Hello, and welcome to another entry in Crossovers that Probably Shouldn't Exist. The things that belong to DC belong to DC, the things that belong to Valve belong to Valve, and the title belongs to Eddie Izzard. The things that belong to me, which are few and far between, belong to the voices in my head that make me write craziness like this. Also, please note that massive, massive spoilers and direct quotes from Portal exist here. If you haven't already, go buy the game and play it, because it is constructed entirely out of awesome. (Or, if money's tight, you can get the first eleven levels for free in the Portal: First Slice demo right now at steampoweredgames dot com!) And if you already have played the whole game - well, the last verse of the closing credits should give you a clue as to when this takes place.
Dedicated to the WCC. Love ya!
Edward Nygma had nightmares.
Everyone in the rogues' gallery knew it. Harvey Dent snored, Jervis Tetch talked in his sleep, and Eddie Nygma woke up terrified at least once a month. It was one of the many reasons that the Scarecrow had been reassigned to a cell much further down the hallway. (The others included a particularly nasty trick involving the heating ducts and a piece of string as well as the revenge prank, which involved several gallons of Mop 'n' Glo and a dead fish.)
This particular nightmare was astonishingly vivid. Three small, hairless creatures that vaguely resembled roasted turkeys chased him down Arkham's echoingly empty halls, slavering with joy at the thought of latching onto his head and sucking on his brain like a three-pound grey lollipop. He pounded down the hallway, laceless shoes squeaking horribly on the linoleum, and skidded to a halt around a corner. The little creatures swung around to follow him, taloned feet sliding helplessly on the tile, and he took the opportunity to boot one of them into the air. It yowled as it spun wildly into a nearby security camera. Eddie had no time to watch its fiery death, though, as the two remaining beasts simultaneously leaped for his head. He dropped to the ground, somersaulted away, and rolled into a run as the creatures recovered from their missed attacks and resumed the chase.
This wasn't the first time he'd had a nightmare about things eating his brain. In fact, his nightmares rarely strayed away from that theme. His brain defined who he was, even beyond the trivial matters like personality and keeping his body functioning. Without intelligence, the Riddler was nothing - and so, night after night, he dodged threats to his precious mind with panicked speed.
Zombies had lurched after him. Cavemen with trepanning clubs had pursued him, grunting about freeing the demons in his skull. There had even been one rather memorable night when flying televisions had squawked through the air at him, blaring celebrity gossip and infomercials and other programs guaranteed to make the human mind slowly rot away from the inside out.
Tonight's breed of four-legged squirmy thing had managed to trap him in the row of offices housing Arkham's therapists. He tore down the hallway, heading for the rec room. There might be weapons in there, or help...at the very least, he could lock the snarly little beasts out! Triumphant shrieks rang out behind him as he flung the rec room door open.
There was a dull clickclickclick of claws on linoleum as a thousand angry little creatures turned to eyelessly regard the Riddler. He gaped at them for one moment of horrified paralysis.
Whump. "Getoffgetoffgetoff!" he screamed, clawing at the beast on his head. He ripped it free and punted it into the rec room, only to see the little creatures leaping and stomping over one another to get at him. He wheeled around and raced through the halls, a horde of little deadly monsters at his heels. They bounded behind him like overgrown cats, jumping impossibly high into the air to try and catch the prize buried in his skull. Talons scraped along his lower legs, scratching at him, trying to stop him from escaping.
His cheap laceless shoe, worn and damaged, disintegrated around his right foot with a sad little tearing noise. Eddie tumbled head-over-heels into a pile of the creatures, and they swarmed over him with chirps of utter delight as their foul saliva dripped onto his face -
Bzzt. A mechanical alarm sounded, jerking him awake just as a horrible little mouth dug into his scalp. As was his custom after nightmares, he twitched into a sitting position to take stock of his surroundings and make sure that they were zombie-free.
At least, he tried to. His forehead connected with a solid twhamp on a plexiglass shield over his face. It whooshed back, revealing a ceiling made of cold grey tiles. He lay there for a moment, panting, feeling the sweat on his skin turn cold as a nearby vent sent an icy breeze into his bed.
He rubbed his forehead and slowly eased into a sitting position. The cold grey ceiling matched the cold grey walls of the outer room, illuminated by a single light bulb trapped in a safety cage. The bed was inside a roughly six-foot-by-six-foot cube of plexiglass with one solid cement panel in the corner. Okay, nothing too surprising there. Walls like that meant institutions. Arkham's tended to be a bit dirtier than these, so he had to assume that he'd been transferred somewhere new.
He felt like he'd been asleep for years. He rolled his shoulders, stretching stiff muscles, and swung his legs to the floor. Instead of canvas shoes landing with a dull thump, as he'd expected, his bare toes hit cold linoleum with a loud clang. His knees jerked back into the air as something set his feet bouncing like a rubber ball.
He stared down at his calves. He was wearing some kind of orange jumpsuit - again, no surprises there - that had the pant legs rolled up to the knees. Wrapped firmly around the top of each calf was a large, padded band that felt like it was covering solid steel. From each band, a long, thin curve of metal stabbed down toward his ankles, extending a good three inches past his bare heels before bending underneath his foot.
Well. These were certainly new. He bounced the things on the ground a few times, noting with interest how the bands bent and moved under the pressure of his legs.
A mechanical female voice crackled into existence. "Hello, and again, welcome to the Aperture Science Computer-Aided Enrichment Center. We hope your brief detention in the Relaxation Vault has been a pleasant one. Your specimen has been processed, and we are now ready to begin the test proper." Eddie raised an eyebrow. What kind of test necessitated these grasshopper legs? And why had they wanted him? Normally, they wanted to test his mind (who wouldn't, with a mind like his?) and pen-and-paper tests rarely required weird footgear. "Before we start, however, keep in mind that although fun and learning are the primary goal of all Enrichment Center activities, serious injuries may occur. For your own safety, and the safety of others, please refrain from..." The voice hissed and spat in Spanish as the lights fizzled and dimmed for a moment.
Eddie ignored the spasming electronics. Serious injury? What kind of place was this? Maybe he could just refuse to participate. The little cell was comfortable enough, after all - the bed was soft, and they'd even left him a clipboard and a coffee mug to drink out of. No coffee - and, now that he looked for it, no sink, either - and no pen, but...Hey! He frantically scanned the room top to bottom. The room was also lacking in doors. Maybe the test was happening in here! Maybe he was about to acquire a serious injury! He hopped to his feet, skittering uncontrolled across the floor as he miscalculated how to walk in the heelsprings, and flailed his way to a stop sprawled across the tiny table. The radio, which had been playing a cheerful little tune, went silent as his back muffled the speaker.
The lights returned to normal, and the voice continued as if it had never failed. "The portal will open in three...two...one."
Portal? Who on earth would have programmed the computer to call a door a portal? What kind of -
Zap. The solid cement wall glowed with an orange-rimmed, Eddie-sized hole in its center. He leaned closer to it, watching bits of orange energy flowing around the hole like oil on water. Through the hole, he could see another cell that certainly didn't line up with the wall behind his cell. Instant doors! Those would make his life so easy in Gotham...he had to get whatever device made them possible.
But first, he'd get rid of these braces. He ran his fingers around the seamless band on his right calf. The speakers crackled into life again. "For your own safety, do not destroy vital testing apparatus." How had she...oh. A security camera glared at him from high atop a wall, the single red light blinking as the camera lens whirred and extended slightly.
"They're too big," he explained to the camera, tugging on the band.
"For your own safety, do not destroy vital testing apparatus."
"They're too big," he repeated. "I can't walk in these!"
A picture flashed up on the blank grey wall of a vaguely Asian woman wearing identical braces on her legs. She glided easily around on her toes, barely letting the metal touch the ground. "The heelsprings are designed for your protection," the voice informed him.
Great. He eased back onto his feet again and slowly wobbled to a standstill. Slowly, carefully, he clicked around the room until he was able to take five whole steps without a spectacular wipeout. The trick was to put hardly any weight at all on the springs, just enough to get his balance, and then jam his toes down to the ground before the spring sprung and sent him backward.
He tottered up to the hole in the wall and peered through it. He could see a cell with another prisoner in it. At least he wasn't alone! He raised an arm to tap on the wall and get the other man's attention.
The other man raised his arm at the same time - an arm that had a clipboard-shaped welt on it in exactly the same spot as Eddie's arm. Oh. It was him. How was he seeing himself? A blue hole on the other side of the room sparked and fizzed at him - and now he could see himself again, reflected through the blue one. So they weren't just doors through the wall...they were doors that opened up some kind of instant wormhole between them. This was fascinating.
He grabbed the coffee cup and tossed it lightly through the orange portal in front of him. It sailed out of the blue portal and shattered on the floor. If it was safe for coffee cups, perhaps it would be safe for him. Hesitantly, with an Indiana-Jones-stealing-the-idol air about him, he stretched a hand to the orange portal and tentatively reached through.
It felt like...well, it felt like nothing at all. It had exactly the same lack of feeling about it as it would have if he'd stuck his hand through a real hole in the wall. Of course, had it been a real hole, he probably couldn't turn around and see his hand ten feet across the room...somehow his hand was over there while he was over here, and yet he could still see his hand right up close through the portal.
"Please proceed to the testing chamber," the voice ordered.
Before he could think too much about it, he squinched his eyes shut and hurtled toward the fizzing orange hole. There was a strange whooshing noise as he skidded blindly forward. He opened one eye to find that he was facing the cell wall - from the outside. It had worked!
What had the computer called them? Portals? Yes, these portals could come in very handy for him...he whistled a cheery little tune as he scooped up the remains of the coffee cup, tucking them into the folds of his rolled-up sleeves. Something small and sharp always came in handy. He sauntered through the entrance to the first testing chamber. He'd do whatever tests they wanted, steal the portal technology, and go back home. What could be simpler?
The first test consisted entirely of placing a heavy box on a large red button on the floor. He stared challengingly at the security camera. "Is this it? You brought me all the way here from Gotham for this?"
"Please proceed into the chamber lock after completing each test," the computer informed him.
He eyed the sparking blue forcefield that filled the door. "This Aperture Science Material Emancipation Grille will vaporize any unauthorized equipment that passes through it. For instance, the Aperture Science Weighted Storage Cube."
He dug a smallish piece of coffee cup from his sleeve and gently tossed it through the barrier. It hung there with no more weight than a feather for a moment - and then flamed, turned black, and disappeared in a shower of ashes.
"You can't seriously expect me to go through that," he protested. There was no answer. He put his back to the field and gingerly eased a heelspring through. It came out the other side, unharmed. He craned his head over his shoulder, examining the long bar of metal fervently for any hint of burning, and realized that he'd accidentally put his foot through as well. It stayed wonderfully untoasted. He scuttled through the field and into the elevator, wincing at the prickly feel of the energy field racing over his skin.
His arms felt hot. He glanced at his elbows and yelped as he realized that the little fragments of ceramic he'd tucked into his sleeve had burned away, leaving nothing but a smudge of ash and a healthy little fire burning through the thick material of the jumpsuit. He slapped it, wildly dancing in a circle as he tried to keep himself from burning alive.
The fire was out. With sooty hands, he scraped his hair off of his sweaty forehead. Rule one, apparently, was to listen to the computer.
The elevator doors slid open welcomingly and he stepped inside. It was nice to have elevators instead of having to climb stairs, he mused, leaning against a railing. The inside was battered, as if it had been last used for hauling monkeys with hammers. The walls weren't decorated very nicely, either, and whoever had decided that white padding would be good as wallpaper had clearly been - wait a minute. He examined the nearest panel of white padding. Under the layer of dirt, there were pulled threads and...was that a bite mark? Who would bite an elevator? Who would hate an elevator enough to bite and claw at it like an animal?
Someone who really didn't want to be here, he answered himself. Why would anyone hate a simple testing facility?
He breezed through the next test - more portals, more buttons, more cubes. Yawn - and stepped into the elevator at the end, wondering when this nonsense would be over. When the elevator popped open, he stepped to the edge of the little entryway, which was walled over with a huge plexiglass window. A door to his right whirred and clanked repetitively as it fought a jammed piece of machinery keeping it open. His eyes widened with happy greed at the sight of an unguarded device on the floor below shooting portals into the wall. And all that kept him from retrieving it was a puzzle - an easy puzzle! He trotted eagerly to the stairs that led down past the jammed door, ready to begin. The computer was speaking, and he ignored it.
That is, he ignored it until he heard it mention blood. "What?" he gasped, whirling toward the nearest speaker.
There was a quiet, slippery sound of metal on tile as Eddie's left foot decided to continue down the stairs by itself. Yelping and swearing, he tumbled down the short flight of steps and thudded to a stop against the nearest wall.
"...emancipate dental fillings, crowns, tooth enamel, and teeth," the computer finished calmly.
"Hey. What about my teeth?" he snapped, slowly lurching to his feet. There was no answer. "Hey!"
The only response was a security camera whirring as it extended a lens in his direction.
Eddie grimaced at it. He liked his teeth. (Well, what was left of them, anyway - Batman and his associates had done their share of unwanted dental work on him through the years, and most of his gleaming white smile was porcelain.)
Zap. He limped through the portal and up to the little pedestal where the portal device rested on rubbery supports. He lifted it with his scorched and bruised hands and snuggled it close. Oh, sweet device!
"You are now in possession of the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device," the computer intoned. "With it, you can create your own portals. These intra-dimensional gates have proven to be completely safe. The device, however, has not. Do not touch the operational end of the device." The computer continued with a long list of 'Do nots' as Eddie looked the device over. Don't do this, don't do that - well, that was all well and good, but how did you work the thing? "Most importantly, under no circumstances should you..." The computer once again choked on static as the lights flashed and dimmed.
There was a trigger hidden behind a soft handgrip at the back of the gun, tucked under the white rounded shell that formed the casing. When he pulled it, a blue ball of light thumped out of the end of the device and splatted a hole in the nearest wall. He grinned and hobbled through it, making his way slowly down the tiny cement tunnel leading to the exit.
But there was no exit to be found. A door slammed shut behind him, trapping him in a tiny cement-walled room that was just about the size of his cell at Arkham. Solid plexiglass stretched above his head, revealing a second ceiling twelve feet up. And glimmering in the ceiling was a lone orange portal...
He fired his portal gun at the wall, and a blue portal obligingly opened up, showing the top of his head. He looked up at the orange portal again. Were they serious? Did they actually intend for him to throw himself out of the ceiling? Were they crazy?
He thought back to that little comment about losing teeth. Yes, they probably were crazy. He grabbed the side of the portal with his free hand and lowered himself through. Oh, this was going to hurt...he let go.
Clang. He bounced on the ground, unhurt, with a look of stunned surprise on his face. The heelsprings made it seem like he'd jumped a foot off of the ground instead of plummeting recklessly through the air. Well, as long as that was the only long-jump he'd have to do, he'd be fine.
With the portal gun snuggled in his arms, he ducked through the fizzling blue energy field and disappeared into the elevator.
(to be continued)
Author's Note: I made a few changes here and there to the layout of the testing chambers. Spot them all and win a cookie! Also, headcrabs are adorable and I'd love a debeaked one as a pet.