Ultimate Knights Special #1 May 2, 2015 22:40:43 GMT -5
Post by Drake on May 2, 2015 22:40:43 GMT -5
Special #1By Drake
Part 1: Cracked
I quite literally jumped at the idea of being a sidekick…
The petite blonde, her fear and excitement shrouded by her purple hoodie, backed up. Jason Todd AKA Redbird, a vigilante sidekick with a criminal past, looked back at her from the adjacent rooftop. Jason’s eyes widened as the blonde began to run towards him.
Her foot scraping against the edge of the roof, Stephanie Brown pushed off her leg with all her might, leaping through the air.
…But that’s a story for another time. The story I want to tell now—the story I have to tell now—isn’t filled with gleeful adventures and happy endings. The only similarity between the summer I became Spoiler and the following winter was that my innate recklessness and stupidity propelled everything forward.
It began with the most wonderful night of my life.
Jason and Stephanie sat at the edge of the blonde’s bed. Neither spoke as the dread of what was coming lingered over the room. Jason bobbed his head to the right to look at Stephanie, his naturally red hair swishing over his forehead. He didn’t bother to adjust it.
“I have to go, Steph,” Jason murmured. Steph nodded solemnly. She crept closer to him, slowly looking up at his gorgeous face. Why was it that bad boys were always smoking hot?
“I know. Just…please just stay the night,” Steph blurted. Jason’s right eyebrow perked up and his lip curled into a sly grin.
“Fine.” His expression betrayed his lackadaisical response. “But only the night.”
Steph smiled slightly and leaned in. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Boy Wonder.”
I’m not a blonde bimbo. Not in the way you think, anyways. I wasn’t just pulling stereotypical dramatic teenage girlfriend crap the night before he’d die. I knew Jason would go after the Court just like I knew he wouldn’t let me come along…not willingly, anyway.
Jason lifted Stephanie into his arms and carried her farther onto the bed. Their lips never lost contact as Jason set Stephanie down. The two vigilantes became more passionate and physical with every passing second.
I did love him. I still do. The night wasn’t just a ruse. It was special.
That made what followed even more tragic.
Stephanie’s eyes fluttered open as her head rocked up and down. Why was she moving? She looked to the side, expecting to find Jason in bed with her, but…no. She could see the sky. She could see cracked sidewalks. She wasn’t still with Jason. Stephanie had left to stop the single greatest drug shipment in history from being deployed, to beat both the Red Hood and the Court of Owls’ Talon.
That was her hope, anyway. Steph knew she never had a chance. It wasn’t a surprise that she ended up…well, where was she exactly? Steph looked up at the cloaked figure that was holding her. Female, definitely, and…wait, she’d seen her before. Cassandra Cain, Jason’s creepy ninja stalker. What the hell had happened?
“Jason…?” Steph managed, her mind aching and blurring her thoughts together.
Cassandra stopped running and looked down at Steph. The Asian girl’s face darkened. She looked away and kept running. Stephanie knew what that meant. No. No, no, no, no!
“You left him!!” Stephanie pushed herself out of Cassandra’s arms. She ended up in a heap on the ground. Steph couldn’t pull herself onto her feet. Her body felt like she’d been impaled with a thousands needles. Cassandra refused to meet her gaze.
Stephanie scowled. “Go back. I’ll be fine.”
Cassandra shook her head. She still didn’t look at Steph.
“What does that mean?” Steph shouted, before erupting into a coughing fit and spitting out blood. Cass immediately knelt by her side and helped her sit up.
“Help.” Cass said.
Steph shook her head. A brain trained to replace its language centers with a martial arts directory turned out to not be nearly as cool as it sounded.
“Again, I’m not following.”
Cass pointed to Steph. “Help. Jason say ‘help.’”
Stephanie slammed her fist into the ground, but immediately regretted that impulsive decision. She held her bruised hand as tears slid down her cheeks.
“That son of a bitch,” Stephanie whispered weakly.
“He sure as hell is stubborn, isn’t he?”
Both girls looked up, shocked at the source of the voice. Batwoman sat in the crimson Tri-Bat. The darkness in her eyes betrayed her attempt at a quip.
Anger boiled in Stephanie. “You left him!”
The blonde tried to stand up, but immediately fell back. Cass caught her before she could hit the ground and helped her up. Batwoman ignored the comment.
“Do you know how to drive?” Batwoman asked Cassandra, hopping out of the multi-purpose vehicle. Cass nodded.
Steph shook her head. “No. No way. I’m going too.”
“You need medical care,” Batwoman retorted, “You can’t even stand up.”
“Screw you,” Steph spat back.
“I’ll go after Redbird,” Batwoman explained. She tossed Cassandra a key. The ninja caught it with her right hand without hesitation. “Take Spoiler to a hospital. Get her out of her suit before you arrive.”
Cass nodded, already leading Stephanie towards the Tri-Bat. As Batwoman ran away towards the abandoned building housing the Venom shipment and the battle between Jason and the two opposing villains, Stephanie glared at the Outlaw with disgust.
“If anything’s happened to him, it’s on your head. You all abandoned this city,” Steph shouted. Cass didn’t bother to quiet her. “You abandoned ‘Haven. You abandoned him!”
All three vigilantes turned their gaze to the burning building just a few blocks away. Batwoman froze for just second before sprinting off faster than before. Cass let go of Stephanie and the girl dropped to the ground, her eyes never leaving the fiery remains of her hopes and dreams, of the boy she loved.
Stephanie Brown knew before Batwoman had even found the charred remains of Jason’s body that he was dead.
“Dick and Jane saw a dog.”
Stephanie managed a weak but honest smile at Cassandra’s continued success. The two sat beside each other on Stephanie’s bed, the learn-to-read book on Cass’s lap.
“Dick said to Jane, ‘Let’s…pet the dog.’” Cassandra looked to Stephanie for approval. The blonde nodded reassuringly. Cassandra continued.
The door to Stephanie’s room burst open and her mother stumbled in. For a second, both teenagers had the same thought. Crystal Brown was hurt. She needed help. Only the latter was correct.
Crystal collapsed onto her knees, gasping for breath between sobs. Both girls fell onto either side of the woman. Cass instinctively wrapped her arms around Crystal protectively.
“Mom—“ Stephanie muttered, realization dawning before Crystal even spoke. Cass looked between the two questioningly.
“Arthur…oh my God, Arthur!” Crystal cried. Stephanie froze for just a moment before she leaned into her mother’s arms and held her, their tears cascading down together.
I lost my father and Jason within weeks of one another. You can imagine what that can do to a person.
Stephanie stared blankly at the ceiling, her words more expressive than her eyes. The simple black couch she laid on was the only hint of impurity in a stark white room. Across from her, sitting on a blank chair with a snow-white suit on was a youthful, beautiful blonde woman, a notebook and pencil in her hands.
“So you decided to move to Jersey City?” The woman inquired with an accent as thick as her bun.
Steph shook her head. Her expression remained blank like a canvas. “No, we went to Metropolis first, but, well…you can imagine. My mother and I wanted to escape that life.”
“And this was all without Cassandra?”
Stephanie swallowed saliva. “Yeah. Cass had other plans.”
“And you…?” The therapist cocked her head to the side. “What are your plans? It’s been three years, Stephanie.”
“I know.” All at once, life reentered Stephanie’s eyes and she was whole again. “I have to face my demons. I have to go home.”
Part 2: A Dark Night
3 Years Ago
“To think, it would end back here where it all began. It’s hilarious!” The bleached-white agent of chaos cackled, his laugh echoing into the Gotham night. His purple suit had been recently pressed for this one last occasion: the end-all, be-all confrontation. Despite all the blood on his hands, the clown’s skin was untouched by crimson. Only his lips stood out starkly in the night.
“To be fair, I may have had a hand in choosing our final destination.” The killer paused, before adding, “Well, final is relative. HAHAHA!”
On the other side of the metal scaffold, his shrouded face illuminated by a neon green Ace Chemicals sign, the Batman reached slowly for his utility belt.
The clown tipped his head to the side, “No comment? No chide remark? How unlike you, Batsy. I must’ve really made you mad. HahaHAHAHA!”
“You’re finished, Joker,” Batman growled.
“Never heard that one before,” Joker retorted. He danced back a few steps. Batman twitched as his hand grazed over his belt. Joker smirked. “You don’t understand. I can never be ‘finished.’ Not as long as you’re around. We complete each other—the Batman and the Joker—order and chaos—life…and DEATH! Hehehahaha!”
Joker paused, before adding, “How is Bird Brains anyway?”
Batman let loose a roar and tossed a batarang at the psychotic serial killer. Joker jumped to the side, successfully dodging the blade, but not before Batman used this opportunity to leap for him, tackling him to the ground.
“Oh, so you like it rough?” Joker teased. Batman replied with force. Fist after fist, broken bone and bruise after broken bone and bruise, Batman pummeled Joker as the villain laugh maniacally. Joker’s giggles eventually faded into half-broken slurping sounds while he struggled to breathe through busted lungs. Batman stopped just inches from the Joker’s face.
“Give me one good reason not to kill you,” Batman demanded.
Joker managed a smile through chipped teeth, “Not my job, Batsy. Quite the opposite, actually.”
Batman’s frown deepened and he hesitated. Instantly, Joker produced a knife and shanked the Dark Knight. Batman roared with pain as the Clown Prince of Crime kicked him away.
Standing up, the Joker said, “How does the Commissioner feel about the gift I left him? I thought Baby G looked great in red.”
Batman kicked Joker’s feet out from under him after the clown lunged at him. The vigilante hopped onto his feet and pulled the killer off the ground, slamming him into a wall beside a window. The Joker’s knife slipped out of his hand and fell between the breaks in the scaffold down towards the empty chemical pits below.
“You’ve hurt far too many people. Tonight was the last straw,” Batman said.
“Speaking of broken backs, how is Baby G?” Joker spat. Batman pulled his fist back and propelled it forward, but the clown used the force of the vigilante’s attack to pull him aside into the window. The two crashed right through the glass and began plummeting to the ground. Batman instantly fired his grappling hook and grabbed the neck of Joker’s jacket. Both ended up hanging dozens of stories above the pavement below.
“Oh, hahahaheeheehee! Classic Bats!” Joker giggled before flipping a switch, his voice transitioning from light and airy to gravelly and grim, “But you’re ruining the joke.”
“You’re finished, Joker, now and forever. I’ll put you away somewhere you’ll never break out,” Batman managed through gritted teeth.
Joker’s frown turned upside down as one final knife slid out from his right sleeve. Before Batman could react, the clown cut off his collar, freeing himself from the Dark Knight’s grip.
“NO!” Batman roared.
Joker laughed as he plunged towards the ground, “Death’s the biggest joke of all, my friend! See ya soon!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!”
Part 3: The Question
“Who are you?” Batman’s voice fell emptily through the nether reaches between he and his adversary, the gray owl-masked warrior before him. Standing opposed on the rooftop of Wayne Enterprises’ Headquarters, the two seemed to act like yin and yang. Batman’s cowl remained in pieces upon the ground beside him as he struggled to stand, his face cracked and bleeding. The Owlman’s helmet remained protected and unscathed, shining as lightning exploded in the sky.
Owlman smirked, “Who? Who am I? That’s a loaded question, Bruce.”
Batman scowled, rain mopping his hair against his head and in turn shrouding his eyes.
“Who are you, Bruce? Who are you really? A hardened vigilante destined to fall to his betters, or a tragic, temperamental child hell-bent on tearing everything around him apart?” Owlman relaxed his stance. Batman bent his knees, ready to strike.
“Who am I though?” Owlman shrugged. “I’m nobody. Just a sidekick. That’s the funny part in all of this, the real joke: you’re not going to die at the hands of the Big Bad, but his flunky.”
“This isn’t the first time I’ve been threatened,” Batman retorted.
“Oh I’m sure, but, Bruce, you don’t really understand. One of these days—tonight, tomorrow, years from now, death will catch up to you. It’ll catch you off guard and choke the life out of you in its sad, sweet embrace,” Owlman began to step towards Batman. Batarangs clanged out of the air as the villain hit them away with his armored forearms. Batman continued to fight, refusing to give in, but each bomb, each batarangs, each secret weapon he had stashed in his utility belt wasn’t enough. Owlman had a way to conquer them all.
“However, Bruce, Batman, I can assure tonight is that night.” Owlman stepped to the side as Bruce lunged for him, the Batman too dazed and weak to land a blow. The villain kicked him into the ground and then pulled him up. Bruce spat blood in his face. Owlman chuckled.
“Cute. You never really give up, do you?” Owlman teased, before jokingly adding with a bad British accent, “’I’ll bite your legs off!’”
Batman tried for Owlman’s helmet with his teeth. The villain leaned back to avoid the attack.
“What did I just say?”
Owlman carried Batman over to the edge of the roof. The vigilante kicked and struggled, but the villain ignored his blows. Upon reaching the edge, Owlman released the clasp on Batman’s belt and tossed it to the side. Next, he cut apart his cape with a knife. No grappling hook. No communicator. No glider. No back up. To anyone else, there would be no doubt that this was the end. But to Batman…
“Say goodbye to Gotham, Bruce, but please do take the knowledge with you to the afterlife that the city will be in better hands,” Owlman said.
“You’re going to burn,” Batman growled.
“In Hell? Probably,” Owlman agreed.
Batman shook his head, “No. Not in Hell. Now.”
The villain sighed, “Sweet dreams, Dark Knight.”
And without another word, Owlman let loose his grip on Batman and the last of the Waynes plummeted helplessly to the ground.