Night Terrors

Prologue

Gotham City, Arkham Asylum, Night

Within the halls of the asylum, haunted by the voices of the mad, the orderlies were nervous. It was a red moon outside tonight, an event that stirred the madness in some of the patients to a fever-pitch. The staff could hear the howling laughter of "the clown" ring throughout the halls. His laughter was usually not a good sign, but at least it was a sign he was still in the building where he belonged, along with the rest of the sideshow of inmates who took to strange garb and bizarre motives.

"What the hell is he laughing at now?" One orderly asked mainly to herself.

"Man, I don't know, but it's giving me the creeps." A male orderly responded, currently drawing insulin into a syringe for use on a patient known for diabetes.

"We better check it out." A third orderly stated.

"No, other orderlies are closer to him right now. We need three people to inject insulin into this one." The female orderly replied.

Meanwhile, deeper into the madhouse, six other orderlies were approaching the padded cell of their resident laughing boy, known only as The Joker. His laughter was loud and shrill, which was at least a sign he was close by, as one of the men looked into the dark cell. It went quiet and it was dark inside the cell, which didn't bode well. Then suddenly a thump against the door and the twisted grin of Joker showed through the viewing port, laughing heard.

"JESUS!" swore the orderly who backed away from the door.

"Ahahahahahaha! Jumpy tonight, aren't we?" Joker taunted, "Scared stiff! ….Ahahahahahahaha!"

"You're going to be a stiff if I could get just five minutes with you and my club here, you freak!" the man retorted, angry at the inmate.

"I know something you don't know, I know something you don't know!" teased the self titled Clown Prince of Crime.

The orderly glared, becoming infuriated with the patient. He raised his club in anger, and another orderly put a hand on his shoulder to try to calm him.

"You know that's what he wants, right? Just calm down."

"I know, but I'd still like to belt him across those ugly yellow teeth of his."

The Joker only grinned at this, giggling and chortling to himself.

"You might get the chance, Rocky." He cryptically told the orderlies.

"What does THAT mean? You're not getting out of that cell, clown." The orderly responded.

"Yes, but I'm already out." A calm, quiet voice answered.

The orderlies quickly turned to face the voice to find a tall, thin, lanky man dressed in old fashioned farmer's clothes, with a witch's hat and burlap mask that was hideous, with small eye holes and visible gas mask ports on the mouth. They bore worker's leather gloves and had straw hair coming from the hat, and loose straw sticking out of the clothes.

"It's Crane!" an orderly shouted.

"Please, call me Scarecrow."

The Scarecrow then thrust his hands forward, holding a small skull shaped device in each hand, which sprayed out a noxious green gas onto the orderlies. They tried to fight the effects, but quickly succumbed, falling to the ground writhing.

"What do you fear? Being alone? Closed in spaces? Spiders? Snakes?" Crane asked the victims.

Joker only laughed, as the Scarecrow deftly lifted the keys off of one of the orderlies, and proceeded to unlock and open Joker's cell door. Joker then wiggled in his straight jacket, before quickly undoing his arms and proceeded to work off the rest of his straps through the sleeves of the restraining device.

"My part of the deal is done now clown. You distracted the guards and I freed you after freeing myself and getting my things. What you do is your decision now." Scarecrow stated matter of factly.

"Oooooh I know, Straw Head. I'm going to let loose the other patients! Dear Ol' Batty-Man will have a field day trying to put us all back in the clink!"

"Good for you. While I would LOVE to stay and watch this experiment in terror on Gotham City, and truly, I would…" Crane started to say.

"Eh? Where are you going, Hayseed?" Joker asked.

"I'd really be crazy to stay and let Batman catch me again, so I have plans to go give another city a lesson in fear!" Scarecrow finished.

"Oooooo, can I come? Can I?" Joker chimed in, "I make a GREAT traveling buddy!"

"No you can't-…" Scarecrow started, and then realized simply telling Joker no would mean the clown would come anyway, and Crane didn't want that. He had "serious research" to do on the psychology of fear, which is why he wanted to leave Gotham in the first place.

"If you come, you won't get to play with Batman." Crane told Joker, using Joker's own warped psychology against him.

"OOOOOOOHHH! You have a point! You drive a hard bargain, you straw stiff! Fine, I'll stay and play with Batman. But I want to see slides when you get back!" Joker laughed at his little joke.

"If this keeps Batman away from my work, you can have a Power Point presentation of the whole thing when I get back." Scarecrow jokingly promised Joker, before running off.

Joker just laughed at the joke, then scampered off with the keys from the orderly, intent on letting loose a cavalcade of Gotham's worst out onto the city, even as Crane was heading to find a vehicle to take, to head towards a major metropolitan city to ply his trade. Metropolis would be a mistake with Superman, while Central and Keystone City had the Flash. Coast City was just a crater now, and Star City had its own defender, the Green Arrow. That left one excellent choice in Crane's mind…

[Story Divide]

New York City, Xanatos Tower, Nightfall

Night was falling over Xanatos Tower, the sun setting over the Celtic castle that rests on top of the building, darkness falling over the stone statues on the parapets. With the sun down, the stone begins to crack and split on these statues, before breaking apart and exposing the Gargoyles to the fresh air, their roars of freedom pealing through the air.

"Ah, I never get tired of that." Xanatos stated, having been watching for this.

"Frankly, neither do I." Detective Elisa Maza added.

Goliath and the other gargoyles, including his daughter Angela, descended from the turrets and parapets, walking towards the two humans who were awaiting them. Elisa shifted her balance slightly as she watched them approach.

"Good evening Goliath." David Xanatos stated in his calm, direct tone.

"Good evening…" Goliath responded, "Is something wrong, Elisa?"

"Nothing more than the usual crime in the streets," Elisa replied, "Which is plenty for the force. I'm more concerned about Brooklyn."

"Yeah, last night…" Brooklyn muttered.

Last night had been a pretty normal night of protecting the city from the criminal element for the gargoyles and Elisa. Normal up until one lucky gunshot clipped Brooklyn's wing, nearly making him crash into a building before being saved by Broadway.

"Are you all right?" Elisa asked.

"I don't want to talk about it, okay?" Brooklyn told her sternly.

"Brooklyn." Goliath said, with a serious tone to his voice.

"Yeah, yeah…I'm sorry. I just had a nightmare about it being worse than that while we slept as stone." Brooklyn replied.

"I didn't know gargoyles had dreams during the day." Xanatos noted.

"We do, as humans do when they sleep. And sometimes our sleep is troubled." Hudson said, answering Xanatos' unasked question.

"I see."

"Yeah, anyway, I still don't really want to talk about it, but my wing has healed if you were wondering." Brooklyn stated.

"Being afraid is normal, Brooklyn. We all fear something." Angela said, trying to calm him down, "It's how we cope with it that makes us brave."

"Angela is right, Brooklyn. You need to handle your fears better." Goliath added.

"I'm NOT afraid, okay?" Brooklyn shouted, and then turned to the parapets to glide off.

"Hey, come on Brooklyn, I'm afraid of something bad happening to Alex." Lexington stated, to try to help sympathize with Brooklyn.

"It's not like that though." Brooklyn answered, then leapt off the building, gliding off into the night.

"Shouldn't we go after him Goliath?" Broadway asked.

"No…he'll return before sunrise. He needs time to sort this out on his own."

"I hope that's all he needs," Elisa added to Goliath's statement, "I've seen some cops become terrified of their job after close calls."

"We better get going ourselves. The night's young, and brings out a lot of these…criminals out." Hudson noted.

"Including the Quarrymen," Angela added, "They seem as intent on destroying us as ever."

"I trust Brooklyn to be able to handle himself well against them. It's why I left him in charge when I left for Avalon." Goliath remarked.

"I hope so," Hudson stated, "Because as he is, he might be a bit too angry to do so."

"Hmm…you're right. Go after Brooklyn and make sure he doesn't get into any serious trouble."

Hudson nodded, then ran to the edge of the castle walls, leaping off to go after Brooklyn, gliding into the night.

"The rest of us will go out on patrol as normal." Goliath added.

"I'm going to follow a lead on Tony Dracon." Elisa told Goliath.

The group then split up, heading for their destinations.

[Story Divide]

New York City, Central Bus Station, Daylight

The station was alive and bustling with the flow and ebb of human traffic, coming in and going out of New York City or just across town. Many passengers were disembarking from a Greyhound bus, including a gaunt man with brown hair and blue eyes, heading towards the side of the bus where a station hand was busy unloading the bags and suitcases of the passengers for pick up. The nearly skeletal man noticed his own being unloaded less than gently, and was outraged, heading over to the dark skinned worker.

"Be careful with that, you incompetent oaf! There are fragile items in that bag!" Crane yelled at the man.

"Look buddy, I'm doing my job, now get inside and wait for your stuff like everyone else."

Crane glowered at the man, before bringing his glove covered hands up to his face and coughing a bit. For some reason, this began to unnerve the worker.

"I'm just a sick man…a very sick man…and I don't want my medicine damaged." Crane told the worker.

The worker squirmed a little bit, looking to the bags, then to Crane, before he began to back off slowly from them.

"Uh…a-all right…whatever you say. Just don't get close to me, man."

Crane smirked, taking his bags, then walking off into New York City, grinning to himself how he had used fear powder on his bags to give the man a strong case of pathophobia, the fear of illnesses and diseases, to scare him into complying. So what if a few others at the station would be affected by the powder as well, rubbing off onto the other baggage. Crane enjoyed the thought, even as he made his way into the city to begin his campaign of terror, and people at the station began to panic about the germs and viruses around them that they had previously given no thought to.