Mordru smiled as the small slivery object began to glow a hideous orange. As a wizard of almost astonishing power, it was rare that he found himself admiring something built with simple mortal technology. Yet this device fascinated him. It was perfect and simple in it's design yet he knew it truly was a pathway to great power.
"Chaos," He whispered breathlessly, "In such a small package."
Chapter One Introductions
"…which if you'll take a moment to view the graph at the bottom…." The small accountant droned on in his raspy nasal voice as the weekly board meeting of Lex Corp stretched on into infinity. After the third use of the word 'bear market', Lex Luthor had the sudden urge to throw himself out the window.
There had to be a better use of his time. He was, after all, one of the most beloved men in the country. As one of America's finest corporate minds and a technological genius, he assumed that it would be relatively easy to find someone to take care of day to day nuisance that was running a major corporation. He sighed and looked across the room at his loyal driver/bodyguard Mercy. She shrugged and flashed him a soft smile. No help here, it seemed to say, you're stuck.
Resigned to his fate, Lex almost jumped for joy when the sound of a distant explosion ripped through Lex Corp Tower.
Metropolis' west side is filled with old houses and ancient brownstones from far before the turn of the century, much of it untouched by the city's infamous cycle of urban renewal. Everything was still old here and also quite flammable.
It was the flammable part that caused the most concern among the volunteer firefighters of Company 221 as they watched a routine fire call turn into a six story inferno. And thanks to a two week drought and high winds, there was no telling what other parts of Metropolis' old district were in danger of going up in flames.
Company 221 needed a miracle and it came in the form of an armored man descending from the clouds on a pair of high powered boot jets. Upon his arrival, the internal computers inside the glinting purple and green metal body suit clicked and whirred as the helmet cover raised to reveal the face of Lex Luthor.
"How can I help?" He said with a smile.
The two muggers ran for their lives down the alley, afraid to look behind them. But no matter how fast or far they ran, the petty crooks could swear they still heard the steady foot steps and hideous laughter that had become part of Gotham's criminal lore.
A left turn, a right turn, a blind charge down a straightaway , all of it done at break neck speed across the back alley's of Gotham. But in the end, it didn't matter where they went because the laughter seemed to follow them where ever they went.
Their luck ran out as they found themselves face to face with a brick wall. A dead end. The pair of thieves tried vainly to pretend that their pursuer hadn't followed them, that he'd gotten lost in the maze of sharp turns they had run through. Then they heard the voice again and knew it was all over.
"Well boys, that was a brisk little evening stroll." From the shadows stepped a tall, thin figure in an overcoat and fedora. His voice was ghoulish and raspy, with just a hint of a chuckle tingeing the edges. "I'm not afraid to say it, you gave me quite a work out." He said as he stepped closer to the cowering thugs.
"Please mister, just leave us alone!" One of them squealed and they both watched as the stranger's red lips twisted into a hideous scowl.
"Leave you alone? That's pretty funny! Isn't that the same thing that old lady said before you beat and robbed her? Guess you're a couple of comedians." He stalked ever closer to them, letting his shadow fall across the alley as he went, "Well if you thought that was funny, wait'll you get a load this…"
Commissioner Oswald Cobblepot poked at the crime scene with his foot as he listened to Detective Pamela Isley finish giving her report.
"They aren't injured too badly, doctors say he must've dosed them with that same paralytic agent he used in the Duntmore Case."
Oswald frowned when he heard that and he felt his stomach turn a little, "Then I take it…"
"Yeah boss, Docs can't get them to stop smiling, it'll probably wear off eventually but I mean you should see them." She made a motion with her hand, "Ear to ear, it's creepy."
He sighed, adjusted the buttons on his coat and gently massaged the bridge of his nose. "So it's him again. Same m.o. ?"
"Yup and he even left his signature this time…" Pamela held up the evidence bag just above Cobbelpot's eye level, forcing the diminutive police officer to stand on his tip toes to get a good look at the casino style Beemiller playing card inside.
It was a joker.
Priscilla Rich tapped her cane in time with each of her protégé's fluid movements. The girl was good, she had to admit that. Every punch on the dummy was perfectly balanced, every kick landed where it was supposed to. Obviously Barbara Minerva's genetic enhancements were functioning perfectly.
That was what worried her. As strong as Barbara was, as physically ready as she was for the tasks ahead of her, Priscilla wondered if the girl was mentally ready for what would come. This wasn't some club membership she was extending, the old woman was about to pass on the mantle to a tradition she has long been a part of. She was going to give this girl part of her own identity and Barbara needed to be prepared for that.
The exercise completed at nine hundred reps and Barbara threw up her arms in exhausted triumph, she'd finally done it. Finally beaten the Old Woman's best record. "I'm ready!" She shouted as a big grin spread across her face. But the grin disappeared when she saw Priscilla's frown. Something was troubling her old mentor. "I am ready right?"
Priscilla looked into the young British girl's eyes and saw determination and strength where only months before she had seen boredom and laziness. This was not the same person she had started training. Perhaps she was ready. Perhaps the time had come.
"You are ready...for the next phase of your training." A growl of disappointment filled the room and Priscilla surpressed a wicked smile, the girl was so eager."If you are to wear the costume, I want to see how you look in it."
The cowl fit perfectly and the metal claws inside the gloves felt like the most natural thing in the world. If Barbara didn't know better, she would've thought that this suit was made for her. But despite the a few minor alterations, this suit had been sitting in the back of a very expensive closet for nearly twenty years. It didn't belong to her.
She tightened the clasp on her boot and double checked the release action on the claws. It was ready, she was ready. It was time for the Cheetah to go on the prowl one more time.