Co-Written By Irishlad and Joygirl
Chapter Two - Shocked
Blake's eyes widened. He slipped his hands downwards into the sheathes of his "claws", drawing them and screaming. "GET HER OUT! Get her out right now or I swear I will--!"
"Calm down, Catman," Scandal said quickly, her voice soft but firm, and loud enough to be heard over Thomas's shouts.
Harley coughed slightly, looking every which where but at the team, her hands folded neatly behind her back.
"Calm down?!" Thomas roared, turning to face Savage. "That... that THING is the Joker with pigtails! It'll have this place lit up in less than five--!"
"Ahem?" Harley said a bit more firmly, twisting her lips in an expression of distaste.
"No she's not, Cat! Do you see me as just Vandal Savage with tits, then, is that it?!"
"You're his daughter! She is the Joker's GIRLFRIEN--"
"I SAID AHEM!"
The room went silent once again. Harley held the floor with her fists clenched into balls, glowering silently at the rest of the team. The silence continued for a few long moments, only the sounds of Peter’s bones creaking against his brittle skin audible over the deafening hush.
"...Uh... so is she gonna say anything, or...?" Grifter attempted, laying one palm ever-so-casually over the handle of one of his pistols.
Harley cracked her neck dramatically and set her gaze on Grifter. Bane struck the masked man's arm with one gigantic hand.
"Ouch," Grifter grunted, rubbing his arm and glaring at the prison-born Gotham legend.
“Clench your tongue," Bane whispered harshly, "In San Prisca we have a saying; when a woman yells, shut up. When a woman is silent, you had best prepare to take cover."
"Father always said that when a woman is silent is when she's experiencing the most displeasure, and you have to ease up if you want her to keep screaming, which he always did." Ragdoll piped in helpfully.
Catman turned from Scandal to Merkel, his jaw agape for a moment. "...Where's Lawton when you need him? Peter, PLEASE, don't share things with us."
"I thought it was quite relevant, thank you very much--"
"Shaddap!" Harley Quinn drew a long, deep breath. "Look. I know ya may not find me... ideal. But my mind's in the right place, just like the rest of you goons. Well, maybe not him," she jerked a thumb at Ragdoll, who pantomimed offense with his overly-long limbs. "I've had it with that creep tryin' to RUN ME OVER, shoot me, STAB ME, poison my cheez whiz, USE THE BLADED WHIPS DURING PLAYTIME...."
She shook her head, trying to get back on her mental track. "Have any of you experienced heartbreak? The love of your life taking your heart and smashing it on the ground, chewing on it and letting the hyenas go dookie on it? I can guarantee you that the Joker alone has broken my heart more times than all of your relationships, COMBINED, have done to you. And I've forgiven him for the last time. I want him dead, okay?"
“…Okay.” Grifter attempted, lifting the loose mask just enough to take a long drag off of his cigarette, letting the mask drop before releasing the smoke, and dropping ashes onto the floor casually.
“Kay. So everyone’s alright with that, ladies and germs? Or was TV-Screen-Man wrong in saying that you’d want a piece of Joker as bad as I do?”
“Um, excuse me.” Ragdoll said, leaping up and hanging awkwardly from one of the warehouse’s rafters, one leg hanging over it. “We aren’t actually considering this, are we? She could be even worse than Joker, and she’s less predictable! I mean, I mean, I mean…
Didn’t she blow up an orphanage, just because Joker offhandedly said he wanted more suffering in the world that night?”
“Didn’t she EAT a man’s entire heart because he said that Gotham was better with Batman?”
“Didn’t she forget to *eep* butter both sides of a piece of toast?!”
“She can’t be trusted.”
WELL, MS. SAVAGE. AS LEADER, THE DECISION RESTS ON YOUR SHOULDERS. CHOOSE WISELY. That voice on the television again. “Mockingbird”.
The entire room seemed to slowly turn to gaze at Scandal, their eyes expectant or apprehensive. Only Harley gazed at the floor, an angry pout on her face – directed at Ragdoll.
“Scandaaaaaal, the wicked creature is looking at meeee, make her stop!” Ragdoll whined, flailing his inhuman limbs awkwardly.
Scandal inhaled slowly, a sense of discomfort washing over her. She glanced at the clowngirl, chewing the inside of her cheek before finally relenting. “She comes with us.”
“What?! No, no no wait, let’s think about this—“ Catman shouted, throwing his arms up, but it was to no avail – nor was it much noticed. Harley immediately lunged at Vandal Savage’s daughter, wrapping her up in her strong arms and crushing the smaller woman.
“YAAAY! Thank you thank you thank you!” Harley squawked, Scandal’s head positioned rather awkwardly between the jester girl’s breasts.
“Are you sure this is what you want, Scandal Savage?” Bane deadpanned, looking deeply concerned. To be honest, he wasn’t afraid of Harley – he didn’t trust her, but he wasn’t willing to turn her away for her past, either. This was the kind of team for atoners and lunatics alike, and Harley seemed to be both. Despite that, he wanted the best for the young woman he had grown to care for.
Scandal threw her arms up helplessly and shrugged at her “adoptive father”, and Harley’s squeal of enjoyment began to rise and change, a little giggle rippling throughout her. A giggle that turned into a chuckle, that turned into a laugh. “Heeheehahahaha, hahahahehehahahahha, hoohooheheeheeehehee, HAHAHAHA!!!” she began to swing the short-haired woman around in circles, still squeezing her.
A look of mild horror came over Scandal’s face, her eyes widening slightly as she began to wiggle defensively in Harley’s arms. The Joker’s old henchgirl finally realized herself, and set the other woman back onto the ground, letting go and scratching the back of her neck awkwardly, her increasingly psychotic laughter ebbing before finally dying altogether. “Eheh… heh, heh, oops. I guess I’m still a little crazy?”
I BELIEVE IT IS TIME THAT YOU PREPARE YOURSELVES, SECRET SIX. ON THE FAR SIDE OF THIS ROOM, BEHIND THE SCREEN, IS A HATCH THAT WILL LEAD TO YOUR NEW HOME. GRIFTER, I BELIEVE YOU HAVE ALREADY LOCATED IT.
“That I have,” Grifter said with a bit of a smirk. Naturally, he was the only one in the room who was aware of his own smile – gotta love masks.
“Let’s go, then.” Scandal gave Harley a mildly unnerved look and followed their new resident “gun-guy” behind the TV, quickly finding the small trapdoor and opening it with one hefty yank. It opened to reveal a set of stone steps, leading down into a dim lighting. “Guess I’m going first?” she said with an uneasy chuckle before taking a step down inside, following the stairs to their conclusion.
“Ooh, what’s down there?” Ragdoll exclaimed happily. “Giant spiders? Pit traps? Bizarro in a thong? Amanda Waller saying she wants you – in an R-rated way? Oh please, the suspense is killing me!”
“Shush, ‘Doll.” Catman said. “Scandal, what’s in there?”
“…It’s a new House of Secrets,” Scandal called from down below. “It’s all furnished, and somehow… Mockingbird already has our stuff in our own respective rooms.”
“I want to switch my room with Grifter’s,” Ragdoll said quickly.
“Not a chance.”
“Blast and damnation. One of these days.”
The inside of the new House of Secrets was not entirely unlike the old one. It was slightly less spooky, and slightly more creepy, with what were obviously medical rooms of some sort having been converted into living quarters. Bane’s room had an old toe-tag in it.
VERY WELL. NOW THAT YOU'RE ALL SETTLED IN, ALLOW US TO DISCUSS THE MISSION. I WOULD APPRECIATE IT, GRIFTER, IF YOU WOULD PUT YOUR TRACKING DEVICE AWAY.
"Ahh," Grifter says evasively, tilting his head towards the surveillance he had noticed. "So, how new is the camera?"
A blast shot out through the room. Grifter’s smirk is almost transparent through his mask as he twirls one pistol around his finger, joking, "Better get it repaired – I think a fuse might have gone."
I AM DISAPPOINTED IN YOU, GRIFTER, Mockingbird said stiffly, before continuing as if the little event had never occurred. MS. QUINN HAS INFORMED ME OF THE JOKER’S LOCATION. HE MAY BE UNSTABLE, BUT HE IS HUMAN. EVEN HE HAS PLACES HE VISITS.
“Where would this clown visit?” Bane growled, glancing around the room as if seeing the speakers that the voice was coming from would be the proper way to address it.
Harley hesitantly looking up at the gigantic convict, putting on a somewhat innocent smile. "The Gotham Cemetery?"
“What do you mean?” Scandal said, tilting her head slightly. Everyone there had at least heard stories of Joker, and they knew he wasn’t the type to visit a graveyard, unless maybe it was to piss on it.
“He comes to a tombstone that says “Maria Townsend” at 2:06am, on a random day of March, every year. The night before he always bombs Ace Chemical – that happened last night.” Harley took a deep breath and attempted her smile again, but Catman wasn’t looking – he was checking the micro-watch built into his gauntlet.
“It’s almost two now! Why didn’t you tell us sooner?”
“Well, yeesh, I tried but you were kinda bein’ a di—“
“Never mind, we have to go now,” Blake said firmly, steeling his jaw and narrowing his eyes. In his room he found a pair of new sharpened daggers. Grifter had a few extra clips and an advanced-looking pistol. Scandal’s had her Lamentation Blades, sharpened and cleaned. Harley’s had a few colorful grenades, her massive warhammer, her popgun, and a vial of Joker gas. Bane’s had three tiny tablets of Venom. Ragdoll’s had a Red Bull.
“Ooh, delicious! Grifter, I lied, you can’t have my room, I have the most lovely presents!” the bendy little man unraveled his bandages to guzzle the can down. “Mmm… wings are yummy.”
Gotham Cemetery 2.05 A.M
“Everyone stay hidden,” Scandal Savage whispered firmly, flexing her forearms to make her blades shoot forth from her gauntlets – on one side, three short, thick, wedge-shaped ripping blades flicked outward, forming a sword-catcher like fan of steel. On the other, two long, thin slashing blades extended, the tips gleaming in the stormy moonlight. Raindrops dripped from the ends of her weapons.
“They shall never see me,” Ragdoll coos happily, curling his preposterous form into a tiny ball. “For I am a shadow of the night, a demon of silence… I… am… Batdoll.”
Catman glanced down at Peter with a look that bridged revulsion and confusion before speaking into his handheld. “Grifter, are you in position?”
"Wait,” came a voice from the other end. Blake sighed softly and wiped his eyes. The cemetery was dark and soaked, thunder rippling out from the roiling clouds overhead. Rain poured down in sheets, nearly blinding the team. A flash of lightning cracked across the sky, illuminating the graveyard for just a moment. Thomas’s eyes widened as he saw him – the man himself, wearing a wide purple fedora. Rain poured down off of the hat, and though his eyes were obscured by it, his wide, sickly grin could be seen in all of its dark majesty. In front of the suited, smiling man was a tall, simple tombstone reading “MARIA TOWNSEND”. When the lightning faded, the Joker had vanished.
“No, he’s getting away!” Catman screamed, drawing out his claws and charging forward, but there was nothing there. “After him! NOW!” As the team mobilized, the “world’s greatest tracker” glanced down at the tombstones around him, looking for any sign of the Clown Prince’s whereabouts.
Another flash of lightning. Tombstones all around, each one reading “TOWNSEND” on the bottom. Their first names had all been scratched out and burned away with acid, leaving only blackened scars.
“He’s gone,” Blake whispered, his voice drowned out amidst the rain.
"Scandal what are you doing?" Bane called sternly as the woman knelt down beside the stone that marked Maria’s grave.
“There’s a note,” she shouted back among the downpour, picking it up and opening it.
Another crack of lightning rang out, nearly deafening the team. Scandal jumped slightly before looking back at the note – now, it was splattered with blood.
Her mind faded to black, her body going weak as she collapsed forward, blood leaking against the tombstone. The last thing she can hear is Bane’s voice.
“Nooooo!” the big man’s voice bellows out, reaching out for her. “Everyone get down!” he yells out, holding his adoptive daughter in his arms, gazing down in horror at the bullet wound that seemed to have blasted right through Scandal’s shoulder blade. Bullets began to flicker and crash against the gravestones, hitting the nearby Catman with a blast of stone shrapnel. Whoever, or whatever, was shooting – the bullets were high-caliber, chewing through thick stone like it was popcorn.
Blake hissed in pain, chunks of blast-propelled stone sticking out of his chest. He’d make it. He pulled the handheld back to his mouth. “Grifter! Can you locate where the shooter’s firing from?!” Gotham’s raindrops stung at his wounds, trickles of blood streaming out onto the manicured grass of the cemetery.
“Fourth floor of the apartments across from you,” came Grifter’s voice, snowy from across the comm. He sounded almost casual – not his first shootout.
“Find a shot and take it!” Catman screamed out.
Grifter closed one eye, gazing through the sights of his sniper rifle. The heavy precipitation coated the little lens and obstructed his view – a clean shot would be impossible. No matter. He began to open fire, shooting whenever he saw a flash of gunfire, aiming for the shots.
Suddenly, there was a total and utter quiet, only the sound of the storm around them could be heard.
“Target down,” Catman growled across the little radio.
Thomas Blake forced himself onto his feet, holding one hand to his chest as he staggered over to Scandal. “Is… Bane, is she okay?”
“I’ll… be fine…” Scandal growled, trying to sound convincing. However, blood was streaming down her open chest wound in fairly copious, fatal-seeming amounts.
Bane held the woman tightly to him, ignoring her and looking up to Catman. “The bullet was LexCorp. I’ve seen them before… they were made to pierce through Superman’s flesh. Her healing factor will not be enough to keep her alive.” Tears rimmed the big man’s eyes, obscured by the downpour.
“Um, Blake.” Grifter’s voice, from across the comm.
“What?!” Catman scrambled for the handheld, shouting into it.
“I'm sensing movement from the apartment room.”
“What’s happening?” Blake sounded exasperated, he turned his eyes to the apartment aside from them.
“I’ve been wrong before, but it seems like… uh… sparks? Yup. Sparks coming out of the window.”
A bolt of lighting crushed the earth beneath, bright blue in coloration and sending Bane flying back, a barely-conscious Scandal still hanging in his arms.
“NEVER LIKED GUNS ANYWAY!” came a voice from the apartment where the sniper had been. It was grating and confident… and female.
“Hell is that?” Grifter’s voice growled over the radio. “Trying to find a shot but I don’t see anything.”
Harley Quinn perked up at the voice, slowly unfolding her legs. For the duration of the shoot-out, Harley had been squatting in front of Maria’s grave, untouched by the chaos around her as she slowly, hatefully, plucked the petals from the flower – nothing that shot acid, not even a normal carnation, but a normal flower – that Joker had left there. “…Know that voice…” she mumbled, turning around and gazing up at the stormy sky before realization hit her. “It’s Livewire!”
Catman turned to Harley and then back to the apartment. “$#%@. BANE! I need you to--“
"I KNOW!" Bane roared, lowing the now completely-unconscious Scandal onto the ground and charging forward, shoving Thomas out of the way as he ran towards the entrance to the apartment. He cleared the distance quickly, slamming his shoulder into the door like a star quarterback and sending it flying off of its hinges.
"Harley, can you keep the blood from pouring out?” Blake shouted, rushing after Bane.
"…I can try?"
“Where the $%&@ is Ragdoll?” Catman again, reaching the bent doorframe and turning back to look out at the cemetery, not seeing the bendy little weirdo anyway. Harley only shrugged, so he turned and rushed back into the living quarters, following Bane up the stairs.
“Grifter, you still trained on us?”
“Yeah, not that it means a whole hell of a lot. Can’t see a damn thing.”
Bane’s voice rang out just ahead – the big man had reached the room they’d been looking for. “YOU! Witch! You have no idea how you shall suffer for what you’ve done!”
“Aww, and here I thought boys weren’t supposed to hit girls.” That husky voice again.
Blake rushed into the room behind Bane, and there she was – Leslie Willis. Livewire. Her erratic, sky blue hair seemed to be in a semi-constant state of shifting, the static energy shifting throughout her keeping it constantly resisting gravity. The slopes of her cleavage were visible within the lightning-shaped cutout of her negligible black unitard, created from nothing but electrical ions.
“You die this night, woman!”
Bane screamed, charging forward as usual. Blake found himself contemplating the legends of Bane’s highly tactical mind for a moment – that particular talent of Bane’s seemed to show up increasingly rarely. He held the comm up again.
“Grifter, I need you to take any shot you can get when she charges up. We need to bring her down.”
“Got it,” he called back.
“Allow me to enlighten you as to what happens when you harm a friend,” Bane rumbled. “Woman or not… I… WILL BREAK YOU!”
Catman dashed around to the side, flanking the woman and keeping his arms spread out, trying to cramp her while leaving a shot open for Grifter.
“Y’know? As much fun as that sounds, I’ll give ya a rain check, kay big guy?” Livewire smirked and sparks began to veil her entire body in a corona of bluish-white light. The very ions in the air that the woman seemed to have full power over seemed to coalesce around the luchador-masked man, lifting him in the air for a long moment – she seemed to squeeze him with that raw power, causing Bane to squirm in agony before she finally blasted him forward, ricocheting violently off of the wall.
“Take the shot!” Catman called out, heralding a bullet that screams through the air, slicing through the lit-up target that Livewire presented. She turned and giggled wickedly, the hole in the “flesh” where the bullet had passed through closing like nothing had ever happened – even the outfit closed back around it, fixing itself perfectly.
“That’s it? Not impressed,” she grinned. Thomas could barely hear Grifter cursing over the comm. “But, I gotta give it to ya, that was mildly ticklish…” she closed her plasma-white eyes for a second, and a massive bubble of electrical network seemed to expand around her, encasing her in a shield. “…And I’m really not crazy ‘bout being tickled.”
Catman takes a deep breath, pivoting and stepping back to whip a dagger forth from his belt, hurling it at Livewire. It hovered in the air for a moment the second it touched that bubble, before seeming to bend in every area at once and clattering to the floor. “Dammit,” he whispered.
“Naughty, naughty! I expected better – what numbnuts sent you after the J-dude, anyway? Seems like a dumbass mistake to send amateurs.” Livewire taunted, lashing forward with a fan of electrical output, bathing Catman in it and causing the man to scream out, the nearly-lethal currents coursing through every fiber of his body. Even the rubber in his boots did nothing to lessen the sting – as far as he knew. He dropped to one knee, panting, and heard another bullet blast forward, bouncing harmlessly off that shield and ricocheting into the wall.
Livewire glanced back to Bane, who was struggling up off of the floor, most of his mask ripped and a murderous hatred in his eyes. “Ooh, I’m terrified. Got your game face on now, huh? That oughtta make all the difference,” the white-skinned woman scoffed assuming a relaxed pose and waving for Bane to come forward.
Bane set himself and rushed forward, slamming his body weight into the electrical shield. Tears of pain formed in the lifelong prisoner’s eyes as he tried to push forward, his body nearly giving way as the shocks screamed through him, threatening to rip him apart.
"Hahaha! Typical! That all ya got, big guy?”
Bane closed his eyes tight and forced his weight into the shield, gritting his teeth and whispering. “…Nothing about me…” he reared one fist back, slamming it into the net of lightning and creating a hole, forcing himself through it and grabbing Livewire by her head with one massive hand, slamming her onto the ground violently. “…Is typical.”
The electrical shield dropped, and Catman was struggling to get up, pulling himself forward with his claws. Livewire looked up from a snarl, standing without effort and lifting Bane with one hand, her sparks of lightning veiling her eyes as she squeezed, forcing that lethal current back through the masked man. “Tonight… you die, Bane.” She whispered coldly, staring into the man’s eyes.
“NnnNNNNnnooo… I… will NOT!” Bane groaned, clenching his teeth so tightly that he threatened to chip a tooth as he tried to hold off against the energy surging through him.
“That so? Not gonna die, huh? Maybe somethin’ worse? Maybe I bring you back to the Joker and I play the part of his personal electric chair?”
“I doubt he would fully appreciate that, actually,” came a voice from above. “But maybe if there aren’t too hard of feelings after all of this is done, I’ll come visit sometime and you can try with me?” Ragdoll dropped from the ceiling, coiling around Livewire’s head, and torso and squeezing tightly, one hand covering her eyes, and giggling with excitement at the ripples of electricity that teased and tantalized his lack-of-privates.
“What the… what is… who are…?!” Leslie squealed, dropping Bane and clawing at the creature on top of her, focusing her energy into the little creature and stumbling around blindly.
“Ooh, that is nice… I’ll definitely call you if you survive,” Ragdoll said, squeezing more tightly.
“You little… I swear I… I’ll…!” Livewire’s heel hit the wall, and she stumbled backward, falling out of the open window and beginning to soar through the air, plummeting towards the earth before.
“Goodyyyyyyyy!!!” Ragdoll squealed happily as he fell with her, starting to tickle the squirming villainess as the pouring rain enveloped them both. Sparks began to fly more wildly than ever when Livewire made contact with the water, her entire body seeming to sizzle, her wild blue hair falling to a dyed jet black and that icy skin becoming a pale, though human, tone.
There was a loud thud when the pair of them hit the soaked earth.Livewire faded out for a moment, groaning in pain, but then woke up with a gasp, still feebly clawing at Ragdoll's legs wound around her throat.
She whimpered breathlessly, writhing on the wet earth amidst the debris and splatters of Scandal's blood. "No, ple-- s-sto-- can't... brea--" she gagged out.
Catman stood over her with his head tilted, his face not changing as a little sparking tear crackled down her cheek.
"You have seconds before your brain runs out of oxygen," he leaned in and growled. "Tell us where the Joker is."
Leslie glanced from side to side, seeking some escape and struggling against those legs once more. Failing, she slowly nodded.
"Let her go, 'Doll." Blake commanded.
Ragdoll grumbled and disentangled himself, delivering a swift kick to the woman's head before leaning back down to whisper "Seriously though, call me." He then turned back to Blake with a sigh of "fun-wrecker".
Catman crouched down fully, now, looking eye to eye with a gasping Livewire "Well?"
"Heh... haha... you really are a loyal little lapdog, ain't ya?" The gasping Leslie said hoarsely. "The Joker is one pup you shouldn't go chasing, because, believe me? His bite is a hell of a lot worse than his bark... and he will kill yo--"
"Dammit, I didn't ask for a speech! Now tell me where he is!"
"Jeez, FINE. He's at the abandoned carnival twelve blocks away... just... just let me go."
"Abandoned? That place just opened a couple of days ago," Harley commented, looking up from a haphazardly-bandaged Scandal.
"Oh, yeah? Oops. Guess I spoiled the surprise, huh?"
Bane suddenly pointed forward, his face and body stoic as always. "Look." On the horizon, amidst the storm, a green neon sign lit up.