level of professional skill and apparent disinterest in showing any of that.
Today’s heist had been especially bold. The mysterious criminal had, in the middle of the day, broken into the Pelican Institute and had made off with… nothing that anyone was aware of. The Institute could have been lying, after all it was a highly secure lab filled with some of the most advanced research tech outside of Uhtred Enterprises, but as The Otter viewed the witness tapes later on, none of them seemed to be hiding anything. It was a mystery that puzzled her as she returned to her sea cave where her base of operations was kept beneath stately Uhtred Manor.
The computer was still busy running the simulations with the latest puzzle piece included so she plopped herself into the water, closing her eyes and floating as she waited for something, anything from that dumb machine.
A loud ring and the elevator doors as Alfrida stepped out of them carrying a tray of freshly prepared seafood for her. Alfrida had been with Siobhan’s family since before she was born. She had been there when Uhtred and Martha Uhtred were gunned down outside the theater playing Ring of Bright Water and took care of her as she grew up, her one constant companion and guardian in that huge, lonely mansion. Alfrida would do anything for her master and had taught her everything she could. Those years when Siobhan was away in Russia were hard, but she came back newly focused and for the first time in her life, with some measure of purpose beyond simply avenging the death of her parents.
“Master Siobhan, your dinner is ready”
“I’m not hungry Alfrida, you know I don’t like eating when I’m down here trying to think”
“You have to eat something Master Siobhan, I made your favorite. I’ll just leave this here for when you get hungry. Will you be needing anything else?”
“I’m fine down here”, The Otter waiting a second before turning over and surreptitiously paddling over to the side.
As she scarfed down her food, the computer finally spit up its first bit of information. The seemingly random marks and letters on a number of the puzzle pieces seemed significant, but they still didn’t add up to much. The only thing that could be sussed out was on four pieces arranged in the lower left (or rather lower right on the reverse) a gaudy signature from “The Puzzler”.
The image on the front was from no commercially printed puzzle which had hampered the attempts of The Otter (an avid jigsaw puzzle solver) and the computer at identifying it. It was meticulously crafted with thick, weighty pieces that fit snugly together and some lovely image reproduction, but until now, there were no hints of where the picture was taken. The Otter had no clue what was so special about the city of Kaliningrad and yet that was the answer flashing on the screen before her.
As she sought to rectify her lack of knowledge on the city, an alert flashed up on the screen. The Otter Signal was again flashing in the sky, as her own city called to her once more. She got downtown in her Ottermobile as quick as she could to find a group of robbers escaping from the Federal Reserve Bank in a hot air balloon. Racing behind, she quickly stepped out and hookshotted herself onto the basket. A figure from inside produced a pair of giant novelty scissors and tried to cut the line as The Otter reeled herself in but they were insufficient to cut through the ultra-tough material it’s made of.
Just as she was reaching the top, she heard a voice call out from over the side.
“Nice of you to drop in, but I’m afraid we must be going. No need to fret for I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other again real soon.”
No sooner did the voice finish, than The Otter was blindside by a bag full of gold bricks which were dropped from the balloon. Lighter now, it rose faster, and she fell down to her car below. She struggled to pick herself up and drive away as the sirens blared and the cop cars pulled up behind her.
TO BE CONTINUED