A/N: Written for the "Look Who's In Town Now" theme at Batfic_Contest on Livejournal. The challenge was to introduce a DC character into the Nolanverse that has not/will not appear in the Nolan films.


Puppet

With Sal Maroni dead, the remnants of Carmine Falcone's criminal empire were left in disarray, leaderless. Who would step up to the mantle in the face of ever-growing threats like the Batman, when the heads of organized crime were dropping left and right? Crime in Gotham was increasingly becoming a game the likes of which only madmen were willing to play. And so, Carmine Falcone watched, helpless behind the walls of Arkham, as his empire was taken over by the unlikeliest of gangsters.

He'd heard the reports on the news, read the papers, but nothing was substantiated. No pictures had been taken, and the man who had stolen his empire out from underneath him had never been fully identified. Only an alias had been tossed around the rumor mill.

Falcone was determined to get his empire back. The Scarecrow's toxin had long ago worn off on him. Sure, there were some aftereffects left on the recesses of his mind, but he could function once again. Bribes were made; Falcone was declared sane and his crimes exonerated. It was all very hush-hush. He wanted to confront the man off his guard. No one would know he was coming.

He headed straight for his old criminal hangout. It was the very establishment that a young Bruce Wayne had confronted him at years before.

As soon as he barged through the door he found himself being frisked for weapons by the very same thugs who used to work for him. They were momentarily shocked to see him, but manhandled him nonetheless.

"Hey, hey, what's the big idea?" he said as his firearms were removed.

"Sorry, Mr. Falcone, them's the rules."

"You lousy bums. Where is he? Where's this 'Mr. Scarface' I been hearing about? You ugly sons of bitches just point me in his direction. I got a matter to discuss with him."

The two thugs exchanged a look. One of them cleared his throat.

"Mr. Scarface is, uh, out having his shoes shined. If you got something to discuss, you better take it up with his assistant."

"Assistant?" Falcone was incredulous.

The thug nodded in the direction of a man sitting alone at a booth in the back. "Calls himself 'The Ventriloquist'. He's the guy you want."

Falcone shook his head to himself as he walked to the booth. This city really had gone to the nutcases.

He sat down in front of the man, who was so startled he almost jumped out of his seat. He'd been fully engrossed in a crossword puzzle, sipping on the edge of a straw in an iced tea. The pencil flew out of his hand and onto the floor.

"Iced tea?" Falcone said quizzically.

"M-M-Mr. Scarface doesn't like me to drink when I'm on duty," the Ventriloquist said. He had a feeble, high-pitched voice. He sounded like the ultimate wimp.

Falcone looked him up and down. He was a jittery-looking man in his late 20s or early 30s, though he could easily have been mistaken for someone older due to his premature balding. The eyes behind the round gold-rimmed glasses were young and fresh, though, betraying him.

"So tell me, kid, are you as stupid as you look or do you know who I am?"

The Ventriloquist looked too terrified to speak, only nodding. Geez, Falcone thought, how'd a pussy like this end up working for the head of a crime syndicate?

"I got a message for your boss."

"Mr. Scarface doesn't like to be disturbed when he's relaxing. You'd better go before he gets back."

"Naw, kid, I think I'll stay right where I am. I want to meet this Mr. Scarface man-to-man."

"Please, you don't understand…" The Ventriloquist began to sweat profusely; he took out a handkerchief and began patting his forehead. "Mr. Scarface has a terrible temper. Please leave. It's for your own good. I can't stand violence…"

"Geez, kid, what's the matter with you?"

The Ventriloquist genuinely looked like he was going to throw up, like he was having some kind of nervous episode.

"If he sees you, he's going to get very angry, please just… oh God, he's here!" The Ventriloquist whimpered and threw his head down on the table.

Falcone turned around. He saw nothing. Just a thug coming towards them, holding a small black trunk in his hands.

The thug laid the trunk on the seat beside the Ventriloquist.

"Here he is," the thug said. "Shined to his exact specifications."

Falcone had no idea what was going on.

"Don't go," the Ventriloquist said, grabbing the thug's arm. "I better make sure first."

The thug gulped visibly as the Ventriloquist opened the black trunk. Falcone stared in disbelief as he pulled out a ventriloquist's dummy, dressed as a startlingly accurate recreation of a 1920s-style gangster with a zoot suit and fedora and little black leather shoes on the end of his feet; there was even a little realistic-looking toy Tommy gun glued to his hand. His face was carved out of wood and had been painted with a sinister expression. There was a jagged scar running down his cheek, like someone had taken a knife and slit him. The whole affair had an edge of the deranged.

The Ventriloquist pulled the dummy onto his hand and brought him to life with stunning realism; the dummy began examining his black leather shoes, which were freshly polished, as though he could really see through his lifeless, glassy eyes.

"Hmmm…" the dummy said in a deep, full voice that was completely unlike the Ventriloquist's. "What's da meaning of dis?" The voice was full of violence and testosterone; Falcone could hardly believe the sound was coming out of the frail man's mouth. His lips didn't even seem to move. It explained the odd choice in alias at least, but not the reasoning for why such a talent was needed in a crime organization.

Suddenly the dummy smacked the thug in the face with his heavy wooden hand, hard enough to leave a welt. "Did you use the cheap stuff, ya dummy? You fuckin' idiot, gumming up my expensive shoes with your low class gunk!"

"I'm sorry, Boss!" the thug cried, genuinely terrified of the puppet. "It was an honest mistake, I swear! It won't happen again!"

"See that it doesn't, ya lug, or you'll be swimmin' wit' da fishes!" the dummy shouted, pointing the gun threateningly. "Now get outta my sight, ya filthy bum!"

The thug slunk away, thoroughly chastised.

Falcone was incredulous. "Wait, wait, wait… this is Mr. Scarface? My men are taking orders from a dummy?"

Scarface trained his glassy eyes onto Falcone, noticing his existence for the first time. "Who are you calling a dummy, wise guy? And who da fuck are you?" Scarface turned his head toward the Ventriloquist. "What's dis loser doin' at my table?"

"I'm sorry, Mr. Scarface," the Ventriloquist replied in his normal, meek voice. "This is Carmine Falcone. Remember him, from the news?"

Scarface scratched the side of his wooden head. "Ohhh yeah, Falcone, dat washed up asshole. I dought you was rottin' away in da loony bin. What da fuck do you want?"

Falcone refused to dignify the dummy by addressing it directly. Instead he looked straight into the Ventriloquist's eyes.

"Listen, freak, I don't know who you think you are or what you've done to get my men to follow you, but the lunacy stops now. I'm taking back control of what's mine."

"Hey, you got somedin' to say, you say it to ME!" Scarface yelled, pointing the gun at Falcone's chest.

"Mr. Scarface, no!" the Ventriloquist cried. "Please, can't we just let this man go? He's harmless now. All of Gotham works for you. Your men wouldn't dare turn their backs on you now."

It was the craziest sight Falcone had ever seen, even after all those years in Arkham, a grown man arguing with himself, with the doll on his hand. Nobody else in the joint even acted like anything was wrong. They were trying desperately to look small and nonchalant, like they couldn't hear this puppet having a tantrum, like they didn't want to attract his anger.

"What the hell is wrong with all of you people?" Falcone stood up and yelled for the whole joint to hear. "Has this whole city gone to Hell since I got put away? Have we really let the nutcases and freaks take over? How can you let this wimp order you around? I'm back now! Shoot him! All you have to do is shoot the Ventriloquist! Let's take our city back from the freaks! Who's with me?"

Everyone had been staring at him, silent through his whole speech. When he finished there was a pause—he expected everyone was about to rush from their tables and beat the Ventriloquist to death, rip his stupid dummy to shreds and burn the splinters—but then everyone turned back around in their tables, began chatting again and clinking glasses and chewing food. It was as though he'd never spoken.

"I can't believe it…" Falcone was shaking his head. "I can't believe—"

"Quiet, ya mook," Scarface said, and shot him. The bullets whizzed out of the Tommy gun, which Falcone had thought just a toy for show. They hit Falcone repeatedly in the chest and he fell down onto the booth, dead. The last thing he saw was the Ventriloquist, his eyes wet and his finger on the trigger.

"Hey, fellas!" Scarface yelled. He stuck his wooden fingers in his mouth and whistled. "Get over here! Clean up this mess, get it outta my sight!"

The two thugs who stood guard at the front came rushing forward. As they dragged Falcone's body out the back, they could hear the Ventriloquist whimpering quietly in the booth.

"Stop ya crying, ya dummy!" Scarface yelled, and they heard him hitting the Ventriloquist on the head.

Outside, as they lifted Falcone's body into the dumpster, one of the thugs shook his head. "Falcone was right," he said. "We really have let our city go to the freaks. I can't believe that guy, Wesker. So twisted in the head, letting himself be controlled by a puppet."

The other thug just lit a cigarette and leaned against the side of the building, taking a slow drag.

"You got that wrong. Scarface isn't the puppet."

He flicked the cigarette away and ground it under his foot before heading back in.

"The Ventriloquist is."

The other thug just stood there a few moments contemplating his words before following in after.

The End