by Nicolas Juzda
This is dedicated to all my fellow Vile Vial authors
And now, in answer to your questions about Vile Vial continuity problems (well, okay, my questions, since I guess many readers might not care), I present the Vile Vial Lost Pages.
Following We Now Take You Live:
"Yesterday, WGBS news reports erroneously referred to the archer of the Inferior Five as 'Yellow Feather'. He is in fact called 'White Feather'. WGBS regrets the error, and pledges to continue providing you with the highest quality on-the-spot news coverage in Midway."
After Legacy and before That Was Then:
"I still think it was too risky," the Riddler said.
"Superman put me in charge, and it was my call," Scarecrow replied. His voice was strong, in marked contrast with his physical appearance. The wounds he had sustained while subduing Green Lantern were freshly bandaged, and that combined with his thin frame to give him an appearance of fragility. One could easily believe him incapable of getting out of the hospital bed he was lying on, let alone being busily engaged in a campaign to save the planet. But Jonathan Crane had never allowed his less-than-robust physique to limit him, either as a villain or a hero.
"You called me back from helping Maxie to consult with you," Riddler said, leaning forward in his chair. "And if you aren't going to listen to me, then I'm just wasting my time."
"Okay, maybe it was stupid of me to confront Green Lantern head-on, but I had to do it."
"Not that." The Riddler waved a hand dismissively. "I mean Major Force."
"That gamble was entirely necessary. From what Superman said, Major Force hurt someone close to Green Lantern, and having our man use his powers to impersonate him was a key element to disconcerting Gee El."
"But a White Martian?" The Riddler let the question hang for a moment. "They almost conquered the planet once. If they re-awakened now, in the middle of all of this Vile Vial stuff, well, the difference between the Earth and a smoking pile of cinders would be that which is better than the Bat at catching us and worse than Arkham security at holding onto us afterwards."
"Nothing," the Scarecrow said automatically. "Such fear, Eddie. Grodd's telepathic commands held. There was nothing to worry about."
"He was flying, Crane. Flying. Major Force couldn't fly. If he had realized that-"
"We were facing a psychopathic Green Lantern," Scarecrow interrupted. "You want something to be afraid of, try that. If he had really wanted to, he could have killed everyone on Earth. We had to use everything at our disposal to stop him."
"I still think that anyone who wants to throw near-invulnerable alien conquerors into this virus situation is insane. And that's coming from a guy in a lime green suit who spouts riddles compulsively."
"Yes, I suppose you're right. Very well, no more White Martians. So, how is the plan to secure a secondary base of operations for our forces going?"
"Great. I've managed to get permission to use the old Justice League bunker in Detroit."
And the two madmen plotted how to save the world.
Shortly After That Was Then:
"Thanks for rounding these guys up, Mr. Clayface," the police officer said. "Say, which one are you, anyway? You're not the one who melts whoever he touches, are you? Preston Payne?" The cop took a cautious step back as he asked his question.
"No," Clayface replied. "Although I did once absorb his powers, I don't necessarily melt whoever I come into contact with. I'm Basil Karlo." He paused "But I was playing the role of Matt Hagen when I caught these two."
"Playing the role?"
"I am an actor," Karlo replied imperiously. "No matter what some people think. Stupid pig." When he realized the officer was looking at him angrily, he hastened to add, "Not you. The one from Green Acres." The policeman continued to give him a funny look, and he hurriedly resumed his explanation. "I have to keep my talents honed somehow. Particularly since I'm thinking of staging a comeback, now that I've given up my life of crime. Hagen will be but the first of a thousand roles for the revived career of Basil Karlo, thespian extraordinaire."
"So... in order to practice acting, you were pretending to be a different Clayface?" The officer scratched his head, clearly bemused.
"Yeah," Plastic Man called from where another policeman was reading him his rights. "He wanted to play against type."
After The Young And The Evil and before Feast of Fools (whose beginning in turn precedes the start of Traduce by my reckoning; see below for further details of how those two relate):
"So, Detective, you have returned."
"Sorry," Batman apologized, stepping from the shadows to stand before the throne of the Demon's Head. "After I left the Watchtower, I lost focus."
"Lost focus?" Ra's Al Ghul said. "How unlike you."
"Hey, you're the one who decided to test out his chemistry set on the brains of every major hero around. Don't blame me if we're acting a little... batty. Anyway, I had a look around Gotham, thought about tangling with the Joker, and then realized that there were a whole lot of better ways to spend my time."
"So I heard. I thought we had reached an understanding, Detective. Working together, we can save the world. But only if you can control your urges."
"Well, I did tell the boy scout in my little note that I wanted to experience the pleasures of the flesh, and ever since Catwoman vanished, I haven't had much chance to satisfy my... cravings."
"Perhaps I can help you with that," said Talia as she entered the room.
"Anytime, babe," Batman replied, and winked broadly. Talia frowned, unused to such behaviour from her beloved.
"Very well, Detective. But do not dally too long. Luthor still poses a threat to us," Ra's said.
"I know, I know. I did pick up a couple of assistants who might help us: Power Girl and Fire."
"I suppose you're going to tell me you selected them for their strategic value," Ra's said dryly.
"Would I lie to you?" Batman asked, the picture of hurt innocence.
Then he laughed, loud and long, and after a moment the Demon's Head joined in.
During Feast of Fools and immediately before Traduce (the latter begins partway through the former by my reckoning; if you read this and the two stories in question, you'll see how I think they fit together):
Oracle was just about to pass out when a thought startled. The virus, it whispered. He's exposing you to the virus!
She jerked back to full consciousness to see Nightwing standing over her, blocking her view of her apartment.
"Still awake?" Dick asked. "I thought for sure you'd be knocked out by now. Anyway, you're too late. I've already exposed you to the virus." He held out the vial he was holding, mocking her, and shook it.
A small cloud of white particles formed at its mouth. Both crime-fighters recognized it for what it was, nothing more than powder to dust for fingerprints with.
"Stupid utility belt," Nightwing muttered. "This is the downside to always being prepared. Now, hold on, I know I've got the right vial here somewhere."
"What did you do?" Oracle asked. "Why am I so tired?"
"Gas. I thought it would make you easier to deal with. I'm pumping the place full of it. Unless you're wearing filters up your nose like I am, you should be unconscious. Why aren't you?"
As an answer, Barbara swung an escrima stick, knocking Nightwing to the floor.
"Oh yeah, baby," he said. "Show me who's boss. I've been a baaaaaad boy and I'm due for punishment."
"First Robin, now you," Oracle said. "I thought the virus was supposed to make you evil, not pathetic perverts."
"Wait'll you hear what Prometheus did to Blythe Bonner," Nightwing replied with a laugh as he got back to his feet. "Too bad you don't feel like co-operating. Batman could really have used you in his anti-Luthor campaign."
Anti-Luthor campaign? What's he talking about? Babs was feeling increasingly light-headed, but she tried not to show it. "Luthor? Batman's after Luthor?"
"Yep. He asked me to recruit you for it. My way of making up to him for that whole murder attempt. The kid put me up to it, and Bruce was very understanding... eventually." Nightwing winced in remembered pain. "He even broke me out of jail. Anyway, we're heading our separate ways now, since he's thinking apocalypse and I'm just in for a bit of arson, but I promised him this favour first."
Barbara was finding it difficult to focus on Dick, or much of anything, so she simply nodded.
"Well, I guess he'll have to settle for only half the set," Nightwing called as he headed for the window, and Babs was feeling far too dizzy to try figuring out what he meant. "I'd love to stay and chat, but I've got places to be, people to see, buildings to burn. Catch you later."
The minute he was gone, Oracle headed for the door to her apartment as fast as she could. Once outside, she breathed huge greedy gulps of fresh air.
That was close. Too close.
After Barbara set up her apartment's ventilation system to clear the gas, she decided that while she was waiting, she might as well go visit her father.
During Opposite Perceptions:
Blythe prayed that the car would get there in time. If Werner went through with it before they got there... she didn't even want to think it.
"Oh, Werner," she said softly. "How horrible it must be to have hope dangled in front of you like that, then taken away. But there's still so much to live for."
"What's that?" Dr. Martin took his eyes off the road briefly to address her.
"I was thinking about Werner. The virus cured his manic-depression, but only temporarily. He was hoping that another exposure would cure it again. When that didn't work, he was crushed."
"I told him it wouldn't when he asked me for another dose days ago. Each strand of the virus immunizes against all others. I wouldn't have withheld it from him if it would have done any good."
"Sometimes, doctor," Blythe replied, "we can't just be told something. We have to find out for ourselves."
The thought briefly crossed her mind that this would make a great anecdote for her next book (assuming, of course, that it had a suitably upbeat ending), but she was too pre-occupied to write it down.
The automobile sped on.
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This piece is © 2001 by Nicolas Juzda.
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