Prologue for Justice Champions; Tales of the Injustice Champions
Chuck woke up with a start, then lied back down with a sigh. He had the same old dream. He was falling, and he didn't have a parachute. He woke to the same old scene. His musty cell, decorated sparsely with paper cranes.
He sighed and rubbed his eyes, waking himself up fully. Today was the big day after all, he had to be fresh. His feet touched the cold stone floor and he shivered. He walked around the room, engaging in his morning ritual of counting the paper cranes. 10. 20. 30. 40. 50. And so on, until he reached the final increment. 990. Just ten cranes short of one million, all arranged in a very particular order, and kept stiff with regular applications of salt water.
"Hey Charlie Brown." Chuck sighed at his unfortunate name, and turned to the warden.
"And what do you want Spence?" He asked.
"Well, I thought I'd wish you a happy birthday." The Warden said. "You have mail."
"I do?" This was genuinely news for Chuck. Not even his wife had written to him once since he'd been incarcerated.
"Of course, I had to search it thoroughly for any hidden materials." The Warden carelessly tossed the box into the cell. Chuck opened it, to find the mangled remains of a cake inside. The frosting was pink laced with white, and the words were in purple.
Happy Birthday Daddy.
Chuck glared at the warden. "Oh, don't give me that look." The warden sneered. "You chose this life. Have a good one Charlie Brown." As the warden walked away, Chuck's friend Gardner the guard approached the cell hesitantly. He slipped some pieces of paper through the bars and went to join the warden. Chuck picked up the pile of papers. 'Five more years, don't give up hope' it said.
Chuck looked at the cake his daughter had baked for him, and somehow smuggled past her mother. The cake the Warden had defiled. "No." He said. "Not five more years. Now." He folded the ten pieces of paper, and he had a million cranes. And he made a wish.
That morning, Chuck took his ten new paper cranes into the showers with him, and stole some salt from breakfast to salt the now wet cranes.
He was slightly more chipper than usual when he went into the exercise yard that morning. He joined the Blackgate prison football team with a smile on his face. "Well if it isn't good old Charlie Brown." Rodney (the quarterback) said, wiping the smile off of his face. "Happy birthday airhead."
Chuck reflected that it was better than being called blockhead, before patiently responding. "If you're going to sing 'happy birthday', you'd better do it now." He said. "Everything's in order for the escape."
"We'll have time for that when we're outta here." Rodney said, high fiving the others on the team. Chuck doubted it. Rodney had what he called, chronic backstabbing syndrome; the minute Chuck had outlived his usefulness and gotten him out of prison, he'd fit Chuck for a pair of shoes. Chuck made a mental note to send him a poisonous cake when he got out.
"Do you have the string?" Chuck asked.
Rodney whistled, and the rest of the team brought a couple of yards of twine up. After testing their strength, Chuck decided that it would be perfect for his needs. "I'll be back in an hour."
"Hey." Rodney stopped him. "You ready to let us in on the secret yet? How we're getting out of here?"
"We'll be taking advantage of this place's one design flaw." Chuck said, not looking back. "The yard has no roof."
Chuck's heart jumped up into his throat. He would never admit it, but he was secretly afraid of flying. No, not flying. Falling. He balanced precariously on the origami construction he'd made out of his paper cranes, steering it through the air with simple tugs of his strings.
"Oi!" He looked down. Rodney and five of the football team clutched onto his new kite for dear life. "Are you sure this'll work? It feels like I could fall at any time!"
"That's the idea!" Chuck yelled over the wind. He listened as his companions in arms fell into the water below with a scream. He didn't look down. He was too frightened to look down. Instead he looked up, into the sky. A new beginning.
Chuck tendered his beer. His head hurt and his pride hurt more.
He heard the door to the bar open. He heard the vibrant laughter of a man who enjoyed his life, paying no attention to it. Or to the laughter of the women with him.
"Chuck! Kiteman is that you?"
Chuck looked up at the mention of Kiteman. He was only known by that name in special circles. And that was when he recognized the voice. He turned to see Edward Nigma, probably back from challenging Green Lantern to a duel of wits. Despite his current depression, he was glad that somebody was having a good time.
"Oh, Chuck, Chuck, Chuck. Let me buy you a round. Last I heard you were in prison!"
"Yeah, just broke out." Chuck mumbled. "It's my birthday."
"No kidding?" The Riddler sat down next to him. "And how does the Kiteman celebrate his birthday?"
Chuck shrugs. "He dumps a couple of jerks from prison into Gotham Harbor, and then gets his rear end handed to him by his ex."
"Ah…" The Riddler took a sharp intake of breath. "That bad huh?"
"Yeah." Chuck thought back to his little girl's birthday present. "That bad."
The Riddler stroked his chin. "Tell you what, I think maybe I have a birthday present for you. You know, if you're up for it."
"Really?" Chuck asked. He didn't dare get his hopes up.
"Sure." The Riddler smiled. He took a card out of his jacket and gave it to Chuck. "Anything for my best buddie." He sighed. "You remember the days when we were the top dogs? Before all of these other supervillains started stealing the spotlight, we were the elite. We didn't have powers, but we had something better. We had flair. We scared the dickens out of the people of fair Gotham, superstitious and cowardly lot that they are."
"Yeah." Kiteman said. "I remember the days when I ruled the skies. Now, there are… how many people who can fly? I don't know Ed… at least you still have the advantage in the brains department."
Nigma smiled. "Just think about it, okay?" He put down some money, probably from his latest flawless job, and told the bartender to give chuck another round. The bartender mumbled something about Charlie Brown and he considered leaving. But then, he never could pass up anything free. He looked at the card his buddie Enigma gave him.
You are hereby invited to join, the Injustice Champions.
Chuck considered looking at the date and place of meeting, then scolded himself. He didn't have anything better to do. Why not? He'd give it a chance.
A/N: This may, or may not be what I write next. Probably not, but you never know, the votes have yet to be tallied. Once I finish a story, I'll post a sort of prologue to the next in the series at the end. A little teaser if you will. If the next story I write is Green lanter, at the end of that story I will stick a prologue for the next Green Lantern story. If the next is Blackbird, the ending will contain a clue as to the Blackbird's next adventures. This is the next story for the Justice Champions, so I'm putting it up here for all to see.