Gotham, August XX, 1931
The group each wake up in their own dingy cells, wearing a jumpsuit that signified that they were locked up in Arkham Asylum. A quick look out the window told them that they were extremely high up, and the reinforced doors and windows hinted in a way that there was little hope for escape.
A voice suddenly spoke through the speaker in the room to each one of them, telling them all that they were lucky that they were dealing with him instead of Jonathan Crane – that man deals with fear, and how far a human can be pushed before he dies from pure fright. Strange’s own experiments are much less daunting – he promises that he can give them anything that they want, based on their desires. The Voice offers it to Clarence first, who neglected to speak. Stix ignored the Voice to check to see who else is there, and found out from the responses that the four of them are present, and their cells were neatly in a row. At this time, Clarence uses his powers to shake Stix’s bed to inform him of his presence, but the action caused him to suddenly feel a psychic presence on him.
The Voice then turned to Clair and asked her the same question, which her response was that she wanted to be let out. She tries intimidation, threatening that she knows people, but the Voice did not care – his friends in “low places” are more powerful than hers in high places, and that if he let her out, his life would surely end. He then offers her anything she wants – youth, beauty, the ability to fly, and so on. Clair states that she’s perfect already the way she is, and that she doesn’t need anything.
Sadie wants to know what the voice gets out of the deal. The Voice says that he is a man of science, and he learns many things from the experiments. And anything is possible through them, but at a cost – these services are not “free”, and the person receiving them must give up something in exchange for their desire.
Stix then flags down the Voice and offers to give up his jumpsuit, or the lack of freedom, in exchange for being let out of here. The Voice believed those choices to be insufficient, until Stix then offered his services instead. The Voice offers to enhance mental or physical capabilities, but Stix isn’t quite interested yet. The Voice guarantees that he has the best reorganization tools in the country. All he needs to do is discuss it first with “lower management” and depending on what is required in the transformation, they decide if it’s worth the work or not.
Clarence attempts to pull the wall out between his cell and Stix’s so that they can talk to each other, but a force knocks him out for a few seconds. He wakes up to find that the wall is intact, and attempts again. He succeeds in drilling a hole, but can definitely feel something gripping his psyche when he does it. The Voice remarks in astonishment as Clarence walks into Stix’s room, saying that it was the most remarkable thing he’s seen in quite awhile, even before treatment. He also noted that he’d ask that Clarence do it again, but hinted that it was probably not safe for him to do so.
Stix used Mind Shield on both him and Clarence, so that they could discuss with each other about what they think the Voice is up to. Stix believes that he is quite interesting, and Clarence wants to speak to him on a more level basis. They invite him down, but his response was a strict no, with a hint of fear, and that he cannot come down to visit with them at this time.
Clair psychologically examines him and learns two things from the discussion – one, he is contemptuous of Johnathan Crane, and two, he is not schooled at psychology at all. Like Clair, his knowledge is one of a layperson’s, which is strange, given his status. She asks what this guy’s name is, or what he should be called, and he simply replies that they should call him “The Doctor”.
Stix becomes irritated at the lack of tobacco in his current situation, and asks if the Doctor would be so polite as to prescribe him some. The Doctor was agreeable, and sent for some to be delivered. Sadie, not a smoking person, asked for alcohol, which according to the Doctor, is harder to find in the Asylum due to it being a much more dangerous substance to have in the building. He demanded something more in exchange, which ended up being her jumpsuit. Sadie agreed, believing it to be stuffy in the cell anyway, and pushed her clothing out of the door. In exchange she was given some wine in a paper cup by a man on the other side. She tries to get the man to open the door and join her with the wine, but he unfortunately ran off.
The conversation between the group and The Doctor turned towards “Lower Management” and what kind of people they are. The Doctor seemed to become increasingly fearful about the subject and immediately shut off the PA system.
The group sat in silence for awhile, until dinner was served. Clair tried to fake a heart attack in order to get their attention, which worked, but against her – gas poured into the room and knocked her unconscious. The Doctor’s voice appears over the PA system again, and lets everybody know what happened. He said that her being gassed was a good thing – he in fact, saved her life by doing that, because she may have been treated much worse otherwise. However, he adds as a warning, she won’t be as lucky again if she attempts a second time.
Stix resumes asking about “Lower Management” and then experiences feelings of being viewed, judged and found boring. The psychic grip that Clarence felt on him was suddenly no longer there since it shifted over to his partner, and he uses this time to try and punch another hole in the wall to no avail. He attempts a second time but the mental strain that he experienced from it was so strenuous that he began to heave over, sick from the stress. He gives up at that point, and decides its better to bide his time just a bit longer.
Clair wakes up with a strange feeling in her ear, and no feeling in her left foot. She screams for Max as she jumps out of her bed, and stumbles as she tries to walk. After awhile, she eventually regains feeling in her foot, and is relieved about it. Everyone else was just left confused on who this Max person was, and why she was screaming for him.
The Doctor spoke up again, and mentions that if they do not come to a conclusion soon, Crane may pick up on them after his current experiment. After thinking about it, Clarence offers a desire to enhance his capability over metal. The voice seemed excited that a suggestion finally came up, yet was fearful about it. He mentioned that he will speak to “Lower Management”, but it will have to wait until next morning – they are much less pleasant in the evening and he does not want to disturb them. The Doctor does want another person though, and Clarence suggests that Clair should be the other experiment, due to her age. He thinks she would be a good candidate, in fact, because she has lived quite long for how much she has been through. He name-dropped Nygma, and how fascinated he was by her, and the others added other stories that they have heard about her – that she had been shot in the face and healed miraculously quick afterwards. Hearing that, the Doctor seemed satisfied enough, and bids them a goodnight.
During the night, Sadie and Clair woke up to hear a bunch of guttural grunting that went on outside. Sadie was unable to really understand any of it, but Clair was able to tap into her past spy experience to break the code, and begin speaking to them. Sadie on the other hand, gotten a surprise visit from Cesare. He warned her about the experiments, and spoke to her about his. He was a curious person and wanted to know and see everything, so he willingly gave himself up for those powers, but ended up losing his free will in exchange. It wasn’t until that night in Lizzy’s bar, where he was able to fight back against some of it. That night, Lizzy was about to lose her life to her bodyguard, and he found that he was in fact able to go against himself and interfere, due to her pure soul. Cesare also notes that Sadie is not as corrupt as the others, and warns her about the upcoming prison break. He lets her know that he will die soon, but cannot say why, nor can he break her out of the cell when she asked to be taken with him. He says that he is being called, and they bid each other farewell.
The next morning, the Doctor checks in with the two who wants experiments. Clair says that she simply wants to be harder to kill, saying that she doesn’t need youth or beauty – she’s already beautiful and perfect otherwise, and that she is in her prime. Clarence wants to be even stronger than he is already, and use it in different ways. Thinking back to last night, Sadie really implores the other two to take some time to really think about what they’re going to go through and what they are giving up, though the other two seemed willing to go along with it regardless.
The Doctor then asks if they can keep a secret – wait, he then states, don’t answer that, they can’t and neither can he. He tells them that the experiments are based on how far they can push people and keep them human. Stix asks about the human concept, and what makes them less human. The Doctor sidestepped the question, stating that “Lower Management” are the ones that actually go through with conducting them, and that he’s simply the one that organizes them. Speaking of which, he notes, he has a meeting with them and must leave.
A bunch of insane laughter comes on the speakers later, from the Doctor himself, saying that “Lower Management” is ecstatic and cannot wait to perform them. Clair begins to have second thoughts about the whole ordeal, and Clarence begins to think about it as well, since he originally wants Clair to go first while he watches before he truly decides if it’s for him. The Doctor repeats that Lower Management wants to go ahead with it soon, and Clarence will feel no pain due to the drugs.
The Doctor flips to Clair and asks if she really had reconsidered. She doesn’t want to do it without seeing what happens to Clarence first. The Doctor simply promises that she will be comfortable. Clair then asks why everybody here laughs so maniacally. He sidestepped the question and says to let him know if she changes her mind again. He adds that Crane is just finishing cleaning up after his last experiment, and that he said that the fluids from it were the most interesting. Clair then shrugs, says what the hell, and agrees to go along with it anyway.
The switch was flipped back to Clarence, and the Doctor asks if it’s possible for him to patch the hole in the wall because he doesn’t want Stix to be gassed. Clarence’s powers can’t do anything about it, he lets him know, so the Doctor says that it’s nighty-night for Stix too, he supposes. Stix goes to the furthest corner of the room to meditate as the gassing begins. He was able to lower his breath enough so that the gasses don’t affect him, then he attempts to cloud his presence as the people come in for Clarence, hoping to leave as well. As the psychic spotlight comes down on him, Stix’s mental trap that he had set for them goes off – though due to the strength of his opponent, the mind trapper became the trapped. Stix felt pain and shocked from the tables being turned on it, experiencing a feeling similar to that of a circus performer with eyes all over him. He then quickly changed to his mind shield to continue watching Clarence. The two guys that came for him were large, with glass eyes, sewn mouths and claws for hands, each donning the Arkham uniform. As they closed the door, Stix made another attempt to slip out and actually made it into the hallway. He watched the elevator go down to B10.
Stix instead goes up to the 20th floor, and takes note of the nice carpeting and paneled walls. The door says “Hugo Strange, Handle with Care.” Stix makes a mental note of it as he opened the door and walked into the room. It resembled an old jail cell, where most of the room was barred off. The inside of the cage was rather nice though, and self-sufficient, with large windows, a nice bathroom, and a console with some cameras. A bald old man turns around, and asks how Stix made it in here. Stix ignored the question, and asked if he was Hugo Strange. The man nodded, saying he was the one that designed the place, including the cell where he was kept. Stix offers to let him out, but Strange says that he was happy where he was (with a hint of terror in his voice), and that he can still conduct some experiments from his cage. Stix attempted to use some of his suggestion abilities on Strange to have Sadie be brought a doctor’s suit, but the powers of Arkham detected him and prevented it from happening. Stix then walked away and left the door open, despite Strange’s protests, and went down each floor to look for a set of keys. He eventually comes across a trustee station at the 15th floor and finds some clothing, batons and chloroform. Stix takes some of the supplies, pass some of them off to Sadie as a means of protection, and then waits in his own room.
Later, the guards came back with Clair and Clarence. Both of them were completely covered in blood and slime, and were dumped into their respective rooms. Cesare stood in the doorway and went unnoticed by both guards as they went back down the elevator. Cesare then turned to Stix, and said that the “Masters” were quite intrigued by him. Stix says that he already knows, thinking about the struggles that he has had with them already. Cesare then warns Stix about the jailbreak as well, based on what he has seen of it, the results will not be pretty. Stix asks him on what the best course of action will be, which Cesare says that it really depends on his own desire. If Stix and his companions simply want to leave, they should help them do so. If they desire to protect Gotham, however, they should try and stop it from happening. Stix asks if Cesare will assist, but he says that he is unable, and that he has gone over his limit already. His destiny is to die in flames after the jailbreak, which will happen soon, and there is nothing he can do about it. Cesare then bids Stix farewell before taking off in the elevator.
A trustee comes upstairs with a ring of keys, and spots Stix as he tries to reach for the keys. Stix tries to suggest to not press the alarm button, but fails and it is pulled. The trustee strangely turns to open one of the jail cell doors, and a giant man steps out into the hallway – ten feet tall, naked, and no genitals. He uses telepathy to speak with Stix, and let him know that he is one of Doctor Strange’s more successful experiments – the others were much less fortunate. He wanted to know if Stix was the one that contacted them the night prior, and when he described the person more in detail, it ended up sounding as if it was Clair. Stix let him know her location, but notes that she and his other companion are unconscious. The man, preferring the name Thing One, was pleased by it – he says that Clair and Clarence will be disoriented and highly dangerous when they wake up, which is good for the destruction once they all escape. They feel that the city needs to experience the suffering that their Asylum has brought onto them, and invites the rest of them to join him. Wanting to get out and believing that an existence outside of the walls is preferred to the life inside, the two conscious members of the group agree to follow.
Once everybody is freed from their cell, the group go up the elevator to greet Strange. Thing One faces him and says that he knows that Strange has a way out if he ever wanted, and that he should brag a lot less if that’s information that he didn’t want known. Strange asked what would happened if he refused to tell, and he was promptly threatened to be fed to one of his “children” if he didn’t comply. Strange then told them that there is a way to the roof by crawling through a passageway, then letting some rope down to rappel to the ground level. The experimentees were much too large or grotesque to actually make it through the passageway, so they held Sadie hostage as Stix went to lower the rope so that they could escape through the much larger window. Stix offered Strange to come with them, but he refused, saying that he would be killed if he had left with them. It had been noted, however, that the escape route appeared to have been used one last time after them.
A short time later, a trail of destruction was left in the monsters’ wake as they went through the city, superhumans against all of Gotham’s protective forces – Batman, the Shadow, the Gotham Police, and other, more secretive force. Many were found dead after the scuffle, which caused the city to erupt in panic. The Mayor drunkenly appeared from retirement to give a statement on the tragic state of affairs of the City, as they begin to try to come up with a plan on how to tackle this situation. Surprisingly yet, Arkham is not a part of that plan, as the building still stands proud and strong, with no investigations thrown against it.
Epilogue – As the dawn broke against the Gothic spire of Arkham Asylum, some people reported a large flame bursting from the top of one of its spires. Cesare had finally woke up free from his bind so that he could achieve his final desire, to see the dawn one last time, but paid the price in full – his own life.