Gotham City is unlike anywhere else in the world. People use catch phrases for their cities, but they’re mostly cute little nicknames that sell post cards. Gotham is the City that Lives. Not because it’s some bright, vibrant crowning point of Humanity. It lives in the sense that it has many working parts. Burroughs. Districts. Each with it’s own little brand of Good and Evil. That happens to be both the best and worst of Gotham all at once. You’re never going to find a dull moment, but you’re as likely to be raped in the high end of town as you are to be mugged in the low end.
For so long now, as long as I can remember and contrary to the psyche reports I remember everything (don’t believe everything you read!), one man has protected all of it. Every square inch of Gotham. Oh. He didn’t always do it alone. He didn’t necessary have the speed of a bullet to get anywhere, at any time. It was more the Spectre of the Batman that loomed over, stretched across the landscape that protected it. You had to gamble, if you wanted to profit from a life of crime. Roll the bones, if you wanted a taste of the sweet life, or sweeter wife next door maybe. Every time you did. Each and every new little trip across the white line of the law, you ran the risk of one day meeting up with the Batman. On that day, he made you pay. He took his pound of flesh and left you beaten. Battered. Bruised. Lucky to be alive.
Just that though. Alive. Very, very much alive.
Some might think that the Batman was a man of truth, justice and the American way. Some symbol of virtue. I know better. He wasn’t unwilling to cross the line. Oh, no. He’d cross that line when he needed too. When he deemed it necessary. Just because he did so rarely and under the veil of necessity doesn’t obscure the simple fact that the Batman was willing to do anything he had to do for this City. That’s why I’m here. You know? That connection. The knowledge that, if he felt that he had no other choice, Batman could have ended me time and time again. He just never did. Some people might think that is because he was proving himself the better man. I say to those people, ‘Hah!’
He needed me! I’m everything about him that he needs to be reminded of. To rebel again. Without me he would have been lost. Alone. A Hero without a foil to measure himself against. Adrift in the Sea of Sloth and Villainy that is Gotham City. I’m alive, because I was his life preserver. Without me he would have drown. The Batman needed me and… now I can’t help the completely foreign, yet inescapable, feeling that… I failed him. He was alone. Left to die without a friend in the world. ….. — “The soul akin to my own. Gone. Snuffed out like….Oh. Sorry. Was that all out loud?! Heehee.”
Who am I talking to? Well that would be the Irish Mob. More or less all of them. They like to get together to eat and drink in a little place called o’Malley’s. About thirty minutes ago, give or take ten minutes of aimless rambling, I walked in with a two heavy set men in gimp-suits and a girl. You don’t need to know where the girl went, I’m sure she’s up to no good. It’s what she does. Once we stepped inside though, I’d ordered a margatia. The kind with the fancy little umbrellas. Only to be told that they don’t serve that swill here. The Bartender is still choking on his own blood, but that got their attention!
“So. You see fellas. My problem here? Is that …. he was mine! MINE. My Batman. Mine. Not your’s. That means. If I didn’t kill’em.. then someone else did. And if someone else did then, I’ve got to have a few words with that person. Now, I’m going to save you a few moments of begging and pleading. Because I know you’re all going to say, ‘I didn’t kill the Batman, Mistah Jokah sir.’ Which might be true or it might not be true. You see the problem. The problem? Is that you’re all lying, cheating, filthy scumbags. Dear to my heart, but liars to the bitter end.”
Now. You can say a lot about the Irish Mob, but generally speaking you can’t call them stupid. They’re not Italian after all. So I’m sure by this point that the writing is on the wall by this point. And if it isn’t, it will be by the time I finish using the barkeeps blood to scribble out the words ‘You’re all dead.’ With a smiley face for posterity. On the bar’s large mirror.
Red Hood (Damien)
Damien had been blazing a trail through the underworld. At first, not even bothering to put on a mask. Using his speed and stealth to conceal his identity. Also, you know that saying, Dead Men Don’t Talk? It’s true. Or, you know, a broken jaw. But, after a run in with the Italians and them beating him near to death, it took him coming to Helena to heal. Anybody else would have given him the third degree. Especially Dinah. She didn’t understand the pure rage that laid at the bed of his heart. Someone killed his father. Murdered. And Damien was going to find out who, by all means necessary. After getting into contact with Tim after the funeral, he had supplied Damien with some.. items to help him. While Tim and Damien weren’t exactly brothers. It was evident that Tim was at a loss of what to do, and decided to help Damien do <i>something</i>.
So, now, Damien equipped with a high tech suit and helmet. He could go on his true terror, make men cry their mothers names in hope that it would save their souls. Nobody in this city was safe. If you so much lifted a candy bar, Damien was going to make sure your fingers would be broken in several places. There was a large shadow to fill, Gotham was going to descend into chaotic mess. Not that his father ever had true control over the city. But he had it organized in a way that the city wouldn’t explode like a powder keg. But Damien felt that while his … ‘family’ … did nothing, something had to be done, and that was Damien.
Today, he was getting in over his head when he targeted the Irish Mob. There was a price on his head when Damien took Duncan O’Brien, one of the Captains of the O’Brien Syndicate, and threw him over the side of a thirteen story building. Busting through the door of a bar called O’Malley’s, Damien was quick to take out one men who was playing pool. The man’s head colliding with Damien’s armored knee with enough force to drive the bridge of his nose into his brain. He hadn’t time to see Joker as of yet, since right behind Damien there was an entire mob of very angry Irish Mob soldiers pouring through the door chasing after Damien.
There was all manner of weapons. From handguns, to bats, broken whiskey bottles, chains, brass knuckles… well, you get it. Jumping behind the pool table to put some distance between him and the mob, because Damien had a half formed plan. Get them all into a space that they can’t move in. But, as he took out a few more of these angry soldiers, Damien jumps onto the table as he looks over to where the bar tender was, only to see the pale face of a man in the mirror writing something on the wall in blood.
“You.” The Joker.
His father’s greatest adversary and just as psychotic as a man can get. The complete opposite of his father. Joker was smarter than anybody would give credit to. After all, he’s outsmarted even Batman on occasion. Right now, Damien didn’t have time to deal with him as men continued trying to swat at him with baseball bats, knives, what have you.
“I’ll deal with you later.” Damien said, pointing at the Joker.
Now there’s really only one way this is going to go at this point. Bloody. Capital B. We all know it. These idiots are just taking the time allotted for my mindless rambling to determine which of them has the best chance of getting out of here, while the rest die. More than one of them? Probably thinks they like the odds of a stray bullet doing me or my boys in. Of course, I’m crazy enough to not care what they think. Or really. What they do. Because I didn’t come here intending to dodge bullets and fight like some sort of man with Honor and Integrity. Nope.
You see the snarl on my face is the first real sign to these delightfully pale-skinned yokels of just what trouble they’re in for. Or it would be, if not for the distraction afforded them. This is as good a time as any for a couple of them to make their break for the back door. Tut-tut… my little Harley is all aflutter and very likely waiting for the stragglers. Me? I’m pulling off my coat, pulling tight my gloves and getting my suspenders in order for a donnybrook. That’s what these idiots call it, right?
“Ooooh… look at that! I loooooooove the fashion statement. A little bit of old, a little bit of new…”
Armed to the teeth that one. I’d have to be even crazier than I am though, not to instantly recognize… the Red Hood. Equally delightful and appalling, I’ll work out whether I’m aroused by the nostalgia or the way he’s cutting people apart like a buzzsaw. Which reminds me. I was about to kill someone, someones in fact.
It might even be a touch on the surprising side to everyone involved when I’m not immediately drawn to attacking someone stealing my schtick. But. He did promise to deal with me later. I can ponder the significant pontification of that while I’m gutting -my- Irish little friends. Playmates. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are here for support. Much like my little Girl, they’ve all got strict orders. Regardless of what happens to me. None of the Irish leave. Little Red Hood did me a bit of a favor, he brought even more to the fight. While the Irish might be known as honorable fighters? I make no such claims. One man who turned his head to the arrival of the Red Hood is the first to have his throat cut. I’m a jealous murderer. Sharing the attentions with another is… Rude!
“Red Hood. Smug. Fights dirty. If you’re here about Mommy’s alimony, keep it quiet!”
Red Hood (Damien)
Right now, Joker was helping thin the herd out, if you will. “I am not here to banter with you, Joker. Focus on the task at hand, then I shall deal with you.” commenting as Damien did a short baseball slide underneath a lead pipe, his foot connecting with another man’s face. Twirling around on his back, he flips up as a man with a machete tries to sever Damien’s head from his body. Landing on the blade, Damien reaches under his coat, producing a tactical dagger and slams the blade down onto the man’s head, then pulls it out and throws it with supreme accuracy to a man who was attempting to sneak up on Joker. The blade singing between Joker’s swinging arm, and his ear before finding its mark in a thunking sound as the man collapses with the blade between his eyes.
“What are you doing here, Joker? I was unaware you had a vendetta against the Irish Mob. Did they attempt to steal a red nose from you?” asking, trying his attempt at humor. “I am unsure what you mean about my mother’s alimony. But, I can assure you that I am not here for that.” Humor escapes Damien most of the time, and especially the Joker’s brand of macabre humor. “I believe as of now, we should concentrate on the task at hand.” offering as Damien jumped off the pool table in time to jump off the pool table, landing in a somewhat open spot. The men were starting to thin down thanks to their efforts.
Who would have ever thought that The Joker and Son of Batman would have ever teamed up? Damien in a way, admired how the Joker moved carelessly in a sort of murderous chaotic dance. It was clear he wasn’t using any kind of martial style, other than unnerving his opponents by using unconventional tactics. For now, the two men complimented each other as they fought to keep themselves above board, if you will. How could Joker fight with such carelessness? How did Batman simply <b>not</b> kill him? Surely the lunatic was responsible for his fair amount of misery within Batman’s life. Both, in and out of the cowl.
Damien was getting lost within his thoughts as he kept an eye on the psychotic clown, listening as he nearly squealed with glee as his blade became more bloodied.
There comes a point when I have to stop disemboweling one guy, while choking a particularly old man with his own Celtic cross to ask myself: Did he just tell me to focus? No one else gets the joke, I’m sure. But they do get the next few minutes of hysterical laughter that no doubt cements in their mind that I’m exactly batshit crazy as all the stories say I am. They’re right. Of course, but they shoulda known that before I walked in the front door.
Ironically for the little Batspurt, I’m just about as focused as I’ve ever been. Even my Shrink thinks I’ve hit a level of focused that bordered on obsessive. Who would have thunk it? All I needed was a little motivation to get my life in order. Put my ducks in a row. The criminal underworld has always taken notice of me. Feared me. They kept out of my way and mostly profited from the insanity that came of my frequent frolics through Gotham. Now though? It seems that the new Red Hood and I have made some of the same rounds. Since the Italians got to listen to the Black Mask howl for nights as he was slowly treated to a cosmetic acid bath. A few drops at a time. Until he was begging to tell me he killed the Batman. The problem is. He was lying. Naughty. He’s been a very good source of information ever since though.
This Red Hood is especially chatty. Once again I’ve gotta stop what I’m doing to answer him. Who chat-boxes like this while sodomizing a guy with his own shillelagh?! The nerve of this guy. “Hunting. Killing. What’s it matter t’ you Hoodsy? All you needa know is one of these nighean na galla killed him! Or they know who did.”
“Or. They stood by while someone else did it.
“Or. They slowly wore him down, until he lost a step.
“Or. They played diddly winks with the guy, who knows a guy, who fucked a girl, that was with the guy who did it.
By this point, I’ve moved on to doing other, even more wretched things with the old leprechaun’s club. At least it’s with someone new. You might be wondering why I’m not overly worried about being shot? Well, that’s where Tweedle Dee comes in. He’s setup in one of the boothes. Letting the Red Hood and I take all the attention. While he snipes anyone who points a gun in my direction. Tweedle Dee? Well. He’s actually the reason Harley was told not to come in, unless called. Let’s just say. He’s the explosives expert and that fat little transgender midget has gas. Or. Maybe he loves Gas. Whatever the case may be, I sent him to the Kitchen so that we can cook up some Irish fritters in a little bit.
In the moments when Red Hood isn’t babbling like a mad man, he might actually take notice that I’m not shooting anyone. No fancy gadgets. No Joker-venom. No gags. Gift Boxes. Trick poker cards. This is as hands on as I get. The only weapon I use, is the club I’ve stolen for sake of irony and the dagger. Mostly… I beat, bash and/or choke every one I can get my hands upon. Until finally…
“…oh they stole from me, they stole. All of them stole Him from me. Someone did. Someone took him from me and when I find the sunuva…” the next few moments are censored, while I do little more than ramble. “…he was Mine. Don’t you get it? Mine. Until I find out who took him from me? Everyone. Everything. Burns.”
Red Hood (Damien)
It was like Joker was speaking the same language as Damien. There wasn’t any minced words, no double entendres. Damien understood everything the lunatic said. And it made sense, he could identify with that. Damien felt the same exact way. He wanted to watch the underworld burn for taking the one person who mattered most to him. “Then it seems, We are on a similar course and direction.” moving to the side of a fist, Damien grabs the arm and twists it in a way that he first pops it out of its socket, then as the man goes down to the floor crying in pain.
There were just a few misfits left by now. Most dead, dying, howling in pain, or simply decided it was in their best interest by running away. Standing around a mess of dead bodies, Damien turns his sights on Joker. Studying him for a long moment. The HUD providing information that he already knew. Staying quiet, Damien inspects a few of the men who were still alive. Grabbing one, he hauls him over his shoulder and throws him onto one pool tables. The HUD would pull up facial recognition and display the information for Damien.
“I need information.” Starting off, Damien did not have compassion for the man. “Every time you answer incorrectly. I break a finger. From there…” trailing off as he looks down at his feet. “We will work something out.” smiling from beneath his helmet, Damien moves to one side of the man’s body and grabbed his hand. “Do you know any information about the murder of Batman?” asking, his voice cold and electronic.
“Nonono. I swear ta god, I don’t know-” snap, one finger down, a howl of pain, nine more to go.
Well. The new Red Hood and I have a couple more things in common. Like the intent to question these guys when the fight was beaten out of them. As it was, the Hood brought a couple extras to the party. So there was more than a few left to go around in the end. I’m not interested in the young ones. That isn’t how the Irish mob works. Nor do I want the oldest, again that just isn’t how it works with these guys. While the young are ridden like prime horses and the older generation is revered, even followed when they put their foots down? It’s always the smart ones that really run things. The Irish figured that out in the Wars with England. You don’t gotta be the biggest, baddest, in the world. All you gotta do to win, is be smarter than the rest of the chuckleheads you’re fighting.
That’s why I pick one the ones that had been trying to make their escape. In a twist of gleeful irony, I take pleasure in dumping the ‘smart one’ down across the Bar. Like I’m mimicing the Red Hood. Hah! I’m mimicing the Red Hood. How am I the only one who gets that joke? The chuckling, for only I know what, is likely only making the demented approach of blood scored clown-face all the more terrifying. Much less the way gore dripping gloved fingers gesture to the Hood.
“He’s playing nice. Don’t lie to me. None of you know who killed the Bat. I know that. You know that. Even the wicked little red riding Hood knows that. What you do know, is who stood to benefit most from his … absence…” Do Irish Gangsters lose control of their bladders when having their cheeks licked by insane men drenched in blood? This one seems to have. “…you either get to die quickly for telling me or slowly. Over the course of Days. While the Tweedles use you in a variety of defiling ways. Each of which Harley video tapes. For me to show your family. Friends. And all the children at your Church, during Sunday School.”
Now the question. Really. Isn’t whether the Hood or I get answers. It’s really about what happens to be more important. Broken bones. Or an Irishman’s entire sense of self-worth, family and religion. Because I’m very clearly willing to piss all over all of it. They know me. They know that there’s not one ounce of anything I said that is even unlikely.
A few moments later, when I’m finally stripping off the gloves? “My… assistant… is rigging this place to blow. Call it professional courtesy. Call it nostalgia for seeing someone wearing the Hood. But. Understand me, Hoodsy. The Batman was mine. So whoever took him from me. Is now. Mine. Mine. Minemine mine. Miiiiiiiiine.”
Red Hood (Damien)
The man offered little to no information. Nothing they didn’t already know. Everyone, honestly, benefitted from the Bat being gone. Damien doesn’t even bother to kill the now mostly broken man on the table as he cuts a look over at Joker. “Today. Our paths aligned. I believe they will align in the future. I do not care what you say, about what you claim is yours. Just know that while we are on this path, together, we will find who killed him.” saying as he started towards the door, then comes to a stop, putting his hand on the door frame.
“But, Once this is over, and our paths no longer align. I will kill you. Make no doubt, I will do what he would never have done, and make sure you will die, then make sure you can never come back.” saying, his voice low with warnings and threats. Today was a good day, at the very least. The Irish Mob has been gutted, the O’Brien Syndicate has been nearly wiped out. Today marked one more day in making sure Batman’s legacy is no longer shrouded. Looking over his shoulder at Joker one more time, he steps out of the bar and it’s like he just vanishes.
Damien, in some way knowing that donning the Red Hood would be ironic, considering whom his father is. But, maybe this is how it all ends. It started with the Red Hood and would end with the Red Hood. There’s a part of him that feels guilty for allying with the Joker. Though, if Gotham was at stake, wouldn’t Batman do the same?
You know what? I believe the guy. Or at least, I believe that he believes that he’ll do those things. In the future. When we find the person responsible. ‘We’ being the operative word. Even in insanity, I’ve never been accused of being stupid. This is what the big boys call a potential lead. Given that so many others haven’t panned out, I’ve got to take what I can get. Which means that for now? The new Hood is right. Our paths are aligned. Perhaps momentarily, as he says.
“Not to be passe, but… you just reminded me of a joke. You see. There’s this man and as he grows old, he wants to pass along something to his son. Except his son is into all the wrong things in life. Try as he might the old codger just can’t get his son on the right path.” Did I forget that I’m choking an Irish mobster to death? Why yes, I did. But the joke is more important. “So. Hee. Hee. Years pass and he’s done all he can to bring his son in the fold. There he is. On his death bed. He says to his wife…”
“I did everything I could! I beat him when he was bad boy. I treated him when he was a good boy. I taught him to drive. How to get the girls. How to get by in life. Where did I go wrong? By golly, the old hag looks back at him and says… well Mr. Capone, I think you taught him everything you knew.”
“Haa. Hah! Everything he knew. What a hoot!” Besides the outburst of giggling, there’s a sort of meandering that brings me closer and closer to the Red Hood, before turning just in time to pick up my suit-coat. “Ya see, Hoodsy. You can’t kill me. The Bat couldn’t kill me either. Not without becoming me. Hee hahaa. You’re already a step in the right direction, Fruit-of-my-loins.”
“C’mon boys. We got work t’ do before the Red Hood kills me. Again. What a maroon.”