Nightwing, Ronin, and Robin are running across a rooftop. Below them runs a thug with a gun. He is a muscular man, wearing slacks, wife beater, leather jacket, and combat boots. He has a suitcase in his other hand.
Ronin: For a Russian mobster, he can move pretty quickly.
Nightwing: What, were you expecting him to be drunk?
Robin: I was.
The thug turns right and they follow
Nightwing: Guy must be running on pure adrenaline. It's like he doesn't know where to go, or care.
Ronin: Well, he was making a deal with Scarecrow.
Robin: Can't believe we left my father alone with Crane!
Nightwing: He can handle Crane. The guy we're chasing is a bigger threat.
Ronin: I have to agree with the surly one, here; how can a steroid abusing wannabe gangster be a threat to us.
Nightwing: 1. He's on Venom. 2. He's presently freaking out on Scarecrow gas. Let's be glad he isn't rampaging.
The thug heads towards Amusement Mile
Nightwing: Amusement Mile? It's closed for the season.
The thug smashes the gates down and runs. The three heroes perch on the wall.
Nightwing: Ronin, scan him. See if you can find anything out.
Ronin activates the Detective Mode in his mask. It scans as the thug runs through the presently still rides and games
Ronin: *narrating* Alexi Vassily; youngest son in a mobster clan. Rap Sheet: Assault, Battery, Theft, Sexual Assault, Drugs (Heroin, Cocaine, Anabolic Steroids, Venom; habitual user of the last two). And that's since he was 16. Wrestling champ in high school, not to mention bodybuilder and weightlifter. Unfortunately, he decided to be like his big brothers. Got kicked off the team for steroids, expelled for beating up a few people, so on and so forth. Brawn, no brains. Guess he bit off more than he can chew with his deal with Scarecrow.
The three heroes swing after Vassily
Ronin: Oh, and his adrenaline is presently through the roof.
Vassily runs into the fun house.
Robin: He's hiding out in there?
Nightwing: Probably until he thinks we're gone and he can leave.
Robin: Let's get him!
Nightwing grabs Robin's cape
Nightwing: Easy, little bird. I say we let the rookie take him.
Ronin: Why the hell do you think I can't do it, short stuff?
Nightwing: Hey, what's one thug?
Ronin grabs his grapple
Nightwing: By the book, Ronin.
Nightwing: Oh, and scout out the fun house before you attack, you might get some ideas.
Ronin grins and salutes
Ronin: Aye aye, Captain.
He heads off.
A short while later, Vassily is resting in the fun house, calming himself down.
Vassily: Okay, exposed to some of the gas that weirdo makes, no biggie. *holds the suitcase in both hands* But I got what I wanted...
A batarang imbeds itself in the wall behind him
Ronin: *off panel* So, what's in the case? A dollar? A million? Let's make a deal....
He runs down the corridor.
Ronin: *off panel* Oh, but the fun's just starting!
A pop up cardboard figure of Joker pops up. Vassily screams.
Ronin: *off panel* Wow, for a meathead, you scream like a girl.
Vassily goes down the hall, pulling out his gun.
Vassily: Come on out and fight like a man.
Ronin: *off panel* First of all, how cliche! Secondly, you are a steroid addicted punk known for beating up and sexually assaulting waitresses at the clubs you go with your brothers in the Little Dubrovnik neighborhood.
The floor beneath Vassily turns into a slide and he topples down. He finds himself in a maze of mirrors. Ronin appears in one of them.
Ronin: Come and catch me!
Vassily shoots, destroying the mirror.
Ronin: *off panel* If you're blue and you don't know where to go to, Why don't you go where fashion sits, Puttin' on the ritz.
Vassily stalks through the mirrors, firing at the various Ronin's appearing.
Ronin(s): Different types who wear a daycoat, pants with stripes
And cut away coat, perfect fits,
Puttin' on the ritz.
Dressed up like a million dollar trouper
Trying hard to look like Gary Cooper (super duper)
Come let's mix where Rockefellers walk with sticks
Or umbrellas in their mitts
Puttin' on the Ritz
The Ronins start laughing and doing the famous Fred Astaire dance to the song as Vassily fires at them. Soon, all the mirrors are gone. Vassily breaths a sigh of relief
Ronin: *off panel* Well that was just rude!
Ronin appears on a monitor
Ronin: Someone's going to have to pay to fix that. Guess we can add property damage to the charges.
Vassily: You coward! You think you're so smart...
Ronin: Actually, I am smart. But I'm no coward.
The screen goes black, a figure of the Broadway Phantom of the Opera appears. Ronin speaks through the statue
Ronin: *through loudspeaker* But if you want a challenge...
The statue points and a hallway is lit
Ronin: *through loudspeaker* I'm willing to entertain the notion.
Vassily marches down the hall. Ronin is standing in a tented area used for shows and the like.
Ronin: Well, you made you're way here....
Vassily puts down the suitcase
Ronin: Have at me.
Vassily charges, a fist ready to punch. Ronin just grabs it and flips him.
Ronin: Really? That's what you're going to do?
On the tracks of the nearby rollercoaster, Nightwing and Robin sit watching through heatvision. Ronin's comm allows them to listen in.
Ronin: *on comm* You think you can beat me through brute strength.
Nightwing: He's being cocky.
Robin: Oh like you're one to talk!
Nightwing: *grinning* But he's having fun.
Robin: I still think I should have gone in to...
Meanwhile, Vassily charges again. Ronin delivers a Muay Thai kick to the mobster's stomach and then elbow drops him.
Ronin: How can a meathead like you be so slow and clumsy. Oh right, the steroids...
Vassily grabs his gun and starts shooting. Ronin vaults away
Ronin: And you're forgetting about cardio....
Ronin tosses out a batarang, knocking the gun out of the man's hand and out of the tent. Vassily glares at Ronin. Ronin does the kung fu beckon thing
Ronin: Try again?
Vassily growls and opens the suitcase. He takes out a mask similar used by Ra's and his men in Batman Begins. There are three canisters in the mask.
Ronin: What is that supposed to do?
Vassily: Allow me to break you.
Ronin: Okay, Ivan Drago....
Vassily activates the mask and breathes in the mixture of gases. He then convulses, dropping the mask. Outside, Nightwing looks concerned
Nightwing: Not good....
Robin: His heat is increasing....
Nightwing: That's not the only thing....
Vassily starts growing taller and bigger. He grows beyond Bane's size, enough to rival a Titan from Arkham Asylum without the bones coming out of the spine.
Nightwing: *narrating* Because there is definite Venom involvement here.
Ronin: Okay...somewhat more chall...
Vassily punches him and sends him flying.
Ronin: Ow, broken ribs, ow.
Vassily: SHUT UP!
Vassily charges and Ronin barely gets out of the way. He examines his gauntlet light
Ronin: *narrating* Of all the times I could use my metahuman powers, the suppressors are still in effect.
Vassily picks up a cannon used for stunt shows and throws it at Ronin like a football
Ronin again barely gets out of the way. He takes out a few batarangs and throws them at sensitive areas. Vassily roars and charges.
Ronin: *narrating* Damn!
Ronin dodges and activates his detective mode again.
Ronin: *narrating* His adrenaline is working overtime now, and its boosted by whatever he took in. His organs are straining though...enhanced as they were by that concoction, the adrenaline will burn him out. I need to just avoid his attacks until....
Ronin is grabbed by Vassily, who slams him into the ground.
Ronin: *narrating* Damn it. Sometimes the downside of being a genius is that you get too focused!
Robin stands up on the track
Robin: We got to help him!
Nightwing: Give him a few more minutes....
Robin: He may not have that!
Nightwing: I trust him, Robin; you should to!
Robin: I trust him as a desk jockey, he's still not prepared for this!
Nightwing: He might be better prepared than you think.
Inside, Vassily dangles holds Ronin in front of him.
Vassily: You know, it's my brothers who introduced me to lifting and wrestling. They're the ones who gave me my first dose of testosterone mixed with human growth hormone. The best rush, of course, was a low dose of Venom. But even before that, they trained me hard to be the biggest and the strongest kid in school, because that gets you respect.
Vassily begins to bear-hug Ronin.
Vassily: And all that training made me unstoppable. My chest helped me flatten my opponents, the drugs helped me obliterate them.
Ronin: Until you got caught. ~GRK
Vassily: And this new compound is going to let me crush you into powder.
Ronin: *narrating* This is bad...My hand can reach and grab a "jitterbug" *does so*, but I can't exactly pop it into his face. But I got to try.
Vassily: Quit squirming.
Ronin grits his teeth.
Ronin: I. Got. To. TRY!
The light on his gauntlet glows green. With a surge of strength, he forces his arm up and hits Vassily in the face with one of his favored taser disks. Ronin kicks off Vassily and lands on the ground. He then looks at his arm.
Ronin: Oh, out of the socket. *snaps it back in* There. *narrating* That will only slow him down. *gets into defensive stance, narrating* But it weakens him, and that's what I need.
Vassily roars and charges. Ronin drops a smoke pellet. Vassily runs through the smoke, only for Ronin to punch him and send him back a few feet. Vassily spits blood and grins
Vassily: That actually hurt. But you're still weaker than me.
Ronin: *narrating* True, even with my metahuman powers he's much stronger. Still, *throws a batarang* I got some advantages.
The batarang hits the breaker and knocks out the lights. Vassily looks around
Vassily: What are you doing?
Ronin: *somewhere* Oh, you know how we Bats love our darkness. *hits Vassily hard* We thrive in it. *shocks Vassily* And you just blunder along. *kicks Vassily in the knee, Vassily goes down* You think being the strongest gives you the right to do what you want? *strikes Vassily on either side of the head* Only bullies, despots, and idiots think that! *kicks Vassily in the head* So here you are, the stronger one, on your knees. And thus your world view is shown to be nothing.
A flicker of flame, Ronin holds a lighter. It is the only visible light. Vassily looks beaten, bruised, and exhausted.
Ronin: And it seems that stuff you're on has burned out of your system. Funny, I'm reminded of Eliot's words. *gets in Vassily's face* "This is how the world ends. This is how the world ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper."
He punches out Vassily. A little while later, Ronin brings Vassily out of the tent. Nightwing gives him a thumbs up, Ronin returns it, but then groans in pain. Nightwing flips down to help him.
Nightwing: You okay?
Ronin: Sure, what's a few broken ribs and possible internal injuries.
Nightwing supports Ronin
Nightwing: Come on, let's get you to a doctor....
Ronin: *turns to Robin* Grab that mask he had, it's still in the tent.
Nightwing: He respects your skills now.
Ronin: Yeah, but he'll have some sort of excuse....
Later, Alfred ties some bandages around Joseph's bare torso as Sam watches nervously.
Alfred: Almost done....
Joseph: Hurry it up, I got theater tickets.
Alfred: At this hour, surely you jest.
Batman looks up from where he's examining the mask
Batman: And speaking of theater, that was quite the show you put on in there. Nightwing says you kept Vassily on his toes and his nerves on edge.
Joseph: What can I say? It's a gift.
Sam: Yeah, one you got from Grandma!
Joseph puts Sam in a headlock and noogies him
Sam: *laughing* Hey!
Alfred: Sir, could you not do that yet....
Joseph: Where's Dick and Damian?
Batman: *grabbing a printout* Out on patrol. *reads* Seems this was a three part compound, using aerosol versions of known illegal substances.
Joseph: Venom of course.
Batman: And a modified version of Scarecrow gas, to increase adrenaline and aggression.
Joseph: What's the third?
Batman: Something I haven't seen in a while. A compound informally known as Monster Man formula. It was created by Hugo Strange. But he's locked up...so who is making it.
Elsewhere, a meeting is going on at the Iceburg Lounge
Bane: They caught Scarecrow tonight, and that estupido Russian thug used the mask he bought. Batman's new student managed to beat him.
Penguin: Did he get the mask?
Penguin: Then we just need to increase production. We still have Crane's formula on file, as well as what we got out of Hugo. I promised you an army, Bane, so that we can run this town. As for now....
The two look down into an informal fighting pit where men, transformed by the gasses, fight
Penguin: Let's enjoy the show.