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Enter Gremalkyn - Chapter 04

A work of fiction crafted under the name of Gremalkyn

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Author’s Note: Gremalkyn is mine, all MINE! Artemis is taken from the public domain. All other characters in this chapter belong to DC. No money made, just for fun, etc.

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The Night of the Party

Things were not as desired. Gremalkyn was always disappointed when the machinations of the Olympians worked at cross-purposes, and this latest incident was no different. True, he would have sought to destroy the walking abomination of his own volition, but he was now exposed as something more than he had intended to seem. Worse, the creature had not been destroyed, but merely transported. Most disappointing, but Gremalkyn had been in the service of the Olympians more than long enough to merely accept that he could do little to change their minds. However, his lengthy service also taught him that this incident would be yet another unfinished task thrust upon him at a most inconvenient time in the future. Such was the general nature of his existence.

His brief visit to Gotham was a thorough disappointment: Joker’s companionship, the destruction of the trailing vehicle, the local vigilantes’ interest in the Artemis Corporation, the abomination at the party.... Most unsatisfactory. He cruised about the city, devising corrections and contingencies.

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“Out of the question.”

Batman, now in full costume within the Batcave, was reviewing the information Oracle had gathered on the Artemis Corporation. Nightwing paced silently while Alfred puttered about.

“Be realistic,” countered Oracle, now back at her clock tower. “You saw what that...thing did to Solomon Grundy. And, if your take on the ancient Greek is right, the cat-thing called on Hades for power. This is a bit...”

“You will NOT contact her.” Batman finished his review of the computer files and rose, Nightwing instantly attentive.

“And, you are in reserve,” he further intoned, pointing to his friend and former partner.

“Right!” Nightwing punched his open palm in excitement, then bounced on his toes as he headed for the Redbird -- Robin’s motorcycle. With Tim Drake away at school, Nightwing was sure the younger team member would not mind the loan of the vehicle.

“But...” objected Oracle. She puttered about her monitor womb.

“This is internal to Gotham. We will deal with it.”

Batman fired up the Batmobile, then led Nightwing into the city.

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Joker’s 1st Day

Joker fled for his life. Where was he? How did he get here? WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON?! He had been in the office of Miss Diana Hunter, President and CEO of the Artemis Corporation, then....

What?

Now he fled through a temperate woodland, a maniacal huntress close behind. His twisted mind sought to grasp the course of events, then just gave up trying. Once more the demented Crown Prince of Crime, the Joker, slipped behind a large oak and waited. After all, he still had the revolver tucked into his purple jacket. He withdrew the weapon and checked the cylinder.

Minutes passed, then nearly an hour. Had the huntress given up? Was it really this easy? Joker smiled, and stepped from the tree. At first, he did not understand the odd sensation in his left leg; it felt as though it had just gone to sleep. Glancing about for his huntress, Joker idly rubbed his leg -- and startled himself when his hand came upon the shaft of an arrow.

“Hey!,” he yelled, then instantly hushed himself, hand over his mouth and eyes wide, like a schoolboy caught saying a naughty word. Sunlight glinted off of...something. An arrow now protruding from his right shoulder, Joker took his pistol into his left hand and loped towards a thicket.

Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt, now slowed the passage of time within her Sacred Grove. She intended to savor this hunt, to cause untold pain and suffering for this impetuous mortal. How DARE he endanger Her child! Her anger was unleashed. He would feel Her divine wrath.

She loosed another silver arrow, intentionally missing her quarry, driving him onward. Artemis thought back to the day She had been told of the children’s danger. Of how, during the period called “No Man’s Land,” Joker had collected several children to use as bait. While such was wholly inexcusable, one of the children in question had been taken from the orphanage administered by Her corporation. In essence, Joker had stolen Her child.

This would not stand. Determined to cause Joker endless pain and suffering just prior to ridding the world of his wretched existence, She had summoned Gremalkyn and had tasked him with bringing Joker to Her. This he had done, and now the hunt was on.

She followed Joker’s blood trail. For his reputation as a lunatic, he was disappointingly predictable. She slowed Her pace.

=^,^=

Darkness now covered the Sacred Grove. Joker had managed to stay alive. The silver shafts having been painfully and messily removed, he now rested amidst the upper branches of a maple tree. No doubt the huntress would find his trail of blood, but he was convinced that he was high enough to survive the night. Tomorrow, however....

His revolver, unfired, lay nestled within his waistband, and he patted it absently. His mind, not entirely trustworthy in the best of times, had tried and failed to grasp the situation to his satisfaction. Who was this woman chasing him? Why was she chasing him? How had he gotten here from that other woman’s office? Crazy.

“Crazy? Who you callin’ crazy!” shouted Joker. He made a rude gesture into the air. “Screw you.”

He had done a fair job of stanching his wounds; God knows he had his share in the past, but the exertion and blood loss were taking their toll. His mind wandered. He envisioned Gremalkyn, sitting there all smug-like in the sub-limo. Pretending to throw off their pursuer in the silver sports car. Grinning, lying Gremalkyn. Damn him! Duped! Probably faked the purchase of the sub-limos, too. Rat bastard. Oh, he would get his, all right.

A tiger trap filled with sharp sticks, like in the movies. No. Something more fitting. But just what kind of a death trap would one devise for a snake? Batman....

Batman always seemed to escape. Damn. Gremalkyn called for something new. Something different. But what?

Plots were formed long into the night. Curses were silently uttered. The seeds of revenge took root. Joker would have his revenge. Oh, yes. And it would be glorious. Glorious.

Eventually lulled into a sense of safety and satisfaction, Joker fell asleep.

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Joker’s 3rd Day

He had tried to set a trap for his pursuer, but it failed miserably. Two shots fired at the huntress brought nothing but a silver arrow in return. This Joker kept, intending to use it in another trap. His mind, slipping slowly into a more animalistic bent, began to focus on two things: immediate survival, and revenge against Gremalkyn.

Survival and revenge.

Now half-submerged in a cool stream, Joker hid beneath the overhanging roots of an apple tree. The cool water felt good, and his hiding place was both shaded and quiet. He quietly ate one apple after another, as they were all the food he had happened to collect. There were other edibles in this forest, but he had not had the time to stop and gather anything else.

Apples. How many had he eaten during his lifetime? Hundreds? He marveled at the simplicity of the fruit. The skin, the seeds.... He took child-like glee in watching the apple cores float away. How he would like to join them. To just drift away from this place.

"Plorp" went the silver shaft as it passed through the water, lodging deep into his chest. He immediately went numb. His heart skipped several times, and he labored to breathe. Weakened and unable to maintain his hold on the overhanging roots, he began to feel the tug of the stream. His fingers lost their purchase. Slipping beneath the water, Joker was set adrift.

Just like the apple cores.

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Artemis stood over Joker’s prostrate form, wholly disappointed. Though the fiend was not quite dead, the hunt was now concluded.

Or was it? Artemis toyed with the notion of reviving Joker just enough to continue extracting Her revenge. After all, if he died now, how could he ever experience Her full displeasure? She leaned over Joker and restored just enough life to revive him. Satisfied for now, Artemis left Joker to his fate.

=^,^=

Alive. Somehow, he was still alive.

Awash on a gravel bar in the stream, Joker struggled to exit the water. An inviting thicket beckoned to him, and he instinctively sought shelter. Safe within the thicket, Joker made to examine his injuries. They were not as bad as he thought they should be, but something was missing.

Where was the shiny thing? His chest ached, as did his entire body now, but there was no shiny thing. Maybe it....

What WAS the shiny thing, anyway? It had a name, but what was it? "Stick?" Yes, stick. Sticks hurt. They were not to be trusted. Joker struggled to form the words, though his mind was still able to understand that sticks were made of wood. Like trees. Like the thicket. The thicket was made of sticks. It was made of....

Panic! FLEE!!!

Joker bolted from his hiding place, only to find his...what were these things called? Clothes? Whatever, they were catching on the sticks. Bad. Very bad. He wrenched himself through the thicket, expending precious energy to cover mere feet of ground. The noise he made was of no concern. All that mattered were the sticks.

He stopped his struggling, still confined within the thicket. How he hated these sticks. He kicked at one, to teach it its place.

A sound.

Joker listened intently, that small portion of his primal brain now taking charge.

Another sound. Closer this time.

HIDE!!

Joker wormed his way into the damnable stick-thicket as Artemis made a show of passing by.

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Joker’s 6th Day

Joker dreamt of a smiling creature: a thing not to be trusted. It lied to him. It pretended to be his friend. It tried to kill him. Joker awoke with a start, drenched in sweat. The sun was rising. He was terribly hungry.

Joker squealed and sought to flee when a loud, crashing noise came from the far side of his hiding place. He ran through the underbrush, heedless of his exposure to the pursuer. Multiple feet pounded the earth behind him. More than one creature chased him.

More than one.

He fled. He just ran. And he cried. Stress, pain, and hunger drove him onward. Barely cogent, all he could think of was a soft, quiet place to eat and rest. Something sweet to eat. Maybe another apple.

A winged...thing flew up from his feet; something black.

Panic. Flee. Kill or be killed.

Through the Sacred Grove he ran. Through the thickets, the grass, the game trails. Through the growing darkness.

Through the portal now before him.

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The Night of the Party

The Batmobile approached the main gate of the Artemis Corporation. A slender beam of light streaked from the hood of the vehicle, cutting through the lock on the gate. The gate now flung open by the impact of the bumper, Batman pulled up short of the main entrance. After studying the files provided by Oracle, Batman had determined that a frontal assault was the most direct method of entry. Once within the headquarters building, he would....

A movement caught his attention. Leaping from the vehicle, he readied himself for battle.

“Jesus, Batman. At least I climbed the fence.”

The voice was female and familiar. A figure emerged into the sparse light.

“Canary.”

“I can’t believe Oracle would've sent you. This is our case, so you just run along, all right?”

He tapped his headset.

“Batman to Oracle. Canary is free. I’m going in.”

Dinah tapped her throat mic.

"Keep him out of this. We....”

“Thank GOD!” The relief in Barbara’s voice was both evident and unexpected. “How did you escape?”

Dinah stood, transfixed.

“Escape from what? I got bored at home, so I --”

“At...at home?” Now it was Barbara’s turn to be totally lost.

“Nightwing to Batman. Pantera approaching.”

“Understood.”

“Wait,” ordered Black Canary. “I’m totally lost now. Can somebody PLEASE fill me in?”

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Gremalkyn arrived at the Artemis Corporation. Things in Gotham were quickly getting out of hand, and he had had enough. Enough of vague directives from the Olympians. Enough interference from the local “heroes.” Enough personal failures. He guided the Pantera through the remains of the main gate, determined to speak with Artemis and put an end to the idiocy of the situation.

Remains? He glanced in the rear mirror to see the remains of the gate and a racing motorcycle following close behind.

“Gods, does it never improve?” he muttered upon sighting the Batmobile and two figures just outside the main entrance. The Pantera skidded to a halt; Gremalkyn leapt from the vehicle and squared off against the two heroes.

“Stand and declare,” commanded Gremalkyn.

“Oracle to Canary. What’s going on?”

“Uh,” responded Canary as Nightwing sped into view. “Overkill, maybe?”

=^,^=

Joker burst through the portal from the Sacred Grove, only to stagger and crash through the glass doors of the corporation's main entrance. Regaining his footing, he was vaguely aware of others present. Rushing past Batman, Joker sought to flee into the night, his primal brain still fully in control. Gremalkyn made a slight move to block Joker’s path, in an effort to restrain the lunatic. Their eyes met.

“Friend Joker,” smiled Gremalkyn in an effort to calm the wretched being. “Fear not, for I am with you.”

The remnants of Joker’s mind reeled.

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Run and kill.

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Kill the smiling demon.

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Kill Gremalkyn.

To be continued...

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Barbara Gordon, Black Canary, the Joker, and all other characters in this story are copyrights of DC Comics, with the exception of Gremalkyn, who is copyright of, well, Gremalkyn. All of these characters are being used for fun, not profit. Please do not reprint or republish anything off this site without my permission and the permission of the author. The reader shall be spared the details of what will happen if you do. Questions, comments, or such permission requests can be forwarded to the author my e-mailing me.

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