Lights, Camera…

Lights, Camera...

} Part 7 of 7. This is the last installment of what has been the Flickrverse’s backstory of Clayface. For the complete final arc, start at “Reprise”. I want to express a thank you (that can’t even begin to be big enough) to Duncan Young, Lord Allo, and though they are inactive, Brute Eatin and FeelOkayInc as well, for that first invitation to be canon in the universe they started. And also, to anyone that’s stuck through even one of these stories, or left a kind comment: This really has been a blast, because of you.

The charge is fleeting. Morgan immediately butts heads with Bonecrusher and comes to a standstill. Ivy vaults out the way of several gunshots, with the aid of a stalk erupting through the pavement. Electro uses the plant as cover to retaliate with his own blaster. I head straight for Flannegan, still standing over my son, but Diablo throws up a funnel of fire in my way.

Zodiac: To hell with this. I’m a lover, not a fighter.

He releases smoke pellets from a cancer symbol on his suit, and just as the King of Cats lunges for him, he vanishes.

Electro: Recreant deserter!

Sims still stands out of range, surveying the pandemonium. He shakes his head at me.

Myself (glowering): You’ll beg for death, Sims. For me.

Sims (ignoring me, his words finally having tired): The big man sends his regards. He couldn’t make it, but he wanted you to know he’s thinking of you.

At that, I begin to realize several faces in the sea of challengers before me are painted. Pastel cheeks. Bright hair. Clowns. HE was still there, in the background, taunting me. I barrel through three of the henchmen, slicing one across the chest. Sims only smiles.

***

Garfield Lynns clambers out of the rubble. His hand is still tight around his tool’s trigger, but little more than a spark spurts forth in response. Fuel is leaking from his tanks fast. And three of Sims’ lackeys are approaching: Planet Master, some hulking devil… thing, and that green creep that was sucking up to Sims.

Gar (only half-kidding): … Batman?

Bulb: He’s taking a swim.

Burke: Any less-pathetic last words?

Gar: Gosh, uh, how does Sims taste?

Burke (lowering his palms): I don’t get it.

Bulb: I do. Let’s haul him back there so the boss can take this chump’s ‘headshot of death’. I didn’t develop my greatest handiwork for it to be used ONCE.

NKVDemon: I kill him here. Camera doesn’t need them all for himself.

Burke: But I wanna try the suit out on-

Bulb: NEVER MIND, someone just off him!

NKVDemon: до свида́ния, little bug.

Gar: Okay, what I really meant was…

He discreetly taps his flamethrower’s muzzle to the fuel puddle.

Gar: Burn.

The trail ignites and flows into Gar’s wrecked pack. It detonates, propelling Gar straight into Burke, too fast for NKVDemon to take aim, and back towards Karlo and the others. The blast also catches Bulb, flinging him, alight and screeching wildly, into the water.

***

I’ve gained next to no ground on Diablo, continuously swarmed by underlings and nobody-villains. In my peripheral vision, Morgan has thoroughly taken Harbinger’s Bonecrusher body out of the fight, but is being menaced by Swagman, Pyg and Karl. Ivy is still on the defense, and Electro is running headlong into a billowing ash cloud for a kill. I try to tear away and assist even one of them, only to be assaulted with the sensation of railroad spikes easing into my brain, and a nauseating, distinctive tune being hummed. Tetch had gotten within range. I thrash about blindly, but couldn’t land a single blow, even on the odd minion. Then it ceases, and I’m greeted by Gar holding his flamethrower like a mallet; Tetch, with a bruised jaw, dazed at his feet.

Gar (already dashing away from a hail of gunfire): Don’t take on Sims yet! His secret weapon… I think it’s in his h-

That’s all I can make out before Burke floats down and a gravitational surge tosses car-sized chunks of cement at me from every direction. I briefly make contact with my son’s stare before I’m entombed by the avalanche.

***

Ivy endures her plants cries as they choke on the flames that are now spreading everywhere. A few Joker goons are wrenched into the ground by enraged roots. She spies Anarky, on the heels of Gar, and scoops him up easily in a tangle of wicked-looking briar thorns. He howls, until he realizes it’s only heightening the agony. Ivy draws him closer.

Ivy (venomously): My son is going learn you and your friends are not the most terrifying force in Gotham. I am.

Ulysses (excruciatingly collecting himself in his final breath): There’ll be more h-… after me. Ngh… I AM Gotham.

His thumb pulls taut a cord under his jacket; his vest is rigged. Ivy narrowly grows a mass of branches in front of herself as the explosion shakes the entire yard.

***

The shockwave helps clear the debris suffocating me, but I make it no more than a step outside my crater before Burke has attacked again, icing me over to a Plutonian temperature. I’m helpless as I see NKVDemon approaching Gar’s hideaway; Diablo, readying to torch a pile of lumber Ivy may or may not be alive under. Electro springs out of a recently-formed ditch and zaps Dorian with his firearm. Before my eyes, the mad doctor shrinks to the size of a tangerine, and Electro gleefully crushes the pitiful thing. I would have gladly turned away, if not for my cocoon. What have I wrought?

Electro’s celebration is cut off by shrapnel ripping into his shoulder. He trips. I hear a muffled decree of revenge before he hits a button on his belt and warps into nothingness, just as Swagman fires at him again. Morgan bolts at him from behind, with Pyg’s cleaver wedged in his collarbone. Swagman draws his own blade and the pair tussles up and over a trench carved in the concrete, out of sight. Burke hasn’t let up on my prison for one moment. Sims… I see Sims looking hideously pleased. He’s about to call it a wrap.

?: A bloodbath, and I reccceived no invitation? I ssshould be insssulted.

a second, deeper rasp, piercing the battleground: Bad call, Camera. Word travels fast in our line of work… I didn’t even ask the coin for this one.

A Thompson submachine gun being cocked finally betrays the location of the echoing voices. Sims’ forces turn as one to see Two-Face and his gang, Dr. Hellfern, The Mad Monk and even Magan, marching in behind me. Some of my oldest comrades. I hadn’t even asked them.

Magan: Hhnngm FNGND.

Sims: … What?

Hellfern (injecting something into his forearm): Er sagte, … ”you’re fucked.”

Diablo acts faster than anyone, lobbing two quick fireballs at the group. Magan unpacks his sandblaster and turns it on the projectiles. The collision fuses the sand to glass, and multitudes of shards fly into Diablo’s eyes, as well as a few larger ones into Burke’s suit. They aren’t dead, but their successive moans tell me that prospect wouldn’t be entirely disagreeable to them. The Mad Monk darts forward, displacing clowns like water, hurling a few straight up. Hellfern is now metamorphosing into a gangling monster, protrusions of unnatural bone all along his back.

Hellfern: Now I have become death.

Pyg (the first in Hellfern’s path): Oh my… you *snort* are ALREADY perfect…

Hellfern backhands Pyg, joining in The Monk’s carnage. Gar and I are freed now, back to back with Dent, as everyone Sims has left rallies. I can’t see Ivy; the rain has increased, and the entire area is a smoldering maze.

***

Ivy stirs under the wood pile, feeling a cold hand on her arm. It’s… The Mad Monk? When did…

Tepes: Ssstay out of sssight; I can sssmell internal bleeding.

She ignores him, standing with some travail. An atrocious creature with Doctor Death’s unmistakable facial hair teeters after the vampire, dragging a body like a doll.

Tepes: The boy, Hellfern! Ssspare only the one that appearsss as Clayfaccce!

Ivy sees they’re making a beeline for Sims and Flannegan; the two, along with her son, are almost backed up to the water’s edge. All their defenses are occupied by Basil. She meets Sims’ eyes from a distance. There’s worry in them. And she savors it.

Sims (pushing along his feeble captive and directing Flannegan with a nod): That’d be your department.

Tepes is upon him first. With his staff, Flannegan counters three swipes from the hooked, undead fingers, and with a fourth move, drives the blunt end into Tepes’ neck. The Monk gurgles and bellows, as Flannegan snaps his own weapon in half, bashing Tepes in the forehead the lantern, and finally thrusting the final section of the rod into his heart. Ivy hasn’t managed more than a few yards, in her condition.

Flannegan: And the next…

Hellfern wails like a phantom, slashing at his much shorter foe. Flannegan lures his attacks towards a stack of tires, rolling out of way for Hellfern to stab into the rubber and negate their lethality. The swings are still powerful though, and just one nicking Flannegan’s calf slings him upside down into a brick wall. Hellfern fails to finish the job, however, downed by two potshots in the skull, courtesy of NKVDemon. The Russian himself receives several stray bullets seconds later, from Two-Face’s gun.

Ivy sees her opportunity, but falters as she nears Flannegan. He wipes a glove on his leg, and bends down to her. He removes his mask.

Flannegan (hovering close enough to feel her breath): Go ahead, plant one on me.

Her fist flies up, but not to his face. A sizable, lush tree with green fruits pushes through the ground, but no vines or barbs reach out at Flannegan. She slumps.

Flannegan: Cute. Yeah, not really my type anyway.

He stretches, looking up at the rain trickling through the leaves and onto his eyes.

Flannegan: You know, I would’ve helped you and Basil if you’d come to me first. Just the luck of the draw. You both could’ve stood to be mor- agh… gAAH… HAUUG-

The sap of the manchineel tree behind Flannegan has already begun exhibiting its blistering effects, only spurred on by the rain carrying it. Ocular and respiratory damages, Ivy knows, will follow next. She and Flannegan both crumple.

***

Magan, Gar and Two-Face are all pinned down, but there doesn’t appear to be any more heavy-hitters to have a chance at slowing me. Sims must still be trapped along the shore. I start to transform into a Joker thug, but I’m blindsided by someone we’ve all overlooked: Hagen. Still taking cheap shots. We trade punches and attempts to draw in the others’ mind, ending in a stalemate just far enough from Sims, and my son, to be seen through the haze.

Myself (to Hagen, via our current telepathic link): I’m sure you’d like to think you’re my arch-enemy, Hagen, but I’m killing you quickly. Not even for Cassie will I give you the satisfaction…

Hagen (also through the link, barely warding off my onslaught): Cassie… alive. Please… make it seem… I’m dead… or Sims will… my friends…

Sims cannot see from his position that Hagen’s hand is stretched out to a manhole, a portion of himself preparing to sever.

Hagen (pleading): I failed his plan… Please Basil… I have… other life.

Any longer and Sims will know something is wrong. I steel myself, hardly believing it as I allow just enough of Hagen to wriggle out of sight. The faintest “Thank-“ reverberates through what I still have left of him in my clutches. Then I lay it on hard, for Sims’ enjoyment.

Myself (with the Hagen decoy): This… is what I promised you… for stealing from me!

Sims sees me consume what he thinks is the last of Hagen, and he fidgets slightly as I turn to him. My sons eyes are so, so empty now.

Myself: Release him. You can’t do anything else.

Sims (hoisting the boy to his feet): Y’know how I know you’re wrong? Because what I’m going to kill you with, I already tried out. On Sloane. Yeah, he DID remember you. I had Hagen replace him because that imbecile, after you burned his face off, FORGAVE you, in his last moments. So I put the sap out of his delusional misery.

I’m at a loss. What could I say, “How could you”? After what I had done?

Sims: Gotham’s underworld is stagnating, with the likes of you at the helm. I’ll be giving back to the lifestyle you claimed to care about… once you’re a lifeless mound.

Can my son hold himself together if he should fall in the water? Don’t let this happen…

Myself: I sent you down the wrong path… Harry. I never would have let you take this road if I knew-

Sims (through his teeth): That I would be better than you at it! You. STILL. Can’t say it!

Myself: Let me be a better father to him than I was to you. I can’t fix anything here, only move past.

Sims (ready to shove the boy): Save it!

A sudden splash startles us both, and a cord fired from the bay a few meters out snags Sims’ pant leg. He hollers as The Batman, still grappling with the yellow scuba diver, succeeds in toppling him. I react just in time to catch my son, who made no movement to stop from falling in himself. And like that, at long last, my child is there, in my arms. He looks like me, but I can’t feel me at all when I hold him; he’s really himself. His own.

Myself: Do you know me?

He finally overcomes his trance. His hand tries to point at me.

Myself: Do you know… your mother?

My son (now extending a hand to the ground): Cold… below…

More violent breaches of the water’s surface ring out, and I’m reminded of our need to flee. Gar is a distance away, just now making it through a stilled battlefield.

Gar (checking his back): Basil? You got him, let’s go!

Myself (to my son, as I begin to lead him away to cover): I understand. I’ll take you back to the sewer. You’ll never have to see any of this again.

His grip now equals my own, and I know he comprehends. I would make good on what I said to her all that time ago. He would be my one wise choice. Not a repeat. Not a mistake. She could heal him again. Knowing that, I could rest.

***

Sims flounders and sputters. Tiger Shark still hasn’t done away with The Bat. And now, Basil is going to get away… The thought flows through his veins, and gives him new strength. He kicks and claws his way out of the mess of cable and cape, overflowing with loathing. He rockets straight onto land on his stomach, letting loose a bloodcurdling shriek, flicking the new mechanism behind his mask. The helmet is waterlogged, but he hears Gar’s concerned cry to Basil; he’s in range. Sims takes the shot.

***

Gar sees Basil and the kid rounding a barrier from Sims’ attack, as he falls back himself, behind a container, shutting his eyes. There’s still a white puff that penetrates his lids, and for an instant, he thinks he’s done for. But he still feels the gravel under his head. The newly acquired burns. He cracks one eye, then crawls back to the open.

There’s Basil… or his son?.. Standing over… dust. Already the pile is being carried away in the runoff.

Gar: Jesus… Basil?

They don’t say anything, just stand like a statue, save for trembling hands. Sims, folded over the dock, rips off his helmet. He too witnesses the scene, and begins half-choking, half falling over himself in hysterics.

Sims (in stitches): It… it doesn’t matter! Ha ha… It’s even more perfect in a way… It…

A spray of bullets scares Sims into submerging. Two-Face hikes up into the scene.

Two-Face: Which of them..?

Gar: I don’t know.

Ivy is has found it in herself to rise again. She sees the last of the unknown victim slide away, in addition to the survivor standing over it. He looks at her with such departure and a quality of lostness. It’s her turn as a statue when the Clayface still living descends into a grate. Gar sprints to it, calling out, but they’re gone.

***

Sims regains his head as Tiger Shark throws him down.

Sims: We’re on… ground…

Tiger Shark: My sub. Bats is shish kebab-ed, good as dead. Now cough up.

Sims (breaking into a laugh again): Good as dead. Aheh. GOOD, as dead. As most things ar-

Tiger Shark (punching him): You full of it? I want my payment, asshat.

Sims (composing momentarily): You’ll get your fortune. The previous holder… won’t miss it. He hasn’t for a while. H-ha…

Tiger Shark (dropping him again): I plan to wear a REAL suit before my career is up, you get me? I’m done with this dress-up crap. You try to get funny, I’ll feed you your hands.

Sims pets the photo in his pocket. Damaged, but distinguishable. Basil Karlo’s last moment alive. It will need a frame.

***

Ivy turns as The Mad Monk, singed and impaled, joins the rest.

Tepes (removing the skewer): Amateursss, ssstill consssulting fairytalesss to ssslay me…

Two-Face: If that putz didn’t drown, he and I are having words… Where are you headed, Lynns?

Gar: … Drink.

Ivy cradles Morgan’s massive head. He now carries Swagman’s machete in his chest too. The blood has pooled as high as his heels.

Morgan: Did Basil… get…

Ivy: Yes.

Morgan (every syllable arduous): He told me… your son. Back when he was better… he liked Creighton. For a name. Had he said…

The bestial man’s muscles stop being ridged. Ivy’s head bows.

Tepes (walking with Hellfern’s broken form): He mussst be returned to hisss lab, with hassste.

He pauses only briefly, before soaring away.

Tepes: My… condolensssesss.

Magan punts a rock.

Two-Face: One of them was still there! Go after him, before-

Ivy: He won’t come back. Neither of them. Whichever one it was.

***

Cassie sits up. Not the first time she had done so, greeted by broken ribs and a nasal cannula. God she hated those. Alfred is standing by, alerted by the same thing that roused her: The Batmobile returning to base. She goes to hop up before Alfred gives her a sad, stern look.

Bruce (bounding out of the car’s cockpit, the engine running): Some of them got away. Kyle. Zodiac. Tetch. I need footage from the entire district.

Alfred: The computer is still irreparable. Sir… the harpoon in your arm-

Bruce (already having located gauze and forceps): Is the reason I’m not telling you this over comms. Find another way. Gordon’s officers can’t round them all up in time; a new one got away aboard a submarine.

Cassie: Basil?

Bruce: You’re in that bed because of him. Worry about recovering.

Cassie: He had to have known I’d survive the fall. Maybe he was forced to. They had his son…

Bruce is already patched up, Alfred trailing and scolding him all the way back down to the Batmobile.

Cassie (laying back): I know it wasn’t you Basil. It had to have been something…

***

News gets around before dawn. Claims to the bodies in the street, most of them false boasts. Money traded from a few macabre bets on the outcome. And Gotham would see no shortage of villains even now. The lowest of the low were emboldened. The mainstay masterminds and gangsters’ trigger fingers were faster than ever. Seeds of rivalry now planted would ensure for the city’s unrest and a hundred more wars to be fought in the night.

In a rundown carnival, a pair of red lips arches with glee, while a battered henchman tells the whole story again. The Clown Prince of Crime kicks up his spatterdashes and toys with an old VHS of the original “Dread Castle” in one hand, and a root beer float in the other.

“Here’s mud in your eye, Karlo. I’ll thank the academy for you.”

***

Ext. A farmers’ market – The next day

Matt Hagen: Carrots, two-forty a bundle? You keep trying to rob us, and I’ll give you your own supervillain name.

The lady grocer across from him: You are perfectly within your rights to take your business elsewhere, pal.

They both laugh.

Matt (paying): My cat likes them; please, show some mercy.

Grocer (still acting): I only make exceptions for friends.

Matt glances around while she’s opening the cash register. No cameras. No stalkers.

Matt: Ouch… say listen, if it’s not indelicate, I haven’t asked… why are you here? In Gotham, not the market, I mean.

Grocer: It’s my hometown, I’ve alway loved it here, especially summer.

Matt rolls his eyes.

Grocer: Yeah, well, what’d you think? I’m stuck here for now. Who isn’t?

Matt: You know, I could leave anytime. I’m kind of over this place. Most of it, anyway. I might even ask a friend to tag along.

Grocer (smirking): Sounds adventurous for the person that always gets carrots, two bags.

Matt: It’s just… someone I knew, who I thought wouldn’t have given me the time of day, did something really amazing for me recently. I think it’s time I let some people in myself. Shed my layer.

***

Int. “My Alibi” – 2:47 AM, right after the dust had settled

Drury Walker: … Just like that? Where’d Sims, and Batman, and that… other guy go?

Gar: Underwater. I don’t know Dru.

Drury: I can’t believe… Sewer King too.

Two-Face: Maybe it wouldn’t be so unbelievable if you’d BEEN there, Moth.

Gar (downing a shot): Piss off Dent, s’nothing he could’ve done.

Drury opens his mouth but says nothing.

Two-Face: Well it turned out there was nothing ANY of us could’ve done. What this stripy oaf failed to acknowledge, same as Sims, Flannegan, all those others, is that Basil was a founder. Of everything that IS, now, for Gotham’s criminals. And if you respected the ounce of credibility YOU have, you’d have SHOWED.

Len (without looking up, with fingers laced on his counter): You can rant out there.

Two-Face: Another softy. It goes for you too, Eraser, you greasy…

He kicks over a stool and points at Drury as he goes.

Two-Face: Don’t let me see your face until you can say you protect the likes of us. That you’ll risk something. I won’t hold my breath.

Magan passes Len Basil’s knife, recovered from the scene, before stepping out.

Len: And Ivy. She’s long gone by now?

Gar: Get me another one of these.

Drury: I swear I would’ve gone, but I’ve, eh, met someone. Being there, on Clayface’s side… it’s that new Tiger guy. If he’d seen me, there’s no way he’d let me near… what I mean to say is, I need his approval with…

Gar: Hey, am I blaming you? And am I asking?

Drury: … Do you love anyone?

Gar: God I need to be more drunk than this.

Len: Lay low for a while. You’ve got a gimmick, you’ve got heart. You’ll make it big one day.

Drury: I’d be there, for either of you guys. One day, I swear it. What other family am I ever going to have?

The End {

Posted by Gallisuchus (Clayface) on 2020-07-01 15:25:10

Tagged: , lego , dc , comics , batman , supervillain , story , mister , camera , firefly , matt , hagen , tiger , shark , ratcatcher , poison , ivy , doctor , death , mad , monk , no-face , two-face , killer , croc , cassandra , cain , moth , clayface , basil , karlo , anthology