A/N: I do not own The Batman, Batman: the Animated Series, DC Batman or anything of the sort in any way, shape, or form. WARNING: This fanfiction contains the following-Language, violence, mild canon-crossing elements, alternating first-person-view narratives, severe fancharacter/OCxCanon/OCxOC use. If you do not wish to be subjected to any of that, this is not the fanfic for you. NOTE: This fanfiction is a companion to my other "The Batman" fanfic, "Cry Wolf." I highly recommend you read both fanfics as they will connect and overlap in some places and events. Finally, all fancharacters used (including my own) are credited back to their creators in the copies of the "Twisted Souls" chapters that are in my deviantArt gallery, as these chapters were uploaded there first.
Chapter 1: Angel of Death
Tonight was the big job, the one on Gotham PD's headquarters. It was a warm summer night, and darkness had long since fallen, the Gothamites fleeing indoors at the shadow of its black cloak.
A wise enough move for the mundanes, she mused, still crouching on a rooftop some buildings away, bringing the binoculars up to her eyes again. Most of the lights were out by now, but there were still a couple that needed to shut off before she could do anything. She'd been there since five o'clock, but she'd wait as long as she needed. Jim Gordon had to leave his office and whoever the hell was in the storage room needed to get out of there. She brought the binoculars down in order to peek at her watch, and hissed with displeasure. 10:45 already? Damn, she knew the GPD had to be good in order to keep up with the crime in this city, but there was no way they were this good.
It had to be her luck, it just had to be. She got unlucky and had to do the job on a night in which the cops were actually keeping proper office hours and staying on the alert.
Then, as if by some miracle, the light in the storage room went off. Startled, she put the binoculars to her eyes again, just to confirm what she'd seen. Yes, the lights were off. She raised them slightly, in the direction of Gordon's office, adjusting the lens to zoom in a bit. Nope, still there, discussing something or other with a young Asian woman. What was her name? Ah, yes. Detective Ellen Yin, the first of the GPD to work with the Batman. It could pose a problem if she was snooping about this late at night.
"Wraith, what's the status?" a voice crackled over the tiny speaker in the collar of her hoodie, making her jump.
"Would you shut up?" she hissed, gritting her teeth. "The storage light just went out. Gordon's still here but it looks like he's chewing out our favorite Asian."
"Ahh, Detective Yin. Just be a little more patient, Wraith. Wait until they've both left." the voice said soothingly, but she hissed at it again.
"Are you kidding me? Now's the perfect chance. While the heat's coming down on Yin, they'll both be distracted, and I should be able to get in there without drawing a whole lot of attention." she said, pocketing the miniscule binoculars and standing up.
"While I agree that's not a bad idea, I must say that you not drawing a lot of attention is a bit of a paradox. You love attention, you make a show out of every job—"
"Sorry, but I think I'm getting some static over the radio. Having trouble hearing you." Wraith interrupted, shaking the collar of her hoodie.
"Cute, Wraith," came the sarcastic quip. "Just be careful."
"Sir, you know me. I'm the epitome of careful!" she insisted, grinning to herself.
A long-suffering sigh came from the radio.
"Right then," she said, "Prepare for loss of contact, I'm going in."
Wraith backed up several feet on the roof, and opened her wings. Midnight blue with a 10-foot span, they still weren't strong enough for her to fly with, but they could allow her to glide for a few minutes. Perfect for this job. She flapped them once, twice, and nodded with satisfaction that she didn't have a feather out of place. Then, she ran to the edge of the roof, and leapt, opening her wings fully at the height of her jump. The wind wasn't strong, but the air currents kept her aloft, and she felt that exhilarating buoyancy in her chest, nearly forgetting herself once again in the joy of flying. She flapped once, twice, three times, adding to her height despite the amount of energy it took to do so. Slowly pumping her arms as though she were swimming, her glide carried her straight toward the police headquarters, heading right for the wall. Grinning, she slowly brought her hands in front of her, manacle gleaming on her left wrist, the spiked wristband glinting on her right, and struck the two pieces together.
If she'd felt buoyant before, it was nothing like her feeling of weightlessness now. She lost all sense of self, going into that state somewhere between waking and dreaming, like floating on a star-kissed river, and rather than crashing into the side of the building, she passed through it. The stone and mason work felt cold on her essence, leaving her to guess that the air conditioning was on, but despite all the insulation in the walls, they were relatively easy to pass through, being so hollow. When she came out, she was in a hallway, well-lit but empty of people, and she shook the feeling of the walls free of herself, glancing down at where her hand should be.
The essence of her wristband was still there, more solid than she was, still retaining its overall shape and image, but her hand curled into wispy tendrils unless she concentrated on her human shape. She'd noticed lately, whenever she went insubstantial, that her essence was growing darker, and it seemed to be letting off smoky tendrils, like she was made of a particularly dark fog. She was almost worried about it, but it added an overall more intimidating image to her name, and so she paid it little heed.
Perhaps I'm simply becoming more twisted. she thought with a wry smile, striding down the hall. It took her several minutes and a handful of locked doors before she came to the right one. "Storage" was emblazoned on the glass, and underneath, "Authorized Personnel Only."
"Sorry, boys. But I'm not too big on following the rules." she chuckled, reaching out her hand and watching it pass through the wood. Wood was always a bit harder to move through at first, because it seemed to contain a residual memory that it was once a tree in its grain. However, gently pushing her essence allowed her through much quicker, and with hardly the blink of an eye, she was inside the room. It was like a walk-in closet that someone had attempted to fit a storage unit in, so packed full of items as it was.
"Oh, lovely." she muttered. "Could've mentioned the boys in blue love keeping souvenirs."
On almost every shelf, there sat an item with a label for just about every villain she could think of that the GPD had put away in BlackGate or Arkham, and even a few she'd never heard of. The Joker, who'd left behind evidence at nearly each crime scene, had an entire shelf of his own.
"Busy man." Wraith remarked, recalling her own encounter with him and scowling, when she spotted a few sheets of paper on his shelf, labeled "Zai." Curious, she reached for the papers, then remembering she wasn't solid, concentrated on her manacle and wristband. With a resounding pop of displaced air, they were substantial again, and she focused on moving them toward each other. They met, and she too was solid once more, sighing in exasperation as she picked up the drawings. Casting about, she found a light switch dangling from the ceiling, pulled on it, and blinked as she looked at the drawings, trying to clear the light spots from her vision.
Whoever this Zai person was, they were a pretty good artist. The first sketch was of Detective Yin and the Batman, both of whom looked as though they had suffered a rather gruesome and painful death. The second was an incredibly life-like drawing of the Joker, which grinned at her madly, and she suppressed a shudder as she replaced the art on the shelf.
"Guess Zai is Joker's apprentice or something." she remarked, and looked around the shelves again. Some of Penguin's umbrellas, a Ziploc bag of a couple of Catwoman's claws, a Riddler cube, a scale of Killer Croc's, photos of Mr. Freeze, a damaged helmet of Firefly's…
Ahhh, there it was! Shoved off back in a far corner, hidden by all the clashing gimmicks and tech was a box full of stoppered vials, each containing a nasty-looking green liquid. This then, had to be the condensed form of Joker's laughing gas, though it was odd the police would choose to separated it from the rest of his "collection."
"Well now, Joker. I'm sure that since you're locked up in Arkham at the moment, you won't mind if I just appropriate a sample, would you?" she chuckled, her long, slender fingers closing around one of the vials. Thankfully, it was made from a rather strong glass, and Wraith guessed that it wouldn't break unless she dropped it from the roof. Still, it was best not to take chances, and that meant she had to find a way out of the place without ghosting. Surely the essence of the gas would mingle with hers upon going insubstantial, and she didn't want to think of what would happen then.
She was just wrapping the tube of liquid Joker gas in one of her thick, titanium alloy-woven cloths, when the door to the storage room burst open. A young woman, not too many years older than she, with long black hair up in a ponytail and intense dark eyes was pointing a gun at her.
"Police! Freeze!" she shouted.
Wraith smiled, pocketing her cloth. "Or else…you'll do what?" she asked innocently.
"Breaking and entering is against the law, and you're on the law's doorstep, miss!" Ellen Yin barked at her, glaring intensely.
Wraith rolled her eyes. "Oh, and I suppose that means you expect me to come quietly. Sorry, would love to stay and have a heart-to-heart girl talk, but I've got a job to do, myself." And she unfurled her wings, catching Yin off guard.
"What the-?" Ellen gasped, lowering her gun by a fraction. Wraith lunged forward, driving her elbow into the detective's chin, and ran. The older woman went sprawling on the hall floor, and Wraith dashed down the hall, seeking the staircase.
"Detective Yin! I need back up!" she heard Ellen scream into a police radio, "Suspect heading down the east hall on the fifth floor!"
At once alarms started blaring, the lights flashing red, and for the umpteenth time that night Wraith cursed her luck. She found the staircase and wrenching the door to it open, ran inside and started to climb. The radio in her collar gave a squawk.
"Wraith, are those alarms?" came the casual question.
"You have no faith in me!" she answered, hearing shouts from below as the police spotted her running, and she ran faster, taking the steps two at a time. Someone below her shouted and began shooting, bullets ricocheting in the stairwell, and she gave a cry as she climbed higher and higher.
"And let me guess," the voice crackled sarcastically over the little speaker, "That's not gunfire."
"Your commentary is not helping my current situation!" she snapped, going up another flight of stairs.
"Oh, so it's my fault you brought the entire police force down on your head?"
"NOT HELPING!" she screamed, opening the door at the top of the stairwell leading onto the roof.
"She's heading onto the roof! After her!" she heard Detective Yin shout from below, and panicking, she shut the door behind her, bolting the lock.
"Azhure? Azhure, where are you?" Wraith called, looking around the roof. A screech from the right far corner caught her attention, and she raced over, pulling the wrapped vial from her pocket. A beautiful, midnight-blue eagle was perched on the roof corner, yellow eyes shining at her in the moonlight.
"Oh, Azhure, thank goodness. See this?" she held up the vial, and the eagle cocked its head. "I need you to take this to Erin's place. You know Erin?" she asked, gently extending a wingtip until it brushed against the eagle's. Azhure sent her the image of dark red curls, bright blue eyes, and a brilliant smile. Wraith sighed in relief, nodding, and held out the vial in her palm. The eagle cried, flapping its wings, and rose into the air gracefully. It flew a circle around her once before swooping down and grasping the vial in its claws, taking off into the night.
"Done." Wraith sighed.
"Not quite." said a young female voice behind her, and she whipped around to see two silhouetted figures step into view. "Funny, I thought Penguin was the only person around with a bird-watching hobby."
"What was in the cloth?" the taller figure growled, stepping closer.
"Ahhh, the Batman. And who's this, your little cousin?" she purred, taking a step back.
"It's Batgirl," the teenager said indignantly.
"I'm not going to ask again. What was in the cloth?" said the Batman menacingly, striding toward her like a sleek jungle cat.
"Wraith, is that who I think it is?" came the amused question from her collar.
"Oh, shut up!" she snapped, clenching her fists, bringing them together.
"Wraith?" the Batman repeated, sounding curious.
"Gee, I thought a wraith was a ghost. So where'd you get the name?" Batgirl taunted, running toward her, jumping in the air and whipping her leg around for a kick…only to fall right through her. "What the-?"
"I am Wraith. Both in name and…ha ha, spirit." she chuckled at her own bad joke, sneering at the teenager and bringing her manacle and wristband back together. At once, the door slammed open and several cops swarmed onto the roof, pointing their guns at her.
"Damn my luck." Wraith muttered again.
"Don't let her get away, Batman!" Ellen Yin shouted, "She stole something from the storage room!"
"It's too late to retrieve that." Batman answered, "She's already sent it flying."
"Ahh, so you did finish the job!" the speaker in her collar beeped, and everyone froze, listening. "Well done, Wraith! I had faith in you."
"Bullcrap." she spat.
"Wraith, a change of plans." the voice went on, suddenly adopting a cold, commanding tone. "Kill the detective."
Her body went rigid and she looked at the figures before her. Slowly, she reached into her other pocket, pulling the hilt out, and with the press of a button, her scythe snapped open, its blood-red triple blades shining wickedly in the moonlight.
"Your wish, sir," she said softly, reaching up and pulling the speaker from its hiding place in her collar, "is my command."
She crunched the little radio and dropped it, getting a grip on her scythe.
"Wait, don't do this—" the Batman started to say, but she was already running, and before he could do much else, Wraith's scythe glittered with ruby drops of Ellen Yin's blood as she fell, like one before the Grim Reaper on the night of his gruesome harvest.