00 – The Dark Lady

Shadows enveloped the surroundings, making Kudo squint her eyes to adjust her eyes towards the darkness. Behind her, a little boy of her age was gasping, trying to catch up. His spectacles reflected the little light emanating from their flashlights.

"Ayumi-chan!" the boy shouted, almost tripping over a few protruding rocks on the ground. "Wait up!"

"Oh, can it, Four-eyes," Kudo growled slightly, hearing the echo of her companion's shout ring in her ears. "Its getting annoying hearing you shout over and over and over again!"

"We should go back!" the boy stated, looking worriedly behind him, and towards his watch. "Our parents would kill us if we don't make it back in time for dinner!"

"If you're that worried, you go back," Kudo replied nonchalantly.

"And explain your absence to them? Uh-uh! No way!"

"Then stop being a dweeb and follow me!" Kudo muttered, shining her flashlight again in front. "Unless your too scared… hah! Wonder how your daddy's gonna take it having your female rival be braver than you…"

"Now you're just grasping," the boy stated seriously, looking at her with narrow eyes. "You're the one who's scared, aren't you? I mean, you had to drag me here…"

Kudo felt her cheeks go red for a moment, before shouting back towards the boy, "HEY! I'm not scared you stupid four-eyes! I don't need you here! I can just-"

"Ayumi! Watch out!!!"

Everything came in to fast. Maybe it was a misstep or her anger, but she didn't spot a chasm she had stepped on until it was too late. She could see her companion trying to grab her as she fell, but he was too slow. It wasn't a long fall… her body hit the stone ground hard, but she broke no bones or limbs. Her body was still hurt, and her mind was still spinning. She grabbed the ground around her, trying to feel her surroundings. Everything was pitch-black.

"AYUMI! You okay!?"

"Y-yeah…!" Kudo shuddered. Everything down here was so dark.

"I'll get help!"

Shifting of feet… seems the boy took off. Growling, Kudo tried to feel for her left arm, her right hand going for her watch. With a little tweak, her watch suddenly beeped, and green LEDs in the face of her watch began blinking, turning on her tracer. Her father had the other pair, which would make it easier for them to find her again.

Feeling somewhat better, she sat down, and scrounged around again. Her flashlight must be around somewhere… it was turned off, most probably by the impact but since the professor Agasa made it, she was sure it would still work.

Her fingers pricked more of her surroundings, and she finally felt the smooth cylindrical body of her flashlight, and grabbed it. She shook it slightly, fiddled around for the switch, and after a few seconds, the lamp powered up and began to bathe the whole area in light.

Kudo noticed one thing… she wasn't alone. And before she could do anything, she was swarmed by the dark shadows, engulfing her, and biting her. She could only bring up her arms to protect her face. She screamed… and screamed… and screamed.

The darkness embraced her as she woke up from her bed. She had sat up sharply, awakening from the memory of her past. The movement caused her to grunt in pain, fire spreading all over her left leg. Groaning, her arm automatically went to her bedside counter, and grabbed a syringe, which she promptly injected on her pained leg.

The effect was immediate. Her limb stopped feeling pain as the fire died down. She took a couple of deep breathes, before she slid her legs at the side of the bed, and stood up. Walking across the dark room, Ayumi Kudo exited her room, and made a bee-line towards the stairs. Each step created a muffled sound, all until Kudo reached her destination: a rather large grandfather clock.

Reaching for the face, Kudo adjusted the time to 10:03, and a small click was heard. Kudo opened the glass body, walked inside, and disappeared in the shadows.

It was a dark night. The frosty air was salty and rather uncaring. In a rather large abandoned factory, a winged shadow was seen, moving through the shadows of other objects with ease. The metal cage rang slightly, suggesting that someone was walking on them.

There was a door, and that creaked open as the shadowed figure pushed itself inside. The air changed from cool to stale in just seconds as the figure moved quickly again, through the narrowed depilated interior until the figure stopped as the space inside expanded.

The ceiling was made of glass, shattered with a hole in the center, leaving cracks in its wake. At the bottom was a big pool of green chemicals. It was left there when the company owning the factory went bankrupt. They had thought that leaving everything behind was much cheaper than cleaning it up, and had tried to sell the land to someone else, leaving the mess up to the new owners.

No one bought the land. Not even the government. And because of that… brought forth from an accident…

A scream was heard, just for a second, but it was enough for the shadowed figure to look up. Something was amiss. Ignoring her train of thoughts up to that moment, she moved immediately, disappearing in the night.

Outside, just a few blocks away, a group of men swarmed around a helpless woman, who had screamed earlier. Now, she was pinned, mouth covered with one of the guy's hand as the others began trying to undress her.

"Hey, hey, pretty lady… why were you screaming? We only want to play."

The men chuckled loudly, one morbidly discussing what they were going to plan for their victim, who could only whimper. Her eyes rolled left and right through fear, her screams muffled once more as the thugs ripped out her top, looking at her with lusting eyes. She could only close her eyes, awaiting for the inevitable.

The men suddenly shouted in shock as something bounced in front of them, and exploded into a thick smoke.

"What the…?" one of the men muttered in surprise.

"Who did that!? Who did that!?"

"Shut up! You're too loud!"

"Shhh! Shhh!" and there was a pause. "Do you… hear that?"

Muffled cries as one of the men found himself kissing the ground painfully, and a swiftly knocked unconscious. Then soon, more cries as more men were felled by a shadowy figure. The group wasn't unconscious about it though as some of them suddenly brought out guns, only to scream as they felt stabbing pains to their hands.

One of them lifted their hands, and his eyes widened when he realized what was protruding on his bloodied hand: a bat shaped knife.

"S-s-she's here!" the man muttered. "SHE'S HERE!"

"Damn it… everyone, get away!" one of the men stated. "Get out of here!"

Screaming slightly, the group fled in different directions, but it was no use, as some were knocked out immediately. The man who had shouted his order didn't look back, but he could hear more and more of his guys screaming… but he didn't dare look back. He zigzagged across the area, trying, hoping he'd lose her. He was ecstatic the longer he kept himself with pace, convincing himself that he outran her.

Then, his luck struck out. He found himself in an alley with a dead-end.

Cursing, he tried to retrace his steps back, but as he turned, he saw a moving shadow roaming on the walls. Panicking, he grabbed his gun and shot a few times towards the figure in motion. He retreated, taking tentative steps backwards, his eyes roaming as he tried to spot for more shadows. He then spotted another, pointed the gun to that area, and shot again.

He began to sweat. The dark night air was getting to him, and other than the ringing sounds of his gunshots, he could hear nothing. He felt that his surroundings were slowly pinning him. Then… a heard something move, and he fired once more to that spot.

He could feel the sweat pouring down on his forehead, and he wiped it off with his forearm. He was already dizzy, his heart almost giving out.

"Damn it… WHERE ARE YOU!?" he shouted.


The man turned, and all he could see was a face, or at least could be a face, except there were no eyes, no mouth and a slight jag on the middle as a nose of some sort, except pointed. On top of the head were two spikes at each side, like two horns.

His reaction was quick. His hand holding the gun pointed towards the shadow figure, only for that figure to disappear at the shot, and re-appear in front of him again. She was faster, disarming him altogether with one movement, and pushing him down towards the ground.

"Rude," she exclaimed calmly.

"No… wait! Wait!" the man muttered, scampering away. He didn't get far as she came at him quickly with a punishing left punch towards his cheek. The man thought he was beheaded… he never felt such a strong punch before!

"Why do you run?"

The man scampered away, the pain of the punch still having him reeling. "Stay away!" he muttered, trying to get away from the shadow. "Stay away! Stay away, stay away!"

"Why are you whimpering? I only want to play."

The shadow figure walked closer. Her voice was getting more menacing as she approached.

"Isn't that what you said to that poor lady?"

"I didn't… no… I…"

"Lying now? Let me show you what I do with people like you…"

She dove at him, and he could only scream as he covered his face with his arms, and he felt her carry him up… up… higher and higher so fast that he could feel the wind blowing on his body. He slowly opened his eyes when the motion stopped, and he could see the ground from his position… cowering somewhat, he looked in front of him to see the shadowed figure looking (apparently, as he can't see if she has eyes) at him. Looking around more, he found himself being held at the ledge of a building.

"No… spare me!" the man whispered.

"Spare you? Like you would have done to that woman?" the figure growled.

"I-I-I won't do i-it again!"

"I'll make sure you don't."

"What do you-"

She let go of him, and gravity took care of the rest. His scream was even louder as his body turned, his head turning downwards towards the ground… he could see fast approaching the pavement, and his mind going almost blank as he felt his end nearing. However, like a snap of a wire, his body stopped just a few inches from the ground.

The man never noticed nor felt the wire on his legs. He couldn't even feel the sting of his eyes as his tears flowed backwards. He could only look on top of the ledge, where the shadow woman was crouching on, seemingly staring at him.

He fainted.

Inside a cave, lit by a few ceiling lights and a large terminal with multiple screens, one shorthaired blonde woman was looking towards one of the darkest parts of the cave, and looking at her watch. Before long, she could hear a loud roar as light suddenly flooded from the area she was looking out, and a sleek black car appeared from view. Parking in a center of a metallic dais, the hood of the car popped and slid open, revealing the masked shadowy figure that jumped out of her seat, and moved swiftly from the car, passing by the blonde woman, who just stood there, unmovable.

"You know what time it is?" the woman asked.

"I came back before sunrise," the figure spoke. "There's no problem."

The two made way towards the terminal computer, where the figure sat down. Now fully illuminated, her features were more distinct. Her suit was a tight one piece body suit, covering her almost completely, made of material most would mistaken for cloth, but if one would look at it closely, the waving pattern would give away the fact that it was not some regular piece of clothing. The mask, made of almost the same material, except the eyes were covered by a thinner piece, along with the mouth and nose.

Removing the cowl, Kudo's face was finally revealed, her eyes narrowing as she typed on the terminal, and each screen slowly displaying the face of the man he was looking for.

"No luck yet?" the blonde woman asked.

"He hasn't been seen for two years," Kudo muttered, typing more. "I thought that having a dark shadow preventing crime would be more than enough to bring him out again… but… its been weeks. Maybe its time I stopped going for the small-timers, and grab on the big fishes…"

"Ayumi-kun… I know you are a bit obsessed with the Joker, but maybe you should just let sleeping dogs lie?"

Kudo's hand slammed on the table, almost hitting the keyboard with full force.

"Miyano-san, I know father told you to help me, and I appreciate everything you have done, but I do not need your opinion on this matter!" Kudo growled, facing the other woman. She turned back towards the terminal, and began typing again. "As long as he is out there, no one is safe. What he did before changed everything! Crime rates soared, Yakuzas flourished, the police force is in shambles, and what do we have to show for it? Absolutely nothing!"

"Your father's worried," Miyano Shiho, the blonde woman, looked at Kudo's back. She sighed. "Your leg hasn't fully healed… and as long as you keep using those drugs you keep injecting yourself with, you won't allow it to. Your obsession with this person is scaring him, frankly."

"Person?" Kudo chuckled darkly. "This man is a monster."

"Frankly, you're turning to one too," the other woman declared.

"I'll turn myself into one to destroy another," Kudo stated with a soft deadly whisper.

"I thought you were better than that, Ayumi-kun," Miyano whispered, turning her back on her care, who just ignored her. Each of the screen was his face… the white faced man, whose smile was seemingly always present.

Ayumi Kudo stared at him through the screens, looking at his smile and motion. Her face showed no emotion, but her hands shook with rage. Her thoughts darkened as she imagined what she would finally do once she lures him out…

Her hand moved towards the mouse, and clicked somewhere with the pointer, closing all the images and video files she had on the Joker, and opened a list of files. Her mind sparked as she began typing down on her computer, trying her plan out, and slowly hitting it with different scenarios, countering them with her own. She needed to get this perfectly… she needed to find him.

And finish him.

To Be Continued…

Yes… Kudo went cuckoo… xD

The story is still on its planning stage. I have the plot on my head, but the smaller details still need to be planned out. Mostly, I'm still trying to establish a timeline, which I can really ignore, but it may bother a few readers once in a while. Just to clarify, I'm not using the ending age of the manga series as a starting point. I'll expand more as I root other details out.

Anyways, hope you look forward to this story as well. I think hogging myself with my Playstation 3 was the worse thing I could do for my writing skills. It felt rusty, really. Ja ne!