Spoiler Alert! Chapter 3- Consequences
August 8, 2010; 12:33 am, Frank’s Auto Parts:
Church’s car pulled up to the burnt building. He exited his vehicle and approached the crime scene. He waved his tin through the small crowd of first responders and proceeded through the remnants of a garage door. Upon entering, the pungent smell of burnt flesh breached his nostrils. Though Church had seen more burnt corpses than most people have, the remains left an odor that few could ever grow accustomed to.
There were several investigators canvassing the room, but he drew his attention to the three people positioned in the back corner of the room. Crouched down in the center of the group was the fire scientist, Amanda Lynns-Kelso. She had platinum blonde hair, blue eyes, and a thin physique. Standing closely to her left side was the medical examiner, Eugene Phelps. There really wasn’t much to say about Phelps, he had an almost annoyingly timid personality and came off as the kind of guy that no one would bother looking at twice. Other than work he wasn’t known to socialize with anyone and it was rumored that he still lived with his mother. The man off to the right needed no introduction; he was the GCPD’s most controversial detective, Harvey Bullock. As Church’s footsteps came closer, Bullock turned his head to grimace at his colleague. “Well look at who finally decided to show up, you’re late Brian!” Bullock scolded.
“Aw, did you miss me partner?” Church teased.
“Like cancer!” Bullock retorted. He lighted up a cigarette and puffed some smoke at Church’s face. “And don’t call me partner either; I’m just babysitting you until Sawyer can make you someone else’s problem. Trust me pal, being anywhere near you is just bad for my health.”
Church eyed Harvey up and down. “Yes, of course, you certainly look concerned about your health.” He jested. “But enough with the banter, what did I miss?”
“Nothing much yet,” Bullock replied. “The fired department called us as soon as they cleared the building, the whole ground floor is littered with bodies. So far all we know is that the building is owned by Franklin Doherty and that the business has been behind on rent for the past two years. We’ve been try to contact the owner but we have haven’t had any luck.”
“Okay,” Church nodded. He pointed to a couple rookie officers behind him and said, “You, run the plates of the cars outside and tell me who they belong to; and you, I want you to find out everything you can about Frank Doherty.”
“Yes Sir!” Both rookies responded in unison.
“Now let’s hear what our examiners have to say.” Harvey suggested. The detectives approached the other investigators. Bullock looked down at Amanda and asked, “What have we got here?”
The fire scientist rose from her feet and paced around the room before speaking. “It all looks intentional, none of the wiring is damaged and the gas line was untouched. Judging by the burn patterns, I'd say that the fire spread rapidly and that gasoline was used as the primary accelerant. It started from the front entrance of the room to the back corner that we’re positioned in. The lighter we bagged into evidence was most likely the catalyst of the blaze. Though the fire moved quickly, there should have be ample time for the victims to escape from the back exits, which leads me to assume that they were already dead before the fire was ignited. Whoever did this knew what they were doing; if the fire department showed up even ten minutes later, the heat of the flames would have melted through the gas pipes and the whole building would have exploded.”
Harvey turned his head back to the medical examiner, “You got anything to add on this Eugene?” The detective asked.
Phelps fluttered nervously, almost as if he was astonished that he was acknowledged. “Um, yes…as Mrs. Kelso has told you m--many of these men have fatal wounds have occurred before the fire. There are large amounts of metal in nearly all of the corpses, but the fire has warped the shape of most of the projectiles. It’s going to take a while before I can identify which types of firearms were used in these slayings.”
The two rookies rushed to the back of the room, “Detective Churchill! We have what you wanted us to find.” They said handing a couple of sheets of paper to the detective.
Bullock began to theorize aloud, “So the owner butchers his staff and burns down his business to collect on insurance.”
“Not quite,” Church interjected, handing the documents he just received to Bullock. “Frank Doherty died from a heart attack four months ago, his son was trying to sell the place and the whole staff was laid off in June. Registration from the plate numbers came back too. All of the vehicles belonged to suspected members and associates of Intergang, except one car which belonged to one of Great White’s men. What we have here was the opening shot of a gang war.”
“You’ve gotta be kidding me.” Bullock scoffed.
Doctor Phelps cleared his voice, “I’m afraid Detective Churchill may be correct. The victims near us were tied in a seated position. Unlike the others they were not killed with bullets. Each of them was physically abused and one of them might have actually been burned alive.”
“What are you getting at Phelps?” Detective Bullock asked.
“He’s saying that these men were tortured because they had some involvement with the deaths of the other victims.” Churchill clarified.
“Um—yes, precisely.” Phelps nervously nodded in agreement.
“That’s just great, if this is gang-related than the guns will probably be untraceable and no one in this neighborhood is gonna talk to the cops. Sawyer’s just gonna love this.” Churchill said.
“If these animals want to kill each other we should just let them.” Harvey uttered.
“We both know that it’s never that simple.” Church added. His phone began to vibrate, after briefly viewing a text:
We’ve got a problem!
He looked back at Bullock and said, “I’ve gotta take this.”
“Go ahead, partner” Harvey affirmed, whilst his mocking chuckle changed into an uncontrollable cough.
The detective walked into a secluded alley and called Brown’s cellphone. As soon as the ringing stopped Churchill shouted, “What the hell do you mean we have a problem!—Where’s the disc?”
“Calm down and let me explain,” Brown responded. “White murdered Stitches and took the disc. Before I could follow him, I got ambushed by some psycho in a purple cape. When I woke up I was tied up to a car frame; I managed to escape and I’m on my way home now.”
“Then you’re going the wrong way, go back to White’s office now!” Churchill demanded.
Brown sighed, “Listen up Church, I almost got killed tonight searching for your stupid disc and I’m not going to risk my life for you again until I’m sure my family is safe.”
“Apparently you don’t understand the deal you signed, I make the rules and you follow them. If you don’t bring me back that disc you’re going back to Blackgate. Do I make myself clear?”
“Sure thing Church, but I think it’s time for us to renegotiate the terms of our deal. From now on I’m the one who makes the rules and if you have a problem with that, I suggest you find someone else to take the disc. This conversation is over.” Brown declared, before hanging up.
“Arthur? Arthur!” Churchill shouted. He closed his phone and winced in anger as he smashed his fist against one of the walls in the alley.
Meanwhile, at the Wayne International Airport:
Snake Fatale and Kyle Abbot waited anxiously for the new leader of Gotham’s Intergang to arrive. Little was known about the mobster, except that he was once the most feared crime boss in Metropolis and he was known to Intergang as the man who gave Johnny his stitches. After a few setbacks with Black Lightning, Whale was driven out of power and joined Intergang as a means of surviving the criminal underworld. Denetto would have surely taken his revenge on Whale if Bruno Mannheim hadn’t offered his protection. As a result, Whale has been indebted to his new boss ever since.
Tobias entered the lobby of the Airport, along with a small army of men that followed. Each of Tobias’ followers wore fine suits with embroidered I’s on their collars. The rough outline over their shoulders suggested the concealed presence of body armor. A bulky figure towered over the crowd; he was attired in a purple suit and adorned with a blue scarf. He also had a harpoon clench tightly in his fist.
The menacing figure looked down at both of his associates. “I presume you must be the ones’ known as Mr. Abbot and Snake Fatale. I apparently need no introduction, but allow me to enlighten you anyway. My name is Tobias Whale and I am currently your leader.”
Whisper scoffed, “Bruno Mannheim is our leader; you have been charged with managing the task at hand. The sooner you recognize that difference, the less difficult it will be for us to work together.” Whale’s grip tightened around his weapon causing Abbot to growl in retaliation. Snake's voice soothed before she asked her next question. “Now how would you require us to approach this situation?”
“Ms. Fatale, though I appreciate your straightforwardness, I would advise you not to challenge my authority again.” Whale said, as he loosened his grip to ponder his thoughts. “Hmm… decisions, decisions. First we should deal with this Cluemaster and his masked accomplice; we must punish them severely for their transgressions upon us. Then, we hunt down the Great White Shark; I’ll enjoy making an example out of him. Once that is finished, we’ll return the disc to Bruno as ordered.”
Snake smirked, “Shall I lead the way?” She asked.
“By all means,” he said, grinning back at her.
1:08 am, Stephanie’s House
Stephanie’s Point of View:
It’s been almost an hour, but I still couldn’t get any sleep. I was so excited from all of the action that I still haven’t taken my costume off. I stared at the phone, imagining that it would ring soon and it would all be over. I thought of my mother answering it, hearing Arthur’s final plea for help before he was sent back to jail, far away from the both of us. It would probably hurt her for awhile, but I know it’ll work out better in the long run. Just then, I felt another weird feeling about what I had done, it felt like pride. I took pride in knowing that tonight I defended my family from harm, I even helped the police put away three other bad guy’s too. I made a difference tonight and no one could take that away from me.
All of a sudden, I heard the sound of a latch flicking from downstairs. I put my mask back on and slowly crept down to investigate. I gazed at the moonlight on the floor, which led me to discover a newly opened window. Shadows filled the rest of the living room, along with an unusual silence. The silence was broken, when a fist swung out from the shadows and towards and towards my head, grazing my temple during my attempt to dodge. He followed up by smashing his knee into my stomach, exactly where my knife wound was. I collapsed to the ground briefly before he grabbed me by my throat and slammed me against the wall.
“What are you doing in my house?” He roared.
“I could ask you the same question!” I replied. I took my mask off and glared back at him.
Arthur’s eyes widened. He was shocked at what he saw, “Stephanie?” His eyes dropped again as he anxiously stared back at me. “I thought you and your mother were in danger. I came here to protect you.”
I noticed his hesitation and struck his swollen face. “The only one who needs protection is you!” I screamed as prepared to hit him again.
He caught my fists, then held me by my wrists and said, “It wasn’t what it looked like honey, you’re just confused. Please let me explain.”
I kneed him in the groin and wrapped my hands around his throat. “LIAR!--All you ever do is lie!” I screamed. As I choked him on the floor his lips began to move, I loosened my hands enough to hear his words.
“If that’s all you’re willing to believe, then do it,” he dropped his arms and stopped defending himself. Once his face began to turn purple, I let go of him and burst into tears.
After Arthur regained his breath, he wiped the tears from my face and began to explain himself. As it turns out, Arthur wasn’t released from Blackgate for good behavior, but rather, for agreeing to assist the GCPD with their cases against Great White. Apparently, White and my father have been committing crimes together from childhood, up until that Christmas ten years ago. Originally, he was supposed to gradually infiltrate White’s organization, but after the detectives he worked for heard of the meeting with Intergang, he was pressured to snatch a disc from White immediately.
I felt ashamed for what I had done. My father was trying to make Gotham a safer place for everyone and I was just trying to get revenge for myself. I allowed my prior feelings of him to cloud my judgment and it might have cost him the chance to catch one of Gotham’s most dangerous criminals. “Dad, I’m sorry.” I said, trying to be as sincere as possible.
“It’s okay Steph, there’s no point in crying about it now.” He affirmed.
“What are you gonna do now?” I inquired.
“Well I’m gonna have to get that disc, it’s either that or prison and I’m not going to spend another day away from you or your mom. Try to help me clean up this mess first; your mom will have a heart attack if she sees the living room like this.”
“Dad… I just wanted to tell you that, you were right.”
“Right—wait what was I right about?” He asked.
“About that promise you made the first day you came to see me, I am proud of you, and mom is too.”
He paused. I waited for him say something back, but before he could the door was smashed down. Nearly a dozen armed men stormed into the house. Two of the men shoved us to the ground and checked us for weapons, while the others searched the house. When I heard a scream coming from my mother’s room I tried to rise up, but I was slammed back to the ground. Mom was dragged down the stairs at gunpoint by one of the thugs. After our hands and feet were restrained, the men duct taped our mouths and raised the three of us to our knees. A large man in a purple suit sat down on the sofa across from us as another man and woman stood at his sides.
“Pardon my intrusion Mr. Brown, or do you prefer being called Cluemaster… I guess our titles have become redundant since everyone’s masks will be coming off tonight anyway.” He said, briefly grinning at me. “However, it would be informal of me to barge into your house in the middle of the night without properly addressing myself wouldn’t it? Then again, it would also be rude of me to do such a thing without stating my business for being here as well. My name is Tobias Whale and I represent a particular organization that for legal purposes shall remain nameless. Earlier tonight, nearly two dozen associates of my organization where stricken down, bringing their lives to an abrupt end. There is also the matter of a disc that was stolen shortly after this audacious crime took place. Though we have had such little time to grieve, we believe that our departed colleagues would have wanted us to succeed where they have failed and deliver the stolen item back to our most gracious leader. If you could provide information as to where this disc is currently located, we may try to overlook the part you play in the demise of our associates.” Whale signaled his guard to take the tape off of my father’s lips, “You may speak now.”
“I don’t have your disc; it’s still with Great White.” Dad confirmed.
“I seriously doubt you would be foolish enough to lie to me, but if you are telling the truth then we still have a few more issues to resolve. You want your family to be safe, but I still need my disc and to see that White is made an example of. Unfortunately, White is the type of person who does not like to share his toys. If my men attempted take back the disc, Great White would probably destroy it just so we wouldn’t be able to use it. Luckily, I’ve come up with an amicable solution that can solve both our problems.” He waved his hand towards the woman on his left. “Snake, if you wouldn’t mind.”
“Certainly,” she hissed handing a pistol over to Whale. It was a gold plated Desert Eagle, furnished with a polished rosewood handle with chrome on its sights and trigger. The weapon looked like a child’s toy in Whale’s paws. He pointed it closely at dad’s head which caused my mom to cringe. “Snake tells me that this was Johnny’s favorite gun. I’ve decided that you’ll use it to terminate Mr. White.”
“Fine” my father said, reaching for the gun.
“Not so fast” Whale said, pulling the gun away and emptying the clip. “There’s still one in the chamber, but I wouldn’t want you to get any silly ideas. Once your done take the disc and bring it back to me.”
“How am I supposed to get close enough to kill him?” Dad asked.
“Snake and Abbot will lead my subordinates to attack White’s base. While they distract the guards you sneak into White’s office and finish him. If you run into any difficulties along the way, you’ll just have to get creative.”
“Yeah, I’ve been hearing that a lot lately.” My father said.
“Good! But just in case you try to talk yourself out of cooperating, some of my men and I will stay here with your wife and the costumed vigilante for collateral of course.” Whale declared.
The Cluemaster pleaded “They have nothing to do with this Whale!”
“Well they do now Mr. Brown.” Whale replied. He had the restrains untied and tossed over the gun to my father. “Snake Fatale, Mr. Abbot please escort our new accomplice to White’s hideout.” They lifted him up and walked him out of the house.
“Don’t worry; everything’s going to be fine. You’ll see, I’ll be back in no time.” He assured me, before he was forced out the door. His car drove off along with a motorcade of impending destruction.
“So touching, if I wasn't doing my job I might have been rooting for him myself. Either way, they will all have to atone for they’re crimes. Do you two have anything to say?” He asked.
After the tape was ripped off our mouths, my mother began to reason with our captors. “Please, just let us go. We don’t even know anything about you or the people you work for.--”
“Enough!” Whale stated, having the tape put back on mom’s mouth. “Do you have any idea how many times I’ve heard people in your situation say that? Now, what would you like to say?” He wondered, switching his gaze to me.
“You’re not going to let us go, even after my father does your dirtywork. So why do you care what I have to say?” I replied
“My my, such a clever young girl, but to answer your question, I find interest in costumed vigilantes such as yourself. After all, you don’t see many teenage girls putting on a disguise and taking down criminals nowadays do you? My curiosity on the topic commands me to ask why such a person would do something so hazardous to their well being.”
“I did it because it’s worth the risk!” I exclaimed. “There is plenty of evil in this world, especially in Gotham. If what I did even had a fraction of a chance of making Gotham a better place, then I would gladly do it again. People like you are the reason people like me exist.”
“How noble of you Ms. Brown, but it appears that your efforts were in vain. Those men you tied up answered to my judgment before the police arrived, and no matter how many villains you subdue; there will always be plenty of room in our society for people like me. On the other hand, costumed fools like yourself only disturb the natural order of society. Heroes only interrupt the flow of power to deform the world, so that it fits their ludicrous notions of righteousness.” He claimed. Whale extended his hand and one of his guards handed him a harpoon. “Earlier in my career, I faced a similar predicament with another costumed hero. I am embarrassed to say that I had him at a disadvantage, but I still underestimated his capabilities. This mistake cost me dearly, which is why I vowed that I would never make that same mistake a second time.”
Whale continued to speak and my mother started to cry underneath the duct tape but my mind started to drift away from the hopeless conversation. “Was this it?” I thought to myself. “Was this how I was going to die?” Just then, my eyes lock on to the two sets of wings that were approaching my living room windows.
Whale approached closer and raised the harpoon over his head. “Do you have any last words Miss Brown?”
I smirked “Only a few, you should really look behind you?”
Instantly, Batman and Robin smashed through my living room, knocking 4 of Whale’s men on their backs. The Dark Knight threw several metallic objects at the remaining guards, knocking the weapons out of their hands. I grabbed one of the metal wings and began rubbing it between my wrists.
Whale was furious; he swung his harpoon at Robin. Robin backflipped out of the spear’s range, then pulled out a steel rod from his waistband. The pole extended into a bow staff and the two charged at one another. Robin knocked the harpoon out of Whale’s hands and positioned his leg for a kick, but Whale grabbed Robin’s leg and flung him across the room. Robin landed near the staircase and sprinted at Whale again. This time instead of jumping he slid underneath Whale’s reach and tripped him with his staff. At this point I cut through the ropes around my legs and worked on freeing my mother.
Batman was fighting all of Whale’s guards without losing any momentum. He smashed two of the thugs’ heads together, kicked another in his ribs, and countered an incoming kick by flipping the attacker’s leg over his head and swiping the other leg. Two more men tried attacking him at different sides while a third man ran for one of the guns on the floor. Batman ducked and the two men ended up punching each other in the face. He blocked another punch and chopped the assailant across his back.
After I cut my mother loose I noticed that the final thug managed to pick up one of the weapons on the floor. He aimed the sights on Robin (who was still fighting Whale at the time).
“WATCH OUT!” The Batman roared, running towards the thug. I threw the metal wing at the gunman’s head, hitting him perfectly on his forehead. Robin looked back at me in awe for a split second; his gaze was broken once Whale threw his body at Batman. He looked back at me with contempt before picking up his harpoon. Whale rushed forward and attempted to launch his harpoon like a javelin. Just prior to Whale’s release, a loud gunshot to his chest dropped him to the floor. I followed the sound and saw my mother holding a smoking gun. She dropped the pistol and wrapped her arms around me as a stream of tears rolled down her face. I consoled her as best as I could, before I talked with Batman and Robin.
Whale writhed in pain on the floor spewing blood all over the carpet. “Is he going to die?” I asked them.
“He’ll live,” Batman said in a reluctant tone.
“You have to help my dad! He’s in trouble.” I appealed.
“We already know, we’re going there next.” Robin assured me.
“Great! What’s the plan?” I asked.
“You’re not coming with us, Stephanie.” Batman asserted.
“What are you talking about? I just saved Robin’s life.--”
“And almost got yourself killed in the process.” Batman added.
“Batman’s right Steph,” Robin said. “It’s going to be too dangerous out there.”
“Enough!” I yelled. “We don’t have time to argue. We agreed that I would stop once my things were settled between me and my dad, but until then I’m still acting as a vigilante. You can let me help you save my father, or I’ll try doing it on my own and probably get myself killed in the process. Either way I’m going to White’s Office.”
Batman stared back at me with a cold glare and I stared back at him with the same intensity. “Fine, but you do everything I say the moment I say it. Understand?”
“Got it!” I replied.
2:47 am, Outside White’s Office Building:
It was nearly 20 minutes after Intergang arrived and the entire block had become a warzone. Trenches of cars filled the streets as bullets flew endlessly across both sides. Great White had used his time to amass enough gunmen to repel the invasion. Though the sharpshooters on the roof and fire escape kept the opposing gang back, Intergang’s rpgs blasted holes into their enemy’s fortification. Neither side was able to hold the upper hand for a substantial period of time. Without warning, wave of GCPD copters and squad cars closed off the perimeter. Before the police instructed both sides to surrender, an rpg knocked one of the copters out of the sky.
“Where pinned down my lady, we need to retreat before it’s too late.” Abbot said.
“What we need, is more time to get that disc. Now be a good dog and take care of the cops.” Snake demanded.
“Very well,” Abbot conceded. He howled loudly as his muscles and bones began to contort. A black coat of fur protruded from his skin whilst his fangs and claws sharpened. The police opened fire upon the wolfman, but his wounds instantly healed. Abbot growled ferociously, then charged at the blockade, dicing each of them limb from limb with his claws, before sniffing for more adversaries.
2:52 am, Stephanie’s Point of View:
My mother still didn’t understand much of what was happening, but she knew why I had to go with them. I promised her that I would be safe and that I would bring dad home. She kissed me on my forehead and told me that she loved me before I left.
I followed Batman’s car with my bike to the best of my ability. Even at top speed, it was hard to keep up with him. We stopped a couple of blocks ahead of Crime Alley and pursued on foot. Judging from the loud screams and the smoke in the sky, it wasn’t going to be hard to find White’s fortress.
We grappled up to the top of a neighboring building to get a better vantage point. From the looks of things the GCPD were in trouble. Though, they managed to weaken both gangs, their ground forces were being decimated by a werewolf. Most of White’s gang was now either dead or arrested. I scanned each opening in the building and spotted my father near the end of the second story. He was only a couple of rooms away from White’s office.
“I’ll take care of the Werewolf, go with Robin and stop your father.” Batman ordered.
“Follow me,” Robin said, as we grappled through a window on the second floor.
Outside White’s Building:
Abbot ran through the block, sinking his fangs into the flesh of anyone who wasn’t Intergang. He chased a group of cops into a narrow alley with a dead end. Each of the police officers fired whatever ammo they had left, but their bullets were rendered useless against the beast. Just before all hope was lost, Batman glided down and dropkicked the werewolf onto the brick wall.
“Get out of here.” He told them, as he reached into his utility belt. The cops ran back to the shattered blockade as the wolf rose to his feet. Batman clenched a batarang in one hand and a plastic explosive pack in the other, as Abbot got ready to pounce. Once Abbot charged Batman hurled a batarang at the edge of the wall. The batarang ricocheted off the edge off the wall, blinding Abbot before he propelled forward, giving the batman an opportunity to jump over him and plant an explosive on his back. After landing on his feet he detonated the charge. The vicious blast pushed Abbot down to the floor, causing him to holler in pain. Though, within a few seconds, the wolf man’s rage brought him back to his feet. Before Abbot turned around, Batman had latched a breather mask to his face and launched series of pellets down the alleyway. Abbot charged down the narrow street, steering himself with only the Batman’s scent. He passed through the black smoke, which now turned to purple, all the way to the brick wall and lifted a dumpster where the scent was the strongest. Underneath the dumpster, Abbot had found only a tattered cape as the purple fumes infested his lungs made his body collapse to the ground. The Dark Knight descended from the top of the brick wall and lifted Abbot’s unconscious human body through the alleyway. Batman handed Abbot over to the police officers he saved earlier and said, “Use the toughest restraints you can find. He’ll regain consciousness in a couple of hours.”
“Thanks Batman!” One of the officers said, checking if Abbot was really unconscious. “You really saved our butts tonight. How did you--,” The officer turned back and realized that Batman vanished, “Do that?”
Inside White’s Office:
White had barricaded himself behind a hallway of armed thugs and a state of the art security door. He sat in his chair and dialed a number. He stirred impatiently as another call was sent to an automated voice mailbox. “Where the hell are you Tally?” White asked, “In case you’re interested we’re being raided, now get back here as soon as possible and do what I pay you to do!” He shouted. Suddenly, White heard a loud bang, followed by gunshots, and a final bang. Within a few seconds, the cacophony simmered down to a faint groaning noise and the sound of metallic clicks coming from the other side of the door. Once the door was unlocked, Great White clutched a sub machine gun from his desk and approached the door. He waited for someone to open the door but no one had tried. He pushed the door forward and aimed rapidly down both sides of the hallway. Immediately he saw his henchmen groveling on the floor, vomiting from the tear gas that was entering White’s office. White closed the door as fast as he could, covered his mouth and stumbled back to avoid the affects of the gas. As White retreated he turned back to his desk and discovered that the Cluemaster was standing behind him.
Cluemaster struck White and snatched the weapon from hands. He took out the ammo clip and threw the gun to the ground.
“What’s your problem Arthur? We’re supposed to be on the same side.”
Arthur pulled out Johnny’s gun, “We were never on the same side Warren.” He affirmed. “Now where’s the disc?”
“Wait a minute, that’s Johnny’s gun! So I guess that means you switched over to Intergang. I’m curious Brown, how much did your loyalty cost?” White chuckled. “Look, whatever they’re paying you I can triple.”
“This isn’t about money--this is personal, and you’re the last person who should be talking about loyalty. I know that you’re the one who sold me out 10 years ago.”
“Oh yeah, I did do that. It got rid of a conspiracy charge, but I ended up getting sent to Arkham the next year anyway. It’s funny how life works out sometimes.” He said, walking over to the desk.
“Don’t move!” The Cluemaster shouted as he aimed the pistol at White.
“The disc is at my desk,” he said taking a seat. “See that’s the problem with you Arthur, you’ve always let your emotions get in the way. At the end of the day all that’s really left is business. Take the problem I had ten years ago, I was facing criminal charges and I had a thief who didn’t want to steal anymore, so I made a business decision.”
“Was that what it was all about?” Cluemaster speculated. “You betrayed me because I wanted to do the right thing. I was your friend!”
“No, you were my employee, and that’s all you ever were!” White protested. “Your job was to steal and my job was to sell, it was a simple as that. When you forgot your place you had to be taught a lesson.”
Brown scoffed, “And what lesson would that be?”
“That no one walks away until I say that it’s over.” White answered. He pulled out a second gun from a hidden compartment in his desk and squeezed the trigger. To his surprise, no bullets were leaving the trigger.
“If you want to shoot me you might need this,” Cluemaster said, pulling out a firing pin from one of his pockets. “I already searched your desk Warren; I know the disc is still on you. Now hand it over or else.--”
“Or else what?” White interjected.
“Or else I’m gonna put a bullet through you skull. Then, I’m gonna dump your corpse into that tank behind you and watch the fish shred you into pieces.” Cluemaster said, gripping his finger around the trigger.”
Great White chuckled again. “Well look at you! Ten years at Blackgate and you’re a whole new man. Maybe you should be thanking me.”
“Enough with the games Warren! Give me the disc or you die!” Brown yelled.
Just as Arthur was about to fire, Robin opened the door. “Put the gun down Cluemaster!” He said.
Arthur glanced back at the boy in the red costume “This has nothing to do with you kid. Just stay out of my way and I promise I won’t hurt anyone else.”
Robin cautiously stepped closer, “You know I can’t do that, now please lower your weapon.” Tim insisted.
“I don’t have a choice!” Brown cried. “I need to do this for my family.”
“No, you don’t have to do this.” The Spoiler said as she entered the room. “Your family is safe, Robin helped save them.”
Arthur glanced back at them. “Thank you Robin, but I still need to do this. This man destroyed my life and it’s my responsibility to make sure he doesn’t ruin anymore.”
“You know that this isn’t the answer. It’s time to accept responsibility for your actions.” Stephanie said moving closer to her father. “You were incarcerated because you chose to commit a crime, not for getting caught. You did your time and paid your debt to society, now you have to allow White to do the same, even if he doesn’t deserve it. You also know that if you pull that trigger it won’t be White who destroyed your life, it’ll be you. You’ll go back to jail and never get to see your family again. Is your revenge really worth losing all of that?” She asked.
Arthur sighed, “No, it isn’t.” He concluded as he lowered the pistol. He walked over to Robin and gave surrendered the weapon.
White grinned, “How sweet, I would have shot all three of us if I were you.”
“Well he isn’t you!” Steph yelled as she smashed her fist into his face. She took the disc from his pocket and handed it over to her father. “I believe this is what you were looking for.”
“Thanks honey!” Arthur whispered to his daughter as he took the disc. “Ready to go?”
The Spoiler glanced back at her new acquaintance. “Actually, I just wanted to talk with Robin for a little while. I’ll catch up in a few minutes.”
“Fine but don’t take too long, the police are gonna sweep the area soon.” He warned her.
After Arthur left, the two of them stared at each other as an awkward silence arose. After a few moments Stephanie finally mustered the nerve to speak. “Crazy night, huh.”
“You get used to them after a while.” Tim reassured her. “I’m glad you got your father back.”
Stephanie smiled, “Thanks, but I wouldn’t have been able to do this without you or Batman.”
“We were both wrong in trying to stop you from coming with us. If you weren’t here, things probably would have ended a lot worse.”
“So, what happens with our agreement now?” The Spoiler asked.
Robin hesitated to answer the question. As he was about to speak three loud gunshots interrupted their conversation. “That sounded pretty close” Robin claimed. Stephanie rushed out of the room to locate where the sound had come from. “Hold on” Robin urged her, as he followed her out of the building.
“DAD!” She screamed as she sprinted toward her father’s car, already noticing the blood that had spilt from the opened driver’s seat.
“I’ll get help!” Robin told her, as he searched for the closest ambulance.
When she reached her father she pulled off her masked and attempted to press down on the wounds to slow down the blood flow.
Her father grabbed her hands and said “It’s too late honey, there’s nothing more you can do for me.”
“Don’t say that!” She pleaded. “I don’t want to lose you.”
“I know you don’t want me to go, but I have to. Don’t be so sad honey; I’ll see you and your mom again one day.” Arthur promised, as he began to cough up blood. He reached for a blue bag from the back seat and passed it to his daughter. “I’ve wanted to give you this for awhile, there’s something important inside, just think of it as an early birthday present.” He smiled before he started to gasp for breath.
“Please just hold on a little longer” she cried. “I still need you.”
“It’s okay Stephanie; you’ve already grown into a strong and beautiful woman. You’re going to be an amazing person, even without me. Before when you said you where proud of me, I wanted to tell you that I was proud of you too.” He spit up more blood as his body began to shut down. “I love you Steph.”
She saw the light fade from his eyes. “I love you too.” She replied. By the time Robin had come back with the EMT’s the Spoiler had vanished leaving only a bloody mask on her father’s lap.
Later, at the Abandoned Movie Theater:
Detective Churchill sat in the corner of the theater, puffing from a freshly lit cigarette. As the doors of the theater opened, a man dressed in white took his seat behind Churchill.
“Is it finished?” Churchill asked.
“Everything’s been taken care of.” The Tally Man replied, as he gave the disc to Churchill.
“I’m sure you’ve already sent a copy of this to your superiors.” Churchill inferred.
“I have, but that shouldn’t be a problem as long as you remain obedient to our will.” Tally asserted.
“And what is the will of the Syndicate?” Churchill inquired.
Tally scowled at Churchill. “That information is irrelevant to you. All you need to do is obey the orders that you are given whenever they are assigned. Do you understand me?”
Churchill sighed reluctantly, “Yes, I understand.”
“Good,” Tally concluded, rising from his seat. “Then we’re done here.”
August 11, 2010, Stephanie’s Point of View:
Today is my 17 birthday. Unlike most of seventeen year olds where I live, I won’t be hanging out with my friends, meeting boys, or driving a new car, but instead I will be burying my father today. Mom wanted to postpone the funeral for my sake but I insisted that we needed to get this over with. I figured that the best gift she could give me today was the ability to move on from all of the grieving. Once I got dressed, I entered the hearse with my mother and held her arm tightly until we arrived at the cemetery.
After the priest gave a short prayer and the coffin was lowered to the ground, the ceremony was over. Only a few people attended the ceremony; most of the people who attended only did so for my mother. A couple of neighbors and member's of my mom's support group also showed up, but none of them really knew my father, other than what they heard on the news about him. To us, Arthur Brown was a loving husband and father, but to the rest of Gotham he was just one of White’s many thugs who were shot down in the midst of a gang war.
There was still one person in the crowd who I didn’t recognize. She had long red hair, wore glasses, and was seated in a wheelchair. As the guests tried to console my mother, I approached the mysterious woman and said, “Thank you for coming to my father’s funeral. Did you two know each other?”
“I’m afraid I didn’t know your father, but I’m sorry for your loss. My name is Barbara...Barbara Gordon.” She replied. “I’ve actually come here to check on how you were doing.” She added.
For a moment I was puzzled, “I’m sorry but I don’t recall ever seeing you before. Have we met before?”
She smiled “No, this is the first time we’ve met one another, but we have mutual friends.”
Finally, I understood she was talking about Batman and Robin. “Did they send you here?” I asked.
“No, I came here on my own, but they would have come if they could have.” She affirmed. “They told me about how you handled yourself that night, so I decided to meet you in person. Have you thought about whether you want to continue doing those things again?” She inquired.
I wasn’t sure what to say. “Um, can I have some time to think about it?” I asked.
“Of course” she said eagerly, “I didn’t mean to pressure you like that, especially after all that just happened.” She reached into her pocket, then pulled out a piece of paper and briefly scribbled on it. “Here’s my number and my e-mail, just contact me when you feel like you’re ready.”
I folded the paper and clenched it in my hand. “I should go check on my mom, but thanks for the support.”
“No problem” she replied, smiling again at me.
Later that night I sat in my bed and looked through old family photos of my dad. I reached into the blue gift bag my father gave me and took out the stuffed animal inside. It was a pink bunny with a white heart shaped in its center, a perfect match to the Princess Iggy I briefly had in my childhood. I hung it up on my shelf and laid back on my bed.
As I rested my head, I stared back at the note Barbara Gordon had left me. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. I started to think about Tim’s words about the sacrifices that come with fighting crime. If I called Barbara, I would be jeopardizing the safety of everyone I’ve ever cared about. Then I thought about what would happen if I didn’t go through with this. Ever since I watched my father die, all of the anger and hatred I once harbored turned into a desire to help people. If I knew I had a chance to stop a villain from harming an innocent and I didn’t take it, I would feel like a coward.
I got up from the bed and walked towards the closet. My hand trembled nervously on the handle before I worked up the courage to open the door. When I saw my father’s bloodstains on the costume, my mind instantly switched on images of his blood soaked corpse. Once I saw the images I realized that I was terrified of the thought of ever experiencing that again. I slammed the door hard that my stuffed animal fell off of the shelf. As I picked it up, I noticed that the bunny had a zipper on its back, unlike the original Princess Iggy. Suddenly, I thought back to my father’s words that night, “There’s something important inside.” I unzipped the back and reached into the pink bunny. Inside the bunny was a small USB drive. I plugged the drive into my laptop and opened the files stored within it. The drive held a web of nearly every criminal who has every worked with my father and the people who have worked with them. This archive had a collection of major crimes, spanning over three decades.
I wondered what the odds were that my father wanted to pass this drive to me. He could have easily given this to the police at any time, but he chose to leave it in my birthday present. Perhaps he was just ordered to keep it at home until he had enough solid evidence to show to the detective he was working with. Either way my father had left me a legacy and I intended to use it.
I took a few moments to way all of the decisions in my head before I pulled out my phone. I dialed the number and wait for it to ring. Once the ringing stopped, I said, “Hello Barbara, it’s me Steph. I think I ready to do what we talked about. So, where do we begin?”
The end, to a new beginning
I hoped you all enjoyed the story. If you liked it then you might enjoy some of the other fanfics over at DC Mayhem. Please comment. Any feedback is welcome. I’d also like to thank nevermore999 for posting this link: http://scans-daily.dreamwidth.org/2377278.html it was a huge source of inspiration for my story.