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    Fanzing's Current


    by Michael Hutchison

    Current Topic:

    Villainy on Vacation!

    Due Date:

    Monday, September 25th, 2000

    "Now that takes some brains ter conjure!" Captain Boomerang muttered in the medium security rec room of the Belle Reve Detention Facility. "It's so simple, too.  Just don't rob the usual place! Git outta the city!  Brilliant!  Me hat's orf to you geniuses!"

    A few heads finally started to turn to look at him.  About bloody time, wankers! Digger Harkness thought, I've been spouting off for about a half hour and all.  Get your thumbs out and listen up!

    "What are you on about, Harkness?" Major Disaster asked from the pool table where he was just finishing up a game with Big Sir.  Their cumbersome explosive bracelets were throwing off their game, but it didn't matter since they didn't keep score.  The other inmates had learned of both Sir's idiot savant skill at poker and Disaster's ability to "see" chain reactions while playing pool, and no one else would play games with them.

    "The news!  All of Gotham's inmates fled Gotham City two months ago, and none of them have fought Batman since then.  'E's in Gotham, still, with no clue who to chase first!  It's brilliant!" Boomerang crowed.  "You know, I must've pulled ten dozen robberies in Central City, throwing boomerangs at a bloke who could have me in jail before I blinked…and it never occured to me to just not rob banks in Central City!"

    "Big deal.  That's hardly original!" Major Disaster scoffed.  "Anyone could come up with a plan like 'Go to a different town.' Whoopty-do!"

    "Oh really?" Harkness crowed.  "So it wasn't you on top of a dam in California demanding that Green Lantern show up and fight you?"

    Major Disaster frowned.

    "That's the problem, blokes.  We escape, we go to the same old city and publically demand an arse-whupping from the same guy what threw our hides in the clink in the first place.  If we'd just knock over a bank in Homer, Alaska, we'd be in the clear before the news got out!"

    "Yes, given the poor showing of the common course of action, a change of venue would be an attractive alternative for the meta-enabled recidivist," Big Sir spoke, his voice surprisingly clear and authoritative. He then continued to rack up the balls for another game, carefully admiring the pretty colors and making sure the numbers faced up.

    Major Disaster glanced at him, started to speak, then glanced at him again. After waiting for Big Sir to carry on, he finally spoke. "His genius comes and goes sometimes. Don't worry about him. But speaking as a fella who can find bad luck in Antarctica, I wouldn't even know where to go."

    "Where can't you go, aside from your regular stomping grounds? Even if you do encounter a foe, it's likely to be some totally unprepared wanker you've never met before. Maybe Green Lantern knows how to beat Major Disaster, but does Impulse?" Captain Boomerang said. "And what's the Blue Beetle gonner do against Bolt?"

    "So where would you go?" Bolt asked, scratching at his neck collar. The device emitted a "peep" every ten seconds to let him know that it was receiving the reset signal from Belle Reve's nearby transmitter. Without that shortwave radio broadcast, the collar would activate and blow his head off. It was the only preventative against his teleporting away, but his lawyer was petitioning the A.C.L.U. to argue for its removal as cruel and unusual punishment. What if there was a power failure?

    Boomerang swung around in the sofa and lowered his voice. "You know what's ripe for the plucking? Gotham City!" he whispered. As the gathered crowd jeered and started to walk away, he continued, "No, really! Listen up, snipes. Batman's gotta be away at the mo' to capture all these escaped loonies, royght? And everyone in town's taking it easy because they think all the bad crims are taking the Greyhound out! Hell, even if you go up against Batman, who cares? He's not used to people with any real powers. Half his enemies are loops living false realities, the other half are mass-murderin' psychos. None of 'em working on a full deck. Suddenly he's up against people throwing lightning and setting off earthquakes? Ah, he'd be a cinch!"

    Roy G. Bivolo rubbed his chin at the thought, then went back to playing cards with Thomas Oscar Morrow. None of the others seemed excited to be taking on Batman. Captain Boomerang noted his audience's ambivalence and dropped the Batman proposal. "All right, blokes, wouldn't any of you be interested in doing this, once you're out of here?" He saw some nodding.

    Boomerang stood, walked up to the others and whispered, "At supper, grab a tray and sit by me, anyone who's willing to go. Got it?"

    "Whatever it is you have stolen from my father, I want it back! Give it to me!"

    "The Mask Of Zorro" played on the big screen TV as Talia stretched her legs. The scene was coming up. When Antonio Banderas began his swordfight, Talia picked up her sword and began mimicking the movements of his opponent. She grabbed the remote and rewound it to check herself.

    "Watching films, Talia? Sometimes I fear you have been too corrupted by the culture of this world. Why do you watch such garbage?" Ra's al Ghul chided as he entered the room.

    "Father, do you not think this Catherine Zeta Jones woman resembles me? It is like looking in a mirror!" Talia said, pointing with the tip of her sword. "And she even moves like me when she swordfights. We're exactly the same!" Talia tried to hide her excitement.

    Ra's tried to hide his bemusement at such an idle concern. "Yes, she's lovely, as are you, my child. But she is not the same. She is stage fighting, trying not to harm her opponent, whereas you are trained to kill. Furthermore, she doubtless has a stuntwoman doubling for her. Filmmakers don't find a woman with flawless skin and then wave sharp objects at her. It's just not done," he chuckled, hitting the off switch on the remote control. "In any case, I do not want you watching this film. Zorro fills young minds with ridiculous notions of honor and heroism, as we well know."

    "I'd just heard some members of the League commenting on how much that actress looks like me. I…I was thinking maybe we could arrange to have her spared from what is coming. I'd like to meet her," Talia said, a bit embarrassed at such a foolish concern.

    "Hm. It is good to have a double, in case you need to fake your own death. Still, I hate to spare any member of Hollywood. How can we have a fresh start for humanity if we don't wipe out all of the media? No, my darling, she'll have to go with the rest. In fact, I'm arranging for Beverly Hills to be one of the sites." Ra's pressed a button on the wall, revealing a map of North America. "Beverly Hills, Seattle…that takes care of the West Coast. Miami will be simple, what with the high concentration of theme parks in Florida. The visitors to those three cities alone is enough to infect the nation. Washington, D.C. naturally. St. Louis. New Orleans, of course, to eliminate the whores and drunkards of society. Green Bay, Wisconsin, just to wipe out the football fans. Atlanta's airport, surely. Leaving only the northeastern target."

    "Gotham," Talia whispered.

    "How is that proceeding?" Ra's asked, closing the map walls.

    "The Detective," Talia said, using her father's term for Batman, "has not taken the bait. I thought he would have fled Gotham by now, but he's stayed in his city."

    Ra's nodded. "In the past, I'd have expected him to think of the Arkham villains as 'his' enemies and chase them. But with all of the suffering his city has undergone, he is ever more protective of it. It appears he will even let his enemies run amok, so long as they are not in his town. Unexpected, but now we know his state. He just needs a push that puts his city at risk."

    Talia smiled. "Our other agents have reported in. Captain Boomerang and Shrapnel have both spread the idea to their fellows and have gathered others to the cause. This evening, our operatives will provide the opportunity for the prison breaks at both Belle Reve and The Slab. At that time, Boomerang will receive his payment, and Shrapnel will be given the serum that temporarily restores him to human form so that he can visit his family."

    Ra's asked, "And they have encouraged others to try Gotham?"

    "Since they're all in prison, and Batman's activities are generally unreported, no one knows that he's still in Gotham. They've been told that the city is ripe for the plucking."

    "Excellent!" Ra's said, tapping his fingertips together. "While most of them will eschew Gotham, at least a few will strike there. The rest will doubtless hit other cities and cause more unrest. What of the other arrangements?"

    "All captured villains have been freed en route to Arkham, as instructed."

    "Delightful. Every superhero in America is going to be too distracted by these petty crimes. None will see the big picture. In a few weeks we strike!" Ra's said.

    "Father…why not just remove Gotham as a target? We could release the vials in New York City or Metropolis or New Jersey, even!" Talia asked.

    "My dear…to not include The Detective's hometown in a master plan would be a sign of weakness, as well as an insult to my opponent. He must fail. He must be made to see that I beat him. Avoiding him and winning is not the same as beating him. And I'm perfectly aware that this seems petty and egotistical against the grand plan, but I've faced him too many times to leave him out of this scheme."

    "Well…just so long as you're aware of it. I don't want you turning into Dr. Evil from Austin Powers. You know, leaving him alive, explaining your plans and then allowing him to escape and defeat you!" Talia said.

    Ra's frowned, scratching his cheek with his pinky. "Right. From now on, daughter, no more television. It saddens me, what it's done to you."

    Talia objected. "But I--"

    "Sh!" Ra's silenced her with a gesture.

    Batman frowned as he scanned the headlines. Poison Ivy nearly wiping out a New England town? The Mad Hatter swiping Mento's helmet? The Idiot pursuing members of the JLA? This was not good.

    "I fear…I fear I've made a mistake," Batman stated. To his surprise, Alfred managed to recover before he spilt the beverage tray. "I held myself in check when the Arkham inmates escaped. We know what happened last time I tried to tackle them all at once." Batman rubbed his back.

    "You can't fault yourself for making a wise choice…for once, sir," Alfred said, setting down the china cup. "I was wondering why this month's bandage budget was so low," he said to himself, loudly, while pouring the hot chocolate from the pitcher. Hot chocolate was served year-round in the cold, damp Batcave, as Batman eschewed alcoholic and caffeinated beverages.

    "I know my reputation amongst the superhero set as a control freak, but I know they're capable of catching my enemies. And they were succeeding. But now a pattern emerges. The Joker's captured…and escapes during the police transfer. Firefly is captured by Tempest…and a mysterious explosion destroys the jail where he was. Riddler, Poison Ivy, Ventriloquist, Maxie Zeus…all of them mysteriously liberated," Batman said.

    "So first you thought it might be a plot. Then you suspected it was just a massive break, followed by random attacks. And now you think it's a plot again?" Alfred inquired.

    "I shouldn't leave Gotham unprotected. Even without the Arkham escapees, there are the recent threats from Orca and others. But if there are any more of these prisoner transfer escapes, I may have to take matters into my own hands!" Batman said, grim as always.

    "You'd actually leave Gotham, sir? Oh, my. If only Dame Fortune would truly smile on us, the next crime spree would happen at Club Med. You could use a proper vacation."

    This is (obviously) a continuation of Fanzing's "Arkham Asylum's Vacation" Fiction Challenge. This is like a summer crossover with book-ends. Instead of holding all entries until the end, we'll run them as they arrive.

    We've decided to expand and continue the A.A.V. concept, since it has been an overwhelming success and has yielded some hilarious and exciting entries. Now the concept has spread beyond the Arkham inmates (i.e., Batman's enemies) and has expanded to allow ALL villains. Batman's enemies are still fair game, but now it extends to Superman's enemies (Parasite, Prankster, Toyman, perhaps even Mr. Mxyzptlk might join in the fun), Flash's Rogues Gallery (traditional and modern), Green Lantern villains and all other inhabitants of DC's supercriminal prisons.

    In the same way that the previous challenge involved a Bat-villain and a NON-Bat-family superhero in a city other than Gotham, you must extend these rules to your chosen characters. The locale and hero/villain match-up must be different from the villain's usual setting and opponent. If you use a super-team and the usual hero-opponent is a member, that member must be absent in this story. (For example, if the Titans meet Captain Cold, the Flash cannot be amongst the Titans.)

    This time, there's another wild card: Batman. In addition to some non-Batman villains striking Gotham City, Batman may also appear in other cities. There are a lot of possibilities with this one!

    These are present day, in-continuity DC Comics characters . You don't need to be tightly bound to continuity in the present title (such as working around a long story arc, Starman's "Grand Guignol" being the best example), but don't set the story in 1999 or before!

    It is not necessary to claim your characters , as the same hero might encounter several villains in his city, and the same villain might hit several cities. In the unlikely event of, say, two people writing "Starman vs. The Riddler" stories, I'll run them both. (This is only fan fiction!)

    One consideration: some villains are not appropriate. We're talking about incarcerated villains who learned of this idea (changing locale and opponents) in the prison/asylum. Thus, Bane, Ra's Al Ghul, Lex Luthor, Brainiac and other "big" villains who aren't usually incarcerated don't count for this contest. Stick to the rogues, gimmick villains, bank robbers, psychos, murderers, etc..

    At the end of your story, either have the villain get away or put in custody of the local authorities (from which they'll likely escape). This will explain how they might appear in stories by other authors following your story. NEVER have the villain's regular opponent (Batman, Superman) show up to take them home. As for the Joker, he must get away because he plays an important part in the end of the story.

    ONE MORE THING: The winner of this contest gets a prize! That's right, we're continuing the tradition of giving away an item from Fanzing's Cafe Press merchandise. The winner will receive his or her choice of a Fanzing T-shirt, mouse pad or mug (coffee or insulated). (American entrants only, due to prohibitive shipping charges on international orders. Foreign winners may choose to either pay the shipping or we will arrange for an alternate prize of equivalent value.)


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    This piece is © 2000 by Michael Hutchison.
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