The following events take place AFTER the current events of SWAMP RIDER!
Co Written by @batkevin74, master of his craft and 'creator' of Steel Bat!
It was a dark night in Gotham.
A woman walked through the streets, wearing clothes not appropriate for the time of year. It was freezing, heavy winds accompanied by moments of snow and sleet, and as the girl walked, she felt the chill of the night scratch at her unprotected shoulders, and she began to shiver terribly. It wasn't the cold that made her shiver though.
It was fear.
Up the street, there were a group of thugs, all perched and standing around the entrance to someone's house. They looked dangerous, carrying switch blades and other dangerous items, as they looked up at the young woman and smiled.
"Got us a Mutie." One of them said, smiling as the woman stopped in her tracks.
The girl wasn't dumb. She took her chances and moved down a nearby alley, hoping to avoid the imminent danger not too far away. It was truly a smart move, but unfortunately for this woman, there was a much worse danger waiting for her, one she didn't until she walked right into it.
"Solomon likes you."
The girl screamed.
“I want to write an expose on you,” Kitty Vale said as she watched Bruce Rasputin heft his Batmobile up with one hand to look at the underside of it; the cave lights illuminating his organic steel form. “The real story of Bruce Rasputin, Gotham’s favorite artist.”
“Katya,” Bruce groaned. “My life is essentially lived in the tabloids, what more could they possibly want or need to know?”
“The fact that you’re Steel Bat,” Kitty joked.
Bruce looked at her with a disapproving stare before pulling a shard of one of Jack Of Crows' daggers out of the front suspension. “Katya...”
“I know, I know. But I want them to know you like I know you. Not what the Gotham Inquisitor shills.”
Bruce put the car down and turned into human form, slowly approaching her. “Katya, you are an amazing writer and the light of my life.”
“I waiting for the but...”
“No buts,” Bruce kissed her on the forehead. “I will do your expose, answer your questions and let more of Gotham into my private life.”
“You. Are. The. Best!” Kitty leapt up and kissed him. The slight peck was returned before the pair embraced passionately.
Gotham Bugle, 33rd
Editor-In-Chief Jonah White tossed the papers back at Kitty showering the room in ticker tape parade style. “No! No! No! No more fluff pieces on that pampered communist!”
“Mr Rasputin isn’t a commun...”
“I don’t care!” White yelled slamming the desk. “He’s a billionaire who paints, how deep! He probably wants to run for governor and needs some free press so more idiots will like him! No! Shelve it!”
Kitty looked at her proposal scattered across her bosses office. She wanted to grab him and phase him into the wall, or out the window but that wouldn’t help. She watched him light up a cigar despite the company’s no smoking policy. “So what do you want? Pictures of Steel Bat?”
White sneered at her jibe, then snorted smoke out his nose like a grumpy dragon. “Someone carved a bunch of symbols on a hooker and dumped her near the old quarry on the way to Bludhaven. I smell a serial killer! Go!”
Kitty smiled. He might be a miserable old bastard but he was a damn fine editor who could smell a story. “On it chief.”
"Serial killer." GCPD Lieutenant, James ‘Jim’ Summers stood on a rickety fire escape attached to his apartment, a metaphor for his love life. He was dressed in a two day old sweaty suit and tie, after another busy double shift in Gotham. "Not our first time dealing with one of these."
Steel Bat had never seen Jim's eyes, but he'd heard stories about the power they had, one police officer claimed to have seen them destroy an entire city block, others that they were bionic and could see through walls.
"Probably not the last either." Steel Bat admitted grimly, as he stood just above Jim on the building's rooftop, his metal skin shining underneath the bright moonlight falling from above cape flapping gently in the night breeze. "But hopefully, one day, these madmen will think twice before stepping outside. And Gotham City will be a safe place for your boy to grow up."
Summers frowned, not satisfied by the vigilante's answer, nor the prying into his private life. "The prostitute was a mutant." He explained sadly, passing up to Steel Bat pictures of the crime scene. "Body covered in symbols and such. Her body was found by the quarry, so if you have the time..."
The Colossus of Gotham stood tall on the roof, symbol proudly shining on his chest as he reached into his utility belt and produced a grapple gun, several times larger than the standard edition.
"Don't worry, Jim." Steel Bat said before firing the gun onto a nearby skyscraper. "Nobody else will die tonight."
Kitty Vale parked her moped in the bushes and stalked into the quarry. The gate was smashed, twigs and leaves strewn everywhere and the crime scene tape torn apart. Cautiously she made her way to the bottom of the quarry to see a horrific sight. This wasn’t a crime scene, it was a crime in progress!
"Oh my god!" She muttered under her breath while pulling out her Lockheed camera and taking a couple of quick shots of the bodies scattered all over the quarry floor, limbs pulled apart by what looked like some violent form of plant life coming out of the ground. from the cover of some nearby bushes. “Oh my god!”
Someone ran screaming from the quarry, dressed in strange, black robes with a green hard hat. In the fellow's hands was some kind of staff, mystical in nature judging from the carvings on the side, but whatever it was it wasn't going to help. Laughter, cruel and mocking erupted from one of the quarry tunnels, and before Kitty could even think about helping, heavy brambles of nettles shout out and quickly dragged the screaming man back, leaving behind nothing but his staff and drag marks. Blood splattered around the entrance and instantly the cries for help stopped, Kitty felt her stomach gurgle with sickness, and as she managed to keep herself from vomiting, the young mutant knew that whatever had caused this massacre had been some kind of...
A skeleton stepped from the tunnel, dressed in a jacket made of leaves and twigs. From the creature's skull were several stalks of marijuana, and as he walked slowly along the ground, the keen Ms Vale realized he had a long, black vine covered in spikes trailing casually behind him. Both the vine and the creature were covered in blood splatters.
Panic began to settle in, but Kitty knew a good story when she saw one, and quickly took a picture of the creature with her camera.
That was a mistake. Immediately the skeleton's head turned towards the bushes where Kitty was hiding, Fury and rage filling the thing's eye sockets. Before the ace reporter could do anything, the monster let out a sharp whistle and the bushes seemed to come to life. They began to shift in place, turning towards Kitty with a colourful spin, and let out a roar that sounded similar to an engine revving.
"Ohmigod!" Kitty screamed for the third time that evening, getting to her feet and beginning to run as fast as her legs would carry her. She made it about four steps before something snared around her leg and dragged her back down to the ground.
"WHO ARE YOU?!" The creature screamed from somewhere behind as he started to reel in his prey like she was on a fishhook. Anyone else would have been shaking with fright, but Kitty was made of sterner stuff, and, tapping into the mutant genes she'd had since birth, she managed to phase through the vine dragging her through the dirt and mud. The area was bathed in light as a mighty engine roared echoed through the quarry. There was a squeal of brakes before a massive black figure hit the ground between her and the plant monster.
"Äre you okay, Ms Vale?" Steel Bat asked as he helped her to her feet.
"Bruce!" Kitty whispered as she grabbed her camera. “That thing…”
“The car will take you back to Gotham,” He said as he began to charge towards his foe. The creature didn't seem worried, instead of panicking he let out a whistle, summoning a bushy motorcycle from the ground beneath him. The botanical machine reared up, leafy wheels spewing green sparks before it sped towards Steel Bat who was running towards it like an angry train. The pair were on a collision course. Steel Bat leapt into the air at the last second, changing his form to human which allowed the superhuman leap. Swamp Rider looked up as the Bat sailed overhead and tossed down a hail of flash-bang pellets and smoke grenades.
The sound and fury of the pellet barrage were merely a distraction as Steel Bat fired his grapple gun into the back of the motorcycle, shifted back to organic steel and landed like a dropped wrecking ball. The line went taunt and Steel Bat held his ground sending Swamp Rider flying over the handle bars. Kitty Vale clicked off shots with her Lockheeed knowing that if they were even half as good as what she was seeing in front of her, she’d win a Kirby possibly even a Nobel Prize.
“This is your chance to surrender!” Steel Bat warned as he watched the motorcycle lose rigidity turning back into merely leaves and twigs, dancing on the breeze. Swamp Rider stood up, unharmed from the unseating, and raised his hand summoning the foliage back into a nasty looking bramble whip.
“You cannot defeat the Green, monster,” Swamp Rider swung the whip. Steel Bat raised his arm, allowing it to be caught and then putting both hands on the spiky vine he yanked Swamp Rider off his feet and spun him around like lasso. Faster and faster he twirled him before slamming him into the ground with a sickening thud, Swamp Rider’s body exploding in a cloud of leaves.
"Well that was…easy." Steel Bat paused as the ground opened up. A mighty oak hand thrust out, hauling upwards a giant tree-like monster the size of a medium sized apartment block, and it kept going almost if Jack had summoned a beanstalk.
“You DARE defy my will?!" roared the gigantic Swamp Rider peering down on the small metal man. Before the Colossus of Gotham could speak, the tree man slammed a massive fist down, driving him into the ground like a tent-peg. And another strike to make sure and a third just because.
"Bruce…" Kitty muttered as she lent on the Batmobile to take her shots. She zoomed in with her Lockheed when a shadow fell across her.
The vegetation giant went completely still like a statue. Then different parts of the creature's body began to crumble then degenerate, before collapsing in a huge pile of mulch only to have a human sized version of the Rider emerge throwing his arms up into the air and letting out a mighty cry of blood curdling victory.
"Solomon Sinister isn't interrupting, is he?"
Rage filled the Swamp Rider's heart, he instantly spun around towards the one who had spoke, and found his arch foe, Solomon Sinister, holding an unconscious Kitty Vale by the neck in his gigantic decaying fist.
"SERVANT OF THE ROT!" Swamp Rider screamed, beginning to stomp towards the massive, lumbering corpse, growing taller and taller as he began to grow bark stilts beneath his feet. "You dare approach me and expect to live?!"
A grey, twisted smile broke out across the corpse commander's face, and, as if he was reminding the Rider, thrust Ms Vale’s body out before him. "HA! Solomon Sinister doesn't like that tone, Rider. Solomon Sinister might snap this girl's neck."
"I'll tear through her to get to you." Swamp Rider warned, now within spitting distance of his foe as the two glared hatefully into the other's eyes. Then Solomon laughed, and his laughter made the Rider ball up his fist and try to resist the urge to immediately decapitate the glorified maggot.
"Kill the mutant whore and save Solomon Sinister the trouble. She'll be the perfect host for Solomon Sinister's master, Lord of the Rot, Sethphisto."
If the Rider's skull were capable of displaying emotion, it would be expressing cold, honest shock. Immediately he lunged to Kitty's body, only for a powerful punch to the face from Solomon to send the Swamp Rider flying to the ground like some two-bit amateur.
"Solomon... WON'T kill her yet." The corpse decided, tossing Kitty's body to the floor walking after the him. "Solomon Sinister will enjoy killing you first."
Skeletal hands burst through the Earth, grabbing the Swamp Rider by his limbs and binding him to the ground as their leader began to make his calm, collected approach.
"Solomon Sinister wanted to use the quarry." He sighed. "But it doesn't matter."
"YOU HAVEN'T BEATEN ME, SINISTER!!" Rider screamed, struggling to no avail as his foe prepared his fist for a final, crushing blow. "THE GREEN AND THE RED WILL-"
"Die." Solomon smashed his foot onto Swamp Rider’s face, the raised it up again to end his long time enemy.
Chok! Chok! Chok!
Three steel bat-shaped shuriken lodged deep into Sinister’s leg making him yelp more with surprise than pain. He looked to where the attack had come to see Steel Bat crouched low, glaring at him.
“Back away,” Steel Bat ordered. “Now!”
“Solomon Sinister doesn’t t…” His words were engulfed in the explosion from the shuriken that sent sparks, smoke and fire up his leg, knocking him off balance. Steel Bat leapt into the air, hurling several more into the skeletal hands holding Swamp Rider before landing hard on Sinister. Steel Bat’s massive fists pummeled the servant of the Rot; each blow crunching and pulverizing the dead bones and flesh that made up Solomon Sinister. The shuriken exploded dramatically behind Steel Bat and allowed Swamp Rider to be free.
“BEGONE!” Swamp Rider roared as he lassoed Steel Bat in a mesh of vines and threw him back across the quarry. As the caped Colossus spun in the air, Swamp Rider pounced on his arch foe and continued the job Steel bat had started. “The GREEN will not tolerate you any longer!”
Steel Bat pointed a remote and summoned his car to life; the semi sentient attack tank roared to life and manouverd itself underneath so Bruce could land safely, in human form, into the drivers seat. He flicked switches and took the wheel as the canopy closed. “Time to end this.”
The car sped towards Swamp Rider, who was consumed with rage. The headlights bore down on him and when he realized something was amiss, the three tonne bullet smashed into him.
"VENGEANCE WILL BE MMMMIIIIIIIINNNNNNEEEEEEEEE!!!" The Raider's voice began to trail off as the Batmobile zoomed over the horizon, becoming just a dot in the moon light after a few seconds, the Champion of the Green pinned to the hood of the death machine. Solomon Sinister let out a laugh, getting up, sluggishly, off the ground, despite the large chunks of rotting flesh missing from his body. Inside, the shaking, rattling bullet that was the Batmobile, Steel Bat slammed down on the eject button, and shot up into the sky, letting the million mile an hour death machine continue with its journey.
"Solomon Sinister had better go." He grumbled, shifting his misshapen arm back into its proper position, with a painful crack! Then a winged shadow passed over the giant corpse, and as he looked up towards the moon, Sinister saw the figure of the mighty Steel Bat descending towards him.
A strong, metal kick to the jaw sent Solomon stumbling backwards, the Colossus of Gotham slammed into the ground, draped completely in the shadow, except for his shining skin, which lit up in the night air.
"Now for you." Steel Bat said, reaching for his belt and pulling out a small, spray canister, which he quickly shook a few times. "Whatever you are." A smug smile broke out across Solomon's face, confident in his ability to crush the rodent.
"Little Bat." He said, voice loud and almost jolly. "You stand before a servant of the Rot! Death itself! And you-" Steel Bat activated the canister, spraying a quick burst of gasoline into Solomon's face. "Ah! What did y-"
Steel Bat frowned and pulled out a lighter, with the image of a bat stamped on the side. "Shut up." The liquid set alight, and Solomon screamed. He howled up into the sky, overcome with terrible pain, and as the beast's skin burned, Solomon Sinister began to fade, slowly sinking into the ground he had born from, planning to lick his wounds and return another day. Steel Bat stared unsympathetically down at the ground, his willpower as steel as his skin. The roar of a monster slowly began to fill the air, and soon the Swamp Rider returned to the scene, riding his motorcycle, body heavily damaged from the battle, as leaves began to fall from his body, and drift gently to the ground. The Rider's eye sockets pointed down at the ground where Solomon had vanished, the grass now replaced with black soot, and then he turned to the Bat.
"Where is he?" Swamp Rider asked, his voice sounding almost lethal as a cold wind began to whip through the air.
"He's gone." Steel Bat said, on edge as his hands subtly moved to the portion of his belt where he kept his explosives. "I handled it." The Rider made an inhuman noise that resembled grumbling, dissatisfied. "Are you going to try and kill me now?"
"I'm tired." The monster answered, bored with the whole affair. "Maybe later."
The Swamp Rider's engine started again, and he turned to leave, only to stop when the Colossus took a step forward.
"Don't come back here." Steel Bat warned. "Or I'll find a way to kill you."
The two creatures locked eyes, neither wavering, that is until the Rider began to laugh... and drove away, not saying another word, yet leaving a response as he continued to laugh until he was far away. Steel Bat was silent as he watched him leave, and in the end he only relaxed when Kitty phased up from the ground, never much of a fighter, and chose to follow his gaze.
"What just happened?" She asked, utterly bewildered by the whole event. Steel Bat knelt to the ground and pocketed one of the Rider's leaves for examination, placing it in one of his belt's pouches.
"I'm going to find out."
It was a dark night in Gotham, and as the city's steel protector learned of a dark war taking place in the shadows, he realized that soon... someday, it was going to get even darker.