#1 Edited by Joygirl (19914 posts) - - Show Bio

This issue finally marks the inclusion of as a co-author of DC Mayhem's central series, Secret Six! Everyone give him a warm welcome! You can find more Gotham Hearts, more Secret Six, Ravager4's prelude series "Deathstroke and Ravager", and so much more MAYHEM here!

Chapter Six: The Clown, the Claw, and the Rose

----------------------------------------

“It’s time for Aaaaacromeeegliacs!

Squawky poops and Rathbo’s fat!

We’re stupid to the max!

We wear pants that show our cracks!

We’re acromegl-y--

Damaged in the head-y—

(The Joker’s dead-y--)

We’re Acromegliaaaaacs!

Don't call our fax!”

Harley Quinn stared at the television screen with an expression of horrified despair on her face. The wet towel around her head was drooping far to one side, revealing her soaked, newly-blonde hair, dark red roots showing at the bottom. Milk dribbled down her chin and onto the carpet in a slowly-expanding pool of grief.

The white-skinned, wet-eyed woman looked from the screen, ignoring the continuing symphony of splats and pops and other cartoony sounds. She stared into her bowl of Fun-Pops, and she could see his smile in the few chunks of sugar-coated corn still floating in her bowl.

He was gone, and he was never coming back, and it was all her fault. She could never take it back, could never have him again. Couldn’t depend on him to know who she was, couldn’t lean on his shoulder and… and just let her mind clear, like she always had, and laugh and laugh and laugh alongside him.

She had killed the Joker, and now the whole world knew. The world would never let her forget the great, heroic service that she had done. The way she had freed Gotham from his reign of madness and terror, given the people hope again in ways even the Batman had never done.

The great deed that had rid the world of his smile.

A tear rolled down one pale cheek, dripping into her cereal bowl.

"...Um, Quinn?"

Harley breathed in deeply but didn't look up from the simple beige carpeting beneath her, complete with numerous milk-stains. The voice was female and could only be one person -- there was no need to confirm it. She also had no desire to answer.

"Harley?" the voice again. That of Scandal Savage, the "leader" of the Secret Six when Bane or Catman weren't pretending they could do better. The clowngirl reached one hand slowly to the remote control, clasping her pale fingers around it before turning up the volume on her cartoon.

Scandal didn't try to talk again after that, but that didn't mean she was through doing what she considered necessary. The team was still bound to this new Mockingbird – turned out that the fifty million he had offered wasn't simply a desperate grab at getting Joker out of the way. When the Six had returned to their base and demanded payment, he had revealed that the payout he had promised was a part of a much larger contract demanding their service. Mockingbird had tricked the team into forming, and now planned to squeeze them dry.

And since the team was, for better or worse, still together... she needed every member in working order. Needed everyone at their best. Needed Harley Quinn to crawl out of the well of misery and cereal she had created for herself, locked in the children's ward of the House of Secrets.

The smaller woman dropped gracefully to her knees behind the grief-stricken clown, and carefully closed her arms around Harley's shoulders. Whether the harlequin was simply a primitive person (she could relate), or whatever mental recessions she had developed had brought about her distinctly child-like behavior, the simple gesture of a hug had the same effect it had shown on top of that tower that night. Harley dropped her cereal bowl and leaned into Scandal, her eyes closed and leaking thick, salty tears from their corners.

“It's okay,” Scandal whispered helplessly as Harley's cotton-clad figure shook from sobbing in her arms, the bonks and squeaks of Acromegliacs a thoroughly dissonant theme for what the woman was going through.

----------------------------------------

“How is she?” Bane grunted idly from the couch when Scandal returned an hour or two later. He was in a sweatsuit that was fitted for him, and a thin trail of sweat stained the front of his shirt. He'd been exercising. From the look of Catman's unconscious figure on the far side of the room, so had he.

“She's awful,” Scandal said. “But I think she'll get better. Killing Joker was something she wanted to do, I think. But the shock of losing him is still a strain on what left of her mind still functions normally. What are you watching?”

“It's a television program called 'Friends', though none of the main characters are friendly towards one another. So far they lie and cheat to each other to get what they want.”

“Why Mr. Bane, didn't you know?” A slow smile spread across Scandal's face. “That's what friends do.”

Bane inhaled deeply, finally turning the television off and focusing his cold, stern eyes on the woman he had long ago 'adopted' as a daughter. “Is that what you plan to do with Miss Quinn? We will need her at full capacity if she is going to be a productive member of the team.”

“I know. That's why I'm trying to help her. That's also why I'm taking her out for ice cream and drinks tonight in Gotham.” As if the word 'drinks' had made the woman thirsty, she stepped behind the couch (and out of Bane's discerning gaze) and grabbed a beer from the dirty little refrigerator beside the Six's stove, cracking it and draining it after a short moment.

Bane tried to smile, but the challenge was beyond him. “A little bit of... 'girl time', then, for the two of you?”

Scandal paused, mentally chewing on Bane's words and more so, the inflection behind them. Bane knew well her... tastes. She chuckled absently before tossing the empty bottle into the trashcan. “I don't think she swings my way. Besides, she's... a little delicate for my tastes.”

“Then you are blind to many things, Scandal Savage.”

Scandal stifled a cough before changing the subject. “Where's Cole?”

“Exploring beneath the eye of the Mockingbird. After the mention of a contract our Grifter became suspicious. He's been investigating the identity of the man we serve.”

“Any leads? I'll admit, I did some research on the LAN, checking out patterns and hidden files I might have missed. His passwords are too hard for me to crack – but he stays classy. None of the taunts hackers use when their systems catch you trying to break in. Just 'access denied' and the silhouette of that little bird.”

“Perhaps Mr. Cash will have more luck than you did--”

“Awright, now where's my stuff? Big Bird said we had gear stashed in each of our rooms.” The voice didn't come from Bane, nor Scandal, but Harley. Her hair had dried and was now uncovered, black and red roots barely showing through the tangled blonde tresses. She was, however, still in her pajamas.

Scandal allowed herself a smile. Whether she was just hiding the pain she still felt (which was her guess), or she genuinely felt better, Harley had more or less bounced back out of the abyss she had been in earlier that day. “Check Peter's room – he's stolen my clothes on numerous occasions now, and I have a feeling what you wear may be more his style.”

“Worth a shot, I guess...” Harley grumbled, stalking towards Ragdoll's quarters. “Gonna have to give you a raincheck on that rematch by the way, big guy.”

When Harley had finally crossed the House of Secret's living quarters, Scandal quickly arched an eyebrow before returning her gaze to Bane. “Rematch?”

“We arm-wrestled the other day.” The big man said resolutely.

“Ahh, she's a sore loser?”

“...She won.”

-------------------------------

An hour passed before Scandal Savage and Harley Quinn left the House of Secrets in a 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee. There had been a lot of screaming, a bit of throwing, a lot of peanuts, and a few more pre-drinking drinks before Harley adjusted to the fact that that Ragdoll had cut all of her clothes into snowflake patterns and used them to decorate his room. She'd ended up wearing the only full-length red dress that Scandal owned, which, on her slightly larger figure, now looked a bit more like a mini-dress on her. Her hair was back in pigtails, and while the new color allowed her a semblance of normalcy, her stark white skin still stuck out like a sore thumb.

“Ice cream first, then?” Scandal said after a few moments of silent driving. Gotham was lit up like a Christmas tree in exactly all the wrong ways – massive Bat-insignias dotted the skies, blimps dragging fliers that stated 'Gotham is Safe', and the worst, people celebrating in the streets, displaying signs or t-shirts saying 'Down with the Clown'. The fact that it was already getting to Harley was not a well-kept secret within the confines of the SUV.

“Yeah, ice cream works,” came the quiet reply.

Silence settled back over the two women for a long while, only the screams and revelry of Gotham keeping it from becoming deafening.

“Ya ever lose someone, Scandal?” Harley whispered, her large, vacant blue eyes still staring out the car's window. Her voice had picked up since morning, but the despair was clear. She was barely hanging on.

The daughter of Vandal Savage allowed herself an inhalation to stall. This situation was awkward enough without making it more so. “...Yes,” she finally relented. “My old... partner. Knockout.”

“Partner? Like partner-in-crime? What?”

Another moment of silence. “My lover.”

Harleen turned from the window, setting her eyes on Scandal for a moment. Observing her. A careful, intelligent smile crossed her deep scarlet lips, and she tilted her seat back enough to cross one leg pensively over the other. “Long pause. Gender non-specific on both accounts. Somethin' ya wanna tell Dr. Quinzel?”

“My girlfriend, alright?” Scandal snapped.

Harley giggled quietly and kept her eyes on the other woman, her expression teasingly judgmental. “Ya don't have to be ashamed, y'know. Didn't take ya for a closet case.”

“I'm not. I'm just not public about my personal life. And how would you know, anyway?”

“Think just 'cause I crushed on Joker for so long I haven't been with anyone else? You should meet Poison Ivy sometime.”

“The Gotham supervillain?”

“She does unbelievable things with those vines.”

Then you are blind to many things, Scandal Savage. Bane's voice echoed in her mind – he was right. Both of the things she had said about Harley had been disproved within two hours of her saying them. Scandal allowed herself a small smile. “Have you ever tried Butter Brickle?”

-------------------------------------

“And then, and then Floyd said, 'Ragdoll... R-Ragdoll, don't tell us these things'! Nyaha! Isn't that-- isn't that funny? Because he always tells us the most... the most F***ED up s***!” Scandal slammed her rocks-glass down onto the bartop with a snort, putting up two fingers to the 'tender. “Man, I miss Floyd sometimes. I mean he was the biggest f***in' a****** you've ever met, y'know? But he kept the team together, he made us... he made us the Secret Six. I mean technically he didn't. 'Cause I totally do--” Scandal held back another snort of laughter. “--But it was nice when we were a team. Now I don't even know what the hell to do with us.”

“Whatcha mean? Thought we were workin' just fine,” Harley giggled absently, dumping another glass of Kraken down her throat in an attempt to avoid further ruining her makeup. As it was, smears of black and crimson had found their way from her forehead to her jawbone. She'd been drinking dutifully and heavily alongside the Six's leader for the past few hours, and though three liters of hard liquor had found themselves into two very durable bladders (and at least six men had died), Harley had not quite found herself as inebriated as Scandal. It was the potion, she knew, no virtue of her own – toxins, even mundane ones, had a lot of difficulty navigating through her highly-advanced immune system.

“I mean... I mean... like, I got shot, right? When we were killin' Joker... or, you were killin' Joker... and then the team just kinda disbanded. You and Cole and Pete got separated and picked off by the lowest-tier villain I think I've ever seen, Catman ran off and proceeded to do absolutely nothin' useful, and Bane just dragged my useless body around. We don't have strategies, or... or tactics, nothin' like that. We don't know how to handle each other in an emergency. It could have gotten a whole lot worse, Harley.” Scandal dropped another two shots-worth past her lips, dribbling just a little onto her navy blue blouse and into her cleavage. Harley noticed. Scandal didn't. “It could have been a lot worse if you hadn't been there.”

“Well, I did work with the best for quite some time,” Harley said with a smile, leaning forward on one elbow and closely examining the other woman. She never knew when she would regress, when she would see things through the eyes of the woman she used to be. Still, from time to time, Harleen had an opinion, as she did now.

“Thought the uh, the Bat-guy was supposed to be the best?”

“That's what the fanboys say – I've kicked around the B-fella plenty of times. He ain't so tough.”

“Maybe I should introduce you to my dad sometime,” Scandal smiled wickedly. “We can 'kick him around'... do it together, make it a girl thing. It'll, uh, it'll be fun.”

“You're on, girly. Say, what do I call you anyway? Scandal really doesn't roll off the tongue, does it?”

“I'd say you could give me a nick-name, but then I'd have to kill you.” Scandal gave the clowngirl a deadly and somewhat wobbly stare, before letting out a boisterous laugh of her own. In a few ways, she was still her father's daughter – maybe not the current incarnation of him, but perhaps a Vandal Savage of long ago.

“Har-... Harley.”

“Yeah?”

“I'm super drunk.”

Harley snickered quietly and stood up from her stool, putting her hands on the other woman's shoulders. “C'mon, I'll get you back to the car. There's a last stop I wanna make, anyway.”

-------------------------

Scandal had lost consciousness about three minutes after getting back into the jeep, with Harleen Quinzel behind the wheel, heading to a location she had not specified.

The location in question was an old hideout of hers, and... well, Joker's. When she parked the car she quickly crawled over Scandal's sprawled figure and into the trunk, withdrawing the... toys, she had stashed there.

The outfit was new, and while she wasn't sure she'd keep it, it was a change of pace. The change of pace she had needed with Joker's death, that went along with the change of her hair color. It brought about the idea of a new Harley, a new, stronger personality that she was desperate to create for herself.

But first, she needed closure. She needed to make sure he wasn't still alive.

They had a place – her and Joker – a hideout, a special place where they went if something went wrong. The only hideout that the Batman had never found, they only place they felt truly safe. She would have doubted him, considered his chaotic nature and assumed he may not go there....

But she'd seen him go there before. She'd seen Joker's lows and seen him in defeat, seen him retreat from the Bat. She knew where he'd be... if he was still alive.

She slipped from the SUV when she'd come to a full stop, dragging her mallet behind her as she headed into the derelict warehouse. A cold, trembling sort of silence crept over her, the kind her mind always filled with some kind of happy though. This time, though, it was different. She could feel his imprint, his permanent aura of dark mania, and it echoed across the walls of her damaged mind like a calliope.

She ducked under the base of Sprang Bridge, ignoring the cars overhead and dipping lower, mud slicking the bottoms of her boots. The old Tunnel of Love that had been here had never been fully demolished, and when one of Joker's men had located, he had been promptly promoted and then murdered. The place had been excavated by cover of night by random goons (none of whom were still alive), and a hideout built underneath – not the prettiest one, maybe. Not the most handsome one. But it was a secret, and it was where he'd be. It was where Harley... had belonged, before all of this.

Inside, spraypainted smilies and candy wrappers littered the place, along with the occasional human bone or deactivated bomb (at least, she thought they were deactivated).

“Mmmrphph... yipyipyip.”

“Hyeaa, whuff. Whhhhoop whoop!”

“...Babies?!”

That bastard. She'd wondered what had happened to them – Joker had left Bud and Lou, Harley's pet hyenas, in the hideout last time they'd been there... and as far as she could tell, they'd had one or two corpses to eat in that entire time. Knowing them, they hadn't been frugal with it.

Harley quickly rushed over to the two scrawny, whimpering hyenas and immediately began to caress them, kicking a few scattered bones their way. The hyenas quickly started to feed in between hurriedly, passionately dragging their dry tongue across what exposed skin Harley presented.

“Poor guys... can't believe he left ya like this... glad he's gone.”

And he was, as far as she knew. There was no sign he had returned, no sign of anything occurring within the past couple of weeks. He was gone.

----------------------------

“Where the hell are you?” Ravager muttered, as she crept through the darkness.

As enhanced as her natural attributes were, which did include her sight, she still only saw barely more than dark, hard shadows, with the occasional beam of moonlight from a shattered window revealing vague features of the old, abandoned toy factory. It had taken three long nights of beating on and interrogating members of the Thorne crime family, but she had finally found her way to where the head of that family, Rupert Thorne, was supposed to have been hiding out in. The only problem was that, so far, no one seemed to be home.

She searched for hours, going ever every square inch of the place. Not once did she see anything but those same shadows and barely visible outlines of conveyer belts and other machinery, nor did she hear anything other than the beating of her own heart thumping inside her chest. Had she been given false information? Had the Thornes really been stupid enough to misinform her on purpose? Or had they moved Rupert to another location before she could get there? Either way, things were not looking good for her investigation.

When finally she returned to the entrance of the toy factory, having failed to find any trace of the man she was looking for**, she huffed out a frustrated breath and folded her arms firmly across her chest, thinking. If he wasn't here, then she would have to find out where they had moved him. If one lowly crime family thought they could give her the run around, they were in for a very rude awakening.

(** Read Deathstroke and Ravager #8 to find out why Ravager is after Rupert Thorne!)

That's when she heard it. The sound was faint at first, like nothing more than the rumbling of a hungry stomach. Soon, however, it grew louder. A car engine, she was sure of it. Quick to react, she sprinted away from the factory entrance and moved around the side, towards the west end of the property that overlooked the Sprang Bridge. Within moments, she had a visual to match with the sound: A plain SUV that rolled up near the bridge and stopped, engine cutting out and lights going off.

The figure that stepped out of the vehicle, however, was anything but plain, at least once she put on her new outfit. From what Ravager could see, the woman was also grabbing quite a few nifty gadgets... weapons, mostly, it looked like. As odd as this woman looked, she had seen far stranger... a bodyguard, perhaps? Was this woman working for Rupert Thorne?

As the harlequin-clad woman disappeared into the tunnel beneath the bridge, Ravager reached over her shoulder and popped one of her swords an inch out of its scabbard. And then swiftly followed. “Let's see what you're up to...”

----------------------

“Awww, babies, mommy missed you so much! Where's a good hyena? Show me a good hyena! Yeaahhh, that's right!” Harley squealed, rubbing her fingers rapidly across their bellies. The two hyenas yipped and laughed with delight as they gnawed idly on the bones in their grasps. Given a few moments, their powerful jaws crunched into the center of the bones to reach the rich marrow within. “No more dusty old hideouts for you two, no sir! We got a snazzy new house to move you into, and no more starvin'! They'll be corpses to go around for the two of you cuties, oh, oh, and wait until you meet the rest of the team!” Harley's smile flickered for just a moment as she considered Scandal, passed out in the car, and the rest of the Six back home at the hideout. She wondered if they even missed her. “They're just gonna love ya, I'm sure of it.”

As the jester tended to her 'babies', the faintest of footsteps echoed down the tunnel and through the underground hideout. These steps went unnoticed at first, until Bud and Lou suddenly ignored their bones and perked their heads up straight, staring off into the shadows beyond.

“Hmm? What is it, babies?” Harley said, shifting her own position on the floor and continuing to scritch the back of Bud's round, floppy ear. She waited just a moment before returning to her feet, fingers now idly caressing the top of the hyena's tall head. “You fellas see somethin'?

The hyenas' delighted yips dropped suddenly, replaced by low, throaty growls. Their ears pulled back as they took a defensive position, ready to initiate an attack on the approaching trespasser despite the chains that still bound them to the hideout's wall. When the figure finally began to emerge from the shadows, showing off a slender silhouette, those growls transformed yet again, into an unholy cacophony of laughs and whoops.

“Hold on, boys,” the harlequin said, gently pulling her babies back a step. She didn't know who this new arrival was, but perhaps it was worth finding out? Unless... unless it was the person she'd come here to see. The person she'd been waiting for. She had been eager to believe that he was... gone.“...Mistah J?”

The ensuing silence brought around a small, girlish growl from Harley herself as the hyenas heeled behind her. No laugh, no monologue – it wasn't him. “Who the heck's there?!”

“My name isn't important,” the incoming figure replied, already wielding both her blades, one in either hand. “But you can call me Ravager, for now. Saw you enter the tunnel, figured I'd check it out.”

Harley frowned, lips pursing together tightly. “You don't belong here, kid. This is... this was our place. Whaddaya want?”

Ravager lifted an eyebrow. “'Our place'? You mean you and Thorne?”

“Thorn? Red and I whooped her to Jump City last I checked.”

Tilting her head slightly to the side, Ravager gave a confused stare as she tried to process what the hell Harley was referring to. Finally realizing the mistake, she rolled her one good eye, and corrected, "Rupert Thorne."

Harley's eyebrows scrunched together, confusion twisting across her face. “Lady, I dunno what the heck you're talkin' about, but aren't you a little young to be prancin' around at night with a couple'a swords? You're gonna hurt yourself.”

“Don't play dumb!” Ravager snapped, taking a firm step forward in the dismal cell of a hiding place. “I find out Thorne's been moved out of his old hideout, then see you showing minutes later and lead me to another hideout right next door? You really expect me to believe that's a coincidence? I've been looking for too long, working too damn hard, to let any lead slip away now... so either you tell me where the hell Rupert Thorne is hiding, or I'll have to carve it out of you.”

The confusion that Harley had been feeling shifted abruptly to annoyance. She frowned again, popping one hip out to the side and setting her palm against it, only this time the glare that came from her gaze could have melted steel. “You look here, missy, you got any idea what I've been through lately? I have had the worst kind of week, just got my whole life rearranged, and now I was finally havin' a good time and I'm not gonna let some preteen...” Harley shifted her position again, sharply. “One-eyed...” Her free hand closed around the hilt of her heavy metal hammer. “...Bozo – ruin it all!”

“Preteen?” Ravager actually paused a moment, caught a little off guard by the comment. The surprise lasted only a second, though, as she quickly regained her poise. She wasn't about to let an insult from some psycho, halfwit clown throw her off. “Alright, fine, you asked for it. Just a warning, though: this is gonna hurt.”

"Hurt, huh?" A slow, wicked smile spread across the clowngirl's face, and with one smooth motion she hefted that pendulous mallet up and over her shoulder. "Good thing I'm used to a little pain. Bring it, girlie -- unless ya gotta readjust your kiddie tampons first. I had issues figuring out my flow at first too."

A slow frown curled across Ravager's lips. Was this woman going to talk like this the entire time? "Deep breaths..." she whispered to herself. She had faced annoying idiots before--granted, nothing to the effect of a hyperactive clown with the intellect of a goldfish--so she knew how to shut out the chatter. Inhaling deeply, she shifted her stance and eyed the jester's mallet. It was a large weapon, likely weighed a lot. That meant it would be slow, cumbersome... perfect.

Without so much as a word, she darted in at near top speed, reaching thirty miles per hour in a mere second. When she came into range she lunged straight at the woman and twirled her blades around in a vicious, yet purposeful arc. She aimed to sever tendons and ligaments, not to kill. She still needed this woman alive, after all.

The assumption that the weapon was heavy was correct -- it was massive, and indeed, very heavy. That fact, however, did not mean that Harley Quinn wasn't able to use it was astonishing speed. She backpedaled rapidly, twirling and pushing that long-handled hammer rapidly from side to side as if it were a staff.

And extremely awkward, heavy staff.

"Swords are really so trite, don't you think? No theme, no class--" Harley grinned darkly as she blocked another blindingly fast strike, though she wasn't going to lie to herself -- this young girl was stunningly good. Frighteningly good. "Next thing you know you'll be usin' guns, ahhahahaha!"

After the initial attack, Ravager recoiled briefly, taking a step back and giving the clown another long look. The way she had moved that mallet... it could not have been done by someone with normal strength, especially not someone her size. Not only did Harley have to have the strength to wield it in such a fashion, but also the speed and dexterity to react in time to deflect the equally quick sword-strikes.

"You're like me..." she muttered, mostly to herself. "You're not... normal."

Harley leaned forward with a taunting smirk, sticking her tongue out. "Aww, shnookums, it took you this long to figure that out?"

Things were not going to be quite as simple as she had first thought, that much was clear, but there was still a deciding factor here. No matter how close their physical talents were, Ravager knew that she was far more skilled than this clown. That would be her advantage. She breathed inward again, already planning out a dozen different moves in her head. Several seconds later she charged in again, this time making a direct assault. With one blade he thrust at Harley's shoulder, and with the other cut low at her feet.

But it was a feint. At the last moment, she pulled the second blade back and spun to the side, instead slashing across at the jester's backside.

While Ravager planned ahead, anticipated each attack and block, Harley acted on instinct. She immediately started to become more mobile now, completely unwilling to sit and parry a volley of attacks that would eventually hit their mark. A tilt of her mallet deflected the first attack, but the feint never reached its target -- the clowngirl did a quick, bounding leap, flipping and curling over the other girl in a somersault that cleared at least six feet. As her enhanced muscles pushed her upward and forward, she allowed the weight and momentum of her mallet push backward, and even as Harley acrobatically evaded Ravager's attacks, the fifty-pound end of that deadly hammer was headed directly towards the younger girl's back.

Ravager twisted her body around just in time, watching as the mallet came in at her. Though her body language expressed a tepid calm, her eye was wide and her insides tingled at the sudden acrobatic counter. What the clown lacked in skill, she instead appeared to make up for it with unpredictability. Fortunately, even as unpredictable as she was, Ravager could still react in time. She planted her feet firmly against the ground and raised the flat of her arms in front of her, absorbing the impact of the massive weapon. Though the blow rattled her arms and sent her blades spinning out of her grasp, it did little more damage than that, even as it forced her to slide back a ways across the floor.

"Not bad..." she said, forcing her numb hands down to her belt. "You move a lot better than most of the saps I've fought lately. But that's fine, I fight better without my swords, anyway. I like getting... up close and personal."

Ravager's fingers curled around a pair of objects attached to the back of her belt. She pulled them free, took a step forward and said, "I never did like guns, though. They never appealed to me... I prefer things that make a big bang." She then whipped the grenades out from behind her and threw them directly at the jester. Without so much as a single hesitation, she took off in a dead sprint after them. As she did, though, she closed her eye--the grenades were not of the frag variety, but rather they were of the flash and bang kind.

"Eek!"

The villainess tumbled back suddenly, somewhat caught off guard by the sudden explosion of light and sound. Could have been worse -- she'd been expecting worse -- but she was still somewhat stunned. You could never really tell with these ninja-types; swords, knives, sticks, and then they'd fry you with an energy gun all the same once they got bored.

However, if there was one thing Harley Quinn had learned from her encounters with the Batman, it was to always have a backup plan, something that would hopefully save you when all hope was lost. When Bats did it, he usually used that grappling hook and shot it straight up.

In Harley's case, however, her contingency took the form of a massive, spring-loaded, Extend-O Boxing Glove that shot blindly in Ravager's direction.

Ravager would have been lying if she told herself that the boxing glove didn't surprise her. Of all the weapons she could have thought of that would have been helpful in this kind of a situation... that was definitely not at the top of the list. It only proved its inefficiency as it bobbled through the air in her general direction, hardly the most aerodynamic of projectiles. She slid deftly below as she approached Harley, popping straight back to her feet once it passed harmlessly overhead and sweeping her leg behind her opponent's legs.

By the time the sizzling, blinding lights from the flashbang had faded, it became clear that Ravager's attack had struck nothing at all. The handle to the boxing glove lay on the bone-littered floor, and Harley Quinn stood a few feet behind it, an eyebrow cocked and her cork gun pointed directly at the younger woman. "You don't play fair -- and that's sayin' somethin'. You should say you're sorry, girlie."

The cork gun, of course, appeared utterly comical. Then again, so had the mallet. And so had the boxing glove. More and more, the jester girl was proving herself to be a capable opponent.

"A cork gun?" Ravager muttered, eyebrows lifting in genuine confusion. "You... aren't serious." She couldn't really be serious... could she? Rubbing the bridge of her nose, she slowly shook her head and sighed. This fight was getting more and more bizarre by the second.

Harley shrugged casually. "Don't say I didn't warn ya. Maybe next time you'll learn to listen to your elders." The clowngirl smirked and pulled the trigger, blasting forth the dense, spongy missile with outrageous power and speed.

Ravager's expression didn't shift an inch as the cork rocketed towards her. Her brain and body processed the speed of the projectile in fractions of a second, much faster than it took for it to actually reach her, and with a simple motion her hand flew up and snatched it out of the air. "This isn't a game," she said, deepening her frown. Then, she wound up her arm and threw the cork right back to its owner, with a speed that would have made even the top major league pitchers blush.

"It's not?" Harley retorted with a little manic giggle. Though the way Ravager caught and returned the projectile certainly impressed and somewhat frightened her, she tucked in close and rolled forward, the cork speeding over her head and smashing into the wall behind her.

...Then proceeded to bounce.

The cork ricocheted wildly around the room, the clowngirl keeping low for the moment to avoid it. Keeping the cork moving was this intruder's second great mistake (the first was coming there), and the jester immediately rewarded her by dropping a big, yellow, smiling bomb directly at Ravager's feet before cartwheeling away excitedly. "Have fuuuun!"

Ravager watched the clown cartwheel away, feeling an ever increasing frustration welling up inside her. Was this woman for real? Was this whole fight real? She couldn't tell if Harley was just screwing around or just... plain insane, though she highly suspected the latter. Her gaze shifted down to the big yellow bomb, its smiley face leering up at her with a bright long fuse burning down towards the body. With a small sigh, she reached down, picked it up in one hand, then licked her thumb and forefinger of her other hand, and promptly pressed down on the burning fuse to extinguish it.

"That's one..." she muttered, tossing the now useless bomb back over her shoulder. Her sharp eyes quickly located the ricocheting cork next, watching as it bounced at rapidly increasing speeds around the hideout. When it came close, zooming straight past her head, she lashed out her hand and once again snatched it out of the air. "And that's two."

This time, she stuffed the cork in her pocket; it would be much less of an annoyance in there. "Alright, no more games, you psycho little..." The rest of her sentence, she mumbled under her breath, taking off in a sprint towards Harley. When she closed the distance, she went in straight and hard with a brutal serious of nerve strikes, not messing around anymore.

"You're just no fun!" Harley squawked, backpedaling quickly against Ravager's rush before finding her feet. "See, that's your problem -- all business with you, just like the Bat and all them. Gotta learn to have a little fun once in a while!" The jester's mallet was far away -- too far away -- but amidst the croons of Bud and Lou, Harley gave the one-eyed woman a challenge.

Parry, parry, dodge, block, and then a backflip brought the clown out of harm's way with only a few small bruises, but without her hammer she wasn't exactly as dangerous. Not that this prevented her from launching her own volley of counterattacks -- mostly kicks, but the occasional rapid swinging punch was incorporated into the acrobatic movements she continuously used to evade and maneuver around the Ravager.

Her breathing was growing heavy. "What'cha... can't... keep up?" She smiled softly, then lashed forward with a roundhouse. "Mommy and daddy didn't teach you how to deal with a Gotham A-lister, huh?"

"An A-lister, huh? What's the A stand for?" Ravager said, as she leaned back out of the way of an exceptionally acrobatic axe-kick. "Asinine?"

As she had suspected, the jester wasn't trained. Though she could keep up for the most part, Harley's actions were not precise, nor were they skilled. She wild and unpredictable, for the most part (though, even the most unpredictable of them faltered most of the time, when matched up against Ravager's own precognitive abilities. Even when she had trouble reacting normally, she could see the attacks coming beforehand), but she didn't really know how to fight. She hadn't learned for years and years on how to fight, training for countless hours under one of the best in the world, not like Ravager had.

"You're getting tired," she remarked, bringing her arms up to block a whipping kick. "Your endurance is enhanced like mine, right? But that only does so much." Another dodge, and then she countered with a vicious tiger claw strike to the jaw. "I'm willing to bet you've never actually trained to further that endurance, have you?"

"Hey! I've... done stuff! I fought Azrael to a standstill!" Harley staggered back as the tiger claw connected with the bottom of her mouth, drawing a small, wet splatter of blood from her lips. She narrowed her eyes and flipped back, settling back on her feet and taking a few deep breaths. She needed to rest -- now it was obvious. Her stamina and durability had been acquired artificially (or,technically, naturally) but Ravager was right. Harley had relied on her powers in combat, and though she was a talented and well-practiced gymnast, that kind of training didn't stack up to the kind of attention Deathstroke could give.

"And the A stands for awesome!" The clown roared, finally throwing caution to the winds and wading back in. While she may have been untrained, while may have been soft, while she may have been asinine, there was no mistaking the fact that she was experienced and absolutely lethal as she lashed forward with a rapid, vicious volley of punches and kicks.

Ravager brought up her arms in defense, as the clown threw herself in like a madwoman. She took the shots for now--they weren't anything she couldn't endure. What she was waiting for, now that Harley had abandoned all reservation and restraint, was an opening. But not just any opening, no... the perfect opening, the one that would bring this fight to an end. Another punch, another kick. She kept her guard up and stepped back slowly, her watchful eyes absorbing and processing nearly ten times the amount of information that a normal person's could in the same time period. And then...

There it was.

Ravager lashed both hands forward, clamping her grip around both of Harley's wrists. Then, she pulled the clown forward and drove a knee up into her gut, followed by a thunderous headbutt dead center into her face.

Harley made two awkward sounds in quick succession – the first came when Ravager drilled her knee into the clown's solar plexus. That sound distinctly resembled “urlp!”

The second was worse yet. A thin line of crimson trickled down from her head after that vicious second strike, along with a pitiful “myenp” sort of noise. Harley Quinn fell to her knees before the one-eyed teen and coughed wetly, her eyes beginning to cross as she struggled to hold onto a state of consciousness that she was finding more and more elusive.

Ravager took in a deep breath and slowly let it out as the jester toppled to the floor. She stood there a moment, just staring down at her fallen foe, then finally lowered herself down above her. Kneeling above the woman, she grabbed at the twin colored vest and lifted her head off the floor.

"That was... the most annoying fight ever," she muttered, mostly to herself. It hadn't been annoying in so much that it had been difficult--though to Harley's credit, she had given Ravager her toughest bout in a long time--but rather that fighting someone of Harley's particular... nature, was not something that sat well with Ravager's nerves. "Now... where's Rupert Thorne?"

"I've... n-never... haha, birdies." Harley smiled blissfully, pointing to the blank air around her head.

"She's never heard of him," came a sudden, stronger voice from the entrance to the cave. Silhouetted the same way Ravager had been was another woman, dressed in simple night-out clothes, and with long blades strapped to each of her arms. "Neither have I. Now I'd suggest you take your hands off of her before someone gets really hurt."

Ravager slowly turned her gaze towards the voice, just making out the vague silhouette of a woman standing there at the shadowed entrance. Her attention wasn't called so much to the actual figure of the woman so much as the long blades strapped to either arm. Those beauties looked... absolutely lethal. Briefly, she flicked her eyes over to her own fallen blades, which lay scattered on the floor about twenty yards from her position. She could make a dash to collect them and then combat this new foe... but if this one was anything like the clown, then coupled with those arm blades, making any rash action could be a mistake. No... it would be best to take this one step at a time.

"I'm supposed to believe that?" she said, dropping the delirious Harley back to the floor. She stood up straight and circled around the woman, casually making her way in the direction of her swords, yet not enough to make it obvious. She kept her eyes locked onto the shadowed figure, never once looking away. After all, she would be a fool to let her guard down. "Rupert Thorne is supposed to have been holed up in this area. I find you two, who are clearly not... normal-" her gaze made the shortest of passes back towards Harley, then returning to the new woman, "-hiding out in the same area, and you'd really play it off as a coincidence?"

Scandal Savage took a few firm steps forward, bathing her form in the hideout's dim light and tilting her head slightly to the side. Her expression was aggressive, predatory -- protective. "Look little girl. I really don't care what you believe. I'm not from Gotham, and I've never met or heard of anyone called Rupert Thorne. A far better question would be 'why are you here?'..." Scandal strafed slowly around the room, keeping to shadows and cloaked areas. She had to keep her bluff up -- she still wasn't in top shape, and the hangover shrieking across the walls of her skull would not make this battle an easy one, particularly considering that the girl had already, somehow, beaten Harley.

"Haven't you been paying attention?" Ravager replied. Really, she was beginning to think she was the only sane person in the room. "I'm here because I'm looking for Rupert Thorne. Way I see it, you two could be a couple of his bodyguards, maybe hanging back to take care of anyone who comes looking for him." She continued her slow, arcing march, until finally she reached her fallen swords. With two quick kicks beneath blades, she kicked them up into the air and back into her grasp. "And after what I just went through with your pal over there, I'm not really in a mood to screw around anymore."

"Then what are you going to do?" Scandal growled, her fingers tightening around the grips of her Lamentation Blades. "Kill us both until we tell you what you want to know? Neither of us know who you're talking about. We work for a man named Mockingbird -- unless this Rupert Thorne is secretly him, then we have no relation to the man you seek."

"Kill you until you tell me...?" Ravager sighed, shaking her head. She briefly took one hand off one of her swords to tiredly rub the bridge of her nose, while doing her best to remain calm. "Are you drunk or something, or just purposefully not making sense? Look, unless this Mockingbird person you're talking about is some kind of all seeing mastermind that can tell me where to find Thorne--or better yet, my father--then I really don't give a crap. I'm just... tired. This whole night has been..." She looked back to Harley again, then hung her head. "...ugh, taxing."

As if coming to some sudden conclusion, Ravager finally placed her swords back into their scabbards and started heading towards the exit. " You two don't know anything, fine. Just another waste of time."

Scandal furrowed her brow for a moment. She was still kind of drunk (and hungover at the same time, amazingly -- she needed water and breakfast quick), but one thing Ravager said certainly stood out. "Well, technically, he kind of is an all-seeing mastermind... in her own way, I guess. Not that we've ever seen his face."

"Allll the wonderful cake... let's swim in it, Scandsy..." Harley cooed absently.

Ravager stopped suddenly, intrigue coming to her lone eye. Turning, she looked back over her shoulder and gave the older woman a long. careful stare. "What do you mean, exactly?"

Scandal allowed herself an awkward shuffle. Her mind was in no way clear enough for these kinds of negotiations, but from the looks... Harley... she was still the best fit for the job. She had to get ninja-girl to come down peacefully.

"We don't see him, he sees us. He hired us... gave us a job to do. Did you know that the Joker's dead?"

At the mention of the name, Ravager merely deadpanned. "Um... who's the Joker, exactly? Wait, never mind, don't care." Clearing her throat, she held a hand to her chin and turned around fully to the woman now. "But what you're saying is that this guy is good at getting information, right? He have a lot of resources?" That was the one thing she lacked in her constant search. No amount of determination and tireless investigation could overcome her lack of resources.

"Enough to engage six individuals in a fifty million dollar contract." Scandal said resolutely.

Now that got her attention. This Mockingbird... she had to meet him. "Hey, uh, look... sorry about your friend there, just an honest misunderstanding. These things happen, I'm sure you know. But, uh... what's the chance I could get a meeting with this Mockingbird guy of yours?"

"He's not exactly friendly or punctual -- but I think I can work something out." Scandal reached down carefully, her eyes still on this "Ravager", and dragged the nearly-prone Harley up onto her shoulders. "You need a ride, kid? Or can you get a learner's permit at fifteen now?"

Ravager frowned slightly at the 'witty' quip. "Just because I'm fifteen doesn't mean I can't drive... though I may or may not have a license to do so." She cleared her throat again, then lifted a hand up to tug off her mask, revealing her young face beneath, complete with eye patch. "Name's Rose, by the way. Rose Wilson."

#2 Posted by Ravager4 (1627 posts) - - Show Bio

@batkevin74 said:

@Irishlad: @Joygirl: A tag team writing effort, nice! Good idea. Time_Phantom and I did Wakanda Expedition one chapter each. Well written, nice team and good, very good. If you roped in as well, then my head my actually explode! :)

Your head now has permission to explode.

#3 Posted by batkevin74 (10769 posts) - - Show Bio

@Ravager4: Very nice! Right from the get go with the Animaniacs parody, and @Joygirl said:

"A cork gun?" Ravager muttered, eyebrows lifting in genuine confusion. "You... aren't serious." She couldn't really be serious... could she? Rubbing the bridge of her nose, she slowly shook her head and sighed. This fight was getting more and more bizarre by the second

Nice tying Ravager into Secret Six, very impressive!

#4 Posted by Joygirl (19914 posts) - - Show Bio

@batkevin74: Acromegliacs was used by Dini first :P So, not my creation, but I did give them a whole themesong.

In Harley and Ivy there is a scene where Harley is watching TV, and the speech bubbles says "we're Acromegliaaaaacs"

#5 Posted by Avenging-X-Bolt (13121 posts) - - Show Bio

great chapter as usual.

on a more technical notei think Harley & Joker actually had shared custody of the babies. Joker was shown with them quite a lot and in most other media they're shown as being his exclusively ( i just hate when a father is deprived of the right to be with his children lol). although i do remember what he tried to do in Halequinade......

#6 Edited by Joygirl (19914 posts) - - Show Bio

@Avenging-X-Bolt: The babies are Harley's. :P

Besides Nu52 Joker just killed Bud and Lou so f*** him, they go to the mother. ^_^

Edit: Well, technically, he gave them rabies on purpose and Harley had to kill them.

#7 Posted by Avenging-X-Bolt (13121 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl said:

@Avenging-X-Bolt: The babies are Harley's. :P

the dad always gets fucked over in the end, tut tut.....

Besides Nu52 Joker just killed Bud and Lou so f*** him, they go to the mother. ^_^

actually they go to the pet cemetary but i understand you're in mourning so i'll let it go.

#8 Posted by Joygirl (19914 posts) - - Show Bio

#9 Posted by sentryssj4 (433 posts) - - Show Bio

Clowns, crazy chicks... crazy clown chicks. What more can you ask for? 
 
*kisses fingertips* Magnifique!

#10 Posted by Joygirl (19914 posts) - - Show Bio

@sentryssj4: Yay! :D

#11 Posted by wildvine (9496 posts) - - Show Bio

And

I have (finally) finished your master work and have a few thoughts before diving into proper adoration.

I like getting... up close and personal."

She then whipped the grenades out from behind her and threw them directly at the jester

[In one breath Ravager is saying she likes close combat, in the next she is tossing grenades. Now a good rapport is important in any good comic book fight, however, these actions seem (to me) disjointed.]

In Harley's case, however, her contingency took the form of a massive, spring-loaded, Extend-O Boxing Glove that shot blindly in Ravager's direction.

Ravager would have been lying if she told herself that the boxing glove didn't surprise her. Of all the weapons she could have thought of that would have been helpful in this kind of a situation... that was definitely not at the top of the list. It only proved its inefficiency as it bobbled through the air in her general direction, hardly the most aerodynamic of projectiles. She slid deftly below as she approached Harley, popping straight back to her feet once it passed harmlessly overhead and sweeping her leg behind her opponent's legs.

By the time the sizzling, blinding lights from the flashbang had faded, it became clear that Ravager's attack had struck nothing at all. The handle to the boxing glove lay on the bone-littered floor, and Harley Quinn stood a few feet behind it, an eyebrow cocked and her cork gun pointed directly at the younger woman

[I know this is just me, but i don't really get this scene. Is the boxing glove a distraction or....?]

Now on to the goods.

This is the most epic fight scene i have ever read. Ever. The dialogue was spot on and the imagery was clear. Oh, and Bane watching "friends" was funny. That scene made me chuckle. Can't say i'm happy how it ended, but someone had to win the fight. Overall, A+++

Moderator
#12 Posted by Ravager4 (1627 posts) - - Show Bio
@wildvine I'd respond more if I weren't on my phone, but to answer:

1. Yes, she threw a grenade right after saying she likes close combat... But that was AS she was running towards Harley. The flash bangs were only meant to stun her opponent so that when she did close the gap and finally got to close combat, she would have an advantage. What would have been odd is if she threw the grenades and then ran behind cover and pulled out a gun.

2. Harley got stunned, blindly shot a boxing glove as Rose was running, then jumped away before Rose's attack hit, and aimed the cork gun... I think is how Joy meant that.
#13 Posted by Joygirl (19914 posts) - - Show Bio

Yupyup. Harley was blinded/stunned, and not being able to see her opponent just shot the boxing glove at where she assumed Rose was, hoping to keep her occupied while she could get her bearings. In the added time it took Ravager to notice/avoid it, she rolled backwards and busted out the cork gun.

#14 Posted by dngn4774 (3122 posts) - - Show Bio

I enjoyed this Chapter. Fight scenes were everyone seems to win and loose something at the same time are a cool story dynamic. Here's a quick tally of the pros and cons.

Harley: con- gets beat up Ravager; pro- realizes she can finally get over the Joker.

Scandal: pro- gets to party,gets wasted, and meets a new team member; con- gets a hangover.

Ravager: pro- wins a tough fight; con- finds out she just wasted her time pursuing a dead lead.

Hyenas: con- parents split up; pro- Two Christmases! One with Harley at her place, and the other with the Joker in hell (let's face it, if he didn't get in than who did?).

#15 Posted by Rabbitearsblog (5861 posts) - - Show Bio

This chapter was awesome!! I loved seeing the relationship between Harley and Scandal and I loved the fight scene with Ravager! I can't wait to see what happens next!

#16 Posted by Joygirl (19914 posts) - - Show Bio

@dngn4774: @Rabbitearsblog: Thanks guys! It was a lot of work to get this chapter out (as you can see by how bloody long the thing is!)

Glad you both enjoyed. ^_^

#17 Posted by KEROGA (991 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl: What do you think? (had artist block) :/ sorry

#18 Posted by Ravager4 (1627 posts) - - Show Bio

@KEROGA said:

@Joygirl: What do you think? (had artist block) :/ sorry

Haha, I just saw this <3