Mens rea


A slender right finger banged against the fading white letter of I, hearing the familiar stamp of the letter upon white paper. The inked letter was later joined by others spelling out on the simple word Prisoner when the roll hit the end of the typewriter with a loud ding. A small hand moved upwards and slammed the roll back to the beginning with a loud bang. Instead of returning back to the keys, the two hands raised themselves upwards and began working their small wondrous massages on the temples of a small slender face.

Propping elbows on either side of the typewriter, the Boss continued massaging away the aching headache that threatened to break concentration. Gliding with weariness, eyes took in the bedraggled—well to the Boss it seemed bedraggled—look in the chipped and dusty mirror. The reflection showed a forty-something woman just on the cusp of leaving her prime and youthful days behind. The wrinkling olive skin blotted by lack of sun and dust disappeared in the oversized blue jacket of her uniform. Her oval face shifted, breakin the contact between her fingers and forehead causing chestnut brown, natural curly bangs to dance back into place. Blue-gray eyes slanted upwards in disgust at the bangs, an Italian curse jumbling out of her thin-lipped mouth.

The Boss once declared her name openly as Maura de Gedci, the daughter of one of the most powerful mafia bosses in Italy. However, back then with her strawberry blond curls and blue eyes forced her to become the albino amongst the black haired and black-eyed family members. Since she could remember, many of her relatives accused her mother of having an affair but her mother's stubborn pride kept her from acknowledging the fact, yelling at the family that she was loyal to her husband. By her 18th birthday, her mother was dead, the cause a heart attack. Maura knew better but her father would not hear any of it. Under the guise of proving her loyalty to the family, she willingly let herself be a part of a scientific study, her family wanting to be up to date on any of the scientific technology. Maura worked with the scientists continuously from the beginning. And she soon discovered that the project wasn't about technology.

Back in the days, when superheroes were on the rise and the government was left alone to deal with the maniacs, rapists, thieves, serial killers, a group of scientists broke apart from the world to search for an answer under the declaration that they were conducting experiments for new technology. In truth, they wanted to see what made a human click, more specifically what drove the average person down the criminal road. In essence, what made a criminal?

Nothing stopped the scientists when they began their search, even when superheroes—and soon to be super villains—began to dominate the justice scene. Their reaction to the new turn of human justice was the deep throated groan of annoyance. The scientists had yet to figure out how a normal human worked and now they had to deal not only with metahumans but aliens or hybrids as well. Despite the seemingly futile search, the scientists kept trudging along and made slow progress while moving their base of operations to a more secluded region. In the remains of a volcano on one of the many tiny islands off the coast of Japan, on the small peak of what was the heart of the fiery beast, a modern but old-style prison was craved out of the volcanic rock. Covered with native rocks, the prison was rooted underground were few satellites could locate its' existence.

Over the years, the international prison raked in the most deranged criminal to the petty one-timer for their studies. No publicity was made over the prison, no records were kept. In response to the building of a Justice Tower above Earth, the prison's sponsors began to pull out. Maura's own family cut ties financially and it dawned on her that this was the perfect way for the mafia to exile the albino.

Money shortage was the result. The prison and the experiments could not ask for money and their once employers cut all ties in order to ensure the secrecy of the prison. Wardens argued with officers, officers vented their frustrations on the prisoners and the prisoners killed each other. But Lady Luck was in a dark glee when she blessed the prison with sinister fortune. An explosion rocked the prison, killing a third of the residents died in its' wake, including the original Boss. A day later, Maura was declared the new Boss, exploiting the situation to its' fullest.

The cause of the explosion occurred when a prisoner tried to escape and with the aid of a homemade bombed blew a hole in the side of the peak. People were granted a fast death, others suffered a slow one and others were not granted death at all, living out the remainder of their days with painful injuries. The prisoner who caused the destruction did mange to escape by leaving this mortal plane to stand in line at Hell's gate.

In the mist of death, luck graced the prison with an element. Prisoners cleaned the wreckage boulder by boulder, rock by rock when scientists discovered traces of Vanadium in the iron ores. Digging deeper, they stumbled upon a massive vain of the ore rich in the element. Realizing that Vanadium was extremely useful in strengthening steel, ceramics and creating powerful magnets, Maura quickly used the little money left over from their sponsors to set up an operational mining facility linked to the prison. Constructing a massive wall to withstand water pressure, massive turbines were installed to keep the water flowing and rich with oxidants to be used in the mining and the prison while also controlling the temperature of the water. Filling the crater with water, the wall was submerged with the roof barely covered to be used as a walkway. With the operations now fully cloaked into the appearance of a crater lake, the prison was cut off from society and in a narrow tunnel beneath the machines, prisoners walked into the mines to shovel out the only source of income.

In the wake of the shift of existence, the 'albino' quickly asserted her power, the hatred of her family driving every rule and driving every operation as Boss. One of the operations Maura implemented was in order keep the experiments functioning and legitimate according to the scientific method, certain criminals received 'special' care and were not experimented on like the rest of the criminal population…what the scientists liked to call a clean case in order to compare their results to the outside world. These special case men did not last long and were always on high demand.

"The demands did not fall upon deaf ears," mused Maura as she gazed down at the prisoner form.

A few days ago, in the booming city of Tokyo, Commander Daizo sent a response letter to the personal ad requesting any troubled, stressed out men to come and relax at a retreat on the island. Of course the ad was code, for those who knew what to look for and Daizo realized that Robin would fit perfectly there. The boy was too stressed out anyway; he needed to relax. Besides, Maura knew that Daizo was aware that if anyone would deduce his secret it would be Robin. Researching Robin had not been difficult, especially with the paperwork Daizo had filled out. It wasn't hard to notice that Robin had a tiny problem with his temper. Like all superheroes, the boy tended to take things personally, more than the others due to his lack of powers and need to prove himself. Robin was just like the typical teenage boy and exactly what the doctor had ordered. Both sides had profited from the exchange and nothing could tie the two together. The only one who would be complaining would be Robin, but soon he would not care about such trivial things.

Pushing out of her metal chair, Maura pulled down the massive jacket while pulling up and adjusting her pants. The uniform was too big for her, but it mattered little to her. Dressed in the only clothes left behind by the old Boss, Maura demonstrated that while she was a female, her presence would be tolerated, even feared in the prison. So successful was she, that by the time the doctor reached the door of the Boss, all his anger had left him only to be replaced by shaking fear.

Maura paused in her bored examination of her uniform when a small timid knock announced the arrival of the doctor. A frown tugged at the corners of her lips, "Come in."

The cold, chipped voice was answered when the solid door creaked opened and the wild face of the doctor peeped in. "May I have a word with you…Boss?"

"Of course, Doctor Egyed."

Anger flared briefly on the man's face at the use of his name. The scientists loved to tease the doctor about the meaning of his name, calling him "Young goat" or "Doc. Baa baa." Coughing to control his anger, the doctor stepped into the room. It was slightly larger than the medical room. A small cot off to the side, a desk and typewriter in the middle, mirror on the wall, a single locker holding personal items and a bonus, a small private bathroom hid itself in the corner, a black curtain acting as the door.

"Well, what did you have to say?"

The icy voice broke Egyed's train of thought. Cracking his knuckles, the man collected his thoughts, trying to grab onto the fading embers of his anger. "It's Robin, Boss."

Maura chuckled softly, "He's not even here for a full 24 hours and already he is causing trouble."

"Yes, I know Boss, but see the last special case the psychologists got him for the whole time. When I finally received the convict, he was already spurting out nursery rhymes and his body was already chemically imbalanced."

Straightening her back, Maura sat back down and straightened her fingers. "So, let me guess, you want Robin all to yourself."

"Yes," sighed Egyed, the tension of asking the question ceasing the cracking of his knuckles.

The woman propped one elbow on the desk and rested her cheek on her fist. "You know very well that when we receive a special case, we try to balance out the physical and the mental aspects."

"Yes I know, but that didn't happen last time!"

"Because you told us that the man's body was already messed up with anti-depressant drugs. According to you, he was biological insane the moment he set foot here."

Desperation laced the doctor's voice as he pleaded, "But still, the mere fact they got first dibs on the murderer-"

"Enough, doctor." Maura glared at him, the sternness in her voice evident on her face. "It does not matter, Prisoner F is dead or did you forget he committed suicide in his cell by drowning himself in the toilet."

Egyed's green eyes became dull as they dropped to the floor, "No Boss."

"Good. Now, I know how important…how rare Robin is. This is the first time we have a hero, a superhero without powers in fact, to work with. If we can find out what makes him work, what makes him a hero than maybe we can create a boundary, a line to separate a criminal from the flock. I need both your cooperation and the psychologists' as well to make this work. We have only one chance at this. Got it, Doctor?"

The man nodded.

Maura raised her head and leaned back into the chair, "Doc, I know you feel cheated but-"

A pause filled the room and Egyed head shot back up, his eyes wide with anticipation and fear. The Boss paused and she never paused unless she was about to condemn you or say something off the records.

Maura let a sly smile spread on her features, her blue eyes hardening into steel, telling the doctor that there was no way out of this situation. He had dug himself a hole and now he had to live with the consequences. "We already have an idea on what makes a hero tick, no thanks to Superman and all his buddies parading around, handing out speeches left and right like chocolate. But, Doctor, we're dealing with Batman's ex-sidekick: Robin the Boy Wonder, one of the youngest superheroes out there, the leader of the Titans. He has been in the business for a long time, a childhood ripped from him and growing up in Gotham, a city known for its' criminal infestation."

A pause again and the doctor licked his lips in anticipation. "Boss, what you want me to do?"

"The psychologists will continue their work with how Robin chose to be a hero, but I think that is futile. He grew up in Batman's shadow and from what I heard through the grapevines, the boy is stubborn as a bull, the heroic ideals impounded in his head since he started. I want you doctor, to start tearing down those heroic ideals. I theorize that it will be more beneficial if we try to find out what it takes to break a hero." A dark look fell on Maura's face, her voice void of emotions. "We have a blank slate here, doctor, someone who hasn't been down that criminal road. With that slate, I want you to find out what it takes to turn a hero into a criminal."

"Any means necessary?"

"Any means."

The doctor's face lit up with glee and a smile twisted itself on his face. Maura noticed that look and pointed a bony finger at him, "Just don't make it obvious, the psychologists still have their work to do on him."

"Of course, of course."

"Then go, I hope everything was resolved."

"Oh yes Boss." With that the doctor nodded and walked with a bounce to his steps out of the room.

Alone now, Maura gazed down at the prisoner form sheet which was halfway filled with the necessary information of Robin's stay. "Now I can't call you Robin or label you R, otherwise people might get suspicious, so what it seems we'll just have to go with the letter G. Prisoner G, aka, Robin the Boy Wonder." Fingers returning to the typewriter, Maura continued filling out the rest of the form, the soft hammering of letters on paper sealing Robin's fate.

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