Gotham on the Brink

October 4, 2015

Their Name is Legion, Part 3

Gotham, November XX 1931

Seymour Smiles, like most people, tends to hate Monday mornings. And this one is shaping to be the typical – the phone greets him early in the morning with a ring, the Editor is on the line again. The editor seems to have some very important news to share, but doesn’t want to share it over the line in case a nosy operator or two happened to listen in. Despite the urgency of the news, the boss tells him to take his time in getting down there – something that strikes Smiles oddly, knowing the editor’s pushy nature over the years, but does make his way down there.

Once there, the Editor asks him a second strange question – if Smiles reads the Gotham Post. After stating his refusal to read print of such low standard, the editor holds up a paper from the Post announcing their new plan. Under new ownership, the Post states that they are moving to cover more serious news in regards to the crime beat, announcing that they are hiring several new journalists to do so. While Smiles scoffs at the Posts’ plans, the Editor has plans and wants Smiles in on them. He tells Smiles that he wants to put someone else on his normal crime beat, which would free Smiles up to try and uncover the bigger stories as they happen. He throws in that there would be more freedom to write, as well as a percentage of the sales if the story does well. In fact, the Editor already had put it in the paper that morning that a “certain crime beat journalist” of theirs is suffering a mental breakdown with a possibility of being entered into Arkham. With all of this, Smiles accepts the deal.

Meanwhile, Umbra Stix is having a dream of himself on a beach at night, with the waves crashing behind him. Suddenly, Stix realizes that the sound that he is hearing is not waves at all, but rather people muttering and pointing fingers at him, saying that he is a failure. The common thread between the people happened to be a familiar silver L on their lapel. A large figure stands up amongst the people on a platform, stating to his subjects that it is “time to take out the trash”, before Stix finally wakes up from it. As he is brushing his teeth, he thinks of the psychology behind the dream and suddenly remembers the compound that he escaped from. One of the men is able to plant dreams inside of other peoples’ heads, even if the subject has mental protections in place, as long as he is reasonably close to them. He shakes off the thought for the moment, instead focusing on the idea of actually opening up a psychology practice, and begins looking into hunting down some real estate for it.

Jack Smiles found it strange that people were offering condolences to him that morning, regarding his father. After finally getting his hands on a copy of the Times, he reads the section saying that his father had finally lost it after all of these years and may be admitted to the asylum. Jack attempts to give Smiles a call, but is unable to reach him – Jack then decides that he will stop by later instead, believing that his dad will be home at some point. He also decides that he will also make some runs around that neighborhood afterward, looking for any crime that happened and hopes to stop it.

Henrietta Kinkaid wakes up next to a sweet young thing, and after realizing the time, thinks that she should maybe go into the office. When there’s good crime, there’s good sales, Netty thinks to herself as she looks over the business notes – everything seems to be doing just fine, especially in the area of trying to expand overseas contacts. With the trouble in Europe brewing, there has been an increase of persons wanting to do business with willing partners, so she begins doing some research on whether or not their currency would be acceptable.

In the middle of her work, Netty receives a call from an “Allen”, realizing that it is the person who she had woken up to this morning, and became confused over the actual gender of the person she was with (thinking that it was previously a woman). She becomes embarrassed over the fact that she can’t actually remember what they look like, and bluffs her way into accepting another outing at the Iceberg Lounge with them later. They suddenly changed their mind after remembering that they have to go to the German Embassy for a party with their wife instead, before hanging up. Curious, Netty too plans an outing at the embassy, before returning to her work.

Smiles immediately dove into his own work, looking into his contacts to find out the information that people want to hear. From what he was gathering, it seems that the people of Gotham are extremely hungry for information on vigilantes. One group in particular, he soon learns, is interested in more information on the “Owl Man” and is willing to pay a hefty sum of $2,000 for it. Curious on why a group would be hefting that kind of money for information, Smiles hunts down the name and location of the bar and heads on over.

After his shift, Jack takes the subway over to his dad’s apartment. As he gets off of the subway, he witnesses a little old lady getting mugged by two guys. Running over there, he pulls out his badge and gun, telling the both of them to let the old woman go. The two men scoff at Jack, and, without warning, Jack shoots three slugs into one of the muggers, instantly killing him. He then arrests the other guy, and asks the old woman if she is willing to come down to the station to file a report. She thanks him for the work that she does, saying that she will pay her taxes – directly to him. Digging in her purse, she pulls out a heavy gold coin and lets Jack pocket it. With the two of them in tow, they head down to the nearest station.

The station became noticeably irritated when Jack told them that he had went and killed one of the muggers. People like these criminals are what they call the “moneymakers” – you can’t exactly get paid with bribes if the criminal is already dead, they let Jack know. Jack took the information with a straight face, though secretly took down the name of the criminal, with the intent of killing him if he ever escaped. The old lady then gave everyone in the office a gold coin for their work, which cheered them up enough that they went through with processing the criminal after all.

On the other side of town, Smiles finds himself at an upscale bar in Lower Manhattan. After bribing the bouncer, he goes in and finds several street people waiting in line to chat with a man in the corner. The man took great caution in hiding his appearance, unscrewing the light bulb above him so that it made it difficult to get much a description out of him. Smiles watches the corner for awhile, and tries to stop the person who spoke with him as he left the table. He recognizes the face instantly as Jimmy the Snitch, a petty criminal who tends to get himself in plenty of trouble, though it was clear that the man was not really all there at the moment. Literally grabbing him and sitting him down, Smiles tries to ask him a couple questions on what kind of man did he speak to. With a distant look, Jimmy tells him that the man back there is all powerful and can do anything, and unfortunately for him, the man back there didn’t like the information that he had. He lets Smiles know that he has to leave right at that moment, so that he can give all of his possessions to the Silver Legion. Smiles tries to tell him that the Legion is full of nutters and that he would be better off not giving everything that he had to them, but Jimmy tells him that he absolutely has to do it, especially before midnight, otherwise he is going to jump over the bridge like the worthless lump he is. Smiles is unable to convince the man otherwise as he gets up and leaves.

After a short wait, Smiles gets his turn with the gentleman in the back. When they finally meet face to face, Smiles takes note of the gentleman’s fine appearance and southern accent, trying to match him up in his internal database of people but finding no such luck. Smiles tells the man that he does have some information on the Owl Man, though he would like some information himself first on why the man wants to know in the first place. The man simply brushes it off, and it doesn’t take long before Smiles begins to babble about what he knows about the Owl Man already, despite him trying hard to keep an upper hand – the strange dreams he has had, the previous things that the Owl Man has done, and the connection that the Owl Man has with a man named Umbra Stix. Thanking Smiles for the information, he then reveals why they want to know – the Owl Man is a very bad person, and has stolen something extremely valuable to the Silver Legion, escaping from them. If Smiles cares about truth and order, he should help them track the Owl Man down. Finding himself nodding and feeling anger towards the Owl Man and what he had done to them, Smiles agrees to help, and receives a contact number in case he wants to call them. After Smiles got up, the man dismisses the rest of the group, saying that they had gotten what they had needed for the day and that any other information is no longer needed.

Netty takes off for the German Embassy, and discovers that “Allen” happens to just be an extremely effeminate man, with his extremely masculine wife in tow. She throws a wink at Allen, which grants a pale blush from him and a dirty look from the wife, before she is greeted personally by the German Ambassador. He tells her that he has heard that she has certain “tricks” that drive men insane, and would like to discuss them further. She says that it takes getting to know her a little better first, and she does in fact need someone who knows German for her business. He offers the date, while the wife in the background is just a tad bit upset. The two of them go off elsewhere, to discuss a range of topics, from business to his collection of whips.

Jack has a completely different discussion with Smiles once the latter gets home. Smiles explains the content in the paper – while he is, indeed, crazy (which is a sign of genius, he adds!), he notes that it would take a lot to get rid of him, and that his son should know better. He is simply trying to work undercover to find a huge story to report on, instead of working the normal crime beat that he used to – and while he is glad that his son is here to ask, there is no need to worry. Jack then asks about the local donut shop, just in case that he needs to butter someone up, in which Smiles shares his secret on the location and the discount.

After leaving his dad’s apartment, Jack goes on the hunt and finds some muggers in a back alleyway, stealthily making his way towards them. He gets close to one of them before they see that someone is there. He immediately opens fire and kills one of them. The other two stick their hands up immediately in the air. Pointing with his gun, he tells the two to go into the back alleyway. Too scared to do otherwise, the two start heading over there, with Jack following behind, slowly pulling out a sawed shotgun from his back. The two of them had little chance for escape as he fired, killing the both of them. The victim tries to offer Jack a job as a bodyguard, saying that there is good money due to the fact that he has people coming after him often, though Jack tells him that he has “bigger fish to fry.”

Stix lays his head down to sleep that night, though it doesn’t take long before he feels someone massaging his scalp, whispering “Are you awake?” in his ear. The voice, belonging to Eddie Mandragora, lets Stix know that the Silver Legion is truly after him now. They developed some drugs that are able to deal with people like Stix, which will make it no problem for them to take him back to Star City. Stix can tell that there’s something off with Mandagora, especially since the Silver Legion is letting him go. Mandagora apologizes, saying that it was either him or Stix, and he sold the latter out. Before Stix slams the mental door on Mandagora, he tells Stix that he truly does regret taking the Eagle Diamond from him in the first place and wishes that Stix had gotten it instead, despite the diamond telling him that he should be happier this way. Stix then gets up out of bed and decides that it is time to go on the offense, and find the Legion before they find him. Rattling his brain for contacts, he figures that Smiles would be the most likely to know something, due to his position, and begins to head over to the man’s apartment.

Smiles was taking a nap back at his place when he hears commotion outside of his window. Looking out at the fire escape, he sees the Joker peering back at him, grinning ear to ear. “You’ve got a visitor, and it’s not me!” Smiles slams the window shut on a cackling Joker, as the man descends further down the fire escape. It wasn’t even a 30 seconds later before another sound was heard, and Smiles opens the windows again out of instinct. He saw Batman drilling bullet holes into him with his eyes. Smiles reacts like any reporter would in this situation – by getting his camera and taking a picture of him. Batman then comes crashing through the window, confronting Smiles face to face. He shoves a photograph into Smiles’ face, which shows the Joker with three men on a rooftop. Batman then demands to know if Smiles knows anything about the meeting, and what the Joker said when he was passing by. Smiles shared what he could, and Batman muttered in disgust that the Joker was always one step ahead of him. Quickly writing a number down, he hands it to Smiles, saying that if he has any information, he should let him know – information can reach him at this number. Smiles’ happiness over the fact that he has a personal contact to Batman was shot down a second later when the Bat added that it was actually Gordon’s number, before dropping a $20 on the floor and jumping straight out of the window. Smiles tries to take a few more pictures of the scene before rushing into the bathroom and beginning the development process.

A while later, Stix knocks on Smiles’ apartment door, asking to be let in. Smiles obliges, and Stix begins asking what Smiles knows, if anything, on a certain southern gentleman. Overcoming a strange urge to contact the gentleman, Smiles lets Stix know of the meeting that he had with three gentleman earlier that day, and what they had talked about in relation to the Owl Man. Knowing that Stix had some sort of connection to the Owl Man himself, Smiles does share the contact information to the southern gentleman, on the guarantee that if something happens, Stix will let Smiles know about it personally. Stix offers Smiles a chance to be there if something does, which Smiles happily accepts, before remembering the film that was being developed in the bathroom. Since they were developing longer than they should have, the results were too dark to make anything out of. Stix told Smiles that he should just stick to writing, Smiles blames the ruined pictures on the other man, and it wasn’t long before Stix took his leave.

As Smiles was lamenting his ruined photos, he remembers the woman who gave him the new camera, as well as the fact that she was interested in knowing anything happening in regards to vigilantes. He calls Netty up, and was lucky to reach her, as she had just gotten back from the Embassy. Smiles tells her that something is going down in regards to the Owl Man, and if she wants to keep updated in terms of information, she will have to owe him a nice dinner afterward. She agrees to it, surprised and glad that it was just a dinner, and looks forward to being contacted again.

Stix has a rather restful night, but wakes up with a premonition that something was going to happen and he had to get out of there. He manages to sneak down the fire escape in his robes with little notice, though as he makes his way down, he manages to get a few whiffs of something that smells like complete decay. His mind instantly goes back to the compound where he heard of a man named Ambrose Davis, also known as “the Leech” – a bully with uncontrollable time powers. Stix makes his way down to Sadie’s bar, where he can get himself a good breakfast, and calls the number that he had received from Smiles the night before. He asks the secretary on the other line if he could speak to the southern gentleman, knowing him personally as “The Professor”. She refused saying that she only takes messages for him, though she can get in contact with him pretty quickly once she has the message. Stix instead hung up, satisfied enough that he knows that he has the right number.

Jack is down at the precinct, more popular than ever after he bribed everyone with donuts after the confrontation over his actions regarding the previous subway mugging. He and the officers at his desk were discussing the recent news on the Maroni trial – after dragging on for a very long time, there was an incident that morning which resulted in Maroni getting shot by the Judge and half of Harvey Dent’s face getting destroyed by acid. They lamented Dent’s future political career, which is guaranteed to be over at that point, before discussing the police’s role in the city versus their role with the criminals. Jack clearly began to take the side that favored higher standards for them no matter the cost, before Gordon himself called him into his office. Gordon happened to hear what was going on, and while he believed that Jack was a good man, he should really tamp down the violence against criminals. While he knows of the problems in the police force, he tells Jack that they really need to try and show that the cops are truly better than the crooks, and violence is not the answer – like all things, it takes time to fix. He urges Jack to give it a try, as he promotes him to the beat and gives him an area to patrol.

Smiles gets a call from “The Professor”, saying that the Owl Man can be found at a certain address, and he should instantly go over there to investigate. Feeling the compulsory need to go right that moment, he obliges and heads right on over. Once he is there, he finds the apartment door to be completely disintegrated, including the entryway as well. The inside of the apartment was extremely messy, though he found some things of Stix and managed to put two and two together. Stix happened to return at this time, and wondered why Smiles happened to be there. Seeing Stix’s face made Smiles suddenly feel very hostile, but managed to keep his temper down and from his hands reaching the nearest phone to let the Legion know about this current encounter. Stix manages to subdue Smiles with some hypnotherapy, which lifted a wide range of compulsions from Smiles. Smiles was then much more willing to divulge what he knows, and the two came to the agreement to work together to take down these foes.

Believing that they will need more help, Smiles takes a couple moments to dial Netty’s number and letting her know that her assistance was needed at Stix’s address, and that she should bring her best equipment. Excited for some action, she calls on her assistant Lurch to bring her and the equipment to their meeting place. She meets the two men inside of the apartment, and after some introductions, begin to plan their next move. It wasn’t long before they had noticed that there was a fourth, unintended visitor, lurking behind the shadows. Netty drew her weapon and demanded that the visitor step out of the darkness and introduce themselves, though a simple “Who knows what evil lurks behind the hearts of men?” was answer enough to let them all know who he was.The Shadow revealed himself, hidden under a large coat, hat, mask and scarf, telling them that he knows that chaos is about to break out and they’re in the middle of it. He simply wants to know where they stand – are they ultimately working for the benefit of the city?

While they were trying to convince the Shadow that they are ultimately doing good with their actions, Jack was patrolling the area below, and noticed Netty’s fancy car parked out in the street. Curious on why such a nice car was parked in such a bad neighborhood as this, Jack had a chat with Lurch before going up to the apartment to speak to Netty. He spotted his dad once getting to the apartment, and asked him if this ordeal is the big story that he was chasing after. Wanting Jack to stay out of the danger that was going to take place, he tells Jack to leave, and after a few minutes, he slowly makes his way out, wanting to keep an eye on the place regardless.

As Jack reaches the bottom of the apartment, he hears a strange scream coming from a neighboring rooftop and witnesses a man falling from the top, suddenly vanishing before he hit the ground. Alarmed, Jack went back up the stairs to let everybody know what just happened. The Shadow suddenly takes off for the rooftops, muttering that the “Bat” had gotten ahead of him this time. The others chase after him, but was not able to match his speed – by the time the group had reached the top of the building, the Shadow had already disappeared. The group begins to spread out on the rooftop, looking for signs of where he went, while Netty stayed close to the door. Jack spots a “batarang” stuck in the wall, and picks it up. He tells the rest that something must have happened up here, and then a voice chimes in from behind the door that “It was quite a sight!”

A sudden wave of fatigue came over the group, seemingly aging them physically by several years. Not only were people affected by it, but the actual structure of the building suffered under the Leech’s decay. Jack maneuvered himself in shooting range of the Leech, while Netty went downstairs to try to cut anybody off in case they were planning to go down or up. Jack unloaded his gun into the Leech, but even after taking a few hits, the man didn’t seem fazed by the attack. He instead let out another wave, damaging the area even further. As Smiles tries to get out of range of the Leech’s attack, Stix uses his powers of mental suggestion for the Leech to leave this area. Unlike physical force, the suggestion seemingly worked quite well, as the Leech turned around and began to head in the other direction. Jack aims for him again as he continues to run, but suddenly fell into a deep sleep – the others struggled to stay awake, but managed just fine. As Netty emerged to wake Jack up, the Leech was rescued from falling off of the side of the building by a teleporter called Blink. Free for a moment, the group heads towards the fire escape, as the only viable option to get off of the rooftop.

They suddenly heard a noise, and turned to find the Professor, who failed to sneak up on them. Bullets flew from everybody’s guns as they hit the southern gentleman, and his body hit the pavement in cold blood. The Blink re-appeared to fight, but took a bullet to the leg blinked out again. With everything in the clear, Stix manages to sneaks off without notice, wanting to get away from the scene before the police arrive, wanting nothing to do with the law.

The police arrived after the battle had finished, and was welcomed to a message written in blood by the Shadow, who ultimately covered for them. Smiles put to print a story the next day, covering the Shadow’s battle with the Legion, which resulted in huge sales – however, the accounting team tells him that it was ultimately a loss leader, which seems unlikely to Smiles. The impact seemed to work, however, as the Post seemed to drop their crime coverage not too long after, continuing to cover fluff instead.

Stix gets another message from Eddie Mandagora. “I was afraid this was going to happen… Batman is coming for me. I think he’s going to kill me, and take the gem.” Stix suddenly receives a vision of a 350 pound blue man with red eyes, and realizes that the gem did that to him. Overall, he was glad that he wasn’t the one that gotten the gem, and offered no help to Eddie in his situation.

Later, a story had broken out. A major warehouse in the harbor had caught on fire, though only one area seemingly was burnt. The boxes in the area were completely warped, as if some sort of force hit them. Only one body was found, an extremely large, man who’s skin had been completely burned off was found dead at the scene. What they didn’t know is that a certain gem that the man had in his possession was no longer there, and vanished without a trace.

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BearerOfTidings

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