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The World's Finest

By Lucius Ravensdale

Action / Thriller

Prologue

It was too late. Jason's wrists were pierced with sharp hooks, suspended, his arms above his head. A gush of air blew into the abandoned warehouse. The chains rattled, echoing in the large chamber. A woman with red hair lay beside his motionless body, her sockets empty and her mouth ajar full of cockroaches.

You let your family die, is all Bruce could hear. Ringing in his ears, over and over. Jason's bloodied body before him, inscribed with green spray paint on the torso of his suit "The Joke's On You Batman AHAHAHAHA." It was surreal, Bruce's mind floating to the time Jason fell asleep on the couch with a bowl of popcorn propped between his legs. Bruce sat beside him, and saw how weathered he looked from all the crime-fighting they do at God knows what hour. He was just a kid, and Bruce couldn't see that until he looked at the boy's gnarled body covered in scratches and blood. Bruce couldn't tell for how long the clown did this, but based on the fluids building up in the interstitium, he likely died of hunger more than he did the other forms of torture Joker enacted upon him.

Bruce couldn't stand looking at him at all. He wanted to examine his body, to see what the clown did to him, so he can double every little thing that son of a bitch did to his son. But he couldn't, because he played a part in this, he let his family die.

"I told you not to bring any of your beloved friends into our mad, mad world." From the thickets of broken wood at the far side of the room came a voice, followed by shuffling, and door creaks. The Joker slowly came out the shadows, leisurely strolling towards Batman as he played with the chamber of his revolver.

Batman ignored him. He pulled the hook out of Jason's wrists easily. His wrists was about to fall off. Batman's hand shook, but he couldn't show weakness, not in-front of him.

"What was it you asked me again, that night I took commissioner Gordon's dear daughter out for a lovely time at the carnival?" The Joker smiled under the starlight of an open hole, his white teeth glittering with malice. "Oh right, you asked if I knew, Bats. If I knew that one day one of us will end up killing the other. Of course I do. I've been looking forward to that day. There's not a single goddamn time I haven't thought of it.

"Your wonderful brains splattered on the floor, or my beautiful neck snapped... like... a... twig." The Joker said, the tone of his voice shifting from languid to edgy. "I only smiled that night."

Joker sauntered to Batman's hunched figure, the big black bat is carrying Robin's disfigured body. Batman stood, and gave one look at Joker. And when the Joker saw the expression on his face, he smiled widely. But Batman looked away from him, and stood. He had no time for this. He had to bury his son. He walked away from the Joker.

Batman tried the main door, but it was locked from the outside. Harley, he whispered to himself. Batman was about to bust the door with his shoulder, until he heard a series of clicks from behind him. He slowly turned. Six men stood with the Joker, all armed, each wearing clown masks except the one on the middle. Batman recognized that mask tainted with red on both eye holes and flamethrower. His name is Anatoli Knyazev.

"I want to answer that question, Batman. Tonight, only one of us gets to leave this room alive. And if you leave..." The Joker turned his head to Anatoli slowly.

"If you leave, I turn boy into cinders." He said confidently. Like a good little lapdog.

Batman gently placed Jason's body beside the door. Two positioned beside the Joker, two on opposite walls (one of them near the door Joker entered), and Anatoli slowly walking towards Jason. Batman drew his favorite weapon, the Jammer. He pointed at the two on the far side of both walls. They shriveled from the shock, before falling down on their heads. Anatoli looked at them, and before he can register what happened, Batman threw a pair of batarangs that sunk into his knees. Before he could utter a sound, Batman broke his nose. He slumped to the floor.

The other two henchmen pointed their guns at him, but he was faster. He rushed to them and grabbed both of their necks, lifted them up, and smashed them on the ground, followed by a satisfying crackle of wood. His menacing eyes stared at the Joker.

"I am vengeance, I am the night, I am Batman." The Joker said in a voice that mimicked Batman's deep, scratchy voice. "It rings true more so now, than it did when you first said--"

The first blow drew blood, as did the second, and the third, until Bruce couldn't count how many punches this clown could take before his head caved in. The first thing Batman avoided was confrontations, beat downs like this. Because they were so messy, because Batman didn't enjoy messing someone up for information, or god knows what reason to beat someone into submission. But this time, his heart thumped with adrenaline, and a lust for murder boiled in him.

He couldn't hear anything aside from the thump thump thump of the floor and an occasional clink. The sound of a smoldering fire snapped Bruce out of his trance.

"I will burn him." Anatoli said, kneeling in-front of Jason's dead body. "I will burn him!"

He didn't move, but he slipped a batarang between his fingers when he reached for his belt subtly. He's gonna do it. If not to him, then to all of them. It's like what the clown said... only one of them gets to leave this room alive. He clicked the blue button on the batarang.

"I'll do it! I'll burn him! Let clown go!"

Batman merely looked at him, still holding onto to the Joker's collars.

"Believe me, you son of a bitch, I will roast this boy!" Anatoli screamed at the top of his lungs.

"I believe you." And then in one swift movement the batarang flew from his hand, planting itself on the gas tank strapped on Anatoli's back.

Batman quickly grabbed the Joker and threw him through the windows before the explosion could reach them. They landed on a balcony, one story from the explosion. They didn't say a word until the loud boom turned into a soft crackling. The Joker stared at Batman, still smiling. But the white mocking smile earlier was gone, just blood and broken teeth, the smile of someone who knew they were gonna die.

The Joker tried to laugh, instead blood came out of his mouth and a few fragments of his teeth. "That's it. I did it... I made you lose control. And they're gonna kill you for it." He looked at Batman now with a glint in his eyes, an invitation to do it now. "I wonder... why you saved me, and let KG-fucking-Beast with his little minion shit go to hell with Robin?"

Batman slowly stood, grabbed him by the collar, and stared him down. "I want you to feel what everyone felt, every goddamn people you hurt, I want you to feel what Jason felt when you carved his skin. I want you to understand how much I want to kill you. But I won't. I need you alive, so you could feel every rod you stuck in Robin's rectum, every skin you carved from him, ten fold! You will die when Robin's ghost tells me that it's his turn to torture you."

The Joker laughed, as Batman took a batarang from his belt. "Let's start with your face..."



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