by Starsky Hutch 76
Harley Quinn was leading her hostage choir in yet another round of The Mighty Quinn when Thor came crashing through the wall.
“Hold, villains. Thy plans are come undone! Surrender now or face the full wrath of the scion of Asgard!”
“What the hell?” Harley cried out. She turned her pistol on Thor and fired several shots at once, which bounced harmlessly off his skin.
“An amusing ploy, wench,” Thor laughed. “Thy jester’s outfit serves thee well.”
“Oh, this old thing?” Harley Quinn said, giving a girlish shrug. She turned around as if she were showing off a new outfit rather than the legless leotard, jester’s hat, and thigh-high boots of her stylized jester’s costume. Her long green hair whipped around her shoulders and face as she turned around with a mock coquettishness. Thor looked almost mesmerized by her malevolent sexiness.
Harley Quinn’s eyes darted up, and her large red mouth broke into a grin. “You know, you really should watch where you stand.” Thor looked down and realized he was standing on some kind of platform just as she pulled out a remote control. Suddenly, a large machine dropped from the ceiling and landed on Thor. Its shape was oddly similar to that of a giant anvil. The letters ACME had been slapped on with a paintbrush in anticipation of an occasion like this.
“No need to try and use your super-strength to get out from under there, pal,” Harley laughed as Thor struggled, grunting beneath the tremendous pressure of the device. “It’s some kind of inertia machine the eggheads whipped up to contain guys like you. The more you try to push it off, the heavier it gets!” The pressure continued to grow as he struggled with his enormous might. If not for the platform, he would have been driven far into the earth’s surface.
Red Robin and Batwing descended silently from the air duct and down into a hallway inside the Gotham City Civic Center. As they walked with cat-like stealth through the corridor, there came a loud boom from nearby.
“Sounds like Thor has made his entrance,” Red Robin said.
“Ya think?” Batwing said, smirking.
“Call it a hunch,” Red Robin said with a half-grin.
The loud boom of brick and masonry was followed by a loud hydraulic thud. “Sounds like Harley’s had the same hunch,” Batwing said.
“Guess we’d better get down there,” Red Robin said. “We don’t want to let him have all the fun.”
Back in the main hall, Harley Quinn had abandoned her choir in favor of new entertainment. “C’mon, big boy! You’re not trying! Work those muscles! Focus! Keep yer eye on the tiger! No pain, no gain!”
Thor strained beneath the mind-numbing pressure of the device created to contain super-strong meta-humans. “How… could such a beauteous visage and pleasing form… hide such a cruel, black heart?”
“Woo-wee! You sure do talk purty!” Harley Quinn whistled, slapping her snow-white knees. “I’m glad this thing has wheels, ’cause you’re a keeper! I might just roll you out and keep you as a souvenir after all this is over!”
“Looks like Thor’s found himself a girlfriend,” Batwing said, watching through a device that let him see through the security camera. “Doesn’t look like he’s enjoying their first date, though.”
“The worst thing you can do is underestimate Harley Quinn,” Red Robin said. “She’s her father’s daughter in every sense of the word.”
“No kidding,” Batwing said. “And it’s no fun being a guy in her clutches.” He shuddered at the remembrance of his own past experiences with her. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See DC Universe: Crawling from the Wreckage, Book 2, Chapter 1: The Joker’s Daughter.]
“Aw, I’m sure it wasn’t that bad,” Red Robin said, giving Jason a knowing grin.
“Oh? Then I suppose you and Power Girl will be double-dating with the two of them,” Batwing quipped.
“Bite your tongue, kid,” Red Robin chuckled.
“So how do we get him and the scientists out of there?” Batwing asked. “The direct approach doesn’t seem to have worked too well for our Nordic friend.”
“It could also put the hostages at risk, which we don’t want,” Red Robin said. “First order of business is making sure they’re safe. Any ideas on how we could do that?”
Batwing paused in surprise. His mentor was usually the one with all the answers. He quickly realized he was being quizzed. Red Robin knew what to do. He just wanted to see if he knew it. “Yeah, I think I have some,” Batwing said.
Inside the main room, the henchmen were getting restless. “I wish she’d quit clowning around so we can get outta here,” one of them said to the one next to him.
“Clowning around… that’s a good one,” the other shifty-looking henchman chuckled.
“I’m serious! It’s only a matter of time till Red Robin or some other do-gooder comes in and busts up the joint. Harley handled muscle-boy OK, but he might not be the only one comin’.”
“Would you two stifle yourselves before the boss hears you?” hissed Franko Morelli, the longtime henchman of the Joker. “In case you two knuckleheads ain’t noticed, she’s just as likely to go off as her old man if she overhears you.”
The two henchmen quickly grew quiet as Franko marched off. They’d seen Harley’s wrath in action as well as the Joker’s, so they were in no hurry to incur it themselves.
They didn’t have long to stand in uncomfortable silence before two small darts struck each of their necks. Both men brought their hands up to swat where they had struck, both thinking they had been bitten by mosquitoes. They then both began to slump to the ground. The alarmed scientists caught them as they began to fall, their eyes trained in the direction from which the darts had come.
Two ropes descended from the catwalk above the stage area, and Red Robin and Batwing lowered themselves stealthily to the ground. Red Robin held a cautionary finger up to the scientists not to make any unusual moves.
Batwing waved his arms like the conductor of a chorus and mouthed, “Keep singing!” And the chorus of The Mighty Quinn picked back up.
At just that second, Franko turned around. “What the hell?!”
The two henchmen on either side of him tried to react but were quickly taken down by batarangs colliding with their foreheads. Another knocked the gun from Franko’s hand.
Harley Quinn turned at the sound of the commotion and pointed her gun. “What’s the big idea? You’re always trying to spoil my fun! Well, not this time! You just hold it right there, or Lou Ferrigno, here, is gonna be the main attraction at the International House of Pancakes!”
“Damn… thou, witch!” Thor grunted under the strain. “The… son of… Odin… is not some damsel… in distress… in need of rescue!”
Suddenly, the top part of the machine began to reverse itself against the gravity-powered drive of the device. “Nooo!” Harley Quinn screamed, rushing to work the controls of the machine in an effort to increase its power.
“How about a helping hand, friend?” Red Robin said. A bolo suddenly flew from his hand, connecting with a gear on the device. The rope proceeded to wrap around it, and when the red ball bearing a black circle with a yellow R connected with it, that part of the machine suddenly went up in a shower of fire and sparks. Freed of the overwhelming and ever-multiplying weight of the device, Thor leaped to his feet and sent the top half of the device shooting through the roof of the Civic Center. It kept going until it left Earth’s atmosphere and shot off into space.
“Heh-heh… No hard feelings, handsome?” Harley laughed nervously.
Thor’s hand shot out and wrapped around her neck, lifting her from the ground. As she grasped for air, he growled, “Give my regards to Hel.” His other hand reared back in a fist, preparing to deliver the killing blow.
“Thor, no!” Red Robin shouted.
“Thou wouldst have me spare her life after the indignities she hast heaped upon me?!” Thor exclaimed with outrage. Harley’s legs kicked frantically as her face went from bone white to bluish white. Her eyes were wide with terror, and her mouth gaped open in a silent plea.
“We don’t kill,” Red Robin said forcefully. “No matter what.”
“Really?” Thor said, screwing his face up in confusion as he dropped his intended victim to the floor. “How very queer!”
Harley, who had been doubled over as she gasped in air, suddenly rolled on the floor in a fit of laughter. “Ha-ha-hah! If you think that’s queer, bubba, you should see some of the costumes he used to wear! Ha-ha-ha!”
Thor sighed and said, “Art thou sure thou dost not want me to slay her?”
Red Robin groaned and said, “I’m sure I’ll come to regret this, but yes, I’m sure.”
Later, they sat in the den, as Richard Grayson sipped ginger ale, while Thor enjoyed a non-alcoholic beer. “This day has given me much to think about,” Thor said.
“How is that?”
“I had thought the days of glory were past,” he said. “And with them all hope of doing proud my father’s legacy.” He looked at the bottle in his hands and said, “Even fighting alongside the JSA, I had expected to offer sustenance such as this false mead thou hast given me. ’Twas not so! There are devices made by mortals now that might contain a god! All manner of new glory lay before me, and my destiny is no longer one empty and void of challenge!”
“That’s all good,” Dick said. “But my best advice to you is not to simply live up to the legacy of your mentor, but to forge your own destiny as well. I’ve spent my whole life putting the lessons of Batman to use in the best way I can. But I’m not Batman, nor do I pretend to be. Now I try to pass these same lessons on to Jason.”
“Aye, he’s a fine lad,” Thor said.
“Very true,” Dick agreed. “It seems like he finds a new way to make me proud every day. I doubt he’s going to be the next Red Robin, though. He’ll carry my legacy on in his own way.”
Thor weighed Dick Grayson’s words. He had quite a lot to think about. Most importantly, he had to decide what he would do once this experience was over.
To Be Continued in The Brave and the Bold: Starman and Patriot: Blood Brothers