“In other news, Arkham City’s Stryker Task Force made ten more arrests this morning. The controversial private contractors, headed by Priscilla Stryker, have been under fire for their increasingly heavy-handed methods-”
Jervis Tetch let out a high-pitched giggle, taking a loud slurp of Earl Grey tea, his favourite.
Placing the cup and saucer back down, he finished setting the table; placing several tiered stands onto the patchwork tablecloth; a selection of homemade scones, cakes and cucumber sandwiches placed atop each one. He wrapped his gnarled fingernails around the remote control and turned off the wall-mounted TV. Then, he stuck his pinkie fingers in his mouth and whistled at his two guests.
The man, dressed in a white suit and jacket, rolled his eyes, and walked forward, his arm around the woman’s waist.
As they approached the table, Tetch greeted them with a poem.
“The White Mask and The Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
If this were only cleared away,’
They said, it would be grand!’
If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose,’ the White Mask said,
That they could get it clear?’
I doubt it,’ said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.”
“That’s enough, little man,” Franco scowled. “Sionis wants his next shipment moved pronto. That Arkham strike force is already coming down on us, hard, as is. The boss can’t risk them stumbling on these warehouses.”
Tetch chuckled dismissively, pouring himself a fresh cup of tea. “Silly silly, Franco. He’s caught in such a daze. Little does the madman know, he’s but a passing craze.”
At this, Franco grabbed the teapot mid-pour, allowing Tetch’s cup of Earl Grey to overflow into the saucer. “I said, midget-” he began.
“I heard you sir. I heard your pleas, I heard you loud and clear. But don’t you fret my bossy friend, our time is drawing near.”
Franco relaxed, relinquishing his grip on the teapot. “Sure. Whatever you say, freak. Sooner this partnership’s at an end, the better.”
“Quite so, Mr Franco. Now there I do agree. For Wonderland is calling me, and there I’ll promptly flee.”
Suddenly, the double doors swung open and a pale man in a red shirt and blue waistcoat entered the room.
“Mr White,” Franco spluttered. It was rare that any of the bosses graced him with their presence, let alone The Great White Shark. Before he could welcome him with a patronising remark, White interrupted him:
“Those Stryker pigs nabbed the boss. They’re taking him to Arkham with the other freaks.”
The room was silent at first, save for the trickling sounds of Tetch returning the excess tea from his saucer back into the teapot.
“What does this mean for… this?” Franco asked at last.
White shrugged dispassionately. “Nada. Squat. We knew this was gonna happen, and we’ve got contingencies for it. The boss may be stuck in there, but so are our competitors. That means we can push our product, without Penguin or Dent’s interference. ‘Least on this side of the bars,” White smirked, running his tongue across his pointed teeth.
“Competitors? I thought Penguin was into arms dealing. You really think he’s going to muscle in on our racket?”
“I don’t know,” White admitted. “But Cobblepot has that Scarecrow freak working on something; a chemical, a drug, that’s the rumour. Either way, our operation remains the same. There’s a factory on the inside, production’s a non-issue; the boss has that quilted quack running things, keeping the other junkies in line. It’s distribution that’s a problem. We need to keep a low profile. Don’t want the strike force, or worse, the Bat, disrupting our supply chain. We’ve got the Terrible Trio on call for the moment, but those furries are hardly low-key…” he trailed off, taking note of the woman at Franco’s side, recognising her as The Carpenter.
“You, the girlfriend,” he clicked his tongue, pointing a pale finger at Jenna.
“That’s not necessary, man-” Franco interjected.
White ignored him. “You do a lot of commission work, don’t you? That kind of “Pimp my Ride,” interior decorator type-shit? You got anyone on the old rolodex that you reckon could help us out?
“I dunno,” Jenna shrugged. “Most of my clients aren’t exactly low-profile.”
“Oh, I can imagine, I’ve seen your portfolio. That giant typewriter of Nygma’s? Brilliant,” White chuckled. “Still, you got an Invisible Man or Woman on there? Someone incognito, but not Incognito, because, well, he’s dead.” A shot in the dark.
“I might actually,” Jenna spoke. “You ever hear about Lloyd Ventrix?”
==The Iceberg Lounge==
Cobblepot greeted Sionis at the entrance to the lounge. Warren White stood beside them, picking a scab at the base of his elbow distractedly. “Ah, Roman, you made it, excellent!” Cobblepot addressed him, holding his arms out wide to hug the newest arrival. Black Mask rejected the hug, seeing through the Mayor’s obvious attempts to patronise him.
“Where is he?” Sionis asked grimly, his eyes drawn to the umbrella in Cobblepot’s hand, aware of the hidden firing mechanism within.
“Please, sit. We have a superb selection of wines this evening,” Cobblepot said dismissively, waving a flipper in the direction of the seating area. “Our catch of the day is red snapper, and we had a shipment of Atlantic scallops delivered this morning-”
“Oh, don’t worry, I won’t be staying long.” Sionis growled, as he nudged past Cobblepot and pushed the door open.
Gaige was sitting in the center of the room, his feet rested up on the table, a glass of red wine by his side. Gone was the muted blue business suit he had worn as The Physician, instead he sported a bright tiger-skin jacket and an accompanying red headscarf. There was one other occupant in the room, sat hidden at the bar.
Sionis drew his gun and aimed it at Gaige’s forehead. “The ‘Physician,’” he inhaled. “How stupid do you think I am?”
Gaige cocked his head to one side. “Do you want a rounded estimate?”
The Great White grinned at the joke appreciatively, then reached into his own holster. “You made a mistake coming here,” he informed the Tiger Shark.
“Oh, no mistake, Warren.” Gaige swirled the red liquid around in his glass and licked the glass’ rim with his forked tongue. “A secret brother,” he addressed Sionis, dabbing his mouth with his napkin. “Is that why you thought daddy didn’t love you?”
Sionis’ gun stayed raised. White used his free hand to muffle his laughter.
“Roman, Warren, hear the man out,” Cobblepot defended Gaige. “I think you will find what he has to say very… illuminating.”
“Illuminating,” Sionis repeated, as he slid into the chair opposite Gaige’s. “This’ll be good.”
Gaige took a bite out of a chocolate chip cookie and made a rare rumble of approval. “Did you really think that I would settle for being Franco’s right hand? Do you know what he uses it for? As it turns out,” Gaige smirked, “Our beloved Mayor is actually rather comfortable with his new position. And the last thing he wants is a… change of management.”
“Franco and Ferris,” Sionis presumed.
Gaige nodded. "I admit, I was happy to play along, at first; Franco for all his faults, did get me out of prison, and I won’t deny that I was tempted to get revenge on you… But then… Well, let’s say that my situation has changed somewhat."
Sionis and White exchanged puzzled looks.
“You see, recently, I was given a responsibility. Four, actually: Children, of various ages, genders and, ah, sizes. And I intend to give them the best life I can give them. I owe it to them. I owe it to their father. And I owe it to my daughter.”
Gaige smirked. "I’m not asking for much,” he explained. “I’d like my turf back. Dixon Docks. Port Adams. Oh, and of course whatever territory you offered Ferris to get him back to Gotham.”
“And if I refuse-?” Sionis’ eyes glinted.
“Well, you won’t, because that would be incredibly short-sighted of you. Not to mention fucking stupid. Two of your lieutenants just tried to stage a coup, how many of their soldiers do you think they recruited? You really think you’ll survive another gang war?"
"I wouldn’t bet against me.” Gaige snapped his fingers, and the scruffy man at the bar rose from the stool, an old oil lamp in his hand. Ratcatcher.
Penguin, shot his umbrella in the air. “Enough; you always were children, the lot of you… We can keep sacrificing guns and manpower bickering among ourselves in another bitter power struggle if that’s what you want. But it doesn’t matter who wears the crown so long as there’s a city of so-called vigilantes outside these windows. We’ve lost sight of things- we can divide the city among ourselves, yes, but we can’t do anything whilst there’s still a bat infestation.”
“Eh, but a gang war sounds more fun,” Sionis spoke, as his skull-like features formed a smile.
Just then, there was a light, polite chapping on the door, and a pale man entered the room.
“What the blazes is it now, Ogilvy?” Penguin snapped.
“Sorry sirs,” the man apologised. “But you wanted to be kept in the loop about Franco.”
==Sionis Warehouse: South Gotham==
Roman Sionis had several warehouses scattered around Gotham City, each one serving as a front for The False Face Society’s illegal activities. His headquarters, the north steel mill, was destroyed during the Arkham City earthquake. The east warehouse was burned down by The Black Spider six years ago. This one, located in South Gotham, was once used as the mob’s armoury: housing several crates full of guns and ammunition.
Franco was aiming a rifle out of the window: He was wearing a Kevlar vest over his lilac shirt, having discarded the tie and jacket. His Ivory mask was resting on the opened rifle case. As he peered down the scope, he frowned. A man was walking towards them, their hands raised in the air in surrender. Their face was illuminated by a small lamp wrapped around their hatband. The light bounced off the man’s black-rimmed glasses, but their silhouette was unmistakable.
Franco lowered the gun. "That’s not Lynns."
Franco escorted Li into the main loading bay, his rifle aimed at his back. As they came to a halt, Li raised his arms out in front of him, allowing Franco to search his person without any resistance.
“Who else is here?” Franco asked, retrieving a small pistol from Li’s tweed jacket with his free hand, and emptying the chamber’s contents onto the warehouse floor.
“Just me,” Li replied, as Franco flicked through his leather-bound notebook, trying to figure out how much he knew.
Ferris stepped into the light. He wore a Kevlar vest, same as Franco, and held a .12 Gauge shotgun in one hand. “Would you relax?” he scolded Franco, slapping him across the back. “Go keep a look-out for that chopper. I got this.”
“Go,” Ferris repeated, holding the gun up by the stock.
Franco looked like he was going to argue, but obliged, sulking as he climbed up the ladder and returned to his look-out post in the rafters. Ferris looked over his shoulder, his beady eyes trained on Franco.
“How long have you been working against Roman?” Li asked.
Ferris turned his head back, indulging Bookworm. “Roman? He’s Roman now, is he? Since before he ‘kindly’ lifted my exile… Since I saw his true face. Franco’s young and easy to mould; he’ll follow anyone who’ll get him on top. All I had to do was wait until he forced Sionis’ hand. The blood tests were smart, Tiger Shark’s idea, I guess. His kind are crafty, I’ll give them that much…
To his credit, it worked. Sionis, worried about a young rival to his throne, was all too eager to lift my exile and bring me home.”
“Is that why you gave Calendar Man the security codes to the building?” Li inquired.
“Hah. Well, aren’t you the little detective?” Ferris chuckled.
Joey Rigger opened the metal hatch, poking his head out from under the floor. The passage exit was unguarded, which meant that, true to his word, Li was keeping the mobsters distracted. Good. He climbed up onto the loading dock, followed by Needham, the pair making sure to close the hatch behind them.
"Jenna?" Joey called out. "Jenna? You here?" he asked again, taking a cautious step forward. Behind him, Needham stood stiff as a board; his eyes fixed on Ferris. Joey peered around the corner, noting the foreman’s office on the first floor, a single lamp illuminating Jenna’s handcuffed silhouette. She was alive, thank God. As he turned back, Joey’s relieved smile turned to a frown: Needham was gone.
Li straightened his glasses. “There’s still something I don’t quite understand. Why move against Ro- Mr Sionis in the first place?”
Ferris scoffed. “The same reason daddy tried to kick him out of the company. Because I know all about his dirty secret. You. People like you. See, I read those files, I read all about Moxxom, and what Sionis asked him to do to get him reinstated. Trust me, that enabler got what was coming to him. It’s about the only thing Calendar Man got right.
Let’s get one thing straight: I’m no, heh, Francophile, but the mob needs a new leader. A strong leader. And maybe that’s not Franco. But it sure as hell isn’t the Black Mask. I, for one, refuse to take orders from a soft-hearted poof.”
“No one has ever accused Mr Sionis of being soft-hearted,” Li noted.
“No one knew he liked to take it up the ass neither.”
Li took a step forward. “And the East End? What happened there? You wouldn’t have known about Mr Sionis then, surely.”
Needham watched them from the shadows, his jaw clenched, his hand balled-up into a fist. Beneath his bridle, Ferris smirked, thinking back to that time with the same sense of nostalgia as someone reminiscing about their favourite holiday. He was proud of his twisted achievement, and he recounted his confession to Li with a disturbed sense of pride.
“Oh, so you read up on that too, huh? Suppose you would… Nah, that was just a bit of fun. Oh, don’t give me that look! They were degenerates! Junkies! No one was going to miss them! If we got Black Spider, that’d be great! And if we didn’t? Well, we still killed a few dozen darkies.”
As Franco played with the scope of his rifle, he paused. He heard something: the faint sound of an engine overhead. “Is that the chopper?” he pondered, sticking his head out of the open window: No such luck.
“Hey, Davey,” a man answered him, their voice had a metallic reverb to it, an effect of the yellow and red insect-like mask they wore.
Garfield Lynns was hovering above Franco, dressed in a suit of black and grey armour; metal wings on either side of him kept him airborne, their turbines spitting out clouds of grey smoke. Firefly was here, and he was armed.
“Found my suitcase,” he announced.
Franco eyed the large flamethrower in Lynns’ hand, a bright orange glow was emanating from the barrel, and it was glowing brighter still. Franco’s eyes widened as he realised what was coming next.
“Oh shit!” Franco instinctively threw himself from the railing, as a massive fireball shot out from the gun, scalding his arms and cheek. Landing on the ground, he reached out towards the ivory mask which had landed on the ground beside him. He turned back to Gar and slid the mask onto his face as though he were challenging him. The fireball and Franco’s resultant fall caught the other party’s attention: Ferris spun his head around to see what was happening; only to be met by Eric Needham, a pistol in his hand. Li covered his head with his arms to protect himself and without hesitation, Needham pulled the trigger; a bullet whizzed through the air and struck Ferris in the forehead.
Ferris fell to the floor; his metal helmet struck the ground with a loud clang, and his shotgun slid across the floor out of reach. Franco looked at Ferris, then at Needham, like a rabbit caught in a car’s headlights, his wide eyes poking out from behind his skull-like mask. He took a fervent glance at Lynns, still hovering above him, and ducked around the corner. Gar’s jetpack buzzed, and he shot off in pursuit of the White Mask.
Still holding his gun, Needham stepped forwards, standing over Ferris’ unmoving figure. He turned to Li; a dissatisfied grimace hidden behind his own mask. “Walk away,” he said coldly.
Li nodded obediently, retrieving his notebook from the crate Franco had left it on. Suddenly, a hand latched onto Needham’s ankle, tripping him over. Needham stumbled backwards, but using his arms to catch himself, he avoided hitting the ground.
“Once a junkie, always a junkie,” his attacker called out, cracking his bruised knuckles. Henry Ferris was back on his feet, with little more than a dent in his helmet.
Making the first move, Ferris rushed forward, headbutting Needham twice in quick succession. In the third attempt, Needham leapt over him, and smashed his head against a pillar instead. The section of stone pillar he struck crumbled under the impact, and a crack formed in his iron mask. Ferris let out a frustrated yell, throwing Needham off him. The next thing he did, was recover his shotgun, and aim it at Needham’s head. Before he could fire however, a voice called to him from the walkway above them.
“Yo, Iron-Hat!” Joey waved at the mobster, goading him. “Hamilton.”
Though hidden behind his mask, Ferris’ cheeks grew red with anger, and he fired off several rounds from his shotgun. Joey smirked, ducking behind the handrail. “The Wiz!”
With Ferris momentarily distracted, Needham was able to dispatch him with a sweeping kick. He webbed the firearm out of Ferris’ hand, and broke the gun over his knee, saluting at Joey gratefully.
Franco ducked behind a stack of crates, his phone propped between his head and shoulder “Where the hell is that chopper, LaMonica?” he snapped.
“ETA two minutes, boss,” Johnny LaMonica’s easy-going voice answered.
“Yeah?” Franco scoffed. He was trying to slide a magazine into his handgun (The grip of which was adorned with ivory, much like his mask), but his sweaty palms had made the task more difficult than he had anticipated. “What am I supposed to do in the meantime?” he complained.
“I’ve got a few ideas,” Gar replied. As he spoke, his wings tucked themselves into the side of his backpack, lowering him to the ground.
Franco fired his gun at Lynns to stall him, emptying the clip, and then he took off again, heading out through the side door.
“New plan,” he spoke into his phone. “I’m not gonna make it to the roof, land in the parking lot. The one overlooking the bay.”
Bit tight, no, ese?” LaMonica queried.
“Just do it!”
The door was blown off its hinges, as Gar tore through it. Franco reloaded his gun, but this time, Gar shot out a jet of fire at it, overheating it. The gun shot out of Franco’s hand and landed several meters behind him.
“You knew,” Gar spoke disdainfully. “You knew Day would be there. You sent Carson, knowing he would kill anyone who stood between him and Drury. And you… You brought her anyway.”
“And you weren’t even supposed to be there! We would’ve got out without a hitch, and Romy would’ve been dead if you and your misfits hadn’t got involved. So don’t… don’t play the victim card,” Franco scoffed. “There wasn’t anyone in that building that got hurt and didn’t deserve it. Every guest, every guard, villains. All of us. Her included.”
“So? I know she worked for Tetch. Doesn’t matter to me.”
“No, I suppose it wouldn’t. You’re a serial arsonist after all, ‘Firefly.’” Franco sneered. “I mean, didn’t you once incinerate an orphanage?”
“My orphanage,” Lynns clarified. “And it was abandoned.”
“Aside from a few drifters, right? There’s always a couple, you know!” Franco laughed. “Come on, man! What do you have that I don’t?”
“A flamethrower,” Gar said slyly, turning a dial on his weapon.
“I can buy a flamethrower!” he laughed back.
“I can buy a toupee, watch yourself, asshole,” Gar retorted.
Their conversation was cut short: The arrival of Franco’s helicopter was heralded by the rhythm of the chopper’s twin rotors. In the pilot seats were a pair of thugs unfamiliar to Gar but known to Joey and Eric as Harlan Combs and Johnny LaMonica, two crooks who took-over their gear and mantles for a cheap thrill. LaMonica cackled, as he pressed a button on the dashboard, two guns emerged from flaps at either side of the helicopter.
“Oops…” Franco shrugged mockingly. “Sorry, Lynns, looks like my ride’s here.”
“Sorry, ‘Davey.’ But you’re not getting on that chopper.”
Joey entered the foreman’s office, a cramped room with a damp floor, a stack of old pizza boxes strewn across the desk, a toolbox on the leftmost shelf, and a system of rusted pipes lined along the back wall. Jenna was handcuffed to one such pipe. As she noticed the winged silhouette at the other end of the darkened room, her heart started to beat faster. That feeling, was almost immediately replaced with one of confusion when it became clear who her rescuer was.
“Joey?” Jenna stammered incredulously; her brow furrowed.
“Jenna! We’re getting you out of here,” Joey smiled reassuringly, scanning the room for the key, or at least a lock pick.
“Wait, where’s Gar?” she asked.
“He’s fine, he went after Franco,” Joey informed her.
Their eyes were drawn to the window outside, where it looked like Gar was being pursued by a helicopter the size of a small bus. Joey, turned to Jenna apologetically.
-“I should probably make sure he’s alright.”
-“You should probably make sure he’s alright.”
“Yeah,” Joey nodded. “I’ll… be right back,” he agreed.
“You- You could still uncuff me.,” Jenna sighed, her nostrils flaring.
Joey shot into action, flying around the side of the black helicopter, twin shooters on his wrists. Combs rose from the co-pilot’s position; his Firebug outfit was noticeably heavier than Joey’s was, possibly to overcompensate for his visual impairments. LaMonica didn’t seem to mind. Since he’d taken a knife to one eye, and a plastic spork to the other, Combs’ effectiveness in the field had decreased dramatically, even with a patch-up courtesy of the illusive Crime Doctor. Taking to the skies, Combs fired a massive blast of napalm in Joey’s direction: Joey rolled to one side, the flames barely singeing the side of his leg. Joey flew higher into the air, in an attempt to bait Combs away from the helicopter. Oblivious to Joey’s intentions, Combs followed after him, continuing their private dogfight.
“You’re nothing, Rigger. Just an undisciplined idiot!” Combs bellowed.
With Combs distracted, Gar flew behind the helicopter, striking the back rotor of the helicopter with one of Drury’s cocoon capsules, gumming up the machinery. A trail of black smoke billowed from the helicopter, with the flames eventually making their way through the fuselage. LaMonica, attempted to bail the doomed ride, firing a black web from his gauntlet. An inferior compound to Needham’s, the web caught fire and the imposter Spider plummeted onto the tarmac road below, where Li was waiting for him.
LaMonica peeled the mask off his face, and sighed. “Listen, man, I didn’t wanna be here, but I didn’t have a choice. I mean, Franco got me out of prison, I had to pay him back, that’s just common courtesy, you know? Surely, we can work something out, right? You dig?”
Emotionlessly, Li reached above his head and lifted his hat: taped to the inside, was a second pistol. He spun the chamber and aimed it at LaMonica’s head.
“Yeah. I ‘dig.’”
Pilotless, the helicopter spun out of control. The rear rotor caught itself across the exterior of the warehouse, tearing through the corrugated metal and windowpanes. On the ground, Franco ducked for cover. Inside the office, a red toolbox crashed to the ground, its contents spilling out by Jenna’s feet. “Jackpot,” she remarked. Looking on either side to ensure no one was watching, Jenna shimmied her body down the pipe until she reached the ground. Still handcuffed, she used her feet to grip the screwdriver, and bring it to her hands. She pushed the screwdriver down into the lock, breaking it open, and rubbed her wrists.
Momentarily distracted, Combs turned his head back. His mistake. His mouth hung open, but his body had frozen. Petrified in mid-air, he didn’t think to manoeuvre out of the way of the helicopter’s out of control rotors. The only thing he could do, was hurl one last insult Joey’s way.
"Rigger, you son of a who-"
He didn’t finish. The helicopter blade had cleaved him in two. His jetpack propelled his body forwards, not stopping until it struck a nearby billboard: An insurance ad of all things.
A quiet splash several yards away denoted the position of Combs’ head. It had landed in the harbour. The helicopter’s fuselage rolled through the air and crashed into the side of the warehouse.
Gar and Joey regrouped, approaching the downed helicopter: In the confusion, Franco had escaped, but Gar knew exactly where he was heading.
Although most of the technology in the facility was outdated, there was one piece of machinery that was still operational: a large, red hydraulic press.
Ferris reached into his jacket lining and slid a pair of brass knuckles over his hands. His punch tore into Needham’s cheek, ripping off a mix of skin and bloodied fabric. With all the strength he had left, Needham grabbed Ferris from behind and slammed his head into the hydraulic press, his skull sandwiched between the ram and base of the device. He webbed the lever, and the device hummed into life. Ferris let out a scream as the pistols started to pump and the ram pushed down onto his iron mask. He swung his arms back and forth wildly, trying to grasp Needham’s clothing. An unpleasant scraping of metal-on-metal echoed through the warehouse, and at last, there was loud crunch. Ferris’ wolf-like faceplate clattered to the ground. He slid free from the machinery and slid onto the floor.
“I… appreciate the face-lift,” he remarked. For the first time in six years, Henry Ferris ran his hands across his exposed face, chuckling. But he couldn’t revel in his freedom for long. Needham grabbed him by the shoulder and rammed the blonde man against the wall.
"Well, what do you know…" Ferris rasped. "You have gone soft."
"No. No, I just want to look into your eyes as I kill you," Needham gritted his teeth, his hold on Ferris tightening. "Why?” he asked. “Dozens dead. My child, my woman dead. Just to draw me out? Just to get a crack at me? I deserve to know why.” He grabbed his knife and pressed it tightly against Ferris’ throat. Small droplets of blood trickled down, as the blade broke the skin.
Ferris rolled his eyes. “Oh, sure. Just to get a crack at you.”
Needham released his grip, his eyes widening.
“Look at yourself. You tell me why,” Ferris grunted, his limp body sliding against the wall. “Shame about your pretty, fair-skinned girlfriend… Kaff kaff But she should’ve known better. Dating one a’ youse? Could only end one way.”
“Her body…” he coughed feebly, “Her body was poisoned long before the drugs took her life.”
Needham’s fist tightened around the knife, and then he sighed. He’d been down this road before, those men in the False Face Society, The Monarch of Menace… And he thought about what that had cost him. And about how far he had come since that Iceberg Summit. Beneath his mask, Henry Ferris was just a man. A pathetic, disgusting mess of a man, yes. But a man, nonetheless. And no man was worth throwing away all the progress he had made. Not even Ferris.
‘No.’ Needham vowed, dropping his knife as a sign of protest, and turning his back on him.
“Hah,” Ferris chuckled at Needham’s perceived weakness, and reached for the abandoned knife. “Stupid n-”
The knife, clattered to the ground with a pathetic “clang.”
Needham looked back: Ferris was on his feet, clutching his throat with one hand, gurgling blood. Between his bloody fingers was a silver blade, protruding from his neck. For a few seconds, Ferris remained upright, swaying from side to side, and then he joined the knife on the ground. For several more minutes, Ferris spasmed on the floor, coughing, spluttering, wheezing; blood dripped from either side of his mouth, painting his face with a scarlet scowl. And with a final gasp, he rolled onto his stomach, dead, face-down in a pool of his own blood.
With the toe of his shoe, Needham kicked Ferris’ body onto its’ back and knelt beside it. It was only upon closer inspection that he realised the projectile was not a throwing knife, but instead the broken end of a katana. He looked up to see where it had been thrown from and made eye contact with Joey Rigger, stood at the other side of the warehouse. He was holding his mask in one hand, his face pale. His other hand was held above his head, which was where it had stayed since he threw the katana moments before.
The office door swung open, as Franco staggered inside. He looked at the scattered tools along the ground, then at Jenna, and rushed forwards. She struck first.
Franco recoiled, as she plunged a pair of rusty pliers into his collarbone. He dug the tools out, and placed his hand against the wound. “Bitch!” he yelled instinctively, slapping her across the face, knocking her to the ground.
Gar burst through the window above them, flames spitting from the end of his flamethrower. Franco, grabbed Jenna’s arm and dragged her onto the walkway. The warehouse was burning; the crash had caused some damage, yes, but much of the destruction was caused by the Firefly. Behind his mask, Gar’s pupils dilated, and as the flames danced around him, he cackled, blasting a jet of fire at Franco.
Jenna, was hit by one of the flames, marking her right arm. Gar’s lip twitched, the manic expression faded from his face as he dropped the flamethrower and flew over to her side. A large red mark ran down her right arm. She winced as he ran his finger over it.
“I’m sorry… I’m so sorry…” he apologised. “I shouldn’t- I couldn’t-“
Drury’s words echoed in Jenna’s head: ”Garfield Lynns, at his best, is a fiercely loyal, brave, gentle man. At his worst, he’s Firefly. And Firefly could burn us all down. If you can live with that, cool- good luck, hope you’ve got a lot of concealer. But if you can’t, you better let him down easy, or hell mend you. He doesn’t need protection. Never has.”
“It’s ok,” she nodded. “I’m ok.”
Gar nodded back. “Jenna, listen, I know he is, was, your boyfriend-”
“It doesn’t matter,” she spoke. “He’s bloody barmy.”
Franco attacked from behind, wrapping a chain around Gar’s throat, and pulling him back. Gar broke free, so Franco lifted the chain above his head, spinning it like a cowboy with a lasso. The metal chain struck Gar’s helmet, cracking the red lens, exposing his grey iris. Franco threw the chain again; striking Gar’s back; the jetpack was damaged. Gar let out a guttural scream, and tackled Franco off the railing, the two of them landing on the warehouse floor below. As Jenna ran down the stairs after them, her eyes were drawn to a large sledgehammer, propped against the wall. As she lifted the sledgehammer, her knees buckled slightly under the weight, her body shaking as she levelled the hammer. Franco rose to his feet first, followed by Gar. He stepped back towards the hydraulic press, tripping over Ferris’ metal faceplate. Incensed, he grabbed the knife and swung it towards Lynns. Gar backed away, getting a nick across his torso. As Franco swung at him again, Gar ducked. He slashed the wires instead and jumped back, choking as oil splashed across his mask.
Gar lunged forward and punched Franco. His Mask’s jaw was dislocated by the impact, hanging loose like a particularly gormless skeleton. Franco clicked the ivory jaw back into place and jabbed the knife forwards, stabbing Gar in the gut. Gar, toppled over.
"For years I worked for Richard Sionis!” Franco bellowed, waving the knife in Gar’s face. “Years! I came from nothing, I had nothing! But I worked hard, did everything he asked, and he damn well knew it! I was going to rule Gotham! He had the paperwork; he was going to hand over Janus; everything was just like it should’ve been! Then Romy murdered him. His wife too. Made his debut as the Black Mask shortly after and burned any and all documents relating to his old man’s wishes. Kept me around as a pity case, but he never respected me. Every Sionis billboard, every Janus ad, those should’ve been mine!"
Before he could finish Gar off, Jenna swung the hammer forward. As it contacted Franco’s knee, a sickening crunch filled the air as his kneecap fractured. Franco let out a high-pitched scream, as his leg went limp.
“You wanna be Roman Sionis?” Gar panted. “Fine by me!” he yelled, as he kicked Franco into the flames. Franco howled as the flames swallowed him, as his ivory mask burned and fused to his skin, but he wasn’t finished: Franco emerged from the flames; his head on fire; resembling a ghostly rider. Jenna swung the hammer again, striking Franco’s skull; his head cracked open; a mix of ivory and bone fragments hit the floor, followed by his body.
The impact killed him instantly.
Jenna’s face wobbled, tears fell down her face, and she dropped the sledgehammer to the floor. Suddenly, she hugged Gar, burying her face in his chest. Hesitant at first, Gar placed his arms around her back, and held her tight.