"Explain this to me again," Oswald Cobblepot groaned, pinching the
bridge of his nose as he watched his overly-cheery friend set up what
looked like a cluster of eight television monitors.
gave a loud, overly dramatic sigh. "Pengers, I worry about you
sometimes. Time was, you'd have snapped this up quick as a quail! You
sure that all this "going straight" business hasn't gone to that
birdbrain of yours?"
"Oh, all right. Look, I just got out of
Arkham, so I'm in need of some new muscle. And Harley's lost and scared
without me, so I need someone to find her. So, I decided to kill two
birds with one stone."
Penguin ignored the obvious tack against his feathered friends. "And
pray tell, where do coleslaw, the Orwellian gadgetry, and I come in?"
got the most secure place in the city here. I need the monitors to keep
up with the auditions. And as for the slaw, I promised Croc a nice
little meal of Bat wings, and have you ever heard of eating that without slaw?! I swear, kids these days... bunch of uncultured philistines... no breeding at all..."
That last comment made the Penguin clench his fists, but he slowly relaxed himself.
was sorely tempted, but
throwing his unwelcome guest out would be more trouble than it was worth
- for now, anyways - and in any case, the Joker was correct on the
first count. The two of them were currently inside a "panic room" that
he had constructed beneath the Iceberg Lounge's foundations, and it was
outfitted with all the necessities that a panic room for a man of his
station called for. Beds. Sofas. First aid. Fully-stocked fridge and
minibar. A dozen emergency weapons, ranging from a dinky little .22
handgun to a truly fearsome elephant rifle. Walls that had been
soundproofed, bulletproofed, and X-ray-vision-proofed...
Joker finished up the last touches on the cluster of monitors, and
plopped himself down on the sofa next to his long-nosed companion. With a
flick of his wrist, he made a small, black remote control appear in his
"Now, let's get back to Green-Skinned Goddesses and the Mercenaries Who Pick Fights with Them..."
was a click sound, and all eight monitors popped to life. The Joker
quickly zeroed in on one in particular: the one currently displaying -
amongst other things - a man clad in all silver and red, a man dressed
in a skintight costume with several canisters strapped to his back, and
an unconscious redheaded woman with green skin.
Oh, and an angry Batman.
"Wait, no! Not the face not the-"
Mitchell Mayo, also known as the Condiment King, promptly crumpled the ground like a badly-built house of cards.
Great White Shark internally winced at the sound, but kept his body
completely still. Lady Luck was already smiling on him - he had just
been slammed in the face with a boot that had somewhere around two
hundred pounds of force behind it, and he was somehow still conscious.
The Bat, evidently believing that the stomp had been enough to KO him,
had turned his attention to his two hapless cohorts - and he wasn't in
that big a hurry to correct the vigilante nutcase.
he was still splayed on the ground, face toward the sky. He could hear
the sounds of punches and kicks being thrown just two or three feet away
- apparently, Deadshot hadn't bailed on them, despite being the furthest away from the Bat's initial landing point.
resolved to send the assassin a basket of muffins... once he was nice
and far away from all this and on the next plane to Cancun.
Tracking down Quinn was one thing, and being in the Joker's "employ" was
another, but there was no paycheck or threat in the world big enough to
make him go head-to-head with the Bat.
Now he had just one
problem: how to get out of here without the Bat coming after his hide.
If he so much as sneezed, he could probably kiss his chances goodbye. Standing up was out of the question...
Perhaps he could roll away... but wouldn't that make more noise...?
had to think of something quick. Last he checked, Deadshot wasn't
exactly renowned for his hand-to-hand prowess (though he had no doubt
that the man was far, far beyond himself and the Condiment King). It was
a miracle that he was holding off the Bat for even this long.
"I said psst!"
ears finally caught the voice. It took him a few more seconds to place
its owner, and to remember exactly what she was doing here.
"Isley?" he whispered. "What the hell do you-"
"How about being the only chance you've got at getting out of this mess?"
A horrible, horrible sort of feeling entered the Shark's brain
and stomach at the same time. "Oh, no..." he mumbled, barely able to
hear his own voice.
"Get this collar off of me, Fish. I'm the only one here who can even slow him down."
scowled at the casual use of his former nickname, from the bad ol' days
of Arkham Asylum. But this wasn't the time for that. The gears beneath
his skull spun furiously, making the cost-benefit analyses that his old
job so often called upon.
Then he heard another loud CRUNCH, and knew that his last current line of defense was no more. Seconds later, he heard a cold, harsh voice speak.
"Kidnapping, Floyd? Not your usual area of expertise. Who sent you?"
In that instant, the Shark made his decision.
"Bull Tiger Whitetip Hammerhead."
He heard Ivy make a noise of confusion, but he couldn't care less. Those four words represented
the deadliest shark species in the world, excluding his own moniker.
And spoken in that particular combination, they created the custom
... to unlocking Ivy's collar.
soon as the hiss faded, he sprang to his feet, all caution tossed to
the wind. Even if Ivy did exactly what he hoped she would - that is,
focus her all attention on Batman and not on her would-be kidnappers -
he still had no desire to be in the middle of that particular brawl.
in a large breath, he began to sprint away from the oncoming storm.
Unfortunately, a green-skinned leg immediately appeared in his path, and
sent him unceremoniously crashing to the ground again. Only this time,
his face was pressed to the dirt.
"You backstabbing b-" he snarled.
he could finish, he felt a rumble beneath him. About a second later,
all of his limbs had been bound to the ground by several large, thick
"Watch your language, Fish," a cold voice sneered down at him.
He lifted his head, and managed to see a pair of bare green feet stride past him. At the same time, he heard yet another CRUNCH noise, followed by a groan and the sound of a limp body hitting the ground.
Deadshot was out. Condiment King was out. He himself might as
well have been out. And their would-be quarry was the only thing that
stood between them and a cozy jail cell. Hopefully.
Idly, he wondered what their prospective employer would say if he could see them now.
was a noise like a truck backfiring, followed by the sizzle that could
only be expected out of a smashed electronic. Then, the faint hint of
smoke filled the small, cozy, soundproofed, bulletproofed, lead-lined
A purple-gloved hand lowered, taking with it a smoking pistol.
Its owner leveled a dry, unamused look at the cluster of monitors before
him - seven were still displaying, while the eighth was now a smoking,
sizzling pile of circuits and plastic.
"Worst. Pilot. Ever," the Joker growled. "And I've seen Heil Honey, I'm Home!"
companion, however, had far bigger worries on his mind. Worries that he
immediately expressed by turning to the Ace of Knaves. "Joker, was the
dark gentleman showing up there and then a part of your plan?"
The Joker tucked his pistol away and put a thoughtful finger to
his chin. "A third of me says it was. A third of me says it wasn't."
"And the remaining third...?"
"Wants a tangerine. Or a ruby the size of a tangerine. I'm kinda flexible that way."
"Joker, this is serious!" the Penguin snapped. "Do they know where you are right now?"
think they know where I am right now. But they don't know that I know
that they think they know where I am right now. And lemme give you a
hint: it's not here."
"Wait... they think... you..." the Penguin tried to seize the
chain of thought, and decided that it wasn't worth the effort. "The
point is, none of them will lead the Batman here, will they?"
"Unless one of them turned into a psychic in the last couple of hours, I doubt it."
"Good. So we're safe from him."
As long as he inexplicably decides to not trace those nano-cameras I
stuck in their clothing back to their emitting source."
"Yes, as long as he... WHAT?!"
small, round man sprang to his feet, panic in every inch of his face.
He briefly glanced at the two remaining monitors covering Team B - both
of which were displaying Batman engaged in a fierce battle against
Poison Ivy. One that Batman could very well win. The long-nosed man then turned to face the Joker, eyes wide.
"Please don't tell me I just heard that."
didn't just hear that. Also, he'll probably decide to trace those
nano-cameras I stuck in their clothing back to their emitting source,"
the Joker replied tartly. Then, his ever-present smile grew far crueler.
"And on that note, I don't know about you, but I'm in the mood for some
shark fin soup..."
the Penguin could reply, the Ace of Knaves flipped open a hidden panel
inside his remote control, revealing eight buttons inside. He punched
three of them at the same time.
Something - perhaps an
instinct, perhaps intuition - told the Penguin to turn his attention
back toward the cluster of monitors. A second later, he heard three
hideous shouts. All three given in different voices, but all conveying
the same message.
short, portly man watched on with grotesque wonder - and perhaps a
small measure of schadenfreude - as the Joker's three prospective
enforcers all burst into flames, screaming their lungs out all the
while. Shortly afterward, two of the monitors faded to black, leaving no
doubt as to where the fire had come from.
"Remote-controlled self-combustion capabilities," the Joker chuckled. "Never settle for less."
Penguin clapped slowly, an impressed smile spreading over his face. "An
excellent show, old friend. But that last crack about the soup..."
response, the Joker gave him a sly grin. "Don't you know? Batsy's
mini-extinguisher only carries enough to cover one sap. Two, tops. And
if you'll recall, there's a perfectly good stream waiting a couple of
feet away from dear old Warren..."
Poison Ivy grit her
teeth as she sprinted away from Batman, and away from the smell of fire
and smoke. She would certainly have liked to stay back and give the
caped chauvinist his due, and enjoy the sweet, sweet music of three more
men being burnt alive while she was at it, but she had no time for
Harley came first. Harley always came first.
caught snippets of the three idiots' conversations. And she was certain
that they had mentioned "Quinn" at least once. There was only one Quinn
that she was familiar with, and only one Quinn that anyone would connect
with her. There was someone
after Harley, and she would bet her left arm that that someone happened
to have green hair, chalk-white skin, and a stupid grin too big for his
With a growl, she put on an extra burst of speed
and charged back into the abandoned greenhouse that served as her
current hideout. A snap of her fingers had a small vine snake down from
the ceiling, carrying with it a cell phone.
Quickly, she snatched up the phone and dialed, praying that the last number that Harley had given her was still good.
A/N (A la Mushu): I LIVE!!!
theatrics aside, there's really no excuse to leave this lovely little
lesbian escapade out in the cold for so long. But have no fear - ol'
Cliff is back, and this time, he intends to stick with it 'til the very
Next chapter comes out tomorrow. Thursday at latest. Be there!