The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 13
GaMe (short for Gamify Me), was started as a form of community outreach, encouraging writers to get to know their fellow GIO members and create a character around them within the game worlds they love. For more information, see the original posting here.
The cold night air felt nice, he thought. Moving silently from rooftop to rooftop to avoid the unsavory characters in the streets below, he made his way to the Cathedral, enjoying the safety of the shadows. Even with the nearly full moon out, the heavy cloud cover meant another night of almost total darkness, save for the many spotlights adorning the prison walls, or the neon glow of the ACME factory sign as he flew past. Aiming at a convenient gargoyle, the grapple gun lifted him to the Cathedral's spire, from where he took in his surroundings - a car fire three blocks north, a rioting mob outside city hall.
In the distance, the proudly lit "W" of Wayne Enterprise's tower shone over the rest of Gotham, reminding him of his family's legacy of saving Gotham from itself - the very reason he was once again on the job. Batman kicked off from the stone monster, spreading his own wings as he took flight. Without a sound, he made his way towards his contact.
Darth paced in his balcony booth, a silver dollar cascading delicately from knuckle to knuckle as he played with it. He carried on two halves of a conversation as he walked from end to end, past the luxurious seats. He could be anyone he wanted to be, on any given day. Tonight, he was Two-Face.
Donald Arthur - Darth to his childhood friends - was a thespian at heart. Discovering a knack for impressions at a young age, he pursued a career as an actor in his adolescence, but was never able to break into theater. Resigning himself to reluctant lifetime stuck behind a 9-to-5 desk, Darth had discovered a new use for his particular skills when, in a fit of boredom, he had impersonated the division head of a mortgage company in a phone call to his local branch, convincing them to re-finance his home at a very attractive rate.
The rush of breaking the rules, combined with the rekindling of his passion for acting, set Darth on a course he would never be able to pull himself away from. Assuming the identity of Carbon Copy, he had a successful years-long run of using impersonations and stolen identities to acquire some rare and valuable items from Gotham's more prominent residents - as well as a resulting in a few run-ins with a certain notorious female cat burglar also working in the city. It all came to an end when he took on the likeness of a one Jim Gordon, ordering an unauthorized evacuation of the city's police departments - just to see if he could pull it off. A harmless enough prank, it nonetheless caught the ire of the Commissioner, as well as his unofficial partner in crime prevention.
Batman had managed to figure out Darth's identity and finally caught up to him in appropriately dramatic fashion at Gotham Performing Arts Theater, the night of a big premiere. Darth had managed to convince his way in as the theater owner, greeting Gotham's rich and famous at the door, hiding in plain sight, shaking hands with the very people he meant to rob that night. Darth then had the unfortunate timing of being transferred to Arkham Asylum for an examination when events there forced the facility's closure, and the transfer of its residents to a walled-off part of the Gotham under the care of Hugo Strange while the Asylum was rebuilt. In the chaos, Darth had been swept up along with the other, more violent criminals, and relocated to Arkham City. He used his skills to blend in with the convicts until he could find a nice, quiet place all to himself - the theater where Batman had ended his criminal career.
Batman made his way down the aisle quietly, having entered the theater unnoticed. He observed Darth for a moment - watching the man rehearsing both halves of one of Dent's many self-debates - before clearing his throat. Without breaking character, Darth looked down at the caped crusader. "Ah, a patron. Magnificent. Please, have a seat; tonight's performance will begin momentarily."
"Show's canceled, Carbon," Batman replied."
"Pity, that. I've been rehearsing for days. Although, I DO know Les Miserables, if you have the time to--"
"I have a better idea. Something no one else has done before."
The challenge piqued Darth's interest. "What did you have in mind?"
"How would you like to be Batman, for one night only?"
Darth couldn't fight back the smile. Taking a bow and tipping a hat he wasn't actually wearing, he replied, "I'm at your service."
The two made their way out of the theater, to a secluded alley, where Batman continued to explain. "I need to be in two places at the same time. Riddler is holding several police officers hostage, and I don't know where exactly. He's set up a video display in the ground floor of Acme Chemical; I placed a signal tracer on the roof, but I can't trace it back to him until he contacts me again. He'll offer up a riddle in one hour; if I get it wrong, those innocent men die. If I get it right, there's no guarantee he makes good on his promise. I need to save them, and the only way to ensure that is to free them myself. Which I can't do--"
"-- if you're at Acme Chemical. Ah," Darth mused, understanding why the man who put him away would suddenly need his help.
"This better be important, I don't like being called away from--" a woman's voice added from the shadows. Catwoman walked out to greet Batman, stopping mid-stride when she noticed Darth. An angry glare ended her sentence.
Noticing Batman's confusion, Darth explained, "we had a disagreement concerning which of us was the rightful owner of a piece jewelry a few months ago."
"Disagreement," Catwoman hissed, mostly to herself. "In any case, I assume you have a good reason for asking me here?"
"I do. I need your help. AND his. Riddler is holding hostages, and I need to free them myself, because I don't have all night to play his games. Hugo is up to something here, and I have a feeling we're all running out of time. In half an hour, Riddler will contact "me" at Acme Chemical, with a riddle. The signal tracer on the roof will trace it back to his location. The last time he contacted me with a riddle, I could see Gotham in the window behind him, so he's in a tall building in the upper floors, where the view of the city wouldn't be obstructed. Probably near the bridges."
"I'll take Park Row," said Catwoman. "You take the Bowery."
"So, how do we convince him that I'm you?" asked Darth.
"I asked Alfred to have the Batwing drop off a little something. It should be arriving--"
THUNK. The equipment capsule slammed into the pavement farther down the alley, as the bat-shaped shadow of his personal aircraft quickly passed over them.
"Right on time, Alfred. As always," Batman said to himself. Then, to Darth, "I hope it's your size."
Minutes later, Darth was suited up in one of the spare Batsuits, an older model used for testing gadgets. Despite a slimmer build, he was roughly the same size as Batman, and the dark suit and cover of night would help hide the difference in muscle mass.
Batman handed him a tiny earpiece. "Fifteen minutes. You need to make your way to Acme Chemical, ground floor. We'll watch from the rooftops to makes sure you get there in one piece, then we'll split up. I can listen in and coach you if needed. If things go badly..." he trailed off, handing Darth several smoke pellets. "Get out of there."
Darth made his way through the open streets, walking at a determined pace, doing his best to emulate Batman's imposing posture. A handful of Joker's thugs rounded the corner of a nearby street, and started to make their way towards Darth. He reached for the pellets, then stopped himself. I can do this, he thought to himself, clearing his throat.
"Just the three of you, against me? Do you really like those odds?" Darth's voice was deep and booming, and froze the convicts in their tracks. His impression was spot on, and the three quickly turned and hurried in the other direction, no doubt looking for some kind of trouble to get into that wouldn't involve getting the hell beat out of them. Satisfied in his work, Darth almost allowed himself a quick smile, but decided against breaking character. He soon made his way to Acme Chemical without further incident.
Inside the gloomy building, Darth found the Riddler's console, a giant green question mark, with a television forming the dot at the bottom. The screen flickered to life as the image of Edward Nigma came into focus.
"Ah, Bats. So glad you could make it. So glad." His voice was oddly cheerful, given the fate of several men hung in the balance. "Let's skip ahead and move right to the lightning round, shall we?" A clock display behind Riddler lit up, and began counting down from one minute."
"Tracing," Batman's voice chirped in Darth's ear. "This shouldn't take long."
"One minute?" Asked Darth out loud, unsure if the others could see what he was seeing, or only listen in.
"Sixty seconds, three riddles, three lives to save when you answer correctly. Surely you're up to the challenge?"
"Of course," replied Darth, hesitant to waste any more of the clock's time.
"Riddle me this, Bats. Why should you should be sharp, when weighing your answer?"
"Weighing... could be a pun. A scale of some sort?" Catwoman wondered.
"B sharp is a musical note... A musical "scale." That one was simple enough," Added Batman.
"A musical scale," answered Darth into the video display.
"Well done, Batman, well done," chimed Riddler, in his patronizing tone. "Are you ready for the next one?"
"Got it. Hotel Aventine," Batman said in Darth's earpiece, as Darth nodded to the Riddler.
"I'm closer; I'll be there in no time," added Catwoman.
"I'm heading East; it may be a trap, in which case he would be as far away from the hostages as possible." With that, Batman took off across the rooftops, looking for a good perch from where he could make his way to anywhere in the Eastern part of the city.
"I have a head, but cannot speak. I have a tale, with two sides to tell. My fate is bought and sold. What am I?"
"A jackass," quipped Catwoman. "I'm starting to hate this guy."
"Heads and tails, two sides... it's a coin," added Batman. "These are too easy. He's up to something."
"I'm at the hotel, but the penthouse windows are barred up," replied Catwoman. "I'll have to find another way-- wait, I can see another monitor at his desk. I can see the hostages."
"Can you tell where they are?"
"I see flashing lights nearby. And the camera is bobbing up and down, like they're--"
"On a boat," Batman finished her sentence. "Flashing lights probably means the docks behind Gotham PD. Heading there now."
"You're a coin," answered Darth.
"CORRECT! One more, and the hostages are freed." 10 seconds were left on the clock. "I can be broken, but not repaired. I can be followed, but never led. I have a long arm, but no hands. What am I?"
"The law," Darth, Catwoman, and Batman spoke in unison, with Darth adding, "now let them go."
"Ah, but I would, Batman, had you answered in time." Darth noticed the clock had run out. Riddler continued in his dramatic fashion, "Three answers for three lives; pity your time was up, and now, so is theirs."
Batman made his way to Gotham PD's roof, immediately locating the cage with three men trapped inside, suspended over the icy waters from a crane. "STALL HIM," Batman demanded over the earpiece, as he dove to their rescue. "Buy me some time."
Buy you some... Darth wondered to himself, and then the idea hit him. "RIDDLE ME THIS," he bellowed.
"Ah! A challenge from the Batman!" Riddler jumped out of his chair with glee. Darth knew he wouldn't be able to resist, and now he had him hooked.
"That's right. One more riddle. MINE. Your answer, for their lives. Are you game?" Darth challenged.
"We both know the outcome here, Batman, but I'll indulge you. This one time."
"Good. Keep him occupied," Batman's voice spoke in Darth's ear.
"I want to buy something, but it's not for sale. It can be spent, or it can be saved. It can be wasted, but there will always be more. It never runs out, but it's still priceless. What am I buying?"
"Oh, my dear, dear Batman," Riddler started, his voice taking on the condescending tone he was famous for. "You wagered three men's lives on my ability to answer this?"
"I have them. They're safe," Batman replied in the earpiece.
Riddler continues his patronizing tirade. "Why, the answer is as plain as the look on your face. You're trying to buy time."
Darth lowered his head, and removed the iconic cowl. "That's exactly right, Riddler," he said, looking up to smile into the monitor.
Riddler glared furiously back through the video display. "IMPOSSIBLE!" he screamed, then realizing what was happening, turned to the second display - only to find the cage empty, the hostages gone. He launched into verbal rage, furious over being duped.
"I hope you enjoyed tonight's impromptu performance of Die Fledermaus," Darth offered. Taking a satisfied bow, he exited, stage right, as the Riddler's ongoing rant could be heard behind him.
The three met up outside the Performing Arts Center; Darth removed the batsuit and returned it to the equipment capsule for safekeeping until it could be properly secured and removed from Arkham. "Thank you for your help," Batman said to Catwoman.
"My pleasure," she purred, twirling Riddler's question-mark cane. "But you DO realize you owe me a favor, now."
"How did you..." Darth began to ask, seeing Catwoman' new trinket.
"It took me longer than I expected to break into that Penthouse; I had to make it worth my time." She smiled, the streetlight's reflections dancing across the alley walls as she spun the cane. "A girl has the right to treat herself to something nice every now and then."
"Speaking of which... " Batman handed Darth the spare cowl. "A token of thanks. You helped save three lives tonight. And I'll see about getting you out of here as soon as possible, someplace safer. But I have a few things to take care of first."
"I'm glad I could be of service," Darth said, still looking over the exquisite costume piece in his hands. "So what do you need to--" Looking up, he found himself suddenly alone in the alley. "Hmmph," he sighed, "at least they stayed until the end of the show." Satisfied, he turned and made his way back into the theater, humming a few lines of Les Mis to himself.