Disclaimer: Not my crap as you well know. DC owns everything.
More out of habit than necessity, Victor Fries sat in a warehouse used by food retailers, ignoring the raw and frozen meat surrounding him, cradling a snow globe in his hands. He… he hadn't meant to kill those people during his escape, he'd… no that was wrong.
He had been alone for months, locked away in a room meant for a being far bigger than he, trapped in his helmet, having lost every part of his body after that damnable decay. Freeze wondered if he'd gone insane during the silence. For countless weeks, Mr. Freeze and his brilliant mind had done nothing but stare into the icy walls of his cell with nothing to do but reflect on Nora, Nora, Nora. And then, that blackout had come one day, Freeze's eyes had burned into that dark wondering if he'd died when the next thing he knew, he was on his old armor again, electric impulses giving him false limbs to move. So yes, Freeze had taken joy in his freedom, bursting out of the halls of Arkham and even killing those people aboard the helicopter as they shined down their spotlights to root him into place.
Victor wondered if he'd gone really gone crazy. Insane enough to actually belong in Arkham. How had he even come to this? By all rights Victor should be happy! Nora was alive and well, even if he'd never worked up the sheer courage needed to see her. Even if she'd... remarried.
Microservos whirrled as powerful metal hands, strong enough to crush skulls, daintily lifted his snow globe and shook it gently, before Fries' eyes stared at the ballerina inside. Watching the fake snow fall, Victor rested his domed head on the glass. What to do, what to do... should he turn himself in? Escape the country again? Fries sighed.
Belio Galante looked unfazed in his flawlessly pressed Gucci suit at the crazy duo in front of him. Scarface the puppet was an infamous story amongst the Gotham Nightlife, an example of what happened when a normal man was pressed too far, but Arnold Wesker had beaten his disease and gone on to be a 'Productive Member of Society.' Which didn't explain why this perfectly normal looking flunky was holding the puppet and looking intimidated by it. Jesus, was the damn thing cursed? Still didn't explain how the things had gotten so many people to work for him. Still, orders were orders.
"So ya see," Belio started "Mr. Galante wanted us to join forces you know? After all, these are dangerous times and hey, I know you got yourself a loyal crew ready to give whoever a good thumping."
The kid was good, Belio noted. He couldn't make out any sign of moving lips as he said "Hey dummy, what you looking at this dummy for? I'm the brains here!"
Belio was tempted to just walk out before soothing the damned crazy bastard. A few seconds of sanctimonious ass-kissing later however apprently bought himself Scarface's 'Good Graces,' what a joke.
"You know what Galante? I like you. So I'll give you ten seconds to walk out before I pump you fulla lead."
"Oh no Scarface," the flunky begged, "we can't do that!"
"Shaddup dummy, I'm the boss remember?"
Galante finally sighed before snapping his fingers, sending half a dozen of the Galante Famiglia's finest into the room with rifles at the ready before taking out his own pistol. "Jesus H. Christ, no wonder my old man hate you crazies guts."
Before Scarface or his flunkies could react, Belio sent two rounds into the puppet's torso, shattering the thing and making the mook scream at his bleeding hand before another double tap of his pistol silenced the man.
"Alright you sacks of crap! Starting now, you work for the Galante Famiglia. You can consider yourselves associates, and by god if anyone, even a soldier tells you to jump, you don't even fucking ask how high," Galante snarled to the assorted men surrounding him. The men being professional took their boss' murder with grace, exiting calmly, a few even tipping their hats to Galante as a show of respect. Belio looked at the emptying room before stomping on Scarface's head, taking pleasure as the the wood cracked and was turned into so many splinters. Shit, the mob should have done this years ago.
Bane stepped out onto the harbors of Gotham distastefully before being meeting his welcoming party. A group of five grimfaced men with no visible weapons stepped into the gaze of the massive mercenary before a leader raised his arms in welcome.
"I am Vittoreo Maroni. Welcome back to Gotham Bane."
"Hmph, the city is the same as every I see," Bane noted with a smile. Oh yes, there was something about Gotham City that spoke to the criminal soul, even with the always present threat of the Batman.
"Yes, yes, this cesspit of crime and vice is always waiting for people like you Signor," Maroni ribbed. "Now then, you know why you were called?"
"My money," Bane demanded, obviously not intending to say much more unless he had proof.
A man brought an attache case before Bane, sliding it into view and staying out of arm's reach of the dangerous Mexican. Smart man really, Bane noted. Not even bothering with the combination, he flicked it open, locks and all, and grunted in satisfaction at the rows of bills before dumping it all in a bag of his own, not trusting the case.
"Half upfront, half later. Just as promised."
"Well then, how may I help the Maroni family?" Bane asked, knowing exactly what it was Maroni wanted.
"Oh, you know, bodyguard duties, an assassination here or there, protection mostly."
Bane let out a laugh not unlike the bark of a dog before saying "I was not aware that such blatant weakness was allowed in this city. Perhaps I should be taking advantage no?"
Maroni let out a polite cough, not sure what to make of him.
"Well, ha ha, I'm afraid the situation is rather different now. Those... madmen at Arkham were always unstable, and with this many loose, Mr. Maroni fears losing control of our territory. With all this chaos, people might just decide the time is ripe for eh, aggressive expansion. I must admit I am surprised you've taken our offer. I thought you might have sided with the maybe the Burnley Town Massive or the many street gangs around here, they are more your kind after all."
Bane ignored the racist remark, fully aware that crime was the most prejudiced and racist job of all before saying "They could not afford my fees. Pride is one thing, money is another."
Maroni burst into laughter at that "Ha ha, right you are. Right you are."
Leading Bane to a stretch limo, Maroni held the door open for the intimidating mercernary while the others entered their own cars. Bane leaned back into the leather seats and closed his eyes counting his supply of Venom leaned back into the leather seats and closed his eyes. Soon, very soon, he told himself.
He would break the Bat.
Penguin locked the doors to his office in the Iceberg Lounge before sitting back on his specially made chair, idly rubbing the haft of one of his omnipresent umbrellas, musing over the past few days. Not one bit of good news was forthcoming so far. He'd made his fortune from smuggling and dealing information, staying out of the more relatively common pastimes of theft after all the trouble that had brought Batman, but this was going to be troublesome.
He lit a cigarette and took in a big puff, letting the smoke gather before exhaling. It had taken a lot of work to get out of Stonegate after that Batwoman affair, much money had been spent greasing the axles of his early release, and his memories of that damned prison still smarted. Oswald Cobblepot was tempted to leave the incoming war alone, too intimidated by the prospect of going back again. But as much as he wanted to stay out of it and play it safe, Penguin knew that would not be the case. He was too well-connected, too well-known, he was going to be pressured into joining a group.
It would take a lot of maneuvaring to stay ahead of this avalanche. He flicked his lighter over and over again, not caring that he was wasting the fluid inside before leaning back into his comfortable chair. He had plenty of assets certainly, better connected than half these families combined. He knew the ways of the metahuman mind and had more than a few links to several of the less unsavory types. The problem was, if he tried bringing that sort of firepower in, it would attract the wrong attention. Sticking to smuggling was going to be hard, as the cops were watching every port and harbor as tight as they could, and it had taken Penguin quick maneveurs before grabbing the few drug shipments inbound to Gotham out of sight from the GCPD. Sure those bastards were overstretched, but they were still amongst the best police force in the world. They had to be to even compete with the Gotham criminals. Penguin still had a tightly wound crew of leg breakers, equipped with the best weapons money could buy, and the Iceberg Lounge was a veritable fortress, both literally and metaphorically. Everyone knew messing with the Penguin was bad news.
Of course, everyone was waiting for the chance to knock the infamous Cobblepot off his throne, especially after Stonegate.
He was almost lost in his thoughts when his phone rang. Knowing only a select few had his direct line, Cobblepot picked it up without a second thought.
Damn. Damn. Damn.
"You do as I say and nothing more. You do that, and you may get out of his mess with your hands as clean as they can get... for an upstanding citizen like yourself."
The call disconnected and Penguin stared at the receiver like it was diseased before slamming it down, his frustration finally reaching his peak. The old phrase 'Damned if you do, damned if you don't' trickled into his mind despite his efforts.
Teeth clenched, Oswald Cobblepot could only grit "Batman."
Floyd Lawton picked a piece of particularly juicy crab with a toothpick. He edged it out between the crevasses of his teeth before he flicked it inside and swallowed with a grin. He leaned back in his chair and propped up his feet on the table, waiting for his newest customer to talk.
The bodies of no less than seven men littered the floor around him.
Yuri Dimitrov cracked open another crab leg with his fingers and let some juice flick out before he lifted the meat to his mouth. This continued on for sometime, not really anything Lawton, better known as Deadshot, hadn't expected. He was trying to show that Dimitrov had all the power. Well good for him.
The defeat of my men was unnecessary, the quiet man said.
First language to throw off his opponent. Stupid. Did Dimitrov really think Lawton wouldn't have picked it up during his travels?
Not dead. Just… hurt. Will get up in a bit, Deadshot said smoothly, though inwardly he cursed to himself for the flawed Russian. Did Yuri notice?
The slight pulling of his lips told Lawton that yes, Dimitrov knew exactly what Lawton had tried and just found himself amused.
"Do you understand the particulars of your contract?" Dimitrov asked in slowly enunciated English. Yet another 'flaw' which Deadshot knew was fake. The man had studied at Princeton and Deadshot knew he was capable of more.
"No. You told me come with a down payment of ten grand. That was enough."
"How did you come to be free? Last I checked, you were in Belle Reve slated for execution."
"Killed enough people for Uncle Sam to cut me a deal. Gave some people who were poor in bullets a few and here I am," Lawton said.
"What I am about to request of you is much the same."
"When the streets are fighting, take up vantage point. Kill anyone who seems like a leader. Assassination requests will also come."
"Falcone right." Deadshot said, not asked.
"When the time is right," Dimitrov said with a slight smile.
Deadshot considered his options. Really, this would be his first big job after his release from the Task Force. If he played his cards right, he could find himself back on top of the game!
"Let's do it."
Jonathon Crane was doing research.
He'd made a few modifications to his toxins and was hoping to see some promising results. Admittedly he was running out of participants faster than he'd expected but really, it couldn't be helped. Science was science. It demanded total attention and would leap above whatever naïve expectations one expected. Rather much like a woman, Crane mused. Or at least, that was the sort of crass comment he'd heard so much during his incarcerations. Crane never really had time for women really. Or men. Friends. People. He had his studies. And dealing with people always led to pain anyway.
"Subject shows no deviation from expected norms. Results are disappointing. The base is sound, but I need something bigger. At this rate however, I shudder to think I will have to recreate the formula from scratch. The used components just aren't producing what I need," he said into an old-fashioned tape recorder as he picked through the participant's kitchen. He tutted at the lack of any fresh foods. No wonder this one was so obese. He was no nutritionist, but subsiding on such fatty foods would lead to an early death.
Left with no choice, Crane took out a can of ravioli and punched a few numbers into the microwave.
"Oh God! That smell, d-dad, y-y-you've come home."
Crane perked up and dashed towards his participant weeping on the floor.
"Mommy says that whiskey is bad for you daddy. She-ahhh!"
"Olfactory components seeing possible success. Awaiting further responses," Crane breathed excitedly into his recorder.
"Obvious parental abuse from his father. Participant seems to have fondness of his mother. The smell of alcohol apparently features prominently. Helps explain the lack of any such beverages in this domicile,' Crane noted.
He was disappointed though, as the participant trailed off into incoherent blubbers and was unable to make out a single word. He was fairly certain primal fears of darkness featured in there somewhere, along with other childhood horrors, but the man was, quite frankly, too big a mess.
The microwave dinged.
Crane shot the crying man another look before heading to grab his meal. He'd seen success tonight, and now he just had to refine it. Any further observations could be had at the dining table, where he'd be given a good look.
Crane chuckled. How kind of this participant to be the gracious host. Dinner and a show.
His long fingers scrabbled at the lid, but failed to make purchase. Growling, he grabbed a fork and jabbed it onto the top and used it as a lever. With a grunt, he'd popped up the lid and pulled back, revealing the steaming food. Disgusted with all the sugary drinks that the participant kept, he helped himself to tap water, reassured that the man at least kept a filter on it. After what Joker had done to the city water, such filters were a necessity in Gotham.
Crane himself was surprised at how hungry he was, noting how quickly the food disappeared down his throat before wiping off his lips using a napkin. He was debating seconds when a foul stench permeated his nose. Crane sighed as he took up his recorder again and headed over to the now still man.
"Cardiac Arrest. Time of Death… 8:04 PM Eastern Seaboard. Participant's heart could not take the stress brought on by the toxin. His death also most likely had a heavy factor in his obesity. Mental note to self. Eat healthy."
Crane thumbed the button before he went to the bathroom and straightened his noose. He gave his reflection a shy smile before putting on his mask. The Scarecrow's rictus sneer stared back.
It was time to leave and find a new test subject. Who knows? Maybe this time, they would be volunteers.
Harleen Quinzel, preferably known as Harley Quinn sighed before a glance at the window next to her. No response.
She sighed again. Louder.
Again, no response. Harley debated sighing even louder than before until she decided it would be useless. She'd already done just about everything to get Mistah J's attention. She'd sang, danced, told a funny joke she'd heard someone say (that one actually got her a slap on the face, so you know, progress), and she'd even tried putting on some sexy number that just got her lecherous grins from a few goons and a couple of very full hyenas.
Really now, he'd been like this ever since they'd blown the old joint and came to yet another abandoned factory (and geewhiz how many of those things did Gotham have anyway? What did, the place have a factory that made abandoned factories or something?")
Mistah J had parked himself right out a window and just sat there looking like stone. He'd even gotten himself a pure black outfit instead of his so much nicer looking purple duds. Yuck, so much gloom around the place. Leave that to Batman.
So Harley had manned up (so to speak) and gone to grab hold of impressionable young minds with the promise of cash and violence to their persons if they did not join. She got lots of people. Good times. With nothing to do however, Harley took out a nail file and started whittling them down to a manageable size as she whistled the most annoying song she could think of to try to snap her beloved Puddin' out of his funk. She hadn't seen the man move to go use the john or even eat! Must have been some kinda superpower or something. She had to admit that he looked pretty swank though. His brooding good looks framed around the moon contrasted with his pearl-white skin, looking kind of like this vampire she'd heard lots about and whoa was it getting hot in here or what?
Her thoughts trailed off however, when the Joker turned around from his comically undersized swivel chair to face her.
"Harley," he said sadly, looking very haggard.
"I'm so… so… angry-sad. I mean, Arkham wasn't the nicest digs sure what with all the leaky pipes, the communal showers, and that nasty Bat always waiting around the corner, but those animals! It was my home. My place of zen. They-they blew up! You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!" Joker screamed as he frantically pinwheeled his arms before sagging.
"You alright Mistah J?" Harley cautiously asked.
Her beloved shot her an angry look that sent flutters up her belly and Harley could only give a dopey grin in return.
He held the gaze for a few seconds before his infamous smile returned in full force.
"Alright? I'm better than alright! I'm a man with a plan Harley. Sure I lost my house, but hell, no one else is going to use it now! More room for me."
"You mean us?"
"No. Maybe. If you are very lucky Harley," Joker said.
"Now, first things first. Do we have mooks? Goons? Lovable rogues that exist to be killed off for fun?"
"Yeppers! Waiting right outside."
"Wonderful! Now Harley, be a dear and get me a phone."
"We, uh, kinda don't have power Puddin'. No phone," Harley admitted sheepishly.
Joker jumped up and got in her face before giving her a peck on her nose.
"Well, I'm sure one of those nice young men outside have one of those fancy doodads called cell phones," he said kindly.
"Who do you want me to call?" Harley asked shyly.
"Zhao's House of Wok. They have some good Lo Mein, and I tell you Harley, planning a scheme to murder thousands is tough work on an empty stomach. Grab an order of that and some Kung Pao Shrimp. Oh, and call Firefly after that."
"Sure thing Mistah J!" Harley saluted. "What are you going to do?"
"I," Joker began dramatically, flourishing a finger like a sword before pointing at the air. "am going to the little boy's room. Got some backage I should clear up."
Harley nodded quickly and turned to leave when the Joker called her back. She pirouetted with a graceful twirl to face her wonderful Joker when she found herself on her black, her face screaming in agony.
Mistah J was massaging his fist with a menacing looking grin as he snarled "Don't hum such raucous ditties. Granny Joker would be ashamed."
"Well, all I got to say Harley. Toodles! I'll see you in a bit. Bring food so we can enjoy it together. You like candlelit dinners right? Soon I'll give you one you won't ever forget!"
So this was dead, but now it's alive again. I know it's not much of an update after so long, but I do have plans for this and don't plan on dropping it. See you soon with a new chapter, and thanks for keeping hope that it'll stay alive. In fact, I'll be nice and give you a hint. Next time we get to see Terry fight off a JLU enemy along with Batgirl and one Dr. Crane.