Q and A
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I guess you could say I'm flexing my comic book muscles with this one. Either that or I've read too much of the 80's Question series. R/R.
He always wondered why he did this. He asked himself the same questions over and over again every time he put on his mask. Questions were Vic Sage's life, the word "why" becoming the most important word in the English language for him. Yet the Question never stopped to ask these questions about himself. There was a paradox there and paradoxes always annoyed him.
"You seem different tonight." The Question turned his faceless gaze towards Aristotle Rodor, his longtime friend and confidant. Question had known Tot for many years and yet sometimes he felt as if he didn't know the man at all.
"Just thinking, Tot," replied Question, his head moving to look out the window of the moving car both men were currently occupying, "Always thinking."
"Tell me something I'm not aware of," said Tot as he stopped the car, "You're sure this is the right place?"
"I'm never really sure about anything," replied Question as he got out of the car and tipped his hat to his friend, "I've been told it makes life interesting." Tot rolled his eyes and drove on into the night, leaving the Question alone with his thoughts as was often the case. Word on the street was that Rupert Thorne was looking to extend his criminal network by establishing connections in Hub City. Question knew Thorne's presence in his city would cause a substantial amount of problems. Hub City had enough issues concerning corruption without someone from the outside coming in and making things worse. While there were large numbers of corrupt public officials in Hub City, there wasn't a lot of mob presence and certainly none with the power that Thorne carried.
"Still, what little mob presence there is won't be happy about Thorne moving in," said Question to himself, finishing his thoughts aloud as he often did. He was told by some informants that Thorne was attempting to smuggle illegal arms into Hub City tonight and it was this information that brought him to the dilapidated warehouse currently in front of him.
Question moved around to the back of the building, carefully studying it while making sure to remain hidden from anyone who might also be lurking around. He spotted a broken window and proceeded to climb on top of a pile of crates in order to crawl through it. He muttered to himself about the warehouse's state of disrepair mirroring the country's current economic woes before quietly and quickly crawling through the broken window. He found himself crouching on a catwalk that ran along the inner perimeter of the warehouse.
"When the hell are they gonna get here with the truck?" Question stayed low to the floor and attempted to creep along the catwalk as quietly as he could. He recognized the voice that was coming from below as one of the local thugs. Apparently, the current venture was a joint endeavor between Thorne's crew and some of Hub City's goons. It seemed as if at least someone in his town was willing to play ball with Thorne.
"Speak o' the devil," said another thug as a truck pulled up to the warehouse and the giant door began to rise into the ceiling in order to greet it. The man driving the truck backed it through the opening and more men came out of the truck through the rear exit. Question watched the men exchange looks with one another, their loyalties clearly evident. Nevertheless, they seemed intent on working together if for no other reason than to satisfy their employers. Question knew he needed to get off of the catwalk and get down to the floor so he could start dispatching with the men but he remained still for a few more seconds, his always observant mind cataloging who were the likely leaders that he could pump for information once the fight was over.
"Let's get this over with," said one of the new men, "Haulin' this crap here was difficult enough." The locals gave various grunts and nods to show that they agreed with the necessity for speed. They began bringing out crates of different shapes and sizes from the truck. No sooner had they begun their task than they heard a whirring, whining noise that drew closer and closer to their current location.
"The hell is that?" asked one of the thugs as he noticed the noise. The other men looked up from their work just as a motorcycle suddenly sped into the warehouse, the rider's arm shooting out and connecting with the first thug it could find.
"Batman!" shouted one of the thugs, "It's the freakin' Bat!" The purple-clad figure snarled a curse under her breath as she turned her cycle around and killed its engine. One of the thugs attempted to attack her but she flipped off her helmet and smacked him across the jaw with it.
"Next one of you assholes to call me 'Batman' gets one of these through your skull," assured Huntress as she pointed her crossbow at the remaining men, getting off her cycle and kicking the downed thug in the jaw.
"Aw hell, not her," said one of the Gotham thugs as he attempted to make a run for it, "She's worse than Batman."
"Damn right I am," assured Huntress as she fired her crossbow, the bolt sinking into the back of the thug's shoulder and taking him to the ground. The rest of the men ran to take her on. The first one in line came at Huntress with a crowbar. He swiped at her and managed to hook his weapon on the curved part of her crossbow. This action soon proved to be a foolish one as Huntress quickly flicked the weapon out of the thug's hand and then punched him in the face. Huntress clubbed the man in the leg with the curved back of the crowbar and turned, firing her crossbow and watching the bolt connect with a man's gun. Another of the thugs took a swing at her but she ducked it. Huntress hooked the curved end of the crowbar around the man's neck and yanked him towards her as her knee rammed into his stomach before hitting him in the back of the head with the metal weapon.
"A pleasant surprise," mumbled Question as he scampered across the catwalk and down a set of metal stairs while everyone was distracted by Huntress. Huntress, meanwhile, continued dispatching the rest of the men. She flung the crowbar at a thug running towards her, the weapon hitting the man in the legs and tripping him up before he could reach her. Huntress ran towards him, stepping on his back with her boots before she hit a front handspring and slammed both feet into a thug's face. The rest of the thugs got the brilliant idea to back away and open fire with their guns. Huntress quickly scrambled towards a stack of crates and dived behind them, using them for cover.
"I didn't figure you wanted to handle these guys all by yourself," said Huntress as she saw Question join her, "I tracked these scumbags all the way from Gotham to here. They're working for a guy named . . ."
"I know," replied the Question succinctly.
"Sure, of course you do," said Huntress sarcastically as she noticed a fuse box on the side of a wall, "Hang on a sec." Huntress fired her crossbow at the box, the arrow sinking into the apparatus and damaging it enough for the lights in the warehouse to suddenly flicker off. Question felt Huntress move away from him and out into the open to finish off the rest of the men. He heard the dull throb of punches and kicks being thrown as well as the sickening crack of breaking bones. He stepped out into the open and looked around in an attempt to find her. Question squinted under his mask as lights suddenly sliced through the darkness.
"Never knew you were the kind who liked to watch," said Huntress, her elegant frame leaning over her motorcycle, its lights on to provide illumination.
"You got all of them?" asked Question.
"Of course," assured Huntress as she sat sideways on her bike, crossing her slender legs as she smiled at Question, "I may not be as thorough as you but I get results."
"I never doubted that," said Question, "We needed some of them conscious. Someone here in Hub City is trying to form an alliance with Thorne and I'd like to know who it is."
"I thought you knew everything," replied Huntress teasingly, "You and the cops here can question these goons all you want to when they wake up in their hospital beds."
"Doubtful," admitted Question, "I don't think there are enough good cops in this town to care."
"Well, I guess it's a good thing I told Gordon about this little operation," said Huntress, "He'll talk to the cops here and make sure these people get the justice they deserve."
"Where's Batman tonight?" asked Question.
"Not here and you should be grateful," said Huntress as she hopped off her bike and approached Question, "Besides, don't I look better than him?"
"No argument there," admitted Question as his eyes traversed Huntress's body, "A lot better."
"Your place, ten minutes," said Huntress, "We seem to have a free evening and I did come all this way. I think I deserve something for my trouble."
"I can't, Helena," said Question, "I have an appointment I need to keep."
"Twenty minutes then," decided Huntress, "It'll give me time to slip into something . . . more comfortable."
"We'll do something," relented Question, "It just won't be what you're insinuating."
"We'll see," replied Huntress with a smirk, "I can be very persuasive."
"Thirty minutes," stated Question as he turned away from her and moved to exit the warehouse. Huntress grabbed him by his tie and yanked him into a hot, passionate kiss that he felt every bit of even through his mask.
"Twenty," reiterated Huntress as she broke off the kiss, "Not a minute later."
"Fine then," agreed Question, "Twenty minutes."
Some questions were simple, so simple that the answers came as easily to Victor Sage as breathing. These weren't the questions he was interested in asking. The questions that haunted the Question were the ones that weren't so simple to answer. These were the ones that kept him up at night, forcing him to lie on his back and stare into the darkness of his apartment or sit in a desk chair for hours on end as his eyes ached from the glare of a computer screen. Some questions didn't have easy answers and try as hard as he might Victor Sage couldn't find their answers. Most of those unanswerable questions revolved around a woman, a woman named Myra Fermin.
"I almost thought you weren't going to show," admitted Myra as she saw Question standing in the living room of her house, "I wish you would learn to use a doorbell."
"Too much noise," replied Question as he looked at the mayor's wife, "The bust went well. A friend from Gotham arrived and told me that Gordon's been notified so you'll have some extra help when you haul the thugs in."
"You act as if I run the city," said Myra, pulling her robe tighter around her body, "Close that window before you freeze me." Question did as he was told.
"You do run the city," reminded Question. It wasn't a secret in Hub City that Mayor Wesley Fermin was a drunk who often times spent the evenings passed out on his desk in his office. At first, a lot of very interested parties took over the operations of Hub City by weaseling their way close to the alcoholic mayor and playing him for a fool. Question had managed to clean most of them out but that left no one in charge until Myra secretly stepped in. Question admired Myra because she seemed to be one of the few decent people still living in the wretched, miserable city he called home. It also didn't hurt that she and Victor Sage once had a relationship. Unfortunately, that was a lifetime ago for him and for her.
"Only you and a few others know that," reminded Myra, "I'll have someone notify the police that Gordon's sending someone down here. I assume that Victor Sage will run a piece about it on the morning news."
"Yes, he will," assured Question, keeping his identity secret from Myra just as he had always done.
"How is he?" asked Myra, "I haven't seen him in a while."
"He's been busy," explained Question, "Keeping people informed of the truth is a tiresome job, Mrs. Fermin."
"What's the connection between you two?" asked Myra.
"We share information," answered Question, "He's honest and decent like you. I respect that." With that, the Question turned away and reopened the window he had snuck in through.
"There's an election coming up," said Myra as Question climbed out the window, "I . . . was thinking of running."
"I'd vote for you," assured Question as he looked back and tipped his hat to her, "Pleasant evening, Mrs. Fermin. I have other appointments to keep." Victor Sage never knew why he felt compelled to keep his secret from Myra, the secret that he and the Question were the same man. He told himself that he had to protect his anonymity and that he had to protect her from enemies that might want to hurt him. He didn't have to hide himself from Huntress though and she was someone he loved. So why did he have to let his faceless alter ego continually come between him and Myra? Why did it even matter to him when he was in love with Huntress while Myra was simply a close friend? Question didn't try to answer those questions at the moment. He had other important appointments to keep and he knew Huntress would be irritated if he was late.
Wesley Fermin sat in his chair, the upper half of his body draped over his desk as if he was some strange, decorative ornament. His wife had cleaned the bottles off his desk before she left for the evening. It was the standard arrangement. Wesley Fermin spent many nights unconscious in his office, usually sleeping off whatever amount of alcohol he had managed to consume that day. Consequently, he didn't even hear the sound of someone breaking into his office.
"Shouldn't we be worried about security?" asked one of the thugs in a nervous tone as the two men entered the office, closing the door behind them as quietly as they could although there was no need for such discretion.
"Cops don't care in this town," assured the taller, more muscular thug who was obviously the leader, "You think Gotham's bad? This place is worse." The two thugs walked around the desk, one on each side. The leader motioned that they should grab the mayor of Hub City and put him on the desk.
"You sure this will work?" asked the first thug as the two men finished their task, putting the mayor's arms at his side and spreading his legs apart.
"Boss wants the body to look like this afterwards," reminded the leader as he pulled out his gun, "He ain't gonna be able to stand on his own and I ain't holdin' him up while you shoot. Trust me, the boss will like it this way." The lead thug stood on top of the desk and quickly fired two shots into Wesley Fermin's chest. The mayor's eyes shot open and he woke up just in time to feel the first bullet tear through his heart. After that, he never needed to feel anything ever again.
Vic Sage mumbled sleepily as he heard his phone ring incessantly. He rubbed his eyes and then reached over the sleeping form of Helena Bertinelli to answer the infernal machine.
"Who is it?" asked Question as he rubbed his eyes again.
"It's Myra, Vic," explained Myra Fermin, "Someone shot him, Vic. Someone shot my husband!"
"Where are you?" asked Question, his mind suddenly sharp and alert.
"I'm at my house," explained Myra shakily, "The police know about this but I haven't told anyone else. I'm scared that they'll come for me next, Vic."
"I'll cover this," assured Question, "I won't let anything happen to you, Myra. Just stay where you are and I'll get on top of this. You have my word." Question hung up the phone before Myra could say anything else.
"What's the deal?" asked Huntress with a yawn.
"Someone murdered the mayor," stated Question as he hurried to get dressed.
"Wow, I thought Gotham was rough," said Huntress.