I was to do the Amazon story but there's no need, I got a plan. I've put this off for a long while for lack of creatitivy and a busy life. I've tried so many times to get it right and it never worked. This, however, is the result of a story that just won't leave my head until it's done. There's a lot of questions to be answered (and I'll get the usual complaints about not answering them in the first sentence of the story, as usual) but this is gonna get wicked before it's done. Gar's not a nice person anymore.
To Be Where I Have Been…
December 3, 2010
Four months since Argent and Starfire found their end inside the Titans' car. Four months of misery for members of those teams, both East and West, since their last ray of sunshine faded inside that fiery wreck. And as Jump City reels from the effects of that tragedy, with criminals from around the country flocking there to take advantage, the one man that could turn the tide in our favor just happened to be staring right through me in that asylum office.
Garfield Logan, the "Watchman" of Jump City, sat still in the seat in front of my desk, looking at me but maybe not even noticing me at all. Those cold eyes reminded me of a few people I'd met during my visits to prisons in Gotham and Metropolis, a look of someone who'd seen Hell but still lived in this world. I suppose with what he's been through, I couldn't blame him but for the time being, there was still the business at hand...
"Garfield," I asked "when was the last time you were out of your cell?"
He didn't answer me right away, his right eye twitched a bit but finally he responded "Year." That voice sent a chill up my spine, a feeling I don't often get in this line of work. Here before me stood a man over six foot, with eyes like ice but with a voice like a devil's.
"I see. Have you been made aware of the situations unfolding in your old city?"
That voice would take some time to get used to but it still nerved me. If not for his word he wouldn't kill me, he looked like he could do just that at any moment. "From what I understand they've cut off your contact with your friends back home. That's been lifted, you'll be able to contact them if you'd like."
He didn't thank me like I expected he would. All he did in response was to join his hands on his lap, leaning back in his chair a little bit.
"As for the current situation in Jump City, it's time we filled you in." Turning to a screen in the room "You've missed a lot since you've been in solitary."
He stood up, alerting the guards at his action but I waved them off. What he did do was move to the screen to look at the map, silently. I watched him for a moment, wondering what it was like to be inside his mind for a moment, if only it were something sane to visit.
Normally I'd respond to this insult but given the nature of his voice, this was probably the nicest tone I'd be getting.
"Four months ago today, two of your former partners on the Titans were murdered by members of the metahuman organization "Illuminati". They're being led by Dr. Light, a former small-time villain that's now in command of what intelligence describes as "a small army". From a video sent to Jump City News, we've learned that he's challenging the city's underworld for dominance."
"Who does he have?"
"The JCPD suspects that he's been gathering up the supervillains in Jump City that aren't affiliated with Madame Rouge's group or the cartels. We've confirmed that former HIVE members Gizmo and Mammoth were responsible for the killing." For the first time in our meeting, I could tell I'd said something to startle him. I watched as his right fist closed into a ball, his nails digging into his skin. "Are you alright, Garfield?"
"Tell me more. Who else is there?"
He didn't even change his tone even as I could see the tension in his body language. "Madame Rouge has been recruiting several metahumans across America to help counter Light's organization. It's looking as if a metahuman war between both groups is imminent."
"Takes their mind off of the cartels, doesn't it? Probably still around…"
"That's where things are starting to wind down. Over the summer, the Bulletface-Triad alliance has helped push the Desades out of Jump City and into North Jump. They now control most of the organized crime in the city. The Desades are trying to rally in the slums but it's not looking very optimistic."
At that, he took a step to the screen and ran his finger over certain areas. I could hear him whispering to himself something but he was too quiet for my ears.
"As it stands, the main opposition to the crime in Jump City is the Titans and the JCPD. However, with events folding the way they've been since your arrest, it's almost safe to say that Jump City's becoming a new Gotham. The economic crisis over the last two years has turned the former Jewel of the West into an ugly hunk of coal right before our eyes. It's only a matter of time before it burns itself out."
"What about the League?"
"They're still holding their agreement with the Titans not to encroach on their territory. However, it could be any day now before they decide to take action without Nightwing's approval."
"The city could become a warzone. People will die."
I nodded at the stark truth he'd presented "Once this thing goes off, it's likely that will."
He turned about finally, looking towards me. With a determined voice, he asked me frankly "What do you want me to d about this?"
"The President has tasked us with fixing this problem since the JCPD has lost its credibility. We believe that someone, possibly the man you described in Hangar 18, is manipulating events to bring chaos to Jump. We want you to find this man and deal with him."
"Ripper owns the cartels, maybe even the metahumans and the city. This won't be easy... or clean."
"It's why we chose you, Watchman. You've wasted your time in prison when you should've been handling crime at home. We can't have that time back so now you'll have to deal with a wave instead of a stream."
"It will be ugly."
"As long as you keep civilians out of the morgue, you have our backing."
"I'll need a few items."
"Leave a list, you'll have it when you arrive in Jump City."
"Why are you doing this for me?"
At that, I took a step back to think for a few seconds how to word this. Then, it came to me so simply… "I've known some real bad scum and I've known some genuine kind souls in my life. It's not easy walking the line between both when it comes to someone like you. You were once the shining example of heroism and then you become the perfect example of a psychopath. And yet, through it all, you've always done what's right for good, not for your own selfish gain. We wanted a man on the good side who could be just as cruel to the bad guys as they are to us. As for me, I want to see your redemption. I want you to show people just how much they really needed you. Give them something to believe in, that things can be good if you just work for it. Go and watch out over them, Garfield Logan."
Two days later, the man known as the "Watchman" has returned from his near three-year exile from the Bay City. Holoring back around his finger, giving off the illusion of a tall white man with black hair, he sits with the black trench around his body once more. On a bench, looking across the street of a Downtown avenue, he keeps his eyes glued to the entrance of the Jump City Regional Bank. Green sunglasses once again hiding his eyes, he can almost smell trouble coming. Then again, it's been two months since the JCRB's been robbed and it's way overdue for…
There they go… Five suspect people appear near the stairs of the hapless bank. White van parked, they all dress in black and charge into the entrance, a big-time withdraw certainly on their minds.
"Bold. Daylight robbery, no finesse." Standing up, Gar pops his back a bit then makes for the back entrance of the bank.
Inside, the power appears to be switched off with the doorways being blocked by gunmen. Only emergency lights keep the room illuminated but this does little to help the patrons.
"Ok ladies and gentlemen, lets not make this too complicated.." the lead burglar announces, brandishing a polished, black AK-74 in hand.
Down the row of tellers, one of the other crew barks out demands with a female's voice "Faces on the ground and wallets out!"
With a well-practiced precision, the three free robbers spread out across the bank, throwing employees away from their desks and subduing the security guards. The criminals seem to be more worried about keeping prying eyes from looking in rather than making a scene: Then again, in a city like this, they're more likely to run into cartel goons than cops.
"Did the others get done on the roof?" the leader asks, waving the business-end of his gun around threateningly.
"Yeah, silent alarms have been shut off. The pigs will still be stuffin' their faces before they know we've been here." she replies, backhanding an overly brave customer down. Gun to the back of his head, she continues with as much casualness as possible "They're on the way down to the vault."
"Good, I want out of here ASAP. The cops aren't hard, but I got a bad feelin' about staying here."
"Hmm, unlocked door. Amateurs…" Gar mutters, noticing the broken lock on the ground, leaving the roof entrance wide open. A switch of his shotgun safety to "OFF" and a last inspection of his knives are all he needs before stepping into the darkness.
The hallways inside are almost black, suggesting that stealth seems to be high priority. "Must feel safe from the roof. Sloppy."
On his toes, he tries to make as little noise as possible as he moves down the floors, listening for anyone with evil intentions waiting for him.
"Five guards, where's the brains?"
Down in the vault, the two men in question are busy working on the security locks on the safe, duffel bags ready by their sides. One works to override the self-powered keypad while the other cracks into the door's mighty, steel locking grid. Sparks fly on one side as steel constructs meet welding torches. On the other, a small console is plugged into the digital lock, trying thousands of combinations in an attempt to find the appropriate number.
"Move it, Einstein, we ain't got all day." the steel-breaker warns mockingly.
"I'm two steps ahead of you, looking for gold before you crack that door." the tech replies, green goggles reflecting light from the wildly flashing keypad.
"Screw gold, I want platinum?" the first man jokes "After this job though, I'll have enough to buy myself a pure platinum SUIT!"
Not liking the man's taste in style, the techie answers "How about you break that steel bolt already? You're running behind."
"Relax, I'm about to break through." A quick snicker on his part sounds next. "I can practically SMELL money!"
"Vault Team, report?" the leader from upstairs calls in on a walkie-talkie.
"Code will be broken in twenty seconds. Meathead's making contact now on the final lock."
"Make it quick gentlemen, time is money." The lead's voice emphasizes the severity of their efforts. "Out!"
"Contact! We're through!" the lock breaker announces, lock falling apart with his words.
"Digital code cracked, automated security system also down. We're in!" The techie announces, a better mood now that the hard part's done.
"Barely adults…" Gar's grizzly voice warns dangerously, bringing the attention of both thieves his way. As the techie reaches for a gun, Gar brings his left elbow into the crook's nose, sending blood jetting from the nostrils. The lock cracker raises his torch up to attack the Watchman but Gar changes into a wolf, leaping forward and sinking his sharp teeth into the side of the would-be attacker's body. He howls in pain as the fangs rip thick chunks of skin from his body, almost tearing into his liver.
The bleeding techie aims his gun this time but Gar takes the man's arm in hand, aiming it at the safecracker. With a single shot, his accomplice lies dead on the floor. Flipping him forward, gun sliding from the burglar's hand, Gar takes a knife and jams into the man's right trapezius muscle, bringing a terrific scream of agony.
Turning around to meet his face, Gar's hard, cut face stares with vicious malice at the pain-filled, young face of a man in deep, deep shit. "Names... Who do you work for?"
Desperate, the young man stammers aloud "What the fuck man? I thought this place was...?"
This doesn't make Gar happy one bit, he shows his lack of appreciation by fisting the knife deeper into the body, bringing another scream of pain from the helpless criminal.
A cough, through gritted teeth he replies "Your mother..."
At first Gar's about to break out a roar… until he notices the safecracker's torch is a few feet away…
"What's taking them so long?" the female mutters impatiently at the delay. With good reason it seems as every second they delay, the chance of their discovery becomes likely.
Still, the three hostage takers of the crew keep their guns trained on the customers, also feeling the clock against them.
One gets bold enough to kneel down before one of the patrons and ask "Are you scared?"
His victim, a woman no older than 30, with tears down her face, meekly shakes her head in positive.
A grin crosses his face "Do I make you scared?"
"Y-Y-Yes..." she whispers.
Gun under her chin, he tells her "What's that? I can't hear you.."
"Oh give it a break!" the female burglar yells at him. "Getting your rocks off on a heist? Seriously, you're pathetic."
"Gotta kill time somehow until those two goons back up here." the first man answers, evil twist in his bass voice.
"Then get off the floor and go check on them!" the leader yells at him, annoyed one of his own crew would waste time like this.
Walking towards the dark stairwell leading to the bank vaults, the thieves are shocked into terror as the sound of a shotgun firing breaks the silence. Their associate flies back a few feet from the impact, his body bleeding from multiple entry wounds.
"Fuck me! What the hell did that?" one of the group yells, surprised and unsure where to aim his gun. There's good reason to be scared now: The man in the shadows isn't there anymore…
"Quit asking and keep looking!" the woman bites back, furious at someone getting the drop on them. How true are those words a second later.
Falling from the ceiling, Gar lands between the two door guards, elbowing both and using another knife to blind one of the goons. Before the two remaining gunmen can spot Gar… he's gone again! Vanishing into a bug, he flew sight unseen into the rafters again.
"Oh fuck me…" the one surviving guard mutters, holding his nose as he eyes water up from the pressure.
"Shit, I knew we shouldn't have blacked out the lights…" the leader curses.
"No fucking shit, we gave this guy cover all over the place!" the woman shouts back while elbowing the leader.
"Cry me a river later, let's get this son of a bitch!"
"Pathetic..." Gar speaks out from the shadows, voice echoing across the silent hall.
"Anyone see him?"
"Yeah, he's hiding like a BITCH!" the leader sarcastically retorts, looking for SOMETHING to shoot at.
"Either way, we'll get him. He's screwed either way by keeping us trapped in here." the female answers for the two bickering men.
"No…" Behind them, the voice of a very upset vigilante is the last thing they hear. "you're trapped in here with me…"
"Tonight's top story, the Jump City Regional Bank is the site of what police are calling an attempted heist that was interrupted by a mysterious stranger. Four men and a woman were found murdered during an attempt to rob the financial institution. None of the hostages or patrons were seriously injured in the attack, a fact many are grateful for in these difficult times. The witnesses are talking about a man in black who helped break up the robbery and presumably killed the thieves while they were in mid-operation. No details are being released yet but eyewitnesses report a gruesome scene as the bodies were reportedly ravaged beyond simple gunshot wounds.
More on this story at eleven."
A/N: I re-used the first bank robbery scene from Watchman (Draft One) because all it needed was some tweaking to fit Gar's new mindset. Having understood now the meaning of Death, meaning of morality, and his own actions, I don't believe Gar's going to be afraid to do.. well, anything anymore. Funny if you read this version of the heist and the original, this Gar would MURDER the original, no contest (and that feeling is what makes this my favorite draft, the dark content)
- Story title "There Goes My Hero" from Foo Fighter's song of the same name. Those remembering Draft Two will remember he used to listen to this song a lot.
- Arc title: "To Be Where I Have Been" is lyrics from "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin.
- Illuminati's still here from my previous WM03 attempt.
- The bank scene is from WM Draft One but updated tastefully
It annoys me hearing "Awww I can't wait to see what Gar's gonna do" or "What will (so and so) say now that he's..", because it makes it sound like it "has" to be moral. In the beginning of this series, I tried to write Gar as the most human out of a world that seemed to lose it's humanity a bit in the daily hussle. Now, I'm writing it from the opposite perspective... Don't expect any happiness.