Clear blue sky hung overhead without a cloud in sight. Perfect weather for a perfect morning, which could only mean one thing: Bruce Wayne at the golf course for a round of eighteen holes.
Well, that's just the setup, Thomas Elliot—or Tommy to those close to him—thought to himself, weighing two separate golf clubs as he pondered on which to use. Depending on which club he selected, it would alter the course of his shot, either taking him close to the desired goal of a hole-in-one or further away from that goal.
"So Tommy, why is it that you really brought me out here?" Bruce asked, waiting for the red-haired man to get on with his decision. "It's nice that you're treating me to a game, but I know you. You always have an ulterior motive for everything."
"You wound me, Bruce," Tommy said lightly, making his decision and choosing the one held in his left hand. "But I will give you that. There is an ulterior motive this time."
"I'm not giving you her number," Bruce said pointedly.
"Foiled again it seems," Tommy replied with a smirk. "But once again, you're off the mark Bruce. I hope you remember that little meeting I wanted to set up with you at the gala."
"Oh, so that's what this is all about," Bruce remarked. Glancing around, he added, "Not a bad locale for it. I could think of worse places."
"That's why I picked it, Bruce. Now, would you like to hear my pitch or should I let you admire my swing? I wouldn't blame you if you chose the second. Yours could use some work." Setting his ball on the tee, Tommy stood up straight, his feet held apart and back straight. He gripped tightly to his golf club before lowing the club's head to the ground. He did quick calculations in his head as he looked at the ball, then down the course, and then back, taking into account the wind, the amount of force in his swing, the arch of his shot, and a handful of other variables that weren't important to mention.
Lining the head of his club up with the ball, he raised the club up and brought it down. His keen eyes watched the trajectory of his ball as it sailed through the air, landing in about the area he wanted it.
Bruce whistled lowly. "Nice shot. You're gonna have to tell me your secret."
"And miss seeing you struggle to get below par? I think not," Tommy chuckled. "Now, are you ready to hear me out?"
"Not just yet," the dark-haired man said, walking up to the tee. He reached into his pocket and fiddled his hand in there until he pulled out a golf ball. As Tommy took a few steps back, he watched as Wayne set his ball down on the tee and began adjusting his stance. Already he could pick out four things wrong—from the way Bruce had his legs too far apart, the angle of the head of his club, to the man's slightly slumped posture. If he had been a betting man, he would've put a hundred on his friend slicing the ball.
Raising up his club, Bruce swung it down, whacking the ball off the tee. And just as Tommy predicted, the ball sailed to the left and into the trees. With a wide grin on his face, the redhead watched as a grimace covered his friend's face. "Next time, close your legs more," he called out helpfully. "And move your back leg a little further back."
A scowl was on Bruce's face. "Thanks coach. I'll try to remember."
Still amused, Tommy began walking towards the golf cart, sliding his club into his bag. Bruce copied him moments later and climbed into the passenger side of the golf cart. Jumping into the driver's seat, Tommy turned on the engine and began driving towards the closest ball. "I'll let you try and get your ball out of the wilderness first, but while we make our trek, you want to hear what I have to tell you?"
Although grumpy, Bruce replied, "Fire away."
"What do you know about plastic surgery?" Tommy kept his eyes on the green in front of the cart, heading towards the treeline. It was a bit bumpy, which caused both men to be jostled during the ride. Wayne had even reached up to grab the handle bar hanging from cart's roof to keep himself from falling out.
"Other than I've never had it, not too much," Bruce shrugged with disinterest.
"There are ten million plastic surgeries done in this country a year and it's increasing with every following year," Tommy said. "In total, in the last year alone it added up to ten billion dollars. It's an industry that is only growing."
Bruce whistled again. "Sounds like I need to start investing in it. What's your point?"
"My point is that because of so many people getting operations like breast implants, liposuction, rhinoplastys, even hair removals, it's taking away the number of beds doctors have to treat people who actually have serious medical conditions." Tommy didn't have to look at Bruce to know that his childhood friend was regarding him solemnly. Coming up the tree line, he stopped the cart and turned off the engine. "We have doctors, who instead of operating on people to save their lives, they're using their talents to make a quick buck and make someone less ugly. These are not life-threatening surgeries we're talking about. Someone is unsatisfied with the way they look that they choose to cosmetically change themselves through the operating room."
"You sound like you have a strong opinion about it," Bruce commented, sliding out from his seat and heading over to his golf bag.
"Bruce, what if on the night my parents' accident occurred, there were not enough doctors to operate on them? Instead it was just your father in there trying to save two lives, but had not the help necessary to do so? Even with all the help he had, he was unable to save my father. What if I had been orphaned that night?" Tommy had turned around in his seat so that he could continue to watch Bruce, studying his features and body language to gauge how his words were affecting the other.
It was a calculated risk Tommy was taking. It was risky bringing up the tragic fate of Bruce's parents, but Tommy knew how to pull Bruce's strings. Still, it could backfire on him. Bringing up the memory of Thomas and Martha Wayne could hurt his cause as much as it could help. Success and failure could be determined with just the flip of a coin.
"I understand," Bruce said at last, none of his more jovial self in his voice.
"I hoped that you would," Tommy admitted. "You of all people know...but that's not my point. What I'm proposing to you Bruce is a way to open up those beds. To give them to the people who legitimately need them. To free up doctors so they can do what they are trained to do. To save lives."
"You have an idea?" Bruce asked.
"Of course Bruce." Turning to his childhood friend, Tommy tapped the side of his head with his finger. "I'm always six steps ahead."
"So what is is?" Bruce smiled wanly at the man's catch phrase.
"Over the past few months, Elliot Pharmaceuticals has been developing a facial cream that can do in minutes what it would take hours for numerous cosmetic surgeries to do. Restoring youth, removing wrinkles, you name it. If it involves the face, it will be taken care of."
"What about breast implants?" Bruce asked with a bit more urgency.
"We're still working on that one," Tommy jested. "But imagine, fifty percent of all cosmetic surgeries gone, off the market. And that's just with the face. Five billion in revenues added to our coffers, that is, if you agree to get behind it."
There was a short silence before Bruce answered, "Let me get my ball out. Then I'll give you my answer."
"Take your time," Tommy replied. "Take all the time you need. You want to be able to go home tonight, don't try to power your way out that mess over there. Remember, hit it where it lays. No cheating Bruce."
"Yeah, yeah, hold your horses." And the billionaire playboy disappeared into the foliage.
Tommy reclined in his seat, absentmindedly tapping on the cart's steering wheel as he waited for Bruce to try and get out of his current golfing predicament. Last time had taken a while, he recalled. But hopefully he wouldn't let his proposition slip his mind. Elliot Pharmaceuticals was onto a potential gold mine. It was a shame that despite all the capital it had on hand, it wasn't enough to finish the product he was pitching. He needed some extra cash and he knew that Bruce was very liberal with his investments. Otherwise he wouldn't have come to his childhood friend at all.
He was interrupted from his thoughts when a small, white ball flew out of the brush, arcing through the air until landed on the green, bouncing once, twice, and rolling to a stop about a few feet away from the hole. A moment later, Bruce emerged from the wild, a quizative expression on his face.
"How's I do?" he asked.
Tommy gave a whistle. "If I didn't know any better, I'd think you were sandbagging me. When did you become such a good shot?"
"Learned from the master," Bruce replied, patting him on the shoulder as he slid back into the passenger's seat.
"So there is room in that head of yours," Tommy said, starting the cart back up and heading for the green. "Hopefully, there's plenty of space for your consideration of my proposal."
"A question did occur to me. Are there any side effects I should be aware of? I mean, being able to do who knows what to your own face, it doesn't sound very...healthy."
"Considering my company, that's not a bad question," Tommy chuckled before getting serious. "We're still in the development stage, but we're getting close to testing it out. We want to make sure that it isn't toxic because that's the last thing anybody wants. According to our theory about it, so far there does not seem to be any negative side effects, but we won't know until the testing phase."
Pulling up to the green, the cart was stopped and the two golfers stepped out. Putters were removed from their bags and it was Tommy who stepped up first to his ball.
"So where does Wayne Enterprises come in?" Bruce asked.
"I just thought that you'd like to do another joint venture again," Tommy replied. "Those always turn out profitable, right?" He took his stance, placing the head of his putter close to the ground. He eyed the ball then the hole where a flagged pole stood erect. He did the calculations in his head, determining the amount of force necessary and paying close attention to the geography of this certain hole. If he hit too hard, the ball wouldn't go into the hole and if he didn't hit hard enough, he'd come up short. There wasn't a large margin of error if he wanted an eagle here so he needed to do this right the first time.
His putter struck the ball and he watched in satisfaction as the small ball rolled in. "That's two for me and you're on your third, Bruce. Now's not a good time to mess up your putting. Hopefully you've also gotten better at that."
"Just watch, Tommy," Bruce said, pulling the flagged pole out of the hole so that Tommy could remove his ball. With the pole put back into place, Bruce returned to his ball and Tommy noted how his friend was trying to mimic him. His legs were too spaced out and his posture still needed work. Tommy almost winced at the amount of force Bruce put into his putt and he was not surprised when the ball continued past the hole.
"At least your business sense isn't as bad as your putting," Tommy remarked. "Tell me Bruce, what is your business sense telling you now?"
"It's telling me that this ball is going in that hole no matter what," Bruce stated in annoyance, almost stomping to his ball and lining up his next shot. Which he missed. Another try...and he missed again.
Tommy struggled not to laugh at the look of irritation as Bruce kept missing again and again until finally, his ball entered the hole.
"It seems like I'm six swings ahead of you," Tommy said at his friend's expense. "You do know this is a par five, right?"
"Bogie," Bruce stated distastefully. "One day, Tommy, I will catch up to you."
"Not beat me? At least you acknowledge my superiority," Tommy replied with a smirk.
Bruce grunted, falling silent for a moment, which Tommy recognized as Bruce in "thinking mode." It would be best to remain quiet until Bruce spoke first.
"I'm going to have to think about it first," Bruce said at last. "It sounds like a good idea, but I still have a few reservations about it."
"I hope you don't think too long," Tommy responded, successfully hiding his disappointment. "I can spare you some time, but this thing is moving fast. Will a week do?"
"Yeah, sure," Bruce said. "Mind if we pack up for the day? I already know where our game is going."
"I suppose I could grant you mercy this one time. Not even halfway, Bruce. Almost disappointed in you."
"You don't need to be a detective to know how this will all end. You'll win, most likely by a huge margin."
"Well, if you practice more, you could close that gap." Tommy placed his putter back into his bag, slipping his ball into one of the bag's pockets. "You have to think ahead, plan your moves before you commit to them. It's like...flirting with a woman. There are pitfalls, sand traps, and bodies of water in which your ball can get lost in."
"In comparison, I find women easier than golf."
"I hate to burst your bubble, Bruce, but I'm also good with the women."
The banter continued as the cart headed off back to the country club, their portal back to the rest of the world. It was such a beautiful day, it would be a shame to waste it all, Tommy mused to himself. It wasn't his fault that Bruce was a bit of a spoilsport. He could never take losing real well.
With as expansive as a golf course the club had, it took awhile to return. The easiest way would have been to take the long, twisting, white-colored concrete path that snaked throughout the course. Wanting to make Bruce stew for a bit for the abrupt end to their game, he took that path, making remarks of "That one looks like an easy one," or "I think that hole was more in your level."
You always had to take your pot shots at your friend's expense.
Eventually, the club itself came into sight and not long after that they were pulling up to it. "Don't make that look, Bruce," Tommy chided as he got out of the cart's driver's seat. "What would the ladies say?"
"I suppose we can't have that," Bruce chuckled.
"Yes, you might have to get your hands on that cream to turn your frown upside down." Yes, another hint about his proposition couldn't hurt. Combining it with Bruce's insatiable lust for the fairer sex might be the very thing to get the agreement he sought.
"If you weren't the head of your family's company, I'd swear you'd have been great as a salesman," Bruce joked.
"Bruce, you of all people know that my passion is for the operating room. Just like yours includes your yacht and the Russian ballet. Next time you try something like that, bring me along too. I could use the sun."
When no reply followed, Tommy paused and glanced around, finding Bruce several feet behind him and watching a television monitor. Now what could have caught the playboy's attention like this?
Backing up, Tommy stood next to his friend and saw what looked like a press conference. There was a podium on a stage, a blue backdrop in the background. Standing behind the podium was a rather thin man in a suit—a very cheap suit Elliot added, though not everyone could afford the brands that he and Bruce had a perchance for. Graying hair, a mustache, and large-rimmed glasses completed the man's ensemble of horrible tastes. Really, who let that man out of his house looking like that?
"—and that is all I or the Gotham Police Department has to say on that," the man said as he began looking to one side of the screen, obviously towards the audience that the camera didn't capture. It was then the television program let a small banner appear at the bottom of the screen, labeling the man James Gordon, Police Commissioner, and then disappearing seconds later. So this was the man Mayor Hill had appointed. Tommy had to say he wasn't too impressed.
Some unintelligible words were spoken then, a question by a reporter no doubt. Gordon evidently understood it and answered, "I am not at liberty to answer that at this time." Another glance around the room and Tommy couldn't help but notice how the man would grimace at a certain part of the audience. Someone he didn't want to take a question from?
"You, in the back," Gordon said, tilting his head up to alert the reporter he addressed. Again, mumbled words were thrown at him, but the commissioner dutifully answered the question. "No, there were no hostages at the scene. We are currently investigating the scene as an attempted heist. What the men were trying to steal is currently unknown to us, but we will get to the bottom of it."
Another question was asked, though this time Tommy caught the meaning of it. "How were the men subdued?"
At this, Tommy eyed the television with interest. The headlines of the local papers had mentioned a man in black being involved, even showing himself on top of the museum for the entire world to see. In the redhead's mind, he began making sense of some of the commissioner's reluctance at answering the questions. It was very likely most of the reporters were tailoring their questions to this mystery man.
"The men were found unconscious by the SWAT teams and were promptly arrested," Gordon said.
Tommy knew exactly what was going to happen now. "And they were taken down by the man in black?" the same reporter asked.
The grimace from earlier covered Gordon's face. "No comment."
A woman's voice suddenly sprang up, her voice coming out clearer than the previous questioners. "Some are saying the man looked like a giant bat. Others think it was some demon or monster. What do you think it was on top of the museum?"
From the way Gordon was facing the camera, Elliot suspected something was up. That was the same direction that the commissioner had looked earlier, along with a more severe frown. This must have been the person he had been avoiding. "There wasn't a monster on top of the museum," the man replied instantly. "The police department does not make it a habit to hunt for strange creatures, monsters, or even," at this the commissioner paused, seemingly grasping for more words until he settled for, "giant bats. We are looking for a man—"
"So it was definitely a man up there," the female reporter interjected, jumping on his words. "So would you say there's a vigilante in Gotham?"
An uproar sprang up from the audience as Gordon looked like he made a faux pas and knew it. Tommy wasn't an expert when it came to law enforcement, but he did know some upper-ranked officers in that area that abhorred the v-word. In fact, Gordon looked as if he wanted to ward that word away with a hail mary.
If he had been in the commissioner's shoes, he would have ended the conference right then and there. Instead, Gordon went into damage-control mode, and when it came to the media, that was not a mode you wanted to go into. "The man dressed in...ah...as a bat...is a person-of-interest in the case and the Gotham PD is looking for any information that will lead to him coming in for questioning."
The woman reporter remained silent, though Tommy could only imagine the satisfied smirk on her face. She had expertly cornered the commissioner and made him unwittingly choose the most disastrous answer he could. Well played, Miss Reporter, well played.
"That seems a bit unnecessary, doesn't it?" the female reporter asked. "Calling him the 'man dressed as a bat'?" She sounded as if she would break out laughing at any moment. "That's just too many words. Surely you boys at the GCPD have come up with a better name."
There was a familiarity between these two people, Elliot noted. It wasn't very often that a reporter talked with a ranked official as if they were at a morning coffee. He needed to figure out who this woman was. She was quite the personality.
"So we have a vigilante running around the city," Tommy remarked out loud. "This just keeps getting better and better, right Bruce?" When he only received silence, the redhead frowned as he reiterated, "Bruce?" Turning his head, he was surprised to find his friend had vanished from his side, stumping the surgeon.
"Where did he go?"
Gordon had tried to make good his escape after the conference. He did not need anybody speaking with him after that fiasco. He had screwed up majorly and he knew everyone knew he had. Fortunately, with the exception of the mayor, he was the highest authority in the police department so there was no one in the immediate vicinity to yell at him.
"Fancy meeting you here."
Damn it, he was caught.
Slowing looking in the direction of the voice he heard, he soon found that he would have preferred the mayor in place of who had spoken.
"Lane, I'm not in the mood," he growled lowly, holding a hand up to forestall further conversation with her.
Lane didn't get the hint or just flat out ignored it. "Lighten up, Gordon, it wasn't personal. It is my responsibility to ask questions and get answers out of you tight-lipped closet-cases. If you just told the truth to start with, you wouldn't get burned every time you get asked an honest question."
"You know why we don't give too much information. If we gave you everything, it would compromise the investigation as well as give any two-time crook a blueprint on how to commit the perfect crime. You journalists and reporters need to learn when to shut your mouths." He was in no more for pleasantries.
"That's a load of bull and you know it," Lane snapped back. "Every time you want to keep information secret, you claim it's in the interest of 'national security' or it's 'in the name of public safety.' Those are just phrases you people use to hide what the public should and have a right to know."
"Quit your grandstanding," Gordon retorted just as angrily as the reporter. "And how many yahoos out there do you think are going to be designing bat costumes and taking the law into their own hands now? It is an issue of public safety, damn it, whether you agree or not and you just gave who knows how many unstable people out there a the perfect excuse to break the law. People can be inspired to do the wrong thing, Lane."
"Oh, so you're gonna pin the blame on me if some crackpot decides that he wants to go stand on roof tops—"
"Who else was in there asking about vigilantes and men dressing up as bats?" Gordon interrupted angrily, his voice raising quite loudly though at the moment he didn't care. "Please, tell me who else was in there doing what you did and I'll gladly blame them too."
"In case you had the wrong prescription eyeglasses on last night, there already is some yahoo out there dressing up and playing vigilante. If you and your department actually did their jobs and not take money from all the mobsters like little crackwhores, that guy wouldn't have gone outside after playing dress-up. I may have asked the question, but your department created the environment for this guy to do what he did."
"I was trying to keep it at one, Lane."
"Well then, you better get on that, Commissioner," Lane jeered. Raising up her notepad and pen, she then snarked, "So should I call this guy the 'guy dressed as a bat'? Seems a bit long for a name and there's only so many letters I have for a headline."
Gordon didn't have anything to say to that because what could he say? Sometimes it was better to not say anything at all and let the silence speak for you. Rude as it may be, he still turned his back on her and walked off without another word.
That still didn't stop Ms. Lane from shouting after him. "Tell me what you think of this: 'Man-Bat watches Gotham.' Or how about 'Gotham's New Pest Problem?' Oh wait, how about just one big word: 'Batman.'" A silence followed that proposed headline before Lane commented, "Hey, that one doesn't sound that bad at all."
Gordon was armed at the moment and he had never felt a greater desire to pull his gun out and "accidentally" discharge it in Lois Lane's general direction.
The back of the truck shook clumsily, causing the barrels to rattle against each other. The whining of the siren of the truck filled everyone's ears as it backed up, alerting everyone that they were at their destination. It was dark, so no one could see a foot in front of their faces, which made them eager to get out. Well, everyone except for Lynns.
Finally, the truck jerked to a stop, followed by the sound of car doors slamming. A moment later and the back of the truck began rolling up, flooding the space with light. Yet, no one rushed for the exit until the two men finished rolling up the back door. Once that was done, they each moved to either side of the doorway and fiddled with something out of view. Then with a jerk, they began pulling out a large, flat, metal plate until they came to a sudden stop. Kneeling down, they placed the edge of the plate on the dirty alley ground, creating a ramp to the back of the truck.
That was when the flurry of activity began. A few of the dark-clad men leapt out of the truck and disappeared into the alleyway. Most of the others were surrounding the barrels and roughly placing them on handcarts. As for Lynns, he casually walked through the crowd until he reached the ramp and made his way down it. He continued to walk away from the truck, casually glancing about the alley. It was a filthy place, the ground covered in trash and the building walls sprayed with graffiti—a streetrat's dream home. He didn't stop walking until he heard something crackle beneath his feet.
Coming to a stop, Lynns looked down and found himself staring at a dirty copy of The Gotham Star. It was the front page from this morning, proudly proclaiming the headline: BAT-MAN: Marvel or Menace? The white-haired man sneered at the paper before looking up. Just a bunch of nonsense, this bat-business. While he had heard of that hapless heist—after all, there wasn't a criminal that didn't know about the various illegal activities in this city—to suggest some guy was running around in some bat costume was ludicrous. There was a name for people like that and it was crazy and all the crazy people usually ended up in the Gothic penitentiary, Arkham.
Gazing to his right, Lynns caught sight of one of Falcone's men kneeling in front of a door. He was busying himself with picking the lock and taking his sweet time doing it. Looking back to the truck, he saw the first load of barrels coming down the ramp, the other guys wheeling it towards the door.
That was when someone stood next to the white-haired man. Turning his attention to his sudden companion, Lynns saw a thin man with a pencil-thin mustache. His features were sharp and weasel-like, his eyes always appearing to be analyzing something. Unlike everyone else here, he was dressed in a pinstriped suit with a matching fedora. The guy looked right out of one of those roaring '20's gangster movies. "Everything's going to plan," the man grunted.
Lynns resisted the urge to sneer. "I can see that, Vitti," he replied sarcastically. Johnny Vitti was one of Falcone's demands for this job, the one about bringing a bunch of his men. Unlike the other guys that took orders, Vitti acted more like he was a hotshot, some lieutenant in the mob family; considering he was the nephew of Falcone, that sort of made sense. Still, Lynns couldn't stand him.
Vitti just remained silent looking as the other guys worked. A loud shrill got both men's attention, causing them to look to the door as the lock-picker there opened it. Those hinges needed some oil badly. Immediately, Lynns began walking to the door, Vitti trailing him as they entered the building.
They were greeted by more darkness inside of the building. Keeping his hands in his pockets, the man nicknamed the "Firefly" waited until a couple men rushed in and turned on their flashlights. From what he could see, this was a storage room for the various construction equipment and materials Moxon had for his business. Ignoring it, Lynns scanned the room as more guys entered the building, wheeling in the barrels. Off to his left, the white-haired man spied a set of wooden stairs leading up to a wooden section in the wall. That was what he had been looking for. Looking over his shoulder, he gave a low whistle, alerting the men walking by. "Three barrels, up there," he barked out before walking to the steps, Vitti once more tailing him. Lynns ignored him in favor of hearing the squeals of the handcart wheels as they began following him.
Reaching the stairs, Lynns mounted them two at a time until he reached the door. Standing to a side, he saw Vitti right behind him, staring at him. Behind Vitti the white-haired man recognized the lock-picker. At first the man looked hesitant as he came to a stop behind Falcone's nephew, but he eventually worked up the nerve to push by the guy and get to the door at the top of the steps. "Watch it," Vitti growled menacingly.
Lynns rolled his eyes at the man's attitude before looking to the lock-picker, finding the man finishing off the lock and opening the door. This one was silent, thank God, and the lock-picker stepped into the room, pulling out a flashlight and turning it on. Lynns was right behind him, his eyes lighting up as he found himself in Moxon's office. The room was richly furnished with a large oak desk on the other side of the room, three expensive-looking chairs that he couldn't afford in front of it and resting on top of a Persian rug. Next to the door was a bar, various bottles of alcohol sitting behind it. Along one of the walls was a long set of filing cabinets, most likely filled with important papers and whatnot. To the Firefly, they were only one thing: kindling.
Stepping aside, Lynns turned to look and saw Vitti coming to a stop right in front of the door. Scowling, the white-haired man grabbed the idiot by his shoulder and shoved him forward causing him to stumbled. "What the hell, man!" Vitti shouted as he whipped around to glare at Lynns.
"You were standing in the way," Lynns shot back irritated. "Watch your surroundings; there are more important things going on than people having to wait on your dumb ass to get out of their way."
Vitti continued to glare at him even as the other men came into the room. They were walking backwards, pulling up their handcarts one step at a time. With each step they climbed, a loud thunk was made until each man reached the top. Once there, they were able to roll freely about the office.
"One barrel in the far corner," Lynns immediately directed, pointing to the far right corner of the room. "Another in the opposite corner." At this he pointed towards the near right corner, on the far side of the bar. "Last one in the middle of this wall, right there." Here he indicated the left wall, right below a painting of some kind. The moving light of the flashlights from the lock-picker and two men that followed the barrel guys didn't really show much.
"Vitti," the white-haired man then said, looking to the annoying rat, "Make yourself useful and open all the filing cabinets. I want the fire to get in them and burn everything."
Vitti continued to scowl at him for a moment before moving towards the metal cabinets, grumbling with every step he took. If Lynns could get away with it, he'd leave the guy here when all the fireworks went off. That would've made him very happy, but probably piss off the Roman enough to finally take a shot at him.
There was a crash, causing the Firefly to wince and glare at the perpetrators who uttered an "Oops" as if it wasn't a big deal. Maybe it was to him, but to the white-haired man, it was a misstep that threatened to ruin his design.
"You do realize that the stuff in that drum is worth more than your life," Lynns growled.
"It's only oil," the man shot back indignantly.
Feeling a bit vindictive, Lynns retorted, "Actually that's nitroglycerin. If you don't respect it, it will blow all of us up along with the rest of the block."
"Really?" the man asked, eyes wide and looking at the drum with more fear.
The lock-picker sidled up next to him. "That's not really what you said it is, right?"
"Who cares?" Lynns shrugged, fiddling with a pair of goggles around his neck. "But that's not important. What is important is that we don't make a lot of noise. The last thing any of us want is some rent-a-cop walking in on us because we were too loud. Now go make sure each barrel is open. We can't start a fire without fuel."
The lock-picker nodded his head before hurrying to the other side of the room, the light from his flashlight waving against a large window next to the filing cabinets. Ignoring the other men, Lynns walked up to the barrel next to the left wall and opened it as the metal let out a loud groan. Grabbing it by the side, he pushed it over and watched as the viscous liquid spilled out and spread over the floor. Looking to the filing cabinets, he saw Vitti was just about done opening each and every drawer in them. At last the man made himself useful.
A couple more shrill groans filled the room as the other two barrels were opened. As the smell of fossil fuel began wafting to his nose, the Firefly could feel his excitement burning within him. The time was nigh for his latest work of art and he could hardly wait to see it.
"Clear out!" one of the men in there called out. Lynns supposed someone had to do it, lord knew he wouldn't have bothered. Sometimes a burnt corpse helped add some spice to a good fire.
As the men began heading to the door, trampling through the oil-soaked floor, the lock-picker was walking by the window when the glass shattered loudly, sending shards everywhere. Something dark crashed through the opening and slammed into the man, knocking him to the floor where his head bashed against the hard surface of the floor.
Instinctively, Lynns pulled back, more than startled at this unexpected turn in events. Then he got a good look at what was there, along with everyone else who hadn't left.
"Get that thing!" Vitti roared and the entire room exploded into chaos. A couple men charged the black thing, looking to beat it down. These were the first to go down as dark figure lunged at them, ramming a fist into the first man's face, the man crumpling instantly to the floor. Using the momentum from its punch, it spun around, a black cloak swirling around it and causing the second man to freeze in his footsteps. That proved fatal as the back of a boot slammed into the side of his head, knocking him to the floor.
Lynns dove for the bar, taking cover behind it. This...this thing...this was that Bat-thing the reporters were going bonkers about! It had to be! He should have been terrified. He should have been fleeing for his life. But his heart was hammering in his chest in the way that he liked it. He couldn't explain why.
Peeking over the bar, he watched the Bat-thing slammed its palm into the chin of one of the mobsters, the man practically thrown off his feet from the blow. One of the mobsters tried to come at the Bat-thing from behind, but an elbow was thrust back and into the man's stomach. Like a fulcrum, the Bat-thing's lower arm swung upwards and nailed the man in the face with the back of its hand.
Out of the corner of his eye, Lynns caught sight of two men pulling out their handguns and aiming it at the bat. Apparently the Bat-thing saw this and retreated its arms into its dark shroud. Before either of the guns went off, however, the bat lashed a hand out, sending something whirling through the air. The white-haired man couldn't see it, but he could hear it, and he definitely heard the armed men let out gasps of pain, coupled with a sharp metal shink. Staring, Lynns saw both men grasping their hands, their guns lying on the floor in front of them. That was when a low thunk sounded off on the bar in front of the Firefly, immediately causing him to look towards it. Sticking out of the wooden surface of the bar mere inches from his face was a piece of metal that he couldn't only best describe as a bat. Never in all his years had he seen something like it.
Commotion returned his attention back to the bat as he took down the two men he had disarmed. It was then that Lynns realized that everyone other than himself was either knocked out or crying in pain on the floor.
That was when thunderous footsteps echoed outside of the room and before the white-haired man knew it, a few more men came rushing into the room, metal bars in their hands. "What the hell is goin' on here?" one of them exclaimed before staring right at the dark, hulking figure in the middle of the carnage.
"Get 'em!" another man shouted and they all charged at the bat. At this, Lynns looked further down the bar and spotted two bottles of alcohol. Grabbing them, he spun around and sat down on the floor, pressing his back against a cabinet door in the bar. Next to him was shelving and there he spied several cleaning rags. Grabbing two, he tossed them to his feet and began working on opening one of the bottles.
With a loud pop, the cork in the bottle shot out, fizzy bubbles rushing out the bottle's mouth. Grabbing one of the rags, he held it in front of him and allowed the eager bubbles to spill out onto it. Satisfied, he set the bottle on the floor and began pushing the rag into the bottle until it was about half way in.
Once that was done, he began reaching for the second bottle when an annoyance appeared right next to him. "Lynns, you coward!" Vitti screamed into his ear as he kneeled right next to the arsonist, "What the hell are you doing? That maniac over there is knocking out our guys!"
If only that Bat-Man guy had knocked out Vitti, if only. But no, you had to do everything yourself, nowadays. "I'm working on getting us out of here," he calmly stated as he repeated his process with the second bottle.
That was when Vitti noticed the bottles. "Cocktails? That's your idea of an exit strategy?"
"I was hired to do a job and that's what I'm gonna do," the Firefly retorted. "And this way I get two birds with one burning stone."
Realization dawned on the weasel's face. "But...but what about the boys? They're just lying there!"
Lynns shrugged his shoulders. "They should've learned to fight better." Ignoring the sputters that came from Vitti at his answer, the white-haired man reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, metal lighter. There were two yellow F's on one side of it, one F towards the top left corner whereas the second one was towards the right bottom corner, and both letters were interlinked right in the middle. It was what he considered his lucky lighter considering the number of successful jobs he'd gone through with it.
Flipping open the lid, he immediately struck the flint wheel with practiced ease, causing an entrancing flame to spring to life. Moving the lighter to the bottles, he lit each rag, the flame greedily consuming the alcohol-soaked cloths. Flipping the lid back on and extinguishing the lighter flame, the Firefly put his lighter back in his pocket and picked up a Molotov Cocktail with either hand.
Standing up, Lynns stared at the Bat-thing from over the bar. The dark figure was currently tossing one of Falcone's men through the air and into the wall, the man landing right on top of the oil barrel and causing it to groan from the sudden impact. As if sensing his gaze, the Bat-thing regarded him warily, one of its hands slowly inching towards its waist.
A smirk appeared on Lynns' face, growing bigger as he drew back one of the cocktails and threw it at the bat. Well, to be more precise, he threw it right at the Bat-thing's feet, the bottle shattering mere inches from its toes. Instantly, the room was engulfed by flames. The mix of alcohol and oil proved quite flammable and consumed the dark-clad man instantly.
Lynns eyes lit up in excitement as he watched the flames spread, the very heat caressing his body and serving to excite him even more. Yes, yes; his heart pounded wildly in his chest as desire overcame him. It was an ecstasy that overwhelmed him and flowed through his veins furiously, satisfying his every need and desire in an instant. A dazzling dance of which there could be no comparison.
"Are you insane?!" Vitti suddenly shouted in the white-haired man's ear, ruining the moment. "You'll kill us all!"
Naturally there had to be a party pooper.
Lynns shrugged him off before walking towards the office door, the annoying man hot on his heals. Both men descended the staircase, the other men in the building looking at them befuddled. "Run! Run for your lives!" Vitti shouted once he reached the ground floor, shoving his way by the white-haired man and racing towards the door. The men looked at each other before jogging their way out, always keeping an eye towards the office.
Lynns merely strolled towards the exit, not in the least hot under the cover at the growing inferno behind him as he handed his other Molotov to his throwing hand. Glancing behind him and spying where the other barrels were, he threw the bottle at them and watched in satisfaction and elation as the cocktail exploded with flames all over the oil drums.
Walking once more, the arsonist casually made his way through the alley, noting that the truck was long gone. He continued walking until he reached the road, crossing the street there, and making his way to the nearest corner. Once he reached the corner, he couldn't resist turning around to look back at Moxon's building.
As if on cue, a thunderous boom roared out into the night air as flames erupted out of the windows of the building. Dark plumes of smoke billowed up into the sky, highlighted by the orange glow of the conflagration.
And Lynns just kept watching.