Ultimate Knights #2: Origins Dec 24, 2014 12:10:03 GMT -5
Post by Drake on Dec 24, 2014 12:10:03 GMT -5
#2: OriginsBy Drake and Adrini
Commissioner Jim Gordon had been on the job longer than he cared to remember. In fact, with maybe the exception of Harvey Bullock—whose definition of work was hazy at best—Jim was the most veteran cop in the GCPD. A tour of duty in Vietnam added another half a decade of experience. Still, Gotham City found new ways to surprise Jim and—dare he admit it—keep him coming back for more.
Sebastian Hady, mayor of Gotham City, was drawn up and stuck to the brick wall leading to the new Hamilton National Bank. Thick bronze knives pierced through his wrists, ankles and neck to post him to the wall, a message for all to see. And boy, was the message clear. The most impressive feat—however, cruel—wasn’t how far the assassin had managed to throw the knives and hit his or her target, or how he/she managed to do it before a crowd of people without a single one noticing him/her, but the…Jim didn’t want to call it art, but there it was. Somehow, someway, the blood from the Mayor’s wounds leaked out and, combined with his outline, formed the image of a bat.
It seemed impossible. There was no way the assassin could have known the Mayor’s jacket, his shoes, head shape, and most importantly his blood would form such an image. Then again, it was impossible to miss it, especially in a city like Gotham whose association with bats went back much further than the enigmatic Batman.
“Bronze soldered owls.” Speak of the devil. Jim resisted the urge to jump, still after ten years not entirely used to the Batman’s sudden appearances. “Bronze blades with a titanium core. The modus operandi isn’t original.”
Jim turned to face the Batman and found two more vigilantes at his back. The first was a man dressed in a black form-fitting Kevlar-grade spandex with a blue bird logo emblazoned on his chest. The second was a woman, her crimson suit, cape and mask covering most of her body with the exception of her fiery red hair. Hair that reminded Jim of his own daughter, who had to be around the vigilante’s age. Imagine that, the bookworm Barbara going out and fighting crime. Perish the thought. A bright yellow bird marked her chest like a target. Jim had never understood the need for logos. It was impractical, let alone a bit flamboyant. To each their own, he supposed.
The costumes were new, but if Jim had to guess, the Batman’s sidekicks were back, all grown up and sporting new looks.
“The conspicuousness is new,” Jim retorted, before waving off a few officers who stayed back to stop and stare at the legendary vigilantes. The police Commissioner turned back to the crime scene at hand.
“Hady was killed during a press conference; something about how, with the help of the Hamiltons, he was going to reshape Gotham’s economy, give it the American boost it needed. A load of bullshit, sure, but people ate it up,” Gordon looked back at the vigilantes. Ex-Robin was smiling a bit, but the others seemed more annoyed than anything, “Right. Enough chit chat. Feel free to do your thing.”
Batman nodded solemnly and hopped the podium to the crime scene. Ex-Batgirl followed him up.
“Heh. Looks like they’re going to have to move up the mayoral election,” Ex-Robin joked, falling into line after his partners, but Jim stopped him before he could join the others. “What? The joke in bad taste?”
Jim ignored the rhetorical quip. “You two are Robin and Batgirl, right?”
The vigilante grinned, “Nightwing now, and I think she goes by Firehawk or something like that, but yeah. The Family’s back.”
“Well, Nightwing, there was something I wanted to tell you before you left town.” Jim paused to glance back at the Batman, who was hard at work. Realizing the elder vigilante wasn’t listening in to the conversation, Jim continued, “I know how he can be, believe me. I know why you left. Just remember, he’s…a little emotionally stunted, I think—or maybe verbally stunted is the better term—but he does care about you two. You should’ve seen him while you were gone. The Batman was a huge…” Jim struggled for the right words, before deciding with a sly grin, “A huge Bat-mess. He needs you even if he won’t admit it. Remember that.”
Nightwing patted Jim on the back, “Thanks, Commish. I’ll…keep that in mind.”
Nightwing then proceeded to hop up to Batman and Flamebird, and not a second too late because as soon as his feet touched ground again everything got interesting.
“Hello, Bat-gentlemen and woman.”
The three vigilantes all instinctively jumped back. Good thing too, as the ex-Mayor’s body lit up like a firework just a second after. Above, the perpetrator of the fire hooked against the brick wall with his clawed gauntlets and glared out over the small crowd below him. Cops drew their firearms, taking aim at the owl-themed assassin above their heads.
“I think there should be no doubt now, the Court of Owls was responsible for the murder before you,” The Talon continued lackadaisically. Jim held his fellow police officers back. He was ready to give the command to eliminate the assassin, but not until Batman had spoken to him first.
“Why are you here? Why return to Gotham?” Batman roared. Nightwing stood just a foot behind him, shaking uncontrollably. Jim couldn’t tell if it was from fear or anger. Flamebird gave Nightwing one quick glance before looking back at the Talon, itching for some action.
“The Court wants what is rightfully theirs. Gotham will burn, Batman. A new order will arise upon the ashes of the old. The Mayor was just the beginning,” the Talon paused, and turned his attention to Nightwing, “What? Scared, kid?”
Only now did Batman notice his terrified partner. The Caped Crusader spent only half a second to look back at the Talon before running to Nightwing’s side and helped keep him steady. Jim quickly lowered his hand, and began to shout for his officers to fire, but the Talon was gone. The only proof he’d ever been there? His voice eerily echoing over the area.
“Sweet dreams, baby bird. Remember what you could have been…”
And with those final few words, Nightwing collapsed.
Darkness fades to painful, blinding light and then evens out. I open my eyes. There’s peppermint in the air. Peppermint…and chocolate. Alfie never makes hot chocolate with peppermint, unless… Oh no. Oh yes, my brain screams. The red and yellow tent before me. The steaming cup of peppermint cocoa in my hands. I know where I am. I know when I am.
At twelve years old, I’m aware enough to pick up on the little things. Adults like to believe otherwise, but kids know more than they let on. I’m no exception. When my parents were pulled aside by Haley, when the circus’ owner kept glancing back and forth between me and them, I knew something was wrong.
It took next to no effort to follow them to the tent here. I’m peaking through, my mother’s signature holiday cocoa still in my hands. A man in a black suit wears a white owl mask to conceal his identity. I can read his body language. He’s trying to be imposing, threatening as he speaks to my parents and Mr. Haley. I know what’s about to happen. I try to scream for my parents, tell them to just give me up. I can’t. Even worse, I know they’ll fight for me till their dying breath…literally.
My parents argue ferociously. My mom actually has to hold my father back. Haley tries to mediate, but he’s supporting their decision. The owl man is pissed. He gives them one last chance. They refuse. I’m finally discovered as the man storms out of the tent, telling my parents in an all-too-stereotypical and all-too-horrible way that they’ll regret this decision. I know they will. I know I will.
My mother hugs me, tells me she loves me, and tries to console a terrified preteen boy. I am scared, but not because I saw my parents so mad. I’m not scared of the creepy owl mask the man wears. I’m scared because I know what comes next.
The scene evaporates and shifts like smoke. Now I’m looking past flaps again, but this time I’m inside a tent. Haley stands in front of a disappointingly small crowd. No one goes to circuses anymore. He revs them up anyway. I know now somewhere in that crowd sits Bruce Wayne, brooding and generally being the only one in the crowd not enjoying themselves. I guess seeing acrobats and freaks on a nightly basis will weaken the entertainment of a circus for you.
Haley grins proudly as he introduces his star act: The Flying Graysons! Even now, in this ghost-memory state I can’t help but get excited. My parents are stars! They’re the best at what they do, and what they do is incredibly cool! The spotlight shines on my parents, who stands high above everyone else on opposite sides of the tent. They smile and wave and look genuinely beautiful, drawing the adoration of the crowd like they’re Greek gods.
And then the show begins. Oh boy, do they put on a show. It’s great, wonderful, amazing! I forget what’s about to come for a minute, maybe two, until I spot the assassin on the edge of the tent. My twelve-year-old self has no idea who he is or why he’s there, but he is terrified. Me, now, remembering all that is to come? I’m twice as scared.
I try to scream for my parents again, to do something, but nothing happens. I can only watch in shock and horror as the assassin throws a nearly imperceptible needle and cuts my parent’s ropes with one strike. Suddenly, their courage, their daring for never using a net seems like the dumbest move in the world. They fall and fall and fall…
9 Years Ago
Barbara Gordon pulled her coat tighter as she stood by the school door and looked for the new student. When she had volunteered for this job it had been warm out and even pleasant. Just went to show how quickly the weather turned around here.
She saw an older blue sedan drive up to the entrance and she strained her neck to see who it was. No one got out of the car for a time, and Barbara shivered as she waited. Finally the passenger side door opened and a figure in a light fall jacket quickly pulled a bag from the car and ran up the stairs.
"You aren't Dinah Lance, are you?" Barbara said as the figure, a young female teen, approached. "Cause I'm waiting for Dinah Lance and it's really cold out here."
"It's nippy." The girl said lightly, obviously unbothered by the winds. "Let’s get inside; no need for anyone to freeze."
Assuming this was the girl in question, Barbara hurried inside, the new transfer student close behind. Unlike herself, pale, not as thin as she would like, covered in bright freckles and with a head of stubbornly red hair, the girl was very pretty. She was tall, super model thin and had clear blue eyes and classic blonde hair. They stood in the dim entry way as they warmed up, Dinah adjusting her bag and looking around.
"This place is nice." She said, finishing looking around. "It looks like it really has life to it. I'm sorry for taking so long. I didn't know you were out there waiting for me."
"Ya, well…" Barbara said before catching herself. Dinah looked down, clearly bothered by causing her grief. "It's fine, all warm now. So how long have you been in town?"
"Two days." Dinah said, following her to the office. "House is still in boxes but we'll work on that today after school. There isn't much."
Stopping to look at her, Barbara could believe it. Several of the students wore vintage clothing items to be 'ironic', so 70's boots and frill jackets weren't uncommon. The new student however didn't seem like the ironic type. The vintage clothes she wore weren't cool; they were just frayed and mended. When her father had requested she welcome this student she hadn't known why. Now she did. There were whispers of what happened to the families of cops after the officer fell, how they weren't well cared for. It seemed to be the case.
"We'll grab your class list then start the tour. New students get a free meal which would be a good deal except it's school food so..." She smiled as her companion laughed.
"I'm sure we'll survive." She grinned. "I'd hate to be rude, but you haven't introduced yourself, I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage."
"Barbara Gordon, freshman. Kinda the resident nerd around here." She replied, figuring she may as well put her cards on the table. With her luck the girl would jump the higher levels of school society within a week. She should at least make a good impression.
"Nothing wrong with nerds; you're some of my favorite people." Dinah said warmly. "Dinah Lance, Call me Di. Perennial new kid, also freshman. More of a freak thAn anything, happens when you move so much I guess."
"I can work with that." Barbara said, taking the clipboard from the table for the new student to fill in. So far she was very promising. "Why all the moving?"
"Mom's job, she's in security. Have to go where the work is." She made quick work of the form and handed it back, getting her class list in return. "Where to first?"
"Do you like computers?" Barbara asked, looking at the hall to the lab. She knew it was empty right then. "It's a really nice lab."
"I know nothing about them, but they look really cool. I'd love to know more." Di said, interested in the idea. "Lead on."
Barbara hurried to the lab, making sure the girl stayed close behind. She might actually get a friend out of this if she could keep the other cliques away long enough, and she knew the Lab door locked.
A Few Months Later
Barbara ran along the hall to the biology lab, the boys chasing behind her. Using her momentary lead to stash her computer bag she made it to the side exit before the inevitable happened. The hard bricks of the school wall hit her head as she was pushed hard against the surface.
"Alright, where is it?" The voice said, cruel, as the hand cupped her throat. "We'll find it, but we'll be nicer if you tell us,"
"Fuck off, Kev." She said with her little breath, trying to free the hands he also had captured. Kevin Slover was in her computer classes and hated that she scored, as a mere girl, above him. "You'll never find it."
"I'm not playing, bitch, I'm getting the code." He tightened her grip on her throat and she began to feel faint. "Where is it?"
She could feel herself panting as more voices spoke up, his cronies, and she could count the normal guys. She was seriously running out of oxygen. They were looking around the area, searching for the bag. A few were missing and it was a good guess that the few missing were inside and looking in the empty school wing. They were going to find the biolab at some point and she hadn't had the time to hide her laptop as well as normal.
"I said that isn't yours!" In the oxygen-deprived fog she swore she heard a voice. "Where is she?!"
Her eyesight fading she didn't see the blonde run out of the door behind three terrified male classmates.
"Perfect, the freak is here." Kevin said, looking over. "Bring me the bag. See, almost over, not so hard."
"Babs, oh god! Let her go, you jerks!" It was Di; she wasn't alone. Kevin would ruin the laptop, take the data, but it didn't matter. For once she wasn't alone. Someone cared and would believe her.
"Boys, leave the freak with a mark or two. She'll need to learn sometime." Babs paled. She had never wanted to drag Di into this. "Then you'll know if you fight me I hurt your friends too."
"Freak, huh?" Di said, looking at the four young men rushing to her. "If that's what you want."
A piercing, sharp scream filled the air and Kevin pulled his hands away to cover his ears. Instantly she did the same, the waves able to be felt. She fell to the ground and curled into a ball. After a time the sound ended but the pain was still there.
A hand grabbed hers and pulled her away, her ears still hurting. She was pulled away quickly, almost falling before the person held her up and hurried her a little farther away. The ringing was letting up.
"Are you alright?" She heard, the voice was hoarse, but familiar. "Who the hell was that?"
"Wa’s that? What's the sonic stuff?" She looked up and saw Di's terrified face looking at her. "The hell, Di?!"
"I said I was a freak." Di said softly, looking worried. "Just maybe a bit more of one than I let on I guess."
She was reserved, not sure if she was going to be rejected. When Barbara didn't respond, still shocked by being in the presence of a meta-human, she nodded sadly and turned to leave.
"Wait!" Barbara said and hurried to catch up with her. Wincing, Di stopped and slowly turned. Barbara looked at her for a moment before making a mask shape with her hands and holding them to the girl’s face. "I get it. Security. Want training?"
"How do you mean?" The blonde asked, confused. She was expecting to be turned away and wasn't sure what was going on.
"I need a protector, and you protect. Please?" Di was surprised, but pleased. In fact she was grinning. "I'm really tired of getting beaten up."
The scene fades and changes again. Now I’m in a darkened room a few months later. My body aches with pain. Open wounds and bruises litter my body. They’ve been torturing me since Haley gave me up in an attempt to break me. They naturally being the Court.
A Talon, the same one responsible for my parents’ deaths, stands before me. There’s a single light shining on me, like it’s an interrogation in a B-list cop movie. I think there might have been more lights, but I’m out of it by this point. My memory can’t be counted on.
The brutal assassin offers me the chance to join them, to become his apprentice, the next in line as Talon. I weakly tell him to fuck off. He proceeds to try to break down my mental barriers with verbal torture. He tells me how he killed my parents, how Haley couldn’t wait to give me up. No one cares for me. I’m all alone. All I have is the Court. They’re my family now. The words seep into my very being. I almost start to believe them. Almost.
He tries to explain how I’ve always been the Court’s. I was literally born because the Court demanded it of Haley and my parents. At the time, they’d knowingly agreed. No one loves me. No one loved me. I cry, and the Talon realizes he’s starting to gain leverage. He tells me how I was trained not just in my parents’ acrobatic arts, but in knife throwing and various other survival and fighting techniques for this moment. I was bred to be a Talon. I am a Talon; I just don’t know it yet.
I’m breaking. It’s been months. I’ve had next to no sleep, only enough food and water to keep me alive. All I want is my mother’s peppermint cocoa, to sit with my father and stay up late watching old superhero cartoons. I want to hear my mother enter the room, scold my father for letting me stay up so late and tell me to go to bed. I want to hear her call me by that pet name I hated so much. Robin. Her little Robin.
I can’t cry anymore. I’m too dehydrated for my body to waste more water on my stupid emotional breakdowns. Still, that memory is all I need. Those hopes are all that push me as I tell the Talon to fuck off again. I tell him I’ll never be his. I tell him that I’ll never be a Talon. I swear, again and again, that I am Robin.
The Talon pulls two knives from his satchel. I take a deep breath, stare at the Talon defiantly, and ready myself for the torture again. It never comes.
The rest isn’t clear to me. It never was. Somewhere, somehow, The Batman—Bruce—emerges out of the darkness and pummels the Talon. He beats him half to death and curses him for all that he’s done. Soon after, covered in the Talon’s blood, Bruce unties me and holds me in his arms. He promises me everything will be fine. He swears I’ll get revenge. He tells me that he’ll protect me now and until he breathes his last breath.
It was a very dark, very rainy and very miserable night as Barbara sat at her desk and tried to work out the Spanish verb forms for the quiz in the morning. The thunder outside was jarring but inside she could relax.
"How is it going?" Her Dad opened the door and put a mug of coffee on her desk, mostly sugar. "Still on the verbs?"
"They never end." She said and grinned at her father. "Thank you."
"Get past this test and we'll take an afternoon this weekend. Looks like the issue at work cleared up; I'll be free." He grinned in return. "If your friend doesn't claim it first."
"No promises." Barbara smiled to herself. Though only having arrived a few short months ago, Di had made life bearable, both at school and after. Her father smiled, happy for her. She had a hard time making friends and he could guess how much this new one meant. He liked her in any case, a kid of the blue, and by all means a good influence.
"Let me know how much cash you girls need. Just have a good time." She felt him pat her shoulder before leaving her to focus on her work, though in truth she was past verbs and considering the movies and shopping to come. Winter was coming. They could go shopping for boots and even get Di a real winter coat before she froze to death.
Gordon smiled as he saw the wheels turn and knew she wasn't considering language. He started an additional pot of coffee—she'd need it—and sat down to his own work for the evening. It was slow going, the paperwork at the end of the case was never fun, but it was the last of it. He still just had no idea how they had found all the relevant files at the site; they were practically organized.
There was a frantic knock on the door a few minutes later and he got up and opened the door to see the soaked and miserable form of the friend Barbra wouldn't stop talking about. Behind her he saw an old station wagon that seemed to be waiting.
"I'm sorry to bother." The girl said. Her voice was shaky. She was shivering. Her thin jacket wasn't helping anything. "But is Babs home? I don't have long."
"Of course; come in. Sit down for a moment." He instantly grabbed a blanket for her and got her a hot mug. She smiled at both but looked impatient. "Barbara, Di is here!'
His daughter raced out of her room and beamed as she saw the visitor. She also made a grab for another blanket before their visitor waved it away.
"I can't, Mom's in the car." She said, looking at the floor. "We shouldn't be stopping here but I couldn't just leave and not let you know."
"Barbara?" He asked. She had started to cry. "What’s going on?"
"She's leaving." Her voice was horse. "They're moving again."
"Mom finished her job, so, we're heading to the new one." The young woman seemed at a loss of what to say. "I don't normally make lot of friends, I've learned not to. But I'm glad I found you. Here. You always liked it, I can get another one." She peeled off the soaked vintage coat and tried to make it nice before handing it over. Barbra was fighting the worst of the tears until she got it. "If nothing else it will drive the popular girls crazy. Oh, and this."
"Blüdhaven?" Barbara asked, confused at the address that she had been handed. "That place is terrible!"
"I don't want you in the Haven. I can get your Mom a job here." Even he had to agree. It was the last place any pretty young woman should be. "Call her in; we'll talk. I have connections in HR."
"It's to help a friend, but thank you. Anyway, I'll only be an hour away by train. There's no need to lose touch." She tried to be cheerful but a horn honking outside got everyone’s attention. "I need to go. I'll miss you, I'll really miss you. Thank you for everything."
Jim was heartbroken for his daughter as the two shared one last hug, before the horn sounded again. Wordlessly the blonde waved one last time and went back into the torrent in a mad dash to get in the car as quickly as she could. They watched together as it drove away and turned to get to the highway.
"She comes here. Not the other way around." He said, once the taillights had faded away. "I'll work it out with her mom. You'll see her again."
Barbara nodded, but only took his offered hug and cried, still holding tight to the jacket.
Blüdhaven, New Jersey
Bane, the black masked kingpin of crime, sat atop a throne. The chair was quite literally designed for a king as part of an old gift from the not-yet-‘Havenite colonists in the 18th century for the king of England. The gift, for whatever reason, never left the States, and overtime ended up in the hands of the Desmonds. Roland had never had a use for it as a fan of simple pleasures, but Wilson was quite the opposite. He craved power and the riches that came with it. He’d had the chair installed in his base to instill the confidence in himself he had lacked for so long.
Bane, too, saw the pleasure in sitting atop such a throne. Even more, he knew how wonderful it could be to lounge in it, using a man as a footrest. In this case, his poor servant was the announcer from Santa Prisca. He felt no pity for the man.
An enforcer, one of Wilson’s originally, kneeled before Bane.
“You called for me, sir?”
“Yes,” Bane agreed, “I’d like to tell a story, and, as my mamí always said, a story is incomplete without someone to hear it.”
Bane continued on, pretending as if he didn’t hear the man. Maybe he hadn’t. “I was born in Mexico.” The mob boss pronounced it meh—hee—coe. “The cartel ruled the country, particularly the urban areas. At a young age, I lost my parents to a driveby, leaving me the eldest sibling to watch my five younger brothers and sisters.”
The henchman bowed his head further. The story certainly had begun in a fairly straight forward—if tragic—manner, but the way Bane spoke…it was as if he was high. In fact, the more the henchman thought, the more he realized Bane probably was high on the very drugs that gave him his superhuman strength. He gulped. A high man—let alone a superhumanly strong high man—was dangerous.
Bane continued to tell the story, his words slurred.
“I grew up on the streets with other children, boys and girls who had lost their parents to the Cartel’s violence like I had. Over time we became bitter, angry. We staged a rebellion. Everyone—including my ten siblings—around me died in the slaughter. I was the only survivor, and in my fear I ran to the States…I ran to ‘Haven…”
A young something-teen Bane—before he went by that name—curled up into a ball inside a trashcan, trying to hide from the cold in nothing but a tattered tank top and sweats. His face was drawn, bone apparent under the skin. He hadn’t eaten in weeks. Despite the abject poverty of its citizens, Mexico had been friendlier to him than Blüdhaven.
Suddenly, a hand entered his hazy vision. A blond man stood over him. He looked average enough, not particularly handsome or disfigured. The man’s glasses caught the glare of the light, blocking the man’s eyes from Bane’s sight.
Bane didn’t trust the man. He didn’t trust anyone.
“How would you like to change your future?” The man asked. He couldn’t understand everything the man said, his English still weak. However, Bane got the message, and he was desperate. The man seemed kind enough. He took his hand.
Two years later, Bane was on his last legs yet again. This time, it wasn’t as a starving homeless child. He hunched over, blood dripping out more places than he cared to imagine, a strong, broken warrior. The crowd around him cheered. He wanted to break through the metal cage surrounding him and kill them all. If there was one thing Bane had learned throughout his life, it was how to kill in the most intimate, expressive way possible.
The crowd thought he was invincible. In many ways, he thought he was invincible. Roland Desmond certainly did. It’s why he never gave him a break. For two years he’d fought. Weekend after weekend and on holidays he fought, with only a few days off each week to recover. Now, he was made of more scar tissue than anything else. Now, all his humanity had been demolished, broken. He was a killer, through and through.
His latest opponent lay dead at his feet, his back broken. Bane had used his signature move, throwing the man down onto his knee with the fiercest and most surprising strength considering his slight physique. The poor twenty-something never had a chance.
Slowly, weakly, he allowed himself to be led out of the ring, a champion still. He learned long ago not to try to escape. All it meant was embarrassment and less food for the next week. This time was unique, however. Roland met him at the entrance to his cell home. The man was smiling meekly, just as he had that first night so long ago. If Bane hadn’t known the cruelty hidden under that smile, he would have believed the man’s kind expression. However, Bane knew masks all too well. He wore one himself every day during every fight. The why was simple. Roland had wanted to break him, to make him a faceless fighter. He’d succeeded. Bane had long since forgotten his true name.
“How would you like to change your future?” Roland said.
Bane spit at his feet. One of Roland’s thugs smacked him, but Roland kept smiling.
“Freedom, I promise, should you do one last thing for me…”
Roland held out his hand. Bane clenched his fist in anger, but took it nonetheless. This time, however, he was prepared for Roland’s betrayal. He didn’t yet have a plan, but he would.
Broken and weak again, Bane was strapped to a wall. He cursed Roland in scattered Spanish, managing a word or two in English every few minutes. The masked man had been experimented on for weeks, strapped to a wall and pumped with this bright green liquid on and off. He’d developed a craving for it. Without it…
Bane spasmed in pain. He needed the liquid. The things he’d seen, the things Roland had done to him. But—but…something was different. Roland was in front of him now, and he looked scared.
“You have proven more valuable than I can explain in words,” Roland said. The room shook, dust falling from the ceiling. Roland glanced back, but turned his attention to Bane again. “But…but I must leave now. I am no fool. I know, should I free you, that you will kill me. I…”
Bane struggled in rage. He would not be left here. He would not die here!
“Goodbye, my masked man,” Roland said, before running to his workbench, grabbing two vials of green liquid and leaving. The room shook again. Lights flickered. Bane could hear the sounds of a guttural, almost an inhuman roar. Crashing, fighting. Soon enough, it stopped, but the quakes continued. Then the door opened. Bane silently swore he wouldn’t die here. He’d bite his assailant’s head off first before he…
The man in the door, who was dressed in the oddest owl costume, approached Bane. The masked man struggled against his restraints, ready to fight for his life. The green liquid still didn’t return. Without it, his muscles were weak. But he would not die!
The owl man pulled a knife from its pockets and raised it. Bane shouted every curse he knew in English and Spanish, raging against his last breath. But the owl man did not kill Bane. He freed him.
“Wreak havoc,” the man said in an eerie, ghostly voice.
Bane nodded, and tried to walk a step but fell to the ground, “N—need liquid…green liquid…”
“Venom?” The man looked briefly to the door he’d come through and then back to Bane, “You’re addicted, and as good as dead. I’ll make it quick.” The man raised his knife again. Bane resisted the urge to cry.
The final blow never came. Instead, the owl man fell to the ground in a heap, three bullets in his chest. Bane turned to look at his new savior. He was fading, however, and couldn’t be sure of what he saw. As blackness crowded out his vision, and the room shook around him, it seemed as if his savior was an angel. A smiling, laughing, beautiful angel…
“You heard the man,” the angel whispered to the masked man as he faded in and out of consciousness, “Wreak havor. Be the bane of this city.”
And then everything faded to nothingness, and when Bane awoke again, he was outside of town, alone. He felt strong, stronger than ever before. There was a feeling in his hand. The masked man sat up and opened his hand to reveal a capsule of pills. They were labeled “Venom II, a gift from me to you.”
And then the last thing written on the parchment, the last thing the masked man had heard before he fell unconscious: “Be the bane of this city.”
Bane sat atop his throne, as the man before him listened on, overtime having become genuinely interested in the story he told. The masked man smiled underneath his mask.
“From that day forward, I vowed to make the mask that had become the symbol of the Desmonds’ power over me into the symbol of my unbroken will and revenge. I gathered an army, including a few…helpful men of science, to continue creating my Venom. Now, my revenge against the Desmonds is complete, but true, perfect vengeance has not yet been gained. Blüdhaven must burn, my friend.”
“So, sir, if you don’t mind me asking?” the man paused. Bane didn’t say anything. He continued, “What’s next?”
Bane stood up over the man, kicking the announcer aside. He reached his hand out to his enforcer. The man hesitated, but took it nonetheless.
“Next? I kill you,” Bane lifted up the man as he screamed and struggled, and slammed him down onto his knee, shattering his spine with a crack, “No man must know Bane’s past.”