"Wauk! You've got mail. Wauk wauk!"
Oswald Cobblepot, popularly known as "The Penguin" by criminals and crimefighters alike, looked up from his review of the Iceberg Lounge's weekly profits report. A pudgy hand reached over, and grabbed the cell phone laying atop a stack of manilla folders.
He gave a small smile at the waddling cartoon penguin on the screen - an application that he had installed himself - before opening up the text message with the press of a button.
His eyes widened slightly at the contents of the message. And not just because of its perfect (if archaic) spelling and grammar.
What is he that builds stronger than either the mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter?
Already, the rotund businessman could feel a migraine beginning to build between his brows. There were few people with access to his private cell phone, and only one who would give him such a text message this time of night. It had been a convention that
they'd agreed on some time ago - shortly after he had first opened the Iceberg Lounge, as a matter of fact.
The sender was, and had pretty much always been, a pain in his tailfeathers. But he was a friend. A friend who, surprisingly enough, shared a good deal of his interests - far more than most Gothamites, whether law-abiding or otherwise, did. And who had actually
bailed him out from both the clutches of the law, and the clutches of outlaws, on multiple occasions. Sure, he had repaid quite a few of those instances, but he did not think it very prudent to refuse the man's coded request for shelter. Not until he found
out for certain what he wanted, anyways.
With that in mind, he moved his thick thumb over the phone with surprising speed, typing out his response - a coded message that all was well at the Iceberg Lounge, and it would simply be
delighted to play host to a homicidal clown tonight.
The gallows-maker, for that frame outlives a thousand tenants.
He pressed SEND, and waited, hoping that that friend of his didn't want anything
too extravagant this time around.
The Joker smiled as he read the message off of the screen of his phone, before stuffing the communication device back into his jacket pocket. Good old Ozzie never let any one of his fellow ne'er-do-wells down. Unlike
some people who would remain unnamed...
Whistling Beethoven's "Turkish March" as he did so, the Ace of Knaves casually pressed his foot on the brake and dutifully stopped at the red light. Normally, he would have run it, just to hear that sweet, sweet chorus of screeching tires, blaring horns,
X-rated words, and crunching metal - but it wouldn't do to attract attention to himself on this very night. No, he had to obey the laws like a good little sheep. How annoying.
But it wouldn't do for him to dwell on the negatives. After all, he was the Joker, not the Seriouser. Time to start looking on the bright side of things - like the fact that he had just entered Newtown, the very neighborhood that contained the prestigous
gentleman's club known as the Iceberg Lounge. It wouldn't be long now before he got to see good old Ozzie face-to-face - and wouldn't Ozzie just be
tickled pink once he explained what he was up to right now...
That, however, just brought another depressing thought into his head. Even as he drove, he was missing the pilot of
Green-Skinned Goddesses and the Mercenaries Who Pick Fights with Them! He just hoped that there wasn't anything too good going on right now...
"Ah, olive it when a good plan comes together," Condiment King smiled as he observed the tightly bound and unconscious Poison Ivy. A silvery collar, emitting a menacing red light from its center, was wrapped around the green-skinned villainess' neck.
His companions rolled their eyes at one another, but for once, they could not quite bring themselves to tell the pun-spewing man to shut his mouth. After all, the very fact that they had Ivy like this, right here and right now, was owed to him.
As it turned out, a one hundred percent human assassin - even one with specially-outfitted guns to combat a plant-manipulating metahuman's skills - wasn't quite enough to take down someone as experienced and vicious as Poison Ivy. Not without a distraction,
anyway - which the Condiment King had handily provided, via a blast of mustard to the face. Ivy might have been immune to any and all chemicals and poisons, but mustard in the eyes blinded her just as easily as it did the next person.
And from there, it had fallen to the Great White Shark. With the numerous connections he had made in Gotham's underworld (and beyond), it had been a cinch to acquire a collar that would nullify metahuman powers. Getting the thing around her neck, of course,
had been far less of a cinch... until the aforementioned mustard blast.
"Alright, we've got the tree-hugger," White said, attempting to retain some dignity in face of the fact that both sleeves on his shirt had been torn off. And the fact that his left pant leg was now just a few scraps of cloth dangling from his hip. And the
fact that his shoes were now gone. And the fact that the rest of his clothes were now a rat's nest of twigs, leaves, and dirt. "What next?"
Deadshot, bearing a few "war wounds" of his own, hoisted the unconscious Ivy over his shoulder. "Next we spread the word. Troll every taproom and dive we can find. Quinn's got to hear about it sooner or later."
"I thought you might say that," White nodded, taking a piece of paper out. "I've started drawing up a list of her favorite haunts. I suggest we start at the Stacked Deck. It's this bar about ten miles down the turnpike..."
"Ooh, not the Stacked Deck?" the Condiment King suddenly butted in, his face uncomfortably close to Deadshot's. "Oh, I've been waiting to get back at them for
years! Laugh me out, will they... tell me one measly salt and batter-y wasn't good enough, will they..."
As the sauce-themed scoundrel began to trail off into a stream of barely-coherent ramblings, his companions looked at one another again, and exchanged a shrug. They would let the poor sap have his day... after all, it wasn't like mere ramblings were going
"But no more! Today, the Condiment King has scored a victory that shall be forever recorded in the annals of underworld history! Nothing..."
Every alarm in Deadshot's and the Shark's head went off at the same time. The two men exchanged a panicked look, knowing full well where he was going. And that to speak those five forbidden words in that order was simply
begging for trouble to come along.
The Great White Shark made a desperate jump at the pun-spewing man, arms outstretched to tackle him and - hopefully - clamp his mouth shut upon impact. But Warren White had never been an athlete, and this time...
The two of them collided a second too late, rolling through the dirt as if their lives depended on it. When the dust had settled, they were laying side by side - the Condiment King looking confused and a little annoyed, and the Shark looking downright panicked.
In the distance, they heard the sound of Deadshot's footfalls approaching.
"What the hellfire sauce was that, White?!" the Condiment King snapped. "And you two keep accusing me of horseradishplay..."
The Shark opened his mouth to retort, only to swiftly shut it when a black, blurry shape suddenly flew out of nowhere and embedded itself into the ground less than an inch from his head. He gulped once he realized that it bore an uncanny resemblance to a
bat, and forced himself to look up into the sky. A bigger black, blurry shape was descending upon him. And becoming less blurry by the second.
No more games," Batman scowled.
"Do you hear me? No more games!" Batwoman scowled.
In response, Harley merely smiled at the outraged redhead, and patted her on the head like she was a five-year-old throwing a temper tantrum. "There, there. Don't be so cwanky. I know, you must be hungry!"
"I'm not hungry," Batwoman growled through clenched teeth, desperately trying to find
some weakness her bonds. Right now, her hands had been shackled together, and hung from a long length of chain attached to the ceiling. The gap between the chain and the floor was just a little bit shorter than her full height, meaning that she was left
standing on her tiptoes. "And I'd sooner eat out of a Dumpster than come within ten feet of anything
"Well, good!" Harley said matter-of-factly. "Because I ain't the cook 'round here. That job goes to Sugah! Isn't that right, Sugah?"
The woman who had once been the feared Black Canary giggled, and nodded at Harley's words. Batwoman felt a chill go through her; was
that to be her fate? Suddenly she found herself wishing that she'd been captured by the Joker instead. At least he was only known to painfully torture and kill his victims.
Harley then reached over to pat Batwoman's stomach, and the vigilante soon found herself thankful that her captors had left her entire costume on. For now.
"Ooh, I hear that tummy grumblin' and rumblin'!" Harley giggled. "But I'm afraid yer gonna have ta wait to sample some of 'a Sugah's stuff. 'cause right now, Sugah has a very, very important call ta make!"
Sugah looked at her mistress blankly. "I do?"
A look of annoyance spread over Harley's face. "Sugah, we've been over this. Three times, last time I counted."
Sugah thought hard for a moment, and Batwoman looked on in morbid curiousity, honestly wondering if the bimboized heroine was going to pop a blood vessel with that look of intense concentration on her face.
Then, suddenly, Sugah's face lit up. Which may or may not have had something to do with the lightbulb that was now suddenly floating over her head. "Oh, yeah! Now I remember!"
A sultry yet familiar voice suddenly whispered into Batwoman's ear, nearly making the redhead jump. "Works every time."
Batwoman had to think for a moment to place the voice. But when she did, her heart just about fell into her boots. "Zatanna...?"
"The only and only," that voice chuckled smoothly. Batwoman desperately tried to turn her head. But saw nothing in any direction except thin air. Zatanna - or whoever it was impersonating Zatanna - was toying with her. Just keeping out of her line of sight.
"By the way, it's Zee Zee now. Mistress Zee Zee to you, Katie."
Batwoman turned her head back to Harley and Sugah, if only to distract herself from considering the too-horrifying-to-consider idea that Harley had an out-and-out sorceress on her side now. Harley, she saw, was putting a cell phone into Sugah's hand, and
Sugah was dialing. But dialing who?
Within the old clocktower in Gotham square, one drowsy Barbara Gordon - known to most only as the elusive hacker Oracle - found herself rudely shaken from her nap by a chirpy noise from a device lying only a foot away from her head.
The redhead's eyebrows knit together as her sleep-addled brain pieced together the noise. She soon pegged her cell phone. Her private, Oracle business-only cell phone, no less. A quick glance at the caller ID revealed it to be Dinah.
Oracle raised an eyebrow at that, but pressed the TALK button anyways.
Anything more she might have had to say was forevermore lost to history, because at that moment, a deafening scream filled her ears, and every nook and cranny of her little sanctum.
Hey there, ho there, chums and chumettes! Clifford.cao here, with another nice little chapter! Where will we go from here? Well, you'll just have to wait and see, won't you?
Now, a little give-and-recieve trivia game for all you folks at home. Here's how it'll work: I give a piece of trivia relating in some way (however loosely) to the chapter. Then I'll provide a trivia question, which you'll fill in! Sound fun? No? Well, too
Give: In the comics, the Condiment King actually recieved mentoring from Poison Ivy on which condiments, sauces, and herbs were the most harmful to human beings. This actually made him a force to be reckoned with (Birds of Prey #37).
Recieve: The underworld haunt known as the Stacked Deck was introduced in...