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TCE VS. THE UNIVERSE

The Psytanium Diamond Caper

(The Disturbed vs. The Gotham City Sirens)

Chapter One: Hysteria vs. Harley Quinn

Written by Steffon Thomas

Illustration by The Archon Artist

           “Oh, hey there!” Harley Quinn announced at the sight of Hysteria entering the secret room. “Ooh! I love the hair!” she said excitedly, then, “Wait a minute. Random faceless security guards don’t have purple hair. And they definitely don’t wear red thigh-high boots. Are you here to help me find the psytanium diamonds? Oh, I really hope you are!”

            “Help you? Bahahaha!” Hysteria said with a cackle. “Of course, I am!”

            “Huh? Okay, that was confusing.”

            “What was confusing about it?”

            “Well, first you cackled as if the mere thought of assisting me was laughable at best and completely absurd at worst,” Harley surmised. “Then you said ‘of course’ as if I should have been expecting that answer all along.”

            “Oh, ha-ha! I can see how my reaction could be a little befuddling.” Hysteria said skipping about until she was about a foot away from Harley. “I apologize for the perplexity in my disposition.”

            “Oh, no problem.” Harley said with a devious smile. “By the way, you know my name, but I have no idea who you are. I mean, if we’re gonna be partners, shouldn’t we be on a first name basis?”

            “Ah, good point! The internet calls me Hysteria,” Hysteria said extending a hand.

            “Oooh! I love that name!” Harley Quinn said, tossing Rubbish aside and shaking Hysteria’s hand vigorously.

            Oh yeah, by the way, Rubbish had been there, standing between the two ladies as they acquainted themselves with one another, one arm twisted behind his back and his mouth covered by Harley Quinn’s hand to muffle the screams from the pain of having his arm twisted behind his back. That hand, of course, was the hand Harley used to shake Hysteria’s hand.

            Rubbish hit the wall with a thud, before stumbling to the ground. “Hey!” he yelped, finally finding his voice. “Who the hell are you people?” he demanded as he got to his feet.

            “Are you silly or something?” Hysteria asked rolling her eyes.

            “Yeah, weren’t you listening? I’m Harley Quinn, and that’s Hysteria.”

            “We’ll be your diamond thieves for this evening.”

            “Diamonds?” he asked sharply. “I don’t have no diamonds! I’m just a fence – you know, like a middleman. I simply buy the stuff and sell it. I don’t actually keep any of it.” He was dressed in an ill-fitting black suit with a white V-neck shirt. He had long black straggly hair and very unkempt facial scruff.

            “Wow, you really do live up to the name Rubbish, don’t you?” said Hysteria with feigned exasperation.

            “My name is Stanley actually,” said Rubbish rubbing his aching left arm. “Rubbish is just a codename to keep the cops guessing.”

            “Well, I prefer ‘Rubbish,’ don’t you, Harley?”

            “Definitely, much more fitting for a piece of trash like you.”

            “Hey, I’m not gonna take this anymore!” Rubbish cracked his knuckles and charged at the two women. Hysteria and Harley smirked at each other, then both landed straight right punches to his face, breaking his nose and his left orbital socket before sending him crashing back into the wall and on to the ground. Harley then grabbed her hammer and bashed him in the head, knocking him out cold.

            “Hmm… maybe I should have thought that through a little bit.” Harley said furrowing her brow. “How are we supposed to interrogate him about the psytanium diamonds if he’s unconscious?”

            “Oh, don’t worry about that,” Hysteria said perkily, as she leaned down and put her hand on Rubbish’s bloody forehead. “I can use my hyper-powers to dig around in his mind and extract the information. Easy peasy!”

            “‘Hyper-powers?’ Is that what you people call them in this little universe of yours?” Harley inquired looking around as if she was a house-hunter taking in a potential purchase for the first time.

            “Yup, we found that the term ‘superpowers’ is just a wee-bit overused,” Hysteria said confidently. “So, we went with ‘hyper-powers’. We think it’s a lot cooler!”

            “It makes me think of ‘hyper-active’. You know, like kids who can’t sit still for longer than thirty-seconds at a time,” Harley quipped. “So, instead of superheroes, do you say ‘hyper-heroes’?”

            Hysteria stopped for a moment and thought. “Hmmm… I never really considered that. As far as I know we still say superheroes. I think ‘hyper-heroes’ sounds kinda stupid.”

            “Hyper-heroes are stupid.” Harley agreed. “Sheesh, I gotta say, jumping through that wormhole has been the strangest thing that’s happened to me all week! But hey, when there’re psytanium diamonds at stake, you gotta do what you gotta do. I mean, you should see it. Everyone in Gotham City, Metropolis, Coastal City and everywhere else in my universe is talking about this stuff.”

            “Oh yeah?” Hysteria queried, her attention divided between conversing with Harley and probing Rubbish’s mind for information.

            “Totally! My puddin’ even got his hands on some!”

            “Your ‘pudding’? Snacks have hands in your universe?”

            “No! I’m talking about Mr. J! You know, the Joker?”

            “Oh, right. Ha-ha! Yeah, I’ve heard of him. He had a run-in with that psychopath Fiasco a little while back. How did that turn out for him?”

            “Not so good. He got a big ol’ ouchie upside his head.”

            “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that…” Then, “Wait a minute, I think I’ve got something! She pressed in on Rubbish’s mind a little more and recited what she learned. “It looks like Rubbish sold the diamonds to a big-time banker named Devlin J. Thorn.”

            “Really? He truly sounds like a villain, doesn’t he? Why not just name him ‘Baddie McBadGuy?’” Harley asked with genuine curiosity.

            “I know right?!”

            The ladies shared a heartfelt smile as if they were long lost sisters connecting for the first time. A moment later Harley lifted her hammer and swung it at Hysteria, who leapt out of the way just in time to miss getting her back broken in half.

            “Hey! What are you doing?” Hysteria shrieked.

            “Hahaha! I thought you could read minds!” Harley shouted. “You didn’t see that one coming?” Harley took another swing! She missed Hysteria, but smashed Rubbish in the gut, eliciting a loud ‘Ooof!’ from the now semi-conscious criminal. “Yikes! That’s gonna leave a mark.”

            “I thought we were gonna be partners or something,” Hysteria said, avoiding another hammer smash. “But now I learn that you were just using me for my brains, and you had no interest in the rest of me at all!”

            “Ha! Partner with you?” asked Harley laughing uproariously. “You’re from a place that uses the term ‘hyper-hero’. I could never team up with someone that uses knock-off phrases like that!”

            Hysteria slid under a third advance with the hammer and performed a spinning kick that caused Harley to stumble backwards, before tripping over Rubbish and falling on her backside, her hammer involuntarily coming down on the smugglers hand. “Ahhhh!” he screamed.

            “First of all, we don’t say ‘hyper-hero’ in our universe!” Hysteria screeched putting a stray strand of hair behind her ear, “And second of all, my hyper-powers are anything but knock off!” Hysteria squinted her eyes and unleashed a hypno-dart that hit Daddy’s Little Monster right between the eyes snapping her head back and laying her out on the ground. Hysteria marched over to her fallen opponent, who’s eyes were open but clearly a little foggy. “Hmm, I hate to just let your talents go to waste. I think I’ll take you with me to find this Devlin Thorn chump, and we can have the partnership I’ve always imagined we’d have. Now get up!”

            Harley Quinn woozily stumbled to her feet. She had a kooky smile on her face, as if she was weirdly enjoying the idea of being Hysteria’s mind-controlled lacky.

            “Good. Let’s get out of here,” the hypnotic villainess said, heading for the door.

            “Uh… how about nopity nope nope!” Harley Quinn said matter-of-factly. “I mean, yeah, we should totally leave, but I’m not going anywhere with you.”

            “What the blank?” Hysteria said in complete and utter befuddlement. Her powers of persuasion had never been rebuffed in such a manner. Sure, there were people who had limited resistance to it; but just completely outright immune? Only individuals with power-muting abilities could do that, and Harley Quinn definitely did not have power-muting abilities… or did she?

            The answer is no. Harley definitely didn’t have that power. And technically she wasn’t immune to mind-manipulation; at least not in the traditional sense. The way Hysteria’s powers worked were less about some sort of metaphysical mythical telepathy, and more about the physical rewiring of an individual’s brain. Her hypno-probes would rearrange brain tissue while also creating new neuropathways to funnel the brain’s electrical pulses in a manner that would make her subjects more compliant with her wishes and desires.

            “Ah, I see! So, you’re trying to get my mind all twisted up, huh?” Harley inquired, having heard Hysteria’s thoughts in her head. “The problem is my mind is already so twisted that its virtually untwistable! Hahaha!”

            “Untwistable? Is that even a word?”

            “It is in my dictionary!” Ms. Quinn screeched as she charged with another hammer swing.

            Hysteria again, dodged the attack, and found an opening to jump on Harley’s back, who thrashed about the room wildly swinging her hammer as Hysteria applied a chokehold. Harley backed against a wall in attempt to get her to relinquish the hold, but she only squeezed tighter.

            “Okay, that’s it!” A male voice suddenly spouted.

            The ladies stopped and looked over to see that Rubbish was pointing a gun at them. Hysteria and Harley exchanged glances; then the former released her grip and they both jumped for cover as Rubbish fired off two shots. But before he could fire the third, Hysteria had already hit him with a hypno-dart and was directing him to point the gun at Harley.

         “They say good help is hard to find,” Hysteria quipped. “I disagree!” And with that she commanded the smuggler to shoot. “Hahahaha!” she laughed maniacally as Harley ran for the door. “Not so fast,” she said, as she shot a few more hypno-darts at some of the unconscious henchmen in the corridor. “I may not be able to mess with your mind; but these guys are still puddin’ in my hands!” The men immediately snapped back to alertness and attacked the Crown Princess of Pranks. “Hahaha! See what I did there?”

            “Oh, you’re so clever,” Harley said sarcastically as she fought off the attacks with punches, kicks and of course hammer smashes. Within a few moments, the men were injured beyond usefulness and Harley had an opening to escape. “It looks like we’re gonna have to continue this another time, my dear friend,” she said, backing down the corridor slowly. “Maybe I’ll invite you to my psytanium diamond party! L-O-L! Ta-ta for now!” Harley scurried down the hallway and left. But she wasn’t going straight for the diamonds. First, she was gonna need to find some backup and she knew just who to call…

            Meanwhile Hysteria was thinking the same exact thing. If I’m gonna get those diamonds, I’m gonna need to find some backup! It’s time to get the band back together… It’s time to get… Disturbed! “Hahahaha!” she cackled as she set out to find her two besties, a pair of supervillains by the names of Deleria and Kray Kray… but not before telling Rubbish to punch himself in the face over and over again… for the next couple of weeks.

            “Ouch…. ouch…. ouch… come on lady… ouch… please tell me to stop… OUCH!”

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