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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Morden Man
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Morden Man

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"So if you want to chat, let's chat. Your Spider-Man, he sounds like a great guy. What's his name?"
Manhattan, New York

As loathe as Johnny was to admit it, it felt good to get it all of his chest. He had expected Spider-Woman to try to cart him away to the funny farm, but instead she had just listened – she'd even dropped Peter's "friendly, neighbourhood Spider-person" line. Though she obviously wasn't Parker, there was something about the way she carried herself that reminded Johnny of him.

It was why, against his best judgement, he found himself giving away a secret identity he had guarded for years.

"His name was Peter," Johnny said with a smile as he recalled the first time the two of them had met.

Electro had drained almost every power source in New York to take Spider-Man down. Peter couldn't have been much older than fifteen or sixteen at the time but he held his own. No matter what Electro threw at him, no matter how hard Peter got hit, he kept on fighting. He was almost dead on his feet with the Fantastic Four had arrived. They'd been on some diplomatic mission to a galaxy far, far away that had gone awry – and returned to find the city at Max Dillon's mercy but for the sheer force of Peter Parker's will.

Boy, it had been something to behold.

The five of them had worked together to take Electro down. If Johnny remembered correctly, the fight had ended with Ben breaking Electro's jaw in four places. Dillon spent the best part of six months eating through a straw on the Raft. Reed had been so impressed by Peter he'd tried to recruit him right there and then on the spot.

"Sorry, Stretch, but I don't think the Fantastic Five has quite the same ring to it," Peter had said before disappearing off into the night.

It was only as the thin smile crept across Johnny's face that he became aware he'd become lost in thought. He shook his head, focusing back on Spider-Woman, whose hand had slipped from his back gently at the mention of Peter's name. He realised the name alone meant nothing.

She needed to hear Peter's story to truly understand who he was – and what he meant to Johnny.

"His parents died when he was a kid. I guess we had that in common – though we didn't really ever talk about it," Johnny shrugged. "Peter's aunt and uncle brought him up. They were decent, salt of the Earth types. Saw to it that he kept his head down and focused on his schooling."

Peter had always sought to downplay his intelligence, both in the Spider-Man suit and outside of it, but Johnny knew there was a formidable brain beneath Parker's thick skull. If not for the spider that had bit him, he might have gone on to win a Nobel Prize or something.

"So one day Peter gets these powers – like yours, I guess – and he has no idea what to do with them. He went from being the punchline to every joke to having superpowers overnight. And what does he do? Go beat the snot out of the kids that made his life miserable? No, Pete being Pete, he decides to start a wrestling career to earn a bit of money to help his aunt and uncle out."

The smile crept back onto Johnny's face as he remembered the day that Peter had shown him the awful, hand-stitched costume he'd worn in the wrestling ring. He still remembered how much his stomach had hurt from laughing after seeing it. It looked like something a child would come up with.

"Not long after some low-life holds up the wrestling joint that he's working out of and ... well, Peter doesn't lift a finger to stop him. I guess he figures it's not worth getting shot over a couple of bucks that aren't even his, right?" Johnny said with a grimace. "And who could blame him?"

There was a nervousness on Spider-Woman's face. He could sense that she had tensed up somewhat, maybe correctly suspecting the story was about to take a turn for the worse. Even now, after everything that Johnny had seen and lived through, he found himself fighting through a knot in his throat to talk about what happened next.

"Anyway, Peter goes home that night to find a police car parked outside his house. By some wicked twist of fate, Peter's uncle, Ben, had been shot during an attempted break-in by the very same low-life Peter had failed to stop at the wrestling joint earlier that evening."

Johnny and Spider-Woman sat in silence for a few moments. In the distance, Johnny could see a news helicopter watching them. He could even spot a cameraman basically hanging out of the back of it with his camera pointed at them. Johnny raised a hand in their direction and waved meekly before turning back to Spider-Woman with a sigh.

"It tore him up inside. He told me once that the only thing that kept him going was something Ben had said to him a few days before he died."

Johnny pictured Peter speaking along with him as he repeated Uncle Ben's words of wisdom. "With great power comes great responsibility."
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Byrd Man
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Byrd Man El Hombre Pájaro

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1989 Mood Music


John Constantine stepped off the train and immediately felt like he was in a different world. Shit, compared to Liverpool he was. He walked the Brixton Road and knew immediately that while he may have been born in Liverpool, London was his [i[home[/i]. The skinny sixteen year old with his punk mohawk stood out in Liverpool like a sore thumb. But here in London, even bloody Maggie Thatcher’s London, he was just one of the many unwashed masses.

Standing on the corner of Brixton Road, John reached into his tight pants pocket and pulled out a lone cigarette. He lit it up and smoked while he watched the people coming and going. He could feel something buzzing through the air. It was magic. Not in the literal sense, not like the stuff he had been reading about and was starting to believe was not completely bollocks. It was a different type of magic. The magic of possibility. Here in London, he could be anyone and do anything. This was where real possibility happened. Liverpool may have been where the bloody Beatles came from, but they had to leave to become the Beatles. Just like he had to leave to become John Constantine, the real John Constantine. And he knew London was where he would undergo that change. Was it predestination? Riding the Synchronicity Wave? No, not really. Years later he would look back and realize it was just the self-assured ego of a sixteen year old who thought they were unbeatable.

“London,” John said as he tossed the cigarette butt to the ground. “Here I come, baby. I’m coming to get ya.”


The Underland

John crashed through a building so hard and so fast that the foundation buckled. His body, or whatever this vessel was that he was in control of, cried out in pain as an entire two story Victorian building collapsed upon him. A few minutes later, he emerged from the rubble disheveled and bruised and bloody.

“You are strong, John Constantine.”

Brutus, the spirit of the city itself, floated in the air above him. Brutus was the one that had sent him through the wall and brought the whole bloody building down. His toga was partially torn by the shoulder and his copper crown was heavily askew on his head.

“But I am the city itself. You can no more beat me than you can the Thames. Thousands of years of people and events and suffering and sacrifice to this city have given me power. And who are you to fight against that?”

Brutus’ right hand crackled with orange energy. John tried to work up a protection spell to counter it. But he found he was dry. He cursed aloud. What the hell was going on up top? He had a pretty good idea. Jack Hawksmoor was in no position to keep up the connection to him for too long. WIth him gone, Map was carrying the load. Map was plenty powerful, but he couldn’t help John like Jack could. Same with the old biddies of the Tate Club. They could help, but Jack was the central cog that made his plan run.

As Brutus prepared to toss down a bolt of magical energy, John silently hoped that his Hail Mary up top would work.



“This might cost you your job, mate.”

“Well,” Chas Chandler said with a sigh. “There’s always Uber, innit?”

Chas and Dev were in the dispatch shack for Cavalier Cab, the largest cab company in London. It was also the company Chas had worked at for almost thirty years. He had always been a company man and was one of the most trusted and respected drivers in the whole fleet. And he was about to piss it all away.

“This must be some mate of yours,” said Dev.

“He’s not my mate,” said Chas. “Not anymore.”

“Right,” Dev said with a short laugh. “Whatever you say, Chas.”

Sighing, Chas hit the button beside the dispatch microphone. He was now broadcasting to the hundreds of cabs on duty and patrolling the city tonight. Hundreds of pairs of ears and their passengers, all a captive audience for him.

“Alright, blokes, this is Chas Chandler. You all know me, yeah? Well, it’s story time. I’m gonna tell you a whopper of a tale about a man who first came to our fair city back when he was only sixteen, looking to make a name for himself on the streets of London.”


The Underland

The bolt deflected off John’s arm. Brutus’ eyes went wide as John floated from the rubble, an aura of green energy bleeding from his body. He smiled at Brutus and winked.

“Who am I? Someone who knows this city fucking better than you, yeah? People worship London, but there are special cases. The people who know the city and its stories like the back of their hand, the ones that move in and out of our lives every day and we don’t think to look twice at them. The homeless and the cabbies are like apostles to the city. Their knowledge of the stories is deeper, their belief more powerful. Right now, untold amount of cabbies are hearing the tales of John Constantine. Doesn’t matter if they’re believing them or not, it’s just a rumor that's spread around.”

John spread his hands and made a few quick hand signs. Brutus was blown away by an unseen force of energy. It was his turn to crash into a rickety building and have it all crumble on top of him.

“I made a mistake by leaving,” John said as he floated over the rubble. “I see that now. London’s in my blood. If you’re the spirit of the city, Brutus, then I am at the very least her high priest. Your version of the city, this here? It’s old and out of date, squire. London isn’t Whitechapel murders or bombing Jerries. London is a kebab at three in the morning when you’re shitfaced, it’s cheering on AFC Wimbledon even though you know there’s not a chance they’re going to win. It’s the Windrushers who came to this city looking for a better life. Your version of this city is old, Brutus.”

From the rubble, a blast of energy swept up. John easily batted it away. John closed his eyes and made the city shift. Brutus watched on in horror as the world he had created changed to modern day London, the old bombed out buildings replaced by new and shining ones. John grinned as he looked down at the bleeding spirit of the city.

“That’s better. You see, you’re just an old ghost who some even older writers made up to try to attach some kind of Greco-Roman prestige to a city that never needed that shite. Me? I’m flesh and blood. I’ve walked these streets, I’ve done the things they whisper about in pubs. I’m a living legend. More than that, I’m London, squire. More so than you’ll ever be.”
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Retired
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Retired "Hayao Miyazaki"

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11:32 a.m. PST | July 22nd | Los Angeles, California

The boy was improving, Astaroth mused. There was still much lacking were the demon to compare Daniel to the hordes of Hellspawn he had once trained over millennia but for a human adolescent only two weeks removed from his former average existence, the progress was notable.

Astaroth watched as the young man practiced the parrying maneuvers and strikes he had been instructed on, occasionally speaking up to offer critiques or correct Daniel's stance. The fighting style, one of the most basic and core taught to all new recruits of Hell's forces, made use of short palm thrusts to deflect oncoming attacks and open the foe up to an onslaught of brutal elbow and knee strikes. The humans, he knew, referred to this as 'shadow boxing;' sparring with an imaginary opponent as an exercise in combat discipline. It was how he had Daniel begin and end each training session in order for him to best envision the teenager in a fight and understand what would need to be fixed and focused on the next time.

Furthermore, the former general of Hell was impressed by the effectiveness of Daniel's extracurricular activities. Over the course of the past nine days, Daniel had intervened in seven different crimes and skirmished with nearly a full dozen armed individuals in total. While it was not the challenge of enhanced individuals that Astaroth had assumed, he found that each encounter gave Daniel an opportunity to learn and improve. Already the hesitation from the first encounter over a week ago had gone; the fear when faced with human weaponry mostly minimized. The demon could clearly see Daniel's confidence grow as he walked away unharmed from each defeated opponent.

Maybe there was a chance for his survival after all.

* * *
12:39 p.m. PST | July 22nd | Los Angeles, California

Daniel tapped his fingers across the steering wheel to the beat of the radio, belting out the lyrics to one Summer hit after another. The feeling of power that always coursed through him while in his other form still lingered. Dan wasn't sure if it was just the adrenaline from the several hours of training, a simple sense of pride at his accomplishments, or something else entirely, but lately after each morning routine he noticed he felt so full of energy. So electric and in control; as if he could take on anything or anyone. And, despite what horrors he knew might await him down the road, he liked it. For the first time in a very long time, Daniel felt like he was thriving. He had a renewed drive and thirst for life that had previously abandoned him upon entering teenagehood.

He wanted more.

But, Dan knew he had been pushing it too much these past two weeks. Between the constant training taking up his mornings and the recent vigilante behavior, he had barely been home. And even when he was, the majority of the time was spent shut away in his room. He couldn't even remember the last time he had a conversation with his parents, let alone sat down for a proper meal with them. And Mary would constantly pester him, practically trying to attach herself to her older brother, every time he walked through the door. As much as Daniel found his sister to be annoying, he did feel guilty with how little attention he was giving to his home life, and Mary specifically.

Which is why he had decided to take the day off from vigilante behavior. Dan had promised Mary the night before that he would spend the afternoon with her. And with how excited the younger Cassidy had been at that news, Daniel had to admit that it felt nice to make his sister smile again. Just a few years ago he had been much closer to her, behaving more like the stereotypical big brother and spoiling her constantly with attention and adventurous afternoons outdoors. But then at some point during high school, Dan had changed, and even he wasn't sure why, or what exactly had spurred it on. He had grown more secluded, spent less time away from the solitude of his bedroom and the video games that welcomed him there. Typical teenage brooding, he supposed. Still, Mary had never stopped trying to relive those earlier days, and as much of a pain as she could be, Daniel knew she deserved a little spoiling again.

So, with his morning routine finished, Dan figured he'd pick up a pizza from a nearby restaurant before going home. He knew that Mary wanted to play a couple games with him, and then Dan thought maybe he'd surprise her later by going out to see the new Incredibles movie.

He smiled as the music continued to wash over him. Daniel looked forward to a day of relaxation. As much as the buzz from vigilantism seemed to fuel him these days, he would be lying if he were to say that it wasn't stressful. He had been shot and stabbed more times than he cared to count, and even though such attacks had zero chance of harming him while in demonic form, he always worried that a stray bullet would hit and kill another. Not exactly an improbability given the density of L.A.'s population, Dan knew, and that was not something he wanted on his conscience.

Just then, his phone blew up with a series of dings and vibrations. A half-dozen alerts cut through the sound from the stereo as he reached over to turn off the latter and check the former. Glancing down briefly at the notifications Dan could see that they were all from the new police scanner app he had downloaded earlier this week. Although the app's streaming connection tended to be unreliable at best, and Daniel much preferred the physical device he had first purchased, it came in handy while he was out of the house. It also allowed him to customize which police codes and emergencies he wanted to receive text alerts for, taking away the pain of the monotonous and mundane he previously would need to scour through.

10-82 in Brentwood, the first notification read. Daniel remembered from his recent studying of the police codes after getting the scanner that that was a fire in progress. He was about to ignore it and return his attention back to the road when the third and fourth text alerts caught his eyes. These two detailed the fire was at a residence and there was believed to be a family still inside.

Dan, almost ritually now, glanced up at the rearview mirror as if searching for an answer or direction from Astaroth, but he only met his own conflicted gaze. Brentwood was only a few minutes away from his current location. The final notification from the app had read the fire department was five minutes out. Dan's eyes flicked down to catch the time; barely past one o'clock. He could be in and out quickly, Daniel reasoned. Maybe fifteen minutes in total when including the time it would take to park far enough away to not be noticed.

Another ding called out a new, seventh alert. Two children trapped inside the building.

Daniel's grip tightened on the wheel as he pressed further down on the accelerator and he felt his adrenaline begin to rise once more.

Mary wouldn't mind waiting a few extra minutes, he concluded. She had been waiting a few years for this, another fifteen minutes couldn't hurt.

Twenty minutes tops.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Simple Unicycle
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Simple Unicycle ?

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Town Square; Warpath, Texas


”Frank! We got incomin’! Seventy-five or a hunnred’ mean sonsofbitches! Git to cover!” Vig sprinted as fast as his legs would carry him, sliding around the mines they’d placed and ultimately diving behind a collection of water-filled barrels. He grabbed his shotgun off his back and pumped the forend. The ‘Bounty Hunters’ were about to get deader than a doornail.

Greg slid into cover not far from where I was. The M16 felt like a hot, burning coal in my hand. It was aching to be fired, to let out a stream of lead death upon the bastards that were coming to tear this town apart. I took solace in the fact that this time, the firefight was on my terms rather than the enemy's; Greg and I had set up enough traps to make a dungeon master sweat. Now, we only had to wait until the wall gave to their charge.

We didn't have to wait too long.

Between the hail of gunfire and, presumably, the Bounty Hunters ramming their undead bodies against the wall, it eventually gave as anything else would. It could be repaired, but that would have to be for later. And as they approached, Greg and I met them head on. We'd jump out of cover, firing at the boxes of explosives we had set up, before ducking back down and hearing the satisfying sound of... Well, an explosion. What? I can't come up with some witty metaphor for everything.

When the boxes were gone and we were forced to simply use our guns against them, I finally noticed that whenever one of them went down, they wouldn't do so in a mist of blood... They'd simply fade into nothingness, bits and pieces of them flaking off before collapsing into nonexistence like ash. Well, looks like Greg was right when he mentioned how strange this shit would be.

Before long my M16 ran dry and I was out of mags for it. Greg tossed his shotgun, indicating he was out too. While I pulled out my signature dual pistols, he pulled out his own, two revolvers. They were advancing fast on us, and we had no choice but to lay down fire as we started to walk backwards in order to get a safer distance away.

"How much longer until we reach the saloon?" I asked, praying to whatever God existed that those things couldn't understand English.

"Coupla blocks!" Greg shouted. He tossed his empties and pulled another two revolvers from their holsters. "But if we let 'em keep laying fire into us like this it'll be slower going n' molasses uphill."

He had a good point. We were out in the open, no cover, no anything. It was dumb luck we hadn't been gunned down as is. "I got an idea! There many side alleys in this town?"

"Place is plumb full of 'em!" Greg yelled back, and I looked to my right. What do you know, there's an alley right there. To my left, closer to Greg, was yet another.

"Alright, I'll head through here, you head through there, we'll make our way to the saloon separately! See you there!"

And so we ran.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by HenryJonesJr
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Member Seen 22 days ago

Johnny pictured Peter speaking along with him as he repeated Uncle Ben's words of wisdom. "With great power comes great responsibility."

The words hit me like the freight train carrying the ton of bricks.

In Johnny Storm's world I never got super powers. I was never Spider-Woman. Peter was. Well, Spider-Man. And Uncle Ben still died. It seems like a cruel joke that even with powers like mine, Ben Parker still suffered the same fate. Nearly identical. I know in science fiction, there are things that are considered constants.Things that need to happen for the universe to continue to spin on. The thought crosses my mind that Ben Parker's death is one such constant, and I curse the universe for being a cruel bitch. Ben doesn't deserve that. None of them do.

My hand reflexively retracts from Storm's shoulder as the thoughts race through my head. I have to fight the violent urge to ask him what happened to me, or my dad, or MJ in his world. But the realization that it was probably something terrible, considering the fate of Johnny's world, means I probably do not want to go there. I don't need to learn about how my friends and family met a terrible fate.

A terrible fate. A terrible fate that befell the world even with super powered guardians like Johnny and his Peter. I wonder if they had a Superman. A Wonder Woman. A Flash. The thought that there was something strong enough to destroy the world even with all their powers combined against it sends a shiver down my spine. What if the same thing comes here? What if we're not ready? Is there any chance I can even protect the people I love in a situation like that?

"I...," the words don't come. I know Johnny knows something is wrong. He sees how the mention of Peter and Uncle Ben has affected me. What's there even to say.

Throwing caution to the wind, I mutter, "If your Peter Parker is anything like mine, he was one of the best. I know the one I know is great. And his Uncle was one of the most decent men I ever had the honor of knowing. I know his motto well. It's one of the reasons I do what I do."

Sure, I may have just given up my secret identity. It'd be easy for Storm to really figure it out if he wanted to. But I'm not sure he does. He's a dimensional refugee looking for a rock in the storm. I may not end up being the rock he was looking for, but I'm gonna rock the best I can.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Master Bruce
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Master Bruce Winged Freak

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Gotham City, The Narrows
West District
2:20 AM

I must be out of my fucking mind.

With the hood up from the pullover from beneath her jacket obscuring her features, Jessica Jones felt a rush of anxiety push her ahead as she vaulted over a fence leading into the back alleyway of the neighborhood. She could hear a police copter in the distance, which was enough of a sign to bail out as it was, but the accompanying sounds of gunfire and broken bones meant that The Bat had already played his hand. Unless Jessica was ready to abandon all of her remaining moral principles and leave the area, resulting in both his risky effort wasted and an innocent young girl being left to fend for herself in the midst of this horror show, it was too late to back out now. Cursing herself under her breath, Jones ducked for cover as she ran from one house to the next, staying low to the ground and avoiding the radiance of the helicopter's spotlight as it danced between the cracks.

For a brief moment, she peeked around the corner of one of the houses to look at the scene ahead. And with as much fucked up shit that she had been subjected to in her life up to this point, she still could hardly believe what she was seeing. Not only had The Batman lived up to his end of the deal and gotten himself into an all-out fist fight with half of the GCPD in order to cover her approach to the Torres house, he was - to her astonishment - actually doing a fairly good job of holding his own. For as many that swarmed around him, it seemed as though double the number were quick to fall to his quick, brutal, and precise close range attacks. For a psychopath dressed up in a leather halloween costume, Jessica had to admit it to herself. The vigilante could teach her a thing or two about self-defense.

Just as the fight seemed to escalate and more members of SWAT seemed determined to bring Batman down, Jessica took that as her cue to move. So pushing herself off of the brick wall that she had been using for cover, she leaped high into the air and pushed herself even higher - a feat of which would've ordinarily gotten her caught immediately, given that she found herself on the roof of the next house within a span of seconds. Jessica couldn't quite control how well she flew - at least, not like the guy in the t-shirt and the red cape from that other city, and even he didn't seem to be that good at it - but she could do it well enough for short distances. The important thing was making sure that the helicopter didn't notice her - and they were so fixated on keeping an eye on The Bat, who seemed to be intentionally moving the fight away from the house she needed to get to, that it was becoming almost a non-issue.

"Guess crazy still has it's moments.", Jessica muttered under her breath. "Hope you don't get killed down there, Bats."

The truth was, Jessica really hadn't ever expected him to be real. Gotham had been a vastly different experience from New York in the three months since she had moved, so the city had still offered alot to her in terms of surprises. While the streets of New York tried to represent themselves as mainstream and inviting to tourists who didn't know any different, throwing out alot of flash and distractions to keep people from looking too closely at the city's seedier problems, Gotham practically wore it's destitution on it's sleeve like it were a damn badge of honor. Apart from the financial district, which lowlives like Jessica hardly ever found themselves in, the city was a dirty, rotting mess of muggers, street gangs, and corrupt politicians putting practiced smiles infront of the cameras to keep the commoners at bay. She knew all about the Five Families, the Royal Flush Gang, that awful Arkham Asylum, and even the supposed giant crocodile man that lived in the sewers. Those talking points among her clientele were easy enough to believe.

But one man waging a solitary war on crime? Dressed up like the lovechild between Dracula and The Gray Ghost, no less? Something about it had always seemed so absurd to her. She had a messed up past of her own, and costumes weren't exactly something that Jones was a stranger to ever since acquiring her abilities, but she wouldn't ever be caught dead trying to pick a fight with the mob or the police. Batman did both without hesitation, and he did it by scaring the living shit out of people. That meant that he was either an incredibly brave man and unwilling to let his sense of duty waiver in spite of the odds... or a complete and utter psychopath who probably really thought he was some kind of supernatural creature who couldn't be killed.

Either way, meeting him tonight had changed Jessica's perspective on how she could possibly hope to keep a low profile in a city like Gotham. If he could manage to survive the night and go back to being a boogeyman, a person of Jessica's capabilities wouldn't have any problems. As long as she kept breaking the arm of every mugger that whistled her way, or more commonly, tried to con her out of booze money. Infact, just knowing that there was someone out there able to toss criminals against the filth-ridden alleyways and do it in a cape and mask made it very clear to her that Gotham's scum hadn't nearly been everything that they had been talked up to be.

But this was all something to consider for later. Taking a running charge, Jessica propelled herself high into the air once again and landed on the next roof, immediately scurrying behind a chimney to avoid the helicopter's line of sight. The Torres house was just ahead, and all that she had to do was made it across the street without so much as a single person managing to spot her. Something that was easier said-than-done, given that not only had the police swarmed the area below, but there were panicked pedestrians trying to get as far away from the chaos as possible. People were leaving their own homes in droves and speeding off into the night, hoping to avoid the barrage of bullets and explosions that the GCPD's little skirmish with Bat-for-brains had already produced.

Spotting an alleyway below her, Jessica dropped down and hit the pavement with her knee outstretched, creating a spiderweb crack in the concrete. It was dark enough in the alley for her to have pulled that off, and definitely dark enough for her to sneak out of. Pulling her hood down as she placed her hands into her jacket, she took a deep breath and proceeded forward - before stopping dead in her tracks. Closing her eyes and slapping her palm against her forehead, Jessica realized that there was one crucial detail that she had failed to consider.

"Goddammit.", she angrily whispered. "C'mon, Jess. What are you thinking?"

Even though she hadn't quite been aware of her actions while under the influence of that Poison Ivy bitch, if what Batman had told her was even slightly true, there was a good chance that even if she did reach Zoe Lawton, the girl would recognize her as the woman who'd attacked her mom and attempted to kill her. And the last thing that Jessica wanted to do was traumatize the poor girl even further.

"Fuck.", Jessica reiterated, looking at herself in the reflection of a puddle made by the rain. "What to do, what to do..."

A change in appearance was needed. But she didn't have the time or the manueverability to do so.


Screw it. If it works for him, why shouldn't it work for me?

Removing her dark leather jacket and pullover, Jessica immediately went to work in tearing the item apart as quickly as possible, aided by her considerable strength. Underneath both items, she had been wearing a red New York Knicks t-shirt. The pullover itself was gray. And the jacket was a worn and faded black. Wrapping a piece of the ripped leather around her face so that her eyes and nose were cover, Jessica immediately reached up and began to rip out a pair of eyeholes.

Was this plan ridiculous? Perhaps so. Almost definitely, infact. But for the standard that Gotham had already set for her, Jessica was beginning to doubt that this was any more out of place than anything else.


Looking back down at her reflection again, now adorned with a leather 'mask', Jessica tilted her head and furrowed her brow. She already looked like a jackass, but it was better than nothing. Though now she'd have to spring for the cash to buy herself a new jacket.

"I guess this is a thing that's happening."

Gotham City, East End
The Streets
2:25 AM

"All units, be advised. Suspect is on the move and heading into Dini Plaza. You are now clear to engage. Repeat, lethal force has been authorized."

"Copy that!", I hear over the GCPD police scanner. "We are in pursuit, requesting backup!"

Despite being aware that this is cutting it close, I keep focus on the road ahead as the engine evolves from a low hum and turns into an almost animalistic roar that echoes throughout the streets. Gotham becomes little more than a blur of lights and motion as I kick The Batcycle's thrusters into action and propel myself further, accelerating me ahead and placing my trajectory well over 110 miles per hour. Directing myself to the left, I begin to weave in and out of oncoming traffic at a breakneck pace, putting some distance between myself and the pursuing squad cars that gave chase just after I left The Narrows. Through only the fault of my own, the GCPD has been made even more desperate to capture me before the night is through. I attacked those officers too viciously. Assaulted a Police Captain, a Lieutenant, a Sergeant, and SWAT before running. Even if they didn't already believe that I tried to kill Harvey Dent, as far as the police are concerned, I just outed myself as the most dangerous man in the city. And given how close I was to losing control of my actions back there, I'm beginning to wonder if there's any validity to that.

I hallucinated again. Despite Leslie's best intentions to help me move past these episodes, this was the first time that I ever experienced visualizing my parents while in the field. In the past, I've often quelled Alfred's growing concern over my mental stability by explaining that being Batman is a form of a therapy on it's own. By allowing myself to gradually release pent up frustration and rage against the city's criminals, I even managed to fool myself into thinking that I was on the road to rehabilitation. Tonight's clearly changed all of that. If I can't rely on myself to stay level-headed in high risk situations, then I'm going to have to make changes to how I approach my mission entirely. Perhaps starting with examining, with as little prejudice as possible, whether or not I've taken this crusade entirely too far. After all, I wanted to clean up the streets. Not compound the chaos through my mere existence.

"You're gonna want to take a right between Yale and Ostrander Avenue. They're already setting up a barricade three blocks from where you're heading."

And then there's this. The new player in Gotham that, despite the odds, managed to intrude their way into my personal communications network and remotely pilot one of my own vehicles. I hadn't so much as heard of this "Oracle" before tonight, but the individual had somehow managed to hack their way into my private servers in order to intervene in my fight against the GCPD. I feel as though I should feel some measure of gratitude, but this development's only made me feel more on edge than I already was. I can't be for certain just how much they know, or how thoroughly they checked the data that keeps my technology connected to Waynetech, but this sort of breach could easily compromise my identity. Whether or not Oracle has learned anything is it's own complication, as I now need to put other safeguards in place to prevent this from occuring again.

"Who are you? How did you manage to hack into this channel?", I demand, angrily peeling onto the directed road. "And how are you tracking my movements?!"

There's a pause before an answer.

"Uuh... Google Maps."

I stare down with an annoyed glare at the screen that displays the individual's logo. There's a two-way camera installed in that sub-monitor, so there's a good chance that Oracle, whoever they are, saw my reaction to that response.

"Sorry. Bad joke. It's, uh, actually alot more complicated than that. Stark Industries put out a sort of real-time imaging app that they sold to the military for a cool sixty million bucks. It works off of drone technology, so I encoded that program onto the surveillance cameras installed aboard the patrol blimps that the police have hovering over Gotham. It does the job as well as can be expected."

Admittedly, a more clever answer than I anticipated. And something of a reassuring one, given that I was afraid that Ace had been hacked aswell. Unknown to the stranger that I'm communicating with, I've been manually having Ace scan my systems to check for the leak and potentially identify the source signal of this person's broadcast. So far, that's produced nothing. So not only is Oracle advanced in the field of computer engineering, they're more than capable of covering their tracks.

"Alright. Then answer my first question."

"I can't. Trust me, it's not for any reason that you're not already accustomed to justifying wearing a mask yourself, but I have to remain anonymous to do what I do. And what I'm trying to do right now is help you from getting caught, in case you haven't noticed."

I narrow my eyes.

"But why?"

Hearing the sirens in the distance, I kick it up to 120 and narrowly avoid a head-on collision with an oncoming cab, who makes their displeasure in that known whenever the horn of the car beeps loudly.

"Other than what I said about being a fan and believing in what you're doing? Because of something that's happened within the GCPD. It concerns Captain Gordon."

As I continue to drive, my attention is piqued at the mention of the Captain. That's oddly specific of a name to just casually throw out, but I suppose it's possible that he's simply one of the more well known officers of the force.

"See, a few nights ago, I managed to get ahold of video surveillance footage that I think someone on your end was trying to delete before it could be... deleted. It showed you fighting off some guy dressed in red and holding a sniper rifle. Which was super awesome, by the way."

I raise an eyebrow.

How old is this person?

"But regardless. I forwarded that video to Captain Gordon through an anonymous server so that he would know the truth about who tried to kill Harvey Dent. It obviously wasn't you, like the media was saying, and I figured that giving Gordon the evidence to prove it would be enough to exonerate you. But he didn't do... anything with it. Infact, at the press conference that announced you as the suspect in the shooting, he just stood by and let them accuse you. And that worries me."

Clearly not old enough to understand how this city works. I sigh to myself, realizing that this isn't a particularly shocking development. I had hoped that Gordon was on the side of virtue despite his willingness to go after me, since I naively believed that Precinct 27 was a possible exception among the list of precincts bought and paid for by Salvatore Maroni. But if this is the case, they're all the same. Gordon had his chance to tell the truth about my involvement in the shooting, or lack thereof, and he didn't take it. That makes him as corrupt as the rest.

"The police in Gotham aren't to be trusted. They lie, they take bribes, and act as enforcers for the mob. Gordon's actions align with that mentality, so I'm not terribly surprised."

Unexpectedly, the distorted voice takes on a tone of barely hidden defensiveness.

"No. I'm sorry, but that's where you're wrong. Gordon isn't like the rest. I... know him better than that. I've seen the merit of his character, and he's done nothing but prove that he believes in the letter of the law. If he's hiding something like this, it can only be because somebody else got to him first. And Gordon isn't easily corrupted, so it must have been someone with more political sway than even the Commissioner."

So there is a connection between "Oracle" and Gordon. My mind starts to race as to what that connection could be. Couldn't be a mole that he put in place to lower my defenses, given that I saw to it that he was taken out of commission just earlier. Not to mention that the GCPD do not possess the capabilities to hack into The Batcycle. So I'm guessing it's a personal connection. A fellow officer, maybe, who moonlights as a hacker.

"Talking to me about any of this isn't exactly without risk. Why so forthcoming?"

"Because I don't believe you're the monster that the papers make you out to be. And because, I'm hoping, that you'll repay me in helping you tonight by investigating just who got to Gordon in the first place. If his judgement's askew, you're gonna have an even harder time on the streets than you already had. He's the only reason that decent cops in Gotham even exist, at this point."

I'm not sure that I buy into the notion put forth that Captain Gordon holds that level of importance, or is some kind of beacon of morality to his fellow officers, since this is clearly coming from a biased perspective. But the theory that he's being manipulated is something to at least keep in mind, I'll admit, since I don't want to be left unaware of someone other than Maroni pulling strings within the department.

"You're gonna want to take a left now, by the way. Three blocks ahead and I can see that they're setting up a pretty, uh, massive blockade on the corner of 45th and Dozier."

Gripping the throttle of the vehicle, I disable the camera to make it known that I don't approve of this. While I do believe if Oracle's intervention hadn't happened that I would have done something terrible back there, this interference in a situation well beyond someone of their age has gone on long enough. Despite taking the given direction as it comes and slowing my acceleration down as The Batcycle displays an engine overheat warning, I manually begin to type in commands for Ace to abandon the scan and focus on locking the intruder out of my servers.

"I'll consider it. But I can't make promises. Now I want you to forget that you ever found this channel. If the police consider me dangerous, then that means that I am for as long as they have me in their crosshairs. Trying to help me will only endanger yourself. So if you truly believe in what I'm doing, keep your distance and leave this to people like me."


"And for the record?"

As Ace finally shuts down the last of the remaining avenues that Oracle could have used to make their way onto the network, I hit the acceleration once again and activate the reserve supply of coolant fluid that was built into The Batcycle's tank. I've pushed the bike to nearly the absolute limit before, but this is a highly inopportune time to risk a full system shutdown. Especially if I'll need the speed to stay ahead of the cops.

"I don't need your help."

Before they can reply, Oracle's voice and logo disappear entirely from my telecommunications. That might have seemed cold, but given the age and maturity on display in their cadence, I had to shut Oracle down before they did something stupid and put us both on the path towards an arrest. Once I get back to The Cave, I'll resume Ace's trace of the digital thumbprint that they left whenever they hacked in and try to figure out who they are in my own time, to further dissuade any such actions in the future. I don't need a partner, and I sure as hell don't want one under the legal drinking age.

Having said that, I did just cut off my only real source of digital clairvoyance to use against the GCPD's tactics. Thinking of how Oracle explained their method of keeping track of the streets, I immediately open the secure channel to Alfred. Thankfully, I shouldn't have any eyes watching what I'm doing, at this point.

"Alfred. I'm being pursued by police. Gonna need you to do something unorthodox."

"Of course, lad. Because everything about what we do is so commonplace."

As I cross onto the next intersection and tear through the streets, I begin to relay the exact method of hacking into the GCPD patrol blimps that Oracle described, so that Alfred can set up a similar method for Ace to feed back to me.

A good idea is a good idea, after all.

Gotham City, The Narrows
West District
2:30 AM

Zoe Lawton hears someone tapping just outside of her bedroom window. Frightened by her initial ordeal and unsure of whether or not to make her way out of the closet, the young girl nevertheless peeks out from between the doors to see what could possibly be hitting her second story window, given that even she realizes how impossible that seems. To her shock, what she sees is the silhouette of a woman. Something's wrapped around her neck, appearing as though it's some sort of cape, and a dark mask covers the top of the woman's face. But what immediately catches Zoe's eye isn't what the woman is wearing, but how she's appearing - she's floating outside of the window.

All of the fear fades from the young girl's face as she opens the closet door and meekly walks over to the window to open it. The woman in the mask gives her a reassuring smile, just barely distracting her from the sounds of gunfire and other loud noises that had left Zoe too afraid to even move just a few moments earlier. Whenever the window is lifted, however, those noises seem to have partially stopped. Zoe looks down at the ground, first, to make sure that what she's seeing is real. And it is, as there's nothing holding the woman up.

"Hi. You must be Zoe."

"How're you doing that?", the child asks. "My mommy says that people can't really fly."

Jessica smirks to herself.

"Your mom's mostly right. But I'm not like alot of other people. C'mon, I'll show you how I do it. But only if you come with me."

The girl tenses up at that.

"N-No. I can't go. A bad woman just hurt mommy, and she needs me to protect her."

Jessica's heart sinks as she hears that, hoping that the mask hides enough of her face to conceal her own reaction.

She doesn't know which part bothers her most. The fact that the girl believes her to be a bad woman, or the fact that the girl thinks it's her job to protect her own mother. In alot of ways, Zoe reminds her of herself at that age. Full of fear but ready to put it aside for the sake of other people.

"You're very brave for thinking that, Zoe.", Jessica replies, leaning against the window. "And I know that I'm stranger, and you should never talk to strangers. But this is a special occasion, because I'm gonna let you in on a bit of a secret..."

Even as the words come out of her mouth, Jessica almost regrets saying them. It's very far removed from how she sees herself.

"I'm a superhero."

Zoe's eyes light up at that, as she takes another step forward.


"Really. And I'm here to get you to safety. This is no place for a girl your age."

As Jessica reaches out with her hand, Zoe seems hesitant, still.

"But... the bad woman. What if she comes back for mommy?"

Pausing, Jessica gently places a hand on the girl's hand.

"She won't. I took care of the bad woman. You'll never see her again."

Zoe looks back at the door, worried.

"You promise?"

"Cross my heart and hope to die."

Zoe looks back at Jessica and smiles.

"What's your superhero name?"

Jessica pauses again, unsure of what to say. She immediately thinks of Batman, and of all the other weirdos in costumes that seem to be popping up all over the world. The papers referred to The Bat as 'The Dark Knight' at one point, so Jessica thinks to herself: Why should he get all of the cool nicknames?


Extending her hand again, Jessica smiles.

"I'm called Knightress. Now come with me and I promise, you'll get to see your mom again in a few days. She has to be taken to the hospital right now, but they're gonna fix her up. I'll make sure of it."

Giving it a moment of thought, Zoe finally reaches out and grabs Jessica's hand for herself.

Within a few moments, the two are airborne and flying away from the scene. It isn't an easy or particularly graceful exit, as Jessica tries to shield Zoe's eyes from the carnage below them as she takes off. But within minutes, the two escape to safety and head into Gotham proper.

And at the end of the day, Jessica thinks to herself, that's all that matters.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Morden Man
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Morden Man

Member Seen 3 days ago

"If your Peter Parker is anything like mine, he was one of the best. I know the one I know is great. And his Uncle was one of the most decent men I ever had the honor of knowing. I know his motto well. It's one of the reasons I do what I do."
Manhattan, New York

A burst of joy Johnny didn't know he still had in him ran over him. Peter Parker was alive – at least, this world's Peter was. Without thinking, he threw his arms around Spider-Woman's shoulders and hugged her close to him. A smile so broad that it hurt him to maintain it was etched into Johnny's face. Somewhere out there Peter was going about his life like a normal teenaged boy – without worrying about Norman Osborn hurling pumpkin bombs at him or Doctor Octopus crashing his Christmas party at the Daily Bugle.

And then Johnny heard Spider-Woman's words in his head. Not only did she know Peter Parker – she had called him hers. Johnny released Spider-Woman from the hug and then placed his hands on her shoulders. He squinted at her for a few seconds as he began to put the theory in his head together piece by piece. Suddenly a knowing smile appeared on his face.

Mary Jane Watson was Spider-Woman.

It was the only answer that made sense. Peter and MJ had been together since the beginning of time. There had been another girl on the scene once upon a time, but Johnny couldn't remember her name, and there wasn't a chance in hell that a girl as fierce as MJ would let someone take her man – in this world or the next. The thought of Peter Parker sat at home, waiting for MJ to message him back, while she was on the streets of New York keeping people safe buoyed Johnny's spirits.

He gave Spider-Woman encouraging grin. "You know, I always did think you'd make one hell of a superhero. Guess I was right, eh, Tiger?"

Less than twenty-four hours ago, Johnny had been telling Reed and Harrison Wells that if it came down to a choice between their old world, damned as it might be, and the new one they had found themselves in, he wouldn't hesitate. Happy as he was, he wasn't sure that had changed. But the wave of emotions that he'd felt when Spider-Woman had told him she knew Peter gave him pause for thought.

Johnny thought for a second about asking her to take him to see Pete – but it didn't take long to decide otherwise. Chances were Peter was a normal kid here. Well, as normal as any kid that loses their parents and their surrogate father figure before they're out of high school can be. He didn't need more drama in his life – especially not the spandex-wearing kind.

"Promise me something," Johnny said softly as he noticed the police cars assembled at the bottom of the building they were sat on.

He had no right to ask what he was about to ask – no-one did – but in the maelstrom of grief and anger that had been Johnny's emotions over the past few months, news of Peter Parker had provided a glint of hope. Johnny needed every last bit of that he could get.

"Promise me that you'll keep him safe," Storm said solemnly. "There'll come a day when all of this will reach the ones you love. Try as you might, as long as you're a human being under that mask there's no way of avoiding that. Just ... whatever else happens, you keep him safe. Because the world needs people like Peter Parker in it."
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by HenryJonesJr
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"Promise me something," Johnny said softly as he noticed the police cars assembled at the bottom of the building they were sat on.

He had no right to ask what he was about to ask – no-one did – but in the maelstrom of grief and anger that had been Johnny's emotions over the past few months, news of Peter Parker had provided a glint of hope. Johnny needed every last bit of that he could get.

"Promise me that you'll keep him safe," Storm said solemnly. "There'll come a day when all of this will reach the ones you love. Try as you might, as long as you're a human being under that mask there's no way of avoiding that. Just ... whatever else happens, you keep him safe. Because the world needs people like Peter Parker in it."


Oh my god he thinks I'm MJ. He must have known MJ in his world. She's the only one who says "tiger" like it's still the Roaring Twenties or something. But if he took what I said as meaning I'm MJ...then oh my god Peter and MJ were together on his side! That is so crazy! The two are friends here, but never in a million years would I expect to see them together. I mean, they're two diametrically opposed people.

Well, at least that will keep him from finding out who I really am.

The second part of what he says has the complete opposite effect on me. The death of another one of the people closest to me is my biggest fear. Johnny lost nearly everyone. He's seen how bad this life can get, and he's telling me it will get that bad. If I have to see another family member dead on the street, I don't know if I can handle it.

"I'm never going to let another thing happen to someone I care about," I try and sound as reassuring as possible to Johnny. "At least not willingly. I'll die trying to stop that. We do all we can to protect the strangers every day. We like to pretend that our homes are off limits. But even if I'm young, I'm not that naive. I know it'll happen eventually. I just hope I'm ready for when it does."

Sitting up here, looking over the skyline of New York is about as peaceful as my life's been in the past few months. I've been bouncing back and forth from crisis to crisis, I haven't really been able to enjoy just how beautiful this city can be at heights most people only see from the confines of skyscrapers. Now I'm here, having a heart to heart with a man from a destroyed dimension who knew my boyfriend from his side.

Can't say this life isn't entertaining, that's for sure.

"Johnny, this has been...nice," I admit. "I don't take enough time to really sit and take stock of everything. Usually I spend my time dodging fireballs or gunfire or something. It's nice to really just...talk with someone who understands this life. I'm sorry what happened to your world, but I'm glad you made your way to ours. I hope it treats you well."

This talk has also made one thing clear...I need to go talk to Peter. I have way too many thoughts bouncing around in my head and I need to make some room. The easiest way to do that is to at least figure out where Peter and I stand.

I look up to where the flaming representation of my mask once hovered, "If you ever want to do this again, you know how to contact me, I guess."
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Morden Man
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Morden Man

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"If you ever want to do this again, you know how to contact me, I guess."
Manhattan, New York

There was a tenderness to Spider-Woman's voice that made Johnny feel at ease. Among all the quips it was easy to forget that, just as with Peter on his own world, empathy was what drove Spider-Woman to protect others. It was in these quiet moments that you got a glimpse into the person behind the cowl and their values and it was clear to Johnny that New York had a kind and considerate protector in Mary Jane Watson – who was more than deserving of the "friendly neighbourhood Spider-Woman" moniker.

"You know what?" Johnny said as he placed an appreciate hand on Spider-Woman's back. "I think I'd like that a lot."

He pushed himself to his feet with a grunt. The cuts on his hands were still stinging but Johnny could barely feel them as he stood there looking out across the New York skyline. The sun had begun to sat. Its rays bounced off the skyscrapers that lined the city's streets. Johnny shut his eyes, basking in the warmth for a few moments, before taking a long, deep breath in.

He let the breath go and felt the weight he'd been carrying on his chest for the past few months lighten. He opened his eyes, smiled at Spider-Woman, and then peered over the edge of the building.

As Johnny's hands balled into loose fists he gestured to Spider-Woman to give him some space. "You're going to want to take a step back."

She stepped back, a slightly bemused look on her face, and Johnny's fists tightened. His whole body tensed up for a moment and then he let out a shout that came from deep within the pit of his stomach. For the first time in months, there was no anguish or self-loathing in his voice.

There was a sudden whoosh. The flames that came bursting through Johnny's Fantastic Four costume seemed to burn a little brighter than they had done for some time. They whipped around his arms and legs as if they had a life of their own – as if they were willing him to fight on.

Johnny shot MJ an appreciative smile. "Oh and hey, the next time some firebug gives you problems, feel free to swing by the Baxter Building."

With that he sprinted towards the edge of the building and the dove towards the ground. A startled Spider-Woman started after him, watching as the Torch plummeted towards the ground at an alarming speed. Beneath him, the assembled police cars and journalists began to step backwards with fear as it seemed Johnny was destined to land on them.

At the last second, he tore upwards, sending the crowd of onlookers hurtling backwards with shock. After a few moments their shock gave way to a wave of spontaneous applause. Johnny shouted excitedly as he climbed through the air and shot Spider-Woman a thumbs up.

They shared one last friendly glance before Johnny shot off into the distance, his happy whooping echoing through the streets of New York.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Hound55
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Hound55 Create-A-Hero RPG GM, Blue Bringer of BWAHAHA!

Member Seen 19 min ago

Jack Russell woke to the afternoon sun slapping him in the face, out of his long slumber. Not having the nerve to look himself over for fear of what he’d find he just leant back in the cardboard and blinked his eyes repeatedly.

It didn’t matter if he looked himself over though. He could feel the blood that was not his own, dried and coating his baking flesh underneath the sun. Between his fingers and on his chest and chin. He could smell that scent of copper in the air - even with his own regular nose - trapped in the beard that stood in evidence of his own recent captivity.

He winced at the sensation and the knowledge that it carried.

How many more? How many more lives would he take?

He climbed out of the pile of boxes and walked over to a tap on one side of the building. Scrubbing his beard as best he could.

Red water fell to the floor, but it wasn’t all coming out. It couldn’t be. The hair still stank as it had been dried too long.

Jack Russell sighed and looked around at what he had to work with.

He shattered a window and after a few minutes of nervous consideration managed to summon up the courage to attempt to shave himself with a large segment of broken glass.

Without a mirror, and with a bloodied hand, his face was now patchy, but the beard was mostly gone. Checking his reflection in some other glass he now looked… Well, still like a vagrant. But the beard was gone and he was less recognizable to anyone who saw him when he had the beard.

Being covered in blood wouldn’t help him look any less conspicuous though, so he returned to the tap and did his best to rinse away the fresh blood.

Next would be clothes. He didn’t need anything fancy, just something that would be bare-minimum acceptable in public. It was a warm day. He snuck outside in his sheet toga and was lucky enough to find that the building was near a clothes store. He furtively went through their garbage out the back and found some foul smelling seconds. He took them back to his building and ran them under water for a few minutes.

It was a warm summer day, the clothes would dry soon enough and it looked like he’d gone swimming with his clothes on. Jack knew they only had to last a few hours now, as he saw the rapidly descending sun.

In an ideal world he’d lock himself away for the next few days, but with this being a far from ideal world the best he could do for everyone was find himself solitude. He pulled a Cubs cap down over his brow and started walking north.

Low, in the pit of his stomach a deep rumbling growled and he begged it to stop.

A man of small stature with a ratty moustache and dark red shades stepped into the boardroom like he owned the building.

Ten of the dozen, some of the wealthiest, most powerful people across the United States slid back from the table as one, almost like a wave.

The Profile smiled, and let out a single snort of laughter.

Now that’s power. He could practically feel sphincters tightening. In two or three cases he knew that was literally the case.

“Your timeliness is appreciated, Profile. Take a seat.” Said Carruthers, as always looking to assert control as if he held this court of supposed equals.

Another snort. This time he lets them see the wide smile flash before he punishes him for it.

“Carruthers. Still can’t bring yourself to say ‘Thanks’ or ‘Sorry’ in a public meeting, huh? You know even though you seem to think that being that way comes across as a sign of strength, it really is a weak fucking part of your character. As is your weakness for chasing Guilfoyle out there around in her underwear with a ping pong paddle…” The Profile was in rhythm now, pacing the room whilst never taking his eyes off of Carruthers. Reading every twitch. “And the way you try and domineer over her so that she’ll keep her mouth shut and accept the fault when you. Can’t. Even. Get it up. Wow... You are indeed a very insecure, fat fuck. Good Lord!”

“I’ll kill you!” He spat between clenched teeth.

The Profile hunched over him with his palms on the table, eyeballing the fat man in his tight suit. “You mean you’ll TRY again. What’ll it be this time, Carruthers? Poison? A bomb in my car? Surprise me, if you can… Maybe the eighth time will be the charm.”

Mrs Conway smirked at the pasting Carruthers was taking, whilst he silently fumed.

“Settle down, Conway. You haven’t had that kind of smile on your face for three… no, two and a half weeks. And that was because it was your birthday. Oh-Ho! And you didn’t even want it! Wow! Ha! You didn’t even want it, you just didn’t like the idea of that old bastard to get away with not trying to get you there… You just let him work away on you down south for 35… Whoa! Forty minutes?! You let that old bastard go to town for forty minutes, knowing he wasn’t getting anywhere? And then you had that limp dick old bag of skin work himself in the bathroom afterwards. And that! That’s what you were thinking about later as you went yourself, with that smile you just made at Carruthers on your face. Because going to town on yourself when thinking about the guy facing that level of humiliation and debasement is the only thing that can still turn your motor over.”

“Fuck you!”

“No thanks. Not a second time. Unlike your husband, I’m not into that kind of debasement…”

He held his hand up to high five Bruno DelRayne who was seated by him, and as DelRayne raised his arm the Profile pulled away.

“You know what… I’d rather not. We both know where that hand has been…”

The Profile walked back to his place at the boardroom by the projector.

“Anyway… have a job to do here today. Decorum. Compose ourselves…” He flashed that smile once again and hit the button for the first slide, which just had the name “Marc Spector” in big bold block letters.

“For reasons I’m sure we’re all aware of, Marc Spector himself is not susceptible to my own personal attempts to read and determine his own movements. Fortunately, however, he has surrounded himself with two others who don’t share his ability to be so very difficult… I’m sure everyone here is familiar enough with Spector’s file anyway, so without further ado: Jean Paul DuChamp.”

The Profile scanned the room for any signs of interruption, before continuing.

“DuChamp, born in St-Germain-Des-Pres, his family… you know what, we’ll skip to the more relevant. He’s got a bohemian personality, fancies himself a connoisseur of many things, extremely proud of his French heritage, oh, he’s also a closeted homosexual, like Simmons tries to be…”


“Pipe down, Simmons. It’s 2018. Nobody cares. Except Carruthers, Landry and Casey nobody else cares, and giving a shit about what those shitbags think is far more concerning than being gay could ever be. Oh… and except Blundell, who can now see you’re bothered by this and is planning to extort you...”

“...anyway, he joined the French Foreign Legion as a sniper, has tremendous patience, transferred to become a pilot and after a successful military career was taken on by the DGSE. Which is where he met Spector in 2009. The two seem joined at the hip, platonically, at least as far as we can tell on Spector’s side so don’t go getting excited, Simmons...”

“Fuck you!”

“...which is more than we can say about this young woman. Marlene Alraune.” He pressed the button for the next slide. “I’ve inspected some footage from Luxor International Airport, there wasn’t much to go on, but something has happened to Spector that is resulting in compassion and even some amount of pity from both DuChamp and Ms Alraune.”

“Now this is a damaged, vulnerable woman… her parents were separated and estranged due to focus on their own work, she only recently got back in touch with her estranged father - who’s an esteemed archaeologist and egyptologist. She married young, which collapsed upon itself within a matter of months. I only saw her for a few minutes, but she seems almost as damaged as Spector in her own ways. Daddy issues, abandonment issues, just generally issues by the barrelful.”

“Back to her father, Dr Peter Alraune died in the past 48 hours in the middle of a dig. It was known his daughter was also on site. It appears to have been looted by Raoul Bushman and his merry band of violent mercenary nationstate-dreaming bastards. This may be the point of connection between Spector and DuChamp and herself, as we last knew Spector and Duchamp to be associating themselves with Bushman.”

“Given the current relationship between Alraune and Spector…” The Profile hit the next slide, it showed Spector and Alraune standing at the airport with Spector filling out a manifest, whilst Marlene held his arm and turned back talking to a smiling Jean Paul DuChamp. “I think it’s safe to assume that relationship with Bushman has now frayed.”

“I’m not entirely sure what’s happened to Spector, although I’m told his gait seems to suggest some kind of a wound. But from the body language of Alraune and DuChamp it seems safe to assume that they don’t plan on going anywhere he’s not in the immediate future.”

“Well how does that help--” Carruthers started.

“As for Jack Russell…” the Profile continued, unbothered by the interruption, “...incidents from last night have his location somewhere in this region.”

Next slide, a large map of Chicago with a large red circle around Southside Chicago areas Oakland, Bridgeport, Douglas, Bronzeville and Chinatown.

“Reports on his physiology suggest that after the transformation, he’s likely to be exhausted. Especially since the length of his previous captivity and careful control of his nutritional intake resulted in him having less than adequate dietary requirements.”

Another push of the button, a photo of a crime scene.

“Honestly, I’m surprised he didn’t succumb to total bloodlust and just begin an open hunt. Figures suggest three attacks and none were stripped to the bone. Suggests his animal instincts were still focused on flight. He ate on the run out of necessity. Whether that will be the same tonight, I remain doubtful.”

“My suggestion is to box in Russell and use him to solve both of our problems. It’s in Spector’s nature to fight for a cause. I suggest we give him one. Get both within proximity and let natural instincts take their course. The werewolf’s natural instinct to feed, Spector’s natural instinct to respond to violence with violence. Then we just have a team stand-by to back up both parties when they’ve punched themselves out. For PR, claim it as an animal control incident.”

From the back of the room McLean rocked forwards and out of the shadows of the dark corner at the back of the room, he smirked at Carruthers and then sensing the Profile’s eyes on him he looked down at his feet.

“Oh no… what did you..? Fuck! You slimy fuck!” The Profile pointed at McLean in accusatory rage.

“What?” Mrs Conway asked. She loathed the smarmy mutant freak, but still had the same respect for his abilities as everyone seated at the boardroom.

“McLean here, has a problem with Carruthers… and myself, really. He’s been talking to the drones out there and caught word of when Spector’s touching down at O’Hare airport. He’s sent a team down there and tipped off one of Waller’s stooges that he’s doing it. He’s trying to do a deal, aren’t you McLean? He’s trying to make himself Waller’s lapdog here, so he can have power to slap Carruthers around and make him and myself look soft and weak. Trying to pull power moves, huh?”

“Well, what he hasn’t done is thought of the consequences. He’s trying the direct approach with a man who has been purpose-built to handle the direct approach. The cost of direct confrontation, compared with picking him up after giving him our prescribed purpose… well, for your sake let’s just hope your team doesn’t get what they’re after…”

Marc and Marlene stood by as they watched their French friend struggle with getting his maximum two cartons of imported cigarettes, another 100-box of cigarillos and 6 litres of French wines (still and fortified) through customs.

“Is he always like this?” Marlene asked.

“I have no idea, but I’m getting the distinct feeling that’s the case.”

“Well, at least we didn’t have to wait for our luggage to come around the carousel.”

“That’s true. It would have been a nightmare getting the other thing through on a commercial flight as well.”

“Mmm,” she agreed non-committedly, “When’s that clear all of the TSA rigamarole?”

“They said if I check in a week it’ll likely be all good to pick up.”

Marlene looked up at him with an expression of concern. There had been no argument about the item, he was adamant enough that she could tell he wouldn’t be questioned on it. But where does one keep a 6 foot statue of an Ancient Egyptian god? And what mentality was he in for demanding it in the first place?

DuChamp walked over, finally finished with his claims. “Magnifique! Ready to go! So any thoughts on how to get to this place?”

“He said he’d send a car.” Marlene relied.

The three stopped as they saw a short, man wearing a driver’s hat in a black suit and tie holding a card that read ‘Spector’.

“I’m Marc Spector.” Marc said awkwardly, in a way that belied the fact that he still wasn’t sure how that name felt. He reached into his pocket to produce his passport when the man assured him that it would be quite alright. “My boss made sure I was familiar with your face. The card is more in case you saw me first.” Marc tilted his head as the man spoke.

The three followed the shorter man to the car, which turned out to be an unblemished white stretch limousine. The three piled into the back, whilst the short man donned driving gloves, so as to not mark the white leather interior on the steering wheel and gear shift.

“I trust you all had a good flight, sirs and madam?”

“Very good, thank you, Mister--” Marlene started.

“Samuels.” Marc finished. "You’re the man who was on the phone."

“That’s right, sir. Very good.” He smiled into the rear vision mirror, until he saw Marc’s contemplative expression from the back. He was puzzling it out. The smile fell from Samuels’ face.

Samuels drove well, he was comfortable at the wheel of this awkward sized monster, but still cautiously checked his mirrors readily. It prompted Marc to sit forward and face sideways, checking between Samuels and the others at the rear.

With another glance to the mirror, Samuels shifted into the left lane as they started to head into a tunnel.

“Why are we being followed and why have you been checking the mirrors like you were expecting it?” Marc spoke up. Jean Paul and Marlene pulled their heads out of the mini-bar and looked around. He was right. Three black cars of the same make and model were trying to surreptitiously follow the limo several cars back.

“Very good, sir.” Samuels said, with a wide smile on his face. “But don’t worry. The problem is being taken care of. As you said, it was expected.”

Behind them, in the tunnel, a red Nissan coupe swerved awkwardly, blocking both rows of traffic. Above them, a pair of African American youths spray painted over the traffic cameras. The black cars were halted as the limousine continued through the tunnel as the road took a gentle left.

Samuels hit the brakes and came to a stop. He pressed a button and ties that held the numberplates severed and dropped them to the street. A man ran from across the road in an unkempt jacket, tie and hat.

“Everybody out. Our ride’s across the street.” Samuels turned and said to the trio.

The three piled out of the limo and saw a smaller yellow cab across the road. Samuels picked up the numberplates and ran over to the other man. Giving him his hat and suit jacket and driving gloves. The unkempt man gave Samuels his hat, which Samuels held out at a distance between thumb and forefinger. He jumped into the driver’s seat, flicking the dirty hat into the passenger seat and checked on the three crammed in the back of the taxi.

“As we pass them again, try not to look back at the scene. We don’t need the attention and we don’t have the people in place to lose them twice.”

The cab drove back past the black cars on the other side of the street. Men in suits were remonstrating with an elderly white woman in a blouse and apron who was having none of their attitude.

The cab drove the trio onwards to picturesque Grant Mansion.

5 miles beyond the tunnel, the support team pulled up alongside a spotless white stretch limosine parked overlooking Lake Michigan. Men got out, with firearms drawn.

“Wind down the window and keep your hands up! People in the back, get out with your hands over your heads!”

Power windows wound the drivers window down autiomatically revealing an aging homeless man sitting in the driver’s seat with his hands above his head.

“Greetings and salutations, good sirs! How may I be of assistance to you gentlemen today? I regret to inform you that I am but a solitary traveller today, as you’ll find if you open the doors and give the passenger seats a closer inspection…”

He held a single finger up to get the men to pause whilst he worked the central locking.

The men scanned the passenger section with guns raised.

“Shit! They’re not here! They’ve pulled a switch. Call McLean.”

Flint kicked back in his chair and swigged his coffee. This was getting downright tedious. His partner Gwenn had called in sick on back-to-back days and the unit was preserving manpower and had an internal rule of keeping single officers as the detective on duty. He drained his cup and tossed it across the room, where it banked off a small Chicago Bulls backboard that some detective had brought in twenty years ago and fell perfectly into the garbage bin beneath.

“Screw this…” grumbled Flint, as he got up from his desk and decided to see what else was happening in the building. He walked around and tapped on the door to the Organized Crime floor. A smile greeted him from Officer Jazorsky, as she hit a button which unlocked the magnetic door. He walked in and asked what was happening.

“Oh, not much. Fitz and Kawalski are taking down their board. Inside tip, Flint. I think the drinks are going to be flowing over at The Beat Kitchen.”

The Beat Kitchen was a local cop bar. As far as Flint was concerned it was a cop bar due to proximity only, being on the same Belmont Avenue that the Department Building they was based out of. Fitz and Kawalski were both young detectives though, and of questionable taste. Flint suspected that even if it wasn’t nearby it was the kind of place that would have been their choice anyway.

“Can I go through?”

“Sure thing, Flint.”

Flint wrapped on the door and walked in before permission came. Fitz was boxing up a pinboard of a now defunct crime family. Flint could make out the name “Fasinera” going into the box.

“So, you boys just cracked one, huh?”

“Well… as it happens. We just had one fall into our laps that solved itself. Still, doesn’t hurt department numbers.” said Kawalski.

“Solved itself?” Flint enquired.

“Vince Fasinera fell down a flight of stairs. With witnesses in attendance. No messy mob hits. No revenge killings. The innerworkings of the organization was mainly kept in his head. Heir wasn’t old enough to get into the family business. They’re done. Cold close.” replied Kawalski.

“So whaddaya say, Flint? Brewskis at the Beat Kitchen?”

“Reckon I might have to give it a miss this time.” Flint’s idea of a cop’s night was closer to a Tom Waits album and two bottles of bourbon, than Bud Lights and newfangled hippity pop music with a bunch of hipsters. That was a young man’s game. “Captain’s in for debriefing in fifteen. Just figured I’d see what was going on with the young climbers over here.”

“Ha! No young climbers over here, Flint. Just true po-lice who caught an easy one.”

“Well, good to hear.” Flint walked away and heard the pair high-fiving behind him.

Flint waved to Jazorsky, the pair trading smiles as Flint walked back to his floor and his desk in Central Detectives.

It was almost time to hear the bear report. And follow the progress of CPD’s own most recent white whale. "Just so long as nobody expects to call ME Ishmael." Flint thought to himself.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Master Bruce
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Master Bruce Winged Freak

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Gotham City, Wayne Tower
The Cave
3:15 AM

"Bruce?! Bruce, are you alright?! My god..."

My entire body hurts like hell. Head's throbbing so hard and my ears are ringing so loudly that I can only barely hear Alfred's panicked words as I realize that I've just drifted back into consciousness. Sitting up, I discover that I've been slumped over the front of The Batcycle, and a trail of blood is seeping down the side of the steering column from where I had passed out. What exactly happened becomes clear fairly quickly - it was the concussion. The effects of that while also mixed with the internal trauma and blood loss finally caught up with me, and I lost consciousness somewhere in the midst of my attempt to escape from the GCPD.

The last thing that I can remember is outracing a helicopter spotlight as I tried to lead it away from the secret tunnel entrance that I use to disappear whenever I want to return here, but whenever I went to circle around and reach the entrance proper, I must've... fainted. Though the question I have now isn't so much how I didn't lose control of The Batcycle and crash. It's how did I manage to get here in the first place.

Was it another remote hacking? Did "Oracle" find their way back into the system and lead me here? Half dazed, I try to stand and slump back against the cycle. That theory is quickly abandoned, as it doesn't make much sense to begin with. Even if they knew my identity, that individual would never have found a way to lead me back to The Cave. It's walls are reinforced with a special plating that allows it's location to be untraceable by satellite, heat signature, or otherwise. Did Alfred somehow take some kind of remote control of the bike and get me here?


My voice is hoarse. Weak, as I'm barely able to make out a syllable. I reach out to him as he approaches and find my hand limping. My adrenaline could only push me so far after my particularly brutal encounter with Poison Ivy. Without even knowing it, I was spent and done long before the fight ever truly ended. Alfred immediately rushes to my side as I feel myself start to slip, throwing my arm around his shoulders. Sixty-two years old, over a lifetime of war behind him, and he's still stronger than I give him credit for.

"Easy, I've got you.", he reassures me, lightly slapping my face so that I don't pass out again. "You nearly took a dive back there, lad, and it looks as though you paid for it. I'm taking you to the hospital. No debating, no discussion. That was my rule for helping you, remember?"

I try and argue, but I don't have the strength to even do that. He reaches up and removes the cowl from my face, tossing it to floor as he helps me up the platform leading into the armory. By the way that he's looking at me, side-eyeing as he helps me limp ahead, I'm fairly certain that whatever he sees staring back isn't too pleasant.

"No offense intended, Bruce. But with the way you look, we'll have to take a sledgehammer to one of the Ferrari's in order to convince the doctors that you crashed at top speed. Those are the fastest cars that you've stored in the garage, if I do recall..."

He's talking about Bruce Wayne's collection of sports cars on the eleventh floor of the building. Each one of them are worth well over five hundred thousand in parts alone. It'd be enough to give even me pause if I weren't already bleeding to death all over my own floor. Eventually, I give him a cursory nod, allowing him to place me atop a firm enough surface to get my armor removed. Alfred's a decorated former agent of SHIELD and has seen his share of high-risk espionage scenarios. I trust him implicitly to be able to pull off making me look as though I suffered an automobile accident while drunk, rather than going head-to-head with a metahuman who managed to crush one of my ribs with her bare hands.

All I have to do is lay back and allow him to take charge. Hoping that, even if I do drift back into unconsciousness, I'll at least be alive enough to thank him.

"There we are. Now, if I can just find a suit of your's to tear to pieces..."

Before I can react to that, I feel myself slipping back into the dark...

Gotham City, Precinct 27
Captain Gordon's Office
3:30 AM

"I'm sorry, what do you mean that they lost him?!"

Agent Nashton stared his sheepish college down, clearly agitated to a point that was indescribable. Agents Arthur Brown and Peyton Riley looked at eachother, both at a loss for words. They had both worked with Nashton long enough to believe that the old adage of "don't shoot the messenger" wasn't going to apply, here, so each knew that the next words that they had to offer their superior were going to have to be chosen wisely. Brown started to speak up, but Riley nudged him in the side, hard. If there was going to be a de-escalation of this, she couldn't risk his idiotic mouth getting them both into hot water.

"We... that is to say, Captain Gordon's unit had been preparing to have The Batman blocked into a four way intersection ahead of his predicted trajectory. He was less than a block away and the chopper was already in pursuit, but he just... I don't know how else to say it, Nashton. He disappeared."

Nashton's left eye twitched as he stood, staring Agent Riley down.

"People do not just disappear. People actively on the run from the police do not generally find a way to miraculously de-materialize into mere particles, because unless our vigilante really is a metahuman entity, which would directly contradict every report that you've filed on the matter with me, what you're actually telling me is that The Batman escaped and absolutely no one on this pathetic excuse for a police force knows how he did it!"

Riley was silent. Perhaps even stone-faced, which was a far cry from her partner, who had visibly taken a step back. Physically, Agent Nashton wasn't very imposing, especially to an army grunt like Arthur Brown. But something about inciting his temper, whenever he rarely lost it, was enough of a stark contrast from his usually narcissistic personality to make Brown want to be anywhere but in the room. Nashton was not only cunning and a man who had proven himself to be unbelievably resourceful, but he was someone who could pull alot of strings. Given that clout, both agents knew that if they didn't follow his instructions to the letter, they could wind up back to where he had found them - at their life's natural end, void of a purpose, and respectively back to the bottle or the sweet release of a heroin needle.

"That is correct, sir."


Taking an emptied bottle of scotch, Nashton threw it against the wall and smashed it in a blind rage. Several of the officers outside could be heard stopping what they were doing, with all eyes clearly on the door currently closed to them. Edward breathed long and hard to himself, staring at the wall. Staring past the wall, trying to collect his thoughts. Even he knew that he did his worst possible work when influenced by emotion. What he dealt in was clear-cut, undeniable facts. That was how the game was played. That was how the riddles were solved. Calculated logic over all else.

Refusing to so much as turn to look at his informants, Nashton instead composed himself and began to walk towards the window overlooking the Gotham City skyline.

"And where's Gordon now?"

Brown rubbed the back of his head, left a little shaken. Not by Nashton's outburst, but by the fact that he was still trying to piece what had happened for himself and failing to come up with any tangible answers.

"On a stretcher in the back of an ambulance, on his way to the ER. The Bat nailed him, uh, pretty hard. There are alot of people in this unit that are heading to the same place, right about now. He took on practically every one of them and walked away like it was nothing."

Nashton sneered.

"It likely was nothing to someone of even relatively high skill, let alone one masked neanderthal. This unit isn't merely incapable of handling such a man, as I once thought. They're impossibly out-gunned and woefully lacking in any measure of sheer intelligence. The discipline to bring him down is simply not there, and worse, I was made a fool for ever believing this would end tonight."

"We've got remaining units culled from Captain Flass' department, searching the streets for any sign that he's hiding somewhere along the path that he used to dodge us, but..."

Nashton closed his eyes, bringing his forefinger and thumb to the bridge of his nose to give it a careful massage.

"A useless waste of effort. Call them off."

Riley raised an eyebrow.


Slamming his hand against the wall, Nashton hatefully glared back at her.


Immediately producing her phone, Riley turned around and began to nervously dial the number that would get her in touch with the commanding officer that was conducting the search. Sighing to himself, as Brown took a step forward, Nashton pulled up Gordon's chair and sat back down, placing his hands together.

"Keeping them occupied like this. Fanned out like mice in a maze. This is exactly what he wants. He planned this to the letter. I don't know how, but he must have. It's the only way that he could have escaped. And you were too stupid to see it, Edward. This is no ordinary man to lock away and throw upon the mercy of the courts. This is Coast City, revisited. This is your academy years coming back to haunt you. The Gold Coast Ripper case all over again..."

Brown stared at Agent Nashton as his tone drifted into a quiet, contemplative whisper. He'd seen this before. When backed against a wall, it was like Nashton's brain went into overdrive in order to power him through the given scenario that caused him stress. It had never failed to work before, and he saw no reason that Nashton was going to come up on empty this time, either.

"Sir, if I may..."

"Quiet. Unlike you, I'm doing my due diligence to this department by thinking. So unless you have an update that involves The Batman in cuffs and being transported directly to me, I'd highly suggest that you get out."

Brown paused, then nodded and turned for the door. By the time that it had opened and shut, Nashton suddenly stumbled upon a realization. A look of inspiration came over his face, as he thought of The Batman's methods. In every previous instance that he had engaged with the Gotham City Police Department, the vigilante had been made to be the one to outrun them. While it would take a considerable amount of training, there were some who were capable of turning being on that end of the chase to their advantage, as long as that was where they remained. On the run, they were always going to succeed.

But if they were to be the ones to provide the incentive to lure The Batman out of hiding and have him go directly to them, it would be a much different scenario. Were he to walk directly into a trap that Nashton would organize and plan to the absolute letter himself, there would be no way out for the so-called Caped Crusader. And how do you bait a man who believes himself to be the paragon of law and order?

You give him a target.

Nashton's lips curled into a devious smile.

"Oh, Eddie. You've done it again."

Gotham City, Elliot Memorial Hospital
Room 539
6:45 AM

"Alfred, look. I think he's waking up."

Slowly, my eyes drift open to the sound of an EKG machine and the voice of Selina Kyle from my left. I can feel the sting of a needle jammed into my right arm, likely connected to an IV. Bandaging wrapped tightly around my waist and head. I reach up and try to feel for where exactly the wrapping around my skull begins and ends, and only find that a large percentage of my face is covered in the cotton of hospital adhesive patching that's meant to stay in place over open wounds that were recently stitched-up. Most of my body is numb, riddled with pain medication and steroids. By the time I can fully see, it hurts my head to look directly at any light source. Groaning, I place my hand to my head and rest it back onto the provided pillows. A wave of comfort greets me as I start to loosen up the tense nature of my natural body language.

Guess this all means I'm alive.

"Very good show, Master Bruce."

I look up, eyes half-open, to see Alfred sporting not only his chauffeur's uniform, but putting on that heavily practiced posh British accent. It's jarring at first, given that I haven't had to hear in days. But that's just how good of an actor Alfred really is. I practically don't recognize him as he stands over me, his posture straight and proper, placing a hand on the guard rail of my bed.

"We had thought to have nearly lost you, sir. Miss Kyle had even taken the liberty of bringing get well soon flowers. From the gift shop, I believe."

Selina immediately becomes insensed, placing her hands on her hips.

"Excuse you. I'll have you know that they came from Dorsia's, on 5th street. Had them picked out by a professional florist. Unlike Prettyboy Wayne, here, I'm not a cheapskate when it comes to visiting my sick friends."

Alfred nods, never once breaking character.

"My humblest apologies, Miss. I shan't make such an egregious error again."

Selina smirks as Alfred turns around.

"If you need me, sir, I shall be consulting your physician to inform him that you've awoken. Welcome back to the land of the living."

By the time the door to the room automatically slides shut, Selina grabs her purse and slings it over her shoulder.

"Always liked that butler of your's. Contradictorily well-mannered and sassy. If you ever want to fire him, Bruce, be sure to give him my number."

I look over at Selina and weakly smile. It's... a surprise to see her here, quite honestly. Usually, I can barely get her to accompany me to any number of social engagements, let alone pin her down long enough to have one simple, normal conversation. She's a good friend when she wants to be, but that's just the problem. It always has to be on her terms. Apparently, me being gravely injured and brought to the point of near death is one of those terms.

"It's... good to see you. I didn't think... I had anyone."

Selina smiles back.

"Well, clearly you do. You just saw him leave the room, after all."

I shake my head.

"No, I meant..."

Pressing two fingers against my lips, she leans forward.

"Enough of that. I know what you meant, I was just busting your balls. I'd have come sooner if I knew you had a death wish. You really ought to leave the drunk driving to the professionals, you know?"

If only she knew the half of what really brought me here. Even as I lay in bed and remain unable to move freely, my mind is racing with memories of the last few hours. Harvey Dent's narrow escape. Deadshot's attempt on his life, and the fight that finally took him down. Meeting Jessica Jones, but under the control of Poison Ivy. Having to break her of that control. Taking on a good majority of an entire precinct of the GCPD. As far as my nights out go, this one is likely to be remembered for quite some time. It's given me alot to learn from, at least.

"I'll try and... keep that in mind.", I reply, starting to feel the pain creep back. "Thanks for coming, Selina. I mean that. We should make it more of a regular..."

I stop myself, realizing just how that sounds.

Not that I haven't considered it. Selina is an incredibly attractive woman, we share a few common interests, and she does know how to navigate Gotham's upper class society like no one else I've ever known. But she's also the daughter of the city's worst mobster, partially stuck-up in her ways, and a little too infatuated with a crowd that I have no interest in actually being around.

If we did decide to begin seeing eachother, it wouldn't last longer than a week before the both of us would find a squandered friendship left in the place of what's already proven to be a relatively good thing. We have a few things in common, but not that much. Especially when it comes to what I have to offer on my end in terms of baggage. I think she could do alot better than a crazed vigilante who moonlights as a professional trust fund kid.

"I mean, obviously, I need more of your consultation. This isn't a very good look for me."

Selina chuckles under her breath, looking towards the exit.

"Can't say that I wouldn't avoid looking at any mirrors if I were you. Now get some rest, idiot. Near death experiences don't suite you nearly as well as they do Harvey."

As she walks towards the door, a realization hits me.


"Selina. About Harvey... is he? I mean, did he..."

She glances over her shoulder and gives a sarcastic eye-roll.

"Oh, your man crush is fine. Spoke to him an hour ago, actually. He's heading to the Rockies for the week, on account of the whole attempted assassination thing.", she explains. "The police caught a guy that they think might have helped The Bat do it, but he isn't talking. Of course."

I breathe a sigh of relief. In all the excitement, I hadn't even made sure that Harvey had made it to the plane. Lawton managed to fire off a single shot before I intervened, so the likelihood that he suffered another wound was higher than I'd ever considered.

"Speaking of that caped freak, you missed some real excitement while you were out wrecking your wheels..."

Picking up a newspaper sitting on one of the trays near the door, she tosses it toward me and manages to make it land squarely on my chest, causing me to react with a slight jump. They must've put me on more painkillers than I realized. Ordinarily, I would've caught that without so much as an effort.

"Here. Some light reading material while you enjoy the cocktail of tranquilizers and unpleasantness that awaits.", she adds. "While I'd love to stay and chat about... consultations, I've got to run. But I'll check on you later."

Taking the paper, I unfurl the cover as Selina exits the door. And of course, all that I see are pictures of the carnage left over from last night, along with a police sketch of what eyewitness accounts have convinced the public that I look like in the corner.

FIRE IN THE STREETS: Batman Attacks GCPD Captain, Injures Others In Escape

As Alfred makes his way back into the room, looking to make sure that Selina's heading for the elevator, I roll the newspaper back up and hand it to him, dissatisfied with the immediate reminder of the damage I inflicted.

"Please. I can't read this. Not now."

Taking it from me, he places it in a trash receptacle near the bed.

"Certainly. Though you should know, lad, you're probably going to have to remain out of action for a few days. You underwent some minor surgery to prevent internal hemorrhaging. And of course, there's the matter of the concussion."

I stare at the wall ahead, not really paying attention.

It worries me. All of this effort, all of the fights that I've been picking with the police lately. Pushing myself even harder than before, trying to fight back my own demons. I still hallucinated, still lost myself to the rage. Got plenty of people hurt in the process, all in the name of my supposed 'crusade' to make things easier on the people of Gotham. Yet all I have to show for it are headlines that make me out to be a monster, and the worst part is? Nothing about that headline is actually a lie.

I did openly attack them, this time. In the past, I've simply ran. Tried to stick to the shadows. I was trying to do the right thing in taking them on, covering Jones' escape so that she could get Zoe Lawton out of the area and into a safe space, but what if I choose poorly in the heat of the moment? What if I just made things worse? I wanted The Batman to scare criminals, but he's scaring everyone lately...

"Bruce? Are you alright?"

Sighing to myself, I lean back against the pillow.

"I don't know. Maybe. Not really. I just... I think I may have made a mistake."

Alfred raises an eyebrow.

"In what way, if I may ask?"

"All of this. The entire mission. What I've been willing to let myself become in order to achieve my goals. The lengths I've gone to, the people I've hurt.", I explain. "Had I not escalated things with Deadshot, there's a possibility that the GCPD could have taken him down, eventually. Maybe. It would've at least spared the people living in that neighborhood in The Narrows alot of horror. And that's all on me."

For a moment, Alfred's silent. I can't tell if he wishes to condemn that sort of talk, or encourage me to begin doubting myself. For as hard as it's been on me to carry out this war, I know that this hasn't been easy on him, either. He's had to make alot of sacrifices to get us both to this point. I feel like I owe him more than I could ever repay. And it's all because I couldn't let the past go.

"With all due respect, allow me to point out the obvious."

I look over at him, curiously.

"You prevented the death of not only your friend, but an innocent young girl. Had the police intervened, it's likely that neither would have lived through the night. And once more, you prevented that child's murder from being carried out by a woman under the spell of something beyond her control, whose conscience likely would have never allowed for forgiveness of herself."

Placing his hand on my shoulder, Alfred looks me directly in the eyes.

"Without being too generous, you saved three lives tonight by putting yourself in harm's way. That is never going to be how the papers sell it, but it is the simple fact. By acting in a way that you considered morally justified, you stood between their lives and an inevitable death. And against all odds, you spat in death's face."

Giving a shrug, he places his hands behind his back and looks off, preparing himself to resume the act of the faithful butler as the doctors approach the door to brief me on my condition.

"In my day, we'd call that a victory."

I smile to myself as he turns his back to me and greets the doctors.

Thank you, old friend.

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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Sep
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Sep Migs Mayfield - Core

Member Seen 16 hrs ago




T - 02:00

Jay Garrick paced his kitchen as he sipped on the cup of coffee. He had expected the Flash to re-appear by now, after all she had faced one hell of a threat recently. Yes Superman had came through to Central City but she had still taken a fair old beating, word on the News was that she crossed half the planet before punching the Surfer, he had seen the drone footage himself. Jay had been right about one thing, she was far faster than he had ever been.

He very much doubted that he could have done that in his prime, and here she was just beginning to test out the limits of her powers. Phasing through objects, running all over the world. Pretty soon she’d be doing things that he could only imagine having done, or had struggled having done. There was a whole other realm of possibility over to her. “Jay, where are you Jay?” He smiled as he put the cup in the sink. It wasn’t worth dwelling on anything right now, He sighed, he had his life to live and as much as he hated to admit it his hero days were long behind him.

T - 01:00

Jay sat down next to Joan when he felt that something wasn’t quite right. It was like a tingling running through his body, similar to the one he had got the first time he had been near the new Flash. It was different though, almost perverted. Like it had been twisted and warped. If the Speedforce that flowed through him and Iris was a positive charge, this was definitely the negative to that. Joan turned her head to face him, she knew something was wrong. They had been married for long enough for her to know that something wasn’t quite right. “Jay?” There was tension in her voice, genuine worry. “Jay what’s wrong?”

He disappeared for barely a second while he got changed into his old outfit, if trouble was going to come to him he was going to wear something that he knew could handle the strains of speed. Okay, maybe the helmet was unnecessary but he couldn’t just wear half of the outfit. “Joan. I need you to go upstairs.”

“Jay, what’s happening?”

“I don’t know hon-” He leaned down and planted a kiss on her cheek “-but it’ll all be okay, you’ll see. Just go upstairs and wait for me there.”

T - 00:00

There was a crash as the window gave way, Jay barely had time to turn his head as he saw a streak of yellow coming towards him.

T + 00:02

The next thing he knew there were confused roadworkers as he lay in the middle of a intersection being worked on. His helmet dinged as it bounced and then slid away from the rapid deceleration. That never happened before, he had never went so fast to as to lose his helmet. Looking up he saw the man in yellow standing above him. “What do you want?”

The man just stood there, vibrating his molecules creating an ominous humming sound as he looked over Jay. Eventually he spoke. “What did you do to the Timeline?!”

“What do you mean?”

T + 00:26

The man ran straight at him, grabbing him. Jay attempted to bat his hand away, but the man in yellow just pulled his hand back and came at an angle far faster than he could ever hope to move. Lifted off his feet by his neck he grasped at the hands clamping down on his throat, trying to pull them loose.

He tried vibrating his molecules, but whoever the man was he knew how to counter it.

“Barry Allen was supposed to become the Flash. I planned it, every, single, part. Then I decide to take a look for myself at this Scarlet Speedster, the Flash that’s running around because the news reporting it was a women.” He delivered a quick blow to Jays gut, knocking the wind out of him as the man threw Jay over onto a nearby concrete barrier. “I thought it was a stroke of genius on Barrys behalf. Somehow presenting himself to appear to be a woman, keep people guessing.”

He leaned in. “Then I discover it is Iris West beneath the cowl.” He spat at Jay, rushing forward. Pushing himself up Jay ran.

T + 00:41

Jay pushed on, his legs, arms, everything screaming in protest. He was in pain, something was broken and there was likely some bleeding but he couldn’t let that stop him. This madman was going to kill him, and he needed to find the Flash- Iris. Maybe the two of them together could find a way to beat him.

T +00:42

The man in yellow was gone as he turned a corner. Sighing in relief he turned back to where he was going to meet a fist colliding with his face.

T + 01:05

Joan gasped as there was a rush of wind in the room. “Jay?!” She looked around to see no Jay, instead there lay a bloodstained note on the table. Tears streaming down her face she lifted the note.

`Bring me the Flash, or Jay dies.` Below there were more instructions, likely where and when the exchange was supposed to happen but she couldn’t bring herself to read them. Joan simply fell to her knees weak as she sobbed for her husband.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Roman
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Roman King of Dirt

Member Seen 22 hrs ago

I. Pre-Trial

The sound of screeching tires and startled screams filled Matt's world with cascading images of pavements, buildings, letterboxes, every noise flowing out from its source and splashing the environment around it. A runaway truck with hazardous cargo barrelled down the street - Matt could hear the driver pumping the failed brakes desperately, could smell the sweat that had flooded out with the outpouring of fear. The horn blared and the noise of it erupted from the front of the vehicle and lit up the road ahead - and then bounced off a frozen figure, paralyzed in fear, waiting for the demise that came screaming towards him. The driver wrenched the steering wheel, the man dived to the side. Truck overturned. Hazardous material blowing its containment. This wasn't right. Matthew watching everything erupt through sound and air pressure. This wasn't right. His father holding his hand, squeezing it tightly as everything unfolded around them. It's okay, Matthew, it's okay. It's not okay, dad. I wasn't blind yet. I can't see. I can't see.
"Dad...dad, I can't see. I can't see! Dad! I can't see! DAD!"

Matt woke up with a gasp and the world lit up before fading back out. He lay still, pushing out against the black; the ambient sounds of the city drifted in through his window; the early sun already laying down a thin layer of heat that rested just above the surface of everything, a silken web that only Matthew could sense. The heat emanated further still from Matthew himself - and also the body that lay next to him in bed, a smooth and pleasant curve that traced down her side to where the sheets lay across her waist. Matthew let the sounds of the city paint a picture of his apartment and softly, carefully, sat up and swiveled himself off the bed, feeling the currents his movements created and the alternating air pressures he'd affected. The wood grain floor under his bare feet felt rough and mountainous with the rises and falls that he could map out beneath his toes, and that microscopic moutainrange served to ground Matthew as equally literally as metaphorical. From this floorboard he knew it was 3 steps forward to the bedroom door and the living room beyond it; 2 and a half to the left to get to the bathroom. Behind him was the bed and its second occupant and beyond the bed was a metre-and-a-half of open space with a window facing onto the opposite building. He'd left it slightly open last night after arriving back late, ever-so-carefully sliding in so as not to awake his guest; now, the breeze flowed through the gap in the window, winding around his bedroom and taking the heat from the bodies within, carrying it out into the living room and through the draught in his apartment's front door. Matthew shivered, and told himself it wasn't, in no small part, the lingering dream that had woken him. He stood, and reached out to his right, groping for the small chest of drawers he knew was there; his fingers met the top handle of the drawer and he moved his arm down to find the third, sliding the drawer open to find the soft cotton underwear and vests within. Slipping out of the bedroom quietly, Matthew made his way into the main room and found his shirt and slacks across the back of the sofa, dressing himself quickly as he attempted to shake off the lingering dread from his nightmare. I can't see. Dad, I can't see...

"Need a hand with that tie, Mr. Murdock?"
The low, husky tones of his lover's voice erupted from the bedroom doorway towards him, the dulcet sounds of her voice spilling out from her and lighting up the room in golden-red waves as they passed silkily over the room and furniture towards him, knocking Matthew out of his memory-filled stupour. He smiled as she walked towards him, and held out the two ends of the tie he had inadvertantly paused with to her, which she gracefully took into her own hands to tie an elegant and professional knot, pausing to do up the top button on his shirt before returning to the tie to tighten it up to the collar. She sighed satisfactorily through her nose and Matthew felt the air hit her top lip and curve towards him; she was smiling too, he knew, by the angle of her breath alone. Her heat moved closer to him and suddenly they were kissing, only for her to pull away just as suddenly and leave her warmth lingering on his lips. She stepped away towards the kitchen and pulled two mugs from the rack beneath the island-counter, filling both from the pot she'd apparently started the evening before. Matt hadn't noticed that.

"Making yourself feel at home, El?" He asked, with a whimsical smirk and an edge of teasing. She drank from her mug, pushing the other one across the countertop towards Matthew as he stepped to join her.
"Oh, you know me, Matthew. I like to be comfortable." She replied. "At the very least, I promise not to disrupt your flow."
"I learned a long time ago how to adapt to...changing circumstances. Just let me know if you create a risk of stubbed toes." He drained his mug. Damn good coffee. "Or I might have to sue you for grievous injury."
"Oh, is that right? Think you'd win that case?"
"I'm blind, El. The jury would love me."
They both chuckled, and the vibrations of the air around her body as she laughed, and then walked around the counter to hug him, forced Matthew to suddenly notice that she was naked, made ever-more abundantly clear as she embraced him tightly. He cleared his throat and felt his own body growing hotter, and even blind he knew his face was red like beetroot. She giggled and pecked him on the cheek before leaving his side to walk back to the bedroom.
"Will you be out all day? I thought we might go for dinner should your trial go well."
"You know how these things can go, El. I have confidence that this is open-and-shut - but defense lawyers are often stubborn bastards." He walked across the main space towards the hallway that led to his front door, finding his blazer hanging on the wall next to his sight-stick as he did so. He could feel her heat pushing towards him from the bedroom as she dressed, and the breeze from the window carried lingering drops of her perfume mixed with her shampoo from yesterday's shower and a natural light sweat from the night, a sweet-and-savoury combination Matthew enjoyed very much. It was all he focused on when she was near. "I'll call you when I can. Will you be alright today?"
"I'll keep myself busy, Matthew. Good luck. I love you."
Matthew smiled, a different kind of heat swelling inside him now. He turned to look at her, and while they both knew he was blind, they were both aware that he saw her in a way no other man ever could. She smiled back.
"I love you too, Elektra. I'll see you tonight."


Matthew could smell the burnt coffee from the end of the hall, even through the closed door that stunk of oak and varnish, potent odours that mixed with Foggy's cologne and the lingering scent of sweat from countless anxious defendants. Karen's perfume was there too, a soft and sweet smell that relaxed Matthew. He could hear them talking, light conversation. A burst of laughter from the two of them made Matthew chuckle as well, and he walked the length of the hallway, tucking his cane under one arm as he turned the handle and stepped in, closing the door behind him and carefully placing the brown paper takeaway bag he'd picked up from a family-owned coffee shop that was on the corner. Matt had defended them in an alleged tax fraud case the year before he'd been made ADA, and they still hadn't forgotten him.
"Bringing your own coffee again, Matt? What have you got against my personal brew?" Foggy said, his words sharp but his tone lax and playful. There was no real offence here, but Foggy had always liked teasing Matt.

"You burn it, Foggy. Everytime. And I didn't bring just mine..." He pushed the bag across the table towards Karen, who leaned forward to empty the contents - three takeaway card cups, steam still rising from the hole in the lid. Matthew reached for his, a hazelnut mix that he could taste in the air.
"Karen likes my coffee. The burn gives it a perky edge. Right?" Foggy rebutted, looking towards Karen expectantly. Matthew felt the heat from her cheeks flushing as she smiled, wordlessly pulling her cup towards her lips and taking a long drain. Matt chuckled as he sipped from his own cup, before Foggy conceded and threw up his hands, grabbing the final cup. "Fine. But you're both bad friends, and I'm only drinking this because it's a gift from a blind man, and I'd look like an asshole if I didn't." He took a sip. "Damn. That's good coffee."
"I know, Foggy. You say that every time too." Matt smiled and sat down.

"How much of the review have I missed?"
"None, actually. We wanted to wait for you." Karen replied, pulling a briefcase from behind her chair and setting in on the table before opening it and retrieving three separate sheaves of paper - pre-trial stratagem notes. She passed one to Foggy, kept one to herself, and gave the third - a braille copy - to Matt. He began to read as Karen summarized. "We've got a known mid-level mob lieutenant in the box after he got a little too drunk and decided the strip joint on 3rd should have been a brothel. Pre-trial prep has dug up a whole bunch on this douchebag - we've got testimony from previous victims, ledgers from local laundering sites, numerous tips from low-level informants. There's enough here to lock him up for a good twenty years, easy. Jury won't even have to think about it." She concluded, and as the sound of her voice played its last echoes around the room Matthew could see her looking at him.
"But?" He asked. Karen faltered, and Matthew could feel the heat of her blushing cheeks erupting again. Foggy gave a single chuckle and leaned forwards in his chair.
"But you don't need the jury to think about it. You need the defendant to think about it. All this evidence, tension mounting up, all his recklessness coming back around, tips from his own people...you make him think he's sold up the river already. Make him think his friends already know he's spilled. Make him think he's a loose end that his bosses are just itching to tie up. And then he really will spill. He'll spill for anything we can offer him."

Matt smiled. "Exactly, Foggy. Thank you, for this - your consultancy has been valuable." Foggy raised his cup to Matt, and then lowered it quickly, shaking his head. Matt had felt the movement through the air and the heat of the coffee moving, and he appreciated the gesture. It saddened him how limiting it was playing the fool, regardless of how necessary. He pressed a button on the side of his watch, and a robotic female voice announced the time to the room. "We have roughly an hour until the trial begins; I'd like to go over our witnesses, informant testimony, and the order we present our physical evidence in - and then drinks are on me." This time, Matt raised his cup, and heard the replying cheers from his friends. "Foggy...make another pot, would you?"
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by Byrd Man
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Byrd Man El Hombre Pájaro

Member Seen 7 hrs ago


Captain John Ranney didn’t like the look of the Englishman in the ratty jacket back when he had come aboard in London. Ranney wasn’t above taking the occasional stowaway on his transatlantic cargo trips, after all there was something a bit romantic in his mind about a man leaving it all behind in search for a new life, plus Ranney got a little extra cash in his pocket for his trouble so it was a win-win in his book.

But the Englishman was bad news. There was something lurking behind that smile of his that Ranney didn’t care for. The few times Ranney ran into him after leaving London, the captain had avoided eye contact at all cost while the Englishman said his pleasantries in a too cheery voice. It was like the bastard knew Ranney’s discomfort and played on it. And then there was the shit that went down in Dublin. However the hell he’d pulled it off, Ranney didn’t know.

Now Ranney found himself alone with the Englishman in the galley. They were seated at opposite ends of the rickety table that served as the crew’s dining area. While Ranney drank a cup of coffee, the Englishman smoked like he always did and worked a coin between the knuckles of his left finger. Ranney knew he shouldn't, but curiosity got the better of him.

“How much did you pay ‘em?” Ranney asked seemingly out of the blue.

“Come again, Squire?”

“When we were in Dublin,” Ranney said with a sigh. “I’ve been skipper out here for nearly thirty damn year and I had to deal with all kinds of cargo and customs inspectors. Seen hardasses and humps, bent guys and straight arrows. Usually the Irish are on the up and up. How much did you have to pay ‘em?”

“Oh, you mean the blokes from the other day? No money changed hands. No words were shared. They never saw me. It was if I was never here?”

“What are you talking about?”

“People see what they want to see, Captain,” the Englishman said with a large smile. “Or at least what I make them see.”

“Well,” Ranney grunted. “I’ll be happy when we get to Philadelphia. The only thing I want to see is you off my boat. You and whatever you’re running from are bad news.”

“Who says I’m running from something?”

“I been a ship captain for a long time, son. Everyone here is either running from something, or running to something. You’re the running from type.”

Ranney drained his coffee cup and stood up from the table. The Englishman stopped dancing the coin around his knuckles and stared at Ranney.

“I know what you’re running from, captain. I bet it was hard to get another job after that naval court-martial. All those women, it’s a bloody miracle you never faced any serious jail time, captain.”

Ranney could feel the blood draining from his face.


“People tell me what they want to tell me,” the Englishman’s smile expanded to a large grin. “Or… at least what I make them tell me.”

“Fuck you!”

Ranney started to retreat. He hit the wall of the galley and almost dropped his coffee cup in surprise. The Englishman laughed as he turned and ran down the halls.


The Underland

Brutus of Troy lay beside the Thames, beaten and bloody. He tried to channel the powers of London and use them for his defense. For nearly two thousand years, the city had answered his calls with vigor. He was her founder, her father, and the spirit of the very city.

But now his pleas fell on deaf ears.

“I can feel you,” John Constantine said as he casually walked towards him. “Flailing for help, trying to get that last little bit of strength from the city like a baby sucking on his mum’s tit.”

Constantine stood above Brutus, smiling as he pulled out a fresh cigarette while Brutus coughed and sprayed droplets of black blood on to the ground.

“What were you on about earlier?” he asked as he lit the cigarette with a spark of magical energy. “Something about future people.”

“The gods of the future,” said Brutus. “Even the gods are not immune to birth and death, John Constantine.They have not yet been born yet, but they have already declared war on the gods of old and the gods who will be old by the time they come to power. This was the opening salvo of their great war.”

“If a tired old myth was their best weapon, they may need to get a bigger gun.”

Brutus snickered. He was beginning to feel cold. His connection to London was gone, but he had a little power left. What he had planned would kill him, but it would be well worth it. His death would grant the incantation that much more strength.

“I’m dying,” said Brutus. “I don’t want to die.”

“Been alive for almost two millennia, still you want more. You ever listened to Springsteen?” asked Constantine. “‘Everything dies baby that’s a fact.’”

Brutus laughed before he thrusted his hands out in front of Constantine.

“Tu emotae Londinium!”

Constantine tried to defend himself, but it was too late. The last thing Brutus heard before dying were the screams of John Constantine.


The Tate Club

“Something’s going wrong,” Map yelled to the group assembled at the Tate Club.

John Constantine’s body started to shake and seize violently. Clarice broke away from her incantation and started towards the body

“Pull him out, Map,” she shouted. “For god’s sake, pull him out.”

“I already did,” said Map. “I felt the thing down there die, so I pulled John Constantine’s spirit out. But… I don’t know what’s going on.”

Clarice looked on his horror as Constantine’s clothes began to smoke and catch fire. She could feel something powerful inside of him, something that was beginning to burn him up from the inside.


Jack Hawksmoor leaped across the room. His white hair was back to its original pitch black, the tired and weary body replaced by the strapping body of a powerful god. Without missing a beat, he scooped Constantine’s body into his arms.

“I’ll be back shortly, then I’ll explain.”

The floor beneath Hawksmoor opened up. He and Constantine disappeared down the hole before it disappeared and the elegant ballroom flooring replaced it once more.

“He better be back,” Clarice muttered. “Bastard owes me a favor.”
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by AndyC
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AndyC Guardian of the Universe

Member Seen 18 hrs ago

Small towns play a trick on the mind, especially these days. They don't have huge populations, so it's easy to ignore how much influence they really have when they're all added together. The old mom-and-pop stores have long since been replaced by national franchises, so it's easy to overlook each town's particular quirks and customs. And they often don't have monuments or landmarks that people come from all over to see, so it's easy to assume nothing major ever happened there.

It's a trick that gets played all the time on the kind of people who think that most of America is just filler between New York and California, but almost just as often, the people who live in those small towns fall for it too. People might grow up a few hundred yards away from a battlefield that changed the course of a war, or the birthplace of a President or CEO or civil rights leader, or the site of some crazy event that nobody believes even happened anymore, and spend their whole lives never knowing it.

Smallville, Kansas, is a place like that. A lot of the old shops on Main Street went out of business when they put up a Wal-Mart, whose parking lot was once home to one of the bloodiest confrontations of the old 'Bleeding Kansas' period. When some of the older farmhouses were torn down to make way for new neighborhoods, they found cellars and secret passages that were once used as part of the Underground Railroad. Every year in October there's a harvest festival where one of the local traditions is making paintings and mosaics of a Native American 'healing snake,' but no one for the life of them could tell you the story behind it.

There's a little stretch of dirt road, about three miles total, between the Kent farm and Ben Sutton's place on the way back into town. It doesn't get used much by anyone who isn't Ma or one of the Suttons, so most people would never notice the patch along that road, maybe fifteen yards apart, where nothing has grown for twenty-six years. Every once in a while, the occasional wingnut comes around looking for traces of "the crater," the place where allegedly an alien spacecraft crashed before the government covered it up. "Allegedly."

Smallville never gained the same reputation as places like Point Pleasant, Hopkinsville, or Roswell. There aren't big trashy tourist traps with little green men painted on the sign, nobody sells tchotckes of flying saucers or T-shirts with "I Believe" on them, very few people ever bring it up on paranormal forums or discussion threads about possible sites of 'first contact.'

Which, more than anything, is a testament to how good Mom and Dad were at keeping secrets. How they went out of their way to make sure I wouldn't feel like an outsider or a freak, or that I was anything to them other than their son. How much they were willing to risk to make sure I didn't spend the rest of my life in a laboratory or a holding cell.

The Kent Farm, to most people, is just a few dozen acres of wheat fields, a barnyard, and an old two-story house with fading paint and a rusted-out old Ford out front. To a handful of people, it's home to what might have been the biggest secret in the history of the human race. To me, it was a porch where I had a thousand heart-to-heart talks with my folks, a hayloft where Lana Lang and I used to sneak off to late at night, and an un-tilled field where I would practice jumping higher and higher, until I could choose not to come back down.

"......and you're selling it?!" I say in disbelief, my plate of chicken and dumplings starting to get cold.

"Well, hun, what else am I supposed to do?" Ma asks, sitting across from me at the dining room table. "There's a hundred things that all need doin', and now that Jonathan's not around anymore......anyway, I've hired on some help to get through this year's harvest, then I'm looking at one of those new town-houses off of Sunset Park. This is just...too much house for just me."

"I know, I know," I say with a sigh, "but still, the Farm's been part of the family for so long...."

"Oh, honey," she says with a sad smile, "That history, all those memories, that stays with us. A house is just a house, Clark. Besides, are you really going to tell me you were planning on staying here and growing wheat when I'm gone, too?"

"....I guess not," I admit, finally digging into my dinner. "Mm! The chicken's great, Ma. Feels like it's been forever since I've had something to eat that isn't take-out."

"I copied down my recipes for you, hun," she laughs. "You just need to find some time to make some of it for yourself."

"I know...." I say, "it's just....I never feel like I've got time to slow down these days, you know? There's the Toyman, and the Silver Surfer, and a hundred other things pulling at me every minute of the day. And that's just the stuff I'm doing with the cape on, not even including my job, my friends, trying to pay all my bills, and, well....looking for answers about, y'know, myself."

"Found anything new?" she asks.

"Maybe," I answer, uncertain. "When I was fighting the Surfer, he said a word to me, which triggered a lot of....images. Memories, I guess. He said 'Kal-El.'"

"Any idea what that means."

"I think......I think it's my name," I tell her. "My real name. Or, I mean, my original name, not--"

"I get what you mean," she laughs again. "Whoever your birth parents were, they had to call you something, right?"

"Right, well, anyway, I've been thinking...you know that silver ball you and Pa found in the pod with me? Is that still here?"

"It's not like I could sell it at a yard sale, Clark."

"Hah, true. Well, I remember when I would hold it, it would say something a few times, but then it would go quiet and I couldn't get it to respond again. Maybe, I dunno, maybe if it hears the name.....we might get something from it?"

Ma shrugs. "Can't say if it'll work. But it's worth a try."

Getting up from the dinner table, we both head up the stairs to my old room.

I left the farm when I was sixteen, after Mom and Dad told me the truth about what I really am. It was just too much to deal with at the time, too many questions they couldn't answer. I didn't see home again until I was twenty-five, when I learned Pa was sick. I slept on the couch in the living room the whole time I was here. I couldn't bring myself to sleep in my old room again, like nothing had changed in all that time.

Opening the door, it's like nothing really had changed. It's musty and everything's coated in a film of dust, sure, but it's all exactly where I left it years ago. The walls are adorned with old movie posters, mostly Spielberg and Kubrick. My desk is still cluttered with old homework assignments, and sitting on top of it is Pa's old baseball glove. The dresser is still stuffed with whatever clothes I didn't take with me, topped with a science fair trophy from eight grade, and a framed picture of myself with Pete and Lana from a county fair.

I talked with Pete once when I came back to town. He was working at the local IHOP to make ends meet while he worked on his poli-sci Master's from the community college, said he wants to get onto the city council, maybe eventually run for state senate.

I haven't seen or heard from Lana since the night I took her flying. Since she ran away from me in tears.

Don't get too overwhelmed, Clark. Like Ma said, a house is just a house. It's just a room. It's just stuff.

"Let's see...." I say, looking around the bedroom, "where did I....oh!"

I squat down and look under the bed. There, behind a box full of baseball cards and a small pile of dirty laundry, is the silver orb, maybe the size of a softball. Reaching for it, I feel it begin to hum and vibrate in the palm of my hand.

Even after all these years, it still shines like a polished mirror, not a speck of dust on it.


It's a voice, the same phrase I've heard every time I tried to interact with the orb. I don't know the language, don't even have a clue where to start. There's every chance this is just another dead end.

Still, it's worth a shot.

"Fingers crossed, hun," Ma says from the doorway.

I hold out the orb, and I say the word the Surfer said to me. I tell it my name.


For a moment, there's nothing.

Then, the silver orb begins to vibrate again, and says phrases I've never heard before.






Suddenly, the orb begins to float out of my hand, and seams appear across the surface. Unfolding like flower petals, the orb opens up, and a light shines from the center. From that light, images appear, holographic projections floating in front of me.

Images of people, of a whole world, that looks like the one I saw when the Surfer said my name. A world completely alien, yet one I feel like I've known my whole life.





"I....I don't understand!" I say, trying to communicate with it. "I don't speak this language, is there some way I can--"


The images flicker out of existence, and the flower-petals of the orb snap shut.




Without warning, the orb zips out the bedroom window, shattering glass as it blurs across the twilit sky, and leaving me dumbstruck.

"I don't get it," I say, feeling powerless as the answers I've been looking for escape me again. "I don't know what I did.....what any of that was...."

Ma puts her hand on my shoulder.

"You got to see your world," she says, choking back tears. "Your people. You got a glimpse of who you really are."

Thinking about it for a moment, I shake my head.

"This is my home," I say. "You are my people. And as for who I really am, well--"

I'm startled by a sudden vibration on my right thigh. It's my phone. The sudden surprise takes me out of the moment completely, and by instinct I pick it up.


"Smallville! I'm in your apartment, and you're nowhere to be found! Where the hell are you?!"

"Oh, hi Lois, I'm just over at--....wait, how'd you get into my apartment?"

"Jimmy let me in," she answers. "Say hi, Jimmy."

"Hi, Jimmy!"

"Hilarious. Anyway, I've been trying to reach you ever since that whole thing out in Central City. I was scared to death you were---...never mind. I'm over here because I need to drop off your train ticket."

"I'm sorry, train ticket?" I can dodge bullets and outpace fighter jets, but I can't keep up with Lois Lane when she's in her zone. "What are you talking about?"

"You didn't hear?" she asks. "The Bat-Man picked a fight with the Gotham City PD, apparently beat the hell out of them. Perry wanted me on the story, since I'm going to be in the city tomorrow anyway, but I'm chasing a lead on the Toyman. So I told Perry you'd be the one best equipped to take on the Bat. So congratulations, Smallville, you're off sports and making the front page!"

"Lois, I'm....I'm kind of in the middle of something," I say, a bit sheepish.

"Is it as urgent as a cop-assaulting vigilante running amok?"

"I, erm, I guess not."

"Then tell your Mom I said hi, get a good night's sleep, then get your ass back here by 7 o'clock. First thing in the morning, we're taking a field trip to Gotham City."

"Okay, I, erm, I'll see you then," I sputter. "Have a, um, have good night, Lois."

Hanging up, I put my phone back in my pocket, then notice Ma giving me a sly grin.

"....what? It's just a work thing," I say.

"Sure it is, Clark," she says with a wink. "I know that look, that sputter. You always did melt whenever you tried to talk to a pretty girl."

"Ma, I'm just--"

"Uh-huh," she cuts me off. "Well, I think you've had enough excitement for one day, and it sounds like you've got another big day tomorrow. C'mon, supper's probably stone cold by now."

She heads back downstairs, and I give an exasperated sigh.

"'too much excitement for one day,'" I repeat. "You're not kidding."
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Master Bruce
Avatar of Master Bruce

Master Bruce Winged Freak

Member Seen 1 mo ago


Gotham City, The Narrows
Unity Square
8:58 PM

"Holy shit, holy shit, he's after us! Floor it, man! Peel that sucker and spaz!"

The group of idiots ahead accelerate only slightly farther from my view as I swing low, hovering barely above street level to go in for the strike. I'd intended to hit them without alerting them of my presence, but there are seven of them packed into a single SUV with eyes trained in all directions. Should've taken out the tires first and dealt with the aftermath, but time was a factor. Truth is, they're a group that I've run into a couple of times in the past - with each member wearing some gaudy leather coat, a ski-mask, and a neon visor, they've taken some partial inspiration from the metahuman boom and began to call themselves "The Mutants". And typically, whenever they've surfaced to commit a string of evening robberies, they've all been coordinated just enough to be ready to deal with police interference. That's especially true after the stunt they just pulled tonight. Performing armed robberies at Gotham's Fifth and Third National Banks at the same time, convening in a third location, ditching their disguises and hoping to escape anyone's notice by switching out seperate getaway vehicles for one.

Where The Mutants made their ultimate mistake was in triggering the silent alarm at Third National, acquiring my immediate attention and leading me directly to them in the midst of the two factions meeting up. Of course, rather than be smart and surrender immediately, they tried to fire upon me with lower tier semi-automatics acquired from who-knows-where and piled into the aforementioned SUV. Been chasing them from the rooftops for the last five blocks.

"Alfred,", I call out, firing another line towards an overpass. "Won't be making that dinner-date after all. Give the usual excuse."

I can hear an exasperated sigh from the other end of the earpiece I'm wearing.

"Of course. I was a fool to even believe that you and the visiting Miss Hardy would hit it off to begin with. Just as I was a fool to believe that you'd actually take your doctor's advisement to heart and rest easy for the month."

"Well, that's on you at this point."

Unfortunately, until Lucius Fox can figure out just how my servers were hacked a week prior by an as of yet unidentified adolescent calling themselves Oracle, The Batcycle's been put on something of a temporary reprieve so that he can update the system's hardware and install a new array of digital countermeasures. As a result, Alfred's been forced to take me to a secure alley near Robinson Park every night and drop me off, maintaining only a two-way low frequency radio communication from within the city under the guise of performing errands for his employer. It's far from the most ideal set of circumstances, I'll admit, and the idea of investing in a car has been mentioned more often than I can recall. But we're pushing ahead to the best of our abilities with as minimal amount of the technological edge required.

And of course, my ribs are hurting like hell, despite being bandaged up. The waning concussion isn't doing me any favors, either. But I've got a supply of painkillers and other prescribed medications stashed in the belt, in the event that I need them.

Reminds me of the first few weeks I was doing this. Experience is often said to be the best teacher, but nothing can quite prepare you for operating in the unprecedented fashion as I do. In six months, I went from trading punches with made men of the mafia in a bulletproof vest and balaclava every night to chasing thugs who believe they're clever enough to pull off "the heist of the century" in an armored suit with a cape. It feels as though I'm still learning how to do this, even with countless criminals sitting behind a cell at Blackgate due to my direct intervention. Alfred guides me as best as he can, putting my training to good use, but I know I'm not nearly on the level that he was at his prime.

"Bruce, I'm currently watching the feed given out of your cowl. Might I suggest regaining the element of surprise with a frontal attack? If you're going to get yourself killed, at least do it with some measure of skill."

I grunt, somersaulting into the air and activating the para-glider function in the cape.

"Duly noted."

I need to get better. Devote some time to fine-tuning my skills, upgrading the armor, overseeing an expansion of the arsenal, and seeing just what more can be done with my days as Bruce Wayne. Which can be difficult, as Harvey and I spend a majority of my free time pouring through every legal tactic in the book to try and prevent a hostile takeover of Waynetech through an assumption of the role of CEO. Legally, I'm not entirely within my rights to just up and seize majority control of the shares, as the window already passed. The Five Families saw that vulnerability as a chance to descend like a pack of vultures. Now Carmine Falcone's right-hand, Sionis, is all-but-guaranteed to be taking the spot that I should have sought out months ago, were it not for my own damned lack of initiative and divided interests. I came back to Gotham to rid it of the mob's influence, not run a company. And now my enemies are turning that against me.

Speaking of the mob, that supposed heist of the century? It only resulted in less than five thousand in cash being taken. The Mutants made another mistake in robbing two banks that are mob controlled, meaning that the actual cash that's deposited isn't stored on location with the exception of a small sum stored in the vaults to avoid suspicion, the rest being throwaway counterfeit dollars. The actual money of their patrons is stored offshore, meaning that The Mutants essentially just stole what's considered dummy cash. Traceable by the mob, the police, and every interested party that wants retribution.

Which is why I'm making great pains to stop them now, while they're still in the clear. If these morons actually made it back to their hideout and split the earnings, each of them would be dead within the week. And there's been enough bloodshed on the streets, frankly, without some opportunistic fetishists of outdated fashion trends trying to make a name for themselves.

"Wait, what the fuck?! Where is he?! He was just there a second ago!", one of them shouts as I glide above. "This don't feel jimmy, spud! The Bat is aces. Top aces. He don't just peel and shiv like the cops."

"Okay, I'm sorry, but... what the hell are you even saying, man? Is that English?"


By the time that they're convinced that they may have lost me, I descend downwards and into a calculated spiral. Pulling both ends of my cape to me, I barrel through the sky with the speed of a freight train and slam directly onto the hood of the vehicle, cracking the windshield and leaving a considerable dent where my knee is placed. Can't say that it didn't hurt, but the look on their faces is more than enough to make up for it.




I pull my fist back only to slam it into the windshield glass, taking advantage of the structural weakness provided by my landing's velocity impact, and reach inside. Seizing the wheel driver from the driver, who panics and leaves me to what I'm about to do while the others scramble for the weapons that they all dropped out of fright, I yank the wheel sideways and kick myself off of the hood, reactivating the paraglider just as the front-end wheels of the SUV rapidly twist to the right, sending the vehicle toppling over itself at it's current speed. It lands upside down with a sickening crash against the pavement, with all windows shattering upon hitting the street. Nothing that'll result in too serious of an injury, but it sure as hell brings them to an immediate stop.

Landing atop a nearby building, I turn and watch as they all unbuckle themselves and pile out, each overtaken with mild shock. Climbing through broken glass and clutching a weapon each, they weakly look up and begin muttering a plan of action for themselves. Switching The Utility Gun's grapple mode to smoke, I aim a direct shot and fire. They all look towards the building cloud with horror. Each of them readies their weapons and begin to fire - splattering the pavement and an empty shop window with bullets.


It isn't until I've knocked the first three against the pavement that they begin to realize that I was only using the smoke to distract them. One actually faints, while the remaining three get to their feet and try to fend me off. Correction, two of them try. One immediately tosses his weapon aside and bolts for it as fast as he can.

"Son of a... Hey, Lang! Lang, get your ass back here! We need some fucking help here, man!"

"You really do."

Descending on them faster than they can expect, I catch one bullet in what is mercifully the most heavily armored part of the suit. It isn't enough to even phase me as the other three shots pass through my cape, and I lock eyes with the shooter. Bringing both heels of my boot down squarely on his face, I land and roll as he falls to the ground, knocked completely out cold. His partner tries to shoot while my back is turned, but a batarang that I'd already tossed out whenever I hit the other one snatches the weapon from his hands. I look over my shoulder at him and glare, prompting him to apologetically lift both hands in surrender.

"Alright. Alright. I'm cool. No need to---"

Seizing him by the front of his shirt, I bring him into a hard rising elbow and smash my head into his face. He drops like a bundle of bricks to my feet. Hearing police sirens in the distance and knowing that I'm in no mood to execute a repeat performance of last week's carnage, I toss a 'Bat-Signal' against the wreckage of their car and watch as it lights up the night's sky. Should lead the GCPD right to these clowns before they can regain consciousness, not to mention buy me a little time to catch the straggler. Lang, I believe, is what they referred to him as.

"Alfred, I need your help. Can't use Ace to comb through the GCPD database, for obvious reasons. But I'm willing to risk letting you do it to give me a potential lead."

"Certainly. And who shall I be searching for, should this individual be unfortunate enough to cross your immediate path?"

"First name unknown, last name of Lang. Could be an alias, but I'm doubtful. Probably has a list of priors. Unlike their other attempt, The Mutants' heist at Fifth National was performed without a single alarm triggered. And I'm betting that Lang is the reason why."

"And you're betting this based of what evidence, exactly?"

Switching The Utility Gun's primary function back to it's original state, I fire a grapple line towards a gargoyle overlooking the area.

"Seems the type. Non-violent, chosen to be the getaway driver. Didn't struggle when I pulled the wheel. Only an accomplished thief doesn't waste their efforts when faced with opposition. They typically try and avoid conflict."

"I see. Might I ask, lad, when were became the expert on criminal psychology?"

"When I had a teacher as stern as you."

"Ah, yes. I did drill you rather hard on that one, didn't I?"

Smirking at that, I ascend into the rooftops and leap over the gargoyle, gliding my way towards a nearby billboard. Latching myself onto it, I utilize my standard heat signature lenses to scan the streets ahead. Lang's made it to an alleyway near Park Row. Immediately, I feel myself begin to tense up. Park Row, now known as Crime Alley. Christened that after a single, yet gruesome mugging gone bad. I should know because I was there.

My fist bawls up tightly as I take a deep breath, fighting back an immediate surge of unpleasant memories. Doesn't matter what the place used to be, or what it means. It's the escape grounds of a fugitive from the law, right now. I have to push it all aside, if I'm to put an end to this. He doesn't think I noticed, but Lang scooped up a bag of the dummy cash before he left the scene. Which means I now have to confront him. He's a marked man if I leave him to the police.

"I've found a match, Bruce. Your Mr. Lang seems to fit the bill of a one Scott Edward Harris Lang, formerly stationed out of Palm Springs, Florida. You were correct in his assumption of priors, aswell as the offenses all being of the non-violent capacity. He was sentenced to three years at San Quentin State Prison in California, his home state, before being released on good behavior."

My mind refocuses on the situation at hand, hearing the information read aloud.

"Florida. California. Then why the hell is he in Gotham?"

"Supposedly, employment. After a string of failed jobs throughout the country, he was last working as a security guard for, get this. The central office for Waynetech Industries. He was terminated just last week."

Hearing that, my confusion over the suspect's plight only grows. If Lang were employed by Waynetech as security, he would've had direct access to a series of some of the most advanced technology in the tri-state area. Pulling off a heist there would've been considerably easier, not to mention that he could've done it solo and for a much heftier profit. Why join up with The Mutant Gang just to perform a bank robbery?

"If he was an employee of Waynetech, then I'm about to re-evaluate the terms of his termination."

"If I'm going to lead the company, I might aswell start from the bottom."

Gotham City, The Narrows
Park Row
9:10 PM

"No. Dammit. No, no, no, no..."

Scott Lang pulled the mask from his face as he jumped to reach a fire escape dangling just a few inches too high above his grasp. Frantically looking around the alleyway for some trash to build a makeshift booster platform, he began digging through the garbage and kneeled down to sort out the bigger items from the smaller ones. He could hear police sirens in the distance, and the now very-much-confirmed-to-be-real Batman was likely on his tail. The one thing that Lang had told himself in agreeing to do this stupid job was that he wouldn't go back to jail.

The plan seemed foolproof, and he liked the odds of success once everything was laid out for him by the robbery's organizing party. But there had always been something shifty about that dude, Scott thought to himself. Creepy little man who preferred to be called 'The Clock King', for whatever reason, timing each method of extraction down to the very second that it was supposed to be executed. And on his team's end, they had followed the instructions to the letter.

The other team hadn't been as lucky. They'd messed up and triggered a silent alarm, prompting some sort of skirmish that had made them late. Clock King wasn't happy, but had given them the word to proceed anyway. Part of Scott wondered if The Bat was on the mob's payroll, given how fast that he showed up once they all met to exchange vehicles and head to the rendezvous point. It was the only way to explain how they could've encountered the vigilante so soon after robbing a pair of banks under the thumb of The Five Families.

Producing a handful of garbage that wouldn't so much as lift a mouse as a full adult male, Lang tossed it aside in frustration.

"C'mon, you damn garbage! Work with me, here! I'm not asking for the world! Just, y'know, something to give me at least six inches of vertical!"

Growling to himself, Lang stood up and immediately went for the bag of cash. He'd have to keep going on foot. Which was crazy, given the coverage that this area was about to receive, but it was his only alternative. As Lang reached down at the bag, a small grappling hook embedded into it's handle and snatched it from his grasp. Lang spun around in a panic and found the person that he least wanted to see staring back at him from the other end of the alley.

"You! Don't move, you... Bat-person, you!"

Scrambling for any sort of weapon, Scott reached into his pocket and produced... a bananna.

Batman raised an eyebrow. Lang immediately threw it to the ground.

"See if you can catch me without slipping on that, huh? Huh, big guy?"

The Dark Knight looked down at the partially crushed fruit, then looked back at Lang.

Master thief didn't exactly entail a degree of high intelligence.

"Scott Lang. Why are you in Gotham?"

Lang's eyes widened.

"Holy crap, you knew my name. Are you psychic? Is that your mutant power?"

Batman stepped forward, agitated.

"Answer the question."

Lang tried to speak, but stopped. He knew that if he replied with another dumb joke, it would only guarantee that the vigilante's fist would separate part of his jaw from his skull. Sighing to himself, Lang dropped to his knees and stared to the ground.

"Ah, dammit. Just arrest me. I'm not getting outta this one."

Batman stared him down as he approached.

"You were working for Waynetech prior to this week. Security detail. You were terminated from that position despite not committing any theft or breaching your contract, despite your record. I want to know why."

Lang looked up at the vigilante, confused.

"Uh... I mean, wait. Why do you care?"

Batman looked off as the sirens grew closer.

"Call it a curiosity."

Lang furrowed his brow, but not enough for The Batman to catch on.

"Well... I guess if you must know, I got fired because I didn't like the ethics of the guy they want to put in charge. His secretary informed me that I was supposed to allow a couple of his guys through the main entrance, even though he doesn't run the place yet and they didn't have clearance. And I said no. Two days later, I got my pink slip."

Being a proponent of ethics is highly ironic coming from a man who just aided in a double robbery, but The Dark Knight kept that thought to himself. He looked Lang in the eyes, and sensed the fear. Not of him, but of what would happen if he were to go back to jail. Sweat was beading down his forehead, despite him making no effort to resist capture.

"Look, man. I know you don't wanna hear it, but I really tried my best to stay clear of all this. Even testified in court against the conspirators in the robbery that landed me in prison. But I got a daughter, now, and I couldn't just leave her and her mom without alimony all because my jackass self opposed some douchebag in an Italian suit."

Batman remained silent for a moment. Then took the bag of money, unzipped it, and let the cash fall into a crumpled mess against the pavement. Lang looked at it, shocked by the unexpected action.

"You stole counterfeit dollars, Mr. Lang. Nothing that would've set you up for the foreseeable future."

Scott's eyes closed, as he realized that he'd been an even bigger jackass than he previously realized.

"I guess I trusted the wrong group of people."

"Yes. But worse, you relented and placed yourself back into their cirlce."

Surprisingly, however, Batman's tone grew considerably less hostile.

"What's your daughter's name?"

"Uh... Cassie. Her name is Cassie, Bat... sir. Or Bat-dude. Whatever you want me to call you."

Reaching into the recesses of his belt, Lang expected a taser or some sort of metal projectile to be in the vigilante's hand to knock him down. Instead, he produced a business card. Hesitantly, Lang reached out as Batman handed it to him. Inspecting it, the name of the business read Earl's Body Shop.

"What do you know about cars, Lang?"

Scott stood up, immediately unsure of what this even was.

"I, uh. I know a little bit. Enough to get by."

Batman narrowed his eyes.

"Make no attempt to contact the people that organized this robbery. If the police find you before the night is over, tell them that you were coerced. Then tell them everything."

Turning around, to Scott's astonishment, The Caped Crusader remained standing for a moment.

"Do this, and I can put in a good word for you with Earl. He's a good man. Doesn't care about your priors as long as you put in the work. And you'll be guaranteed a living salary."

Scott's jaw dropped, looking again at the card.

"Are... are you serious? You're seriously doing for me?", Lang asked. "But, uh, why? What did I do to deserve this? I'm just a two-bit thief."

"Exactly. You didn't fire a single bullet throughout that entire incident. You didn't kill anyone. You simply made a bad choice when put into a desperate situation. What you did was wrong, but... I've been making plenty of mistakes myself, lately."

Lang raised an eyebrow, unaware of the leading news story of Gotham for the past few days about a masked vigilante who had brought down an open conflict against the GCPD in the midst of a series of spectators. The guilt of that incident still weighed on The Dark Knight's heart, and he didn't want to simply lash out again. Not against those who didn't likely deserve it.

"I don't know what to say.", Lang responded, rubbing the back of his head. "I don't even know how to begin to thank you for this. This changes... wow. This changes everything for me."

Glaring over his shoulder, Batman made it clear that this act of lenience wasn't without it's share of skepticism. Should Lang mess up again and return to his old ways, there wasn't a doubt in either man's mind that The Bat would be coming for him.

"Just don't do it again. The next time you have an impulse, think of Cassie. You're better off to her on the outside."


Scott nodded, looking down at the business card a third time and memorizing the number. He allowed himself a small grin, realizing that this really was the second chance that he'd been waiting for.

"I will. Thank you, Mr. Bat-guy."

By the time Lang looked back up, Batman had disappeared.

The grin even wider on his face, Lang looked towards the sky and saw the vigilante's logo hovering against the clouds.

"Geez. That is so unbelievably cool."
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Hidden 5 yrs ago Post by HenryJonesJr
Avatar of HenryJonesJr


Member Seen 22 days ago

The coffee in my hand sits lukewarm and turning stale as I sit outside the museum waiting for Peter to show up. I know there's a new exhibit about Khandaq that he's not going to be able to pass up checking out. He may be a science geek at heart, but he love antiquities just as much. The two of us watched Indiana Jones way too much when we were younger. If he wasn't so naturally proficient in sciences and mathematics, I would expect him to be an archaeologist himself someday.

The conversation we had last night where I asked him to meet me wasn't the most tender between us. He's clearly upset that I haven't talked to him since he told me he loves me, and I'm clearly not the most comfortable about the situation still. But I know he won't pass up the opportunity to go to the exhibit, and he probably wants to talk as much as I do.

It doesn't help that Johnny Storm has thrown me for a complete loop. Knowing that Peter and I didn't end up together in his world has me thinking maybe I'm wasting my time in this relationship. That Peter is meant for someone else. Then of course I think about how Peter and Mary Jane were together in that reality, which is completely absurd to me. Plus, Peter is...well was, Spider-Man there. Maybe that means there really is no true destiny.

That of course brings me right back to Uncle Ben. He's dead in both of our worlds because someone, either Peter or I, failed to act against a crime. The fact brings back the doubt I felt when I first decided to get together with Peter. Uncle Ben is dead because of me. I should have stopped the man robbing the bank. This is a fact. This is also something I'm going to have to tell Peter sooner rather then later.

I've been putting it off for the same reason that I didn't stop Ben's murder to begin with. I'm being selfish. I don't want to lose Peter. Not as what we've become, and even more importantly not as the friend he's always been. Not to mention it puts my entire secret life at risk. It'll lead to him keeping yet another secret from Aunt May, and I don't know if I can handle that. I also couldn't handle her finding out the truth and knowing that the love of her life is dead because of me.

Johnny's warning about things eventually reaching those closest to me doesn't help either. For all I know I'm putting Peter in the same kind of danger I unwittingly put Uncle Ben in when I didn't do my job that night. What if keeping people close to me puts them in the crosshairs just as easily?]

All of this is floating through my head as Peter approaches and sidles up next to me, "Hey."

"Hey," I smile and give him a quick peck on the cheek. "Should we go in?"

"Yea, sounds good," he smiles meekly.

After buying our tickets, we begin strolling the halls of the Museum of Natural History, the sights, smells, and sounds of nostalgia filling my ears. My mom used to bring Peter and I here often, fostering our love for learning. She had always enjoyed it as much as we did. She was always so adamant about us learning about other cultures, and how important it is to understand our fellow man. I owe her a lot. I've seen how people act when they're not taught that. It's disgusting, to be frank, that so many people will not accept others for who they are.

Miss you, Mom.

As we silently make our way to our destination, I try and come up with an ice breaker. Something I can say to generally breath the awkwardness. Everything gets caught in my throat, however. How can you tell a person that means so much to you, who thinks you're the source of their happiness, turns out to be the person who delivered their biggest heartbreak? Oh, and that's on top of telling him I'm not in love with him. Well, not yet at least. And I don't know if I can ever get there because of all the rest of this stuff weighing on my brain.

Thank you, crazy teenage hormones. Thank you so much.

The two of us reach the Khandaq exhibit, and my breath is taken away at the tapestries hanging from floor to ceiling. They tell the tale, allegedly fictional, of the Teth-Adam. Like Gilgamesh and Hercules, Teth-Adam is the great hero of legend in his culture. The tapestries, golden silks embroidered with reds, blues, and blacks, show Adam diverting floods, taking souls back from the land of the dead, and saving the sun from eternal darkness. They're all incredible stories, to be sure, and this is the first time they've ever been on display thanks to an agreement with the Khandaqi people.

"Incredible," Peter says, beaming at the display. "Centuries old and they look brand new. It's said to be some sort of treatment lost to the ages. Amazing what people knew back then that we somehow lost during the way."

"Now we'd just spray stuff with some plastic and make sure it never degraded," I chuckle.

"Yea and it probably would anyway," he shakes his head. "Besides, that's not how art is meant to be seen. This? This is how art is meant to be seen. Pure, unrefined. Well, unrefined in the materials sense. Not processed through the modern lens."

My eyebrow raises at him, "Since when are you an art critic?"

"Yea I dunno where that came from," he laughs slightly. "Harry and I were fighting about video games. I think it probably came out of that."

"So about the other night..." I finally get out.

"I shouldn't have said it," he blurts out. "You were going into a crappy, dangerous situation and it just came out. I know it was too early."

"Yea. I mean no. I mean...I don't know," I shake my head. "Peter we've been best friends forever. This is so new. It's been great, but we're in high school. Neither of us know where this is going or where we're going to end up. I just...don't want to rush into stuff that's going to jeopardize what we have. I hope to get to that point. Eventually, I really do. But right now I just..."

"It's okay," he smiles. "I get it. I don't want to rush either. It's just...well your hobby isn't the safest in the world, and I don't want things to go unsaid. I had so much to say to Uncle Ben that I never will again. I don't want that to happen again."

And there's the mention of Ben. I look down at my feet, shuffling them back and forth. I've waited too long. It's time to come clean with him.

"Pete, about that-"

Before I can continue, the alarms in the museum start to go off.

"Oh what the hell?"

"Do you have your costume?" he whispers.

"Yea, I just need to find somehere to put it on."
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Byrd Man
Avatar of Byrd Man

Byrd Man El Hombre Pájaro

Member Seen 7 hrs ago


1998 Mood Music

John Constantine was in love. He’d never admit it to anyone, especially to himself, but how else could he explain the feeling he got when he was with Kit Ryan? She was some kind of conceptual artist John had met at a party thrown by his mate Brendan Finn. Brendan had eyes for Kit and was going to use the party to make his move. But the second John and Kit locked eyes Brendan's plan was shot all to hell. The two of them spent the rest of the night in their own private corner of Brendan's flat before going back to hers. They'd been seeing each other for nearly six months now. It was a personal best for John.

“What do you think of this?” Kit asked in her lovely Irish brogue.

The two of them were in Soho at an open air market. Kit had a silver necklace in her hands with a matching ankh dangling at the end of the necklace. John smiled and took it from her, examining it while Kit looked on with a smirk.

“You’re the expert,” asked Kit. “Go on, then, tell us what it means.”

“Life,” said John. “Of sorts. While the Christian cross was a symbol of death that was co-opted as a symbol of resurrection, the ankh has always been about the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. There’s a reason all the Egyptian gods were drawn holding it. It encompasses everything.”

John looked at the old lady behind the jewelry booth.

“How much?”

“Fifteen quid.”

“I’ll take it.”

John paid the lady and clasped the necklace around Kit’s neck. He felt her hand slide into his as they made their way through the market.

“I didn’t say I wanted it, you know.”

“Didn’t have to, love, I read your mind.”

“Oh?” Kit asked with raised eyebrow. “So you’re a mind-reader now? On top of an exorcist, occult detective, and magician. A man of many skills.”

John pulled Kit into his arms and he stared into her eyes. There were flecks of gold in her green eyes, and the flecks seemed to dance when she was in a good mood like she was today. They were in the middle of bustling Soho, but to John they were the only two in existence.

“Haven’t you heard?” he asked with a laugh. “I’m bad news, ‘Mad, bad, and dangerous to know.’”

“Easy there, Lord Byron,” Kit said, leaning forward to kiss John.

“Keep kissing me like that and you’ll find out about another skill of mine.”

“Steady on, you cheeky bastard,” Kit said, pushing John away.

The two of them shared a laugh before starting back through the market, hand in hand and Kit’s head resting against John’s shoulder. Later, they would go to a pub where John would hustle a snooker player out of two hundred pounds, and even later they would back to John’s and make love.

Looking back it would be one of John’s favorite memories. He’d think about it from time to time, especially when they buried Kit, and again when he took a last glimpse of London on the freighter out of town. That day, like his first in the city, was one of the many examples of the magic of London and what it held for its people.

I met my love by the gas works wall
Dreamed a dream by the old canal
I kissed my girl by the factory wall
Dirty old town
Dirty old town



John came to with a start. He moaned and tried to remember exactly where he was. His entire body seemed to ache, every muscle burned. It was as if he had run a marathon and got hit by a bus right at the finish line. He shifted, realizing he was on top of the sheets of some rickety bed. The room he was in was a small one-room flat somewhere. In the corner, Jack Hawksmoor clung to the wall, his bare feet sticking against the cheap wallpaper like glue.

“You look healthy,” John mumbled. “Christ, I could kill for a smoke. What happened? Where are we?”

Jack came off the wall and started to walk gingerly towards John.

“We’re in Slough.”

“Why the hell are we in Slough?”

John pushed himself up off the bed. He regretted it instantly. The room seemed to spin and his head pounded out a steady rhythm. It was like being hungover without all the fun of getting drunk beforehand.

“What happened down there?” asked Jack. “In the Underland.”

“I fought and killed Brutus of Troy, or at least something based on him. He said that people from the future gave him the power to kill you. Something about…,” John sighed and rubbed his temple. “Fuck… something about gods not yet born. Any of this making sense?”

“More than you realize,” said Jack. “There’s been talk among the intangibles, the lesser gods like myself who aren’t at the same level as the religious deities, that someone somewhere is planning on making a move on us. There's some prophecy. It's all complex and mysterious. I’ll have to convene the council.”

“Fascinating, squire.” John reached into his jacket and pulled out a crumpled pack of cigarettes. He sighed and tossed the pack to the floor. “Now, why the fuck are we in Slough? What happened after I was pulled from the Underland?”

“You’ve been cursed, John. There’s no way to get around it. I had to bring you to Slough because if you get any closer to London, you’ll burn alive.”

John thought back to just before he lost consciousness. Brutus was on the ground and dying. He did something with his last act. John remembered hearing words and seeing hand gestures right before it all went to black. He closed his eyes and leaned back against the wall the bed was situated against.

“Fuck,” he said. “Fuck-fuck-fuck. And the cunt did it right as he died.”

“I’m afraid so.”

After several minutes of silence, John stood on shaky legs, limping past Jack and towards the flat’s door. Hawksmoor called to him as he started down the hallway towards the stairwell. He found the roof access and found himself out on the ledge of the building, staring through the dark in the direction of London. You could see lights, but Slough was far enough way that he couldn't make out any of the landmarks. Even still he could feel it out there, beckoning to him as it always did since he was sixteen. London. Lady London. Now she was a true siren beckoning him to smash himself upon the rocks.

John knew enough about Brutus’ curse to know that it was nigh unbreakable. The spirit had been something more powerful than a simple mage, and he had cursed John with the very last of his energy. A curse bestowed at the time of death was much more powerful than a standard one. All that combined to leave John--

“Fucked. Proper fucked.”

“To put it bluntly,” Jack Hawksmoor said from behind him.

“I was just a boy when I came to London,” John said, ostensibly talking to Jack but not really caring if he was listening. “Thought I had the city in the palm of my hands. I was wrong, I got knocked down and chewed up and spat out by this city. But I got back up, I made something of myself. I became a legend and fell in love, met my mates and watched them all die. And I ran away from it all. And now that I want to come back...”

John turned away before he prattled on any more. When he looked at Jack, his eyes were shining.

“Take me back to L.A., Jack. There’s nothing here for me.”

I'm going to make me a good sharp axe
Shining steel tempered in the fire
I'll chop you down like an old dead tree
Dirty old town
Dirty old town



“Another one, Chas?”

“I’m good,” Chas Chandler said as he slapped his money on the bar. Jim took it and quickly settled his bill. “I been here long enough. I need to get going before the missus starts calling.”

Chas took one last glance at the door before turning back to the bar. He shook his head. After all the shit he’d put up with over the years he should have known better. He was only the footman, the sidekick, the hired help. Why did he rate any sort of consideration from the Laughing Magician? The only thing you could count on John Constantine to do was let you do. Jim raised an eyebrow at Chas before taking his empty glass away.

“Sorry, mate.”

“It’s okay,” Chas said he stood. “What’s the old saying: fool me once shame on you, fool me sixty thousand fucking times then shame on me.”

“Something like that.”

“Just do me a favor? Never trust people.”

Jim grunted as Chas started towards the door. Without a second look back, Chas disappeared through the door and into the night.

Dirty old town
Dirty old town

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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Sep
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Sep Migs Mayfield - Core

Member Seen 16 hrs ago




"Very Importantly Miss West, our security is top of the line. As soon as our personal alarm goes off, the NYPD is alerted immediately. We also have a special alarm recently installed that will alert Captain Stacy's Metahuman Task Force. That way if we are under a metahuman attack, the proper authorities know what they are dealing with." Iris nodded along as she jotted down notes, making sure to not use her speed to write notes like she usually did. She was far too close to the curator to do that.

Iris looked up at the the curator, a man named Richard Wentworth. "More importantly, while the main governing body of Khandaq has seemed willing to leave the Dynasty Diamond in the hands of Americans, and even released previously unseen tapestries of their history for us to view here as a sign of growing relations between our two countries. What do you say to the reports of this so called 'Khem-Adam' and his movement, that America stole the Diamond and should return it? Lest it pay the price."

Wentworth chuckled a little bit. "Khem Adam is an individual who is using the religious history of his people in order to try and establish power, his xenophobic and racist attitudes are no secret. It's well known that he seeks to capitalise on fears of United States intervention to further his own goals. He's bordering on being a terrorist." Iris wrote all this down, it was true that Khem-Adam was known for his violent tendencies, indoctrination and rumours of torture. While this wasn't exclusively the reason she was here today, there couldn't be a conversation about Khandaq without touching on the topic of him. "This isn't why you're here though, is it Miss. West?"

She nodded her head. "Of course Professor. However you must understand the line of questioning, when discussing this magnificent exhibit and it's security the topics of Khem-Adam, Metahumans and the various crime lords active in New York City are all relevant. You can't have one conversation without the other."

Wentworth nodded, however before he could retort a group of individuals came crashing through a nearby window. She counted at least five, most of them wore black outfits except for one who wore a green striped shirt, he too however wore a balaclava over his face. Something about the way he moved though, it didn't seem quite right. "Everybody stay where you are, you're all now ho-"

Iris let the lightning burn through her as she took off. She didn't start by disarming the men, or moving for them. Doing that would likely give up her secret, what she started with was clearing the room of civilians just trying to enjoy the exhibit of the diamond. As the siren started to wail barely a second after they crashed through into the museum, she moved into the next room. Full of tapestries and other arts related to Khandaq. As she grabbed a teenage boy wearing glasses she deposited him in the street, she could almost swear that the girl she was with started to turn to face her as she returned for her. Dropping them both in an alley just outside of the museum. Skidding to a halt on front of the gunmen, cowl raised and mask in place.

"You guys couldn't have had worse luck if you tried."

Running straight at them, she saw the muzzle flash as the guns went off. Stepping to the side as she approached a bullet, she pointed it towards the ground. Moving from bullet to bullet, them barely moving compared to her, she pointed them all in directions where they couldn’t possibly harm anyone. Gunmen had become easy for her, once upon a time she had struggled to take down an armed robber, while she wasn’t bulletproof she sure as hell was faster than one.

Pulling guns from hands she threw them all at the otherside of the room far away from trouble.

“I know you guys are used to a different Superhero around here, but you should really think about different career prospects. Crime doesn’t really pay.” The men just chuckled, which she was starting to learn was never a good sign in her chosen career. While she heard other windows smashing nearby, she turned around expecting someone to be standing there with a shot lined up to take her out. Then something hit her, hard.
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Hidden 5 yrs ago 5 yrs ago Post by Morden Man
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Morden Man

Member Seen 3 days ago

Central Park, New York

Guy Gardner snaked his way through traffic in a nondescript black sedan with Ben Grimm in the back. In the Thing’s large orange hands was a tablet which he was staring at with rapt attention. Johnny Storm had gone AWOL from the Baxter Building – despite express orders from Maria Hill not to do so – and worse still he had done it in the most public way possible.

Splashed across every TV screen in New York was Johnny yucking it up with Spider-Woman. The fire symbol he had blazed in the sky had put NYPD, SHIELD, and the national media on high alert so soon after the Silver Surfer’s sudden appearance. Thankfully Johnny had made it clear that he was far from a threat before the National Guard had been called in – but that hadn’t stopped the media from following him every of the way since parting with Spider-Woman.

Guy and Ben had spent every second of it on the Torch’s tail. Finally they had tracked him to Central Park. The last Ben had seen was Johnny disappearing into the park. Gardner pulled the sedan to a sudden, very illegal stop by the side of the road and leapt out of the driver’s seat.

Ben climbed out of the back seat and began to follow after the SHIELD agent.

Guy stopped dead in his tracks the second he noticed Grimm following after him. “What the hell are you doing?”


Gardner wagged a disapproving finger at Ben.

“It’s bad enough that the kid’s face has been plastered all over the news for the past couple of hours, the least thing we need is your ugly mug right there alongside it.”

Grimm’s arms crossed. His rocky forearms scraping against one another sounded like knives being sharpened. Passengers in cars that were passing by had begun to notice the hulking rock creature – and a few tourists had begun brandishing their phones in his direction.

“You’ve got another thing coming if you think I came all this way just to sit in the car, Carrot Top.”

It was clear from Ben’s voice that he wasn’t in the mood for a debate – and every second that Guy spent trying to figure out how to convince him to get back in the car was another that he was out in the open. Mindful that he already had one dressing down coming his way for letting Johnny out of his sights, all Gardner could do now was try to minimise any more damage.

“Goddamnit,” Guy said with a heavy sigh. “Alright, well at least cover yourself up or something.”

Gardner ran round to the back of the sedan and opened the boot. He rummaged around for a few seconds before producing a large brown overcoat and fedora. Ben eyed the items suspiciously for a few moments and then threw the coat over his shoulders and plonked the hat on top of his rocky head. With that done, the pair of them made their way into the park.

“Central-frickin-Park,” Guy muttered disbelievingly as they entered. “It’s like the kid is trying to get on the Führer’s shit list.”

They passed through the park easily enough. Despite Ben’s huge frame, he went all but unnoticed outside of a few particularly observant tourists. Most were preoccupied staring down their camera viewfinders or phone screens. For a short while, Ben almost remembered what it was like to feel normal again.

A good fifteen minutes or so of searching went by before they reached Bow Bridge. There stood at its apex was Johnny Storm. In one hand was a large hotdog that was slathered in more sauces and toppings than Ben could make out. In the other Johnny was holding an even larger ice cream. It was half-melted, cream dribbling down his fists, but that didn’t seem to deter him from taking alternate bites from each hand.

The bridge was so thick with tourists that Johnny didn’t see Guy or Ben until both of them were on him.

Guy jabbed an accusatory finger directly at the centre of Johnny’s chest. “What do you think you’re playing at, kid?”

Johnny’s blue eyes widened with shock. He was about to mount a defense but the words died in his throat when his eyes made contact with Ben. The shock dissipated and those eyes, until recently so steeped in sadness, brightened. Laughter forced its way up and out of Johnny’s lungs.

Storm’s ice cream-covered hand pointed in Ben’s direction. “Who the hell invited Al Capone?”

A thick vein appeared on Gardner’s forehead. He was about to open the floodgates on Johnny until one of Ben’s large hands shoved him aside with so much force that he almost fell over the side of the bridge. Johnny stepped back, suddenly worried by Ben’s sudden movement, but wasn’t nearly fast enough to evade him.

“You’re laughing!” Ben shouted as he wrapped Johnny in a tight bear hug. “You’re actually laughing again!”

All the air went rushing out of Storm the Younger’s lungs as Grimm, gripped by the throngs of joy, squeezed tighter and tighter. Johnny tried to speak but wasn’t able to form words with all the pressure on his chest. Instead he clubbed at Ben with his hotdog-holding hand. Ketchup, mustard and relish had all but covered Grimm’s shoulder before he cottoned on and released him.

A feeble laugh escaped from Johnny’s lungs despite his being doubled over and gasping for air. “You almost killed me, you big dummy.”

A bashful smile appeared on Ben’s face. He wrapped an apologetic arm around Johnny’s shoulder and hugged him. Johnny let out a wince as if to signal that the hug was too tight again and Ben chuckled.

“Heh, sorry kid.” Ben smiled. “I just … I guess I hadn’t realised how long it’d been since I last heard you laughing. Y’know, properly laughing.”

The crowd of tourists had now turned towards the three of them. Ben’s raised voice was distinctive enough even without the rocky skin – and the trench coat Guy had wrapped him in was no longer providing sufficient cover. Ben looked at Gardner with a shrug of the shoulders, took off the fedora, and plonked it on Johnny’s head with a smile.

Guy rolled his eyes, wrapped his hands around one of Johnny and Ben's biceps, and dragged them away from the bridge.

“Alright, alright, this is all very heartwarming but all three of us are going to be looking at a lifetime of solitary confinement on The Raft if we don’t get out of here before the stormtroopers show up. So how about we have this conversation on the drive back to the Baxter Building?”

Johnny nodded along begrudgingly to the request as the three of them made their way back to the sedan. He wiped his hands clean of ice cream on Ben’s coat and handed him what remained of his hot-dog. Still hungry from the morning, Grimm shovelled it down. As the pair of them climbed into the back of Guy’s car Ben looked towards Johnny with a smirk.

“So … what’s going on with this Spider-Woman chick? Did you get her phone number or something?”

Storm’s face screwed up with displeasure at the thought of it. “What? No way! That’s disgusting. What kind of guy do you take me for?”

In the front seat Guy adjusted his rearview mirror and let his eyes rest on Ben and Johnny for a few seconds. Stressed as Gardner was as the thought of another shouting match with Hill surely coming, it didn’t detract from the moment. When he’d picked them up, Ben and Johnny had been broken men – and here they were laughing and joking like they didn’t have a care in the world. How long that lasted remained to be seen.

Guy started the car and pulled away from the kerb.

From the back he heard Ben chuckle. "Don't worry, Spidey blowing you off's gonna be the least of your worries once Suzie's through with Hill."
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