Punchline

November 17, 2014:

Tim encounters the Joker. It goes very, very badly.

Gotham Labcoat Supply

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

The Joker is… er… it's a really, really good question what the Joker's doing. In the past forty five minutes he's robbed a uniform supply shop, a pharmacy and a convenience store. The convenience store might be the most easily explained. He got six sodas and a candybar. And paid for it with a dose of laughing gas. At this very moment he's in the process of stealing what looks like a lab coat for a doctor from yet another clothing supplier. "And when the patient woke up…" He quotes to a terrifed clerk. "His skeleton was gone, and the doctor was never heard from again!" He laughs manically. Not a very good impression of the internet video, not that the clerk knows that's what he's doing. "Anyway, that's how I lost my medical license."

-

Word about robberies in Gotham gets to the Bat-family quickly courtesy of one information goddess who keeps a beat on the comings and goings of the city. The closest of the bunch, and evidently, recently dubbed one of Oracle's 'most trusted' assets (aw shucks!), Robin responded to the comlink first. He'd been minutes away, and rushed to the scene with all the haste expected of him. He'd stopped just outside the clothing supplier to consider a strategy. His voice lowly talks to his comlink, "Oracle," the name is nearly whispered, "I'm on site. I'm going in. Going to try to distract and then apprehend," or, more likely, motivate to flee; Tim doesn't say that, but such is life.

With a faint clink of metal meeting the rooftop, the grappling hook draws Tim to the roof of the building. The Boy Wonder skulks in the shadows atop the building which he finds himself. His silent steps draw him to the building's edge and Drake takes a deep breath before opening the skylight overhead. With near silence, he drops the smoke pellets into the room and follows suit.

The mere presence of smoke might make some assume a certain caped crusader is on site. That is, until Robin deadpans (in a very un-Batman, un-growly voice): "You never had a medical license." Way to keep the situation calm, Tim.

-

Oracle has indeed sent Robin to the scene, despite her better judgement. The young man has been set on a course of self destruction for weeks now and the green eyed redhead who occupies The Clocktower feels sick to her stomach knowing that today she is probably aiding that. However, they are Bats and…. Bats go where needed and truly, Robin is her most trusted asset - he's always there when she needs him. "Acknowledge that Robin. I'm monitoring the situation and will maintain comms silence unless I have something to relay. Activate your video and audio feeds please." The words 'please becareful' are not stated.

On her screens, she sees the image of the one who often haunts her dreams, just not so ofte now… The Joker… her look is grim as she watches the scene play out.

-

The Joker looks up from where he's terrorizing the Clerk, eyes focusing in on Tim. "Oh. You." He says with a malicious grin. "The Boy Wonder. The Clown Lothario. The Arkham Delivery Service. We have unfinished business you and I, little bird." He straightens up, and cracks his neck. "And for the record, I did so have a medical licence. Forged it myself."

-

The video and audio feeds are turned on. "Yeah. Me. Robin." Because that is his name. The title Clown Lotarhio, however, merits a downward turn of his lips and a more dead-panned tone. "I'm not a Clown Lothario." Pause. "Or a delivery service." Pause. "Or a messenger boy," not that Joker said that one. His fingers trail to the cylinder at this belt and the bo staff is given a sharp tug and then shake, bringing it to its full length. "So. What are you doing?" he tries to sound casual. It definitely doesn't work.

-

"Robin, keep your cool… " Oracle shifts in her chair as she leans forward in anticipation. The video and audio from Robin appears on her screen and she brings them centre stage. "You know I want him off of the streets as much as you do… " She's not worried yet, just intent on the scene in front of her.

-

"Oh you know. Shopping. The holidays are coming up and it's best to get these things done early." The Joker eyes Tim and produces a lighter, flicking it on. Yep. Just like at a rock concert, right? "I wanted to get in before the big crowds. I hate crowds, you know." He stands, keeping an eye on Robin as he sidesteps toward the merchendise.

-

There's little indication that Tim hears Oracle's instruction save for an audible exhale of breath. "Shopping," Robin repeats as he shifts forward to watch the lighter. "You should put that away," he instructs as he treads towards the Joker, staff still in hand. "Why the lab coat, Joker?"

-

The Joker tuts. "You know better than to ask that Bird. It ruins the surprise and surprise is essential for a good punchline." So saying he flicks the lighter into the isles of clothing and they go up as if soaked in an accellerant. Which they may well have been. "Mmmmmmmmmmm. Right. Where were we?"

-

The heat of the flames has Robin cursing under his breath. The bo staff is shaken, prompting it back to its belt-sized frame before it's attached to his belt. He dives forward to grab the already-terrified clerk. "Oracle, dispatch fire and ambulance," he instructs. His fingers reach back to the belt for his grappling gun which is fired towards the skylight. Number one objective: get the civilians out.

-

As the clothing goes up in fire, Oracle rolls her eyes. "Should have seen that coming." Tapping into the Building Maintenance System, she activates the sprinkler system (just in case someone else had managed to disable it) "That might cool things down a bit, Robin." and the evacuation alarms will sound through the building. Another series of commands and Emergency Services are despatched to the scene. "Emergency Services despatched. You have 20 minutes." Pulling up video feeds from all over the building, Oracle watches the occupants panic as they depart the building.

-

The Joker as apparently decided to play 'trap' except with Human Robins instead of clay pidgeons. As Robin dives for the clerk he produces a shotgun that he'd stashed somewhere. "PULL!" The weapon roars and the countertop explodes in a shower of slivers and flying plastic. "Heh. I like this version much better."

-

Even with the grappling gun fired, Robin doesn't use it to get to the skylight. There's no way The Joker's aim will be that bad. The Boy Wonder instead silently, much like a flight attendant showing where the exits are on a plane, motions towards the exit. He jumps up, away from the civilian, and sprints towards the counter away from the exit — to keep it safe for the civilians.

He leaps towards one of the counters. "If this is about Dr. Quinzel, she's getting the help she needs!" Way to aggravate the situation, Robin. "They're going to help her," so young. So naive.

-

"Ah, another thing you and I need to discuss." He fires again, as intent on making Robin jump as he is on hitting him. "Harley, or Harleen, is mine. Your 'help' isn't appreciated. Especially when it seems you want to put one over on old Mistah J. You know, I might have forgiven you the look a like. But trying to poach the real thing?" Blam.

-

And jump Robin does. But the words sink in moments later. "Wait. What." Evidently Harley gave a very convincing performance on the youtube video. Ridiculously so. "That wasn't real!" he asserts louder than he intends. And then, heeding Oracle's earlier advice, he states, "You know she'd never be interested in me — " he slips back between two of the shelves for cover.

"Oracle, can you get a make on the weapon. I don't know how many rounds he has left…" he mutters quietly.

-

"Well done Robin, keep your head…." Oracle offers quiet encouragement. The videos give a clear image of the shotgun and searches reveal not a lot "It looks like a standard shotgun, Robin but knowing what we know, assume he's modified the weapon… You're on your own unless I find more information. The water should be affecting the weapon anyway…" The Boy Wonder is going to have to sort that one out on his own.

-

"Maybe…" The Joker cackles as he fires again and again. "Or maybe you're interested in ''her''." Or maybe the Joker's offended at the mere presumption of the whole situation. There's a pause in the fire and Oracle can see the Clown price begin reloading.

-

"Not my type," Robin counters quickly. But then the pause in the fire has him popping upwards and grasping for the bo staff at his belt. "Believe me," he emphasizes, "Definitely not my type. In a lot of ways. A couple very important ones." He's very slowly closing the distance between himself and Joker with several spins around the shelves he'd been using s a shield.

-

"I'm sure you saw it, Robin, he's reloading. The shotgun holds two rounds… And for heavens sake, don't respond to the gibes about Harley." The other windows on Oracles screens get some attention "People are evacuating the building slowly. Emergency services are 15 minutes out"

-

The Joker appears to be reloading, focused entirely on that. What Oracle can't see from her camera angle is the uzi under his suit jacket. Or the switch blade. Yes, he intends to rough Robin up a little. Okay, a lot. The Bird needs to learn that if he's going to play on this level, it's best to be committed, or get committed. Either way. He's got credentials on that one. He's been committed over two hundred times.

-

"Understood," on all counts. Not that it's likely to stop the banter about Harley because that was certainly news. And with the Joker reloading, The Boy Wonder rounds the corner of the shelves, bo staff in hand to its full height. He lunges forward to sweep the weapon across the Joker's wrist in hopes of causing the shotgun to drop to the floor, and opening him up away from his previous cover.

-

The Shotgun drops. The Joker doesn't even try to hold onto it as and both knife and uzi sweep out from their concealment it becomes evident why. He doesn't play for space. Instead he swings wildly, cutting with the knife to buy him a moment to bring the gun to bear. And then he holds the trigger down. He's not aiming, really. Just pointing it and shooting.

-

The knife catches the kevlar of Robin's suit slicing along its expanse. While it's fortunate that Tim is wearing kevlar, it doesn't act as ultimate protection from blades, and the netting rips along the red fabric with a familiar sound. Robin's suit is taking a beating. The bullet the suit catches, however, is a massive problem with the kevlar compromised. The yelp that emits from The Boy Wonder's body leaves little to the imagination. Ripped kevlar is rendered less effective against anything. Tim collapses underneath the pain that quickly spreads from one side of his body to the other. His gloved hands paw at the tiles of the floor in an effort to drag himself away from the rapid gunfire.

-

The Joker doesn't keep shooting Tim. Mercifully. Unmercifully, he begins to kick the boy wonder. In the ribs. Over, and over and over as the place burns and fills with smoke. "You. Don't. Have. What. It. Takes. Bird." Kick. Kick. Kick.

"Do you know what you're problem is?" Kick. "You're doing this for someone else." Kick. "You don't have it in you to do it for you." Kick. "And at the end." Kick. "No one's regard is going to keep you doing this." Kick. "If you're doing this for someone else." Kick. "You're going to fail." Kick. "Because no one else can make this worth it." Kick.

-

Tim's body curls into itself instinctively as kick after kick is assailed onto him. Every kick has the Boy Wonder recoiling on the ground, curving further and further into himself with each delivered blow. The words, however, may sting more. The bo staff makes a clatter against the floor as Robin's legs tug towards his chest. He groans loudly into the comlink. Lucky Oracle gets subjected to the sounds of the incredibly wounded Boy Wonder remaining where he is.

-

Yes, Oracle is subjected to every blow and every sound. "Robin, Get Out Of There Now, if you can… this is enough. Return to me immediately." the womans eyes are worried as she looks at the screens. All assets are engaged currently… no back up for Robin. Desperate times, call for desperate measures, so she pulls up another comms channel, "Agent May, this is Oracle. You once offered assistance to Robin. I need to ask for assistance again, location is Gotham." She's deliberately vague as she waits for an answer.

Over Oracle's communication link, May's response is almost instant. "I'm on my way."

-

Thhe Joker kicks Robin's staff away and grabs Robin's cape, beginning to drag him out of the building. He's not even focused on the civilians anymore. Just Robin.

"I'm going to save your life, Bird. And do you know why? Because I want you to think all about this and why the Bat has you running around all hours of the night for something you don't have the guts to really believe in. What's with you? Got daddy issues or something? The Bat's a humorless, pedantic, misanthrope that belongs in Arkham every bit as much as I do. But to you he's a hero while I'm just an insane clown. Well you know what?" They exit the building. "We're just two sides of the same coin. Same currency. Flip us, if you like, but we're worth the same twenty five cents."

-

Robin doesn't have the wherewithal to respond to the comlink in his ear. Swollen, battered, and bruised, Robin is dragged out of the building by his cape. While Tim doesn't respond to the Joker's questions (because searing pain pretty everywhere), he definitely hears them. Oh does he hear them. His hands move to his midsection to feel moisture at his side. Things have gone horribly wrong.

-

"Agent May, coordinates incoming. Robins been beaten by The Joker, he's in a bad way. Are you able to provide medical assistance?" Oracle doesn't think, Robin needs help. The comms unit is tapped again, as the Video from Robins suit flickers (it's damaged from the fight) "Robin, help is incoming, hold on just hold on." The Jokers rant has been recorded… for use later, when Robin is coherent.

-

"I can." There's a moment of quiet from the comm line to May as the coordinates are sent before she replies again. "Coordinates received. ETA, five minutes." Yes, Quinjets are fast.

-

The Joker hauls Robin to his feet and hooks his cape over a bus stop so that it holds him up. "Now. Pay attention 'Boy Wonder', I'm about to finish my business with the good people here." He produces a cattle prod and tests it out on Robin before turning to one of the nearby little shoppettes.

-

Electrical current courses through Tim's body causing it to convulse and twitch. Tortured noises from the back of Robin's throat produce a nearly out-of-body experience for the Boy Wonder, reverberating deep within his lungs. The vibrations only cease when the cattle prod is redirected. His teeth grit and he groans several word, "…no… me…" because he'd rather be the one subjected to the Joker's machinations when compared to average joe.

-

"Hold on Robin, help is nearly there. Hold on." Oracle doesn't panic but she's not happy to see The Boy Wonder tortured so. If The Joker wasn't already in her sights, he is now. "Agent May, Where will you take him. And before you remove the mask, we need to talk…" Rolling her eyes to the ceiling, how, just how, are they going to get through that mess.

-

"A place called the Nest." May doesn't elaborate, as she's busy flying through the airspace of multiple major airports, and doing so as fast as the Quinjet is capable of. She reaches the coordinates in 4 minutes, 28 seconds. Okay, so she overestimated a little. The Quinjet hovers to land right in front of where Robin's strung up like a discarded toy, and May jumps down from the loading ramp before it's even halfway open. And, unlike usual, she's got a sidearm in hand already.

-

The Joker has ignored Tim's urging to hit him again. Because that's too easy. Instead he drags the shop keeper out of the nearest shop and shocks her. Right in front of Tim. Because he knows that'll hurt more. Physical pain? Pffft. Amateur hour. Phsychological pain: The gift that keeps on giving. He turns when May arrives. "Ah. The Low Fat Bat Substitute came to bail you out. Not even the Bat…"

-

There's an extreme amount of horror at the torture of the shopkeep bystander. Tim Drake murmurs something indiscernible. He groans again and he tries to peel himself off the pavement because there is a civilian in trouble. Oracle can see the pavement close in again as Robin falls back to the cement. He is not in good shape. There's no denying that.

-

May doesn't bother with pleasantries this time. She simply aims her sidearm — NOT one of FitzSimmons' non-lethal alternatives — at the Joker and fires. She caught him in the act of harming a civilian. She is completely within her rights to put him down permanently. There might even be minimal paperwork. Let's see you recover from a head shot. Or maybe three or four.

-

The first shot flies true. Well, Ish. The Joker jerks as he's hit in the neck and drops, out of instinct mostly, meaning the rest of the shots go wide. He produces another handgun as he rises groggily and begins emptying it in May's general direction. There's the sound of a van speeding in toward the scene.

-

Oracles video feed from Robins suit shows… concrete. She knows Mays onsite and using the feeds from surrounding cameras, watches the gunfight go down. "Robin, stay with me. Stay conscious. We'll have you out of there real soon." It's a litany she recites to keep the Boy Wonder with her.

-

May is more than well trained enough to just stand in one place while shooting at the Joker. So he's got to hit a moving target. Not so luckily, there's only so far she can move without risking putting either the civilian woman or Robin in either or their lines of fire. She fires off two more shots at the clown while her free hand pulls a throwing knife from its concealed pocket and throws that at the villain at the same time. Just DIE already!

-

The Joker laughs - laughs as the knife thunks into his bicep. A van wildly careens onto the street and the cargo door opens revealing several clown masked thugs who immediately lay about with automatic fire as the Joker hops in. "Let's go boys. Next stop ARKHAM!!!"

-

Crap. Time to go. Seeing that the civilian has already skittered to the cover of their business, she turns and RUNS to get Robin down and clear as that van screeches into the scene. Sorry, kid, no time for gentle. She holsters her sidearm and pulls a knife at the same time as hefting the injured young man's form, cuts his cape from his outfit to get him free of that bus stop framework, and carries him ungracefully toward the waiting Quinjet at just shy of a full run. Yeah, the cleaning bill is a given.

-

Oracle watches The Joker get away and May pick Robin up. Another cape is lost in the rescue. "Robin, Agent May has you. She'll get you to safety." The video feed from his suit is still live, not that it shows much as he's slung over Mays shoulder. Her face grim, the light from her screens reflecting in her glasses, she waits for May to make contact.

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