She once thought she was destined to be the distraction. Instead, she became the Main Event.
These long chapters are starting to grow on me. I was reluctant at first to try to do it this way, but whatever, it’s what I want all writers to do, so I might as well set the example.
I hope I brought a certain sense of justice to the characters I introduced, reintroduced, and the characters they want to be. (Hint, Hint.)
Roman Sionis, known to a select few as The Black Mask, was absolutely pissed.
Contrary to popular belief, he was almost never angry. It wasn’t like anyone could tell, what with the wooden façade. Thorns in his side, like Batman, were always roadblocks, but he usually kept on with a relatively positive attitude, or at least had a near-constant source of relief in the form of his girlfriends, or physical relief in his many henchmen. But most times, while he was generally known as aggressive, or even ruthless in the way he conducted his work, he was merely doing the cost of business. And for that reason, business was good. Until now.
Fourteen hours. That’s how long it’s been so far.
“Who in the hell is the Warlock?” The last remaining television in the warehouse could ask, not riddled with bullets. “What does he want? And what will he – ”
“ – and the young women beside him,” she continued, unimpressed, “be willing to do to get it? This is Vicki Vale with GCTV News Channel Seven. I hope I’ve enlightened you and informed you. If you haven’t gotten the message yet, then I will sufficiently give you that time. For the next twenty-four hours, this broadcast will be played in its entirety. I urge all of the viewers at home to really consider what is at stake here.”
“Oh, don’t I fucking know it,” he muttered in a raspy voice.
Vale was a dead woman, he decided twelve hours ago, and every hour since was only a reconfirmation of facts; Vale was a dead woman.
Of course, that didn’t mean Riddler wouldn’t also feel his wrath. He certainly hadn’t forgotten the only man who could have given Vale that much access to his towers to be able to broadcast at all. Poindexter was going to die as well.
And the voice in the banisters, the voice he knew to be the Warlock, was also on Sionis’s list. Perhaps he should go after him first. Cut off the head, as the old adage says.
The first hour of being tied up and abandoned in the warehouse consisted of this new kid garnering the crime boss’s respect. Never had he seen such an impact on Gotham in the first few days than whatever the hell this mystery guy did. Frankly, it was all a bit too sanitary for his tastes, but Warlock was clear on his way to accomplishing his goals – according to the constant loop he was enduring from the television, those goals seemed to be the domination of Gotham, or at least the city’s fear and respect.
Roman could admire that. It was foolhardy, but he could admire it. He could even appreciate the method in which he did it; taking his towers, stealing his business associate, and even – somehow – getting Vicki fucking Vale to work for him. If it was some kind of mind control, logic dictated Warlock would have tried to do it to him, would he not? The Black Mask owned Gotham. Actual mystical powers or not, if he wanted control, Roman would be his first and final obstacle.
Maybe he knew he wasn’t ready? That happened on occasion. Some rogue henchman or a thug, or some hotshot from out of town tries to make a name for themselves. They always go after the shark, not even bothering to mingle with the small fish and make their way up.
And over the years, The Black Mask had formed a reputation off of what happens when you fuck with the Megalodon.
Warlock, however, seemed to have an idea of how to do things. He made a smart decision teaming up with Femme Fatale, which even he acknowledged as girls he wanted nothing to do with, and kept his distance, despite the temptation. Fantasizing about what to do with them if he won a war against them, and actually inciting one were two completely different things. He was a businessman, first and foremost, and picking his battles was why he remained on top. Intentionally antagonizing the Bat, for instance, was something he would never do. He’d never send out an invitation to try and stop his dastardly plots, or some bullshit like that.
And here Warlock was, sending out a message, a direct challenge to the entire GPD, and by proxy, the Batman. Paying the police off would have been simpler, but apparently the kid found a more cost effective way.
It was by the sixth hour of him tied in ropes, some kind of unbreakable Bat-Twine, that his respect for the new guy faded, and made a mental note to just kill the kid.
Ten hours in, and Commissioner Loeb was added to the list. He had no idea what was happening on the outside, but no reason would make up for him waiting on the cops to pick him up.
He recognized what could come of this – the leeway he would lose from having the commissioner of the police force in his back pocket. He knew that it would be a heavy, and stupid, blow to his power.
But this was just embarrassing, and no amount of torture he’d inflict would be as humiliating. He’d still torture Loeb, of course.
He might’ve been able to stream his torture to the rest of Gotham as a warning. If he had his fucking towers back.
“I don’t get it,” one of his cronies murmured, and with their masks still on, it was difficult to tell who was talking. “They always pick us up after Batman beats us up. One time, I waited two hours, and even then, they even apologized for the inconvenience!”
“Yeah,” another one agreed. “Warlock must’ve gotten ‘em distracted.”
There was a slight pause. “Or no one knows we’re here.”
“Bullshit,” one of them claimed. “Course they know! They always know! When’s the last time they haven’t picked us up? If ya ask me, I think Batman works with the pigs. For all their high and mighty speeches against the Bat, they haven’t caught him yet! What if it’s one of those superhero plan B type initiatives? Some kind of prototype super suit that the cops wear to take us out, and they’re testing it.”
“Nah,” someone argued, “I doubt it. It’s more likely a rogue cop that don’t like the justice system, and hates paperwork even more. Or at least makes the paperwork more interesting. ‘A Bat tackled the suspect to the ground and left ‘im dangling by his feet.’”
“At least his neck was saved.”
“From what? He was arrested.”
“That’s not what I was… okay, guys. Don’t laugh. I’m working on a theory, here.”
“Oh, here we go…”
“No, no, just hear me out guys! I’m serious this time! This one’s got some weight to it!”
“Did your mommy tell you that, or was she talkin’ ‘bout me?”
“Real mature, Frankie. You wanna hear it or not?”
“Fine, let’s hear it. It can’t be worse than his theory on it being a zombie Thomas Wayne.”
“I’m not giving up on that theory. But this one’s pretty good, I promise.”
“Yeah, yeah. Just tell us already!”
“…I think Batman is an actual vampire.”
“I’m serious, guys, just think about it! He’s got vampire strength, the senses, quickness, he can fuckin’ fly! When’s the last time you’ve seen him out during the day? It makes sense!”
“…Yeah, but… Charlie, he’s wearing a costume. A vampire don’t need no costume. And, it’s a bat costume. Ain’t that a bit too… on the nose?”
“Exactly! It’s the last thing everyone would suspect, right? What vampire dresses as a goddamn bat! It’s perfect!”
“…But he doesn’t bite people.”
“That we know of. Can you tell me the last time we saw Jerome? Or Kevin? What about Gene? A lot of us have been disappearing lately. What if that’s because they’re dumped in the ocean, nothin’ but flesh and bones, and two holes in their neck?”
“You’re insane, man.”
“…I don’t know. I think you might have a point. Could explain why he disappears into thin air sometimes. It’s making some really good sense. Compared to a Wayne being the Bat, I mean. Now that was a stupid theory. Have you seen their money? Dude could pay for a hit on every criminal in Gotham, if he gave a damn.”
“Wait; You believe the Vampire story over the Zombie story?”
“We’ve been here for fourteen fuckin’ hours, man – I’m loopy enough to believe a lot of things.”
“You know, I’m not gonna argue.”
“You’re all idiots.”
Perhaps his mind would change once he got out, had a good nap, and re-evaluated what was really important in life, but for the time being, he really liked the idea of putting a bullet in everyone’s head. At this point, who could blame him? Who could stop him?
“I’m more than unstoppable.” Static. “I’m the Warlock.”
Oh, right. First, Warlock dies. Priorities.
“Am I interrupting something here?”
Through half-lidded eyes, even under his wooden mask, he was able to see a simple man in sunglasses walking out of the elevator, looking around with what he could only assume were curious eyes.
“Sherman?” he blearily blinked at the well-dressed man, and shook his head wildly. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“I’m here to clean out,” he calmly explained, certainly used to scenes like this in his field of work. “My crew will be here in moments. Apparently, the, er, obstruction in the intersection of the Jezebel will take longer than expected to clear up, so heavy traffic abound. We’re almost at gridlock.”
“So how did you get here?”
“Helicopter – I parked next to yours. Even though my best customer doesn’t need hideaways anymore, it’s a thriving business.” He looked pointedly at his former best customer. “No little thanks in part to our bat problem. I’m assuming….”
He let out a low growl. “You know what happens when you assume.”
“It seems he has already made an ass of you, Jeremiah,” he taunted, using his alias – his other, made up professional alias. Still, knowing Roman was back on Batman’s radar, he felt that his assistance would lead to a profitable future later, so he went to untie the bonds at his legs. “Unless Nigma did this.”
Even in his state, he let out a weak laugh. “Not alone. He must’ve felt real secure when he pulled that on me. He didn’t even have the sack to tell me why.”
“Then, you would have shot him in the face.”
He stared at ‘The Broker’ with intense eyes – the only part of his face Sherman could see. “He stole my towers and set up a trap for me for Batman. A bullet in his head’s too kind for the bastard, now.”
“Am I to predict that the Warlock is also in your sights?”
Roman didn’t reply, even as he stood and rubbed at his wrists, slowly walking towards one of the televisions.
“–But hey, since we’re here, and since you’ve got everyone’s attention, why not sprout out a name before someone else tries to shoot you in the face. Let’s give the people a name for the grave, y’know?”
“They can try – ”
“Broker,” he began, staring at his fist embedded into the flat screen monitor, “for old times’ sakes, your services are required. I have a list to go through, and I need a warehouse – this one, preferably.”
“I have a strict ‘no burial’ policy, as you may remember. Bad for business.”
“Of course.” Without any caution for his own gloved hand, he pulled his fist out of the television. “But I have no real interest in killing them. Not anytime soon.”
The Broker let out a heavy sigh. “I’ll line the house with plastic covering. For the record, I’m doing this because the new paint is wet. For legal reasons, I don’t need to know what goes on in this house.”
Behind the mask, held a dark, menacing grin. “Use red paint. Easier to blend in.”
The best part of battle, Selina realized, was the setup.
It was honestly what all of the real work went into. The best plans could go to waste in the fight, but there was no reason to fight if the plans weren’t so great in the first place. It was probably why she put up with Eddie.
So she appreciated a good plan, and she wasn’t a huge fan of battles. Especially gun battles. Getting shot more than once in twenty-four hours was not something she set to accomplish, and as much as she appreciated the new suit, she was not keen on testing out the durability of magic. If Harry had any sense of humor, about eight more hits would do her in.
‘But, damn, do I look good in it.’
So, for maybe not the first time, she appreciated the existence of one Harry Potter, as she avoided any and all action sequences in their plan. She was on a pure tactical espionage/stealth mission and she was okay with that.
She knew she didn’t have a good history working with others, but this kitty knew how to play nice. She had been championing for this job, after all.
And with this morning’s unpleasantness out of the way, Selina figured that she may have to build up some good faith for their future. She didn’t mind. She planned on acting out a lot, and figuring out the ratio of acts of rebellion to acts of usefulness was her forte. It let Batman turn the other cheek once in a while when there were bigger fish she could dangle in front of him.
‘Hmph. Bruce. Go figure.’ Though it would explain why he always let her go, or allowed her to escape. She expected he enjoyed some modicum of his cover lifestyle, no matter how no-nonsense he seemed to be with the mask. He probably would have added her to his list of models to the high society functions, given the chance. Trust issues and other complications aside, she considered Batman an ally, and maybe even a friend. She doubted he wouldn’t keep that secret from her for long, or she wouldn’t figure it out herself.
Well, all of that was out of the window, now.
With her claws extended – something Harry shouldn’t have known she had, but seemed to work just as properly on her new suit – she dragged her index carefully into the window pane, stroking at the glass like a seasoned artist, her cat irises focused intently on every etch.
She appreciated the sharpness of her new tools, the blade never once catching on the glass, slicing through the pane like air. When she leaned back, she grinned at her work before pulling an item out of one of her pockets and adding the finishing touches. She retracted the claws on her other hand that was affixed into the concrete, and jumped back from the GPD building, somersaulting and freefalling into the lake behind her.
As she quickly surfaced and began to slowly float on the water, she began to lie on her back and crossed her arms behind her head, waiting for her next command. She took cool, calming breaths, trying to ignore her inability to swim. She loved this new suit.
Something tickled at her nose, and she opened her eyes.
There, on the roof, a black-hooded figure sat precariously, legs dangling from the edge, their black-gloved hands around a pair of binoculars.
The figure waved at Selina, and the thief’s eyebrows raised.
‘Well, this complicates things.’
She carefully removed her hands behind her head and slipped on her goggles, and in that transition, the black-clad figure was gone.
To be able to escape from a position like that in a second – feet dangling, leaning forward – was admittedly impressive.
It looked like there was a new player on the field. And she didn’t think the plan accounted for that.
“You know, I should put a bullet in you.”
Jonathan Crane looked up from his desk, and was about to retort when another guard spoke up. “I don’t have a problem with that. Three of my friends are stuck in that giant pit in the Bowery. Now we got ourselves some bait for Ivy to get rid of it.”
The other guard snorted. “Not likely. He’s a dude. Just another henchman to do her bidding, and tossed to the side. He’s probably so messed up in the head, he thinks he did all of it. Ain’t that right, freak?”
The suspect the two were escorting – wearing civilian clothes, stumbling along as the guards had his arms hooked and his hands cuffed – remained silent. He almost looked unconscious.
The guards didn’t seem to care. “Let’s just put him in Ivy’s old cell. I’d think he would like that.”
“What? We can’t do that. Sharp says he wants him in a regular cell with the others.”
“Says the guy that threatened to put a bullet in his head? Just do it. We can move him later. He’s not even on record yet.”
Crane’s gaze was steady on the newest prisoner. His long blond hair was dirty and slicked back, and his skin was pale and sickly. When he turned to the doctor, his mouth was pure black, and he could see the veins in his face pulsing out.
He recognized the symptoms. It was a man stuck in mid-poisoning. Ivy.
Without complaint, he was led into the glass chamber, its only distinct label being the sign on the door – ‘BIOHAZARDOUS’. The room was sealed, the only air provided through some one-way filters in the ceiling and on the sides, and there was nothing in there but a mounted down desk and a mounted down bed – same as Crane.
He stumbled into the room, and the door was quickly shut behind him. “I don’t know what you did,” one of them muttered, “or what she gave you to do it, but that powder shit you put in that pit might have killed almost forty policemen today. The only reason we didn’t put you with the rest is because they think you’re a fucking hero to them. I’m gonna give you the treatment you deserve.”
The prisoner sat on the bed and turned to them. “You’d think when so many lives are in danger,” he spoke in a raspy voice, “that whole mess would be protected a little more. I literally just walked up to it and threw the stuff in. Ivy said it’d be easy.” He lifted his cuffed hands and sniffed his palms, the green residue still there, even after they’d tried scrubbing it off, a reminder of the green goddess. “She’s always right.”
The guard’s fist slammed against the glass. “When we take you back to the cells,” he threatened, his teeth bared, “We’re gonna talk to you. Each and every one of us would like a word with you. Branden says he wants some alone time, too. You remember Branden, right? Almost took your head off with an axe earlier?”
“He’s still mad at you for that,” the other guard warned. “He spent all night on one of those limbs, and the powder fixed everything he did. He’s gonna be pissed when you see him. Hope he doesn’t bring the axe with him to interrogation.”
He stood back. “Don’t get used to being here. Your mistress couldn’t take it here, you won’t either.”
The sickly blond shrugged. “She escaped.”
He gave a dark chuckle. “Yeah, like you’re as good as Poison Ivy.”
“No one is.”
“Then you know she’s not gonna save you. You’re stuck here – with us.”
To which he merely shook his head, his brilliant blue eyes shining in defiance. “No. she won’t save me. I don’t want her to. I’m here for a greater cause. I’m here to spread the word about her. Let them know of her greatness, and what she can do.”
They simply scoffed. “I imagine she can do a lot of things. I can think of a few. It’ll probably be easy to convince those guys to work for her.”
“Which is another reason we’re gonna keep you down here.”
“Have a nice nap. Oh, and, we’ve since changed the sheets. No funny ideas.”
As they were walking away, the young man smiled, his teeth very yellow, and very sinister. “Oh, I won’t be here too long.” He eyed the prison cell across from him, and the man inside it. “Mister Crow.”
Crane nodded, and checked to see if the men were gone. “Mister Lock.”
Harry grinned. “So you do have a sense of humor. But how did you know it was me?”
“You’re still alive,” he explained easily, “even after being kissed by Pamela. Only one other has ever lived, and she was given that immunity by the lady herself.” He cocked his head. “But why are you in disguise? You’d be arrested in the same way, and sent here. I must admit, I’m perplexed.”
“The poisoned face is part of the disguise. To them, I’m a weak punk days away from death.”
“And in reality?”
“We’re breaking you out.”
He linked his hands behind his back. “And you had to be arrested to liberate me, I imagine? Find my whereabouts? Pamela must’ve remembered where she was arrested.”
The disheveled blond nodded the affirmative. “Of course. Just waiting for everyone to get into position. There’s going to be quite the distraction.”
Crane looked even more befuddled. “So your powers do have limits, then?”
“Not that I’m aware of. We could both easily disappear right now. But that would spoil the distraction later, and that’s part of our long-term plans. And this is, honestly, more fun.” He seemed to remember something. “How have they treated you here? Overall?”
Crane shrugged. “Better than you would think for Maximum Security. They’re aware that one day, we’ll escape. And sometimes… we’ll look out for our own. And we hold a grudge. And nothing brings us together more than an abusive cop. The low-lives are fair game, but we can’t be touched. A little bit of fear helps. If that answers your question.”
Harry nodded. “Thank you.”
“Nothing has happened to Pamela. You have my word.”
He gave another stiff nod. “She made a good choice with you for a friend.”
“As did she with you,” Jonathan commiserated, leaning against the glass. “But I shall worn you, I’m not fond of working with others, if this is a recruitment attempt.”
“No one on our team is,” Harry reminded him, laying back on his temporary bed. “But that doesn’t stop us. Just give us a moment to prove how capable we are as a team, and you’ll reconsider. Selina should be almost ready.”
“You were able to tame the Cat?” He stood there, his stitched together lips in a frown. “You have my attention.”
Harry suddenly frowned. “You know, I expected them to take me to the cells with the others. I assume there are cameras here?”
“Damn. Then I won’t be able to get to the control room unnoticed. I suppose some electrical interference needs to happen…”
“Or,” Jonathan said quickly, “I have a suggestion. They’ll let you out in a moment, for psych evaluation. On the record or not, she knows that someone else has been admitted into the prison. Doctor Whistler will arrange for a meeting, and you have to go to a different room for that.”
“Oh, joy,” Harry said blandly, but he had to admit that this worked in his favor. “Then I suppose we sit tight until they’re ready.”
“I don’t think we’re ready for this.”
Ivy looked up from her desk, surveying the monitors for the miscellaneous cameras around Gotham. It certainly explained the blackmail material that Riddler always seemed to have. “What’s the problem?”
“A big one. There’s a new vigilante on the streets.”
She quickly inspected the thief. “You okay?”
“He didn’t touch me. He was sitting on the top of the police building, just looking at me. He waved.”
Pamela gave a deep frown. “Well, that’s a wrench. Were you able to follow the plan?” Selina nodded. “Good. They’re supposed to see your little gift, so a warning by whoever you saw is pretty much pointless. They might play in our favor. We have to wait until Harley gets into position.”
“And then… it’s show time.”
Harley slowly drug her mallet through the dirt, whistling a merry tune. Her mismatched boots were in a graceful stride as she sauntered down the road.
The girl with the green and red hair had her eyes firmly set on the magnificent bronze statue of Cyrus Pinkney. The architect of Gotham stood tall and proud, his left arm crossed against his breast, the other at his side, his circle-framed glasses permanently fixtured upon the edge of his nose, forever looking over Gotham – forever surveying his masterpiece.
Well – not quite forever.
At the base of the statue, Harley took a few test swings with her mallet, completely ignoring the on-looking crowd surrounding her.
With one more one-handed flip of her most reliable weapon, she caught it in her hand and used the momentum to spin into a full circle.
Usually, when faced with a fully bronzed statue, a wooden mallet with a good two and a half inches of silver plating around the head wouldn’t do much. In fact, it’s almost detrimental to the attacker, as striking it directly would only rattle her from the extreme vibrations. And shatter her favorite instrument entirely.
Luckily, she had magic on her side. An impervious charm and several attack-based charms later, and she felt confident in her new and improved weapon.
So, as she swung full force into the left ankle of the immortalized vision of Gotham’s architect, she wasn’t exactly shocked to hear the equivalent of shattering bone, but she was surprised to see the shattering of splinters.
As it turns out, the statue wasn’t entirely made of bronze.
And over a hundred people took witness as the statue of Cyrus Pinkney began to lean over, only one partially damaged leg supporting him, until the bronze layer began to crack and whittle away, exposing the wooden support beneath.
Ripe for chopping down. And while she didn’t have an axe, she supposed what she had was close enough.
The screams were nothing to her as she violently struck down a landmark of Gotham. They remembered what Harley and Ivy did before to the statue, simply spray-painting one side green, and the other side red, as a public announcement of Harley’s first crime one year ago; a practice round for things to come, and a message to the people of Gotham. Not a threat, per se, but more a declaration of… fun times coming.
This… this was no cheap crime. This was a true and honest threat. To Gotham. To the GPD. To the Batman. To everyone that stood in her way.
And as the newly face-painted vixen leaped onto the base and swung with all her might at the midsection of Pinkney’s crumbling body, everyone had one thought in their minds – get in her way, and you could be that statue.
Watching a statue fly into the air in the same fashion as SWAT team leader Howard Brandon, was a very scary sight indeed. And she held onto the pose for a few more seconds, as if watching her homerun hit, grinning all the while.
Finally, she turned to face her crowd. She set the hammer down and leaned against it, crossing her ankles. With an imperious look, she only needed to say one word: “Scram.”
The crowd was dispersed more quickly than she imagined. While she wasn’t a fan of the screaming panic, especially the scared kids, she felt a sort of perverse pleasure at the fact that she invoked it.
It was something she knew she could get used to.
Shaking out her arms and jumping in place, she stood at the elevated base of the once proud statue, its bronzed shoes being the only evidence of what once was, and began to kneel, folding her arms against the head of her mallet.
And she waited. She knew it wouldn’t take long.
With one last forlorn glance, Captain James Gordon threw away the communication device. It had been a little over 24 hours, the amount of time the Batman said it would be activated, and since there was no drop-off point in the note attached to the device, he assumed it was disposable.
All of the case files. All of the information the GPD had acquired, or at least speculated. Pretty much everything was placed in his hands.
Gordon prayed that it was worth it. And if it wasn’t, then everything could lead back to him.
Helping and abetting Public Enemy Number One was never a good bullet point on anyone’s resume, and he knew he wouldn’t survive in prison. He doubted he could make any friends, considering he had arrested over thirty percent of them. The remainder had found a mortal enemy in the man he was working with.
He almost laughed at the thought that in order to escape, he may have to become a vigilante himself.
He turned around and faced the man he put in charge the previous night. “Harvey. Report.”
“Nothing on the front of the vine pit. Brandon seemed to make some headway, bringing fire axes and attempting to chop down the pit.”
“Against my orders?”
He shrugged. “Couldn’t do anything else. We tried the fire thing. Made the damn thing stronger, thanks for that. We tried ice, because, you know, it’s a plant. Liquid nitrogen. Zilch. We obviously couldn’t use guns in the thing, but we tried it on the edges. Didn’t do a thing against the big vines, but we managed to make a hole in a little one. All the weed-killing chemicals we brought into it just got absorbed. So we had to try cutting it. Chainsaws and Axes, a fucking C-4 explosive on the edge of that monstrosity! The small ones were gone, but the big ones… the big ones were beginning to shrivel. We were making headway. And then… well, I tried to warn ya when it happened.”
He felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. “What happened, Bullock?”
He stuffed his hands into his trench coat pockets. “One of Ivy’s minions showed up. Had all the looks of a poisoned victim, by her. Somehow, he got through all of us, and threw some kind of powder into the pit. We lost everything. From what I can tell, our guys might still be alive in there, but everything we could do since, won’t work anymore. They were watching. They saw what were doing, and sent someone to stop us. And it worked. We’re boned.”
Gordon’s fist was tightening at every word. “Where the hell is he?”
“Blackgate. He’s a dead man walking, poison or not.”
“No. Put him in solitary. I need him alive.”
“If you wanna talk, you better hurry. Get to first base with Ivy, you’re usually dead in minutes. It’s been an hour. I had the guard alert me when he kicks it.”
He snatched the gun out of his drawer, and began to load the weapon while blindly grabbing for his coat. “Tell them to put him in interrogation. I’ll be there in ten.”
“One more thing.” He tilted his head over to the window at the far side of the room. “It’s probably a prank, but who do you think could’ve done that?”
Gordon blinked and looked over to as of yet unnoticed window, stopping mid-load. “This is the eighth floor. Who could get to this window?”
“That’s what I’m trying to figure out.”
Jim, despite his logical mind telling him that this should be a low priority compared to everything else happening today, couldn’t shake his curiosity and looked closer.
“Son of a bitch,” he swore, and reached for the radio on his hip.
He gave one last look at the carved-in message to the window – a portrait of a face, one of the most familiar faces in town, with a single thorn-stemmed rose taped across it. “Every off-duty officer get to Central Square! We have a situation! Report to the Cyrus Pinkney statue!”
He hurried his preparations and ran, disregarding the discoloration of the rose taped to the window. A red stem, with black petals.
Bullock gave the appearance of setting up for his own departure for a few more minutes, until he made sure he was in the clear. “Ten minutes,” he said to himself.
“Ten minutes,” Harley spoke into the receiver. “That’s when the cops should get here. Everything ready?”
“Of course,” the redhead responded. “Vicki’s in the – wait.”
“What? What happened?”
“Something’s wrong with the feed. It’s not responding – we don’t have access to it anymore!”
“That’s a good damn question,” she muttered, turning on her monitor on the side. “What the – the regular news is back on. Someone hacked our hack!”
“Check the surveillance. What do you see?”
“Oh. Riddler’s apparently tied up.”
“We’re all in the middle of something. Can it wait?”
“Sorry, but not in that way. He’s been captured, and I can’t tell by who, but it isn’t Batman. It looks like what Selina warned me earlier about.”
“And according to the real news, the Monarch Theater was burned to the ground late last night.”
“And… there. All better.”
“You shouldn’t be here,” a gruff voice disciplined from the shadows.
The newest vigilante in town turned from the computers directly to the source. “I was tired of waiting for you to do anything about it. I was tired for everyone else to get off their asses. So it’s my turn.” Quickly, the computer became a priority again, and the hardened vigilante lost the new hero’s interest. “Ready to be useful again? Eddie could use a ride to Blackgate.”
“Your work is done here.”
“Oh, to the contrary; my work is just beginning. Don’t lecture me on what’s too dangerous for me. We’re both dealing with something beyond our level. So much so that you’ve even started taking… desperate measures.” The hood flipped back. “But what you need is someone who works so close to the system, breaking it is a habit. The GPD can’t get you the information you need. And you need more tech support, because frankly, this shouldn’t have been an ongoing problem. It’s been seventeen hours of their twenty-four hour broadcast. The message is already through, and they are winning.”
“No, they’re not. We have the advantage on them now. Quinn is at the Central Square, and you captured Riddler.”
“And that’s just great. Warlock doesn’t need them, and he can break them out anytime he wants. If anything, they could be another distraction.”
“… You need a mask.”
“I don’t plan on being close enough for them to see my face. I’ll do reconnaissance. You can keep the dirty work.”
“If you insist. Name?”
The new vigilante’s hood was raised once more. “Black Robin, at your service.” With a few more keystrokes, the flash drive plugged into the computer network was removed. “Let’s see them try to get through that.” Black Robin looked over to the tied up form of the man in green. “But it looks like you’ll never get a crack at it, doesn’t it?” When the vigilante looked back over to Batman, he was gone, and only a small round device was left in his place – a speaker/receiver type device. “Huh. I should start doing that.”
“I see that you have not revealed your name.”
“Sorry. I’m not exactly part of the system yet. The name’s Dudley.”
“I see. And your last name, Mister Dudley?”
The renowned psychologist, Dr. Gretchen Whistler, made a few notes to her pad. “Well, Mister Vernon, I am pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“Can we make this quick, doc? I’ve got an appointment with the Grim Reaper in, like, ten minutes. Give or take.”
“Yes, I’ve been briefed on the situation. And while no one’s ideal position for their last moments is a psych evaluation, it is protocol for anyone that enters the doors of Blackgate facility to have their mental faculties examined.”
“A lot of big words, doc,” the blond teen pointed out with crossed arms. “But I got the gist of it. Everyone else seemed okay with breaking protocol when it comes to me.”
“Ah yes,” Doctor Whistler noted, before she elaborated. “I hope you understand the situation. It is for your own protection.”
“She says to the dead man walking,” he scoffed. “But from what I was told, it’s not for my protection. It’s for theirs. Who knows what vicious inspiration I might incite from the prisoners, after allegedly killing thirty-seven boys in blue?”
“And you feel no remorse from what you’ve done? The pain that you’ve made them suffer?”
“I did say ‘allegedly’, right lady? Don’t go putting blame on me for something I had no real part in.”
“They were close to destroying it. Saving them was only a matter of time. You impeded their progress.”
“Several things in there.” He held up one of his cuffed fists, and began ticking off his fingers. “One – considering I work for Poison Ivy, having her babies destroyed and calling it ‘progress’ isn’t exactly the best way to earn my cooperation. No respect from you people. Two – not once did I imply that any single one of them are actually dead. They could be in stasis, for all we know. Innocent ‘til proven guilty, correct? Three – I do not need to be here, and you know it. I am not a psychopath. I’m a well-balanced teenager, with an imbalanced sense of justice. From your point of view, at least. If you’re holding me here, just tell me. Aren’t you supposed to be building trust with me? And four.” He tilted his head towards the door. “Everything I tell you in this room is confidential. So who’s the cute brunette spying on us?”
It took quite a few moments for her to respond. “That… that is my assistant. Doctor Young. You can come in.”
It took even longer for the youthful brunette to shake her head at the display of confidence the teen boasted, and pushed in the door. “Good morning, Mister Vernon.”
“Do not bother,” the doctor spoke crisply, her German accent getting thicker. “Whatever his name is, it wasn’t what he was born with. At times, you can tell that he’s reading from a script. Pre-planned lines. What’s peculiar is that he looked that way when he told us his own name.”
“Why, doctor,” he gasped, “are you implying that I broke our patient-doctor confidentiality and gave you a false name? How… trendsetting of me.”
“That rule has been terminated; we no longer need to keep secrets, within reason or otherwise.”
“Huh – a lot’s changed since I’ve read up on it.”
“You can thank one of our prisoners, Victor Zsasz, for abusing the rule at every opportunity, in every single way.”
“Oh – alright then. Since we’re being honest with each other – you tell me who we’re all waiting for, and I’ll tell you my name.”
The veteran doctor quickly weighed her options. “Captain James Gordon is on his way to interrogate you about the incident you caused, and to interrogate you about your boss.”
‘Dudley’ frowned. “That’s disappointing. You’d think the Man in Bat would have wanted a word with me.”
“Oh? You think yourself that important?”
“Why, yes. Yes I do. You’d think he’d come gliding straight here when word spreads that you’ve managed to arrest the Warlock.”
He was met with incredulous faces. “Oh, come on, now! You think I’d still be alive if I didn’t have something propping me up? I have magic.”
“My thoughts exactly.”
He looked over to the doorway. “Jimmy! It’s been a while. It’s rude to enter before knocking. I don’t know what kind of rag-tag team of cops you’re running to not obey simple manners.”
“Save it, clown.”
“…Sorry, the reference escapes me. Are you referring to the horribly disfigured black mouth, my poisoned discolored veins, and my almost translucent face due to the lack of blood? That was in terrible taste, Jim.”
“Speaking of; where is she?”
The green one or the crazy one? Oh, who are we kiddin’? They’re all crazy! Women, right?” He shrugged. “Love ‘em to bits, though. In a world where an alien falls from another universe with an overactive magical drive and plenty of free time on his hands ever needed a couple of beautiful lawbreakers to help him out, I probably couldn‘t have found better, that‘s for sure.”
Gordon slammed his hands on the table. “Where. Is. Ivy. Freak!”
He took a few seconds to ponder the answer. “Well, here’s the problem. So there we were, in the throes of passion, screaming each other’s name – well, I was mumbling her name, because I’m a manly man – and all of a sudden, my magic is vulnerable for a second, and her poison enters my system. I didn’t even notice until this morning. We had a big plot prepared, too, but I had to sit this out. This is all I’m good for. Mostly because it hurts to walk.”
“It hurts to walk?” Jim asked skeptically.
“No one’s bothered to strip me since I’ve gotten here, Gordo. Trust me when I say that lip contact isn’t the only source of her poison. Her whole body is a weapon, and I was right stuck in the middle of it all. So to speak.”
Only Gordon’s years of professionalism kept him from shuddering, or feeling any sort of sympathy. “So why get yourself arrested? Under a disguise, no less?”
“Well, you’re here, aren’t you? I don’t need you destroying our plans.”
He felt his pulse quicken. “Plans?”
The Warlock leaned in closer to the Captain; as close as the handcuffs bolted to the table would allow. “You’re halfway across town, the entire opposite direction of Central Square. You do know what a ‘distraction’ is, right, bozo? Nice to meet you.”
“You know in hindsight,” Harley told herself, “maybe this would’ve been more fun if Gordon was here. Now I’ve just got the peanut gallery to deal with.”
“Just keep them distracted for twenty more minutes, love,” Ivy spoke through the communicator. “Gordon should be on his way now.”
“Well, there’s nothing left for me to destroy while I’m standing here,” she said, referring to the now useless base, only useful to hold the plaque commemorating the architect of Gotham – which now featured an oddly circular embed in the middle. “But I’m sure I can find something to hold my attention.”
“Well, if you do need something to do, Eddie could always use some help. He should be on his way to Blackgate right now. Though I’ve never seen Batman’s aircraft during the day. He might try a more subtle mode of transportation.”
“Roger that.” She tossed the mallet into the air, and caught it by the handle. “When I’m finished up here, I’ll extract him with the others.”
“We need him to get back into the satellites.”
“There’s another way. Tell Vicki to start recording. I’ll think of something.”
“Hello, faithful viewers. This is Vicki Vale, reporting live from an undisclosed area, for my own safety. If you’ve turned on the television in the last seventeen hours, you are no doubt aware of Femme Fatale’s warnings, and the Warlock’s debut into Gotham. And while our playback video was recently taken down, no doubt announcing this city’s answer and sealing our fate, the team has been very busy as of late.
“The infamous scene where it all began, at the intersection of the Jezebel Plaza, has taken hostage thirty-seven officers, courtesy of Poison Ivy’s plants. Some notable names include Captain Jack Grogan, Lieutenant Arnold Flass, and Officer Rich DeCarlo, a man recently in the news for pending charges of police brutality.
“Unfortunately, this act of retaliation was to be expected, following the attempted attack that occurred minutes before the ambush, led by one Jack Grogan. This will not stop until both sides agree to each other’s demands. One side can’t hope to achieve everything until both sides agree to listen.
“Allow me this peace treaty – earlier this morning, a mere hour ago, The Warlock allowed himself to be arrested. He has agreed to step into their territory, handcuffed and poisoned – absolutely powerless. There, he will be available to negotiate a deal with the police commissioner, or the mayor. He is only asking for an agreeable party, to talk over the terms of his release, and the terms of the plant life that Ivy champions. According to him, this will be his final warning to the city of Gotham.”
“Ignore it!” James yelled frantically into the police radio, after hearing the message on his own car radio. “Ignore the broadcast signal! They’re baiting us! Everyone continue on your route to Central Square. Essen, call ahead to traffic control to clear a path! He can’t do anything right now – we’ll deal with him later.”
“God help the people of Gotham,” Vicki’s voice was heard over the channels, broadcasting into every home with a radio. “I for one can only hope this ends in a way that is agreeable to every party. If not, then this reporter recommends some cheap apartments in Metropolis.”
Jenkins was struck in the jaw for his foolishness. He had been planning to flank the blond mallet-wielder for ten minutes. Ten grueling, meticulous minutes.
Only problem was, she knew he was there the whole time.
“Stay down,” she warned in a sing-song voice, and he had no problem complying.
Looking over her shoulder, she managed to duck an oncoming axe. “Seriously?!” she yelled, knowing it came from the nearest SWAT team member.
With a flesh-eating grin, she spun against another oncoming axe to hide behind one of their patrol cars.
Before they could even move to check, they heard a sickening crack, and a tell-tale thud of a body colliding with the ground. When they turned around, all they saw was a heavily armored man, lying on the ground – a noticeable dent in his helmet.
“You don’t wanna play fair?” a voice echoed – something they were getting very familiar with. “Fine. I’m tired of playing with kiddy gloves anyway.”
“Come out, Quinn! There’s no escape!”
There was a high-pitched giggle. “You obviously got no idea who you’re dealing with!”
“Try us!” another yelled.
She didn’t. Rather, she made them wait. They swore they saw her drifting in and out of the shadows, and covered each other’s backs while they were forced to hold out, their guns at the ready.
To a trained officer, it wasn’t the fight that should scare you. No, it’s not knowing who – or what – you were fighting, and especially not knowing where the fight was going to come from.
And so far, they’ve seen things that Harley Quinn should never have done. Even through the adrenaline, they knew that.
Who did a cartwheel to escape a machine gun salvo?
In the distance they heard a squeal of tires.
“It’s been fun, gentlemen.” The voice was distant, now. “But I must go. My people need me.”
One man chose to walk forward, his hands spread out, one occupied with a Mamba pistol and the other, a submachine gun. “Face us, you coward!” Lacking in decorum, Wilson was known as a hothead. Usually, he let his gun do all the talking. And he did a lot of talking.
Today, he was going to learn a very important lesson.
The mallet flew in from nowhere, and Wilson barely had time to acknowledge its existence and how fast it was going before it brushed past his ear, and the silver-gleaming weapon flew past the group, and slammed itself into the adjacent building.
While the group looked at the damage the hammer did in horror, Wilson quietly acknowledged that the instrument, had it been a little to the left, would have gathered his brain matter on the way to the wall. It still did not deter him from his mission, so he turned back towards the source.
Standing in his way was a man who was supposed to be bleeding from his brain, or at the very least unconscious, but there he was, a heavily armored officer, the dent still on the top right of his helmet, standing as if nothing had happened.
It was only maybe a half of a second of confusion before it clicked into place, and then the officer attacked.
And so, the scene Gordon and the remaining officers arrived at was one of an aftermath of a twisted action movie. There she was, again leaning against her choice instrument of destruction, surveying her work, her dented helmet tucked beneath her arm. The damage surrounding her was something that she could appreciate. It was new to her, and that small bit of hesitancy she had earlier, was now as much as a myth as the people’s hope that the police of Gotham could protect them.
She swung her mallet over her shoulder as she heard the slamming of car doors. “You guys really don’t learn, do ya?”
James pulled back the hammer of his gun, and began to feel an overwhelming wave of déjà vu. “Come with us, Quinn. We won’t hesitate to shoot.”
She looked around. “I’m sure one of these bozos said that at one time.” She smiled, her black-painted lips both complimenting the stark-white makeup and black rings around her eyes, and made her oh so terrifying. “They went back on their word. Besides, we all know you’ll hesitate, Boy Scout.”
He grit his teeth. “Don’t test me, Quinn. I’ve had a bad week.”
“You’re welcome,” she bowed. “And you’ve been a bit of a thorn in our sides. Really, all of you have. But while we were sure Batman wouldn’t fall for our plan, you guys didn’t disappoint.”
His eyes narrowed. “What the hell are you talking about?”
Her watch beeped, and she looked at her wrist. “Oh, would you look at that? I’m glad I got this bloody thing fixed.”
Jim lowered his gun, dumbfounded at what he just heard. It wasn’t the lack of her New York accent that got to him. It was the addition of an entirely different – and familiar – accent. “No…”
Harley Quinn’s eyes shone with mirth, and faster than they could process, slung her mallet straight at the Captain. He only managed to get off a shot, but it easily deflected off the weapon, not even making a dent, and he quickly propelled himself out of the way, taking a partner who was slower on the draw on the way down.
Even before he looked back towards her direction, he knew she was gone. And she was, not leaving a trace behind, other than the battered bodies behind.
That cinched it for him. “We played right into their trap.” As he suspected, when he turned back to the mallet, there was nothing behind but the caved in cop vehicle. He slammed his fist into the dirt. “That wasn’t Quinn! They played us! They just wanted us to be far away from the prison!” He looked up at the rest of the officers. “What are you waiting for? Get back to Blackgate!”
The Warlock found himself back in his cell, Ivy’s old cell, across from Jonathan Crane once again, now sporting a regulation orange jumpsuit. He toyed with the invisible watch on his wrist, thankful that they didn’t locate that. Hearing Vicki’s broadcast from a nearby sleeping guard who left his radio on, he sat up from his temporary bed. “I don’t think they’re good listeners.”
“Perhaps the citizens of Gotham would pay heed to your warnings if you texted it to them?”
He chuckled. “Not enough time. Got about five ’til the spell wears off.” He looked pointedly at the slacking guard. “But I need to get the control room. I can’t just wait until Harry gets here.”
“So you are planning on breaking out, then?”
The blond looked over to see Penelope Young, leaning against an empty cell grate. “You just do not like to ignore conversations, do you?”
“Guilty. Are you disappointed in me?”
“No. More curious.” She held her clipboard in her crossed arms. “You don’t have a drop of poison in your veins at all, do you?”
“I don’t know about that. I’ve got a story about a snake to tell you later. When we meet again.”
“You plan on coming back here?”
“Of course. My psych eval was cut short. I’m kinda curious about my results.”
Her eyes flickered from her clipboard, and back to him. It was subtle, but he caught it. It was something he trained himself to study. “Well, call me curiouser. I’ve got time to spare. Let’s hear it.”
Penny considered the sensitive situation she was put in. She knew that if she refused to, that would give him more time to plan his escape. So there was no chance of alerting a guard, against a wizard who wasn’t poisoned to begin with. That just meant more bloodshed. She’d rather only one casualty happened today; even if it meant her own. “Okay.” She took a deep breath.
“You seem to be normal, at first glance. Your lies aside, you have a dark sense of humor. While that in itself is fairly normal, there was something strange you mentioned: you kept boasting your partners up, while putting yourself down, under the pretenses of sarcasm and the like. You have confidence issues. You feel like you contribute the least to the team, and you make up for it with being the class clown. You use jokes to throw people off, and your wits to turn the tables around. However, beyond that, you overcompensate your abilities to impress others. You believe your rite of passage is to serve as the distraction.”
He shrugged. “Maybe more or less.”
“This would match up perfectly to a man that was once a powerful warlock, who had recently just lost his powers – these doubts of self-worth. However, we’re not dealing with that, are we?”
“Pretty, bright, and observant. I like you.” He pondered the situation for a few moments. “Let me give you a quick outer-body experience. You’re absolutely right. I’m not the most gifted member on my team. I mean, I’ve got my own skill set – perks that’ll make an international spy bow his head in shame – but I’m no superhuman. Just yesterday, I was trying to do magic, of course to no avail. I even had a little bit of a crisis this morning.” He sighed and laid back in the bed. “Until yesterday, I was the smartest in the room. Before that, I was trying to work on my stealth. Sneaking missions go a long way. And then the mistress of sneaking joined our little team. So, all in all, I’ve got problems. For a long time, I’ve been searching to find something all my own. It’s why I made the choice to be what I am today – in this damn place, no less! But I’m not bitching about it. I just needed to hear it from a professional. Though it gives me solace to know one thing.”
“Oh?” Dr. Young took a step back from the chamber – just in case. “And that is?”
“I knew that you were going to say all of that. I knew you were going to jump to that conclusion. And while I didn’t want you to hear that I wasn’t poisoned and powerless, I knew that if I kept that secret, that everything would have made perfect sense. ‘Cause, you see, what you’re doing right now; that’s what I’ve always wanted to do. And to see that I could look at myself objectively like that, and be able to nail every bullet point from a trained professional, from a prison that only takes the best – well, suffice it to say, you’ve made me the happiest little girl in the world.”
Penny blinked, not sure if she heard that right. “Excuse me?”
“You know, they say that looking at yourself with a non-judgmental eye is the most difficult thing in the world to do. So a self-diagnosis is never recommended. That’s what makes me proud, doc. And if this entire plan couldn’t work to a T, then maybe my ego would have been a little bit damaged. But you just gave me another reason to like you, doc. Because I don’t need powers to do what I do best. And what I do best is…”
There was a beeping sound, and before he could say another word, his body began to transform. His legs and arms began to grow shorter, and his hair longer. He hunched over, gritting his teeth, the hands gripping his elbows beginning to thin. But what really caught Penny’s attention was his face. The rings around his eyes began to expand and darken, and his pale, pale face began to grow even paler. His blackened veins began to recede, and his sickly, crusted lips took on a slick sheen. Shining, smirking lips – a smirk Gotham was very familiar with, and had every right to fear.
When the change was complete, a new person was in the cell, and while there were many changes – many, very noticeable and obvious changes – the sinister grin was all Penelope could see. “What I do best,” she continued, her bright blue eyes unchanged, “is know how to be me. The name’s Harley. See you soon.” She reached down into her regulation orange slacks, and pulled out a small ball. Throwing it to the ground, she waved at the doctor, before a cloud of opaque smoke filled the glass prison.
Penny shrieked, and ran forward to the sleeping guard. She shook him frantically, not losing sight of the smoky chamber, until the guard collapsed off the chair.
She screamed, and in the massive confusion and bewilderment, she didn’t see the white-faced jester creek open the door.
Within moments, she collapsed next to the guard, joining him in sweet oblivion.
“I thought you liked her,” Jonathan commented for the first time, thoroughly entertained by the entire exchange. “Why kill her?”
“They’re not dead,” she said very casually, approaching his cell. “They’re sleeping. With any luck, she’ll be my co-worker in a few years. I could use a friend here. Seeing as I’m breaking out half the prison.” She shrugged her shoulders. “Coast is clear; you can come out your cell, now. I still need to get to the control room.”
“Let us proceed,” he nodded, opening the door effortlessly and the two headed on, Crane leading the way. “The evidence locker should be nearby. My suit should be there.”
“Meet me in the control room in ten. That’s when everyone should be ready for extraction.”
“The real Warlock?”
“Yup. I may have seemed a little frustrated when I was ‘opening up’ to the doctor, but I really do appreciate him. Him and Ivy… they’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
She said it with as much sincerity as her speech before, he silently noted. “You seem very conflicted about your place.”
She rolled up her now too-long sleeves as she walked along. “Oh, I know my place. Right with those two. And I don’t regret a second of it.” She paused. “Well, maybe the time I almost turned his head to paste. I could probably take that back.”
“A story I’m sure you’ll regale me with when we reunite?”
“Sure, Crow. It’s a deal.”
“Er, If you be excusing me, miss.”
Harley stopped, and eyed the giant man in his cell as Crane went on. “Uh, yeah?”
“You be happening to be Miss Harley, Would ya?”
She leaned against the opposite wall in the hallway, crossing her arms. “Maybe.”
He went to his mattress and slid out a folded piece of paper. “Ya see, miss, I was tasked with the burden of findin’ ya, I was, but I was arrested. Gun shipment gone bad, ya see? But, um…” He unfolded the paper. “You have been cordiality invited to an all-expenses paid cruise aboard the Meredith, and VIP with Mister Oswald Cobblepot, Captain. Bring ya friends. P.S. – I promise I won’t ask ya ta work for me and/or entatain tha fellas. Ya have my word this time.”
“Greedy little bastard finally learned his lesson, eh?” Harley kicked off the wall. “Fine. My team and I will discuss it. When we release you, you can go and tell Penguin that the message was delivered, and we’ll be over there within five days, whether we accept or not.”
“Ya plan to break us out? Thank ya, miss!”
“No problem, big guy!” And she skipped along to the control room, unknowingly making a friend, and building her reputation among the peons in the underground.
Ivy leaned back in her chair, crossing her arms. “You are completely and utterly in the clear,” she whispered into the headset, grinning. “No extra security in the prison. Just the bare bones. Do me proud, baby.”
Vicki, who was now at her side, eyed the security camera of the outside of the prison. “How long do you think it will take to get there?”
“Normally, thirty minutes,” she explained. “While the presence of my babies caused a gridlock, it’s not a main street. So detours are plenty. Unfortunately, there have been roadblocks set up on the road to allow the cops to get to the Central Square, once it was reported that all police needed to get there.”
“Let me guess – the roadblocks have been removed.”
“Of course. The main threat was supposed to be in the Square, right? And the people need to get through, now that the cops are where they needed to be.” She pointed to the streets on a few of the screens on the left – and the many cars that filled all the lanes, including the emergency shoulder lanes. “Blackgate is ours for the taking. But it’s not over yet.”
“Why do I feel that today isn’t over yet?” Harley asked her magical boyfriend once their lips parted.
“Because it isn’t,” he admitted. “Right now, we’re waiting for Eddie. We couldn’t give you a communicator, so we’ve got a lot to fill you in on.”
“Oh, joy,” she droned for the second time that day. “Eh, bright side, I can finally get out of these hideous garbs.”
“That you can,” he agreed, and her orange jumpsuit was quickly replaced with her usual suit – the wonders of magic. “Now – time to see how much of his memories I can sift through to make sense of all of this.” He observed the blinking lights and the black and white monitors in the control room.
“Actually,” Harley reasoned, “I think I can help.” She was aware that he hadn’t dealt with much technology in his world, and at least she knew the universal symbol of the ‘eject’ button. “I’ll get the security tapes. You try getting to the manual override.”
“Flip the red switch.”
Harry paused and pressed his earpiece further into his ear. “Selina? You’ve done this before?”
“No. But it’s always the red switch.”
“And if there’s a few rows of black switches next to it,” Vicky reasoned next to her, “then it doesn’t hurt to flip those, either.”
Harry blinked in surprise. “It’s there.”
“Good,” Harley sighed in relief, her hands full of small black tapes. “Spell in place?”
“Curse,” he gently corrected her. “And yes. We’re good to go.”
“You’re gonna have to explain the difference to me eventually.”
“And you’re gonna have to explain how the hell you can handle that mallet. It weighs at least a Vernon!”
“Skills, dude. The less you think about it, the more it makes sense.”
“That seems to be the overarching rule of Gotham City,” a voice sounded from the doorway. As he spoke, he was fitting his hand into the stitched together glove, the intimidating syringes still in place over each of his fingers, though empty. “Could you believe that they kept my things in a display case? I suppose they expected me to stay a legend – a mere myth, never to return.” He eyed the black and green-clad boy with curiosity. “A pleasure to meet the real Warlock. I’m guessing.”
“We’re ourselves,” Harry assured him. “And a pleasure to meet you, Doctor Crane.”
“Please,” he held up a hand, and the eyeholes cut into his mask, once a pitch-black, began to glow blood red. “Call me Scarecrow.”
“Well forgive my reluctance for handshaking,” Harry said jokingly, looking pointedly at the syringes, “but… welcome to the team.”
Pure, unadulterated, chaos.
Blackgate was on fire.
“And that is why you need help,” a voice said quietly into the Dark Knight’s ear. “You can’t deny it now.”
His silence spoke volumes. But what he said next spoke even more. “I know. Help is coming.”
“Hopefully, you called in the one who can take on a God. Because that’s what you’re dealing with.”
“No. His powers are limited. You have to fight fire with fire.”
“So who did you get?”
“An old friend.”
But of course, the Dark Knight was never one to wait. The crowd of escaping criminals, freely running out of the front of the notorious prison, grew and grew.
As did his patience. Shaking his head wearily, very aware of the fact that he had not slept in nearly two days – something that, while he was fairly used to, knew Alfred would not fail to remind him – he spread out his arms and began to lean forward, falling into the fray.
It was time to remind Gotham – and himself – who really introduced the concept of fear.
“And here, I was hoping to relax on the ‘coming home’ run of my tour,” Zatanna muttered dejectedly, seeing a billow of smoke from her hotel room window.
“You really expected that?” her apprentice asked, with an unmistakably droll tone.
She sighed again, but this time, there was a wisp of a smile. “I suppose not, Rachel. It is Gotham, after all.” She looked back at the purple-clad teen. “So tell me – what have you learned so far?”
“That you like to play games.” Her voice began to take on an ethereal tone. “And parlor tricks are a decent way to pass time and make money.” Her eyes began to glow an eerie red. “But the mediocrity is over, and you like to test your strength just as much as I do. And I’ve never had much of a chance to be a hero.”
Zatanna lifted the top hat off her head, revealing a fluffy ball of white. “You may want to sit this one out, Bud.” The bunny made the leap from her head to the bed, and began to nap on the pillow. “So I guess we don’t have a choice, do we Rachel?”
For the briefest of seconds, the grey-skinned girl allowed herself a smirk. “Do I have the look of a ‘Rachel’, right now?” Where there were once two glowing eyes, were now four, and they were all staring at her with a burning intensity.
The magician opened the window and leaned against the sill. “Fine, then. Raven. Ready to go hunting?”
When she raised her purple hood, the girl only had three words to say.
Author’s Note: Come on. We all know what the words are. You’d be desperately confused about the entire story if you didn’t know the basics of AMZ.
For those who needed a visual reference, for the characters I’m drawing from. Of course you can picture the animated versions as well. Except Scarecrow. The Arkham version of this dude is scary. (Note: I found the picture of Zatanna after I wrote her scene. The bunny under her top hat is … just perfect. I like it when everything works out.)
Seriously, though – If you love drawing, and you love my stories, any and all artwork will be greatly appreciated. Make sure you watermark it!
So, I changed some things around, that will become obvious as to why in upcoming chapters. And maybe a little bit in the Omake below. Still taking submissions, by the way. And Hermione, on her never-ending quest to jump through worlds to save her boyfriend, not unlike a plumber would to save a princess, could also use your help to decide on her next adventure, and her next recruit. I’ve been binge watching a certain show on Netflix, and trust me when I say that it would make for an epic finale. Got a lot planned involving that world.
And while I have a personal list of banned shows/worlds, I’ll take all suggestions into consideration. So, list a few for me. Soon enough, I’ll need to make another timeline to put on my WordPress blog.
Omake (noun): Extra, or an add-on.
Used in a sentence – This is an Omake by Rihaan:
“So, where is our next stop?”
Hermione frowned. “I don’t know, actually.” She glanced over at Bella, who raised an eyebrow with a curious look. “Well, I wasn’t exactly thinking this through when I started this whole journey. I just looked at the facts, and forced myself to make a decision. I think I’m doing all this for a reason, I just need to figure out what it is.”
“You mean… kidnapping me?” There was a smile when she said it, and a tilt of a laugh.
“Oh, hush you. You chose to come with me.”
“And as long as we don’t run out of gas, I suppose I won’t regret it.”
The brunette scoffed. “We ran out of gas hours ago, Bella. We’ve been running on magic since we left the hotel.”
The pale girl blinked a few times. “Well, that explains the car being so quiet.”
Hermione nodded the affirmative. “As to where we’re going, that all depends on where the wand is taking me.”
“Your wand?” She took a quick look around. “And you’re getting directions from it from inside your pocket?”
“Remember when I said that I looked at the facts and decided I had to go? Well, in the past twenty-four hours, I’ve had a mother lode of information dropped on me. One of which had me stealing something that was apparently very special to me. At least, that’s what my friend Daphne said.” She reached up into the truck’s visor and pulled out a long, thin piece of wood, which Bella rightfully assumed was the wand. “Of course, I trust Daphne. So I have every right to believe that I am in possession of the Elder Wand. And if it wasn’t mine, I wouldn’t have been able to summon it straight into my palm, past all protections.”
“So, what is all of that supposed to mean?”
“There’s a fable that children born into magic would read, like a fairy tale. But most fairy tales are based on facts in a world filled with magic. However, this is one of the few books that was probably a nonfiction. Collect three objects, and you have the power to control your own power, your fate, and death itself. And this was the last piece in the puzzle. Funny, how life works like that.”
“Is that how you managed to get to my, umm… world?”
“As far as I can tell. Had I not unknowingly taken ownership of it minutes before Harry went through the veil, even with two of the objects on him, we likely wouldn’t have survived. Our magicks are tied and his fate is mine. So this wand, should work for the both of us easily.
“The actual problem is finding the veil. It’s hidden in his world. Inaccessible until it’s revealed. We know where it is, but we can’t do anything about it until we use a reveal charm on it – from this wand. And now, I have to get this to him.”
“What veil did you use to get to me?”
“It was in the outskirts of your town, Forks. You didn’t notice, but while you were writing in your journal, I drove through it. The problem is that I drove right through it. It did nothing, like it wasn’t even there. We’re still in your world. The one at my home and the one near you seem quite insistent that I don’t get directly to Harry. I don’t feel positive about the next one.”
“So, is there a giant veil in the outskirts of my town, now?”
“It was a timed reveal charm. Should have disappeared in minutes. What really concerns me is the lack of power I have over these portals.”
Bella tucked her legs underneath her, and leaned against the window. “Well, when you thought of Harry, and landed here, could that mean that he could actually be where I am? In the outskirts of New York, you said? We have one of those, you know.”
“I don’t remember reading in your books about superheroes destroying and rebuilding your New York.”
Bella pondered to herself for a moment. “Well… in a sense, we do.”
Hermione swiftly turned her head to the teen who was now biting her lip. Damn, they needed to stop at another hotel soon. “Oh? Do tell.”
“They’re not superheroes, per se,” she tried to explain, “but they certainly try to be. Not the world, but they do a pretty good job saving the city. I’d say they are the purest form of vigilantism.”
“I see.” She focused on the road again, her magic temporarily driving for her. “So there are a few of these ‘heroes’. Do you think any of them would like to help me?”
“As far as I heard, they’re dealing with some bad guy.”
“How big of a threat is he?”
“Well, I heard he has a lot of guns and some henchmen more twisted than he is – and that may be saying something.”
“So why is he the boss?”
Hermione shook her head. “That’d do it. Which part of New York?”
“I believe it was Staten Island.”
“I’ve been to a few places: Egypt, France, Japan, Germany. Never the States. So I wouldn’t know how to apparate there. And seeing as I left Harry’s Firebolt at home…”
“Guess we’ve got a ride ahead of us.” She was quiet for a few moments. “So why do you think the veil won’t take you there?”
“It has another name – the Veil of Death. Unless you have the three tools I told you about, unfortunately, coming back through is impossible. The fact that I can, presumably, control death, assures us passage. It all seems to be soul-based. The veil takes your soul, so Harry having ownership of the other two objects keeps me safe. He never takes off the ring, and he always keeps the cloak somewhere on his person or immediately available, no matter what. So the theory I’ve been working on might have some weight if the next veil doesn’t let me through.”
“And what theory is that?”
“That something even more powerful than death itself is working directly against me. And I’m not particularly fond of that idea.”
There was a chilling silence between the two. And as they drove down the path on a cross-country ride, contemplating the perilous journey ahead of them, Hermione headed back to a relatively safer topic.
“This villain. What’s his name?”
The pale teen blushed. “I don’t think I should say.”
“Oh, great,” Hermione muttered. “Another one whose name must not be said.”
“It’s not that,” Bella said quickly. “It just… shouldn’t be said. It’s not exactly the most subtle name.”
“…You’re not sending me to face Beetlejuice, are you?”
“Who?” She shook her head. “No. That name’s very subtle in comparison to… well…” She leaned over, and whispered the name into her ear.
Hermione blinked a few times. “Oh. Wow.” She looked over to the embarrassed teen. “I suppose there’s a fascinating story behind the name?”
“Not one I’m interested in hearing,” Bella said quickly, shaking her head wildly.
“You’d think after what you were moaning in that hotel room, you would have no trouble saying his name, now.”
The ebony-haired beauty looked at Hermione with a semi-serious expression. “You say it.”
“The old me would have had a serious problem with this sort of language,” she chuckled, “But that was a long time ago. Arguably, better times. Now,” she smiled, her eyes firmly set on the road, “pardon my French, but what do you say we go help out, team up and vanquish the Motherfucker?”
Bella fully recognized herself as an adult. However, even she couldn’t help but laugh – something the pale teen hadn’t done much of in a very long time, but was now able to do regularly. “I guess that sounds like a plan.”
Apparently, this is more than an Omake at this point, and I’m continuing this and going with this Multi-Crossover story, to which I have titled “Hermione’s Hump Days” courtesy of WhiteElfElder. Hermione is officially off to find Harry pro-actively, leaving Luna and Tonks in charge of the girls back home. Try to imagine how that will fare.
It’s Kick-Ass, by the way. In case of any confusion. Hermione and Bella will be visiting the world of Kick-Ass. The Movie version, preferably. I have a friend who’s a fan of the comic version. And I worry about him.
Huh. I’m just now realizing that what I’m doing is very reminiscent of Kingdom Hearts. That’s AWESOME!
You know, if I were to make this some sort of Super!Story or Harry Potter Crossover Initiative, and see all of the stories intertwine and weave together, like the Harry/Hermione origin story, the main story, or the story Hermione is going through now with Bella Swan, and maybe even more separate storylines in the future, then this would be what I would call… Phase Two? Nah, that would be silly.
Thank you for reading. Please review.