More magic, less wand-waving. The Witches make their presence known.
Upon reflection, Harry realized that there were many reasons the ‘bad guys’ had an easier lifestyle. The first one – no waiting. The good guys usually came to you.
Which was why Harry was starting to get suspicious.
“Who are we waitin’ for again?”
“Eddie, sweetie,” a voice spoke into her newly acquired earpiece.
Harley sighed into the empty cell chamber room, her grunt of frustration echoing off the walls. “This blows. Are you sure we can’t, y’know, pop over to where he is? Or pop him over to where we are?”
Harry shook his head, leaning against the control panel. “If I had the foresight to put a tracking charm into the suit, sure. You saw that I was in a bit of a hurry passing him his uniform? Well, I thought he would be safe. Didn’t bother to put any charms on him.”
“That’s Eddie for you.” Ivy’s voice soothed into both of her lovers’ ears from the control room. “Even when he chooses not to be, he’s actively a pain in the ass.”
The Blackgate prison facility was… eerily quiet. Understandable, considering a massive breakout had just taken place, but certainly not tolerable, in view of the enemies coming their way.
Harry, of course, knowing things that he shouldn’t have, took a few precautions in lieu of being surprised by the crusader. Once upon a time, Moody had called him one of his best students, but he had been lacking in his covert skills since he had gotten to this world. His vigilance, as of late, had been more moderate than constant. That changed today.
“A suggestion?” Jonathan Crane, the once again christened Scarecrow, removed his gas mask. “Blackgate, at the moment, may be temporarily out of business. I find it doubtful that he will be sent here. So perhaps he is in the holding cells at the Police Department?”
“Nuh-uh,” Harley disagreed, crossing her arms as she leaned against the console next to Harry. “They can’t. They’re in a bit of a jam right now. There shouldn’t be a single cop at the station.”
Crane gave them a curious look. “And where do you expect them to be?”
Harry checked his recently repaired watch. “In a half-hour? Here.”
“And this is… part of your plan somehow?”
“We’re still working out the kinks,” Harley muttered in a dry tone. “We’ve got an army of goons immediately outside the prison, and now we have eyes on everything inside and out. Even the Bat’s gonna have some trouble getting through that. If you want to set up a trap, now’s a good time.”
Crane nodded and left the doorway, while Harry glanced at one of the many monitors behind him. “At least the runes are holding well. Usually, I leave the carvings to Hermione and Luna. I had to use a protractor once or twice.”
“You were able to calculate and conjure a perfect protractor?”
“Magic is weird.”
“Heads up, you two,” Ivy patiently warned. “He’s here. Camera one four nine.”
Harry blinked. “Camera one thirty-four.”
Then Harley blinked. “One thirty-six, ninety-three, one twenty-eight, one-o-four….”
“Nothing we haven’t faced before,” Ivy reminded her blond companion. If she was nervous, she was a consummate professional at hiding it, even to her girlfriend’s trained ears. “He’s fast, and flawless. You put him in a crowd of thugs, and your chances go down somehow. It’s daytime, and he’s just as good as maneuvering as he ever was. They still can’t catch him. At this rate, they’ll be taken care of by the time the cops get here.”
“Whose side do you think they’ll take?” Harley asked her girlfriend curiously. “The cops, I mean. Will they go after us? Batman? Or are they splitting teams?”
Ivy pondered the situation. “I’m not sure. They can’t afford to split up their task forces. The riot control is coming in full force. We’ve definitely lost his favorite enemy, though. Branden’s coming for you, which means SWAT will make nice with Batman. For now. Gordon, of course, is probably embarrassed right now, and needs some credibility back after two nights ago. And that new hooded boy is somewhere with Riddler. So we know what side he’s on.” She sighed. “On second thought, I am sure. I’m just not sure I want to admit it.”
Harley groaned. “Goddammit, Eddie, look what you’ve gotten us into…”
The metallic coils around Harry’s wrist began to expand, the thin wires spinning and spreading down his arm. “Eddie may have to wait. If he’s not coming here, then we’ll have to get to him. But right now, we have another problem.”
“Oh?” Harley casually scooped up the oversized mallet in her hand, before letting it rest on her shoulder. She looked out past the hanging platform that was the security room and into the jail cell area. She peeked over to the monitors, and sure enough, the vigilante had neutralized most of them, but was no longer in view. “And what’s the name of our problem?”
“Not sure. But it sounds like that.”
Harley looked towards the sound. The echo was distracting, but she figured the source was coming from the left hallway. “Get ready to turn on the electric floors.”
“Oh, there is no need for that, Miss Quinn.”
A tall man limped into their view, his metal boot clanging against the steel floor, though minimal effort was shown on his part as he trudged forward. “You are quite safe from me,” he assured them in a whisper, and the quiet prison allowed them to hear it as if he was next to them. “After all; today just isn’t my day.”
Harry quickly searched his mind – or, rather, the foreign mind that he was still gathering information from – for a name of the man in the orange jumpsuit.
“Wait – didn’t I see you on the news?” Harley narrowed her eyes. “Hold on, you’re that guy that tried to blow up a stadium a few days ago!”
“Indeed,” he said, unabashedly. His bald head wrinkled minutely, and Harry saw what he originally thought were scars, were in fact, not – instead, they were letters. Harry’s adept vision picked up the letters A-R, A-P-R, M-A-Y, J –
“Huh.” Harry tilted his head as he looked down at the unassuming psycho. “The first three letters of every month?”
He raised his hands, the shackles separated and hanging independently on his wrists, and wiped his fingertips against the letters on his head. “It’s a reminder,” he explained to them, pride in his soft voice. “They tend to put me in here so very long. They isolate me. They take away my purpose; everything I am. I think they’re trying to make me insane.” He shrugged. “But as long as this is on my head, wrapped around my mind so intimately, I’ll never forget what truly matters.”
Harry had planned out everything from this morning to the late afternoon, even going so far as to arrange another visit to the Jezebel Plaza for more information, and maybe a map. He had seen a lot of strange things in the world, and that was by beast-slaying magical savior standards, so he adjusted his schedule loosely, leaving room for error, and plenty lee-way for any… strangeness.
All in all, the plan was going well. For now.
And there were a few setbacks – Hermione going AWOL before the day could even begin, Riddler being captured, the Monarch Theatre having been burnt down, implying that someone knew about Harry’s past and the portal that certainly wasn’t Bruce Wayne, and, of course, the new threat that teetered on the edge of his mind since that morning; the dark presence that lingered about, watching his every move and giving him an overall sense of foreboding. It wasn’t Voldemort – he was sure of that – but it was something dark. Very dark.
But the man in front of him – what Bruce Wayne’s mind had identified as ‘Julian Gregory Day’ – just confirmed Harry’s suspicions.
He was not ready for today, and everything that came with it.
“Calendar Man?” Ivy asked incredulously over the earpieces after remotely adjusting one of the many cameras in the prison. “How did he get out?”
“Uh… we released them, didn’t we?” Harley tried to confirm, unsure. She assumed there was more to the situation.
She was right. “He was kept in isolation,” she informed them, “in a cell practically next door to Waylan’s pen, he’s so far underground. He doesn’t have an electric door. His cell needs old-fashioned keys.”
The implications hit Harley hard. “Crap…”
But Harry tiredly shook his head, his epiphany weighing him down. “He didn’t kill the guard. He may have gotten the keys from him, but he didn’t kill him. Remember, the curse took care of that.”
Julian nodded, like everything made sense. “Ah yes; as to why I’m here before you. I’d like to make a request for my freedom.”
Harley scrunched her eyebrows as she crossed her legs. “You can leave at any time, you know. The designated exits are marked in red.”
But the veteran villain shook his head. “I have the freedom to move, yes. But I can feel that my body has been limited.”
Harley’s first thought was directed towards the brace on his foot. But her mind was quicker than that. “You want to kill again,” she realized, dryly. “Not gonna happen.”
For a brief second, the bald man looked at her, and in that second, she knew that if the curse hadn’t controlled his judgement, the guard that was assigned to his cage would have certainly perished – and without a second thought, either.
She could definitely, and definitively, believe that this was a man who could take an entire football stadium hostage, as he had done almost a week prior. Although she wasn’t exactly sure how, considering his handicaps. He didn’t look like someone who could easily sneak around.
“You knew something was wrong with you,” Harry commented. “You knew something was wrong to the point that you had to hunt down the person who changed you so much. You needed to kill that guard, didn’t you? You thought that there seriously something wrong with you. I bet you thought they went inside your brain and fixed you while you were asleep.”
The man was still, as he leaned against his undamaged foot. “The doctors denied it when I paid them a visit. And even then, I couldn’t touch them. I could not wrap my hands around their necks. They couldn’t suffer when I tried to take a surgical knife to their scalps, make them feel the pain they inflict.” His eyes were intense as he looked up at who he knew was Warlock. “Who are you to play God?”
Harry blinked. “You’re trying to kill people. I’m not trying to play God, but I know I’d be better qualified than you.”
“He’s a sicko,” Ivy warned them, quite needlessly. “But he considers you an equal. Even if he could, he wouldn’t kill you now. He’d wait until a holiday. So, don’t leave the house on the fourth of July.”
“I don’t ask for much,” the man told them, his voice as calm as ever. “And unless you altered my mind further, I’ve never wronged you or asked for a favor before. And I realize the power you have over me is overwhelming – almost biblical. So, I stand before you, in your humble greatness, with a sincere inquiry – what do you plan to do? What is your goal here?”
Harley watched him closely, with a keen eye, and noticed a few things. For one, he was full of shit; he just wanted to keep Harry talking, if only to get a good profile of who he was dealing with. Two; his fingers were twitching noticeably. His eyes were shifty. Even the labored breaths from his lips told a story.
He was aching to kill. In fact, Harleen knew she wouldn’t be wrong in her assumption that he was downright panicking.
She knew he was going to be a problem. Time to nip it in the bud.
Subtly reaching over the console, her hand was steady behind the lever that surged electricity through the platform he was standing on. “Don’t answer that, Warlock. Instead, why don’t you answer me, before I run twenty thousand volts up your aluminum boot and turn it up from there?”
The man looked annoyed, in her professional opinion, but he still held up a calm demeanor. “Ask away.”
She tapped her chin as she looked away, a devious smile on her black-painted lips. “Who the hell let you out of your cage?”
He smiled fondly, and it was one of the creepiest things she had ever seen. “A new friend.”
Still, she pressed; “Oh, come on! We’re all friends, here. If superheroes can build a coalition against us on occasion, why can’t we all get along once in a while?” Her blood-red eyes twinkled as she leaned over the console. “Surely, you can tell us who released you from your cell? It’s obviously someone who’s a fan of your work – someone who might like a word with us for similar reasons.”
He tilted his head. “Maybe,” he admitted with a satisfied grin. “It seems you already have your usual suspects.”
With a nonchalant gesture, she pressed the button.
“Y’know, I would’ve gotten us wherever you’re talking me in half the time already! You viglantes are all the same – flashy clothes, a smile of valor, a penchant for protecting the pathetically perphidious populace of Gotham.”
“Shut up,” the Black Robin spoke again – not that there was any counting, but it felt like the twelfth time.
“Tell me where you’re abducting me to, and you’ll find me a tad calmer.”
“You figure it out. That’s what you’re good at, right?”
“Charming little sprite, aren’t you?”
“I managed to get you in my clutches and break your code, now didn’t I?”
He grumbled to himself, and the rest of the trip was relatively quiet. The unregistered junkyard car slipped through the streets with barely a notice, taking advantage of the rather disastrous situation of the jam on the main roads.
At this point, it was a race against the clock, and Robin hoped that everyone was ready to play their part.
The floor turned itself off, and Harley nodded, letting go of the lever. “Finally decided to come save your friend, huh?”
“That scumbag? Sorry, not interested. I’m more inclined to save you.”
It was a decidedly feminine voice, echoing through the room, with absolutely no main source of the interuption.
Calendar Man writhed on the ground, his boot clanking against the tempered floor, but Harley’s attention was elsewhere. “I don’t see myself in any danger right now. Maybe another time?”
“Surrender now, and no one gets hurt.”
“Good guy line number one. You’re winning no points from me.”
Harry winced, his head feeling a brief flash of pain. It was a different feeling from his connection with Hermione, however. It was a familiar pain. “Either we’re dealing with the female Voldemort, or I need some pain potions, or medication.”
“Good thing we’re in the madhouse; we could find you some meds,” Harley reasoned, before she heard a strange dialect echo along the room, and the indestructible glass window in front of them vanished. “Of course, it’s the heroes that would get the Deus Ex Machina effect. How long do you think you could be out of commission?”
Harry wildly shook his head, leaning against the console. “It’s manageable.”
“That doesn’t sound confident.”
The Warlock held his free hand to the side, and she felt a pulse of – something – surround her, whipping by her hair and breezing along her goosebumps. “Let’s make this quick.”
A decidedly darker, female voice chuckled. “My thoughts, exactly. Azarath Metrion Zinthos!“
Harry winced as the shield began to contract around them. He had found the headache. “Protego!”
The visible blackness surrounding their protection shattered apart as the shield grew once more. “So you’re legit, huh? This should be interesting.”
“I’m starting to get a fucking headache at this point,” Harley growled, and reached to the side for her bazooka. “Zatanna! Get your ass out here!”
And the lights went dark.
Under a single spotlight, a baton floated in mid-air. It twirled slowly, sparkling in the middle of the room.
Harley aimed her bazooka.
Harry, growing up, learned more than enough parlour tricks to know that this wasn’t something that could be set up in such a short amount of time – he could only assume that this was real magic. Dark magic, he wasn’t sure, but something was damaging his senses in a major way.
But real magic or not, he knew how vital the power of misdirection was.
So he did the only other safe option. “Lumos!”
The room was bathed in a swathe of light, as if the lanterns were never turned off. Even Harley was blinded for the moment. Harry, however, had a clear vision, and wrapped his hands around the jester.
“Hey! What the – !”
Quickly, he put his index finger over hers, and pointed it at the real target.
“Oh. Thanks.” Her eyes still closed, she pulled the trigger.
The missiles were still non-lethal – only filled with Ivy’s ‘medicine’ from the incident the previous morning. However, a missile going approximately eighty meters per second was expected to pack a punch.
Harry saw a sort of black mist materializing around the projectile, a soft glow quickly emanating around it, before it almost seemed to eat up into itself. It didn’t explode – it faded away.
That concerned Harry.
Magic, despite its fantastical feats, could not dematerialize actual items. They could be banished, trasfigured, shrunken, and even dispersed into the air. Items conjured, could disappear by the castor’s hands, or a Transfiguration Master. But a perfect conjuration, as was his, couldn’t be countered.
Either she had sent the projectile into in unseen portal, to an unknown galaxy, or he was dealing with a magic far more different – and powerful – than his own.
“True magic, then,” Harry confirmed. Raising his hands, and the razor wire that covered them, he went into an offensive stance. “Sans the headache, I think I might enjoy this.” The razor-sharp coils shot from his fingers, and slipped harmlessly through the shield that surrounded them. “Just keep firing, Harley! Distract them!”
It was a task she found extremely satisfying. That swift release of wind behind her as she pulled the trigger, and the slight whistling of the missile as it pierced through the air, always made her smile.
Had anyone looked directly at her, they would have seen her black-painted lips curved into a brilliant grin as she fired her favorite toy.
Harry wasn’t one to repeat his mistakes. So as soon as the projectile was beyond ten meters away, one of his wires chased after it. Considering it was the same type of metal that he had used on the missile, he used one thin wire to block its steady, self-propelled path.
It cut clean in two before a giant green blast rushed from the center.
She didn’t stop to survey the damage. She only cackled as she kept pulling the trigger, only stopping to level herself from the kickback.
Sometimes, she had felt that it was possibly too early to say that she loved Harry. Yet most times, whenever he gave her the opportunity to do things like this – firing infinite missiles out of a launcher – she told herself that times like these would have been an appropriate time to say it. Needed to. “Fuck, I love you.” She emphasized that point by firing again.
The Warlock grinned smugly, reaching out with his extended appendages to strike the projectiles. “I know.”
“This is not a game!” An ethereal voice haunted the large room, and Harry could only assume it was the Sonorous spell that amplified the sound. “And this ends now!”
Then there was a scream.
Harley’s trigger finger steadied. “Took you long enough.”
With a wave of his hand, The Warlock swept away the cloud of green smoke that filled the room. “It’s not over, yet.”
It was Zatanna that lay on the floor, coughing and wheezing out the green mist. Even through teary eyes, she glared at the villains in the control room.
Harry silently conceded to Harley’s helpful tips she had shared with him; it was terrifyingly distracting, the way superheroines dressed. Had she been faking, and had Harry been within an arm’s reach, he’d likely be in handcuffs. He never truly got used to the beautiful women that surrounded him on a daily basis, and he hoped he never did.
She wiped at the tuxedo jacket she wore with her white gloves, and flipped her tophat back on her head. “You two just made the biggest mistakes of your lives,” she murmured, almost growling at herself in disappointment. “Esaeler eht selbac!”
Harry knew it wasn’t the familiar latin of basic spellwork, or runespeak, or any language he had heard of, from Gobbledygook to Parseltongue. Harley, not having immediate access to subtitles and a tape recorder that plays in reverse, hadn’t a clue what she had just said.
But they both got a hint or her veiled words when the cables that kept the office suspended above the recreational chamber began to snap, and the sudden death box shook and rattled.
Amost instantaneously, the cables made a terrible groan as they snapped, and the platform fell.
Ivy slammed down the headset. “We need to go.”
“How are we getting there?” Selina queried. “He can teleport. We can’t. And we don’t need to worry about him. As mentioned before, he can teleport.”
“Of course; they can handle Zatanna and her friend. What I’m worried about is everyone else trying to get into the prison.”
“I need to reiterate, yet again. How are we getting there?”
Her eyes began to glow an eerie green, and Selina found herself enamoured in her terrifying gaze. “You forget, Selina; Mother Nature is everywhere.”
Zattana stared at the giant glass and metal case, crossing her arms at the damage. She tried to avoid killing whenever she could, but they had to be stopped. Someone who used a bazooka as a common weapon needed to be stopped by any means necessary. And, according to the news she had seen in the hotel room, they were cop killers. Of course they had to go down, and swiftly. “Raven, do you see any signs of life?”
An ethereal voice echoed through the empty chamber, sans the panting bald prisoner lying unconcious in the middle of the room. “Negative. But I don’t see any signs of death, either.” The giant crushed box began to glow black, and one-by-one, metal began to tear into pieces like paper. “They’re not here. No bodies.”
She tsk’ed. “Shit. So they really do know some magic. Not two scientists gone mad, again. Real magic. I didn’t believe Bruce when he told me.”
“I’ll find them.” Her voice was emotionless, detached. Zatanna knew that she had to lock her emotions away whenever she was in this powerful form. She had unleashed the half-demon of herself, and now she was going hunting. “Don’t wait up.”
The stage magician bit her lip. True, she may have been out of her league, but she wasn’t giving up that easily. “I’ll go and help out the caped wonder outside, and we meet back up at the hotel tonight.” No response. She rolled her eyes. “Teens…”
“You’re twenty. Stop brooding.”
“You’re one to talk.”
“I’m a teen.”
Zatanna closed her eyes and took a deep breath. While far and beyond more mature than her peers, Raven always knew what to say to get under her skin.
When she opened them, she found herself on the roof, over the ensuing riot. Under her skin or not, the grey-skinned girl always delivered with finesse.
The older witch cracked her knuckles, and began to wave her hand in dramatic fashion to devastating effect, all the while planning the nice meal Bruce was now obligated to pay for after all of this was over.
Author’s Note: Abrupt ending, I know. This chapter was difficult to write. Too difficult. I’ll mix it up soon.
This is the replacement chapter while I change up everything. Harry and Hermione’s Pre-Veil Adventures will now be a separate story, along with Hermione’s adventures. That’s right – we’re going full Marvel. Time to expand the universe.
For now, shorter chapters, so I can try to release them at a moderate pace again.