Four men stood in that dark room. The first was Jason Todd, the Red Hood; his accomplice was the international vigilante Morgan Ducard, who was now known in the states as Nobody. The other two men were De’von Henderson and Evan Briggs. Both men were local thugs for hire who had a habit of selling drugs to kids around their neighborhood. Right about now they were in one of the worst situations they could be in, tied in barbed wire to chairs that were adjacent to two other men that could make the Dark Knight look like Mary Poppins.
“I should probably start off by warning you, this is gonna hurt you a lot more than it hurts me.” The Red Hood stated as he glared behind the eyes of his mask. “You know who I’m looking for--now who has her?” Todd wiped the blood off of their faces and ripped the duct tape from their mouths to hear a response.
“F*ck you!” De’von shouted, shortly before Jason’s accomplice broke his nose in retaliation.
“Looks like you want to do this the hard way.” He said. Jason’s eyes glanced over to the right at the other man in his chair. “What about you Evan?”
“We don’t know nothin’ and even if we did, we’re not snitches! If you think you’re gonna scare us into talking think again!” Briggs replied.
Jason chuckled “Scare you? No, no…I’m just going to torture you both until I get my answers. You’re going to be shot, stabbed, chopped, beaten, burned, and if we still have time—he grinned—then I’m just going to have get creative.” He walked into the back of the room and pulled out a large duffle bag out of a locker and dragged it to the subdued criminals. “Tell me, have you ever watched any of those lame buddy cop films were they take turns playing good cop/bad cop?” He dumped the dufflebag on a table next to them and slowly moved his fingers to the zipper. “No? Well we’re about to play a game that’s a lot like that, only this one would called bad masked assailant/insane masked assailant.” He unzipped the bag and pulled out a chainsaw. Their pupils widened as Jason tugged on the ripcord; the motor roared to life. Red Hood glanced back at them before asking “Either of you want to guess which one I am?”
Over the next few moments a cacophony of horrifying sounds filled the room before one of the thugs screamed:
“Two-Face, she’s with Two-Face!!”
“Was that a new record?” Nobody asked.
“Not quite,” Hood responded. He took his eyes off the clock on the wall and glanced down at the mangled limbs before him. “But practice does make perfect. It’s good to be home.”
EARTH 4774 Presents: Brothers in Darkness
Chapter 1-Unfinished Business
Several hours earlier
It was a cold night in Gotham and even colder in the confines of Arkham Asylum. Commissioner Gordon drove into the building seeking answers to a question that few would even dare to ask. After being greeted by Doctor Hugo Strange the detective was led to a visitor’s room while Doctor Strange sent a couple guards off to procure the prisoner. They were sent to the isolation ward, an area of the asylum that was exclusively reserved for the most dangerous inmates. The guards opened cell doors letting a few rays of fluorescent light creep into the room. The light rested on a young man in a gray jumpsuit. He continued to lie on his mattress with his hands folded behind his head until the guards ordered him up. Despite being locked in isolation for nearly ten months he seemed irritated to leave his cell. He was led to the visitation room and took his seat across from the police Commissioner. Gordon knew this inmate all too well, his name was Jason Todd. Jason was formerly known as teen superhero Robin but has now earned a new alias as the infamous Red Hood; but to everyone in Arkham he was simply known as the man who killed the Joker.
Commissioner Gordon stared intensely at the young man in front of him. Jason Todd furrowed his brow then sighed with boredom. “We can play this game all day Jason, I want to know about the assassination attempts carried out in your name.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, nor do I really care.” Jason hissed.
Gordon smacked a file on the table and pulled out several pictures. “The Ventriliquist, Doctor Phosphorus, and Clayface have all been attacked within the last week. Two of them are dead and one is in critical condition.”
Jason rolled his eyes at the Commissioner. “And your bleeding heart weeps for all of the scumbags of Gotham who are finally getting what they deserve, now what does this have to do with me?”
“Look closer at the photos Todd! Your alias is branded on each of the vic—targets. Care to explain why?”
Jason scowled; he was clearly uninterested in the current line of questioning. “You’re the detective Jim, figure it out yourself! If you hadn't noticed I've been in solitary confinement for ten months. I’d say that that’s a pretty good alibi wouldn’t you?”
“Fine, but if I find out that you were in on this there’ll be hell to pay!”
Jason leaned back and folded his arms. “Are we done here?”
Gordon glared inquisitively at the former Robin and briefly pondered what could have made such a great kid turn into this man. “Yes Jason, I’m done with you.”
The Commissioner left the room slamming the door on the way out. He asked the guards outside for a few more minutes as the cameras inside the room were deactivated. Jason smiled “It’s about time you showed up. Did you miss me Grayson?”
Nightwing emerged like a phantom from the corner of the room. “Enough games Jason. What are you planning?”
The Red Hood frowned “You too huh? Is it really so hard to believe that I’m not behind this? Trust me Dick if I had anything to do with assassinations I wouldn’t have tolerated any mistakes. You know how much I pride myself on having a perfect record.”
“Don’t lie to me!” Nightwing shouted as he swung and escrima stick near Jason’s skull. . “You have to be working with him.”
When Dick stepped out into light Jason could see the scars on former ally’s body armor. The wounds revealed that Nightwing hadn’t just fought but was defeated. “No Dick, I’m not, but this is starting to sound interesting. Who is this him?” Jason inquired.
Nightwing withdrew his weapon before answering. “It was Red X. He ambushed me at my apartment and would’ve killed me if a few friends hadn’t intervened.”
Jason scoffed. “You’re such a hypocrite Grayson! You made me destroy the suit then had the nerve to redesign it behind everyone’s back. For someone who complains about Batman’s trust issues you are just like him; so many secrets, always protected at any cost. It’d almost be laughable if it wasn’t so pathetic.”
Nightwing grabbed Jason tightly around the collar “This is bigger than just you and me Jason, this is about our family. If Red X knows my identity and where I live we could all be in danger, me, you, Bruce, Tim, Steph, and even Barbara. Did you tell anyone about us or Red X?”
“No!” Jason protested. He began to grind his teeth in anger of the accusation.
“Then help me find whoever is framing you.” Dick reasoned.
Todd sighed, “What do you want to know?”
“The Red X suit still runs on Xynothium. In the fight Red X burned through most of the fuel so he’ll need to get more. How would you smuggle Xynothium into Gotham?”
“Easy, I wouldn’t.” Jason affirmed. “Xynothium is banned across the world and is one of the hardest substances to move. Anyone who has a connection to the sale of the chemical ends up on a terrorist watch-list, that why black marketers don’t even bother with it, the risk outweighs any profit. If it were me I’d just kidnap someone who could manufacture it so I wouldn’t have to depend on a supplier. Is that all?”
“For now.” Nightwing answered. Jason smirked as he thought of how much Nightwing sounded like Bruce in that moment. A few guards escorted the inmate out of the room as the Commissioner Gordan re-entered.
“Are you sure you can trust him?” Gordon asked.
Dick shook his head. “No, but I don’t have any other options. We both shared the Red X identity when we were younger and he’s the only other person who understands how much it could change someone inside. We still have a long way to go before we work out our differences, but Jason might be the only person who hates that suit more than me.”
Gordon realigned his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “I see. My men are going to transfer him to Blackgate, once he’s sent there it will be impossible for this group to get to him. By the way, what did he tell you when you”—As Gordon turned his head he realized Nightwing had already vanished. “Why do I always fall for that?”
Jason Todd sat in an armored truck surrounded by four GCPD officers. His arms and legs were restrained by shackles and a black hood was placed over his face. Two other armored trucks pulled up to used as decoys in the convoy to Blackgate.
Within the last five miles of the route a large explosion ripped through the street that the trucks had road upon. Both decoy trucks in front were now submerged in the sewers. The driver tried to reverse the vehicle but another blast opened a hole through the pavement behind the truck, leaving them immobilized. Shortly after the second explosion, multiple banging noises struck each of the surfaces of the vehicle. When the driver radioed in for support a loud screeching noise reverberated within the truck. The pressure of the sound waves punctured a hole through the top of the truck and a masked man passed through the new entrance. He rapidly incapacitated the remaining guards and deactivated the sonic waves. The masked assailant removed Jason’s constraints and took the hood of his head.
“Who the hell are you supposed be?” Jason asked.
“Me…I’m Nobody.” He answered.
“I supposed you’re with my deranged fan club. So are you here to kill me?”
“Kill you?” Nobody mused. “We don’t want to kill you; we want to recruit you!”
TO BE CONTINUED...