It was the early morning of November 5th, 2011. The newspapers sat in stacks, ready to be delivered in the dawning hours of a Saturday in Gotham. Most were still asleep, taking advantage of the late-rising sun in the winter months. This was not the case for one van. It was nondescript, a thin layer of rust over a muted green paintjob. One headlight was smashed, the other flickering. Some poor soul drifting from one end of the town to another. No need to pay them any heed. The van wove through street after street, quietly seeking its destination.
Where it stopped was no soup kitchen, nor anything a man of such destitution would be looking for. It was a large building, several stories high and likely much deeper below the earth. Concrete and reinforced, surrounding by an electric fence; an armed man stood at the checkpoint. This was the WayneTech Armory, a place on the edge of town where the technological corporate giant kept its latest advances, for testing and for bargaining. A very short list of people could get into this building, and if their name wasn't "Wayne" then they were likely a CEO or a general of the United States military. The owner of this van certainly was not on the list.
And yet, he stepped out. They stepped out. A quartet, dressed uniformly in a milk-white bodysuit that covered everything but their faces. Over this, jet black armor plating shielded them. Their faces were painted; two black, two red, and on their chests they wore symbols. A heart, a club, a diamond, and a spade. Three of the four carried duffel bags over their shoulders.
Definitely not on the list.
They left the van behind, slowly approaching the gate. The guard didn't fail to notice them, and leveled his rifle their way. He glared behind his black faceplate, and barked "Halt! This is private property of WayneTech! Only authorized personnel are allowed in."
He paused for a moment, taking in their appearance as they stepped closer.
"…If you're looking for a rave, try the old hotel on 3rd and Raker."
"Oh no, this is the place." The one at the head replied. His voice was refined, and carried an air of gentle authority. His chest sported the red diamond. His painted face was complimented by a gray mustache and goatee, curled slightly at the tips. He pulled something from his duffel bag. "And I assure you, we are authorized. If you don't believe me… check my card."
He flicked his wrist and like a bullet the a playing card shot from his hands and embedded itself an inch through the guard's chestplate. He choked in surprise as he saw the blood flowing from the wound, a slow and stinging pain spreading. That was when he saw the card proper. The King of Diamonds. And the diamonds were blinking.
In a gout of flame and smoke, the guard was eviscerated. What was left of him plopped to the ground, and the quartet stepped over him. The lone woman among them, taller than the others by a full head and rippling with muscle, groaned with disgust. A red heart was over her ample chestplate.
"You just had to blow him up, didn't ya, King? We'll have the whole place coming down on us in two minutes, tops."
"Call it a challenge." The scrawny little man with the white club on his chest said. He was hunched over, and had a hooked nose that made him look like a particularly ugly bird. He couldn't stop chortling in a nasally, mucous-filled tone as he said it. "Or fun, like I call it."
"That noise you're making." The heart-branded woman mentioned. "Stop it. Even if it wasn't more annoying than usual for you, we don't need to give the guards any more clues where we are."
"Then shut up, motor mouth." He retorted. He was rewarded with a smack to the back of his head, which he took with zero grace, whining and whimpering as he rubbed the affronted area.
"Both of you, quiet." The one called King told them both. They had reached the front door, and with a nod they unzipped their duffels. The King withdrew four decks of playing cards, two clipped to his belt and the others attached to his wrists. The one with the clubs symbol drew, rather unimaginatively, a pair of large steel cudgels. And the one with a heart pulled out an assault rifle, complete with a bandolier of clips to sling across her torso.
King gave a cursory glance to their fourth member, who nodded and confirmed he was ready. They stepped through the door.
It was a simple lobby, not meant to be showy. No common citizens ever saw this place, so no need to impress. Though, the array of guards strewn around the room was fairly impressive.
It was a straight shot across the lobby to the door behind a secretary's desk. That was their destination, going by the blueprints of the building. But on either side of the desk was a staircase going up to a balcony level, with several offices inside. This second floor had no less than fifteen guards, weapons leveled at them. At least ten more were on the ground floor, five behind the desk and the others standing in the open.
King snorted to himself. They'd need to do better to stop his team. He brought up both of his arms, and pressing a little trigger in his palm was all he needed to do to launch his cards at a semi-automatic rate. One-two, three-four, five-six. The cards beeped only for a second before detonation, sending the men to kingdom come. The woman to his left took aim at the opposite side of the line of guards, firing like a madwoman. She capped them, headshots blowing red streaks out the backs of their helmets. They met in the middle, the last guard being lucky enough to die by a bullet to the skull before two cards destroyed what was left of the body.
The man with the clubs had started his spree at the same time, dashing into the men on the ground floor like a demon. His body seemed to contort as he weaved around their lines of fire, what few shots got through clanking harmlessly off his armor. His clubs came in from opposite sides on the first guard, one blow smashing his right kneecap and the second bashing his face so hard his neck snapped.
He was on the next one in an instant, a flurry of blows so haphazard the eye couldn't follow them. By the time the guard hit the floor, his innards had the consistency of ground beef. One by one, the remainder went down in an increasingly brutal manner, until only those behind the desk remained.
And with a wave of the fourth member's hand, the desk crushed them against the wall. The quartet stepped further in the room, now silent after the rush of battle. The one with the clubs insignia was lightly kicking a few bodies to check for signs of life. The woman scoffed at him.
"Oh give it a rest, Jack. When was the last time we left a survivor?"
Jack mulled it over and decided the answer was, indeed, never. He shrugged and made a disturbing leer in her direction. "As you wish, my Queen."
"Hush, both of you." King ordered. "Somebody find the key."
"I call upstairs!" Jack yelled, bounding up the staircase. Queen shook her head at the insubordinate and walked to the doors behind where the desk once stood, peering in.
"This is the way to go, all right." She confirmed. "But no workers. Whoever has the keycard is likely hiding…"
"AIIIIIIIIIIIEEEE—" THWACK THWACK SPLURCH
She walked out far enough to see the second floor above her. Jack was leaning over the railing, the entire front of his body coated in red, and playfully waving a keycard. "Found it!"
Queen found herself barely restraining her lunch from coming up. "Disgusting wretch." She hissed.
Jack tossed the keycard down to King before hopping over the railing himself. Their leader nodded at the other three and led them into the back room. The walls were periwinkle, and lined with cabinets chock-full of files. A discrete checking station, to keep records of everyone who came and went through the building. Of course, with the record-keeper no longer anything but a greasy smear on Jack's suit, there would be no record of this group.
King walked to a simple door on the opposite side of the room and swiped his card through the provided slot. The light above it blinked green, and he shoved the door open.
The others followed him into a hallway devoid of features. It seemed to be made of solid steel. The hall stretched on for hundreds of feet ahead, and branched off at several points. King stretched out a hand to his side and scrunched it, beckoning for an object. The Queen placed a tablet in his hands, as requested, and he examined the map on its screen.
"Our target is down the third hallway on the right."
The quartet moved at a leisurely pace. No need to exhaust themselves. Most of the security personnel on the grounds had been in that lobby. The alarm to the police wouldn't go off until the end of their caper. They turned down the third hall, as the map instructed, and were met by a massive vault door. Constructed of metal, and full of enough security measures to keep out anything short of a bunker buster. The King couldn't help but grin. WayneTech had underestimated them. He waved up the fourth member of the group. "Ace, come here a moment."
The Ace of Spades stepped forward. Though, he didn't look like much. A scrawny boy, barely four and a half feet tall. He couldn't have been older than ten. His skin was white as snow, and his frail, sickly features were pitiable to see. Beady black eyes, sunken in and showing signs of severe fatigue looked up at his King. His thin lips whispered, "I heard them screaming. The people. Screaming in their heads. They haven't stopped yet."
The King of Diamonds kneeled, and gingerly put a hand on Ace's shoulder. He whispered back, gently, "I know. And the screaming will stop as soon as we leave. But first, I need you to open this door for us. OK?"
Ace frowned, but he nodded. A nod coming from him was little more than a slight twitch of his skull. "All right."
The little boy looked back at the door and raised his right arm. His eyes began to glow with a sharp, violet light. His hand, and the door itself began to resonate with similar hues. And then, in a loud, screaming cacophony the door began to collapse in on itself. Chunks began to compress and compact, ripping itself away at the hinges and curling into a miniscule ball.
Not ten seconds later, the entire thing was a piece of steel the size of a marble, resting at the foot of the door. King smiled and told the boy, "Very good."
He, Queen, and Jack stepped into the vault, the former giving his orders. "Fan out and grab anything worthwhile. No duplicates. We're short on time, and the police don't take kindly to breaking and entering... or wanton murder. Chop-chop, Ten won't wait for us forever."
The vault before them was bristling with tech. Armor any military would gladly kill for, guns of no make that any civilian had seen, and strange gadgets that one could only guess the use of. And those were the tamer things within this room. King himself went straight to the back of the room, where a simple gauntlet made of banded metals was discretely hidden behind a helmet. He slipped it on, admiring its sleek shape.
He spied a target dummy on the opposite wall, and pointed his newfound accoutrement towards it. He felt something moving, churning within the gauntlet. Activated by thought, then. Its fingertips began to glow red. And then, so did the dummy. Starting at the head, and moving downwards, it began to glow red, then a bright yellow. It collapsed in on itself, melting until it was nothing but a bubbling pile of hot liquid on the floor. The King chuckled as he clenched his weapon into a fist.
"Oh-ho, yes. This day belongs to the Royal Flush Gang."